Buying a Smoker

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bottlecap
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by bottlecap » Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:58 pm

bhsince87 wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:08 am
You might also want to try a smoke tube in your gas grill. I've never used one, but my neighbor swears by them. Definitely a cheap way to go if you already have a gas grill.
https://www.amazon.com/MAZE-N-Pellet-Tu ... B00CS6YFIC
I would do this. I this is a cheap way to see if you're into smoking. If so, and you want to do more work for a better result, buy a charcoal smoker. If so, but you want easier, go electric. If it's just right for you, stick with the gasser and the tube.

Good luck,

JT

Talisker
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Talisker » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:09 pm

Non Boglehead answer:

https://www.rectecgrills.com

Have had mine for years and love it. Keeps desired temp+-1 degree.

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sunny_socal
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by sunny_socal » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:23 pm

Wow, OP, what a horror story!

I just bought a Z-grill, they currently have a BOGO deal:
(split the cost with my neighbor)
https://zgrills.com/

Pros:
- Very affordable, only $414 including tax & shipping! Came with a cover
- Made by the company that was an OEM for Traeger. It's a 100% Traeger clone apart from the name plate.
- Fully electronic control, set & forget
- Almost as simple to use as a regular oven

Cons:
- Doesn't get as hot as a gas grill or a charcoal grill (supposedly replacing the auger motor with a 2rpm version would help)

No one device can do it all. My approach:
- Smoker for smoking and doing "reverse sear" on steaks
- Gas grill for hamburgers, hot dogs, shrimp, jalapenos
- Charcoal grill for searing

Topic Author
Alf 101
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Alf 101 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:56 pm

Luckily the Brinkman isn't mine; my brother got it for free, from a friend of his who wanted to get rid of it. I can see why. I'm fine with putting in some work and time for the craft of it but it leaked a lot of smoke and heat, I had to add fuel frequently, and there were no vents to open and close to regulate air flow. If that's all there is, no thanks.

There's a lot of great information to unpack here, that I'll take some time to study. Two quick questions:

1. If, an when, could I generally expect smokers to go on sale. So far this summer I haven't seen this. My working theory is that late summer or early fall is a possibility -- change of seasons and change of inventory -- but don't know if that's true. A good smoker could be enough of a niche item that you never see sales.

2. The other question, looking at different options, regards cooking surface area. Many recommended brands -- charcoal, electric, and propane -- have different models and sizes where cooking area varies. My thought is to start small -- for small family cooking, to contain costs, and see if I like it. Plus, this will probably live in a shed or the garage, and I'll need to lug it out to use it. This might favor a smaller smoker.

For reference, the 14" Weber Smokey Mountain is 286 sq. in. The 18" model is quoted at 481 sq. in. Electric models run the 250-700 sq. in. gamut. The Brinkman, I looked up, is 375 sq. in. Personally I can see smoking a pork butt, or a couple racks of ribs -- which I can cut in half to fit. That's the most at one time. I'm not planning on feeding an army, and could always upgrade to a bigger one if this turns out to be my thing.

Captain_Video
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Captain_Video » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:03 pm

Several years ago I bought an inexpensive bullet type smoker. It didn't work very well and rusted out within two years. Recently I bought a Weber 18 inch Smokey Mountain Smoker. It's performance is like night and day compared to the cheap one. BBQ ing with a smoker is more work than using a grill but in my opinion the end result makes it worth it. Over the weekend I smoked a 7 lb brisket flat. It took 10 hours total time, from starting the fire to slicing and eating it. On the 4th I smoked three racks of baby back ribs; these took 7 hours. Most of the work is up front preparing the meat and starting and stabilizing the fire. During the time the meat is on the smoker it doesn't require much attention at all; occasionally spritzing the meat, tweaking the vents to maintain the temperature and adding a couple chunks of wood to maintain the smoke. I use a Thermoworks Smoke BBQ thermometer which provides remote monitoring of the meat and smoker temperatures.

ERguy101
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by ERguy101 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:05 pm

Hey!

I am a super avid meat smoker...

Kamado Joe, or a Yoder. Buy both :)

yosh99
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by yosh99 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:39 pm

I used to use a Weber Bullet, but tired of the effort it took to maintain the temperature. I gave it away and purchased a Materbuilt electric smoker which I've used without a problem since.

Just last July 4th I started an eight pound pork butt at 4:00 AM which was done 12 hours later when smoked at 225F. No fuss and it turned out great.

Alternately, Alton Brown has a video on a smoker he rigged from a hot plate and cardboard box.

DirtyBottles
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by DirtyBottles » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:58 pm

I own 2 smokers - a Grill Dome (ceramic komodo style like the big green egg) and a Weber Smokey Mountain. They each have their benefits.

Ceramic Komodo style are great for their versatility. Searing at high temps or smoking for hours on end at low temps. And if you live in a northern climate, the thick ceramic means you can smoke on them year around. I've done 16 hour overnight cooks in -20 temps and never had to add charcoal.

