There are several things you need to look for when you choose a sausage smoker. Choosing the best sausage smoker for your needs requires an assessment of how much sausage you need to smoke, how regularly you will be doing so, and what the environmental conditions are likely to be during the smoking process. A solid smoker with excellent build quality may be the best for professional use, but a sausage smoker that you only use occasionally often does not require high-grade materials and ultra tight construction. You should also determine how you plan to smoke the sausage, as wood-fire smokers differ greatly from electric, propane, or side-saddle smokers.
Determine the volume of sausage that you plan to smoke at any given time. If you own a restaurant or other food-service business, you will want a smoker with a large internal volume to accommodate a large batch of sausage in a single smoking session. If you simply want a sausage smoker to cook a small amount of meat for small gatherings or your own consumption, you should choose a smoker with a small internal capacity. The smaller the capacity, the more quickly and evenly you will be able to smoke the sausage. Larger volumes make it more difficult to control cooking temperature, which can lead to inconsistent results.
If you plan on using the sausage smoker outdoors, the process will be more susceptible to prevailing weather conditions. This may be an problem in the summer in hot areas as you need to maintain a consistent temperature for extended periods of time to successfully smoke sausage. Generally, you will want to maintain 200 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit (93 to 105 degrees Celsius) for several hours. If it is too hot or too cold outside, it will be difficult to achieve and maintain this cooking temperature within the smoke chamber.
A basic, upright sausage smoker uses a direct flame to generate smoke that then rises to surround the meat in the smoke chamber. It is a simple and efficient design, but more elaborate smokers are also available. Generally, the more solid and airtight that the smoker is, the better success you will have when actually cooking the meat. You do not, however, need to spend a lot of money for a top-of -the-line model made out of cast iron with double welded seams if you are not cooking large amounts of sausage at one time. The smaller the smoker, the less vital airtight construction is.
A side-saddle sausage smoker features a fire box set to the side of the smoking chamber. This setup provides indirect smoke to the sausage and makes it easier to maintain the cooking temperature. Generally, upright or side-saddle chambers use wood to provide the heat, but you can use a smoker with an electric coil or a propane burner. While either option provides continuous, easily controlled heat, you will need to use wood smoke chips to provide the smoke for the meat.