Smokehouse Style BBQ at Home

Published on August 3, 2022 | Updated on July 17, 2024 | by Allen Bixby

Making BBQ at home is easy but you might find that you aren’t getting the right flavors that you get at the real BBQ houses. Is it something that you’re doing wrong, or are there Pitmaster secrets you’ve been neglecting to learn?

Getting the real restaurant-style like they do at BBQ joints

chefs grilling BBQ at restaurant

If you have a BBQ hangout that you love going to over and over because that taste is what makes their BBQ so impressive, it might not be a mistake that they know something you don’t. Sure, they make it look so easy in all of those BBQ videos, but seriously these guys are BBQ pros who know the inside information on meat temperatures, meat rubs, and mopping techniques.

There are plenty of smoking tricks they aren’t sharing with you and most of the time, you aren’t hearing about the types of wood that will compliment specific types of meat. So getting that exact flavor you want takes plenty of practice and also lots of patience. Slow and steady is the name of the game when it comes to getting tender BBQ and often starts with getting up very early in the morning or even starting the night before.

The best advice is to ask a lot of questions to learn insider secrets if these Pitmasters are willing to spill the beans. Luckily, there are plenty of websites that do share more than a fair share of information. There happens to be a BBQ community that wants to help educate new enthusiasts who like grilling. But what you find on the internet is often deceptive since there are plenty more websites that like to steer you in the wrong direction.

When it comes to getting the smokehouse style BBQ just right, start with the basics of how to BBQ. The rest will soon fall into place.

Getting Real BBQ Flavor

The first thing you’ll notice about using an outdoor grill is that meat that’s cooked on a BBQ has a natural smoky flavor. You can’t get this on a gas grill and many traditional barbecue grills will use charcoal to cook the food. Wood is added to give flavor and make your grilled meat taste more authentic. You can add smoky flavors but it’s just not the same since real smoke gets into the meat that you can taste and smell as you’re eating it.

Set up your grill as an off-set smoker

You don’t need to go out and buy the latest smoker to enjoy great BBQ at home. A standard kettle grill for $60 will do just fine. Here’s some images to show how to transform your kettle grill into a lean, mean, smoking machine

Reserve one side of your grill to act as a smoker so you can have a cooler side within your grill. This also gives you the advantage to help regulate the temperature inside your grill and let you smoke your meat instead of having an open flame on your food. Put various wood chips on top of your charcoal to increase and decrease the level of smoke flavor you want. You can set the vents inside your grill to help the air circulate and move smoke over the meat.

Purchase your first smoker

Here’s a less cost effective idea, but hopefully looking at a smoker designed for a beginner will have you sitting at a comfortable price point. for under a few hundred bucks you can pick up a legit smoker. One option is to go with a drum smoker, priced for about $300 you can yield competition style BBQ with just a little practice.

The other option, which is a little more ideal for someone without any BBQ experience; grab a pellet grill. While you’ll spend a little more than the drum smoker, there’s not as much of a learning curve. In fact, if you’ve worked an oven, you’re a good candidate to run a pellet smoker. These smokers while, automated, use a form of real wood which yields authentic BBQ all by setting a thermostat. The other benefit to grabbing a pellet smoker, is you don’t have to worry too much about purchasing a thermometer probe (as I would recommend for your kettle grill or drum smoker) to monitor the pit temperature as it mostly regulates it’s own temperature.

Stick to quality meat

Among the best ways to get that real flavor always starts with buying quality meat. Select a cut of meat that is from the premium selection. Your butcher will recommend which parts are best, so you want to tell them what you intend to do with that meat. Select cuts will also cost a bit more because they are ultimately going to taste better. This is why you don’t want to be cheap since you can’t improve the taste with a bad cut of meat no matter what.

Use meat rubs

The biggest secret to barbecue meat is giving your meat a complete seasoning before you put it on your grill. Most meat will require salt and pepper, but after that, you can add nearly any kind of seasoning within a basic meat rub. Learn to make your own meat rub mixes that will give your meats distinct flavors as they grill.

Tips and tricks

After any meat is grilled, let it rest for a few minutes so it can develop more flavor. Most people think that it’s just to let the food cool down, but the real truth is so juices and form within the meat and make your BBQ taste even better. Since a barbecue is a slow process, you also need to be patient. Don’t rush the cooking process and learn to rely on what you can learn from meat thermometers.

meat with thermometer probes

Invest in thermometers that give you a complete look at the internal and external temperature within your grill. The good part is that you’ll always know your meat is done when you reach a specific core temp based on your meat’s thickness. Given that much info, it will also take time for select cuts to get tender like ribs. There is also the issue of tenderness, so you’ll also need to wrap your meat in foil to get the best results.

The best advice is to practice a lot using all the skills that you’ll learn for using your BBQ grill. You can try new recipes and adjust your cooking method to fine-tune how the finished meat will turn out. Essentially, don’t give up having a passion for making your barbecue experience as pleasant as the last. The best part is that you can enjoy what you make each time with friends and family. Good luck!

About the Author Allen Bixby

A retired restaurateur, not quite ready to stop playing in the kitchen.

I have had the pleasure of watching amazing high end chefs, and classic American style diner cooking, creating a very diverse background with food. Add both parents teaching English, watching Julia Childs and Graham Kerr as a child, and learning to bake bread from my Finnish great grandma, and you get a decent recipe for a knowledgeable voice to write about food.

From recipe design to equipment testing, there is a broad spectrum of entertaining aspects of food and how we do what we do every day to feed our loved ones!

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