I use my large Weber Smokey mountain in summer time only and when I need to do larger cooks. I can easily get 40 pounds of pork shoulder on it or 9 to 10 racks of ribs, etc.

I also have the BBG Guru CyberQ (along with necessary kits for each smoker). This allows fan controlled input into the smoker so you can set it and forget it. I can put something in late at night and know my phone will alert me if temp gets too high/low or food gets done.

I agree with others that the AmazingRibs.com site is a great resource. The owner of the site also has a great book called "Meathead". Definitely worth the buy!

keystone
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by keystone » Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:05 pm

I have an 18" Weber Smokey Mountain and love it, however I agree with other posters who say there are better set it and forget it options. You're probably better off going with gas or electric if you want the hassle free factor. Also, if you're goal is faster cooking time, I don't think the Smokey Mountain is going to be for you.

For the most part, once you're familiar with the Smokey Mountain, temperature control is pretty easy but I find that you can still have unexpected temperature spikes particularly when using an empty water pan. A couple of weeks ago I smoked two pork shoulders, which typically take me 18-20 hours and I started a few hours before bed. The temps were holding steady in the 260-265 range for a few hours, so I felt comfortable enough falling asleep. When I woke up in the morning the temp was 320! I'm not sure what happened, but water in the pan would have probably prevented this. I've also had spikes related to wind.

Despite having to make occasional adjustments to keep the temperature under control, having a Smokey Mountain is well worth it. The end result seldom disappoints.

FIREmeup
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by FIREmeup » Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:10 pm

Wife bought me a 22 inch WSM for our first anniversary and I love the thing. Yes more hands on than an electric smoker but once you get to know it, as long as not crazy wind or below freezing, I can leave it for about 6 hours and it will stay within 15 degree range. I do wish for an electric smoker sometimes to set it for overnight and be able to eat sue cue for lunch. A brisket I'm usually up getting it on around 4am for a 5pm dinner. I used to love spending the day in the yard while I smelled the smoker going. Life gets more hectic and busy and I do sometimes wish for an electric but dont see myself making the jump.

Hint on pulled pork...when it gets to 165 wrap it in aluminum foil with some apple juice and throw it in the oven to finish up to 197ish. Saves times, avoid the stall, crusty bark isnt as important once all mixed up.

Brisket, be a patient bbqer. I do use the butcher paper wrap at around 165 and have had very good luck.

I just stopped doing the 3-2-1 method on ribs and do the higher heat Heath Riles way. Its hotter and quicker. More of a 2-1-0.5. It's been nice being able to have my mornings, grab lunch get the ribs on around 2 and still eat at 5.

I would think about the bigger wsm to fit a few whole racks in there.

Good luck.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy5wnwuIZ2M

latesaver
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by latesaver » Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:16 pm

ERguy101 wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:05 pm
Hey!

I am a super avid meat smoker...

Kamado Joe, or a Yoder. Buy both :)
Why are the Kamados so expensive? Seems crazy to have a $2,000 smoker that requires charcoal. Could get a Rec Tec for that price.

Housedoc
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Housedoc » Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:20 pm

Check out https://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/
The BBQ equivalent of this forum!

mrc
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by mrc » Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:23 pm

gwe67 wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:16 pm
I have a cookshack electric smoker and it's great.

http://www.cookshack.com
I too have a Cookshack, Smokette (the smallest model). About the size of a mini-fridge. It has a large wood box, electric heat means you set it and walk away. The temp control is excellent,no pellets to fuss with. I can use any wood. This box makes a completely different product from a Weber. Everything from salmon to brisket to cheese (cold smoked with the optional divider).
Science is about the pursuit of truth. That always threatens someone.

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JPH
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by JPH » Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:26 pm

My go to source is Aaron Franklin's book "Meat Smoking Manifesto." It's all about using the Texas-style offset smoker. He goes into a lot of detail about smoker design for proper airflow. Many have the chimney in the wrong place, which allows the smoke to escape without contacting the meat. He also covers the chemistry of combustion and differentiates good and tasty smoke versus noxious smoke that comes from poor airflow and smudges the meat. Personally, I don't understand how a big green whatever can have proper airflow. Cooking low and slow is important. A beef brisket or pork but is going to require a long cook. There is a point where the internal temperature rise grinds to a halt. It's called the stall, and is due to surface moisture being released, which cools the meat. You just need to push through the stall, and the temperature will again start to increase. It sounds like that may be the point where you threw in the towel on your pork. If you lack the patience then just cook burgers. :D Actually, I agree with the comment above that if you are enjoying the food, then you are doing okay.
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Hukedonfonix4me
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Hukedonfonix4me » Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:56 pm

"Every so often I get an idea, and this time it's getting a smoker."

