Best Smoker for Beginners in 2020 [Must Read Before You Buy]
You want your barbeque to have the richest flavor in the neighborhood? Then you have to acquaint yourself with the art of smoking. However, smoking is no easy task, and that being the reason so many newbies drop out of barbequing together.
As such, newbies should not get a random smoker and expect to get better. Therefore, if you happen to be a beginner yourself, use this comprehensive guide to go through our top 7 picks for the best smokers for beginners in the market.
You will also get to know what to look for, the kinds of accessories you need, and some tips and tricks that can make your dishes extra juicy.
It's a must-read for any beginner to make a perfect choice. So, without further ado, let's get smoking.
730 sq in
20 x 17 x 33.5
18.5 in Diameter
21 x 21 x 31.1
18 in Diameter
21 x 19 x 41
784 sq in
20.2 x 34.5 x 47
18 in Diameter
20.2 x 18.2 x 20.2
676 sq in
21.5 x 23 x 47
544 sq in
15 x 20.7 x 33.5
7 Best Beginner Smokers Review
Every entry on this list is the best of the best in the industry for beginners. They are all equally viable and give different benefits at different prices. Let’s get down to these reviews.
When we think of the easiest way to use smokers, we think of the Electric ones. All the complexity and difficulty are completely removed since you can turn it on and leave the machine to do it for you. It is by far the easiest to work with and the most accessible for beginners.
Among other electric smokers, this spectacular unit by Masterbuilt takes the brisket as one of the best out there. Its superior space capacity, smoking quality, and ease of use set this apart from its contemporaries.
The conveniently placed controls have a variety of settings options that give you more control of the kind of smoking you want. You get the power to adjust heat through only using the digital scale. It even has a built-in thermometer to help you keep the exact temperature you need to smoke your meal.
However, since all of this is digitized, you won't have to fiddle with charcoal as you would deal with other kinds of smokers.
Masterbuilt went out of their way to make this the most convenient and easy to use smoker out there. It has a woodchip load system that lets you quickly load up more wood without allowing an ounce of heat escape. This is because you won't even have to open its door to put them in.
Finally, we cannot gloss over its incredible storage capacity. This bad-boy gives you a whopping 730 square inches of cooking space. You can fit a whole banquet in here while it will be still very easy to use.
Smoking with charcoal doesn’t have to be as hard as people let on. Of course, it still takes a lot of effort, but that kind of experience will craft you into the perfect barbeque gourmet chef. Nevertheless, you also don’t want to invest too much.
In that regard, this classic Pit Barrel Cooker allows you to attain easy and superior quality smoking. Everything from its shape, to the placement of its hooks and charcoal placement, makes it extremely useful. The hooks let you strategically place your food in the barrel while still staying relatively centered.
Then it uses its barrel-shaped design to evenly distribute the heat throughout the entire smoker to make sure every corner of your chicken is evenly smoked. This synergizes perfectly with its hook design to attain incredible results. The placement of the charcoal makes it even better.
This model’s fire generates heat that rises and flows around the barrel and maintains an acceptable temperature. As a result, you can leave it for hours on end and rely on it to do the job for you without your excessive input. Its easy usage places it among the best meat smokers of beginners.
Overall, this is an excellent model that welcomes beginners and acquaints them with the wonders of delicious charcoal smoking. The superior insulation keeps the heat locked in for ease of use, and lets you quickly master the essentials.
It even tops it all off by being easy to set up; it’s just an all in all incredible unit to invest in.
When it comes to quality, Weber delivers harder than you could ever imagine. There is an excellent reason that this unit is one of the most recommended by experts as a great entry-level smoker, especially if space is one of your biggest concerns.
Even without its space, its expert craftsmanship and design make it one of the best smokers for beginners out there.
Accordingly, we should start with its aforementioned incredible storage capacity. While it may not seem as impressive as the goliath 30 inches offered by the previously listed Masterbuilt model, but it makes up with superior quality smoking and cylindrical design.
It even uses high-grade rust-resistant build, which improves its longevity and usability. The cylindrical design is honestly the highlight of this magnificent smoker. It effectively keeps all the heat and smoke sealed in the unit to maintain its temperature and distributes evenly around the meat for the best results.
This unit keeps the smoking uninterrupted with its easy to load fuel door. You can keep smoking while you add more and more charcoal to keep the fire going.
Also, it gives you even more control with its built-in thermometer and damper adjustments. Use that thermostat to check the temperature regularly while you use to move the dampers to control the heat.
You can cook with perfect control with these features on your side, giving you optimum results and the tastiest BBQ.
Overall, it is straightforward to use, and one of the best smokers for beginners.
We'll admit, offset smokers are quite hard to get into. However, there is no denying the incomparable flavor these types of smokers can dish out. Nonetheless, they are not that easy to use and aren't qualified to be the best entry-level smoker.
