How to Use Camp Chef Smoke Vault

by Kathryn Meininger

Make slow-cooked smoked ribs in a Camp Chef Smoke Vault.

pigphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Items you will need

  • Camp Chef Smoke Vault
  • Water
  • Wood chips
  • Propane

The Camp Chef Smoke Vault is a versatile piece of outdoor cooking equipment. Use it to smoke, grill or bake a number of different foods, including meat, fish, jerky and even pies. The Smoke Vault is available in two different inside chamber sizes, a 24-inch and an 18-inch, but the instructions for both are essentially the same. Although these Smoke Vaults use propane as a heat source, they provide an option to add water and wood chips inside the vault to get that authentic smoked flavor in your foods as they cook.

Pre-Use Seasoning Instructions

Step 1

Before using it to cook any foods, season your Camp Chef Smoke Vault. Inspect the interior for any chips in the paint. Touch-up paint can only be applied inside the Smoke Vault before seasoning it, as seasoning seals the paint.

Step 2

Touch up the paint inside the Smoke Vault if necessary. Use only a high temperature paint and contact Camp Chef if you have any questions.

Step 3

Add the desired flavor hardwood chips, such as cherry or mesquite, to the wood chip tray. For seasoning, fill the tray one-quarter to half full. Slide the wood chip tray into the bottom of the Smoke Vault.

Step 4

Fill the water tray with water below the marked fill line and slide into the proper slots near the bottom of the Smoke Vault, just above the wood chip tray.

Step 5

Set the heat to 175 degrees Fahrenheit and let the Smoke Vault burn for 45 minutes to an hour. Don't put any food in the Smoke Vault during the seasoning process.

Step 6

Allow the Smoke Vault to cool off completely and remove the water and wood chip trays. The Smoke Vault is now seasoned.

Cooking Instructions

Step 1

Fill the wood chip tray with the desired flavor medium-sized hardwood chips. For longer cooking times, fill the tray completely. Slide the wood chip tray into the bottom of the Smoke Vault.

Step 2

Add water or your favorite marinade to the water tray to just below the fill line marked inside the tray. Don't overfill. Slide the water tray into the rung up above the wood chip tray.

Step 3

Before lighting, check the Smoke Vault for potential problems. With the burner knob in the "off" position, check the venturi knob and burner for blockage. Remove any debris from inside the Smoke Vault.

Step 4

To light the unit, turn the propane tank on/off valve counterclockwise 1 1/2 turns to allow gas into the tubing. Turn the burner knob counterclockwise to the "high" position. This sparks the igniter to light the unit and produce heat. Check the burner flame visually – a blue flame with little yellow produces the best heat.

Step 5

Close and lock the Smoke Vault door to allow the unit to come to the desired temperature. Adjust the dampers for proper air flow according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 6

Place your food on the cooking racks in a single layer with a small space in between each piece. Use the wider-spaced racks for ribs, ham, brisket or chicken. Use the fine mesh racks for fish or jerky. Where you position the racks in the unit depends on how many racks of food you're cooking and how high your food sits on the rack. Food on one rack shouldn't touch the rack above it.

Step 7

For quicker cooking, set the temperature at 200 degrees to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for 2 to 3 hours. To produce a more intense or smokier flavor, set the temperature lower and cook for a longer time. Large food items, such as a ham, must cook much longer than chicken or ribs. Refer to your recipe instructions for exact cooking times.

Step 8

Check the water level frequently, adding more as needed using long-handled tongs and oven mitts because the Smoke Vault will be very hot. Routinely check the temperature gauge on the front of the unit door and adjust up or down, as needed.

Step 9

Test your food for doneness using a meat probe thermometer inserted into the center of the meat or fish. Beef, pork and ham need to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, while chicken and fish need to reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit for safe eating.

Step 10

Remove the racks from the Smoke Vault wearing oven mitts. Set the food aside to prepare it for the table or storage.

Step 11

Allow the Smoke Vault to cool completely. Clean the interior of the unit and all racks and trays.


  • For more smoke, soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before using.

    To keep the wood chips burning longer, cover the wood chip tray with aluminum foil and pierce it with a knife in a few places before placing it in the unit.

    For best results, use only dry hardwood chips, such as apple, pecan, cherry and mesquite. Never use a resinous wood, such as pine or treated plywood.

    To bake pies inside the Smoke Vault, use a cast iron pie plate and don't add any water or wood chips while cooking.


  • If you smell gas at any time, shut the off the propane tank immediately and extinguish any flames.

    Use the Smoke Vault outdoors and well away from any structures. Don't use a Smoke Vault in your garage. They are not intended for indoor use.

    The Smoke Vault becomes extremely hot during use, so only touch the door handle or burner knob while the unit is on.

Photo Credits

  • pigphoto/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Kathryn Meininger began writing and publishing poetry in 1967. She was co-founder and editor of the professional magazine "Footsteps" and began writing articles online in 2010. She earned a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from William Paterson University.