I believe 100% you need a Weber Smokey Mountain. This is the absolute best and consistent cooker for the price range $300-$500 bucks retail. (depending on size, 14,18,22 inch)

As others have mentioned, Komodo/egg type smokers are great rigs but why pay the added expense unless smoking meat turns into more than an intermittent idea?

*Full disclosure, I just upgraded from 18 to 22inch and am very happy. Check online. I bought the 22 inch for $225 and sold my 18in same weekend for $185.

check out:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6TxZU ... Q9e4LdUEAg ( T-roy cooks)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4dtbT ... 2b5x_mxRBw (Harry Soo- has won many competitions on the weber smokey mountains)

Good luck!
"While some mutual fund founders chose to make billions, he chose to make a difference." | -The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing

lazydavid
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by lazydavid » Tue Jul 09, 2019 5:06 pm

latesaver wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:16 pm
Why are the Kamados so expensive? Seems crazy to have a $2,000 smoker that requires charcoal. Could get a Rec Tec for that price.
Mine wasn't anywhere near $2k, but it was expensive. I think the 395 lbs of glazed ceramic is at least part of that. Mine is the Kamado Joe Big Joe (same size as the XL BGE), and I paid $1200 for it at Costco with some minor free stuff thrown in (cover, box of firestarters, bag of charcoal). Big Green Eggs cost more, as a substantial portion of what you're paying for is the name.

Also important to note that they're not just smokers, but also the best charcoal grill I've found anywhere. I can (and have) done an overnight brisket smoke and after taking it off immediately fired the coals up to 650 or 700 to do burgers, steaks, or chops.

bhsince87
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by bhsince87 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:12 pm

bottlecap wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:58 pm
bhsince87 wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:08 am
You might also want to try a smoke tube in your gas grill. I've never used one, but my neighbor swears by them. Definitely a cheap way to go if you already have a gas grill.
https://www.amazon.com/MAZE-N-Pellet-Tu ... B00CS6YFIC
I would do this. I this is a cheap way to see if you're into smoking. If so, and you want to do more work for a better result, buy a charcoal smoker. If so, but you want easier, go electric. If it's just right for you, stick with the gasser and the tube.

Good luck,

JT
After talking to one of my other big time smoker buddies this afternoon, I bought on of these. He uses one in his Troeger mostly, for extra smoke. But also does some cold smoking of fish and cheese.

I figured for $13, it's worth an experiment or two!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FMQ3PS1/
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace." Samuel Adams

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dkdoy
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by dkdoy » Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:34 pm

I own a XL BGE, recently bought a Weber Summit charcoal grill. I prefer the Weber, very good at smoking and grilling. No desire to ever go back to a gas grill.

cody69
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by cody69 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:51 pm

I've been using a Weber Smokey Mountain for many years and love it.
It has an amazing website with cooking topics/recipes specifically for the unit... and an online forum to collaborate with other "smokers".
https://www.virtualweberbullet.com/index.html

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WestUniversity
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by WestUniversity » Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:03 pm

Another vote for the electric smoker. I find it to be much less work. I leave whatever the meat is in the smoker long enough to get enough smoke on it and then I finish it off in the oven in the kitchen. Comes out tasty, tender and is far less work IMHO...

Erwin007
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Erwin007 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:45 pm

I have a Weber grill that we use to grill about 2-3 times per week. I used to have a wood chip box in some of my old, crappy disposable propane grills and enjoyed the experience, so she bought me a propane Camp Chef smoker about four years ago. I’ve cooked some amazing pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and ribs on it, but it is a lot of work.

The biggest issue is that it needs constant babysitting. The temperature fluctuates a lot, so I have to constantly adjust vents, or the temperature dial, add more wood chips, add more water to the water pan, then repeat the whole process all over again. For shorter smokes like whole chickens, chicken wings, or even ribs that is ok, but for things like whole briskets or large pork butts that take 12-16 hours sometimes, it gets tiring waking up every couple of hours overnight to do all that stuff. The smoker is also pretty messy. I’ve found some things to lessen it a little bit, but it still takes an hour or so to clean everything up after I’m done.

I’m looking now at some type of pellet smoker so I can’t set the temp and leave it until it’s done. No more babysitting overnight. The problem is, I have a really hard time getting rid of things that still “work”. My smoker still does its job so I have a hard time just tossing it out for a new one. Any suggestions? :confused

Luke Duke
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Luke Duke » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:42 am

A Weber Smoky Mountain is what you probably want. Their resale value is decent if you ever decide to get rid of it. I personally prefer wood burning offsets.

tev9876
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by tev9876 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:12 am

Another vote for electric. I have a Masterbuilt 40". The factory chip tray setup is garbage - very little smoke and constant refills. I did the "mailbox mod" from Smoking Meat Forums to mine - basically remove the factory chip tray, add a metal rural mailbox outside, connect with dryer vent. There is a small stainless steel pellet tray which creates a mini maze of wood pellets - light one end with a torch to get them smoldering and you can have smoke for 8-10 hours. I built a plywood enclosure for mine to better insulate it for cold weather days and block wind - it looks pretty redneck with the mailbox hanging off the side, but isn't BBQ supposed to be?

