Best Charcoal Smoker Reviews – Buying Guide
If you have been smoking for a while, you probably have known or heard about charcoal smokers. They are common compared to any other type of smokers. At least, this is where almost all lovers of smoking begin. However, without knowing what the best charcoal smokers comprise, you might find challenges achieving your goals.
You might be new to smoking with charcoal smokers or you’ve once been frustrated using your present model. For that reason, we are here to help you out. Read through our review of the best charcoal smoker to see what you might be missing out and the best direction to take.
At the end of this review, be sure you will choose wisely and ultimately, you will enjoy whichever model you choose. We are going to answer many questions you have had in mind for long. Most importantly, we have created choices and alternatives for you, as far as smoking with charcoal smoking is concerned.
Why Trust Us For The Best Charcoal Smoker
For a long time, we have been reviewing kitchen appliances and recommending the best ones to the consumers. For most consumers following our reviews, chances of success have always been 100 percent. Ours is not mere reviewing.
We affirm our recommendations when we first test and have firsthand experience with all the products we review.
Our goal is to make your decision informed by shading more light into the details of different products. Charcoal smokers fall within our area of our specialization. That is why, when we recommend the best charcoal smoker to you, you have every reason to trust us.
Our team of experts examined a wide range of charcoal smokers in detail and identified strengths and limitations of every model. Through actual experimentation we have determined which one can benefit specific categories of users. Trusting us assures you of the best because our focus is not just for the good but the best.
Therefore, our long-term experience is one reason you should trust us to get the best charcoal smoker. The second reason is because we love what we recommend and have a proof of its functionality.
Lastly, we have established a lasting reputation and we’re already trusted all-over. These are reasons enough to move with us and watch out for the end results.
What is Charcoal Smoker?
Charcoal smokers are common and thus available in many homes today. This type of smoker is especially beneficial for all smokers looking for an authentic smoked flavor. Although they are considered conventional and are simple in make, different models come with a wide range of benefits.
The design of a popular charcoal smoker is not much complicated. Its basic parts include the firebox, water chamber and cook chamber. Each one of these parts serves different but vital functions to give you the great final results
Additionally, charcoal smoker comprises of a steel drum and at the bottom, there is a bowel that holds charcoal. The top part has a cooking rack on which meat is placed for smoking.
Experts have thought it wise to include a water bowl and at least one vent for producing steam. The best models such as vertical charcoal smoker and Weber charcoal smoker come with two vents.
Variation among these models is what makes some models better than others. To get the best charcoal smoker, you need to compare different models available on the market. If you have a wide range of models to choose from, your chances of getting the best are also high.
Different Types of Charcoal Smokers
Charcoal smokers are broadly categorized into different types according to their various designs. There are many charcoal smokers featuring different designs. Here, we have briefly described major types which you might consider while making your final selection.
1. Bullet Smokers
The name “bullet smokers” is derived from their bullet-like shape. Their shape is cylindrical and dome-shaped which resembles the shape of a bullet. The design comprises of the cooking chamber on the top and water pan directly below it.
On the bottom there is a fire tray. If you have to add extra fuel or water in the course of smoking, there is access door.
Since the cooking chamber is on the top, food is also loaded from the top of the smoker. Despite its cylindrical vertical shape, the smoker is designed with stability in mind. Its double-Decker version makes it difficult to access the lower rack without lifting the top rack.
2. Ugly Drum Smoker or UDS
This is another type of vertical smoker. Ugly drum smoker is designed in the same way as an ordinary drum. It is made of steel as the main material.
The strength of this smoker is in its top loading design which allows for efficient grilling. The vertical shape also allows for lower oxygen levels, making it a convenient alternative.
For this particular smoker, you can set it and ‘forget’ until your meat is ready, courtesy of its self-regulating system. Other than the usual rack, the hanging rods increase the smoking capacity. This smoker does not use the water pan.
Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be a source of worry because there are no flare ups. The drippings only result into smoke fog and not big flames.
3. Kamado Grill
This is a relatively multipurpose charcoal smoker used for both grilling and smoking. Both functions are made possible by its top loading system and vertical design. The mobility of Kamado grill is highly enhanced with its swift wheels able to change positions easily.
Apart from the great design and versatility, other features include well built body and heavy insulation. Using this grill, you can easily perform two-zone cooking because of the oval shape. To achieve this, use one hot side and another indirect side for efficient heat control.
