How to Control Temp on Oklahoma Joe Smoker?

With an Oklahoma Joe smoker, a mouthwatering smoke flavor in your cuts of meat is achievable any day. So, you don't have to keep suppressing that craving for nicely smoked pork shoulder, ribs, or poultry.

But how do you achieve perfect flavor and doneness in your food when using the Oklahoma Joe's smoker? Well, this will depend on how you manage the cooking chamber temperature. 

So, today we will be seeing in detail the several steps on how to control temp on Oklahoma Joe smoker. Also, you will get expert answers to the frequently asked questions by users in this area.

Brand Overview

Joe Davidson invented the Oklahoma Joe smoker in 1987 in his pursuit of highly flavorful BBQ. This brand has since evolved tremendously to match the needs of the modern barbeque world.

Some of the features that make the Oklahoma Joe brand stand out from many other brands of smokers over the years are simplicity of use and its massive cooking capacity.

Also, the Oklahoma Joe provides you with several types of smokers, which you can choose from depending on your preferences. So, whether you want a vertical smoker or an offset barrel smoker, you are well considered by the Joes.
how to control temp on oklahoma joe smoker
smoker chimney

How to Build a Perfect Fire for a Perfect Smoke

First things first, for an Oklahoma joe smoker first-time use, you will need to know how to season an Oklahoma joe smoker

Seasoning a smoker will help to eliminate unwanted manufacturing odors and substances. Also, seasoning cures the paint on your smoker, thus keeping it looking new for years.

Now that you have laid a lifetime barbeque foundation by seasoning your smoker, the next thing will be to set up your Joe smoker for a cooking session. So, let's build a fire using the following simple steps:

1. To begin with, fill the chimney starter with lump charcoal, then empty it into the charcoal basket.

But why lump charcoal instead of charcoal briquettes? 

Lump charcoal is more preferred than charcoal briquettes in both Oklahoma offset and cylindrical smokers since it burns more and longer than the latter. 

Also, lump charcoal is made from burnt wood chunks; this will give an amazing wood flavor to your cook of pork or other foods.

Now, the unlit coals will form the base on which we shall place hot coals later on.

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2. Fill the chimney starter with additional charcoal. Then, light the chimney of coals using fire igniters. 

Once the coals are well lit, empty the entire chimney onto the unlit coal bed you had earlier laid in the charcoal basket.

Open both the air controller hole and the chimney vent. The air intake hole regulates the airflow inside the smoker grill, while the chimney vent controls the amount of smoke hovering on food. 

Remember to have some heat resistant gloves on when handling hot lump charcoal in an offset smoker. Also, ensure you don't place the hot charcoal chimney on a surface that can easily burn.

3. Monitor the internal temperature to get the desired internal temperature. 

Whether you want a slow and low cook at 200-225 temps or a faster and hotter cook, it's all possible with the Oklahoma smoker. 

You can use several probes to monitor food and pit temperatures with the Oklahoma smoker grills. This eliminates guesswork and poorly cooked meals, differentiating this brand from cheaply-made smoker grills.

After attaining an ambient temperature, you can add some wood for flavor, depending on your preferences. 

If you like fruit wood like cherry and apple, go for them. On the other hand, if you want a stronger flavor, you can consider Oak or Hickory at any time.

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oklahoma joe smoker temp control

How to Control the Fire for Perfect Cooking Temperature

After adding your favorite wood logs to the coals, ensure you have clean smoke before placing a couple of pork shoulders or other meat cuts in the cooking chamber.

A bad smoke can affect the taste of meat. 

But, how will you differentiate between good and bad smoke? It's very easy! You will need to wait till the smoke turns from thick white smoke to pale smoke. 

A clean smoke comes from a clean fire. In addition, a clean fire will produce a consistent temperature for cooking meat.

Now that you have a clean fire and smoke, here is how you will control the temperature when cooking with Oklahoma Joe smoker:

1. Ensure that you have the right heat level before putting your food in the cooking chamber. 

You can lower or increase temperatures by adjusting the intake baffle. The more the air intake, the higher the temperatures and vice versa. Also, ensure you make small adjustments at a go to avoid drastic temperature changes.

In addition, maintaining the right grill grate height will contribute to the level of heat going into your food. So, if you have an adjustable charcoal grate, you can lower or raise it for precise temperature control.

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oklahoma joe smoker first time use

2. Place your boneless pork butt, ribs, or favorite meat cuts on the cooking grate.

Have a water pan sit underneath the food. This water preserves meat nutrients and prevents your meat from drying up. Also, the water helps regulate smoker temperature by locking in heat.

You might also need to keep adding 1-2 chunks of smoking wood during a cooking session if you will be cooking huge meat cuts. This will ensure that a wood smoke flavor is evenly distributed in every meat part.

Also, you will need to use the chimney charcoal starter to light coals whenever you need to add coals during a cooking session. This is because adding unlit coals to the lit ones can cause a sudden temperature drop in the cooking chamber.

Lastly, it will be good to keep in mind that weather can affect your cooking temperature. 

Rain, cold, and wind will determine the ease of attaining and maintaining the right cooking temperatures. These weather conditions will also determine how much lump charcoal to use in smoker.


1. Is the Oklahoma Joe thermometer accurate?

Ye, the Oklahoma smoker thermometer provides accurate temp readouts. This thermometer can read from as low as 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that you can slow or fast cook in your smoker with accurate temperature management.

2. Why can't my smoker get hot enough?

First, you will need to ensure that your smoker is in a well-ventilated area to allow oxygen into your hot coals. Secondly, check whether the vents are fully open with nothing blocking them.

3. At what smoking temp will my pork shoulder be done?

A temperature range of 195°F to 205°F is suitable for a pork shoulder. You can use a meat probe to ensure that the meat has attained the doneness temperature. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest section of the meat for an accurate doneness temperature readout.

4. Why is my smoker too hot?

The main reason your smoker could be too hot is an excessive air intake. So, to solve this, you can close the damper a bit more. Then, if the high temperatures persist, you can open the smoker door to release the excessive heat.

5. Can you use wood pellets to replace wood chips in your Joe smoker?

Absolutely, yes! Wood pellets burn longer than wood chips, making them a better option for those low and slow cooks. Also, wood pellets produce less ash than wood chunks.


The Oklahoma Joe smoker is a household brand due to its premium construction and easy controls. In addition, you get to enjoy tasty, juicy, and tender meat cuts.

However, you will need to know your smoker and learn its controls for maximum results. But we've got you covered on this!

You can put into practice what we have discussed above on how to control temp on Oklahoma Joe smoker. This way, you can impress your guests or family any day with a nicely done barbeque.

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