How to Choose the Perfect Outdoor Smoker
Is there anything better when summer comes along than getting outside in the backyard and cooking up some great barbequed food? There is just something about food that is cooked over an outdoor smoker that makes it taste absolutely fantastic! Whether it is steaks, ribs, sausages, chicken or anything else, it never tastes better than when it is cooked in the sunshine.
An outdoor smoker is basically a cooking device that is used outdoors. They are generally used to cook tough cuts of meat such as beef and pork over a low temperature that is created by burning wood, charcoal, or gas. Smoke is produced and helps to give the meat some fantastic flavor. A smoker is different to that of a grill due to it having a lid that can be closed to allow the smoke to stay within the cooking chamber.
There are so many types of smokers out there on the market these days and the amount you will pay will vary greatly as well. You can purchase cheap smokers that will be fine for occasional and small use or you can purchase large smoker/grill combos that will allow you to cook a feast fit for a king. Anyone that loves being out in the sun cooking tasty food with a beer in the hand will no doubt want to get themselves an outdoor smoker. The only problem is that it can be quite daunting and overwhelming when you see the vast amount of choice you have when purchasing one. This is where we step in to help with our guide.
Accessories/Features – Does the outside smoker come equipped with tools, a cover, additional racks, or temperature control? These are the sort of features that whilst they are not absolutely vital to have but can help to improve the cooking experience. Usually, these extra accessories/features will ramp up the price that you pay but it is down to you to decide whether that increase in price is worth it.
Safety – Another aspect you should be looking at when purchasing an outdoor smoker is whether it has adequate safety measures in place. If you have children or pets, you will want to make sure that the outdoor smoker that you are purchasing is safe to use when they are around. Does it have lockable wheels? Do the handles get too hot? If it is electric powered, are the electrical parts safe from any rain or snow? Safety should be a big concern, so make sure that you learn each of the safety features an outdoor smoker has.
Capacity – The size of the outdoor smoker and how much food it can hold and cook will also be a consideration you will have to make If you are only going to use it on the odd occasion to cook up a slab of rib, then a small smoker will suffice. On the other hand, if you are planning to use it for big family get-togethers and special occasions, you might want to reconsider the size of the smoker that you purchase. The size of your smoker is not just in width either, as you should also consider the height. This is especially the case if you want to cook large foods such as big turkeys.
Price - The fascinating thing about outdoor smokers is that the price can vary drastically. You can pick up bog standard charcoal smoker for as little as $100 but can pay as high as $10,000 for a state of the art smoker/grill combo. If you want something in between those prices, you can find gas units for around $200, decent little charcoal units for around $300, and pellet smokers at around the $900 mark.
Maintenance – Outside smokers get dirty, there is nothing that we can do about that. The smoke, charcoal, wood, or whatever is used to cook the food will get everywhere. When cooking, the fat will splatter and spit all over the place and this all becomes a fantastic breeding ground for bacteria. This means that your smoker is going to have to be cleaned regularly (after every use in fact), so you are going to want one that can be cleaned as easily as possible. Stainless still is among the best materials to keep clean but you should also study the cooker to establish how easy it will be to clean.
Once you have taken the above information into consideration, you should be well equipped to make the right choice of outdoor smoker for your needs. You should always remember that no outdoor smoker is going to be the same, with each offering different features, different achievable heats, different power sources, and different sizes and accessories. However, once you find the right one, your summers will never be the same again as you will be spending most of them cooking delicious barbequed and smoked food.