Water in pan or not??

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by rp ribking, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. rp ribking

    rp ribking Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Here is my question, I am smoking chicken quarters later today on a WSM. Do I put water in the pan or not?

    Thanks RP  
  2. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well, are you smoking or grilling? Without a water pan, you are basically just grilling. The pan is there to act as a heat sink. I forgot to put mine in one time and came out to over 400º temps. Whether it is water or sand, there is a reason for the pan.
  3. richoso1

    richoso1 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That was a good response Flash, simple and to the point. [​IMG]
  4. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

     Well, my wife has been know to call me "Simple" a time or two. [​IMG]
  5. richoso1

    richoso1 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've been called worse...
  6. rp ribking

    rp ribking Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I have read that some people do not put water in the pan when the water pan is in the smoker to maintain a higher smoking temp for chicken. I wasn't going to leave the water pan out of the smoker.
  7. smoke_chef

    smoke_chef Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Hmmmm.... I'm not sure about that. Many smokers don't even have a water pan? Some would say the water pan is just a crutch? My smoker has one and I usually use it. But when I'm smoking poultry I sometimes take it out. Especially in the winter. It's all about controlling your fire no matter how you go about it. No? Just my two cents any way.
  8. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

     Well with out it, something in the "LOW and SLOW " credo will change. Now you can always use sand instead of water. Playbox sand works great and will give you a higher more constant temp. But if you temps raise up into the 400º with your normal pan of charcoals or your normal setting for propane, you will not be smoking. Your right that some smokers do not have a water pan, but I am pretty sure all Vertical smokers do. Horizontals afford much more space to move the fire off to one side and smoke indirect, but in a vertical, it will be direct, no matter what you do.
  9. jak757

    jak757 Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    I use a clay flower pot saucer covered with foil in the water pan of my WSM.  It acts as a heat sink, and is easy to clean (rmove foil and toss).  I have no trouble at all holding temps in the 255-250 range for hours.  Using water or not is up to you -- but I think as others have said, you need something in the pan.
  10. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have heard of that also. Someone else just used clay bricks. The heat sink is the key, doesn't matter how you achieve it. Some perceive that the water from the water pan adds moisture to the meat, (It does, but very little) but water does not have to be there. I use sand alot of the time. It seems you have to use something or down size the amount of coals you are using and doing that, you may be replenishing them often.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
  11. rp ribking

    rp ribking Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks everyone for the tips. I had the chicken quarters on for 3 hours with hickory and had crispy skin and savory juices. Gotta love that WSM.
  12. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use water, but if I am doing chicken and want the crispy skin I let the charcoal ring really get going before I assemble the smoker, then I leave the vents 100% open. Usually cooks around 325° on the lid therm, and the grates are usually a little bit hoter.
  13. reichl

    reichl Meat Mopper

    When I do chicken on my WSM, I don't even put the water pan in the smoker.  It's easy to maintain the temp without the waterpan and I enjoy crispy skin.  It basically just turns the WSM into a UDS where the chicken juices fall onto the coals and steams up the chicken.
  14. If you leave the water pan out of your wsm, you'll use about half the charcoal and yes, you can cook low and slow (about 250 F) without it.  For chickens, put one chimney of unlit briquettes in the charcoal ring, add twenty fully ablaze briquets, assemble the smoker and give it half an hour to stabilize.  You should be able to control the heat with only one of the air vents once it is up to temp, leave the other two closed.  My water pan has found a nice home as the ash pan for my kettle and I haven't missed it at all.
  15. what size pot do I need for my 22.5 WSM? Im going to try that next time I fire that thing up.
  16. For poultry, I never use the water pan in my WSM. I cook birds closer to 300 degrees (which is still pretty low) and the water would boil off at that temp, and turn my smoker into a steamer.

    The sand-pan's a really great idea, though.
  17. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I like to keep my chamber temps at around 210, so I need a full water pan ( except for chicken ), but I think your idea of using the water pan for an ash pan is awesome. I have never tried to use it that way. Does it go down to the bottom & leave the vents clear? I may have to buy an extra one for the ash! I guess I'll have to go outside & see for myself.
  18. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    I use a clay saucer in my WSM and it works great.[​IMG]
  19. What size saucer fits in the 22.5" WSM?
  20. Though this is a three years old post....I use a 16" saucer wrapped in foil.

    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013

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