8.) Camp Chef 24” Smoke Vault
The range of temperature is usually limited with gas smokers, which often run hotter than other cookers, but the 24” Smoke Vault can be lowered to 160F or dialed up to 400F. Set it low when smoking cheese and nuts, 225F for brisket and ribs and cranked 100°F warmer for real crisp duck or chicken. There’s enough width for rib slabs to be laid evenly and plentiful space behind the drum’s walls for rib racks, roasts and turkeys.
Out of all the gassers, this is the only one I’ve come across that is capable of converting (with a kit) to natural gas. Gone with the days of wondering if/when the juice dries up in the tank before reaching the end of a lengthy slow low smoke.
7.) Daniel Boone Pellet Smoker- Green Mountain Grills
Since ’08, GMG has given us some quality pellet smokers with advanced technology. Now the attempt of competitors (trailing behind) is to feature things like a meat probe that’s integrated, which goes way back with Green Mountains as a standard. In an attempt to maintain their position, all GMG models are being dropped in price so that their WiFi capabilities are less expensive.
The starting price of Daniel Boone mid-size GMGs and beyond equates to the best bang for the buck. Although you’re getting big value for its price, throw in an extra $100 and you get your precious WiFi (pilot a smartphone to monitor and control your smoker!)
6.) Backwoods Smoker Chubby
The fridge in your old dorm room may look like and share many commonalities with the Smoker Chubby. No, it’s not déjà vu. It’s insulated well, the door gets tightly latched, there’s a smoke and heat reverse flow transit setup, a stupid simple temperature control, and hotel sized pans can be held in it. The cooking chamber is kept moist by a water pan fitted between the food and the charcoal. There are models with greater dimension that competitive pro teams like and use. The next weight class up is Backwoods’ Party smoker, impressive thing. USA made.
5.) Kamado Joe Classic Joe
A cooker made of ceramic, well-crafted, elegant and constructed solidly. It’s hard to find a Kamado snob who doesn’t think there’s a better way to pull off multiple heat zones in roundish-curved machines than by placing food further from or closer to the flame. Typically, this is done with a number of accessory pieces that don’t come cheap and require more skill to be used.
The quality of the grills they offer has always been high, who continue putting effort in to claim their share of the market. Around 2014 Kamado Joe brought out a uniquely designed grate with multiple levels and a system they call “Divide and Conquer” to deflect heat. A standard feature, the model is more versatile because of it.
It’s finished with a glaze that’s tough looking, beautiful, and thick. Each part in kamado ceramic units is under warranty to exclude defects in workmanship and material for however many days the person who first purchased the grill owns it.
4.) The Pricier Karubecue C-60 Pit
The best smoke-flavored meat is believed by many to be possible only when it’s cooked in a stick burner smoker. But low priced stick burners work more poorly and even ones of higher quality need a time of committing to with a curve to learn. The average outdoor cook can be daunted by this fact.
- Bill Karau, designer and owner, stepped foot in the BBQ competitor scene while making appearances at barbecue hangouts in parts of Texas where he’d regularly spend time at year after year until becoming determined to think up a stick burner designed to produce a smoke that’s perfect from finish to start (applicable to each smoke, beginner or expert no matter). The birth of the Karubecue was history.
Their patent on the IFF firebox is its most important feature. Positioned below (rather than above) a fiery woodpile, the Inverted Flame Firebox allows smoke and heat to be sucked up. Thick smoke, comprised of particulates and gases, pull into a hot red flame where it’s ultimately burned up, emitting heat and light blue, clean smoke through an oven controlled thermostatically.
3.) 1 Star General MAK Pellet Grill
This grill is fueled by pellets as well, and the deal comes with various non-essential features due to its steeper retail tag. Entirely built in the United States, this MAK is solid, and coated with powder finished in high heat (heavy duty stuff). It has a roll top hood, which means there’s no need for a cushion of clearance at the rear as found in some of their competing rivals, and inside the room is plenty. One area you could nitpick is that it’s shaped like a tank from WWI.
2.) 18” WSM- Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker
This ain’t Weber’s first rodeo. This “bullet” isn’t destructible and fired by charcoal. It dates back to ’81 with only some minor tweaking along the way. Still, some minor, yet important tweaks are overdue (the inaccurate thermometer, for instance). Even though, a digital probed (accurate) thermometer can be easily inserted into a soft grommet featured in the 2014 updated Weber Smokey Mountains.
The enamel steeled body is no different than Weber’s Kettle. WSMs also come in a 22” frame, but I prefer the 18” because keeping a low temp is easier, although a slab of whole ribs will fit in barely. Want to grill instead? That’s an option with WSMs, but it’s only doable when kneeling. Very few parts on this Weber aren’t USA made.
1.) Pit Barrel Cooker- a Magic Drum?
You can only compliment an affordable, simple smoker so much before it becomes excessive. You won’t find any other comparable smoker in 2016.
It’s only a Benjamin or so more than the Char-Broil Smoker, and the delivery guy walks it up to your front steps in big-dimension cardboard. After opening it, get straight to smoking. It doesn’t require assembling, no playing nanny and the results are great with each go.
If a dedicated smoker has been on your wish-list or looking to throw out the rusted, point-of-no-return hardware that didn’t work like advertised to in the first place, the Pit Barrel Cooker is without question better than anything in its category price-wise.
The PBC is a different take on the UDS (or Ugly Drum Smoker), but the gallon drums aren’t near as big and, even though it’s grate-equipped, with almost any recipe you can vertically hang the protein by hooks- (gobble gobble) or turkeys! You’ll have to pick your jaw up off the patio as you tally up ringside KOs- meats smoked deliciously with most elbow-grease in seasoning and trimming. Besides that, the method for hanging meat makes way for serious capacity. Two quads of whole rib slabs are accommodated easily.
Whether you’re a virgin smoker or a decorated competitor in the game (now guys in competitions are using them), the addition of a Pit Barrel is welcoming to any outdoor setting. USA made.