Best Ole Hickory Smokers Guide

Ole Hickory Pits was founded in 1974 and is located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Since then, they have been in the business of developing high-quality smokers for individuals, competitions, and commercial uses. Finding the best Ole Hickory smoker may be a challenge, especially if you are new to smoking.

These smokers use their own patented Convecture Technology to manufacture genuine, energy-saving, efficient, and unique smokers. They have more than 20 products to choose from. We analyzed feedback from current and former users and owners to determine the best smokers for different categories. Read on to know more about these smokers and get help making a purchasing decision.

Our Best Ole Hickory Smoker Picks

With almost half a decade of experience in the manufacture of smokers, Ole Hickory has made a name for itself. They have three categories of smokers, namely individual, competition, and commercial. To make your purchasing decision easier, we have compiled a list of some of the best products from each category. We’ll start with the individual/residential category and move to the rest. Here we go!

Best Overall Residential – CTO

cto

The Convecture Tri Oven (CTO) uses a unique patented circulation method. It’s designed to provide the heat movement common in convection ovens. The novel concept defines the next generation of technology found in multi-use smokers. Let’s take a look at the features of this product so you can understand why it’s the best overall smoker for personal use.

The first thing you notice about this oven is the construction. It’s made using heavy-duty 12 gauge interior side walls made using steel. These are 100% welded, and the seams are inspected. It also has a 22 gauge stainless exterior that is insulated and rated at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas burner is rated at 46,000 BTU, available for natural or propane gas and electronic ignition.

You also notice there is a firebox with a basket for charcoal with wood. The door of the firebox comes with adjustable draft intake manifold apertures. For the exhaust, you get two five ¼ inch x ¾ inch vents. These have adjustable manifold control dampers.

You also get four sliding racks measuring 26 ½ inches by 26 ½ inches providing a total of 19.51 square feet nickel-chrome cooking surface. The racks are removable, making them easy to clean, and you can buy additional racks. There is a two ½-inch diameter dial thermometer to control the temperature range of 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

This smoker comes with 4 NSF-approved heavy-duty casters. You need to connect it to a 110-volt, 60 HZ single-phase outlet. Never use non-grounded extension cords. When it’s not crated, it weighs a whopping 600 pounds. Optional cooking equipment includes competition switch, probe port, and cook and hold.

Capacity

  • Chicken – 48 half (at 3.25 lbs.) or 96 full chickens
  • Turkey – 8 (at 14 lbs.)
  • Boston butt – 24 (at 10 lbs.)
  • Ribs – 24 (at 3 lbs. or lower)
  • Brisket – 12 (at 12 lbs.)

Pros

  • 12 gauge steel interior sidewall and 22 gauge stainless steel exterior
  • 46,000 BTU natural or propane gas burner
  • 19.51 square foot total cooking surface
  • Four large sliding racks
  • 4 NSF approved heavy-duty casters

Cons

  • It isn’t recommended for people who entertain small groups of people.

Residential Runner Up – Ultra Que

ultra que

The Ultra Que is recommended for recreational and residential use. It’s a non-rotating ideal for a lodge, picnic site, poolside, or patio setting. For starters, the construction is 12 gauge heavy-duty steel interior sidewalls. The walls are combined with a stainless steel belly and tubular steel frame. The exterior is made using fully insulated 22 gauge stainless steel rated at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just like the CTO above, avoid using non-grounded extension cords. Instead, go for a 110-volt, 60 HZ single-phase connection. The gas burner has electric ignition and is rated at 38,000 BTU. The burner uses natural or propane gas. In the firebox, a 3-1 pound block of wood (almost the same size of ¼ the size of a fireplace log) lasts approximately 8 hours. It’s because cooking is done using patented Convecture circulation.

You can set the temperature using a 2 ½ inch diameter dial thermometer. The temperature ranges between 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, you get an upper limit control switch that ensures temperatures do not go beyond 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

The package includes 2 5 ¼ x ¾ inch exhaust vents and 4 NSF-approved heavy-duty casters. Ultra Que weighs 480 pounds when it’s not crated. It comes with three sliding racks measuring 20 ½ by 26 ½ inches, giving you a total of 11.3 square feet of nickel-chrome cooking surface. They are removable to make cleaning easy.

Capacity

  • Chicken – 60 half (at 3.25 lbs.) or 18 full chickens
  • Turkey – 2 (at 14 lbs.)
  • Boston butt – 12 (at 10 lbs.)
  • Ribs – 18 (at 3 lbs. or lower)
  • Brisket – 4 (at 12 lbs.)

