Finding The Best Meat Smokers

Finding The Best Meat Smokers

Smoking as a part of cookery is much more complex than non-smokers can imagine. Everybody who eats smoked food – especially smoked meats – understands that something good has happened to the food they’ve put in their mouth.

But what it is – what exactly has been added to the mouthful of protein they’re eating will probably elude them.

That’s because smoking is both a flavor spectrum and a cooking spectrum at one and the same time. Its excellence, its strength or delicacy, its umami roar of sweet giggle depends on a whole range of things.

The skill of the person cooking the meat, sure. But also the instrument they’re playing – the smoker they use – and the particular woods they use too. It’s all a symphony that comes together on the tongue – and who doesn’t want to give their guests a symphony?

An experience that lifts them up, gives them a memory, and makes them respect the composer just a little bit more.

If you’re going to make the best mouth-music with your smoked foods, you’re going to need the best instrument on the market. The best smoker there is for the kind of smoking that speaks to your soul.

That’s not easy to find – the market is swamped with options. Pellet-burning, electric, gas, propane, you name it.

Actually, you sit back. Let us name it. We’ve gone through the market. We’ve smoked and tested, seasoned and tasted till pretty much the whole farmyard is scared when we come calling.

We’ve come up with our definitive list of the best smokers on the market right now, so you don’t have to take a stab in the dark on smoking excellence.

In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.

OUR TOP PICK

Weber 22-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

Stats - At A Glance

  • Model: 731001
  • Size: 24 x 23 x 48.5 inches
  • Weight: 68 pounds
  • Smoker material: Porcelain enamel
  • Grate material: Plated steel
  • Fuel: Charcoal
  • Wireless: Not the unit. Can be paired with the iGrill 2 probe, will give you updates on your phone
  • Warranty: 10 years

If this is not your first time in smokeytown, this pick won’t surprise you in the slightest. The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is lots of people’s top pick for the best smoker in the game.

The reasons are straightforward. As a baseline, it does the thing you want it to do – produce joy-bringing smoky flavor to everything you put in it, time after time after time. It does it simply, and repeatedly, and without needing a college degree to figure out how it works.

In more technical terms, the competency and simplicity of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is actively admirable. It’s made of a durable, porcelain-enameled shell, with simple controls, and it’s engineered with friendliness and forward thinking.

What does that mean? It means the door is handy and the smoker is easy to clean, the in-built thermometer is accurate, and the dampeners are responsive, so you can get precisely the temperature and the smoke level you want in any given smoking session.

The whole thing does what you want it to, and turns out life-changingly good smoked meats that it would be easy – but foolish – to take for granted.

As a charcoal smoker, there’s that grunting “Yes” of rightness about everything that comes out of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker – you’ll hear it from your guests, and you’ll hear it from yourself, that involuntary sound you make that speaks volumes but is boiled down beyond the complexity of language.

The grunt of rightness is what you’re aiming for with any smoked meat, and the Weber is almost comically capable of giving it to you time after time.

That enameled shell is darn hardy too. Weber knows that it knows its business, and that’s why it gives you a 10-year warranty with the Smokey Mountain Cooker.

Unless you happen to have a cliff to drop it off though, it’s hard to see you needed to use the warranty within that first decade. That means once you establish the Weber in your household, you’ve probably got phenomenal smoked meat and barbecue for at least those ten years.

As a charcoal smoker, it’s pretty portable too – at least compared to some gas or propane models on the market. And if you pair it with something like Weber’s iGrill 2 internal meat probe, you can get temperature and time updates beamed directly to your phone. Because of course you can – this is the 21st century, after all.

But it’s really the simplicity and the repeatability of great smoked meats that put the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker at the very top of our list of the best smokers on the market right now.

Pros:

  • The Weber reputation wasn’t conjured up out of thin air, and the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is one of its flagship smokers
  • The controls are easy to use and the built-in thermometer means they’re accurate
  • Effective dampers give you precise smoke and temperature control
  • The easy-access, removable fuel door means you can top up your fuel and charcoal without touching the meat
  • Using the iGrill 2 heat probe, you can get smoking updates sent directly to your phone
  • The Smokey Mountain Cooker comes with a 10-year warranty

Cons:

  • You get some smoke leakage around the door, but this rarely if ever throws off the smoking of your meat

EDITORS CHOICE

Masterbuilt MB20073519 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker with Broiler, 30 inch, Black

Stats - At A Glance

  • Model: MB20073519
  • Size: 19.88 x 20.66 x 33.46 inches
  • Weight: 54 pounds
  • Smoker material: Stainless steel
  • Grate material: Chrome-coated steel
  • Fuel: Electricity
  • Wireless: Bluetooth digital
  • Warranty: No information immediately available

Electric smokers have fallen rather out of favor as America has embraced pelletmania, but once, electric smoking was the go-to option for a lot of would-be kings and queens of the barbecue.

