Smoking meat isn’t an industrial-scale task anymore. You can now buy a device for less than £100 and smoke a single, or multiple, pieces of meat on-demand. Here we run you through a few features worth considering and list six of this year’s best food smokers for your home.
Best Food Smokers: Buying guide
Hot vs Cold smoking
There are two ways you can smoke food. Cold smoking is performed at temperatures between 20- and 30-degrees and adds flavour to a meat without cooking it. Hot smoking is when you add smoke while cooking a meat at temperatures of around 50- to 80-degrees. This cooks the meat fully while keeping it moist and adding a smoky flavour.
See also: Best George Foreman Grill 2017: We Rank This Year’s Best Health Grills.
Wood chips vs chunks
If you’re smoking woods in a larger smoker you need to consider the size of the wood you add. This is pretty logical and corresponds with how long you want to smoke your meat for. Chips of wood are preferred for when you want to smoke your meat over a shorter period of time. Whereas bigger chunks of meat are better for when you’re smoking large joints of meat for a longer time.
If you’re using an electric smoker or gun, you’re more likely to buy precut tins of smoking wood. Here you don’t have to worry about the size of the wood, you only need to pick the flavour you want.
Both kinds of wood should be soaked in water for at least an hour before smoking
Understand the science behind smoking in 30 seconds
Not all woods can be used for smoking food. Hardwoods are generally preferred to softwoods due to the materials its made up from. Softwoods contain large amounts of resin which produces a harsh sooty taste when burned. The three main materials that make up a hardwood – cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin – each play a vital part when smoking food.
The cellulose and hemicellulose materials are burnt they caramelise and they produce adds a sweet or floral flavour to meat, as well as colour. When the remaining material, lignin, is burnt you release additional smokey, vanilla and clove flavours.
Read next: Best Toasted Sandwich Maker 2017: The 7 BEST Sandwich Makers RANKED.
The 4 BEST Food Smokers
1. Digital Electric Smoker for Indoor/Outdoor use, 500W with Hot/Cold Smoke
- Hot smoke, Cold smoke or a combination
- Digital Control
- 9.5 L
- Audible alarm when smoking/cooking complete
This is a great device. First of all it lets you hot or cold smoke your food at the press of a button. That level of convenience is unmatched. It 9.5-litre capacity is also big enough to smoke enough meat to feed the family. Its comes with a smoking rack too which is rare for electronic smokers, which means you can smoke finer cuts of meat such as salmon. One more thing: have you seen that price? Buy now!
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2. Sage by Heston Blumenthal BSM600SIL the Smoking Gun Portable Food Smoker
- Handheld operation
- Smoked food within minutes
- Size: 25 x 21.6 x 7.6 cm
Heston Blumenthal’s name is synonymous with quality food. Here he’s worked with appliance manufacturer’s Sage to create a smoking gun that lets people add a delicious smoky taste to their home cooking. Operation is simple, add a pinch of wood and then light a match. 30-seconds later you will be smoking your food.
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3. Tower Pro T16008 One Pot Express 14-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker with Smoker, 6 Litre, 1000 Watt
- 12 preset functions
- 6L smoking/cooking pot
- Variable height steaming and smoking racks
- Size: 22.5 x 32 x 33 cm
Probably not the best option listed here for people who want to get seriously nerdy about smoking meat. However, its 12-in-1 versatility cannot be ignored. Convenience is a central theme here, with features including a 24-hour digital timer and a removal dish-washer safe bowl. This is a great option if you’re looking to give your cooking a smoky kick without too much effort.
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4. Cameron Stovetop Smoker (Inc Chips & Instruction/recipe book)
- Stainless Steel
- Fold-Away Handles (never get hot)
- Dishwasher Safe
- Size: 38 x 28 x 9cm
The New Cameron Stovetop Smoker represent the most basic and easy to use smoker of any featured on this list. It’s not the biggest, so you can only fit a couple portions of meat in the unit at a time, but its ease-of-use makes up for this. Empty your flavoured wood chips into the pan, apply heat, and that’s it. Each Smoker comes with a 24-page recipe and instruction booklet and two tubs of wood dust (Hickory and Oak).
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Read next: Best Halogen Oven 2018: The 6 BEST Halogen Cookers RANKED.