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Hubby wants a smoker!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi! I've joined this forum to attempt to learn something about smokers and smoking meat.  My husband has wanted a smoker for a long time and doesn't have time to research it.  I would like to get him one for his birthday but need to learn about the best type to start with first.

All suggestions/pointers greatly appreciated!

post #2 of 19
What's your price range? How many people he gonna be cooking for?
post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Welshrarebit View Post

What's your price range? How many people he gonna be cooking for?

yeah this info will help. Also does he want to tend to it over a long smoke or a set and forget?
post #4 of 19

Are you under any restrictions like not being allowed to have a fire on a balcony?

post #5 of 19

Bschori,

There are exceptions to everything I am saying below, but, these statements are good generalities. 

 

A brief overview of smoker types by heat and smoke source:

 

**  Wood burner, such as offset smoker.  Burning wood provides heat and smoke, typically the fire requires regular tending.

**  Pellet burners, such as traeger. Burns wood pellets to provide heat and smoke, typically automatic control of heat, most expensive fuel.

**  Gas burners, burns propane for heat and uses wood pellets or chips to provide smoke.  Usually not thermostatically controlled.

**  Electric smokers, uses an electrical heating element for heat, burns pellets or chips to provide smoke.  Usually thermostatically controlled.

**  Charcoal smokers, such as weber smokey mountain.  Uses burning charcoal for heat and uses wood chunks/chips for smoke.  The better units are stable with less fuss than a wood burner.

 

  Some people find tending a firebox fun, and part of the experience.  Others find it frustrating and tedious. 

  Pellet burners have some of the highest operating cost, due to the price and quantity of pellets burned for long smokes.

  Gas and Electric smokers must use pellets or wood chips to provide the actual smoke needed.  As these units come from the factory, the wood chips and pellets need to be replenished every hour or so. This is less effort than a wood burner, but it ties you to the smoker for long smokes.   There are modification the end user can make to provide smoke for the duration of the burn at extra cost. High end charcoal smokers can be almost as fuss free as an electric or gas smoker, which has been modified for a longer smoke supply.  Charcoal burners can also have a "stoker" added to them for automatic temperature regulation, making them hands-free for hours at a time. 

post #6 of 19
Let's not forget temperature range. Do you think he'll want to get to a very high temp to say get chicken skin crisp or would be prefer to have the lower temp option to be able to do let's say sausage which most guys here I've noticed do a step up style starting low and getting higher to finish the product? I personally have always had stick burners and love them but am thinking about getting an electric for the lower temp items. I know the answer to your problem get him two smokers. One wood and one electric biggrin.gif
post #7 of 19

If it wasn't totally outside the scope her request, I would suggest other options which are at a high cost (kamado), or require significant construction work (mini-WSM).  Both can do low and slow, as well as high heat.  A weber kettle can achieve both low and high, but requires more skill in setting up the burn (snake, Minion, hot-chimney).  If her hubby is new to smoking, a simpler learning curve makes sense. However, you bring up the valid point, my electric maxes out at 275, crisping chicken skin is typically done at higher temperatures.  I remember my first "rubber electric chicken", the meat was wonderful, the skin was objectionable.

post #8 of 19

texas.gifHello and welcome from East Texas. This is a great site, lots of information and great people that are willing to throw in their two cents worth on about anything.   

 

Gary

post #9 of 19

Bschori, all the points above are great, and can seem overwhelming.   BTW, welcome to SMF!

 

Has hubby ever grilled with charcoal?  If so the Weber Smokey Mountain, aka WSM, will have a very short learning curve, is easy to use, and requires no modifications out of the box.  It can smoke low n' slow or hot n' fast.  It comes in 3 diameter sizes: 14.5", 18.5", or 22.5". 

 

Everyone has their favorites but it is rare to hear folks complain about their WSM.   

