Types of Smokers – Different Styles and Buyer’s Guide in 2020

A great smoker that can retain low temperatures for a prolonged period is what you need to complete a get-together or cookout. There are so many types of smokers in the market. When you want to buy a smoker, it opens you to a whole new culinary experience. Every kind of smoker comes with its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. If you are a grill enthusiast, you would know that there are so many ways to smoke slowly to ensure the meat absorbs just about enough smoke. The primary purpose of this article is to introduce you to the top 5 best smokers for 2020, along with a buyer’s guide to help you select an ideal smoker to meet your needs.

Top 5 Best Smoker BBQ for 2020

We’ve made choosing a type of smoker a little bit easier. Here are the top 5 best smokers for 2020 based on their fuel source, and construction:

#1. Charcoal Smoker

weber charcoal smoker

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One of the most common types of a smoker is a charcoal smoker and well-used adds genuine smoke to food. Charcoal smokers also come in different sizes and shapes. Charcoal smokers use real charcoal as a source of heat, which burns with just the right amount of smoke you need. Most charcoal smokers also use wood pellets for adding flavor. Although charcoal smokers produce genuine smoke and add flavor to your food, the downside is that it is quite labor-intensive to ignite. Igniting a charcoal smoker is like babysitting a fire.

The design of charcoal smokers is such that it has a lower charcoal grate where you arrange the charcoal, and beneath that is the ash pan. Above the charcoal grate, in some charcoal smokers, there would be an oil drip collector. On top of the charcoal smokers, are the upper cooking grate where you line the food you want to smoke. Charcoal smokers also come with air dampers to regulate the airflow, which you can use to control the smoker’s temperature. There is usually an air damper near the charcoal pan for air inlet to keep the fire burning, and another in the cooking chamber. In some cases, your charcoal smoker might come with a lid-mounted temperature gauge for monitoring the temperature you are smoking.

#2. Electric Smoker

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Electric smokers, on the other hand, are more modern and way more comfortable to use. With an electric smoker, you do not have to worry about burning wood or charcoal. The ease at which you can use an electric smoker and cleaning it up after use makes it ideal for indoor smoking. You can never run out of fuel when you are using an electric smoker, provided you have consistent electricity. Unlike charcoal smokers, where you have to babysit the fire to ignite, all you have to do is switch on the electric smoker.

On some higher-end electric smokers, you can even regulate the temperature or set a timer from a Bluetooth app. Electric smokers use heating elements, mostly electric coils, to generate heat. The design of an electric smoker is such that it has the heating element at the bottom, wood and water pans are between it and the food rack. Because there is no actual combustion or flame in an electric smoker, the smoke comes from a smoke box. The suspended smoker box in an electric smoker is often above the heating element where you can put any flavor of wood chips you like.

#3. Offset Smoker

offset smokers

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The origin of the offset smoker was initially from the use of oil drums to make smokers. Offset smokers are a type of wood-burning smoker which are often hard to master, but rewarding when you can learn it correctly. Offset smokers are big and bulky, but they give you enough cooking space. The name offset comes from the design of the offset firebox to the side, and below the cooking chamber. So, if you need a smoker that will generate enough heat and evenly distribute it to smoke your food to the right texture, an offset smoker always comes to mind.

When you burn charcoal or wood in the firebox, the smoke and heat will be drawn into the cooking chamber and through a chimney. In a standard offset smoker, the firebox is opposite the Chimney. The reason is so that air can draw the smoke across the cooking chamber. Some offset smokers use a reverse flow system to force the smoke and heat both over and under the food. Like most smokers, an offset smoker also comes with a lid-mounted temperature gauge to monitor the temperature inside the cooking chamber.

#4. Ceramics Smoker

ceramics smokers

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Ceramics smokers, on the other hand, are smokers made with ceramics. Ceramic is an earthen material or a highly refractory material that acts as a good insulator. A ceramic smoker can absorb heat and radiate it back, keeping the temperature in the cooking chamber constant. Ceramics smokers are quite durable and can last a very long time with proper maintenance. Unlike other smokers made with stainless steel or cast iron, which are susceptible to rusting after a long time, ceramics smokers wouldn’t. The design of ceramics smokers also comes with intake and outflow dampers to control the temperature.

Ceramic smokers are perfect for all-weather, even windy environments in the far north. The insulation of ceramic smokers means it needs very little oxygen and charcoal. The insulation also reduces the amount of moisture lost to the environment, which means your meat will remain juicier. The cooking grate of ceramic smokers is higher up above the coals than in standard charcoal grills, so there are no flare-ups. And when it comes to cleaning up, the interior of ceramic smokers is straightforward to clean.