At the same time, the reputation of offset smokers precedes itself, and there are a ton of beginners who end up buying a cheap offset model and give up due to their difficulty and poor quality.
Despite all of that, Dyna-Glo’s spectacular charcoal offset smoker manages to counter all of these demerits with its high-quality build and relatively easy to use features.
This particular unit is made with beginners in mind specifically. It's almost hard to believe it is an actual offset model which is very easy to use. However, the flavor doesn't lie and tastes just as well.
It's made out of longevity in mind. The heavy-duty steel build and its excellent finish keeps this rust-free and happily serving you delicious smoked chicken for years to come. Fuelling this guy is as simple as popping in some charcoal in a box.
Moreover, you can add wood chips to add some extra flavor to your precious barbeque meal to attain outstanding quality that will make you the talk of the town.
At last, we have to talk about its superb cooking capacity that can cook up to 100 pounds per use. It is the perfect model if you want to impress your friends at a big barbeque party.
We already spent quite a bit of time discussing what makes a barrel smoker so great. So, the design is making its much-awaited return to this list with our newest and glorious entry, the Big Bad Barrel. It uses a multitude of additional features that complement its shape to make it a must-have.
Suppose you want to arrange a barbeque party camping trip, hauling a heavy and hard smoker is undoubtedly very inconvenient. That’s where this big bad smoker comes in with its superb portability.
You can easily dismantle this unit to make it easier to store and carry off to wherever you want.
Aside from that, its flexible usage lets it act as a makeshift fire for cold winter days, a table to put dishes, an oven for your other meals, and many more. You are bound to end up with some uses or another out of this astounding smoker.
Besides, it comes with multiple hooks to always keep your grilling utensils within arm’s reach. The model also saves you from buying these essentials since they come with the barrel for free. It’s easy to set up too so you can start smoking fast.
Like the barrel smoker before it, it does an excellent job of evenly spreading out the heat to smoke the meat in the best way possible. The hook system also lets you set up your meat to improve the flavors even more. There is no denying that this is one of the best smokers for beginners in the market.
This smoker doesn't just look sleek; it has so many great additional features and quality services that make it functional as well. It manages to give you a lot of space and quality smoking for barely any cost. As such, it can easily be the best affordable smoker on this list.
Let's start by talking about just how much the huge space it offers. Unlike the previous options, this gives you the privilege of being able to look into the entire smoking process. It provides a window that gives a clear enough view of your meals so you can continuously check how they're doing.
The smoker manages to attain this with no loss to its insulation. The built-in thermometer also lets you check the temperature, which synergizes perfectly with the windowed design to give you more control over your cooking. Thus, stack up the three racks with your food and cook with ease and authority.
Moreover, there is a small and easily accessible grease tray and wood chip drawer that is accessible without interrupting the flow of your smoking. The grease tray also does an excellent job of keeping the unit clean at all times, and adding wood chips while cooking also lets you enhance the flavor of your BBQ as well.
All in all, if you are looking for the best BBQ smokers for beginners to host a party, this unit is tough to beat. It just has so many useful features while still staying easy to use for rookies to cook up a nice meal. This is the perfect catalyst to get you into gas smokers.
For our final entry, we introduce another convenient and simple to use an electric smoker. It's got lots of space to spare, fitting up to three racks, and a solid smoking experience at a ridiculously low price.
You are getting more than you pay for, and it acts as a great and inexpensive opportunity for beginners to get into these types to experiment. Yes, the cheap price tag allows this to place itself as the best first smoker for beginners.
They can use it to test out how different temperatures produce different tastes and flavors, even if it is electric. You get to build experience and move onto more expensive and complex smokers with all the knowledge you may need.
At the same time, you should not ignore the great results this unit can dish out, easy to use, and lots of space to store. You get to cook delicious smoked beef without much expertise. Likewise, it lets you store your ingredients on the three large included racks though it can fit up to four.
Underneath these, there are the wood chip, water tray, and the grease cup. It's also got a water pan and a drip cup. All of these features work together to keep the food tasty and juicy while also keeping the smoker perfectly clean.
Right on the door, you can see the thermostat that gives you clear insight into the cooking temperature. The door locks down tight to keep all the heat and smoke in. With all of this, it's tough not to declare it as the best low-cost smoker out there.
Few Things to Know Before Jumping in
Just because we've discussed your options doesn't mean you're ready to buy a smoker just yet. There are a lot more things left to consider before you head out to get your smoker. Let us go over these points in detail before we go any further.
What Type of Smoker Will Suit You?
Alright, in this entire list, we have discussed electric, propane, charcoal, and offset smokers, but what exactly are they? Which one is the best type of smoker for beginners? Well, the answer isn’t that simple.
