I will never forget the moment I got my first piece of copper cookware. Until then, I’d functioned relatively well with a mismatch of hand-me-down pots and pans I’d collected throughout early adulthood.
As an entirely self-taught foodie with a brewing passion for cooking, my first “grown up” pan was a gift from above. I remember thinking in the seconds after I opened it on Christmas morning that it was too pretty to actually cook with. But it was also too expensive not to use it for all the goodness it had to offer.
That’s the thing about copper cookware – you get what you pay for. In my case, my starter copper saute pan remains one of my most prized possessions. True to its copper upbringing, it cooks almost anything evenly because of how well the properties in the pan react to changes in temperature. Yet I had no idea at the time how that investment compared in the greater scheme of all things copper cookware. It is a drop in the bucket.
To start with, it’s not actually considered copper cookware. It has a heavy copper bottom, but is otherwise made up of stainless steel, as are most of my beloved cooking vessels. Not only that, but a pan is downright cheap in the realm of copper cookware.
There are few smells in the world that trigger a person’s taste buds like the unmistakable aroma of meat in a smoker. The scent wafts through the air, making nostrils flare and stomachs growl. Most home chefs and grill masters alike agree that smoking meats like ribs and briskets is the most flavorful and mouthwatering cooking method. I usually smoke chicken, besides chicken piccata recipe is loved by the family.
Though there are other options, like electrical and charcoal smokers, a gas smoker is thought of as the gold standard for smoking meats at home. Propane smokers allow for a leave it and forget it method of slow cooking, which makes things easy for home cooks. At an average cost of about $200, they are affordable, easy to clean and incorporate the use of wood chips, chunks or pellets to blend a unique flavor profile.
Of the styles of propane-fueled smokers, a cabinet style smoker allows for easy access and helps make the process of cleaning a bit more efficient. Some cabinet style models include two doors, allowing you access to the cooking chamber as well as a separate place to check on the flame and water pan.
Similar to gas grills, the temperature of a gas smoker is generally easier to regulate than its wood and charcoal competitors. With that said, regular users of gas smokers often voice concern that they are unable to keep the temperature as low as possible, leading them to take measures into their own hands. Sometimes that means leaving the door slightly ajar to let the air escape, a method proven to help the process albeit you will burn through more gas.
Another thing to consider is purchasing a grill thermometer to help regulate the temperature inside the smoker, as the ones included on the unit itself may not be the most reliable.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect propane smoker for you:
Dependability. Look for a company known for building high-quality products constructed for the long haul. Consider whether it is worth it to spend a few extra dollars on something with outstanding reviews that will most likely last forever versus something lower on the proverbial food chain you may have to replace after a couple of years. Think names like Masterbuilt or Char-Griller.
Capacity. There are propane-fueled smokers so compact you can use them inside your home or there are smokers built to feed a crowd. When you’re trying to decide on a smoker that’s right for you, it is pertinent to consider how you intend to use it. Will you be using your propane smoker regularly to feed crowds at large family gatherings? Will you use it a few times a year after a successful deer hunting weekend? Will you use it to feed you and your spouse? Think about your individual needs when considering which smoker to buy - bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Build. When you’re looking to buy the perfect propane-fueled smoker, look for quality construction. Consider the materials the smoker is built with. While it might be a nice feature for the unit to be portable, it may also be a better investment if it is built with thick, high-quality steel.
Price. There are some pretty expensive propane smokers out there and some pretty cheap ones as well, but something in the middle will probably suffice. The average cost of a propane smoker is around $200, which means there isn’t that significant a difference in price for the quality. While it is never a good idea to bite off more than you can chew financially, $40 can make a difference in this case, and it may be worthwhile to spend the extra money for something built to last.
Our Top Five Picks
Considering each of these things, here are our picks for the top propane smokers in 2016:
This smoker comes in three sizes, 30-inch, 40-inch and 44-inch, ranging from 717 square inches to 2,000 square inches of cooking space. Each size features push button ignition, two doors for easy access to both the cooking area and the water tray and a locking door with built-in temperature gauge.
The handles on the two door system are equipped with cool touch wire handles as well, to help prevent burning your hands on the system when it’s hot.
Pros: Comes in three sizes, featuring push button ignition and two-door system.
Cons: It is large and among the more challenging smokers in terms of portability.
If you’re looking for versatility in a propane smoker, this is the one for you. The Big Easy lets you smoke, roast and grill using TRU-Infrared technology to evenly cook whatever your heart desires. It holds up to 25 pounds for roasting and features 180 square inches of cooking area.
