Unlike traditional charcoal grills, which are mainly tasked with searing food over a hot flame, smokers work with indirect heat, flooding food with flavor while cooking it very slowly—often for upwards of 10 hours. Just as there are no shortcuts to tender ribs, there are no true bargains when it comes to smokers; cheap models have a hard time keeping the right temperature (225 to 250 degrees F) and leak like crazy. Invest in a model with tight fittings, well-designed vents, dependable heat control, and a built-in thermometer. Read on for all the meaty details.
Shown: Napoleon Apollo 3 in 1 AS200K, about $250; napoleongrills.com