best smoker guide
If you are serious about eating the best quality meat, you need to get yourself a smoker! Why the meat has the most amazing succulent flavor, it is tasty and moisture making your mouth drool while you’re enjoying the feast.
Yes, you too can enjoy your own feast of smoked ham, chops, turkey, and even vegetables if you have your own smoker at home. This is all possible by exploring with me as I present you the best smoker guide in finding your own smoker to make this possible for you.
Smoking food is not difficult if you have a great smoker. Think of it this way it will be an excellent investment to create mouth-watering cuisine outdoors for family and friends. With a smoker, you can enjoy exploding tastes in your mouth as the meat cooks at a low temperature while you enjoy the company of friends.
With these units, you can go about your day as the appliance basically, does everything for you. Set it up and place your food in it, set the temperature and leave the rest up to the smoker. Once done you and your family can enjoy crispy juicy food with the most incredible flavor.
Before choosing one to buy, let me show you the important features you need to know before buying one. There are many different types of smokers available and you want to choose one that suits both your budget and your needs.
So let us get started!
Which Smoker Should You Buy?
Now that you have decided to buy your own barbecue smoker, you are wondering which one you should buy. There are so many different types of smokers available online. Each one is different and has a characteristic that stands out from the rest. The important thing is that when you finally do buy one you want the best smoker that suits your special needs.
You may need one that requires no monitoring of temperatures, shoveling coal, the need of adding wood chips or fiddling with dampers. You want one that makes it possible for you to have food on the table on time without it being over or under cooked. Before you decide to buy one let us look at the different types of smokers you can buy online.
For a modern type of smoker, the Electric Smoker stands out for its modern features. These appliances make smoking meat at home a trouble-free and enjoyable one as all you need is a power outlet for the appliance to work. The electric smoker is the lazy man’s device, as it does not need your full attention compared to wood or charcoal grills that need you to keep stoking the fire and checking the temperature of your food all day.
There are some impressive models obtainable for you to buy that give you a powerfully built piece of equipment, looks strong and sturdy and has the best insulation. Take the MasterBuilt 40-inch as an example this is a digital smoker that is ready to use and has an automatic wood chip feeder. With the wood chip loader found on the side of the unit, you can add your own flavored wood pieces for the best smoky flavor ever.
Furthermore, you have a digital temperature control, timer controls, auto-shut off, top air damper, and so much more. As you can see when it comes to convenience the electric smoker is one of the best buys you can make when it comes to ease of use. The only thing that you may need is an extra long lead your beef brisket, turkey or salmon to get your meal going!
If you are interested in buying yourself a Electric Smoker, make sure to check out my reviews on Electric smokers here!
If you have a couple of dollars and need a less demanding way of smoking your meat, the Propane Gas Smoker is the one to have. You will find them available in a cabinet-style shape that looks similar to a vintage safe or gym locker. With the simple design, you get a smoker with a gas burner found at the bottom and only needs connecting to a propane tank.
You can even connect them to your natural gas line with a conversion kit to make this possible. You can use large pieces of wood, sawdust, or smoking chips and it has a water pan to keep the inside of the smoker moist when used for long cooking times.
One great thing about the Propane Gas Smoker is that they are affordable and have a durable structure with more smoking capacity. They are portable and some of them you can even transport with you on fishing or camping trip. When it comes to cleaning, the burners are easy to clean and it maintains smoking temperatures well. You can buy certain models with their own push-button ignition feature.
If you are interested in buying yourself a Propane Gas Smoker, make sure to check out my reviews on Propane Gas Smokers here!
If you are serious about making, home cooked smoked meat the Charcoal Smoker is the best option available for you. When using charcoal you get the best advantages compared to other types of smokers available. For flavor, you can add wood to your smoker to give it an outstanding smoky tang.
Controlling the temperature is super easy as all you need to do is take out some of the charcoal for cooking over low temperatures. Compared to the electric and wood smoker these units make it impossible for you to do this. When it comes to maintenance, you do not have many different parts to replace and may only need to change the grid when it happens to rust or chip.
