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LSUFanHouston
LSU Fan
NOLA
Member since Jul 2009
22698 posts

Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
I've never owned a smoker, but have often thought about buying one and using it. I enjoy eating smoked meats cooked by others.

I own a propane gas grill. I've owned charcoal grills in my past, I just like the ease and quickness of a gas grill. I don't do anything too exotic... burgers, pork chops, chicken, hot dogs, sausage, kabobs, etc.

I've looked at electric smokers, but they just seem very small, and it just seems weird to smoke something in an electric smoker. But, they, I would imagine, are fairly easy to use... turn it on, set the temp, walk away, come back at dark.

So the allure of a wood smoker, where I go with different types of wood, is appealing to me. What is not appealing is the thought of spending my entire day checking the fire every 30 minutes to see if I need to add wood, or take other steps to control the temp.

And I'm not O-T rich, I don't think my wife would let me get away with buying an expensive dollar Traeger pellet smoker.

So, how hard is it to use a wood smoker? Is it really an all-day investment of time? Do you constantly have to watch it? What suggestions / tips can you give me?



TU Rob
Troy Fan
Birmingham
Member since Nov 2008
10898 posts
 Online 

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
You don't need one unless you're cooking large quantities. I have a 26 inch Weber Kettle, and have smoked all sorts of things on it. Two boston butts at once, up to 3 racks of ribs, chicken, turkey, etc. I use the snake method for coals and put chunks of wood on top. Usually a 2x2 ring of coals, about 2/3 of the way around the perimeter at the bottom, and just lay fat chunks all the way around on top of that. You will learn more and more with experience, but I rarely check it once I get it started. Maybe every 90 minutes, but you can quickly walk over and look at the thermometer, or you can get one that will clip to the cooking grate or probes to the meat. Like you, I mostly just grill burgers, dogs, chicken, and simple stuff, but for versatility a kettle is great.

ETA: I used to have a big offset smoker and the Weber kettle can do anything that could do, just not as much meat at once. I liked that I could start a chimney of coals on the gas side burner, and dump into the firebox with new wood but after tinkering with the snake method there’s no sense in fooling with all that just to cook for my family. If I was cooking for a party maybe.
This post was edited on 5/22 at 2:44 pm


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57
GoAwayImBaitn
LSU Fan
On an island in the marsh
Member since Jul 2018
756 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
Get an upright or horizontal offset woodburning smoker.

Put a burner in the firebox.

Get a cheap cast iron Dutch oven.

Cut logs to fit into cast iron.

Leave lid cracked.

You will have a very efficient set it and forget it smoker. I can smoke all day on very little natural gas and one 12 inch log lasts me all day


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111
Saskwatch
Ole Miss Fan
Member since Feb 2016
8767 posts
 Online 

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
quote:

wood smoker, where I go with different types of wood,


All smoke comes from wood. The easiest smokers to use that are in your price range will be ones that run off charcoal where you add different wood chunks to it. You can buy all different types of wood chunks for smoking at Academy, Walmart, Home Depot, or the grocery store.

Look at Webber Smokey Mountain, Pit Barrel Cooker, Oklahoma Joe Bronco, etc..


ruger35
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge, LA
Member since Feb 2009
869 posts
 Online 

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
To get an introduction I would start with a Weber Kettle or a pit barrel style cooker such as the Oklahoma Joe Bronco. See if you like tending to charcoal and wood chunks then go from there.

Offsets aren't for everyone, but some people like me just don't really like anything else. If I had to pick a secondary smoker though it would probably be a pit barrel cooker.


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The Third Leg
Iowa Fan
Idiot Out Wandering Around
Member since May 2014
6404 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
If you don’t have much money, find a used Weber kettle—the large one, and start fricking around on it.

You can do a lot of small batch stuff with a kettle. Pretty much anything. It will take you a little time to trial and error for temp control, but once you get it down, it is not hard to smoke meat in a kettle. If you enjoy it, you can step up to a better rig.


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20
Jj283
LSU Fan
Houma
Member since May 2015
741 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
Not sure which electric ones you've looked at but i recently started using a MasterBuilt Smoke Hollow Electrcic smoker and have been very happy with it.

Its a vertical with a glass door, and i did 4 Boston butts at one time a few weeks ago. Plenty large enough for what you'll probably use it for. I like the convenience of it, its pretty much set and forget - other than the first few hours having to add chips to the tray.


