1. Offset Smoker
Q: Are smokers easy to setup and how much space is required?
Ans: Most smokers come assembled today. They do require a considerable amount of space, with some having a grilling surface of nearly 800sq inches or more, so there should be sufficient space set aside for the smoker being setup.
Q: What flavor can I expect from my offset smoker?
Ans: A smokey, deep, taste. For those who like smoke, the offset smoker produces plenty of it. So you are going to find grilling meat on the smoker will produce that rich, hearty taste/smokey bbq flavor.
Q: How do you take your offset smoker?
Ans: The best method is to cook with charcoal, not wood. Wood fires are harder to manage, and too much smoke and creosote can ruin your meat. Choose wood based smokers when possible.
Q: Do you need a thermometer on both ends of the smoker?
Ans: No, but it is in your best interest to use two thermometers. The reason being is that temperatures can be up to 50 degrees F on the firebox end, than near the flue of your offset smoker.
Q: What makes the best offset smoker?
Ans: Quality build, craftsmanship, and brand name. It is going to cost more to invest in a quality offset smoker, but it is well worth the cost. Especially if you plan on using it regularly and properly maintain it.
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2. Charcoal Smoker
Q: What materials should the smoker be made of?
Ans: The best charcoal smoker is going to have a porcelain enamel based lid/exterior for durability and protection. This material is more durable, and helps with maintaining proper heat levels throughout when grilling.
Q: How do you maintain/control heat?
Ans: The best charcoal smokers do require more work than an electric or pellet smoker. In order to maintain heat levels, your smoker will have a mechanism (dampers) with air vents. This helps with air mobility and heat retention when smoking.
Q: Do I need an external thermometer?
Ans: Your charcoal smoker will have a built in thermometer. However, for optimal grilling temperature and internal control, a manual thermostat is beneficial to have on hand.
Q: What are the cooking grates made out of?
Ans: Again, each manufacturer will differ. However, the best charcoal smoker will have all stainless steel, removable cooking grates. And, the internal setting of your smoker is probably coated with an aluminum finish.
Q: Can you hang meats when smoking?
Ans: This depends on the smoker you purchase. Many have a "hook and hang" feature, allowing for even heat distribution, and the rich, Smokey flavor when smoking meats for several hours.
3. Inexpensive Smoker
Q: What is the cost of a decent/reasonable quality smoker?
Ans: The best inexpensive smoker category covers a wide range of prices. For those who want quality, yet don't want to spend too much to find it, can expect to pay in the $400-$500 range for reasonably quality and construction.
Q: What type of smoker can I purchase in the lowest price bracket?
Ans: You can find gas and charcoal smokers in this price range. Although there are a few electric smokers, you are better of investing in the higher priced market, as the internal mechanisms of these smokers are more complex.
Q: Which manufacturer sells the best inexpensive smokers?
Ans: Charbroil has a reasonable number of smokers in the $500 or lower price range. Weber and Napolean also carry a few grills in the lower price bracket.
Q: Do you compromise on quality for a cheaper smoker:
Ans: Not if you purchase from the right manufacturer. You should still get all stainless steel grates, enamel exterior, and even smoking/grilling. You are however going to compromise on additional features at the lower price range.
Q: How much is "too" low?
Ans: This answer varies for each customer. However, something at $150-$200 or lower, is probably not going to be the best investment you can make when purchasing a cheaper smoker.
4. Electric Smoker
Q: What can you expect from the best electric smokers?
Ans: When investing in the best smoker available you should expect, quick push-button ignition, a seamless interior, large grilling area, side-loading, and easy to use/functional design. The best smokers are also aesthetically pleasing for grillers.
Q: What temperature rating can I expect?
Ans: The best electric smokers will have a variable temperature range. This is usually 100 degrees F to 250 or 300 degrees F for the best smokers.
Q: What features/benefits will the best smoker feature?
Ans: Each manufacturer is different. However, some features you will get with the best electric smoker includes: Side loading wood chip tray, removable wire racks, high wattage/power, programmable temperature gauges, and more.
Q: Are electric smokers large?
Ans: Yes. You will need to account for a fairly large space to setup your new smoker. You also have to account for smoking area, so give additional room to the sides of the smoker when setting it up.
Q: What is the average grilling space?
Ans: The area varies with each smoker. You can expect anywhere from 500 sq in to nearly 900 sq inches. This will vary based upon price, manufacturer, and whether or not grates are removable.
5. Wood Smoker
Q: What temperatures do the best wood smokers smoke?
Ans: Wood smokers typically have a temperature range of 200 degrees F to about 450 degrees F. Each manufacturer varies, and price of the smoker will also play a role in this gauge.
Q: Do you need to use an external thermometer?
Ans: Yes. With wood smokers, the built in thermometer gives more of a rating or indication, as opposed to the exact temperature. Especially if you want to smoke a particular cut of meat, for the perfect temperature, it is best to have an additional thermometer.
Q: Does price really make a difference?
