Best Charcoal smokers are used to cook delicious and tender meat that is flavorful. These equipment are have a little difference with grills. Smokers use inderect heat to cook the meat. Nevertheless, most smokers nowadays are equipped with a grill functionality too. This gives you the flexibility to create grilled food with an added feature of smoking it.
It is important to note the proper set-up of charcoal in the smoker. Moreover, adding water inside is key to keeping the food moist. You can also adjust the temperature based on the heat requirements of the food you are cooking.
|Smoker||Image||Price||Cooking surface (sq in)||Style||Warranty||Dimensions (in)|
|1. Weber Smokey Mountain 18″||Check Price||481||Water||10 years||21 x 19 x 41|
|2. Pit Barrrel Cooker||Check Price||N/A||Ugly Drum||1 year||22 x 33 x 22|
|3. Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Barbecue||Check Price||447||Kamado||5 year||21.6 x 28.7 x 24.8|
|4. Weber Original Kettle Premium 22″ Charcoal Grill||Check Price||363||Kettle||10 years||38.5 x 27 x 22.5|
|5. Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Charcoal Smoker||Check Price||784||Cabinet||1 year||49.7 x 21.5 x 20.8|
|6. PK Grill PK99740 Charcoal Grill Smoker Combo||Check Price||300||Combo||10 years||16 x 35 x 35.5|
|7. Deluxe Americal Offset Smoker from Char-Broil||Check Price||670||Offset||28.2 x 60.2 x 51|
|8. Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker||Check Price||N/A||Ourdoor||22.5 x 21 x 31.5|
Click to jump straight to each topic:
- 1 Who Charcoal Smokers are Best Suited For
- 2 Main Types of Charcoal Smokers
- 3 Buying Guide for the Best Charcoal Smokers 2018
- 4 Top 7 Best Charcoal Smoker reviews
- 5 1. Smoke Mountain Charcoal Smoker from Weber – The Best All Around Charcoal Smoker
- 6 2. Classic Cooker Package from Pit Barrel Cooker Co. – The best ugly drum style smoker
- 7 3. Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker – The best budget Kamado Smoker
- 8 4. Original Premium Kettle Charcoal Grill from Weber – The best charcoal grill smoker combo
- 9 5. Vertical Charcoal Grill and Smoker from Dyna-Glo – The Best Cabinet Charcoal Smoker
- 10 6. PK Grill PK99740 Charcoal Grill Smoker Combo
- 11 7. Deluxe Americal Offset Smoker from Char-Broil
- 12 8. Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker
- 13 Starting a Charcoal Smoker
- 14 Managing the Temperature on a Charcoal Smoker
- 15 Cleaning and Maintenance Guide
- 16 Maintaining Your Smoker
- 17 Final Thoughts
Who Charcoal Smokers are Best Suited For
Smokers provide a flavorful taste on food. There are several smokers in the market that are equipped with different features. When selecting a smoker for your needs, you must consider prioritizing the features you want to get.
Charcoal smokers are great for people who like food that has a smokey or firey flavor. This flavor is different with the usual frying and grilling. Furthermore, people have become more reliant on smokers as you just need to set it up and just wait for the food to cook. In general, it is easy to use and perfect for people who do not have too much time preparing food.
Meathead Goldwyn, Charcoal Grill vs. Gas Grill Throwdown
Main Types of Charcoal Smokers
Finding the right charcoal smoker might be a difficult task. There are a number of smokers in the market from which you can choose from.
Here are some of the charcoal smoker types available. You can make the decision process less complex by looking into the features of the smokers.
- Bullet or Water – One of the most popular charcoal smoker types is bullet or water smoker. It utilizes a water pan which produces water vapor during the cooking process. It aids in keeping the moisture on the food.
- Vertical Cabinet – This type of smoker runs on gas or electricity. It is easier to access that other smokers. You just need to plug it on and you are good to go.
- Offset Barrel – This smoker has a barrel shaped chamber connected a smaller firebox in the end. The offset refers to this configuration.
- Kamado – Named after a cooking urn from Japan, this type of smoker is made from heavy-duty steel. Most Kamado smokers are made from ceramics. They perform well outdoors for both grilling and smoking.
These are just the common charcoal smoker types. It is essential to select the best one that fits your needs and requirements. With this, take into account its key features to determine your preferred type.
Steven Raichlen, A Guide to Charcoal Water Smokers
Buying Guide for the Best Charcoal Smokers 2018
Finding the right charcoal smoker might be a difficult task. There are a number of smokers in the market from which you can choose from. Nevertheless, you make the decision process less complex by looking into the features of the smokers.
