Few modern conveniences approach the transformative power of the indoor smoker grill.
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When you think of juicy, tender brisket, hickory smoked bacon, or poulty that’s been infused with hardwood flavors for a masterful twist, you almost certainly think it’s been cooked outdoors. This is no longer the case. With the right equipment and a little know-how, you can produce food that tastes like it was smoked outside for hours in the comfort of your indoor kitchen.
To be fair, these devices aren’t flawless. There’s definitely a bit of difference between a brisket that’s been smoked for hours in a barbecue competition and one that you made with the products below.
Nevertheless, the results you can get with an indoor smoker are delectable. Your food will be succulent, easy-to-make, and the added smoked flavor will make it stand out as exceptionally delicious.
So which smoker should you buy? Do you want a stovetop machine, an electric machine, or both? In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of top indoor smokers so you can determine which smoker is the right fit for your kitchen.
The Best Indoor Smokers – Standalone and Stovetop Smokers For Indoor Use
This Gourmia GPS650 is a deceptively large multi-use cooker. It’s a pressure cooker with an included smoking element, allowing you to add delectable smoky flavors to anything you cook.
A built-in timer helps make cooking easy, while the 1300 watt internal heating element means you can use this device in any kitchen with a free power outlet.
First off, let’s talk about the multiple cooking functions this device can fill. It’s a pressure cooker, which means it can make rice, steam vegetables, and cook meat in mere minutes. It’s a slow cooker, enabling you to set things up when you leave for work and come back to a tender, flavor-filled meal.
Most importantly, however, it can be used as both a hot and cold smoker. This means you can smoke brisket at the perfect temperature and then turn around and add a smoky flavor to salmon while keeping the fish soft and tender.
For me, the fact that this is a pressure cooker is a really big deal.
Pressure cookers take advantage of physics to really nail your food with high temperature water vapor. This cooks food faster and more evenly without requiring any extra effort. One of the biggest advantages of this Gourmia indoor bbq smoker is the fact that you can cook a brisket to perfection in a bit over an hour.
When you use the pressure cooker functionality of this device, you can cook tender meat in incredibly short amounts of time.
To use this device to impart smoke flavor into your food, you simply put water-soaked wood chips inside a special basket in the unit.
The Gourmia does everything else for you, using an internal system to generate lots of flavorful smoke from the chips while you cook. Your wood chips will last a long time, too, so you won’t have to go out and buy more every time you use this.
You might think that the fact that the Gourmia cooks food so darn fast in pressure cooker mode might be a downside. With so little time, can enough smoky flavor get into your meat, vegetables, fish, or cheese? In practice, it can – in fact, using a full basket of wood chips can actually give you too much smoky flavor!
I haven’t looked too much into the physics, but my guess is that the same mechanism that helps your food cook more swiftly under pressure also helps more smoky taste make its way into your food in a jiffy.
Even if you are worried about getting the most smoky flavor possible, the Gourmia has you covered. You can use the cold-smoke mode to add even more flavor to your food before (or after) you pressure cook it.
You can alternately slow things down and switch to “steamer” mode at the touch of the button. While in this mode, the unit operates more like a traditional slow cooker or steamer, so you’ll have plenty of time before your food is ready.
While the GPS650 is undoubtedly one of the best ways to smoke meat indoors, it does have a couple of downsides. First, the locking mechanism for the lid is somewhat unintuitive.
It’s not complex – it’s not a combination lock or anything – but it may require a bit of fiddling before you figure out how to operate the sliding lock mechanism when you first get your unit. While this is unlikely to be a long term problem, it has caused some headaches for customers in the past.
Second, the included instructions are fairly sparse. While I think that the GPS650 is fairly intuitive, I’ve also used lots of pressure cookers, slow cookers, and steamers over the years. The lack of instructions can be confusing to people who aren’t as familiar with these devices.
A bit of experimentation and some visits to Gourmia’s YouTube channel should be more than enough to get you familiar with the GPS650’s many features, but you will have to put in a bit of extra work. It’s disappointing that Gourmia doesn’t include enough information in the documentation that they put in the box.
