Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pit Talk: Tips for choosing a backyard smoker

You have visited plenty of stops on the Texas BBQ Trail and know what good BBQ is. You've experimented on the grill in the backyard, but need to buy the proper equipment to take the next step of becoming a serious backyard pit master.


Here are a few simple tips and options to help you make the choice.


Determine how many people you want to cook for at one time, how often you will be cooking and  how much you want to spend. 


Slow smoking meats in the backyard is a considerable time commitment so consider the cost of a smoker as an investment that will help cook higher quality BBQ.


A good BBQ smoker is well-built with plenty of airflow, good draw and maintains steady & even temperatures at the grate. It also needs to be large enough to cook on while minimizing radiant heat from burning the meats. 


Insulated Smokers will tremendously help produce steady temperatures and heat over long periods of time, which is crucial for making good BBQ. Selecting a functional smoker to cook backyard BBQ to meet your criteria can be overwhelming due to the hundreds of choices out there. 


There are many different pits designs to choose from: bullet, off-set aka log burner/stick burner (which is an indirect type design with the firebox off set to one side), gravity fed charcoal, kamado ceramic cookers and pellet cookers. 


Electric and gas oven smokers have been purposely omitted by the author.


Below is a short list of some smokers that vary in design, size, results, and price. Again it gets down to the level of commitment you are prepared to pursue.


Smoker Name: Smoker Design Size Cost Fuel Insulated Firebox Website Comments
Barbeques Galore Offset Smoker


Off-set/stick burner N/A $349 Charcoal, wood chunks No http://www.bbqgalore.com/smokers.html
light gauge construction, possible initial entry-level for backyard, maintaining even temps for long periods could be challenging

Big Drum Smoker (BDS) Small




Direct small $475 Wood logs, charcoal No http://www.bigdrumsmokers.com/smokers.htm N/A
Big Green Egg (BGE)


Charcoal, wood chunks small N/A Charcoal, wood chunks Yes http://www.biggreenegg.com/eggs/sizes/ widely used by backyard cooks and competition pit masters
Brinkman - Professional Charcoal Grill


Off-set/stick burner small $379 Charcoal, wood chunks No http://www.brinkmann.net/products/outdoor_cooking/charcoal_smokers_and_grills/details.aspx?item=805-2101-W
light gauge construction, possible initial entry-level for backyard, maintaining even temps could be challenging

Charbroil - American Gourmet Deluxe Offset Smoker




Off-set/stick burner N/A $158 Charcoal, wood chunks No http://www.charbroil.com/ProductInfo/10-17-1928/American-Gourmet-Deluxe-Offset-Smoker.aspx
light gauge construction, possible initial entry-level for backyard, maintaining even temps could be challenging

Gator - Backyard Classic
Off-set/stick burner 20" x 32" $1450+ Wood Logs No http://www.gatorpit.net/backyard_pits/backyard_classic.htm N/A
Horizon (Smokey Joe) - 20" Classic Backyard Smoker


Off-set/stick burner 20" x 36" $995 Wood Logs No http://www.horizonbbqsmokersstore.com/servlet/the-376/20%22-Classic-Backyard-Smoker/Detail Well built.
Jambo Pits Backyard Model


Off-set/stick burner 24 inch diameter - 48 inch length with 24 X 24 X 20 insulated firebox $1800 Wood Logs Yes http://www.jambopits.com/directions.html good build quality, cook very well, holds the heat and temps steady due to the insulated firebox and design.
Klose









Off-set/stick burner 24 inch diameter - 48 inch length $2395 Wood Logs No http://www.bbqpits.com/backyard_smokers/24x48_smoker.htm N/A
Lang 36" Smoker Cooker Model



Off-set/stick burner 36 inch length $949 Wood Logs No http://www.langbbqsmokers.com/lang36/index.html Smaller models are widely used by backyard cooks and the larger models used by competition pit masters
MAK Pellet - 1 Star General


Pellet Cooker N/A $1299+ Pellets No http://www.makgrills.com/shopping/start.php?browse=1&cat=8&=SID N/A
Stumps – Baby Model
Gravity-fed charcoal
  • Height with stack and caster 49” inches;
  • Depth with thermometer 24 1/2” inches;
  • Width with ball valve 36” inches;
$1350+ Charcoal, wood chunks Yes http://www.stumpssmokers.com/products/gravity-feed-smokers/vertical-smokers/the-baby widely used by backyard cooks and competition pit masters
Superior – SS2 Model
Gravity-fed charcoal N/A $1900 Charcoal, wood chunks Yes http://www.superiorsmokers.com/ssTwo.html widely used by backyard cooks and competition pit masters
Traeger - Junior Model


Pellet Cooker N/A $399 Pellets No http://www.traegergrills.com/shop/grills/BBQ055 N/A
Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM)
 
Bullet 18 1/2 " 
& 22 1/2 " diameter
$299
$399
Charcoal, wood chunks No http://www.weber.com/explore/grills/smokers-series good build quality, Cook very well, excellent economical smoker, widely used by backyard cooks and professional competition pit masters. Guru BBQ or Stoker BBQ is easily fitted.








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