Smokers and Rotisseries Buying Guide

by Barb Hopkins

Grilling may be tops for steaks and burgers, but smokers offer a way to produce deeply flavorful meats ranging from ribs to brisket and whole hams. Rotisserie cooking also offers another way to slow cook flavor into whole chickens and other meats. When shopping for bbq smokers or a rotisserie oven, consider the following tips.

Smoker buying guide

Smokers are available in a variety of styles and may be fueled electrically or by wood, charcoal or gas. Smoker styles include:

  • Bullet smokers
  • Barrel smokers with offset firebox
  • Cabinet smokers

Brinkmann-electric-smokerBullet smokers features bullet smokers from manufacturers such as Brinkmann, Masterbuilt, Meco and more. Bullet smokers require less space than a barrel smoker does, making them a good choice for balconies or small patio areas. You can find bullet smokers that are electric or charcoal, including the Brinkmann electric smoker and grill. It has two chrome-plated steel grills, separate base pan and a 1500-watt heating element, as well as a 50-pound cooking capacity.

Barrel smokers

The average barrel smoker requires about as much space as the typical gas grill. The offset firebox is connected to the barrel smoker but sits off to one side and usually a bit lower than the cooking area — this keeps the heat from burning the meat. If you plan to smoke large, fattier meats such as pork shoulder or pork butt, this style is for you.

Landmann-Smoky-Mountain-cabinet-smokerCabinet smokers

Looking similar to a safe, the cabinet smoker is a vertical smoker with a door that swings open like a cabinet (or safe) door. Many cabinet smokers are electric, but there are also models like the gas Landmann cabinet smoker. The electric styles often have thermostats, allowing you to monitor the cooking heat and are a good choice if you plan to smoke fish and chicken. Charcoal and gas smokers often are preferred for smoking beef, pork and turkey.

Rotisserie buying guide

A rotisserie allows you to slow roast meat by having it turned on a stick or spit. Rotisserie chicken is sold in many grocery store delis, but you can make your own at home with a countertop rotisserie.

Buying tips

Before buying a smoker or rotisserie, consider what meat and the sizes of cuts you plan to cook — this can help determine the size smoker or rotisserie you’ll want to buy. Always look for sturdy construction, especially solid welds and seals. Thin metal construction may not last as long as a thicker metal. Some come with wheels, which are handy for rolling your smoker in and out of storage.

In addition, look for a smoker with easy access for adding wood, fuel or water so you’re not losing large amounts of heat when making additions. You’ll want your smoker or rotisserie to be easy to clean, too. Opt for a model with removable grates and easy access to all areas of the cooking chamber.


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