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advice needed

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I am a newbie to smoking, and while I love the taste of meat done over charcoal, I have been thinking about getting an electric smoker.  I have 3 kids who are all involved in sports or activities of some kind, and I don't always have time to babysit a charcoal smoker.  So I was looking for advice on whether for a more set-it-and-leave-it smoke, if an electric or propane smoker is better, and what things to consider when looking for one. 

I haven't really started seriously looking yet, so I don't have a set budget or brand name in mind, I just know I don't want to spend a huge amount of money on it.  I don't need anything on a trailer, and I will generally be smoking just for our family of 5.  Any features to look for would also be helpful.  I appreciate any advice I can get.

post #2 of 15

seems like the vast majority of people on here have a masterbuild electric smoker... i don't have one, nor have i used one but have you ever tried the snake or fuse method with a charcoal grill? on my webber it's pretty much set it and forget it (although it takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes to get it to settle in)

 

you are much more limited with space for this type of thing (like 1 brisket max or 2 st louis cut ribs), but you can buy a whole lot of charcoal for the cost of a new electric smoker.

post #3 of 15

I have been using a cheap smoke hollow propane smoker for years and it has worked good for me we use it almost every weekend all year round and I live in Michigan i just brush the snow off and light it up     

I have 5 in my my family also  the only drawback is you do have some limitations on size off some things like racks of ribs if you leave whole you can only cook 3 at a angle or you cant do a whole brisket packer but other than that it has worked good    

post #4 of 15
Check out the Smokin-It brand of electric smokers. The 3 or 3d has plenty of room for a family of five. They're all stainless steel (even the racks) and backed by a three year warranty.
The 3d is fully programmable and comes with a built in temp probe and food temp probe.
post #5 of 15

As a long time Masterbuilt owner with a family of 6. A 40" model either Model # 20070311 gen 1 all stainless or the newest Blue Tooth units are your best bet. They cost between $300 and $500 depending on where and when you buy. Black friday and mid December have seen some steals on these. If your budget is a bit higher, the Smokin-It models 2 and 3, with or without digital controllers are Excellent units with lots of satisfied folks on this site. Propane although fairly set and forget still have Open Flames and Flame Outs where the gas still runs and accumulates looking for a spark...NOT a smoker you want running while everyone leaves the house for a couple hours. Stay with electric and look into one of the A-MAZE-N Products to make Hot or Cold Smoke for up to 10 hours with touching your smoker...JJ

post #6 of 15

WEBER SMOKEY MOUNTAIN!

 

It's charcoal/wood.

 

Holds temps very well. It's as good as set & forget as most electric smokers.

 

Is well built & ready to go right out of the box.

 

And you get the charcoal/wood flavor.

 

$400 for the 22.5.

 

Al

post #7 of 15

I know i'm no pro but it seems with any smoker you can have some type of issues i guess I have been lucky and not blown myself up  

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by uzikaduzi View Post
 

seems like the vast majority of people on here have a masterbuild electric smoker... i don't have one, nor have i used one but have you ever tried the snake or fuse method with a charcoal grill? on my webber it's pretty much set it and forget it (although it takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes to get it to settle in)

 

you are much more limited with space for this type of thing (like 1 brisket max or 2 st louis cut ribs), but you can buy a whole lot of charcoal for the cost of a new electric smoker.

If by the smoke or fuse method you mean putting the charcoal in a semicircle or similar shape, and putting lit charcoal at one end of the pile to let it burn around, then yes, I did try that once.  It did seem to hold the cooking temp pretty well that way. 

 

As my wife likes Black Friday shopping, maybe I can hold off until then to try to find a deal on an electric smoker and not feel so bad about spending the money for one.  Thanks, Chef JJ, for that suggestion.  I have had flame outs and run out of propane on my grill, so I can see how an electric smoker would be better than propane. 

 

Al, do you use charcoal/wood most of the time, or do you have an electric smoker, too?

 

I will check out the smokers that have been listed here.  Thanks to everyone for their suggestions.

post #9 of 15
Had a masterbuilt xl propone for going on four years and loved it. But I get a grizzly grill hopper and put it on it love it so far learning curve

Loppy
post #10 of 15
Yeah that's what I meant... putting the charcoal in a semicircle.

Al's suggestion is maybe the best charcoal option out there... it's supposedly the minon method was "invented" with it.

Propane, electric, pellet,... these are truly set it and forget it, but I think there is a slight loss of flavor with them (although the friends that I have that have these, specifically have them because they aren't into smoking meat but like eating bbq... they don't spend time picking a good quality brisket or playing with different rubs or wood flavors... so the flavor that I'm talking about lacking could be their lowner level of interest/effort... it could be that people that are more into the whole process get a much better product... my opinion is 100% based off their BBQ on these things and it's honestly not a lot of times I've had them)
post #11 of 15
It sounds to me like you're a candidate for a Weber Smokey Mountain. Good capacity, charcoal flavor (lump), and set and forget. grilling_smilie.gif
post #12 of 15

Just a note...The two MES 40 models I listed are the best most reliable choices. There are others on Home Shopping Network and can be had at reduced prices in big box stores but they have design flaws and controller issues not seen in the models I listed....JJ

post #13 of 15
I was in a similar boat, working a lot and having to run around playing catchup on the weekends. I was close to pulling the trigger on a MES but read a lot of positive feedback on making a Uds. Keep in mind I'm no handyman but I built a no weld smoker that I let roll overnight and slept soundly with steady temps.
post #14 of 15

If you find a sale you can get a Green Mountain Grill(GMG) Daniel Boone for $450.  It is a pellet grill and I was very against this method however, with time constraints and a growing family I bit the bullet. I purchased this about a month ago and have not looked back.  I still use my homemade stick burner on the weekends I have open but, the GMG is awesome for week night smoking of for that large brisket, pork butt on a busy weekend.  

Features:

150 to 500 degree temp range

Stainless Steel heat distribution box for tuning the cooking chamber to allow cooler and warmer sides

Stainless steel drip tray with holes to allow searing

Stainless steel grilling grates

Digital Temperature

Food Probe

Dual fans for combustion

Wheels and casters for easy moving

automatic cool down program

Enough room for two ten pound Pork butts and adequate air space between 

 

Hope this helps.  What ever you do don't stop smokin.

post #15 of 15

I am currently using a Smokin-it 3D (SI) and prior to that a Cookshack Amerique (CS).  Both are excellent and reliable electric smokers.  I have not had any problems with either. Both are extremely well built, all stainless steel inside and out.  Both these smoker brands are more expensive than Masterbuilt and other big box store electrics but I feel they are better smokers (just my opinion from looking them over and user comments).  The SI is less expensive than the CS.

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