How to start a Oklahoma Joe smoker?

Are you ready to elevate your BBQ game and create mouth-watering smoked meat that will make your taste buds dance with joy? Look no further than the Oklahoma Joe smoker – a must-have tool for any meat lover. But before you can start enjoying the tantalizing tastes and aromas of perfectly smoked meats, you need to know how to start up your smoker correctly.

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. In this post, we’ll guide you through the essential steps needed to get your Oklahoma Joe smoker up and running. We’ll begin with safety precautions and equipment preparation before diving into more technical aspects like fire management and temperature control.

Our easy-to-follow instructions are perfect for novices, but we also have some advanced tips and tricks for those feeling confident. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner cook, this post is packed full of useful information that will help you successfully start your Oklahoma Joe smoker.

So let’s get started on your journey to becoming a smoking pro.

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Why Use a Oklahoma Joe Smoker?

Here are some compelling reasons why:


The durability of Oklahoma Joe Smokers is unmatched. They are constructed with high-quality materials, designed to withstand the toughest outdoor conditions. Whether you use it year-round or seasonally, you can trust that your smoker will last for years to come.


Oklahoma Joe Smokers offer excellent versatility, making them ideal for smoking various meats at different temperatures and achieving the perfect level of smokiness. With multiple cooking grates and adjustable dampers, you can smoke large cuts of meat without overcrowding. The spacious cooking chamber and extra-large firebox make it an ideal choice for smoking large quantities.


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The smoker’s design ensures maximum smoke circulation, giving your meats a deep, rich flavor that cannot be achieved with other types of grills or smokers. Your meats will have a unique flavor that will leave your guests wanting more.


Oklahoma Joe Smokers are user-friendly, making it easy even for beginners to achieve professional-level results. Whether you’re smoking ribs, brisket, or chicken wings, you’ll be able to achieve delicious results with minimal effort.

Starting Your Oklahoma Joe Smoker:

Starting your smoker may seem daunting at first but with some practice and patience, it becomes an easy process. First, ensure that the smoker is located in a safe and stable location away from any flammable materials or structures. Next, gather your fuel sources (charcoal and wood chunks or chips) and light the fire using either a chimney starter or lighter fluid/starter cubes. Once the fire is started, monitor the temperature using a thermometer for low and slow smoking.

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Location and Safety Considerations

But before you start smoking, safety should be your top priority. Here are some key considerations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Location is critical. Ensure that the smoker is on a flat, stable, and level surface, so it doesn’t tip over or move around while in use. Additionally, it’s recommended that you place the smoker in a well-ventilated area away from combustible materials like dry leaves, paper, or wood to avoid accidental fire outbreaks.

When it comes to safety, don’t take any risks. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific model before starting your smoker. Verify that all components are correctly assembled and in good working condition before lighting it up.

It’s crucial to have the right safety equipment at hand, such as heat-resistant gloves, long-handled tongs, and a fire extinguisher. Keep children and pets away from the smoker while it’s in use and never leave it unattended while it’s lit.

Lastly, be patient with the smoking process. Smoking meat takes time and requires careful monitoring. Don’t rush the process, and ensure that everything is running smoothly at all times.

Gather Fuel Sources

As a pitmaster, the first thing you need to do before firing up your Oklahoma Joe smoker is gathering all the necessary fuel sources. This critical step can make or break your smoking experience. Choosing the right fuel source and having the required equipment on hand is essential to ensure a smooth and successful smoking session.

Let’s start by discussing the different types of fuel sources available for your Oklahoma Joe smoker. Charcoal is a popular option among pitmasters due to its ability to provide a distinct smoky flavor to the meat. However, it’s essential to use natural lump charcoal instead of briquettes as it contains no harmful chemicals that can ruin the taste of your food. To enhance the smoky flavor, adding wood chunks or chips to the charcoal is recommended.

Another option is wood pellets made from compressed sawdust, providing a consistent temperature and flavor. Though they might be more expensive than other fuel sources, they are worth it if you’re looking for a hassle-free smoking experience.

Propane is also an option for those who prefer a quicker start-up process. However, keep in mind that propane doesn’t offer the same smoky flavor as charcoal or wood pellets.

After choosing your fuel source, make sure to have enough on hand to last throughout the smoking process. We recommend having at least 10 pounds of charcoal or 2-3 pounds of wood pellets for every hour of smoking.

Apart from gathering fuel sources, you need to have all necessary tools and equipment on hand. A chimney starter is a must-have for lighting up your charcoal or wood pellets quickly and efficiently, while matches or a lighter and gloves are essential for handling hot materials.

Lighting the Fire with a Chimney Starter

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Look no further than the chimney starter, the popular and effective method for starting a fire in your smoker that ensures even ignition of your charcoal and eliminates the need for harsh chemical fire starters.

To begin, fill your chimney starter with natural lump charcoal or wood pellets, place crumpled newspaper in the bottom, and light it on fire. The paper will ignite the charcoal above it, and the perforations at the bottom of the cylinder will allow air to flow through, helping to ignite the charcoal evenly. Watching the flames dance as they consume the paper is a satisfying prelude to the smoky meal that awaits.

Once your charcoal has ashed over and is adequately lit, carefully pour it into the smoker’s firebox. Remember to always wear heat-resistant gloves when handling hot items in your smoker. With a well-lit fire, you’ll be able to enjoy perfectly smoked meats and vegetables every time.

It’s important to note that using chemical fire starters can leave a residue on your smoker and negatively affect the flavor of your food. Stick with the chimney starter and enjoy a clean, flavorful smoke.

