Understanding Different Types of BBQ Smokers
If you're searching for a quality barbecue, you're probably willing to try your hand at smoking. Pulled pork, slow and low ribs, brisket or chicken, there's simply nothing better than a tasty piece of meat that has been flavored and tenderized by a quality BBQ smoker.
But what if you don't know a lot about these things? Today's market offers a lot of different types of these handy devices - you just have to choose one that suits your needs the best. We've decided to break down the numerous types of smokers and get you started in the game.
Vertical Water Smokers
The vertical water smokers are among the most popular on the market - they're quite inexpensive.
A smoker of this type can be broken down into three distinct compartments. The first one is the heat source (usually the charcoal) which is at the bottom. Above it is the water pan which provides a humid cooking environment, preventing the meat from drying out. And above this compartment, you guessed it, is the smoking chamber.
One of the best things about the vertical water smokers is that they're small and usually don't take up too much space. They don't require a lot of fuel, and, due to their low price, are a perfect choice for those with smaller budgets. They're also very easy to operate - one only has to make a fire and fill the included water pan.
The history behind these BBQ smokers is pretty interesting. After the end of the Second World War, the U.S. Army stayed in Japan as the occupational force, and its members had to adapt to the Japanese cooking customs and equipment. To make barbecue, they had to convert the rice cookers into something that's today known as the Kamado cooker.
The best thing about these types of smokers is that they're capable of hitting very high temperatures, which makes them perfect for grilling. They are also very durable and can look quite attractive.
On the other hand, the Kamado grills are very expensive and don't provide the user with a lot of space to make barbecue. But still, they're a worthy investment in our opinion.
Most pellet grills can work as both the grills and smokers, just like the Kamado ones. Since they burn wood pellets, they are capable of producing a lot of smoke and are a very good choice for smoking. They are also very easy to operate thanks to the computer controls that come with most models.
The downside is that they feature a lot of moving parts, which can lead to motor failure and jams over the time. That's why it's of crucial importance to choose a model with a good warranty.
Horizontal Offset Smokers
These BBQ smokers typically come with two distinct compartments. They have long grated metal boxes that serve as the cooking chambers, as well as the fireboxes that are attached to these chambers and which have adjustable vents and side-access doors. The smoke and the heat that's created in the firebox gets into the chamber via the tiny hole and then goes over the smokestack.
Unfortunately, the best way to know if a particular offset smoker is actually useful is to fire it up, which usually can't be done before the final purchase. Many of the cheaper models have to be modified to work correctly, which led some people to entirely dismiss these types of smokers. That's a shame, since the offset smokers are, actually, among the best ones on the market!
As the name suggests, these look very much like the indoor appliances of the same name, although they have to be used outdoors. Most models have temperature probes and computer controls, which makes them quite convenient for the owners of restaurants.
A smoker oven has a box that's heavily insulated and that features an electric heating element in its bottom, above which is the funneled piece of metal whose job is to remove the direct radiant heat. The user places the meat onto the included racks and then uses the computer controls to set the desired temperature.
The electric smokers are a perfect choice for the individuals who love smoked meat but don't want to put too much work into it - in this case, that's the job for the technology.
The drum smokers have become quite popular in the last few decades since they're very simple to use and can even be made at home. They are also lightweight and thus very portable.
It's a very basic type of a smoker - there's just the steel drum with a cooking rack on its top and a firebox in its bottom. The lid and the base have vents that allow one to adjust the temperature, and there are no smoke leaks due to the tight seal of the whole thing.
It's an excellent choice for cooking chicken, although cooking pork roasts and briskets can be a bit more challenging on it. Once the internal temperature hits 74C (165F), one should wrap the larger cuts of meat in foil to prevent drying out.
Also known as the block or cabinet smokers, these devices are basically boxes that combine cooking chambers and heat sources. The heat source is, typically, directly below the chamber, which means that the heat is conserved.
The bad box smokers are those that don't have enough insulation, sport a poorly fitting door and have thin metal as the primary construction material. Typically electric or gas, these box smokers are no more than burners in metal boxes that you can put your meat on. Light rain or a little breeze can cause them to lose heat.
Good ones cost more and are capable of producing excellent barbecue in large amounts. They offer a controllable environment and can also be used in restaurants and at competitions.
Those were the most common types of barbecue smokers. We hope we've been helpful - choose one that suits your needs the best and enjoy the tasty meals!