A Pitmasters Guide Choosing the Best Smoker for Your Restaurant title card

A Pitmasters Guide: Choosing the Best Smoker for Your Restaurant

Smoking veggies, meat, and other foodstuffs to add depth of taste and a creative twist is one of the ways you can keep your most loyal customers and attract new ones to your restaurant.

However, the smoker you purchase can have a significant influence on both the flavor and texture of the food smoked. Therefore, it is crucial to get the proper one for your establishment.

This buying guide provides a thorough assessment of the many types of smokers that are now available on the market, as well as additional considerations when choosing the best commercial smoker for restaurants.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Smokers

Smokers are subject to unique fire safety regulations in restaurants and other public places, from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and city to city. You can only use some smokers statically, while you can haul others behind a trailer and move them when there is a need to.

Indoor smokers

There are several densely populated regions where it is illegal for restaurants to have outdoor smokers. The only choice for businesses who wish to provide authentic barbecue is an indoor smoker made for commercial purposes.

Smoking with an indoor smoker may occasionally be simpler than having to go outside to monitor your smoked contents. However, it is crucial to pick a smoker that complements the overall footprint of your restaurant when working in a tiny kitchen with little room.

Some indoor smoking devices are vertical, making it simple to position them between bigger equipment. Some others can be positioned beneath tables or other sorts of workspaces and are squat.

To make sure you adhere to local fire guidelines, there is an extensive list of criteria and laws you must learn and comprehend. Therefore, consider installing your indoor smoker with the help of an expert.

Outdoor smokers

Traditional smokers frequently have chimneys or vents for airflow and suit outdoor applications.

It may be simpler to set up a smoker outside than in your restaurant’s kitchen. In addition, it might be difficult to fit enormous smokers within kitchens while also accommodating other equipment and prep spaces.

Outdoor smokers draw in new customers. So, if your business serves barbecue, having diners see your smoker in the parking lot may be an attraction. You may also carry it to outdoor food festivals and gatherings where you won’t have to bother with emission vents or any indoor standards because the smoker is outside.

Local laws govern the distance that a smoker should be from a building. Therefore, consult your city or municipality to install your smoker securely.

What are the Fuel Types Available for Smokers?

what are the fuel types available for smokers title card

The fuel you intend to use will to some extent define the type of smoker you buy because different smokers cook meals in different ways.


A digital panel that draws electricity from an outlet manages the temperatures, timings, and other functions of electric smokers. These smokers normally come with a water bowl to protect the inside of the smoker from running dry and to preserve the tenderness and flavor of the smoked meat.


Charcoal fuels the combustion of these smokers. Inside a chimney, the charcoal burns before being fed to the smoker. However, for added flavor, you may also throw in flavor-infused wood pellets.


Propane smokers, which typically take the form of cabinets, feature a burner at the bottom of the appliance that is linked to the gas cylinder. A water pan is positioned slightly above the wood chip to maintain the smoke for low-and-slow cooking.


This is the ideal multitasking smoker since it is the optimal fusion of a charcoal barbecue and kitchen oven! A low temp cook is possible by an electrically controlled panel that modulates the temperature while using flavored wood pellets as fuel.

Widely-Accepted Configurations for Smokers

Be aware that these combinations come in a variety of sizes and cost different amounts.

Compact smokers

Some base-style smokers fit beneath commercial charbroilers in complement to standalone smokers. These little, user-friendly smokers have reasonable prices and are simple to install.

Because base-style smokers are often electric and contain the capacity for wood chips (for aroma), they are frequently permitted for usage in indoor restaurants. However, their size is often a drawback.

For restaurants that do not specialize in barbecue but wish to give a few meals a wood-infused taste, smoker bases are ideal. Instead of cooking meals from beginning to end, they are frequently used to add the last touches. You can also customize them to suit particular places, typically more expensive but providing an option for individuals who need certain peculiar dimensions.

Vertical smokers

Vertical (or upright) smokers are a well-liked option for indoor food establishments. They are available in single- and double-door types with different layouts, regarding the volume of racks, setup options, and overall capacity.

Since they make use of vertical space, upright smokers are common in restaurants, although short vertical smokers are also available. For small restaurants that do not need to make a lot of smoky dishes at once, these short vertical smokers are perfect.

Vertical smoker with top doors opened showing racks inside

For nighttime or all-day smoking, upright smokers are the best choice because they are often easy to maintain, simple to operate, and often come with digital controls that allow you to pre-set timings and temperatures.

Offset smokers

Large cooking chambers, which are frequently barrel-shaped, with offset fireboxes, in which the fuel is deposited and burnt, are the main characteristics of these smokers. And, although vertical-offset smokers are also available, conventional offset smokers have a horizontal layout.

Keeping the fuel in the fueling chamber and afterward adjusting the ventilation from the fueling box to the cooker to maintain the desired temperature is necessary when using this smoker. You can also infuse foods with deep wood and smoke flavor using offset smokers. However, these smokers call for a skilled hand and plenty of care.

Rotisserie Smokers

These smokers smoke meat as they rotate. Several of them are mobile and simple to tow, and they typically employ pellets to impart flavor. Learn how to choose the best commercial rotisserie in this guide.

What Smokers Do Pitmasters Use?

The best smoker will combine traditional wood-fired techniques with modern temperature control technology. Pitmasters agree that the flavor and texture of your meat when using a wood-fired technique are incomparable to other methods. 

Consulting an expert can help you identify different unique characteristics that allow you to choose a truly unique yet fitting smoker for your restaurant.

Consult J&R, the Smoker Manufacturing Experts

At J&R Manufacturing, we think that the best kitchen appliances are necessary to make the tastiest meals. For 50 years, we have steadfastly committed to providing superbly built broilers, grills, rotisseries, and kitchen appliances. Our equipment consistently delivers wonderful meals that lead to good times in any establishment.

Having trouble selecting the ideal smoker for your restaurant? For knowledgeable guidance on the BBQ equipment, contact the specialists at J&R Manufacturing.

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J&R Manufacturing