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Surely anyone who has tried smoked turkey can agree that it’s delicious. However, the amazing smoky taste is not the only benefit of using a smoker for large chunks of meat. Having an oven on for hours, like you do when cooking a turkey, makes your kitchen hotter than a spa. This is even more true for those with tiny kitchens. But, why would you sweat like in a sauna, when you can sit on your patio, enjoying the day, while the turkey is cooking in the smoker? What’s more, now your oven is free for baking some holiday cookies or a side dish.
Hopefully, this convinced you that you need to get a smoker for making a heavenly tasty dinner, so here’s a list of five smokers that are the best for smoking a whole turkey.
According to Masterbuilt, this smoker can fit 2 turkeys. With 734.7 square inches of cooking area, that seems about right. You get 4 chrome-coated cooking racks with this grill, but if you take out two of them, you get a perfect layout for smoking two whole turkeys. Like any propane smoker, this smoker is easy to use – set the temperature on the gauge, press the ignition button, and that’s it!
At the bottom, the MPS 230S has a porcelain-coated flame disk bowl, where you can put your wood chips (or to be a pellet smoker). It also shields the burner from juice drippings. Disk bowl’s dual-purpose might seem like a great idea but beware of your turkey’s dripping, as it might get your wood chips too greasy and burned. Above it, you’ve got the removable, porcelain-coated water bowl for adding flavor to your turkey. This smoker comes with separate doors, which allows you to easily add more wood chips without opening the smoking chamber and thus prolonging the smoking time.
This Masterbuilt smoker comes in matte black color, and its body is made out of sturdy stainless steel. On its sides, there are handles that allow you to move the smoker around. With 56 pounds, MPS 230S is not really a lightweight smoker and moving it could have probably been easier if it had wheels, but the handles are doing the job. The doors have wire handles that stay cold to the touch when the smoker heats up.
It’s a known fact that charcoal smokers are requiring way more attention than gas or electric ones do. There are people who enjoy the whole smoking process just as much as the final product, and for those, we’ve picked a charcoal smoker that will make Thanksgiving dinner preparation a real pleasure (and even smoking fish a great pleasure).
Smokey Mountain is praised for keeping a rather steady temperature throughout the smoking process. It has a damper system that allows you to raise or lower the temp without the need of opening the lid. It also has a built-in thermometer that helps you monitor the heat inside. It is, however, advisable to also use your own therm probe to make sure the meat is warmed at a proper temperature.
This smoker’s body is made out of steel, which keeps the temperature inside steady, even in cold weather. The handles are plastic, which makes them heat-resistant while the smoker’s in use. It also comes with chrome-plated grates that are easily cleaned. Underneath the grates, there’s a water bowl which creates steam for smoking while also catching up drippings. The bottom part also has a separate, aluminum door that allows you to add charcoal or wood (and making it a vertical pellet smoker).
Besides being an awesome smoker, WSM can also serve as a classic grill (being a grill and smoke combo). Having a 2-in-1 on your patio is never a bad thing since it saves up a lot of space. This smoker is also on the lighter side, weighing 39 pounds. However, it lacks side handles, so taking it to the park, for example, would be a bit of a fuss.
When it comes to taste, charcoal smokers will always give you a better flavor than gas or electric ones would. On the other hand, charcoal also means there’s more cleaning to be done after use than with other types of smokers.
The Big Easy is more than a smoker – it’s also a roaster and a grill. For its price, this three-in-one cooking appliance is quite a steal. Here, we’ll take a look into its smoking capabilities.
The feature that differs this smoker from others is the infrared cooking technology, which radiates heat evenly throughout the cooking area while keeping the meat juicy – all without using a water pan (smoking a jerky with ease). There’s also a removable grease tray that catches drips and makes clean-up an easier task. Overall, this unit is easy to clean, and most customers suggest making it even easier by putting the foil at the bottom of the smoker.
The Big Easy is a top load, barrel-shaped smoker. You can place as much as a 21-pound turkey inside the smoking and roasting basket, which is great for family Thanksgiving dinners.
This smoker also has a pull-out wood chip box, which is separated from the cooking chamber. That way, you can easily add more wood whips without affecting the smoking temperature. The downside to this 3-in-1 beast is that there’s no built-in thermometer that helps you keep track of the temperature. On the other hand, those things are usually off by 10 to 20 degrees, so you’d probably have to use your own therm probe anyway. Furthermore, many customers claim they struggle to keep the temp below 180 F, which for a turkey isn’t a big deal anyway, as it’s smoked on much higher heat.
