What To Consider When Buying a Smoker
Whether you want a new, updated smoker for your favorite hobby or a fully-equipped smoking machine fit for winning local contests, it pays to think carefully when buying a smoker to expand your outdoor cooking options. Here are a few things to consider:
These tried-and-true contraptions are designed to cook meat while infusing it with smoky flavor, ideal for ribs, brisket, pulled pork, salmon and many other foods. Like grills, smokers come in many varieties, so it pays to carefully consider just what kind you need.
Buy Smoker: Type of Fuel
- Charcoal: Charcoal smokers use a combination of wood and charcoal that is easy to understand, affordable and customizable with combinations of wood chips for your own smoky flavor. The masters tend to use charcoal, but it also presents its own difficulties. Charcoal smokers rarely have precise temperatures, require a lot of experience in positioning and lighting and make the cleaning process really rough. If you don’t mind spending a lot of time on your smoking project, think about this option.
- Electric: Electric smokers use a lot of energy, but have high-tech sensors and controls that allow for careful programming and temperature balance. However, they tend to produce less smokey flavors out of all the fuel options.
- Gas: Propane smokers are faster and easier to control than charcoal and produce better flavors than electric, making them a very popular choice for beginners.
- Pellet: We’re also seeing a lot more pellet smokers these days, which use electricity or gas to burn wood pellets—essentially adding modern tech to the charcoal approach. These have become more popular by the Traeger line of products, which are basically grill hybrids that can be used for a variety of purposes, including smoking. The all-in-one approach has a lot to offer buyers.
Keep in mind, hybrid smoker models that combine multiple fuel types are also available, although switching between fuels can be time-consuming.
Design and Shape
No matter what model you get, look for heavy steel construction and thick walls that will easily hold in and concentrate heat for several hours. A heavy but ugly smoker will often perform better than a sleek, lightweight version.