If your desire is to have as much grilling as smoking, this is a good alternative for you. Although this smoker sells at a relatively higher price, buying it is still a great bargain on your side.
4. Vertical Charcoal Smoker (Two Door Smoker)
Two-door smoker is a type of vertical cabinet smoker with two doors on one side. Loading is done on the front side rather than on the top side. This smoker lacks the top lid. For this reason, you cannot grill using two-door smoker.
The top door is for the cooking and has multiple layers of racks whereas the bottom section is for the fuel. This smoker comes fully equipped with charcoal; box or wood tray. This unit is good for temperature maintenance. However, with repeated access, the smoker easily looses heat.
5. Offset Smoker
Offset smoker (horizontal offset smoker) is the reverse of a vertical smoker. Its size, design and way of functioning are perfect for outdoor smoking. On one side end, there is a firebox used for heat transfer from the chimney via the cooking chamber.
This is also a multi-purpose smoker for both grilling and smoking. The main chamber can function as a grill while the small offset firebox chamber can be used for smoking.
For offset smoking, simply load wood and charcoal into the small firebox and then smoke your meat using the main grilling chamber.
Both the firebox and the main chamber have vents which can be adjusted for temperature regulation. To get the temperature into the smoker, open both vents at the beginning and leave it for a short while.
If you don't like charcoal smoker, electric smoker is best choice for you.
6. Pellet Smoker
This is another type of horizontal smoker. Although its design is considered old school, as few elements of modern technology have been integrated. For instance, they comprise of “set it and forget it” feature due to its self-regulation mode.
With this wood smoker, you can connect it to electric feed. Nevertheless, they still use wood so the question of their automaticity shouldn’t be a source of worry. They can grill as well as be utilized for indirect heating. Due to the absence of the top lid, searing steaks is not possible with this pellet smoker.
7. Ceramic Charcoal Smoker
Ceramic charcoal smoker is simple in design, yet great in its functioning. The grill features electric starter system located above the vent at the bottom.
Other features include the dial style vents, removable ash catcher, wheeled cart, fold down side tables among others. These features make it flexible, efficient and movable.
The most noticeable feature that distinguishes ceramic charcoal smoker from other types is its ceramic shell. The shell ensures even cooking by holding heat efficiently.
If you have to snuff down the remaining charcoal after smoking or grilling, you can easily shut it down. Generally it is an innovative smoker worth buying.
8. Weber Charcoal Smoker
If you are looking for a charcoal grill that with the modern make, Weber Summit charcoal smoker is a fine alternative. It combines both grilling and smoking capabilities. Although it is an expensive charcoal; smoker, it is worth that much.
Its ignition system is gas-powered which gives it fantastic cooking and smoking abilities. Double-wall construction, air insulation and stainless steel cooking grates are some of the focal features that make it a great choice.
The design is convenient and simply wonderful, allowing for both mobility and flexibility.
Top 10 Best Charcoal Smokers
1. Best Bullet Smoker: Weber Smokey Mountain 18"
Weber Smokey Mountain 18-Inch is the ultimate choice for anyone seeking great smoking and grilling.
We have systematically gone through all elements of this great smoker and all we can testify is that the name ‘Weber’ is inseparable from the word ‘quality smoker’. We have every reason to justify the truth in this. Read more...
2. Best Ugly Drum Smoker: Pit Barrel Cooker
If you enjoy cooking outdoors, then you will certainly love Pit Barrel Cooker Package. This barrel smoker can produce a flavor that is just amazing and delicious.
This Barrel smoker comes with a larger cooking capacity at the least cut off from the pocket. It confers very delicious results along with ease of use. Read more...
3. Best Kamado Grill: Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill - Red
The best Kamado grill comes to you at a time you need it most. It is quite cost-effective and most affordable charcoal smoker you can readily afford any time.
However, this does not mean its performance is sub-standard. It only implies that this reputable brand by name Kamado has all your needs at heart. Read more...
4. Best Kamado Grill: Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker, Black
This Char-Griller 16620 model of Kamado charcoal smoker is no doubt an authentic model. Among several other models we have compared, this one has unique features which we associate with efficiency.
Kamado style grilling with Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Grill and Smoker is enjoyable thus good for enthusiasts. It is good for slow and low temperature cooking as well as high temperature grilling. It is a small but versatile appliance that is built to last. Read more...
