If you’re looking to grill or smoke food delivering that unmistakable barbecue taste, there’s no substitute for a great BBQ smoker.
Today, we’ll be reviewing a broad cross-section of these nifty appliances so you decide which of them, if any, makes the right fit for your yard, patio, or deck.
Now, if you’ve never shopped for smokers before, fear not. Pay attention to the following simple pointers and you’ll find it super-simple to compare these smokers like-for-like.
If you keep these elements in mind on the buying trail, you should have no problems differentiating between the best BBQ smokers in a glutted market segment.
1. Our #1 Pick: Traeger Grills Pro Series 575
- Total cooking surface: 575 square inches
- Fuel source: Electric and wood pellets
- Size: 27 x 41 x 53 inches
Traeger was the company that created and patented the wood pellet grill, so you’re in safe hands with this brand.
This is a smart grill and smoker allowing you to take control in-app. We found some complaints from users about app functionality and glitches, though. You can also use Alexa if you have an Amazon Echo device and you’re looking for hands-free control.
You’ll benefit from the following cooking functions on this multipurpose workhorse:
As well as giving you the ability to cook using a variety of methods, this smoker also provides you with a generous cooking area ideal for larger families or guests. To put the 575-square inch space into perspective, you could fit 24 burgers, four chickens, or five racks of ribs inside this thing for a full-blooded cookout.
This is a new and improved version of the classic 575 grill, and it comes equipped with a drivetrain tweaked for superior performance. This iteration also heats up even quicker than ever so you can get to your smoked favorites in no time.
While almost all user reviews concerning this iconic smoker grill are positive, we found some gripes about customer service issues. Setting this aside, you’re getting one of the best BBQ smokers on the market from a brand you can rely on. Load this unit up with those trademark hardwood pellets and start enjoying even tastier smoked delicacies.
2. Best Charcoal Smoker: Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
- Total cooking surface: 245 square inches
- Fuel source: Charcoal
- Size: 21 x 19 x 41 inches
Weber’s Smokey Mountain Cooker is a classic BBQ smoker with a space-saving vertical configuration.
If you’ve been hoping to replicate that traditional smokehouse flavor at home, but you’ve always thought smokers were too expensive and too complicated, this 18-inch Weber will make you rethink that.
While the cooking grates only offer 245 square inches of space, you can stuff a whole ham or turkey inside this smoker if you’re looking for super-succulent meat.
You’ll get everything you need bundled here to get started smoking right out the box. This includes a thermometer and a water pan, although this water pan is flagged by several users as tricky to use and awkward to move around.
If you want to smoke meats low and slow, all you’ll need is a little patience. Once you load this beginner-friendly grill with charcoal, you’ll be cooking traditional BBQ and smoking your food like a seasoned pitmaster, even if this is your first season cooking out.
Aside from those minor issues with the water pan, this is one of the best BBQ smokers you’ll find, and it comes from a brand you can trust, too.
3. Best Electric Smoker: Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker
- Total cooking surface: 710 square inches
- Fuel source: Electric
- Size: 19.68 x 25.2 x 41.73 inches
Masterbuilt make a deep bench of electric smokers. If you’re a purist and committed to using charcoal, this is not the smoker for you, and you’ll have plenty of other options above and below.
For many, though, the convenience of grilling and smoking food with electric appliances is unbeatable. If you’re among these people, what do you get for your money here?
The innovative loading system lets you pile your woodchips in the side, meaning you can avoid opening the door of the smoking chamber and compromising the temperature.
These woodchips will help to impart that trademark smokiness to your food as you cook it low and slow inside this 40-inch unit.
Bluetooth connectivity and smart controls allows you to spend more time with your guests when you’re cooking in the back yard, and less fussing over your smoker.
The smoking racks are all treated with a chrome coating, so you shouldn’t get too much food splattered all over.
When you open the door of the this motor, you’ll see your food illuminated in a muted blue light.
A meat probe thermometer comes bundled with this model, so you’re getting great value for money and one of the best BBQ smoker combos out there.
4. Best Wood Smoker: Green Mountain Davey Crockett Sense Mate Tailgating Grill
- Total cooking surface: 219 square inches
- Fuel source: Electric
- Size: 29.92 x 14.96 x 21.65 inches
Next up in our quest for the best BBQ smokers on the market is a portable and extremely flexible grilling solution from Green Mountain in the guise of the Davey Crocket tailgating grill. How does this thing shape up, then?
