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on June 28, 2011
Much like the others who have reviewed the Cookshack smokers I agonized for weeks and spent hours looking at and reading about the smokers out there. I have owned three smokers in the past; both charcoal and electric. And while I love my charcoal Weber grill for smoking I found it too time consuming. The first electric lasted about 4 years before it rusted out. The second electric was the Mecco stainless steel; rusting solved! Little did I realize that it's element draws so much electricity that it overheated and melted at the connection points and stopped working after about 8 uses. Replaced the element and controller but (maybe to solve the overheating) it would not stay on long enough to get up to temp. Overall a real piece of stainless steel junk.

I was determined to buy quality and after reading the Cookshack forums for hours I chose the 025 over the Smokin-it which I thought looked pretty nice too. I upgraded the shelves to SS and also purchased the jerky hooks. The 025 is built like a tank and is so easy to use I want to kick myself for buying that damn Mecco. Now I just put the meat or fish in with 2-3 oz of wood, set the oven temp, insert the probe, close the door and that's it. No adding wood, no opening the door and causing temp swings. Buy a Maverick wireless temperature probe and you are really set up.

I really worried that the 025 was going to be to small, and if you are trying to smoke food for a party of 20 or more you might have to do two batches. I'm usually smoking for 4 to 14 so I'm not worried.

The Cookshack website is a mess right now but search their owner's forum. You will find many happy owners and even more great recipes.
0Comment|24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 10, 2010
This is one impressive smoker! I got the black Smokette model 20 with the stainless top and let me tell you, it is built like a safe! Looking at the workmanship, I have no concerns about rusting or long-term durability. I'll probably be retired by the time this thing wears out. When I first started looking at smokers, it seemed like a lot of other brands were/are poorly constructed, basically college dorm room refrigerators with heating elements slapped inside of them, lots of plastic, cheap controls, and flimsy grills. Or they were made of glorified aluminum foil or miscellaneous Chinese metal. Not acceptable to me when you have to throw down a few C-Notes to the cashier on the way out of the smoker store! I also saw a lot of reviews where people complained about underpowered heating elements and lack of temperature control. To avoid that whole mess, I got a 750W element in my Cookshack with insulated walls. The Smokette heats up with authority and holds temp amazingly well. The first night I used my smoker, the outdoor temps were in the 30's. The Smokette will not get hot to the touch or burn the underneath side of your deck. It stays cool on the exterior during operation. It has a roomy interior, two 14" x 18" shelves, with lots of space to smoke a turkey or plenty of ribs. The first thing I smoked was a big Steelhead Salmon fillet. Man! Did it taste good! One thing to note and you will not find it in the manual, the controller is programmed to heat for the first 20 minutes of the cycle to get the wood smoldering, so if you accidentally turn it off when it is near your desired smoking temperature, (like I did), you wont be able to figure out why it keeps heating up. If this happens, just open the door, after 20 minutes it will control right on the money. The grease pan is just a disposable that sits freely on the ground underneath. For such a nice smoker, it would be nice if there was a built in slide out tray. Other brands I seriously considered and probably would have been happy with included the relatively new and unheard of Smokehouse Little Chief 2 and/or Big Chief 2. Both Cookshack and Smokehouse Chief 2's are made in the USA and very well built. The others I almost purchased were the Weber Smokey Mountain, and the Smokin-it model #2. I'm really glad I bought the Cookshack, you can't go wrong with it. Happy smok'n!
44 comments|24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 10, 2010
I did a tremendous amount of research and decided on this little beauty. There are a lot of cheaper smokers out there but after you replace all the parts and the smoker you will have wished you bought quality in the first place! If you are a weekend warrior like me and want to put some great food on the table with minimal effort this is the smoker for you!

Here's what I love about this smoker...

1. You only use about a cup of wood chips and thats it!
2. The thermometer makes cooking mistake free and perfect product comes out!
3. No need for a water pan...the meat stays moist!
4. You plug it in and walk away...come back later and it's done like great restaurant quality food!

In fact, other than my favorite restaurants, I would match the meat that comes out of here with the majority of restaurants out there. I know it's expensive, but this will last forever due to stainless steel body. I bit the bullet and was worried I was wasting money on an "expensive" smoker, but boy am I glad I did! I have no regrets spending the extra cash on this thing because I know it will be the last one I probably will ever buy...unless I get the smoking bug and decide to cater...then I will buy a bigger "Cookshack". You won't regret buying this!
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on January 8, 2012
I've had my Cookshack smoker for almost 3 months now and I love it.

Assembly:
The unit arrived in good shape with no dents on the unit or the box. Assembling it takes about 15 minutes. All you have to do is screw the casters into the bottom then screw the control unit onto the top.

Preparation:
Anytime you use the unit put heavy duty foil in the bottom and over the smoke chamber. Be sure to poke a hole in the bottom of the foil, over the drain hole so the drippings will fall into the pan.

Seasoning:
After you have it set up, wipe all the metal shavings out of the unit (there isn't much but when you're dealing with food, it's better to be safe than sorry). Then pick up a few whole bacon slabs or fat back, put it in the cooker, add some wood (the unit arrives with a box of mesquite) and smoke it for 4hrs. I advise doing this 3 times before you start smoking meat you intend to eat.

Use:
Now the fun begins. You don't have to buy a cookbook! I found a number of excellent videos on youtube for things like ribs, brisket & pulled pork. I tried about a dozen pork seasonings & the ones I like most are Fast Eddy's, Byron's Butt Rub & Ritter's Just Rub (that one has a little kick).

