There are different types of BBQ smoker such as electric, charcoal, gas, pallets, and of course wood smokers. Barbecue smokers can also be classified according to their design such as vertical, offset, vault, drum or Kamado.
In our buyer’s guide, you will learn everything you need to know about smokers.
What are the best barbecue smokers in 2019?
- Weber 15501001 Deluxe Charcoal Grill
- Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro
- Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch Smoker
- Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
- Big Chief Front Load Smoker
- Smoke Hollow 44-Inch Gas Smoker
- Kamado Joe Classic II 18″ KJ23RHC grill
Best BBQ smokers
We compiled the list of best barbecue smokers currently in the market. You can choose from one of them depending on your style and budget. Don’t forget to read the pro and cons of different type of BBQ smokers.
#1 Weber 15501001 Deluxe Charcoal Grill
Weber 15501001 Deluxe Charcoal Grill has a large table, digital timer, gas-powered charcoal lighter system and 363 square inch cooking area. Products by Weber are known for there versatilely and quality.
This charcoal grill gives a traditional and authentic experience. It is easy to use and designed with features to give you a convenient cooking experience.
This grill has BBQ system cooking grate, porcelain powder coated steel lid and fire bowl and Aluminum vents. Powder coated steel and stainless steel cart construction ensure that it is made with quality.
#2 Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro
Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro has a design of classic offset barbecue smoker. It is inexpensive as compared to other offset smokers but made of quality materials. This smoker can also be used for regular grilling.
This smoker has non-stick cast iron grills and heavy gauge powder coated steel construction. It has removable charcoal drawers for convenience in adding charcoal or removing ashes.
It has heavy-duty steel construction and wheels for easy transporting. 580 square inches of the cooking area will make sure that you can cook a large portion at once.
#3 Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch Smoker
Weber 721001 is simple, easy to use and beginner friendly smoker. If you have no experience with a smoker then this is the one you should go for. This small, 18 inches vertical smoker is easy to use as a grill. In this smoker, you use charcoal as fuel in the bottom and meat on the top cooking area and that’s it.
This smoker has a surface area of 481 square inches, which is enough for the average family. It has a heat-resistant nylon handles and made with porcelain-enameled steel. It includes water pan, build in thermometer and have the individual vents on bowl and lid.
#4 Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
Pit barrel cooker is easy to use and big enough to cook 8 racks of ribs at once. This cooker is very convenient to use and doesn’t require much attention. It is designed to keep the steady temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Classic Pit barrel cooker has one cooking grate of 240 square inches and 8 stainless steel metal hooks. It has porcelain coated steel construction and made in the USA by reputable brand “Pit Barrel Cooker”.
We recommend this cooker because of its simple design and solid construction. It is also versatile and very easy to use. On the downside, you have to use only the Kingsford brand of charcoal in it.
#5 Big Chief Front Load Smoker
Big Chief Front Load Smoker has a food capacity of 50 pounds and smoking rack space of 576 square inches. This smoker has an aluminum construction and single heating element of 450 watts.
If you like smoking fish, cheese, sausages or making jerky then this smoker is just for you. This smoker is good for adding smoke flavor and preserving food because of its lower cooking temperature and continues steady smoke.
This smoker is inexpensive and lightweight. On the downside, this smoker is not good for smoking large cuts of meat. Also, you cannot control the temperature in this smoker.
#6 Smoke Hollow 44-Inch Gas Smoker
This gas smoker is the high capacity smoker with 44 inches smoking chamber. You can easily prepare a large portion of food in its cooking area capacity of 6.5 cubic feet. It comes with 2 jerky, 2 standard, and 1 rib rack which are chrome plated steel.
It has a powder-coated steel sheet metal construction and dual door design. With a smaller door, you can easily access water and wood pan whereas large door is for the cooking chamber. This gas smoker has 2 stainless steel tubular burners which can be operated independently for temperature control.
#7 Kamado Joe Classic II 18″ KJ23RHC grill
Kamado Grills have excellent insulation, high-efficiency, and centuries-old history. They have thick ceramic walls which can hold both high and low temperature efficiently. Good quality Kamado grills are expensive and if you are ready to invest then definitely check Kamado Joe Classic II 18″ KJ23RHC grill.
This kamado grill has the cooking surface of 255 square inches. It has stainless steel cooking grates and ceramic body which provide excellent insulation and holds heat evenly. For easy lifting, there is spring loaded lift and removable drawer to clean ashes. It has a stainless steel bottom vent and cast iron top vent to excellent heat control.
Best Barbecue Smoker Buyers Guide
What is a smoker?
The smoker is cooking equipment for preparing food in a controlled smoke environment with low heat. You can smoke anything from fish, meat, cheese, vegetables or other food using the smoker. There are different types of smokers in the market.
Usually, smokers consist of the cooking chamber and the combustion chamber.
