Do I need a water pan in my pellet smoker?

August 7, 2021

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Answer: You don't need to put a water pan in your pellet smoker - but you may greatly benefit from using one when you're cooking certain recipes.

For the BBQ lovers out there, a water pan could bring a level of moisture and smokiness that nothing else would.

Now, don't get it wrong: a water pan isn't a must for a pellet smoker the same way it is for a charcoal grill. Why? Because a pellet smoker has better control over the temperature and moisture than any other grill.

The thing is, adding a water pan is not going to hurt your chances to have a great BBQ - in fact, it may give you an extra edge, especially when it comes to cooking meat for a long time.

Keep in mind a water pan is great for a lot of recipes but not all of them. You don't need one for grilling a quick steak or something similar.

 

What is a pellet smoker?

A pellet smoker (also known as a pellet grill) is an outdoor cooker that takes the best elements out of grills, smokers, and ovens to provide you with one of the best tools to have a great BBQ.

The great thing about the pellet smoker is that it allows you to cook with wood, giving the meat a smoky flavor - one that is more difficult to get in other charcoal or gas grills.

Unlike other alternatives, the pellet smoker is easy to use, versatile, and fast. We highly recommend using one if you're a beginner trying to cook ribs or similar recipes.

Pellet Smoker

Pellet Smoker

Is a pellet smoker worth it?

A pellet smoker is a great investment if you're planning to use it.

It all comes down to that. Fortunately, pellet smokers are versatile - and you can cook meat, pork, fish, and almost everything that you love in there, so you'll probably use it a lot!

Veteran cooks may not like how versatile the pellet smoker is - because it does cut out several options in order to provide you with versatility.

This type of grill takes over the cooking process in a way, removing the possibility of giving a personal twist to what you're cooking.

For people who just want to eat delicious food without having to do too much work, a pellet smoker is a perfect choice.

 

Why do I have to use a water pan in my pellet smoker?

A water pan will give you many benefits when it comes to cooking meat.

  • It regulates the temperature inside the grill. 
  • Enhances the smoky flavor of it all
  • Eliminates heat spots (that could overcook your food on one side and undercook it on another).

We have explained why a pellet smoker may not need a water pan (although it could always benefit from one), but you should consider using one if you're cooking with a charcoal grill or an electric smoker. That's a subject for another day, though!

Simply put, a water pan brings plenty of benefits for you to enjoy. You can try cooking with a water pan one day and without one another day, and decide which one is best for you.

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Where does the water pan go in my pellet smoker?

More often than not, the water pan goes between the source of heat (in this case, wood) and the meat.

Certain pellet smokers won't have enough space for you to do that, so you'll have to figure out where to put it, depending on your model.

Does your pellet smoker not have enough space for you to put the water pan where you're used to? Don't panic! You can also put it to the side or someplace safe.

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What do I do with my water pan after I use it?

You need to throw the water away and clean your pan after cooking.

Ideally, you'd do that after you finish grilling - but you can do it the day after if you don't feel like it right away.

We're going to give you a water pan tip. Hopefully, you're reading this article before you start cooking.

When using a water pan, you should wrap it in foil. That way, you can throw the water in the trash and then do the same with the foil - so you'll have a clean pan when you're through.

Of course, we recommend rinsing and wiping the pan no matter how you use it, foil or no foil.

Remember not to throw the water into the sink or toilet or anywhere with a drain. After a long cooking session, the water inside your water pan will be mixed with grease, meat, and all sorts of things - and that belongs in the trash.


 

Can I reuse the water pan of my pellet smoker?

You can reuse the pan but not the water inside of it.

After you finish cooking, throw the water away - don't store it somewhere for your next grilling session!

Some people prefer to put beer, wine, and other liquids in their water pan - and you may be wondering what to do with it then.

Well, we're going to tell you not to do that. It's not that we don't like beer or wine! But the entire point of a water pan is to give the meat an even cooking process and add an element of smokiness.

You should spray or brush the meat with beer if you want to go down the flavoring route, not put it in the water pan.

Then again, it's up to you!

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Can I use my pellet smoker without a water pan?

Cooking without a water pan is not a problem when you're using a pellet smoker.

This amazing grill can handle anything you throw in it - and keep it moist and evenly cooked with no help whatsoever.

Remember, you should consider using a water pan if you're going to go through a long cooking process. We're talking about a 16 hour recipe, like pulled pork. That's when a water pan is necessary.

For any other dish, you don't have to use a water pan. The truth is, most people won't notice the difference if you don't!

Sure, some people may notice it. You may notice it too if you're constantly smoking meat. For a casual cookout, not having a water pan is not going to ruin anyone's evening.

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