If I want pork butt or a brisket for a noon party I will start them about 8 PM the night before. Just bring the smoker up to temp, get the pellets smoldering, place the meat in the smoker and go to bed. You will want to have some remote temperature probes. Mine has a built in one plus I have a second bluetooth so I can monitor two pieces of meat. This way you never have to open the cabinet and lose heat. If it finishes early just double wrap in heavy foil and place in a cooler to rest for up to several hours. I've pulled a pork butt at 195 and let it rest in my small igloo cooler for three hours. Was still close to 190 when I got around to shredding it.

The calibration on the temp is pretty bad. If I want 225 in the center of the grates I have to set it for 250-260. The built in sensor is right against the back wall and I think that makes it read higher. I believe it maxes out at 275 so that could be a problem for higher temp smoking, but for brisket and pulled pork it works fine.

db79
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by db79 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:27 am

I also use a WSM which runs circles around my friend's Brinkmann in terms of heat & cook consistency and fuel usage. Been drooling over Green Mountain Grills (GMG) for several years now, but been reluctant to spend that much. As life has been busier and busier the lure of a pellet smoker has been greater.

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Alf 101
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Alf 101 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:33 am

Thanks for all the input. The Weber Smokey Mountain has come up multiple times, so I'm starting to look on Craigslist. At present all I see are the 22" models, which is a little bigger than I'd like.

I'm also become intrigued by an electric smoker, as "set it and forget it" has some appeal, especially after staring at (and frequently add fuel) to a Brinkman smoker for 14 straight hours last weekend. Interestingly, I mentioned this to my wife last night, who likes ribs and pulled pork, and is on board with the idea of a smoker. She wondered why I needed an electric one though -- nothing really burns it it -- and why not just use the oven?

I think my plan is to find a decent price on a "pre-seasoned" Weber Smokey Mountain, see what I think about the balance of performance and convenience, and maybe look into a Masterbuilt or other electric smoker down the road. Do I need a gas grill, charcoal smoker, and electric smoker? I do have room for all three...

goblue100
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by goblue100 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:03 am

I have to say, those folks saying the Smokey Mountain was too much work have never used the ECB. :happy
On my smokey mountain in the first 5 or 6 hours of the cook the most I have to do is open or close a vent a half turn to stay in the 225-250 range. Now after 6 hours, it gets slightly more labor intensive, you might have to stir the charcoal around, add some water, maybe a couple of wood chunks, but with that you can get to a 12 hour cook pretty easily.

This website has been referenced many times in the thread:
https://www.virtualweberbullet.com/index.html

It is a great resource with startup techniques and cooking tips run by a guy who is a just a fan of the WSM.
Financial planners are savers. They want us to be 95 percent confident we can finance a 30-year retirement even though there is an 82 percent probability of being dead by then. - Scott Burns

KineticSync
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by KineticSync » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:23 am

The smokenator add on for the Weber 22" works really well at holding low temps for long periods--no problem holding 225 for 4 hours for ribs, for example. It uses airflow constraint and a water evaporation deal to damp down temp swings.

It's a slippery slope. I have an 18" Weber portable that we travel with and we now have two extension rings (from a guy down in Louisiana) that basically turn it into a vertical smoker. We can go from grilling steaks to smoking a turkey on the same equipment. I also have an Oklahoma Joe (formerly the Bandera) that I use for larger cooks. It almost requires the use of something like the BBQ Guru controller for long cooks--the temp control is difficult.

It's entertainment--nice to sit drinking beer, smelling the hickory smoke and marveling at how well the PID algorithm in the BBQ Guru is controlling the temps.

DirtyBottles
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by DirtyBottles » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:28 am

lazydavid wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 5:06 pm
latesaver wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:16 pm
Why are the Kamados so expensive? Seems crazy to have a $2,000 smoker that requires charcoal. Could get a Rec Tec for that price.
Mine wasn't anywhere near $2k, but it was expensive. I think the 395 lbs of glazed ceramic is at least part of that. Mine is the Kamado Joe Big Joe (same size as the XL BGE), and I paid $1200 for it at Costco with some minor free stuff thrown in (cover, box of firestarters, bag of charcoal). Big Green Eggs cost more, as a substantial portion of what you're paying for is the name.

Also important to note that they're not just smokers, but also the best charcoal grill I've found anywhere. I can (and have) done an overnight brisket smoke and after taking it off immediately fired the coals up to 650 or 700 to do burgers, steaks, or chops.
Agree with you. Kamados are more expensive but they are extremely versatile and as I mentioned above, if you live in a cold weather state that thick ceramic allows you to smoke all year long. My wife initially thought I was insane for spending what I did on my Grill Dome. But after almost 10 years of HEAVY use she thinks it was a great buy. I've had to replace the fire box but the grill itself should last for a long long time.