Leading the case for an electric revival is Masterbuilt, based in Georgia in the United States.

The Masterbuilt MB20071117 is a versatile, low-cost electric smoker available in two sizes and a range of options – including one with legs and one without.

It’s easy to use and easy to reload as necessary, maintaining even temperature and smoke with its intuitive controls. If you want to smoke larger cuts like a full rack of uncut ribs, the 40-inch version will see you through without any drama.

Really though, it’s the simplicity of operation the electric power gives you that wins a place on our list and in our hearts. You literally just plug the Masterbuilt smoker in, add your wood chips, add water to your pan, set the temp, add your meat and wait for the smoky goodness to ensue.

It’s literally less work than cooking a toaster waffle – though if you get a smoky vibe when cooking a toaster waffle, you may have taken it too far.

The electric power of the Masterbuilt also means it’s a viable take-along on any RV or Campervan trips, even if you’re relying on solar panels.

The Masterbuilt comes with its own patented loader for wood chips, too – it’s structured so you don’t have to disturb the meat while it’s doing its smoky thing – you just pop, fill, pop and keep right on smoking, without having to open the door and drop the temperature suddenly.

If you’re going to be picky, there’s a certain quality-lite feel to the construction of the Masterbuilt – no, the irony of the name is not lost on us. Thin aluminum and plastic don’t engender initial confidence in the smoker, but again, you could argue that those are materials that add to the unit’s portability and therefore flexibility of use.

Of slightly more concern is the fact that the Masterbuilt is very timer-driven – if your timer runs out before your meat is properly smoked, the smoker will obey its timer, rather than your instinct. It’s not too great an inconvenience, as your instincts will tell you whether or not to reset the timer if it’s needed, but it just increases the level of diligence you have to use – automatic updates beamed to your phone here.

These are barely nits to pick though, and overall, the Masterbuilt is a highly effective electric smoker that won’t break the bank.

Pros:

  • The price is extremely friendly to your budget, without overly compromising on quality of smoking
  • It’s extremely easy to use the Masterbuilt
  • The patented wood chip cache system means you don’t have to stop the smoking to reload with wood chips
  • It delivers fairly constant, reliable temperature

Cons:

  • You may feel the materials of the smoker feel flimsy
  • The degree to which the smoker depends on its timer can be demanding

BEST VALUE

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic Joe II Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, Blaze Red

Stats - At A Glance

  • Model: KJ23RHC
  • Size: 26.4 x 26.4 x 36 inches
  • Weight: 250 pounds
  • Smoker material: Ceramic, with cast iron frame
  • Grate material: Stainless steel
  • Fuel: Charcoal
  • Wireless: Not in itself. Can be paired with an iKamand to give you wireless updates
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty on the body, reducing warranties on other parts

Kamado is a brand that has the waterfront covered when it comes to high quality smokers. That said, the Kamado Joe Classic II stands as a definite flagship smoker for the company.

Looking like the cool alien in this year’s animated blockbuster movie, the Classic Joe II delivers classic charcoal smoking with a host of modern features that take it to a whole other level.

Latched with stainless steel and with a heavy ceramic lid, the chance of either smoke or heat loss from the Joe is minimal. But it’s also been engineered with an air lift hinge, so the heavy lid opens easily when you need it to.

Controls on top of the lid give you practically perfect temps all the way through the smoking process, and the entirely encased design means if you want Christmas barbecue in a blizzard, you can go right ahead. We’ll happily watch the footage on Youtube when you post it, you glorious meat-smoking fanatic, you.

If the Joe II seems all too simple and primitive for your tastes, don’t despair. The Joe II has the technology, and it can bring it when it’s needed – you pair the Joe II with an iKamand and, like the iGrill 2, that additional sensor will keep an eye on your smoking, and send you updates directly to your phone.

More than that, it will let you save some programmable settings, so you’ll get your smoking times spot on. How much more high-tech do you want your smoker to be?

It’s fitted with a six-piece firebox to guard any heating mishaps, and covered by a lifetime warranty on the ceramic body of the smoker (with 5 years on the metal parts, 3 years on the heat deflector, and 1 year on the thermometer!).

