Top critical review
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Nice and Easy to Use Smoker, but some issues.
on June 27, 2017
EDIT: See CONS below.
- Easy to setup and use.
- Remote control access is very nifty.
- Nice and roomy inside. Maybe not professional size, but still plenty of room for my applications.
- Precise temperature control.
- Nice heavy grates.
- Not very messy.
- Doesn't produce a lot of excess exterior smoke.
- Built-in meat probe, but it's kind of large, so I haven't used it yet. It would probably be great for roasts or other large cuts of meat.
- Wheels on the back are nice, but I would prefer casters on the bottom. More on that below.
EDIT: The internal temperature thermometer in mine seems to be off by quite a lot, depending on how long I use it for. I've measured as much as a 50-degree F difference between its internal reading and the actual internal temperature (using both the Meat Probe feature and another probe thermometer for verification. THIS MEANS THAT THE UNIT WILL NOT BE AS HOT INSIDE AS IT SHOULD BE. Since any kind of cooking requires precise temperature control, this means that I cannot simply "set it and forget it", like I should be able to do. Instead, if I continue to use this thing, I'll have to closely monitor internal temperature using a probe. For this reason, I've had to knock it down to 3 Stars. Still better than the homebuilt smoker I had before, but not as accurate as it should be.
- Doesn't hold a lot of wood. I've read these can be modified to have bigger wood chip trays, but my thought is that the wood chip tray should be big enough to start with. Not really an issue if you get the optional Cold Smoke attachment for about $50.
- Although it is lists temperatures between 100F and 275F, keep in mind that you need to get your wood chips hot enough to smolder, or you're not going to get any smoke. For that, you really need to let it heat up to at least 225F. Otherwise, you're not going to get very thick smoke. For cooler smoking, you'll definitely want that Cold Smoke attachment.
- It's possible to get thick, rich smoke with this thing, but it's kind of a delicate balancing act. You need the wood chips at the precise temperature, and you need a good amount in it.
I bought this thing to replace a homemade electric smoker, which had become a pain to maintain. So far, I've enjoyed having it, and I do not regret getting it at all. So far, I've cooked ribs, pork loin, chicken breasts, salmon, and tilapia in it, and apart from a few hiccups that probably have more to do with the cook than with the cooker, they've all come out great.
The wheels on the back might be convenient, but you have to tip the unit to get them to roll, which means you can't really have anything inside if you're going to move it that way. Me, I ordered a set of casters with 3/8 stems to put on the bottom. And although 10mm would work better, the 3/8s work okay. They weren't very stable or even on the front (the unit isn't really designed for them), but I modified the feet that came on it to give additional support, and now they're balanced and stable.
As I mention above, I do have some problems at certain temperatures maintaining a good density of smoke inside. This is because the heating element needs to be running to keep the wood smoldering, and there really needs to be more room inside for wood chips. I have found that keeping the unit at least 220F, along with keeping the chip pan fed, will produce a good bit of smoke. But if you want to do slower smoking at lower temperatures, you will definitely want that Cold Smoke attachment. Amazon has it for about $50, and it fits right into the chip loading slot.