Want to learn but need one important machine

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Original poster
Mar 16, 2014
Hey all I'm new to the forum and trying to enter this awesome world.
Was at the Home Depot today and was going to but a new smoker but realized I was just going to jump in and buy a cheap one.

So being new and have only attempted smoking once with a half working electrical smoker. I am looking to find the best smoker to start with. Anyone got any good ideas for a beginner?
Electric, charcoal, wood, propane? Reading I have done says start with electric!
Electric is a lot like cooking in your oven so you have experience already.  Just add a bit of flavoring wood and you are ready to go.  It's very convenient and reliable.  If you do not want to tend a smoker and want a set and forget it's the right smoker for you but you should try food from the different types of smokers.   I personally believe that wood burners provide the best flavor but they are larger, generally a lot more expensive and require a considerable amount of attention.

You can start with a small Brinkman (looks like R2D2) that burns charcoal and is flavored with chips for under $100 if you want to get your feet wet for little cost.

Good luck with your decision.  Asking the what kind of smoker I should buy on this forum is like asking a parent which child they love the most!
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You might want to do some self examination first.  How do you plan to use the smoker.  How many people do you plan on cooking for? Is cost of fuel an issue?  How much work do you want to invest in tending your smokes?  What kinds of things do you want to smoke?  Shorter smokes or all nighters? How much time are you willing to invest in learning the ins and outs of your particular unit.  How many modifications are you interested in making to your smoker?

An old friend once advised me to never buy a new camp trailer the first time out.  He advised a few years of experience with different used units to learn what I really wanted and needed from the trailer.  Then spend the money on my new dream trailer.  You may want to start with a cheaper unit.  Your first unit will probably not be the unit you want two years later.

I warn you that membership in this forum can be dangerous to your wallet!  You may end up collecting or even building smokers.  Not to mention all the other evil things our members can lead you into. 

Good luck and good smoking.
Haha luckily I live to build things that is right up my alley
I prefer a charcoal or wood smoker because it provides an unbeatable flavor, as stated above. But not to knock any electric owners on here either, because I know folks turn out great Q with electric as well.

If you go with a coal/wood smoker, you can buy a cheapo offset smoker from Home Depot for under $250. There are several modifications you will want to do if you buy a cheap offset, like a baffle and tuning plates, and a charcoal basket, to name a few. You can find those mods on here. I started out with a CharBroil American Grourmet from HD. Good smoker for $179ish - but it definitely needs some mods. I spent a total of $40-$50 on mods.

If you wanna spend anywhere from $300-$500, you can go with a Weber Smokey Mountain which are incredible units. You can't smoke a lot of meat with these (relatively speaking), but it will fit the needs of a basic family and provide consistent and quality bbq.

As others stated, it's really about what smoker will fit your needs best. An offset smoker requires more maintenance and some mods, but you can fit a lot of meat on there. A Weber Smokey Mountain is smaller, but will hold temp for hours and is the closest charcoal/wood smoker you will get to a "set and forget it" kind of deal.
Lots of good advice above. Decide what you really think you want from your bbq/grilling/smoking outfit. Match that to your budget. That's why everybody seems to have different equipment.

I use a Smoke Hollow Pro with gas/wood/charcoal for large cooks and a Masterbuilt MES 40 electric for load and forget smoking of meats and cheeses. Each has it's virtues. But I'm "into" bbq and grilling now.  I started out with a small unit till I found out what my true interests and skills were.

The bottom ls.... whatever you choose..... it's all good. Jump in and enjoy.
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