5 Best Smoker Reviews for 2017 – A Complete Guide for Beginners

Smoking is considered as the healthier way to cook meat and other food. Furthermore, this ultimate method helps to maintain a tender and flavorful taste as you wish. So, if this is your first time to smoke, what you need is to get yourself the best smoker for beginners. This machine doesn’t only allow you to cook like a pro but also become a great investment in a long run.

Of course, buying a good smoker is not an easy job. And when searching for information on the Internet, you will be surrounded an array of smokers for sure. But since you’re here, I will introduce you a complete guide of what you’re looking for.

Now, let’s start!

Learn Types of Smokers First

As a newbie for shopping the suitable smoker, the first important thing you need to understand thoroughly is how many kinds of smokers are available on the market. Well, there are five main smokers including pellet, propane/gas, electric, charcoal and offset. Each comes with different features, advantages and disadvantages that are appropriate for each different taste.

And to pick up the ideal kind for you, down here now!

Pellet smoker

Source: campchef.com

According to a study from the HPBA (Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association), the pellet smokers has soon become the hottest trend on the market. More especially, they are popular for those who have no abilities or experiences to bring the amazing smoking dishes.

At first, the pellet smokers look like the traditional ones, but they’re super high-tech machines. With an in-built digital controller, it’s quite easy and simple to check the temperature inside. Additionally, automatically feeding high-energy wood pellets into the firebox helps to keep the heat of the smoker stable.

Moreover, these units are equipped with computer-controlled thermostats that can be set to smoke at a particular temperature for a certain time. What’s more, a heating component for starting the fire and a fan for speeding the combustion are directed by the small computer as well. Interestingly, some recent units can be Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled for remote control.

And if you are going to select the pellet smoker, you are free to pick any size that is fit for your backyard.

Pros

  • You’re free to adjust the consistent temperature (from 1750F to 5000F) since the pellet smokers provide a huge temperature range. That also means you can carry out any cooking style as you want like braising, grilling, smoking, baking, barbequing, and roasting.
  • Preheating is fast, just take about 10-15 minutes.
  • Thanks to the digital temperature controller, it’s easy to keep the temperature at the desired level. Relying on that, any food that comes out has a consistent flavor.
  • It’s unnecessary to babysit the pellet smoker all the times. What you just do is to set the suitable temperature, pick the flavor of wood pellets and leave it to perform the rest.
  • These units allow you to pick up different flavors of pellets such as oak, pecan, hickory, maple, apple, mesquite, alder, and cherry in order to make the dish delicious.

Cons

  • The pellet smokers are not cheap. If you’re a deep pocket, you might consider carefully. Although some might come with a good bargain, be careful because the cheap units cannot bring the good result for smoking like the expensive ones.
  • Since these machines mainly depend on electricity, it’s quite inconvenient when you have no generator or inverter.
  • If the wood pellets are wet, they will dissolve and create some troubles when smoking.

Check the video below to know how to cook on the pellet smoker


Propane/Gas smoker

Source: My Userld via flickr.com

The propane/gas smoker helps you deal with the worry about looking for a power source to cook. As its name suggests, this machine is designed to mainly use gas to fuel the flame. So, you just take a propane tank with this unit, and everything is done.

These smokers look like cabinets or lockers with a burner at the bottom, a shell for wood and water pan, and 3 or 4 pans for food. The burner is often made of cast or brass aluminum with countless jets, giving a great durability. In addition, the gas smoker is attached to a chimney or damper and some vent holes at the bottom.

The propane smoker often comes with two doors. One is for checking the flame and adding wood and water. The other is for cooking. Most are made from thin metal and the doors are not tight to release the heat and smoke. Since you’re free to use any wood or charcoal, that means you avail less fuel for burning, offering a great value for money.

Pros

  • In comparison with the pellet smokers, the gas ones are cheaper.
  • These machines are portable and ideal for a small cooking place.
  • Since you can direct the temperature every moment, cooking is quicker.
  • The main fuel to operate the propane smokers is gas, so there is no need of electricity.
  • The heat from the gas is clean, so you won’t get any coal dust on the food.

