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Smoker Recommendation

I am looking to buy my first smoker. It's going to be used for my wife and myself mainly. Occasionally it will be used to feed a few guests as well. What smoker would you guys recommend?
 

It's Hedley

Contributor
The Weber Smokey Mountain. The best charcoal smoker made. If you want to learn to be a pit master...


The "best ribs in the universe" recipe on this site alone is worth buying the WSM.
 
Yup. I have a Weber Bullet and it works brilliantly. Get the 18.5". The baby 14" one is too small and the 22" one is more than you need and uses a lot more charcoal.

For contrast, I've also had a Char Griller cheapo offset and it was a leaky pile of junk and took up a lot more room.
 
The Weber Smokey Mountain. The best charcoal smoker made. If you want to learn to be a pit master...


The "best ribs in the universe" recipe on this site alone is worth buying the WSM.
Cannot recommend this enough. I use this smoker and this website tought me so much. Each recipe has detailed instructions on how to setup your smoker for that specific cook. Let me caution you though. If you smoke a turkey (Apple Brine) for Thanksgiving, be prepared to be on the hook to do it every year.
 

bberg100

Moderator
I've had a slew of sheet metal smokers, they all work about equally well, and all require constant attention. I bought a Green Egg a few years ago and wish I had earlier. Can be 20f outside, with wind. Set it around 250f and it stays there for hours without tending. Not inexpensive, but worth ever dollar. The cheap knockoffs work well, but without the heavy ceramic they don't work as well in a breeze and cold.

An automated Traeger pellet grill would be my second choice.
 
Thank you for all the quick replies. One thing I'm unsure about, never having had a smoker, is the ability to grill on it as well. We like to grill steaks mainly and would want something that could handle that as well. Would that change any of the recommendations above?
 

It's Hedley

Contributor
Thank you for all the quick replies. One thing I'm unsure about, never having had a smoker, is the ability to grill on it as well. We like to grill steaks mainly and would want something that could handle that as well. Would that change any of the recommendations above?
Two separate animals. One is a grill (steaks, chops, chicken parts, etc) and the other is a smoker (brisket, ribs, butts, whole chicken/turkey). I personally do not think you get good results with a combo smoker/grill.

Buy a small Weber Smokey Joe (very small grill perfect for two) if you want to grill a steak, but get the Weber Smokey Mountain if you want to have a smoker. I don't work for Weber, but have been grilling and smoking for decades and can say you can't go wrong with Weber for quality and value. Just my 2 cents.
 
Two separate animals. One is a grill (steaks, chops, chicken parts, etc) and the other is a smoker (brisket, ribs, butts, whole chicken/turkey). I personally do not think you get good results with a combo smoker/grill.

Buy a small Weber Smokey Joe (very small grill perfect for two) if you want to grill a steak, but get the Weber Smokey Mountain if you want to have a smoker. I don't work for Weber, but have been grilling and smoking for decades and can say you can't go wrong with Weber for quality and value. Just my 2 cents.
I really appreciate this answer and was anticipating this would be the conclusion of the matter. Weber has all the name recognition even for a grilling/smoking neanderthal like me. Good to see that there's a reason why their name is so recognizable.
 
Agreed that the Smokey Mountain doesn't grill well. I have a kettle too. The Smokey Joe is great for close direct grilling but it's too small for anything indirect.
 

It's Hedley

Contributor
Agreed that the Smokey Mountain doesn't grill well. I have a kettle too. The Smokey Joe is great for close direct grilling but it's too small for anything indirect.
If the OP has the space for a full sized Weber kettle, that is definitely the way to go (get both the kettle and the Smokey Mountain). I had both plus a gas grill. I moved to a high rise condo a couple of years ago and now have none. That was/is the hardest part of my downsizing from a house to a condo, not having my grills and smoker.
 
I'm purchasing a Condo so size is a factor. Might have to go for the Smokey Mountain, and small smokey joe combo. Also looking at the Traeger mentioned above.
 