These types vary greatly. One type won’t suit everybody’s needs, so you need to know the different types and how they function. Once you do, you’ll be able to pick out the type that suits you.
1. Charcoal Smoker
This type is as old as time itself. There is a good reason why it managed to stand the test of time and still reign supreme as the most preferred type by BBQ experts everywhere. Nobody can deny that there is no beating the sheer salivating flavor you get out of this type.
It's almost impossible to beat the smoke rings and crust you get out of this method. However, it does demand you to keep more of your focus on the smoker. The method requires you to engage with the whole process actively.
This involvement is, however, the catalyst for building more experience. You soon get to realize your style and technique to get your unique taste. Of course, it's kind of hard to get into for beginners.
You need to put in a lot of attention to the whole process, and messing up is quite easy. Beginners will have to go through a lot of trial and error to learn and grow into a seasoned expert.
Besides, if engaging yourself with the smoker does not appeal to you, and you want an easier way to cook, the Charcoal method might not be for you.
However, some charcoal smokers, like the ones we have mentioned in our list, come with a variety of options that can also let you achieve the beginner-friendly "set it and forget it" state. That acts as a great window to help you improve your charcoal smoking skills.
2. Electric Smoker
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the Electric method. It is easily one of the best smokers for beginners to get into. They are incredibly easy to use because you barely have to do anything extra to get your cooking done. As such, this type is the embodiment of the "set it and forget it" smoking style.
This is best if you are planning to cook something like briskets that usually take around 12 hours to complete. You can set it up and move on to whatever other work you might have. Of course, you will still have to fill in some wood chips for the smoker sparsely.
Of course, since it's so automated, you do not have much control and engagement over the smoking. Unfortunately, that leads to inferior to non-existent smoke rings. So, if you are looking for maximum flavor, this type is not for you.
Overall, it's an excellent option for beginners. Even if it doesn't engage you as much as the charcoal type, it acts as a great gateway smoker to get you into the art to begin with. It’s a worthy investment with just how easy this is to use.
3. Propane Smoker
Now, this type is quite similar to the aforementioned electric smoker. The similarity lies in the fact that they are easy to use and do not require much involvement. At the same time, this type also lets you have a lot of control over the temperature.
This is, as its name suggests, powered by gas. As such, it needs to be connected to a propane tank to work. The portability of the tank eliminates the inconvenient power outlet requirement in electric types.
However, that does not mean that it eliminates all the downsides as well. You still will not get a smoke ring out of propane smokers even though they let you handle the temperature easily. Nonetheless, you do not need to engage yourself as much as you would for charcoal smokers.
Of course, we have to elaborate on the gas tank as well. For one, each container can give you about 15 hours of smoking, but you need to make sure that it does not run out before you are done. Also, you should make sure that there are no gas leaks; as such, lousy quality propane smokers are highly discouraged.
4. Pellet Smoker
Although we did not include any pellet smokers on this list, there is no denying that it is also part of the best type of smoker club. These are just some of the most convenient smokers you can ever find doing so much for you with so little input.
All it asks you to do is to set the temperature you want. The smoker does the rest for you with fire management that automatically uses the number of pellets you would need. Work is minimal since you do not have to do anything yourself.
Your only job is to set it up and wait for a delicious meal. However, this kind of sheer convenience comes at a cost, literally. These types are much more expensive than the other brands just because of how simple convenient it is.
It smokes well, and if you invest enough, you can even get smoke rings and bark. At the same time, you'll have to shell over $1000 to get that kind of quality.
As a result of this high price tag, we believe that it isn't the best kind of smoker for beginners, especially if they plan on moving onto charcoal or offset smoking in the future.
5. Offset Smoker
This is the best of smokers, the most popular kind for a good reason. If you are looking to get the optimum taste out of your barbeques, you should have the smoker of your choice.
In this regard, Offset is incredibly heavy-duty, retains heat excellently, and creates mouth-watering tastes. Smoke rings and bark from this smoker are simply the best. However, they are improbably hard to use.
These guys require a lot of attention and skill to perfect, or else you’ll end up with awful results. You need to work up plenty of expertise and skill before you should try it out. Despite the fact, a lot of people do the opposite.
Likewise, you will see many beginners pick up once of these and get frustrated fast. They would quit just as quickly. Hence, this makes it quite evident that it isn’t the best starter smoker out there.
On the other hand, some of these are designed to be more accessible to beginners as the unit we placed on our list. Of course, they sacrifice some of their specific taste, but it acts as a good unit to start with if you plan on moving onto better Offset smokers in the future.
Now, these appliances aren't all that cheap. So if you want a good barbeque, you need to be prepared to spend quite a bit. At the same time, beginners shouldn't go about buying the most expensive the industry has to offer.