Many of the charcoal smoker models available have ash catcher trays and help to make your cleaning a breeze. All you need to do is dump the ash and brush & scrape the grill before using it for your next cooking spree. The only disadvantage is that you will have to keep your eye on the flame and the temperature making sure it is where you want it to be.
If you are interested in buying yourself a Charcoal Smoker, make sure to check out my reviews on Charcoal Smoker here!
When you smoke meat at home, you may want something simple to use and this is where the Pellet Smoker is handy. They work with an igniter rod that automatically feeds the wood pellets for you into a firebox. Therefore, you do not need to mess around with setting the right temperature, mess with dirty charcoal or wood all the time.
Smoking meat is a long process and the Pellet Smoker gives you the opportunity to set it and forget it for a while compared to the charcoal unit that needs your full attention throughout the day. Using pellets are great as they consist of natural wood and make it environmentally friendly to use.
They work with induction fans that circulate the smoke through the cooking chamber for even heat and the most delicious smoked flavor ever. The auger fuels the fire as it moves the hardwood into the fire pot for fast or slow smoking. The great thing is that the appliance keeps the temperature consistent as the controls are simple to use and versatile as you can grill, bake, smoke, roast, or braise in them. You can buy the pellets in different smoke flavors to give your meat a succulent yet moisture taste and the units are easy to keep clean.
If you are interested in buying yourself a Pellet Smoker, make sure to check out my reviews on Pellet Smoker here!
Things to Consider When Buying a Smoker
Now that you know all the different types of smokers available, you still need to consider certain important factors before buying yourself a suitable one. One great way to do your shopping is online in the comfort of your home. This is a great way as you can compare prices and features available as it gives you the best idea on which smoker you should buy. However, there are other important things to look for and I am here to help you find the best one for your household needs.
The Size Matters
You can buy several smokers in different sizes and need to choose the best one to prevent hassles once it arrives at your door. If you have, a small family and only going to use it occasionally then rather choose one that has a more compact design. However, if you have a large family and enjoy entertaining guests the best option is to choose a large one. Always look at the dimensions of the smoker and the cooking capacity before making your choice. Another important thing is that you do not want to buy a large model if you only have limited space.
What Features Do You Need
Are you looking for an easy-to-use model or do you need all the frills from being able to control the unit directly from your laptop or mobile device? Each brand offers you with simple to technical features that are important to consider when buying the best smoker available. Some other features you may also consider are the following:
- Do you want to move the unit around or leave it standing in one place as some models have wheels and another may not have these features? If you are planning to buy, a large smoker, make sure to buy one with wheels as moving these units around is not easy.
- Look if you can remove the interior shelves, as you will most likely be preparing different types of meat.
- How easy is the smoker to clean as some offer you some great features with removable water pans, drip pans, and fireboxes?
- How many grids are included with your model and does the unit have side racks, as these are important when you are preparing a feast.
- Does it have a temperature gauge, a rheostat, or thermometer, meat probe, remote control or is everything digital
What Thermometer Does the Smoker Use?
Invest in buying a great digital thermometer, as some of the brands that have included thermometers are way off when it comes to measuring degrees. Some are even off with as much as 40°. So buy yourself a good digital thermometer to measure the temperature as the air on the inside may vary.
The Quality of the Product
As you will be spending your hard-earned money on buying the best smoker, you want your product to last for many years. That is why the construction and durability of the unit you buy are so important. What materials the smoker made of? Have they used good quality material when constructing it? You may think that buying one of the expensive models is going to last you years of use this is not always the case. You can find an affordable smoker that can still stand the test of time.
Quality is important as you are adding fire to the appliance and your product needs to be made of quality material with a superb thickness. Buying a smoker with a thin metal will not distribute heat well compared to a heavier gauge metal. Consider the climate you are living in as you may get away using a thin metal in very warm climates. Check the final touches and make sure that all the parts made from durable material.
