HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


BBQ Smoker Alert!

Hello fellow barbacue enthusiasts. I need to buy a decent smoker fast. I don't want a starter one or a $20,000 smoker.
Found out that I'm gluten intolerant (otherwise known as Celiac disease-can't eat wheat, rye, barley, malt, etc., due to it's gluten content. Yeah, I know, this means that I can't eat most asian food due to the soy sauce content, no beer-yikes!, no pizza)

A lot of store bought and restaurant barbacue rubs and sauces have whorsteshire sauce and soy sauce of which I can't eat. Unfortunately, I have stayed away from most barbacue joints because of my food allergy. Calvins on Armitage claims to have gluten free sauce and rubs. Anyway, I would appreciate some advice on buying a smoker. There are so many out there that I don't know where to begin.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We have an electric smoker made by SmokinTex which we absolutely love. This is the link to their website:


    It may not suit you if you want to bbq over wood, but the convenience of being able to smoke during the Boston winter and not have to go out every couple of hours is a huge plus for us.

    Our unit sits on the deck all year round (we have the all-stainless steel model). We've done all kinds of pork, beef brisket, fish, cheese, poultry and vegetables in it. It has an electric element with a smoker box. You put chunks of wood in the box, switch the unit on and that's it.

    Hope that helps some. My sympathies with the gluten problem. I would be going through serious cold turkey at the prospect of no artisanal breads or good Asian food.

    1. First off one of the fun things about doing true barrbecue - smoking is coming up with your own rubs and sauces - so you should be able to develop your own gluten free rubs and sauces-

      I have a brinkman smoker (www.brinkman.net) - the smoke 'N pitmaster with the offset firbox - I love it! it isreasonably priced about 300-400 has a nice big area for plenty of food - check out http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... for other tips on the brinkman.

      Also since it looks like you are chicago based - there is a great BBQ store in Wilmette - called the Backyard BBQ Store (http://www.backyardbbqstore.com) they were really helpful getting me started - have a great selection of woods

      1. Many bbq contest champions use the Weber Smokey Mountain (also known as the Weber Bullet) at home, and some even use it in competition. Bob Cantor, owner of the excellent Memphis Minnie's bbq place in San Francisco, put me onto it. It's for the long, slow, smoke cooking that true barbecue requires and costs about $250. You use charcoal briquets for heat and wood chunks for smoke. The design, and some technique, lets it hold a pretty even temperature for a long time without constant tending. There's a great support site for it (not affiliated with the Weber company) at http://virtualweberbullet.com .

        I also use the standard Weber kettle (22 1/2" diameter size) for grilling and for indirect smoke cooking meat that doesn't require the long slow type of cooking (tri-tip, for example). It's a classic and excellent design and comes with a good instruction booklet. Prices vary with features. The large ash catcher is definitely worth getting for ease of cleanup.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Mick Ruthven

          I second this. I use my standard Weber kettle for smoking all the time. Here are two recent threads where I described smoking on the weber:



        2. Without a doubt, the smoker to use is the Weber Smokey Mountain. And for stellar results, follow the 5-step directions from the "professor" at http://www.wiviott.com

          I guarantee that you will have stellar results! Forget briquets, use chunk charcoal(from Whole Foods if you're near one) for fuel and wood chunks from Home Depot. No chips, no soaking.

          1. Thanks for the link to the "Professor's" web site. Lots of useful info for a novice BBQ'er

            1. I have a "Silver Smoker" I purchased at Home Depot for about $150. See: http://www.charbroil.com/consumerwebh... It works great, both as a smoker and as a grill. (Wood or coal only; doesn't take or use gas or electricity.) I like having a remote smoke box, plus, there's ton's of surface area when you're cooking for a crowd.

              1. i got the char-griller "smokin pro" at lowe's this year and i love it. paid about $150. funny, it is just like the "silver smoker" at home depot except the fire box and the wheels are on the opposite side. i have used it all summer with very good results (brisket, carolina shoulder, cuban shoulder, baby backs, spare ribs, chicken, etc.). great smoke regulation. nice big grill surface. easy to clean. the only problem that i have run across is that the heat in the fire box has caused some of the paint to peel off leaving bear metal and a little surface rust. same thing happend to a friend of mine who has the same grill. i will need to do a little sanding and hit it with some rustoleum at the end of the season.


                5 Replies
                1. re: xman887

                  One of the advantages of the Weber Smokey Mountain is that it is relatively easy maintain a constant temperature for 4-6 hours with a single load of charcoal/wood chunks.

                  What had been your experience with ease of maintaining a constant temperature for a long period of time with an offset smoker/grill like the Chargriller Smokin Pro?

                  Thanks in advance.

                  1. re: Norm Man

                    I can usually manage to get 6 hours out of a single load of lump in my Silver Smoker using the "Minion Method". After I set it, I typically check it after an hour, and if it's still chugging away ok, I won't bother checking it for another 3 or 4 hours.

                    1. re: Norm Man

                      i have found that it is pretty easy to maintain a constant, not too hot temp but i do go though quite a bit more fuel then when using a weber kettle. i use lump charcoal rather than briquette. i end up topping off the fire with more coal every 60-90 minutes.

                      1. re: Norm Man

                        I've added a BBQ Guru to my WSM to help keep temperatures steady without having to monitor frequently during a long smoke. I made some pulled pork that took 16 hours but came out beautifully. I'm ever so grateful to the BBQ Guru for not having to check that pork butt throughout the night!

                        The BBQ Guru is available to be fitted to other smokers besides the WSM. No, I'm not affiliated with their company other than being a satisfied customer.

                      2. re: xman887

                        I had the char-griller grill without the side firebox for a few years, and did a lot of smoking in it (from salmon to thanksgiving turkey to pork shoulders) - tough to control temperature but I got the hang of it. My father's day gift was the attachable side firebox, and that's a much better setup that makes it much easier to keep temps low and constant. I love it! Reasonable price at just $100 for th grill, $50 for the firebox, or so.

                        I guess it depends on how much room you have and what grills you have. For me, a single contraption that is both a great grill for burgers for a crowd (large surface, nice heavy cast iron grates) and doubles as a smoker for a 5+ hour pork shoulder BBQ is ideal. Maybe if you've got the room and want to buy "a smoker" specifically, something like the Weber bullet or green egg is a better choice.

                      3. I have heard a lot of people rave about the Big Green Egg. It smokes and grills. Is made of ceramic and can achieve extremely high temperatures and low temperatures as required.

                        1. We have a Smoky Mountain, which works fine, and, at a somewhat higher price range, but WELL short of $20K, a Kamado. The Kamado is fantastic. We discovered the company at a BBQ contest, where several of our fellow contestants were using them with great results.

                          Kamado custom manufactures for you from their plant in CA, then ships. Given extreme weight, it is a pain to get into your house if you don't have a driveway. (We live in a brownstone in Brooklyn.) But totally worth it once you deal with the movers.

                          Google "Kamado," and you will get their site easily.

                          1. The WSM is what I own, along with a Weber 22.5" kettle grill. I've done pulled pork for an 18 hour cook. You basically just set it and forget it. Continuous temps if you know how to light it using the Minion Method, which is Jim Minion's genius contribution to the art of smoking.

                            If you really want more information from experts, please visit this site for a whole new world out there. This is where Jim Minion has so graciously contributed: http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/ind...

                            1. I also have celiac disease, but I can tell you that that has nothing to do with why I love to smoke foods!!! I have the Weber, make all of my own rubs and sauces ( though I must confess that every once in a while I buy a jar Bone Suckin sauce even though it is way too sweet). Try fish.