How To Choose The Best Smoker For You
A smoker is a type of barbecue that is ostensibly designed for slow & low cooking of meats and fish using wood chips or pellets to infuse ingredients with an aromatic smokey flavour. Smokers are especially well suited to cooking tougher cuts of meat like ribs and brisket over a period of four to seven hours at temperatures as low as 107C . When done, the meat should literally fall off the bone or tear apart like a piece of pulled pork. That said, smokers are equally brilliant at slow cooking more delicate meats like lamb, ham, fish and even vegetables. You can usually tell when meat has been smoked by the narrow ring of pink meat just beneath the crusty bark.
Smokers can be fuelled in a number of ways: charcoal , gas, electric and wood pellets. Charcoal is the most popular method and the smokers themselves are the cheapest to buy. However, novices will almost certainly find it very difficult to balance the amount of charcoal required with the amount of air circulation through the vents. Too much ventilation and the internal temperature will climb too high and the charcoal will burn out more quickly. Too little and the temperature may not be high enough.
Now go forth and smoke.
Camp Chef Woodwind Wifi 24
If youre looking for one backyard piece of cooking equipment that can do it all, look no further than the Woodwind Wifi 24 from Camp Chef. Aiming to play the long game and smoke some sumptuous meats? Then embrace the ability to cut the cord. No longer must you be tied to your patio in an effort to control the temp. This feature-packed smart grill offers the ability to adjust temperature and smoke all from the app, so kick back and enjoy life while you wait for it to get that much better when your food is ready.
Looking for more than just a smoker? Youre in luck, because Camp Chef did you the biggest solid by making this an all-in-one grill station that can easily be used as a traditional setup if you just want to do up some burgers or veggies the old school way when some friends pop over. Then, to top it all off, the Woodwind takes one of the worst parts of backyard cooking and makes it a breeze thanks to the Ash Kickin Cleanout system.
Recommended for: those that put a premium on BBQ in all shapes and forms, the best smoker grill we tested
Slicing And Trimming Knives
One of the most overlooked aspects of the smoking process is the knives you use to work with your meat cuts.
Youd be surprised how big of a difference a proper brisket slicing knife can make on the presentation and tenderness of your brisket.
The type of blade you use matters a lot, and its worth the extra 50 bucks to get something thats going to last you a long time and enhance your food.
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Best Versatile: Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24
Easy to set up and use
Temp range of 160 to 400 degrees
Parts are sturdy and well-built
Heats up quickly
Door isn’t very airtight
Temperature dial isn’t always reliable
One of the problems with gas smokers is that the heat output can be limited by a factory that thinks they know best. While smoking is done in a specific temperature range, it should be up to the user if they want to “flash” smoke or do a low-temperature smoke. This Camp Chef smoker has a temperature range from 160 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is much more versatile than many gas smokers on the market. However, like most box-style gas smokers, the body isn’t insulated, and although the door fits well, you may still get some smoke leakage. People say this smoker heats up quickly and is easy enough to set up and use, but they warn that it takes a bit of practice to get the temperature stable with the temperature regulator knob.
Fuel: Gas | BTU: 18,000 | Racks: 2 + Jerky rack | Weight: 75 lbs. | Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 44 inches
Side smoker also works well for offset grilling
Ash trays are removable
Some say paint on bottom of grill peels off after a few uses
Grill is quite heavy
The Char-Griller is another classic offset firebox smoker. This design is so popular because it works. The Char-Griller is easy to use and you can even get a rotisserie kit for it. Like all units of this type, it also doubles as a charcoal grill. It is also one of the least expensive of this type of smoker.
Ash pan is sold separately
Top 5 Best Smokers For Beginners Reviewed
You load your charcoal and wood into the gravity-fed hopper. Then the digital fan helps keep the exact temperature you set.
Its really the best of both worlds as a grill and smoker.
You get the ease of automatic temperature control of other models while also getting that smoke flavor youre used to from a charcoal smoker.
Check out this Masterbuilt Vertical Smoker! It is a perfect smoker for beginners and even for those with a lot of experience!
They have 3 models out right now. Theyre each named for their cooking capacity:
- 560 Model has 560 square inches of cooking space
- 800 Model has 800 square inches of cooking space
- 1050 Model has 1,050 square inches of cooking space
Even with a ton of experience, this is the smoker I am currently using for daily cooks. It is worth every penny! It is the#1 best smoker for beginners.
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What Is The Easiest Thing To Smoke
No one thing is easiest to smoke per se. That being said, there are several different items of food and meals that can be seen as being relatively easy to smoke. This is especially true for beginners who are new to smoking and are looking for something simple to ease them in.