Pros

  • 12 gauge steel interior sidewall and 22 gauge exterior
  • 38,000 BTU natural or propane gas burner
  • 11.3 square feet total cooking surface
  • Three large sliding racks
  • 4 NSF approved heavy-duty casters

Cons

  • It isn’t recommended for people who entertain large groups of people.

Best Smallest Smoker for Competitions – Ace JW

ace jw

The JW in this model stands for John Wheeler. It’s the smallest smoker you can find in the competition category. For starters, it doesn’t come with a burner. However, it uses a unique thermostatically controlled cooking method. This method allows beginners or pros to cook top-quality dishes.

The construction is 12 gauge heavy-duty steel interior sidewalls. The walls are combined with a tubular steel frame. The exterior is made using fully insulated 22 gauge stainless steel rated at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. You have the option of using charcoal briquettes with wood chips or wood chunks for fuel.

Ace JW’s firebox has a basket for charcoal with wood. Its door comes with adjustable draft intake manifold apertures. As for the exhaust, you get two five ¼ x ¾ inch vents that have adjustable manifold control dampers. Although it’s small, you get 11.3 square feet of nickel-chrome cooking surface. The surface some with 20 ½ x 26 ½ inch 3 racks that are removable to ensure you get an easy cleaning option. You can get extra racks at an additional cost if you wish to do so.

The 2 ½ diameter dial thermometer is found in the majority of Ole Hickory smokers, and the ACE JW is no exception. It’s used to ensure you can check on the product’s temperature range that is between 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the casters, this model comes with 4 NSF-approved heavy-duty ones. It doesn’t have an exhaust, but you get a single CFM combustion blower. Its features are 12 free air at 60 HZ that needs a 115-volt 50/60 HZ connection. As usual, you need a single-phase, 60 HZ, and a 110-volt outlet for the electrical. Lastly, it weighs 450 pounds when it’s not in the shipping crate.

Capacity

  • Chicken – 60 half (at 3.25 lbs.) or 18 full chickens
  • Turkey – 2 (at 14 lbs.)
  • Boston butt – 12 (at 10 lbs.)
  • Ribs – 18 (at 3 lbs. or lower)
  • Brisket – 4 (at 12 lbs.)

Pros

  • 12 gauge steel interior sidewall and 22 gauge exterior
  • Charcoal Briquettes with wood chips or wood chunks
  • 11.3 square feet total cooking surface
  • Three removable sliding racks
  • 4 NSF approved heavy-duty casters

Cons

  • Not recommended for use at home

Largest Competition Smoker – Ace-MM

ace mm

If you are looking for one of the largest and best competition smokers from Ole Hickory, then Ace-MM is a great choice. Keep in mind it doesn’t come with a burner. On the upside, it has a unique cooking method that is thermostatically controlled to allow beginners and vets to make superb dishes.

The Ace-MM has the similar 12 gauge exterior and 22 gauge stainless steel exterior construction you find on the residential smokers mentioned above. When it comes to fuel, you can only use charcoal briquettes with wood chips or wood chunks considering it’s a competition smoker.

The firebox comes with a door with adjustable intake manifold apertures and a basket for charcoal with wood. For the exhaust, you get two five ¼ x ¾ inch vents. These come with adjustable manifold control dampers. You get four removable sliding racks measuring 26 ½ x 26 ½ inches to give you a total of 19.51 nickel-chrome cooking surfaces.

A standard 2 ½ inch diameter dial thermometer is used to control the temperature. The control range for the thermostat is between 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 275 degrees Fahrenheit. The unit comes with one CFM combustion blower and four heavy-duty casters that are NSF-approved.

For electrical, you need a 110-volt 60 HZ single-phase connection. There is a grease drain consisting of a 1-inch pipe with a 1-inch ball valve. The product’s weight is 600 pounds when it’s not crated.

Capacity

  • Chicken – 96 half (at 3.25 lbs.) or 48 full chickens
  • Turkey – 8 (at 14 lbs.)
  • Boston butt – 24 (at 10 lbs.)
  • Ribs – 24 (at 3 lbs. or lower)
  • Brisket – 12 (at 12 lbs.)

Pros

  • 12 gauge steel interior sidewall and 22 gauge exterior
  • Charcoal Briquettes with wood chips or wood chunks
  • 19.51 square feet total cooking surface
  • Four removable sliding racks
  • 4 NSF approved heavy-duty casters

Cons

  • It can’t be used at home.

