Smoker Questions

Sep 30, 2019
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Hello all,

I have been following the site for a few years and decided to make an account to pick your brains. I have seen a bunch of posters call others out for not putting threads in the correct forum, so I put this in off-topic.

I was wondering if anyone had any advice on what kind of smoker to get for a first time user? I love the taste of smoked meat and wanted to purchase one and give it a shot. From what I have seen online a good one for a beginner is a Weber Smokey Mountain 18'. Any information would be helpful.

Thanks
 

spierceisu

Well-Known Member
Jan 28, 2007
693
575
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Ankeny
I have a Traeger wood pellet grill and love it! It doesn't generate as much smoke as a traditional smoker, but it is nice because you only have to have on item rather than a smoker and a grill. It also doesn't require as much babysitting as a traditional smoker. Many times I smoke my meat (daily grilling like steaks, burgers, and chops) for about an hour and then grill them until done. Briskets, ribs, etc, are obviously longer cooks. There are many brands to choose from besides Traeger too if you want to look into them more.
 

iahawks

Well-Known Member
Sep 7, 2012
9,390
6,299
113
I have a 22 1/2 inch WSM and once you learn about the minion method it is about as set and forget as there is for a charcoal smoker. I can put a brisket on at 10 p.m. and go to sleep and my smoker maintains a constant temp for hours without any worry. I've gone as long as 16 hours on a single load of charcoal.
 

cycloner29

Well-Known Member
Dec 17, 2008
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Ames
GMG Daniel Boone with Wifi. Brisket, cure pork loin (Canadian Bacon) and pulled pork. Just did two briskets for the ULM a couple of weeks ago. Started at 2 pm on Friday, pulled off at 4:45 am. Server mode lets you keep track of temps even when you are gone. Love that option.

Q1.JPG IMG_1574.JPG IMG_2215.JPG
 

Colorado

Well-Known Member
Aug 29, 2008
2,154
976
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Colorado
Find a pellet or electric smoker in a price range that you're willing to spend. More money doesn't necessarily mean better meat. I have direct experience with the Masterbuilt electric and a Traeger pellet. I would recommend either but give the nod to the pellet smoker for ease of use. Just fill up the hopper, insert thermometer, and walk away until it beeps at you.
 
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NickTheGreat

Well-Known Member
SuperFanatic
SuperFanatic T2
Jan 17, 2012
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Central Iowa
I love my WSM 18.5. It's a good happy medium between the stick burners, and the cheaters (pellets, electric, propane)


That being said, I'll probably get a pellet grill soon, but I'm getting lazier as I get older.
 

dmclone

Well-Known Member
Oct 20, 2006
19,037
3,172
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50131
The masterbuilt electric is a great beginner smoker. Spend $300 and use it for a year and decide if you want more. If you do, sell it on craigslist for $150. If I did enough smoking I wouldn't mess around with the mid price options and I'd spend a couple thousand and get a Yoder.
 

scottwv

Well-Known Member
SuperFanatic
SuperFanatic T2
Sep 18, 2011
470
662
93
Melrose Iowa
Pellet smokers are the easiest - and make great food. WSM adds that nice charcoal flavor along with the smoke, but is a little more work. I have a 18" WSM and use it all the time. I purchased a pit master IQ and it holds steady temp until the coals are out (13+ hours).

https://pitmasteriq.com/
 

Gonzo

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2009
17,348
15,186
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Behind you
For beginners I would highly recommend starting out with electric, propane, or pellet. Anything that’s easy to control the temp.
This. I've stuck it out with the old school and, while being outside with a bourbon keeping an eye on the temp isn't a bad way to spend a Sunday in the fall, monitoring a temperature gauge for 5-9 hours can be a pain. My neighbor has a Green Mountain pellet with the app, gets it going, heads out to his kids' soccer/football games all day and can monitor the temp of his grill and whatever he's smoking from there. Pretty slick.
 
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Reactions: cycloner29

Isualum13

Well-Known Member
Apr 27, 2018
1,509
1,909
113
Hello all,

I have been following the site for a few years and decided to make an account to pick your brains. I have seen a bunch of posters call others out for not putting threads in the correct forum, so I put this in off-topic.

I was wondering if anyone had any advice on what kind of smoker to get for a first time user? I love the taste of smoked meat and wanted to purchase one and give it a shot. From what I have seen online a good one for a beginner is a Weber Smokey Mountain 18'. Any information would be helpful.