When you see the size of the wood chunks, you'll be tempted to put a number of them in the smoke tray. DON'T DO IT! If you use too much it will overwhelm the flavor of your food & make it taste acrid. For Chicken, one is DEFINITELY enough. Ribs take 6hrs so 1 or 2 is fine. Pulled Pork is a 12 hour cook so I use 2.

The unit is well insulated & stays cool to the touch while it's running and having the meat probe is WONDERFUL because it removes the guess work (when the internal temperature hits 190, your pork shoulder is done. Wrap it in foil & let it rest for 30 min then YUMMY!)

Cleanup:
Super easy. Remove the foil, put it in the pan & toss it and the racks can be thrown in the dishwasher

Issues:
The ONLY complaint I have with this smoker is that it's small. I have to invest in a rib rack & give that a try, but with the regular racks, you can only smoke 4 racks of ribs which is fine when one couple is coming over. But if I'm having a big BBQ, it's a little problematic.

Outside of that, I use my smoker at least 3x a week and I couldn't be happier with it.
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on February 21, 2011
I have used many "commercial" smokers over the years and was pleasantly surprised by this " home" model. I have smoked about 50 lbs of different meats, primarily chicken and beef and am very pleased with the results and clean up. Assembly was very easy and having wheels on the unit a great plus. I would definitely recommend !
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on October 18, 2011
Had been researching a lot of smokers on line when I came across this one. I wanted to buy a smoker I could use year-round, that was insulated and a lot like my friend's who had converted an old icebox into a great smoker for salmon. Have a inexpensive smoker I can't use in the winter and a Traeger that I could not get a low enough temperature for salmon.

While I purchased mainly for smoking salmon and sturgeon, the Elite does a great job on chicken and a fantastic job with brisket and baby backs. The only negative is the foil drip pan Cookshack sends with it that fits underneath, wish it had been stainless and able to put in the dishwasher. The racks are a great size on this model and fit well in the dishwasher. I line the bottom of the interior with foil and drape foil over the stainless cover above the heating element; cleanup is a breeze.

Love the digital temperature control and the probe, both are very accurate and perform great. They allow me to keep the temp. low for my salmon, resulting in a moist, very smokey texture and flavor; my buddies love it!

Very happy with the purchase.
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on May 29, 2011
No big letter here just 5 HUGE stars I love it!! I can only say, spend the extra for the stainless model as cleaning is so easy with a can of oven cleaner and a hose. You'll be so glad you did, if your like me and never cross smoke foods.

Enjoy,

Dave

Western, NY.
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on September 28, 2012
I'm glad to see that Amazon is selling Cookshack products.
I've been using my Smokette since July 1999 (bought it direct from Cookshack) and it's an excellent product.
My first run in with BBQ was in the mid-80's when all I could afford was a Brinkman "smoker" (I was an Army officer at the time so money was pretty tight). It was awful. First off, if your smoker uses a "water pan" you're not cooking BBQ and you're not smoking -- you're steaming your food. Second, trying to keep charcoal fired up for 18 hours to cook a brisket was such a hassle that I just gave up.
Fast forward to the age of the internet and more disposable income.
I got the Smokette because Cookshack has a superb reputation (they build mostly commercial equipment) and because it looked so easy to set up and clean up. That's proven to be true.
I recommend it because it was easy to set up, it is easy to set up, and because it makes it very easy to cook superb food.
Cookshack has a forum that's very helpful and the customer service people at Cookshack were very helpful. I ordered a set of replacement racks a few years ago and the CSR I spoke with was great.
Easy to cook - no question. Just load in your food, add small chunks of wood in the smokerbox, run your temperature probe in through the smoke outlet hole, set the temperature, and leave it 'til it's done.
The food this thing produces is excellent. I used to write software at Apple and would cook pork butt or brisket for the folks on my team. One of my coworkers was from Ft. Worth and he had eaten quite a bit of Q in his time. After a few bites of pulled pork, he told me that it was the best that he'd ever eaten!
This is not an inexpensive purchase but it is an excellent value. In the 13 years that I've been using my Smokette, I've had no problems with it, and the only thing I've had to "maintain" was to replace the grills (and that was 'cause my wife didn't like it that they weren't shiny looking any more).
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on October 8, 2011
Great smoker, a little pricey but worth the money. Nice to not have to always watch. The meat temperature probe definetly a huge plus! One improvement would be to have it programable to shut off on the temperature probe. But no complaints.
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on March 29, 2012
I did loads of research and lurked around the Cookshack forum [...] for a long time, until I finally committed and bought an Elite 25. I have had traditional wood burning smokers before and they require a lot of fire/temp tending. With the Cookshack you load it up, set temp and that is it. No more running back and forth to the smoker to add wood or check temp. Load it up and leave it. It is very much like leaving a crock pot running while you are at work. I would say it is safer than a crock pot because generally it is sitting outside your home. How about loading up a couple of pork butts the night before and sleeping like a baby all night long. Try that one with a traditional smoker. It never gets hot enough to burn anyone, which is huge if you have kids running around. The amount of wood is ridiculously small compare to a traditional wood burner. Two ounces for a chicken can be more than enough. Yes, 2oz of wood. That is just a little larger than a golf ball. Size will vary by density. Made in the U.S.A. with quality materials. I could go on and on about the greatness of this smoker. It is worth every penny and more. You will never look at a BBQ restaurant the same. I can produce better BBQ in my backyard than I can find at any local joint. Hey, I live in California, so that may or may not say a whole lot, but my BBQ is really good and I mean really good. The the main ingredient for my repetitive success is my Cookshack smoker.
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