Who doesn’t love having grilled or smoked meats for summer? With barbecue season just around the corner, it’s the best time to bring your grilling and smoking skills to the test and do some serious charcoal cooking at home. But with several types of grills and smokers available, how will you know which one suits you best? Read on our easy how-to guide and tips to help you decide if a BBQ grill or BBQ smoker is the one for you.
BBQ Grill vs. BBQ Smoker
Before deciding on which meat to grill or smoke, it’s best to first understand how smoking works and what makes it different from the typical barbie. Smoking cooks your food through hot (or cold) smoke, which can take some time depending on your choice of meat. The slower cooking process allows the smoke to deeply infuse into your meat for flavour and gradually tenderise its connective tissues. BBQ grilling, on the the other hand, is a faster cooking method as it uses direct heat. Here’s a table summarising their significant differences:
|BBQ Grills||BBQ Smokers|
|Purpose||Char the surface of the meat and seal its juices by creating a caramelised crust||Cook the meat slowly with smoke to tenderise it and infuse flavour|
|Temperature||200C to 260C||30C to 50C (cold smoking)
70C to 85C (hot smoking)
|Cooking time||A few minutes on direct heat||1 hour to 2 weeks of slow cooking, depending on the temperature and size of the meat|
|Suitable meat types||Small and more tender cuts of meat like chicken, ribs, pork chops, skirt steak, strip steak, and porterhouse||Larger cuts of meat like ham, ham hocks, ribs, pulled pork, and brisket|
|Flavour and nutrient value||Lacks smoky flavour but food stays moist; healthier method as it burns fats; faster cooking time helps retain nutrients||Gives signature authentic smoky flavour; meat tends to be a bit drier with some nutrient loss due to prolonged cooking|
Featured Grills and Smokers
While every type of grill and smoker gives your meat the barbecue or smoky goodness you love, learning more about their individual features lets you choose the grill or smoker that fits your needs. Do you want a cooker that is perfect for entertaining? Do you need something that is more compact for travelling? Or are you the versatile cook that needs a grill and smoker in one? To help you make the best decision, here’s a brief feature of some grills and smokers with an overview of their most important attributes.
1. Thuros T1
The Thuros T1 is a tabletop grill ideal for family cooking without the bulky setup, making it perfect for smaller homes, picnics, and camping. While its compact size may not be as suitable for a large-scale barbecue party or bigger cuts of meat, it suits several compatible attachments that allow you to grill with variety. Be it tasty kebabs using its skewer attachment or evenly cooked ribs using its optional hood, this tabletop grill definitely gives you much cooking control and versatility.
Video adapted from the David Hughes’ Channel
2. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal CUBE
Everdure’s CUBE is another portable grill that your can easily carry anywhere, from the local park to the beach. Aside from its specially made handles and base to protect you and your cooking area from the heat, it even comes with a removable bamboo tray and plastic compartment for carrying cutleries or food. All of which can be locked in safely in one small unit using its dual metal latches. And while it may not be your ideal grill for a big barbecue bash, it certainly is perfect for smaller families who love cooking outdoors.
Video adapted from the Everdure Heston Blumenthal Channel
3. Pit Barrel Classic Cooker
Now, if your love smoking meats to share, the Pit Barrel Classic Cooker is one good, and popular, steel drum smoker that does not need any complicated assembly instructions to follow. It comes with a firebox at the bottom and a cooking rack on top. The absence of a water pan allows this smoker to generate direct and radiant heat from the burning coal, making it excellent for chicken and ribs. Its hanging rods are also perfect for cooking your meats evenly through convection style, without the need to turn them from time to time. The rods can also hold more meats at one time, perfect for cooking in larger batches. But because of the production of direct heat, using this drum smoker for smoking larger cuts of meat may cause them to dry out. You may need to wrap large meats in foil until they reach their proper internal temperature.
Video adapted from Pit Barrel Cooker Co Channel
4. ProQ Frontier Elite
Finally, for a versatile cook and party host like you, a vertical water smoker like the ProQ Frontier Elite is your match. It’s a bullet-shaped type of smoker made up of three parts: the heat source; the water pan; and the smoking chamber. As it operates through charcoal heat, controlling its temperature through its air vents may need some time to master, particularly for first-time smokers. But when you do get the hang of it, you can enjoy it’s many versatile features. For instance, the ProQ Frontier Elite smoker’s compartments are stackable, so you can easily adjust its size to smoke, grill, and roast your food, depending on the number of your guests. This also allows you to take the unit anywhere, match it to the size of your meat, and save on energy to make it work. The water pan within the unit is also a good point as it stores and regulates heat to create a moist cooking environment and protect your meat from drying out.
Video adapted from the ProQSmokers Channel
There may be several grill and smoker types and options to consider, but whether you choose to have a BBQ grill or smoker at home, the cooker that suits you largely depends on your needs and preference. In particular, choose a grill or smoker that fits your budget and skills; versatile enough to cook the amount of food you usually serve; and can work for outdoor cooking, home entertaining, or both. By doing so, you not only get the most value out of your chosen grill or smoker but also serve the best-tasting barbecued and smoked delights for summer!