You love the taste of a juicy, smoked piece of meat. After spending a lot of money purchasing smoked meat from restaurants, you’re wondering if you can make this type of meat at home. The answer is absolutely yes.
To get the best piece of smoked meat, you need the best charcoal smoker on the market. If you Google charcoal smokers, you’re going to see that there are more charcoal smokers than you can imagine. And for every smoker, there are a ton of charcoal smoker reviews.
I know that you don’t have time to sit down and read them all, so what I’ve done is taken a mixture of personal experience and information from these reviews and compiled them into the definitive charcoal smoker guide. I’m going to show you the most popular and the best charcoal smokers with the goal of empowering you to make a good buying decision.
Our Top Smokers
- Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch
- Big enough for you to entertain friends and guests, but is not too large
- Easy to Clean. Its bullet shape design means that there are no complex shapes or figures to reach
What is the best charcoal smoker?
There are a lot of contenders for the best charcoal smokers. For my money, hands-down your number one option is going to be the
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker
It is going to give you a smoky flavor instead of a charcoal one. It is the epitome of slow and low. It proves once and for all that there is no better way to enjoy a piece of meat than taking it straight off a charcoal smoker.
The smoker has a unique bullet shape design and weighs a little under 50 pounds. This means that you can move it around with you, but it’s not so light that the wind is going to blow it over.
It has legs instead of wheels, so it’s sturdy. It has a rustproof coating, which allows you to use it in inclement weather. The lid, water pan, bowl, and steamer are all coated with porcelain enamel coating. This makes it a lot easier for you to keep a consistent temperature.
The device is tall, at 41 inches. And if you use all of the racks, you have 481 in.² of smoking space.
The unit has a water pan that can hold up to a gallon of liquid. You do not have to refill it while you are smoking. The handles are made from nylon, which makes it both heat resistant and weather resistant. All in all, this little dynamo packs a powerful punch. It leaves you with some of the most flavorful meat you’ve ever enjoyed.
Advantages and disadvantages of charcoal smokers
Charcoal Smokers vs. Other Types
Charcoal smokers give you the authentic taste you won’t find with other smokers. However, they are little bit more problematic than the other options available.
With one of the best electric smokers, you just plug it in, add your wood chips, and let it go. With the charcoal smoker, you’re going to need to constantly tend the fire. Electric smokers will infuse your meat with a smoke flavor, but the flavor they provide pales when compared to what you get from using charcoal. If you compare electric vs charcoal smoker, charcoal wins in the flavor department.
Gas or propane smokers will provide a little bit more powerful flavor than their electric counterparts, but they come nowhere close to what you get from using charcoal.
Most gas smokers simply require you to set the temperature and walk away. This sits in stark contrast to charcoal. With a gas smoker, you run the risk of running out of propane. This obviously does not happen with charcoal. You can get the best of both worlds purchasing the best gas and charcoal grill combo.
Pellet smokers simply require you to set the temperature, light the heating unit, and let the meat smoke. However, with a pellet smoker, you have the problem of the auger jamming, and even at their best, a pellet smoker is only going to infuse your meat with a light smoky flavor.
If the electricity goes out, your pellet smoker stops. Nothing stops charcoal. You do not get the blue smoke associated with charcoal grilling that gives you that delicious smoky meat flavor most pitmasters are after with pellets. That only comes from charcoal.
Things To Consider When Purchasing A Charcoal Smoker
If you are getting a new smoker, realize that a professional setup can run you upwards of $10,000. However, you can purchase top rated charcoal smokers for just a few hundred dollars, and these will still give you some delicious meat.
Charcoal smokers are finicky. Regardless of if you purchase the best vertical charcoal smoker, you still need to fight with the fire to keep a consistent temperature . If you purchase a low quality smoker, that fight gets a lot harder because cheap models have poor heat regulation.
Some people like to have a smoker that can also work as a grill. This is a good idea, especially if you have limited space.
Frequency of Use
How often are you going to use the unit? If you’re not going to use it frequently, you may want to purchase a smaller unit.
