I want to buy my first smoker. Please help me figure out what to get

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by vespadad, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. I am new to smoking. Can you all please recomend a great first time smoker?? Electric? Please let me know
  2. big twig

    big twig Smoking Fanatic

    I have a WSM and it is a great smoker but uses charcoal and wood chunks. If you are looking for electric most people like the MES (Masterbuilt Electric Smoker), propane I hear GOSM (Great Outdoor Smokey Mountain), Smoke Vault and I think Masterbuilt sells one too.

    Those are the best smokers I know of without too much investment.

    When you get a chance update your location in your profile and head on over to roll call so we can give you a proper welcome.

    Good Luck!
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
  3. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    I like my UDS. It has great temp control. And you can build it for under $100
  4. Big Twig hit it for you. 

    When you get a chance swing by Roll Call  and introduce yourself and update your profile with your location? It helps knowing what part of the world you are in when answering questions, giving advice etc.  Thanks.
  5. kryinggame

    kryinggame Smoking Fanatic

    I have a MES (Masterbuilt) smoker.  I've done some great smoking in it but these smokers aren't problem free. Probably thte biggest complaint is, the temperture is generally way off.  But, when it's working properly, it'll produce great food.  I've had my smoker since last December and I smoke weekly.  Over the weekend, I did a few racks of ribs and then smoked 4 lbs of beef jerky.

    If you want to go with charcoal, the Weber Smokey Mountain seems to be the top of the line.  I'm looking to buy one really soon.

    Welcome to your newest addiction.
  6. pit 4 brains

    pit 4 brains Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Starting off with an electric or propane smoker will give you the advantage of temperature control, which in my opinion, is one of first things to discourage new smokers. Once you get to learning how to smoke some different things, you can move into a WSM (or build a UDS) and start using charcoal.
  7. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I recommend a gasser maybe  24" Smoke Vault. I have one and it's a work horse. I use mine at least once if not 2-3 times a week. It's maybe 3 years old and I have never had a problem with it. Oops I probably shouldn't have said that.
  8. harleysmoker

    harleysmoker Smoking Fanatic

    My first smoker was a Master Forge gas from Lowes for $150. It works pretty good and I learned a lot using it. The only thing I don't like about it is the cost of propane.

    I got a Weber kettle, like new, for free, and have been using it for grilling and smoking. The charcoal is not hard at all like I thought to control the temperatures. They hold heat well not like a cheap grill.

    Now I want a WSM.
  9. I recommend charcoal.  When the tornadoes rolled thru AL we lost power for days.  So...I fired up the grill some days and the WSM other days and cooked for the family.  Temp control takes very little time to learn and once you have it it's a breeze.   ...and I can do it anywhere: camping, tailgating, or way out away from elec plugs.
  10. garyt

    garyt Smoking Fanatic

    I have 5 smokers and if I was staring over I would go with a WSM or a Chargrill Komado cooker. I never was much of a Chargrill fan but this egg style is great, hardly uses any fuel and it can do all kinds of cooking low and slow included or sear a steak or cook a pizza. I use it a lot
  11. My first smoker was a Smokey Joe charcoal. Pros: price & I always loved the flavor the charcoal brought. Cons: It wasn't the easiest to control temperature & you really needed to tend to it throughout the cooking. I used that smoker until it rusted out.

    My second smoker was a Smokey Joe electric. I liked the idea of being able to let the smoker go overnight without having to watch it constantly. My brother had one of the Smokey Joe electrics, so I decided to get one, too. I used it once, we got rained on pretty good and it shorted the whole thing out. I ended up converting that smoker over to gas using a kit a guy in Alabama sells. The biggest problem I had with that was keeping the temperature low enough to smoke at the temperatures I like to smoke. I used that smoker for a while then got my current smokers.

    My latest smoker is a Bradley digital electric. I love, love, love this smoker. It's not cheap, you're married to buying smoke pucks and it doesn't put the smoke ring on your meat that some smokers do. That said, I've never felt the meat I smoke lacks smoke and temperature control is a non-issue. I do make sure I keep it out of the rain, due to my past experience with wet electric smokers.

    I also have a big horizontal drum charcoal grill, with an adjustable height charcoal tray. I mention this because it's what I like to use for ribs and whole chickens. My point being sometimes you can make use of different tools to accomplish the job.

    Good luck with your decision. No matter what you'll be getting good experience that at the very least help you down the road.