Cons

  • For narrow smokers, you need to cut the meat into half too fit perfectly.
  • Remember to check the propane tank or reserve some in case it suddenly runs out of fuel.
  • Since you are using the main fuel of gas, you cannot get the same smoky taste like the charcoal smokers.

Electric smoker

Another best smoker that I’m going to talk about is the electric smoker. In examining the appearance, this machine looks like the propane smoker. But, the operation is definitively different.

The high-quality electric smoker comes with a thermostat that is attached to a temperature probe inside. The major task of the prone is to turn on and off the electricity in order to keep the smoker at the consistent temperature. So, you don’t need to check the fuel supply or even worry about annoying ash. It’s because the electricity does much of the work for you.

Additionally, these units have small vent holes for keeping the temperature. And it’s perfect for maintaining the moisture for some food. What’s more, you just spend about half of kilowatt every hour if the electric smoker is running 750 watts constantly.

Pros

  • The electric smokers are ideal for those who live in apartment or condos.
  • Just turn it on, put things you want to cook and relax until it’s done thanks to the "set-it-and-forget-it" setting.
  • Aside from cooking meat, you can carry out other ingredients such as fish, smoked sausages, cheese, nuts, and bacon.
  • It’s easy to clean and maintain because there is no messy ash from charcoal or pellets.

Cons

  • Avoid buying the smokers with a rheostat since it doesn’t maintain the consistent temperature.
  • These machines cannot bring the crispy skin ora pink smoke ring.
  • If you want to cook outdoors, check whether this place has an access to power or not.

Charcoal smoker

Source: Steve_Logan via flickr.com 

Love enjoying the smoked and water-mouthing taste of the meat? But, feel tough to control the fire because it’s a time-taking and messy process. Well, the appearance of the modern charcoal smoker will help you deal with this issue. The main fuel is charcoal or pellets (suitable for outdoors). So, just put the fuel into the charcoal section and make a fire.

These machines come with two setups as horizontal and verticals modes. If you need a better air circulation to cook quicker, you should choose the vertical smokers. Meanwhile, the horizontal ones are just ideal for placing the food in. Also, make sure that the charcoal section is large and has an easy access for quick lighting up. What’s more, you should add water in a water bowl to keep the food juicier while smoking.

Wonderfully, setting the best temperature for cooking is not hard since some modern charcoal smokers are integrated with a built-in thermometer and some flexible vents. In addition, you can soon become a pro thanks to an instruction manual with helpful recipes and tips.

Pros

  • For those who love smoked taste from the meat, the charcoal smoker is the optimal choice.
  • Charcoal is cheaper and versatile than pellets.
  • You also avail the "set-it-and-forget-it" setting thanks to the automatic temperature controller.

Cons

  • It’s difficult to control and fine-tune the air and fuel supply if you’re a newbie in the smoking process.
  • You might use more charcoal for burning in case you don’t know how to monitor.
  • Cleaning up the mess after cooking is rather hard.

This video helps you to know how to use the charcoal smoker


Offset smoker

If you have a serious thought of barbequing, you should opt for an offset smoker. The first reason is that it’s quite cool for those who want to impress their family, friends, and even themselves. Of course, the result is free from blame thanks to its traditional design with two separate chambers.

The heat and smoke from the firebox chamber will be transferred to the cooking chamber. This brings the maximum heat and consistent temperature through all the meat. In addition, its construction is made from high-quality steel that helps to absorb heat and deliver evenly.

What’s more, the offset smoker features large selves for cooking a big amount of meat in one go. Since this unit is not expensive and can last a lifetime, it will be your great investment in the long run.

Pros

  • With two distinct chambers, you don’t need to open the cooking chamber to add fuel.
  • You can directly grill the meat by installing a grill grate over the firebox chamber.
  • It’s convenient to cook a large amount of food in one go.
  • You have worry about finding a power source to operate the smoker.