Pros: Versatility abounds with this bullet-style.
Cons: The bullet style smoker features a smaller cooking area than its cabinet style comrades.
Rooted in ancient cookery, the Kamado Kooker draws from ancient cooking methods that used large clay ovens. Modern day Kamados are built out of heavy ceramic and feature solid steel construction made to stand the test of time.
Versatility is another prominent feature of this smoker, which is actually known more for being an amazing grill. There are 306 square inches of cooking space and 165 square inches of warming space on the cast iron cooking surface. In addition to a temperature gauge, the lid locks.
Pros: A rich history has led to the quality construction of a long-lasting cooking vessel.
Cons: The bullet style smoker features a smaller cooking area than its cabinet style comrades.
Portability is a key feature of the Camp Chef 18-inch Smoke Vault, which features two adjustable smoking racks, three adjustable damper valves and a built-in door thermometer. A matchless snap ignition offers an easy and convenient start up as well.
Pros: Portability and ease in cleaning are among the best features of this medium sized smoker.
Cons: There is less cooking area for larger smoking projects than other cabinet style models.
Named with its versatility in mind, the Nordic Ware 365 makes it possible to smoke your favorite foods 365 days a year. While the compact unit may certainly be used outside as well, it is one of only a handful of its kind that are frequently used indoors.
The smoker features a high-dome cover, base pan, water pan, nonstick smoking rack and thermometer, and comes with a recipe book and wood chips.
With this smoker, it’s pros are the same as its cons.
Pros: It is small, making it easy to move and a breeze to operate indoors in the cold winter months.
Cons: However, its size is also its downfall for hardcore smoker lovers, who may prefer something much larger in the long run.
This is just a sampling of the options out there for propane smokers, which are capable of delivering mouth-watering smells and even better tastes in the comfort of your backyard. While some people swear by charcoal and electric grills, others argue you can’t beat the portability, versatility and ease of use of their propane competitors.
In review, most gas smokers come in either a bullet or cabinet style construction. When selecting the right propane smoker for you, it is important to keep in mind several factors. Dependability, capacity, build and price are among the main things to consider as you shop.
The best part of all of it despite what you end up with is the end game. Soon you too will be the envy of the neighbors as that delicious, smoky aroma wafts throughout the neighborhood. One last piece of advice – buy an extra rack of ribs, too, because chances are with all of that amazing smoked goodness in the air you may just attract some company.
For a lot of people, there is nothing like the peace and serenity of sipping an ice cold beverage as the sun sets while watching a bobber or working a crankbait through the lake. From perch and walleye to blue gill and crappie, there is something for everyone to enjoy for dinner after a productive day out on the water.
Among the options is trout, a freshwater delicacy that is closely related to salmon. Classified as an oily fish, trout are considered an excellent source of essential vitamins, including A and D. They also are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are an essential part of any health diet.
So what does a trout taste like? In my opinion, trout has a unique texture and offers a bit of a salty aftertaste. I’ve had it multiple times in various preparations, but just thinking about the simplest preparation of all (cooked whole on a cast iron skillet over an open flame and seasoned with butter, lemon, salt and pepper) makes my mouth water.
Many people describe trout as being relatively flavorless on its own, which means it lends itself well to a variety of cooking methods. When it comes to what most fishermen refer to as “good eaters,” trout do not fall as high on the proverbial food chain as the more popular crappie or walleye. Their bone structure makes them a bit more challenging to filet, which plays into why many choose to prepare them whole.
That doesn’t make them any less palatable, however, especially when they are freshly caught, properly handled and seasoned to perfection. For some, that means lemon, butter and herbs. For others that means all things deep fried. Most of the trout species have what is considered to be a relatively mild flavor that lends itself to a variety of cooking methods.
Their location, whether they are spawning or have recently spawned and how fresh they are at time of cooking all are capable of having a profound impact on their overall flavor profile. Obviously, personal preference also plays into whether these tasty treats are deemed delicious or deniable.
That being said, there are some people who say trout is too oily, offering too earthy a taste on its own.
Considering the Cooking Options
The good news for trout lovers and haters alike is simple: the options for preparing trout are both boundless and promising.
Smoking trout is one of the most popular methods preferred by chefs and fishermen alike. Most recipes for smoked trout are relatively simple and easy to follow. The best part is you don’t necessarily even need a smoker to get the job done. Not only is smoked trout a delicious treat on its own, but it is an excellent addition to dips, spreads or salads.