  12. I agree 100%  Stay away from chargriller as the metal they use is really thin and you have to modify it alot to get the temp control the way you want it.  They burn alot of fuel otherwise.  I first purchased the duo for around $300, since I got rid of it I went with a cheaper outlaw series (by chargriller) and am not happy with it at all.  A build is in my very near future
  13. 25mike87

    25mike87 Smoke Blower

    my UDS I feel has great temp Control and was pretty easy to build. I went that route to keep investment low ( Just in case it didn't work out ) and the popularity told me that it was a decent smoker design. no matter what you do you will love the outcome.[​IMG]
  14. I might depend on how much attention you  are willing to pay to your smoking. The WSM charcoal probably produces the best flavor but requires more attention to maintain temperature.

    I just ordered a MES 30 which is electric and is more of the set it and forget type.
  15. kryinggame

    kryinggame Smoking Fanatic

    With your question, you've noticed that you got quite a few different answers. There's no right or wrong answer but a variety of opinions. You really need to decide what type of smoking you're more into. If you want simple set it and forget it, then go with electric but this is not perfect. I have 2 MES smokers and personally I've found them to be full of problems. Regulating temperature control is the main issue. But, in my opinion, the MES is great for smoking Jerky due to the lower temperture and doing pork butts where you can set it and come back 10 plus hours later to good pork.

    You have to figure out what you want in a smoker. No one can decide for you. And I promise, like the majority of us, you'll have quite a few sitting in your yard. I'm waiting to see if the WSM goes on a Black Friday sale next month.

    Anyway, my smoked chicken is done. Time to enjoy it. By the way, the dang thing took 2 hours and 19 minutes to get to 170 degrees internally. I now have it in the oven to crisp it up. Why do we torture ourselves like this.
  16. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Hey vespadad,
    Boy , that's a lot of choices , huh? This is all good advice. Each kind of smoker has its points and faults.
    For me , space was also an option , so a bullet type smoker seemed like a good way to go.
    A friend gave me a brinkmann gourmet charcoal smoker and that got me started. I recently bought a weber smoky mountain cooker and
    So far I like it a lot. I almost bought a gas smoker , but the cost of propane put me off.
    And you know , at the end of the day , smoker cooking seems like it should be done over wood products of some kind.
    But like everyone is saying , you should make your choice to fit your style and level of commitment .
    I think we all agree that the time and effort is all worth it when you lay out that chicken or ribs and everyone raves about
    How awesome it tastes.....and it do taste awesome!
  17. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have had several types of smokers over the years. I think if this forum would have been around the whole time, I would have more smokers than I have.

    For space I like the vertical smokers: bullets and chamber style. I have never used a green egg style, but I am courious about them, after I finally can get my build going and done, thinking about getting one to replace my Outlaw when it dies.

    For ease of use: the electric and propane ones are the way to go. Then you add one of Todd's mazes or tubes and you have an almost automatic set it and forget it.

    Charcole and stick burners: this is what I prefer. They require a bit more tending too, but that is what I like about this craft. I like to tinker, modify, adjust and change things. I am on my second Char Griller. My first I did not do much to modify it. I turned over the charcole pan to make a makeshift tuning plate and slightly adjusted the charcole basket. I thought I was a genius until I found this place. Then realized I was not alone. My Char Griller Outlaw was the next one and the mod game was on. It has tought me so much about smoking and how it works. I enjoy the tinkering part so the mods are part of the process. It allows me to think about smoking all the time.

    Depending on space, budget and how much interaction will determine what direction you want to go. With it being your first smoker and being new to smoking. I would go with an electric or propane. Electric is plug and go, but not very high temps for items that require it. Propane you can get higher temps, but need to buy fuel. So after you decide what works for you, then search the form on those styles. I know this did not tell you a brand or a spacifice smoker, but as said by others too many choices and styles to just choose only one. What you have asked is like asking what part of the country has the best style of BBQ.

  18. What's your set up as far as a defector and did u do any seal mods?
  19. chewmeister

    chewmeister Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    The first question I have for you is what's your budget? Makes a lot of difference as to a specific recommendation. IMHO, if you're looking for just an entry level smoker, then I would suggest an inexpensive electric. The downside to most of the inexpensive electrics is temp control. Some can have temp swings of 50+ degrees. Second choice would be propane. If you go with either an electric or gas, a good investment would be a pellet tray like an AMNPS. Puts out the right amount of smoke and can burn up to 12+ hours.
  20. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have 4 smokers.. Char Griller Duo with horizon convection plate and 120 IQ Controller  Burn wood splits and lump... I also have a ECB that sits on a propane turkey fryer and drilled holes in the charcoal pan   this is where I place my wood chunks... Set it and forget it.. Then of course a weber 22 inch gold...Nothing else to be said!! And my newest toy is a mini WSM made out of a Smokey Joe silver also has the adapter for the IQ... so  the most I have spent is for the Duo $399 plus like 300 in additional mods.. The least was the ECB 39$ for the smoker and 29$ for the propane stand..

      You dont have to spend a fortune to get good smoke!!!....

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