Best Charcoal Smoker Under $500 for Beginners – Smoking and barbecuing like ketchup and mayonnaise. They are both American traditions that is widely celebrated. When you hear barbecue, what usually comes to mind first is Texas and the South. Although a barbecue is nothing more than throwing some meat on a grill and waiting for it to cook, it’s actually a little more complicated. Smoking is a method of cooking meat that uses the cheaper and less tender cuts of beef, pork, or mutton. This method will make that cut soft and succulent because it is cooked for a long time over a slow heat. Plus, smouldering wood is added as part of the cooking process. The smoke from the wood is what gives a deep, woody flavour to the meat. Add that up with the moist, juicy and tender meat and you’ve got yourself a very tasty meal. Generally, smoking and barbecuing is most suited for large cuts of meat like pork butt, brisket, a rack of ribs, or a whole chicken. If you talk to smoking purists of the barbecue world, they will say that you can only properly smoke meat using charcoal and wood chips. Well, they are not wrong. This brings us on to the topic of what is the best charcoal smoker. Read on.
With the advent of gas or electricity powered smokers and grills, you can smoke meat any way you like. But nothing beats tradition. In this article, we are going to look at the best charcoal smoker under $500 for beginners. If you want an authentic flavour in your smoked meat, the best way to achieve that is to use a charcoal smoker grill. And if you are like us, we prefer to use only the best. The best charcoal smoker will vary from person to person. We all have different needs. In our humble opinion, the best charcoal smoker out on the market today is the Weber Smokey Mountain Barbeque Smoker. To find out why, keep reading this article.
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History of Weber
Weber was found by George Stephen. He was driven by his passion for grilling the best steaks for family and friends. That’s why he invented the revolutionary kettle grill in 1952. He knew that a rounded cooking bowl with a lid was the key to success to grilling the best steaks. So he figured he would cut a buoy in half, add three legs to the bottom, a handle to the top and as they say, the rest is history. Now, Weber is renowned as one of the best makers of grills, particularly smokers.
Weber Smokey Mountain Barbeque Smoker
Now that you know the history of Weber, let’s take a look at what is widely considered as the “best charcoal smoker under $500 for beginners” on the market today, the Weber Smokey Mountain Barbeque Smoker. The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is a charcoal fueled, bullet-shaped smoker that can be often seen competing head to head with large commercial cookers at almost every BBQ competition. The surprising thing is that it is beating those large commercial cookers handily. The great thing is, it takes very little time to master. Plus, you can learn a lot of tricks that experts use to cook incredible food.
What makes Smokey Mountain remarkable is that it cooks at a steady temperature for hours. You can also raise or lower the temperature on this charcoal smoker easily. All you need to do is open and close the vents. At first glance, you will already notice that the construction is solid and the finish is beautiful. Our first reaction when we tested this charcoal smoker was that Weber really knows how to make long lasting porcelain and chrome coatings. The legs of the smoker are also very sturdy. It has a bowl-shaped aluminium heat shield attached as well. The downside to this smoker is that it has an inaccurate bi-metal thermometer built into the lid. They did fix that in 2014 though by adding a soft grommet on the right side so you can easily insert a digital thermometer. The design is well thought. The proof is, there is a side door that you can use to add coal, wood and water. Simple additions like this is what makes a smoker great. Be warned though that adding water and lit coals through the door can be very tricky because the door leaks smoke and lets in oxygen. This will make it hard to shut down the supply of oxygen and kill the coals.
Another drawback to the Smokey Mountain is it doesn’t have a wide lid. Rain and snow can get in because it rests inside a lip in the centre section. It would have been better if the lid overlap the centre section. But hey, even the best smoker has its flaws.
The Smokey Mountain comes in three sizes, the 14.5″, 18.5″ and 22.5″. The 18.5 ” version is by far the more popular of the three. It is large enough to put out enough meat that can serve 20 people. The 18.5″” can fit a full size turkey or at least four whole chickens. If you are cooking for a larger crowd, we recommend you use the 22.5″. For smaller servings the 14.5″ version is a good choice and would be faster to clean due to its small size.