#5. Vertical Smoker

vertical smokers

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Vertical smokers are the types of smokers built vertically; that is, they are tall but thin. We can break a vertical smoker into three different components. The bottom section is otherwise the section that holds the heat source. The heating source can be charcoal in the case of a charcoal smoker, or propane gas passing through burner tubes in gas smokers. Above the heating source is usually a water pan. The water pan is there for two main reasons; first, to regulate and store the smoker’s heat, and second, to deflect direct heat from the source.

The water pan in a vertical smoker can help provide moisture to your food while smoking to keep it from drying out. Above the water pan, is the cooking grate, and cooking chamber. The cooking grates can be either cast iron, steel, or aluminum, depending on the manufacturer. But most often, the cooking grate is non-stick. The advantage of vertical smokers is that they are portable and compact. Because of their size, they are known to be quite useful than larger smokers.

Buyer’s Guide of Best Smokers of 2020

1. Price

You need to have a budget when it comes to buying a smoker. The amount you want to spend will determine the type of smoker you can get. For example, if you have a $200 budget, you should probably avoid offset smokers as they are quite expensive. A budget of $200 is ideal for getting great charcoal grills and gas grills. Finally, if you can have a budget above $1000, then your options for a perfect smoker opens right up. The cheapest smoker you can get are charcoal smokers, and the more expensive smokers you can get are electric smokers.

2. Size

Size is another criteria worth considering when getting a smoker. The size of the smoker will determine just how many things you can smoke at a go. Although small and portable smokers might be cheaper and budget-friendly, the downside is that you would be stuck at the smoker for a long time to grill enough food for a large crowd. So, when it comes to the size, you need to ask yourself what you would be using the smoker for most times. If you need a smoker suitable for a small family, then a portable smoker would be ideal for you. If you need a smoker ideal for a get-together or a party, you need something more significant.

3. Easy to Clean

After every grilling session, cleaning the smoker can be a bit annoying. It even gets worse when you are cleaning a charcoal smoker. You’d need to take off the ash, then clean off the oil mess and stuck food. It can be very stressful, especially if your smoker has so many hard-to-get-to parts. So, when getting a smoker, inspect it for measures the manufacturers use to make it easy to clean. For example, a smoker that will be easy to clean should have an oil drip pan, and the cooking grate should be removable so you can wash it properly. The type of material used to make the smoker would also tell like porcelain enameled surfaces are non-stick.

4. Type of Fuel

Lastly, know the different types of fuel, and make a choice based on the type of fuel you feel comfortable using. Even though charcoal smokers are the most preferred by a lot of people, if you do not have the patience to babysit it, you can opt-in for a gas grill smoker. A gas smoker can either use natural gas or liquid propane, which you also have to decide; however, gas smokers are easier to use and maintain. And if you want to go flameless, then an electric smoker would be ideal for you.

What is a Smoker?

The smoker is more like grills, but unlike Grills, it cooks your food with hot smoke. Smokers usually maintain a lower cooking temperature for a long time, which slowly cooks your food. The design of smokers is such that it can keep the cooking chamber hot for a prolonged period.

grilling smoker

The cooking grate of a smoker is usually farther away from the heating source. In some cases, like in an offset smoker, the firebox is at the side of the smoker. Smokers also come with Chimney, which controls the airflow in the cooking chamber. You can also use the Chimney to regulate the temperature inside the smoker. When using a smoker, it is ideal for keeping the lid closed. Every time you open the cover of a smoker, heat escapes, which makes the temperate inside the cooking fluctuate. So, a smoker with a lid-mounted temperature gauge helps you monitor the smoker’s temperature without having to open the smoker frequently.

How to Choose a Smoker?

The first step to take when you want to choose a smoker is to decide the style of smoker you want. There are many options for smokers to choose from, so you need to have a buyer’s guide to the following. Generally, avoid inexpensive smokers because these types of smokers are flawed in design. Instead, when choosing opt-in for smokers from reputable manufacturers with excellent customer service.

smoker-for-grill

Check the type of material used in making the smoker. Choose a smoker made with durable materials that can last long and withstand harsh weather. The type of finishing used on the smoker would also determine if the smoker can stand the test of time. For example, a smoker with stainless steel finishing is rust-resistant so that it can stand the test of time. And lastly, check the features of the smoker if it is compatible with your needs. Features to check for include thermometer, reinforced glass on the lid, wood chips box, and a sound oil management system, amongst others.

Conclusion

There you have it, all you need to know about the most common types of smokers. Rather than overthinking the details of a smoker to get, simply go for the one that feels right for you. There is a lot to learn about how to smoke food, so using a smoker that feels natural to you is perfect. You will be rewarded for your effort with some fantastic food. Do you think there is the best smoker out there? Or do you have any helpful tips to add to this article? Kindly leave a comment below.

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