There are several features that you should look for in a charcoal smoker. By getting equipment with these preferable features can assure you that you may get a good cooking experience. Here are some of the features you should consider when deciding to purchase a charcoal smoker.
Cost – You should look for charcoal smokers that provide the best value for your money. Be on the lookout for products offered at a low price but does not perform well.
It is better to select a more expensive one but provides better performance than a budget-friendly one but can easily break. With all the selections in the market, find one that fits with your budget, performs better and lasts even after multiple uses.
Capacity – There are several smoker varieties available in the market. Some are for big occasions where it yields a huge amount of food. Others are small and portable which is perfect for family trips and outings.
A great charcoal smoker satisfies your needs when it comes to the size you are cooking for. With this, it is pertinent to identify the size of the group you need to cook for. This will allow you to filter out the options which do not attend to your size requirement.
Portability – Similar with capacity, it is essential to identify what type of occasion you are cooking for. If you are preparing for a big party, you can go with commercial smokers that are bulky and just stay in one place. On the other hand, if you are going on a trip that will require you to use a smoker, find a portable one.
Nevertheless, there are big smokers that allow you to transport it. Big smokers utilize wheels which can help you bring it from one point to another. There are also some which can be disassembled for easy transport. You may need to reassemble it first before you can use it again.
Temperature Control – This is the most important feature of a charcoal smoker and grill. You must be able to control the temperature for even cooking of food.
The smoker must be equipped with temperature control features such as dampers and vents. These can allow heat to escape to lower the temperature or seal the cooker for a higher one.
Another feature to look for is having the ability to know the internal temperature. Instead of using manual thermometer, there are smokers equipped with a temperature gauge. This will inform you immediately the amount heat inside without the need to open it and measure.
Robustness – Another thing to consider is the durability of the smoker. You must look for a product that ensures its longevity even after multiple uses.
There are several manufacturers that offer warranty to customers. Make sure to ask for this information which is valuable should you need assistance for some issues.
Cleaning components – Some charcoal smokers have components that aid the user in cleaning the equipment. Dust pans are a common component which allows the user to just easily dump out the ashes after the cooking process.
Modern or additional functionalities – Look for smokers with additional features that can aid you in your cooking activities. Some smokers have cabinets or shelves attached where you can place your cooking tools and utensils.
Others may have heat-resistant handles which prevent potential burns. In addition to these, some have water pans that aid in producing water vapor to keep the food moist. Whatever it is, these features aid you to perform your cooking tasks better.
These are just some of the things that you should look for in a smoker. Aside from these, you can also research about the manufacturer to identify their edge over the others.
Moreover, it is also recommended to read reviews provided by customers who have already tried the product. This will give you an insight of how it performs on other homes and what will you expect as you use it.
- Best Electric Smokers Reviews for 2018 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
- Best Offset Smoker Reviews for 2018 – Top 5 picks
- Top 10 Best Pellet Smokers Reviews for 2018 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
Top 7 Best Charcoal Smoker reviews
There are a number of charcoal smokers in the market. Most of them are made by reputable brands which offer excellent quality and performing equipment. We recommend you evaluate the functionalities it provides to get the preferable one.
When looking into potential smokers for your cooking needs, you must consider the pros and cons it provides. Moreover, you should examine the features that it has. Here are some of the best charcoal smokers in the market nowadays.
1. Smoke Mountain Charcoal Smoker from Weber – The Best All Around Charcoal Smoker
Weber grills have been traditionally part of family cooking activities. Its creator George Stephen designed it in such a way that it exceeds the expectations of the customers. Over the years, the brand name has become closely associated with smokers and grills for barbecue.
This equipment aims to provide performance and durability. Whether you are cooking simple or complex meals, this charcoal smoker is engineered to always provide the best cooking experience. On the other hand, you are assured with excellent customer services should you need assistance on product issues and inquiries.
- Built-in temperature gauge – The equipment utilizes a temperature gauge attached to the body. It helps you monitor the internal temperature of the food inside without the need to open the lid. This helps in maintaining the heat as the lid is not removed periodically.
- Water Pan – Equipped with a water pan that is enamelled with porcelain, you can add steam through the water vapor it produces. This allows the meat to stay tender and moist.
- Robust cooking grates – The grates of this equipment are made from high quality materials which makes it heavy-duty. They are made from plated steel that provides excellent room for smoking your favorite meats. You can fit a number of foods such as meat and vegetables on the multi-layered grill.
- Rest-resistant heat shield – Allowing the user to get authentic smoke flavor, this charcoal smoker has a rust resistant heat shield. You can expect to perform well even after multiple uses.
- Heat-resistant handle – The handle attached to this smoker aids in handling the lid whenever you need to check the food you are cooking. It is made from a nylon material that resists even high temperatures.
