What are Wood Burning Smokers?

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  • Written By: KN
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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There are three basic types of meat smokers: wood burning ones, gas grills, and the newer water smokers. Traditionalists still favor the technique and taste that wood burning models provide. These use charcoal, wood, or wood pellets to slowly cook a variety of meats. Normally, folks who love to cook with their wood burning models prefer larger cuts of meat, such as slabs of ribs, briskets, loin roasts or butt and shoulder cuts. Both beef and pork are popular choices to cook in such a smoker - as are whole chickens and turkeys.

Smokers are not the same as your backyard grill or hibachi. Most wood burning ones are not portable and many of them weigh as much as 200 pounds (90 kg). They are made of various metals - some are as simple as 50-gallon (190 liter) steel drums converted into smokers, while the high-end wood burning smokers are burnished stainless steel high-tech wonders. Whether homemade or top-of-the-line, they have three basic components: the cooking chamber, the firebox and the smoke chimney.

The cooking chamber is the area where the meat is placed to cook. Most BBQ cooks start their meats close to the source of heat, called the firebox, and move the meats away from the source of heat to finish them off. It is the circulation of the heat and smoke within the cooking chamber that imparts the smoky barbeque flavors during the cooking process.


The firebox in wood burning smokers is the source of heat to cook the meats. Because it is located to one side or the other of the cooking chamber and the fire does not come into direct contact with the meat, this method of cooking is called, indirect cooking. When meats are grilled, they are placed directly on flames, so it takes less time to cook. When meats are smoked in wood burning devices, they take longer to cook due to the indirect heat, but the result is more tender and flavorful meat.

The smoke chimney on wood burning smokers are normally located on the opposite side of the firebox. An efficient smoke chimney is designed to retain the heat needed to keep the temperature constant; they also allow the free flow of air that helps keep the fire stoked and the smoke circulating to impart the desired smoky flavor.


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Post 3

What kind of wood do you guys like to use in your barbeque smokers? I like cherry wood or apple wood but sometimes these are hard to get a hold of.

I actually lucked out last summer. I heard about an old apple orchard that was being cleared to make room for other crops. They put an ad on Craigslist offering up the wood and I was able to haul away enough to keep my smoker stocked with apple wood all season.

Post 2

My neighbor has two outdoor smokers and I feel like he is using them constantly. Any time I step out into my backyard I can smell that distinctive combination of meat and smoke that makes BBQ so mouth watering.

I went to a BBQ at his house one summer and the meat was incredible. But it is not like I can stop by at any old time and ask for a sandwich. I have to make myself content with just the smell.

Post 1

My dad loves to cook smoked meats and he actually has a massive smoker that is mounted on a trailer. It can hold dozens of slabs of ribs or chickens or briskets. It rarely gets that filled up but it does get used a lot.

My dad always cooks BBQ for holidays and during the summers he cooks almost every weekend. He makes his own rub and sauce and my mom knows just about every side dish that goes with BBQ.

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