Sure, this doesnt mean you will master it right away, but it is worth trying some of the simpler meals first. If you have just gotten your smoker and want to try your hand at something simple, why not try smoking one of the following food items:
- Smoked steak
- Chicken thighs or breast
Do You Need A Grill Or A Smoker
If youve ever wondered what the difference between a smoker and a grill is, it basically comes down to different techniques of cooking food.
Grills are meant for high temperature, direct heat cooking. Grills are ideal for burgers, searing steaks, and other foods that you want to cook relatively quickly while adding some delicious smoky flavor.
Smoking on the other hand is a much longer process where you slow cook foods at low temperatures for long periods of time. During this process, smoke from your wood logs or chips absorbs into your food, which adds a delicious and complex layer to your food.
Smoking is ideal for tougher cuts of meat. In fact, the most ideal meats for smoking are typically tough, not tender, and pretty cheap to buy. Brisket, for example, is one of the toughest cuts of beef you can buy. Its essentially a muscle that a steer flexes constantly to hold up its gargantuan weight.
If you were to throw a brisket on the grill, it would be borderline not edible. By smoking it for hours and hours at a low temperature, you allow the brisket to break down and tenderize. At the end, youre left with incredibly tender and juicy results!
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Masterbuilt Mps 230s Review
Very similar to our best value in terms of design, the Masterbuilt MPS 230S is an excellent choice if you want a dependable grill but are on a budget.
Like our best value, this vertical gas smoker has a two-door design and features analog burner control. Electrical ignition makes it easy to light the burner quickly, while an air dampener and removable water bowl help you control the quantity of smoke while keeping your meat tender and juicy.
Slightly smaller than the Cuisinart, this smoker also comes with four removable shelves, albeit they are chrome-plated steel instead of stainless steel. That said, they are still resistant and easy to clean, and overall, this smoker is a good choice if you dont want to break the bank.
Electric Smokers: Features & Review
While the 3 of us were searching for the best smoker grill, we were in deep trouble. Why? Because it seemed impossible for us to find the right smoker grill out of these hundreds of varieties.
We started with electric smokers. We heard that these were the easiest to use. Diving right in we was determined to find out everything there was to know about these simple to use grills. Now you can too.
Electric smokers could be really easy to set up. Thats the best and most important feature about them. You wont have to light up the charcoal or check on fuel every now and then, and you wont even have to clean up the ash dust. You can simply turn it on, forget it and go on to do other works. Seriously, just leave a brisket before heading out to work. When you come back home, youll find a juicy, smokey and really delicious meal. Just 2-4 ounces of wood would be enough for electric smokers to produce that smokey flavor. If the insulation is well set, you wont have to wait for the summer months you can use them all year-round.
If youre looking for an easy-to-use and low-maintenance smoker grill, then an electric smoker may be the right one for you.
Our Grills Forever team found that most electric smokers have these features:
The electric grill has a lot going for it, but we found it wasnt for everyone.
- Electric smokers use quite a bit of electricity, thus the cost per use can be high.
- Using them outdoors may be a hassle as not everyone has an outside outlet.
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Direct Heat Vs Indirect Heat Smokers
Direct and indirect heat refers to how the heat from the fuel source is distributed around the meat. For indirect heat, the fuel is further away from the meat, whereas direct heat means the meat is right on top.
This is usually used concerning charcoal grilling. You ideally want enough space in your grill that you can have an area of indirect heat that allows you better temperature control. Take this into consideration when looking at smoker size as the best smoker will have plenty of room for both a direct and an indirect heat zone.
Pit Boss Pit Boss Platinum Lockhart Grill
This wood pellet grill and smoker is both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled and according to Marks, its the most versatile pellet grill available. He appreciates the 2,137 square inches of cooking space with 719 square inches for grilling and smoking, plus an additional cabinet with 1,418 square inches of smoking space. It also comes with six sausage hooks and two meat probes with the ability to control up to four at one time.
I really love the pot access that allows you to brush out the pot and remove the ash that is a huge timesaver as well as a significant safety feature, he said. This pellet grill with all of the combined features, technology, sheer size, best in class warranty and a price tag of $750 make it my choice for best pellet grill overall.
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Traeger Grills Tfb89blfc Review
Designed to make food smoking easy for chefs and avid amateurs alike, the Traeger Grills TFB89BLFC is the best wood pellet smoker you can get if you want to simplify cooking as much as possible. Besides a generous cooking surface and ease of use, this smokers main highlight is the WiFIRE technology.
Basically Wi-Fi connectivity, the WiFIRE gives you the possibility to connect the smoker to your smart home or mobile devices so that you can control it from anywhere.
Ideal for larger crowds, this pellet smoker provides 885 square inches of cooking area ideal for holding ten whole chickens or nine pork butts.