- Plated Steel Cooking Grates
- Heavy-gauge Steel Charcoal Grate
- Built-in Lid Thermometer
- Porcelain- Enameled bowl, lid, centre section and water pan
- Charcoal Chamber
- Silicone Temperature Grommet
- Rust-resistant Aluminium Fuel Door
- Rust-resistant Aluminium Heat Shield
- DIMENSIONS (LID CLOSED) – 41″H x 19″W x 21″D
- DIAMETER – 18″
- PRIMARY COOKING AREA – 481 sq. inches
- TOTAL COOKING AREA – 481 sq. inches
- FUEL TYPE – Charcoal
- GLASS-REINFORCED NYLON HANDLES – 1
- RUST-RESISTANT ALUMINUM DAMPERS – 4
What Makes The Smokey Mountain the best charcoal smoker?
No matter which size you choose, there is no question that you’ll receive a lot of benefits. That’s the beauty of the WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain). Here are the features that make the WSM the best.
- Water pan automates the addition of steam – Beginner smokers usually have a hard time moistening and tenderizing the meat. But with the Weber Smokey Mountain‘s water, it is a lot simpler.
- Very durable grates – If there is one thing that Weber is known for, it is making durable cooking grates. The cooking grates in the Weber Smokey Mountain are heavy duty because it uses plated steel that can handle extensive cooking, smoking and grilling.
- Adds strong flavours – It wouldn’t be considered the best if it lacks the capability to give the barbecue a strong flavour. The Weber Smokey Mountain produces strong, smoky flavours that you can’t find anywhere else.
- Easy to clean – You won’t find the need to wash the interior. All you will need is a grill brush.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a very versatile charcoal cooker that can handle different types of meat. Take note that the larger the model you buy, the more you’ll be able to cook. If you go for the 22-inch version, you can cook food for a party of forty people. It has a cooking area of more than 720 square inches, so you won’t have any trouble smoking full sized turkeys, dozens of burgers, ribs, and hotdogs. One more thing that you can get out of the Weber Smokey Mountain is that there’s no need to confine yourself to only one meat. Both the 18 and 22 inch versions have enough cooking surface that will allow you to smoke entire ribs or several pork shoulders slowly and surely.
Preparing the smoker is also a breeze, provided you take the right approach. Just like with all smokers what you need to do is you should season first. Just place an aluminium foil over the pan and fill it with briquettes. Let the smoker run to a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit without water in the pan before you remove the residue and ash. Afterwards, put unlit briquettes in the basket, about halfway full. Then add another half of lit briquettes. Let it burn for up to five hours at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to make the appropriate steps if the reading changes. To produce as much grease as possible, all you have to do is to add as many meat scraps as possible, as well as a couple of good sized wood chunks. Do this a couple of times and the Weber is ready to use. The Weber Smokey Mountain smokers can be used in diverse ways. The same thing can be said for its preparation. You can try just putting the foil over the water pan so you don’t have to clean the pan. Be careful though because this method only works if the smoker has been seasoned.
Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker
Some people think that the size of the property also might have influence on which smoker to choose, but with the Weber Smokey Mountain, no matter how big or small your property is, you will be able to enjoy a good barbecue. Few smokers can compare to how easy to use and how well designed this charcoal smoker is. Plus, the Weber Smokey Mountain will make you a better cook in time. The Weber Smokey Mountain charcoal smoker is considered the best because it is one of those products. It can produce great food, it is easy to master and gives great value for your money. It doesn’t matter if you are a novice BBQ enthusiast or a seasoned pit master, the Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Cooker will do its job perfectly, which will then allow you to focus the other important thing in making great barbecues, rubs and sauces. You could also just enjoy a cold beer while waiting for your delicious meal to be cooked.