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How-To Set Up the Dakota™ Offset Smoker

How-To Set Up the Dakota Offset Smoker

Using your Char-Griller Dakota Offset Smoker for the first time may seem intimidating, but this blog has all the tips you need to successfully start your grill. Once you get started grilling, you’ll be an expert in no time.

Setting Up:

This grill is designed for use outdoors, away from any flammable materials. When in use, it is important that there are no overhead obstructions and that the grill is at least 12 feet ( about 4 meters) from any wall or surface. It is important that the ventilation openings of the grill are not obstructed.

The grill must be used on a level, stable surface. The grill should be protected from direct wind drafts and protected from any trickling water (i.e. rain or water from gutters). Do not move the grill while hot, and do not leave unattended during operation.


Before seasoning your grill, it is important to first complete the burn-in, which is not the same as the seasoning process. The grill will come with factory applied oils, packaging debris, and overall unwanted flavors that should be burned off before your grill is ready to be seasoned.

Before starting the burn-in, be sure to remove all packaging materials. Double check inside the grill and under the grates for any leftover plastic, Styrofoam, or other materials. Once the grill is cleared out, it is time to begin the burn-in process.

Follow the below "lighting" instructions and add approximately 4 pounds of charcoal to your grill. Allow the grill to reach 350F and keep it there for 60 minutes. Let the grill cool and remove the ash and any remaining charcoal.

After completing the initial burn-in, you’ll need to season the entire grill before your first cook. Your grill will be ready to season as soon as it cools down from the burn-in.


Seasoning is an important first step before you start cooking on your new grill. This process will help protect the interior and exterior grill finish, reduce food sticking to the grates, reduce unnatural flavors, and help prevent the grates from rusting.


Always There are a few methods to light your charcoal grill, depending on the materials you prefer to use. Follow along in this guide or your owner's manual to learn some different ways to light your grill.

Charcoal Chimney:

  1. Remove your grill grates and set them to the side.
  2. Fill your charcoal chimney ¾ of the way full with briquettes or lump charcoal.
  3. Set a fire starter on the charcoal grate, light, and then place the charcoal chimney directly on top of the fire starter.
  4. Coals will fire upward from bottom to top.
  5. After coals on top of chimney are ignited, usually after 10-15 minutes, dump the coals over the charcoal grate and replace your grill grates.

Fire Starters:

  1. Remove your grill grates and set them to the side.
  2. Pour approximately 3 pounds (50-60 briquettes) of charcoal on to your charcoal grate and stack together in a pile.
  3. Insert a fire starter into the middle of the charcoal pile so that is slightly covered and light.
  4. After the charcoal has thoroughly ignited, typically glowing red or gray in color, use tongs to spread them out and replace your grill grates.

Now that your grill has been seasoned and lit, you’re ready to get grilling! Explore our collection of recipes for inspiration.