How To Modify Your Brinkmann Smoker for Peak Performance

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Brinkmann makes one of the cheapest smokers around. For about $40 you’ve got a decent charcoal smoker that can also be used as a grill and is large enough to handle pork butt, chickens and ribs (maybe not all at the same time).

For the 4th of July we picked up the Brinkmann Smoke n’ Grill from Home Depot and after consulting with a Brinkmann rep (who didn’t endorse mods but said they have helped some customers) we decided we needed to make some modifications that would make this grill perform better than it does out of the box.

With a few tweaks this little smoker can handle big jobs. Here’s what you need to get your smoker up to the task.

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1. Install Feet on the Outside of Smoker
The instructions say put the feet on the inside. This will hold the charcoal pan and make the smoker have a nicer look but by moving the feet outside of the smoker we can take the charcoal pan and place it some pavers or bricks and then place the smoker on top of it. It’s then much easier to access the charcoal during the 10 or so hours you need to smoke a pork butt.

Just lift the entire smoker off the charcoal and add charcoal or wood as needed.

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2. Aerate the Charcoal Pan
I drilled 5 holes in a star pattern in the bottom of the charcoal pan. This will allow the ash to fall through and give the charcoal more air to breathe which promotes hotter and longer burning.

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3. Replace the Thermometer
The included thermometer doesn’t have numbers only “warm/ideal/hot”. You and purchase an aftermarket thermometer and replace it so you can have an accurate reading.

4. Add a Vent
The only way to really vent the smoker is with the side door. By adding a vent in the top you’ll have better control of the smoke and heat.

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With our first attempt at smoking meat we went with a pork butt and threw an occasional piece of cherry and hickory on top of the charcoal. We ended up with a nice “bark” covering on the pork butt and it pulled apart wonderfully. The bone slide right out and we had a great meal for the 4th as well as sandwiches for the next few days.

Do you have a smoker? Any tips for us?

  • Harry

    Great tips Tim.
    I recently bought the gourmet version of Brinkmann smoker&grill. That doesn’t need modifications to the same extent. The charcoal pan is vented already for air flow. The lid doesn’t fit snuggly, allowing controlled escape of eat and smoke. The only thing I thought of adding was the thermometer, but then realised that food was coming out great as long as the temp remained within the ideal range. The only thing is, its like an automatic smoker as it doesn’t allow to vary the temperature. Not sure if its good or bad, but it’s working for me.

    • http://charlesandhudson.com/ Charles & Hudson

      I’d say it’s good that it’s a consistent temperature. That’s the issue with this one, keeping the heat up.

  • Eric

    Wrap it for cold weather with Reflect insulation (3×6′ roll) then: velcro and duct tape a hole for the door/temp/thermometer remote sensor.

    • http://charlesandhudson.com/ Charles & Hudson

      Great idea!

  • Jeff

    Where would you get the thermometer?

    • CrimeWatchMpls

      I bought mine at Menards. Any home improvement store should have them inthe grill dept.

  • Rabelrouser

    I have used this smoker for over 25 years and have found that the best thing to do when “stoking” the charcoal is to make a “chute” from a sheet of tin so that the charcoal can go in hot after starting it in a chimney. I put the new hot coals directly in through the doorway with this chute; it keeps from creating temp spikes during the cook.
    I always make sure to scrape / push out as much ash as possible, through the holes in the bottom of the charcoal pan. the center hole is 1/2″, and outside holes are 3/8″. Green Egg has a tool for this purpose which has a “L’ shape at the end and is flat.
    I also replenish the water pan during the cook with hot water with a long neck bottle, again to keep a steady temp during the cooking. usually at about 1 1/2 to 2 hr intervals.
    The hardest thing is to maintain a consistant temp (225) and sometimes you have to block the wind with a plywood barrier. I use three cuts and some piano hinge to make the wind block, about 18″high and total width of 24”.
    I added a better thermometer at the top for a better guage of actual cook temp.
    The biggest problem with this smoker is the work to maintain it during the cook, but it does an excellent job.