It’s balmy again, and we can’t help but barbecue! But how do you pick the best BBQ smoker in a world full of mediocre wannabes? This article is for you if you want nothing but the best for your next cookout.
If you are a sucker for a good barbecue, you know that it takes an experienced hand to pull it off. But what makes all the difference is the type of BBQ grill at play. Smokers come on top here, especially if you live for the authentic southern flavors.
But smoking isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s like babysitting; you must have the patience of a saint to pull through. But no amount of time will absolve a substandard smoker, so you must play your cards well. Below, we get you straightened out with the best BBQ smokers currently available.
8 Best BBQ Smokers to Buy Right Now
If you can’t take any more marketing BS, pull a chair and take notes. The following are the best BBQ smokers of 2021. Plus we’ll let you in on how to buy the best barbecue smoker.
1. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 721001 – Best All-Round Charcoal Smoker
Since 1981, Weber Smokey Mountain has been kicking-ass and still reigns supreme today. Weber continues to improve and tweak their flagship smoker every year to ensure its quality remains unmatched; no surprise why it’s a hit with novice and pro pitmasters alike.
The unit is exceptionally crafted, with its body constructed from powder-coated steel, allowing it to hold up well against the elements. This, coupled with the aluminum construction of the vents, legs, and internal brackets, ensures that this BBQ smoker will serve you for a long time.
More people? No problem. With 481 inches of the cooking area, you can welcome up to 7 people to a festival of flavors.
Apart from the vents that control airflow and temperature, the Weber Smokey has an ingenious way of maintaining heat levels to an optimum; a water pan that sits above the coals that also helps keep food moist. Then, there’s a thermometer expertly fixed on the lid to give you hands-free monitoring of the internal temperatures
No fire, no smoke. Lump charcoal is okay, but you can use the recommended briquettes for an even better smoking experience.
Although the Smokey Mountain is relatively pricey, it’s worth every penny. It’s built to last, and brings to the table unforgettable barbecue experiences every time.
2. Traeger Timberline 850 – Best Pellet Smoker
The Traeger Timberline model 850 is a high-performance smoker that delivers great barbeque any day, any time. Made with the smart home in mind, it features WiFIRE, which allows you to masterfully fire the smoker, load the food, and monitor the entire cooking process right from your phone via Wi-Fi.
But beyond fancy gadgets, the Timberline 850 is a heavy-duty grill with heavy gauge construction that won’t let you down. It offers three stainless grills, which provide 850 inches of cooking area so you can smoke and grill your heart out.
Just be sure to prepare no fewer than 20 pounds of pellets if you are bent on longer smoking sessions. But the good thing is that it comes with a pellet sensor that notifies you when pellets are running out.
And there’s a control panel that makes things easier. The Timberline comes with cheat codes such as “Super Smoke,” which produces an extra punch of smoke at low cooking temperatures. Then there’s a “Keep Warm” button that resets the temperature to 165℉ so that food stays at the right temperature while everyone gathers at the dinner table.
The Timberline 850’s bamboo cutting board on the hopper’s top is a rather unusual feature. But it is a serious convenience as you ready your meals for the grill. Opening the grill exposes a double-wall construction with stainless steel walls that make cleaning grease and splatters effortless.
The smoker is not a complete set-and-forget device, but the WiFIRE cutting board and intelligent temperature control technology make it close.
3. Cookshack SuperSmoker SM045 – Best Electric Smoker
After being in the industry for more than 50 years, you can only expect the best from family-operated Cookshack. And if barbecue authenticity is what you seek, then Cookshack SM045 SuperSmoker will be a great catch.
At the heart of every good smoker should be heat retention and proper temperature control. Cookshack SM045 offers nothing less than double-walled stainless steel, and comes with an 850 degree Fahrenheit spin glass insulation. There’s also a digital control feature that helps you set the exact cooking temperature. This means that you can leave it on autopilot and do more interesting things such as filing your taxes.
