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recommendations for backyard smoker

Hi - I am interested in buying a backyard smoker for my husband for fathers day (he's the cook in the family). Not really sure where to start - its need to be fairly compact and reasonably priced (i e under a couple hundred bucks).

Would love recommendations about good models, things to think about as I consider this purchase, etc etc.

Thanks in advance!!

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  1. Several things to consider, they come in the same range of heat sources as conventional grills (propane, electric and charcoal) so you should take that into account.

    This is an excellent choice for charcoal, albeit a bit over your budget.

    http://www.amazon.com/Weber-721001-Sm...

    This is a good electric option (and they make a propane one also):

    http://www.amazon.com/Masterbuilt-200...

    1 Reply
    1. re: ferret

      Another vote for the Weber Smokey Mountain, tho a little above your price point. You'll find cheap Weber look-a-likes, and cheaper electrics, but they will be joyless to use, and will not last

    2. As long as you have the space to safely operate a charcoal grill, you can't go wrong with the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. The 18" model is a little over your stated budget, but it's a small price to pay for superior performance and (with a little practice) results. It can't be beat for ease of use and temperature control. I assume that gas models would be a bit easier . . . but what's the fun of that?

      2 Replies
      1. re: freshlycured

        The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is the best "pure" smoker for the price range. Also you may want to consider the Orion Cooker. It works extremely well, although it is technically a convection cooker, and not a true smoker

        1. re: freshlycured

          Yep, the Smokey Mountain is the best smoker for beginners and the best bang for the buck you will get. I've had mine a while and it's great. My son-in-law went through about 4 low cost smokers before he finally got the smokey mountain and now he can't figure out why he didn't buy one in the beginning. They work fantastic and are very easy to use. A little out of your price point, but you will be money ahead in the long run. Just bite the bullet and spend the $300 on the Weber Smokey Mountain.

        2. Another Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker fan here.

          I have owned two for years and love it. For the money, it can't be beaten. The smoker is easy to learn how to use and can carry him all the way to competitions if he ever decides to go that route. This is the smoker I use when I compete.

          Regardless of which smoker you get, check out this website. http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/ There is a ton of extremely useful knowledge and wisdom on that website that applies to smoking in general, regardless of which smoker someone is actually using. Information on everything from how to set up the smoker for the very first cook, to how much charcoal and smoking wood to use for what types of food, to actual recipes, to information and advice on how to compete. It's all there. That website is a treasure chest of information regarding all things barbecue.

          1 Reply
          1. re: 1POINT21GW

            Ditto and ditto. Have the 22" WSM smoker, and rely on virtualweberbullet.com all the time.

          2. +1 to all the recommendations for the Weber Smoky Mountain smoker. I'm a beginner smoker (though more experienced with charcoal grilling). I love it--easy to use and it has a small footprint (important consideration for my small patio). Anyway, I got the WSM last year and found it simple to use.

              1. re: lexvegas

                Amazon has the 18 in WSM for $299 but with discounts available through June 15th it can be as low as $210. See links.

                http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html...

                http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listin...

                1. re: bbqJohn

                  I don't think the WSM is eligible for that discount.

                  I tried checking out using that code (not to actually buy it, just to check) and it said it was not a valid code.

                  I also looked through the entire list of eligible smokers and the WSM is not on the list.

                  1. re: bbqJohn

                    The 20% discount is for Amazon Visa Cardholders only and is not valid for Weber products...

                2. I have been using a vertical propane smoker for a few years. Very simple to use, holds even temperature without having to monitor it closely (kinda set it and forget it).

                  I have used Smoke Hollow and Landmann smokers - they're not really rocket science and all are pretty good. There are some pretty good deals going on at Amazon right now if you have an Amazon Visa Card (20% discount). I would recommend this unit for you for about $160 shipped:

                  http://www.amazon.com/Camp-Chef-18-In...

                  1. Yep, the WSM is the way to go.

                    Be sure to tell your husband about a website and bulletin board that are dedicated to using the WSM and other Weber products. http://virtualweberbullet.com/ I have gained a ton of knowledge there.

                    1. lexvegas,
                      Ok, this is probably not what you are looking for. But I found the site intriguing and very enjoyable. Stories, old recipes, etc. The smoker is rather simple and spartan and under $200.00. I have no idea how well it would work. It is not large. It is electric. I have both a wood smoker with an offset box and an electric (Cookshack purchased in APR). The wood burner is great but labor intensive for long smokes. The electric is turn it on and leave it alone simple. Judging from the comments here, the Weber sounds ideal, and can be left unattended and will smoke for hours. My wood burner gets very hot on the outside so I had to keep kids away. The Cookshack is insulated and gets warm but not hot. The Old Smokey is not insulated so the exterior would get hot to the touch. I assume the Weber would be hot as well. Just something to consider. I don't think you could go wrong with the Weber, it gets glowing reviews, just a little pricey. In any event, here is the site. Enjoy!

                      http://oldsmokey.com/index.html

                      1. Does it need to be new? I would search Craigslist for an offset.

                        1. Thanks everyone - you have been hugely helpful! expecitng delivery of the WSM today! Will definitely check out the websites y'all suggested as well. Cheers!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: lexvegas

                            Another good web site is amazingribs.com Meathead has a lot of smoking and grilling advice.