9 Best Smokers | March 2017

We spent 27 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Now that barbecued food is out of the backyard and into gourmet restaurants, you may want to try and beat the chefs with one of these smokers, ranked by price, capacity, durability and ease of use. Skip to the best smoker on Amazon.
9 Best Smokers | March 2017

Overall Rank: 8
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 6
Best Inexpensive
With the Smokehouse Little Chief, you will think you were born for professional smoking. It is hard to mess up the process with its basic, non-adjustable heating element. Its lightweight aluminum construction is ideal for summer use.
The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D features an offset charcoal box design that is ideal for properly channeling smoke at the right times and in the right volume to get rich and savory flavor. This is a good choice for the serious meat lover.
Available at a fantastic price and in a unique, attractive red color, the Nordic Ware 365 is a great option for smoking your food indoors or outdoors. You can use it on the stovetop or on a barbecue grill.
The Char-Broil Offset has a cooking grate coated in high quality porcelain, making food prep easier and safer. It features a convenient clean-out door for easy ash removal without requiring a full removal of the grill surface.
  • capable of smoking and barbecuing
  • firebox is ideal for burgers
  • paint tends to chip
Brand Char-Broil
Model 12201570
Weight 45.4 pounds
With its heavy duty stainless steel interior, and maximum temperature of 250 degrees, the Bradley Original is designed with slow and steady consistency in mind. It can be configured to hold up to four racks.
  • can be used as a slow cooker
  • convenient temperature control
  • doesn't get hot enough for some meats
Brand Bradley Smokers
Model BS611
Weight 52.1 pounds
With a smoke generator that automatically feeds wood bisquettes during the smoking process, and with its several racks ready to hold your choice of meats, the consistent flavor produced by the Jim Beam BTDS76JB will not disappoint.
  • digital controls are simple to use
  • 500-watt heating bar
  • construction is somewhat flimsy
Brand Jim Beam
Model BTDS76JB
Weight 54.2 pounds
The Smoke Hollow 38202G features both upper and lower vent controls, and has a huge cooking capacity, ensuring that your food will come out consistently delicious, even if you are smoking enough meat to feed a small army.
  • double door system offers more safety
  • very sturdy construction
  • push-button ignition system
Brand Smoke Hollow
Model 38202G
Weight 77.5 pounds
The Masterbuilt 20077515 features an impressive 730 square inches of cooking space, and a powerful heating element that will cook your food to perfection. Its glass front lets you keep tabs on the process and show off your prowess.
  • racks are coated with chrome
  • remote control is included
  • wheels make it easy to move
Brand Masterbuilt
Model 20077515
Weight 63.7 pounds
The Weber 731001 provides an authentic smokehouse flavor right there in your own home, and without requiring much square footage, either. Despite its small footprint, it's roomy enough to smoke an entire turkey or ham.
  • high quality steel construction
  • handle is heat-resistant
  • comes with decade-long warranty
Brand Weber
Model 731001
Weight 75 pounds

Preserve The Flavors Of Summer

While preparing foods in an oven or microwave are helpful, the smoking process has a way of infusing them with a richness in flavor not experienced by simply broiling them using a conventional oven. A food smoker can provide you with that backyard barbecue taste with an added kick that rivals the quality of the smoked food you'll find in a restaurant.

The smoking process involves flavoring, cooking, and even preserving a variety of fish, meats, pork and poultry through prolonged exposure to the smoke produced from burning materials such as hickory, maple, cherry, oak, and other fragrant hardwoods. Additional materials burned in the smoking process can include pellets and charcoal. Smoking is accomplished in either hot or cold contexts.

Hot smoking is usually done at temperatures of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit and is meant to simultaneously cook the food while infusing it with smoke flavor. Cold smoking is done at temperatures less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in order to enhance a food's flavor while also creating a smoke barrier that prevents bacterial growth. This can help to preserve the food for extended periods of time. Foods are typically cured before undergoing the cold smoking process.

While smokers come in many different shapes and sizes, they fall into one of 4 general fuel categories, which include propane, electric, pellet, and charcoal. Similar to a gas grill, a propane smoker gets its fuel from an independent gas tank with its heat being generated by a gas-powered burner located directly under a steel or iron box containing the wood or charcoal for the smoke. Major advantages to the propane smoker include the consistency of its temperature when smoking foods in a controlled environment, its portability (i.e. to take on camping trips), and the low cost for replacement parts when needed. Electric smokers often leverage a two-box system that includes both a cooking and fire box.

The fire box is equipped with a powerful heating element and is usually adjacent to or underneath the cooking box. Both the heat and smoke produced in the fire box (by the heating element and desired flavor of wood) are transferred to the food box where they cook and smoke the food. Electric smokers are also built to maintain temperature consistency and ease of use. Pellet smokers use an auger system to feed compressed, cylindrical wood pellets into a small stove compartment. This type of smoker is controlled by a thermostat, which informs the auger system when to drop more pellets into the stove. The biggest advantage to a pellet smoker is that all of the heat used for the smoke comes from the wood itself, which leads to an authentic taste. Charcoal smokers operate in much the same way as pellet smokers. The main advantage to charcoal smokers is that they provide the most barbecue-like flavor to your foods in combination with the wood chosen.

Smoking Is A Choice

One of the most important decisions to make right off the bat is whether you prefer an electric or charcoal-style smoker. Assuming an electric unit has a good heating element, it will be easy to maintain proper operating temperatures through the use of a thermostat. The choice of hardwood is also a big consideration, since there are many different flavors available, each with their own unique qualities for pairing with different types of beef, poultry, pork, or fish.

The shape and design of the smoker one chooses can have an effect on the way the food ends up being prepared. For that reason, one must consider the types of food they choose to smoke, how often, and with what materials. An offset smoker, for example, closely resembles an outdoor barbecue and is characterized by a cylindrical-shaped cooking chamber connected via pipe to a smaller cylinder for the fire box where airflow is strictly controlled and used to both cook and flavor your food before it escapes through a rear exhaust vent.

If you like classic designs, then this can certainly do the trick. The upright drum smoker is also vertically-shaped and designed for pseudo-indirect hot smoking, thanks to its bottom charcoal basket and cooking racks covered by a vented lid. This can he helpful in situations where you might not have much room to do your smoking.

A vertical water smoker is similar in design to the drum smoker with the addition of a water bowl in between its fire and cooking racks. The water bowl helps to maintain consistent temperatures in the cooking chamber while also providing reliable humidity that condenses along with the smoke to enhance flavors during the smoking process. For that reason, if rich flavor is important to your meals, a water smoker can be a powerful asset.

A Brief History Of The Smoker

Smoking foods as a way to preserve and enhance flavors has been around since the time of our ancient ancestors. In these times, meat was often hung to dry and when it began to take on the flavors of the smoke from nearby fires, early humans realized the smoke's ability to help preserve and enhance the way their food tasted. This process was eventually combined with curing food in salt, leading to an effective preservation process that has been adapted and developed worldwide ever since.

In 1939, a device called the Torry Kiln was invented at the Torry Research Station in Scotland, which allowed for uniform mass-smoking. The kiln was considered the very first prototype for all modern large-scale commercial smokers.

Since the 1930s, additional refinements and enhancements have been made to both commercial and home-style smokers, however the fundamental principals through which every model type operates has essentially remained the same.

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Last updated: 03/22/2017 | Authorship Information