- Allows you to control the heat through monitoring the temperature in the built-in gauge and adjustment of vents
- Designed ergonomically as the body has two grill layers for better experience and heat-resistant handle for easy lifting
- Provides excellent cook and flavor with the use of charcoal and wood chunks
- Lasts for a long period of time even after multiple uses
- Has detachable parts which makes it portable and easy to transport for trips
- User may tend to find it difficult to reassemble detachable parts
- Better for beginners but may lack some functionalities for expert cooks
2. Classic Cooker Package from Pit Barrel Cooker Co. – The best ugly drum style smoker
Uniquely designed with barrel design, this charcoal smoker allows you to cook a large quantity of food without fuss. It is simple to operate but produces consistent results in terms of cook and smoky flavor.
Compared with other cooking options, this smoker provides you minimal hassle in assembly and cleaning. You can easily remove components and wash them individually. In this way, you do not need to clean the entire equipment as a whole.
The package includes a number of attachments. These components will aid you in the cooking process and cleaning. With all these at hand, you are sure of getting the best value out of your money.
- Hannging rods – With two hanging rods, you can situate your food on your desired height within the barrel smoker. Moreover, this will ensure even cooking throughout the meat of vegetable.
- Hooks made from stainless steel – With a row of hooks you can easily hang meats, sausage, fish and your other favorite food with ease. This is perfect for large or tall food that does not normally fit on your regular charcoal smoker
- Ash pan – This removable part of the smoker aids in cleaning the ash dirt. You can just remove it and dump out the excess ash after cooking. With this, cleaning the equipment becomes easier and faster. You can easily remove this using the hook remover that comes along with the product.
- Charcoal basket – This component holds your charcoal well throughout the cooking process. With its open bottom, the ashes can simply fall down which makes it easier to clean .
- Allows cooking of tall and large-sized food
- Easy to assemble and does not need additional tools
- Equipped with attachments such as hooks and hanging rods for aided cooking process
- Has standard grates for easy grilling
- Easy to clean just by disassembling the components
- Cooks faster than other regular grillers and smokers
- Temperature inside the barrel tends to be hard to control
- Low grill surface which makes it to hard to use with a spatula
3. Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker – The best budget Kamado Smoker
You can now enjoy smoked food with this smoker and griller from Char-Griller. This equipment allows you to sear meat through the high temperature is can produce. Moreover, you have the option to also slow roast your favorite food using low heat.
This grill and smoker in one is versatile in nature. The manufacturer guarantees its quality as it is built to last for a long period of time. With its triple walled structure and temperature gauge, you can easily control the temperature from 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Temperature control – This equipment has adjustable dampers in the bottom and top. It evens out the air flow throughout the grill during smoking or cooking. It is also fuel efficient, allowing you to utilize less charcoal every session.
- Steel construction – Char-griller designed this smoker to last even after multiple uses. Its interior steal is porcelain coated while the exterior is powder coated.
- Large wheel with locks – It is equipped with two front wheels which a locking mechanism. The locks secure it in place when you find your desired area to perform your grilling tasks.
- Adequate grill space – Utilizing a 314 square-inch cast iron space for grilling and smoking, it is great for large amounts of meat and vegetables. Moreover, it has a warming rack that is removable to aid your cooking and grilling needs.
- Top and bottom dampers – Equipped with a top and bottom damper, you can easily maintain good air flow inside the smoker. Moreover, you can control the heat as it is built with a temperature gauge. The ash pan allows you to quickly clean the excess ashes without opening the smoker.
- Folding shelf – The side shelves make it easier to hold your cooking tools and utensils. If you do not need to use it or if you are preparing to store it, you can easily fold it away.
- Adjusts temperature for different types of meats or cooking technique by opening or closing the dampers
- Exhibits portability due to its 8-inch wheels that are easy to roll and station through its locks
- Provides robustness as it is made from solid steel having its exteriors and interiors coated
- Easy to operate as users accustomed to conventional charcoal grill quickly transition from using the old one to this new equipment
- Smokes food to perfection by allowing the user to incorporate different wood chunks for additional flavor.
- Tends to acquire several dents if not handled or maintained properly
- Lid may melt on some areas if situated on high heat
4. Original Premium Kettle Charcoal Grill from Weber – The best charcoal grill smoker combo
Works well for everyday grilling, this charcoal smoker is perfect for your backyard. It has a one-touch cleaning system that is preferable for on-the-go people. Nevertheless, you are assured of high quality equipment that produces amazing and flavorful food every use.
With its large surface area of 363 sq. inches, you can cool at most 13 burgers in one go. Aside from this, you can easily control the temperature inside the smoker with the help of its built-in thermometer.
