Smokers come in all shapes, sizes and fuel types including gas, electric and charcoal. From small, portable BBQ smokers such as those in Brinkmann's range, to larger oil-drum sized smokers made by Traeger and Charbroil amongst many others.
This guide will provide a brief overview of the different types of BBQ smoker.
Propane is a clean and simple way to get the smoker started. Gas smokers employ many tasty options for wood pellet or charcoal cooking and combine ergonomic controls for heat and ignition. Uprights give you mobility and make the ideal choice for compact outdoor areas. Traditional models include highly ventilated fireboxes that deliver exceptional tenderness and taste that you can only find in a gas smoker.
Electric smokers are the popular choice when a rapid start-time is your primary goal. In the upright models, they are designed to deliver a small footprint along with a relatively large interior cooking space. You can also enjoy outdoor cooking with various bbq smoker accessories including lava rocks and detachable feet. The openings on the front and lid make accessibility to your meats and fish an easy task with an electric smoker.
Charcoal smokers have their own unique benefits as they are capable of cooking at much higher temperatures than some smokers and as such, can cook through thick slabs of meat with ease.
Don't be misled by the natural qualities of charcoal which conventially cook at high temperatures only. Most charcoal smokers are also quite capable of cooking at lower temperatures over long periods of time, and with the use of flavoured wood-chips, such as though used by Traeger, the flavors that are produced will delight your tastebuds. This is quite unique to charcoal smokers.
The food is smoked without heat - think smoked cheese, bacon, and cold smoked salmon and trout. All of these foods are cooked to perfection in a cold smoker and excellent consisten results are achieveable with the single downside being that it takes longer to smoke the food. There are many useful applications for a cold smoker, and where time is not a factor, you will find that the most common choice is a cold smoker.
The food is cooked and smoked at the same time. Think smoked chicken, smoked eel, smoked mackerel and hot smoked salmon. Hot smokers provide the quickest means to smoke and cook food and is often the most common choice in commericial applications such as large-scale catering. Hot smokers are sometimes used in private barbecues, though nowhere near as often as their gas and charcoal counterparts. Cooking time is one of the major benefits of using a hot smoker.
A form of hot smoking where the food is smoked over hot charcoal to which wood chunks are added. A bowl of water within the smoker keeps the food moist. Water smoking is believed to be a cajun cooking technique used in the past for well over two hundred years.
Water smoking can be employed in most charcoal smokers, though not in all cases as it depends largely upon the internal size available within the upright water smoker.