Housedoc
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Location: Alabama

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Housedoc » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:31 am

Jump on those used 22 WSMs, never see a 22 in my parts for sale!

rj342
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by rj342 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:41 am

Noob here, order the smoke tube to try out. Will do this weekend.

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G12
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by G12 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:05 pm

Have used a Primo XL ceramic grill/smoker since July 2007 and it is still producing superior smoked meat. It has been extremely durable, has a firebox divider where one can easily keep the lump coals/wood for indirect smoking, etc. Anything from fish to pizza. I have cooked a tremendous amount of food on it through the years. I will say this though, I had a smoked Rueben sandwich in Whitefish MT last September that was one of the best things I've ever tasted and it was cooked on a Traeger, which is about as easy as it gets. You might want to try a cheaper electric or propane smoker before getting into higher cost units. If you choose a ceramic replacement components are easy to source, ie firebox, grills/grates, etc.

bhsince87
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by bhsince87 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:38 pm

Alf 101 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:33 am


I think my plan is to find a decent price on a "pre-seasoned" Weber Smokey Mountain, see what I think about the balance of performance and convenience, and maybe look into a Masterbuilt or other electric smoker down the road. Do I need a gas grill, charcoal smoker, and electric smoker? I do have room for all three...
If it makes you feel any better, I just took inventory of my outdoor cooking gadgets. Or maybe take this as a warning!

3 gas grills (1 large,1 small, and 1 portable)

2 charcoal grills (1 small,1 portable)

1 large combo charcoal/wood fired grill. I made an insert for it so I can also use it as an oven.

4 smokers (1 large offset wood, 2 electric medium size, and 1 homemade huge cold smoking box)

2 propane burners (1 permanent install, 1 portable)

1 medium size wood burning "Rocket" stove from Biolite. It's got electric assist and also generates electricity from burning wood. 2 smaller portable units of the same design

1 wood/charcoal burning fan assist fire pit.

1 gas fired pizza oven

1 150k btu propane burner


They all get used for various purposes. I've built up the collection and the processes over a period of 30+ years. About half were used when I bought them.

About the only thing else I might add some day is a wood fired oven.

The only one I might get rid of is the offset box wood smoker. It's great for large cooks, but it's fussy, and I don't use it very often.

Edited to add: Just recieved my new smoke tube a day early. Woo hoo, something new to experiment with!!!!
Last edited by bhsince87 on Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace." Samuel Adams

ZapRowsdower
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Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by ZapRowsdower » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:41 pm

An option I haven't seen mentioned yet(apologies if I missed it) is a Pit Barrel Cooker.(https://pitbarrelcooker.com/) I have several other grills and smokers, including an 18" Weber Smokey Mountain, 3 different weber kettle grills and a weber gas grill, and each is great for certain things. While the WSM is pretty set and forget for a charcoal grill, the Pit Barrel is even more so. They have very specific instructions for how to load/light it, after that you let it run for anywhere from 8-12 hours without adding any fuel or touching a vent. It does run a tad hotter than some, around 275 from what I've observed, but if you'd like to try charcoal and don't want constant fussing, this is a great option. I've never found that the extra heat has dried out anything I've cooked on it, it turns out juicy delicous food every time.

I decide what grill/smoker to use based more on what I'm doing that day than anything else, if I want to sit around and have a few beers or do yardwork and fuss with it, it's the kettle, even for 12 lb pork butts. If I want to get it set up and walk away, it's the pit barrel most of the time. For some reason it's an amazing rib cooker as well, I've never been able to get ribs as consistent on any other rig. The website has some great videos and recipes, so if you'd like to consider it spend some time over there poking around, it'll give you a great idea of what you're in for.

If you want to dabble first before diving in and not spend as much coin, I'd start with a basic weber kettle, it's incredibly versatile for grilling and smoking, but certainly requires a lot more attention. For me, this is half the fun, but I certainly understand that others don't want to sit around all day and play with the grill.

BTW, one thing I've found helps a lot for pork butt tenderness is to wrap in a double layer of foil after smoking, then wrap in towels and set in a cooler for an hour or two. Pork falls apart after that. Works great for pulled chuck roast too. Granted it takes more time, but it can also be a great buffer when you have guests over and are worried about timing. Get it done 2 or more hours early, put it in the cooler and pull it when you're ready to serve.

And yes, I definitely have too many grills, I didn't even list the smokey joes for travel. :sharebeer

GatorFL
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:07 pm

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by GatorFL » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:04 pm

To answer the OP's 2 questions:

"1. If, an when, could I generally expect smokers to go on sale. So far this summer I haven't seen this. My working theory is that late summer or early fall is a possibility -- change of seasons and change of inventory -- but don't know if that's true. A good smoker could be enough of a niche item that you never see sales."