But seriously, you don’t have to worry about burning your food. The smoker delivers up to 300 degrees of smoking temperature so you can have your fish, meat, or vegetables juicy and tender. Don’t forget you can monitor the cooking on an LED display.
If the 756 sq. inches of cooking space is not enough, you can stack more food in the 3 nickel-plated shelves to cook enough food for a wake.
This smoker comes ready for business with 5 pounds of hickory wood, a wood box, and a manual to help you get started.
This smoker is all-weather because its incredible performance is not limited to seasons. You will love having this durable and sturdy unit in your backyard.
4. Camp Chef 18-Inch Smoke Vault SMV18S – Best Budget Buy
From the backyard to the backcountry, Camp Chef continues to redefine how outdoor cooking is done with its wide range of cooking products, including their outstanding Camp Chef 18-Inch Smoke Vault.
Try it with whole turkey, chicken, or ribs; whatever’s on the menu, the steady 400-degree cooking temperature will not disappoint you. And, you can quickly get the smoker up and running with the matchless Propane ignition system. Rest easy with the built-in thermometer that delivers real-time temperature readings to ensure your food cooks right.
If you are inviting your friends over, the racks can be adjusted to create enough cooking space to accommodate rump roasts and whole hams. The wood chip tray’s heavy-duty steel construction promises excellent service even though this is a budget buy.
Camp Chef even packages their Smoke Vault with recipes and cooking ideas to get you started immediately.
5. Cuisinart 36-Inch Vertical Propane Smoker COS-244 – Best Propane Smoker
Cuisinart has been primarily involved in manufacturing kitchen appliances and only made an entry into outdoor cooking recently. But if their Vertical 36-inch Propane Smoker is anything to go by, they are taking the outdoor cooking space by storm.
With 4 steel racks in its cooking chamber that deliver up to 784 inches of cooking space, this unit has enough cooking area for an entire family or small gathering. Removing the racks creates enough space for a whole chicken or turkey for those special occasions.
Cuisinart understands that smoke and heat must be maintained within the smoker at all times for the best results. The ingenious dual door design enables you to replenish the wood chip tray and the water pan without letting those two precious elements escape from the cooking chamber. And don’t forget, you can monitor the internal temperature using the inbuilt thermometer as you cook.
Although it is a new entrant in the smoker niche, Cuisinart’s COS-244 propane smoker is giving other vertical cabinet smokers a run for their money.
6. Kamado Joe Classic II Stand-Alone Grill KJ23NRHC – Best Kamado Smoker
If it’s a Kamado Joe, it’s pricey. But you get more than an iconic look and a piece of history that dates back thousands of years. The Kamado traces its origin to the ancient Egyptian and Indian civilizations that pioneered earthenware cooking ovens.
Compared to other grills, the Classic II retains heat more effectively due to its thick walls. And that’s not all; it has a multi-level half-rack design allowing you 254 sq. inches of cooking area. This means that you can cook different foods at different levels to suit everyone’s tastes.
If it tastes good, know the cooking temperature was uninterrupted while cooking, thanks to the double wire mesh, fiberglass gasket on the dome lid, and the base that keeps the air out. Additionally, the Kamado is fitted with an airlift hinge that makes it easier to lift up the heavy ceramic lid.
Buying a Kamado Joe gets you more than just the smoker, as it comes with a gripper for handling hot cooking grates and also an ash tool for easy and safe removal of the ash. The Classic II is an excellent merge of traditional and modern craftsmanship and promises a long life of unrivaled performance.
7. Portable Kitchen Cast Aluminum Charcoal Grill & Smoker PK99740 – Best Portable Smoker
Nothing epitomizes resilience and tenacity like PK Grills. The company almost went into oblivion after a fire attack in the 1970s.
But thanks to ardent barbecue lovers, the brand is more alive than ever today, creating memories with top-of-the-line products such as the Portable Kitchen Cast Aluminum Charcoal Grill & Smoker in a stunning classic silver.
