BIG CHIEF SMOKER - Anybody have one?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by j0k3r-x, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. fishawn

    fishawn Smoking Fanatic

    I've had & used probably 3-4 Little Chiefs & Big Chiefs over tha past 30 or so years. I still have a working Big Chief. They have produced some good smoked salmon & I have smoked a lot of other stuff in them, though I always had to finish in the oven or the bbq to achieve the required temperatures. I even used to smoke with the cardboard box over the top of it which helps a little. I think they are around $100? or so?. I recently purchased a Masterbuilt electric smoker MES for $200 which is 10 times the tool for $100 more. If you would like more info on the MES just search MES, or post MES questions. There are lots of MES owners on here with an almost 100% approval rating.
  2. erain

    erain Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    i gotta agree with fish on this one, i was gonna say how i had a lil and a big chief and for fish they work put ok, jerky too. but anything else well i think a better smoker in order. but when i seen the price of $119.00 i wouldnt even buy one, stick your money in an mes if you are determined to go electric, or look at some other smokers like a gosm, smokevault, or one of the side firebox type smokers. i was thinkin i paid 29.00 for my big chief some years ago.
  3. kookie

    kookie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have a couple little chiefs.... Smae just alittle smaller...... They are a little pricey new... I would look around at thrift stores or creigs list or the paper or yard sales and see if you can find a used one there..... Or step up to the MES.....The chiefs can be great little smokers.............
  4. lcruzen

    lcruzen Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have a Big Chief that I don't use anymore. Like already stated good for fish, jerky, and snack sticks and that is about all. I went to a GOSM and added a needle valve to achieve lower temps so I can do just about anything I want on that.
  5. pitrow

    pitrow Smoking Fanatic

    I ran both a big chief and lil chief for years. They are a good starter unit and you can do lots of things with them if you're careful. The little chief doesn't get nearly as hot and would be good mostly for fish/salmon, jerky, low temp kinds of things and that's mainly what it was designed for. The big chief has a larger element and can get warmer, and I've successfully done things like turkeys in mine, though it's not easy. I'd suggest building a tight fitting insulated box if you're going to get one. The thin aluminum really wicks the tempurature out of it if it's at all windy or cold.

    That said, these days I probably wouldn't consider buying one new. If I found a good used one for cheap I'd probably pick it up, but for what a new one goes for it's not worth it. For a few dollars more you can get the MES. I bought one this past december and I find myself hard pressed to go back to the chiefs. The MES is very similar to the chiefs, but it works 100 times better and is a lot more versatile. The chiefs are basically plug in and go. It has no temperature control, no adjustable venting, etc. so you just get whatever temperature you get. The MES you can control the temp with the fancy little control box, so you can vary the temp from about 100 degrees up to 275 based on what you're doing.

    Now, if you're hell-bent on getting a big chief here's a couple suggestions for you. I prefer the top-load over the front-load, as it just seems easier for me to deal with one big rack than four individual racks. Plus you can use the shell of the rack to hang turkeys or whatever from, haven't really found a way to do that with the front load. And it seems like the door on the front load never seals right. As I mentioned earlier, you should build a little insulated box for it to help keep the temps up. Mine was just a box built out of thin wood paneling with some fiberglass insulation sandwiched between two layers. There were a couple notches on the bottom and holes on the top for air flow. Did a good job of keeping the heat in. At the very minimum you'll need a wind break to surround the big chief, as even a slight breeze will suck the heat right through the aluminum skin. Make sure when you use it you plug it directly into the outlet, or use a very large gauge (small number) extension cord and keep it as short as possible. You want the heating element to get as much juice as it can, and a long, thin-wire extension cord will rob it of that.
  6. Thanks All for the input!! I really wouldn't buy one for $119.00! That is just way too much for what they are in my opinion.. If I was gonna drop that much cash I probably would get an MES or a GOSM first for sure. I have really been thinkin about getting either of the two MES or GOSM for the simple fact that I am not able to keep enough good smokin wood on hand for my big stick burner. Plus it is alot of work gettin that big old thing goin and tendin the fire for just a small amount of ribs, chicken, fish... I found myself cookin alot of meat that I would just bring to work because we couldn't eat all of it. I am sure the people at work love it but I ain't rich lol. Also I can get small amounts of Cherry, Apple, pecan without havin to buy a large amount wood. They don't even have anything but Oak in large amounts around here and that is even rare.

    I was really lookin at the one on Craigslist for $20.00. seemed good for campin/fishin...

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