Smoking is a very interesting cooking method and once it becomes your hobby, it becomes necessary to choose the smoker that fits you the best. I chose an electrical smoker for the reason that it suits me the most according to the conditions I live in.
Many websites label a type of smoker as the best one. But do keep in mind that certain conditions for it being the best are also mentioned. Always choose your smoker for the reasons that best fit you. I will also provide an overview of some smokers available in the market.
Choosing a smoker requires answer to one of the most important question about the type of fuel you burn. This is the most important factor which you should consider while looking for a new smoker. Based on the type of fuel there are a few smokers available in the market.
TYPE OF SMOKER :
I will give you suggestions about the Propane, Electrical, Charcoal and Pellet Smokers. Seeing what pros and cons each one has, you can select yours.
Propane smokers, as the name suggests, work on a propane tank. This is the same way as does a gas grill. When I once had a propane smoker, it yielded very good results. At that time it suited the conditions I lived in so it was best for me. Below are some of the experiences I had with my propane smoker.
A propane smoker has a very simple and easy to use process of handling. All you have to do is set the temperature and walk away and it will do the rest. The heat that the propane smoker produces does not vary so much.
Earlier I had experienced a bad situation with one of my gas grills. Since the time gas cooking takes is a bit longer, so the fuel I was using finished and the tank ran out of fuel. This is what I feared about my propane smoker as well but it did not become the case. It uses the fuel efficiently and comparing it to a gas grill, you will find out that using a gas smoker does not create issues for you at all.
One of the alternate tips you can follow while using a two-in-one smoker and a gas grill is that if the propane tank goes out of fuel, switch it immediately to the gas grill. This will continue the cooking process without any interruption. Thus the problem gets fixed and you do not have to panic at all.
Breaking and wearing are parts of the cooking process. It might happen that due to careless handling some part of the smoker may break. If that is the case with an electric smoker, it becomes difficult to get exactly the same spare part as the one that got broken. Sometimes the parts do become available but they are either integrated into some circuit or are very costly. Most of the times the heating element is the most difficultly available part of an electric smoker.
If the same problem occurs with a propane smoker, you will not find it very difficult to get the required part. You will find almost every store with the spare parts for a propane smoker available. So you can easily get them replaced.
Portability: People mostly like smoked meat when they are out for camping. So they want their smokers to have the portability feature. For this purpose a propane smoker is the best option because it is not only able to be moved to other places, it also can get up to higher temperatures and serve as an oven. So we can say that a propane smoker is a very flexible unit.
From the above given review we can extract the following pros and cons of a propane smoker.
• No fear of getting the fuel tank out of fuel.
• Less fluctuation in maintaining the temperature.
• All the stores go out of tanks in case of storms/winds etc and thus one has to get a refill at higher costs.
• No perks of automatic functions in case of a manual unit.
An electric smoker performs the same functions for you as does the propane smoker but with a little ease. Here are some beneficial and bad points about an electric smoker:
It is very easy to keep an electric smoker maintained at a constant temperature. This is not the case with some of the very cheap smokers so an electric smoker gives you a benefit over them. You may get some starter units with well insulated bodies to keep the smoke trapped in and give you good result but an electric smoker will benefit you over all of them.
The only fuel you require to run and electric smoker is electricity of course! But as getting out of fuel is a con for a propane smoker, so is getting out of power for an electric smoker!
I would again say that the parts get broken but due to inadequate handling. Since the spare parts for the electric smokers are not very easy to find and are costly as well so it is better that you buy a unit that is reliable and comes from a very god brand. I have reviewed Masterbuilt electric smokers in another article of mine. But even the warranty expires; the parts never get broken by themselves. It always happens due to careless handling so always be careful when you are using electrical appliances. I have also heard a good word of mouth about the Cookshak and the Smokin’-It smokers. Do consider them as a part of your research everwhen you intend to buy a new electric smoker.
Thus the pros and cons of an electric smoker can be as follows:
- Constant temperature
- Well insulated body
- Easy to use
- No smoke outside to get the kitchen smoky
- Difficulty in getting cheap spare parts.
- In case there is no power (Electricity), the cooking process gets delayed.
With the increasing trend of smoking meat, people have inclined towards buying pellet smokers as well. The following are some of the reasons as to why it is happening and some drawbacks of pellets smokers as well:
One of the features that I also love about pellet smokers and which makes it stand equivalent to the electric and propane smokers is that it is very easy to maintain a constant temperature in a pellet smoker. In order to feed the compressed wooden pellets into the small stove, the pellet smokers use auger system. A thermostat is attached which tells the auger system about the need of more pellets when required.
The heat that cooks your food comes purely from wood so we can say that a well flavored smoke gets incorporated into the food.
Considering the breakage of the parts just as it can happen with other types as well, the auger mechanisms may fail or jam and since it requires electricity to work, so the same problem as with the electric smoker may occur here. My point is just to educate you about every type of smoker so I must mention everything that I know about the smoker types.
Another point about the pellet smokers is that they are quite expensive. You may get a small unit around 600$ while the other types of smokers may cause even less than a 100$. Thus if you have a high budget you may buy pellet smoker for the reason that I mentioned in the beginning.
Despite the popularity of the pellet smokers, the pros and cons are:
- Automatically directing Auger system.
- Automatically regulated.
- Food cooked with 100% wood.
- Unit may jam or fail.
- In case there is no power (Electricity), the cooking process gets delayed.
- Expensive units.
Whenever the words barbeque or smoking is heard, one thing that always clicks in mind is charcoal. Of course it does! Because charcoal is the best fuel to smoke meat and the flavor that charcoal provides to meat cannot be provide by any other type of fuel. A small review of charcoal smokers:
When lighting up the fire using charcoal, you may take some time if you are doing it in open air and the winds are blowing as well. This can be a headache. But id the same process is being carried out in a considerably covered are, then lighting up the fire is not much difficult. Charcoal gets extinguished with the passage of time as well. So it requires continuous monitoring now and then.
As far as the flavor is concerned, no other fuel can beat the flavor of a charcoal smoked meat. Some people will not even consider the meat barbequed if it is done with some other fuel. So if you want to have an original barbeque, you would require a charcoal smoker.
If I compare the cost of fuels for all the four types of smokers, pellets and charcoal top the list. Then follow the propane and finally the electricity. Thus a charcoal smoker costs for the unique flavor that it provides.
- Unique flavor.
- The original barbeque provider.
- Expensive charcoal but it is worth the taste of meat so no worries.
- May be problematic to light up the charcoal in wind.
So which one to buy? Like I wrote in the beginning, that I am using an electric smoker because it best suits my needs. I remain busy and so I want things to happen automatically. Similarly you should also but the one that suits you the best.
If you have friends and family who love the traditional food, go for a charcoal one. If you have a busy routine like mine then the electrical is the best option. Think well about your needs and then go for the one you want. Best of luck!