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Create incredible meals infused with flavour by starting with these Smokers

What are smokers?

Smokers are essentially a specialized type of BBQ—a cooking apparatus that allows users to add a delicious, smoky flavour to their favourite meats and fish. They operate in a controlled manner, employing low temperatures so that foods can cook slowly and absorb as much smoky goodness as possible without drying out. They also come in a variety of different sizes—some small enough that you can even take them with you camping, and other, larger ones that aren’t necessarily portable but sure can smoke a lot of meat.

Meat smokers come in two main types of arrangements: those that cook with direct heat (more of a traditional BBQ setup) and those that use indirect heat. Indirect heat (or true) smokers, which are also called offset smokers, have their firebox offset from the main cooking chamber, allowing them to cook slowly with indirect heat. Additionally, smokers may use a number of different fuel types. There are wood burning smokers, charcoal smokers, gas smokers, and even smokers that burn pellets. Other types of smokers include both electric smokers and kettle grills. Note that kettle grills are basically your standard direct heat BBQs.

How do smokers work?

Smoker grills work by placing heat adjacent to meat rather than directly underneath it—unless you’re attempting to smoke meat using a more traditional BBQ setup with direct heat (which is somewhat more tricky). Typically, indirect heat smokers are favoured by backyard pros who wish to take the time to smoke their meat perfectly. These units consist of a long, horizontal, cooking chamber connected to a smaller chamber wherein the fuel is burned as a heat source.

Indirect heat smokers allow backyard cooks to better control the heat and keep the smoking process low and slow in terms of temperature and duration. In other words, indirect heat smokers make it easier to achieve near perfect results, like steaks that are tender and juicy. Cooks can always raise the heat as necessary when they wish to add a nice sear to the outside of their culinary creation.

What should I consider when buying a smoker?

Key things to consider when buying a BBQ smoker are which fuel type you prefer to use and which type of chamber you prefer to work with. If you really enjoy the cooking process and are something of a perfectionist in your cooking, an indirect meat smoker might be your best bet as it will give you a greater level of control over the cooking process. Indirect smokers allow you to achieve the best possible results and avoid common issues like overcooking or drying out your meat. However, if you don’t have the time or patience to use the low and slow method and aren’t as fussy about achieving a perfect result, a faster and more straightforward kettle style grill might be your best bet.

From amateur home cooks to professional chefs, everyone loves gaining an edge in the kitchen when preparing their next delicious culinary creation. Often one of the best ways to get the most out of your ingredients is to plan ahead. With a bit of preparation you can enjoy the mouth-watering flavour of smoked meat and more right from home with your own Smoker.

Different types of smokers

There is a broad selection of home meat smokers available to choose from, many of which operate on different types of fuel.

Propane smokers

Propane smokers use propane to produce heat. Since the propane gas does not produce smoke, wood chips are used—although the combustion of the propane itself does contribute to a deeper smokey flavour. They are typically easy to use, and make for relatively simple temperature adjustments. The key with propane smokers is keeping enough propane on hand to ensure you don’t run out of fuel mid-way!

Propane smokers are a good option for beginners, and their fuel source makes them somewhat more portable than an electric smoker.

Electric smokers

Electric smokers naturally run on electricity, so you’ll need a power outlet nearby. They are among the most simple meat smokers to use, as they make it easy to set and regulate temperatures, and require little clean-up. Like propane smokers, the smokey flavour comes from the use of wood chips. However, the lack of fuel combustion means the flavour may not be as strong than other types of smokers.

Electric smokers require less ongoing attention throughout the process, and are best-suited for those who want to “set it and forget it”. For this reason electric smokers are also an excellent choice for beginners. Some electric smokers even incorporate Bluetooth technology, allowing owners to monitor them via an app on their smartphone.

Pellet smokers

Pellet smokers generate extra-smokey flavour through the combustion of compressed sawdust pellets. One of the best upsides of pellet smokers is that they often function as a smoker and oven/grill all in one, meaning they can both smoke and cook your food.

Since the pellets essentially burn down to nothing, clean-up is still relatively easy with a pellet smoker. However, keep in mind that they also tend to operate on electricity and therefore have some of the same drawbacks, such as the need for an electrical outlet nearby.

Charcoal smokers

The charcoal that burns to fuel a charcoal smoker not only provides heat, but also releases chemicals that add flavour to your food. In fact, charcoal meat smokers are generally regarded as being capable of producing the deepest smokey flavour. The trade-off is that they require a lot of attention, and regulating the temperature involves a certain amount of skill and practice. Charcoal smokers are best-suited for those with some smoking experience, but are capable of producing some of the best results.