First, I need a smoker!

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by phil23, Sep 17, 2014.

  1. phil23

    phil23 Newbie


    I'm new to smoking and I'm still wondering what kind of smoker I'll buy. I already searched this forum and the Internet and would have few questions for you Gurus...

    First, let's call it "poorman's" option... Could I simply buy an AMNS or AMNPS and use it with my BBQ grill? I want to cold and hot smoke (of course for hot smoking I would not put the AMNS over the flame...) Would that work OK or if I should just forget about that silly idea and buy a real smoker? I know it's not the perfect setting, just wondering if it works...

    Second option is indeed to buy a smoker. I know I want an electric one to start. I want to put my food in it, add wood and (almost) forget about it for a while. Is there a brand I should stay away from? Budget is a little low (around 200-250), that's why I'm asking.

    People here (and elsewhere) seem to like the Masterbuilt so I'm tempted to buy this one. But I'm kind of lost in the variety of models out there. What are the important features? What is a "nice-to-have" vs "must have"? (for example, analog vs digital, power (Watts), etc.) . Can I cold smoke with that? If not, guess I'll have to buy an AMNS for cold smoking? What would be your suggestion for my needs?

    I know that's a lot of questions, sorry! But thank you very much for your help!!


  2. For less than $150 you can build a pretty efficient lil smoker out of a 55ga drum! Big Poppa Smokers sells a kit with a bit and templates for hole placement. I love mine!!! I've done quite a few very successful cooks on it, and it holds the heat extremely well. [​IMG]

  3. Before pic:
  4. I was fortunate enough to find a food grade barrel that had "bag" of juice concentrate. So the inside was immaculate. Also came with the lid as you can see. I paid $16 for the barrel and about $135.00 for the kit.
  5. Spatchcocked chicken in the drum! Came out perfect! (Maybe cause of the bacon)

    Check out the smoke rings on those ribs! All on the drum.
  6. Another's portable! Lol

    Okay....I'll quit posting so much. :)
  7. I have to agree with the UDS idea.  Great place to start.  Also why electric?  A Weber kettle and a Pimaster IQ110 will give you about the same set and forget.  You can then also use it at temps of 350-400 which most electrics can't achieve.  Same with the UDS.  The first smoker is always a challenge.  That's why many of us have 3 or more smokers.  What ever smoker you get you probably won't go wrong, you just may find you need another to do styles of smoking.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

    gril1 sgt likes this.
  8. No clue as to why there are so many duplicate posts. So much for "smart" phones.
  9. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    [​IMG]  , Phil . You'll love a UDS , fun to build and very efficient , once learned .

    Have fun and as always . . .
    gril1 sgt likes this.
  10. phil23

    phil23 Newbie

    Lol! now you added another option to my list! :) Looks cool indeed! Problem is I usually start a DIY project very motivated and it takes me 3 years to finish it...

    KC5TPY: I did not know about the Pitmaster, looks interesting too, thanks for the suggestion!

    What about the AMNS?

    Thanks again!

  11. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    If you want a set and forget Electric is your best option.   If you want cheap you can buy one of the small Brinkmanns from just about any  discount store for around 50 bucks.  A lot of us learned on these ECBs, they are great places to start.

    Many people make modifications to their new smokers but I'm willing to bet that you can get pretty good food out of properly seasoned, un-altered smoker.  Learn the smoker you buy and decide what modifications are necessary to fit you cooking experience. 

    Good Luck,  I hope we can one day convince you of the art and power of "The Split" 
  12. phil23

    phil23 Newbie

    I'll probably get there one day! :)

    Thanks for the reply!

  13. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Another option if you want the set-it-and-forget-it convenience coupled with the flavor of charcoal and wood is the 18.5" WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain) - usually runs for about $299 or a little less if on sale. The WSM works straight out of the box with not mod's what so ever, has a small foot print but holds a lot of food, and like all Weber stuff has that great porcelin coating so it never rusts (big plus if you live in a moist environment like I

    I have the bigger 22.5" WSM and it has never once let me down. I usually get tapped to do 1 or 2 parties a year for family and friends, and they all love the results.

  14. phil23

    phil23 Newbie

    Looks great!

    Can you tell me more about the "set-it-and-forget-it" side of it? If it is charcoal, I guess it needs some attention (more than an electric I guess?)

    I'm probably just missing something.


  15. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The WSM uses the minion method. It has a large charcoal ring in the bottom of the smoker that you fill with unlit charcoal, you then dump a half chimney of lit charcoal on top of that and add wood chunks as needed/desired for your smoke. The nice thing about the WSM's is that once you get it set up and adjust the vents to hold your target temp you don't have to mess with it, other than to toss in a chunk of wood every so often. They do a really good job of maintaining a steady temp for a long period of time.

    My 22.5" WSM can hold 20 lbs. of charcoal, under ideal conditions (no to light wind, and temps above 60°) I can run for 20+ hours at 250° with only having to add wood and gently stirring the coals around hour 18 to help keep the temps steady. That's it! In comparison I had a Char-griller Pro (horizontal offset) that I had to add fuel to and mess with every 2-3 hours, I got so tired of messing with it I sold it for about 1/4 the price I paid for it, not counting the cost of mods, just to make it go away.

    I use my WSM year round (I have a covered deck), and in the winter I wrap a welding blanket around it and can run for 17+ hrs. on the same 20 lb. load of charcoal at 250° - even in windy conditions with temps as low as 25° F.

    But as others pointed out there are some great electric smokers as well, it all comes down to personal preferance and taste. I really like the flavor profile I get from charcoal and wood.
    gril1 sgt likes this.
  16. I have a cheap $60 stamped steel vertical smoker, I love it. Once i figured out how to go with the minion method I was rocking.  it will do 4 full racks of ribs.  it won't cold smoke though.  great for beginners while you figure things out.

    if i start doing larger batches I'll look at converting a drum.  

    I am so glad I did not get an offset smoker like i wanted (they look cool), from what i've seen on the forums they are not beginner friendly.
  17. forddood

    forddood Newbie

    I had one of those $60 vertical smokers from Lowes, and it was serviceable.  But for long cooks, it was an exercise in frustration.  No real way to control temps, it took a ton of charcoal for what it was to keep it running.

    I have an 18-1/2" Weber Smokey Mountain now, which is the complete polar opposite.  Sure, it costs more, but man, you really do get so much more.  I did an 11ish lbs brisket this past Labor Day, fired the smoker using the Minion Method, and it held 240-250ish for a good 14 hours.  I spent about the first hour or so fidgeting with the vents to get the temp dialed in, but after that I left it alone and went to bed.  It's awesome, it really is a great piece of equipment.
  18. oh you definitely get what you pay for, but to get your feet wet those $60 smokers are awesome.  the in-laws went all out and got a big green egg which has the ceramics to hold heat for longer cooks and stabler temps but they can run 10 times the price.  I'm hoping theres smoked turkey this thanks giving.  :)
  19. I am new here. Please tell me,
    What is the great bear and cigar.
  20. I started with an inexpensive Brinkman gas smoker. It took a lot of attention. It smoked a lot of meat very well. I upgraded to a Cookshack electric. You use only six ounces of wood to do a pork butt! Just set it and forget it. About 12 to 14 hours later at 195 on the probe you're done. The smallest model is maybe more than you can afford, but instead of buying a bunch of cheap smokers you could have one fine easy to use smoker. Good luck and get smoking!

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