Your budget will certainly determine your choices.
For grilling and smoking, a Weber kettle can do the job, but it won't be as good a smoker as a dedicated unit. The new Weber Smokefire pellet cooker appears to be able to do both very well, but are you willing to drop $1000 on a brand new product?
I would personally recommend the Pit Barrel Cooker. A very well made set and forget cooker. It won't get hot enough to sear a steak, but you can always just do what many do and cook the steak to desired temp, and do a final sear with a chimney starter full of hot coals with a grate on top.
 
Check Craig's List for any of these items. Got a 22' Kettle for $10 a couple months ago. Smokers are easy to find there too.
 

kjbarth

Contributor
Excellent recommendations here. A WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain AKA Weber bullet) is an excellent smoker.

If you want to grill and smoke on one piece of equipment, you can get a Weber kettle and get a Slow-N-Sear to add to it which will turn the kettle into a smoker. That combo works really well.
 
I know this response will likely be heresy to true pit masters, but I love my Traeger pellet grill. I've smoked about every meat known to man, made my own beef jerky and use it as a grill when I'm in a hurry. I have a Weber Genesis and Kettle and haven't used them in a year.
 

oc_in_fw

Contributor
I've had a slew of sheet metal smokers, they all work about equally well, and all require constant attention. I bought a Green Egg a few years ago and wish I had earlier. Can be 20f outside, with wind. Set it around 250f and it stays there for hours without tending. Not inexpensive, but worth ever dollar. The cheap knockoffs work well, but without the heavy ceramic they don't work as well in a breeze and cold.

An automated Traeger pellet grill would be my second choice.
I will second the kimado type. I have a Charbroil Akorn, because I wanted to try the form factor first. It uses very little charcoal. Works great for grilling,too.
 
I back a kamado style as well, I have the Weber version. Big red Joe is another brand. Pk360s or a Weber kettle are great as well, with more work for smoking.
 
Another vote for the 18.5" WSM and they can be improvised to do some pretty good grilling (just have to bend over or set it up on a platform).
 
Grill: IMO, You can't beat the flavor of lump charcoal for grilled meats. An inexpensive kettle is wondeful.

BBQ: A Zillion choices, but I suggest using your desire for how geek-ey you want to get as your guide;
--- Pellet poopers (Traeger, Green Mountain, Mak, etc.) are set and forget and I love them. It's essentially a wood fired oven. I've done 12 hour briskets, A 2 hour prime rib, and an 15 minute pizza (Take-n-bakes are great). 180 to 480 degrees (my Mak in 40 degree wind). They can't get low enough to smoke without cooking and can't get hot enough to really crank out a crispy, Florentine pizza.
--- Kamado style and WSM works similarly in that they give you even more temp range and you can vary the smoke/fire even more. Can get wicked hot. More flexibility = more tinkering.
--- Stick burners allow you to vary your wood greatly, heck, go chop your own if you like. Harder to master, harder to change temps, great sense of acheivement when you get all the variables right; a real art.

Smoker: Dedicated smokers don't get above a smolder, therefore limited, but and do jerky and smoked fish brilliantly. Smoke your Turkey befor you roast it in the oven; MMmmmm.
 
I'm purchasing a Condo so size is a factor. Might have to go for the Smokey Mountain, and small smokey joe combo. Also looking at the Traeger mentioned above.
You might check with the condo first to see what is and isn't allowed. If you have a yard you're in the clear, but if you have a patio/balcony/covered space then fire regulations might restrict you to electric.

Pellet smoker/grills are in a niche because they are electric but use that to heat pellets. A small one might fit the bill nicely and allow you to grill and smoke.

If there are no restrictions, a Kamado style might be your best combo bet. I've smoked on a weber kettle, you can do it but it takes time and attention, but a kamado has the insulation needed to get a decent smoke.
 
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