Meat Smoker Recommendations

Cody

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Hey All,

My sister and I are talking about getting my father a smoker for Father’s Day. He has no experience but he’s in his late 50’s and he’s trying to pick up new hobby’s as retirement is less than 5 years out.

Any tips or recommendations? I know they can be anywhere from $150-1000+ with tons of options so it’s hard to choose.

I am leaning towards vertical smoker and electric, LP or Pellet fuel. And really trying to stay under $400

If anyone has any insight that would be appreciated. I figured I’d start with the community I already know and trust before I stick my head on a BBQ forum lol!
 
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Dennis57

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I have a Oklahoma Joe combo grill. Its huge only because we have a big Family. I think I paid around 450-500
 

faydout

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We got one of the big ZGrill pellet grills this spring. Once you get used to the differences coming from gas, this thing is great. I don’t do smokers, so this is kinda my first foray into it. Think we paid $550 or so.
 

Leeman75

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Barbecue happens to be my other hobby...

I have not done much with electric or pellet smokers. To me, the main attraction of those types are the ability too "set it and forget it". There are even some really nifty things these days with those where you can set, monitor, and adjust the temperature using wifi and your phone. I suppose that you technically don't even have to be home while it's cooking.

My experience is more with wood burning smokers. A few years ago I got the itch to try smoking meat and bought a very cheap (probably around $80) upright model through Home Depot:
20170701_100723.jpg
These are extremely easy to use and made me look I was a professional to my family and friends that I smoked meat with. It was well worth the money, used it a ton, and got me infected with the BBQ Bug!! I would use real wood lump charcoal mixed with chunks and chips of various types of wood to add the smoke. To me, spending the afternoon sitting by the smoker, tending to the fire, working to keep the temperature just right and having a nice cold beverage while watching the kids play in the yard makes it a very relaxing and enjoyable activity. That's why I can't go with the hands off variety. My pleasure is in the process.

I used that model to death and eventually, the metal rusted through and I had to replace it with this:
20200524_125434_001.jpg
This model is much more versatile and has a lot more surface area for the meat. It was probably around $250 - $300 at Home Depot. I love it and enjoy experimenting with all sorts of meats and fuel configurations. I've smoked, Brisket, several types of ribs, Turkey, Ham, Chicken, Pork Shoulder, Butt, Country Ribs...really just about anything you can think of. Just last weekend I made Chicken:
20200524_152334.jpg

I have been surprised at how easy it is to make really good food that everyone loves. I make my own rubs and enjoy experimenting with those.

Hope this gives you some info. Let me know if you have any specific questions.
 
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Cody

Cody

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Thanks everyone. Charcoal seems like the most affordable option but that makes sense since you cut out the bells and whistles.

I think we would like something more of the set and forget route since if it’s too complicated from
The start I think he would be less likely to stick with it.

I go back and fourth from the pellet grills to the true smokers. The pellet grills seem nice since you can do a long smoke as well as regular grilling but get the added flavor of the wood pellet.

like anything you try to research, there is a ton of options and opinions and you need to read reviews with a grain or salt.
 

Flyfisha

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Why not buy him a book about the various ways to cook / smoke meat and fish. Let him find his own path?

i can 100% guarantee a book will be a lot easier to clean. He may get more enjoyment out of reading and dreaming about it ?
 

faydout

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Cody said:
The pellet grills seem nice since you can do a long smoke as well as regular grilling but get the added flavor of the wood pellet.
This is absolutely true, and 100% worth the cost of the grill ime. Basically, you have to get used to the low and slow mentality. It takes me over an hour to do burgers (from cover on to plate), but when you bite into the burger with that smoke flavor... it was like a zen moment the first time (I may have peed a little).
 

FreshwaterFins99

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Cody said:
Hey All,

My sister and I are talking about getting my father a smoker for Father’s Day. He has no experience but he’s in his late 50’s and he’s trying to pick up new hobby’s as retirement is less than 5 years out.

Any tips or recommendations? I know they can be anywhere from $150-1000+ with tons of options so it’s hard to choose.