Do you want ease-of-use or stand and control the unit for hours
With the different brand of smokers available, you need to consider the ease-of-use as many of them you need to control the temperature. While others give, you fully automated functions from loading pellets in the feeder, controlling the temperature, and more. Smokers have different chimneys that you need to tweak while others you need to stoke the fire to keep it smoking. You do not want to invite guests over realizing that you were so busy keeping the smoker going and has no time to enjoy your time with your visitors. Another important thing to consider is if your smoker needs to be portable or fixed. Do you need to store it or are you going to leave it out on the patio, this is where wheels and handles are dandy to have?
How easy is the smoker to clean and maintain
Any smoker needs cleaning after use and the more you use your unit things do start to break. Here you need to look at how easy it is to remove the accessories such as the firebox, water pans, drip pans, grates and more. What are the grates made off, stainless steel or does it have a porcelain coating. How easy can you buy replacement parts for your smoker? Consider these questions when buying your smoker.
How Much Are You Willing to Spend
Smokers are available in different price ranges and you need to know how much you are willing to spend on the product. You can buy affordable smokers that are as low as $100 or you can buy a high-end one that costs you more than $4,000. When buying online you need to consider the shipping as well as there may be handling costs. Always look for retailers that cut your rates to zero when it comes to shipping.
Warranty and Customer Service
This is maybe one of the most important things to look at. What warranty do you get when buying a certain smoker brands? Some manufacturers only offer you a 90-day limited warranty while others may give you up to two-years. Read reviews and find out how well the brand’s customer service is when you have a problem. Will the manufacturer be able to provide you with replacement parts? Consider these questions when you look at the different makes of smokers available to buy.
Essential Accessories for Your Smoker
Your smoker has finally arrived and you have your meat and seasoning ready, but wait there are other essential accessories you need before you start with your cooking:
Once you have decided on the type of smoker you want to buy the next thing you need to decide is if your smoker needs a cover. If your units standing under cover the likeliness is that it needs a cover is little. However, if it is standing out in the heat and rain you will need a durable cover. Many different brands of smokers present you with options in buying a cover best suited for your model. Always make sure to take the design and dimensions of your unit into consideration. A helpful tip is to buy a cheap cover if your units in an enclosed area as it will prevent it from getting dust and dirt on it making your cleaning task easier.
Get Yourself Heat Resistant Gloves
As you are working with tremendous heat and may need to check on the food make sure that your gloves are heat resistant. You do not want to go burning yourself.
You need cleaning tools
Here you will need to buy a grill brush and a cleaning spray that will not damage your smoker. You can find some interesting cleaning tools from steam-cleaning grill brushes and grill cleaning maintenance packs to buy.
Place your appliance on a smoker stand
For ease of accessibility, you can consider buying or make a smoker stand for your model. Some brands like MasterBuilt and Char-Broil give you an option of buying a stand optional. The majority of smoker stand lifts your unit up from the floor. Some are made from durable steel while others are made from wood. You can even get bottom storage shelves in them to keep your important cooking essentials on hand. These are great to use outdoors during winter months or while it is raining keeping your unit safe from getting water and moisture in it when covered.
A Handy Thing to Have the Marinade Injector Kit
Be a cooking legend among your friends and family when you buy a marinade injector kit. This is a helpful tool to give meat the ultra flavor it needs keeping it moist while grilling in the smoker. They are easy to use and some kits give you a great recipe booklet included. Add some flavor to your meat by injecting it with your marinade injector kit.
Choose Your Wood Chips
Burning certain types of wood in your smoker helps to bring out different flavors in your food and the best is to avoid softwood chips, they emit a bitter-like smoke flavor. Here are some great wood chips you can use:
- The most popular wood is mesquite as it has a bold spicy flavor and burns hot. This wood is suitable to use with beef, pork, and vegetables.
- The next contender is hickory and known for its bacon-like flavor and works well with chicken, wild game, trout, and pork
- Pecan gives you a nutty flavor and is great to use with lamb, fish, pork, poultry and wild game
- Oak and maple are also great contenders and goes great with pork cuts, vegetables, ham and beef brisket
- You can also try different fruit trees such as peach, apple, and cherry as they infuse foods with the sweetest flavor and great when used with delicate meat like ham and fish
Soak the wood chip in water as it helps to last longer, especially in a charcoal smoker when used in combination with lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes.
