The Easiest BBQ Lessons Ever: July 4th Basics

Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to become BBQ chefs for this 4th of July. Smoking meat is a whole lot more impressive and social versus the quick and ready to eat ordeal of grilling your foods on an electric or propane grill. Due to the hours, it takes to smoke your food, you can count on plenty of downtimes to socialize with your friends and family while your desire for the finished product only leaves you in lust, awaiting the end results.


“I can’t BBQ, I’m worried I will burn down the house.”

“You won’t.”

“So, you’re telling me that you’re going to teach me how to use a smoker and BBQ in this article?”

“I’ll teach you the basics to impress the 4th of July get together. And, I will give you all the pointers on how to not receive a visit from the fire department as well.”

If this sounds like a conversation we might have about bbq, then this article is for you.


The right size smoker to start with.

1. Buy a smoker

A smoker is the lifeblood of good BBQ. I don’t consider it real bbq unless you are cooking low and slow and with charcoal. You aren’t even cooking with a flame, only with the hot smoke, hence where the flavor comes into play. You can buy a decent smoker to begin your bbq career for a lot cheaper than your average electric or propane grill. Visit your closest Lowe’s or Home Depot and select one in the price range of $100-$200 depending on size. This is all you need to spend on a smoker right now.

2. Buy Charcoal, wood chips and lighter fluid and a long neck lighter


The right charcoal for the job.

While you are at Home Depot or Lowe’s, you can pick up two bags of Charcoal, two bags of wood chips, one can of lighter fluid and a lighter (always good to have a little extra at home). Don’t buy a smoker and forget the vital gear! That would be the equivalent of forgetting to wear pants to work.

3. Using the Smoker


How your coals should look before you start smoking, even whiter is fine.

Some smokers require a brief assembly. After you pass that point, go for a test run. Get a bucket and fill halfway with water. Dump half of your bag of wood chips into the bucket. Forget about them right now while they soak. Now dump your bag of charcoal into the smoker, all the way across, having it to appear quite even all the way along the bottom. Spray some lighter fluid back and forth across the coals for about five seconds. Grab your long neck lighter and light in three or more spots that you noticed got pretty nicely covered in charcoal. It should ignite very quickly. If you can light different spots on the charcoal without getting burned, it’s a plus. Use your lighter fluid one more time to ignite the flames even further. You want the flames to jump out of the smoker for a moment, and once they do, just let the flames dissipate for a few minutes with the top of the smoker open to the air. Oxygen helps the heat right now.

4. Go tell your spouse you love them

You have to wait for about ten minutes. The charcoal is getting really hot right now and you have to let it be. The goal is to have a good top layer of the charcoal turn white, which means it’s hot enough to do the job. But in the meantime, you need to go tell you’re significant other how much you appreciate them these days. Then, rudely break off your passionate conversation and head outside to check on the smoker. It should be ready to use.


Soaking wood chips before being thrown on coals.

5. Wood chips are key

The wood chips that are soaking in your bucket are ready to use. Disperse them in three separate handfuls of trickles all across the white-hot coals. It should smoke up really well. Close the top and let it sit for a minute. Your smoker should have a thermometer on it. The temp you want to sit at is between 220 F and 255 F. Any less or more is no good for smoking. If the temp is too low, let it sit covered, making sure to expose the side vents to the air so that the coals can breathe. If the heat is too high slowly add more wet wood chips and the temperature will decline. This is the most challenging part but becomes easy once you play with it a bit.

6. Smoke something


Don’t even think about smoking pets.

Once the smoker is in the 225-255 degree neighborhood, throw on hot dogs or chicken wings and let the smoke do its work (recipe for ribs below, if you are ready to tackle that). Now, I’m sure you are feeling really creative and excited about your new cooking ability but you have to refrain from considering throwing the neighbor’s miniature schnauzer on! Refrain from bad thoughts! It’s not worth it!

Ā Smoking Ribs

1. Purchase baby back ribs. On a countertop surface, flip ribs over and peel off the membrane on the back side of the rib (the not meaty side). This is not particularly simple at first, but after enough peeling, it becomes second nature. Also, this improves the taste of your ribs dramatically and many people don’t bother with it.

2. Find your favorite dry rub seasoning at the store or venture out to make your own. There are many options online depending on your taste buds. Once you have your seasoning in hand, sprinkle all over both sides of the ribs. When you have put the desired amount of dry rub seasoning on your ribs, begin to rub it into the rib. You have to get into Chinese masseuse at the mall in a kiosk mode to do this right. Give the ribs ten minutes at least to soak in the rub. Overnight in the fridge is the best.

3. After your smoker is ready to go and smoking and sitting at the desired temp of 225-255 degrees, put the ribs on the smoker bone side down. Close the smoker and let it go for one hour per side. Every ten minutes, check on the ribs to make sure there are no flare-ups and move the ribs around to the most medium hot spot on the smoker. The ribs need to stay moving or else you risk it burning.

4. Eat them. Dip them in the sauce. Cover them in the sauce too. Thank God for the smell of smoke and tell everyone at your 4th of July party that you are going to be throwing another BBQ very soon, but this time you will be charging twenty dollars per person to eat this well.


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