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Char-Griller makes some of the cheapest cookers on the planet. Almost all of their models are round, horizontal charcoal grills and smokers. They also offer a charcoal and gas combo cooker and their best product: an inexpensive, insulated, steel Kamado cooker. Char-Griller epitomizes the old saying that you get what you pay for. Budget conscious buyers often can't pass up the Char-Griller price tag and many models are very popular. Hence they have wide distribution coast to coast in all the big box stores and online. Unfortunately, many novice cooks aspiring to slow smoke are drawn to Char-Griller's super cheap offset smokers. Offsets are already difficult to work with and Char-Griller's tin can, drafty construction has been a source of consternation for generations of first time smokers.
Char-Griller is a mysterious organization owned by the equally mysterious A&G Manufacturing. A&G makes woven wire grills and grillwork for industrial applications. Although we tried different phone listings for Char-Griller and A&G we always got the same "Executive Assistant" who refused to put us in touch with any person of authority in design, manufacturing or marketing.
Char-Griller Smokin' Pro
About the only good thing we can say about the Char-Griller Smokin' Pro is the price is unbeatable. MSRP on this is way inflated. You can easily find these for substantially less. Many wide-eyed first time smokers, including me, thought it made sense to buy this tin can as a starter model to learn what smoking is about before moving up to a more expensive cooker. The problem with the Smokin' Pro and many other cheap offset smokers is they are hard to use. And once you finally get a feel for them, it's still tough to get good results consistently. You can really get turned off to smoking altogether by these crummy cookers.
A lot of people buy cheap smokers and either take what they get or spend time and money trying to make them into something they're not: good smokers. The Smokin' Pro does have a few features that some other offsets in this price range don't: the charcoal hopper slides out for easily adding charcoal and wood or for cleaning, the adjustable charcoal grate in the smoker box let's you do some large capacity burger searing and you get two wooden shelves for work space.
$280 Manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), actual price may vary.
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A good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $29. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.
GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips or pellets or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.
If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.
Absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.
This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).
Best of all, it is only $299 delivered to your door!
The PK Grill has become our favorite charcoal grill. It proves some ideas never die.
Designed in 1952, the rectangular shape is easy to set up in 2 or 3 heat zones, it can easily be used as a smoker, the cast aluminum body is indestructible, airflow is easy to manage, and there is plenty of room under the hood.
Made of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.
Mo's Smoking Pouch is essential for gas grills. It is an envelope of mesh 304 stainless steel that holds wood chips or pellets. The airspaces in the mesh are small enough that they limit the amount of oxygen that gets in so the wood smokes and never bursts into flame. Put it on top of the cooking grate, on the burners, on the coals, or stand it on edge at the back of your grill. It holds enough wood for about 15 minutes for short cooks, so you need to refill it or buy a second pouch for long cooks like pork shoulder and brisket. Mine has survived more than 50 cooks. Click for more info.
The same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.