If you love that smoky delicious dishes, you are going to need a smoker over a regular charcoal grill. Investing on a smoker is worth it if you like to cook outdoors. If you can pick the best smoker for you, it’ll become a bliss for you to smoke outdoor on a shiny day!
But, “picking the best smoker” is the challenge for you, isn’t it? It’s a challenge for everyone who is new in smoking era and wants to pick the best smoker for themselves.
The good and bad thing about picking the perfect smoker is you have plenty of options.
The good in it is, you can look into many products to find the best one for you. You can move onto the next product many times if you think any particular model is unsuitable for you.
The bad is, you get confused. As there are many options, you often get confused between some models. Almost every product has its own flaws and good sides. So you get confused which drawbacks you can live with.
So, my aim in this guide, is to simplify the process for you. As an expert, I’m going to narrow down options for you. I know which smoker is good or which one is bad, no matter what the manufacturer claims on paper.
So I’m going to suggest you those models that I think are good, in different price ranges, and offers something for everyone, from an occasional user who enjoys that smoke-flavored food to the enthusiast who frequently cooks food for friends, family, and parties.
What Type of Smoker Suits Me?
Do you know how much type a smoker can be? Let me pretend you don’t. So let me give you a brief introduction to different smoker types. Skip this if you already know about this.
By the name, you know that electric smokers are those types of smokers that uses electricity to produce heat. The best thing about an electric smoker is “set-it-and-forget-it” capability. These are the easiest type of smoker to control, so it’s perfect for the beginners in smoking era.
Pellet smokers produce heat by burning pellets. They are not the cheapest type of smoker, and not the easiest to control either. But the good things about pellet smokers are they can prepare very authentic smoky flavored dishes, which are amazing in taste. So, pellet smokers will be good for those who have at least a little experience in smoking.
I found many people who like the taste of the dishes prepared by charcoal smokers. Charcoal smokers are cheaper than the pellet ones and not the toughest to use. They produce heat from charcoals, which are not expensive either. So maintenance cost is pretty low with charcoal smokers. These are not very tough to handle so will be good for a beginner to medium-level smokers.
Gas smokers also have that “set-it-and-forget-it” capability in some extent. They’re simpler in operation and easier to control than pellet or charcoal smoker. Being powered by gas, they can produce a lot of clean heat, and they leave no ashes, which makes them easier to clean. These smokers will be good for all, from beginner to experts!
Quick Comparison Table of Top 5 Smokers:
Check out this quick comparison table below to compare things between the top 5 options you can choose from.
Smoker Accessories Which You Will Need:
I know you are spending hours and hours researching the best smoker for you (probably that’s why you are reading this article). So good luck finding the best smoker for you. But with a great smoker, you need great accessories, you do!
There are many accessories that not only makes your life easier, but also makes your BBQ testier. Most of these accessories are cheap, but their impact is expensive. I’m suggesting some such type of accessories here, which you aren’t going to regret investing in, I bet!
⟾ A Great quality wireless meat thermometer:
You might like a normal thermometer, but you’ll love a wireless one, when it’ll let you control the temperature of your smoker when you’ll be watching a movie in your living room!
You would have to pause your movie after every 20 minutes and had to go to your smoker to check the temperature. Even if you hated it, you would have to do this cause low and slow is all about consistent temperature.
But with a wireless one, life’s easy. Using a wireless meat probe is pretty simple, just like this↓
- First, stick the probe into the meat.
- Select temperature or timer on the receiver (you’ll usually want to do this).
- Select the meat type, or you also can choose a manual temperature (Choices include beef, poultry, pork, veal, fish, lamb or custom)
- Watch a movie, drink a beer, and mow the lawn or whatever you want.
- The thermometer will beep when it hits the temperature you set.
Our Recommendation: The ThermoPro TP-08 wireless meat thermometer; Best Combo Smoker Thermometer under $50:
To monitor internal smoker temperature throughout the cooking process the ThermoPro TP08 offers the best mix of range, durability and features under $50.00. With dual probes of this thermometer, you can easily monitor internal temperature and meat temperature sitting up to 300 feet away.