Do try to keep a budget range of around 100 to 400 dollars. You'll end up getting risky and low-quality smokers if you go under 100. Otherwise, there's no need to buy something over 400 dollars so soon if you want to learn. So try to keep your budget somewhere within that range, and you should be golden.
What Are You Going to Cook?
Imagine you're just starting, and you want to cook a brisket, but you only have a charcoal smoker in your hands. Well, let's say those won't be the best briskets in time. This dish takes a lot of time and patience to work with, and a beginner can't tackle it without the right tools.
In this case, you should use the electric or propane type for cooking. These use a very flexible "set it and forget it" method that doesn't require your total investment to get it right. Considering how briskets take about 12 hours to cook, you can imagine how much more convenient it would be with these types.
Similarly, this fact extends onto pretty much every other type of dish out there. Each piece of meat, fish, or cheese is cooked better in some types rather than others. So, make a note of the kind of dishes you want to cook and pick the one that suits you best.
In case you're looking for a smoker to take on a camping trip, then you need to get something that is portable. Most of these appliances aren't meant to be taken places. However, some are designed to travel with you.
You can dismantle them into portions so that you can carry them to take places. Likewise, it's up to you whether or not this feature is valuable to you. So do check their portability if it's one of your criteria.
Some Accessories You Must Need
Alright, so now let's get down to what you need when you're actually in the field. You can't expect good results if you go in empty-handed with just your smoker. You need some additional tools, starting with a good thermometer.
• Built in Thermometer
Almost all of our top picks come with a built-in thermometer. Thus, it's really easy to wonder why you'd need them. Well, it's just merely a good idea to be extra sure. You can depend on the generated results easily if you see that the built-in thermostat and the external one match up.
• Wireless Thermometer
Aside from that, it's also possible to get a wireless thermometer. That way, you can check on your food while sitting comfortably in your living room watching TV while your BBQ stays smoking in the backyard.
• Ignition Item
Apart from that, you'll also need to have a reliable source to light the charcoal on fire in the first place. If you have prior experience working with charcoal, you know what we're talking about. That's why you should invest in a good chimney starter to light up the charcoal easily and quickly.
The rest you can get from a simple utensil set. This includes items like tongs, spatula, etc. Additionally, make sure you get heat resistant gloves to keep yourself safe. Finally, buy a cover for your smoker to keep it clean at all times.
Tips & Tricks
Since you're reading this article, we are going to assume you're a beginner and give you some tips and tricks for the juiciest results. Firstly, don't get too ambitious too quickly. Like we said at the beginning of this guide, trying to jump to more complex smokers too quickly will only discourage you.
• Start with the Basics
So, start small, try using easier methods of smoking, even electric and propane. Also, you can't just jump to smoking brisket with no prior knowledge. Try and cook something simple and easy like pork butt.
It's the most recommended piece for beginners because if you screw up, they won't turn out too bad. Eventually, work your way up to more complex meals. Speaking of meals, you need to learn what kind of temperature you need to smoke which piece.
• Know Ideal Temperatures
Every piece has a different ideal temperature. Learn it and apply when cooking that piece of meat. Use the thermometer to be sure that you're hitting that sweet spot for the results.
• Choosing Charcoal Type
Next up, is the kind of charcoal you should use. We found that lump is the best bet for quality. On that note, keep a variety of wood chips to experiment with. Finally, don't open the smoker while it's still running.
It could mess up the temperature and reduce the quality of your smoking. Subsequently, you must remember that you shouldn't do anything that interferes with the temperature consistency. If you need to check on the progress, get a windowed unit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Can I get a smoker for under 100 dollars?
The cheaper smokers are, the more likely that they will end up being faulty, poor quality, and sometimes even potentially dangerous. For example, cheap propane smokers have a much higher chance of leaks. So, try to keep your budget at least over 100 dollars.
Q2. Can I use my grill to smoke?
No, smoking and grilling are vastly different from one another. Grilling is more focused on using very high temperatures and cooks quickly. Smoking is more of a slow art that could take up to 15 hours.
It uses a low heat for long durations to cook. Since grills and smokers function so differently, you can't exactly use interchangeably.
Q3. Do I need to learn smoking if I get an electric or pellet smoker?
While it's true that you don't have to be all that getting involved in the whole cooking process, you should bear in mind that you still need to input the right required temperature for different pieces of food. Also, you won't be able to get richer flavors that way.
Q4. Can I smoke without utensils?
You can, but that is very dangerous and ineffective.
Q5. Does Charcoal type matter?
Yes, different types of charcoal produce different results. We recommend you use lump charcoal for the best results.
Conclusion: That was a lot of information to go through. You can now pick out the best smoker for beginners and start your journey.
I look forward to many legendary barbeques to come!