My smokin-it electric smoker runs deals occasionally, and they announce them on facebook typically. I was able to get my #2 smoker with a free cover, free rib rack, and free ship for under $500. Its a lot of high end smoker for a reasonable cost.

2. The other question, looking at different options, regards cooking surface area. Many recommended brands -- charcoal, electric, and propane -- have different models and sizes where cooking area varies. My thought is to start small -- for small family cooking, to contain costs, and see if I like it. Plus, this will probably live in a shed or the garage, and I'll need to lug it out to use it. This might favor a smaller smoker.

The smokin-it brand has 3 sizes of smoker. I went with the intermediate model, which allows me to smoke large quantities for parties and functions. I buddy of mine has a small smoker and had to run multiple times to make enough for a large party he was throwing. I can serve pulled pork to 100 people with a single run. Again, for $500, having that capability was in my sweet spot. Incidentally, cookshack and smokin-it appear to be very similar in terms of design.

Gator

tev9876
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:12 am

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by tev9876 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:51 pm

This thread just inspired me to pull a turkey out of the freezer to try to smoke this weekend. My first experiment came out OK but dry, but it was also a very tiny bird with little meat on it.

I have also found that pulled pork and brisket freeze wonderfully with a vacuum sealer. When I take the time to smoke I typically do extra since it doesn't take much longer to rub a second shoulder or brisket. Just divide into the right size portions and there is no reason you can't have a pulled pork sandwich for a quick lunch any day. Just drop the sealed package into a pot of hot/boiling water and in a few minutes it is as good as the day it came out of the smoker.

I have also started experimenting with using a sous vide water bath for ribs. Rub, vacuum seal, 24-30 hours at 150 degrees and then finishing up on the grill makes them fall off the bone tender. You can adjust time/temperature to get a more chewy consistency if you like. You don't get the smoke flavor, but I've heard adding a bit of liquid smoke can add that - just didn't have any for my experiments. Great way to make ribs if there is a foot of snow on the ground.

I am a big fan of using technology to make cooking life easier. If only I had a personal robot for the cleanup.

bhsince87
Posts: 2384
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:08 pm

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by bhsince87 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:18 pm

tev9876 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:51 pm
This thread just inspired me to pull a turkey out of the freezer to try to smoke this weekend. My first experiment came out OK but dry, but it was also a very tiny bird with little meat on it.

I have also found that pulled pork and brisket freeze wonderfully with a vacuum sealer. When I take the time to smoke I typically do extra since it doesn't take much longer to rub a second shoulder or brisket. Just divide into the right size portions and there is no reason you can't have a pulled pork sandwich for a quick lunch any day. Just drop the sealed package into a pot of hot/boiling water and in a few minutes it is as good as the day it came out of the smoker.

I have also started experimenting with using a sous vide water bath for ribs. Rub, vacuum seal, 24-30 hours at 150 degrees and then finishing up on the grill makes them fall off the bone tender. You can adjust time/temperature to get a more chewy consistency if you like. You don't get the smoke flavor, but I've heard adding a bit of liquid smoke can add that - just didn't have any for my experiments. Great way to make ribs if there is a foot of snow on the ground.

I am a big fan of using technology to make cooking life easier. If only I had a personal robot for the cleanup.

I'm a big sous vide fan too! In fact, I've combined the two processes lately. It's one of my "secrets". I'll sous vide a pork shoulder of beef brisket for hours/days, then put it in the electric smoker at say, 190 degrees to finish it off. It's one reason I like electric smokers so much now.

The only thing you miss is some of the hard bark or burnt ends. But I'm not much a fan of that anyway.

Some might say it's "cheating", but I'm not in any kind of competition. I just want the best food I can get with the least effort.
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace." Samuel Adams

John88
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:57 pm

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by John88 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:40 pm

Another vote for a Kamado style cooker. You have an entry level stick burner. It is one of the most difficult cookers to keep temperatures stable. I have been part of a competing and vending team. My brother’s side gig is vending and I help occasionally. He has won a couple of People’s Choice awards as well. We started out with a unit just like yours, Ugly Drums, Weber kettles (small to Ranch kettle), WSMs, and pellet smokers. They each have pros and cons. For large vending we use the rigs from Meadow Creek. For my backyard I found an Akorn Kamado at Walmart on sale for around $100. Lowes also carries them. It does everything a WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain) does but more efficiently with no mods. Costco also carries a low cost ceramic Kamado. There is a Kamado forum at kamadoguru.com Most Kamado owners started with something like yours. I started like you many years ago using just a kettle with coals banked on the side and then to WSMs. I now like the simplicity of a Kamado.

