Finding the Right Smoker

Choosing the right smoker can seem like a more challenging task than the right gas grill. For the majority of us, a smoker is our second grill and cost versus use becomes a very important consideration. We want to help you value your next grill purchase.

After all, our gas grill is the seven days a week workhorse for burgers, sausages, hot dogs, steak and chicken for any meal that we want to grill and serve up in a hurry. To find the right smoker you need to understand exactly what you want and how often you’re going to use it to determine what you really need.

Try the following. Which of these slogans most applies?

  • We grill often enough but most of it is direct grilling: lots of sausages, burgers, hot dogs and chicken breasts on our gas grill. Hot and fast is the most common use for our grill but I’d like to dabble in smoking.
  • We grill often but I want to get into something smoky, I love the flavour of smoke and I’ve got the time to cook some things low and slow most weekends.
  • We grill all the time and my weekend hobby is definitely cooking, I really want to modify some of my favourites and get that smoky flavour that comes along with low and slow. I want to make American style BBQ!
  • We grill all the time and my weekend hobby is definitely cooking, I really want to master my favourite slow recipes and get the authentic smoke flavour that comes along with the right fire and fuel. I want to go from griller to neighbourhood pitmaster.

To read through each of these statements, it’s basically a progression of passions and at each stage, it could require a great financial investment.

If you want to get your toes wet in the world of smoked flavour start with a smoker box, it’s the most low-cost way into smoked foods. A smoker box can be used with chips and pellets and generally delivers 30 minutes to 1 hour of smoke before needing a refill (you’ll also need some heavy leather gloves). This is where I’ll state that what we love most about smoked food is that it’s slow food. A smoker cooks at a temperature that allows fats to render properly and the internal temperature of your food to come up slowly. Smoke flavour almost exclusively sticks to the outside of the item you’re slow roasting. For more on using a smoker box click here.

Cabinet-style smokers are generally next in the lineup progression. They range from a few dozen dollars to a few hundred dollars depending on the quality and bells-&-whistles. Cabinet smokers are compact but have a good amount of space inside to smoke pretty much anything. Space-wise you need to hang racks of ribs and cut down a large brisket to get them to fit properly, otherwise, everything else goes in whole. Cabinet smokers come in either gas or charcoal, gas models are pretty handy for temperature regulation since you can set it once and let it roast. In the case of a cabinet smoker, you’ll have a pan for charcoal (if that’s your fuel type) a pan for chips and a pan for water. A great way to start working on fire mastery and smoke flavour.

If you’re looking for that searious charcoal experience check out a Broil King Keg Kamado grill. They are extra versatile; an oven, sear master, charcoal grill, roaster and smoker all in one. While building and sustaining that charcoal fire is key with a Kamado grill, it’s easier to do than in any charcoal grill since Kamados have amazing heat retention and burn fuel slowly and gradually. While not the largest overall cooking surface a kamado grill is the premium way to charcoal grill at home.

If you’re looking for a bigger challenge, charcoal grills and offset smokers deliver amazing results but require expert level fire mastery. Get into one of these units because you love charcoal grilling, need to cook for a larger group and don’t mind tending a fire first hand all day long. Charcoal grills aren’t exclusively for grilling and a charcoal offset smoker can grill too. Getting to know a grill like this inside and out will help you master the unit and your craft.

While pellet grills are a big investment financially they’re actually the easiest way to smoke food. Think skill level 1 compared to a charcoal grill’s skill level 5. One of the best ways to describe a pellet grill is to say it’s a household oven that burns wood instead of gas. Like an oven, it self-regulates, like an oven you leave items inside to slow roast only to pay attention to the temperature of your food and the time. The results are hard to argue with; the ease of control allows you to focus on the quality of the food. The smoke flavour is incredible from a pellet grill since you’re burning real wood. This is the “I want effortless smoke flavour” grill.

To see the full line of Broil King smokers click here.