Smoking on a Kettle and temp help.

Blake in OK

New member
Okay so today I tried some smoking on my new kettle. I just did some sausage and bologna in case things went bad. I fired up some coals in my chimney dumped them in my baskets and the temp was way high and I had to shut off all air to the top and bottom vent to get them down. So I think I figured out a couple issues but would like some clarification or input.

I have seen everywhere to put your vent over your food so smoke goes over it. This means the thermometer is right over the coals. So its going to show higher temps while over the coals? I ended up using a digital probe on the side where the meat was and once it cooled down read in the 225-250 range that I was looking for but still around 300 on the lid thermometer over the coals.

I am thinking I may have caused my own problem starting with a full chimney of hot coals. Any input on this and how to have lower temps to start is appreciated. Temp outside was around 50F and even with all the air cut off it took a while to get temps down then I ran about about 1/4 open on top and bottom vent and it was stable.


Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Like Tim before I got my WSM I used the snake method and that works really well with the kettle.

Jim Strickland

I also use the snake method like Tim and Rich. I have found it to be a reliable means of temperature control in the kettle.

Kyle in Woodstock

TVWBB Super Fan
I use the minion method most of the time.... i put a large pan of water under my meat.... thin layer of coals on the opposite side, then dump lit coals and wood chunks on top of the unlit coals. At first you'll see high heat, but once you figure out your vent openings and how to control the temps it's easy to get the temp down around 250.
My Performer is so old that over time on the bottom vent, it's managed to not fully shut when I crank it all the way left, but it's the perfect position for me when doing a low and slow smoke

Mike Freel

Smoking and grilling is a continuing process of learning, not a one and done. Sounds like you did a great job of analyzing your experience and, with the excellent advice already given, are ready for another round. Good luck and enjoy.

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Mike says a lot in his first sentence.
Every cook will be different, the day, weather, product will be different each time you light that rascal up.
I agree with the “Sharpie marker” trick, I learned it several years ago from another forum, really works well, I need to clean the ring and engrave the marks when spring comes around.

George Curtis

TVWBB Olympian
Never tried the snake method because it messes with my style of cooking. I do the offset minion method. No water. I also foil the coal grate that is not used. This basically forces the fresh air coming from the bottom to go through the coals rather than going straight up through the kettle and mixong with the heated air. Just messes with the temps. The top vent should be open fully. The bottom vent should be just cracked open. This should get you to the temp you need. I of course cook in the 300 range give or take 25 deg or so. I also use a meat and grate temp setup. Practice makes perfect as you find what you like.


The trick is figuring out how many lit coals to start with, as you figured out. If you start with too few you can get to temp but you have to wait longer but if you start with too much you have to spend a lot of time choking the fire and getting it to settle in. It takes a few times to get the right amount for your grill and as mentioned, it can vary depending on other variables.