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Beginner - Questions on which type of smoker to go with.

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I am brand new to smoking meat but have decided I am ready to make the commitment to learning and spending a descent amount of money on a smoker. I have watched friends smoke meat for years and I am ready to take the plunge. I am not really sure if I should go with a electric or charcoal smoker. I am willing to spend $200-400 range, I have read the WSM gets great feedback and reviews by almost everyon. I also didn't know if the 18.5 is big enough or if I would need to jump to the 22'. I was also looking at the Traeger JR electric ($400) which might be to small but I am not sure, I have not seen it in person. I will be smoking ribs, briskets, pork shoulders, chicken the normal stuff but I don't know how big of a smoker a guy needs? The other option is just a simple masterbuilt or any brand barrell style smoker/grill combo, they seem less expensive but also sound like they need a lot of work to set them up correctly. Any feedback on a way to go for a beginner would be appreciated!!!

post #2 of 9

Hi, Dietz.  Smokers, like opinions, differ from one cook to the next.  In the price range you're talking about, there are a number of rigs that will do everything you want it to do.  In charcoal rigs, it would be awfully hard to beat the WSM.  Atlhough I don't own one, I read all the time of fellow members here who rave about their's.  For vertical bullet style charcoal smokers, they are as good as any out there.  In the electric realm, you might take a look at an MES (Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse) or similar smoker.  MB's 40" smoker is around $350 (depending on where you buy).  I own one of these, and can say that it does a great job.  The final question is a really a matter of your own tastes and needs.  Do you want to build and tend a fire during your cooks, or do you want to be able to set a temperature controller and let the machine do the work?

 

As far as size is concerned, I'm of the belief that, if you can afford bigger, you'll always be sorry if you go smaller.  The extra room for large cooks will come in handy at some point in the future. 

 

Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask more questions as they come to you.  Let us know what you decide to go with.

 

Red

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Red thank you for your thorough response.   I honestly would like the convenience of being able to set the temp and let the smoker do the work, so that is something to consider for the electric smokers. The one difference a lot of people claim is with an electric smoker you won’t get the same wood flavor as you would on a wood smoker.  Whether this is true or not and if the difference is even noticeable is something I would like to hear about. Red do you consider the MB’s 40 smoker better than the Traeger JR? http://www.traegergrills.com/shop/grills/BBQ055   They both seem to be in the same price range and I have heard Traeger is top notch, but the JR is only 292 square inches so I do not know how that compares to anything else?

post #4 of 9

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/88236/electric-vs-wood

 

There's lots and lots of threads on this...should help you.

post #5 of 9

Opinions are like a-holes everybody has one and here is mine. I did a lot of research before I bought my smoker. I looked at the mes but all the problems with defective units scared me away. Yes I know that many people love them but there are a ton of bad reviews to. I knew I didn't want a side fire box where you had to tend it all the time. I took a chance on a kamado from Costco which was around 600 and yes I know that's more than you wanted to spend but the reviews of some of the smaller ones like the 

Char-Griller Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker

 http://www.amazon.com/Char-Griller-16619-Kamado-Charcoal-Barbecue/dp/B005ELWI7S

are excellent and it allows you to do more than just smoke. However the kamados are smaller and won't do as much food as something like a MES 30 or 40 but the results are excellent. You really should spend some time reading reviews and figure out how many people you want to be able to cook for. Something like the wsm or a kamado will give you a better bark without having to tend to it constantly just making small adjustments here and there. Also keep in mind many of the smokers require a few simple mods to make them a much better unit. For instance I had to seal the bottom of mine by the vent with RTV high heat silicone. Really research is your best friend and figuring out what you want out of the machine so you get the right one for you.

post #6 of 9

Although I don't own one I have used a WSM with excellent results. There are less expensive bullet smokers out there but you usually get what you pay for. The WSM has reasonable seals and door catches that are likely to last. If you can stretch to it go for the 22" as it is more versatile and you would probably soon wish you had gone for it. Cooking on the 18.5" seemed a little cramped though I know a lot of people do very successfully.

 

You can smoke on a straight kettle BBQ but it can be fiddly and temperature control can become more of an art.

 

I personally shy away from the electric smokers and in most competition cooking (at least here in the UK) they are not permitted. They can produce excellent results though. I understand that the wood pellet smokers (similar to the Traeger) can give you the best of both worlds though I have not personally used one.

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dietz777 View Post

Red thank you for your thorough response.   I honestly would like the convenience of being able to set the temp and let the smoker do the work, so that is something to consider for the electric smokers. The one difference a lot of people claim is with an electric smoker you won’t get the same wood flavor as you would on a wood smoker.  Whether this is true or not and if the difference is even noticeable is something I would like to hear about. Red do you consider the MB’s 40 smoker better than the Traeger JR? http://www.traegergrills.com/shop/grills/BBQ055   They both seem to be in the same price range and I have heard Traeger is top notch, but the JR is only 292 square inches so I do not know how that compares to anything else?

 

 

The Traegers are great units, but for the same money you can get alot more capacity with an MES.  The 40" model has about 975 sq. inches of cooking space.  Traeger makes much bigger pits, but they'd be well outside your spending range.  I wouldn't necessarily say the one is BETTER than the other, they just offer different things.  As mentioned earlier, there have been some quality issues with the new gen MES, so I would hesitate to go that way until they work the bugs out, but it is still fairly easy to find new, 1st gen MES models.  There are cetainly those who will say that electric smokers won't give you the same wood fired taste as a charcoal or stick burner, and to some extent I agree.  It sorta comes down to what you want to get for your budgeted money.

post #8 of 9

I have a 22 in Weber Smoky Mountain. It makes great BBQ and is relatively easy to use. It holds it's temperature very well.  It will hold a small or large amount of meat, your choice. You can't go wrong with Weber.

Frank

post #9 of 9

Propane and electric vertical style smokers allow you to hang long stuff like bacon, hams, sausages and fish etc.

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