If you enjoy the taste of smoked meat, then you may be looking into buying a smoker to use at your home. Smoking is a very popular way to cook meat. It adds tons of flavor and makes the meat extremely tender and moist. Because smoking is such a popular way to cook, there are countless smokers to choose from. With so many options, it can be difficult to determine what type of smoker you should buy.
To help you on your quest for finding the best smoker, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide. In this guide, you will find a wealth of valuable information that you can use to find the best smoker for your needs. This guide highlights the different types of smokers, the factors to consider when choosing a smoker, the different features that a smoker can offer, and the best smoker brands. With this guide, you will have all of the information you need to find the absolute best smoker so that you can enjoy tasty and delicious smoked meats at home.
Types of Smokers
Smokers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but generally, smokers are made out of steel, porcelain or steel. They offer racks that are coated in either wood or chrome, which is used to hold the meat and keep it away from the flame that they produce, thereby smoking it. There are three main types of smokers, which include:
- The vertical or cylinder smoker
- The offset smoker
- The cabinet smoker
Each of these types of smokers provides different benefits. It’s important to have a firm understanding of these benefits so that you can choose the best smoker for your needs.
The Vertical Smoker
Also known as a cylinder smoker, this is probably the most common type of smoker, thanks to its small size, inexpensive price, and easy operation. Vertical smokers usually have two bowls on the inside. The bowl at the bottom of the smoker is where you place the charcoal and smoker wood, and the bowl in the middle usually stores water or other liquid to help keep your food moist throughout the long smoking process. There is a trap door located in the front of the smoker can be opened to feed in new charcoal and wood to keep your smoker up to temperature. Because the heat will rise straight up from the bottom bowl to the top, your dish will be stored right at the top where the lid meets the base of the vertical smoker. We recommend that you try to avoid opening the lid once you start smoking to keep the heat and smoke inside. Doing so will allow you to yield the best results.
The Offset Firebox Smoker
The offset firebox smoker features a main chamber, which can be used as a normal grill, and a small offset firebox chamber, which is used to smoke the meat. To smoke with the offset method, all you have to do is load charcoal or wood into the small firebox and place your meat in the min grilling chamber. The heat and the smoke will start to billow through the main chamber. There are two adjustable vents; one is situated on the firebox and the other is outside of the top of the main chamber. These vents can be adjusted to regulate the temperature inside the smoker. Generally, you would want to fully open both vents when you first start the process so that you can get the temperature inside the smoker up. Once the smoker has reached the desired temperature, you can then close the vents a bit to keep the heat consistent.
The Cabinet Smoker
Though it looks similar to the vertical smoker, there are some distinct differences between the cabinet smoker and the vertical smoker. Cabinet smokers are larger than vertical smokers and they usually have multiple racks, which can be adjusted or removed, depending on what you re smoking. Cabinet smokers are more versatile than vertical smokers and allow you to smoke several dishes at the same time. This type of smoker does work in the same manner as a vertical smoker, allowing you to have better control over the heat. It should be noted, though, that cabinet smokers are more expensive than vertical smokers.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Smoker
There are several factors that you are going to want to take into consideration when you are shopping for a smoker. Some of the most important factors include the capacity of the smoker and how it is operated, among other things. By taking these factors into consideration, you will be able to choose the best smoker for your needs.
To learn more about the factors that we think are the most important to consider, please keep on reading.
The capacity of the smoker is a very important factor, as it will determine how much you can cook at one time, and what sized items you can cook. It is important to make sure that you choose a smoker that offers enough space to accommodate the food that you plan on cooking.
The Food You Will Be Cooking
You should also consider the type of food that you plan on cooking in the smoker. You want to make sure that the smoker will offer enough space to cook the food, and that it will cook it just the way you like it. For example, if you plan on cooking a lot of meat, an offset smoker is a great option because it offers two chambers, which allow you to control the temperature more efficiently.
