smoked meat ribs

Tips for Buying A Smoker

June 9, 2020

We all can agree smoked meat is delicious and AF.  Smoking may not be a new technique but it sure is trending in homes these days! People are smoking cheese, vegetables, salt, and whatever meat they can get their hands on.

Smoking meat is becoming a trendy technique more and more people are trying at home.  If you want to make barbecue, pastrami, and smoked turkey, it can be difficult to find the perfect machine for a reasonable cost. Hot smokers come in an array of sizes and price ranges and are powered in a variety of ways. If you’re confused about where to start, consider the following these smoker buying suggestions.

 What to Consider When Buying a Smoker

Smoker Cost

Smokers can cost anywhere from $50 to $10,000. If you’re just getting into smoking meat, you may want to start with buying a vertical water smoker, which are the least expensive versions.

These can be found at most hardware and outdoor stores for $200 or less. Vertical water smokers are great for barbecue, which is a wonderful way to start your smoking journey. If you’re more advanced, you may want to try an offset smoker or box smoker, which typically run in the $300-$700 range.


Smoker Fuel Type

Smokers can be fueled by hardwood, charcoal, electricity, propane, or wood pellets. You need to question how involved you would like to be in the process.

Do you want to tend to a fire, or do you want to set a timer and forget it? Each type of smoker produces a slightly different taste, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for before buying a smoker.

  • Charcoal smokers are more traditional and are typically what your favorite barbecue restaurant uses to give you the melt-off-the-bone meal. Charcoal smokers offer the widest variety in pricing so beginners can afford one, but experienced smokers can find a top-of-the-line version as well.
  • Electric smokers are often more convenient because you don’t have to keep replacing coal or wood. Oftentimes, you can set up the smoker and let it run continuously until your food is ready. However, they lack the authentic smoked flavor.
  • Pellet smokers are often considered the best of both worlds because they’re powered by electricity but burn wood pellets to provide smoke. These have some convenience of the electric smoker and some flavor of the charcoal or hardwood smokers.
  • Gas smokers work like the electric smoker but use natural gas or propane to ignite the wood. Many gas-fired units can be used for both hot and cold smoking applications. They generally contain some sort of water pan to help retain the moisture level of the smoked food.

Smoker Size

How much food do you want to make? Will you be frequently hosting a barbecue for your 30-person family or primarily for your family of four?  You typically need one pound of meat per person, so be sure to check how many pounds each smoker can make before you buy.

The largest smokers can make enough to cater to a full party, while a small unit will make enough for a dinner party.

Check out our list of this year’s best smokers, including wood, pellet, charcoal, and electric: Smokers for Your Summer BBQS

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