5. Best Vertical Smoker: Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D 36" Vertical Charcoal Smoker
Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D 36" model of vertical charcoal smoker is specially designed for multiple categories of users. It is worth of giving forth results.
For the time it has existed on the market, it has gradually won the majority confidence. Currently it is owned and used by smoked meat lover and more are yet to purchase and use it. Read more...
6. Best Smoker Grill: Weber 14401001 Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black
Weber Company has grown popular in the recent past due to the production and supply of its great products. This Weber original kettle premium Weber 14401001 model is among the top products that place Weber on the top pages of media.
It is meaningless paying for a grill that is sub-standard and that which does not lead to pleasure. When you grill or smoke with Weber 14401001 model, both the process and end-results are also premium class. Read more...
7. Best Cheap Charcoal Smoker: Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker
Masterbuilt 20060416 is specifically a model that has all features a typical smoker is supposed to have. In fact, most features it constitutes are found in many complex smokers.
The best thing with this smoker is that it’s good for the beginners due to its compact and simple design. Seasoned uses can use it alike. Read more...
8. Best Offset Smoker: Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker
Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D smoker has won the confidence of more than 700 consumers and more are yet to give a positive feedback about it.
Currently when I’m writing, it stands at 4 stars out of 5. 128 concerns that were raised received prompt responses and consumers were satisfied with the responses. No one doubts Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker any longer. Read more...
9. Best Pellet Smoker: Camp Chef PG24DLX Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ with Digital Controls and Stainless Temp Probe
As a potential user however, focusing on price alone should not be your complete guide. You also need to look at the equipment from a wholesome perspective if you have to make informed decision.
Here, we have reviewed this smoker in different subsections that will inform your choice at the end. Read more...
10. Best Ceramic Charcoal Smoker: Primo 778 Extra-Large Oval Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill
Ceramic smokers are hard to come across in most households because of their high price. Here comes the best among them which requires consideration of your budget first before ordering it. Nevertheless, the budget is not the only consideration.
The real superiority of ceramic charcoal grill has been as a result of the brand reputation in producing excellent kitchen appliances. This detailed review provides sufficient information to help you judge this smoker in the light of others. Read more...
Buying Guide: Things to Consider When Buying a Charcoal Smoker
If you are planning to buy your charcoal smoker for any given purpose, there are several factors you need to consider. Most consumers often get into a trap of buying something they least expected.
For this reason, we have come in to help you avoid such uncertainties in future by making an informed decision.
That is why we are here with a perfect buying guide for you. Read through it to find a charcoal smoker that meets all your needs and expectations.
1. Personal Needs
One reason why you plan to buy a charcoal smoker is because you have some needs to accomplish. Buying a smoker that does not meet your requirements might be a source of regrets to you. It is important to consider where you are going to use it and exact purpose it has to serve.
Additionally, the frequency with which you are going to use your smoker and the quantity of food it can accommodate matters. Therefore, your personal needs are an important factor to consider since it affects the model you will ultimately choose.
Your needs also affects the model you choose. Some models of electric smokers have a higher cooking capacity than others. If the size of your family is large, then you should consider purchasing a smoker with larger capacity.
If you are smoking in a restaurant, you better buy a large, preferably vertical smoker rather than a small one.
In fact, for restaurant smokers, it is advisable to buy a model that smokes and also grills. This level of versatility offers an excellent opportunity to save a great deal of your income.
2. Brand Reputation and Quality
Different brands of charcoal smokers have different levels of popularity. Brands such as Weber charcoal smoker are widely recognized for excellent performance. There are emergent brands as well, whose products have not been consumed widely.
For the leading brands in terms of reputation, quality of their products is often guaranteed. We have reviewed some brands here so that you have full details of which exact model you should go for.
Moreover, you still have to read through the reviews, compare among different models and chose your best.
Aspects such as certification and product warranty are assurances that what you are purchasing is of high quality. Reviews and ratings also manifest quality.
Therefore, consider purchasing a charcoal smoker that is highly rated and positively reviewed.
Price matters a lot because it obviously affects your budget. Although it is lightly said that cheap is often expensive, sometimes cost-effective is not always cheap.
Depending on your financial ability, it is wise to spend on something that is affordable. This, however, depends on whether the smoker you are buying meets your expectations or not.
In this regard, before buying a product, consider some of the essential features and compare the price. At least, there will be a variation. Then consider your own financial position. We don’t advise buying a smoker that is too cheap because there may be unrecognized deficits.
