If you love that smoky delicious dishes, you are going to need a smoker over a regular charcoal grill. Investing on a smoker is worth it if you like to cook outdoors. If you can pick the best smoker for you, it’ll become a bliss for you to smoke outdoor on a shiny day!
But, “picking the best smoker” is the challenge for you, isn’t it? It’s a challenge for everyone who is new in smoking era and wants to pick the best smoker for themselves.
The good and bad thing about picking the perfect smoker is you have plenty of options.
The good in it is, you can look into many products to find the best one for you. You can move onto the next product many times if you think any particular model is unsuitable for you.
The bad is, you get confused. As there are many options, you often get confused between some models. Almost every product has its own flaws and good sides. So you get confused which drawbacks you can live with.
So, my aim in this guide, is to simplify the process for you. As an expert, I’m going to narrow down options for you. I know which smoker is good or which one is bad, no matter what the manufacturer claims on paper.
So I’m going to suggest you those models that I think are good, in different price ranges, and offers something for everyone, from an occasional user who enjoys that smoke-flavored food to the enthusiast who frequently cooks food for friends, family, and parties.
What Type of Smoker Suits Me?
Do you know how much type a smoker can be? Let me pretend you don’t. So let me give you a brief introduction to different smoker types. Skip this if you already know about this.
By the name, you know that electric smokers are those types of smokers that uses electricity to produce heat. The best thing about an electric smoker is “set-it-and-forget-it” capability. These are the easiest type of smoker to control, so it’s perfect for the beginners in smoking era.
Pellet smokers produce heat by burning pellets. They are not the cheapest type of smoker, and not the easiest to control either. But the good things about pellet smokers are they can prepare very authentic smoky flavored dishes, which are amazing in taste. So, pellet smokers will be good for those who have at least a little experience in smoking.
I found many people who like the taste of the dishes prepared by charcoal smokers. Charcoal smokers are cheaper than the pellet ones and not the toughest to use. They produce heat from charcoals, which are not expensive either. So maintenance cost is pretty low with charcoal smokers. These are not very tough to handle so will be good for a beginner to medium-level smokers.
Gas smokers also have that “set-it-and-forget-it” capability in some extent. They’re simpler in operation and easier to control than pellet or charcoal smoker. Being powered by gas, they can produce a lot of clean heat, and they leave no ashes, which makes them easier to clean. These smokers will be good for all, from beginner to experts!
Quick Comparison Table of Top 5 Smokers:
Check out this quick comparison table below to compare things between the top 5 options you can choose from.
Electric Smoker Reviews, Which The Best Smoker 2017?
Best Electric Smoker Reviews:
As I said above, electric smokers are the easiest smokers to operate, don’t require a lot of maintenance, and they can produce tasty dishes. You’ll need to feed them wood chips to get the preferred smoky flavor.
Many people prefer an electric smoker as they don’t like the fumes or dangers of gas. You don’t need to worry about gas, pellet or charcoal getting finished and needing refueling! All you need to find an electric outlet, plug the smoker in, and you are ready to go.
Electric smokers leave no ashes whatsoever, so they are easier to clean as well.
And, the modern electric smokers are extremely safe, and they are also very affordable. You won’t need to break the bank to buy a good-quality electric smoker.
Though I said, electric smokers are perfect for beginners, doesn’t mean it’s not good for medium level or expert smokers. With great controlling, simplicity of operation, ease of cleaning, and affordability, they can be a great option for all.
Check Our “Electric Smoker Details Reviews & Comparison Chart”
Our Recommended: Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Electric Smoker; Best electric smoker around 200$:
The Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch electric smoker is one of the best electric smokers you can buy without breaking the bank. Reason to recommend it is it’s a all-round smoker at a very affordable price. This smoker will not blow your mind in every sector, and won’t let you down from any perspective either.
The Masterbuilt 20070910 offers a convenient remote control system. You can control the smoking process sitting 100 feet away. Cool, right?