I am leaning towards vertical smoker and electric, LP or Pellet fuel. And really trying to stay under $400

If anyone has any insight that would be appreciated. I figured I’d start with the community I already know and trust before I stick my head on a BBQ forum lol!
We have a Weber Smokey Mountain and it is amazing! The cost is not awful and it works well. Especially when we smoke pulled pork! :p
 

Leeman75

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Cody said:
I go back and fourth from the pellet grills to the true smokers. The pellet grills seem nice since you can do a long smoke as well as regular grilling but get the added flavor of the wood pellet.
I do regular grilling with my charcoal smoker as well. Depending on what I'm doing, I may use normal briquettes (Kingsford style), or the same lump charcoal that I use for smoking. If I want a particular type of smoke added to say a burger or brats, I'll add some chips of that type of wood to the charcoal. It's very versatile.

We actually use our smoker more as a grill than as a smoker. The surface area of the grill is awesome, which is good because we're a family of 7, including 2 teenagers and a pre-teen.
As for the gift part of this, though I understand wanting to purchase it and physically give it to him, it may be worthwhile to communicate your desire for the gift and allow him to give his opinions on what he wants. It's a little cheesy, but my family wanted me to choose the one that I wanted (plus they had no clue what to get me), so they made a homemade certificate entitling me to the model smoker that I wanted. Trust me, I'm not normally a gift card person...I almost always prefer to actually hand someone the gift. But in this case, it may be worth considering.
 
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Cody

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Leeman75 said:
I do regular grilling with my charcoal smoker as well. Depending on what I'm doing, I may use normal briquettes (Kingsford style), or the same lump charcoal that I use for smoking. If I want a particular type of smoke added to say a burger or brats, I'll add some chips of that type of wood to the charcoal. It's very versatile.

We actually use our smoker more as a grill than as a smoker. The surface area of the grill is awesome, which is good because we're a family of 7, including 2 teenagers and a pre-teen.
As for the gift part of this, though I understand wanting to purchase it and physically give it to him, it may be worthwhile to communicate your desire for the gift and allow him to give his opinions on what he wants. It's a little cheesy, but my family wanted me to choose the one that I wanted (plus they had no clue what to get me), so they made a homemade certificate entitling me to the model smoker that I wanted. Trust me, I'm not normally a gift card person...I almost always prefer to actually hand someone the gift. But in this case, it may be worth considering.
Yes I agree. This is kind of one of those things that a person kind of has an idea of what they want. So if his desire is a pellet grill and I get a vertical smoker. He won’t really end up I sing it as he imagined.
 

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I just got my chicken in the fridge marinating for some chicken souvlaki. I'll make up my own Tzatziki sauce while the skewers are smoking this afternoon.
 

Leeman75

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faydout said:
I just got my chicken in the fridge marinating for some chicken souvlaki. I'll make up my own Tzatziki sauce while the skewers are smoking this afternoon.
Yeah, we're going to need pictures. :)
 

Mongo75

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I have a slightly similar to the second one Leeman75 posted pics of, with the . I've done chicken pieces, whole chickens, Pork cushion, shoulder and butt roasts, pork and beef ribs, tri-tip, and fish, and they all came out excellent. It's also great for veggies and corn-on-the-cob. The thing I find is it's a lot more versatile than the upright ones because you can either smoke or grill, and it has a lot more surface area.
 

faydout

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Leeman75 said:
Yeah, we're going to need pictures. :)
Will do. I mentioned something about this post to my wife, she went out shopping for the week and came back with a10lb pork shoulder that I'm marinating now as well, and we'll be shredding it tomorrow, after sitting and smoking all day.
 

Leeman75

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faydout said:
Will do. I mentioned something about this post to my wife, she went out shopping for the week and came back with a10lb pork shoulder that I'm marinating now as well, and we'll be shredding it tomorrow, after sitting and smoking all day.
That's a great wife!! Mine enjoys and enables my smoking endeavors as well. Now if only she would go out and buy me a fish tank like that! :)
 

skar

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I use a traeger.
I love that thing, it has stepped up my game.
You can do anything from jerky to turkey.
 

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I have a Traeger (I forget the model, but it's their largest) that we used at our family restaurant for years. Stupid expensive, but otherwise, it is amazing. My mother has a Pit Boss. It seems to do everything that my Traeger does for 1/3 the price.
 

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