Less is more when it comes to cooking trout. The same can be said for a lot of fish, but in the case of trout it is especially true. Keep it simple is the name of the game when it comes to debunking the myth that trout isn’t quite as delicious as its fishy relatives.
Fried trout is delicious – as are most things fried – and grilled and pan seared trout are good too as long as you limit the ingredients to simple things. Think butter, lemon, salt and pepper and perhaps a handful of your favorite fresh herb.
Step by step guides are available to assist in the process of making sure that – if you opt not to keep the fish whole – you enjoy as much juicy meat as possible.
While most species of trout are considered equal, they vary slightly based on their country of origin. Globally, trout comes in more than a dozen recognized variations, which includes a variety of sizes, coloring and spotting patterns.
Lake trout arguably has the worst reputation among the trout types, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t everything your stomach desires. In America, lake trout variations are known to result in some trout being more lean than others. As with most proteins, many chefs deem the most delicious lake trout to be slightly more fatty to help flavor the meat and distribute its juices evenly throughout the cooking process.
A recent trip to the Northwoods of Wisconsin led to me solidifying my personal opinion of what trout tastes like. My husband and I spent the day fishing with family and had quite a haul of trout as a result.
That day I learned that, despite also enjoying fried and smoke trout, there is honestly nothing like cooking the delicacy you just caught fresh in a cast iron skillet over an open flame with the simple treatment of some butter, lemon, salt and pepper.
With that I have my answer to the question of what trout tastes like: it tastes delicious!
The other day I was going through my collection of family recipes and I have stumbled upon my great grandmother’s recipe for a classic cup of hot chocolate. In that recipe, an ingredient I didn’t know about was included in the list, sweet milk.
What is sweet milk anyway? I thought back then. In attempt to remake my great grandmother’s hot chocolate, I did a little research on what sweet milk could be. Though the name itself should already be a giveaway of what this thing is, I was actually surprised once I figured out what exactly sweet milk is.
If you too encountered a recipe that requires you to use sweet milk, or if you just plainly want to figure out what sweet milk is for other purposes, I encourage you to read on. This article contains everything you need to know about what is sweet milk.
Sweet milk, its name is kind of misleading. Upon doing research I have discovered that sweet milk is basically just your plain whole milk.
Why the confusion with the name then you ask? Well it turns out that whole milk used to be called sweet milk back then just because people had to label it to distinguish it from other kinds of milk used for cooking, specifically buttermilk.
Since whole milk comes with a sweeter taste than that of buttermilk, it was given the name sweet milk, which was then dropped today.
In today’s market, you will be able to find all kinds of sweet milk including whole, low-fat, high-calcium, and more. However, you won’t find it in a carton or packaging that says “sweet milk.” It’s just today’s plain old milk.
So why was there a need to label whole milk as sweet milk back then? Well, the main reason could be because sweet milk and buttermilk are two of the most commonly used milks for cooking back then.
Sweet milk is often used for making desserts such as flan, chocolate, and creamy ice creams. Buttermilk on the other hand, is often used for baking.
Perhaps the reason why whole milk is named as sweet milk back then is to reduce the instances of cooks mistaking buttermilk for regular sweet milk.
Using the right milk for certain cooking recipes is truly a great deal. Having the wrong milk in your fridge can significantly affect the overall taste of the dish you are trying to create.
The clear distinction between buttermilk and sweet milk is a necessary step in the culinary world because these two types of milk come with very different flavors.
Sweet milk for one has a rather sweet taste to it, hence the name. Though not all types of sweet milk come with the same amount of sweetness, all kinds of sweet milk whether it be low-fat or whole comes with an ultimately sweeter taste than other types of milk.
As for buttermilk, it comes with a slight sour taste to it. Not that buttermilk is slightly bad, it comes with a distinct sour taste as an effect of the lactic acids that it contains. Another difference between buttermilk and sweet milk is the consistency.
Since buttermilk undergoes a curdling process, it becomes a bit more thicker than regular milk. Another interesting difference between sweet milk and buttermilk is that buttermilk comes with less fat.
The buttermilk’s certain features is what makes it ideal for baking. The acid contents of buttermilk gets integrated very well with baking recipes that include baking soda in the mix. A buttermilk and baking soda combo is what makes pastries become light and tender at the same time. And unachievable feat when sweet milk is used.
Now that you are very well aware of what sweet milk actually is (normal milk), you may now stop getting fooled into thinking that sweet milk is exactly the same as other types of milk that actually come with sweeteners.
One common misconception that is linked with sweet milk is that sweet milk and condensed milk are the same.
