There’s just something so special about using a charcoal smoker. Sure, gas grills are a very convenient way to get your meal ready quickly. But, those grills just can’t infuse the same flavor as a charcoal smoker can. And, you also have to admit that firing up the charcoal smoker simply evokes that unusual feeling similar to some sort of a romance. Sometimes it’s enough to make my wife jealous…
So many people believe that smoking with charcoal requires skill and that it can turn out to be a backbreaking task. Usually, charcoal smokers require a bit more attention than other smokers since you have to monitor and adjust the fuel and air supply frequently. But if you find yourself a well-built smoker that can hold a steady temperature for hours. If a charcoal grill is right for you, there are many models on the market that make grilling with charcoal simple and enjoyable.
If you’re looking for a charcoal smoker, keep scrolling to see some of the best smokers available on the market. Keep in mind that choosing the right smoker is not only about the meat; it is also about spending time with your friends and family. You should make sure that you don’t slave over the coal so you could spend some time with your loved ones. Take a look at our list of charcoal smokers to find the best charcoal smoker for your needs.
How to Choose the Best Charcoal Smoker
The reason why many people go for a charcoal smoker is that it is a more traditional choice and it usually provides an authentic flavor to your cooking. Some of the cheapest smokers on the market are charcoal, but you can also find this type of smokers among the very expensive ones.
The first thing you should keep in mind when choosing a charcoal smoker are your personal needs. Try to work out what you really need in a charcoal smoker. Will you use it only to cook for your family or are you planning to prepare food for a crowd on a regular basis? Answering these questions will also help you determine the size of your smoker, which is another important factor. Charcoal smokers come in various sizes. You can find small, portable units that make a great companion on camping trips or you can go for a monster-sized charcoal smoker. A small smoker is probably enough for small gatherings. However, if you plan to smoke for a crowd you will need a smoker that comes with plenty of cooking space but that can also handle all the stress that comes with heavy use.
An average-sized smoker usually comes with about 400 square inches of space. Such smoker provides plenty of room for gatherings or even small parties. But, if you plan to cook for a large group of people frequently, then you’ll probably want a smoker that has more than 400 square inches of space. Usually, the ideal type of a charcoal smoker for crowds is an offset smoker.
Talking of offset smokers, it is important to know that there are several types of charcoal smokers available on the market. Each one of them comes with many different configurations, so it is important to know what a certain type of smoker offers. For example, the offset smoker that we mentioned comes with a separate firebox (where you add the charcoal) that is located near the main grilling chamber. This makes controlling the heat much easier. Very similar to the offset smokers are the vertical charcoal smokers. The cooking area of these smokers is turned into a vertical space with plenty of racks, suitable for those who plan to smoke lots of meat. Another type of charcoal smokers is the traditional kettle style grill. One of the most popular kettle style smokers is the Webber Kettle. This type of smokers is the right choice for those who plan to do a lot of grilling and smoking as well.
Last but not least, the price is an important factor to consider. Luckily, most charcoal smokers are affordable. Prices vary, but the average price of a charcoal smoker is about $200. You can even find some inexpensive smokers for about $100. But, if you want to get the best charcoal smoker grill on the market, expect to pay at least $300.
Top Pick – Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker Overview
This unit is quite affordable and also a hit with both amateurs and pro pit masters. Even though it is often named as the best charcoal smoker for beginners, this smoker can even be used at barbecue competitions where competitors cook on setups that cost more than $2000. The reason behind this is that Smokey Mountain smokers can cook at an exceptionally steady temperature for hours. In addition, changing the temperature in this model is fairly easy. All you need to do is open and close the vents.
One of the neat features of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is the wide door at the front which allows you to quickly load the charcoal. In addition, you can “custom” fit the door so that it can hold in the smoke better. However, there is one downside of the front access door and it is that the door is a little flimsy and it can be bent out of shape.
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker Features
Every part of this charcoal smoker screams of quality. The reason why this Smokey Mountain smoker is so popular, besides its affordable price, is the superior construction quality. By taking a look at the chrome and porcelain coating, you can clearly conclude that this smoker is built to last. In addition, it comes with a 10-year warranty.
Easy to Use
Using a charcoal smoker sometimes tends to intimidate people since they believe it is very difficult to cook with. However, even without investing in an automatic temperature controller, this smoker is as close as it can get to those “set-and-forget” smokers. You can leave it for several hours without having to worry about any temperature fluctuations.
Great Cooking Capacity
We already mentioned that this smoker is compact, but that doesn’t affect its cooking space. The 18” model comes with two cooking grates that are 18½ inches wide. The cooking surface is 481 square inches large and it is big enough to smoke a turkey and a ham at the same time.
