All About The 11 Types Of Smokers

Smoking is the process of flavouring, cooking and drying food by exposing it to smoke from burning or smouldering material, most often wood. Smoking can be done with a variety of materials such as leaves and twigs from trees, grape vines, logs from wood, peat, corn cobs and sawdust.

But the modern technique of smoking uses smoke-generating devices like grills and smokers for both commercial and home production of smoked goods. These devices use heat as well as fuel sources. There are many types of smoker out there but I'm going to share what is the difference between different type of smokers.

Horizontal Water Smokers

Horizontal water smokers have the same concept as vertical water smokers but instead of using a container, food is placed in trays or racks on a horizontal grill and this is surrounded by other containers with water to hold smoke for cooking. This type of smoker does not make use of a large amount of space compared to vertical water smokers.

The horizontal water smoker works by using a water tray that is located at the bottom of the barrel smoker. The food is placed above this on racks with grates to allow for air flow. This type of smoker can hold more food than vertical water smokers because instead of a container, it has bars that can be placed on racks. The horizontal water smoker is not used as often as vertical water smokers.

Vertical Water Smokers

Vertical water smokers are used to smoke food by cooking the food in a container that is placed inside of a container. The first container is full of water and this allows smokes from wood, coals or gas to get into the food. Additional containers can be added for more food to smoke at one time.

This type of smoker is not used as often as traditional smokers that are used. This is because the vertical water smoker is not as popular a choice. A traditional vertical water smoker can be used to smoke meat, fish and poultry. The water smoker can be used to cook but it is not as popular a choice.

Vertical Electric Smokers

Vertical electric smokers work by heating a container of water in order to produce smoke when the lid is closed while food is placed inside of the electric smoker grill or chamber. Vertical electric smokers may be used to cook a number of different types of food and most have an electric powered motor.

The vertical electric smoker is used to smoke food while the food cooks with steam. This type of smoker works by heating a water holder or reservoir, which produces smoldering smoke that adds flavor to the food. It can be used for more than just meat because it can cook vegetables and other types of food.

Vertical electric smokers may have several compartments, which can be used to hold foods that are smoked for different periods of time. Some smokers may have temperature settings that can be adjusted. Vertical electric smokers may not be used as often as other types of smokers because they must be plugged into an electrical outlet.

Horizontal Electric Smokers

Vertical electric smokers are made in a variety of sizes and the size that is right for you will depend on how much food needs to be smoked. The design of most vertical electric smokers is the same but they may not be made from the same materials. Some of these smokers are powered by propane gas, while others use electricity to produce heat.

The horizontal electric smoker can be used to smoke food indoors or outdoors. The horizontal electric smoker looks like a traditional charcoal or gas grill with an electrical component that is hidden within. The electric heating chamber and computer chip activated components allow the smoker to be used for smoking meat, fish or poultry.

The horizontal electric smoker is used for smoking meat because it generates a great deal of smoke and that makes the food taste good. The smoker can be used indoors or outdoors, depending on your preferences. These smokers may be used to cook fish, poultry and other types of food just like any other type of electrical water smoker.

Gas Smokers

Gas smokers work by using charcoal as fuel. Charcoal is placed in the bottom compartment of the smoker and it is lit to produce a flame that heats up the interior smoking chamber. Smoke is produced when wood, chips or pellets are added to the fire. Gas smokers utilize propane gas that is burned to generate heat.

Gas smokers can be used to cook a variety of fish, poultry, vegetables and meat. The grills that are used for these types of smokers may look like traditional charcoal grills or they may have a unique design depending on the manufacturer.

The computer chip regulates the temperature on gas smokers so that owners do not have to worry about the temperature inside of the smoking chamber going too high or too low. Gas smokers may be used to cook a number of different types of food and owners can adjust the temperature accordingly.

The design of gas smokers allow for an even distribution of heat that is needed to cook foods that are complicated items like turkeys, hams and roasts.

Gas smokers have an electric starter that keeps the charcoal lit, which makes it easy to use. This feature allows owners to concentrate on what they are cooking and not on tending the fire inside of the smoker. Gas smokers may be used for smoking meat, fish or poultry in order to add a unique taste to the food.

Charcoal Smokers

The fire is started by lighting the charcoal but electric starters are available if owners do not want to light the fire with wood or paper. Charcoal grills may be used for smoking meat, fish or poultry but they should only be used outdoors because of their open design.

The design of a charcoal smoker allows the smoke to flow freely around the food, which helps to add flavor. The fire can be adjusted so that it gives off a great deal or little heat and there are temperature controls for this reason as well. Owners can purchase an electric warmer separately if they want their food cooked at a higher temperature.

The design of these smokers is very similar to other types of vertical water smokers and they come in a variety of sizes depending on how much food needs to be smoked.

Despite their name, charcoal smokers can be used to cook fish, poultry and a variety of other types of food. They can be set up outside or next to an indoor barbecue area where they will not disturb others. Charcoal smokers are used for smoking meat because they provide enough heat and smoke to cook meat that has been brined, marinated or seasoned beforehand. The food may also be coated with spices prior to cooking.

