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Shopping for a Smoker

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I'm looking to purchase a smoker in the near future and would like to know what are the top 3 things I should look for in a smoker?

 

Thank you!

post #2 of 17

Well it depends on how  much you want to spend , what type of smoker [ wood , electric , propane , Pellet } I have a Oklahoma Joe's offset made by Char Broil . I bought it because it is a heavy gauge steel , easy to modify and affordable . I use mainly wood but on longer smokes also use charcoal . I also have an Masterbuilt electric which I bought on black friday due to the $120 price tag . I prefer my offset but like the electric for fish and veggies . My son has an Green Mountain pellet grill which is a set and forget type smoker but can also be used as a grill . I don't think it gives enough smoke but it is very easy to use .

post #3 of 17
You opened up a huge can of worms here. Do you want electric, gas, charcoal, stick burner? Do you want to tend a fire or do you want set and forget? Do you want to cold smoke? What is your price range? Not trying to discourage you but each person is different and each type of smoker has has its strengths and weaknesses. If you are able to provide a little more information about what you plan on cooking and what your price range is people can give you much better advise. Also if you have looked at any or have a certain model in mind let us know.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Well I would say a wood smoker, not sure what a cold smoker is, but I may want to do that too once I find out.

As for tending or set  and forget, I could go either way.

I prefer electric over gas, and not sure what a stick burner is, but same as cold smoker, I may want to do that as well once I know what it is.

 

As for price range I would say between $1 - $1,000 If it is worth it.

 

I don't plan on doing any commercial size smoking, just occasionally and mostly beef/fowl.

 

Thank you!

post #5 of 17
Wood smoker and stick burner would be pretty much the same. Cold smoking would be for cheese or bacon or fish anything under 100 degrees. I would say if you are ok with tending a fire every hour to hour and a half look into the offset smokers that burn wood or charcoal or both. If you want set and forget look into electric or pellet. With a $1000 budget you can get yourself into a pretty good smoker whichever direction you chose to go.
post #6 of 17

Many of the guys on here start out with electric smokers, because they are very easy to learn on & are easy to use.

 

Some stick with them and some move on to other types of smokers.

 

With your budget you could buy a couple of smokers right away.

 

My suggestion would be a MES 40, and a WSM 22.5. That would still leave you with enough to buy a Smoke Vault 24.

 

Then you would have elec, charcoal, & gas & still be close to your budget.

 

Al

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by smokingrookie View Post

Wood smoker and stick burner would be pretty much the same. Cold smoking would be for cheese or bacon or fish anything under 100 degrees. I would say if you are ok with tending a fire every hour to hour and a half look into the offset smokers that burn wood or charcoal or both. If you want set and forget look into electric or pellet. With a $1000 budget you can get yourself into a pretty good smoker whichever direction you chose to go.


Hmmm...cold smoking sounds like something I'd like to do with fish and bacon...although some fish are better raw IMHO.

I bet a slab of Sun Fish would be great to smoke...so are there smokers that go that low in temp?

Or is it done with a gauge?

 

How is Beef Jerky made...really high heat?

 

Thank you for the info on cold smoking.

post #8 of 17
If you want to go low temp, you' re going to need to go electric.....
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyMose View Post

If you want to go low temp, you' re going to need to go electric.....


Hmmm...I guess SmokingAl has a point with multiple smokers.

 

Thanks, I will definitely keep that in mind as I shop/search.

post #10 of 17
Jerky is made with a little bit more heat than cheese. You start out at a low temp and gradually work up to get the beef dried out. I think your best bet might be to write down all the things you are interested in trying and do a search on the site for recipes or techniques for each of those and see if there is a smoker that is common for most of the things you want to try. Biggest thing is to not rush into a purchase, you are the only one who can make the decision. As others have said a lot of beginners start with electric and possibly move on from there if they want to later. For cold smoking the electrics work good especially if you buy one of the amazn trays or tubes that burn pellets to give you smoke with minimal heat. Hopefully I am not making this more complicated for you but there are a lot of variables to consider. Good luck
post #11 of 17
Smoking Al is giving you some good advise with the multiple smokers. That make be something to think about too.
post #12 of 17

echoing some of the previous comments, there are a lot of things to consider; type of smoker, price, level of involvement (ie are you looking for "set it and forget it" convenience or full on interaction).  Here a just a few.