You can surely get the best deal from this smoker from Weber. Aside from the fact that it is made from high quality materials, it also offers several features. These shall aid you in getting a good cooking experience every time.
- Heat-resistant handle – The handle of this smoker has a heat shield. This prevents that handle of the lid from going hot especially on high-heat cooking.
- Ergonomic lid placement – The smoker lid is equipped with an angled hook that provides convenience to you when keeping it accessible. Instead of situating on the table or ground, you can just easily hang it on the grill’s side.
- Grilling tools access – Equipped with a handle/rod on the side of the grill, you can easily hang your tools like tongs and spatulas. This will allow easy access on your needed tools which make it an organized work area.
- Robust wheels – If you are a fan of portability, this equipment has wheels which make it perfect for trips. Moreover, you can easily move it around with the use of its durable wheels.
- Equipped with improved design compared with similar previous versions
- Easy to clean as it has an ash catcher which you can just remove every after use
- Effortless to assemble and install components
- Has high heat tolerance which works well on food that needs high temperature for cooking
- Lasts for a long time even after multiple uses due to robust components
- Produces good cook and flavorful food
- Hardware tends to get damaged if not properly handled
- Paint get chipped easily
- Hard to assemble the equipment’s parts
These are just some of the options you can consider when eyeing for a charcoal bbq smoker. It is pertinent to identify their features and cross-check it with your needs.
If you find one that works well with your requirements, you can now start learning how to use it. Morever, you must know how to properly clean and maintain it. This will allow the smoker to last for a long time, minimizing physical damages and potential performance issues.
5. Vertical Charcoal Grill and Smoker from Dyna-Glo – The Best Cabinet Charcoal Smoker
If you are a fan of charcoal grills because of the flavor it provides, this grill and smoker from Dyna-Glo is a great option. You can now smoke your food with your preferred wood chunks that add another layer of flavor. When asking the question, “What is the best smoker design?” this product keeps the heat maintained through the duration of cooking.
A vertical smoker is great in maximizing the smoky flavor of the food you are cooking. This equipment, specifically utilizes four cooking grates. Each grate has 784 sq. inches of cooking area. It allows you to cook a lot of food at the same time. You can put your favorite vegetables on top and meats at the bottom. You can look into vertical charcoal smoker reviews for more details about it.
- Adjustable grates – The height of the grates are adjustable which makes it flexible in terms of cooking different types of food. It also has a spacious area which is great if you are preparing meals for the whole family.
- Double door – This feature helps in minimizing heat loss when accessing the coal and food. You do not need to open the lid if you want to add coal. There is another compartment where you can add coal chunks freely. As you eliminate the action of opening the lid, the temperature is maintained.
- Ash pan – This removable part of the smoker aids in cleaning the ash dirt. You can just remove it and dump out the excess ash after cooking. With this, cleaning the equipment becomes easier and faster.
- Charcoal chamber – The chamber is enamelled with porcelain. It helps keep the briquettes stacked in a tight position. This helps efficiently burn the coal and keeps the smoke intact inside the equipment.
- Temperature gauge – Equipped with a stainless steel temperature gauge, you can immediately know the internal temperature of the grill. Moreover, it helps identify the ideal heat amount in the smoke zone to make sure that flavor is infused well.
- Provides user an easy maintenance or cleaning requirements
- Prevents potential leaks as both does have excellent seals on the outer edges
- Has a spacious area and multiple grills for cooking huge amount of food
- Equipped with high quality and sturdy components that may last even after multiple uses over time
- Easy to monitor temperature for proper control due to built-in temperature gauge situated on the body
- May provide noticeable dents if not handled well
- Difficult to assemble because of its heavy weight
6. PK Grill PK99740 Charcoal Grill Smoker Combo
With its sleek and compact design, you can easily bring this griller and smoker combo anywhere. In this way, you need not sacrifice the food quality you serve whenever you are not in your home. PK Grill produces tough equipment that can withstand even long and rough travel.
The design of this equipment resembles that of a cooker with an egg style, also known as Kamado. Nevertheless, compared with other brands, you can easily load it easily without the need for special equipment for transport. You can detach the oven for easy maintenance and cleaning. You are truly provided the capability to have amazing barbecue anywhere and anytime.
- Cast Aluminum body – Aluminum is known to be durable, rust proof and lightweight. Incorporating these properties to this product makes it ideal equipment for your cooking needs. It heats well up to four times than other major steel grills and charcoal wood smokers.
- Detachable construction – With its detachable parts, this equipment is generally portable. It recommended for people who frequently participate on camping, hunting, tailgating and fishing.