The receiver controller has 1.5 × 1.3-inch inch LCD display to display all your need information, and it will flash and beep when either your meat or smoker temperature crosses the temperature you set.
For price and durability the ThermoPro is a solid choice. Considering features and price, I found the ThermoPro TP08 as the best overall wireless thermometer from all the options available.
- Range: 300 ft. range wireless receiver
- Temperature range of probe: 32˚F to 572˚F (0˚C to 300˚C), ±1.5°F/0.8°C accuracy
- Price: Under 50 Bucks, Get the exact price on the ThermoPro TP-08 at Click Here
⟾ Heat resistant BBQ gloves
Your goal when you BBQ is to cook delicious smoked meat, not BBQ-ing your hands. The first time I used a Weber Smokey Mountain, I enjoyed a nice shower of scolding hot sparks on my bare hands.
Not to mention, now I always use a pair of heat resistant BBQ gloves whenever I have to handle charcoal. Gloves are also very useful for turning food without damaging the bark that you worked so hard to achieve.
So, do you also want to enjoy the shower of scolding hot parks like me, and then going to buy a pair of gloves? Or be smart and taste the delicious meat you just smoked with nothing hurting your hands?
I know you are too smart, So you are going to buy the gloves first, and then the smoker, lol!
Our Recommendation: Grill Heat Aid 932°F Extreme Heat Resistant Gloves; Cheap and Useful:
Are you going to cook over 900 degrees? No matter whether you do or not, this pair of gloves is going to protect your hands at 932 degrees! You’ll feel safe and confident with this while you’re playing with hot toy!
Just make sure you’re not letting cooking liquid gets on the gloves, because that may tend to pass some heat through! And also make sure the wife doesn’t steal them for baking.
- Grip: Silicone strips for great grip, complete safety and confidence.
- Temperature protection: 932˚F, because of having an exterior layer of premium quality Para & Meta aramid fibers.
- Price: Get the exact price on the Grill Heat Aid 932°F Extreme Heat Resistant Gloves at Amazon
⟾ A chimney fire starter:
It’s a must have cheap accessory if you have a charcoal smoker. And till now if you are dousing your charcoal in lighter fluid, stop now! Go and buy a chimney fire starter and make life easier.
From next time, just pour your charcoal into the chimney starter, scrunch a few paper towels up with a few tea spoons of oil, then light. Place the chimney correctly over the ball of paper towels and you are good to go within 10-20 minutes.
Our Recommendation: The Weber Rapid-fire Chimney Starter
The classic Weber chimney starter is undoubtedly the best chimney fire starter I can recommend. It’s priced in less than 20 bucks on Amazon, and you get the quality of Weber at the same price point as other brands. Make sure you get the right size for the amount of charcoal you are going to need to use.
- Capacity: Holds enough briquettes for a 22-1/2-inch grill
- Price: Get the exact price of Weber Rapid-fire Chimney Starter at Amazon.
⟾ BBQ grill brush to for a clean cooking environment.
You are smarter than the person who spends 1,000 bucks on a Kamado Joe but won’t spend $10 to keep their fancy grill clean, aren’t you?
Get into the habit of cleaning your grill after every cooking session, so you’ll make your machine last longer and your life will be a lot easier.
- Let the temperature go down for around 10 minutes, and then clean the grill with a wire brush while all the built-up meaty gunk is still fresh.
- Before the next cooking session, take the inside grate out and give it a good cleaning with water and then put it back into the grill/smoker and let it get nice and hot before you put the food on.
Our Recommendation: 18″ BBQ Grill Steel Brush:
The brush has a huge scrubbing surface at 18″, so you can quickly get any built up gunk off your grill. It has a durable handle, and it’s built to last long as well. Most importantly, it’s not going to shed.
- Very strong brush, able to reach the farthest parts of the smoker easily
- Price: Check the price of the 18″ BBQ Grill Steel Brush at Amazon.
⟾ Bear claws for pulled pork
I could tell you how useful bear claws are for lifting, shredding and transferring all kinds of meat. But actually you need to know is a good set of bear claws is going to turn you into a total BBQ bad ass, for sure!
