What Smoker Do Pros Use?

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of smoker professional chefs and pitmasters choose, you’re not alone. In the smoky world of barbecue, the choice of smoker can make a significant difference in the flavor and tenderness of the meat. From competition cook-offs to restaurant kitchens, there’s a range of smokers favored by the pros. So, let’s explore the world of smokers and discover the tools that experts rely on to create mouthwatering barbecue masterpieces.

Types of Smokers Used by Professionals

When it comes to barbecue and smoking, professionals rely on a variety of smokers to achieve mouthwatering results. Each type of smoker has its own unique features and benefits, catering to different preferences and cooking styles. In this comprehensive article, we will explore four commonly used smokers among professionals: offset smokers, pellet smokers, Charcoal Smokers, and electric smokers. So, whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or just starting out on your smoking journey, read on to learn which type of smoker might be the best fit for you.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Smoker

Before diving into the specifics of each type of smoker, it’s important to understand the factors you should consider when choosing one. To ensure a satisfying and hassle-free smoking experience, keep these key factors in mind:

Size and Capacity

Consider the size and capacity of the smoker, as it should align with your cooking needs. If you often cook for large gatherings or events, a bigger smoker would be more suitable, whereas smaller smokers are ideal for intimate gatherings or smaller portions.

Temperature Control

Temperature control is crucial when it comes to smoking food. Look for smokers that offer precise temperature control, allowing you to adjust and maintain the temperature throughout the cooking process. This ensures that your food is cooked evenly and to perfection.

Ease of Use

Ease of use is another important consideration, particularly for beginners. Look for smokers that are user-friendly and have intuitive controls. Features such as digital interfaces and programmable settings can simplify the smoking process, making it more enjoyable for all skill levels.


Investing in a smoker that is built to last is essential, especially if you plan on using it frequently. Look for smokers made from high-quality materials, such as stainless steel or heavy-duty metal, as they are more likely to withstand the test of time and provide consistent performance.


Lastly, consider your budget when choosing a smoker. Smokers come in a wide range of prices, so it’s important to determine how much you’re willing to spend. Keep in mind that more expensive smokers often come with additional features and superior performance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a reliable and efficient smoker at a lower price point.

What Smoker Do Pros Use?

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Offset Smokers

Offset smokers, also known as stick burners, are popular among barbecue enthusiasts and professionals alike. They feature a traditional design, consisting of a main cooking chamber and a separate firebox. The heat and smoke travel from the firebox to the cooking chamber, infusing the food with a distinct smoky flavor.

Design and Functionality

Offset smokers are known for their versatility and ability to produce authentic barbecue flavors. They often feature a large cooking surface, allowing you to smoke multiple cuts of meat simultaneously. The separate firebox allows for precise temperature control, as you can adjust the amount of fuel and airflow to maintain the desired temperature.

Pros and Cons

One of the main advantages of offset smokers is their ability to impart a rich smoky flavor to the food. Additionally, their large cooking surface makes them ideal for cooking for a crowd. However, offset smokers require more skill and attention to maintain a consistent temperature, as the firebox needs to be regularly tended to. They also tend to be larger and bulkier, which may pose a challenge if you have limited space.

Popular Brands

Some popular brands of offset smokers include Oklahoma Joe’s, Lang, and Yoder Smokers. These brands are known for their sturdy construction, excellent heat retention, and ability to produce exceptional barbecue results.

Pellet Smokers

Pellet Smokers, also known as pellet grills, have gained significant popularity in recent years. They utilize hardwood pellets as the fuel source, offering a convenient and consistent smoking experience.

Design and Functionality

Pellet smokers feature a hopper that holds the wood pellets, which are automatically fed into a firebox by an auger. The firebox then heats up, producing the smoke and heat necessary for smoking. Pellet smokers often have electronic controls that allow for precise temperature adjustments, making it easy to achieve consistent results.

