Designed to gently cook your food while infusing it with plenty of delectable smoke flavor, charcoal smokers have become increasingly popular throughout the years. Most of them are available in different price ranges, depending on the size, features and brand.
To help you find the best apparatus for your budget and personal preferences, here are a few buying tips to keep in mind.
- Seals and insulations: This is probably the most important feature to look out for when buying your charcoal smoker. Bear in mind that more expensive apparatuses tend to offer better insulation and less leaking. Before you buy, pay close attention to the metal thickness, welds and seals. Double doors tend to offer better insulation than single ones.
- Temperature Range:If you’re planning on cooking different types of produce at the same time, it’s best to go for a smoker with a wide temperature range. Smoking cheese for example, only requires around 100 degrees F, while turkey may vary between 300-350 degrees F. Searing thicker cuts of meat may ask for an even higher temperature of around 375 degrees F, so be sure to keep an eye on how low or high your apparatus can go in terms of heat.
- Accessories:Again, this is something which you keep an eye on if you’re planning on using your charcoal smoker on a regular basis. Some models may offer different types of accessories such as cold-smoking baffles, tool hooks, rib hooks and covers. Some apparatus can even come with a recipe book.
- Wideness and capacity:If you’re planning on sporadically using your smoker, the size and capacity may not really be an issue for you but users who intend on holding regular barbecues might need larger apparatuses. In terms of capacity, it’s important to keep an eye on the slabs, some of which can go up to 16 inches wide.
Now that you know what to look out for when shopping for a smoker, here are some of the most popular models on the market:
Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black
- Charcoal smoker for authentic smokehouse flavor at home
- Made of porcelain-enameled steel; heat-resistant nylon handle
- 2 nickel-plated 22-1/2-inch-wide cooking grates for a total of 726 square inches
- Water pan; built-in thermometer; individual vents on bowl and lid; storage cover
- Measures approximately 24 by 23 by 48-1/2 inches; 10-year limited warranty
Customers particularly liked the 2 nickel-plated cooking grates which are included with the boxed packaging. Best of all, you will be able to benefit from different amenities with this smoker, including a storage cover, bowls with individual vents and a built-in thermometer which made it easier for customers to cook their meats to the exact level of doneness they wanted.
Users were also extremely appreciative of the 10 year warranty which ensured they received adequate protection if any issue should arise in the future.
Some people thought that the assembly process could have been easier since the majority of customers had to spend at least an hour to set up the apparatus. On the whole, however, most customers were extremely satisfied with this charcoal smoker.
Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
Boasting a heavy-duty steel construction, the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D is designed to provide a highly authentic barbecue flavor right in the comfort of your very own home. Among the best charcoal smokers on the market, this particular product measures 1176 sq feet- something that most customers liked since they were able to grill larger batches at a time.
Customers also appreciated the porcelain-enameled steel wood chip box which, according to them, only served to intensify the smoke-like flavor. In addition, the majority of users also like the solid carrying handles that made it easy for them to maneuverer the apparatus and move it around. It also comes with a temperature gauge that enables users to keep a close eye on the cooking process.
Another feature that was extremely well-received by customers was the height-adjustable cooking grates which largely facilitated ease of use. On the other hand, a few drawbacks were reported about this product. For example, quite a few users complained about the fairly complicated assembly process.
One customer even claimed that the screw holes did not line up properly which made it problematic for him to set up the apparatus. Another person said that his smoker leaked smoke between the temperature gauge and the smoker box, but this was an isolated complaint.
Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker
Among the best charcoal smokers on the market, the Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker can cook an impressive 50 pounds of food per batch, making it ideal for dinner parties and gatherings. Most people liked the front-access door which made it quite easy for them to add charcoal to the apparatus. With this apparatus, customers can also make full use of a built-in thermometer which provided an extremely accurate temperature reading, something that came in quite handy for smoking steak.
In addition, the Masterbuilt 20060416 is equipped with a top air damper as well as a water bowl, two other features that made it quite popular among the majority of customers. The porcelain-coated charcoal pan also made cleaning up quite easy.
In spite of its positive reviews, a few downsides were reported about this bullet smoker. For example, a couple of people did complain about the lengthy set-up process. One customer claimed that he was unable to increase the temperature past 200 degrees since the apparatus couldn’t stop leaking heat.
It should still be noted that this was an isolated issue and no other customer claimed to have had the same problem. Other users complained mainly about the assembling process and the weight, which they felt could have been on the sturdier side to provide some extra stability.
Pit Barrel Cooker Package
With an easy assembly process, there’s no denying that the Pit Barrel Cooker Package is among the best charcoal smokers out there. Upon purchase, customers receive a variety of accessories such as a hook remover tool, charcoal basket, standard grill grate, eight stainless steel hooks as well as 2 hanging rods.
Users quite liked the unique design which made it extremely easy for them to operate the smoker. In fact, they also appreciated the stainless steel hooks which allowed them to smoke smaller cuts of meat, chicken and fish at the same time that larger cuts seared and grilled on the main plate. A coal basket is also included for ease of use. Compared to other smokers, this model boasts a fairly compact design, which makes it ideal for picnics or camping trips.
Because it is among the best charcoal smokers out there, this particular apparatus was even awarded the ‘Best Value Gold Medal’ by AmazingRibs. Virtually no drawback was reported about this particular piece of cooking equipment.
Broil King 923610 Vertical Charcoal Smoker
Featuring a space saving design, the Broil King 923610 Vertical Charcoal Smoker has been rated among the best charcoal smokers on the market. Enhanced with a double walled construction for added stability, this smoker also comes with a secondary door which provides ease of use and a simplified access to both the smoker box and the extra-large stainless-steel water bowl.
With 16 stainless steel meat hooks and an Ace-Temp thermometer, this smoker has a Root-Draft damper technology and a multi-purpose rib/roast rack. Users quite liked the 5mm stainless steel cooking grids which are fully adjustable for ease of use. With this particular smoker, you can also make the most out of the 4 cubic feet of cooking space, which is ideal for large gatherings.
In terms of drawbacks, a few people were disappointed about the apparatus’ limited heat range. One user commented that his smoker did not go under 275F, which made it problematic to cook certain cuts of meats and chicken.
Another person claimed that the assembly process took a lot of time, but this was not a wide-spread complaint. On the whole, most people were quite satisfied with this particular unit.
Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D 36″ Vertical Charcoal Smoker
If you’re a charcoal enthusiast, you will be glad to know that the Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D 36″ Vertical Charcoal Smoker has been hailed as one of the best charcoal smokers on the market. Because of its space saving design, you can set this apparatus anywhere in the garage, house or patio.
According to customers, the vertical design only served to enhance the smoke flavor, which was evenly distributed among the four height-adjustable cooking grates. This particular piece of kitchen equipment can very easily accommodate larger batches of meats, chicken or fish thanks to the 784 square inches of cooking space. According to users, this also made it easier for them to cook uneven cuts of food.
This particular smoker is also enhanced by a porcelain enameled charcoal chamber which, according to users, did improve the burn efficiency. To make cleaning-up easier, a steel ash pan is also included. In spite of its positive reviews, however, some people did have a few issues with this smoker.
For example, one person complained that his apparatus was prone to losing heat, in spite of the double doors. According to this customer, this made it easier for him to maintain an even cooking process.