This introduction to smokers is by no means an exhaustive story. It is a starting point if you are considering purchasing one. I began my smoking journey using a Weber Smokey Mountain bullet smoker. For those of you looking for a low-cost entry into backyard smoking, this is a great place to start. Why not jump directly into a pellet smoker, you ask? Isn’t that a bit like starting to drive on an automatic transmission rather than first learning how to drive a stick shift? A low-cost bullet smoker will teach you about the fundamentals of smoking and give you an appreciation for the art of it all.
Learning to balance the air intake with the fuel ratio to obtain the perfect target temperature is a challenge to be sure but keep in mind, hovering over that fire for hours at a time provides you with a great beer-drinking opportunity. It will also surely take you back to your ancestral roots crouching down over an open fire. You can always move to a pellet smoker later on as I did and save yourself some time.
If you are concerned about the time commitment I can appreciate that. Smoking meat is often associated with long cooks. I have had several people shy away from smoking meat thinking it takes up too much time. To some degree, it is true of course. Smoking a pork butt to transform it into luscious pulled pork takes all day. So does a beef brisket – but both are well worth the effort and the wait.
With the introduction of the pellet smoker in 1986 by Joe Traeger and the subsequent introduction of many other brands after 2006, our smoking lives were made much easier. With one of these convenient computerized pellet grills you truly can “set it and forget it”. There are plenty of rating guides available to help you choose the pellet grill that is right for you. My only advice would be to buy a good quality one. Once you start smoking your own food you will be doing it for many years to come. You will want a quality smoker that will last.
I hope this introduction to smokers has been helpful. Best of luck in your decision and welcome to a very rewarding a delicious hobby.