Depending on the model you can use charcoal, wood, pellets, propane, natural gas or electricity as fuel for preparing food.
To regulate the temperature, smokers have several vents which you can open or close to control the heat.
With a good smoker, you can cook a wide variety of food and even add your preferred aroma to food. There are several aromas you can find on the internet to experiment with your BBQ smoker.
Another benefit of smoking is the increase in the shelf life of food. With the smoking process, you can considerably prolong the shelf life of most food.
For cooking the deliciously tender meat, low and slow cooking is an excellent way by pitmasters.
Traditionally all barbeque was prepared using dry wood as a source of fuel.
The heat from burning wood helps in cooking while smoke from wood gives a distinct flavor to food.
Cooking with smoke is one of the traditional methods in which low heat cooks slowly, while smoke imparts delicious flavor. Nowadays, there are different kinds of BBQ smoker in the market to satisfy your need for smoky, tender meat.
How does a BBQ wood smoker work?
The aim behind BBQ wood smoker is to cook slowly and at low temperature.
In barbecue smoker, indirect heat and smoke from the fuel (wood, charcoal) together cooks the food and imparts the delicious smoky flavor.
Slow cooking can take a long time like 2 hours to 24 hours and in some
cases even more. But the result is worth all this because of delicious flavors and aroma.
In this system, the heat and smoke from firebox simmer the food. There are many different kinds of barbecue smokers which we will mention below.
Before smoking, it is essential to withdraw water from the fish or meat. There are several ways to do this but most common is by using salt.
Different parts of a smoker
Although there are different types of the smoker, the basic concept is relatively similar. The essential elements of the great smoker are as following:
The combustion chamber is the heart of a smoker which produces heat and smoke. It can use fuel such as charcoal, wood, pallets, propane, natural gas or electricity.
Smoking furnaces sometimes also use firing hotplates to generate heat.
The cooking chamber purpose is to accommodate the food. The larger the cooking space, the more food you can smoke at one time.
Some smokers also have hooks. These hooks are useful while cooking food like fish.
Most smokers come with the plate at the bottom of the cooking chamber. These plates function is to collect the dripping fat from the food. Without collection tray, dripping fat will fall directly over fuel and can release benzopyrene on burning.
Doors and vents
Usually, smokers have a large door to put and take food conveniently from the smoker. There are also small vents on the side, which helps in regulating the temperature and intensity of the smoke.
For checking the temperature, some smokers have a built-in thermometer, or you can buy one separately.
Different types of BBQ smoker
Below are some most common types of barbecue smoker.
Different kinds of smokers have their pro and cons, which we will mention below. We also wrote how they work so you can choose the right one for yourself.
- Vertical water smokers
- Offset smokers
- Box smokers
- Drum smokers
- Kamado grills
Vertical water smokers
Vertical water smoker is affordable, and probably that’s why the most popular type of BBQ smoker in the market.
In this type of smoker, the heat evaporates the water. Water vapors and smoke together helps smokiness to penetrate deeply in the food while keeping it juicy.
Bottom compartment holds the heat source which can be wood, charcoal, electric heating element or gas burner.
Middle compartment has a pan where you will fill the water. Water helps in controlling the heat and provides moisture.
The top chamber is where your food goes and cooked with moisture and smoke.
- They are small and don’t require much space to use or store.
- Vertical water smokers are inexpensive.
- They don’t need much fuel to run because of small size.
Cons of vertical water smokers
- You will have limited control over temperature.
- They are small in size so preparing a considerable amount of food can take long
- The biggest con of vertical water smoker is the loss of heat when you open a lid to check food while preparing.
An offset smoker is the classical design of barbecue smoker which consists of two parts.
One part of the smoker is the cooking chamber, which is usually metal barrel.
On the other side, there is a combustion chamber which is also known as the firebox. Firebox creates smoke and heat and transfers it to the food chamber for cooking.
Quality offset smokers are constructed with quality materials which can efficiently retain heat.
The doors and seals of quality offset smoker should not let any smoke to leak. Quality construction uses the reverse flow of air to provide even heating.
- You can add wood chips or pallets in firebox without opening the food chamber and losing any smoke or heat.
- You can use them as a regular barbecue for grilling by using grilling grate over the
- Offset smokers can cook a large portion of food because of their size.
- Wood logs are used as fuel, which is cheap and readily available.
Cons of offset smokers
- They are expensive as compare to other type of smokers.
- There are much bad quality offset smokers in the market which are build using low-quality These smokers are challenging to use and break easily.
- They are big and bulky so storing and using them can be hard for some people.
Box smokers have a simple design in the shape of a box. Some other common names of box smoker are block smoker, and vault smoker.
Quality box smokers have proper insulation and well-fitting door. This type of barbeque smoker can cook a large amount of food within a short time.
For most catering companies and restaurants, this type is easy to use and dependable choice.
- They can produce a large amount of food in a short time.