Firstly, the compact dimensions and reasonably light weight of this grill means it’s a great choice if you need a travel grill. Whether you’re tailgating, out in the RV, or you want a grill on your boat, this unit folds down neatly into the trunk of your car.
Sense Mate is a patented technology built into this grill, ensuring that the temperature is continuously monitored and allowing you to cook with complete precision, even if you’re a total novice.
WiFi connectivity and smart controls make this grill and smoker one of the easiest to use in a crowded vertical.
While you’ll benefit from all the convenience associated with electric grilling and smoking, you’ll also enjoy the delicious smokiness imparted to your food thanks to the wood pellets you use for fueling this unit.You get plenty of extras bundled, from a tray with hooks for all your favorite utensils to a meat probe.
5. Best Propane Smoker: Cuisinart Vertical LP Smoker
- Total cooking surface: 5.5 square feet
- Fuel source: Liquid propane
- Size: 19.3 x 18.1 x 38.6 inches
Cuisinart is a household name in the kitchenware vertical, and they also produce a deep bench of highly effective smokers, BBQs, and grills. We’ll highlight the pros and cons of this liquid propane smoker next so you can see if it makes the right fit for you.
Inside this smoker you get an impressive 5.5 square feet of cooking real estate. You get stainless steel shelving so you can organize your cooking space efficiently. If, on the other hand, you need to smoke whole large birds, simply remove the shelving to accommodate them. The shelves removable nature also streamlines cleanup.
Vital for all the best BBQ smokers, this model comes with a tightly sealed door you can lock once it’s loaded with food.
There is a 40-inch hose as well as regulator bundled, but you should grab a 20-pound tank of liquid propane. Hook this up and you’ll be up and running with one of the best BBQ smokers on the market.Aside from the ongoing cost of LP tanks, there is nothing else to concern yourself with, allowing you to buy with total confidence and no niggling worries about lifespan or performance.
6. Pit Barrel Cooker Co. 18.5-inch Classic Cooker
- Total cooking surface: 462 square inches
- Fuel source: Charcoal
- Size: 21 x 21 x 31.1 inches
Next up comes the Classic from the Pit Barrel Cooker Co, an iconic model that needs no introduction.
The vertical tower layout gives you plenty of space without eating up too much room on the patio or deck. If you want a portable BBQ smoker for camping, fishing, or tailgating, this also fits the bill for grilling and smoking on the road.
Inside this smoker, you can hang up all your favorite meats on the 8 stainless steel hooks provided. These won’t rust out and they are super-simple to care for. You also benefit from a hook removal tool.
The simple but highly effective design of this smoker means you’ll be up and running right out the box with minimal interference.
The charcoal basket on the PBC is created to hold just enough coals for a full cookout, streamlining operation.
Aside from a few issues with the way this smoker maintains its temperature, we found almost universally positive reviews. The Pit Barrel also comes highly acclaimed from many organizations like Amazing Ribs, so it’s beloved by professional pitmasters as well as backyard amateurs.
Give this versatile and highly effective BBQ smoker a shot and you might be surprised by just how little it costs.
7. Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Offset Smoker
- Total cooking surface: 900 square inches
- Fuel source: Natural gas
- Size: 39 x 20.9 x 23 inches
Oklahoma Joe is a household name in this vertical, and this classic offset smoker shows why their grills and smoker fly off shelves the world over.
The first thing that strikes you with the Highland smoker is the elegant design and sweeping lines. Although this smoker takes up a reasonable amount of space on the patio or deck, you’ll be more than happy to have this showstopping gem as the centerpiece and focal point.
Fortunately, it’s not a case of form over function here. You’ll need a supply of natural gas at home to fire up this model, so make sure this is in place before committing to purchase.
The generous cooking chamber offers up 619 square inches of cooking space. A smaller secondary cooking area boosts total capacity to 900 square inches, and making this smoker one of the strongest performers in its class when it comes to interior real estate.
The offset nature of the firebox means you can access this easily and without breaching the cooking environment or causing the temperature to drop mid-cookout.
You need to manipulate the onboard dampers to regulate the heat and smoke on the Oklahoma Joe, but once you master the slight learning curve, you’ll find adjustment is straightforward and temperature regulation quite accurate and consistent.
Aside from some isolated complaints about smoke belching out of this unit, the vast bulk of user reviews sing the praises of this classic BBQ smoker from a legend in the grill space.
