Types of Smokers
Before we jump into every detail about propane smokers and how they work or how you can improve their performance, you must know the difference between the different types of smokers you can find in the market.
Did you know that there are seven different types of smokers? Yes, seven! It is a whole new world of culinary experimentation and experiences. So, let’s talk about what benefits each type provides!
Propane or Gas Smokers
Gas smokers either use propane or natural gas. Propane is also known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and it is one of the most primitive smokers that you can find. We won’t go into detail because we will discuss this innovation in detail later on.
So, let’s talk about why you should buy this one? This type of smoker is ideal for all those who are only looking to enhance the flavor of their food without spending extra cash on their equipment. If you are new to smoking and want to learn BBQ techniques, then it is best if you start with propane smokers.
Charcoal smokers, as the name suggests, use charcoals, and occasionally wood chips, to slow-cook food. They are considered the best type of smokers for people who love a deep smokey flavor. They come in several shapes and sizes so you can easily find one which suits your preferences. Unfortunately, charcoal smokers require a lot of babysitting. You would need to keep the temperature under control at all times or else the food will get ruined within seconds.
So if you are looking for the ‘fire and forget’ type of smoker, then this one is not for you. Lastly, it takes time to light up the unit and let the charcoal turn to ash before you can start smoking.
They are big, bulky, and ideal for people who own businesses revolving around cooking BBQ. These bad boys can feed an entire city block in one go! The unit consists of the main cooking chamber which has a firebox on the side and below the chamber. You either put wood or charcoal in the firebox and wait for it to create smoke and heat.
The chimney is present near the top and it exhausts the heat. Some models also feature a grill plate so mostly, you will get a two-in-one smoker and griller offer. One of the reasons why this is ideal for cooking massive amounts of food is that the firebox is ‘offset’. This means it is easier to add more fuel to the fire during operation without disturbing the internal temperature of the smoker/grill.
Pellet Smokers are a combination of oven and smoker. It is perfect for people who want an all-in-one cooking solution. Pellets are small sawdust compressed pieces that are placed inside a hopper which is a small box to store the pellets. It is present on the side of the smoker.
The pellets are gradually fed into the firebox which is a heated metal rod that ignites the pellets and allows them to heat up and produce smoke. The smoke travels to the main cooking area and thus, it smokes and cooks the food beautifully.
These units also have in-built thermometers so that you can keep the temperature in control at all times. However, if you are on a tight budget constraint, then it is better to stay away from these units. Furthermore, these are not the best choice if you are looking for portability. The heating rod needs electricity to operate so you will always need an electric source nearby.
Electric smokers are perfect for people who are looking for a ‘fire and forget’ type of cooking operation. There is no need of burning charcoal or pellets or using propane tanks. Everything is managed electronically. Some high-tech models even allow you to control all operations via a Bluetooth application.
All you will need are wood chips. These are placed right above the heating element which produces heat and warms up the woodchips. It also has a water pan that produces water vapor to improve the smoky flavor of the food. They also help to keep the temperature under optimal levels.
They are easy to use and do not need much effort from your end. So, if you are a newcomer in the world of smoking, an electric smoker might be the best option for you. Although, keep in mind that the smoke flavor that this unit will produce will be different from propane and charcoal smokers since there is no combustion.
Also, since the temperature is just enough to allow woodchips to create smoke, it is ideal for fish, vegetables, and cheese. However, you won’t be able to get a crispy crust on chicken or meat.
Kamado grills are in the shape of a large-sized egg. Their design is inspired by ancient clay ovens. The ceramic walls are ideal for moisture and heat retention. The fire is ignited at the bottom of the cooking chamber. If you are smoking, then you can include wood chips and a water dish in the unit. Many models have a deflector plate which is situated right above the fire and helps to reflect some of the heat.
The heat and smoke rise to the cooking chamber where the food is placed on grilling grates. All of the smoke is redirected towards the food from every direction due to the oval shape. Due to the limited airflow, the food will not dry out. Furthermore, you can even cook a pizza or bake a cake in these grills!
If you live in cold climates, then kamado grills are the perfect option for you since they help in heat retention and there is little to no airflow. However, they are not cheap. Due to its thick walls, heating up and cooling down the unit takes a lot of time.
Kettle grills are one of the most common cooking devices that you will find in many homes. Technically speaking, the unit is not a smoker but it can be used to smoke small amounts of food perfectly. There are many methods of doing so.
The snake method is a commonly used method in which you arrange unlit coals briquettes in the shape of a C. Then you light up a few coal pieces and place if on the stat of the C, or the ‘snake’. All of the coals gradually light up. You can also place chunks of wood on top of the lit coals to create a richer smoke flavor.
The food is placed on the opposite side. Just close the lid of the grill and allow the smoke naturally. These small units are handy and easy to use. Although, since they are not designed to be a smoker, you might not get the most authentic smoke flavor.
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