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Addertooth View Post

If it wasn't totally outside the scope her request, I would suggest other options which are at a high cost (kamado), or require significant construction work (mini-WSM).  Both can do low and slow, as well as high heat.  A weber kettle can achieve both low and high, but requires more skill in setting up the burn (snake, Minion, hot-chimney).  If her hubby is new to smoking, a simpler learning curve makes sense. However, you bring up the valid point, my electric maxes out at 275, crisping chicken skin is typically done at higher temperatures.  I remember my first "rubber electric chicken", the meat was wonderful, the skin was objectionable.
I have a mini and if you're trying me I can get it to burn at 140 then I'll have to keep working at it. Maybe you are an expert at the mini where as I am not. @dirtsailor2003 I know you're a mini expert Case. You been able to cook real low with your mini's? Like 140 our lower?
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooksy View Post

I have a mini and if you're trying me I can get it to burn at 140 then I'll have to keep working at it. Maybe you are an expert at the mini where as I am not. @dirtsailor2003 I know you're a mini expert Case. You been able to cook real low with your mini's? Like 140 our lower?

I've played around with a bit of low temp smoking. I can maintain 150-155 pretty good just using a couple briquettes, but it takes some work, it's definitely not set and forget!

On a hot day using the 12" AMNTS tube smoker in the mini I can get fairly low temps, but haven't really ayes with it. Maybe I'll load a tube today and see where it gets me. Have some tuna belly so need to smoke anyways!
post #12 of 19

Brooksy,

I am a disgusting cheater.  I use the minion method, and a stoker to perform 150 degree salmon smokes/cooks. It can hold that temperature all day long without me lifting a finger.   I use a ceramic diffuser, with no direct radiant heat.   My mini is set up for convective heat only.  This makes it harder to achieve higher stable temperatures.  DirtSailor2003 and others can produce some amazing searing heats with their more open design.  And they do it without the benefit of a stoker.  My first mini build was built to hold 225 all day long (minion method) with the lower vent wide open, it was a very restrictive design; great for brisket and pork butt, but limited for meats you wish to cook/smoke at higher temperatures.  To get my first build to 350, you had to drop in a chimney full of lit coals.  The second build had features added to support higher temperatures, but still maintain low temperature function.  For really low temperature smokes, you have to start with a very small number of lit coals.  Othewise, you choke the fire out. 

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post

I've played around with a bit of low temp smoking. I can maintain 150-155 pretty good just using a couple briquettes, but it takes some work, it's definitely not set and forget!

On a hot day using the 12" AMNTS tube smoker in the mini I can get fairly low temps, but haven't really ayes with it. Maybe I'll load a tube today and see where it gets me. Have some tuna belly so need to smoke anyways!

You gonna qview the smoke with the bellies? I smoked a couple yesterday and they weren't as good as I would have like.
post #14 of 19

Glad you joined the group. The search bar at the top of any page is your best friend.
About anything you wanna know about smoking/grilling/curing/brining/cutting or slicing
and the list goes on has probably been posted. Remember to post a QVIEW of your smokes.
We are all smoke junkies here and we have to get our fix. If you have questions
Post it and you will probably get 10 replies with 11 different answers. That is
because their are so many different ways to make great Q...

I will stay out of this box of worms. Their is no right answer.
Happy smoken.
David

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Holy Options!

Ok, think "beginner" smoker here.  He would like to be able to do brisket, ham and maybe turkey.  Doesn't want to have to sit right beside it but tending it now and then seems like part of the interest in doing it.  He has grilled with a charcoal on his little Weber.  

Can any of you with all this experience tell me if you were just starting out which way is the easiest, most versatile way to go.

 

Thanks!

post #16 of 19
I just started on a gas grill this summer. Then wanted to try charcoal and bought the WSM 18.5 it's very easy to use follow simple instructions in the WSM forum and you can have great food nice and easy.
post #17 of 19

Like others have suggested, a Weber Smokey Mountain may be a very good choice. Easy temperature management, good quality build, great durability and a large community of users. 

post #18 of 19
Welcome to the forums.... This weber he already has... it is a Smokey Joe ?? .. and is he a handy man with tools ?? If so.. the Mini WSM (weber smokey mountain) would be the best route to start out with... it's cheap (and easy) to build and it still allows the weber to be used as a grill when needed... it is VERY easy to use with minimal input (don't have to sit beside it all day) ... here is my Mini build thread.. there are plenty of others (just use the search bar at the top of any page) ... good luck

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/124570/my-version-of-the-mini-wsm
post #19 of 19
Hey

Welcome to the Smoking forum. You’ll find great , friendly people here, all more than willing to answer any question you may have. Just ask and you’ll get about 10 different answers—all right. LOL. Don’t forget to post qviews.

Gary
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