People have been smoking meat ever since early hunters first dried parts of their kill near an open fire. Smoked barbecue meats, especially ribs, pulled pork, and beef brisket are one of America’s great contributions to the world’s cuisine. A dedicated smoker lets you achieve consistent results by allowing you to control the temperature. Smokers can do more than just smoke, too. Some include broilers, while others heat up enough to be used for roasting. Some smokers burn wood chips, while others use compressed wood pellets for fuel. The more you want to spend, the more food you can cook at once, and the more control you’ll have over the temperature.

Clear front, temperature probe, the ability to control heat level and monitor meat temperature with your phone, and side chip loading mean you never have to open the door and risk losing heat and smoke when checking on meat or adding fuel. Masterbuilt

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Learn your woods. Hickory is great for red meat, but you may not like it on fish. You’ll want to use a variety of wood types. Be aware that some burn faster and hotter than others, which is why you want to go by internal temperature, not cooking time, to decide when your meat is done.

With a range of nearly 270 degrees, from 180 to 450, you can use this machine to handle any cooking chore, including baking and roasting. Z Grills

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Brining is an important preliminary step. The salt in a brine helps meat absorb water, and an overnight soak in brine keeps meat from drying out. It also dissolves muscle fibers, making it more tender. Brines are especially useful on poultry, pork and fish. A dry rub of herbs and spices applied to the outside of the meat shortly before cooking enhances the flavor.

Simple, and big enough to hold a smorgasbord of meat on a pair of round grids, this unit has a handy thermometer in the lid and heats to 190 degrees to prepare all kinds of meat, fish and poultry. Weber

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Use vents to control the airflow and temperature in your smoker. The smoke coming out of the vents should be white. If it turns dark, there may not be enough airflow in the smoker and you need to open the intake vents. Open the smoker as little as possible so you don’t lose smoke and heat.