Starter ideas for a smoker

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by dollarbill, Apr 3, 2008.

  1. What is the highest "recommended cheap smoker"? Thanks, db
  2. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The ECB is the undisputed "cheapie" king. Turns out good Q too. Also teaches fire building and maintainance. All for like $40 bux or so I think. Maybe cheaper.
  3. k5yac

    k5yac Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I guess that would depend on your definition of cheap. Obviously, many people enjoy the ECB smokers, and although I do not own one, I hear that they do a very good job once a few minor modifications are made. If you are interested in this type of smoker, do a search for ECB and you'll find tons of happy users and tips. I believe these types can be had for $40-$90 depending on size, heat source, etc.

    Once you break the $100 point, the options open up a bit, but beware that there are some tempting "looking" units out there that will make you smoking experience much less enjoyable than it could be for a few dollars more. For example... there are several offset models that can be purchased in the $125 range, and while these models will smoke food, they seem to be a little more finiky as far as maintaining temps and eliminating air leaks. Now... I'm not trying to crack on anyone here, we use what we've got. I don't have the "best" smoker by any means, but with help from some of the good folks here, and borrowing some of their ideas, it works much better than it did out of the box. But, it took a lot of trial and error, and practice to turn out what I consider to be acceptable results. Heck, ok... sometimes they are darn good.

    To continue... I have the Brinkmann SnP Pitmaster Deluxe. It does not have a top rack or firebox door (a.k.a. air leak hatch) like the standard SnP, but what it does have is heavier gauge steel all over, and I mean perhaps twice as thick. It feels fairly solid compared to many I have lifted the lid on, and I think this helps to retain heat a little better, and the weight of the heavier doors probably helps to seal them better as well. Mine was a gift from my Mom, but I think she picked it up for $170 at ACE Hardware... well worth the extra $50 in my opinion.

    Of course there are others that exceed the $200 range. Many of the vertical smokers look real nice, and I'd like to try one, but for some reason I feel like I'm doing it right with an offset stick burner. Probably because that is what I learned (still learning) on.

    I'm sure you'll get several opinions, that is what's nice about this place... ask a question and get swampped with informative replies. I will add one of the best pieces of advice I've got here... buy a digital temp probe (or two, or three) in order to monitor your meat. I have had much better results since I've started using these things. Takes the guesswork out and you don't have to open the lid (i.e. let the heat out) to check your progress. A decent one can be had for $10 - $20 at Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

    I hope I haven't confused the matter for you. Basically, no matter what you get, there is probably a way to make it work the way you want. It seems that almost all the lower end models require some type of modifications to make them really enjoyable to use. If you don't spend much, I guess you won't be out much... and, if you get an ECB, you can use it in conjunction with whatever you might pick up later. Heck, I've thought about getting an ECB just for the heck of it. Some days I don't feel like firing up the SnP, and wish I had an ECB for a few ABTs or a fatty. Decisions.. decisions... a lot to consider.

    Edit: WOW... look at Fred's post down there... I didn't know GOSMs were that cheap. A lot of people seem to like those too.
  4. fred420

    fred420 Meat Mopper

    maybe not the cheapest, but easy to use and very affordable--the mine at wallymart about$125....propane makes it easy to use, and it us easy to transport if i want to take camping or to a friend's house..
  5. teeotee

    teeotee Smoking Fanatic

    Hi DB and welcome to the smf.

    I think the first question is which do you prefer, charcoal, propane or electric. That answer will help the decision some.

    I'm a charcoal/ wood person so am a little biased.

    For cheapness you can't beat the ecb, rich was right on the price. I saw one in homedepot last weekend for $40.00, Will need modding some but are great starters. I started on one and yes, it was frustrating and a tough learning curve. But then i didn't have the smf.

    Now i have the Chargriller Super Pro and love it. As has been said, it needed modding to make it better. Think they sell at around $170 with side fire box.

    You need to decide, several things, how much food you will be cooking, main fuel source, budget, vertical or horizontal. They will all turn out good q when used right.

    K5 is right too ..... get a digital meat therm or two or three. Mine is wireless so i can monitor temps from the couch, pc or wherever within range.

    No matter which smoker you decide on there will always be great help and advice here.[​IMG]
  6. garyt

    garyt Smoking Fanatic

    I have one of each, A ECB clone that I gave up on after a couple of bad smokes 15 years ago before I ever heard of the smoking meat forum. Or had a clue of what I was doing. A New Braunfels offset That is my favorite At my camper I Truly enjoy tending the fire and having the whole day to cook my food. Plus I have a gas Smoke Hollow#5 which is just like a GOSM and it is good when you want to smoke but don't have a lot of time to devote to watching it. None of them cost that much for the pleasure you will get from using it, Or the food you will get off of it. Hell hobbies cost money. Buy a snowmobile and see how well that works out as a friend of mine always says. don't worry so much about $50 one way or the other and get one that will suit your lifestyle and you will save a whole lot in the long run! By not having another thing in the yard that you bought but don't use
  7. kookie

    kookie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome to the site..............Lots of great cheap smokers out there.........Just need to look around............
  8. sumosmoke

    sumosmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm a cheap ECB proponent too!! Love mine, would buy another one in a heartbeat for friends and family, they're that affordable.

    Overall, choose what's the best for you and your wallet! Have fun!
  9. upinflames

    upinflames Fire Starter

    Buy a WSM and never look back.

    Or, If you would like to try an offset to get your feet wet then there is always the Charbroil American Gourmet. Available for 79 bucks from Wal-Mart.

    An idiot can turn out some very good Q on this one.
  10. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    GOSM! Nice unit and easy to use.
  11. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Build a drum....................[​IMG]
  12. gobbledot

    gobbledot Meat Mopper

    Bubba could you give some hints or details on bulding a drum? I am concidering building one but i am in the dark at what all i need to get started and what i need to do. Thanks..
  13. smok'nquack

    smok'nquack Newbie

    Thats basicaly what I'm building now but mine is gas and i'm puting legs on the bottom. I guess we'll see how it turns out. I scavenged a grill off the side of the road that had a new burner in it.
  14. ncdodave

    ncdodave Smoking Fanatic

    I have a char griller pro offset with mods and spent 170 from OSH including the mods. It cooks even and i dont have any problems maintaining and controlling heat with it. I did 42 pounds of picnic roasts for pulled pork and it was perfect! all 100 people at my work want to know when I'll be smoking them lunch again

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