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Will a Kamado or an Offset Stick Burner Produce better BBQ?


Will a Kamado or an Offset Stick Burner Produce better BBQ?  

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Many Texas swear by their stick burners. Aaron Franklin and many other Texan Pitmasters work exclusively on offsets. Most burning the wood vs smoldering the wood will always get superior results for Briskets and pork. They argue the best and most consistent smoke can only be produced by someone tending a good 600- 700 fire to burn post oak in an indirect cooker.

Lay down your best arguments. I realize it will be a Kamado biased crowd. It'll be interesting to see what answers you guys come-up with.

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I really do not believe that a kamado truly replaces traditional bbq methods.  A stick burner would produce copious amounts of the thin blue smoke.  

 

With that said, I don't think people get into kamado cooking as a means of being dedicated smokers.  

 

I believe from all the reading on this forum that most of us are grillers!!  We prefer to grill meals that are not traditional to BBQ.  When we get our hankering for traditional BBQ ie. ribs, brisket, butts...   we can do it just fine!!  Our kamado can impart a nice smoke flavour and create in my opinion a moister meat than any stick burner that I have tried.  

 

But I am a backyard pit master.  I don't consider what I do to be competitive and I don't do this for a living.  So, if you are a skilled pit master, you can make moist meats on anything you cook on.

 

As for the main reason for a kamado... I call it the swiss army knife of BBQ.  It is a true all in one cooker that can low and slow, grill, and high heat.  It is also as true to an oven as I have ever seen, a true set it and forget it cooker.

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For me "best" is a reletive term. I will say a kamado has allowed me to produce the best BBQ I have ever cooked. People rave about stick burners or vertical smokers. I have not used them and doubt I will ever own one.

Being a home cook for my family change at the cost benefit analysis. I am not producing food to sell to pay the bills. I am producing food for fun, because I enjoy the process and I enjoy watching the happy faces as they eat my food. This changes the timing and efficiency of the cooking process.

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I agree with the above posters adding that using the kamado, I can use it year round in sub-zero temperatures where holding a consistent temp with a stick burner would not be easy.

 

A good craftsman never blames his tools and will put out high quality product on whatever he/she uses...

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I used both. Although the offset was a pain in the ### to use (wild temp swings, adding/stoking the fire every twenty minutes, basting, having to rotate the food, etc), it did give a much better smoke flavor if I used logs as the fuel source (not charcoal).

I still won't go back to one (I sold mine after getting a kamado) because the advantages of my kamado make up for that and then some. Better temperature control, hands off operation, moister meats, better resistance to rain and cold weather, and that it can be used for grilling all made it a no brainer for me. I just add lots of wood chunks to make up for the smoke flavor.

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I'd say it depends on your target audience. Take comp BBQ for instance, most of the teams winning are cooking on high dollar insulated reverse flow stick burners. Then look at backyard BBQ and what most of us would cook, kamado ribs, butts, or chicken done by a beginner would stand toe to toe, at the very least, with food cooked on a budget offset by a novice backyard pit master.

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I have to believe that offset is the 'real' bbq flavour, but a Kamado provides more flexibility for the average home cook.  What is interesting is that Big Mo (from Pit Masters) uses an offset but at times will use his BGE....  There is a time and place for everything I think!

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I will avoid the pitfall of saying it depends upon the pitmaster, that has been stated many times before.  Assuming two people with equal training, early on, definitely Kamado, as the learning curve can be mastered quicker (with fewer things to get wrong with a Kamado).  Some types of food should not be attempted on an offset, such as cheesecake, crème brulee, etc, (most baked goods).  Another obvious example is Pizza.  Some vegetable dishes and chicken are easy to over-smoke, they are a bit more likely to turn out right on a Kamado.  Assuming you can keep them moist, the offset smoker edges out a Kamado for Brisket and Pulled pork, but not by the huge margin people think.  Keep in mind some competitions have been won in these categories with an Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS).  The UDS configuration is closer to a Kamado, than it is to an offset; it just has a higher thermal loss (and thus, a hotter fire).  A hotter fire tends to produce a more optimal type of smoke.  This is part of the reason why when smoking on a Kamado at low temperatures you want to light just one spot.  It is better to have a more intense point source heat, than a barely burning huge bed of coals. All of this said, I would gladly go toe-to-toe (no offense Toe) with any of the local BBQ restaurants (which do not cook on Kamado grills) in an open competition.  They do not put the attention to detail in what they cook, although they produce acceptable BBQ, they do not hold a candle to the food I have got in the Carolinas, Memphis, Texas and Oklahoma I have tried.  In all fairness of the comparison, most offsets cost much less than a Kamado with half the cooking space; it would be unreasonable to expect superior performance across the board.  With an offset, you pay the extra cost in fuel consumption and time required to tend the fire (spritzing/turning meat) over long cooks.  I have been offered free offsets before; knowing the effort required I have always politely declined. 

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Just like Kamado cooking, offset cooking is a passion. A lot of guys are building insulated stick burners. Some of the pricer builds are more efficient than the cheap stuff you get at Home Depot. I don't know if I'd say offsets are cheaper than Kamados. Infact, most high quality well insulated Offsets make Kamado look rather cheap.

There are some new insulated models in the offset world that can operate in temps as low as -10F. But a Kamado can make a 225 brisket in -27 F.

With good techniques and a little practice, you can get a Kamado producing a reasonable amount of blue smoke all though I doub't you'll be able out gun an offset with a Kamado for the amount of blue smoke produced.

How do you make a brisket within 85-90% of an Offset

- Stick with white oak and Pecan for even burning wood

- Light an intense Charcoal fire in the center of you charcoal pile

- Burry the wood chunks under a single layer of lump for an even hot burn

- Place the wood chunks as close to the center of the fire as possible

If you can find the technique to produce blue smoke in your Kamado you can produce a brisket that's relatively close to an offset cook. From there it comes down to the law of diminishing returns. Can you get a better smoke profile on an offset smoker? Yes you can but is that extra 10-15 percent big enough to loose sleep changing water pans and tending fireboxs over 16 hours.

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ive never cooked on a stick burner, but a dream of mine would be to find a suitable tank and construct my own (a small one).

Do you do have the skill set for metal work? I might have sources for tanks if you are serious.
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