 

Easy street - electric smoker.  Even a Brinkman electric is a great way to start out if you are looking for a low entry point and basic smoking needs - ie ribs, brisket, turkey, etc.  This was my first intro to smoking.  Then there are the many electric smokers out there that are very capable of smoking a wide variety of foods, even cold smoking with the use of a tray/tube

 

Pellet smokers/grills - a extremely versatile smoker/grill.  Capable of smoking at a low temp of 150-160 deg and grilling as high as 400-500 deg.  The good ones are capable of maintaining temp within a 5 degree swing.  Combine this with a cold smoke generator such as a Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna, it can do almost anything.  

 

Stick burner - the ultimate hardcore smoker's choice.  Personally, these require more patience and attention that I am willing to put into this sport, but my hat is off to those who do.  Definitely an art to maintain that delicate balance of heat and smoke.

 

In the end, it's all a matter of priorities.

post #13 of 17
I would go with a fairly heavy guage offset smoker. You can pretty much smoke and grill just about anything. Plus, they just look cool! I use brinkmann limited edition. Love it
post #14 of 17
Don't break the bank on your first one. Get something to try for a season (Do you have seasons in Hawaii?) and see if it's really your thing. Then you can expand to suit your tastes. Sometimes more than one is the way to go. I started with electric, but had home wiring issues so moved to propane, did a mailbox mod for low temps, then picked up an offset this year, but kept the gasser because with the mailbox & a small hotplate it was just too handy for sausage & cheese. It's a slippery slope, Kalua. Next thing you know you'll be checking out grinders, stuffers, slicers, bigger garage freezers, mini-fridges for cheese and combing the ads looking for meat sales roflmao.gif
By the way, welcome to the Forum!
Dan
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyMose View Post

Don't break the bank on your first one. Get something to try for a season (Do you have seasons in Hawaii?) and see if it's really your thing. Then you can expand to suit your tastes. Sometimes more than one is the way to go. I started with electric, but had home wiring issues so moved to propane, did a mailbox mod for low temps, then picked up an offset this year, but kept the gasser because with the mailbox & a small hotplate it was just too handy for sausage & cheese. It's a slippery slope, Kalua. Next thing you know you'll be checking out grinders, stuffers, slicers, bigger garage freezers, mini-fridges for cheese and combing the ads looking for meat sales roflmao.gif
By the way, welcome to the Forum!
Dan


LOL!

Yes we have seasons...hot summer and not so hot summer...I was looking forward to experience some winter weather here in TX, but it only got to 30 degrees for about 3 days, then back up to the 40's - 50's.

Ok, so what does a mailbox have to do with a smoker?

I'm looking at an electric Masterbuilt 30" as a starter...Sportsman Guide has it on sale and the member discount brings it down to around $190, then again there's also shipping that will bring that price back up...I'll check out Lowes first.

I know what you mean about a slippery slope...I was that way with my cars always looking for the next mod...the mod god just loves to tempt me!

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalua Puaa View Post


LOL!
Yes we have seasons...hot summer and not so hot summer...I was looking forward to experience some winter weather here in TX, but it only got to 30 degrees for about 3 days, then back up to the 40's - 50's.
Ok, so what does a mailbox have to do with a smoker?
I'm looking at an electric Masterbuilt 30" as a starter...Sportsman Guide has it on sale and the member discount brings it down to around $190, then again there's also shipping that will bring that price back up...I'll check out Lowes first.
I know what you mean about a slippery slope...I was that way with my cars always looking for the next mod...the mod god just loves to tempt me!

A mailbox is a cheap metal mailbox attached to your smoker with piping, in which you use an AMAZN pellet tray or tube to pipe smoke into your unit. Search mailbox mods on the site....
A lot of folks use an MES 30 here. It would be a good choice and the prices you mention aren't out of line. Most of them use an AMAZN product because e!ectrics aren't known for making smoke, but they make some great chow!
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 

Ah...it's an actual mailbox rigged to smoke...cool!

 

I'll do a search and check it out.

 

Thank you!

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