Big Chief Front Load Smoker 9894 Review – Our Top Budget Choice

Social gatherings or casual outdoor parties are always incomplete without someone to cook up a piece of tender and smoky steak. But most times, this involves someone slaving away over a smoker!

Does smoking meat have to require someone standing around a smoker all day? 

Well, No!

At least, not when you have a reliable smoking oven in the form of Big Chief Smoker!

The Big Chief Load Smoker is unlike most of the units you usually find on the market. It does not necessarily come with all the bells and whistles. Instead, it sticks to the basics and does that convincingly well. 

So, if you need a smoker that will do precisely what you need, then the Big Chief Front Load Smoker is your best choice.

At first glance, you cannot help but feel skeptical about the Big Chief Smoker. There are so many smoker options with fancy features; the bare physical appearance seems rather unconvincing.

But, once we got to testing the smoker, the results were impressive.

Big Chief Smoker Review

Here's a detailed break-down of its key features and why it is one of the best electric smokers in the market. 

Pricing

There is a general idea in the smoking BBQ market that good smokers come at a price. And in all honesty, that is true up to a certain degree until you come across the Big Chief Load Smoker.
 
So if you don't have a money tree at home, you will undoubtedly appreciate the price tag on the unit. At present, the price of the Big Chief smoker on Amazon is just a mere hundred-odd buck. If you compare the pricing with other similar electric smokers, you will notice that it cost twice as little. 
 
Its aggressive pricing makes it an entry-level electric smoker.

So, the big question is:

Have they cut corners to reduce the pricing?

Well, that's the weird part. Big Chief's Electric Smoker has done an excellent job of keeping the price low and still covers all bases. As such, we did not find any place where you can point out a significant compromise. If we had to point out one gripe, then it would be the absence of an in-built thermostat. But, considering how cheap it is, you can buy an additional thermostat and still save a significant amount.       

Ease of use 

If you are looking for a smoker that you can entrust your clumsy sibling with, the Big Chief smoker is your ideal unit. Big Chief smokers are generally known for their simplicity of usage. And this smoker is no exception. 

The simple design of the smoker makes it an effortless process to operate it. You do not have to navigate through complicated digital controls. Instead, you simply slide in the cooking pot with wood chips/ chunks and wait until your food is fully smoked.

The non-adjustable heating element may be off-putting to many. But, once you get the ideal temperature of the heater, you can adjust the timing quite efficiently. This might be even better as you have to entrust yourself to cook out a perfect barbecue. As opposed to simply 'setting it and forgetting it.'

The door can also be removed entirely, as opposed to the swinging door system in most other smokers. This feature gives you access to the maximum space to load or retrieve the foods.

The small opening on the bottom is designed ideally to allow you to slide in/out the cooking pot to maintain optimum temperature. All these features are very fundamental, yet extremely handy when you get down to real cooking. 

Spacious cooking

The chief smoker is all about ample cooking space, if not anything else. One of the prime advantages of the unit is its easy-to-slide chrome-plated grills. These grills can easily be adjusted to different heights or taken out entirely to make room for large turkeys. The "Big Chief" comes with five (5) cooking compartments or grills. Each of these grills provides an adequate cooking space of about 121 sq. Inches. This space is more than sufficient to take care of your standard BBQ needs. 

On a full-load, the Big Chief Electric smoker can hold up to the maximum weight of 50 pounds. So, unless you are trying to feed the entire town, it should be more than adequate.

The Big Chief Front Load Smoker also has a smaller sibling in the form of "little chief." The little chief smoker comes with a four (4) cooking grill and a full-load capacity of 25 pounds.

So, if you want something cheaper to take care of your moderate BBQ needs, you can consider the little Chief as well.

Smoking performance 

Like most of its key features, the Big Chief Electric smoker does not shy away from its authentic purpose. With the design and construction of this smoker, you might question its smoking efficiency. But, the performance you get out of it is excellent too. 

The impressive performance of the smoker is due to a distinctive design feature, or as they like to call it "engineered smoke ventilation." The ventilation in the smoker is designed cleverly to ensure proper dehydration and optimum smoke circulation. 

This, in simple terms, means your food gets the right amount of heat and smoke required to obtain the authentic smoky flavor.

The smoker operates at a consistent temperature of 165°F. On papers, the number does not seem convincing. And well, it isn't! The temperature is not hot enough to cook through a big chunk of meat, pork belly, or even a brisket. At least, not quick enough. 

However, the big Chief is a proper low-temperature smoking cooker. So, unless you want to barbecue some pork ribs in a jiffy, it competes with almost any other types of slow BBQ cooking styles.

Build quality 

The Big Chief smoker is made in Hood River, Oregon, USA! Need we say more?

Smokers made in the USA have a reputation for being of the most reliable build quality and, the Big Chief smoker is no exception. 

The smoker is constructed using a durable and embossed aluminum material both on the exterior and interior. Some may argue that aluminum is relatively inferior to the standard stainless steel construction. In terms of durability and rigidity, aluminum construction does seem weaker.

But, that does not take away the credibility of aluminum material.

Aluminum material in Big Chief smokers comes with its fair share of benefits. The first is that it costs significantly less. And since the smoker is a low-temperature oven, the aluminum material holds up convincingly well.

The second benefit is its lightweight factor. The Big Chief smoker weighs just over 17 pounds. So, as long as you have a power outlet, transferring the unit around the backyard is not a problem. It is also worth mentioning that the smoker does not require any assembly. So you can start using the bad boy right out of the box.  

Now that you have a good overview of what to expect with this front load smoker, let's take a look at the pros and cons. 

Pros

Cons

  • The smoker costs almost twice as little as other competing products. 
  • The five racks are easily adjustable or completely removable.
  • It can hold up to a whopping 50 pound capacity on a full load. 
  • It is extremely lightweight (due to aluminum material).
  • The smoker is extremely simple and easy to use.
  • It comes with a complimentary recipe booklet and a 1.75-pound bag of wood chips and chunks (hickory flavor).
  • It can only maintain 165°F temperature for low-heat cooking.
  • The body is not insulated, so it may not hold up well in cold weather.

Final thoughts 

The big chief smoker is hands down one of the best electric smokers in the market at present. The exceptional value it presents at its low pricing is hard to beat. Also, the smoker is built in the USA, which provides extra assurance of its durability as well. 

If you are looking for an ideal smoker to handle your cold smoking needs, you don't need to look further. The Big Chief is the best choice you will get in the market. 

However, keep in mind that it will not handle hot grilling quiet well. 

Apart from that, considering what you pay for, the Big Chief is an exceptional electric smoker that you simply cannot look past.