Introducing the Smokenator, the innovative BBQ accessory which transforms the Weber kettle into a multi-purpose water smoker. The Smokenator 1000 is for the 22.5" Weber Kettle, the Smokenator 180 is for the 18.5" Weber Kettle, and the Smokenator 2600 for the 26.75" Weber Kettle. The Weber kettle has capacity and precise air control, which when coupled with the Smokenator makes it unnecessary to purchase a separate charcoal smoker.
If you are a complete novice to low temperature smoking, you own a 18.5", 22.5”, or 26.75" Weber kettle, and want to learn how smoke food, read on to learn about a simple but sophisticated tool that will improve the efficiency and capacity of your workhorse Weber Kettle and help you avoid many months of trial and error and disappointing results.
If you are unhappy with charred or dry results using your kettle with charcoal baskets or rails and a drip pan, cooking small amounts of food, or tired of "good enough" makeshift methods, then the Smokenator is the right new tool for you.
This page is divided in several sections with bold titles to give you information on deciding if Smokenator is for you.
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How Smokenator Works
The Smokenator contains the hot coals channeling heat upward and shields food from direct heat. Food is cooked by convection and gentle radiation through the 18 gage stainless shield. A pan containing water rests right on top of the coals which is the most efficient way to fill the kettle with high humidity. This humidity does three things: Keeps food moist (assuring deep smoke ring penetration), keeps temperature lower which gives you more control over temperature.
Benefits and Features
Efficiency is a term that means to conserve energy, time or effort. The Smokenator is a device that has several kinds of efficiency that saves you time and effort letting you produce fine food.
The first thing you notice about the Smokenator is that is it compact and rests on the side of the kettle. The Smokenator 1000 is only 6” wide freeing up space. In the past, the only option was put coals into charcoal rails or baskets, and for its time, a good idea. It stopped coals from sliding around placing coals on the side of the kettle, yet they do not shield food from intense heat radiation, because baskets are unshielded they severely limit the Weber’s cooking capacity, due to the real effect of burning food. To prevent food near the kettle from getting too hot and drying out, aluminum foil can be placed between the food and the coals. This works until the foil moves when adding coals causing you to have to pull the grill off and reposition the foil to keep the food from burning or drying out. Guess what? This allows the coals to heat up with all the extra air, and your food cools off. You have probably already experienced this frustration.
The above picture shows the charcoal basket and charcoal rails used for what is called "indirect cooking", Steven Raichlen calls it "indirect grilling" since there is little change in direct radiation. Typically a pan containing water is placed between the two rails or baskets. The picture below shows the indirect "grilling" method in use. Note how charred these ribs are, due in part because of the high sugar content of the rub, but mostly the effect of the unshielded indirect grilling method. When you use a Smokenator with the Weber and follow the instructions your ribs will slow cook in a 210-215 degree F environment. This is true BBQ - low and slow, not grilling.
The placement of the Smokenator lets a 25-pound turkey sit comfortably in the Weber, without worrying about getting ash on the turkey when one stirs the coals. There is no worry about the foil moving and the turkey getting dried out. The Smokenator partition blocks the majority of direct radiation while turning the kettle into a highly moisturized cooking environment.
Turns Weber into Offset Smoker
The placement of the Smokenator on the side of the kettle turns the kettle into a self-contained offset smoker. The 22.5" kettle has volume above the coal supporting grill of about 2.5 cubic feet and depth above the same grill of 13". With some ingenuity a person can easily increase the capacity of the grilling surface.
We have personally used three levels in the Weber to smoke food, one grill above and one grill surface below the Weber’s food support grill. One does have to rotate the food (as you have to in any big smoker), but it’s easy to get over 700 square inches of surface area out of this arrangement. This is simply exploiting the volume that is in the kettle. The Weber Smoky Mountain has a capacity, using the two grills provided, of about 537 square inches. We have the 17.75" Hovergrill that has 247 square inches of surface that rests over 3.5" above the food support grill. This gives the 22.5" Weber about 550 square inches of surface on which to put your ribs or split chicken halves.
The Smokenator is able to efficiently hold fuel. The cavity of the Smokenator can be loaded up with charcoal briquettes and wood chunks. With the upper and lower vents set properly, the charcoal will last up to 6 hours with an average food support grill temperature of 220 °F and the charcoal support grill at just under 200 °F. It’s pretty hard to hold all of 60 briquettes and 11 oz of wood chips in a basket!!! The Smokenator 1000 will hold 68 Kingsford Briquettes.
The third form or type of efficiency is heat exchange. The design of the Smokenator allows the placement of a pan into the actual firebox of the Smokenator, this placement of the pan right against the coals is the most effective and efficient placement for water used to dampen temperature and increase moisture in the Weber Kettle. Heat transfers quickly into the water dampening the temperature of the kettle.
Why, is this important? You will find that without water the vents in the Weber Kettle are very touchy, the kettle’s upper vents have to be closed way down to around 0.2 to 0.3 square inch venting surface area to get into the range of about 230 °F. Any small mistake, such, as accidentally, not placing the top kettle cover back on properly will cause the water temperature to skyrocket over 100 °F in about 10 minutes. Thirdly, the kettle cools off very slowly; only by removing coals can you get the temperature to move down rapidly.
Having the water pan in the firebox is simply the most efficient means of transferring heat to the water and keeping temperature lower. This allows the user to control temperature using the upper kettle vents with more range. The kettle actually burns charcoal at a faster rate; this is ok, since there is adequate air for the wood chunks to burn to blue smoke, which is the best. In actual standardized tests, with no sacrificial water to absorb heat, a pan of 1500 milliliters of water lost 33% of its volume in a three hour time period. The same test using water in the Smokenator pan, showed a loss of only 15 percent. This difference is caused by the increase in moisture in the kettle due to the coals heating the water to produce steam. This steam also carries heat away through the upper vent.
The Smokenator comes with complete instructions for setting it up in your Weber kettle. In fact, we're pretty sure you will be pleased at the detail provided to show you how to cook low and slow at 230 °F Dome temperature and 210 °F to 220 °F on the food support grill. Actual procedures are given to show you how to set up the Weber correctly. Customers who bought the Smokenator and smoked food for the first time are able to regulate the temperature and produce quality results using only the control vents on the Weber with no expensive mechanical temperature controls
Secondly, we will describe how to set up the Smokenator to run up to six hours on one filling of the firebox cavity (Minion Method). These instructions are the result of over 60+ hours of tests with Kingsford charcoal. You should know that the settings work well for lump charcoal and offer an excellent starting point for lump Charcoal.
In addition to having a Smokenator and Weber kettle, you will need an inexpensive bi-metal thermometer; Taylor puts out a metal dial candy thermometer for about $9.00. To compare what your Weber kettle’s potential is to other smokers on the market, continue to Smokenator's Competitive Advantages.