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Updated November 2018

Best Smokers

WHY BELIEVE HOUSE METHOD?

We analyze consumer reviews to find the best products on the web. We buy products with our own money and test them in our lab. We also interview experts and conduct independent research to pick the winners. We have affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of revenue from purchases. It’s how we fund our Research Lab and bring you better reviews and comparisons. Read more.

Best Smokers Updated November 2018

Conclusion

Pros

Cons

Weber

Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch Charcoal Smoker
Check Price at: 1 store
96% of Amazon customers give it a 4- to 5-star rating. It has charcoal grill and smoker capabilities.
Double the grates, double the meat. The temperature control is a great feature. Simply set the temp and get on with the rest of your day.
Keep an eye on the door, especially when cooking in colder seasons. Some sealant issues have been reported, which causes air to escape.

Char-Broil

American Gourmet
Check Price at: 1 store
The Deluxe upgrade is worth it, according to several verified customers.
You’ll get your money’s worth out of this 3-in-1 offset smoker: it comes with grill, barbecue, and smoke capabilities. It’s easy to use and clean. It even has a helpful storage rack for cooking utensils.
Some customers call it an entry level smoker, so if you’re a pro, this might be too basic for you. Assembly is tedious and the temperature control is finicky.

Nordic Ware

365 Indoor/Outdoor
Check Price at: 1 store
A compact kettle for those who aren’t ready to put all their chips into a standalone smoker.
Turn any grill, burner, or oven into a smoker with this indoor/outdoor kettle. It’s also covered under an excellent warranty.
It’s small, so you won’t be able to smoke an entire rack of ribs all at once.

Masterbuilt

Front Controller Electric Smoker
Check Price at: 1 store
This electric smoker has all the bells and whistles you could imagine.
A high-tech smoker with a large cooking surface (730 square inches), LED display, remote-controlled temperature, timer, and light.
Electric smokers aren’t as durable outside as gas or charcoal. This smoker is only covered under a 90-day warranty.

Bradley Smoker

Original Smoker
Check Price at: 1 store
Another electric smoker. This one has a sleek, stainless steel finish.
Enjoy 8 hours of smoke time before refueling with wood chips. The 4 adjustable racks are also super sturdy.
Some temp issues have been reported, but these can be fixed by adjusting the pins in the connector.

OUR PROCESS

8,724
Customer Reviews
36
Products
15
Hours

We were a little surprised at how much information and how many strong opinions there are surrounding the smoker market. From cooking competitions to building barrel-style smokers, these cooking devices are loved by many. In our research, we read some very passionate smoker reviews to determine the top five products, which you’ll find above. We also put together a buyer’s guide that describes the different fuel types and flavors that smokers yield and the features you should look for when buying a smoker.

Smoker Reviews Guide

Every summer, our senses are reintroduced to the mouthwatering goodness of grilled everything. By the time fall makes its appearance, we’ve found ourselves with a little more time to spend outside, a lot less heat, and a cold beer in hand. This year, our team found an excellent way to put all of these wonderful elements together—smokers.

Smokers can up your grill game by roughly 100% and as long as you’ve got the time to wait for a rack of ribs to cook, you’ll get a dinner so tender you won’t even need a fork.

The smoker market can be a little hazy if you’re just starting out. There are many types of smokers with different fuel types and cooking capabilities. If you’re a grill master who just wants to know what the best smoker is, browse our top five above. But if you’re a beginner who needs some more context as to what a smoker is and how it differs from a grill, we’ve got a guide below just for you.

Smokers in all shapes and sizes

Bullet

  • Pros—This truly bullet-like design saves space on the patio. The water and drip pans are often located between the grates, which improves temperature control and reduces mess.
  • Cons—Poor ventilation and insulation lead to leaks and longer cook times.

Barrel

  • Pros—If you’re looking to smoke the maximum amount of meat, barrel smokers have a high food capacity.
  • Cons—It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, although hardcore smokers might beg to differ.

