Smoker - what to purchase?

After seeing Phil Franks’ band-less Flannery Hangers from his Camp Chef smoker, I was pushed over the edge and need to get myself setup with one, pronto. I’ve wanted one for a while, but looking to find what is recommended on all those fake review sites just makes it even more confusing. I’ve searched WB for brands, and for me, I’d prefer a standalone cabinet-style smoker, rather than a ‘grill and smoker’ combo.

I’d love some wifi/smartphone control, but not so sure that’s all too effective, as most of those I see don’t have true ‘controls’ over the box, just monitoring.

I do have a natural gas hookup, but that’s currently used for my grill (which will be replaced soon as well), so I assume I’d need LP gas tank on it, unless I can affix a splitter to the outdoor gas line. Seems like I’d rather do electric as I hate dealing with those LP tanks. A neighbor has a Smokin-It Electric grill, with the wifi option.

Any suggestions are welcome

I just did a brisket in a camp chef smoke vault last night. Great results, but none of that electronic stuff and certainly not a “set it and forget it”. For long smokes you have to check back and tend/add wood, but once you get a feel for it, it is pretty easy. Yes- it is LP gas tank- there might be a nat gas conversion kit- not sure- I have a natural gas hookup but use LP for my grill too since it predated my current house and as a Weber has years left.

You expressed reservations about the bogus review sites, which is true, but the meathead site is worth a read, at least to understand differences between electric, gas, etc for combustion sources, etc. plus I would trust the product reviews a bit more there.

AmazingRibs.com

I like my electric Bradley puck smoker. I know it is not a “real” smoker. But it is pretty close to set it and forget it … mine has ~9 hr max on oven so after a few hours I need to go out and add more time. Not sure if recent product is same.

Depends on what you are really looking for in terms of ease of use, how much meat at same time, etc.

I have been using a small CookShack model for almost 15 years now. Up to 20 pounds of meat, plenty enough for us, and the unit is small enough not to be obtrusive. Yes, electric, and yes, been used in many commercial kitchens as well as on pro smoking circuit, WITH GREAT RESULTS. Its a set and forget type, add wood chunks of your choice, set the temp and walk away. The only “con” for me, so far, is that it only goes up to 250F, so really a smoker and slow cooker, and at times I do want to go to higher temps (whole chicken or duck). Forces to smoke/cook for a longer time, but that’s it. Can’t think of any other negatives, well, save for requiring an electrical outlet :slight_smile:

That said, and wanting at times higher temps, been looking at wood pellets fed smokers. Key to them, and pretty much the Acchiles Foot, is the electronic unit that controls the temps. Found only 2 companies that provide a solid one, as well as great overall build (metal quality, etc). One is RecTec, and the other one is Yoder. RecTec is about half the price, body made in China (though of great quality components) and electronic control unit made in USA. Yoder is made in Texas, incredible in all respects, a heavy duty unit for the long haul. Price independent Yoder is the way to go, especially if one doesn’t want Chinese made. Price dependent, RecTec is it. The only other one I’d consider, having a good quality control unit, solid but still not up to par with these two, is a Nevada made Green Mountain Grills, and the price is right as well. Most others are a crap shoot not delivering a peace of mind.

For wood only type smokers, be aware that unless you go for some higher end model with higher build tolerances most of them leak smoke like crazy. You can buy one for under $300, I like vertical main boxes, but first thing you’ll need to do is apply sealing tape and such, and replace it probably once a year. Not an issue, really, should take you an hour, or two, and a beverage of choice to complete :slight_smile: They also need a more hands on approach when smoking, checking/adjusting temp, adding more wood, etc.

So, depends, really, on what is the preferred cooking experience. Ease of use, set and walk away is for electrical units. Wood only requires more hands on. And pellet fed are in the middle on this scale.

Todd,
The gas line splitter is easy. Any plumber can handle this for you for probably their minimum trip charge. When we put in a gas fireplace, i had to run gas line from one side of the house to the other, about 110’. Fortunately my bricks are the color of aged copper and once it went through a season of rain etc. you can’t see the line unless you know to look for it. If it is a short run, you won’t have to go through any calculation as to size etc. If a long run then there is a formula to use.

Todd,

What fuel source do you want to use? Pellets? These really can be set and forget and utilize WiFi controllers.

