Last updated: Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Bring the real-deal delicious smokey flavor to your home with this guide to the best smokers on the market. Are you counting down the days until Spring when you can get back to outdoor cooking, and reclaim your status as ruler of the grill? In this article, we will go through the top smokers available. With any one of these, you will be ready for your best outdoor cooking ever!
Don’t fire up the BBQ just yet! If you love grilling, you won’t be able to get enough of smoked food once you’ve gotten a taste of smoked meats from one of the best smokers on the market. The unique smoky flavour that comes from using the best smokers can’t be replicated on a standard grill. Read on for the tools that will have your mouth watering.
Comparison Table: 10 Best Smokers of 2017
Here is an overview of the most popular smokers currently available.
|Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker||Charcoal||1176 sq. in.|
|Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker||Charcoal||430 sq. in.|
|Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker||Gas||595 sq. in.|
|Masterbuild 30" Digital Smoker||Electric||730 sq. in.|
|Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Smoker||Gas||784 sq. in.|
|Pit Barrel Smoker Cooker Classic Package||Charcoal||600 sq. in.|
|Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Flow Smoker||Wood or Charcoal||900 sq. in.|
|Pit Boss Grill and Smoker||Wood Pellet||700 sq. in.|
|Smokin' Tex Pro 1400||Electric||1300 sq. in.|
|Traeger Grills Texas Elite 34 Grill and Smoker||Wood Pellet||646 sq. in.|
Smoker Guide Part I: What is a Smoker Exactly?
You might be wondering what makes a smoker different than a grill. Basically, a smoker cooks meat at a low temperature for a long period of time. This slow cooking method leaves even a tough cut of meat tender and juicy with a distinct smokey flavor. They are noiseless, safe, and great for preparing meat in a healthy way.
There are a few things that you should consider before buying a smoker, such as whether you want a vertical or offset smoker, the amount of food you intend to smoke, and your budget. One of the biggest differences as to what’s the best smoker for you is the fuel.
Here at ecokarma, we like to go beyond face value and look at the effects our behavior has on the environment. Indeed, eating meat does inherently have a bigger footprint than eating a plant based diet. A study in the Climatic Change journal found high meat-eaters produce the equivalent of 7.19 kilograms of carbon dioxide per day whereas vegans produce 2.89 kilograms. But what if you really enjoy having summer backyard BBQs with friends and family? We think balance is the key. Smoking meat has been a preservation method used by humans for centuries. If you’re going to eat meat the best thing you can do is use the entire animal and don’t let anything go to waste. To that end, smokers will help preserve meat until you have a chance to consume it.
Smoker Guide Part II: Types of Smokers
Just like BBQs, the best smokers come in a variety of different fuel sources, so you can choose what works best for you.
This is the most traditional type of smoker, since wood was the original fuel for smoked food throughout history. Hardwood logs are the most temperamental fuel, so they are the most difficult to use. Generally, you need to start a fire outside your smoker and wait until it burns down to hot coals. Otherwise, you will likely end up with burnt food.
If you do manage to get the hang of smoking with wood, it can provide a very nice extra flavor. That’s why many smokers who use wood prefer to use hardwood pellets. They are way easier to use than logs but still provide the wood smoke flavor. Hardwood pellet smokers also tend to be much more compact than hardwood log smokers, which require a lot of space.
Charcoal is another fuel that provides a nice flavor. It takes longer to get up to a cooking temperature than other fuel sources. It also requires a bit more cleanup than gas or electric smokers, since you have to dispose of the ashes.
The benefit of propane smokers is that they are very quick to set up and clean up. They get to the correct temperature very quickly. Unlike wood pellets or charcoal smokers, you won’t get the exact same smoke flavor. However, you will still reap the other benefits in regards to the tenderness and healthiness of the meat.
Electric smokers are by far the easiest to use, and you will never have to remember to buy fuel for them. They tend to heat up quickly, and require very little in terms of set up and clean up. They are very safe to use. You won’t get the same smokey flavor with an electric smoker. However, electric smokers don’t have any of the health risks that can come from overindulging in smoked foods. Plus, you can look into solar panels to make your smoking carbon neutral.
Ecokarma’s Top Picks: 5 Best Smokers of 2017
Once you’ve tasted the glorious smoked meat from one of these bad boys, you won’t be able to go back to a regular grill.
Here is our best wood smoker picks. Further down the page you will find our top picks for electric, charcoal, and propane smokers.
This model uses wood pellets, so the temperature is easy to maintain. The Traeger Pro Series 34 has two thermometers, so you can cook different foods at different temperatures. This is a great feature if you’re cooking meat alongside vegetables, or different kinds of meat. It is pricey, but like the Lang 36 models, it is durable. This particular Traeger model has a grill rack and a medium sized capacity.2. Lang Smoker Cooker 36″Models
The Lang Smoker Cooker is an offset smoker, but it is of a high enough quality that the heat is properly distributed throughout the cooking area. The high quality is reflected in the high price. The basic model in this line has all the features any beginning smoker could need. Plus, the high quality of the make means that you will never need to buy another smoker; if you’re serious about smoking, this could be a great investment. It has a very large capacity, so it is great if you are planning on cooking for large gatherings.
Our Top Pick for Best Charcoal Smoker:3. Pit Barrel Smoker Cooker Package
The Pit Barrel Cooker is one of the best charcoal smokers available and a unique way to deliver quality smoked goods. The vertical setup allows you to hang your meat within the smoker. It also means the heat will be evenly distributed (unlike with horizontal smokers). The sturdy design means you will be able to use this smoker year after year. It is also highly affordable, so you don’t have to worry about making a huge investment.
Our Top Pick for Best Propane Smoker:4. Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker
This smoker is one of the cheaper options out there, so it is great for new beginners who want to find out if smoking is right for them before they invest in a high-quality machine. This smoker is able to maintain a good, consistent temperature. It also has a large capacity. However, it is narrow, so you may have to cut larger slabs of meat in half. The thermometer on this smoker isn’t among the best. However, if you’re looking for a smoker on a budget, this is one of the best propane smokers.
Our Top Pick for Best Electric Smoker:5. Smokin Tex Pro 1400 Series Electric Smoker
With an enormous capacity, this electric smoker will let you feed an army! The Smokin Tex is easy to use and maintains a consistent temperature automatically. Since it is electric, you can put in your food and forget about it. You do not have to worry about modifying the amount of fuel to get the temperature just right. It’s easy to clean and well-insulated. The stainless steel make means it can be stored outside no problem.
Now you know some of the best smokers on the market, you can choose the one that is right for you. No matter what fuel source you choose, you’ll have great tasting food all summer long. Planning a backyard party? Why not pair your delicious smoked meat with smoothies made with one of the best makers?