7 Types of Smokers to Consider Before Buying

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The aroma of freshly smoked meat, marinated with spices, feels nothing less than pure magic! A smoker is indeed one of the best inventions in the culinary world, making cooking a fun experience.

Whether you are planning a gathering with your loved ones or just thinking of having a new addition to your set of cooking equipment, a barbecue is definitely on everyone’s list!

The market is full of a huge variety of options, and it is natural to feel confused about which one to go for. Each one comes with its advantages and disadvantages, which makes it a tough battle.

To make things easy for you, we have done some research and brought together a list of the most popular categories in this segment which would help you learn about different kinds of smokers and make an informed decision.

7 Types of Smokers: Everything That You Need to Know

1. Propane/ Gas Smoker

How Does It Work?

As the name suggests, propane smoker or gas smoker primarily functions on the propane gas, commonly known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas. The heating chamber in the vertical smoker works on the convection mechanism.

Cooking Fish in Propane/Gas Smoker

The gas smokers are mostly built with stainless steel or cast iron and come in various designs and features. It is an energy-efficient smoker and also comes in a portable format.

The meat gets cooked evenly, and the flavors easily penetrate, providing you the juiciest meal ever. If you desire an extra, smokey flavor, then adding some wooden chips is the best option.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  1. Quick to set-up and offers good temperature control.
  2. Quite easy to use.
  3. Portable.
  4. Easy on the fuel.
  5. A clean-burning experience prevents your food from grime deposition.

Cons:

  1. Manual set-up is required.
  2. Most propane smokers do not come with the natural gas option for fueling.
  3. Cheaper models come with thin metal that is not good for cooking in cooler weather conditions.
  4. Prolonged cooking requires the swapping of gas tanks for fuel supply.
  5. Some models do not offer functionality as gas grills.

Who Should Buy It?

If you want quick BBQ cooking of delicious food items without shedding a huge amount of money, then a propane smoker is the most appropriate type for you. Planning a weekend getaway with your family? A propane smoker comes in handy!

What Can You Cook?

There’s a lot that you can cook in a propane smoker, such as pulled pork shoulder, barbecue pork spare ribs, smoked pepper brisket, and various other exciting dishes.

2. Charcoal Smoker

How Does It Work?

A charcoal smoker uses charcoal briquettes as fuel, and adding some wooden chunks maximizes the smokey flavor in the meat.

Stuffed Turkey Being Smoked on a Charcoal Smoker

It works by heating your food at a constant temperature setting for prolonged hours. The air intake inside the smoker is regulated by the air intake vents located at the bottom part of the charcoal.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  1. Charcoal used as fuel is easily available.
  2. Cost-effective.
  3. Supports enough cooking capacity.
  4. Leaves small footprint.
  5. An enriching meat cooking experience.
  6. Durable.

Cons:

  1. May cause leakage.
  2. Huge amounts of smoke generation.
  3. Might cause a burn if not handled with high heat gloves.
  4. Requires regular cleaning due to ash build-up.

Who Should Buy It?

It is the best type of smoker for those on a budget and can manage without many features.

What Can You Cook?

A charcoal smoker is appropriate for cooking thick meat dishes such as ribs, pork shoulder, turkey, lamb shoulder, brisket, and much more.

3. Offset Smokers

How Does It Work?

An offset smoker comes with a structure where a small-sized pipe holds fire and provides smoke to a larger container through tiny holes that work as a passage for the smoke.

Chicken on an Offset Smoker

It functions on indirect heat, which is most suitable for meat that requires a slow cooking method.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  1. Grills perfectly.
  2. Lasts long with complete care.
  3. Complete temperature and smoke control due to manual fire ignition.
  4. Appropriate for large-sized meat options.
  5. One of the best type of smokers for preparing the most well-cooked, delicious meat.

Cons:

  1. May cause leakage of smoke.
  2. Fire ignition requires a lot of time.
  3. Cooking requires practice and patience.
  4. Quite heavy and non-portable.
  5. Cheaper sets come with a thin metal, inappropriate for cooler temperatures.

We’ve recently compiled the best offset smokers to consider.

Who Should Buy It?

In our smoker comparison list, we recommend buying offset smokers to those who are all in for long cooking hours. If you do not like compromising on the food being served on your plate, this is the perfect choice for you.

What Can You Cook?

You can cook all the meat preparation that you can think of with offset smoker. However, it works best with smoked chicken, burger and BBQ smoked ham.

4. Pellet Smoker

How Does It Work?

A storage chamber is filled with some wood pellets, which are then transferred to a cooking region that functions through electric power.

