Vertical Water Smoker

The vertical water smoker can do a great job of smoking and barbecuing meats and other foods. Also called bullet smokers, certain types of these barbecue cookers are sometimes used in bbq competitions around the country.

To the right is my Brinkmann electric water smoker. I've barbecued pork ribs, beef briskets, chicken and wild game in it, and it's always turned out pretty darned good.




Water Smoker Types

Water smokers use either natural gas, an electric heating element or charcoal to heat things up. Each type has it's pros and cons, and they are available in a range of qualities.


  • Charcoal water smokers - These can be the most affordable. Brinkmann makes one (lovingly known as the ECB - El Cheapo Brinkmann) that can be bought for less than thirty dollars. These do OK for barbecuing, and with a few modifications will cook even better. The Weber Smoky Mountain smoker is a high quality charcoal water smoker. It's used a lot in barbecue competition. With this one you get precise temperature control. One filling of charcoal can burn up to twelve hours or more.
  • Electric Water Smokers - These are convenient barbecue cookers to use. Just plug 'em in and you have heat. Some models have a temperature control adjustment...others don't. I have a Brinkmann Gourmet Electric smoker, and it does not have the temp control feature, but that's not been a problem. For adding smoke to the food, wood is place near the heating element. It doesn't take a whole lot to flavor the barbecuing meat.
  • Gas Water Smokers - Gas smokers are also convenient and easy to use. Adjust the flame for the desired temperature and you're good to go. If you plan to barbecue a lot of food at one time, the large rectangular box-type gas smokers would be the way to go.



Using a Vertical Water Smoker

A pan positioned between the heat source and the food can be partially filled with water or other liquid that herbs, spices and other flavorings are added to. The liquid in the pan serves a few purposes.

  • The steaming pan of liquid adds flavor to the food.
  • Moisture from the pan prevents the food from drying.
  • The pan catches drips from the cooking food.
  • The liquid prevents the smoker from overheating. A lot of the heat will be absorbed into the water.

Bullet style vertical smokers typically have an access door to the water pan and heating element. That lets you add water to the pan or smoking wood without opening the top of the smoker and letting out the heat.


Vertical water smokers can be an inexpensive choice for the beginning barbecue cook, or a good choice for a serious barbecue competition contender.



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