buying a smoker

Smokers and Grills

Things to Consider When Buying a Smoker

In this video, Malcom Reed shares his method for choosing which smoker or grill to buy.

Smoker Buying Podcast

In episode 15 of our HowToBBQRight Podcast, Malcom and Rachelle Reed talk about shooting this video and all the things to consider when buying a smoker or grill.

Tips for Buying a Smoker

I get countless questions looking for information about purchasing a new Smoker, so I thought it would be cool to shoot a quick video talking about a few important ideas to consider before buying that new pit.

1. What’s your Budget?

Smokers come in all price ranges but ultimately how much you are willing to spend determines where you start.

There are lower end pits in the $100-$400 range. This is where most people start out, and there are good options here. For me I’d go with a drum smoker or Weber Smoker Mountain.

In the midrange $400-$1000 you’ll find a little more quality. Stick Burners, ceramic smokers, and even pellet grills can all be found in this range.

The high end smokers are typically over $1000 and this range is for serious pit masters.

2. What are you using it for?

Do you just want a pit for the backyard? Are you planning on getting into competition bbq? Or do you plan to make money with this smoker? These are all important questions to decide the use of the smoker and will determine what type of pit you need.

3. How much capacity do you need?

Capacity is how much meat can fit on the grate. If you’re just cooking at home for family and friends you probably don’t need a huge smoker.

If you’re doing comps or catering gigs then smoker capacity is an issue; and you want to make sure that the pit can handle the job.

4. What is your smoking style?

This is your personal preference, whether its stick burning, pellet smoking, or a combo of coal and wood, your style is important when it comes to deciding on a pit.

There’s plenty more to consider when buying a new smoker like accessories, durability, versatility, and even fuel choices these are just a few of the ideas you should be considering.

Do Your Research

The main point to thing about is do some research first; don’t make a blind buying decision. There’s plenty of good info out there if you just look for it.

Videos and websites are valuable sources and I would also talk to people who actually own the type of pit you’re leaning towards. Learn all there is to know about the smoker before dropping money on it and you won’t regret the purchase.

A few forums where you can ask good BBQ cooks about their experience with different grills and smokers:
Plus there are countless Facebook groups where you can get real feedback from users of the specific grills and smokers you are interested in buying.

Hope this helps a little when you’re deciding to buy your next smoker; and Welcome to the Addiction!

HowToBBQRight Smoker Tour

Malcom Reed shows off his backyard kitchen and his grill setup.

Here are a few Smokers and Grills to check out…

Big Green Egg

The Big Green Egg is a ceramic cooker that can be used for a smoker or a grill. These types of ceramic smokers are very versatile and efficient.

Get more info and see more videos on the Big Green Egg here >>

Ole Hickory Pits

Ole Hickory Pits manufactures and sells wood burning smoker ovens for use by restaurants, caterers, meat processors, food service operators, contest cookers, clubs and other commercial users.

Get more info and see videos about the Ole Hickory here >>

UDS Smoker

Vertical Drum Smokers are also know as Ugly Drum Smokers or UDS.

They are great smokers you buy or make your own.

For more info on UDS Smokers, click here >>

Pellet Smokers

Pellet Smokers are wood fired smokers that burn compressed wood – or Pellets – as the sole heat source. They allow you to cook at precise temps and are very versatile since you can cook at low and slow temps, to high heat grilling and even baking.

For more info on Pellet smokers, click here >>

Check Out My Latest Recipes


Comments 65

  1. Hi Malcom,
    Are you familiar with the Blazing Grill Works pellet grills. I’m trying to decide between the BGW and the Yoder. The Blazin has some unique features and the Yoder has a great following.

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      1. I have a Blaz’n, cooks great, they are out of Nebraska.
        Tim and Mark are great to work with, tech support is fantastic.

  2. Hello Malcom:

    You may even like BBQ more than me, and that’s quite a bit.
    Looking at adding the PK 360 to my arsenal. Grilling looks great
    but not much actual feedback on folks smoking pork butt.
    Have you ever cooked one on the 360?