This charcoal grill has a cast aluminum construction, making it lightweight, rustproof, and durable. But that isn’t what makes it special; it all comes together in a capsule design that ensures that food is evenly cooked from all sides. Additionally, an incredible 4-vents system that allows you to smoke fast and hot or low and slow to make sure that you get your food in the best texture and flavor. But that’s not all; the dampers in the lid and beneath the fire are adjustable.
For a portable barbecue smoker, 300 sq. inches of the cooking area is not too shabby and will stuff up the belly of a small family. Hunting, fishing, or tailgating are not complete without this worthy companion. It’s foldable for easy transport and is ideal for novice smokers and seasoned pitmasters alike.
This award-winning grill and smoker comes with a 10-year warranty, giving you peace of mind wherever you choose to go with it.
8. Texas Original Pits Luling – Best Premium Charcoal Smoker
Since 2007, Texas Original has featured prominently in backyards barbecue sessions with its range of grills, fire pits, and offset smokers. But their Luling Single Lid Offset Smoker is a cut above the rest.
With its ¼ inch of steel construction, this is one the sturdiest smokers on the market today; no gimmicks. But here’s the kicker, you get a cooking area of 1610 sq. inches, enough to cook for a crowd during Thanksgiving.
And you get to save money while at it because the air-tight double weld design ensures proper airflow into the cooking chamber, retaining maximum heat and burning less wood.
Good sear, anyone? The offset firebox allows you to cook directly on the fire so you can roast like a pro and shame the critics.
With 16-inch wheels, you can set shop anywhere. And with features such as a plate for convection heating, a temperature gauge, a pot warmer, a cooking grate that slides out, and so much more, everyone will quickly know who is boss.
BBQ Smoker Buying Guide
There will be nothing to smile about if you lay your hands on a bad smoker. Not only will you keep embarrassing yourself in front of friends and foes but also, you will have to keep digging in your pocket to replace worn-out, second-rate parts.
The following are some things to consider when purchasing a quality BBQ smoker.
This is among the most crucial factors that you must consider when buying a smoker. Don’t settle for less than sturdy construction. And don’t forget about the build material. Stainless steel is great because it guarantees long life and does not rust. Aluminum may not have the same sheer strength, but it is nevertheless sturdy and exceptionally resistant to corrosion.
You don’t want a smoker that cannot meet your average cooking needs; the number of racks matters. Consider the volume of meat you plan to be smoking and the number of people you will be cooking for before making your decision.
Smoking consumes time; choose one with enough cooking space so you can have it all ready at once.
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Newer models are more versatile than older ones. Features like temperature control options are unheard of in old models. If space is a concern, go for a smoker that doubles as a grill. Talk about mashing two potatoes with one fork.
If you are purchasing a smoker that will mainly be used for backyard barbecue sessions, portability will not be an issue.
But if you love adventure and are shopping around for a smoker companion during your camping or tailgating endeavors, a lighter and smaller unit is preferable.
Type of Fuel
If you have good barbecue skills, nothing can beat a charcoal smoker. You, however, will have to dig deeper into your pocket if you want the convenience of a pellet smoker.
A propane smoker is low budget but comes with less convenience. A Kamado is the ultimate grill/smoker combo. Pick it if you have a decent budget.
Barbecue Smokers: Final Thoughts
Searching for the best barbecue smoker is like searching for the Holy Grail. It’s hard to pop a champagne bottle and proclaim one product as the best pellet grill.
Brands such as Weber are hard to beat but so are many others. Of course, some models will give you more cooking space than others and will come with more features, but they will also cost more than the less sophisticated ones. Ultimately, the best smoker is the one that will fulfill your needs without costing you a kidney.
Is there something we left out? Got a favorite type of BBQ smoker? What’s on your grill next cookout?
Let us know in the comments below!