It’s very easy to make mouth watering smoked food on your regular old charcoal grill (especially with a couple of relatively inexpensive upgrades and accessories), but if you want to get serious about producing amazing ribs, top-notch brisket, and pulled pork or poultry that qualifies as “last meal” worthy, you’re going to need to get your hands on the best BBQ smokers available.
Thankfully, the technology for smoker grills has improved dramatically in just the last few years and there are more options available today than ever before. It’s possible to get a reasonably solid smoker for right around $500 or so, but once you step into the “big leagues” and commit to dropping $1000 or more you can get your hands on something really special.
Obviously, if you’re going to be spending this kind of money on BBQ smokers you’ll need to be 100% certain you are getting more than your money’s worth. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make this investment rock solid!
Outline your shopping budget ahead of time
As we mentioned above, the best bbq smokers available on the market today are going to be priced right between $500 and $1000 or more – even though less expensive smokers definitely exist.
Those cheap smokers aren’t going to have any of the features you need to control temperature, to regulate smoke, and to maintain the proper smoky atmosphere you need to cook consistent smoked foods. Stay away from the cheap “big box” smokers as much as you are able to unless you have no other option whatsoever.
At the same time, you’ll want to have a relatively concrete budget in mind before you go shopping for a smoker. It’s really (REALLY) easy to drop $2500 or more on a competition quality smoker if you aren’t careful!
Temperature control is absolutely EVERYTHING
The most important thing you have to do when looking at BBQ smokers is pay attention to the ability that a particular smoker has for reaching 225°F and 325°F and then maintaining either of those two temperatures for hours and hours on end without a lot of fiddling around.
These are the two temperatures that you are going to use most frequently when smoking food, and that’s why you need to be sure that your new smoker is capable of hitting these temperatures and holding them indefinitely.
The best smokers on the market today are very well insulated, made out of high quality and high density metal and materials, and will consume fuel as efficiently as humanly possible. Pellet smokers and a ceramic smoker are probably the best for reaching a specific temperature and then holding it (because of the technology used to burn fuel and maintain temperature, as well as the ability to control your temperature with a thermostat), but you can control and maintain temperatures with quality charcoal and traditional wood firing smokers as well – as long as you invest in a quality piece of equipment.
Invest in a quality thermometer (or three)
It should be obvious now, but the best BBQ smokers are always going to be smokers that give you complete and total control over the temperature of your food throughout the duration of its cook time – but that’s going to be impossible without quality thermometers set up strategically throughout your smoker and inserted into the meat or food that you are smoking.
The thermostat on a pellet smoker is going to be incredibly accurate and give you complete control over temperature, but for other style smokers – especially charcoal and wood – you’ll want to be sure that you invest thermometers that measured the temperature at the grill gates, in the smoke chamber, and of the food that you are smoking itself.
Don’t ever rely on the temperatures that are fed to you from the bimetal thermometers that are usually included in even the highest quality smoker setups. These thermometers are very rarely positioned in a place to provide you with accurate numbers that you need to run off of when you are smoking food, and they are also very rarely calibrated to provide you with accurate and instant feedback – another critical opponent smoking meat perfectly.
Closing thoughts on BBQ Smokers
At the end of the day, you are going to have plenty of choices to select from when it’s time to purchase your new smoker grills and accessories.
A Charcoal grill smoker is the least expensive and the most traditional, and with some quality upgrades that won’t break the bank they can provide you with top-notch performance in the ability to grill effectively on them as well.
Wood burning smokers come in a variety of different configurations and form factors, and can range from $100-$10,000 or more depending upon how fancy you want to get.
They take a little bit more effort to master when it comes to learning their nuances and how to control temperature and smoke, but there’s a reason why so many top smoked meat competition teams use these kinds of smokers all over the world.
Pellet BBQ smokers are considered by many to be some of the very best smokers available on the market, though they are a little bit pricey.
Combining the smoke quality of a wood-burning smoker with the effortless control that only a thermostat can, these are as close to “set it and forget it” smokers as it gets and are usually well worth the premium price tag associated with them.
Using an outdoor grill brings so much enjoyment to mastering your own style of cooking and sharing the best tasting meals with family and friends. Go ahead and upgrade your outdoor gourmet grill today.