This smoker offers a generous cooking space of 730 sq. inches, enough to handle a family reunion or gathering of friends. And it is decorated with 4 removable chrome-coated racks.
The smoker has a 800 watt heating unit, able to raise the temperature up to 275 degrees F., And it is well insulated, making sure no gas gets wasted.
It’s a well-built electric smoker with power-coated steel outer body. The unit is sturdy and promises durability with minimal care.
The digital control panel on this is brilliant, showing you all necessary data you need to smoke the food to perfection. The control panel helps you controlling the cooking process easily.
Featuring a built in meat temperature probe, this unit makes sure you will not get overcooked or under cooked food again.
The Masterbuilt 20070910 comes with side loading wood chip tray to help you load wood chips easily, and get your desired flavor. There’s a water pan as well that lets you add any liquid to get a flavor of that in your food.
All in all, the Masterbuilt 20070910 is a very complete electric smoker that you can buy in a very modest budget.
Best Pellet Smoker Reviews
Pellet smokers are a great option for you if you are looking forward to getting something with that ‘old-school’ feeling that can cook some authentic smoky flavored dishes.
Pellet smokers aren’t actually ‘set-and-forget’ type. You’ll need to supervise them a little to cook delicious tasted dishes. Though some modern-day pellet smokers are smarter and easier to control. They have more features and can be set at a certain temperature and left alone while your food is being cooked.
Food cooked well by a pellet smoker is absolutely delicious to taste. It’s a big advantage of a pellet smokers; they can cook very well if you supervise them well. As they cook the food by pellet, the flavor can be switched up by using different types of pellets.
Pellet smokers are pretty safe also. But cleaning a pellet smoker won’t be as easy as a electric smoker, as they do leave ashes. But if you get a good model with good cleaning mechanism, they aren’t the toughest to clean either.
Price of pellet smokers varies. There are some expensive models, which will cost you 1000 bucks, and some cheap useful models are also there under 100 bucks.
Yes, that’s true. A pellet smoker from “Char-Broil” is there, which is priced under 100 bucks, but performs really well, and that smoker is the editor’s pick for the best pellet smoker in affordable price range.
And pellet smokers aren’t very expensive to maintain either, as pellets are pretty cheap!
Our Pick: Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Pellet Smoker; Best pellet smoker under 100$:
The Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill is a great little and useful pellet smoker which is priced under 100 dollars! It’s a perfect pellet smoker for the price.
This smoker performs great overall, combined everything. And the taste of the dishes it produces is great also. And again, it will cost you less than you can expect for a good quality offset smoker.
This smoker allows indirect cooking, through transmission of smoke. It offers 430 sq. inches of cooking space combined, 290 in the main chamber, and 140 in the firebox chamber. There’s porcelain enameled cooking grates inside it to convenience.
It features adjustable dampers, letting you adjust heat and smoke upon your preference. This makes sure the food doesn’t get over-cooked or under-cooked.
You get a simple door for ash removal in this unit. There’s a convenient side shelf also! The smoker is easy to clean.
The Char-Broil American Gourmet is simple to use and user friendly. It’s ergonomically designed and not a complicated machine.
This unit is decent-built, better than you’ll expect from a smoker this cheap. The build material is decent and with care, you’ll be able to use it for pretty ling time. Though the paint tends to flake up sometime (spray paints on it to touch it up). It also features a touch handle for maneuverability.
Overall, it offers a way more things than you’ll expect from a smoker that’s priced under 100 bucks. So if you want to taste authentic smoky dishes cooked by a pellet smoker, but have a low budget, there’s no better option than this for you.
And, don’t judge this smoker only by its price. Even after being cheap, it beats smoker twice much priced than this by performance. So it’s a great pick for the best pellet smoker under 150$.
Best Gas Smoker Reviews
If you don’t like messing with charcoal or pellet, and love the convenience of gas, then go gas! Gas smokers are a great option for people love convenience and food, cooked by real fire at the same time.
