Why Use Water Pan in a Pit Boss Pellet Smoker? (+ Exactly How To Use It)

Should you use a water pan in your Pit Boss pellet smoker? Do you even know what it would do?

The short answer is yes, you should but let’s boldly jump out of the pan and into the fire to find out why!

Find out exactly how to use a water pan in your Pit boss below

How Does the Pit Boss Pellet Smoker Work?

Are you familiar with how a Pit Boss Pellet Smoker Works? In this smoker, hardwood pellets are electronically fed in an auger and ignited. This becomes the heat source for smoking or grilling food.

Note: Just purchased your smoker? See how to start a Pit Boss smoker here.

What Is the Role of a Water Pan in a Pit Boss Pellet Smoker?

The 3 main reasons to use a water pan are maintaining temperature control, minimizing heat spots, and enhancing smoke flavor with a more moist cooking environment. 

A pellet grill gives you more control of the cooking process, plus if you add a water pan it gives you even more!

First, let’s define what a pan is as it can be a little nondescript. A pan is any container to hold hot water in the cooking space of the pellet grill. This can be a disposable foil tray or a heat-proof pyrex in aluminum foil or even a saucepan with foil pan liners.

We will dig further into those three main reason for using a water pan below.

1. Temperature Control and Smoke Quantity 

A little dash of science for you. Water particles when heated give off more energy and quickly expand.

This is the perfect vessel for creating and sustaining a constant temperature in a controlled environment (the Pit Boss). As they carry the heat around more evenly.

While this heat, they also mix with the smoke particles which spread and help maintain the ideal cooking temperature of 200F or the ‘sweet spot’ for cooking meat. This all just means that having the water present gives you more control over the cooking process, for instance, the cooking time.

This in the end could be a bit different from a great meal to a perfect one.

2. Heat Spots

Heat spots are what BBQ fanatics use to describe uneven temperature. As much as we try, we don’t have total control of the elements just yet, and sometimes parts in the grill may be hotter than others.

If this isn’t rectified you can end up with a half-cooked pork shoulder or dry chicken breasts. 

So now we know what these particles do, it’s easy to see how having the extra moisture helps to eliminate the hot spots in your favorite grill or smoker. 

Talking of the latter, it is pivotal to use a water pan in ones where you have less control of the temperature like a charcoal smoker or a gas smoker for the reasons mentioned above!

3. Enhancing Moisture 

When you steam something in your kitchen, do you notice the condensation on the windows? The same thing happens when you add a water pan into the cooking chamber of the grill.

The water vapor spreads and creates a wet environment that keeps the meat tender and moist.

TIP: Want to keep your meat moist but don’t have a pan? You can also use a spray bottle filled with water every 20 minutes or why not try using apple juice?

Other Uses for a Water Pan

Some other reasons to put water on your grill of choice are;

– The water pan can also be used as a drip tray, especially in charcoal BBQ to stop the fat from igniting the coals.

– If you’re using a gas or charcoal grill that doesn’t maintain an even temperature as well as a Pit Boss.

– When you want more smoke in your Pit Boss pellet smoker.

When Do You Use a Water Pan in a Pit Boss Smoker?

You should use a water pan when you want to want to slow and low smoke. Especially if your cooking a piece of meat that is prone to drying out so you can keep that meat moist!

These could include turkey, chicken, or pork. 

Where Do You Put the Water Pan?

The traditional place for the water to go is underneath whatever you’re cooking but above the heat source. This will guarantee an even and efficient spread of the steam.

You can even put it directly on the coals if you are using a traditional BBQ but make sure the material won’t burn!

How to Clean Your Water Pan

You have to clean your water pan after each cook. See exactly how to clean your water pan here.

Can You Use a Pit Boss Pellet Smoker Without a Pan of Water?

Do you have to use a pan of water on your grill? What if you don’t have one?

The answer is of course you can use your smoker without a pan!

BBQ culture is laid back at the heart of it all. 

Just experiment the way you want but I hope that you are at least a little bit more knowledgeable on what happens if do choose to use a water pan.

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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