- Sturdy construction and quality build box smokers can last for a long time.
- They come in many sizes and you can choose the one according to your need.
Cons of box smokers
- Good quality box smoker can be expensive.
- These types of smokers are available only in specialty stores and online stores.
The drum smoker is inexpensive, lightweight and easy. They are also known as ugly drum smokers (UDS).
You can buy them as ready to assemble kit or as fully assemble smoker.
The trick to preparing smoky and tender meat in this system is first to put charcoal in the firebox. Then put food in the top rack before charcoal starts burning actively.
You can adjust the temperature using vents.
- They are compact and don’t require much space to use or store.
- You can build one at home easily
- They are easy to use and able to hold the temperature for a long time.
Cons of drum smokers
- Because of small size, you have to cook in small portions
- They are not appealing in appearance.
Kamado grills are inspired by the centuries-old ceramic rice cooker of Japan. This type of BBQ smoker is made using ceramic and uses charcoal to provide heat and smoke.
To maintain a steady low temperature, they are designed to block direct heat from the fuel.
For this purpose, there is removable heat deflector which you can remove to use smoke as the regular grill.
- Kamado grills can produce temperature up to 750 Fahrenheit.
- Quality kamado grills are well built and can last for many years
- They are compact and visually attractive.
- They are versatile.
Cons of Kamado grills
- They are more expensive as compared to other smokers.
- They are
- Kamado grills require practice to master the art of cooking.
- They have the ceramic shell which may break if it falls or hit something hard.
Factors to Consider in Barbecue smokers
Quality barbecue smokers last for many years.
They are expensive in starting, that’s why below are all important factors for buying the right smoker.
Price: BBQ smoker come in the variety of price range. They start from $50 for the basic model and can go up to $10,000 for one with an all-in-one professional model.
You can decide on price depending on your budget.
Fuel: You can use wood, charcoal, propane, gas, electricity as a fuel depending on the model you choose. Select the BBQ Smoker in which you are most comfortable. For an authentic and traditional taste, we recommend you to use wood or charcoal.
Quality: Barbecue smokers build using quality materials and functional design are easy to use and will serve you for years.
Choose the one with thick metal sheets. The market is full of inefficient models, so make sure to check out the smokers we reviewed above.
Size: BBQ smoker comes in a variety of sizes. Small size barbecue may be enough for the average family, but you will need a big one for your friends and extended family
Usage: Many models in BBQ smoker have features to cook in both high heat and low temperature. These smokers can be handy if you want to use your smoker also as a regular grill.
Temperature and smoke control: As we mentioned above, the smoker should able to provide steady low temperature with constant smoke for an extended period.
Check out if your potential smoker has enough features to control the temperature using vents and thermostat.
Even heat distribution and insulation: Quality smokers have efficient insulation and even heat distribution for the cooking chamber.
Features like reverse airflow in offset smokers help to get even heat distribution throughout the cooking chamber.
FAQs about the smokehouse
How to clean smoker easily?
It’s best to clean smoker immediately after use. Because removing fats and other debris when the barbecue is warm is easier.
Make sure to wear heat resistant gloves as a smoker can still be hot. Also, make sure that the ashes you put in garbage bin don’t have any risk of fire.
We advise you first to remove ash into the metal bucket to make sure they are cooled. Then only you should put it in the garbage bin. Most smokers are water-resistant. Therefore you can use water and mild detergent to clean your smoker.
What you should do before preparing food in the smoker for the first time?
Most people complain about the bad odor from the smoker when they use the smoker for the first time. For this, you should first heat the smoker empty without any food and let it cool down. This process will remove any unpleasant from the smoker.
What can you smoke in the smoker?
There are hardly any foods for which you cannot use a smoker.
Of course, some foods like fish and meat tastes amazing after smoking. Apart from popular foods, people use smokers for smoking eggs, vegetables and cheese.
All food that is suitable for the grill can be cooked without hesitation in the smoker
Where should you keep smoker?
Smokers come in various style and size. Some of them are portable, whereas others are hard to move around.
If possible, it is best to keep smoker in the covered area. This will protect it from sun, snow and rain.
Tips for safe grilling
In the USA alone, 7 out of 10 adults own a barbecue grill or smoker. It means a lot of barbecues all over the country.
Unfortunately, there is the risk of accidents if you don’t take proper safety while grilling.
Below is the list of safety tips for safe grilling.
- Propane and charcoal Grills should be used outside of the home in the open area.
- Never leave the grill unattended and keep pets and children away from the grilling
- Clean your grill regularly for any grease or fat.
- Never use any flammable liquid except charcoal starter fluid.
- Make sure coal is completely cool after usage before keeping your grill back.
- Use a waterproof appropriate extension cord if you are using the electrical grill
For more information on fire safety, check out this handy fire safety guide.
For more details regarding safe grilling, check out this link from the NFPA website.