Live out your Wolverine fantasies with these fashionable (and well designed) bear claws. If the claw handle isn’t super sturdy, it can be extremely arduous to properly shred the meat. These claws are super sturdy and strong and can simply shred anything you throw at them. They might wish to stay away from the youngsters though…
- Ergonomically designed handles stay cool, which makes them safe for handling hot meat.
- Price: Check on Amazon.
⟾Durable BBQ pair of tongs
If you prefer to avoid burning your own hands you better be owning a LONG broiling pair of tongs.
Our Recommendation: OXO 16″ Broiling pair of tongs:
These 16″ Pair of tongs from OXO meets every requirement. The 16″ Length suggests that you’ll be able to keep your hands far from any hot coals.
- Sturdy stainless steel construction, making sure that they don’t bend when lifting heavier meats.
- Soft, non-slip handle for a comfortable grip.
- Check the price of OXO 16″ grilling tongs at Amazon.
⟾ Weber’s Inexpensive Rib Rack
You can fit up to five slabs of ribs on a small grill like Weber Smokey Mountain. There are good and bad rib racks in the market. Good rib racks hold the slabs’ upright and properly making sure there’s enough airspace between them to allow airflow and smoke penetration. The bad ones hold the meat so close together that they don’t cook properly.
Check the Weber’s Good-Quality inexpensive Rib Rack’s price from here.
⟾ A Nice Grill Cover to Protect Your Investment
Grill covers keep rain, snow, birds, wasps, and other vermin out. An expensive grill under a inexpensive cover will attract fewer thieves.
Inexpensive means not bad in quality. There are some covers in the market which aren’t expensive yet does the job well. Just try to avoid the plastic or vinyl ones, most often they crack and fall apart in two to three years. The best-quality covers are canvas laminated or impregnated with polyurethane or PVC.
So go to Amazon and search for the cover for your smoker, and among all the options, try to buy something according to my recommendation.
You can cut one or two of the accessories I suggested if it runs out of budget. Though I suggested only those accessories among hundreds, which are really of great of use and kind of must have.
Investing a little more after the smoker in some simple, quality smoker accessories can save you a lot of hassles and time, and ultimately make your BBQ taste better.
Smoker Price, how much can you spend?
Have an estimated budget on your mind before starting to research the market, or else you’ll get confused. Have a budget, find the best smokers in that budget range, and then compare them.
If you want to spend 500$, and starting the research, you check out a 1000$ model first, and start to love that, then remember you can’t spend that much, and come back to the 500$ models, and I bet you can never be fully satisfied with those cheaper models no matter how good they are in their price range as you are already in love with the 1000$ model and seeking perfection as that in a 500$ model.
So, would you want to buy your smoker with in-satisfaction in mind? If NO, then only try to fall in love with the smokers in your price range, not the perfect expensive luxury models.
Basic Features of a Smoker:
Heating, temperature controlling, thermometer:
No matter what smoker you buy, you always want to check sure its heating unit produces enough heat. So make sure your smoker has a good heating unit.
Then is temperature controlling. Only heating up will not do. There should be good mechanism is a smoker that lets you control the temperature by may be letting some heat go through vents, and then adjusting to getting the heat up again upon necessary.
Some smokers have a good built-in thermometer, for others you might need to buy a good quality one. A thermometer is a must for a smoker for obvious reasons. So if your smoker has a good-quality thermometer built-in, that’s a plus. If not, definitely buy one separately.
Determine how much space you want depending on the audience you’ll be cooking for most of the times. The audience can alter sometime, but I’m talking about the common one. And, try to buy a little bigger model than you’ll need in regular use. Because if sometimes a couple of persons get added to the regular audience, this little space will save you.
Build Quality and Finishing:
This matters, for better durability and less smoke loss. You want your smoker to be durable, and it’ll only be when it’s made from good-quality materials like porcelain enameled steel or so. Thus make sure the smoker you’re buying is made from good materials and will serve your for years.
Smoking Tips and Tricks:
Smoking in winter:
Smoking in Cold weather can be challenging, especially for people living the north woods. Your smoker’s interior won’t be happy if the exterior gets too cold.