Offset

  • Pros—Offset smokers might be the most popular type of smoker—even among professionals.
  • Cons—When heat rises, it’s difficult to force smoke to travel horizontally. This results in inconsistent cook times.

Cabinet

  • Pros—These smokers are easy to use and well-insulated.
  • Cons—They’re quite expensive. Plus, electric smokers won’t hold up for too long outdoors.

Kamado

  • Pros—These egg-shaped smokers are well-insulated. Temperature control is a breeze, even on a cold day.
  • Cons—These are primarily smokers. You can’t grill very efficiently on them.

Stovetop

  • Pros—You can use them year-round both indoors and outdoors.
  • Cons—If you use it inside, know that your smoke detectors may be sensitive to the smoke that arises.
Best smoker for authentic barbecue WEBER 18-INCH SMOKEY MOUNTAIN

Barbecue connoisseurs agree that only charcoal smokers can yield a true barbecue flavor. The temperature control is unusually low-maintenance for a charcoal smoker, which customers rave about. With Weber’s versatility, you can smoke and grill on it. This bullet-style smoker has two racks for a total of 726 square inches of cooking space.

Best offset smoker CHAR-BROIL AMERICAN GOURMET

Enjoy three cooking capabilities—barbecue, grill, and smoke meats to perfection. Prepare a feast with 670 square inches of cooking space in the main chamber and prepare a side of skewers on the 355-square-inch firebox chamber. Some call it an entry-level smoker, but once you master multiple adjustable dampers, you’ll be a total grill master. Use the storage rack below for keeping utensils and extra charcoal close by.

Fuel and flavor

When using a smoker, you can use different fuels to obtain delightful flavor. Here are some of the most popular fuels and the flavors associated with them.

Charcoal

Firing it up can be a hassle and maintaining that fire can also be tricky. Charcoal can be expensive, but grill masters say the flavor is worth it.

  • Flavor—Authentic, very smokey

Wood pellets

You’ll love the temperature control and how easy it is to fuel the fire by simply feeding the stove with wood pellets. However, these are pretty pricey and have a tendency of wearing out or simply breaking down after a few years.

  • Flavor—Mildly smokey

Propane

Propane smokers are portable with great temperature control, but you can run out of fuel fast.

  • Flavor—Restaurant-style barbecue

Electric

These are so easy to use, they’re often considered cheating. Seriously though. They’re banned from barbecue competitions.

  • Flavor—Clean, clean, clean
Best electric smoker MASTERBUILT FRONT CONTROLLER ELECTRIC SMOKER

Here’s an electric smoker for all the techies out there. Set the temperature and a timer via remote control. The LED display is easy to read and takes all the guesswork out of cook times. An internal light lets you check in on its progress even after dusk. The cabinet-style smoker is well-insulated for tender, fall-off-the-bone meat.

Most meats should be smoked at 225 to 250 degrees. Look for a smoker that can reach this range or else your smoked smorgasbord might be limited.”

6 Major factors to consider

Temperature range

Temperature is the most important factor to consider before you buy a smoker. A smoker with a wide temperature range can cook a variety of food items from fish and veggies to wings and ribs.  If anyone has anything bad to say about a smoker, it’s probably that it can’t reach or hold a high enough temperature—which brings us to our next point.

Construction

The best smokers are made of thick materials that can lock in heat for hours. Many are made of ceramic, steel, or metal. The lid, door, and vents (also called dampers) of the smoker must be sealed and well-insulated. If heat escapes, you’ll be looking at longer cooking times on top of the four to eight hours you’ve already clocked in.

Temperature control

You’ll want as much control over the temperature as possible. Temperature control is where charcoal smokers become something of an art form. Unlike setting the temperature via a remote or digital display on an electric smoker, charcoal and pellet smokers require chefs to adjust the damper, or vent, to maintain the temperature.

Accessories

Smoking meats is a long process, but it can be a painless one with the right tools.

