It is true when people say, “cooking is an art.” Whether you prefer fried or baked food, you can create some lip-smacking dishes not just by using the right ingredients, but by using the right tools and technology. This is also true for “smoked” food, where a process called smoking exposes the food to smoke for a specific duration of time. This process cooks the food well over time, giving it rich flavors, beautiful textures, and enhancing fragrances. To create dishes that genuinely stand out from the rest, and even release the nutrients in the food properly, you might need to use special tools such as charcoal or gas smokers.
We reviewed dozens of charcoal and gas smokers to find the best of the best. When researching the best smokers, we looked hard at features such as temperature control, size, shape, fuel source and more. We also scoured reviews, poured over ratings, and paid attention to every last detail to make sure that each smoker on our list will be worthy of cooking your food.
If you’re looking for the best non-electric smoker on the market, you’ve just found it. The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is easily manageable and provides enough space to cook two large pieces of meat (think turkey or ham) or a wide variety of smaller meats (think steaks and sausages). Its chrome and porcelain coatings are also aesthetically pleasing on the eye and built to last for years. All in all, the best smokers don’t get better than this (without spending thousands of dollars). This one also comes with an excellent Amazon rating and an affordable price to boot!
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Smokers
|Best Overall||Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18 Inch Smoker||4.7|
|Runner Up||Masterbuilt MB20052318 MPS 230S Propane Smoker||4.0|
|Best Budget Buy||Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical Charcoal Smoker||4.0|
|Best Charcoal Smoker||Dyna Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker||4.1|
|Best Gas Smoker||Landmann 3495GLA Smoky Mountain 34-Inch Vertical Gas Smoker||4.0|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18 Inch Smoker
Want to make some incredibly smoky BBQs and impress your friends? Then you cannot go wrong with the smokey mountain. The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18 Inch Smoker provides two cooking grates with enough space to cook two large items (or multiple small items which might be what you are looking for during camping.) The entire construction not just looks, but feels solid. The finish is aesthetically pleasing. However, if you are thinking that looks could be deceptive, then worry not. That is hardly the case here. The smoker is built for extended use. You receive the same impressive results even after repeated use.
You can cook food at a steady temperature for long hours. Controlling the temperature within the smoker is easy as well; you simply have to use the three vents provided. Reading the temperature is easy with the mounted thermometer. However, Weber has added convenience to the smokey mountain by adding a small eyelet on the side of the smoker. Through this eyelet, you can insert a thermometer to check the temperature. Using this feature, you can bring in your own thermometer for more accurate measurements (for example, a digital temperature reader that could be something you prefer.) This allows you to prepare your food just the way you like it.
A small door (also located on the side) allows you to add in wood, coal, and other materials for preparation. One of the features we liked about the Smokey Mountain is the porcelain and chrome coatings. This coating prevents the smoker from rusting or peeling easily. The design of the smoker also lets you seal in the charcoal, allowing you to use them the next time.
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18 Inch Smoker Key Features:
- Porcelain-enameled lid, bowl, and center section for heat retention and rust resistance
- Dampers adjust for easy temperature control
- Silicone temperature grommet monitors internal temperature
- Removable fuel door
Our Runner Up Pick: Masterbuilt MB20052318 MPS 230S Propane Smoker
If you are on the lookout for a big space, then you cannot go wrong with the Masterbuilt MB20052318 MPS 230S Propane Smoker. You get a built-in temperature gauge and push-button ignition, plus four chrome-coated racks and enough space to smoke up to two turkeys, eight chickens, four pork butts, or four racks of ribs at the same time. A porcelain-coated water bowl makes it easy to add moisture and flavor throughout the cooking process.
The smoker uses propane to set the heat. By using the 15,400 BTU stainless-steel burner, you can maintain a nice and even heat to cook your food to perfection. The single-button start mechanism is an added convenience. It becomes useful for those times when you have gotten the food and materials ready, and you just want to get right down to the cooking. It has a patented, porcelain-coated flame disk bowl that allows the flame to reach wood chips while protecting the burner from grease. With two doors, you can check your wood chips without letting out a lot of heat.