I’m saying this because electric smokers are no less convenience, but at the end of the day they don’t cook the food by real fire, which many people may not like. If you are one of them, gas smokers would be great for you to get convenience like an electric smoker and get delicious tasted food cooked by real fire at the same time.
Gas smokers are easy to operate. A good-quality gas best smoker offers you ‘set-and-forget’ convenience. You don’t need to supervise them through all the cooking process.
Gas smokers provide great dishes, which are amazing to taste. They can control the cooking process well thus they make sure the food gets cooked properly. A dish well cooked in a gas smoker is a bliss to taste.
As I said, gas smokers are convenient like an electric smoker, which applies in cleaning also. Like electric smokers, they don’t leave any ash as well thus they are very easy to get cleaned up.
Gas smokers aren’t that expensive either. There are many affordable models that can fulfill you smoking needs. Though maintaining the gas smoker could be a little expensive as gas is not that cheap.
They are ‘good for all’ types of smokers. Though beginners will find them handier as they are easy to operate. In short, if you want a combination of affordability and functionality, a gas smoker could be your best choice.
Our Recommendation: Smoke Hollow 44241G2 44-Inch Vertical LP Gas Smoker; Best All-round Gas Smoker:
The Smoke-Hollow 44241G2 Vertical LP Gas Smoker is the best all-round gas smoker you can buy, considering features, convenience, performance and price. It’s a pretty big smoker to cook food for an army. For your convenience, it features a dual-door cabinet system which lets you access the water and wood chip pan easily.
This smoker has a brilliant heating unit, consisting of 2 independently controllable inline burners. They can provide 20000 BTU power, combined (10,000 each). And controlling the temperature is convenient also with the burners being independently controllable.
This model is the largest smoker offered by smoke hollow. They wanted to make sure you can cook for an army in a budget smoker, so they did! With its big size (24.50” L x 60″ H x 33″ W), it offers a whole lot of space for you to cook food for a big audience.
It’s a well-built smoker. It’s made from good-quality materials offering durability. Though I suggest you to buy a cover for it. And sometimes there could be little smoke loss from minor cracks on this unit. You can fix it with simple silicone.
Being a gas smoker, cleaning this is no hard job as it leaves no ash. A wet piece of cloth and soap is all you need to clean the unit.
It has dual wood chip pan for 2 burners, each of them dedicated to a single burner. Use one burner at a time to increase wood chip’s lasting time.
Best Charcoal Smoker Reviews:
If you can deal with charcoals, then get ready to taste some amazing dishes cooked by a charcoal smoker. If you really care about taste, charcoal smokers are what you should be looking for to cook your meat.
I’m not saying other types don’t provide good dishes. What I mean to say is the unique flavor you get from food cooked by a charcoal smoker cannot be achieved by other types. That’s why many BBQ enthusiasts, including me, prefer a charcoal smoker over others for perfection in taste.
Saying that, I should mention that charcoal smokers are harder to control from some other types. You’ll not get that ‘set-and-forget’ convenience from them. Though there are some modern-day accessories that make things easier to operate a charcoal smoker.
And you’ll find they’re more expensive to maintain as well from electric or pellet. An electric smoker generally operates at 11-15 cents per hour, whereas charcoal best smokers may need 25-35 in an hour.
But, is that too expensive to be a deal breaker? Or to get your hands off from tasty dishes? Yeah I think exactly what you think, NO!
Cleaning a charcoal smoker is not the easiest as well. There will be plenty of ashes, making the cleanup harder. But some good-quality modern-day charcoal smokers have good mechanism to make cleanup easier. So picking up one of them will make life easier for you.
Charcoal smokers are priced is various ranges. A good-quality charcoal smoker may cost you 400-500 bucks. There are some cheap models, which are really bad in quality. So don’t get attracted by low price tag and end up buying a mess for you. Invest once in a good smoker, and be happy for years!
So, having some downsides, charcoal smokers produce amazing dishes, which are the greatest upside of this type. So you decide whether you are going to live with these drawbacks and eat tasty or not! For me, I personally prefer to use a charcoal smoker to cook food for me.
