Stovetop smokers are great for people who can't cook outdoors, or who can cook outdoors but are cooking small quantities and don't want to use a larger grill or smoker. Stovetop smokers are great for camping trips because they can be used on campfires or small gas burners. And they are especially good for fish and fowl. You place a small amount of food grade sawdust in the bottom, place a drip pan on top of the sawdust, a rack on top of the drip pan, and the food on the rack. The unit is then closed so only a small amount of smoke can escape. The finished food is extremely moist, flavorful, delicate and complex, and you can control time and temp fairly easily.
There are a few caveats:
- You need a good exhaust system or your kitchen will fill with smoke and your smoke alarm will drive you nuts.
- They take practice (but so do almost all other smoke cooking methods).
- They may not work on some flat top stoves.
- The flavor and texture are significantly different from other smoking methods. Most stovetop smokers use smoldering sawdust in a pretty tightly closed environment. The flavor is a LOT different from logs, wood chips, chunks, or pellets burning and exhaling combustion gases. The flavor is not bad, it's just different. The texture is also different. Moisture is trapped in the cooking unit, so you get very moist food. This can be good, but if you love the skinlike crust called "bark" you will be disappointed.