Ans: Yes. You will quickly note that the best wood smokers are priced upward of $500. Although you don't have to overspend, you will pay more for wood, than you will for other types of smokers.
Q: What is the purpose of the water pan?
Ans: The water pan is to help with moisture retention, and help avoid meat from getting over cooked or rough. Since you are smoking at such high temperatures, the water dripping helps maintain the meat's external moisture levels when grilling.
Q: Horizontal or vertical design? Which is best?
Ans: This is truly a personal issue/topic consumers should consider. You can find great wood smokers which are vertical and horizontal. It depends on space limitations, where you plan on setting it up, and truly your personal preference when grilling.
6. Pellet Smoker
Q: Why are pellet smokers so popular?
Ans: It truly is a matter of convenience. With the best pellet smoker, it is truly set it and forget it. You are alarmed when the smoker reaches the desired internal temperature, and there is virtually no work to be done when grilling.
Q: What can I expect in terms of taste?
Ans: Smokey but not over-smokey. This is another benefit of pellet smokers. They do produce that rich, smokey bbq flavor you love, but aren't going to over-smoke or cause that burnt flavor when grilling meats.
Q: Can you sear on the pellet smoker?
Ans: Manufacturers of the best pellet smokers have introduced a feature allowing you to sear directly on the flamehead of the smoker. So if you want to sear or grill, you can do so with your smoker.
Q: How do pellet smokers work?
Ans: Pellet smokers operate similarly to modern indoor ovens. A digital control will dictate temperature and grill time, so there isn't much guesswork around them.
Q: How do you control the smoker?
Ans: Pellet smokers have a controllable thermostat on the front. You simply push start the buttons you want, temperature setting, and the rest is done for you. The best smokers are typically within 5 degrees F of the best thermometers.
7. Thermometer for Smoker
Q: What should I look for when choosing a thermometer?
Ans: Today the best thermometer for is usually a wireless one. They allow you to set the desired temperature, meat setting, and are usually going to allow you to step away from the grill when grilling for several hours at a time.
Q: Does brand name matter?
Ans: Yes, but only if accuracy matters to you. It is worth investing an additional $10 on a well known manufacturer, and getting optimal accuracy when grilling with the thermometer.
Q: Are thermometers necessary?
Ans: Although most smokers have one built in, they are more a "gauge" and not 100% accurate. The best thermometer for smokers is 100% accurate, and ensures the perfect internal temperature for any meat.
Q: What features should I look for?
Ans: The best thermometers provide: several meat settings, dual-probe options, wireless range, alarms, and the ability to set a count up or down timer.
Q: Wireless or wired?
Ans: Again this is up to each individual. With a wired thermometer you don't have the freedom of mobility. A wireless thermometer is usually going to give you a mobility range of about 300 feet, so you can move around, rather than standing at the grill for several hours on end.
8. Wireless Meat Thermometer
Q: How much is a wireless meat thermometer?
Ans: You can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $100 for these devices. Whether they are dual or single probe, the range, and the type of meat settings, are a few features which will dictate cost.
Q: What is the user interface like?
Ans: The best wireless meat thermometer is fairly easy to read. It has the meat selection, the temperature, grill time, and a timer. There is no guesswork when using these devices.
Q: Should I buy single or double-probe?
Ans: it depends on what you plan on grilling. If you frequently like grilling meat, poultry, and other foods at the same time, a dual-probe will probably serve you best.
Q: What are the temperature ratings?
Ans: The best wireless meat thermometer is capable of resisting temperature of over 700 degrees F. So even if you forget it on the grill, they are fairly indestructible.
Q: Are they reliable?
Ans: Most of the best thermometers come with warranties on the probes. So you don't have to worry about faltering or having to replace your thermometer regularly, if you invest in one of the best options available.
9. Lump Charcoal
Q: What kind of lump charcoal is there?
Ans: Kiln dried lumber, saw mill scraps, and limbs (non-processed wood) are the types of wood typically used in making lump charcoal. Depending on what it is used for, the best option will vary for each purpose.
Q: What lump charcoal is best for grilling?
Ans: For the rich, smokey flavor, the natural (or the limbs) would be the best lump charcoal variety. They are going to produce a thicker smoke when grilling, which means a richer, earthier taste for the meats you are smoking with the charcoal. These lumps don't last as long and they do wear away quicker when grilling, so more is required when grilling with them.
Q: How do you start the lump charcoal?
Ans: You are not going to use lighter fluid when starting a fire using lump charcoal. A parafin fireplace starter blocks, starter cubes, propane sticks, weed burners, and other natural ignition sources are available. It is best to avid the lighter fluid which is toxic, and is not going to produce the rich flavor you want when grilling with lump charcoal.
Q: Why use lump charcoal?
Ans: Apart from being all natural and safer for the environment, it has a shelf life which is far superior than other sources for fuel. If you store the best lump charcoal properly, it has a shelf life which is indefinite. But, even with inferior lump charcoal, you can expect to get a shelf life of anywhere from 10 to 15 years, so you do not have to worry about it drying out or getting spoiled even if used several years after you purchase it.