The smoker also comes with an upper ventilation system in the back of the unit. The air vent allow you to manage the temperature with relative ease as you can merely vent out excessive heat whenever you want to. To further control the temperature, you also have the help of the built-in temperature gauge.
The feature that truly stood out to us was the racks. Inside the smoker, you can find four cooking racks, giving you the option to adjust them for your cooking requirements. The racks are also chrome plated, infusing them with a long life and sufficient durability. If you prefer, you can remove these racks and replace them with hooks, perfect for cooking items such as sausages. With the capability to keep the heat stored within the main smoking chamber (using the doors), you can create some delicious and juicy meat just waiting to be devoured!
Masterbuilt MB20052318 MPS 230S Propane Smoker Key Features:
- 4 chrome-coated smoking racks
- Built-in temperature gauge
- Push-button ignition to easily light the burner
- 15,400 BTU stainless-steel burner
Best Budget Pick: Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical Charcoal Smoker
When you are on a budget, but you would still like get more value for your buck, then go ahead and get yourself the COS-118 by Cuisinart. This eighteen inches smoker comes with a steel bowl with porcelain enamel to hold water. The bowl is designed to last long without rusting or peeling. You get a side door to work with wood, coal, and water. The vertical design of the smoker spreads heat evenly throughout its interior. This makes it ideal for not just professional chefs, but for casual users as well.
The aluminum drip trays inside the smoker are placed to catch any liquids or other materials that drip down. You also receive a stainless steel sauce pot as an addition where you can set your sauces. We are particularly fond of such small additions that just adds that element of convenience.
With two air vents, you can control the temperature within the smoker, cooking your food the way you want. Speaking of things that come in twos, you also get two racks for storing more meat. However, to us, what stood out the most about the smoker was the fine mesh mat that you get with the machine. With this mat, you can cook your food and not have to worry about them sticking to any surface. Additionally, the mat serves another purpose. If you are cooking with items such as onions and small ingredients, they can fall through the grate. The mat is there to ensure that these items have a level surface under them, keeping them steady.
Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical Charcoal Smoker Key Features:
- 2 18-inch cooking racks
- 510 square inches of cooking space
- Dual air vent system (top and bottom vents)
- Porcelain enamel water bowl
- 5.54 cubic feet
Best Charcoal Smoker: Dyna Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker
If you are specifically looking for a charcoal smoker, then you know the difficulty of finding the right one. Fortunately for you, we have discovered what we think is the best charcoal smoker in the market. Presenting, the Dyna-Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker. With this device, you get four grates for cooking, ideal for working with multiple food and meats. More than 780 square inches of cooking space gives you a lot of room to work with. With a premium finish, you get a smoker that can produce the same results over a long period.
The chamber is porcelain enameled to make sure that it is not only long lasting but gives you stack meats properly.
What we really loved about the smoker the convenience it provides you. You notice this convenience across multiple features. For one, the smoker comes with a removable ash pan, allowing you to dispose of ash or other debris easily. A charcoal grate will enable you to check on the coal and fuel you add into the chamber. The chamber itself is designed in such a manner that it allows easy disposal of coal. You can also find a thermometer gauge on the smoker to make sure your meat remains nice and juicy. However, what makes this gauge slightly different is that it has a smoke zone. This indicator informs you of the right time at which you should infuse the food with smoke. This makes it ideal for beginners who would like to get their food just right.