Our recommended: Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch Charcoal Smoker; Best Charcoal Smoker under 500$:
I suggested to spend at least 400-500 bucks for a charcoal smoker, and the Weber 731001 smoky Mountain is the undoubtedly the best charcoal smoker you can buy at this price.
The 22-inch version is priced just under 400$, and there’re other smaller versions too for lesser price. Though I suggest to buy the bigger model if you can afford because sometimes you might need to cook for bigger audience than expected.
The 22-inch model has a generous 726 inches of cooking space, decorated with two removable nickel-plated 1/2-inch cooking grates. Whereas the 18-inch model gives 481 sq. inches. You can choose the best model for you depending on your needs and budget.
This is one of the most durable best smoker out in the market, thanks to its awesome build quality. It looks very premium with its eye catchy finishing. Being made of high-quality porcelain-enameled steel, it promises longevity.
It produces tasty dishes with it great heating unit and intelligent temperature controlling. It produces enough heat to smoke any type of food you dream smoking off. It has efficient heat controlling mechanism with 4 dampers in it. It lets you control the heat well to prevent the food from getting over or under cooked.
This smoker leaves some ash. But still cleaning it is not much of hassle because of its good cleaning mechanism. The bottom ash on it pans makes the job of picking and throwing out ash. There’s a charcoal stand that catches ashes without putting the flame out, minimizing the chance of ash smothering.
There’s a charcoal stand that catches ashes without putting the flame out, minimizing the chance of ash smothering.
And it’s very easy to add or remove charcoal during cooking with the big front charcoal door.
So, with a large cooking area, great heating and heat controlling mechanism, built-in thermometer, easy cleaning up mechanism, yet with a price tag of below 400$(varies sometime), this is the best smoker I can suggest you!
⟾ A Nice Grill Cover to Protect Your Investment
Grill covers keep rain, snow, birds, wasps, and other vermin out. An expensive grill under a inexpensive cover will attract fewer thieves.
Inexpensive means not bad in quality. There are some covers in the market which aren’t expensive yet does the job well. Just try to avoid the plastic or vinyl ones, most often they crack and fall apart in two to three years. The best-quality covers are canvas laminated or impregnated with polyurethane or PVC.
So go to our review section and search for the cover for your smoker, and among all the options, try to buy something according to my recommendation.
You can cut one or two of the accessories I suggested if it runs out of budget. Though I suggested only those accessories among hundreds, which are really of great of use and kind of must have.
Investing a little more after the smoker in some simple, quality smoker accessories can save you a lot of hassles and time, and ultimately make your BBQ taste better.
Horizontal or Vertical?
The Best Smoker Reviews & Buying guide; How to Choose the Best Smoker for You:
Smokers are off two basic styles. One is the vertical smoker, that resembles a box or barrel standing on its end, and the horizontal smokers’ looks like a barrel or box laying on its side. Both can be either round, or square.
Vertical Smokers: In my opinion, the vertical smokers are more efficient and versatile. They take much less space than a horizontal smoker, and also maintain the proper temperatures because of having excellent air circulation. And you can also use them as a great Hibachi-style grill. The only drawback that vertical smokers have is they aren’t actually great on smoking a LARGE amount of meat at a time.
Horizontal smokers: Most of the horizontal smokers are large, heavy and stable. There are some horizontal smokers that are capable of smoking several hundred pounds of meat at a time, though most of them are used by professionals. Though there are smaller models, but they are kind of impractical and aren’t as efficient as bigger ones.
Horizontal or Vertical? It mostly depends on your needs. Though I would suggest to go vertical, if you don’t always need to smoke large amount of meat at a time. I mentioned “always” because you should go horizontal if you literally smoke big always. Otherwise, verticals can also handle one or two big smoking session in a while.
So now you might have decided on a style, you need to figure out type now. These types are decided by heat source (wood/charcoal, electric, gas/propane, and wood pellet). What type you need depends mostly on how much hands-on control you want. We’ll address each type.