The Best Charcoal Smokers on The Market: Our List
- Durability. Made with the highest quality materials, it’s clear to see that this device is made for heavy duty use.
- Easy to Clean. Its bullet shape design means that there are no complex shapes or figures to reach, so it’s easy to clean.
- Perfect Size. Large enough for you to entertain friends and guests, but is not so large that you cannot stored it easily in your home.
- The one con I could say about this is that the thermometer on the unit does not always function. It usually tends to be 15 degrees off. But you can fix that with an external thermometer.
This is the big brother of the 18.5 inch Smokey Mountain charcoal smoker. Its larger size allows you to cook more meat. This device allows you to replicate the exact same award-winning cooking experience you had with the smaller model, only for a larger crowd.
This unit is made from heatproof and rustproof components. It is aesthetically pleasing thanks to its porcelain finish. It comes complete with the standard Weber handle, thermometer, and water pan.
This is the complete package. It allows you to enjoy the same smoky barbecue taste that the large competition smokers produce yet in a compact model. The parts are high quality and both heatproof and rustproof. It is aesthetically pleasing to look at and cooks a darn good piece of meat.
Charcoal smoker reviews are all but unanimous that this is one of the best charcoal smokers on the market. It is a relatively small unit when compared to the competition models. But, boy,does it pack a powerful punch. The smoker is easy to get to temp and regulates its temp fairly easily. One bag of charcoal can last for about 18 hours.
It’s clear to see how such a little grill is able to actually win against composition size grills. It’s well put together, it’s well engineered, and you’re going to love how it works.
- Easy to Use
- Excellent Temperature Control
- The Door Does Not Have a Perfect Seal
- There is no way to tell if the door handle is locked
This smoker is going to leave you with some of the juiciest cuts of meat you have ever eaten. After having one piece of smoked meat made by this device, you are going to want to have slow smoked meat every night.
The porcelain enamel lid, water pans, and bowl make this unit attractive. The vent is no rust aluminum, and it beautifully complements the no rust aluminum fuel door.
Two 18 inch diameter cooking grates give you all of the space you need to make a delicious meal for you, your family, and friends. Don’t worry about burning your hands on this grill. The handle is a glass reinforced nylon that is heat resistant.
The smokers made by Weber changed the game. They proved that a small smoker can provide flavor that was even better than the big guys. This is an entry level priced item that is going to give you professional flavor.
- Durable Steel Construction
- Large 306 In.² Cooking Surface
- Easy to Assemble
- Locking Wheels
- The unique design of the dampers may be a challenge to get used to.
- Not everyone loves the aesthetic design of the smoker.
There are a lot of generic smokers. However,the Akorn Kamado Kooker really shakes things up. It is designed to make your food taste as if it came out of a clay oven.If you’ve never had food out of a clay oven, then you really do not know what you’re missing. The insulation provided by clay allows food to reach a temperature and flavor infusion not otherwise possible.
Although the unit is not made from clay, charcoal smoker reviews are unanimous in saying that this product acts exactly like clay would. What you are left with is a beautiful smoker that gives you a unique flavor not found anywhere else.
With more than 314 in.² of cooking space and a uniquely insulated design, this is among the best charcoal smoker grills you can buy. It is so well insulated that it uses less charcoal and has less airflow. The result is juicier meat.
The exterior is powder coated steel. The interior is porcelain coated steel. Thanks to rubber wheels, you can move this smoker wherever you need it to be.
This is a unique product. It’s shape and design are a little different than what most people are accustomed to. It can take a little bit to get used to it, but when you do, you are left with a stellar product.
- Lightweight at around 30 Pounds
- 365 In.² of Cooking Space
- Dual Door Design Allows You to Access the Charcoal without Accessing the Smoke Chamber
- Accurate Temperature Gauge and a Sturdy Construction
- Flimsy Charcoal Bowl That May Need to Be Replaced
The first thing you’re going to going to notice is that this unit is very easy to assemble. This is a plus, especially if this is your first time using a smoker or if you are not that technically inclined. The smoker is the perfect size to feed your family or a small party of friends.
