Let's be honest, if you're reading this then you’ve possibly already mastered the art of backyard grilling and you’re ready to move on to the next big thing: cooking with a smoker. The ultimate in do-it-yourself barbecue. You’re not sure where to start just yet, but don’t worry! We’re here for you.
Smoker Rack Space Benefits
If you own a charcoal grill and try to smoke meat on it, you’re going to end up with a serious lack of space because of a few issues.
First, we’re dealing with a single cooking area in most grills. This means you may be only able to cook one rack of ribs, or a small brisket, at a time.
Second, when smoking you have to keep the meats out of the direct flame so they don’t overcook. Since the flames are so close to the grill cooking surface, this means you’ll only be able to use half of your grilling space at any one time! With a smoker you’ll be able to simultaneously have different meats on different shelves and the vertical design of them will allow for 100% usable space.
Third, wood smokers are often slow to get to temperature and for certain meats like fish or wings may not be worth the trouble.
Temperature: Grill vs Smoker
Probably the most notorious issue when it comes to smoking meats is maintaining the temperature.
The difference between a good rack of ribs and a mouthwatering, fall-off-the-bone rack is all in the temperature. The recommended heat range is between 225 degrees and 250 degrees. Keeping the meat cooking steadily within this range is key and with conventional gas or charcoal grills you’ll have an average temperature much higher, which will lead to a dry, burnt flavor if you try and use it for smoking.
By using a propane smoker you’re much more likely to have a steadier temperature to work with which will lead to better tasting and more flavorful food.
Smoked Foods Have the Best Flavor
No doubt you’ve probably cooked a decent steak or chicken breast on a grill before, but “meat geeks” agree: smoked meat just tastes better. The smoke ring, that juicy pink strip of meat underneath the skin, is a visual testament to the beauty of a smoker. Smoked meats will often possess a more pronounced (and thus tastier) smoke ring than those cooked on a regular grill.
Some of the tastiest meats for smoking include: beef brisket, pork shoulder, pork sausage, ribs, whole hens, salmon, and lamb leg. Propane is perfect for these meats is much quicker to get to temperature than alternate fuel sources.
Best Smoker to Buy
Now the last question, what kind of smoker? In the world of smoked barbecue you’ve got three options: Propane, wood or electric. We recommend propane due to the various benefits it provides.
Benefits of a Propane Smoker:
Smoker purists will claim that a wood smoker is the only way to get the best flavor, but don’t let that deter you. Many blind tests have been done and even the most hardened grillmasters have trouble noticing the difference. Propane offers a flavor that’s on par with the best wood smokers on the market but without the headache of trying to be a temperature guru.
2) Easy to use
With a wood smoker you’re constantly having to adjust the temperature by adding wood (both logs and chips) to the existing flames or removing it if it’s too hot. With a propane smoker you’re only dealing with wood chips as a smoking/flavoring agent. The temperature will remain constant so long as the propane is properly fueling the unit and your only task will to be ensure that the wood chips are properly smoking the meat, occasionally adding more chips to keep the smoke up.
3) Easy to move
With a propane smoker all you need to cook is a small amount of wood and a tank of propane. This makes taking your smoker over to a friend’s house or a park for a cookout as easy as bringing along a portable grill.
4) Adjustable Temperature
The perfect temperature for cooking meats and vegetables is typically between 225 degrees and 250 degrees. With a propane smoker the simple controls allow you to adjust the temperature all the way up to 450 degrees, making them perfect for switching from smoking to grilling.
5) Doesn’t Break the Bank
While a decent wood smoker can cost upwards of $800, a quality propane smoker can cost less than half of that. One of our favorites is the $249 “Master built 30’’ Propane Smoker. Its design offers for a large quantity of food to be cooked and the dual door design allows you to add wood chips without losing that precious heat and smoke.
6) Vegetarian Friendly
Not a meat eater? No problem! The low pollution environment of a propane smoker means that soot and other typical meat infused debris from a wood smoker will be far less of a hassle to clean and avoid it getting on vegetarian products. Just pop in your favorite vegetables and smoke away!