All novice smokers, listen up – the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker model #12201570 will lead you to the promise land – and that promise land is filled with deliciously smoked meats. With drawers that are easy-access, supporting efficient water and wood chip replenishment, the Char-Broil American Smoker keeps smoke under wraps with an adjustable chimney vent and the variable heat control makes sure your meats are smoking at just the right temperature. The best part yet however is the welded cooking chamber, a sturdy construction designed to keep the flavor on the inside, just where you want it. Being this smoker is also a grill you can enjoy the convenience of two different cooking methods with one unit.
Bottom line, the Char-Broil American Smoker is light on the wallet. While this can be a bad thing (cheap, unreliable, dime a dozen, questionable quality) at times, in this case, it’s a wonderful perk. Surprisingly enough, you can find this smoker for as cheap as $79.99 in some places. We already know what you’re thinking – there are smokers out there in the thousand dollar range. This is true, but again, you’re starting out, and for your first smoker, and one that will last, this smoker right here cannot be beat.
A Briquette Friend
Some smokers are wood charcoal centric, but not the Char-Broil American. This smoker actually works better with briquettes, and for lots of folks, this is a giant sigh of relief. In fact, the temperature control you get with briquettes on this smoker is really notable. An offset fire box gives way to indirect cooking through your trusty briquettes as it allows for the transmission of smoke at a low heat that emanates throughout the cooking chamber. This is where the flavor comes from. Getting hungry?
Features and Specifications
- Sturdy temperature gauge (lid-mounted)
- Handles (cool-touch) on black steel construction
- Space for up to 18 hamburgers
- Cooking surface of 290 square inches
- Warming rack with 140 square inches of space
Customer Reviews and Scores
The Char-Broil American smoker was widely received as a great, introductory smoker. With that said, some critics off a couple review boards revealed a handful of flaws, such as this gentleman’s observations – “It is a decent grill. It does the job. It is small (especially the firebox), but I knew that when I bought it so no big deal. It is hard to smoke with because it is so thin and it leaks. It is very light weight. I have had it blow off my porch a few times in moderate winds. All-in-all, it does the job and is a good beginner smoker or for someone on a budget.”
Again, a great deal for a beginner, but anything beyond that might leave you disappointed. This woman noted something similar, “For the money this unit isn’t bad. I have a 10 ft trailer smoker, but just wanted something to be able to cook a butt or a rack of ribs without using my big rig. Unit is fine, just get a cover for it and when you light it for the first time just keep the temp around 250 for a few hrs it will season nicely, and it cooks fine. The fire box lost a little paint cause it gets real hot. Just touch it up and spray the screws once in a while with oil, the rest of the unit is fine.”
This is pretty typical of smokers/grills under $100. They work great, but up to a point. Out of 1,245 customer reviews, it is rated (at time of writing) a 3.5 stars out of 5 with roughly 65% going to 4 & 5 star ratings for this smoker. Not too bad but other grills scored higher within the same price range.
All in all you’d be hard-pressed to find a better smoker for under $100. This will wet your palate and in time lead you on to that next smoker – a little higher up the “smoker chain.” In the meantime, enjoy what it churns out, because the Char-Broil American has the potential, all it lacks is the meat!