That means the Joe II goes out of its way to give you a smoker that’s not only easy to use, with a minimal heat or smoke loss potential, but also one that you can use with the maximum of safety and certainty.

Pros:

  • The versatility of the Joe II means it can deliver precise smoking, but is also able to turn up the heat as a full-on grill.
  • The ceramic shell means you can use the Joe II in colder climates and conditions if you want to
  • The useful air lift hinge means while the Joe II locks tight to prevent smoke escape, it can open easily when you need it to
  • Precise temperature control gives you perfect smoking, whatever the weather
  • A lifetime warranty on the body of the smoker, and strong warranties on all the other elements, mean you can smoke with confidence

Cons:

  • Check that the smoking capacity is big enough for your needs before you buy

RUNNER UP

Stats - At A Glance

  • Model: BTDS76P 990216
  • Size: 14 x 17 x 31 inches
  • Weight: 57.5 pounds
  • Smoker material: Stainless steel
  • Grate material: Stainless steel
  • Fuel: Electricity
  • Wireless: Yes, including a smartphone app
  • Warranty: 1 year

A second electrical smoker on the list of best smokers available in America? Have the Russians invaded or something?

No – as we mentioned earlier, the return of the electric smoker is a real thing, for energy cost reasons as much as ecological ones. Besides, if you live in a condo or even a well-ventilated apartment, something like the Bradley Digital Electric Smoker is right up your alley.

As with the Masterbuilt, the Bradley is a joyously straightforward proposal. It feeds itself on power direct from your mains supply, and – get this, it’s a real bonus – it has an automatic briquette feeding feature.

That means once you’ve set it in motion, it will happily do its smoky thing until you tell it to stop. With two separate heating elements, (one for heat and one for smoke), you get practically fingertip control over the smoking process. In an electric unit.

We know, we were surprised too.

And yes, you guessed it – the Bradley has this season’s must-have smoker feature too – it will send you updates on the temp and smoking to your phone, and you can change the temperature inside as it proves necessary.

Relatively lightweight, lacking the hardcore enamel and steel of some other units, it comes with a handy 1-year warranty, so go nuts when you get it – really see what the Bradley can do for the smoky quality of your life.

Now, if there’s one thing to be aware of, it’s that, unlike say the Joe II, the Bradley is a smoker. Only. It smokes, therefore it is.

Don’t try to crank up the heat and turn the Bradley into a lean, mean, grilling machine because if you try, it will probably pop a gasket and storm out of there, demanding to talk to its agent. Be aware that unlike almost all the other units on our list, the Bradley just smokes.

We’re guessing that’s not going to bother you unduly, because after all, you’re looking for the best smokers on the market. And that’s the point – if you’re space-challenged, and especially if you don’t have a lot of outside space to call your own, the Bradley is right up there, more than deserving of a place on that list.

Pros:

  • It’s a very straightforward smoker – you can set it up and walk away and never fear
  • The automatic briquette feeding system means it will only go hungry when there are no more briquettes available
  • Two separate heating elements give you great control
  • The Bradley smartphone app gives you direct control over your smoking at a distance

Cons:

  • This is not a grill. We repeat, this is not a grill
  • Be aware, the Bradley smoker is only compatible with Bradley-branded briquettes

RUNNER UP

18-1/2 in. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package

Stats - At A Glance

  • Model: B00BQMDZYY
  • Size: 21 x 21 x 31.1 inches
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Smoker material: Porcelain enamel
  • Grate material: Stainless steel
  • Fuel: Charcoal
  • Wireless: No
  • Warranty: No information immediately available

How does a back-to-basics smoker that gets the job done sound to you?

Yeah – that’s what we figured. Sounded pretty good to us too, which is why the Pit Barrel Cooker Classic is on our list.

Originally designed by a US Veteran, we’re not about to sell you a smoker based on the flag. We’re about to sell you a smoker based on the idea that a US Veteran knows their way around an engineering problem, and can come up with a solution that’s effective, efficient, and minimum-fuss.

With a porcelain-enameled drum, this is both ultra-durable and highly portable at just 55 pounds, meaning it’s one of the most situation-adaptable smokers on our list.

It has a surprisingly large space inside to smoke your meat, and the results it turns out, using convection currents to push the smoke into sinews, are among the most relentlessly succulent you’ll find anywhere on the market just now.

We mentioned it was minimum-fuss, and if you’ll forgive the pun, we weren’t just blowing smoke. It’s a smoker with no vents and no temperature gauge.