The unit comes equipped with 365 in.² of cooking surface separated on three adjustable chrome plated cooking grates. You will have no problem adjusting the temperature thanks to dampers that control the heat and smoke.
The unit is easy to use, beautiful to look at, and leaves you with a juicy mouthwatering piece of meat. It is the best cheap charcoal smoker we have included in this guide.
We will not say that this is the best charcoal smoker grill on the market, but for the price, it offers a superb result. You have complete control over the smoke and the temperature thanks to the dampers that allow you to adjust these factors.
The handle is cool to the touch, so you can get a firm grip on the lid. There is a nice pull out drawer that allows you to grab whatever ashes you need for an easy cleanup.
This is a good choice if you’re a fan of smoked foods. It’s compact, so it’s going to fit on your deck or on your patio. This is definitely a good entry-level unit to determine if you like smoking.
- Adjustable Built in Damper
- Built-In Thermometer to Monitor Temperature
- Lightweight and Easy to Move
- Adjustable Height Fire Grate
- No Temperature Control
- Difficult to Clean
- Seals Leak Smoke
- You Need to Tune and Rotate to Ensure Even Cooking
With 1280 in.² of cooking space, this beast is perfect for that big backyard barbecue. There are multiple dampers that are going to allow you to perfectly control the temperature and the smoke that permeates your meat. The temperature gauge will help you keep everything at a low and steady temperature. Easily clean away the ash with the ash cleanout door.
This is definitely a beginner smoker. There is an offset firebox that uses indirect cooking to give your meat a smoke flavor. It provides that the low heat needed to infuse the smoke into the meat. The cooking chamber has a 228 in.² porcelain cooking grate. This gives you a decent sized cooking area.
This product is all that you need to get a good piece of meat. You can smoke it, you can grill it, you can fry it, you can boil it, you can use gas, and you can use charcoal. This is one of those rare products that has multiple functions and is able to accomplish each one of the functions well.
This is far from a professional smoker. You’re going to have to fight with it to get it to work. But for the price, it does a decent job.
- Excellent Temperature Control. The unique design of the firebox allows you to control the temperature almost as well as you could with an electric smoker.
- Sturdy Construction. This device is made from tough steel construction. You can use it for years, and although you may see some signs of wear and tear, you can tell that it will be around for a long time.
- Moderately priced. Coming in at under $175, this unit is nowhere near as expensive as some of the top smokers on the market. But it’s large enough to feed an entire family thanks to its 1076 in.² of cooking space.
- You will have some issues controlling the temperature
- It leaks smoke
- With a larger portion of meat, it’s difficult to get an even flavor
The Dyna-Glo outdoor smoker is perfect to be used all year round. This is a beast that will allow you to cook more than 150 pounds of food at one time. Versatile wire racks let you choose if you’re going to cook portions of meat or just throw the entire animal in there and cook it all at once.
The steel frame has a vertical design that serves the purpose of giving you the most flavor using the least amount of smoke. You don’t have to guess the temperature because it has a beautiful built-in temperature gauge.
This is an extremely versatile unit. It has a six high adjustable cooking shelves. You can put food on from different sizes. Each grate can hold 25 pounds of meat.
It is easy to keep clean thanks to a uniquely designed charcoal and ash management system. A built-in stainless steel thermometer indicates when your charcoal smoker is in the perfect smoke zone. This is a well-designed product that will get you going fast.
It is surprisingly large for the price. It’s very versatile. It’ll get you up and running and making delicious meat in a short time.
- Sturdy Design, Well-Built
- Large Cooking Area
- Crank to Adjust Charcoal for Temperature Control
- Porcelain Covered Cooking Grates
- This Beast Burns Hot
- Requires Full Assembly
- Temperature Control Can Be Difficult
- Lid It Does Not Fully Seal Closed
This is a serious grill for serious grillers who want to do something special. It’s a larger smoker and has a little bit higher price bracket than some of the smaller smokers we have reviewed. However, if you are having an outdoor party with a bunch of friends, you are going to be happy that you purchased this.