Dyna Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker Key Features:
- 4 cooking racks
- 784 square inches of cooking area
- Convenient charcoal and ash management system
- Stainless temperature gauge with smoke zone
Best Gas Smoker: Landmann 3495GLA Smoky Mountain 34-Inch Vertical Gas Smoker
Need to release some gas? And by that, we mean the gas from a propane smoker to cook your food. Then you should think about getting a Landmann 3495GLA Smoky Mountain 34-Inch Vertical Gas Smoker. It just might be your backyard BBQ companion. Offering 13,500 BTUs with heat-saving, easy-access drawers with a handle to easily access the heavy-duty steel wood chip box and porcelain-coated steel water pan without opening the main chamber door, the design makes it easy to keep the heat in and your temperature on-target for perfectly smoked food like turkey, venison, beef, fish, chicken, and more.
It has four adjustable chrome-plated cooking racks and a meat hanger for versatility – you can smoke just about anything in this smoker without having to spend more money on additional racks or hooks. It has durable welded hinges on the door and magnetic closures to keep the door securely fastened without making it difficult to open. With square, wide-set legs for extra stability and a cast brass burner for a long lifespan, this smoker will serve you for years to come. In fact, it’s backed by a 10-year warranty. And with fully adjustable heat control and a front-door temperature gauge, the Landmann Smoky Mountain Gas Smoker will turn you into the neighborhood BBQ guru in no time.
We love the cool touch nylon door handle on the smoker. This feature allows you to easily access the device without causing harm to your hands. You might make use of this ability to check on on the food from time to time.
Landmann 3495GLA Smoky Mountain 34-Inch Vertical Gas Smoker Key Features:
- Heavy-duty steel wood chip box with lid
- Easy access drawers
- Porcelain-coated steel water pan
- 4 chrome-plated cooking racks and meat hook
Who Should Buy A Smoker
Even though many ordinary grills can be used as (or retrofitted to become) smokers. Charcoal grills especially are known for their smoking effect, if temperatures are extremely carefully maintained (which takes a load of time and patience). They make and model of your grill dictates how well it can work as a smoker. That said, they are no comparison to a legitimate smoker. If you want to be responsible for making the best barbecue in the neighborhood, you’re going to want to invest in a smoker.
Grills are great for slinging out some quick barbecue chicken, but again, the end result of barbecue cooked on a grill is pale in comparison with that of a genuine smoker. The best smokers will have your meat smoked low-and-slow without the years of mastery it requires on a normal grill (and even then it is just not the same).
In the end, there is no competing with the lip-smacking, mouth-watering, finger-licking goodness that comes from cooking food in a real smoker. Grills are great, but even the most expensive ones aren’t nearly the same as the best smokers. When it comes to chicken, slabs of ribs, pork chops, even cheese, and veggies, there is no replacing the flavor created by smokers, period. When it comes to smoked meats and slow-cooked barbecue, you’ll need a smoker to get the job done right.
Looking for an electric option? Check out our review of the best electric smokers.
Important Features to Consider
A smoker should do several things well. Here’s what to consider when selecting a smoker:
- Shape and size. Depending on how many people you plan on smoking food for, and how often, the shape and size are crucial factors to consider before making a decision. That said, the smallest smokers can easily produce enough grub for a couple of dozen people. Larger smokers will put out enough food for hundreds of people.
- Type of fuel. Another critical aspect to think about before making a purchase is what sort of fuel type the smoker will require. Most smokers (non-electric) run on either propane, charcoal, or hardwood (including pellets). Wood and charcoal are the most traditional sort of smokers. That said, propane smokers are normally the easiest to operate as well as the fastest cooking.
- Main features. Features, features, features. Some of the best smokers today are chock-full of features. Depending on how you plan on using your smoker (do you plan on hanging around while it’s doing its thing? Or do you plan on setting it up and leaving it be?) you’ll want to pay careful attention to the list of features included with any smoker you are considering to purchase.
- Functionality. The functionality of a smoker is determined by all of the factors mentioned above and then some. For example, in modern times, there are several smokers that are imbued with the utmost highest technologies. We’re talking all of the bells and whistles; digital timers and alarms, multiple fuel-types, grill-smoker combinations and more.
