When we have a light workload and the sun is shining, we all love to catch up on hobbies that have fallen to the wayside. A charming summer day might start with sunshine, hobbies and friends, but I bet it will lead to an afternoon of barbecue smoking. And an afternoon won’t be perfect without the perfect barbecue with an authentic smoky flavor. And talking about authentic smoky flavored barbecue, you need the best charcoal smoker to get that.
I mean, there are many types of smoker you’ll find on the market like electric, gas, propane and all. Some of them may be more updated and controlled. But the actual thing is, you’ll have to sacrifice that old-school taste with those types of smokers.
But with a good-
quality charcoal smoker, I bet you’ll never have to sacrifice the organic flavor. Yes, it could be a bit hustling for you to smoke in this, but wouldn’t you handle this little hustle to get the perfect smoky dishes? I bet you would.
And thankfully, a great thing about modern-
day charcoal smokers (When you use a quality charcoal smoker) is, they are more control friendly now. The best charcoal smoker will give you excellent control of the smoker’s temperature throughout the whole cooking process. So you need to pick a good charcoal smoker for your money. But that isn’t a very easy job, is it?
Choosing the Best Charcoal Smokers, The tricky Job:
With many models available in the market with different features, sizes, and produced by different manufacturers, choosing the Perfect charcoal smoker in your budget could be a tricky job. If you make a wrong decision on this, you might have to regret for next few years every time you smoke.
There are many Charcoal smokers available on the market and so need to know exactly what you are buying before you pay. You need to get a smoker that is light and durable, produces good temperature and holds it, has a decent cooking space, and comes with accessories. Again, I know your one eye will be on your budget. Really tricky, right?
But don’t get stressed already. We’re here to help. We’ve done a great deal of research and spent a lot of hours on testing charcoal smokers. And we’ve discovered the best 3 charcoal smokers in a decent budget range that performs great and is liked by previous consumers of them. We’ve reviewed them below based on our research. Go through them, and You’ll find the good quality charcoal smoker in your budget range, I bet.
Comparison table of Best 5 Charcoal Smokers for the money:
Check out the Reviews of top 3 Best Charcoal Smoker:
We’ve reviewed the best charcoal smokers based upon our research and practical experience in a 150-500$ budget range that most people can afford. Go through them to discover the good sides of them. And, the bands also that manufacturer doesn’t reveal, but we will do so in our honest review.
1. Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch Charcoal Smoker; Best Charcoal smoker under 500$:
The Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker is one of the top choices for them who wanna buy a charcoal smoker offering a large cooking area with a lot of other useful features. It’s a steal for the price when you consider the unit’s size and heating mechanism qualities10-year warranty, you really can’t lose on this product.
This unit has a large cooking area, great heating and heat controlling mechanism, built-in thermometer, big charcoal door, easy cleaning up mechanism,500$. This model from Weber comes with a water pan, individual vents, and a snap-on cover. The Weber 731001 gives you an authentic smokehouse flavor at home.
Large Cooking Area:
The 731001 Smokey Mountain from Weber has 726 inches of generous cooking space with dimensions of 26.50 x 34 x 26.5 inches, decorated with two removable nickel-plated 1/2-inch cooking grates. It gives you more space than the 18-inch unit and can accommodate almost any food that you can dream of.
You can consider The Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain as one of the best charcoal smokers in terms of build quality, durability, and finishing. It’s made of high-quality porcelain-enamel steel. This charcoal smoker certainly promises longevity. Furthermore, it has 2 glass-reinforced iron made handles, means they won’t get hot no matter what the temperature of the grill may be, yet will make things easy to handle the grill.
Temperature Controlling & Built-in Thermometer:
The 731001 has a brilliant heating unit, with unique features in it. This smoker regulates and controls the temperature very well. There’s no need for you to constantly observe it for making sure that it’s cooking properly. It itself maintains its internal temperature well depending on the situation. And thankfully, there’s a built-in thermometer in it to keep better track of the temperature, not needing you to buy an additional thermostat.
The Weber 731001 also has an efficient heat controlling mechanism with 4 dampers in it, 1 on the top and 3 more on the bottom. This model made slow smoking meats a bliss.
The Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain is an easily cleanable smoker. It minimizes the chance of ash smothering the flame as it has a charcoal stand that catches ashes without putting the flame out. Its bottom ash pan makes the job of picking and throwing out ash easier. Rest of the surface of it is easily cleanable with a damp cloth without requiring any special cleaning agent. So cleaning is a hassle-free job with this smoker.
This unit has a big charcoal door as am a useful unique feature. It’s very easy to add or remove charcoal during cooking, while it’s very tough for most other units.
Assembling this unit is also pretty easy, unlike the most other complicated charcoal smokers. It will take 20 to 30 minutes to assemble it.
As a dull side, it’s access door is a bit flimsy. It might bend if you knock into it too hard. Using it carefully will solve this issue.
- Good Cooking space.
- Convenient digital thermometer.
- Good for slow cooking.
- Large Charcoal chamber.
- Front access door is a bit flimsy.
2. Pit Barrel Cooker Package; another best charcoal smoker under 300$:
The Pit Barrel Cooker Package is one hell of an inexpensive charcoal smoker which is amazingly useful and easy to use. It’s a great portable smoker for you to cook almost any food to perfection you want.
This smoker creates a unique vertical cooking experience by combining the best qualities of smokers and slow cookers. The PBC is a perfect combination of a smoker and a BBQ grill that produces perfectly cooked meat every time. This smoker is designed to provide shorter cooking times without you needing to regulate temperature or smoke.
For convenience, this smoker is very simple and easy to operate. It is kind of ridiculous how consistent and easy this cooker is. And with a standard price tag under 300$, the Pit Barrel Cooker Package is a value for money product.
This smoker offers a huge cooking space inside its 30-gallon Porcelain Coated Steel Drum with stainless steel turkey hangers and 8-Stainless Steel Hooks in it. Cooking space enough for you to even hang two full-sized gobblers to prepare them at once or makeup to 8 slabs of ribs at one time!
Additionally, with its well-decorated big cooking space, this smoker can adapt different types of food well. You can do full turkeys and pizzas as well. For pizza, hamburger and that type of food, it has removable stainless steel grates in it.
The PBC has already proven that it is a durable smoker because many consumers have used it for a long period of time. The Pit Barrel Cooker is built from high-quality durable steel with porcelain enamel coating on it. The finishing is also great. Overall, I’ll rate this smoker great in terms of build quality.
The unique thing about this smoker is it allows the meat to be hung in the center. This makes sure the food gets even heating from all the sides.
So there’s no need for you to adjust vents and temps. Just hang it and let it go. And the optimum distance between the grate and the heat source helps to reduce hot spots and helps in cooking on the top as well along with the bottom. Thus you get a delicious tasted meal every time you cook meat.
The Pit Barrel Cooker gives a unique vertical cooking experience by combining the best qualities of smokers and slow cookers. With its unique design, this cooker can bless you with shorter cooking times without needing you to regulate temperature or smoke.
With the design of Pit Barrel Cooker, it makes the cleaning job easy as well. Just collect the ash in a heat-resistant container and throw them away, as simple as that. By the way, don’t forget to let the ash cool down completely before disposing of.
- Versatile grilling options.
- Good amount of space.
- Provides even heating from all sides, produces evenly cooked dishes.
- Easy to clean and easily portable.
- Placing the meat could be a little tricky.
3. Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker; Best Charcoal smoker under 150$:
The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker is a nice-looking entry level offset smoker that comes with dual door access and performs pretty well. It’s not a professional-level smoker rather a smoker for a home cook because it has some downsides(most of them are easily fixable, though) along with bright sides.
This smoker is inexpensive and performs well with the fixations. This vertical smoker is made of medium quality steel and comes with Huge cooking space, Offset firebox, Dual door design, which keeps heat loss down, Heavy gage steel charcoal tray and much more. This smoker is awesome for the price and a champ with few modifications, which could be a great starting unit.
One of the best things about this smoker is it’s spacious, generously spacious. It offers a huge 1176 inches of total cooking space decorated with 6 adjustable cooking grates. This smoker can smoke up to 150 lbs. of food at a time to feed an army.
The cooking grates are adjustable to fit any sized food that you dream of smoking. Each of the grates can hold 25 pounds of food. So no worries if you need to cook a lot of food for the next family gathering, this smoker will handle it for you.
