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Smoker around $200.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I just moved to Texas, and while smoking on my Weber Kettle made some good BBQ, I want to step up to an offset firebox.  Though at this price point, "step up" may be a bit of a misnomer.

My local HEB has a Char-griller Smoking Pro on sale for $160.. I looked up some mods and for $30 or less I can mod it to improve performance.


Is this just a waste of time?  Is there a better smoker I can buy off the rack for around $200?


Thank you!

post #2 of 7

I went down the Smoking Pro mod path (and spent more than $30 on mods) and while I finally got it to cook OK product it had inherent problems no mods can compensate for. It's difficult to seal all the leaks and the leaks make it difficult to control the air flow and the air flow controls the temp. The thin metal doesn't retain heat or distribute it. The air leaks carry out moisture which dries out the meat. Fuel consumption is also high due to the thin metal and leaks. I finally gave up on the Smoking Pro and sold it.


You can't buy a GOOD offset smoker for $200. As a suggestion and for a few bucks more, you might want to look at the Weber Smokey Mountain. Another suggestion is the Pit Barrel Cooker. Your Weber kettle is also a good cooker.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the reply.  I was afraid of your answer.  There are a lot of smokers out there, and I was looking for one that can burn wood, what is the cost entry point for one that is worth having?

Can you recommend one?

post #4 of 7
The Old Country Pecos is about $400 and that is probably the best entry point for you. Anything below that will have very thin metal and will have a more difficult time regulating temps. You can get them at Academy Sports and outdoors.
post #5 of 7

Welcome Toddzio,


If cost is your main concern, why not consider building your own UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker).  (Check the Search feature above)


They can be made rapidly, from readily available supplies from Lo*we's or Home De*pot.  You can customize it however you want.  


A little time, and they are really very versatile.  Generally around $20 - 25 for the basic food quality barrel, and a few hours you can get one built in a weekend.


You can build your own for not a lot of $ and save the rest for a better smoker down the road.  My first UDS lasted about 8 years, and put out over a ton of great food.


Either way, good luck to you!


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post #6 of 7

You can also check Craigslist for a decent horizontal smoker, such as a New Braunfels or Oklahoma Joe. You never know what you might find.

post #7 of 7

+1 on Old Country BBQ Pits from Academy Sports. They have the thickest steel for the price, and have features usually only found on higher end rigs. It has a heat baffle, the exhaust is at grate level, it has a warmer on the firebox, nice slide out expanded metal cooking surface (which I love). As stated the thin sheet metal on the Lowe's/Home Depot cheapies is the biggest concern. 


The only thing you have to watch out for on the Old Country's is fit and finish. Check each one they have in stock at Academy and get the one where the doors fit the best. You'll find many of the doors don't shut flush. 


The Pecos is a no brainer at $400 if you want an entry level stick burner. Just find one with decent sealing doors and you'll be set. I have had mine a couple months now and am enjoying it. 




However something like a Smokey Mountain or UDS might be an easier step up from a kettle. The Smokey Mountain is just about as set it and forget it BBQ as you can get without going pellet. Stick burning is quite a bigger learning curve but fun as long as you're up for it.

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