- Price range. The price range of a smoker varies drastically depending on everything from size and shape to fuel type, features, and functions. You can plan on spending as little as $50 to as much as several thousands of dollars. In other words, no matter what your budget looks like, you won’t have any issue finding an affordable smoker.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a smoker and how does it work?
A smoker is a device for cooking food, or “smoking” it, in a similar fashion as a grill does. That said, the process of smoking was originally achieved by the smoldering of wood or charcoal in a closed area. Today, smokers may also run on electricity or propane as well, both of which tend to rely on heating pellets for their smoke.
Which is better, gas or charcoal smokers?
The question of which is better, charcoal or gas, has raged on between smoker fanatics for years. It will no doubt continue to do so well into the future. Some folks believe there is no better way to smoke food than the old fashioned way; with charcoal or wood. While others are proponents of the new-wave electronic and propane powered pellet burning smokers.
Electric and propane smokers are easier to operate. They also tend to finish food much quicker. However, charcoal (and wood), while taking longer, also has a distinct flavor which is hard to simulate with the newer smokers. To be fair though, both gas and charcoal smokers get the job done. Some might say there is even very little actual difference between the two, but we’ll leave that to the experts to decide!
Can you use charcoal in a gas smoker?
Few smokers exist which are designed to use both gas and charcoal. Gas smokers are created to withstand heat from very specific areas (created by the propane burners), whereas charcoal creates a tremendous amount of heat evenly spread across the entire smoker.
The main argument, in this case, is that the expansive heat from smoldering charcoal may seriously damage the components inside of the gas grill. That said, it is best to avoid using charcoal in a smoker which is not specifically designed for it. Will it work? Yes. But then, the real question is will the smoker still work when you try to use it with gas again.
What food can be smoked?
A wide variety of foods have been smoked by people over the course of the centuries. Among the most common are meats such as pork, sausage, and fish. However, cheese, vegetables, and even the ingredients for drinks like beer and whiskey have been known to be smoked as well. In some parts of the world, tea is also smoked.
Other Smokers We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other smokers. Even though they didn’t make our top 5 best smokers, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your backyard BBQ time. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
- Charcoal and Wood Smokers
- Propane and Gas Smokers
- Combination Gas Grill and Smokers
- Combination Charcoal Grill and Smokers
Charcoal and Wood Smokers
Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker might be a great choice if you like smoked meat but not big smokers. Easy to get and control the temperature, enjoy with your family and friends with tasty smoke flavored pork steaks, sausages, chicken and more.
- 395.4 square inches cooking area, two porcelain smoking racks
- Front door for adding charcoal or wood without a problem
- Built-in temp. gauge, air damper controls temperature and moisture
- Small enough to store it even in a limited space
Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker will make you feel like a chef. If you like nice, soft and tasty food with the smell and taste of smoke, this smoker will give you exactly that.
- 6- height cooking grates with and 1890 square inch of cooking space
- System includes charcoal grate, charcoal chamber, and removable ash pan
- Minimizing smoke lost with a pre-installed door seal
- Keeps direct heat from the food for more efficient cooking
Masterbuilt Charcoal Smoker will help you to prepare a turkey, ham or burgers people will talk about for some time. Temperature gauge makes cooking more manageable, and afterward cleaning will be a piece of a cake.
- Dual-door and collecting grease cup, so cleaning is just easy
- Temperature gauge for an accurate reading
- Two chrome-coated cooking grates
- Porcelain-coated pan and water bowl
Weber Mountain Cooker/Smoker will give you a “real” smoke tasted food right at your home. With enough space to put in enough meat for the whole family reunion, no more worrying about having the time to prepare everything.