- Spacious cooking surface – The cooking surface spans for 300 sq. inches which is wide enough for large amount of cooking. This small charcoal smoker and grill allows you to handle large meats such as Turkey.
- Warranty of 10 years – You can now buy a smoker without worrying about its durability. PK Grill offers customers 10 years of warranty. With this, you can expect the product is covered against breakage, rust and burn out.
- Recommended for trips due to its portability as its parts are lightweight and can be detached
- Provides the best value for your money as it is recently awarded by several award-giving bodies because of its excellent performance
- Chides away from rust even after a long period of use
- Exhibits good heating conduction aided by its excellent aluminum body construction
- Allows grilling and smoking at the same time that produces excellent food flavor
- Has several gaps in the enclosure which makes it not fully air tight
- Needs prior heating of charcoal as fresh chunks does not easily heat up when added
7. Deluxe Americal Offset Smoker from Char-Broil
Providing a reliable and durable way to grill food, this equipment has been praised by most of its customers. You can smoke your favorite meats up to your desired quality through this heavy-duty smoker from Char-Broil. With its easy-to-control temperature, you can surely get the perfect cook every use.
This equipment is constructed well, having easily accessible drawers and steel construction. Its square legs with wheels aid in comfortably transporting it from one point to another. Moreover, it utilizes handles for easy maneuvring and handling.
- Heat-resistant handles – You no longer need to worry about potentially burning your fingers when cooking. This equipment has heat-resistant chrome-plated handles which shall protect your hand from the scorching heat.
- Adjustable dampers – Utilizing multiple dampers, you can easily control the temperature and smoke in the cooker. Should you wish to lower the temperature, you can just open up the dampers. This allows you to cook your meet perfectly.
- Storage racks – The storage rack aids in keeping cooking tools and utensils in a secured place. Moreover, users can store additional charcoal here to make it available should the griller need more chunks.
- Chimney vent – Along with the dampers, you can control the temperature of the griller by opening or closing the chimney vent. With this, the smoke is kept at bay.
- Water pan – This smoker utilizes a water pan which aids in producing water vapor. Coated with porcelain, this enamel pan aids in creating steam inside the smoker. This will keep the meat and other food tender as well as moist.
- Built-in temperature gauge – A temperature gaud is attached on the smoker’s lid. It helps the user identify the internal temperature. With this, you can immediately perform temperature adjustments should there be requirements for it.
- Allows easy control on temperature using adjustable dampers and chimney vent
- Keeps the smoke secured inside because of the high quality cooking chamber
- Great for trips as it is portable due to its roller wheels
- Has a spacious warming rack for a huge amount of food for cooking
- Easy to monitor temperature with the help of built-in temperature gauge in the lid
- Susceptible smoker parts from bents when transported
- Hard to assemble especially when there are no instructions at hand
8. Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker
Everybody loves a good barbecue (Well maybe except for vegans, but who cares about vegans anyway? Because if you are reading this, then you probably aren’t one). Nothing beats the juicy goodness of a smoked beef brisket or a smoked pulled pork shoulder. The only way to enjoy that meal though is if you go to a great barbecue joint. But if you are like us who love to cook our own food, then owning a charcoal smoker is the best way to enjoy a good barbecue. If you are new to the game, one such smoker we highly recommend is the Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker.
The Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker is a heck of an outdoor smoker. Even though it is one of the smallest outdoor charcoal smokers available on the market, it does deliver great results. Best of all, since it is small, it is very portable. It only weighs a total of 130lbs, which will allow you to take this smoker virtually anywhere you like. Whether you want to be the BBQ master at your own backyard, the lake, camp site or even your friend’s house, you will be able to do it with the Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker.
This charcoal smoker is considered by many barbecue enthusiasts as one of the most versatile barbecue smokers in the Backwoods cooker lineup. That’s because it has multiple uses. You can convert it into a grill or a barbecue pit by just removing the stainless water pan. It also has an award winning design that will bring competition quality to your barbecue at the comfort of your own backyard. If you want a smoky flavor to whatever you are grilling, you can just add wood to your charcoal and you’ll get that flavor without any problem. With the help of the Backwoods Chubby 3400, you will be able to cook for the entire neighbourhood or maybe your son’s little league team.
This small but heavy duty charcoal smoker has 4 racks that measure 16 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches. It also comes with one extra slider so you can arrange your meat properly. It has enough cooking space to for a beef brisket, leg and thigh combos, a rack of ribs and a pork butt to fit in all at once. That saves you a lot of time. The measurement of the cooking compartment is at 13 inches high, 17 inches deep and 16 inches wide. The fire box is 2 inches high, 18 inches deep and 16 inches wide respectively. The Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker is manufactured overseas.