GynoSandberg
Houston Astros Fan
Member since Jan 2006
66561 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
quote:

I don't do anything too exotic... burgers, pork chops, chicken, hot dogs, sausage, kabobs, etc.

What is not appealing is the thought of spending my entire day checking the fire every 30 minutes to see if I need to add wood, or take other steps to control the temp.


You don’t need a smoker


TH03
Iowa State Fan
Member since Dec 2008
167754 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
quote:

Is it really an all-day investment of time? Do you constantly have to watch it?


Yes and yes. It’s a “spend all day outside drinking and checking the fire” thing.


GoAwayImBaitn
LSU Fan
On an island in the marsh
Member since Jul 2018
756 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
quote:

All smoke comes from wood. The easiest smokers to use that are in your price range will be ones that run off charcoal where you add different wood chunks to it. 


He asked for easy. Why keep stoking with charcoal when you can have the heated cast iron do virtually the same thing? Having the Dutch oven cracked open with lid on top creates an environment that never catches fire completely because there is not enough air for it to catch. You end up with a nice piece of lump coal or if continue to burn it, it will reduce to ash in the pot. It smokes and maintains and even temp throughout the day.

Yeah it's unconventional but it works. I use this method all the time and kick out awesome food. Y'all go ahead and downvote away though lol
This post was edited on 5/22 at 3:21 pm


LSUFanHouston
LSU Fan
NOLA
Member since Jul 2009
22698 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
quote:

MasterBuilt Smoke Hollow Electrcic smoker


Which model?


LSUFanHouston
LSU Fan
NOLA
Member since Jul 2009
22698 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
quote:

Yes and yes. It’s a “spend all day outside drinking and checking the fire” thing.


Yeah, I'm not opposed to day drinking, but with 2 kids running around and a wife who like to go places, that's hard to pull off and entire day or just me sitting home.


LSUFanHouston
LSU Fan
NOLA
Member since Jul 2009
22698 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
quote:

You don’t need a smoker


Not for what I currently cook, but for what I want to cook.


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40
questionable
LSU Fan
FL
Member since Apr 2008
470 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
Sounds like a pellet grill/smoker is right up your alley, there’s some affordable options out there. Check out Pit Boss baw.


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10
Geauxld Finger
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Jan 2005
29321 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
If you're doing simple shite like that, get a propane grill and add tin foil with wood to the cooking process under the grates.



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BigDropper
LSU Fan
Member since Jul 2009
4727 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
quote:

quote:
wood smoker, where I go with different types of wood,

All smoke comes from wood

Image: https://media.giphy.com/media/XgXZ4LiyVKoM7Ikk1B/giphy.gif




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40
TH03
Iowa State Fan
Member since Dec 2008
167754 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
quote:

but with 2 kids running around and a wife who like to go places, that's hard to pull off and entire day or just me sitting home.



Yeah it’s tough. I put a brisket on at 6:42 this morning and I’m about to pull it within probably an hour. Granted it’s my second cook on this pit, but the longest I’ve been able to get away from it has even 20-30 minutes. Always stoking the fire, moving coals around, etc. It’s the complete opposite of set and forget. I love it because I’m a control freak and a perfectionist so I’ll never be satisfied, but I also don’t have any kids.


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15
heatom2
LSU Fan
At the plant, baw.
Member since Nov 2010
11940 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
Weber Smokey Mountain. Charcoal smoker that with a little practice you can get dialed in pretty quick. You can use any wood you want or multiple woods. I sit with a cold beer and watch the thermometer from my living room or if the weather is nice from the porch.


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20
SixthAndBarone
Tampa Bay Rays Fan
Member since Jan 2019
729 posts

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
Yes, you need to check it every 30-60 Minutes. You don’t want the fire to get too hot and if it drops too low, it adds to the cooking time. Is it hard? No, it just requires you to tend to it. I have a wood smoker and an electric smoker. I use the wood smoker as a hobby, when I want to spend my day having something to do.


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10
Saskwatch
Ole Miss Fan
Member since Feb 2016
8767 posts
 Online 

re: Help me overcome my fear of wood smokers
quote:

asked for easy. Why keep stoking with charcoal when you can have the heated cast iron do virtually the same thing? 


My Bronco is way easier to use than my previous masterbuilt propane smoker


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