Cons

  • Be careful when searching for the ideal offset smoker because there are low-quality ones on the market (I will show you the best one later).
  • Preheating is quite long, about one hour. 
  • The offset smokers are heavy. You should look for the ones that have wheels to move easily.
  • Making and keeping the fire might be a trouble as you’re a newbie.

Check this video to get a clearer look


Check the Best Product For Each Type of Smoker

Camp Chef PG24DLX Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ – Best Pellet Smoker for Beginners

The Camp Chef PG24DLX is quite pricey amongst the best smoker. But, you’re guaranteed to receive a great investment since this smoker is a 2-in-1 unit for both grilling and smoking. Moreover, it’s attached with the most advanced digital control that automatically adjusts the heat and produces the right amount of smoke as you want.

You want to grill, smoke, or even braise, bake, barbeque or roast? This versatile unit can help you do perfectly. Just a single touch, it’s easy to control the temperature from 1600F to 5000F. Set the suitable temperature and let it do the rest. The smoker keeps the accurate level of pellets to maintain the consistent temperature for cooking the food.

In addition, the Camp Chef PG24DLX smoker offers a 570 square inches of cooking area. So, you have no worry about making a meal for a large group. Thanks to the high-class Ash Cleanout system, cleaning is so simple, allowing you to spend more time on enjoying the food and playing with your family.

Check out more pellet smoker at here

Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door Propane Smoker – Best Propane Smoker for Beginners

When it comes to an ideal outdoor smoker without the power source, no one can overcome the Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D 2-Door propane smoker.

One of the first outstanding features is its firm design. Both exterior and interior are built in a way that they can resist tough handling. So, if you’re looking for the smoker that serves you for years, this unit is perfect. Besides, a dual door permits to maintain the heat inside and lessen the dropped temperature with ease.

Thanks to an electronic push button, it’s not difficult for ignition. Moreover, the Masterbuilt 20051311 GS30D have 4 chrome smoking racks, providing 717 square inches of the cooking area. Don’t worry if you need to cook a whole chicken or a full stack of ribs.

This smoker has a flexible air damper for an efficient smoke control. Wonderfully, it’s attached to a control knob that comes with a cool touch wire handle. So, you aren’t anxious about forgetting the hand gloves.

Since this smoker provides a water pan and wood chip tray, it’s easy to remove and clean after cooking.

Check out more propane smoker at here

Smoke Hollow 26142E 26-Inch Electric Smoker – Best Electric Smoker for Beginners

If you want a smoker that is stable and firm like the Masterbuilt but comes at an affordable price, the 26-inch Smoke Hollow 2614E electric smoker truly stands out. It’s made from sturdy materials and its durability has been tested as excellent. So, you’re totally confident for long-lasting use.

Of course, you no longer worry whether the gas runs out of while smoking. It’s because this unit is designed with a 1500-watt heating element to keep the temperature stable all the times. It’s also easy to control the temperature at every moment, depending on which type of meat.

With two chrome-plated cooking grids, you’re free to adjust the height you want. What’s more, a porcelain coated chip tray and water pan are included so that you get enough stuff for smoking. As a bonus, the Smoke Hollow 2614E provides cool-touch handles so you don’t need to use gloves. Since it weighs about 33 pounds, it’s quite light and easy to use and move around.

Although you sometimes recognize that this unit does leak smoke while cooking, it’s still a good choice for those who are on a strict budget.

Check out more electric smoker at here

To taste the most mouth-watering, juiciest, and moistest smoked food, the Weber 721001 charcoal smoker is the best choice. And why do I affirm that it’s the good selection for beginners? Read outstanding features below to know.

With a built-in and durable thermometer, controlling the charcoal smoker’s temperature is not difficult. Besides, the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker is equipped with the porcelain-enameled water pan. So, just add the water or liquid you prefer and then your food becomes tender and moist. What’s more, the vent holes for the lid and bowl allow you to cook the yummy smoked food.

