I have owned this smoker for 5 years now and have a few insights for those looking to purchase this smoker.
I have smoked 7 turkeys, alot of pork, and some beef all with really great results.
I love that its electric. Regulating temp with charcoal smokers can be tedious. You barely have to do anything to it except add water and chips. It will maintain the ideal temperature of 220 degrees fairly well, But there are a few issues with this smoker:
1. Materials and construction- metal is thin and the lid fits loosely. The lid is suppose to fit loosely! There is no vent so it helps with the smoke. But because the metal is thin, on cold and/or windy days, it can be difficult for it to maintain it’s temp on long smokes. Often runs 200-210 degrees. This will increase your cooking time! On hot days it will run at 230- 240 degrees. Although I can’t reccomend this modification to help with heat loss, I have actually heard of people fitting a electric water heating blanket to the outside of the smoker to help with this.
2. I wish the heating element was adjustable to help regulate the temp.
3. The door is small which makes it hard to add chips or water. Although you can take the unit off its base to add chips, this is akward and a bit dangerous since you may spill the water. It is nice to remove the base to help clean the unit though.
4. I installed an after market temp. gauge in the lid. (A must)
Overall a good entry level smoker that is super easy to use. Got mine at W-mart for $75. Anyhow, it’s a great value for under a $100. Now after 5 years, it is about done and I need a new smoker. I will try to upgrade although after looking around at all the electric smokers, I might just buy another one of these. I love the “bullet” design of the vertical smokers.
The stainless steel version of this model looks nice and is obviously made of better material, but the main section is attacted to the base. I do like being able to remove the base. Plus the element is still not adjustable. The only other choice is a stainless steel meco smoker which has a better door design and a adjustable heating element, but is double the price. So I will either get this model again and do some modifications (temp gauge and maybe an adjustable element) or get the meco. Hope this review helps.
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I have used mine a couple of times now and have to say that the smoky flavor and easy use are the main selling points on this product. The cleaning is not too bad, just a little bit of elbow grease to get some of the smoke and grime off the water pan and grates.
For my birthday, my brother was kind enough to order a smoker off my Amazon wishlist. I finally got a nice day and good piece of meat to try it out. I have to say I was totally impressed. I was impressed that I didn’t burn off my eyebrows (even though it was close). I was impressed that the simplistic heat guage’s ideal, really meant ideal. I was shocked by the quality of meat to come forth. Overall it rocked. So, picked up a pork tenderloin that I did a dry rub of
* Sea salt
* lemon pepper
* cayenne pepper
* garlic powder
on to the roughly 1.25 lbs of pork. I filled the water pan with a bunch of water, 4 cloves of garlic and a dash of port. I used some mesquite chips (thoroughly soaked) as my smoking agent and let it cook for 2 hours. The piece of meat came of with the most amazing flavor that I could imagine.
Necessary summer equipment.
***Update: I will leave the text below as originally written: so the entire paint on the inside pealed off in one giant sheet during a cold day/smoking session. The replacement seems again to be fine. ***
I’ve had mine for a year, and love it. It was cheap, easy and gets used all the time. It’s pretty foolproof. Didn’t have any of the paint problems that someone complained of. The smoker gets certainly hot enough (unsure why folks complain that this is a problem, unless they have a defective unit), as you don’t want to cook the meat quickly, or the smoke won’t penetrate. For the price definitely get it. Make sure to get the cover if it isn’t in the box (some come with some don’t) if you live anywhere there is rain, as rain + smoke/ash lead to rapid corrosion. Make sure this thing is WELL vented, as it produces unbelievable amounts of smoke if used correctly. For a big smoke, as someone noted you have to add more wood (depends on the chunk size). They note in the manual that you should not have the chunks touch the heater, so take care in placing the chunks.
PROS:Lightweight, make sure to get cover for it.very inexpensivesuper simple (put in wet wood, put in liquid, put in meat, plug in, repeat)produces gobs of smoke (make sure no air intakes for your house are nearby, you only do that once!)nice big fluid bowl2 racks, each capable of holding a big turkey (I’ve done 2x19lbs)Electric works when it’s cold and it doesn’t run out in the middle of a big cooking session, unlike propane (pure wood smokers have this advantage if you have a big wood pile)Easy cleaningNice side door for adding the odd chunk of wood
CONS:Ash builds up quickly on the lava rocks, which after a long while will start to float (I’ve taken to periodically rinsing the rocks in a colander)There is no smokestack, so smoke comes out on all sides of the top (just be aware)This is more a mild hard smoke (moderate heat, mostly smoke), particularly if it’s cold out (this can be a plus with fish – it produces awe inspiring smoked salmon)Times in manual virtually useless (so spend a few bucks a get a remote grilling thermometer, problem solved)
HOW I USE IT:My local oil/ice company here in Boston sells smoking woods (I get 50lbs bags of hickory and mesquite at home depot and cherry and apple at the ice place, all 4 last one season). Take a few chunks and soak them for an hour or 2 (if you need faster smoking, start with one simply rinsed one which will start smoking in minutes)
Smoked Salmon:Get big salmon fillets at costco. Rinse the fish to get anything off, and to make spices stick. Look for bones at this point. I then rinse the top of the fish in lemon joice. Pack in Pepper, Dill, Lemon Zest and about 1/4″ of kosher salt mixed with brown sugar (really). Seal it up in the fridge overnight. About 1-2 hours start soaking the apple or hickory chunks. Rinse the fish REALLY well to get off the salt or it will be WAY to salty. Reapply a small amount of brown sugar, dill, zest and pepper (there is NO need for salt again – trust me), With a remote thermometer in the thick part of the fish, put a bottle of beer in the liquid bowl, slap it on the top rack with some 1/2 lemons (smoked lemon rocks). Somewhere in the 130 range the fish is done (remember it is salt cured, so it can take a lower temp) but feel free to adjust to taste. Most folks say this beats store bought smoked salmon hands down, and family demands it at almost all events.
Tequilla-Lime Smoked Chicken Tacos:Get boneless breasts although a full chicken works. Rinse, place in big ziploc with tequila, lime juice, lime wedges, a kosher salt (this is brining) and pepper, chili pepper overnight in fridge. This is slightly ceviche’d at this point. Don’t rinse off chicken. Put wet mesquite chunks in the smoker, add beer to the bowl (a corona or other mexican beer to be authentic) then place chicken on racks (I end up filling up most of both racks). Somewhere between 1-2 hours, check the meat temp (unlike the fish, make it 170+, this is chicken!). Let it rest for a few minutes, then shred to make tacos. It can be easy to over dry the meat, so watch closely. Remember it will be pink on the outer meat, this is the “smoke line” assuming it’s white-cooked at the center
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