How To Choose The Top Smoker For Your Backyard

The smell of a juicy brisket seeping from the vents of the smoking machine, the golden-brown color of the meat fixating your eyes, and the smoky taste of its tender flesh, a joy to behold. These images are all the ones we have in our heads when we think of that lovely-looking smoked beef, like the ones seen on shows like “The American Barbeque Showdown” on Netflix. 

To start your journey as a pitmaster, you need the right equipment. To help you decide what kind of smoker fits you, we have put together this brief article.

What Is A Smoker And Its Use

A smoker is a cooking apparatus used for barbecuing food in a heat-controlled environment. A smoker uses the heat and smoke generated from the fuel to cook the meat at a low and constant temperature. This gives the brisket, chicken, or any other meat a soft texture with a smokey flavor. 

Pitmasters get a smokey flavor when there is a chemical reaction between the source of fuel (usually wood or charcoal) and the fat dripping off the brisket, chicken, or pork. Cooking it at a low and slow temperature allows the juice on the meat and the smoke from the fuel to spread around the food, giving its unique taste. 

The Importance of Temperature When Smoking

Cooking by using smokers can take hours to get food to your desired texture and taste. One factor that plays an extensive role in determining the quality of the food is how you regulate the temperature of the meat and smoker while cooking. It isn’t a stretch to say that Smoker Thermometers are lifesavers during barbecue. Most smokers (as we will later discuss) need to be manually regulated and do not come with an efficient way of calculating the temperature of the food. 

This inefficiency is why owning a thermometer will prevent the food from getting overcooked or undercooked. It will alert you when to ventilate the beef, to continue, and to stop cooking.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Top Smoker

You must choose a smoker that brings the best return to you, value-wise. 

Below is the list of questions and factors you should consider when going for your top pick.

  1. What Is Your Budget?

The quality and features of this cooking apparatus vary in value, starting from as low as $400 to as high as $1000 plus. Therefore, taking your budget into consideration is a crucial determinant of what kind of smoking machine you would want to buy. 

  1. What Expertise Level Are you Going For In The Long Run?

Some people want to smoke their meat casually at a family get-together or in a relaxed atmosphere, and others want to smoke their meat competitively. Your long-term reason will determine what type of smoking device you would get.

  1. How Many People Will You Cook For Regularly?

Smoking machines come in different sizes and shapes, knowing the number of people you would cook for each time you use the smoker is significant. You don’t want to buy a small smoking machine and end up having to cook multiple times because of the limited space on the smoker.

  1. Type of Fuel You Would Use?

There are different fuels you can use, depending on your cooking choice. For example, the easy and convenient cooking versus detailed and manual. Gas cylinders are easy to get for some people, while others prefer charcoal and wood as their fuel source. 

  1. The Ease Of Use

Some smokers are easier to use than others. Take, for instance, the electric and pellet smoker, which allows you to set the timers and go about your day. Both cooking machines have a way of regulating the temperature and the ventilation without manual interference, unlike the Offset smoker, which has a reputation for its steep learning curve.

  1. Would You Want To Do Anything Aside From Smoking Food?

Besides smoking meat, cooking machines can have other purposes as well. Some can also grill and barbecue other foodstuffs. Knowing the reason you want to own one will help you pick the right smoker for you.

  1. Do You Want A Mobile Smoker?

If you would move the smoking machine for camping and other outdoor activities that will need you to transport the smoker, you can opt to get one that is mobile friendly.

The Different Smokers In The Market

  • Gas 

Also referred to as propane. This cooking apparatus uses gas to smoke the meat. It is easy to use and adds smoke flavor to the food, unlike the electric smoking machines. It is also fast compared to other methods when going from cold to ready for use. One thing you should watch out for is running out of gas while cooking. Keep a spare gas with you.

  • Charcoal 

A charcoal smoker is the star standard for getting out the smokey flavor in your food. They are usually a handful, as the smoker requires a lot of watching over during the cooking process and plenty of cleaning up after cooking. It also takes a while to start up when compared to gas or electric smokers.

  • Pellet 

Pellet acts as a smoker, oven, and grill at once. It is a very convenient option that uses sawdust as fuel to get the smoky taste of the food while also presenting the convenience of an electric cooking machine. Pellets are pricey, but a good choice for an amateur who may not know much about timing, regulating temperature, and ventilating their food. 

  • Offset 

It is a popular choice among competitors. The offset smoking machine design is to make sure it maximizes its smokiness, improving the aroma and taste. The firebox is separate from the cooking point, allowing you to add fuel without opening the cooking portion of the smoker. This design keeps the heat and flavor in the smoking machine, further enhancing the food’s taste. Some Offset can perform a reserve flow system, making the smoke cook below and above the raw food.

  • Ceramic 

This Smoking apparatus is also known as the Kamado grill. It has an oval-shaped cooking apparatus with its interior made of ceramic. This is good at trapping heat, and the little pore space doesn’t allow for air to enter the grill, making sure that the food remains moist and doesn’t dry out because of the air.

  • Electric 

As the name implies, it uses electricity to cook its meals. It is ideal for those who are new and want to try casual smoking. Electric cooking means that the smoky taste will be weak, but the food will be easy to cook. Electric smokers hardly need monitoring and are also easy to clean up after use.

Getting a top smoker for yourself is an exciting thing, especially when you look forward to making those delicious meals with them. Understanding the different smoking devices is an important piece of information to help you decide and help pick the right one. Hopefully, the points listed above will help you make your decision.

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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