A Guide to Smoking Meat: What to Look for in Your First Smoker

The taste of smoked meat is unlike any other and if you can’t get enough of it, you should know that it’s easy to get started. For all the barbecue newbies out there wondering how to recreate it at home, here’s a quick guide for what to look for in your first smoker.

How to Start Smoking Meat

The first step to smoking meat is figuring out what you want to do with your smoker:

How often will you be using your smoker?

Your fuel choice can depend on how often you’ll be using your smoker as you would want something that you can get the most of without having to constantly replace your fuel for regular use. It’s best to look for a sturdy, well-crafted smoker with a lengthy warranty.

How much do you want to smoke?

If you’re feeding a family of 5 and half, you’ll need one that’ll fit enough meat for everyone. If you’re in a condo with a small patio, small and compact would work the best. Some smokers come with add-ons for extra grilling and counter space.

What will you be smoking?

Ribs, pork butts, briskets, rotisserie chicken, vegetables – it’s all up to you, but you’ll need a smoker that can accommodate everything.

What Should I Look for in a Smoker?

Then you should settle on your budget and fuel choice:

How much should I spend on a smoker?

Like anything else, smokers can range from $50 all the way to the tens of thousands of dollars. As a beginner, you should be able to find a suitable smoker within the $200-$400 range. It all depends on your needs.

Are smokers easy to set up?

In most cases, it doesn’t take more than one or two people to set up most smokers. It can get tricky, however, to maintain depending on your fuel choice.

What Kind of Smoker Should You Use?

There are five different fuel choices out there for smokers, here is a quick run through of the pros and cons of each:

Electric smokers

Pros: Easy to use. All you have to do is plug it in and check on it from time to time.

Cons: Less versatile because of its low temperature range and can be expensive.

Propane smokers

Pros: Better for areas without electricity or where electricity is expensive. It has a higher temperature range and it’s portable – there’s no need to plug it in.

Cons: Needs babysitting since the temperature can fluctuate.

Charcoal smokers

Pros: Gives meat a “more authentic taste” and are budget friendly.

Cons: Not eco-friendly and needs to be replenished often. You’ll also have to manually start the fire.

Pellet smokers:

Pros: Easy to use. All you need to do is load the pellets and switch on the ignition.

Cons: More expensive than other smokers.

Wood smokers:

Pros: Wood chips give meat the purest flavor.

Cons: Not recommended for beginners as it can be tricky to maintain a constant temperature.

Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for in a smoker, you can keep researching to find one!