Since we now know that sweet milk is basically normal milk, the case that sweet milk and condensed milk is the same is not likely.
Unlike sweet milk, or regular milk, condensed milk actually comes with a lot of sugar. In fact, to make condensed milk, you will need to mix up regular milk with a lot of sugar and wait for the sugar to caramelize to get fully integrated with the regular milk.
The end product of this mixture would be a highly sweetened form of milk that comes with a very thick consistency.
Unlike sweet milk and buttermilk that is often added in the middle of the cooking process, condensed milk is often added at the end of the cooking process as a form of garnish or topping.
It can sometimes be surprising to do a little research on a certain ingredient and find out that it’s actually something you are very familiar with. Just like with the case of what is sweet milk, it’s funny to discover that it’s actually just plain milk.
Now that you know what sweet milk actually is, you should no longer have any difficulty in knowing where you can find it. Turns out you can easily buy one from your local supermarket.
If you have any questions about this article, please leave your comment on the box below. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you and happy cooking!
Some of my dearest memories from when I was a child are of weekends spent in our backyard, my dad standing by the smoker and me playing with my siblings, waiting for him to finish preparing some delicious ribs. That time, I knew I wanted the same experience when I grow up.
Now, it’s kind of a tradition – my hubby by the offset smoker and my kids in the backyard keeping me company. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? That’s why I’m here – to help you find the best offset smoker that will take you one step closer to making such memories yourself.
Even though there are plenty different types of smokers to choose from, this one, by far, is the most popular one. I think the name alone says a lot – an offset smoker. The idea is that you have two separate chambers, one that you use as a firebox and the other where you place your food. The heat and smoke then find their way from the firebox to the cooking chamber. Sounds simple enough, right? Let’s just say it like this – if you’ve learned how to build a fire, you’ve learned how to use an offset smoker.
The two chambers are barrel-like and in most cases positioned horizontally. The firebox is slightly lowered than the cooking chamber. There is a chimney that connects the two, and there’s another one on the other end of the cooking chamber, through which the smoke exits it.
If you’ve paid attention so far, then you’ve learned that what makes offset smokers different from other types of smokers is the way they’re built. The first advantage is that when you’re using an offset smoker and want to add more fuel to the fire, there’s no need to open the cooking chamber. It dispenses with that need because the firebox is not in the cooking chamber.
You also have the option of turning this into a grill, thanks to its firebox set-up. For this, many manufacturers and sellers will include an optional grill grate to make grilling possible. Imagine having a smoker and a grill all in one. An offset smoker can make that happen.
And can I just point out how cool it looks? I know you agree or you wouldn’t be here reading this. Imagine yourself on a sunny Sunday afternoon, enjoying a cold drink, chatting with your family and friends, all while standing by your new offset grill. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
One thing that I can list as a disadvantage is that an offset smoker will take up a lot more space than other smoker types due to the way it’s built, so keep this in mind if you have a smaller backyard.
What To Look For In An Offset Smoker?
As a buyer, you would want to choose an offset smoker that has a good quality. But what does “quality” stand for when you’re picking out an offset smoker? I’m going to name a few things that can help you decide if the smoker you are thinking of buying is worth your money or not.
This one depends on your personal preferences. Take a look at the various offset offerings in the market and check out how much they cost. After that, come up with a reasonable budget that you know will get you a decent offset smoker.
2. Material and Construction
This one is important. Even if you know nothing about offset smokers, it makes sense to buy one that is made out a high-quality material such as gauge steel. Let’s say this is pretty much the golden standard – always go for gauge steel.
Another crucial factor. You’ll be dealing with fire, high temperatures, and thick smoke – you need a smoker made in such a way that it provides safety in those conditions. Watch out for the welds and the seal of the lids, make sure they look well-built. Of course, you can’t know that for sure until you’ve used the smoker for the first time, but this way you’ll lessen the chances of making the wrong choice.
This one depends mainly on your lifestyle. For example, if you like to entertain larger groups of people and prepare food for them, consider buying a larger grill. If, however, you plan on occasionally cooking something for your family, there’s no need to go overboard with the smoker size. I do believe, though, that getting a larger smoker could motivate you to host dinner parties more often.
As you can imagine, offset smokers tend to be pretty heavy, so if you plan on moving it around a lot, be kind to your back and buy one that has wheels or casters.
If you’re looking to buy a smoker for under $200, then this is the one for you. This model is made out of steel coupled with a high-temperature powder coat finish. These are characteristic that make this offset smoker a durable choice.
Another thing to note about this product is how the cooking chamber is positioned. This one has a vertical chamber, which is different from the usual horizontal ones.