Here’s a product that’s been around for over half a century. Since its debut, the model hasn’t changed much, which speaks volumes about its quality.
Old Smokey’s design is pretty basic, yet its sturdy, aluminized steel body is at par with nowadays’ smokers, and for the price it’s sold at, it’s quite a bargain. Old Smokey is also simple to use, which makes it great for beginners.
The smoker is barrel-shaped, and the tightly-sealed flat top lid keeps the steam inside, which results in a juicy turkey. Therefore, unlike gas or charcoal smokers, this one doesn’t need any water to the drip pan. The wood chip tray is located right above the heater, which provides your meat with a smoky flavor.
Old Smokey is a top-load smoker, and comes with upper and lower stainless steel grids. Both top handle and side handles are coated with heat-resistant materials, which protect your hands during cooking. But beware, this thing gets way too hot when used, so be careful when operating with it. The side handles are helpful when moving the Old Smokey, and weighing only 25 pounds, it’s easily portable.
Like any electric smoker, just turn the knob on the desired heat and you’re good to go. Rather than showing the temp in numbers, you can set to anything from Off to High. This smoker also doesn’t have a built-in digital thermometer, but since we all know those things are never on point, it’s not that big of a loss.
This smoker from Cuisinart has quite the temperature range – it goes from 150 to as high as 400 F, which is more than most smokers on the market.
The smoker has a 548 square inches of cooking area, and comes with 3 removable chrome racks, and you can easily fit in two large turkeys in there. Underneath the racks, you’ve got two stainless-steel trays. The left one is your water bowl, and the right one, placed on a slightly lower level, is a wood chip tray. The heating system is located underneath.
One drawback is that the bottom part of the smoker can get quite messy. The water tray is rather small, so the juice drips all around the bottom part, which makes cleaning quite a task. You could probably place a foil underneath, but be ready to spend some time cleaning up after smoking.
COS-330 doesn’t come with an electric readout, but it has a built-in thermometer on the front door, that allows you to keep an eye on the internal temperature.
This Cuisinart smoker is quite a sturdy build that keeps a steady temperature in all weather conditions. It’s quite heavy too. The smoker weighs 51 pounds, so even with side handles, it’s not as portable as other smokers on the list. However, its slim design makes it perfect for small spaces, and, since it’s electric, it’s a great option for apartments, whether you put it in the kitchen, or on the terrace.
There are a couple of things you should pay attention to when smoking a turkey. Of course, getting a delicious meat depends a lot on the whole seasoning and preparation process, but we will leave it up to you. Here are some tips on how to properly do the smoking process and get the expected results.
Keep in mind that turkey is a rather tender meat that doesn’t have much fat, and therefore it gets dry easily and absorbs the flavor quickly. That’s why smokers are great and could easily replace an oven for a traditional family Thanksgiving dinner. When sealed properly, it keeps the steam inside while holding a steady temperature that keeps the meat juicy while being smoked for hours.
Having a drip pan is really important when making a turkey. Without it, the inside of your smoker will become a mess after hours of smoking, with all the juices dripping on the bottom. And besides, who doesn’t like turkey gravy?
Be aware that the smoker you choose has to be big enough to fit a whole turkey. All smokers we listed in this guide have enough room for such a large bird. In general, you would need at least a 18 inch diameter, but the more the merrier, as you’ll want the air to flow around every side of the turkey.
Surely every experienced smoker knows that, no matter how pricey and well-made a smoker is, those built-in thermometers won’t show the exact temperature to save your life! Whether they are off by 10 or 20 degrees, that still makes a difference, and we would always recommend getting a good thermometer probe that will show you the exact temperature on the inside.
We’ve looked back on the most important factors of a turkey smoker – it should be large enough, and be able to keep a steady high temperature for many hours. With all that in mind, Masterbuilt MPS 230S Propane Smoker seems like the best choice for smoking turkey. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and it’s quite affordable. If you’re more of a charcoal fan, then Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18 inches is your smoker. Furthermore, if you have a large family, this smoker also comes in a 22-inch size. In any case, hopefully, this guide has helped you pick the perfect smoking unit for your home or maybe go ahead and make a smoker by yourself.
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