Choose a Smoker Grill Based on your Personality to Match
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the beginner’s buying guide to smoker grills and other types of barbecue grills. Today I’m writing the second or continuing portion of the buying guide in hopes to provide you with more tips and insights.
If you own a charcoal grill with a tight-fitting lid, then you already have a smoker grill. All you have to do is set it up for indirect grilling; add fuel (charcoal, wood chunks or chips) and you should be able to cook any menu of your choice. Using a smoking box or smoking pouch to add an attenuated smoke flavor to the food you cook; however, the vents in the grill’s rear end will suck out the smoke flavor eventually. You may have to prepare a lot of the ingredients to replace the dried out ones in the smoking pouch/box from time to time.
However, kettle grills have certain drawbacks when you want to achieve the perfect smoked taste for your food, that’s because they are designed high temperature grilling and it becomes difficult to maintain a steady heat at lower temperatures. Also its small grill grate size restricts the amount of food you can cook at a time.
You may also want to read Smoker Grill Buying Guide for Beginners Part 1
If you’ve read the first part of this blog post, then you must have already identified with the smoker grill that matches your personality. In case you haven’t read it yet, then I recommend that you check out that blog post first. Just click on the link above and you will be redirected to that page. So, by now you should have that burning conviction that you’re ready to take your smoker grill enthusiasm to the next level.
In order to help you sort out your options, I have prepared some questions for you to consider.
What is your Budget?
While not commonly talked about, a lot of purchasing decisions in people’s lives are narrowed down to their financial capacity and willingness to spend on material things – smoker grills fall on the same reasoning just like everything else. Marketing tricks sometimes nudge the buyer to put in more money than they usually want to spend, but it makes no difference when determination takes over. They will trade the $300 very serviceable drum smoker for a stainless steel showpiece that costs over $10,000!
Kamado-style ceramic cookers and pellet smokers has a starting cost of at least $1,000 on the market. Meanwhile, you can get the super durable heavy duty offset smoker that will last a lifetime if you take good care of it for $2,500. As long as you’ve setup a budget for the kind of smoker grill that you want to get, then you shouldn’t have any trouble choosing.
What Fuel will you Use?
If you’re like me, then you may want to opt for an offset smoker or a wood burning charcoal grill like this Weber grill. It belches steady heat that allows you to smoke pork shoulders, ribs, and briskets on entirely wood smoke. Based on experience, I think I speak for a lot of grillers and it’s a general consensus that food smoked or grilled over wood taste a lot better than if they’re grilled or smoked on other types of fuel. In case you find wood chopping or hauling wood tiresome and takes up too much of your time, then you can just purchase smoker grills that have automatic ignition system like the gas or electric cabinet-type smokers such as a this Masterbuilt electric smoker we also wrote about, or pellet grills, like the Traeger Junior Elite, which is very affordable.
Do you have the Space Required to Accommodate your Smoker Grill?
You should get those small drum-type or upright water smokers if you have limited space in your house or flat as these things have a relatively small footprint. Be sure to check the space that you’ve saved in your house or apartment for your grill as it will take up quite a few square feet of real estate. Take a tape measure with you just to make sure that you have the correct size of the smoker grill that you’ll be purchasing; however, if you have a lawn or your real estate property is big enough, then there’s no need to worry about it.
How many People do you Plan to Cook For?
I will go out on a limb here and assume that you normally cook for 2 – 4 people in your house on average, but there will be days when you’ll cook for a lot more people than your immediate family members. Special occasions like Christmas, July 4th Independence Day or Thanksgiving will fill your house with guests and if that’s the case, then it’s better to be prepared than shortsighted.
Any Food Preference?
If you don’t plan to go crazy on your smoker grill chops and not experiment on smoking food with your electric bbq grill or gas smoker, then just stick to the smaller grills. But if you plan on being a smoker grill super chef artist, then you’re going to need those heavy duty master forge smoker! You’re going to smoke pork, beef, chicken, turkey and maybe whole tuna slices fresh from the fishing trawler or even several huge lobsters on your smoker grill. So you’re going to need a lot of heat from the smoker chamber set them high on at least 325 degree Celsius to thoroughly smoke large chunks of meat.
Do you Value Portability?
The tailgating culture that has become a nationwide trend made bbq grill manufacturers to develop portable smokers for people to take with them in lake cabins, campgrounds and parking lots. Big smoker grill names like Big Green Egg, Coleman and Weber have emphasized mass production on smaller cookers in their product line-ups. Naturally typical considerations for a smoker grill with mobility are weight and fuel used. Buy one that’s easy to take with you in your car and can easily be setup once you’ve arrived at your destination.
If you value portability then you might want to consider either:
- A small grill like this bullet smoker
- A larger grill made for portability like this Coleman in our post about camping and grilling
Are you an Occasional or a Deeply Involved Griller/Smoker?
Light work requires only light materials, but if you’re like me, who routinely smokes food on the charcoal grill at least once a week, then you’re going to want to go for those high quality smoker grills. Pick those that are made from heavier gauge steel, because they are the type of smoker grill that’s “weather proof.”
What about Construction?
You have to make sure that the smoker grill that you’ll purchase is made of high quality materials like I mentioned above, otherwise it will not do the job as efficiently as you hoped it would. A food smoker that’s made of thin metal sheets and has poor welding work will keep losing heat during windy, damp, or cold conditions. You need around 225 – 275 degrees Kelvin of heat to cook your food effectively and a poor quality smoker may not be able to keep up with this requirement. Check the warranty to see if it has been designed to last for more than a year. This will tell you if it’s a good product or not.