Build quality of this Dyna-Glo smoker is good, not awesome. The manufacturer claims that it has a heavy-duty steel made body with a high-temp powder-coat finish, but in reality, the steel is not that heavy duty. It’s pretty thin than it was supposed to be. And so is the power coat finish.
Finishing is average as well. There were some places where it leaked smoke from. Apart from those places, I found finishing to be pretty good. So you’ll need to work on those places it leaks smoke from (easy job, I’ll write later how to do it).
Overall, this smoker is not that well built as a 500$+ smoker is. But with some little works, it’s not that bad as well.
Being a cheap smoker, this smoker cooks food better than expected. The Offset firebox design of this helps keep the heat down and channels smoke across food. Slow cooking is a bliss on this smoker.
There’s a built-in temperature gauge on this, which removes the guesswork from tending to the fuel. While build quality being a downside, good cooking is a bright side of this Dyna-Glo smoker.
This smoker is designed with a good ash management system to handle large amounts of ash to give you hours of maintenance-free cooking. You can just pull the removable steel ash pan out and throw the ash away. Grease management system on it collects condensation and drippings from inside the food chamber and makes clean-up easier. Overall cleaning up this smoker is not a tough job by any means.
This smoker has some little features that many people overlook, but these are useful actually. Such as this unit has heavy carrying handles for easy maneuverability. This is a very little yet useful feature which many smoker lacks. This unit lets you add wood chips to give your food some extra flavor. It has sliding air dampers on the top and sides for heat control options. And it’s a smoker which is incredibly easy to put together.
Downsides and Cares:
This smoker has a bad reputation of leaking smoke through the firebox which makes the temperature fluctuate a bit. You can fix this with high-heat silicone and smoker gasket. First, identify the cracks by placing a flashlight behind the smoker. Then seal the cracks with silicone and use the gasket o keep the smoke from escaping from around the door.
There’s also a complaint about the steel it’s made from. It’s thin and so is the power-coated finish. I recommend using the smoker with a bit more care to fix this and using a cover always.
- Generous cooking space of 1176 inches with 6 adjustable grates.
- Cooks and flavors pretty well.
- Cleaning up is easy.
- Performs great with few fixations.
- Tends to lose smoke from some cracks which you can fix with silicone.
- The still it’s made from could be little thicker.
How to find the best charcoal smokers for you? The Charcoal Smoker Buying Guide
With no doubt, charcoal smokers provide more authentic taste than other types of smokers. But the problem with most charcoal smokers is they require a bit more nursing than electric, pellet or gas smokers.
So the point is, handling a bad charcoal smoker is even tougher. It’s very important that you pick a good-quality charcoal smoker to have a great cooking experience. Cause the bad ones will make you suffer horribly, trust me!
And to help you find the best charcoal smoker for you, I’ve provided a comprehensive buying guide below. I’ve pointed out what questions should you ask before buying a smoker. Take time and go through it-
Price: How much can you spend?
Determining how much you can spend when buying a charcoal smoker is very important. The reason being, there are hundreds of options available in the market indifference price range that can confuse you. So fix your budget first and then look for the best options in that range.
You can get a charcoal smoker for as low as $60 and also can get a luxury one for more than 1000 bucks. But if you want a good-quality charcoal smoker in the affordable price range, I’ll suggest you to spend at least spend a couple hundred dollars.
Have a clear idea what you are gonna use the smoker for:
I’m saying this because if you need to cook for limited people you don’t need to buy a very big smoker with the higher price, it’ll be a waste of money then. Similarly, if you need to cook food for an army every time you smoke, then trying to save money by buying a small-sized smoker will be foolish as well. So you should have a clear concept about the size of audience you are cooking for.
If you are cooking for a small audience, then the Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain 18-Inch model can be a great option. For a big audience, the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker or the Primo 778 Extra-Large Oval Ceramic Charcoal Smoker (if you have a bigger budget) could be a great option. For a medium-sized smoker, I can recommend the Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain 22-Inch model or Pit Barrel Cooker Package.
Don’t compromise on quality for anything:
Just like a good-quality smoker can serve you with tasty dishes, a bad quality one can make you suffer real bad. So be sure about a smoker’s quality before committing to buy it. And some smoker is bad in quality but has an appealing outlook or ‘showing-off’ feature to fool you. But don’t let them. Forget appearance or unnecessary features. Only commit to buying that smoker which can handle the cooking job well.
- 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.