Get Yourself a Meat Rack
Sometimes you buy a smoker that includes grates and grills to place your food items on; however, there are times that certain meats do not want to stay in place. This is where the meat rack comes in handy for chicken wings, ribs, vegetables and more. The only thing is to make sure that when you buy them they fit into the cooking space of your smoker. They are normally made from stainless steel and easy to clean. These racks are even suitable to use in your oven.
You can find a good sparerib rack here.
The Best Tips & Tricks for Smoking Meat
Before you start using your smoker read through our tips & tricks to turn your meat and vegetables into mouth-watering pieces:
- Learn to control the temperature
The first and most important things are to learn how to control the temperature of your smoker. The best temperature to smoke meat is between 225° to 250°. You do not want to smoke your large cuts of meat over a too low temperature as it may leave the meat uncooked while large wavering temperatures give the meat a lesser quality in smoke taste. When buying your smoker make sure that it includes a water pan as it helps to add moisture and is an outstanding heat absorbent. You can buy thermometers to use with your smoker if it does not have all the digital controls included.
- Calibrate and season the smoker and grill
The second step is to master your appliance and the best way of doing this is to give your smoker a dry run without food. This helps you to understand your unit when using different temperatures and helps to season your grid getting rid of the manufacturing oils and smells found in a new appliance.
- Take it slow you have all day to enjoy the company of friends
Smoking food is a lengthy process, needs loads of patients, and is the first and most important step when it comes to using the best smoker. Prepare your meat, set your smoker, and relax while the food cooks away slowly giving you mouth-watering food to serve up at the end of the day.
- Start adding the smoke
Whether you are using a gas, charcoal, or pellet smoker you want to start the smoking process with wood chunks, chips, briquettes, or hardwood logs. There are different woods available that gives the most amazing smoking flavors. Look at apple wood for a sweet flavor and hickory that gives you a bacon taste giving the meat a tangy taste.
- Always start clean in your smoker
Before starting your smoking, make sure that your grate is clean and scrubbed. This you can do by using a grill brush with a long handle and scrub the grate clean while it’s hot. This helps to enhance the flavor of your food. The next step is to grease the grate with oil as it helps to prevent the meat from sticking to the grill.
- Now it’s time to rub the meat
Many people prefer using brine with their meat but if you are going to cook over low temperatures, you can rub the meat with some black pepper and kosher salt. This will give the meat a gummy and smooth texture. Alternatively, you can rub the meat out with ½ cup of salt, ½ a cup of brown sugar, 1 tbsp of black pepper, 2 tsp of chili flakes, and 1 tbsp of lemon pepper and start firing up your smoker.
- Keep your hands off the food
Once the time arrives for you to check the meat do not start probing and poking around in it or flip the meat repeatedly. Give it time to sear and form a crust and only turn it once the grill marks start forming on it.
- Timing is everything
Timing is everything when it comes to smoking meat! You do not want to remove the meat before it’s done. For the most accurate reading, you can buy yourself a digital thermometer if it’s not included with your model. Remove the meat once done and leave the meat to rest for up to 5-minutes covered.
Mouth-Watering Smoked Recipes
The more you use your smoker the more delicious foods you will create. If you happen to find yourself stuck, try some of the superb cookbooks and cooking websites online to get you started. Alternatively, you can follow these mouth-watering smoked recipes to get started:
Smoked Brined Turkey
For a subtle moist succulent smoky flavor use, more wood chips in your smoker while cooking. What you will need:
- Take a large bowl and add the following to it 16 cups of water, a ½ cup of brown sugar, 1 navel orange rind, 3 sprigs of rosemary, 1 cup of kosher salt, ⅔ of yellow onions quartered, and 1 halved garlic. Mix well until the salt and sugar has dissolved.
