Cleaning and maintaining a food smoker

Cleaning and maintaining a food smoker

Smoker with Food Cleaning and maintaining a food smoker

This is an article from one of our Guest Writers on – Devin Harper whose writings frequently appear on the Bradley Smoker blog

Attention grill meisters and backyard chefs!

If you want to continue to enjoy that savory food that comes only from your food smoker and avoid equipment failures and health hazards, then proper maintenance is a must.
There are all kinds of food smoker designs and models out there, so a one-size-fits-all maintenance strategy can’t really be used across the board.
Having said that, I’d like to offer a few cleaning tips and techniques that have worked well for me. I use an electric Bradley smoker, but many of these suggestions can certainly be applied to other types of smokers as well – propane, charcoal or digital.

Initial Seasoning

Before you start cooking away in your brand new smoker, it’s important to season it first to remove any impartial smells from your smoker. The smell of your factory-new food smoker isn’t necessarily how you want your food to taste. Basically, seasoning is an ongoing process. The more you smoke and cook in your smoker, the better tasting the foods will be.
To do this, quickly wipe down the inside parts of the smoker. Fill your drip bowl about half-full of water and open the damper on top of your unit. Preheat your smoker to 150°F. Add wood and let smoke fill the tower for one hour. Doing this will give you a chance to become more familiar with the unit, its controls and the smoking process. Moreover, the smoke will create somewhat of a protective surface that repels water and prevents rust.


All food smokers should be maintained and cleaned after each use. To clean your smoker, remove any internal parts that are easily accessible for cleaning and wash them off with a damp cloth. If they are stainless steel parts, clean them with dish soap or throw them in the dishwasher.
One of the easiest ways to clean your smoker racks is by removing them and using a stainless steel wire brush to clean off the rack and other parts. You can use baking soda and vinegar to help you remove sticky residue.

Remember, good smoke residue in the tower (seasoning) takes time to create. The more residue, the better! It only takes a couple of minutes to mess that up, so carefully consider the following:

  • Do NOT immerse smoker in water. The quickest and easiest cleaning method is simply taking a damp towel and wiping away food particles and grease inside of your smoker. Grease build-up may cause a fire if neglected over time, so pay particular attention to that.
  • Do NOT spray the inside of your smoker with appliance cleaner. Strong cleaners have a tendency to linger around in the inner parts of your unit and can contaminate your food. Remember, you want to leave that smoke or black residue on the tower walls for best food taste.
  • Do NOT cover your racks with aluminum foil. This will seal the racks and can cause damage to your unit.

I’ve heard some say that it doesn’t matter what your smoker looks like as long as the food tastes good, but a poorly maintained smoker can cause equipment failures and can be hazardous.
For food smokers that use charcoal, it’s important to remove the ashes from the bottom of the grill. These ashes, if left for long periods of time, will trap oil and moisture and can lead to rust forming on the bottom of your unit. This may not apply to your food smoker.

In Summary

Cleaning and maintaining a food smoker is easy when it comes down to it. Following these suggestions will enable you to keep producing great-tasting food and enjoy your food smoker for a lifetime!

About the author: Devin Harper is a writer and smoked meat fanatic. He first got into food smoking in Juneau, AK where he caught and cooked his own salmon regularly. He’s an avid outdoorsman and specializes in wild game recipes that can be found on the Bradley Smoker blog.

Swiss Moose Steak Recipe

Swiss Moose Steak Recipe

Guest post from author Beverly Jo Noble. No pictures but a great recipe!

Cooking Wild Game Meat

These recipes come from an old cookbook that my Mom bought after moving to Alaska in 1951. The first 30 pages are missing, so I can’t credit the author(s). Thought it might be interesting to all who love outdoor living, and a glimpse at life in America’s last frontier.

I was 2 when my family moved to Alaska; hunting and fishing were our main sources of protein. Milk was dried or canned; fruit was canned, and vegetables mostly frozen. Except for the joys of the summer (3 months) vegetable garden and berry picking in the fall. Take a peek at another life…

Marinade for Game Meats

Into a large, flat pan (do not use metal other than enameled ware) put the following ingredients: juice of 2 or 3 lemons or limes, juice of 1 orange, ½ cup of vinegar, 2 cups of white wine or cider, 1 sliced onion, a diced carrot, 2 sticks of diced celery or a handful of celery leaves, 1 clove of garlic that has been mashed into a paste, 4 sprigs of parsley, 1 bay leaf, 2 chili peppers seeded and veined, and a good dash of nutmeg.

Lay the meat in this marinade and let it remain several hours, turning and basting it frequently. If the meat is a leg of venison or elk, or a moose roast, it should be brushed well with oil or larded before being seared. Bear are fat and need no added grease. When the meat is removed from the marinade and placed in the roasting pan for roasting, it may be basted frequently with some of the marinade during the process of cooking.