Ease of Use
The best smokers are easy to assemble and easy to use. They come with easy to read instruction manuals and don’t require a lot of effort.
If you want your smoker to last a long time, make sure you choose one that is constructed of high quality and durable materials. The best smokers are those that offer a strong heavy gauge steel and sturdy welds.
The Fuel Source
Another important factor to take into consideration is the fuel that is used to power the smoker. Smokers can be operated by electricity or gas, or they can be powered by wood or charcoal. Make sure you choose a fuel that you are comfortable with using, and that will provide you with the taste that you desire. If you like a really smoky taste, a wood or charcoal smoker is the best option.
Everyone has a budget, which is why it’s important to consider the amount you want to spend before you start shopping. Generally, the larger the smoker is and the more features it offers, the more expensive it will be.
Available Features for Smokers
Smokers can offer a number of features. These features are intended to make it easier to use the smoker, to improve the quality of cooking, and to make the device more versatile. As mentioned above, the more features a smoker offers, the more expensive it will be. It’s important to understand the different features and their intended purpose so that you can determine whether or not you want or need them.
Here’s a look at some of the most common features that smokers can offer.
If you want a smoker that is portable, look for one that comes with wheels. These devices can be heavy and awkward to move, so having wheels will make it a lot easier to move it to where ever you want to use it.
If you enjoy rotisserie meats, look for a smoker that comes equipped with a rotisserie. With this feature, the meat will be rotated while it is cooking, ensuring that it cooks evenly and that it stays super moist.
In order to cook your meat just to your liking, you need the smoker to be at the perfect temperature. A thermostat will allow you to keep track of the temperature so that you can make adjustments during the cooking process.
If you want to keep your food warm, but you don’t want it to keep cooking, a warming grate is a handy feature to have. These grates will allow you to hold the meat and keep it warm, yet won’t continue cooking it.
A Work Table
Some smokers come equipped with a work table. This table allows you to prepare your foods right next to the smoker, or to keep other items that you may want to have handy while you are cooking within arm’s reach.
If you are going to be using your smoker outside when the temperature drops, look for one that is insulated. When the smoker is insulated, the temperature inside won’t be affected by the cold temperatures outside, which means that you will still get perfectly cooked meats, no matter how cold it is outside.
This is a feature that is only available for electric smokers. A remote control can make it really easy to operate your smoker. With the push of a button, you will be able to adjust the temperature and the settings so that your food will be perfectly cooked with ease.
Electric smokers can also come equipped with preset programs. These programs allow you to choose what type of meat you are cooking and will get the smoker to the perfect temperature for cooking that type of meat.
The best smokers come equipped with a warranty. This feature will protect your investment. Should anything happen to the smoker during the span of the warranty, you will be able to have it repaired or replaced, or you may even be able to have your money refunded. Do make sure that you read the details of your warranty so that you know exactly what it covers.
The Best Smoker Brands
Because smoking is such a popular way of cooking, dozens of manufacturers have risen to the call and are making smokers. With so many options, it can be difficult to determine who makes the best products. To help you weed through all of the manufacturers, we have tested out several smokers and we have also read user reviews. Our research has indicated that the following brands are the best of the best.
Master Built produces some of the highest quality smokers on the market. They offer a wide selection and some pretty handy features, too. Master Built smokers are constructed of the best materials and are extremely durable.
Weber is a well known name in the outdoor cooling industry, and their smokers are some of the best on the market. This company’s smokers are constructed of high quality materials and are expertly constructed. They are also very easy to use and yield outstanding results.
We also really liked the smokers that are made by Dyna Glo. This company’s smokers are manufactured from high quality materials and use the most state of the art technologies in smoking. We liked how easy their smokers were to use and how many features they offered.
Bradley is another producer of exceptional smokers. They use excellent materials and their smokers are very well constructed. We liked how easy their smokers were to use and how many features that they offered. We also found that this company’s smokers produced some of the best tasting meats.