Too much moisture in a smoker?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by archoplites, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. I been smoking meat (mainly steelhead and salmon) for more than 20 years on my old Char-Broil H20 smoker.  Had the technique down for steelhead/salmon and smaller pieces of chicken thighs.  I recently purchased a Smokin-it #2 and like the ease of smoking meat on this unit. 

    One issue I've noticed with the electric smoker is that when I load it up with a lot of meat (say three trays full of thighs) it has a tendency not to crisp the surface with the traditional nice rosey/browning surface I'm use to seeing in my old charcoal briquette smoker.  I monitor all my meat (when feasible) with an electronic temperature gauge in the meat and have been pulling chicken when the internal temp is 165 F.  The food is smoked well and smells and tastes great, but does not look that appealing (more of a brownish/grey color).  Almost like the chicken was boiled or cooked in a oven with tinfoil over it.   In addition, I've noticed this problem getting worse from when I smoked 8 chicken thighs vs 16 chicken thighs (again the internal temp was 165 when pulled with both).

    Main question - is there some techniques to help brown/rose up the surface of these meats? I believe it's related to moisture in the meat and marinade that is keeping the internal smoker too moist to crisp up?   I've read I could crank up the smoker temp to max (250+ F) during the last 15-30 min of cooking time?  Open the smoker at set intervals after the first hour to release excess moisture? 

    Any advice?
  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    The problem with chicken skin is that it will not brown until all the moisture is out of it. When you smoke at a low temp in a high moisture environment it will never brown. The easiest fix is to smoke it to about 150 IT then finish it skin side down on a very hot grill. I don't think the Smokin-It 2 will get hot enough to produce a crisp skin without having to overcook the chicken.
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The Smokin-it has no air flow.... moisture stays trapped inside it... Some folks have drilled holes to increase the air flow....
  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Mine come out nice when I do 8 or 9 thighs in my MES 40.

    I turn it up to 275° for the last 45 minutes, and they come out with nice color & the skin is fine.

    I never put water in my water pan.


  5. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Try air drying your chicken in the fridge uncovered overnight or manually dry it with a fan or hair dryer. It works wonders. Also you might try sand or gravel in your water pan instead of water to lower the moisture a little bit.
  6. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Brush olive oil on the skins a couple times during the cook, this always helps with the browning process.
  7. I have the #2 and LOVE it.  I ALWAYS cook chicken at the max setting and get a nice brown skin on mine.  No need for low temps for chicken. 

  8. Thanks for all the replies.  So far I switched some things up based on your recommendations including - pat drying the chicken with paper towels, increasing the cooking temp (10-15 F), using olive oil, opening door once during mid-cook time, and using less meat in the smoker at once. 

    Ran two trials with skin on chicken thighs and skin on chicken breasts. 

    First trial (4/18) -  three chicken thighs and two chicken breasts, no marinade just some rubs (Plow Boys and Santa Maria), pat dry with paper towels, 2.5 hours cooking time at 215 - 230 F, nice browning/coloration, white meat a little dry dark meat great at 165 pull temp = overall success. 

    Second trial (4/19) - three chicken thighs and two chicken breasts, overnight marinade in brown sugar/salt/garlic/onion mix, allowed to drip dry and cooked for approximately 2 hours at 225 F.   Nice brown/red coloration, pulled at 167 white and dark meat moist and sweet = overall success.

    May trying running more meat load 3-4 trays up for a work function coming up.  Will keep you posted. 
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    How was the skin, when only using 225°/230° the whole time?

    I always jack mine up to 275° about the last 45 minutes to crisp the skin up some.



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