This is a heavy-duty device that is made to last. Of course, if you are going to be investing in something like this, you want it to stand the test of time. This is not the most expensive model this company produces, but it is one of their premium brands.
When you look at this unit, it’s clear to see that the designers understood how important it was to have smoked meat cooked at the right temperature.
They paid special attention to the cooking surface with a grate that is made from cast iron and porcelain enamel. The unit is easy to clean and is designed for maximum heat transfer.
This unit is not the cheapest unit you’re going to find, nor is it the best. But what it does is merge the best of both worlds. You’re going to have a high quality unit that is going to last. Is going to give you a good piece of meat and allow you to feed many guests.
- Heavy-Duty Construction
- Easy to Clean
- Ample Cooking Space
- Easy to Move around
- Poor Temperature Control/Management
This is one of the best grill smoker combos available. It has a traditional charcoal grill with a side fire box. This allows you to have a good old Texas style barbecue.
Both the grill barrel and the side fire box are made from a heavy-duty powder coated steel construction. The cooking grates are non-stick cast iron.
Removable charcoal drawers let you add as much charcoal as you need and get rid of the ash so that you can keep smoking longer. The temperature gauge, storage rack, and wheels make this a flexible unit that you’re going to be happy to transport wherever you go.
This is meant to be a professional grade smoker. And it really does offer a lot of the bells and whistles you would want from a professional grill at a backyard enthusiast’s price. It has 838 inches of cooking space and a 250 in.² fire box.
It is designed to give you even heat and delicious meat. It has heavy gauge steel construction and a double bottom that makes it sturdy and last a long time.
This is a nice unit if you want to have some friends over and enjoy a meal. You’re going to be frustrated sometimes because the heat is not going to be consistent throughout. But if you can learn the tricks of using this unit, you’ll be able to produce some decent meat.
Other Charcoal Smoker Brands
Kingsford is a name that families have trusted for generations. They have been cooking and smoking over coals from coast to coast. Not only are the majority of Kingsford Charcoal grill reviews are positive, but they have garnered loyal fans.
What makes Kingsford so amazing is that they not only understand the smoker side or the grill side of it, but they also are adept at making unique fuels to satisfy the needs of their customers. They created a product that keeps bringing people back time and time again. Check out the following models:
- Kingsford Charcoal Water Smoker
- Kingsford® Side Kick Fire Box/Table-Top Combo
Since 1948, Char-Broil has been pioneering charcoal grills and smokers. Every single year since then, their focus has been innovation. Now they have reached the point where their product is the standard by which other grills are judged.
They pride themselves on their ability to make innovative grills and smokers easier to use, affordable, and able to produce a memorable product. For them, pride comes from looking across backyards all around America and seeing people enjoying themselves using their product. Two of their memorable products include:
- Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker
- Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker, Deluxe
Brinkmann has been serving the public for more than two decades. Their goal has always been to push the limits when it comes to creating innovative grills and smokers. They have been rewarded for their hard work by a large following of faithful smokers.
Brinkmann has become the product that picky smokers use. They use this product because they know they’re going to get a consistent temperature, great flavor, and it is going to be easy and intuitive to use. See for yourself why so many people have fallen in love with the Brinkmann Smoke n Grill Charcoal Smoker.
Some of the Brinkmann charcoal smokers that you may want to look at include:
- Brinkmann 810-5301-C Smoke-N-Grill Charcoal Smoker and Grill
- Brinkmann 852-7080-E Charcoal Gourmet Grill and Smoker
Making The Decision
Well, we have presented you with our review. Our goal, as always, was to give you the information you need to find the best charcoal smoker. We looked at the pros and cons of certain units and even identified those that we thought were good all around smokers.
Now the ball is in your court. We recommend that you buy your smoker online. It is going to be less expensive, you’ll be able to look at other charcoal smoker reviews, and you get it delivered to your door.
So what are you waiting for? Go out, get yourself a smoker, and make yourself some meat!