- Take one turkey and remove all the insides and keep it for another use – rinse well and place in a resealable bag or container that is large enough to hold the liquid and turkey. Pour the mixture over the turkey covering it completely. Place the turkey in the fridge for 12-hours while turning it occasionally.
- Take some hickory chips (4 cups) of it in and place it in a medium-sized bowl with water for an hour.
- Remove the turkey from the mixture and rinse under water, pat dry and discard the brine liquid.
- Take the turkey and stuff it with 2 lemons quartered and the remaining garlic, 10 sprigs of thyme, 10 sprigs of sage, and one cup of chopped potatoes.
- Brush the turkey with a ¼ cup of olive oil and season with freshly ground pepper and some garlic powder to taste.
Take a V-Rack and place the turkey on it. Place the rack over a drip pan, place it in the smoker, and close the lid. You need to cook it for at least 2 ½ hours and add more chips when needed. Make sure that the turkey does not brown quickly if it does cover it with aluminum foil and continue cooking until the thermometer gives you a temp of 165° F. Remove and let it rest for at least 20-minute and you are ready to eat.
Smoked Spicy Sweet Ribs
For some smoked spicy sweet tender ribs that fall off the bone, follow this recipe:
- Take a small bowl and stir together ¼ cup of salt, ¼ cup of white sugar, 2 tbsp of brown sugar, 2 tbsp black pepper, 2 tbsp white pepper, and 2 tbsp of onion powder, 1 tbsp of garlic powder, 1 tbsp of chili powder, 1 tbsp of paprika, and 1 tbsp of cumin.
- Take 10 pounds of baby back pork ribs and rubs the spice mixture on all sides – take plastic wrap and wrap the ribs in it and place in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to placing it in the smoker.
- Start the smoker up as per your instruction manual – place the baby back ribs on a wire rack and prevent it from sticking together too much ( if it touches a little it’s ok.)
- Take the smoker pan and fill it with apple, pear, cherry, and grape chips and place the ribs into the smoker.
- Bring the smoker to 270° F and smoke the meat for an hour.
- In the meantime, you can stir together 1 cup of apple juice, ¼ cup of brown sugar, and a ¼ cup of barbecue sauce any flavor brand will do.
- Take the sauce and brush the ribs every 30 to 45-minutes after it has been cooking for an hour.
- Cook the ribs until it begins to shrink and the meat starts turning a more whitish color for up to 4-hours – before the ribs are ready to be removed from smoker brush it for the last time with the sauce about 30-minute before the time.
- Remove and wrap with some aluminum foil and leave it to rest for up to 15-minutes
Easy Smoked Vegetable Recipe
Smoked vegetables are mouth-watering when made in a smoker and super easy to make as a side dish with your meat:
- Take some wood chips you need for your smoker and soak it in water for up to an hour – drain and fill the smoker box with them and place in the smoker and close the lid.
- Heat the smoker according to your appliance instructions and heat for about 10-minutes and start reducing the heat to the medium setting.
- While waiting for the smoker to heat up toss some of your favorite vegetables in a bowl with some olive oil. Alternatively, you can use 1 corn cut into pieces, 1 medium sized squash cut into ½ -inch slices, a small red onion cut up, 1 small green pepper cut in strips, 1 yellow bell pepper cut into strips, 1 cup of mushrooms halved and 2 tbsp of your favorite spice (this can be from chicken seasoning or vegetable seasoning.)
- Place the vegetables on the grill rack or a grill basket or you can thread it onto a skewer and make kebabs with them.
- Place in smoker and leave them to grill for up to 12-minutes or until they are tender by turning them making sure that they are nicely smoked on both sides.
I hope that the best smoker guide helps you to make an informative decision when in need of buying your own appliance. As you can see there, are many things to consider when buying the best smoker available on the market? Consider your budget and buy the best one your money can buy. Once receiving your unit read the instruction manual and experiment with different recipes. As you can see here, you can make some delicious treats for you and the family. Enjoy your smoker whether it be an electric, propane gas, charcoal or pellet smoker as they will give you years of use and enjoyment.