Wood Pellets in a Pellet Smoker

The cooking chamber is then heated by burning the wooden pellets. Rising temperature and smoke cover the entire area, which offers the best environment for slow cooking.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  1. An enhanced wood-smoked flavor.
  2. Quick to use.
  3. Utilizes natural type of fuel for heat generation.
  4. Appropriate for large amounts of cooking.
  5. Comes with models appropriate for grilling.

Cons:

  1. The type of pellets used affects the taste of the meat.
  2. Electric power supply needed for running  the fun, augers.
  3. You might find the taste to be too smoky for your preference.

Who Should Buy It?

If you wish to make the most of your BBQ experience within a limited time span, then a pellet smoker is for you.

What Can You Cook?

You can cook a huge variety of recipes in a pellet smoker, including bacon, beef brisket, beef chuck ribs, chicken thigh bones, etc.

5. Electric Smokers

How Does It Work?

The smoker has an electric element secured at the bottom part of the equipment, which starts heating up when connected to the supply.

Cooking Whole Raw Chicken in an Electric Smoker

There is a pan inside which needs to be filled with wood chips, which, when ignited, start generating the smoke and heat required to cook your food.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  1. Doesn’t require fire ignition.
  2. Cost-effective.
  3. Doesn’t require fuel.
  4. Automatic temperature control.
  5. Appropriate for indoor settings.
  6. It can also be used as a portable smoker.

Cons:

  1. Requires electricity access.
  2. Doesn’t provide authentic smoky flavor.
  3. Isn’t appropriate for grills.
  4. No heat zone build-up due to constant temperature regulation.

Who Should Buy It?

If you want a smoker for an apartment and wondering, “what kind of smoker should I buy?” then an electric smoker is most suitable for you since it is safe to use.

What Can You Cook?

An electric smoker works best for cooking whole chicken, beef brisket, pork shoulder, pork ribs, whole turkey, and plenty of other sumptuous meat dishes.

6. Kamoda Grills

How Does It Work?

Kamado grills come with a thick-walled body that is highly effective in retaining heat. It functions exactly like a wooden stove.

Kamado Grill in a Backyard

At the bottom part, there is a passage through which air enters, flowing through a charcoal source and then finally coming out from the top surface.

The temperature is managed through the amount of air passed, which is under your control.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  1. Appropriate for bake, grill, and smoke.
  2. Quite easy to use.
  3. Fantastic heat retention makes it perfect for colder climates.
  4. Durable.
  5. Easy on the fuel.
  6. Doesn’t take much space.

Cons:

  1. Doesn’t accommodate the cooking of large amounts or pieces of meat.
  2. Ceramic walls are brittle and can break if the temperature rises unusually.
  3. Made of ceramic which requires longer heating time.
  4. Quite heavy.

Who Should Buy It?

If you are on a space constraint and confused about how to choose the right smoker, then this multi-purpose equipment is all that you need!

What Can You Cook?

Get ready to cook plenty of meat dishes in your Kamoda Grills, including pork spare ribs, roast lamb, beef ribs, brisket, and yummy pork spear steak.

7. Drum Smokers

How Does It Work?

Ribs in Barrel Smoker

At the bottom of the drum, the ignition of charcoal takes place, which gradually produces heat and smoke. It functions on the convection mechanism, and the air circulation then works upon cooking the meat placed inside.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  1. Doesn’t require much space.
  2. Offers large cooking space.
  3. Some models come with multiple features such as smoking, frying, baking, etc.
  4. Tightly packed to avoid leakages.
  5. Easy to use.

Cons:

  1. The body is quite unattractive to look at.
  2. Can cook limited amounts of food at a time.

Who Should Buy It?

It is most appropriate for people who are new to the BBQ world and can compromise on their smoker’s looks. A drum smoker is multi-purpose, which makes it a total return for the money you pay!

What Can You Cook?

Buy a drum smoker and enjoy cooking a variety of dishes such as beef brisket, pulled pork, and several other dishes that are perfect to set the mood of your party.

Final Words

Now that we have listed out the 7 best type of smokers for you, it is surely going to become easier for you to make a purchasing decision.

Each one of them is accompanied by its own pros and cons, you just have to look out for the one that suits your budget and other relatable requirements.

If you’re a beginner in smoking, you should check out this post: Smokers for Beginners.

TYLER LACHANCE

Tyler Lachance is a cookout professional. His expertise on cooking grilled food, creating marinades, formulating sauces and matching his food with the perfect drink is unrivaled.

Born and raised in a family that has a long history of cookout, he has treated this activity as a part of his culture and who he is.