- 18-1/2-inch nickel-plated cooking grates and made out of porcelain coated with steel
- Rust-resistant flue door, Woodle handle
- Can smoke turkey and a ham at the same time or some other significant pieces of meat
- 10-Year Limited Warranty
Char-Broil Deluxe Offset Smoker keeps the temperature without losing air with space to make enough steaks or burgers during celebrations, no matter is it a Birthday or anniversary, or something else. Quality made, easy to clean and practical for transportation because of wheels.
- Can be used as an offset smoker or a charcoal grill
- 739 square inch and 275 square inch primary and secondary cooking spot (up to 32 burgers)
- Black steel construction with stainless steel handles
- 3-piece smoking chamber prevents air-loss and maintains temperature and lid-mounted gauge for monitoring temperature
Propane and Gas Smokers
Masterbuilt Black Portable Propane Smoker is perfect to use it to prepare large pieces of meat such as ham and turkey, also burgers, steaks and your preferred barbecue. It is easy to use and clean, but the taste of meat will absolutely amaze you.
- Portable smoker with two big smoking racks with plenty of room for cooking
- Built-in temperature gauge and push-button ignitor
- High quality made and easy to transport
- Box easy to refill
Smoke Hollow Large Vertical Propane Gas Smoker is made to provide enough food for bigger events, no matter will you prepare ham, turkey, ribs or sausages. Easy to use and clean, this smoker will give you a completely different experience of cooking.
- Dual door with tempered glass which allows you to check on the food
- 6.5 cubic feet of cooking space, 2 standard cooking grids, 2 jerky grids, sausage hanger, and rib rack
- Dual Stainless Steel burners made to operate independently, ignitor, temperature gauge
- Two wood chips and large porcelain-coated water pan
Char-Broil Propane Gas Smoker will simmer your food without burning up and give it a tasty smoke flavor. If you want to heat something up, no problem, convenient grate on the top will do that for you.
- 595 square inch cooking spit and 3 cooking grates
- Double drawer, large smoking chamber with warming rack on the top
- It uses a small propane burner for heating wood and water with temperature control
- Grating on the top makes it easy to heat some food (sauces or other)
Camp Chef Smoke Vault will put your cooking skills on a higher level making food smoky and tasty more than you could ever imagine. If you were seeking the smoker which is most comfortable to use, clean and comes with already prepared ideas and recipes, this is a perfect choice for you.
- Two smoking racks, three damper valves (both adjustable), water pan
- Door thermostat (50 to 550 degrees)
- Easy cleaning-removable porcelain base
- Comes with cooking ideas and recipes
Masterbuilt Propane Smoker is easy and safe to use, no need for adjusting the temperature, just set it up and do whatever else you planned. The safety shut-off valves will allow “safe smoking” and give you delicious food with that specific barbecue aroma.
- Temperature is controlled by a thermostat, no need for manually adjusting and works without electricity
- Tank fuel gauge shows how much propane still left the gas tank
- Practical dual-door design, easy and safe to use, safety shut-off valve
- Provides enough smoke for fantastic taste
Combination Gas Grill and Smokers
Masterbuilt Compact Outdoor Portable Propane BBQ Smoker Grill allows you to have nice prepared meat full of natural flavor, no matter is it a small garden space or you are planning to be “on the road,” take it with yourself anywhere you go. Small and easy portable smoker makes your trips way better.
- 5,000 BTU Stainless Steel burner with temperature gauge easy to read
- Great smoking solution for any kind of trips (camping, traveling, countryside and more)
- Perfect fit in small spaces of any kind
- Easy to transport with legs fold under, with removable wood chip tray and water pan
Smoke Hollow 4-in-1 Burner Gas Grill with Side Burner, Charcoal Grill, and Smoker/Firebox is a solution for smaller yards or even balconies. You can choose what will suit the best in a particular moment; propane grill, charcoal grill or a smoker, preparing food which delicious and flavored taste will satisfy even the most delicate taste buds.
