Kitchen Appliance

Choosing the Right Smoker

Originally, smoking was a technique used to preserve meat. Although we have better ways of preserving meat today, the continuation of this tradition is a testament to its culinary value. Smoking meat involves surrounding a piece of meat in a smoky chamber at low temperature over an extended period of time. This “slow-and-low” cook method achieves the “melt-off-the-bone” tenderness while the smoke infuses the meat with a distinct, woody flavor. Though it may seem intimidating, smoking your own meat is easier than you might think!

There are many ways to smoke meat. At the most primitive end of the spectrum, you could dig a fire pit in the dirt! But with today’s technology, you can choose from a variety of different options that will yield much simpler and more reliable results. For those ready to try their hand at smoking meat at home, here’s how to decide what smoker will best fit your needs.

Charcoal Smoker

Charcoal smokers are fueled by a combination of charcoal and wood, bringing out a rich flavor. These can be challenging because they require constant maintenance of the coals and adjustment of air flow while the meat cooks for up to 15 hours. However, this is a great option for people who want to try smoking meat once before investing in an expensive new appliance. If you’re interested in this, here is a simple way to convert your backyard grill into a smoker!

  • Ease of Use: Low
  • Cost: Low
  • Note: Good for beginners, high maintenance

Pellet/Wood Smoker

A wood smoker is fueled by wood chips or pellets of compressed wood shavings — some prefer this to the chemical flavor created by charcoal. You can set the dial to a desired, consistent temperature, but you must remember to feed it wood continuously to keep it cooking.

  • Ease of Use: Medium
  • Cost: High
  • Note: High flavor, tricky to master

Gas Smoker

Gas smokers are popular due to their set-it-and-forget-it nature. Gas smokers are fueled by propane, so they are very portable, but may have less flavor than their wood or charcoal counterparts. Similar to electric smokers, they heat a rod, which causes the wood to smoke. Best for rural areas with no electricity source.

  • Ease of Use: High
  • Cost: High
  • Note: Good for places electricity is scarce

Electric Smoker

For the most convenient option, try an electric smoker. You can set the meat in the chamber, turn it on, and completely forget about it until it’s ready to eat hours later. Some, like this model at Electricsmokercenter.Com even have Bluetooth capabilities! You will need a source of electricity for this one.

  • Ease of Use: High
  • Cost: High
  • Note: Most convenient, most reliable, best for the set-it-and-forget crowd

And there you have it! Not so bad, huh? There’s a lot of room for creativity and culinary fun and you can give it a try tomorrow if you’ve got a grill in the backyard. Good luck, and if you do decide to dig a fire pit, don’t fall in!