With an entire cooking space of 481 square inches, it’s totally ideal for the medium-sized family. Also, it has 2 nickel-plated 18-1/2-inch-wide cooking grates, giving enough area to cook anything such as turkey or ham.

The only drawback might be about cleaning if you use the Weber 721001 charcoal smoker frequently. In sum, this unit is actually a great product for all the features and performance it provides.

Video about Weber 721001 charcoal smoker

Check out more charcoal smoker at here

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker – Best Offset Smoker for Beginners

The vertical Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D offset charcoal smoker is ideal for those who want to make a lot of food in one go but has a small backyard. Although its appearance doesn’t look like other traditional shapes, this unit can do its job excellently, giving the mouth-watering smoked flavor.

This offset smoker is designed for offering the consistent temperature thanks to a built-in thermometer. So, you always get the right amount of smoke for each of food items. However, if you want to maintain the heat level up to 2600F, it’s impossible.

With an enormous 1176 square inches of cooking area over 6 shelves, you are able to serve over 150 pounds of food for the large group. Or if you want to cook bigger pieces of meat, just remove and control the grates. Besides, it is built with a heavy-duty steel body and high-temperature cover, making it rust-resistant and durable.

And you have no worry about greasy after cooking because this smoker offers a great system that helps to gather drippings inside the food chamber.

Video about Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D

Check out more offset smoker at here


Other Types of Smokers You Shouldn’t Miss

Except for five main types of smokers, I also want to introduce others that are considered as the best smoker.

Kamado smoker

Source: osuhomebase via flickr.com

The Kamado smoker is a modern version of earthenware cooking ovens that came into use thousands of years ago in China and India. They are mainly made from an array of high-quality materials such as ceramics, terracotta, lava, cement, and other refractory materials.

The charcoal is placed at the bottom, that means you can build a fire even in windy conditions. Besides, the thick sides help to keep and deliver the heat effectively. Since the Kamado’s materials come with low airflow, your meat always remains juicer, not dried out.

One more thing to note is that these smokers are quite heavy and can easily break if knocked over or dropped. And always prepare fire-resistant hand gloves to open the lid while cooking.

Water/bullet smoker

Source: Kevin via flickr.com

The water smoker has another name of the bullet because of its cylindrical shape and dome cover. If you want a slow and low cooking (2250F-2500F for 4 hours, for instance), this unit will be your perfect choice. Usually, there are three sections with the charcoal burns in the bottom, the water pan in the middle, and cooking areas above. Or you can see more sections for cooking in this unit.

Similar to other types of the smokers, the main objective of the water pan is to keep the heat, maintain the temperature and create an ideal moist smoking environment. Additionally, the thicker and heavier metals help to hold and keep the heat better, offering the consistent heating to cook the meat. Since the water smoker can use either charcoal, gas, or electricity, it’s convenient.

Drum smoker

Source: bbq-brethren.com

The next type I want to talk about is drum smokers. These are extremely easy-to-use, lightweight, portable, and inexpensive. The firebox is at the bottom while the cooking rack is on the top. Since there is no water pan, you need to wrap the meat in aluminum foil while smoking to avoid drying out.

Additionally, these smokers are equipped with vent holes for controlling the temperature. Make sure you hold it at a low temp to maintain the oxygen flow low enough. Relying on that, no drippings happen.

Box smoker

A box smoker is literally a box with the firebox chamber at the bottom and the cooking chamber on the top. Similar to the water smokers, the heat from the firebox is directly below, allowing the heat to be conserved. Of course, it comes with the water pan to keep the meat moist all the times. There are also vent holes alongside the smoker, helping to adjust and maintain the consistent temperature.


How Does A Smoker Work?

Now, you knew thoroughly all different types of smoker. Each comes with different features that offers lots of great functions to help you smoke the food perfectly. But, do you have any idea of its general process? How does a smoker truly work? Let me explain more!

