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oklahoma joe smoker

How to use an Oklahoma Joe Smoker

Learn how to properly use an Oklahoma Joe Smoker to make some great BBQ!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 6 hrs
Total Time 7 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12 Servings


  • Oklahoma Joe's Offset Barrel Smoker
  • Charcoal Chimney
  • Lighter
  • Ash Bucket
  • Fire Poker
  • BBQ Tools and Gloves
  • Dual Probe BBQ Thermometer Set


  • 1 Bag Charcoal
  • 1-2 Chunks Smoking Wood
  • 1 Paraffin Fire Starter Cube
  • Food to Cook!


Light your Charcoal

  • Fill a charcoal chimney ¼ to ½ full with unlit charcoal. Light a paraffin cube placed below the chimney.
  • While the charcoal is lighting, fill your Oklahoma Joe offset firebox about ½ full with unlit coals for a 6 hour cook. Less if necessary, but not more than ½ full.
  • Make a small well or depression in the unlit coals in your firebox.

Add Lit Charcoal to Firebox

  • Once your charcoal chimney charcoal is fully lit, after about 10-20 minutes, carefully pour it into the well you made in the unlit coals in the firebox.
  • Do not stir these coals into the unlit ones, you want them to slowly spread and burn the other ones throughout the long cook. Close the lid.

Adjust Damper to Control Temperature

  • Open the chimney exhaust lid at least ½ to fully open and open your damper on the side of the fire box all the way as well.
  • For most BBQ you will be aiming for a cooking chamber temperature of 225°F to 275°F. When the temperature of the cooking chamber approaches 175°F begin to close the damper to ½ way open or even less to keep the temperature steady at this level.
  • Do not adjust the chimney exhaust lid.

Add Smoking Wood

  • Once the cooking chamber is up to temperature, open the firebox and add 1 or 2 medium chunks, or 1 Large chunk of your preferred smoking wood.
  • Close the lid of the firebox and after about 3-5 minutes you should begin to see smoke coming out of the chimney.

Put your Food in the Cooking Chamber

  • When the temperature is where you want it and smoke is being produced, place your food in the cooking chamber.
  • Use a good dual probe BBQ thermometer to monitor both the temperature of the cooking chamber as well as the internal temperature of the meat.

Adjust Dampers and add Charcoal as Needed

  • Adjust your dampers as needed to control the flow of oxygen to the coals and therefore the temperature of your cooking chamber.
  • If the temperature drops too much, even with the dampers mostly open, you may need to add more lit or unlit coals and/or stir the coals around to get more oxygen to the coals in the firebox.

Remove Food and Snuff Coals

  • When your food has come up to temperature, remove from the smoker.
  • Close the chimney exhaust lid completely as well as the damper and the lids to the firebox and cooking chamber. This will snuff out your coals over the next few hours.

Cleaning the Oklahoma Joe Smoker

  • The next day, when the coals are completely cooled, you can clean out the ash in the bottom of your firebox. You can leave any unlit or mostly intact coals for the next cook.
  • Clean your BBQ grates from the cooking chamber by placing them over a gas grill on HIGH heat for 8-12 minutes and then scrubbing with a bristle free grill bursk. Then place them back in the smoker when cooled.


Always wear protective BBQ gloves when touching any part of the Oklahoma Joe Smoker or Charcoal Chimney.  Never touch lit coals with ANY BBQ gloves but instead use long handled tongs or a fire poker.  Always have a fire extinguisher nearby.
Keyword bbq, Charcoal, Grilling, Oklahoma Joe, Setting up a Smoker, Smoking, Wood chips, Woodsmoke