Q: Can you cook indoors with lump charcoal?
Ans: No. Due to the CO (carbon monoxide) levels being so high, and the fact that you can't smell it, this is highly toxic when the lump charcoal is being used in an indoor, contained setting. You need proper levels of air flow when grilling with lump charcoal, so it is best for it to be used in a contained, outdoor setting which has plenty of free air flow surrounding you when grilling.
10. Manual Meat Grinder
Q: Why use a manual grinder?
Ans: Apart from the fact that the best manual meat grinder allows you to select the desired texture and thickness of the meat you are grinding, you simply have more control as well. With a manual grinder you are doing the work, so you know what you are getting out of the machine as well.
Q: What are benefits of manual grinding?
Ans: The cost is probably the leading one.Most people choose this over electric for the lower price. But you can also control thickness, amount of meat you grind, the texture, and also the manner in which you grind the meat, as there are no automatic settings in play.
Q: Design and features to look for?
Ans: You want to choose a manual grinder which has a locking mechanism in place so you can keep it secure on a counter top. You also want one which has various size option based on the type of meat you will be grinding. Easy assemble, disassemble, and ease of cleaning, are other features to consider when choosing a manual grinder.
Q: Can you only grind meat?
Ans: Depending on the internal mechanisms, you can possibly use it for other purposes. The best manual meat grinder will have double crank capabilities and heavy duty bearings in place, allowing you to process several types/cuts of meat.
Q: What control levels do you have?
Ans: With a manual meat grinder you have full control of the thickness, and whether you grind coarse or fine meat. So if you are grinding smaller quantities of meat, this might be beneficial for those who want to know exactly what they will get from the meats they are grinding.
11. BBQ Pellets
Q: What makes the best bbq pellets?
Ans: One distinguishing factor of the best bbq pellets is the flavor range/variety. Manufacturers offer various flavor infusions, depending on what you are grilling, and the desired taste you have in mind.
Q: What feature will make the best pellet for smoking?
Ans: The size. It shouldn't be too small in size, and the pellets should be slow-burning in nature. This avoids the overly smokey flavor, while still giving your meat/food the rich bbq flavor you desire when grilling.
Q: What benefits are there to using the pellets?
Ans: The best bbq pellets eliminate the ash, the smoke, and the need to use wood chips while grilling. All of this in a small package, while delivering the rich texture and taste you desire when grilling in a pellet smoker.
Q: Why use pellets when grilling?
Ans: One of the main benefits of pellet grilling is the set it and forget it mentality. You simply turn on the grill, and the pellets will do the work for you. You will be alarmed when your food is complete, and there is zero guesswork when grilling.
Q: What type of pellets are available?
Ans: As there are many flavor blends, the best bbq pellets are available in many varieties as well. You can choose from ash, oak, alder, maple, pecan, hickory, or mesquite varieties. Depending on the wood grain used, the taste and finish will vary with the chosen bbq pellets used for grilling purposes.
12. Grill Smoker Combo
Q: What makes the best combo smoker?
Ans: The best grill smoker combo is easy to use, fully functional, and will ensure even grilling throughout. Wood grilling alongside electric grilling for the best taste profile imaginable when using your combo smoker.
Q: Should I purchase a brand name smoker?
Ans: Yes. Again you are investing in a higher priced smoker. So you want to buy the best combo smoker that is available. In order to ensure this is the case, you are going to spend a little more money on a brand name smoker. Although you will pay more, you are going to find the smoker is more reliable, offers more features, and it is not going to break down on you after a short period of using it for grilling purposes.
Q: The more the better?
Ans: When it comes to choosing the best combo smoker, you can find grills featuring a 7-in-1 design. For deep fried foods, grilling, smoking, or even making pizza on your smoker. Should you go with more or less features? The answer is it depends on you, and the intended uses you have in mind for your smoker. If you like to experiment, then a 7-in-1 smoker may be the way to go. For those who like simplicity, rich flavor profiles, and ease of use, you might want to scale back on the design you choose when purchasing your combo smoker for outdoor use.
Q: Fuel sources you should look for when investing in a combo smoker?
Ans: This is a personal preference for each individual. You can go with a propane fuel source for limited mess and quick grill times. If you prefer a richer, smokey taste, you might want to go with the charcoal variety. But bear in mind this is going to create more of a mess when grilling. It really depends on what you will use the smoker for, the flavor profiles you wish to attain, and how much clean up work you want to do when using the smoker in an outdoor setting.
Q: What features should you look for with a combo smoker?
Ans: The best combo smoker is going to have the features you want. A huge grilling surface, high wattage or power setting, various fuel/cook options (gas, charcoal, propane, etc). You might want one with a deep turkey fryer built in. It is truly what you are looking for, the design features you want to see in place, and of course the budget you have available when investing in the combo smoker you are going to purchase. The more you expect, the higher the price you can expect to pay for the smoker you choose to invest in as well.