4. Versatility and Usability
Versatility refers to the possibilities of an equipment to serve multiple functions. A versatile smoker is better than a single-purpose smoker because it can grill as well as smoke. As you try to consider the best smoker on the market, it is better to prioritize a versatile one.
Even if your primary intention is to use your smoker for smoking, there comes a time when you might need to grill. To be on the safer side, we recommend buying multi-purpose equipment.
There may be other features you are looking for which are not included in a versatile charcoal smoker. In this case, you might prioritize your basic requirements.
Convenience has to do with many things including user-friendliness, speed of work and automatic functioning. The “set it and forget it” feature found in some advanced charcoal smokers such as is an important aspect of convenience. When your smoker relieves you in one way or another, then it is convenient.
Flexibility and mobility is another aspect of convenience. A flexible and mobile charcoal smoker is easy to move from one place to another. Although most, if not all charcoal smokers are designed for outdoor use, you might want to shift its position in the outdoors.
Maintenance through cleaning also determines whether the smoker is convenient or not. A smoker that is difficult to clean causes inconveniences to the user.
Lastly, general usability counts a lot among the aspects of convenience. The position and nature of the loading system determines whether your cooking or grilling will be a hassle or not. A smoker that is easy to use is worth your expenditure.
Who is Best Suited for Charcoal Smokers
Charcoal smokers come in a wide range of types as already seen above with every type having relatively unique features. Many of these smokers will perform all the smoking and grilling but what matters is the process.
This implies that some models of charcoal smokers are best suited for some categories of users compared to other models. We have identified the following user categories as the potential beneficiaries of different types of charcoal smokers.
Individuals who are seeking high quality grilled or smoked meat are at a good position of benefiting from charcoal smokers. Compared to any other types of smokers, the quality of food smoked or grilled on a charcoal smoker is indisputably awesome.
If your priority is the final outcome of smoking and grilling regardless of the process, then charcoal smokers are your ultimate choice. The final taste is always authentic and the smell is alluring.
Our best selections of charcoal smokers produce food that does not taste like charcoal. Instead, the quality is enhanced by your particular choice of wood.
People with ample outdoor space:
Charcoal smokers are best suited for outdoor smoking or grilling. You therefore need to have enough space in your backyard to enjoy smoking at any time. In fact, it is so enjoyable when you smoke in your backyard in the evenings.
Certainly, space is something that all home owners can plan in advance prior to buying the charcoal smoker. Even those who own restaurants, it is easy secure some space for your smoker in the outdoors.
Smoking and grilling professionals:
Smoking professionals may be chefs who sometimes go on completion or any other trained individuals who consider smoking their career. These individuals are looking for nothing but the best results which are perfectly attainable using the best charcoal smokers.
With utmost keenness and adherence to our guide, smoking professionals stand a chance to reap a lot from our suggested models.
Notwithstanding the fact that such professionals require highly automated smokers, the best kitchen smokers suit their needs. Such smokers include Weber charcoal smoker, vertical charcoal smoker among other types.
People who enjoy kitchen activities:
People who enjoy performing kitchen tasks, though charcoal smokers works in the indoors, can benefit greatly from these smokers.
Some tasks involved include lighting a charcoal smoker, loading the contents, regulating temperature and so forth. If these activities and many others are your hobbies, do not hesitate to buy charcoal smoker.
Use of charcoal smokers requires more involvement than other smokers. If you consider this a hassle, it might be challenging to use a traditional model. Nevertheless, there are more advanced and automated models that are suitable for most user categories.
Those seeking cost-efficiency:
Those who want to save a great deal of their income can find satisfaction buying and using charcoal smokers. Although there are some expensive models, the price range is wide to include cheaper models.
Similarly if you are a beginner, you need a type of smoker that is easy to use. Most charcoal smokers have this feature. Therefore, you are an ideal user of charcoal smokers.
People who grill and smoke interchangeably:
Most charcoal smokers are versatile and this is one feature that makes some models popular. You might be uncertain of what exactly you will be doing with your smoker.
In this case, we recommend going for a multipurpose model that will handle whichever task you are confronted with. Whether you have to grill or smoke, buy a charcoal smoker that can perform both functions.
How do Charcoal Smokers Work?
Charcoal smoker relies on the heat produced from the burning of charcoal to burn up the wood chips. Wood chips in turn produce smoke that is used to smoke your specific type of meat. Your choice of wood chips to use with the charcoal smoker depends on your desired flavor.