We’ve taken the liberty to breakdown of features of this outdoor smoker so you can easily see its capabilities.
- Cooking degrees: estimated 180 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
- Amount of charcoal: estimated 6 to 10 lb.
- Cooking time: estimated 6 to 10 hours (depends on the temperature)
- All stainless steel inside
- Heat diverter
- Removable stainless steel water pan
- Black doors with slam latches
- 1 extra slider for rack height adjustment
- Pre-drilled Caster bolt hole pattern on bottom of the 3 inch feet
- 1/8″ nickel plated racks
- 1″ insulation standard
- Meat: around 8 slabs of baby back ribs, 2 to 3 brisket, 2 to 4 Boston butts
Bottom of Form
- Castors (will raise the smoker up 6′′)
- BBQ Guru Digi Q DX 2
- 20 1/2′′ deep plus 2′′ for the thermometer and door latches
- 29′′ tall plus 2 1/2′′ for the stack
- 20′′ wide including handles
- Cooking Chamber Dimensions:
- 17′′ deep
- 13′′ tall cooking chamber
- 16′′ wide
- Four, 3′′ apart
- 16 1⁄2” deep
- 15 1⁄2” wide
- 1/8′′ Nickel plated round bar
To provide a background of the manufacturer, Backwoods manufactures a range of more than a dozen sizes of notable, front-loaded charcoal or wood-fueled cabinet smokers in Louisiana. Proof of their ingenuity is that they can also custom build smokers if one of their standards won’t work for your needs. Their small units are excellent for home cookouts. Their medium sized units on the other hand are very popular on the competition scene. You can often see top teams use their medium-sized smokers. The large-sized smokers are mostly used by caterers, whole hog cookers, and in restaurants. Mike McGowan, the founder of Backwoods, together with his team have been building these excellent and well performing smokers for more than 30 years now. Backwoods started its operation in 1987.
To give you a clear picture of the Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker, it has a lower door for the fuel. Above the charcoal and below the bottom shelf in the food chamber, you can see a large capacity stainless steel water pan. This water pan will put considerable humidity into the atmosphere which will keep the food moist. This moisture is both good and bad depending on how you look at it. It is bad because it takes longer to build a good hard bark. However, the moist is also good because it helps prevent the meat from becoming dry.
The Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker is built with three walls. There is a space between the outside wall and the center wall is filled with insulation so that the heat will stay trapped within the smoker. Performance wise, the Chubby 3400 will do well even in freezing weather. We made it a point to test it thoroughly in rough, cold winter weather. If you examine the smoker, you will see an air gap between the center wall and the inner wall. This gap is where the smoke and heat travel from the firebox in the lower compartment to the water pan and up to the top of the cooking chamber. The smoke and heat will enter the cooking chamber at the top of the side walls. There is also heat radiating through the inner walls. You can find the chimney opening at the bottom of the back wall. It is designed that way so that smoke and heat work their way down past the food from the top and exit the cooking chamber at the bottom. It will then go back up the chimney. Since the duct from the firebox opens at the top, don’t be alarmed if the top shelf runs a bit hotter than the lower shelves.
Upon further examination, we found that the materials, welds, and bends are very high quality. You will definitely see that the smoker was made well. You will see stainless steel protectors on the top corners. The door latches and gaskets are tight which will prevent unnecessary heat and smoke from escaping. The Shelves are made of heavy 304 stainless steel. So do not be surprised of its weight. The Chubby 3400 is heavy (we’re starting to think that is why they called this beauty Chubby). The smoker also comes with high-quality Tel-Tru dial thermometers that are built into the doors. We’ve also ran some tests and found that they were surprisingly accurate.
This small outdoor charcoal smoker will fit nicely in any backyard. Since they are also high-performing smokers, you will also find them popping up at local and national BBQ competitions. Backwoods just introduced a lower cost Chubby 3400 made in China.
If you are going for an outdoor charcoal smoker, be advised though that they require a bit more attention than electric smokers, gas smokers, or pellet smokers. This kind of smoker will have your skills tested mainly because you will have to monitor and fine tune the fuel and air supply just to keep the temperature within your target range. This takes practice, so don’t worry if you won’t get a handle of it during your first few tries. Some smokers are easier to handle than others. Since the temperature and can go up and down quite often, it can be difficult to estimate when the meat will be ready. You don’t know how many grill masters ruin a few meals learning how to handle a new smoker. Sometimes they cook too hot and the meat will dry out and be tough. When they cook it too cool, they wind up serving raw meat. If the air dampers are set incorrectly, the smoke can turn the food bitter. So if you are going to buy a charcoal smoker, our best recommendation is to make sure you buy a good one. This is where the Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker shines. It is definitely one of the best outdoor charcoal smokers money can buy. Plus, you do not need to invest in a really good thermometer because this baby already has a reliable one installed on the door. Just make sure you take enough time to learn how to handle it properly. Because once mastered, this outdoor charcoal smoker can be a beast. There’s a reason why a lot of competitive barbecue lovers find this smoker attractive. That’s because it is well worth your money.