Choose Your Type: Charcoal, Electric, Gas or Pellet?
I’ve given a description of each type on the starting (you know if you have read till this from starting). So I’ll just point out straight pros and cons of each type here. Then you’ll have to decide what advantages you’ll love and what drawbacks you can live with.
- Many (including me) address them as the only real smokers (Again, you should know I personally love them if you are reading till these)
- The most authentic smoky dishes they provide.
- Not very expensive.
- One of the best entry level smoker in the market.
- Not the simplest to operate, There is a slight learning curve. (not very tough, you’ll learn in a short time-span)
- They are all manuals. You yourself have to do everything.
- Cleanup is tougher, compared to all other types of smokers.
- They are simple, easy to use.
- They feature ‘set it, forget it’ capability.
- Gas smokers are pretty cheap to maintain.
- You’ll have to buy separate propane tanks as they don’t come with one.
- Propane is flammable, an accident may occur upon irresponsible usage.
- Dishes taste good, but not as great as wood smokers.
- The easiest type to use.
- Features ‘set it, forget it’ capability up to the best extent possible.
- Electricity is cheap, so is maintaining the electric smoker.
- Safer from other types.
- Foods that are cooked in an electric smoker lack the character of foods cooked in a wood, or even gas smokers.
- Electric smoker could be expensive.
- They have no combustion.
- They are a mixed and high-tech unit. They combine features of other types.
- They aren’t very tough to control either.
- Pellet smokers produce tasty dishes.
- They are pretty safe.
- They’re mostly average on everything, which may be good to some people, but also not to some people who love extra-ordinary food or very much ease of operation.
- A good-quality pellet smoker can be a little expensive.
So, now that you know the advantages and drawbacks of all the types, stop listening to me for a bit. WHY?
Because you know your circumstances and requirements better than me. Just because I like a charcoal smoker, doesn’t mean you must buy a charcoal one. Judge your situation and think about your expectations from the smoker. And, decide upon that.
If you have problems deciding, I can help you. Describe you situation and expectations from the smoker, I’ll research and suggest the best smoker according to your suggestion. As a BBQ lover, I want no one to buy a wrong smoker and have a horrible BBQ experience.
Smoker Price, how much can you spend?
Have an estimated budget on your mind before starting to research the market, or else you’ll get confused. Have a budget, find the best smokers in that budget range, and then compare them.
If you want to spend 500$, and starting the research, you check out a 1000$ model first, and start to love that, then remember you can’t spend that much, and come back to the 500$ models, and I bet you can never be fully satisfied with those cheaper models no matter how good they are in their price range as you are already in love with the 1000$ model and seeking perfection as that in a 500$ model.
So, would you want to buy your smoker with in-satisfaction in mind? If NO, then only try to fall in love with the smokers in your price range, not the perfect expensive luxury models.
Basic Features of a Smoker:
Heating, temperature controlling, thermometer:
No matter what smoker you buy, you always want to check sure its heating unit produces enough heat. So make sure your smoker has a good heating unit.
Then is temperature controlling. Only heating up will not do. There should be good mechanism is a smoker that lets you control the temperature by may be letting some heat go through vents, and then adjusting to getting the heat up again upon necessary.
Some smokers have a good built-in thermometer, for others you might need to buy a good quality one. A thermometer is a must for a smoker for obvious reasons. So if your smoker has a good-quality thermometer built-in, that’s a plus. If not, definitely buy one separately.
Determine how much space you want depending on the audience you’ll be cooking for most of the times. The audience can alter sometime, but I’m talking about the common one. And, try to buy a little bigger model than you’ll need in regular use. Because if sometimes a couple of persons get added to the regular audience, this little space will save you.
Build Quality and Finishing:
This matters, for better durability and less smoke loss. You want your smoker to be durable, and it’ll only be when it’s made from good-quality materials like porcelain enameled steel or so. Thus make sure the smoker you’re buying is made from good materials and will serve your for years.