    Just me and the wife now so I don’t need much volume for home.

    Thank you

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  3. Hello Malcolm.
    Have you ever used a Weber Smoky Mountain? I’ve read some really good reviews on that smoker. I’m torn between buying a 22in WSM or spending more for a Gateway Drum. I really like the looks of the drum and hear it’s very efficient. Can you give me any pros and cons on the two based on personal experience? Thanks.

    1. Just a follow up. I decided to build my own UDS for a fraction of what a WSM costs. I had the barrel already and I bought the hardware kit from Big Poppa. Wow, the drum is awesome.

  4. I need to know which pellet grill to get. I know the Yoder is the one on the show and the one I am interested in. They have several different models. I need one that can go from whole brisket, several slabs of ribs, several butts, and baking. Which one would you suggest, $1.100 price range? I only have about 4X3 deck space left for another grill, ( EXL Primo and round Komado Joe). If space is an issue the Joe can go. Sorry for such a long question, but looking for some help. I don’t see the model on Yoder site that seems to match the videos you post. HELL, I think I could have ask, “what model Yoder do you use on the show”? well so much for public education.

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      I’ve used the Yoder 480 and Yoder 640 in my videos – both a great and you can’t go wrong with the Yoder. But which one you choose depends on what size you want and your budget. The difference between the two is the size

    2. Hey Malcom , was wondering if you had heard of grilla grills and what you thought of them they look really good.

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  5. Malcom,

    Is there any problem in grilling (steaks, burgers, chicken) on an offset smoker? I don’t mean on the firebox side, but in the smoker itself (more area) with coals in the smoker side. My Oklahoma Joe’s Highland’s steel is the same thickness in the firebox and smoker, and the distance from the cooking grates to the coals are equal in both boxes.

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  6. Malcom,

    Which company makes the grill grates you use for the weber come from. Because I am trying to find some so I can have some grill marks but I don’t know which one to use.

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  7. I am looking for something like the one you used in your ribeye video. I know the video is in the year 2016 but I am a new fan and I really enjoy how you cook.

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  8. Hey Malcom,

    Big fan of yours here in Western PA. Curious of your thoughts on the Weber Summit Charcoal? Been bouncing between the new Weber or Yoder YS480. Currently doing most of my smoking on 22″ WSM or Kettle. Like the idea of versatility. The Yoder’s are amazing, but thought of pellets and dialing in your temp seems like “cheating” sometimes. Would also require a separate type of fuel.

    Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated.

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      The Summit is an expensive grill – if you are thinking about pellet cookers I would check out Yoder, Traeger and Grilla. All three of those guys have solid pellet smokers in different price brackets. Personally, I would go with a pellet over the Summit

      1. Thanks for the feedback Malcom and agree they aren’t cheap. Was thinking with it’s stainless steel deflector plate, it would function similar to a XL Big Green Egg as a smoker and a grill.

        That said, being used to the smoke flavor that comes from charcoal smoker, is there really a big difference in the smoke flavor off of a pellet? I know you’ve mentioned it’s less, but is it a big difference or more subtle?

        Thanks again for taking the time and can’t wait to see more of your great videos and recipes.

  9. Big fan! I watched your smoker series and am trying to make a decision. I thought I was going to get a pellet until you mentioned that it is not the best for getting a really good smoke flavor. Im leaning toward the green egg now. Would you recommend to stay away from side smokers? You never do any videos with them.


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  10. In a recent video you were cooking on a Traeger Timberline. How does that smoker compare to your Yoder? I was considering the Yoder but can’t find any reviews comparing the two smokers.

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  11. Hi Malcom….

    I am planing to build a new bbq smoker. I used and still have a weber smoker, and a akorn chargriller.

    This time I am going a little bit bigger I just bought yesterday a 250 gallon propane container.
    I dont know if build a reverse flow smoker or a offset smoker. What would be your recommendation here?