These are just some of the options you can consider when eyeing for a charcoal bbq smoker. It is pertinent to identify their features and cross-check it with your needs.
If you find one that works well with your requirements, you can now start learning how to use it. Morever, you must know how to properly clean and maintain it. This will allow the smoker to last for a long time, minimizing physical damages and potential performance issues.
Starting a Charcoal Smoker
To fully maximize the performance potential of your charcoal smoker, you must read the instructions provided by its manufacturer. Furthermore, you can initially look into its user manual. Here are simple ways in starting a charcoal smoker.
It is recommended to heat your charcoal first on an open fire such as in your chimney. The chimney shall allow the charcial to start burning before you add it on the smoker or grill. Allow it to burn and set for around 15 minutes.
There are specialized charcoal chimneys available in the market. You can also purchase them online or on your local hardware store. Should you have other ways to heat up yout charcoal, you can opt not to purchase a chimney.
Add charcoal to smoker
As soon as yout charcoal starts to burn, you can start adding them on your smoker. It is advisable to keep unlit chunks of charcoal on the side. Then, you can slowly add the hot charcoal on this pile.
It is essential to pile up your charcoal on one of the grill’s side and place the meat on the adjacent side. This will allow the meat to cook slowly without burning its surface. The indirect heat can still cook the meat well but with longer period of time.
Enhance the flavor with chunks of wood
You can ehnace the flavor of your food by adding pieces of wood along with the charcoal. There are several wood chunks that provide good flavors. They tend to get smoldered for a longer period of time.
Some of the recommended good chunks are apple, cherry, hickory ans oak. They are often used by barbecue enthusiasts due to the unique flavors they provide. You ca. Place them on the chimney along with your charcoal. Nevertheless. Set it on the other side, adjacent to the charcoal, when slowly adding it on the smoker.
Create a water pan
Most smokers have water pans included. Nevertheless, charcoal grills do not commonly have them. With this, you can create a make shift water pan with the use of baking pan and foil.
Water pans allow the grill to create vapor which aids you vegetables and meat to coook evenly. The pan should be situated in the center of the grill or smoker.
Set the meat
Situate your food on the top of the grate. If the smoker you are hsing has two grates, place the smaller food pieces in the top and the heavg ones like meat at the bottom. The top of the grate acquires less heat, making your food cook at the same time.
After preparing the charcoal smoker, you can now proceed on the actual cooking process. It is important to note how to control the temperature. This is discussed in the next section.
Managing the Temperature on a Charcoal Smoker
Different types of charcoal and wood smokers may require varying usage tasks. Nevertheless, there are steps that are common for all. Here is a quick guide of how to manage the temperature on charcoal smokers.
Cover with a lid
Cover the grill with a lid in such a way that the vents are on top of the meat. This creates an air flow inside the smoker. The smoke is distributed well on the smoker, allowing it to flow over the meat before it goes out of the lid.
Open the vents
To maintain the smoke quality, the first step is to let air flow inside and outside the chamber. The lower vent allows the air to flow inside. The temperature must be regulated by then. Dependent on the smoker’s needs, you can open the vent should you encounter the fire dying. Nevertheless, if the temperature gets high, you can adjust the vent and close it for a little.
The top vent, on the other hand, is generally left open during the entire process. However, if you can no longer regulate the heat with the lower vent, you can slightly close the upper one.
Maintain the temperature
The key in cooking your food well is keeping the smoker’s temperature maintained. It is recommended to keep the temperature from 220 degrees Fahrenheit to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase the smoker’s temperature, you can add coal chunks in the pile.
If the temperature goes too high, reduce it by closing the lower part vent. By doing this, you are allowing less oxygen in entering the smoker. It is recommended to get an oven thermometer if your smoker does not have a temperature gauge.
Keep the lid closed
During the process of smoking, it is advisable that you do not remove the lid. It must remain closed to prevent the heat and smoke escape. You should remember that cooking the meat on a consistent temperature produces an even cook.
You can take the lid off only if you require to provide additional charcoal or water on the pan. Make sure that there is an appropriate amount of coal. Nonetheless, do this process rarely or once every hour at most.
Keep a new set of coals ready
You must have another set of heated coals ready. Should you notice that the smokers start to cool a little bit, you can start adding new heated coals. Do this only if you already tried adjusting the vent but it does nothing.