Thanks
Traegers and pellet smokers are good and are one of the most idiot proof cooking vessels on the planet.

I prefer a ceramic smoker. ( I have a traeger and a Big Green Egg) I think it provides a better flavor and is nearly as idiot proof, although there can be a learning curve to maintaining temps for a long cooks. They sell temperature controllers though to make them just about as easy as a pellet smoker. Pellet smokers also require a power source while a ceramic smoker like BGE or Kamado Joe doesn't. I use the traeger when travelling or if I am tailgating all day and want some fresh bbq, or if I dont feel like getting the egg ready as that takes some time. The traeger is a switch and a knob and wait a few minutes for it to get to temp. It's also fun to use the egg as a pizza oven.

My biggest recommendation would be to get yourself a good instant read meat thermometer no matter what smoker you choose. If you want one to leave in that can be monitored from your phone, I would get the thermoworks smoke. If you just want an instant read probe thermometer get the Thermoworks mk4. If price is of concern get the Thermoworks Thermopop. Times are nearly irrelevant when doing long smokes. As meat almost always had a stall when cooking smoking and it is hard to judge how long the stall will be so always cook to temp and not time. Use any times as a general time line but be ready for it to vary as much as a few hours.

And if this is happening soon, cook your thanksgiving Turkey on the smoker. Best turkey I've ever had has come off a smoker. But I also have never had a deep fried turkey.
 

IceCyIce

Well-Known Member
Aug 17, 2009
2,142
976
113
Grimes
I have the Big Green Egg it takes some time to get used to the temperature. I do have the temp control fan to maintain consistent heat temps wich is critical. If I was getting a pellet grill it would be the Green Mountain Grill Danial Boone edition. As listed above it's a great machine, I've been on several bbq competitions and I've seen several GMG. Never seen a Traeger. The GMG according to the owners is built heavier than the Traeger? I don't no the deets but im sure treager owners may say different.
 

cycloner29

Well-Known Member
Dec 17, 2008
8,746
6,738
113
Ames
When I first started smoking meat, my first smoker was a little Brinkmann smoke-n-grill charcoal style smoker. Could do a couple chickens, a good size pork butt, and even small turkey on it. I always had to put chips in foil packets to get some good smoke. Upgraded to a Masterbuilt and it was better, but still a lot of work and it was electric.

Finally upgrade to the GMG DB and had some issues with the side to side temps, customer service was very helpful to get me going. I added a second set of grates and a front shelf on the outside. The second set of grates really allowed me to double the amount I could smoke. It makes the best burgers also!! I really need to do pizza on it. I've cured bacon and smoked that and will never go back to store bought.

There are a wide variety of smokers out there. There are also a lot of factors to take into consideration. Durability (sets outside or inside when not in use), size (just for you or would you smoke for groups), cost (just like a car the more bells and whistles - the higher the price), ease of use, customer service, etc.

JMO
 

Farnsworth

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2006
15,463
3,860
113
Des Moines, IA
Traegers and pellet smokers are good and are one of the most idiot proof cooking vessels on the planet.

I prefer a ceramic smoker. ( I have a traeger and a Big Green Egg) I think it provides a better flavor and is nearly as idiot proof, although there can be a learning curve to maintaining temps for a long cooks. They sell temperature controllers though to make them just about as easy as a pellet smoker. Pellet smokers also require a power source while a ceramic smoker like BGE or Kamado Joe doesn't. I use the traeger when travelling or if I am tailgating all day and want some fresh bbq, or if I dont feel like getting the egg ready as that takes some time. The traeger is a switch and a knob and wait a few minutes for it to get to temp. It's also fun to use the egg as a pizza oven.

My biggest recommendation would be to get yourself a good instant read meat thermometer no matter what smoker you choose. If you want one to leave in that can be monitored from your phone, I would get the thermoworks smoke. If you just want an instant read probe thermometer get the Thermoworks mk4. If price is of concern get the Thermoworks Thermopop. Times are nearly irrelevant when doing long smokes. As meat almost always had a stall when cooking smoking and it is hard to judge how long the stall will be so always cook to temp and not time. Use any times as a general time line but be ready for it to vary as much as a few hours.

And if this is happening soon, cook your thanksgiving Turkey on the smoker. Best turkey I've ever had has come off a smoker. But I also have never had a deep fried turkey.
Why not both? That's what we do!