Big Chief Front Load Smoker

What Are You Smoking?

Big Chief Front Load Smoker
Big Chief Front Load Smoker. Amazon

The Bottom Line

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For smoking large cuts of great barbecue buy a different smoker. For nearly 55 years the Big Chief, and its little brother, the Little Chief, have been designed for smoking all those things that don't traditionally fall into the strict category of barbecue. For smoking fish, jerky, sausage, cheese, this is the perfect smoker. The lower cooking temperatures, that can't be adjusted, and decent smoke production is great for preserving foods and adding smoke flavor to things you might not cook, or might finish off someplace else.


  • Lightweight and inexpensive
  • Excellent for smoking fish, cheese or making jerky


  • No temperature control
  • Not really recommended for smoking large cuts of meat


  • Single 450 watt heating element
  • 576 square inches of smoking rack space
  • 50 pound food capacity
  • Aluminum construction
  • Made in the United States by Smokehouse LLC.


Guide Review - Big Chief Front Load Smoker

In 1968 Luhr Jensen, a company dedicated to fish and fishing produced a small, cheap, and lightweight smoker that you could take to the fishing lodge so you could smoke up the day's catch. Quickly people found that these little electric smokers were perfect for making jerky because they could dry the meats while adding a good dose of smoke. Now sold by Smokehouse Products, the Little and Big Chief smokers has remained popular, largely due to the fact that they are inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to use.

Originating in the Pacific Northwest, the formerly known Luhr Jensen Smokers, were designed for smoking in the more classic, European understanding of the method, smoking as a way of food preservation.

These smokers were not, and still are not made for traditional Southern barbecue. You can use them to add smoke flavor to larger cuts of meat, everything from steaks to brisket, but you really can't use them for full cooking. So how would someone smoke a rack of ribs on a Big Chief Smoker? Just like normal.

Prepare the ribs as usual. Preheat the smoker and add wood chips to the very little wood chip drawer. Place ribs in the smoker and smoke for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from smoker, wrap in foil and finish off in the oven. If this sounds like a travesty of barbecue, then buy something else. If you want to be able to smoke cheese and put some smoke flavor into your steaks, then you might want to take a close look at one of these.

One of the things that makes this a great smoker is its shortcomings. The box of this smoker is a single layer of sheet aluminum which means that the 450-watt electric heating element can't keep up the heat unless you are smoking on a warm day. Fire this unit up on a cold day and you don't have a bad hot smoker, you have a great cold smoker. 

So the final word is that for making a good smoked brisket, this is largely a waste of money, but for smoking so many other things that do not fall into the category of traditional barbecue, this is the perfect smoker.