8. Traeger Grills Tailgater
- Total cooking surface: 300 square inches
- Fuel source: Wood pellets
- Size: 37 x 18 x 36 inches
Traeger is the brand with a stranglehold on the wood pellet grill vertical, even now that their patent has expired and allowed competitors to enter the fray. Traeger grills have many imitators, but there’s little to beat the stripped-down simplicity of one of their grill smokers.
The Tailgater, as the name makes abundantly clear, is the perfect choice if you’re looking to grill on the go. Whether it’s for a road trip in the RV, a day trip on the boat, or for a weekend camping, this compact and lightweight grill can fit in the truck of most standard cars. The legs fold down to streamline transportation further, and they lock neatly into place when you’re ready to grill.
Automatic temperature control allows you to cook with precision without needing to constantly break out the thermometer.
The spacious 300 square inches of grilling space in an added bonus when you consider the compact form factor of this BBQ smoker. Whether you want a smoker permanently set up on the patio or a versatile travel grill and smoker, the Traeger Tailgater is well worth your further investigation.
9. Char-Broil Bullet Smoker
- Total cooking surface: 370 square inches
- Fuel source: Charcoal
- Size: 21.2 x 23 x 37.6 inches
Char-Broil make some superb grills, BBQs, and smokers, and this bullet-shaped smoker continues that winning tradition.
While some users complain about its accuracy, you get a thermometer baked in with a gauge mounted in the lid. We would advise getting a third-party thermometer as well, but it’s great to get a temperature guideline at a glance.
This smoker is charcoal-fueled, ensuring you get an authentic BBQ experience at home. You’ll need to learn how to adjust the dampers and manipulate airflow so you can take charge of the temperature and heat when you’re grilling.
Despite offering decent cooking capacity, this is a compact and deceptively lightweight unit, weighing under 17 pounds. While the smoker works best when it’s set up in the yard, you could quite easily take it with you for use on the road.
The fire access door is very tightly sealed so the cooking environment isn’t compromised.
The metal body of this smoker is coated with a porcelain treatment so you get a great lifespan, even if your smoker spends its life outdoors in a more hostile environment.
As long as you don’t mind the reported issues with the accuracy of the thermometer, you can invest in the Char-Broil expecting years of faithful service, and you won’t need to dig too deep for the privilege.
10. Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill and Smoker
- Total cooking surface: 811 square inches
- Fuel source: Electric
- Size: 30 x 42 x 49 inches
Camp Chef’s Woodwind pellet grill certainly isn’t the cheapest option at your disposal, but it’s among the best BBQ smokers out there. If you can stretch to it, what do you get for your money?
The primary benefit is a sprawling 800+ square inches of cooking real estate. Whether you have a large and hungry family or you frequently entertain for lots of guests, you can cook everything you need in a single session.
The electric-powered smoker is super-simple to use and doesn’t involve the learning curve you find with charcoal or wood pellet grills.
Temperature is maintained automatically. The PID controller has both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and there are 4 meat probes with the ports required for them onboard.
There is a dedicated smoke control setting, allowing you to dial this in using a simple ergonomic dial numbered 1 through 10.
The temperature range on offer is genuinely impressive. Cook slow and low at 160F, or ratchet up the heat to a scorching 500F.
The burner is rated at 25,000 BTU, so you’ll achieve these first-class results without overworking your grill.
There is a patented ash cleaning system baked in ensuring that this smoker is just as simple to clean as it is to use. Dump the ash after each cookout, wipe down the exterior once it’s completely cooled, remove and wash the cooking grates, and that’s about the extent of the upkeep required here.
11. Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker
- Total cooking surface: 711 square inches
- Fuel source: Electric
- Size: 19.9 x 20.5 x 33.3 inches
For many backyard grillers, there is no substitute for a charcoal grill. Other enthusiasts embrace wood pellet grills and wouldn’t consider anything else. When you’re looking for a BBQ smoker, though, it’s also worth exploring electric models, and Masterbuilt has this market segment sewn up.
This 30-inch smoker is the baby of the line. If you need more cooking space, opt for the beefier 40-incher.
In return for taking a slight hit on cooking surface area, you’ll benefit from a pretty compact smoker that won’t dominate the deck or the patio.
Don’t’ be fooled into thinking you’ll be shortchanged in terms of capacity either. The total cooking area exceeds 700 square inches, ideal for larger families or a handful of guests.
Thermostat temperature control takes the guesswork out of smoking your food. We would suggest investing in a thermometer so you can test the internal temperature of your meats and cook with more precision.