    I am planing to sell pulled pork ribs and brisket on weekends

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  12. Hey Malcom,

    Huge fan here and love watching the YouTube videos. I got my Brinkmann trashcan smoker(the EL Cheapo) about a year ago but it’s just to small for what I want to do. I saw a couple of posts ago that you have an offset smoker coming. I have been looking at offset smokers for a few months now and was just curious what decision you came to and what brought you to your decision. Can’t wait to see what you have lined up next.

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  13. Hello Malcom,

    Been looking at the backwoods chubby model to buy. I’m just looking for using around the house and 10 racks of ribs or a couple of pork butts would be the most I’d do. Do you know much about these? Do you have any suggestions on any other models

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  14. Hey Mal,

    If you were buying a smoker to do Texas Brisket only, what would you buy?
    I live on a hill in Arkansas & the winds blow 400 days a year, so I need something
    that can hold temp year round in high winds.

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  15. Hey Malcom-

    Just found your page… awesome resource! I was given a Masterbuilt Pro smoker similar to this model

    It was originally meant for use with propane, but the entire burner that the propane connects to has been ripped out. No big deal, I’d rather use charcoal anyway. So I bought a grill basket that fits right in there to fill with coals. I tried to smoke a 5 lb boneless pork shoulder the other day and had trouble managing the heat. First it was too hot, then it settled in to about 250 for a while, then it started dropping fast & when I added new coals it got too hot again. After about 6 hours I reached my target temp but the meat wasn’t fall-apart tender like I hoped.

    One thing I just realized is that maybe the 10-inch hole in the bottom of the smoker box (where the propane burner used to be) should be covered up. What do you think? There are 2 dampers on either side near the bottom to control air flow, and another vent at the top. Is the large hole at the bottom letting in too much air? If so, how would you suggest sealing it? I have some pics I could send your way if it’d help to understand what I’ve got going on.

    Keep up the good Q man! Love from Philly. -Chris

  16. Malcolm,

    I stumbled across your page recently and can’t wait to finish the rest of your videos and rewatch my favorites.

    If you could design your own smoker for the backyard (no trailer) what style smoker would you chose? What are some must have features you would implement? I’m a welder, and I’m currently crafting my first smoker. I decided to go with this project because it’s a ton of fun, but I’m a newbie to cooking bbq. I chose an offset, dual chamber, reverse flow design for my smoker. Not knowing much about BBQ myself, I chose this style mostly because it looks cool and I was confident in my metal working skills to pull it off. I’m in the middle of the build, and while I’m making great progress the build still has a decent ways to go and the cook chamber and firebox aren’t attached yet. I have plenty of room to add features before I make things more permanent.

    The the cook chamber is constructed from a 40 lb steel propane tank (9.7 gal; roughly 24″ long and 12″ deep cooking trays), and I was pleasantly surprised by the thickness of the steel after cutting the door (Yes I made sure to thoroughly burn the tank out). My firebox is made from 1/4″ steel and is a tiny bit oversized for the cook chamber according to Feldon’s BBQ Pit Building calculator.

    I was thinking of using the baffle plate as a dual purpose drainage system (with valve) and to reverse flow the smoke. Do you have any thoughts about tuning plates?

    Buying a premium smoker really wasn’t in my budget, and I already have a lot of steel around so it made sense for me to make something that won’t be found in stores.

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  17. If you were told that you could only have one grill and you had to get rid of the rest, which grill do you keep?

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  18. Love your videos and share them often! Moving back to AZ to get closer to family. Part of the negotiation was I get to splurge buy an Ole Hickory. It would live where I drop it in new backyard. Currently use UDS. Which would to recommend (or pick)? Typically host with brisket, few racks of ribs and sausage. Causes me to stagger the UDS. I use smoker about weekly.