Best Double Wide Commercial Smoker – CTO-DW

cto dw

Just as the name suggests, this smoker is twice the size of the residential CTO. The product comes with two different rack configurations. These are the split eight rack and the standard four rack configuration. If you go for the eight-rack configuration, you can use the racks you find in the residential CTO. There will be a divider in the middle of the smoker to ensure cooking capacity is optimized.

The exterior has mineral wool insulation with a rating of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Take note this unit doesn’t have any fiberglass or asbestos. It comes with one 65,000 BTU burner with electric ignition. You can either use natural or propane gas. The electrical connection needs a single-phase with 15 amperes, 110-volts, and 60 HZ.

You get a temperature range of 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. The firebox uses patented Convecture circulation to give you up to 6 hours of cooking when two regular fireplace size logs are used. There is an extra safety feature known as the upper limit control switch. It ensures the unit does not go past 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Convecture system has two 1/30 HP turbofan motors. These come with 5-inch fan blades that offer a mix of smoke and heat for product consistency. You get a 2-inch grease drain pipe with a 2-inch ball valve, as well as two five ¼ x ¾ inch exhaust vents.

CTO-DW comes with four removable racks measuring 55 ¾ x 26 inches to give a nickel-chrome cooking surface of 40 square feet. You can get stainless steel racks at an extra cost. The weight of the unit is 1,660 pounds when unpacked.

Optional Equipment

  • Leg extensions
  • Locking control cover
  • Probe porthole
  • Lazy Sooey
  • 8-rack configuration
  • Burner switch
  • Cook and hold

Capacity

  • Chicken – 108 half (at 3.25 lbs.) or 96 full chickens
  • Turkey – 32 (at 14 lbs.)
  • Boston butt – 60 (at 10 lbs.)
  • Ribs – 48 (at 3 lbs. or lower)
  • Brisket – 30 (at 12 lbs.)

Pros

  • Mineral wool insulation exterior
  • Upper limit control switch
  • 40 square feet cooking surface
  • Four and 8-rack configuration
  • Optional stainless steel racks

Cons

  • Not recommended for small establishments

Best Limited Space Commercial Smoker – EL-ES

el es

The ES in this smoker stands for extra slim. It’s designed for clients that have limited accessibility and space in their kitchen. The unit easily fits through a standard 36-inch door. EL-ES doesn’t contain any fiberglass or asbestos. The exterior is mineral wool insulated stainless steel rated at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.

This product uses natural or propane gas and comes with one 65,000 BTU gas burner with electronic ignition. A firebox is included and fits two regular-sized fireplace logs. The cooking duration is approximately 6 hours when you use two logs. An air over firebox circulation is used to spread heat and smoke.

As standard, you get a 2 ½ inch dial thermometer to regulate temperatures ranging from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has an upper limit control switch set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You are required to use a single-phase 110-volt, 60 HZ, and 15-ampere electrical connection.

One of the unique features is the heavy-duty footswitch rotisserie advance. There are four heavy-duty NSF-approved casters and one ¼ HP motor. The 10-inch fan blades of the motor guarantee a mix of smoke and heat to provide consistency.

EL-ES comes with a 4-inch diameter flue and a 2-inch grease drain pipe with a 2-inch ball valve. The rotisserie has 12 stainless steel racks measuring 22 x 18 inches to provide a total cooking surface of 33 square feet. You can remove the racks easily when you want to clean them.

Optional Equipment

  • Competition switch
  • Evacuator
  • Cook and hold

Capacity

  • Chicken – 84 half (at 3.25 lbs.) or 40 full chickens
  • Turkey – 16 (at 14 lbs.)
  • Boston butt – 32 (at 10 lbs.)
  • Ribs – 36 (at 3 lbs. or lower)
  • Brisket – 8 (at 12 lbs.)

Pros

  • Extra slim design fits small kitchens
  • Upper limit control switch
  • 33 square foot total cooking surface
  • 12 stainless steel removable racks
  • 4 NSF approved heavy-duty casters

Cons

  • Not recommended for outdoor use

Ole Hickory Smokers Buying Guide

When choosing a smoker, there are some factors you need to consider. They will ensure you get a smoker that will meet or surpass your needs. Apart from the types available, there are some factors you need to consider. Let’s start with the types.

Types of Smokers

Smokers are fueled by propane, wood pellets, electricity, hardwood, or charcoal. The type of fuel determines the type of smoker. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at each below.

Propane Smokers

Propane-powered smokers typically heat easier and faster than their electric counterparts. At the same time, they are easy to use. Since you don’t need a power outlet, these smokers are more portable. You need to be keen on your propane levels to prevent running out in the middle of smoking your meals. 

