Smoking meat has been used for centuries as a means of preserving meat for later consumption. As time wore on, the taste for smoked meats became a part of the fabric of living and even now, many people enjoy the flavor of meat that has been deeply smoked.
Smoked meats can be found on almost any continent and it is extremely popular in many countries to the point that we now use specialized cooking equipment in order to perfect the delicate balance of meat and smoke flavors to share with family and friends. One of these is the ubiquitous charcoal smoker and a great way to enjoy smoked meats.
It’s A Good Smoke!
While there are propane and electric smokers, the humble charcoal smoker is still one of the best ways to getting quality and delicious tasting smoked results. The main drawback to using a charcoal smoker is having to spend more time in balancing the heat production but once the learning curve is mastered it can produce better results than both propane and electric. This is due to the fact that the smoke from the charcoal combines with the smoke from the wood chips or pellets to produce a high content smoke that penetrates the meat deep into the layers and thus creates a deeper, finer taste in the meat.
Still, it takes a good, well constructed, smoker to produce the desired results for a charcoal smoker. Heat production and retention have to be balanced and therefore, only a good smoker made of the right materials with the correct thickness and positioning will work to provide those better results. The most common type to use is the vertical smoker as it allows for using the physical properties of the heat rising to your advantage. That does not mean to suggest that you can’t get good results from offset smokers, just that you can easily get better results with a vertical model. If you are looking for a good smoker, vertical smokers are the place to start.
Five Great Charcoal Smokers
Top Vertical Charcoal Smoker
Great for apartments or small spaces or even just for making small to moderate amounts of smoked meats for the family, this smoker – Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical Smoker would make a great addition to your home. It has over 500 square inches of cooking space, more than enough for chicken and small briskets, so you can enjoy that smoked flavor.
It has an easy to access front door and removable lid and this unit can also be used for grilling. The porcelain racks allow for solid sear marks and for distributing the heat. Those that have this model love how well it performs at both smoking and grilling.
Best Charcoal Offset Smoker
This vertical smoker – Dyna-Glo Model # DGO1176BDC-D Vertical Smoker uses an offset firebox for heat production. This offers many advantages, as it allows for better regulation of the heat than the other vertical styles. However, it also means that it takes more time and monitoring, so there is a trade-off.
Made of heavy duty materials, this model will last for years and it offers plenty of cooking space for even large cuts of meat. The wood chip box is porcelain coated for a smoother smoke production as well. Those that use this smoker love how well it works for their smoking needs and how great the results taste.
Best Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker
Different from other smokers, this model – Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Smoker is actually an all type of cooking system. It can grill, smoke, bake and more, all in one package. This style of cooker has been used in Asia for centuries and it performs better than most smokers as the unique design allows for minute heat control as well as getting the smoke just right.
The downside is that it takes a lot to get used to but when you do, this type of smoker can do it all and maybe more. It has a sturdy construction and the material allows for optimal heat production, retention, and distribution. Those that have this cooker love how well it works and how they can do so much with one cooker.
Top Rated Barrel Cooker
Resembling a 55-gallon drum, this cooker – Pit Barrel Co Cooker Package Series is actually a great performing smoker. It can be used for smoking or grilling but what this model really brings to the table is the ability to spit or hang smoke meats. By allowing the meat to hang, you can get a fuller, richer smoke flavor and a deeper penetration of the smoke to enhance the overall flavor.
It is also light enough to be taken tailgating or camping and it is perfect for any size home. It is easy to use and it is made of steel so it will last and last. Those that use this smoker are impressed with how well the food comes out and they like the ability to hang smoke meat, as well.
Best Home Smoker for the Money
Backed by a ten year warranty, it is easy to see why Weber is the leading grill manufacturer. This model – Weber Model # 721001 Smokey Mountain Series Smoker the bullet style, allows for better overall smoke production coupled with the vertical rising of the heat to produce a deep, rich, smoked flavor.
It is easy to use and it has a front access fire door to help prevent smoke loss while cooking. It can also be used as a grill and it offers plenty of cooking room for even a turkey. Those that use this model love the solid construction and how great everything tastes.
To get the most from your new grill, be sure to use a quality grill cover and read all care instructions before use.