No what?

Yep – it’s a fixed temperature smoker. Load your charcoal at the bottom, add your meat, put the lid on, and you’re set until it’s done. Moist smoke will penetrate the meat and give you uniform, impressive results. No smartphone pings, no fiddly dials. Charcoal, meat, water boom.

You’d expect such a straightforward, fuss-free smoker to come with a warranty, and it does – you get a full year of cover to discover the simple way to great smoked meats.

If you’re done with the fuss and the fiddling, the Pit Barrel Cooker has your name written all over it.

Pros:

  • Because it’s relatively straightforward, the Pit Barrel Cooker is among the least expensive smokers on our list
  • It’s technologically non-complex, so there are no moving parts to worry about breaking
  • It’s among the set-and-forget options when it comes to getting great smoked meats
  • It’s lightweight and portable, so you can use it in a wide range of situations

Cons:

  • While you can use the Pit Barrel Cooker as a grill, you won’t get the best results if you do. Focus on smoking and you’ll get better results

RUNNER UP

Weber 15501001 Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Touch-N-Go Gas Ignition System, Black

Stats - At A Glance

  • Model: 15501001
  • Size: 30 x 48 x 43.5 inches
  • Weight: 91 pounds
  • Smoker material: Porcelain-coated steel
  • Grate material: Aluminized steel
  • Fuel: Charcoal
  • Wireless: None
  • Warranty: 10 years on the body, reducing warranties on other parts

Who uses a kettle grill? People who grill every weekend in the season – and probably a few outside it too, but who still want to get that succulent, addictive, smoky flavor into their meat at home too. That’s who.

Which means that’s who the Weber Performer Deluxe is aimed at.

You remember Weber, right? Top of the list, cream of the crop, it’s got to be Weber, that’s where we stop?

It’s a little difficult to explain quite why the Weber Performer Deluxe is as far down our list as it is while its cousin is gathering all the top-of-the-list applause.

Certainly, the Performer Deluxe is lacking none of the Weber slickness or style. With an automatic ignition system, you could even argue that the Performer Deluxe is the more stylish of the two. An LCD timer keeps you honest all the way through the smoking process – which is useful if you’re getting your host on and entertaining guests with all the witticisms in the world.

And yes, like its list-leading stable-mate, the Performer Deluxe is compatible with the iGrill 2 meat probe, meaning you get smoking updates on your smartphone.  

Where’s the difference, then?

Size, honey. Sometimes, it is important.

If you have smaller gatherings – the family, even the slightly extended family, then the Performer Deluxe 22” is perfect for you. If you need the bigger smoking guns, go with the Smokey Mountain.

The Performer Deluxe is also extra portable, coming with its own table cart, complete with charcoal storage bucket, for those moments when the family chit-chat turns intense and you lose track of the fire for a moment. No panic necessary when your charcoal’s right there.

It’s by no means the lightest smoker on our list, weighing in at 91 pounds, but that wheeled card makes transport a relative breeze.

And like its bigger brother, you get a 10-year warranty on the bowl and the lid, 5 years on the plastic elements, and 2 years on all the remaining parts of the smoker, so you can smoke your butt off on the Weber Performer Deluxe till the cows come home and get smoky themselves.

Pros:

  • Highly versatile and portable, this is the perfect smoker for smaller gatherings
  • The porcelain-coated shell will last indefinitely
  • Automatic ignition takes the hassle out of lighting your charcoal
  • A removable LCD timer makes it easy to keep an eye on the smoking
  • The Performer Deluxe is compatible with the iGrill 2, meaning you get smoking updates on your smartphone

Cons:

  • Perversely, having the cart built in means it’s not as portable as a standard kettle smoker

RUNNER UP

Traeger Grills Ranger Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker, Black Small

Stats - At A Glance

  • Size: 20 x 21 x 13 inches
  • Weight: 60 pounds
  • Smoker material: Cast iron
  • Grate material: Porcelain
  • Fuel: Wooden pellets
  • Wireless: None
  • Warranty: No information immediately available

Let’s not let the charcoal fiends have all the fun. Pellets rock when it comes to smoking too, and if you’re going for pellets, you should really take a look at the Traeger Grills Ranger.

Most especially, like the Bradley, this is a real boon if you have limited space. Balconies, verandas, or to take with you in an RV, the Traeger is an impeccable small barbecue and smoker.

Now, it’s true that unless you have experience moving a dead body, you’re not going to want to drag the Traeger about the place, because for a small smoker, it has a quite phenomenal mass.