This product can offer you a great introduction to the offset smoker. It’s an ideal option for budget-conscious individuals and for those who don’t need one that is too complicated.
It’s easy to assemble it
The vertical offset, instead of the typical horizontal, makes it stand out from other models on this list and allows for a good heat flow
The vertical positioning of the chamber reduces its footprint, making this more ideal for people with space constraints.
It might not be that portable because of its lack of wheels.
It doesn’t come with a cover, so you’ll need to buy it separately
If you have this offset smoker, you don’t need to buy anything else. This smoker does more than just smoke meats. You can also barbecue and grill with it. It has a good grilling surface, allowing you to cook more food at a given time.
Get this if you are looking for a heavy-duty offset smoker that isn’t difficult to set-up and operate and produces the best smoking results. It also comes with a storage rack, so you have plenty of space for all your extra grilling or smoking paraphernalia.
It’s easy on the budget. The price is cheaper compared to other similar offset smokers
It’s very easy to set up. Even those who are new to offset smokers assembled it with ease with just the use of the manual.
It holds up well against a considerable level of abuse.
The size is just right for small to medium smoking or grilling needs
Like most smokers, some had issues with the accuracy and consistency of the thermometer
This might not be the best for quick cooking but is superb for slow cooking such as smoking meats
This model is a crowd favorite because of its superb features. It’s more expensive but its features more than make up for its higher price tag.
One of its remarkable features is its digital temperature control that lets you have full control over the temperature of what you are smoking or grilling. If you don’t like to babysit your offset smoker all day, this is the perfect, no-fuss option for you. The way this smoker, Camp Chef PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ is built, is what makes it the best offset smoker.
This model offers digital temperature control, which means you don’t have to spend your time constantly checking the temperature – set it all up and relax while you let the smoker do the work.
It has wheels which make moving it a lot easier.
It has a wide temperature range. It can reach temperatures of up to 500° F.
Some users might find the one-year warranty disappointing.
There is some possibility of smoke leaking from the chamber
This model is one of the reasonably-priced offset smokers on this list. Made out of heavy gauge steel, this one can withstand a good amount of abuse. It’s also a nice-looking smoker that you will be proud to showcase to your friends.
Oklahoma Joe’s basic smoker package is nice but if you have some money to spare, get the smoker sealer. It will help prevent problems like leaking. You would want to get an additional cover as well to complete your set-up.
All in all, this is offset smoker is worth every penny you spend on it. Even if you get the additional accessories, it still won’t break the bank.
It uses reverse flow technology, which gives you a more even distribution of smoke and heat
It has wheels for better portability
The firebox has a clean-out door which helps when it’s time to remove the ashes
The entire smoker is made from gauge-steel
It needs to be additionally sealed, as there are some problems with leaking smoke
Some users reported a problem with the built-in thermometer
Need an offset smoker that already comes with everything you need? This is the right choice. It doesn’t just come complete with accessories, it also has a thoughtful and striking design. Price-wise, this isn’t too hard on the budget. The price is accessible and reasonable given its many features.
This model has a standard firebox, as all offset smokers do, but it also has an added gas-powered cooking chamber
It can be used as a smoker and as a grill
When the chambers are combined, it has a larger cooking area than most other models on this list
It has wheels, but they are too weak to carry the weight of the smoker (around 200 lbs), so you’ll probably need some help when you lift it
You need to buy an additional cover for it
Still having trouble deciding what to get? Let’s go over these products once again so you can finally narrow down your options to just one.
The Dyna-Glo offset smoker is recommended if you like a reliable smoker with multiple racks that you can use for smoking a lot of meat. This can be a good addition to your business or can be a treasured item in your home. The vertical structure of this smoker makes this more ideal for those with smaller spaces.
Get the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker if budget is an issue. Even when the price is at the lower-end of the market, its features and functions can trump many of the features of other pricier options.
For serious meat smokers and grillers, you can’t go wrong with Camp Chef. The features are just right, and the smoking temperature will enable you to produce the best-tasting foods. Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker is a good alternative to the Camp Chef. It has a unique reverse flow technology feature that will allow you to get better smoke distribution, which can result to the best-tasting foods.
For those looking for more versatility, the Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe’s Charcoal Combo product won’t disappoint. You can also do some serious grilling with this, perfect for those weekend outdoor parties.
Make sure you consider these things when buying. If you are looking for more meat smokers, grillers and even other kitchen equipment and essentials, check out our homepage to find more reviews, product recommendations and buying guides.