Smoked meats have been around for generations. The concept of preserving meat by smoking was based on the fact that smoke inhibited bacterial growth and thus allowed meat to last longer without refrigeration.
Over the centuries, as new technologies arose to preserve meats, the taste of smoked meats was not forgotten and was even enhanced in some cases by applying sauces and bastes.
Nowadays, smoked meats can be prepared at home easily and simply but using a home smoker to create delicious and flavorful meats. While no longer use for preservation, smoked meats continue to excite the palate in ways that other foods can not match.
There are many different variations on the smoker design and while some chefs prefer one style over another, the fact is that it is really personal preference as to which one is better. Often, grills with come with an offset smoker to allow for smoking meats when not using the grill for cooking. This creates a level of versatility for grills manufacturers.
However, using a dedicated smoker means that larger amounts of food can be prepared at the same time. This not only allows more efficient use of space but allow allows for more efficient use of fuel. In addition, upright smokers use the principle that smoke is lighter than air and this provides a column of smoke that can handle large quantities of meats.
Concerning the different fuel sources, there really is no difference unless one is intentionally using a charcoal smoker to add the carbon particulates to enhance the flavor of the meats, besides smoking. Again, this boils down to personal preference but the reality is there is no difference other than the increase in carbon deposits on the meat and does not actually change the flavor as the flavor enhancing particles already exist in the smoke from the wood chips or pellets.
Five Great Home Smokers
Best Propane Meat Smoker
The Masterbuilt Model #20051311 Upright Smoker is a four rack, gas powered smoker. It has two doors, one for the smoke box and one for the food box. This allows the fire to be tended without effecting the food area.
The burner is push button controlled and the unit has a built in temperature gauge for heat monitoring. This is a great cabinet smoker for any size home and will handle a generous amount of food.
Best Electric Home Smoker
Smoking as moved to the radio controlled era. The Masterbuilt Model #20070411 RF Controlled Smoker is a 30 inch unit with over 700 square inches of cooking space over four racks. It has a top mounted digital controller and can be controlled using the remote. It also has a built in temperature probe and the door has a window to monitor the food without opening the door and losing heat.
This unit has a 800 watt heating element and the wood chips are side loaded for easy loading. This is a great digital smoke that is great for any home and will provide years of delicious, smoked food.
Best 4-Rack Digital Outdoor Smoker
This digital smoker uses a side mounted controller box with wood chip, stacked loading. This smoker – Bradly Digital Smoker- Silver has two heating elements, one for heat production and the other for smoke production and is digitally controlled.
This unit is a load and go, smoking unit that will automatically handle smoking in a variety of settings and temperature ranges up to 375 degrees. This is an excellent smoker to provide great tasting smoked food and even gourmet foods.
Top Electric Smoker to Buy
When a person is too busy to smoked food but wants great tasting smoked food without a lot of hassle, this is the smoker for them. The Landmann 40 Inch Upright Smoker has a touch screen and LED control panel for setting and going. The lower drawers offer a great way to load wood chips and water without having to touch the food section. Just load the chips, and food, set the timers and away to go.
This unit has over 1000 square inches of cooking space over 4 racks and uses a 1200 watt heating element for heat and smoke production. It has a forward window, so the food can be checked on without disturbing it. This is an excellent smoker for home use and will keep providing delicious food, year after year.
Top Home Smoker
This grill, Louisiana Grills Country Smoker Series Barrel Smoker is a wood pellet fired smoker. Wood Pellet smokers are considered the top level of the smoking food world due to their unique design that produces superb flavor and tender and juice meats. The pellets are moved from the hopper to a combustion chamber where an igniter burns the pellets and directs the ash away from the food and producing a generous amount of smoke and heat.
The grease is then drained away by a separate drain to prevent flare ups and keeping the juices sealed into the meat. This unit is digital with a LED control panel and uses the barrel style cooking surface to provide a large amount of cooking space. This specific grills is among the top of the world class wood pellet smokers.
Smokers, like grills require cleaning and thus it is imperative for the long life of the smoker that the operator read and follow all cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer. In addition, never operate a smoker on an uneven surface and never allow flammable material within five feet of a hot or cooling smoker. For the longevity of the smoker, it is best to cover the unit when not in service to protect it from the elements.