Electric Smokers

They are the most convenient considering all you need is to add food, water, and wood. Since it’s similar to a stove, regulating heat is simple. On the downside, a good number lack authentic flavor. On the other hand, some computer-controlled electric smokers allow you set up the smoker such that it runs automatically until your food is ready.

Charcoal Smokers

Wood and charcoal smokers are more traditional. This means they offer a more authentic flavor to your meals. Typically, the most affordable smokers are charcoal smokers. However, some of the highest-priced are charcoal, as well.

Pellet Smokers

Although they are electrically powered, pellet smokers burn wood pellets to provide smoke and heat. These products can be as convenient as their electric counterparts, with the upside being they offer the flavor of the best hardwood or charcoal smokers.

ole hickory

Factors to Consider

Now that you have information on the types of smokers, there are some factors you need to consider before buying one. The type is the first step. Now you need to consider factors to determine if a particular smoker will meet your needs. Read on to learn more.

Features

The price determines if you get a smoker that provides great barbecue with minimal effort. One of the things you should consider is how much involved you will be in the process. Smoking and barbecue is a noble and long tradition of people making great food as they sit by the fire.

Do you want to actively participate as you cook your food? Do you want to set the smoker up and forget it? When you answer such questions, you go for computer control features that may automate the process for you.

Smoking Capacity and Size

The smallest smokers can cook enough food for a small party or large family. Larger smokers make enough food to cater for an all-day-long party. This means it’s crucial to consider how many people you want to cook for before you buy one.

For instance, if you plan on catering for the company party, you need a large smoker. If you plan on smoking for the family on various occasions, a small unit will suffice. All Ole Hickory smokers tell you how much food you can prepare. Generally, you need a pound of raw meat per individual. This can mean a lot and should be considered when choosing the size of the smoker.

Versatility 

Some Ole Hickory pits can grill and smoke. Go for these units if you want to have the best of worlds. Charcoal units are the best options if you are looking for a multi-purpose smoker.

Some lower-priced units promise this feature. Keep in mind that a great design needs to be both a good grill and a good smoker. The majority of the less expensive models do smoking or grilling well, but not both.

Portability

Don’t assume portability is tossing a smoker in the back of your truck and taking it to a party. It also involves the ease of moving it out of storage to the destination and back again. Think about this as you shop if you don’t have a permanent outdoor space for your smoker.

Price

The price of smokers varies depending on the type, size, functionality, and condition. Typically, the range is several hundred dollars to 10s of thousands of dollars. If you plan on using the product rarely, start with a small vertical water smoker. These are the least expensive smokers in the market. You can make a good barbecue for many people using such units. However, remember there is more to smokers than what simple units have to offer.

smoker oven

Ole Hickory Smoker FAQs

Question: How Do I Clean an Ole Hickory Pit?

Answer: The design of these units makes it as easy as possible to clean. For starters, they have a sloped interior. This ensures the meat drippings are drained using a drain pipe. The drippings are then collected into your grease drain or rendering tank.

To clean, warm the product and spray the interior with a de-greasing agent. After the degreasing agent has worked for the stipulated time, spray the interior and racks. If you use a high-pressure washer on the interior, you may not need a degreasing agent. Exercise extreme caution when using a high-pressure washer to prevent damage to gaskets, thermostatic, and electrical components.

Question: How do Ole Hickory Smokers Work?

Answer: The power burner in Ole Hickory Pits is thermostatically controlled. Using either natural or propane gas, the burner fires up the wood to achieve the cooking temperature you desire. It then shuts off automatically. Since the temperature drops during cooking, the temperature is maintained by the burner rekindling the wood periodically.

Question: How do I Operate the Ole Hickory CTO?

Answer: It’s very simple. Load up the pullout firebox with charcoal or woods and hook up your gas and turn on the unit. The gas blows into the charcoal and wood to effortlessly ignite the charcoal or wood.

Question: How Do I Choose the Size of a Commercial Ole Hickory Smoker?

Answer: Start by determining the number of seats in your restaurant and the number of hours you operate during the week. Then you need to figure out if you are going to do advertising specials, holiday specials, or cater for various events. The good news is the company will give you a salesperson to assist you in selecting a commercial smoker that will meet your needs.

Bottom Line

Now you have a list of two of the best Ole Hickory smokers in each category. For example, you can go for the CTO if you are planning to get a great smoker that can entertain a large number of guests. Opt for the EL-ES if you have a restaurant or eatery with limited kitchen space.

Ole Hickory has approximately 15 smokers to choose from. With this in mind, it may be a challenge to make a choice. Use our buying guide to make the buying decision easier. With this information, you should be able to get an Ole Hickory smoker that meets your needs.

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