By John Voket
There’s plenty of summer left, and plenty of opportunities to entertain. That means preparing spectacular feasts for your family and guests.
If you’re looking to broaden your culinary toolkit, maybe it’s time to graduate from a grill to a smoker. The National Barbecue Association (nbbqa.org) offers these tips if you’re looking into doing some home cooking with a new smoker.
Howard Singer, pitmaster of Smokin’ Howie’s BBQ Team, says the price for smokers can range from under $100 to thousands of dollars.
Singer says think about which features are most important to you and establish a budget. If you are truly a beginner, you can buy a simple, vertical smoker for under $50.
An experienced home barbecuer can get a more advanced, but still inexpensive, unit that produces great results for around $300. If you are looking for something more sophisticated with a heavy reliance on automation, then be prepared to spend $600 or more.
Singer says paying more does not guarantee the quality of your food. Your total process is more influential than the price of your smoker.
What is the difference between a horizontal/off-set and vertical smoker?
Singer says vertical smokers are smaller, more portable and can operate by wood, electric or gas. They can range in price from under $50 to around $400 and are simple to use, with fuel on the bottom and meat on racks above.
On the other hand, horizontal/off-set smokers have the firebox on the side and the meat goes into a separate chamber next to the firebox. Singer says horizontal smokers are much heavier and not as portable, however.
Ultimately, Singer says if you have very limited outdoor space to place your equipment, a vertical smoker is the way to go.