While cooking with an electric grill might not yield the same results as cooking with a charcoal grill, when you are smoking food, the difference becomes less noticeable. Also, what you lose in terms of that authentic BBQ flavor and aroma, you gain in terms of ease of use.
Most user testimony for this smoker is positive, but a few customers flag broken or damaged packages. Check your delivery closely upon receipt.
12. Kamado Joe Charcoal Grill
- Total cooking surface: 452 square inches
- Fuel source: Charcoal
- Size: 33.5 x 33.5 x 39.37 inches
Kamado Joe grills are notoriously expensive, but are they worth the money?
Well, we certainly can’t pretend the price tag is easy to swallow, and whether or not you feel this represents value set against the formidable performance is personal. Look at this way: properly maintained, a Kamado Joe grill could last for decades. If grilling and smoking food is a passion and you plan to get plenty of use from this grill, it might be the smartest investment you make rather than an unwanted expense.
Thanks to the patented Divide and Conquer cooking system, you’ll benefit from twice the space inside split to make organizing your food a cinch.
Made from aluminum throughout, this yield great heat conductivity and insulation, while ensuring you won’t get any rust eating away at your grill.
The firebox is designed in several pieces to minimize any chance of breakage while you’re cooking at high temperatures.
Neat touches like the air-lift hinge and the stainless steel hardware like the lid latch shows attention to detail throughout. As long as you stretch to the Kamado Joe without overextending yourself, we would strongly recommend this model as one of the very best BBQ smokers out there.
13. Realcook Vertical Charcoal Smoker
- Total cooking surface: 453 square inches
- Fuel source: Charcoal
- Size: 22 x 17 x 35 inches
Realcook delivers a sleek and understated smoker with a space-saving vertical layout, so how does it stand and fall?
First up, this is another smoker offering an innovative split-level configuration so you can get more food inside, while also better organizing it.
Twin doors ensure you don’t need to start opening up the cooking chamber in order to add charcoal or wood.
With over 450 square inches of space inside for your food, this compact smoker makes a great choice for smaller families or anyone entertaining for a couple of guests. If you need a BBQ smoker with a larger capacity, explore some of the many more substantial models on our shortlist.
Since you’ll be cooking with charcoal, this smoker delivers that authentic taste and aroma that no other cooking method can match.
The latches lock this system into place and make it very easy to assemble or disassemble, while still providing a rock-solid and stable cooking environment.
14. Bradley Smoker
- Total cooking surface: 572 square inches
- Fuel source: Electric
- Size: 14 x 17 x 31 inches
Next up comes another fine electric smoker, so if you don’t mind ditching the charcoal, what do you get for your money here?
The first thing you’ll notice is the sleek good looks of this smoker. Finished in powder-coated epoxy steel outside and stainless steel inside, even though this smoker is reasonably priced, you’re still benefiting from commendable build quality.
The convenience of cooking smoked food with digital controls needs to be experienced if you’re still reluctant about ditching the charcoal grill and smoker.
You can tweak the temperature up to a maximum of 320F, and you’ll enjoy 8 hours of times smoking to bring out the very best in your meat and fish.
Spread the food inside across the 4 cooking racks included to whip up all your favorite dishes fuss-free. These remove so you can easily clean them. Allow the racks to dry naturally and replace.
Load your wood pellets into the offset chamber and you’re away at the push of a button.
15. Dyna-Glo Vertical Smoker
- Total cooking surface: 784 square inches
- Fuel source: Liquid propane
- Size: 27 x 19 x 46.5 inches
Dyna-Glo serves up an affordable and remarkably effective BBQ smoker that also looks great on the patio or deck.
With almost 800 square inches of cooking space at your disposal, you can whip up smoked delicacies for the family and plenty of guests without needing to spend your whole day chained to the grill.
The enameled steel is finished with a powdered black coating, making for a commanding statement and also being built to last.
This smoker couldn’t be much easier to get up and running. You’ll need to make provision for a 20-pound tank of liquid propane and you’ll be cooking right out the box.
The twin-doored design promoted superior control when you’re cooking, and you won’t need to compromise the cooking environment unnecessarily.
There is a thermometer and temperature gauge built in. As with most smokers, the accuracy of this is not always reliable, so we would recommend buying a third-party thermometer, too.
Almost all user reviews for this BBQ smoker are positive, we can’t say the same for consumer opinion regarding the customer service department at Dyna-Glo.
Overall, this budget liquid propane smoker is well worth a place on your shortlist if you’re looking for a smoker that’s especially easy to use.
