Choosing the best food smoker / BBQ smoker

We hope the following information will help you to choose the right food smoker / BBQ smoker for you.

You may also be interested in our HOW TO videos

Type of Food Smoking / BBQ Smoking

Firstly for those new to hot and cold food smoking these are often confused so here are the differences:

Hot food smoking also known as BBQ smoking is cooking meat and fish at low temperatures for long periods of time and introducing wood smoke for a part of the cooking time. The BBQ smoker devices used have a barrier between the fire and the food to prevent the food drying out and burning. A vertical food smoker uses a water bowl between the fire and the food and a horizontal smoker has an offset fire box mounted on the side of the smoker for protecting food from fire.

Cold Smoking Food

Cold smoking is a food preservation & flavouring process using a combination of curing with brine or salt rub and exposure to COLD smoke for long periods of time. It is an exacting process that will require attending a cold smoking course or reading up on the subject. Don't be put off as once you master the basics it is very easy - home smoked Salmon is better and cheaper than bought smoked Salmon at a third of the price. All you need is salt, smoke container and a cold smoke generator.

Vertical or Horizontal Smoker

For hot smoking there are 2 shapes: vertical and horizontal both work well but do have their differences. Horizontal smokers are also known as barrel smokers or offset smokers and have a firebox bolted to the side with a hole between for the heat and smoke to enter the main chamber. The advantage of a horizontal smoker is that they double up as a BBQ grill, the disadvantages is that they don't have a water bowl and the fire needs to be replenished more often than with a vertical BBQ smoker.

If your main requirement is to smoke meat and fish then a vertical BBQ smoker will be the best choice.

Pellet Smokers

Pellet smokers but more commonly know as Pellet Grills are popular in America but are starting to take off in the UK. Pellet smokers aren't cheap as they have a lot of technology built into them making slow cooking pretty much a hands free operation. The main advantage is that you fill the hopper with wood pellets, set the cooking temperature and let it do its magic - great for those unattended over night cooks. Bit more expensive to run compared to a charcoal BBQ smoker.

Vertical Food Smoker Check List

Look for the following design features when choosing a vertical food smoker:

1/ Modular design so it can be increased or decreased in size
2/ Easly lift off top sections for full access to fire basket for accessing meat during the cooking process
3/ At least 4 vents for full control of air flow. Important for extended cooking duration
4/ Mesh fire basket for even burning charcoal and to ensure that the charcoal briquettes don't go out
5/ Stainless steel grills which are much easier to clean and won't rust
6/ Side inspection door to add wood chips to fire and quickly view meat on lower shelf

In terms of size for cooking for family and friends the 14" Ranger and Callow Vertical smokers will satisfy most needs unless you like your ribs in which case look at the ProQ Frontier or Excel.

If in doubt call us on 01483 550694.