Overall, I think the Gourmia GPS650 is one of the best indoor smokers on the market. It’s a great product that fits into just about every kitchen. It’s roomy enough to cook large meals and has a multitude of cooking modes, allowing you to make just about anything you want with it.
The smoking functionality adds huge amounts of flavor to anything you cook, while the fact that it’s a pressure cooker enables you to cook tender juicy brisket in under an hour. With a fairly low, affordable price, the GPS650 is a great buy for most households.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Nordic Ware 36550 is a simple device that doesn’t use power at all. Instead, this indoor stovetop smoker pairs up with your oven, stove, campfire, or grill and lets you smoke food in a more traditional manner.
It’s slow, sometimes messy, and will make your kitchen smell amazing. When you’re done, however, you’ll have plenty of delicious food that’s packed full of delicious smoky flavors.
The Nordic Ware stovetop smoker is pretty simple.
It’s a durable metal container that consists of a base, a rack, a drip pan, and a bulbous lid that gives you lots of volume to smoke large items. The top comes with a built-in thermometer and an adjustable vent. You can use it to smoke food in a number of styles by using different combinations of water and wood chips in the base below your food.
Like the Gourmia GPS650, a few wood chips go a long way. You’ll be surprised at the amount of smoky flavor that your food picks up when you use just a few extra small wood chips. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of wood to get the exact flavor you’re looking for.
The fundamental advantage that the Nordic Ware 36550 has over the GPS650 (and other powered smokers) is its sheer durability. Made from solid, carefully crafted metal, this device will last for many years.
There aren’t any wires, moving parts, electronic chips, or anything that will short out if it gets wet. Instead, you get a well-crafted metal container that keeps heat in and vents out just the right of excess steam. This device is versatile, can be used with a variety of heat sources, and will last for quite a long time with a bit of care.
As far as taste is concerned, the Nordic Ware 36550 can rival some pretty impressive outdoor smokers. Again, most people won’t beat competition barbecue with a kettle they can stick on the range, but you can do pretty darn well with a simple chicken recipe and a couple of soaked wood chips.
Cook times in the Nordic Ware 36550 tend to be a bit longer than the scandalously short cook times that the Gourmia pressure cooker can get away with, but many home users don’t do 13 hours at 250 F, either. Instead, you can strike a balance between normal oven cooking and delicious smoked barbecue, cooking your food at a reasonable rate while you infuse it with a bit of smoke.
One thing to note: due to the way the Nordic Ware 36550 indoor smoker works, you’ll want to use it directly below your stove’s hood vent with the vent turned on. Nordic Ware further recommends that you open some windows and take additional steps to ensure your kitchen is properly ventilated, including adding fans to help get air moving.
This smoker makes a bit of smoke and releases a strong aroma that’s reminiscent of an outdoor barbecue while it cooks. Used properly, it won’t burn your house down, but it will infuse your countertops with a bit of that smoky aroma, and you should check on it regularly.
Don’t get me wrong: this is a common feature among indoor smokers.
Even the Gourmia above makes your kitchen smell distinctly like wood smoke whenever you use it with chips inside the smoker element. It’s a pretty standard “downside” that many people actually come to enjoy, since the smell of hickory, cedar, apple wood, or even cherry smoke is fairly pleasant. It’s definitely something to be mindful of, however.
The thing that really sells the Nordic Ware 36550 to me is the durability. While I love the power of the Gourmia and how easy the electronic cooker is to use, the Nordic Ware is a simple, old-fashioned device that you’ll probably never replace.
It’s like picking up a cast iron pan instead of a non-stick one. The non-stick pan might be easier to use, but it definitely won’t last as long, and you probably don’t want to use it to cook food over a campfire.
With that in mind, I think that I can solidly recommend the Nordic Ware to any household that’s willing to put in a little more work. If you’d prefer to get your hands dirty and manage your heat manually, you plan to use your indoor smoker outdoors as well, or you simply want a device that can easily last a decade or more, the Nordic Ware 36550 is the indoor smoker for you.
You’ll love the flexibility that this multi-purpose device brings, with the ability to function as an oven roaster, a stovetop smoker, or a campfire-mounted barbecue bringer.