CheCha54
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:21 am

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by CheCha54 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:41 pm

I have a Green Egg, Weber Genesis gas, and a Pit Barrel cooker. The Pit Barrel is my go-to for most every thing including brisket. Great web site and support.
https://pitbarrelcooker.com/

Eddiecaps1980
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:58 am

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Eddiecaps1980 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:49 pm

I went with propane Landman delivered for 280 when I bought it. I typically set the temp make one or two adjustments and it holds it pretty good long enough to cook a brisket. I have never smoked before and I hear the tragers are great but expensive. You can’t beat this cost and quality here.

https://landmann.com/us/products/34-two ... al-smoker/

psy1
Posts: 58
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:40 am

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by psy1 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:40 am

Lots of good and bad advice here, so this is mine:

If you want an easy, no fuss, can't fail smoker: get a pellet smoker with Traeger being rather cheap but fine and Yoder being the made in USA best. Keep in mind they require electricity and must be cleaned periodically (a small shop vac is handy).

If you want to really get into it, grill, smoke, make pizza, do anything with best quality and durability: get a Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe (or Primo or similar). Keep in mind that those devices will require more space for storing charcoal, wood, and accessories. Save yourself a lot of effort by purchasing a controller like a DigiQ which will allow you to set the temp precisely and walk away for hours. I just did a long cook on a Big Green Egg XL at 350 for 8 hours and the DigiQ kept the temp locked on.

If you want to fail and wonder why you thought about smoking in the first place: just use a Weber kettle and wing it. Way too fiddly. Has no mass to hold the temp. If you get one of the smoking inserts and have a lot of time and patience you can make it work. If your budget is lowest then it could work.

If you want the lowest cost but reliable smoker then a Weber vertical drum style smoker will work.

If you are completely lazy and cheap, then get an electric smoker.

Impromptu
Posts: 383
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:09 pm

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Impromptu » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:02 am

I have a Vision Kamado smoker, the brand sold by Lowes and Home Depot. I have smoked some great meats, but if I could go back I would opt for an electric smoker for precise temperature control without hassle. My Vision holds its temperature as well as can be hoped for, about 6-8 hours, but charcoal will always eventually be consumed, and must still be added.

Your meats will be just as good on an electric. Unless this is going to be your true hobby and passion for many years, and not just a passing fad, then I would recommend an electric and ignore all the purists.
I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

mfng
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:06 pm

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by mfng » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:05 am

Another WSM 18" user here. If you combine it with a digital temperature controller like a DigiQ, it's basically hands off for hours and hours. For me personally, that would take the fun out of it, but the end product would be just as good if not better.

I'm not a fan of overnight cooks and have had good results using "hot and fast" methods. "T-Roy Cooks" on YouTube has some videos about this. Basically you run the smoker at a higher temp for the entire cook, wrapping the meat in foil after the first two hours ("Texas Crutch"). This prevents the "stall" from happening (temperature plateau caused by evaporative cooling), thus the meat cooks faster. If you dislike soft bark as I do, you can unwrap the meat after hitting target temp/texture and throw it back on the smoker for another half hour or so.

Great method, saves a lot of time, and gives results that aren't quite as good as the full monty, but pretty close IMO.

lazydavid
Posts: 2353
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:37 pm

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by lazydavid » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:29 am

Impromptu wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:02 am
I have a Vision Kamado smoker, the brand sold by Lowes and Home Depot. I have smoked some great meats, but if I could go back I would opt for an electric smoker for precise temperature control without hassle. My Vision holds its temperature as well as can be hoped for, about 6-8 hours, but charcoal will always eventually be consumed, and must still be added.
While it is true that charcoal will eventually be consumed, That doesn't mean it has to be consumed quickly. I've done two 24+ hour pork shoulder smokes on my Kamado Joe, without once opening the lid, using a smoker controller. This one went about 25 hours, but only 24 hours of data can be gathered in a single "cook":

https://myflameboss.com/en/cooks/323371

This one you can see the fire dying out right at the 24h mark:

https://myflameboss.com/en/cooks/65762

Before I had the controller, I did a 16-hour brisket without adding charcoal, though I did have to tweak the vents a couple of times to keep the temp where I wanted it. But it cruised along overnight just fine, and my temp monitor didn't wake me up once. I have literally never added charcoal to my KJ once lit, the entire time I've owned it.

goblue100
Posts: 910
Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:31 am

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by goblue100 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:34 am

Impromptu wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:02 am
Unless this is going to be your true hobby and passion for many years, and not just a passing fad, then I would recommend an electric and ignore all the purists.
I don't think we have had any purists in the thread. A purist would recommend a nice offset smoker for true BBQ.
https://bbqpits.com/wp-content/uploads/ ... r_2016.pdf

There was a time I wanted one, but I decided I was more than happy with my Weber
Financial planners are savers. They want us to be 95 percent confident we can finance a 30-year retirement even though there is an 82 percent probability of being dead by then. - Scott Burns

Luke Duke
Posts: 863
Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:44 am
Location: Texas

