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How to Choose the Perfect Barbecue Smoker

Here is a video of Waylon talking about one of our smokers - our whole hog cooker. Check it out...

Choosing the perfect smoker can be a challenge.

There are several factors that will determine what is best for your situation.

Key things to consider:

1. What is my budget?

Smokers are priced anywhere from $50 El-Cheap-O models all the way up to custom jobs that can cost well over $10K.

You have to decide how much money you are willing to invest. Starting out I would recommend a smaller, easy to operate smoker such as the Weber Smokey Mountain. These smokers are great for the beginner pit master.

They hold temperature very well and have enough room to cook Large cuts of meat. Lots of Competition teams use multiple WSM's (Weber Smokey Mountain's) to compete on the KCBS Bbq Circuit.

2. What quantity of meat am I cooking?

Whether you're cooking a Boston Butt or case of Baby Back Ribs, you want to have the adequate smoker for the job. If you only cook at home for family and friends, you won't need an expensive Competition smoker; but if you plan competiting in a bbq contest, you will need a smoker that can handle multiple large cuts of meat.

3. Dry Heat Smoker vs. Water Smoker

I use what is referred to as a "Water Smoker". This simply means that there is a Water Pan in between the fire source and the cooking chamber.

The purpose of the water pan is to provide a moist cooking environment which produces a juicer, tender final product.

The Water Pan also acts as a heat regulator keeping the temps at an even level inside the smoker.

I've always cooked on a water smoker. Some people argue that dry heat produces better bark but I don't find that to be the case.

Smokers referred to as "Stick Burners" typically do not have water pans. These type smokers would be considered "Dry Heat" Smokers.

There are many other factors to think about when deciding on a smoker such as:

  • fuel sources (charcoal, wood, pellets etc.)
  • mobility
  • maintenance
  • durability

And that's just to name a few. When you have a budget and idea of what type smoker you want to purchase, I suggest you compare several different models.

smoker tips

backwoods party smoker
Backwoods Party Model

ole hickory smoker
Ole Hickory Pit

Each one will have it's pro's and con's. Deciding on what is best for you're situation is entirely up to you.

For the beginner...

I would look at purchasing a smoker similar to the Weber Smokey Mountain.

For the intermediate pit master who might be competing in local contest...

I would think about a small Vertical upright smoker (Backwoods Party Model or FEC 100)

For the person with no budget in mind...

I would look into the larger commercial style Southern Prides or Old Hickory Pits.


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Thermapens For Internal Meat Probe for Competition BBQ Cooks