You can keep the new set of coals in the chimney during the smoking process. In this way, it will be ready as soon as you need them. Compared with unlit charcoal, you no longer need to wait for them to heat up as they are already in the desired temperature.
Allow the meat to cook
Usually, it requires at least three to four hours for the meat to cook at 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Nevertheless, keep an eye on it as the meat type and other external factors affect its cooking time.
If you prefer a more tender cook, keep it on a lower temperature for a long period of time. However, you must make sure that you do not keep it smoking for a very lo g time. This will cause the meat to be tough and chewy.
These are just some general instructions of how you can maintain the temperature during the cooking process. Nevertheless, it still important to take note of the manufacturer’s reminders for usage and maintenance. In the next section, we shall identify the actions you can complete to keep your smoker clean and well-maintained.
Cleaning and Maintenance Guide
Food plays an important role in every family occasion. There are a number of parties that prefer serving barbecues because you can easily whip it out on your backyard. Moreover, it can provide huge quantities without sacrificing the flavors.
For whatever reason it is, charcoal grill and smokers are a great investment for your home. However, it needs proper leaning and maintenance. This will help it last even after multiple uses.
Charcoal grill and smoker needs deep cleaning at least one to two times during your grilling season. It is essential to perform this process to prevent ash or carbon buildup on the grill. Furthermore, it protects the grill grates from accumulating rust.
Before the actual cleaning process, you need to gather some materials that can aid you. You need at least a grill brush, paper bags, aluminum foil and putty knife. Here is a simle guide you can follow when deep cleaning your charcoal smoker.
- Remove the grill and charcoal grates from the body. This will allow you to maneuver gain access to the nooks and cranies of the whole surface.
- Clean the grates with a coarse or grill brush. Make sure that these brushes are recommended for grill. Soft ones may not be enough to elimiante the dirt while the harder ones may scratch or damage the grates.
- Using a ball formed using an aluminum foil, scrub the grates. This ball makes a great scrubber. You can use it to clean off any remaining debris or gunk.
- With a brush, wipe down ay debris that may still reside at the grill’s bottom. You can use your hands to sweep the excess ashes or debris. For grills with ash cather, you can just easily empty it.
- With a putty knife, scrape off any black stuff or peelings of grease and carbon flakes. This tool can help easily remove hard to scrape substances on the grate.
- Wipe the grill and lid using a water mixed with soap. With a clean cloth or towel, wipe it dry to make sure that no rust may appear.
- Lastly, reassemble the grill back. Follow the manufacturer’s directions or manual to successfully set it up back.
Maintaining Your Smoker
It is essential to maintain your grill or smoker. This will keep it in great shape even after a long time period of use. Here are some reminders for its maintenance.
- Check the ash catcher – On your every use, remember to check the ash catcher. Make sure that it is not full before using it. You need to empty it out if ever it is full of ashes.
- Remove debris on grates before smoking – You need to preheat your grill for a couple of minutes to allow the gunk and debris to soften. With this, it becomes easier to remove the loose bits as they remain hot. Using a ball of foil or grill brush, remove the softened bits of burnt food from your last session.
- Put oil on the grates – It is pertinent to oil your grates first before starting to grill and smoke. This makes sure that the food you are cooking does not stick on the grates. Furthermore, it allows easy cleaning after the grilling session.
- Brush after use – This is an optional step but it makes a lot of difference. Should you have extra time, you can brush the grill grates after cooking. This will remove the burnt bits immediately. It will also prevent it to harden over time. Hardening of burnt bits may present a more complex cleaning process.
Cleaning the grill allows it to function well on your cooking activities. Moreover, it helps you cook food perfectly. With this, allocate a cleaning time for every grilling period.
You must deep clean the grill at least twice every grilling season. This will maintain the equipment on its great shape. With this, it will last for a longer period of time.
In today’s time, you can find a number of charcoal smoker selections in your local and online stores. These smokers offer several features and functionalities that you need for your grilling activities. It is important to consider these features before purchasing one to make sure that you get on that fits your needs.
Some of the important features to look for is its portability, cost, temperature control, durability and additional functionalities. You can start by prioritizing the features and looking for options that have these. By the time that you have limited the selections, you can start to look into their nitty gritty details. You can also read reviews from customers that have purchased the item.
After purchasing the best charcoal smoker, it is now your duty to clean and maintain its shape. It is essential to deep clean your grill and its components periodically. This will prevent build of dirt and burnt food particles. Nevertheless, do not deep clean it always it may produce scratches that can damage it.
Over-all, getting the best charcoal grill is beneficial for families or individuals that loves a smokey flavor to their food. It is now easy to select a product because of the vast options available in the market.