Equipment for Smoking

You don’t need a crazy expensive BBQ or Smoker to get a good result.

Try to work with the gear you’ve got.

Of course, if you win the Lotto, get some “Rolls Royce” gear!

Gas BBQ

Mostly a Gas BBQ will not be suitable

But at a pinch you could use a 4 burner with only one burner lit and a smoke tube to provide the smoke.

Test how low a temperature you can maintain in your BBQ

Light one burner on one end.

Place a tray of oil in the middle of the BBQ and test it’s temperature after an hour or so of heating, this will tell you how low a temperature you can expect to maintain.

A Gas BBQ is the one thing you can use in a Fire Ban, but even then you can’t use any smoking wood!

Gas Smoker

a Gas Smoker (or Electric) is more for charcuterie than US style BBQ or Low N Slow.

The fire or heat source sits below a tray full of woodchips or sawdust.  The fire smoulders the wood in the initial stages of the cooking.

The heat continues, and the food cooks in a stale smoke environment.

There is nothing wrong with this, we have been smoking fish and chillies like this for centuries, it’s just not Low N Slow.

You’ll get a result but it is not the same as Low N Slow.

A Gas Smoker makes a good outdoor oven and can used in a Fire Ban, but you can’t use any smoking wood in it in a Fire Ban!

Kettle BBQs

A charcoal burning Kettle is a great option, they are easy to use, cheap and can produce a number of other cooking styles as well.

The Fuse (or Snake) method works well for Low N Slow as does the Minion method, both are reliable, relatively low effort setups, you will need to watch it but you can get long periods of unattended cooking.

You can use either Briquettes or Lump Charcoal

Kamado or Big Green Egg

These cookers are mostly ceramic, a few are metal, they hold heat well and are airtight.

This means they burn minimal fuel to maintain temperature, they are also capable of long periods of cooking at temperature with minimum maintenance.

I can run my Big Green Egg for 28 hours, Low N Slow, without touching it.

A Kamado cooker can also achieve good roasting temperatures or can go crazy hot for pizza!

They are probably the most versatile of all the Charcoal BBQ options.

These cookers use Lump Charcoal, Briquettes are not recommended as they produce a lot of ash and can disrupt the airflow.

Read my Kamado User Guide to get a good understanding on how to control one of these.

If I was limited to owning just one BBQ, it would be a Kamado I chose.

Bullet Smoker

A lot of people will use a Bullet Smoker (sometimes called a Water Smoker), these are great if you don’t have a lot of space.

They are a Cheap entry point into the world of Low N Slow

There is a steep learning curve in understanding how to run the fire and balance the heat, but once mastered, they work well although, they usually need a little “Love” throughout the cooking.

You can use either Briquettes or Lump Charcoal

Wood Pellet BBQ smokers

Wood Pellet fuelled BBQ Smokers are a good choice for the “Time Poor”, they are automatic thanks to a smart controller.

Just set the on-board digital controller to the temperature you want and the hard work is done for you.

The pellet BBQ will run the pellet feed and the fan to provide the perfect fire. Some people will say it is cheating but that’s rubbish, do whatever you like, cook however you want!

The main criticism is the level of smoke applied to the food, most people who say that are used to over smoking their food, a pellet BBQ runs an optimum fire all the time, that’s difficult to do manually.

If you want more smoke, add a cold smoke tube to your routine.

Gravity Feed Charcoal

These are another “automatic” kind of BBQ smoker, they can have a controller or be completely manual.

To work, the fire compartment and hopper must be airtight, the fire is lit at the base of the charcoal in the hopper and vents into the cooking chamber from one side.

Air is provided to the fire through a regulated inlet valve or a digital controller and fan.

Wood blocks can be placed in the charcoal load, or under the fire in the ash pan to provide extra smoke, this allows you control over the smoke level. 

Wood burnt in the hopper provides “raw” smoke to the cooking chamber.

Wood placed in the Ash path smoulders when small pieces of charcoal fall from the fire, the smoke is forced through the fire and “re-Burnt” like a catalytic converter, this cleans up some of the impurities in the smoke for a sweeter taste.

You can use either Briquettes or Lump Charcoal

Drum Smokers

Drum Smokers have a charcoal fire at the bottom with a deflector plate to protect the food which is above that on cooking racks or hanging.

The air to feed the fire comes into the bottom via a tube with a valve for control.

They work extremely well although they are sometimes not the most attractive things, hence the acronym “UDS” Ugly Drum Smoker”

Cabinet Smokers.

There are two types of Charcoal Cabinet, some are setup simply like the Drum Smokers are, fire underneath and everything else stacked above.

Some are “Reverse Flow” where the fire chamber vents into the walls of the cooking chamber where it travels up to the top before entering the cooking chamber through a vent hole, it travels over the food and out through a chimney that opens to the bottom of the cooking chamber.

This journey the heat and smoke is forced through provides an even heat over the food.

Texas Offset Smokers

The Texas Offset is the most romantic option in most people’s mind.

They are great fun but a huge learning curve.

The hard part is maintaining the fire properly so the correct amount of heat and smoke travels through the cooking chamber.

You want a clean burning fire that usually does not smoulder.

Offsets come in two forms, Straight Through, where the fire is on one end and the chimney is on the other end, there will usually be hotter beside the fire.

Or Reverse Flow, where the heat and smoke travels from the fire under a plate to the opposite end of the cooking chamber before rising into the cooking space and travelling back over the food to the firebox end where the chimney is.

Texas offsets require constant tending, be prepared to sit up all night cooking for lunch the next day.

Open Fire

Before there were smokers people cooked with open fires.

The key here is to get the food away from the fire so it cooks slowly, you could hang the food above the fire, or mount it on a frame a short distance from the fire.

There are plenty of cultures that cook with these time honoured methods today.

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The information in this App is provided by Urban Griller in Western Australia

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