For slow cooked food with authentic flavours, nothing beats cooking with a smoker. Smokers, alongside barbecues, add a unique dimension to meats, cheeses, veg and fish whether cooked inside or outdoors.
Smokers have grown in popularity over the past few decades as more and more chefs are going back to basics. Food smokers represent that corner of cookery that focuses on traditional methods, introducing exciting flavours using the most simple of components.
From smoke-infused racks of meat to aromatic fish – even cheese and vegetables can benefit from time in a smoker.
So, if you’re researching what is the best smoker to buy, it’s important to work out the necessary specification. Smokers come in a huge range of shapes and sizes – from table-top smokers to restaurant-friendly food smokers.
What size kit you need depends on a few factors: whether it’s for business or pleasure, how much food you intend to cook at any one time, the various functions available and the fuel type.
Is the smoker for commercial or domestic use?
When it comes to the range of smokers on the market, both professional and novice chefs are spoilt for choice. While there is a huge range of features and sizes, most smokers are easy to use – making setting up and running straightforward.
Despite this, a casual smoker chef will have simple requirements compared to a restaurant’s needs, therefore striking the right balance for your particular circumstances is important.
If you’re looking for a commercial smoker…
If you’re running a catering business, own a restaurant or want to start producing smoked foods for a crowd, you’ll need to think fairly big. Not only this, but when catering an event, you don’t have as much time to monitor a domestic smoker which is a little more hands on. It's for this reason that digital smokers are very popular – you load up the racks and, using the digital display, can set the oven and smoke generator to do all the hard work for you.
If you’re looking for a domestic smoker…
The domestic chef can afford to be a little more hands on. When you have family and friends over, a hot coal smoker makes a big impression. The ProQ Ranger Elite BBQ Smoker is the perfect piece of kit for the garden to produce moist, flavoursome meat, fish and vegetables for parties and gatherings.
How much should I spend on my smoker?
There are smokers to suit all budgets, and it helps to figure out how much use you will get from your smoker. If you’re simply curious about trying out a smoker, the Camerons Gourmet Mini Smoker is a good place to start – affordable, easy to use and suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Pro-smokers will know the value of a good smoker, so may be willing to spend more on a machine.
What fuel does my smoker need?
Choosing your ideal smoker also involves picking what type of fuel you want to use. Different smokers have different types of fuel, from electricity to charcoal, pellets to wood chips. Each fuel will have its own benefits, depending on your requirements.
Electric smokers: These are really easy to use, with controls that allow you to set timers for the food to cook. These are perfect for catering businesses and restaurants.The Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker is a good example of an electric pellet smoker.
Pellet smokers: These are popular, as they are electrically powered, so carry the benefits of an electric smoker, but use wood pellets to provide the heat and flavour of a traditional smoker.
Propane smokers: These are good for quick and easy heating, and are simple to use.
Charcoal and wood smokers: Regarded as the most traditional smoker, using these is straightforward, making them ideal for home use. And because these deliver incredible flavour, many commercial setups have expensive charcoal and wood-fuelled smokers which can come in at the far end of the price scale. However, there are a lot of affordable domestic wood and charcoal smokers. The ProQ BBQ Smokers are charcoal and wood smokers.
Smoking food is a really easy way to impress your guests and diners. Which is why a smoker is the perfect tool for any chef. Whether it’s a domestic smoker perfect for parties and outdoor eating or a large scale smoker for businesses, if you’re looking to invest in a food smoker, we have some recommendations based on our best sellers.
If you're a food smoking beginner, sharpen your smoking skills with the Camerons Stovetop Smoker. It can be used on a stovetop or barbecue to produce hot smoked fish, meat and even vegetables easily. Larger items can also be smoked using a foil hood, so your choice of smoked food is unlimited. This machine washable device comes with a recipe booklet to inspire your next smoked creation.
There are many good reasons why the Tabletop BBQ Smoker is one of our most popular items. Use it outdoors, on a balcony, out on the beach – this is a versatile piece of kit that always delivers great results. Using wood chips and charcoal, it comes with a thermometer so you can keep an eye on cooking and its compact size means you can cook for up to 4 people almost anywhere.
For parties of six or over, you’d struggle to get a more comprehensive and easy-to-use smoker than the ProQ Frontier 3-in-1 Elite. This all-rounder allows you to experiment with cold smoking as well as hot smoking. This smoker delivers the classic American BBQ flavour to your bacon, salmon, brisket and cheeses.
The Bradley Digital Smoker 6 Rack is one of our bestselling smokers for restaurants and catering companies – and is also a favourite with home-smokers. The reason chefs love the Bradley Smoker so much, is because of its unrivalled consistency. The smoke levels are carefully controlled, so you get reliable, top-quality results every time. The six 11”x13” racks allow a large amount of food to be smoked at once, with the digital timer and smoke generator doing all the hard work for you. Check out the Bradley Smoker range here.
After a stage as a chef at a London Michelin-starred restaurant Nicola became obsessed with seeking the best flavours from around the world. She started Sous Chef in 2012, and is always sharing her knowledge of ingredients and writing recipes to showcase those products. Learning from the products, Sous Chef's suppliers and her travels, Nicola has written the majority of the recipes on the Sous Chef website, all of which are big on flavour.