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Lighting the Fire with Lighter Fluid or Starter Cubes

When it comes to lighting up your charcoal, there are a couple of popular methods to choose from: lighter fluid and starter cubes.

Let’s first take a look at lighter fluid. While it’s an easy way to ignite your charcoal pile, it’s important to use it safely. Start by opening your smoker’s vents to allow for proper airflow. Next, stack your charcoal in a pyramid shape in the center of the firebox. Carefully squirt lighter fluid onto the charcoal, making sure to avoid any contact with your skin or clothes. Be patient and give the fluid a few minutes to soak in before lighting it up. Use a long lighter to ignite several places throughout the pyramid until all the charcoal is lit.

Alternatively, you can opt for starter cubes, which are compressed sawdust blocks coated in wax that easily ignite and burn for a long time. To use them, simply place a few cubes beneath your charcoal pile and light them up with a match or long lighter. The cubes will quickly light up and spread the flames throughout your charcoal.

It’s important to keep in mind that both methods can give off a slightly chemical taste that can affect the flavor of your food if not burned off completely before cooking. To avoid this, make sure all of your charcoal is fully lit and covered in white ash before adding food to the smoker. Depending on the size of your charcoal pile and weather conditions outside, this process may take anywhere from 20-45 minutes.

In summary, whether you prefer lighter fluid or starter cubes, lighting your Oklahoma Joe smoker is simple as long as you follow safety guidelines and wait for all the charcoal to be fully lit before cooking. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Open smoker’s vents for proper airflow
  • Stack charcoal in a pyramid shape
  • Be careful when using lighter fluid
  • Give lighter fluid time to soak in before lighting
  • Use a long lighter to ignite the charcoal
  • Starter cubes are an alternative option
  • Wait until all charcoal is fully lit and covered in white ash before cooking

Monitoring Temperature Using a Thermometer

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A trusty thermometer. But not just any thermometer will do. Invest in a digital thermometer with a probe that can handle high temperatures. This will give you accurate readings without having to open the smoker and release heat.

To get started, place the probe in the thickest part of the meat, being careful not to let it touch any bones or the smoker itself. This will give you the most precise reading of the internal temperature of the meat. But don’t stop there. It’s equally important to keep an eye on the smoker’s temperature itself. Although Oklahoma Joe smokers come with built-in thermometers, they are often unreliable. For an accurate reading, use a separate thermometer by attaching it to the grate or placing it on top of the smoker.

Now for the hard part – patience. Smoking meat is a slow process that requires time and care. Maintain a low and slow temperature of around 225-250°F, and monitor both the meat and smoker temperatures regularly throughout the cooking process.

In summary, here are some tips for monitoring temperature using a thermometer:

  • Invest in a reliable digital thermometer with a probe.
  • Place the probe in the thickest part of the meat, avoiding bones and the smoker.
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  • Use a separate thermometer to measure the smoker’s temperature.
  • Keep a low and slow cooking temperature of around 225-250°F.
  • Monitor both temperatures regularly throughout the cooking process.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Smoking meat to perfection can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. However, even the most experienced pitmasters can make mistakes that may affect the taste and quality of their smoked meat. That’s why we’ve put together a list of common mistakes to avoid when starting up your Oklahoma Joe smoker.

Using Too Much Lighter Fluid

One common mistake that many beginners make is using too much lighter fluid to get their charcoal or wood chips burning quickly. However, this can leave a strong chemical taste on your food. To avoid this, use just enough lighter fluid to get the fire going, and let the coals burn down until they’re white-hot.

Not Cleaning Your Smoker Before Use

Starting a fire on top of ash or debris can lead to unwanted flavors in your food and even pose a fire hazard. Therefore, it’s essential to clean your smoker before starting a new fire. This ensures that your food is free from any unwanted debris and helps prevent any potential fire hazards.

Starting with Cold Wood or Charcoal

Starting with cold wood or charcoal can cause uneven heat distribution and longer cooking times. Make sure you give yourself enough time to allow the wood or charcoal to reach a hot temperature before adding your food.

Opening the Lid Too Often

We understand the temptation to constantly check on your food, but opening the lid too often releases heat and smoke from the smoker, which can lengthen cooking times and affect the flavor of your food. Instead, trust the temperature gauges and cooking times recommended for your recipe and resist the urge to check on your food frequently.

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To sum it up, starting your Oklahoma Joe smoker is the first step towards achieving tantalizing smoked meat that will make your taste buds sing with delight. The Oklahoma Joe smoker is a top-of-the-line choice for both new and experienced pitmasters, thanks to its exceptional durability, versatility, flavor, and ease of use.

However, before you start the smoking process, safety must always come first. Ensure that your smoker is situated in a secure and stable location away from flammable materials or structures. Additionally, it’s crucial to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific model to guarantee a safe and efficient smoking experience.

Choosing the right fuel source is also critical to ensure that your meat turns out perfectly. Charcoal, wood pellets, and propane are all popular options depending on personal preference. However, be sure to have an adequate supply of fuel sources on hand to last throughout the smoking process.

When lighting the fire using a chimney starter or lighter fluid/starter cubes, patience is key. Smoking meat requires time and careful monitoring at low temperatures of around 225-250°F.

Lastly, avoid common mistakes such as using too much lighter fluid, not cleaning your smoker before use, starting with cold wood or charcoal, and opening the lid too often.

With these tips in mind, you’ll soon become a master at smoking meats with an Oklahoma Joe smoker.

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