Swiss Moose Steak

2 Lbs. lean round of moose, reindeer, or caribou

½ cup flour

2 tsp. salt

1/3 tsp. pepper

3 Tbsp. melted fat

1 tsp. dry mustard or 2 tsp. grated fresh horseradish

1 small onion

1 cup canned tomatoes, heated

Cut steaks 1½ or 2 inches thick. Mix flour, salt, and pepper; thoroughly pound into steak. Brown on both sides in hot fat; spread top with mustard or horseradish. Sprinkle with onions and add tomatoes. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender or bake in oven (350) 1 to 1½ hours. Serves 6.

Next post I will adapt these recipes to beef and cooking outdoors. If anyone has an idea of where the original cookbook came from, please let me know!

Beverly Jo Noble


Beverly received her first cookbook as a birthday present at age 8, and has been cooking for family and friends ever since. Heart disease, diabetes, and weight control concerns in the family led her to modify old favorites and search for new items to replace high-­‐fat, high-­‐sodium foods while balancing proteins and carbohydrates. Fruit trees and berries in the back yard produced seasonal abundance that led to new uses in the kitchen.

Her cookbook series, A Lifetime of Recipes, makes “from scratch” meals quick and easy. The first book in the series, Fabulous Fresh Fruit, is focused on seasonal, locally grown fruit and how to use it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

You can reach Beverly at, on LinkedIn as Beverly (Wilson) Noble, or at

Swiss Moose Steak Recipe

Recipe type: Wild Game
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
  • 2 Lbs. lean round of moose, reindeer, or caribou
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ⅓ tsp. pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. melted fat
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard or 2 tsp. grated fresh horseradish
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, heated
  1. Cut steaks 1½ or 2 inches thick.
  2. Mix flour, salt, and pepper; thoroughly pound into steak.
  3. Brown on both sides in hot fat
  4. Spread top with mustard or horseradish.
  5. Sprinkle with onions and add tomatoes.
  6. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender or bake in oven (350) 1 to 1½ hours. Serves 6.

Cooking Outdoors: Grilling on the Go!

Cooking Outdoors: Grilling on the Go

Barbecues are usually associated with sunny, summer days in the garden, the whole family playing games while one person stands over the grill turning the sausages and flipping the burgers. The smell of grilled food fills the air and before you know it you’ve invited friends over and you’ve got a party in the garden until the early hours or you’ve started a craze on the street with all the neighbours firing up their grills too!

Campsite Cooking Outdoors: Grilling on the Go!

But barbecues don’t have to be simply associated with the home. Many take barbecues away with them on camping trips with owners packing up the disposable or even the gas BBQ along with the tent and essentials to ensure that they get an amazing meal wherever they may lay their head.

Campsites and “stay-cations” have proved to be particularly popular with people looking for ways of saving money but still enjoying well-earned holidays. While expensive and exotic trips may be a thing of the past for many people due to the current state of the global economy, trips to the coast, country or city are proving to be just as popular as trips to the Caribbean or safaris were five to ten years ago.

In such cases people are looking for ways to experience the great outdoors and cooking on a barbecue allows them to do that, and also means that they don’t have to pay for meals at hotels or restaurants.

burgersonthegrill Cooking Outdoors: Grilling on the Go!

At family camping trips, barbecuing isn’t just an effective way of cooking but it’s a practical one too. Without access to electricity and therefore ovens and refrigeration in most sites, it’s snacks-to-go or cook-your-own. Grilling sausages, burgers, chicken and vegetables is a great way of feeding the family and provides that real sense of being out in the wilderness and survival – think Bear Grylls without the scorpions and other creepy crawlies!

Down on the coast you get an extra opportunity to test those survival skills with fresh seafood. If you venture out into the water and catch your own fish, crabs and alike, you can cook them up on the barbecue and enjoy food caught on the same day with your own hands – you don’t get much fresher than that! Wrap them in some tin foil, crank up the grill and enjoy!

Fresh vegetables can also be cooked on a barbecue meaning you can still get all of your necessary nutrition and healthy foods. When you say the word barbecue you think of meat and unhealthy products, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Cooking vegetables inside foil wrapping will do them in a similar way to steaming veg at home so even on the road you can get your five a day.

To conclude, cooking on the go doesn’t have to mean just burgers, hot dogs and bags of crisps. If you’re a whizz in the kitchen, you can whip up just about any meal on a barbecue – or the bulk of one at least! Meat, vegetables, even fruit, all cook perfectly on a grill when done correctly, helping to provide a nutritious and appetizing meal that even ensures you get the majority of your five a day.

Happy grilling!

This guest post was written by Matt Rawlings. Matt is an experienced blogger who has covered a variety of topics relating to food, from the best table sauces to restaurant reviews. He is a freelance writer currently working with The Gas BBQ Company in the UK.

Next Page »