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  19. Hi Malcom,
    I stumbled across you while researching my first grill purchase and have really enjoyed all your videos and recipes…keep up the good work!!!
    I’ve narrowed my search down between a Weber 22in Kettle and the PK Original.
    I’m looking for something that can pretty much cover everything as a do-it-all grill.
    If you could only choose one do-it-all grill what would it be?

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  20. Hi Malcom,
    Like everyone else I thoroughly enjoy watching your videos and learning about smoking. I own a Ducane 5004 gas grill with a rotisserie and just cooked my first rib eye using Grill Grates. It turned out awesome. I’ve been researching smokers and am ready to pull the trigger on a Yoder 480. Would you agree that having both of these will give me the ability to grill & smoke most anything?
    Gerry Corbino

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  21. Malcom, I love your podcasts and face book videos. What is your take on the Pitmaker Vault made in Humble Texas. Are you familiar with it?

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  22. Are you familiar with Meadow Creek Smokers? They’re made less than 30 minutes from me here in Pennsylvania. I am considering purchasing their SQ36. Any suggestions for other offset smokers?

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  23. I see you have recently got yourself a Memphis Wood Fire Grill…I just seen the one video with it so far but what are your early thoughts??

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  24. Aloha Malcolm,
    I recently found your youtube channel and I’ve been fixated on your grilling methods. A former coworker used to smoke meats over the weekend and bring samples in for the guys. I don’t remember what he called the meat and he sure didn’t share his recipe. It was the BEST meat I’ve ever tasted. To the point, I believe it was smoked burnt ends of pork belly after doing some research and watching your channel. We don’t have a lot of space on our back porch, most of the area is taken up by the pool and palm trees. I’m looking for your recommendation on a smaller smoker, pellet seems to be the preferred style with many. I have a smoker/grill but it cooks so fast and is almost impossible to regulate temps that I haven’t smoked on it in a couple of years. Help me out! I don’t want to empty the bank but I do want a good quality pellet smoker. What’s your recommendation? Thanks! (PS, it’s grilling/smoking weather year ’round in Hawaii so durability is key also.)

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  25. Good afternoon Malcom!
    What are your thoughts on the Pit Barrel Smoker?
    I have 1 big custom pit, but I can’t use it right now because I’ve moved into an apartment complex. So space is very minimal.

    Thank you!

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  26. Malcom
    Anything I need to do differently on a master built electric smoker?
    All your cooking techniques for all your meats are amazing.
    Just received one as a gift and I’m ready or roll.
    Just don’t want to miss anything or mess up
    Thanks for all advice

  27. Malcom,
    Looking to upgrade from my WSM and saw your Video on the Chubby G2. I been leaning towards that one unless you can recommend something better in that range. Two questions on the Chubby, do you recommend getting the 2 inch insulation option and does it create a good smoke ring? Also thank you for sharing your knowledge, recipes and providing such a great site.

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  28. Hi Malcom,
    Considering purchasing a Fire Magic Stainless Steel Vertical Charcoal BBQ Meat Smoker – 24s-SM.
    Have you ever used one or know anybody that has?

    I have only seen a few reviews which are very positive but it’s a significant investment.

    Thanks for the help.

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  29. Great stuff as always! I was wondering how you like your Kong? I’m considering that or a Kamado Joe Big Joe for my next kamado style pit. I was wondering what your opinion is on these two specific grills are.

    Appreciate your insight!

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  30. Hello Malcolm,

    I’m interested in an offset / stick burner. I want to do it right… Looking at a bunch of the custom build guys – Lang, Yoder, Jambo, Meadow Creek, Klose, etc… Don’t know how to evaluate… For example – straight through, or reverse flow? Insulated fire box important? Who has the dimensions & ratios right to optimize even cook across the smoker, efficient burn, etc… So many questions… Any advice on how to evaluate or talk to people who already know?

    Love your educational content and products. Thank you…


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  31. Hi, this is my first time using smoker I bought an electric smoker( Pit Boss) how do you feel about electric smokers? Once I get into it more what style smoker would you recommend for an all around smoker that can be used for just about everything? Thank you for any input you can give me.

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