Many people taste that genuine barbecue flavour and want to recreate it at home, to achieve this a charcoal smoker is king. Many people enjoy the simplicity of building a fire and not having to worry about any mechanically moving parts to break or fail on you. Not to mention they also are the first choice for all professional and amatuer bbq chefs.
There are three main types charcoals smokers available on the market. Cabinet style smoker, which are high quality smokers aimed at ameteur and profesional cooks, off-set smoker and barrel or drum smokers. Drum smokers highly affordable produce the best possible results for your dollar
Compared to other options a charcoal smokers can simply be a box, or barrel that you build a fire in, add your smoke wood, and let it smoke. They don’t have many moving parts, other than access doors and vents, no small parts to break and require no gas or electricity. However, they require a bit more nursing than other types of smokers. You need to monitor the fuel and air supply to ensure you are staying in the optimal temperature range for the entire cook. However it very possible to master the art and produce the what everyone will agree is the most possibly the best tasting food.
Best Charcoal Smokers for 2017 Comparsion
The Pit Barrel Cooker is a 30 gallon/18-gauge steel drum. It is an upright drum smoker, commonly known as an Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS). It's been hailed as charcoal smoking hero, it's has a low price point however it can produce the highest quality smoked meat. It has changed the charcoal smoking game who was previously struggling. The Pit Barrel Cooker Company recently upped the to thick 18 gauge steel with porcelain enamel coating.
Even though cooking with charcoal smokers is notoriously hard work, the Pit Barrel Cooker allows for the set it and forget method of pellet smokers. Its cylindrical shape allows for convection heat to be distributed evenly throughout the chamber for premium results time and again. Cooking vertically allows for more space in the cooker and has gravity lends a hand, basting the meat with its own juices and creating a “smoke fog” that eliminates any need for a water pan. There is also no need for vents or thermostat
The Pit Barrel comes with 17.5 inch chrome plated wire grate, your 2 steel rods, heavy duty charcoalbasket with handle
The Weber Smokey Mountain 18.5 does a amazing job of producing quality smoked meals anywhere you want. The Weber 18.5 has a total cooking area of 481 square inches. This cooking space would allow you to cook for around 20 people maximum however, if needed there is a larger model the Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5. For such a high quality product there isn't much to it, it's a steel barrel, two grills, a porcelain coated water and drip pan, and a charcoal grate. Having a grill ensure you an turn it into a Weber charcoal grill
Due to the design, the airflow is evenly distributed creating a constant cooking temperature. Weber have designed a air tight smoker, which is very important when cooking with charcoal.
Due to its size and quality it’s easy to transport. If you're constantly moving your smoker around with you, you want a quality product like the Weber 18.5. The Weber Smokey Mountain is made of some quality steel, is built to last with 10 year guarantee. You’ll find yourself using this smoker for many years because of its durability and dependability.
The Broil King Keg 5000 is another high quality charcoal smoker for a very decent price. Its has 255 square inches of cooking space. It has a unique kamado-style design (which is a traditional Japanese wood or charcoal stove)
The Broil King has two layers of baked enamel steel, with a layer of extremely high temperature oven grade insulation in between them. The Broil King keg was able to hit very high temperatures and maintain them while staying cool on the outside. Surprisingly, due to the efficiency of this unit you need a very small amount of charcoal to fire the grill
Transporting the Broil King Keg wasn't a problem but comes standard with a trailer hitch mounting so you take it camping, fishing or to a neighbours cook out.
You want to ensure that the charcoal smoker has thick metal, insulation and high quality seals. Thick steel ensures heat and smoke is distributed evenly. Have high quality seal ensures you don’t any leaks. If you have leaking heat or smoke it’s extremely hard to maintain a correct temperature.
The grills should sit solidly on the supports. so there is no danger of them falling when when loaded with a lot of heavy meat.
Prices for charcoal smokers can vary from $100 to $15,000. Unless your looking to compete, a drum or barrel smoker is perfect. There has been cases of people winning professional competitions with them.
Some features you might want to look for to ensure the ease of use include; the smoke box having a access door so adding more wood or charcoal isn't a problem. Making sure the water bowls is accessible during cooking as your don’t want your meat to dry out.
A large charcoal smoker should have wheels to make it possible to move it around.
A good thermometer is almost a necessity. Most smoker usually come with a cheap thermometer, which which is usually inaccurate. Invest in a really good thermometer and start excelling with your charcoal smoker.
What's the best charcoal to use in my smoker
There are a few options when it comes to picking your charcoal either briquettes or hardwood lump . Some people are very wary of self starting charcoal as it usually has lighter fluid additives, which will taint your food and is notoriously bad for the environment.
Briquettes generally use a natural, sugar-based binding agent that burns clean. The usually are a combination of charcoal, coal, starch (as a binder), sawdust, and sodium nitrate (to make it burn better) molded into easy-to-light lumps These are a good choice for your smoker, provided you get the cleanest versions possible
Hardwood lump charcoal is actual pieces of wood that have been fired into charcoal., and there's large variety of brands. With no fillers to burn, hardwood lump will produce a lot less ash than charcoal briquettes and it burns for about 20 minutes longer. It will also produce a much more flavorful smoke.
Something that is new is on the market is Coconut Charcoal. This is just charred coconuts shells pressed into cubes or rods. Its has a great almost sweet smell to it. It also produces very little ash and burns very evenly