Do You Use a Water Pan for Smoking Fish? Waterpan tips

by Susie | Last Updated: April 28, 2020

Eating fish is a great way to get more heart-healthy omega-3s into your diet. If you are looking for varieties on your fish preparation, smoking it could be the way to go.

Smoking fish can give it a great rich taste and, if done right, your fish will have the perfect balance of smoke and salt.

There are a few different ways you can smoke fish but using a water pan will give it a sea moist and supple taste. Read on to find out more about how you can use a water pan to smoke your fish.

Fish on sticks ready to be smoked

Do you use a water pan for smoking fish?

You don’t have to but smoking fish with a water pan can keep the fish nice and moist throughout the smoking process. Without the use of a water pan, the fish might dry out or even blacken from too much heat.

What is a Water Pan?

Water pans are used with smokers to bring moisture into the grilling experience.

They are designed to hold water and should specifically be filled with hot water to keep the cooker from wasting energy on heating cold water.

Hint: It’s a good idea to use a teapot to fill the pan. This will keep the water from spilling and causing burns.

A water pan goes over the heat source. If you have a charcoal or wood burner, it will be placed above the coal area.

If you have an electric unit, it will be placed over the electric heating element. If you have an LP or gas grill it will be placed over the burners.

What are the Benefits of a Water Pan?

A water pan provides many benefits to the smoking process.

These are as follows:

How Do I Smoke Fish with a Water Pan?

Now that you know about the benefits a water pan can provide, here are some steps you will want to take when you use one to smoke your fish.

  1. Remove the water pan from the smoker and fill it will water to the level that’s marked or just below the rim to avoid spillage. Put the pan back in the smoker. (Bonus tip: You can add seasonings to the water to give whatever you are smoking extra flavor).
  2. Prepare your fish according to recipe directions.
  3. Place fish inside a smoker referring to manufacturer directions to make sure you are securing it correctly.
  4. Cook your fish at the desired temperature being sure to watch over the dials and adjust if there are any fluctuations.
  5. Test if your fish is done by inserting a fork at a 45-degree angle. The fish should be flakey. If it appears translucent, it will need to be cooked more.
  6. Once fish is flakey, take it out and enjoy it.

If you prefer your fish crispy, you can cook it without the water. Here are some tips on cooking crispy fish.

  1. Empty water from the water pan and put it back in the smoker.
  2. Prepare fish per recipe directions and secure them into the smoker.
  3. Monitor temperature for any fluctuations.
  4. Fish will be ready when it is flakey and has an opaque appearance.

Note, crispy fish may need to be cooked at a higher temperature. If this is the case, you will have more drippings and will want to use a drip pan.

You can also make crispy fish by using sand in your water pan instead of water. Sand will provide temperature control without the moistness.

Sand can also be beneficial because it does not evaporate like water. Therefore, it is recommended for long-duration cooking.

Other Tips for Using a Water Pan

If you decide to use a water pan for smoking, here are some tips to keep in mind:

If you are going to smoke fish, using a water pan can be the way to go. It will make your fish moist, flavorful, and an absolute treat at the dining table.

How do you like to smoke your fish?


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