Char-Broil American Gourmet Smokers

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Char-Broil American Gourmet Smokers
Price: $59.99 - 119.99
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This has the right form – but the steel is going to be pretty thin, which means that temperature control is going to be very difficult, particularly for long, slow smokes, you’ll need more wood (because it will lose heat faster), etc.

There are smokers with much heavier steel walls sold at Academy, for instance, but they’re going to cost you somewhere around $600.

I hate to see someone think they’re going to turn out championship smoked meat with this setup. You can, but it’s going to be a lot harder than it would be with a better smoker. A real case of “you get what you pay for”.

I have had success with similar set ups and then put fire bricks in the box to help steady the heat, but I do agree with your thoughts on the metal being thin on these ones.

This is a good starter Newhouse … folks don’t know if they’re going to make a commitment to ‘SMOKING’, and there’s a learning curve that I’d bet some folks never get past.

Yes, there is a learning curve. My desire (perhaps not well-executed) was to let people unfamiliar with smoking know that the learning curve would be steeper and more difficult with these than with a better-built smoker.

I’d hate to have someone give up because it was too hard to get good results with a cheap smoker.

Fire bricks should help a lot. You could also get a cast iron cookie sheet (or 2).

This will probably frustrate a lot of new people for longer cooks. I could find some good uses for it, though. Smoking cheese in the winter would be pretty straightforward. Small fire, doesn’t have to hold temp for hour after hour. Just enough to keep the wood burning.

I concur. I began with a “starter” smoker (a small, Brinkmann charcoal smoker) and was very frustrated with the inability to maintain a constant temperature (especially here in the Northwest where winters can be in the 20º range). On multiple occasions I found myself finishing meats in the oven. In my case I loved the taste enough that I simply upgraded my smoker (I’m now using a Masterbuilt electric and will probably upgrade that to something better in the next year or two).

I could see some folks getting frustrated enough to give up altogether.

One way to help overcome this grills downside when smoking is to have a aluminum pan full of water directly underneath the meat you are smoking. The water helps retain/stabilize the temperature as well as helping to keep things moist. I have a similar set up to this one and I agree its not the best but for what you are paying its a good start.

I have owned this (deluxe) model and second this comment. I loved the flexibility to use it as a regular grill or a smoker, but it was VERY leaky (which meant that it usually burned too hot and used a lot of fuel), plus it only lasted a couple of summers even though I always stowed it in a dry place between usages.

This may seem a high price to pay for a temporary starter smoker but unfortunately that’s exactly what it is. That said: I made a check of a lot of good food on it while it lasted and before I sunk larger coin on something better.