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What is a drip pan used for?
A drip pan is used to collect fat and bits of food that render out or drop off cooking meat. In certain cases, it can prevent that fat and grease from dropping onto hot coals and causing flare-ups that make temperature control harder.
It also can have the benefit of collecting drippings from roasting meat to help make a sauce or gravy.
When to use a drip pan
A drip pan is most useful when you want to catch drippings, whether to protect your fire or to use for making gravy. You can use a drip pan as a water pan as well to help regulate the temperature of your grill.
Should I use a drip pan in my smoker?
The real answer is it depends. With the Smokey Mountain, you already have a water pan that helps regulate the temperature.
Grease constantly dripping into the water pan can affect its ability to evaporate and keep moisture in the air, so a drip pan can help in that regard. If you are roasting a turkey or chicken, you can collect the drippings as well.
Not using a Drip Pan
A drip pan is not necessary in the Smokey Mountain. The water pan fulfills a number of the uses for a drip pan in terms of temperature regulation and keeping grease and fat from dripping on the coals.
Weber Smokey Mountain water pan liner
You can protect a drip pan in similar ways to the water pan in your Smokey Mountain. Aluminum foil can fit the bill to line the drip pan.
Benefits of a water pan liner
The biggest benefit to lining the drip pan is the same benefit as the water pan. It makes cleanup much easier. Instead of having the scrub the pan, you simply drain the liquid once it’s cool for proper disposal then throw the foil away.
Weber Smokey Mountain drip pan alternative
The biggest alternative to a drip pan in your Smokey Mountain comes included. The water pan can fulfill most of the protective duties that a drip pan does without having to add extra equipment to your grill.
Should the drip pan be empty?
You should always keep liquid in the drip pan. Otherwise you run the risk of whatever drips into the pan burning. The only thing you want burning in your smoker is your charcoal and wood. Anything else adds bad flavor and smoke.
Putting water in it
Water is a great place to start for filling your drip pan. It prevents drippings from burning and it helps regulate the temperature in your grill. It also keeps moisture in the air, preventing your meat from drying out and even helping the meat absorb more smoke flavor.
Not putting anything in the drip pan
An empty drip pan is not recommended because of the likelihood of drippings burning up. You catch the drippings, but the meat will likely catch some bad flavors as well.
Filling it with sand
While filling the drip pan with sand may seem odd, it can help in multiple ways. Sand acts as a heat sink to help regulate the temperature of the grill. When you cover the sand with heavy duty aluminum foil, it can still catch the drippings and prevent them from causing flareups.
Weber Smokey Mountain drip pan cleaning
Cleaning your grill is a necessity for both safety and performance. The drip pan collects fat and grease which could easily cause a fire if neglected. Any solid bits of food that drop in can burn over time, causing smoke that ruins meat.
Hacks (Pro Tips)
Use an aluminum foil roasting pan. They are big enough to fit under even the biggest cuts of meat you would cook on the Smokey Mountain and make cleanup a breeze. They also work well for making the base of a gravy for that turkey, too.
Solutions To Use
Just like your greasy dishes, a good dish soap with hot water will go a long way to cleaning up a greasy drip tray.
If you have any baked-on drippings, vinegar is a good way to go. It can help break things down and leave the drip pan nice and clean.
High Heat and Oil After
While you may use the drip pan occasionally for preparing gravy, there is no need to season it after cleaning. As long as the pan is clean, you are good to put it back in for your next cook.
Weber Smokey Mountain drip pan drain
After your cook is done, the drip pan will have collected quite a lot of fat, grease, and other drippings from the meat to go with the water you have added to the pan.
While this mixture is unappetizing to us humans, there are plenty of animals and insects that would find it delectable. Do yourself a favor and do not dispose of the contents of your drip pan in the yard.
Disposing of water and waste
After the drip pan is cooled, the solids can be scraped or scooped away and thrown in the garbage. Then drain the liquid and mix it with the ashes from the cook as a way to safely dispose of the ash.
If you lined the drip pan with aluminum foil, you can take it off and throw it away.
Weber Smokey Mountain drip pan leaking
If you find the drip pan leaking, it is not doing you any favors. You can replace it with a disposable foil pan available in many stores. You can also do away with using a drip pan entirely and rely on the water pan instead.