For those who are considering the 22” inch model, it is important to point out that the full slab of ribs is unlikely to fit on the cooking grates of the 18” model unless you resort to some trickery. However, if the meat gets too close to the sides, it can end up being scorched. The downside of the larger unit is that it is quite hard to get the temperature below 275°F.
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Pros
- The unit is well-built and meant to last for years.
- The price is quite affordable.
- Superior airflow design ensures even and constant temperatures.
- Multiple vents can compensate for the wind.
- The sealed design allows the user to shut the smoker down and save charcoal for the next use.
- The smoker comes with a 10-year warranty.
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Cons
- The front access door is delicate and flimsy and it can be bent out of shape.
Runner Up – Dyna-Glo Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill
Dyna-glo vertical offset smoker overview
What many users value about this Dyna-Glo smoker is the cool-touch spring lid grip and handles that allow them to access the food and fuel safely. In addition, the unit is equipped with a professional-grade temperature gauge made out of stainless steel. The gauge features “Smoke Zone” that indicates the ideal temperature for infusing the perfect amount of smoke flavor.
his smoker comes with an offset firebox which can also be used as a grill to sear and lock in natural juices. A side tray slides out to provide easy access to fuel while minimizing heat loss. It can be removed for hassle-free cleanup.
Dyna-glo Vertical Offset Smoker Pros
- Relatively affordable charcoal smoker grill.
- Features heavy-gauge steel body construction.
- The unit can be easily cleaned.
- The steel wheels make it easy to move the smoker around.
- The smoker comes with a professional-grade temperature gauge.
Dyna-glo Vertical Offset Smoker Cons
- Sometimes, the users have trouble with the assembly of the unit.
Honorable Mention – Dyna-Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker
Dyna-glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker Overview
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty offset smoker, then you should definitely consider the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Smoker & Grill. This smoker is multifunctional and it provides durability, performance, and versatility. It offers flexible cooking options and you can use it as a charcoal grill or an offset smoker.
Dyna-glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker Features
Easy to Assemble
If you’re looking for a smoker that is easy to assemble, then this Dyna-Glo smoker is the right one for you. It comes with assembly instructions and it won’t take you more than 30 minutes to get the unit up and running.
Plenty of Cooking Room
Since this unit is a vertical charcoal smoker, it allows the user to cook plenty of food at the same time. The cooking chamber is equipped with six cooking racks that can be adjusted to fit almost anything. In addition, the firebox is attached on the outside of the unit so you won’t have to worry about your food smothering the heat source.
This Dyna-Glo smoker comes with dual doors that allow you to place food inside the smoker without worrying about maneuverability issues. You can easily place the food inside the unit without overcrowding it and also move your food around during the process of smoking.
Dyna-Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker Pros
- The cooking chamber is roomy and includes six cooking racks.
- The smoker is affordable.
- It is easy to assemble and use this unit.
- Works with charcoal and wood chips as well.
Dyna-Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker Cons
- The built-in thermometer can provide an inaccurate reading sometimes.
Best Value – Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker
Masterbuild Charcoal Bullet Smoker Features
The compact size of this smoker makes it suitable for all users, including the beginners, since it is quite easy to handle. Moving the unit from one place to another is also simple since it requires only one person. But, despite the compact size of the smoker, the cooking space is large enough to prepare foods and meats of all different sizes. In addition, this smoker comes with two cooking racks.
The Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker is one very affordable unit that gives you much more than the value of your money. This smoker is a great choice for those who have a limited budget as well as those who love to travel regularly. However, do keep in mind that the unit won’t last you for too long if you handle it carelessly.
This charcoal smoker comes with an external thermometer that helps you get a precise reading. The thermometer is quite easy to read and you can cook your food until the maximum temperature of 400°F is reached.
Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker Pros
- Easy to use and maintain.
- A very affordable unit.
- Small and compact in size.
- Can maintain the temperature up to 400°F.
- Spacious cooking surface can be used for meat of all sizes.
- Comes with an external thermometer.
Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker Cons
- The fluctuation of temperature may occur frequently.
- The unit has to be assembled manually.
Best Barrel Smoker – Barrel House Cooker 18C Wood & Charcoal Smoker
Barrel House Charcoal Smoker Overview
Barrel House Cooker 18C is an 18-inch model that is fairly easy to use. It does resemble an offset smoker but it is somewhat different from it. An offset smoker is a barrel laid on its side, whereas the Barrel House Cooker is a barrel standing straight up. Unlike offset smokers, it doesn’t require a firebox since the coal is placed at the bottom of the barrel. Around the top, there are a few holes that allow the heat and smoke to circulate around the meat.