Charcoal smoker is mostly characterized with strong smoke and high quality final flavor. As the smoking process continues, the vents produce steam which impacts significantly on the quality of your meat.
In the end, you obtain moist and tender meat that satisfies your desires. The simultaneous process of condensation for both the smoke and the vapor enhances both taste and flavor.
Generally, a typical charcoal smoker is less technical, thus easy to use. Charcoal smokers are designed for the use in the outdoor space.
In fact, it is convenient when starting a charcoal grill in the outdoor compared to the indoor use. Outdoor use also minimizes risks of accidents that are likely to occur if charcoal smoker is used indoors.
However, using whichever type of charcoal smoker requires that you maintain close attention throughout the cooking process. Although this is often considered a bottleneck by busy professionals, smoking enthusiasts will find it an advantage.
How to Start a Charcoal Grill
Starting charcoal grill begins by preparing your grill and making it ready for lighting. To prepare your grill, follow these steps:
Lighting a Charcoal Grill: How to Light a Charcoal Grill
There are two methods to light your charcoal grill: Use of a lighter fluid and use of a chimney starter. Using a lighter fluid, follow these steps:
Lighting a grill using lighter fluid:
How to light a charcoal grill with a chimney starter:
Whether to use a light fluid or chimney starter, it all depends on whichever way is convenient for you. Generally, using a chimney starter is preferred over the use of light fluid. Some advantages of chimney starter are: it does not produce unpleasant odors. It is also quick, efficient and effective.
It is wise to consider getting a higher capacity chimney smoker for the purposes of convenience. Nevertheless, use of light liquid to light your smoker is still an alternative if you don’t have a chimney starter. If done correctly, it saves your time and resources.
Managing Temperature on a Charcoal Smoker
Unlike electric smokers with automatic temperature regulation system, charcoal smokers function in a reverse way. Temperature regulation is, therefore, a skill you have to learn and master if you have to use charcoal smoker.
For those who have already mastered this skill, temperature regulation is neither a hassle nor a straggle. It is an adventure to them. You can join them today by learning these tips.
Here is how to achieve optimal temperature regulation while using charcoal smoker:
Using vents to control the temperature:
The vents are used to reduce or increase the cooking temperature of your kitchen smoker. The vents serve two purposes: letting in oxygen for combustion, and regulating grilling temperature. By opening the vents, more air will get in leading to increased combustion hence making your grill hotter.
To reduce the temperature slightly, partially close the vents. The air entering in will be less and the grill will become cooler due to reduced combustion.
It is crucial that you let in maximum oxygen at the beginning to achieve the highest temperature you need for grilling. Also avoid clogging the vents with ash as this may obstruct the airflow.
Manage the grilling distance:
Most charcoal grills allow for easy adjustment of the grates. If you are using this type of grill, your task is simple. When you want a hotter grill, adjust the distance so that your food is closer to the burning charcoal. The reverse also works perfectly.
In case your smoker does not allow for this adjustment, use more charcoal if you need a hotter grill. If you need a lighter grill, use lesser charcoal. The amount of charcoal is directly proportional to the grilling temperature.
Make use of a grill shield:
A grill shield is made using a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. When the grilling temperature rises too high, fold the foil into thirds and slide it under the food. This helps to block the heat and reduce the heat reaching the food. Additionally, the shield is great at maintaining the exposed bamboo skewers’ ends from burning.
Pros and Cons of Charcoal Smoker
In a nutshell, charcoal smoker is among the basic kitchen appliances that you need for smoking and grilling. Fortunately, most types of charcoal smokers perform both functions effectively. One greatest advantage of charcoal smoker is that you are always certain of achieving the best flavor and taste of food.
Different models have been described to give you a wide variety from which you can choose your best model. Your choice entirely depends on your needs, convenience and other considerations such as the price. Different charcoal smokers can be used by different users in different contexts.
The working of charcoal smokers uses a simple process involving burning of charcoal to release heat used for grilling or smoking.
Different smokers vary in efficiency and convenience, right from starting the grill and temperature maintenance. This is why it requires utmost consideration of multiple factors while choosing one that fits you.
For this reason, we are here to help you out. Trust that you will get the best model by simply reading through and considering our reviews. Ultimately, you will be able to make an informed choice for which you will always be proud.