And actually, if you do have experience moving a dead body, we kind of hope you have bigger things to worry about than dragging a smoker around.

Wow, that got dark in a hurry, huh?

Anyhow, recruit a buddy if you’re moving the Traeger any great distance is what we mean.

But if you want to smoke meat while out on an RV trip, it’s practically perfect for your needs. Inside, it’s divided into two sections – an 8-pound pellet hopper on one side and 184 square inches of porcelain grill space on the other.

While it’s likely that larger groups and families will need something more accommodating than the Traeger Grills Ranger, smaller groups, and in particular groups that want a smoker for their RV, will be well pleased with its capacity and functionality.

Just remember – don’t try and move it very far on your own.

Pros:

  • It’s a great smoker for taking on RV trips
  • It works well in space-challenged environments
  • It’s one of the most efficient pellet-based smokers available right now

Cons:

  • It’s phenomenally heavy for its size, which limits its portability
  • It may be too small for larger groups

RUNNER UP

Traeger Grills Ironwood 650 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker with Alexa and WiFIRE Smart Home Technology, Black

Stats - At A Glance

  • Model: Ironwood 650
  • Size: 46 x 27 x 47 inches
  • Weight: 149 pounds
  • Smoker material: Cast iron
  • Grate material: Porcelain
  • Fuel: Wooden pellets
  • Wireless: Yes, using WiFire and options for Alexa
  • Warranty: No information immediately available

Let’s stay with Trager for a moment and go a little up the scale of what the company can deliver.

The Traeger Ironwood 650, as the name suggests, gives you 650 square inches of smoking (and grilling) space – giving it more than three times the capacity of the Ranger. Needless to say, this is a significantly less RV-friendly and really not that portable proposition altogether.

It has double-insulated sidewalls, which means it keeps its temperature irrespective of how cold it is outside – winter smoking, anyone?

And whereas the likes of the Ranger are much more honest-to-goodness instinct-based smokers, the Ironwood 650 has little truck with such randomness. It has a computer interface to keep the smoking process going as you want it to, and at lower temperatures, it even gives you a ‘Super Smoke’ button, to double down on the smoke penetration of your meats.

If you’re all about the deep smoke ring in your brisket, you’re going to love that button.

Keep warm buttons, to hold over some meat for latecomers, and a hopper with a built-in sensor to tell you when it needs to be fed, give you the design and build cue you need to understand the Ironwood 650. It’s smoking, but technologically advanced.

That’s underlined by the inclusion of a “WiFire” system to transmit data on your smoking process to the Traeger smartphone app. The app is actually rather more than just a receiver of real-time data, too.

It has lots of smoking and grilling recipes, and if you tell it to make a recipe now, and then put the meat on in the smoker, the app and the smoker will communicate, so, almost like a 3D printer, the smoker will deliver you the effect in the recipe, without you having to touch a dial, feed a hopper, or set a timer.

That’s smoking at the high end of technological progress, and it’s both a wonderful, and a slightly depressing thing. It’s wonderful that the technology exists to do such things, but many grill-masters and smoke-fiends might feel it rather cuts them out of the equation, like a microwave does to a chef.

The build on the Traeger Ironwood 650 is almost ridiculously sturdy – you almost want to see if you can tip it over, like a cow. Resist the urge, it’s quite an expensive piece of equipment. Oddly enough then, you will have to buy an additional cover for it if you plan to make it an outside kitty, because it doesn’t come with one supplied as standard.

As nits to pick, though, that’s an absurdly miniscule one, and if you want a smoker that also does practically everything else you can imagine, the Traeger is an extremely good buy.

Pros:

  • It has a very large area for smoking and grilling, meaning a much higher capacity and bigger parties·
  • It has the build quality of an ox and is remarkably sturdy
  • It has lots of technology involved in its operation, including a computer interface and several sensors
  • The Traeger smartphone app takes a lot of the work out of smoking meat to perfection

Cons:

  • It could feel like you’re a little surplus to requirements when you use the Ironwood 650
  • You will need to buy an additional cover for it if you intend to store it outside, as it doesn’t come with one as standard.

RUNNER UP

Weber 22510201 SmokeFire EX4 (2nd Gen) Wood Fired Pellet Grill, Black

Stats - At A Glance

  • Model: 22510201
  • Size: 33 x 43 x 47 inches
  • Weight: 174 pounds
  • Smoker material: Porcelain enamel
  • Grate material: Porcelain
  • Fuel: Wooden pellets
  • Wireless: Yes, complete with smartphone app
  • Warranty: 10 years

Let's end as we began, in the warm, smoky embrace of Weber and its technology.