No matter which smoker you opt for, there are always two main systems consisting of the firebox chamber and the cooking chamber. When making the fire, the heat from the firebox will flow through the cooking chamber. It’s a slow process, but it helps to add flavor to the food you want to cook.

Then, take a look at air vents! These things are extremely useful to adjust both temperature and smoke production. The top vent is to renew the smoke itself and keep the heat levels. Meanwhile, the bottom vent is to increase/decrease the burning rate.

While smoking, make sure you open the top vent to enhance steam and smoke release. Remember to turn the bottom vent so that it’s opposite the wind direction. Relying on that, you can get the higher temperature and cook quickly.


Tips to Buying Your First Smoker

Prior to your first purchase of the best smoker, I want to show you a couple of useful tips and tricks. Hope this information helps you make a right decision.

  • Determine the price range: Since there are tons of different smokers ranging from under $100 to up to $1000, you need to determine how much money you can spend for one. But, don’t search for the cheap smokers because some might come with bad heat retention and poor fire control. In my opinion, your budget should extend about $200.
  • Examine the size: Depending on your own objective, you should select the appropriate size. One certain thing is that you cannot pick the small size if you’re going to cook for a large group or dealing with huge stack of ribs. The larger one is not suitable for the small-sized family or those who are living in the small apartment.
  • Check the build quality: The smoker is made with durable and high-quality thick steel which helps to absorb and deliver the heat evenly through the whole cooking chamber. Besides, it maintains the consistent temperature well. In case you choose the smoker with doors, it will be okay to prevent heat and smoke from getting away. However, you need to be skillful to control the moisture and flavor of the food.
  • Select the main fuel: Charcoal, pellets, gas, and electric are the important sources of heat for the smokers. As mentioned above, each comes with different pros and cons. Depending on your own preference, you can decide whichever you want. If you love the smoked flavor, the charcoal will be the best. Or choose the pellet smoker if you enjoy changing different flavors for the food.
  • Monitor the thermometer: While smoking, the temperature is extremely important. So, a sturdy and accurate thermometer is the key. If the low-quality thermometer is placed in the wrong part of the smoker, that means the temperature inside the cooking chamber is variable. And the result you can get is that the meat has inconsistent flavors.
  • Need accessories or not: As a newbie, making smoking more convenient is necessary, right? So, you might think of some smokers that come with essential accessories such as extra racks, hooks, warming grates, a high-quality cover, or even guidebooks on how to use.

Tips to Smoking the Meat Effectively

Of course, the best smokers will help you smoke the meat perfectly. But, don’t miss some important tips so you can produce the best result ever.

  • Be patient: You should know that smoking is a slow and low cooking. To smoke the meat thoroughly, you should set aside about four hours or even more. Except for adding more fuel to keep the consistent temperature or refilling the water pan, avoid peeking at the meat all the times while it’s smoking.
  • Select the accurate meat: Don’t think that all the meat is appropriate for smoking. The best meat is beef, pork, or lamb are the best. Turkey or chicken is okay, but their skin cannot stand up for the long and slow process. If you love seafood, just choose salmon.
  • Select the accurate wood: Similar to choosing the meat, not all the wood is suitable for smoking. Cherry, hickory, oak, or apple will bring the best flavor to your meat. Avoid picking up pine or sapwood or your meat tastes bad.
  • Choose between dry and wet: Depending on your different taste, you can decide between wet and dry. Some smokers come with the water pan to help you keep the meat moist. And the most interesting thing is that you can add other liquids except water to create the extra flavor for the meat.

Final Thought

A great outdoor party is always fun because you can spend time on enjoying with your family and friends as well as tasting the mouth-watering food. Of course, the best smoker is the key to help you bring out the excellent dishes.

After reading my guide from the start to finish, I think you can make up your mind with ease. You have no worry about which type of smoker you want at present or search for the good product because all are listed in details. Just consider carefully and combine with some useful tips in such a way that you receive the good unit for the first purchase.

Or if you still have any wonder, don’t mind leaving your comments in the box below. I’m always here to help you answer all. Thanks for reading!

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