Oster’s Smoker and Roaster Oven can’t touch the Gourmia unit above in terms of functionality. It doesn’t have a pressure cooking mode, it won’t steam food, and it doesn’t even have a timer built in.
What it does have, however, is an extremely convenient shape that’s very, very easy to fit food into. Turkeys, big briskets, and racks of ribs will have no troubles fitting into this Oster smoker unit.
Now, there are two things that I should clear up before we go further.
First, this unit is not recommended as an indoor smoker. Instead, it’s expected that you’ll throw it on a patio before you add wood chips. Oster encourages you to use it as a roaster indoors, but it thinks it kicks up a bit too much smoke to be used as a smoker inside.
You’re free to put it below your vent hood and open some windows and see how things work in your own home, but it’s definitely an experiment you should pursue with caution.
The other clarification concerns the internal size of this unit. In terms of raw volume, I think the Gourmia is pretty close to this Oster in size. When it comes to fitting meats, however, the Oster is a clear winner.
This is because the Gourmia uses a circular cooking chamber and the Oster uses a rectangular one. Turkeys and ribs and briskets aren’t circular. They’re not really rectangular, either, but they definitely have a long dimension and a shorter one.
This makes the Oster’s form factor somewhat easier to use for a lot of practical dishes. The real question, of course, is how the Oster performs. The answer is “brilliantly.” It won’t give you the incredibly short cook times that the Gourmia offers, unfortunately, but it does perform flawlessly in its capacity as a roaster.
You can cook self-basting turkeys, briskets, and more in a few hours with very little effort – you simply heat up the oven, set the temperature to the right point, and walk away.
As you might expect, smoking goes similarly well.
The simple, brilliant design of this roaster helps with all sorts of barbecue meats, and the chip tray gives you lots of bold wood flavors in whatever you choose to cook. Again, I maintain that you can get more “authentic” barbecue on an outdoor charcoal smoker, but the stuff that you can cook in this smoker is absolutely incredible. It’s juicy, tender, and packed full of flavor.
One of the things that makes the meat that you can cook in this electric roaster so incredible is the way it handles moisture.
Without a chimney for smoke to escape from en masse, most of the liquid that your meat sweats out during the cooking process will stay in the cooking chamber. It naturally condenses on the lid, drips back down onto your meat, and ensures that everything stays moist and flavorful.
This process isn’t unique to the Oster roaster here. In fact, this is how smoke flavor gets added to meat, period – you get most of your smoke flavor when the smoke condenses and drips back onto the meat. The important thing to think about here is quantity.
The Oster catches pretty much all of the evaporation in the cooking chamber, while a vented smoker like the Nordic Ware above will let a little bit out.
This means you get more smoke flavor with fewer chips in the Oster.
Personally, I slightly prefer the pressure cooking functionality afforded by the Gourmia to the Oster’s roomier chamber, but that’s because I already have a tool to cook turkeys.
If you think you might use the Oster as a Thanksgiving helper (and you should), it may very well be the superior smoker. It makes absolutely incredible meat for a pretty darn affordable price, giving you plenty of room in your budget to pick up some wood chips, meat, and vegetables.
The Best Indoor Smoker – Bold Barbecue Flavors Right In Your Kitchen
The Oster Smoker and Roaster Oven, Gourmia GPS650, and Nordic Ware 36550 are all great tools that you can use to make incredibly tender and juicy meat. All three of these kitchen helpers can be used indoors for cooking, while the Gourmia and the Nordic Ware can even add smoky flavors to meat while remaining inside the house.
The Oster is supposed to be placed on a patio or other well-ventilated outdoor space before you load it up with wood chips, but its roomy interior more than makes up for this mild inconvenience.
All three of these smokers are excellent choices for most households.
In general, the Gourmia is probably best for smaller households that want faster meals, the Oster is better for people who like roasting long meats whole, and the Nordic Ware should be preferred by people who like a more “hands-on” style of cooking, people who value longevity over convenience, and people who want to take their smoker with them on outdoor excursions.
Be sure to consider your own lifestyle and cooking habits before choosing the best indoor smoker for your kitchen.