Offset Smokers

Food is placed on racks and then it will be cooked over low heat that is generated by burning wood chips or logs inside of the firebox. Heat shields, baffles, smoke generators and even electric fans may be added to these types of smokers in order to control the flow of smoke.

Offset smokers are ideal for smoking fish, poultry and a variety of other types of meat. They tend to be somewhat large and they may have a window in order for owners to view their food as it cooks without opening up the lid. The racks that are used inside these smokers allow owners to add or remove food at any time.

Offset smokers may be used indoors in order to produce a unique taste in their foods. They use very little heat and they can be set up on the patio or deck of an owner's home especially if additional space is available outside. Smoking meat outdoors gives it a natural flavor that cannot be replicated indoors.

Kamado (Ceramic) Smokers

They use very little heat and they look similar to mini-ovens. These smokers may be used to cook a variety of meat, poultry, fish and vegetables including bacon, ham and roast beef because they are able to maintain low temperatures for long periods of time.

The design of ceramic smokers makes it easy to add more charcoal or wood chips to the fire in order to maintain the temperature inside of the smoker. As a result, owners will not need to worry about changing out the charcoal or wood chips too frequently. These smokers are used at restaurants because they can be left unattended for hours or days at a time while leaving food that is marinating inside of them.

Kamado smokers are used to simmer food on the stove or in the oven. They may be used indoors or outdoors and they can even be buried in the ground if an electric power source is nearby. These smokers tend to have short legs that keep them off of a dirt floor while the interior is lined with ceramic material.

Drum Smokers

These smokers are used to roast or cook hams and a variety of other types of meat. The food is suspended above the hot embers inside of the smoker and it will be basted with a mixture that has been created by combining salt, water and seasonings. A constant supply of wood chips or logs keeps temperatures inside these smokers from getting too hot.

The main benefit of drum smokers is that the food will not have to be turned as it cooks. Owners can easily add or remove food and they can also adjust temperature controls at any time in order to maintain a single temperature that is ideal for both the meat and the smoke flavor itself. The racks inside these smokers are adjustable so owners can change the height of the food in order to control how much it is exposed to heat or the flow of smoke.

Pellet Smokers

These smokers are used to cook commercially processed meats because they are able to maintain a very low temperature for extended periods of time. Temperature control is made possible with the use of computerized controllers which can be set based upon the types and weights of specific cuts of meat that will be processed.

Pellet smokers cost several hundred dollars or more. Owners need to feed it pellets for fuel and they cannot use other sources of energy such as natural gas. The meat is smoked in a smokehouse that is separate from the pellet smoker itself. A fan is used to keep it circulating among racks that are equipped with food hooks or pegs. The food may be cooked overnight because pellet smokers do not require much supervision.

The food inside of a pellet smoker will be completely cooked from the inside out by the time it is done smoking. The fat and grease that are removed from the outside of cuts of meat during this process may be used in other dishes such as soups or stews. Different types of wood pellets can produce different flavor profiles. Owners can also adjust the temperature based on what kinds of meat are being prepared.

A small amount of sawdust pellets is placed inside a special container that is mounted to an electric motor. The pellets are heated and they produce smoke at a low level for several hours or even overnight before new ones need to be added. As the pellets heat up, the smoke that is released will absorb into cuts of meat.


1. What is the difference between a smoker and a grill?

A smoker is used to cook meat slowly as the fat, water and other chemicals are rendered out of it. The resulting product will be very tender once it has been smoked. A grill can be used to cook food quickly while outside or on an upper rack inside of a home. The food that is grilled will be seared over direct heat which means it will have a nice crust around the outside while being warm and juicy inside of it.

2. What types of wood are best for smoking?

Though many types of wood can be used, hickory is often considered to provide the richest flavor profile. Other woods that provide a smoked flavor include cherrywood, mesquite, oak and maple.

3. How do I maintain my smoker?

The outside of the smoker should be kept clean at all times because soot and grease can leave stains on it if they are allowed to accumulate for too long of an amount of time. The inside needs to be cleaned regularly as well, because if food is allowed to sit in the smoker for a long time without being removed, it will burn and leave an unpleasant smell.

A few minutes of maintenance on a smoker can keep it running smoothly for many years.

4. What types of meat should I smoke?

This is a question that each individual owner of a smoker will need to answer individually, because everyone has their own preferences. Some people like brisket while others prefer ribs. Some may even enjoy smoked turkey on occasion.

5. How can I modify my smoker?

There are many accessories that owners can purchase for their smokers in order to enhance the flavor and tenderness of foods that are smoked. Owners can purchase racks that suspend their food over the heat source, smoking chips for flavor enhancement and even a thermometer so they can check to make sure that it is at the perfect temperature.


Smokers are a unique way for people to prepare meat in their homes because they can control exactly how it is cooked by using different kinds of wood and controlling the amount of heat that is generated.

A smoker may cost several hundred dollars, but this price will begin to pay itself back once owners take the time to learn all about smoking techniques. Most smokers last for many years, because they require only a little bit of care and maintenance.

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