Then I’d recommend MAK Grills from Oregon. USA made, the 2 Star General is awesome. It does have grilling capabilities, but like you, I have a gasser and salamander for those purposes. Avoid Yoder as they have tremendous rust problems.

https://makgrills.com/

If it’s wood, (stick burner) there are tons of options. Shirley Fabrication smokers are legendary. Custom units have 30 month waits. Off the shelf unit can be had in 2 mos. most of the quality stick burners are made in the SE USA: be prepared for significant shipping costs.

Charcoal? Weber kettle. Easy. The OG still prevails.

Checkout bbq brethren q talk. There are tons of brands argued here.

https://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=5

Myself? I’m getting a MAK 2 star when the ship stabilizes. Maybe a stick burner at some point, I just don’t have time now to add wood every 45” or so to maintain a fire.

Electric box with wood (not pellets , which are limiting)…as a fuel has served us just fine for last 20 years…I have a Smokin Tex https://www.smokintex.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3ommvdHW6AIVEODICh2DNgKFEAAYASAAEgIwFPD_BwE....but...others are similar. Great for cold smoking, too…like salmon, mussels…

You don’t want a grill/smoker combo, but as a Big Green Egg owner, I would say: Don’t get a BGE.

I was gifted a Weber Smokey Mountain for Christmas and I love it. I am running it 2-3X a week right now from chickens to pork to brisket. I am just using B&B charcoal briquettes and throw in some pecan or post oak logs. Throw a brined chicken on at 250 degrees for 3-4 hours and it will changes your impression of chicken.

I feel that is the first BGE NON-recommendation I have ever seen- Would love to hear more on the subject if you are willing to elaborate?

The food I have had multiple times off of multiple Eggs with multiple different chefs etc has been dirty smoke. I don’t see how thin blue smoke is achieved with these. The temperature stabilization however is awesome.

Another vote for Mak 2 star. They are the very best in quality, design, and service. It’s what i’m buying when my Cookshack box dies.

I have a vault and the conversion is drilling out the orifice to 1/8”. Over long cooks it stays within 3 degrees on natural gas. I like it so much I’m down to two smokers. I have a Weber that is modified for when I’m feeling like a charcoal/stick burner. I had an egg and agree that it’s hard to keep clean smoke. My vault looks like it has about a year left, but I got it on sale from amazon for $147 four years ago.

I have an egg clone and patience is the key to clean smoke. They over temp on the initial lighting stage and then you dump the lid down, choke off the fire and it fills with dirty smoke. A novice will think since the fire is down, go ahead and dump the meat. Nope. Burp it half a dozen times, let the temp come down as you get the vents adjusted. After about 15 minutes or so, you will get the thin whispy almost clear smoke you’re looking for. The advantage is that the initial charcoal/wood load will then burn without interruption for 8 to 10 hours easily. So you can do a couple of pork butts easy and still have enough heat left in the coals to sear a couple of steaks. All on 2 lbs of wood chunks and 2 lbs of charcoal. And only have to clean the ashes out once a month. And i use my egg 4 to 6 days a week.

But i still want a gas grill, a double fryer, an offset cooker and a pizza oven. Just don’t have space or a covered area for them. (yet) j So my egg has to do duty as all of the above except the fryer.

If you’re busy and not the OCD type that wants to monitor a smoke for hours and hours, get a Traeger. Even my kids know how to operate it with flawless results.

I’ve had my WSM for more than a decade, and it’s still going strong, and I love it as much as ever. Once you get dialed in on it, it’s really close to a fire-and-forget smoker. Well, unless you’re doing a smoke longer than 12-14 hours.

That said, I think Greg had it right up thread – the right smoker for you depends on how you use it and how often.

I’m a big fan of CookShack too…set it and forget it.
Uses real wood chunks, no pellets.
Stainless steel, made in USA, solid.

So for long smokes like brisket, I just set temp, then go to sleep, and wake up the next day with it almost done.
Usually pull out of smoker around noon, and wrap in aluminum and place in cooler.

Pellets=glue.

I don’t know anyone that is serious about bbq that would recommend a pellet smoker.

I don’t want to eat glue, nor do I want to have to have it as my fuel source.

Milton is correct. I think a lot of bge users put the meat on too soon. For a low/slow cook I think you need at least 90min+ from initial light to put meat on. I usually light about 2hrs in advance.

Citation for this, please?