We also like the double-wall construction that improves fuel efficiency and temperature consistency when used in colder weather. Smoking aside, you can also use this pellet smoker to grill, braise, roast, BBQ, and even bake. All that you need to fulfill all your outdoor cooking dreams.
Whats Better Electric Or Propane Smoker
Propane smokers tend to provide a smokier flavor for meat compared to electric smokers. In addition, Propane smokers, like natural Gas Grills are also more convenient to use than pellets or charcoal briquet smokers. Gas grills as wells as Propane Grills And Smokers also include push-button ignition.
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Masterbuilt Thermotemp Propane Smoker
If propane is your fuel of choice, youve got to grab this temperature regulating gas smoker from the industry leaders, Masterbuilt. And, yes, you read that right, its a self-temperature regulating propane smoker where you dont need to touch your supply at all during your cook.
Thanks to Masterbuilts patent-pending ThermoTemp technology, this baby has a sensor that controls the burner to turn the heat up or down as is needed to keep the internal temperature steady. And, if the wind happens to blow the flame out, the safety mechanism will automatically shut off the gas supply so your backyard isnt being pumped full of propane.
In terms of the Masterbuilt ThermoTemps cook, theres over 700 square inches of space to play with. Or, if thats not enough, size up to the 40-inch model and youll be feeding a crowd. A heat diffuser helps to keep the temperature of the cooking chamber even throughout so you dont need to worry too much about meat placement and cook times.
As is standard with Masterbuilt, the ThermoTemp also has a second door so you can add water and wood without letting all the heat out.
Oh, and, theres also a fuel level gauge so you can easily see how much is in your tank to get an idea of when itll need to be swapped out.
Why Should You Buy A Smoker Grill
Having a smoker grill opens up an entirely new world of grilling possibilities. While still giving you the ability to tackle simple grilling projects like steaks, brats and pork chops, the added smoker function will massively expand your cooking horizons. Amazing ribs, brisket, turkey and even smoked fish can all be cooked on a smoker grill.
If youre also looking to enhance your grill capabilities, check out these outdoor griddles
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What Is A Barbecue Smoker
A smoker is an outdoor appliance used for cooking at low temperatures and long periods of time in a controlled, smoky environment. While your standard barbecue grill relies on high heat to cook foodswe do love those pretty grill marks on our meats and vegetablessmokers enhance flavor with, you guessed it, smoke. If you’re a seasoned griller ready for rich, fork-tender foods, purchasing a smoker may be a natural next step.
Which Type Of Smoker Is The Easiest To Use
Electric smokers are by some distance the easiest to use of these BBQ smokers. Next down in terms of ease of use comes a propane gas or wood pellet smoker. All of these smokers will maintain their temperature automatically, assuming they are fully fueled. Charcoal and wood-burning smokers, on the others hand, need you to regulate the temperature by maintaining the amount of fuel.
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What About Pellet Smokers Log
We eliminated pellet smokers, log-burning offset smokers, and Kamado grills from our testing group. In our experience, inexpensive log-burning smokers are difficult to use. The more expensive ones work better, but theyre still challenging enough to use that we reserve them for true smoking enthusiasts. Similarly, pellet models available for less than $500 are problematic: The hoppers that feed the pellets to the fire source simply arent reliable. They break down, or the pellets stick to the side of the auger and dont make it down to the burn pot. That doesnt just mean your food wont be smoky, but it also means the smoker will never reach the appropriate heat levels. Weve had good personal experiences with Traeger Grills, but these models were over $500 so we decided to exclude pellet grills from this round of tests.
We also skipped kamado grills during this round of tests. We absolutely love our Big Green Egg, but these grills are primarily charcoal grills. They can be turned into outdoor ovens and smokers with additional accessories, but we wanted to focus on models specifically designed to be used as smokers this time around.
What Are Your Tips For Cleaning And Caring For A Smoker
A good smoker is built to withstand the elements, Karmel says, and though she notes that brands do sell covers should you want to shield your smoker from snow, showers, and the like, it shouldnt be necessary, from her experience: I dont use a cover and I never have, even when living in Chicago and New York, and my grills and smokers are all in great shape, Karmel says.
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Gas Grills Dont Cut The Mustard
If you only have a gas grill, then you definitely need a smoker. The mechanics of gas grills do not make for a good smoker. They are designed to pump heat through the chambers, reaching high temperatures not what you want when smoking. In addition, the air flow rate is high which makes capturing the smoke difficult. Without making adjustments and ongoing monitoring, smoking on a gas grill will dry out your meat.
We hope this guide has been helpful in pointing you in the right direction for a smoker you can count on without breaking the bank.