The 10 Best Smokers

Updated November 02, 2017 by Chase Brush

10 Best Smokers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 37 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Attention meat lovers. With one of these professional smokers, you can enjoy the rich flavor of restaurant-grade turkey, beef, sausage and jerky in the comfort of your own home -- and at a fraction of the price. The models on this list come in all different shapes and sizes, and are suitable for cooking everything from full birds to large joints to fish and vegetables. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best smoker on Amazon.

10. Smokehouse Little Chief

Even the most inexperienced beginners will find it hard to mess up the process with the Smokehouse Little Chief, which features a basic, non-adjustable heating element for cooking your food just right. Its lightweight aluminum construction is ideal for summer use.
  • drip pan is dishwasher safe
  • comes with 2-year limited warranty
  • doesn't work as well in cold weather
Brand SmokeHouse
Model 9900-000-0000
Weight 16.9 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D

The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D incorporates an offset charcoal box design that helps channel smoke at the right times and in the right volume, resulting in rich and savory flavor. The heavy-duty temperature gauge lets you easily monitor the progress of your meat along the way.
  • holds up to 100 pounds of food
  • built-in carry handles
  • steel could be thicker
Brand Dyna-Glo
Model DGO1176BDC-D
Weight 76.9 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Nordic Ware 365 Kettle

Available at an affordable price and coming in an attractive red color, the Nordic Ware 365 Kettle is a great alternative to more industrial-grade smokers. It can be used indoors or outdoors, and will work on grills as well as stovetops.
  • tall dome cover
  • quick and easy to clean
  • rather long cooking process
Brand Nordic Ware
Model 36550
Weight 8.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Char-Broil Big Easy

The Char-Broil Big Easy uses TRU-infrared technology to evenly cook turkey, ribs, roast, or other cuts of meat in half the time it takes other units. Plus, it uses wood pellets as fuel and doesn't require air dampers or a messy water pan.
  • can also roast and grill
  • holds up to 25 lbs of meat
  • easily overcooks food
Brand Char-Broil
Model 12201570
Weight 45.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Char-Griller 2-2424 Table Top

The Char-Griller 2-2424 Table Top is a compact unit that can be used as a grill or a Texas-style smoker, or even as a side fire box for the company's larger cookers. On its own, it's perfect for camping or small backyard barbecues.
  • cast-iron cooking grates
  • removable ash pan for easy cleanup
  • difficult to control heat
Brand Char-Griller
Model 22424
Weight 42 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Bradley Original

With its heavy-duty stainless steel interior and a 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, and features easy-to-use temperature controls.
  • can be used as a slow cooker too
  • automatic wood feeder
  • not hot enough for some meats
Brand Bradley Smokers
Model BS611
Weight 52.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. ​Camp Chef ​Smoke Vault

The racks in the ​Camp Chef ​Smoke Vault are adjustable, which means you can move them to accommodate whatever foods you decide to prepare each time you use it. It also has a large temperature range, from 50 to 400 degrees F, giving you a variety of cooking options.
  • large stainless steel door
  • includes cooking tips and recipes
  • takes standard propane tanks
Brand ​Camp Chef ​Smoke Vault
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Smoke Hollow 44241G2

The Smoke Hollow 44241G2 is the largest in the company's line of professional smokers, featuring both upper and lower vent controls, three standard cooking grates, two jerky trays, and one rib rack. It's propane powered, and can feed a small army if you need it to.
  • double door system improves safety
  • very sturdy construction
  • push-button ignition system
Brand Smoke Hollow
Model 44241G2
Weight 106 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Masterbuilt 20077515

The electric Masterbuilt 20077515 offers an impressive 730 square inches of rack space, and utilizes a powerful 800 watt heating element that will cook your food to perfection. Its front-facing window design allows you to monitor your meat throughout the entire process.
  • racks are coated with chrome
  • includes remote control
  • wheels make it easy to move
Brand Masterbuilt
Model 20077515
Weight 63.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain

The charcoal Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain provides an authentic smokehouse flavor right in your own home -- and without requiring much square footage, either. Still, despite its small footprint, it's roomy enough to cook two whole turkeys or hams at once.
  • high quality steel construction
  • handle is heat-resistant
  • comes with decade-long warranty
Brand Weber
Model 731001
Weight 74 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

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 on November 02, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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