November 13, 2015
For those new to vertical gas smokers, they’re basically a more convenient, user friendly version of the offset barrel smoker, which demands more time and effort to cook good food. Obviously you still have to pay attention to what you’re cooking, but you won’t have to wake up at 3 am in the morning, which is definitely a bonus. Vertical smokers are propane powered, and generally consist of a smoking chamber, pans for water and wood, a chimney/adjustable damper to vent the smoke, and a gas burner at the bottom. Propane also burns cleanly, so you won’t have any annoying soot deposits on your food which can ruin their flavor. Speaking of food, you really can produce amazingly flavorful dishes on these smokers, and enough of it for the whole family, even if the in-laws are coming. Another advantage is that these smokers are also portable, meaning that with a bit of effort, you can take them with you when camping or traveling. Most models look pretty similar, but the designs on the inside make all the difference.
Main features: This particular model is 21.5 in by 19.5 in by 45.5 in and has three chrome plated cooking grates for a combined 578 sq inches of cooking space(which translates to about 28 burgers). It also has a double drawer design with separate temperature controls for the cooking chamber and the burner, which allows for quicker access to the water and wood pans during the cooking but won’t cost you any heat. The controls for the 16,000 BTU burner and the rotary ignition with an adjustable damper are located just under the drawer. On the top above the chimney, there is a warming rack which allows you prep your food or make sauces and marinades before starting the smoking process. Wood isn’t actually necessary for smoking, but it gives the food a better flavor than just the water alone. In the smoker, a water pan lasts about an hour of cooking and four oz of wood lasts about 45 minutes. This char-broil gas smoker is also sold in multiple stores, including Amazon, and Best Buy($149.99), as of the writing of this article.
Pros: First of all, we need to assess the smoker in the context of its price. At only $136.49 on Amazon, this model isrelatively inexpensive for a gas smoker, so obviously the quality won’t be perfect. However, it actually packs a lot ofpunch for its price, and for its small footprint – so it’s perfect if you’re tight on space. The steel itself is pretty good, and definitely better than you would expect for less than two hundred dollars. The smoking chamber is fairly large and gives you 7,566 cubic inches of cooking space, or about four cubic feet, and has multiple slots for food. Another advantage comes from the dual control for the amount of smoke and temperature, due to the double drawer feature. It’s versatile, so you can use it to smoke a wide variety of foods ranging from ribs and brisket to chicken and salmon, and even pizza! In addition, because the burner lames are efficient and fast, it actually starts to smoke pretty quickly, so you won’t have to wait forever to begin cooking. Although there is some leakage of smoke, that really isn’t going to make a difference in the quality of your food and it’s not something you need to worry about.
Cons: The worst part of the design would be the water pan, which is basically irrelevant. Honestly, it’s easier to just not use it at all and replace it with a steel pan filled with water on the lowest rack. For the wood pan, make sure to actually use chips, because it’s not designed for larger chunks of wood unless you cut them down first. Also make sure to keep an eye on the temperature, as the included thermometer tends to run hot. It’s both better and safer to just buy your own thermometer and attach it to the smoker. Some people might find the setup a bit difficult, as the product is quite heavy with a 67.3 1b shipping weight. However, it is completely doable -just know that you won’t be able to start using your gas smoker right away. Overall, this product is best for beginners or hobbyists. In this price range, the char-broil vertical gas smoker really is the best you will get.