The cold metal of the exterior absorbs heat from the warm air inside which lowers the cooking temp. To fight with this. You’ll need to burn more fuel to uphold the temperature, increasing the cooking cost. So smoking in winter is a bit expensive, for obvious reasons!
Though it’s a little expensive, but it can be done! It can be done by adapting a bit. Here are some few tips for you to adapt with this situation and taste amazing dishes even in winter.
Winter Smoking: Getting the Temperature Right:
You already understand the main challenge in smoking in winter is getting the temperature right. To get the temperature upheld, you can do these things below:
Keep it closed: Don’t get tempted to keep a close eye on your food during cold-weather smoking. Hey you, Don’t! Trust me, you’re adding 15 – 20 minutes to your cooking time every time you open the smoker in cold weather to check your food.
So, how do you make sure if everything’s going right inside? Digital remote thermometer is the answer. Get two of the, use one to monitor the cooking chamber temperature and other to keep tabs on the food itself. And, I suggest digital, because you can watch food or smoker temperature from inside the house with a digital remote. And, get at least one if you can’t afford two!
Give Your Smoker a Shelter: Try to keep the smoker away from the direct wind and the snowfall. Look around your yard, try to find a spot which is sheltered from a good majority of the wind. You may also need to find more than one spot, depending on the wind direction.
You can build a smoker enclosure to add additional protection. It’s a simple three-sided structure constructed of brick or wood and about as tall as your smoker. Position it towards the direction of the wind to block as much as possible. Try not to make it tight fitting.
Buy your Smoker a Jacket: Consider insulating your smoker to help maintain an even smoking temperature. It’s crucial to have a fire-resistant material here. You can use flame resistant water heater blankets, cutting it to custom fit your smokers. Or you can use a welders’ blanket and fit in the same manner.
Keep it Simple: Normally, easy tasks tend to become a little more difficult when you are working in cold weather. Every single task become more difficult for that bitter cold. My first suggestion here, when you start cold smoking first start with something simple like Smoker cheeseburgers and Smoker chicken thighs.
And, have everything pre-staged to avoid hassle during the smoking process. Have all your cooking utensils handy, have your wood in a dry and accessible area, and your fuel in a safe location. And it’s better to have a helping hand for cold smoking. An assistant will make things much easier when working in cold weather.
Experiment: Finally, never be afraid of experimenting. Try to find tricks of your own. Because you know your situation best, more than any expert. So experiment, take steps according to your situation and find the best trick that works for you.
Suggested Best Smokers for winter: Smoker Hollow 44241G2 And Weber 73001 Smokey Mountain:
Why the Smoke Hollow?
Great heating unit. The smoker has 2 independently controllable inline gas burners with each burner providing 10,000 BTU’ s. So it can produce some real heat with 20,000 BTU combined power. This solves the main issue of cold smoking, temperature fall.
And, many people think gas won’t flow for coldness. No, that’s not the case. Gas stays in the liquid form in the tank and it have a melting point of -44 degrees. So, smoking with gas as fuel in winter is not a problem.
But, don’t forget to use my tips on winter smoking. No matter how powerful heating unit a smoker has, it can never fight that cold weather solely.
So, jacket your smoker up. And, if you need to keep your smoker outside during a snowfall, buy a cover for that as well. It will save your smoker from rough weather and will help it last long. This cover will be good for the smoke hollow 44241 G2 44-inch model.
Why the Weber Smokey Mountain?
Same. Good heating. The Weber Smokey Mountain is also great in terms of producing heat. And other things it good build quality. For its great finishing and build quality, it doesn’t lose smoke, rather saves the heat inside. So ultimately it upholds the temperature well.
So, that’s it I think, and it’s time to wrap it up. I’ve tried to tell everything I knew about smokers and choosing a perfect smoker for an individual. Still, if I missed something, let me know in the comment section below, and I’ll update the article with your desired information.
And if you have any question, don’t hesitate to ask in comments. I’ll bounce back onto you within the shortest possible time.
Finally, Good luck picking the best smoker for you, and good-luck tasting that delicious meal you’re going to cook very soon.