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posted: 6/5/2013 6:00 AM

A buyer's guide to choosing a smoker

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By Jim Shahin
Special to The Washington Post

Prices are approximate.

Less than $400

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Smokenator: Pimp your grill into a smoker with this half-moon-shaped stainless-steel accessory that releases smoke from the wood chunks you put in it; $70. smokenator.com.

Weber Smokey Mountain: This bullet-shaped vertical smoker holds heat well and, with its two racks, you can cook a brisket on one, ribs on the other. Comes in two sizes, 15.5 inches ($299) and 22.5 inches ($399). amazon.com or local hardware store.

$400-$800

Smoke Hollow Pro Smoker Deluxe Barrel Grill: Better built than other cheap offset smokers and has good airflow; $599. homedepot.com.

Big Green Egg, Large: As much as purists dog it, this ceramic kamado cooker holds heat extraordinarily well and even sears fairly decently. The large model is versatile enough to meet most needs; $799. Independent hardware stores.

$800-$1,000

Hasty-Bake Continental 83: As a smoker, it's good (keeping temps low can be tough), but as an overall unit, this well-built and impeccably designed grill from a Tulsa company founded in 1948 is a fave among serious cooks; $999. hastybake.com.

Backwoods Smoker Chubby: With their insulated double walls creating excellent heat control, Backwoods (though usually larger versions) are fixtures at contests; $970. backwoodsbbq.com.

$1,000-$2,000

Jambo Backyard Smoker: Jamie Geer of Fort Worth makes stylish and sturdy "it" rigs that can go for more than $12,000. So, at $1,895, the Backyard model is practically a bargain. jambopits.com.

Meadow Creek SQ36: With meticulous craftsmanship and top materials, the Amish-made Meadow Creek cookers are highly regarded; $1,050. meadowcreekbarbecue.com.

Klose 20x36 Square Smoker: Houston's David Klose makes some of the world's most dazzling custom pits. Think of this one as an entry-level Mercedes; $1,295. bbqpits.com.

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