All About Smokers That You Need To Know


by Sid Wilson | Published On

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A smoker is an appliance that can be good or bad for you. But with a little know-how, it can become the best smoky cooking tool in your kitchen.

Cancel those reservations at your favorite BBQ joint, and start impressing friends, family, and strangers alike with this smoky goodness of your own making.

If you love to smoke food at home but don’t want to spend tons of money on having one delivered to your door, chances are that you have looked into buying a smoker as well.

But what kind of smoker is best for you? This post might help narrow down the choices when it comes to smokers while also taking care of various other essential details. 

All About Smoker

What Makes A Smoker Different?

What makes one smoker better than the other? Considerations such as temperature control, smoke production, and ease of cleanup matter for starters.

A gas smoker can reach temperatures as high as 600°F to 700°F, while a charcoal grill has to rely on heat from coals alone to produce temperatures of up to 650°F.

High-temperature controls are necessary to cook things like brisket or ribs that need long periods at those intense temperatures.

But it can also be used to cook pizza. The smoker is also easier to control in comparison to a charcoal grill due to a built-in precision thermostat.

A charcoal smoker requires more work on your part since you have to start a fire and keep it burning for about an hour.

This is true for any form of charcoal grill. On the other hand, gas smokers are easier because they simply plug into an outlet and are ready to use in minutes.

Smoke production makes sense too since smoke is necessary for cooking most types of BBQ food. A small smoker doesn’t have enough room for enough burning coals to produce a steady supply of smoke.

A charcoal smoker allows you to have the desired level of smoke output, but it requires more work on your part.

A gas smoker won’t rob you of smoke, but it will make it easier for you to control the temperature as well.

Best Smoker Types

The first step in locating the best smoker for you is determining which kind you want. Pellet smokers have grown more popular among newcomers to the market.

However, before making your choice, you should be informed of the many heat source options and smoker designs available-

Best Smoker Types: Depending On The Source Of Heat

There are a lot of different types of smokers depending on the sources of heat used:

Pellet Smoker

Pellet smokers are a relatively recent addition to the BBQ market. The best thing about them is they don’t require the use of charcoal or propane.

You can produce a lot of smoke without having to worry about getting the fire going. They also typically have digital controls that keep every possible temperature setting right at your fingertips.

Charcoal Smoker

If you love the taste of charcoal-grilled food and still want to enjoy a smoke on your favorite grilled cuts, then a charcoal smoker is for you.

It’s designed like a traditional charcoal grill with an open cooking area and adjustable vents for controlling ventilation and temperature levels.

A few of the better models have digital temperature controls for even more precise control.

Propane Smoker

A propane smoker is more like a whole-house barbecue, with a large cooking area in the middle and an efficient propane firebox on either side of it.

As with other types of smokers, you can adjust how hot the cooking area is by adjusting vents. No charcoal or wood is used in these heat sources.

You don’t have to worry about producing smoke as you cook (though liquid smoke is used in some models to add a smoky taste). It also means that it’s easy to control both fuel and temperature levels.

Wood Smoker

A wood smoker is a bit different from the other types of smokers. Unlike the other types, it doesn’t have a firebox. Instead, you have to burn wood chips in an area called a smoking chamber.

It’s an open area that allows the air to flow through and heat your food. The smoke generated is due to the wood fumes that emit from burning wood in this chamber.

This type of smoker is perfect for weekend barbecues when you want something more casual than a fancy gourmet meal but don’t want to go out and spend several hours cooking it as well.

Electric Smoker

An electric smoker is a little different from the other types of smokers. It doesn’t even use any type of heat source at all.

The temperature in the cooking chamber is controlled electronically and can be adjusted with a simple dial. Smoke is produced by placing wood chips on the grate and below the food to be cooked.

Best Smoker Types: Depending On The Design Of The Smoker

Just like there are different types of smokers depending on the source of heat, you can also have smokers that use charcoal or propane to produce smoke but have a different design. Here are some common types of smokers based on their design:

Offset Smoker

This type of BBQ smoker is usually built with a horizontal cylinder and firebox. The cooking chamber has a door that opens at one end, with the heat vent and smoke stack at separate ends. 

Water Smoker

If you love smoked meat but can’t stand the acrid flavor of charcoal and/or wood, a water smoker is the best option.

It uses water as its base, so when smoke is produced it’s vaporized into steam instead of being released into the air. As such, the sound of sizzling fat and dripping juices is gone too.

Drum Smoker

If you’re looking for meat that’s slowly cooked without having to worry about the hot coals igniting, then a drum smoker is your best bet.

It’s generally a circular kind of smoker made out of metal or wood. There is usually no firebox and no heat source at all, so you’ll have to make sure it doesn’t burn while cooking.

The cooking chamber extends all around the outside of the drum, which allows you to easily monitor your food as it cooks and removes any smoke odor before it goes out into the air.

Direct

This type of smoker is also a direct-heat type, meaning there is no firebox. However, it is more like a water smoker in that it uses water as the base.

The smoke produced in this one travels all around the cooking chamber, so it’s best to use at least two racks to help cook more than one piece of meat.

Ceramic Smoker

This type of smoker is specially designed to retain heat, which is perfect for cold climates where barbecuing can only be enjoyed during the summer.

It will retain heat in the winter and cool it down during summer. The heat is also very easy to control, making it a good choice for beginners who have little experience with BBQ smokers.

Budget

The pitmaster’s life is not an easy one. If you don’t want to spend a fortune on BBQ equipment, then you’ll need to get creative.

Although some people may argue that buying good-quality equipment is a better option, it can be challenging how to keep your expenses down.

If you’re just getting started and have limited funds, you should go for functionality before the show. The average price of a smoker could range between $200 to $1,500.

However, if you’re looking to save on costs and want a smoker that will serve you well for a long time, then the following options are worth consideration.

Conclusion

In this article, I have tried to discuss the different types of smokers and their functions and have also talked about their sizes, features, and other specifications.

Depending on your requirements and budget, this article might help you identify the right smoker for your needs.

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Sid Wilson

Being a father, a golf lover, and an engineer by profession are the things that define Sid Wilson. He spends most of his time in his garage building and experimenting with stuff. Unscrewing things and then screwing them up is his favorite hobby. Doing these things in his garage has made him what, he is today.

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