Smoked meats have been a culinary tradition in various cultures for generations upon generations. Over these successive generations, the art of smoking meat was passed from on generation to the next due to ability of absorbed smoke to act as a preservative and to inhibit bacterial growth.
In the modern world, beyond smoking for purely religious reason, the art of smoking meats is designed for flavor enhancement and taste. Many different regions in the U.S. have different variations for smoking meats but all have one thing in common, the meat smoker.
Charcoal, Gas, Electric, Pick Your Pleasure
Wood pellets or wood chips, inundated with water is heated via a heat source and thus producing smoke and heat that imparts particles unto the meat and cooks it at the same time. Another term for smoking meats, is called “indirect cooking” as the flame does not make contact with the meat.
While there are only a few fuel sources used, the types of smokers have changed over the decades to include digital smokers with electronic circuits.
Some grills have offset fire boxes for smoking, others are dedicated units that employ a column style design to focus the heat and smoke upwards and some of the more elaborate smokers are cabinet style to smoke a wider variety of meat at the same time. Almost any type of meat from pork, beef and poultry can be smoked as well as fish and seafood.
Each backyard barbecue chef has his or her own variation or recipe and almost all is based on personal preference and while some chefs will debate which type of smoker is better, the underlying fact is that it boils down to the features a chef desires in a smoker that makes one smoker better than the other. Below are five smokers of various types and styles that will provide great smoked flavor and delicious results.
Great Meat Smokers
#1 Bestselling Smoker in the Market
This electric smoker, Masterbuilt Model #20070910 Digital Smoker utilizes a 800 watt heating element to provide a temperature range between 100 to 275 degrees. The total cooking area is over 700 square inches covered by 4 racks for vertical smoking.
Wood chips are side loaded and there are top vents and dampeners for heat control. This unit also is fully digital with timer and temperature regulation. This is a great smoker for all levels of smoking and is good for any size home.
Top Charcoal Smoker for the Money
Weber is a leading manufacturer of grills and grilling accessories and this upright tube style smoker is a great smoker for home use. This 22 inch smoker uses charcoal and is made of porcelain coated steel for superb heat retention and distribution. The Weber Model #731001 Charcoal Smoker has a forward door for easy access to the lower racks and the charcoal area.
It has lower dampeners and upper vents for heat control and a built in temperature gauge for heat monitoring. This traditional tube smoker is great for any size home and large enough to accommodate a large turkey.
Best Propane Meat Smoker
Propane makes a great fuel for a smoker, and this grill has a all stainless steel burner for heat production. The Masterbuilt Model #20051311 2-Door Smoker has over 700 square inches of space over 4 steel racks. It uses two doors, one small for the bottom wood chip area and the larger for the cooking space for easy handling.
It uses a dampener for smoke control, making it easy to add or lessen the amount of smoke depending on desired results. This is a great smoker that have handle a lot of food, great for any size home.
Best Charcoal Offset Smoker
This offset firebox, cabinet smoker is great for producing delicious smoked foods. With over 1,000 square inches of cooking space, spread over six racks, the Dyna-Glo Model #DGO1176BDC-D Offset Cabinet Smoker can handle a significant amount of food. The offset firebox for charcoal and wood chips allows for better smoke production and smoke control.
This grill also has dampeners for more smoke control and a adjustable flue cap for even better heat control. It has two doors, one for the firebox and one for the smoking area, allowing the fire to be tended without effecting the cooking space. The handles are cool to the touch, making this an great smoker for any setting.
Best Meat Smoker to Buy
The Bradley 4 Rack Smoker is the modern smoker. Fully digital and controlled, this grill can smoke a large amount of food without attendance. It uses two heating elements, one for heat production and the other for smoke production, the wood chips will automatically load as needed. Just fill the stack and set the digital controls and the smoker will handle the rest.
This smoke has a wide array of digital features and has 4 internal racks for a generous cooking space. For those that do not want to slave over a smoker or have to watch the fire, this is the smoker that can smoke food with little attention. Great for people on the go but who want to enjoy smoked flavored food at home.
Smokers are like grills in that the best results are obtained by reading and following the operators manual, especially concerning cleaning. When not in use, to protect the smoker use a cover to keep the elements from damaging the unit. As with any hot appliance, never allow flammable materials within five feet of a hot or cooling smoker and never operate on an uneven surface to prevent tipping.