Firing up the grill is often the best part of summer. Backyard barbecues and the smell of delicious meats from the smoker are summer staples. The rich woodsy smell is just one of the great things about using a smoker. Not to mention the slow cooking, tender meat that falls apart and melts in your mouth. While having a barbecue is always considered a summer event, it doesn't have to be limited to a single season! Unless there's a blizzard outside, any time of year is a great time for grilling or smoking meat - but then again, we’ve done it in the snow too!
At Pit Barrel® Cooker, we're obviously big fans of both types of cooking, but we're often asked which is better, a smoker or a grill? The answer to, “Is a smoker better than a Grill” often depends on what you're cooking and how many people you're cooking for. Today, we're talking about the pros and cons of both.
Smokers use the smoke from burning wood to slowly cook meat (and other foods). Unlike a grill, which uses direct heat from the flames and smoldering charcoal, a smoker uses indirect heat, relying on the captured smoke to cook the meat. Inside the smoker, the air temperature is carefully controlled to remain consistent until the meat or other foods reach the desired temperature or desired doneness level. Smokers tend to produce stronger flavors in the meat since the smoke is captured and infused into the fibers of the meat.
Smokers – Pros
Most meat geeks agree that a smoker is a better option than a grill for cooking most types of meat. The large "smoke ring" when you get the meat apart indicates the intense flavor of the meat. Slow cooking and controlling the temperature also allow the fibers of tougher cuts of meat to break down and the fat to be reabsorbed for rich, juicy results.
Here are the benefits of owning a smoker and what makes it stand out from other types of grilling cookers:
- Smokers have a lower cooking temperature, which allows tougher cuts of meat to tenderize without scorching the outside.
- Smoked foods are incredibly tender, juicy, and flavorful because the slow-cooking method completely breaks down the connective tissue in the meat fibers.
- Different types of wood allow for different flavors, so you can have multiple different flavors without changing your seasonings.
- Long and slow cooking temperatures are also known as "set it and forget it," and allow for rich, complex flavors to develop.
- Quality smokers can last a long time, meaning that you can think of them as an investment.
Smokers - Cons
Smokers are versatile and can be used for many types of foods, not just meat, but there are a few drawbacks. However, if you desire tender, juicy meat, you'll likely find that these are what make smokers so great.
- Temperature is lower in smokers compared to grills, but this is a plus when you want tender, juicy meat. The lower temperatures help reduce the toughness of some cuts of meat, so the result is fall-off-the-bone tender.
- Smokers can be expensive, but they also last a long time. Plus, smaller models can yield food that's just as delicious and tender as larger ones. Pit Barrel® Cooker has three different sizes at three price points to fit any budget.
- The process can take time to figure out, but luckily our team here at Pit Barrel® Cooker have a wealth of resources on the website, giving you tips and tricks for any kind of meat that you want to smoke.
Grills operate at higher temperatures, with direct heat applied to the meat from the flames, browning it at the point of contact. Grills cook food on a rack directly over the heat source, usually wood or charcoal briquettes, searing the outside and producing a charred exterior. There is a distinctly robust taste to grilled meats, and they're often used for cooking more tender cuts of steak.
Grills - Pros
- Temperatures are hotter, cooking the outside and quickly bringing the interior temperature of the meat to the desired degree.
- More versatile compared to smokers, which is great when you want to change up the menu for entertaining or cook something different each night.
- Ease of use means that anyone can quickly master the grill and enjoy healthy, homemade meals.
- Grills are often cheaper than smokers, at least for a starter grill, which can help people with limited means.
Grills - Cons
- Food can burn on the grill, which is disappointing if you've spent a lot of money on a nice steak.
- Cleaning can be a constant task and involves scraping the debris off the grill rack each time you use it.
- Less flavor for your meat, due to the shorter cooking time and the fact that the smoke escapes, instead of being captured like a smoker does.
- Not as tender and juicy, which is the hallmark of smoked meats.
Pit Barrel® Cookers are the Best of Both Worlds
If you're debating whether to get a smoker vs. grill, you know that there are pros and cons of both. With the Pit Barrel® Cooker, though, you don't have to choose! Pit Barrel® Cookers include racks and hooks for hanging slabs of meat, allowing you to smoke larger cuts, like brisket or a whole ham. A grill grate also fits snugly inside the cooker, allowing you to grill meats like you normally would. Or, opt for the combination of hanging meat and using the hinged grill rack so that you can cook your entire meal, sides and all, inside the smoker drum.
This versatility, and the easy-to-use set up of a Pit Barrel® Cooker, is the best way to resolve your smoker or grill debate. With three sizes to choose from, there's the perfect size to meet your needs, even if you want to cook for a party. Plus, Pit Barrel® Cooker has the best accessories, designed for use in the deep drum grills.