- Temperature gauge, porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grids, Stainless Steel burners with porcelain flare guards
- Adjustable charcoal pan with side smoker firebox (front and side access door)
- Propane gas grill, charcoal grill, and smoker
- Made to fit in smaller outdoor places with still enough grilling room
Smoke Hollow Gas-Charcoal Smoker Combination Grill works on gas and on charcoal so any time you can choose counting on occasion. This smoker might be a perfect gift for your husband, brother, father, even a dear friend.
- Includes gas grill, charcoal grill side smoker/firebox and side burner
- Wire cooking grids and flare guards coated with porcelain
- Two chrome plated racks and two separated temp.gauges
- Multiple outdoor cooking styles
Char-Broil Joe’s Highland Offset Smoker is what you might need if you have a big family and all you like smoked food. Easy to use and clean.
- Main cooking chamber has 619 square inches of cooking space
- Access door on the firebox for adding wood easily
- Shelves for better-organized cooking
- Easy hit and smoke control
Char-Griller 2-in-1 Gas-and-Charcoal Grill is made out to be sturdy, easy to use and clean, so it will serve you and your family for years. Prepare your favorite food, call your friends and enjoy amazing tastes over the whole year!
- 1260 square inches of cooking space, charcoal and gas grill
- The gas grill has 438 square inches cooking area, the charcoal side has 580 square inches of cooking area
- Porcelain-coated cast iron grates, three burners and a side burner, dual smoke stacks, electronic ignition
- Adjustable fire grate, easy to clean, made out of heavy steel, durable
Combination Charcoal Grill and Smokers
PK Grills Original Outdoor Charcoal Portable Grill & Smoker will absolutely amaze you with its design, quality of construction and ability to be transported. If you are planning just an ordinary lunch or a big Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, this might be the deal.
- Made out of Aluminum sturdy, rustproof, lightweight, capsule shape, and 4 vents)
- Portable smoker grill (suitable for camping, trips and way more)
- 300 square inches of cooking space ( from steaks and burgers to ham and turkey)
- 10-Year Warranty
PK Grills PK360 Outdoor Charcoal Grill and Smoker is very well designed, easy to use and effective for use, even for beginners. As it’s portable, you can take it with yourself anywhere, while going camping, or traveling for example, or just keep it the yard.
- Capsule-shaped, four vents aluminum anti-rust smoker, portable
- Heat methodical cooking chamber with 2-zone set-up, Tel-tru thermostat which has +/-1 accuracy
- Aluminum grill capsule, pedestal stand, cylinder air intakes, expansive workspaces, ash system, is controls ash in the cooking chamber and makes cleaning easy
- 10-Year Warranty
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Black Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker you can use not just for smoking, also for searing and food which requires slow cooking on low heat. Excellent design, portable and easy to clean from the ash, will never let you down.
- 314 inches of primary cooking space, insulated design – more heat, less charcoal
- Cooking space (cast iron), body (22 gauge steel), exterior finish (powder coated steel), interior finish (porcelain coated steel), cart (tubular steel)
- Portable with the help of rubber wheels
- For searing, low and slow cooking and smoking
Char-Broil 30” Offset Smoker will provide enough steaks or burgers for a whole family for birthdays and any other possible occasion. Made out of quality materials, easy to clean and portable, this offset smoker and charcoal grill might be the best choice for you.
- 730 square inches of primary cooking space and 275 square inches of secondary cooking space (28-32 burgers)
- 3-part smoking chamber, porcelain coated cooking grates and lid-mounted temperature gauge, 8-inch wheels
- Firebox has a convenient cleaning door and side shelves
- Dimensions: 61.7 in w x 46.2 in H x 22.9 in D
Dyna-Glo Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill will make you grilled or smoked and in the same time delicious, flavored meal. If you want portable and quality made grill and smoker, this must be the right choice for you.
- 1382 square inches of cooking space with five grated chrome grates
- Heavy steel body construction, temperature gauges “Grill zone” and “Smoke zone”
- Portable-oversized wheels
- Spring lid grip allows you to access the food safely