  • Wireless meat thermometer—Insert the prong into raw meat; set the thermometer according to the type of meat or desired temperature; mow the lawn, have a glass of wine, go for a swim—the thermometer will beep when the meat has reached the right temperature in the smoker. Voila.
  • Heat resistant gloves—Sparks fly when you’re working with a charcoal smoker and the handle of the smoker can get hot. Protect your hands with some heat resistant grilling gloves.
  • Stainless steel tongs—These should be long enough (about 16 inches) to collect your barbecued bounty straight off the smoker without scorching the hair off your arms.
  • Basting brush—Some silicone brushes are heat resistant up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can slap on some sauce while the meat’s still on the grill.
  • Bear claws—These are handheld, comb-like utensils you can use to pull pork while it’s still hot.
  • Steel grill brushWe know it’s tough to spend 10 more minutes after you’ve waited hours—sometimes all day—to make dinner. However, you’ll extend the life of your smoker and the taste of your next batch of barbecue if you give the grates a good scrub after each smoke session.
  • Smoker jacketProtect your outdoor smoker from Mother Nature by investing in a cover. We’ve heard the disappointing truths of customers who left their electric smoker outside during the rainy season and ruined it.

Maintenance

Remove and wash the racks, water and drip pans, and smoker box after each use. Use a grill brush to gently push residue down to the bottom of the smoker. Sweep the debris out from the bottom and use soap and water to rinse. You may even use a hose, but avoid getting water in the dial of the built-in thermometer. Some build-up within the smoker chamber is OK. If you scrub too hard, you risk scratching off the enamel that insulates the smoker.

Price

Smokers are by no means cheap. The products we reviewed range from $75 for a stovetop smoker to $300 for a high-tech, electric smoker. Weigh the four factors above with the price tag to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Best smoker for cold smoking BRADLEY SMOKER ORIGINAL SMOKER

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance smoker that you can set once, walk away, and come back a couple of hours later to the best smoked salmon you’ve ever had, look no further than the Bradley Original Smoker. This smoker has an automatic feeder system that you’ll load with wood pellets. It reaches 250 degrees and holds smoke for eight hours. Another plus? It has a cold smoke attachment for giving cheese, tofu, and veggies a smokey flavor.

Based in North Carolina, the House Method team knows what good barbecue tastes like. We’re, of course, partial to vinegar-based sauce.”

Frequently asked questions

What is the best smoker to buy?

The Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker is the best smoker on the market. It’s fueled by charcoal, so you’ll get the real, authentic, smokey barbecue flavor. The temperature control is surprisingly low maintenance and the bullet shape takes up less space on your patio, so you can kick back and relax while dinner’s a smokin’.

What is the best smoker for a beginner?

Many customers recommend the Char-Broil American Gourmet for beginners. The popular offset design will give newbies a first taste of what the pros use. The Char-Broil American Gourmet is a three-in-one smoker. It grills, barbecues, and smokes. You’ll get three capabilities for less than $200, which is why we gave Char-Broil our Best Value award.

What is the best pellet smoker?

The Bradley Smoker Original Smoker is the best pellet smoker for one reason: it has an automatic wood feeder. This cabinet-style smoker is also electric and well-insulated. Smoking meat really can’t get any easier than that.

What is a reverse flow smoker?

Some offset smokers are designed with reverse flow. Heat travels over the meat from the firebox and down into a flue baffle. It’s then reversed and travels under the meat. Manufacturers of reverse flow smokers claim this process cooks meats evenly and to perfection.

Is smoked meat healthy?

Smoked meat may make your mouth water, but research shows it has an effect on the rest of your body. Carcinogens and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are toxic and develop during the smoking process. Not to mention, the substantial sodium that makes barbecue literally mouthwatering is also not so great for your health in high quantities. The verdict? Smoked and grilled meat may be a health risk, but it’s likely OK in moderation.

The team that worked on this review

Kelsey Roadruck
Writer
Kealia Reynolds
Editor
Rebekah Sedaca
Product Researcher
John Morgan
Producer

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