How to Buy a BBQ Smoker
Anyone who enjoys BBQ knows that there is a major difference between meat heated on a regular grill and meat that has been slowly roasted on a BBQ smoker grill. Before you can enjoy it, you have to sort through the many different types of smoker grills on the market, and that is a feat that is much harder than you would think.
We are here to walk you through the best types of smokers so that when you click to buy, you know you will be getting the BBQ smoker grill of your dreams.
Choose Your Smoker Fuel Type
Modern BBQ smoker grills offer you many more fuel choices than the previous charcoal grills of yore. One of the reasons that smoker grills, in general, have exploded in popularity is because now there are so many additional fuel types, including gas, electricity, and wood pellets.
Electric BBQ Smoker
If you like the idea of walking away from your smoker grill and returning when your meat is at the perfect temperature, then an electric BBQ smoker grill might be a good idea. Electric smokers often control the temperature inside of the cooking chamber similar to your oven, which ensures that your grill maintains consistent heat without your help. The only thing that you need to remember is to keep a balance of airflow and smoke going by keeping the wood chips stocked. While you need some airflow to prevent over smoking the food, minimal flow is a great way to preserve moisture.
Charcoal BBQ Smoker
Many people opt for charcoal BBQ smoker grills because they are traditional and the first thing that most people think of when they think of classic smoked BBQ. The main benefit of using charcoal is that you use live fire to cook your meat, creating the ultimate smoky flavor. The trade-off is that charcoal can be harder to use, and requires much more time and patience since you need to measure the temperature inside and watch smoke levels constantly. If you can deal with that, you will get an excellent piece of smoked meat at the end.
Gas BBQ Smoker
Gas BBQ smokers are related to electric BBQ smoker grills in terms of ease of use. They are usually vertically shaped and have a gas burner that heats the bottom of the smoking chamber and creates a stable and consistent heating temperature inside the grill. The only thing you need to remember is how long you leave your meat in the chamber and how high the internal heat of your meat is.
Pellet BBQ Smoker
If you want smoked meat with minimal effort, it doesn’t get much easier than pellet BBQ smokers. They manage fuel, heat, airflow, and smoke so that the only thing you need to do is buy pellets and turn them on. If you opt for this, remember that the hotter you heat the fire, the less smoke you will get. The taste is milder than smokey fuel BBQ smoker grills, but you are less likely to overcook meat this way.
Choose Your Smoker Type
Fuel is not the only factor to consider when you delve deeper into what kind of smoker I should buy. In addition, you need to think about the body type you would prefer for your BBQ smoker grill. There are spacing-saving models like vertical types, and then the more aesthetic choices that pack smoker grills into an attractive package you will be proud to display on your porch.
Offset smokers are probably the most recognizable body type. An offset smoker has a firebox that is set to the side of the main chamber. Usually, they have horizontal bodies that resemble a barrel. These smokers tend to use charcoal or wood, which slowly drifts into the cooking chamber from holes on the bordering wall of the firebox.
As the name implies, vertical smokers are vertical and are a great way to fit a smoker onto a tight porch if space is an issue. Vertical smokers have three separate components: a heat source, smoker box, and wood shelf. Some also feature a water pan and, of course, cooking grates. It is easy to keep temperatures even since heat and smoke always rise.
Anything that doesn’t fall into these two shapes is known as an unconventional smoker. Built-in smokers would land in this category would many models that are considered luxury models and have some trendy modern technology integrated into them. Unconventional smokers can be handy if you need to fit your smoker grill into an odd spot.
Choose Your Smoker Configuration
Now that you have two factors down, there are only two to go. Next up is the configuration of your smoker. This choice has a lot to do with how portable you want your BBQ smoker grill to be. Freestanding BBQ smokers are pretty mobile, while built-in smokers minimize space but are fixed in place.
Freestanding BBQ Smoker
Most people prefer a freestanding BBQ smoker grill because it allows them to move their smoker grill around as needed. A freestanding model can be packed and hauled on the camper or placed out by the firepit if you are an avid camper. The mobility also makes them a lot easier to clean, which is not always an easy task.
Built-In BBQ Smoker
On the other hand, a built-in smoker might be ideal if you have an outdoor kitchen and want to integrate a BBQ smoker grill both as an accent and a cooking option. Many times you can place the built-in smoker next to your built-in conventional gas grill, which allows you to offer an entire buffet while entertaining guests outdoors.
BBQ Smoker Class
Finally, your list should be narrowed down to the exact type of BBQ smoker grill you want. At this point, you only need to decide what your price point is based on the quality, features, and performance you are after. To help make that easier, we have split the best types of smokers into different classes designed so that you can find a great smoker regardless of your overall budget.
Top Entry-Level: Weber
Entry-level smokers are designed to offer new smokers the chance to try out smoking meat before committing to it. They cater more to a price-point than they do to ultimate performance. Among the entry-level brands, Weber Smokey Mountain tends to be the best. You have to expect that most of these grills will break down over time which is why most only feature limited warranties, but if your budget is low, you can hone your skill on an entry-level model and save for a better model in a few years.
Top Practical: Green Mountain Grills
Practical grills are slightly different from entry-level smokers and are usually vertical. They offer a moderate range of warranties and tend to be crafted out of thick steel, which helps capture heat inside. They are outfitted with easy-to-use analog controls and often have helpful features that make grilling a bit easier and intuitive. Practical smokers are an excellent option for budget-conscious consumers who want a dependable smoker grill and flexibility in fuel type.
Top Premium: Gateway
Smokers that fall into the premium category are generally crafted out of powder-coated steel or stainless steel and offer warranties of at least ten years. They also offer dependable cooking systems so you don’t have to worry too much about over smoking and can walk away from the smoker while it cooks. In addition, most premium electric smokers have digital controls that let you set the temperature inside of the heating chamber for results that you don’t have to babysit to achieve.
Top Luxury: Twin Eagles
Grills that fall in the luxury class are usually made from stainless steel to enhance their lifespan. They are excellent for competitive professionals and a great tool for amateur cooks who want the best product on the market. All luxury models will come with thick insulation and sealed cooking chambers that trap heat and smoke to decrease cooking time and increase flavor. Most sophisticated tools such as LED lighting are integrated into the cooking system to create a premium experience.