This is actually Weber’s first attempt at a pellet-smoker, and it’s as easy to use as you’d expect.

With an internal frill size of 24x18 inches, it has a decent amount of room to let the smoke seep into your meat, and again as you’d expect of a Weber, it has a build quality second to none (though the Traeger Ironwood 650 stands sturdier).

Should you want it to perform other tricks, the SmokeFire EX4 is happy to oblige – you can sear on it too, as well as smoking and grilling.

And like the Ironwood 650, you have a computer interface and a smartphone app with the SmokeFire. In the SmokeFire, it particularly helps if you’re doing long, slow smoking over anything up to 14 hours.

Using the app and the computer as one combined system, you can get great low-and-slow smoked results here, but it’s worth noting that compared to some other Weber smokers, the app/computer interface here feels a touch clunky.

It’s to be hoped this will be addressed in an upcoming upgrade though, and it’s certainly only a reason to pause for thought, rather than a reason to dismiss that SmokeFire from your consideration altogether.

The SmokeFire carries the Weber touch of highly engineered solutions to seemingly simple smoking challenges, and as its first real shot at delivering a pellet-smoker, it exceeds even the expectations you have of it.

Naturally, with that delivery comes a price hike – a factor that has pushed the SmokeFire further down our list than it otherwise would have been. But for both the engineering of Weber and the convenience of a pellet-burning smoker, it’s a price worth paying if your needs coalesce in that combination.

Pros:

  • It’s an intelligently engineered pellet-smoker from Weber
  • The build quality on the SmokeFire is high
  • The app and the computer interface work together, which is especially effective on longer, slower burns for slower, colder smoking

Cons:

  • The price carries a degree of sticker-shock
  • The app and computer interface combination is slightly clunky as yet

Best Meat Smokers Buying Guide

When you’re buying a smoker, there are a solid handful of elements you need to consider before you click on the “Buy” button.

Finding The Best Meat Smokers

Fuel source

Do you want a charcoal smoker? A pellet smoker? An electric smoker, even? The answer to these questions will narrow down the list of potential smokers from which you can realistically choose.

The answers will also likely be found in a consideration of your own circumstances, and the way in which you want to use your smoker.

If you have limited space, especially outside space, you might well want to look at an electric smoker, which is at least relatively self-contained and convenient for domestic use, as it plugs into your mains power.

Size

If you’re looking for a smoker to take on trips in your RV, you’re not going to want one that’s too large, or it will become just another thing people are bumping into or dodging around during the everyday business of living in the van.

If you only cater to small groups at a time, buying a super-duper smoker is a false economy in terms of fuel and space.

On the other hand, if you regularly barbecue and you want to take it to the next level with a smoker or a grill that can also smoke, you’re probably going to want a bigger machine.

Technology

How complicated do you want things to be when you smoke? It’s an important consideration because there are smokers that have computers and smartphone apps, and there are smokers that are fixed temperature with no moving parts, and each could be said to make the business of smoking equally easy.

Knowing how much work you want to do, and how much you want the smoker to do on your behalf, will steer you towards the smoker that’s right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best fuel for smokers?

Best is a relative and a subjective term in this case. There’s no objective best fuel, there’s just the fuel that suits you best.

There’s a particular satisfaction to charcoal smoking, because people have grown used to it and immediately interpret it through their taste buds and their brain, but some varieties of pellets from different woods can help you expand the flavor profile of your smoked meats.

Really, the best fuel for smokers is the one that best suits the intentions of the individual smoker.

Is smoking a complicated process?

Honestly, not really. It breaks down into a few important elements – your fuel source, your moisture, the amount of heat you want to use, and the length of time you want to smoke for. Add to that any ‘flavor’ you want to give to your smoke, and you have a basic pattern for smoking meat.

The point is that you can vary any or all of these elements in any number of ways, so it can become a complicated process. But at its heart, smoking is something Mankind has been doing for thousands of years, both to change the flavor of meat and to preserve it.

If our primitive ancestors could do it, there’s nothing that should be beyond us in the process today.

Is smoke a process or an ingredient?

Yes. Technically, it’s both. Smoking changes the texture and the flavor of meat, so it’s a process performed by moisture, smoke and the machine that pushes them both into the meat.

But it’s also an ingredient, because  it changes the way a meat tastes, and it can be tweaked like a seasoning by elements like the length of time, the addition of flavoring or the type of wood or charcoal used.