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Luke Duke » Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:53 pm

goblue100 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:34 am
Impromptu wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:02 am
Unless this is going to be your true hobby and passion for many years, and not just a passing fad, then I would recommend an electric and ignore all the purists.
I don't think we have had any purists in the thread. A purist would recommend a nice offset smoker for true BBQ.
https://bbqpits.com/wp-content/uploads/ ... r_2016.pdf

There was a time I wanted one, but I decided I was more than happy with my Weber
I've got a bigger version of that pit, plus a trailer smoker from them as well. In my opinion, there's no substitute for a good offset wood burning smoker.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/food/the-l ... -in-texas/

keystone
Posts: 532
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:34 pm

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by keystone » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:13 pm

Luke Duke wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:53 pm
goblue100 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:34 am
Impromptu wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:02 am
Unless this is going to be your true hobby and passion for many years, and not just a passing fad, then I would recommend an electric and ignore all the purists.
I don't think we have had any purists in the thread. A purist would recommend a nice offset smoker for true BBQ.
https://bbqpits.com/wp-content/uploads/ ... r_2016.pdf

There was a time I wanted one, but I decided I was more than happy with my Weber
I've got a bigger version of that pit, plus a trailer smoker from them as well. In my opinion, there's no substitute for a good offset wood burning smoker.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/food/the-l ... -in-texas/
Those look great. I think my retirement present to myself is going to be one of these Pitmaker Magnum Snipers. I saw a guy making prime rib with one of these on YouTube and it was oh so sweet:

http://pitmaker.com/product/vin/?vin=72718447

-buzz-
Posts: 112
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2018 1:43 pm
Location: USA

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by -buzz- » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:31 pm

I started with an electric Brinkmann smoker. It was an okay starting point, but I found the cooking times to be really inconsistent. It seemed to lose a lot of cooking heat in cold weather, even when using an insulated jacket.

I bought a large Big Green Egg about 15 years ago. It is one of my favorite purchases of all time. I use it often and in all seasons.

You can find Big Green Eggs used sometimes, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Kamado Joe or one of the other competitors if I could find a deal on one.

Topic Author
Alf 101
Posts: 320
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:24 am

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by Alf 101 » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:34 am

OK, friends, the OP is back and I think I'm going to bite the bullet this weekend. I've found a number of smokers for sale locally on Craigslist, and am zeroing in on a Weber Smokey Mountain. The convenience factor of an electric smoker still has appeal, but there's more to go wrong with one of those, and not something it seems wise to buy used from a stranger.

I found two 18.5" inch options. One is 5-6 years old, needs both its cooking grates replaced, and is going for $125. The other is brand new, in the box, with a $200 asking price. Frugal though I am, that seems the preferred choice. Grates cost about $25 each, and Weber may have made some upgrades since 2012-2013.

My only hope is this is a considerable improvement over the Brinkmann. My wife was asking about my changes of heart -- I had seemed pretty determined to get a smoker, then pretty down on it after 14+ hours of constant management and attention, and now I'm buying one. That said, I could probably use this 3-4 times, and if I didn't like it, sell it to someone for close to what I bought it.

I wonder if I should try the pork butt again, or ribs?

lazydavid
Posts: 2353
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:37 pm

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by lazydavid » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:47 am

Do ribs. They cook in half the time or less, so you can start to get comfortable with temperature management without feeling like you have to slog through an entire day. Once you're comfortable, going 18+ hours on a good-sized pork shoulder won't be a big deal. When you decide you don't want to maintain the temperature yourself anymore, upgrade to a controller. This is the one I've used for the past 3 years. Yes it will double your investment in the smoking hobby. Yes, it's worth it. :)

I also agree with you about going new. Just not enough discount on the older one given that it needs some repairs that you know about, and may be coming up on ones you don't know about yet.

fulltilt
Posts: 203
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:23 pm

Re: Buying a Smoker

Post by fulltilt » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:49 am

Alf 101 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:34 am
OK, friends, the OP is back and I think I'm going to bite the bullet this weekend. I've found a number of smokers for sale locally on Craigslist, and am zeroing in on a Weber Smokey Mountain. The convenience factor of an electric smoker still has appeal, but there's more to go wrong with one of those, and not something it seems wise to buy used from a stranger.

I found two 18.5" inch options. One is 5-6 years old, needs both its cooking grates replaced, and is going for $125. The other is brand new, in the box, with a $200 asking price. Frugal though I am, that seems the preferred choice. Grates cost about $25 each, and Weber may have made some upgrades since 2012-2013.

My only hope is this is a considerable improvement over the Brinkmann. My wife was asking about my changes of heart -- I had seemed pretty determined to get a smoker, then pretty down on it after 14+ hours of constant management and attention, and now I'm buying one. That said, I could probably use this 3-4 times, and if I didn't like it, sell it to someone for close to what I bought it.

I wonder if I should try the pork butt again, or ribs?
With practice, you will get better at maintaining temperatures as you learn your rig.

A butt is a lot of food to eat. I would do a few practice runs with ribs.

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