Pros and Cons

One of the main advantages of pellet smokers is their simplicity and ease of use. They require minimal tending and offer consistent temperature control, allowing you to set it and forget it. Furthermore, pellet smokers can be used for not only smoking but also grilling, baking, roasting, and even braising. However, the reliance on electricity and pellets may be a drawback for some, especially if you prefer a more traditional smoking experience.

Popular Brands

Some popular brands of pellet smokers include Traeger, Camp Chef, and Green Mountain Grills. These brands are known for their reliable performance, durable construction, and versatility in cooking various types of food.

What Smoker Do Pros Use?

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Charcoal Smokers

Charcoal smokers are often favored by those seeking an authentic, old-school smoking experience. They rely on charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal to generate heat and smoke, creating a distinctive smoky flavor.

Design and Functionality

Charcoal smokers typically consist of a firebox, cooking chamber, and a water pan or drip pan. The charcoal is lit in the firebox, and the smoke and heat flow into the cooking chamber, infusing the food with delicious flavors. The water or drip pan helps regulate the temperature and adds moisture to the smoking environment.

Pros and Cons

One of the main advantages of charcoal smokers is their ability to provide a true barbecue experience, with the smoky flavor that is hard to replicate with other types of smokers. They also tend to be more affordable than some other options, making them a popular choice for beginners or those on a budget. However, charcoal smokers require more attention and skill to maintain a consistent temperature, and the process of lighting and managing the charcoal can be time-consuming.

Popular Brands

Some popular brands of charcoal smokers include Weber, Dyna-Glo, and Char-Griller. These brands are renowned for their sturdy construction, excellent heat retention, and exceptional smoking results.

Electric Smokers

Electric smokers offer a convenient and user-friendly smoking experience, making them an excellent choice for beginners or those who prefer a less hands-on approach.

Design and Functionality

Electric smokers rely on electricity to generate heat and smoke, eliminating the need for charcoal, wood, or pellets. They often feature a thermostat or digital control panel, allowing for precise temperature adjustments. Electric smokers are designed to be plug-and-play, requiring minimal manual adjustments during the smoking process.

Pros and Cons

One of the main advantages of electric smokers is their ease of use. They require minimal attention and offer precise temperature control, making them ideal for those who want a set-it-and-forget-it smoking experience. Electric smokers also tend to be more compact and portable, making them suitable for smaller spaces or for taking on camping trips. However, the lack of charcoal or wood may result in a milder smoky flavor compared to other types of smokers.

Popular Brands

Some popular brands of electric smokers include Masterbuilt, Bradley, and Smokin-It. These brands are known for their user-friendly designs, reliable performance, and consistent smoking results.

What Smoker Do Pros Use?

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Other Factors to Consider

In addition to the main factors mentioned earlier, there are a few other considerations that can further enhance your smoking experience:


If you plan on taking your smoker on outdoor adventures or need to store it in a compact space, consider the portability of the smoker. Look for models that are lightweight, have convenient handles, and may even come with wheels for easy transportation.

Additional Features

Some smokers offer additional features that can elevate your smoking game. These may include built-in temperature probes, meat probes, side tables, shelves, or even Bluetooth connectivity for remote control and monitoring. Consider which features are important to you and align with your cooking style.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Lastly, consider the maintenance and cleaning required for each type of smoker. Some smokers may require more effort to clean, while others have features such as removable ash pans or drip trays that make the cleaning process easier. A smoker that is easy to maintain and clean will ensure your smoking adventures are hassle-free.


Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of the different types of smokers used by professionals, along with the key factors to consider when choosing one, you are well-equipped to make an informed decision. Whether you opt for the traditional allure of an offset smoker, the convenience of a pellet smoker, the authenticity of a charcoal smoker, or the simplicity of an electric smoker, remember to prioritize your cooking needs, preferences, and budget. Whichever smoker you choose, you can embark on a flavorful journey of smoking delicious meats, vegetables, and more, impressing your friends and family with your newfound expertise in the art of smoking. Happy smoking!

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