16. Weber Charcoal Grill
- Total cooking surface: 363 square inches
- Fuel source: Charcoal
- Size: 30 x 48 x 43.5 inches
Last but certainly not least in our quest for the best BBQ smokers comes another entry from the inimitable Weber. As an added kicker, Weber gear is also pretty keenly priced, certainly compared to some of the more upscale smokers on our shortlist today.
This is a charcoal smoker, so makes a great choice for grilling purists as well as less experienced pitmasters. You will need to get to grips with the way this smoker operates, but it’s a pretty shallow learning curve.
Getting the grill started couldn’t be easier thanks to the ignition system.
Cooking area is not the largest at just 363 square inches, so we would advise making sure this provides you with enough room for your cooking needs.
As you would expect from a smoker with more limited capacity, this model has a pretty space-saving form factor, so it makes a great choice for anyone with limited space outdoors.
Cleaning this model is a cakewalk with a one-touch system offering push-button ease. Remove and clean the grates after each cookout. Wipe down the exterior of your Weber – wait for it to cool down first, of course – and you should get plenty of faithful service from this smoker.
Although most user reviews are positive, we unearthed some gripes about the overall build quality, as well as the flimsy nature of the wire rack.
1) How regularly should I clean my BBQ smoker?
You should thoroughly clean all areas of the smoker that contact food after every use. Once every few months, you should deep-clean your BBQ. How often you need to do this depends on how often you use your grill. Check the manual of your smoker for more information about how often you should clean it.
2) What’s the best way to clean a BBQ smoker?
Before anything else, ensure the smoker cools down completely. Use a brush to sweep all the ash from inside. If you don’t do this, it will interfere with humidity levels inside the smoker, while also potentially triggering rust. Scrub the cooking racks using some warm soapy water. If you encounter any stubborn spots or ingrained food debris, use some wire wool for more traction.
3) How long will my smoked food last?
As long as you chill any smoked food within a couple of hours of cooking and then store it in an airtight container, it will last for up to 4 days in the fridge. Frozen, smoked food can last for months. As with all frozen food, the quality will diminish increasingly over time.
4) Can I only cook meat in a smoker?
Absolutely not! Meat does work wonderfully when smoked, but fish is also a great choice if you want to get more creative. Try smoking some fruits or vegetables, too.
5) What is the best wood for my smoker?
If possible, use wood chips or wood chunks designed for a smoker. You should not use softwoods as these have terpenes in the sap that will impair the foods you’re smoking.
6) Is the temperature control accurate on most smokers?
You will encounter some issues with accuracy when it comes to temperature maintenance. We draw your attention to the smokers we review that struggle in this area. You will also find that many of the thermometers built into BBQ smokers are imprecise. BBQ temperature controllers offer you the most precise method of control. Often, you’ll find smokers that come with smart controls allowing to take control in-app or using Alexa for hands-free control. You should also invest in a thermometer and you’ll be all set to cook with confidence.
7) Where should I position my BBQ smoker?
Keep your smoker safeguarded against the elements. Make sure it is positioned so there is sufficient airflow all around. Also, make certain there is nothing combustible nearby.
8) What is the most user-friendly type of smoker?
You’ll find electric smokers are by some distance the easiest to use. Almost as easy but slightly more complex are liquid propane smokers and wood pellet grills. Cooking with a wood-burning smoker or one that takes charcoal gives you the most challenging, but arguably the most rewarding, entry point to smoking your food at home.
9) Is it worth the hassle to smoke food?
Once you try smoking food, you’ll soon see it doesn’t take too much effort at all. By far the majority of the total cooking time is simply spent waiting – it’s up to you to fill that time as productively as possible. If you’re not sure about a dedicated smoker, you could try a multipurpose BBQ smoker offering you other cooking functions alongside.
10) Is it safe to use a smoker indoors?
No. The smokers we review today are all intended expressly for use outdoors.
If you came here to our blog today with no clear idea about how to choose the best BBQ smokers from such a crowded field, this comprehensive guide should give you everything you need to know.
We’ve only just started up here at Hempen Hill BBQ, so we would strongly advise you bookmark our blog and pop back very soon. We have an extremely busy content calendar in place, so we’re looking forward to bringing you detailed guides to all the most effective BBQs, smokers, grills, and accessories.
We cater for all experience levels here, so don’t be put off if you’re just starting out on your grilling journey. We’re here to help you every step of the way.
Let us know in the comments section below if you have any questions, and we’ll get right back to you. Be sure to pop back very soon, we have lots more grilling guides coming your way!