You can make good smoked meat on a regular all-purpose charcoal grill or a gas grill. But if you want to make the most fantastic bacon, turkey, ribs, salmon, or pulled pork, then you need to get yourself a specialized smoker.
There are countless types of smokers out there, so your choices are virtually limitless. However, the challenge lies in choosing a smoker that best suits your needs.
Here are some things you should think about before buying a smoker:
Before Buying Your Meat Smoker…
1. The Purpose of Your Smoker
The first question that should come to your mind when deciding what type of a smoker to purchase should be what you intend to use it for.
Are you looking for something for your backyard? How frequently will you be using the smoker? Are you looking for a smoker that can serve a large group or just your family?
By answering the above questions, you will significantly narrow down your choices to what you actually need. This will ensure that you don’t end up overspending on features that you don’t need.
2. The Size of the Smoker Grill
The golden rule here is to stay true to your needs. There’s no point in spending the big bucks on a large commercial smoker when the only people you will be cooking for are your family members.
However, if you are a real barbeque enthusiast who loves participating in BBQ competitions, then – by all means – purchase a bigger pit.
3. Your Budget
Smokers can go for as low as $100 to several thousands. Therefore, it is up to you to make sure that you spend wisely. Again, be sure to avoid unnecessary overspending on features that you wouldn’t need.
Also, don’t be too stingy and end up with a smoker that will work you to death during long smoking sessions. The idea here is to strike a balance between the cost, quality, and your needs.
Another crucial consideration you should make when buying a smoker is where you’ll store it when it’s not in use. If – unlike most people – you have a lot of space in your garage, then you can buy a large smoker.
However, if do not have such privilege, think of where you will store your smoker before buying one. Nothing is as frustrating as spending tons of cash on a magnificent smoker only to have it destroyed by the harsh weather in your backyard.
5. Materials, Workmanship, and Durability
Try to avoid buying a smoker that has sharp edges because this will increase the risk of injuries. Also, be sure to check the stability of the legs and wheels, as well as the durability of the smoker’s paint.
Stainless steel is a good material for a smoker’s exterior as it does not rust and looks attractive.
Budget for a high-quality thermometer that can be placed at the grate level, instead of the lid. You should also opt for something that you can easily maneuver when cooking.
If you go for long offset smokers, bear in mind that you will need two thermometers for each end since the temperatures on the right and left ends vary considerably.
Choose a smoker that has sturdy wheels that are big enough to navigate through a wide range of surfaces including the lawn, pavement, a deck, or concrete.
8. Warranty and Support
Do not let the excitement of purchasing a new smoker make you forget to check its warranty. Check the terms of the warranty offered by different businesses for a particular smoker, then choose the one with the most favorable conditions.
Also, always buy from a trusted dealer. Refrain from sellers or businesses with negative reviews and bad reputation.
Always consider buying smokers that are child- and pet-safe.
Are the smoker’s electrical parts insulated against rain and snow? Do the wheels lock? How insulated are the handles?
Although wooden handles might seem to be your safest bet, they disintegrate quickly due to the heat. Coiled stainless steel handles are the best smoker handles as they distribute heat easily, and remain cool throughout. They are also durable.
10. Temperature Range
Choose a smoker that has a wide temperature range. Go for a smoker that can withstand temperatures as high as 500°F over direct heat, which is optimal for searing a steak or sizzling sauces.
Don’t let looks fool you into buying low-quality smokers. Instead, look for something that is durable and easy to control.
Nonetheless, with the considerations above, you can be sure to get the right meat smoker for you.