This smoker provides you with several cooking options. The most common one is to simply hang your meat. You can use the H-frame placed near the top of the smoker to hang up to eight racks of ribs or even several whole birds. The other option is to place the grate in the middle section. This option is suitable for larger cuts that are too heavy to hang, such as brisket and pork.
Barrel House Charcoal Smoker Features
Built to Last
The drum and the base of this smoker are made out of 20 gauge steel. In addition, the drum and the lid are coated with porcelain that does not only provide durability but also an elegant finish. The sturdy base also features a central air intake operated by a damper.
Removable Base and Huge Capacity
The barrel can be easily lifted off the base for simple ash disposal, lighting, as well as adding wood. And, this Barrel Cooker is ideal when it comes to cooking for a crowd. It won’t take much space on your patio, but it will allow you to cook enough food to feed a party in no time.
The O-Grate Accessory
The O-Grate accessory that comes with this smoker gives you several cooking options and also enables much faster cooking. It allows you to hang meat and maximize grill space. The O-grate can hold up to 14 wide half grates, drumstick grates, and slotted grill grates.
DIY Ugly Drum Smoker Kit Alternative
If you’re a DIY person then you’ll be glad to know that you can also build your own barrel smoker. With the help of this Ugly Drum Smoker Kit, you can build your own competition-quality smoker in the comfort of your own home. To start this DIY project, all you’ll need is a 55-gallon drum, power tools, and some elbow grease!
The kit includes a 9 gauge basket and a 22” cooking grate. A thermometer with an installation kit is included as well as a smoker stack, air vents (inlet and exhaust) and all hardware that you might need. With this Ugly Drum Smoker Kit, you’ll be able to keep your pockets full without sacrificing the quality of your smoker. The kit also comes with stickers, so you can fully customize this smoker to suit your needs.
Best Charcoal Grill Smoker Combo – Kamado Joe Classic
Kamodo Joe Classic Features
Removable Ash Drawer
When cleaning a typical kamado grill, you usually have to scoop out the ashes from the bottom of the grill which can sometimes get messy. However, Kamado Joe Classic smoker comes with a removable ash drawer that can be cleaned easily. Simply take out the drawer and dispose of the contents. Since the manufacturer thinks about everything, they also included an ash clean-out tool for the situations when the ash doesn’t want to cooperate.
Divide & Conquer Grill System
An 18” grill can be limiting for some. However, engineers at Kamado Joe have found a simple solution for this – the divide and conquer grill system. This system allows you to set up grills at staggered heights and also create distinct temperature zones or areas for direct and indirect grilling by using heat deflectors.
Amazing Customer Support
Relatively few brands have a customer support as good as Kamado Joe does. You can always phone them toll-free or contact support through an online form. The company also has Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter account so you can try contacting them there or simply visit these accounts to read customer reviews.
Kamodo Joe Classic Pros
- Premium-quality charcoal grill smoker combo.
- Ceramic shell enables even cooking.
- Excellent ventilation provides advanced heat control.
- The unit can be shut down to dispose of the remaining charcoal.
Kamodo Joe Classic Cons
- The unit is more expensive than the average charcoal smokers.
Runner Up – Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker
Char-Griller Akorn Features
Versatility and Even Cooking
Kamado smokers are versatile outdoor cookers. You can use them as a standard oven and also to grill, smoke, and even cook pizza. Simply said, kamado cookers can be used to cook just about anything.
In addition, these units can keep temperatures even for extended periods of time. And, constant and even heat makes cooking much easier.
If you take the price of this Kamado smoker into consideration, this unit is incredibly good value for the money.
Basically, you get the premium features that come with expensive kamado units at a low price. However, since the Kamado Akorn is not the best charcoal grill smoker combo on the market and its build is not as sturdy as that of the premium units, you won’t be getting a product that lasts for a lifetime.
Efficient Use of Charcoal
All premium kamado units are very efficient with charcoal and so is the Akorn Kamado. It can cook for a long period of time with only one batch of charcoal. It is advised to use smaller lumps of charcoal for quicker cooks and larger pieces for longer cooks.
Char-Griller Akorn Pros
- A kamado-style grill that is cheaper than most other units.
- Features efficient fuel consumption.
- The bottom section can be removed for easier cleaning.
- Can reach the temperature up to 700°F.
Char-Griller Akorn Cons
- The temperature gauge is not very accurate.
- Paint and porcelain can burn off at high temperatures.
- Uncoated cooking grates require regular seasoning and care.