There’s nothing that can replicate the smoky flavor of char, so when I’ve got a hankering for it, I tell my wife that I’m taking care of dinner. I have three different types of barbecues – a coal, gas, and a smoker – so I can experiment a lot – Guy Fieri
Every backyard barbecuer knows that the golden triumvirate for creating, and the secret to cooking, good barbecue is long, low, and slow.
It’s a tried and tested methodology that ensures that barbecue is tender, full of flavor, and melts in your mouth when eaten.
If you employ the rules the right way, your friends and family will be ready to beat down your door for a place at the table whenever you have a cookout. And if you want to keep them coming back for more, you need to learn how to smoke.
Any barbecue hound will happily spend an afternoon explaining the virtues and joy of smoking, and how a good smoker can transform barbecue and elevate it to another level of flavor-filled ecstasy. But finding the right smoker to help you take your first steps into, and explore all of the rich, deep, slow-cooked pleasures that smoking has to offer is easier said than done.
With so many to choose from, how do you know which charcoal smoker to choose in order to make all of your barbecuing dreams come true?
That’s what we’re here for. With over a decade of smoking experience in our barbecuing rearview mirror, we’ve honed and forged our smoking skills the hard way and earned our culinary kudos by creating the sort of barbecue that’s made us a backyard legend in the eyes of our friends and family.
And that’s why we’ve put together a list of the best charcoal smokers, so that you can follow in our footsteps and learn to embrace, and become as passionate about, smoking as we are. So sit back, relax and get ready to enter a whole new universe of smoking glory…
Best Charcoal Smoker
While their name is instantly familiar to and trusted by generations of home cooks, Cuisinart isn’t a brand that immediately springs to mind when a conversation turns to smokers and grills.
But, it should be as they’ve brought everything that they’ve learned during the last half-century of manufacturing culinary products for every kitchen in America to the backyard barbecuing and smoking scene. And they’ve managed to do it at a price that every would-be smoker can afford.
This forty-five-inch tall, eighteen-inch charcoal smoker uses two separate stainless steel racks which provide a total of five hundred and ten inches of cooking and smoking space.
With two separate vents, one at the top and one at the bottom of the smoker, you’ll easily be able to control the amount of smoke and heat that you can use to grill, barbecue, and smoke whatever it is you’ve decided to prepare and infuse with layers of charcoal imbued flavor.
Designed to be portable and fit in with your busy schedule and life, Cuisinart’s smoker can fit into any, and whatever space you have available in your yard. And its hinged side door is engineered to not only make it easy to add fuel to its smoking fire, but it also makes it straightforward and simple to clean.
Whether you’re looking for a smoker that can cater to all of your backyard barbecuing needs or to serve as a stand-in, all-in-one grill and smoker to use when you hit the road in your RV, then the Cuisinart could be the answer to all of your smoking prayers.
- Smoking Space – With a combined smoking area of five hundred and ten inches provided by two stainless steel racks, the Cuisinart has more than enough cooking space to smoke all the meat, fish, and vegetables that you, your family, and your friends will ever be able to eat.
- Affordability – At a price point that’s roughly half as much as the rest of the smokers in its class, the Cuisinart is astonishing value and an ideal first, and probably last as it’s the only one that you’ll ever need, smoker for anyone looking to dip their toes into the world of smoking and barbecuing.
- Warranty – As it comes with Cuisinart’s bulletproof three-year warranty, you’ll be able to enjoy six months of worry and hassle-free smoking fun with this deceptively easy to set up and use smoker.
- Instruction Free – Cuisinart doesn’t supply any instructions with their smoker, so you’ll have to get to grips with it, and figure it out, by yourself. But, as we’ve already said, it’s rugged and simple, and so you shouldn’t have any problems setting it up and using it.
Char-Broil has been at the heart of American smoking and barbecuing since they unleashed their first grill on an unsuspecting public in nineteen forty-eight. There’s a good reason why they claim to be America’s favorite brand of grill, and that’s because they’ve been keeping the smoking scene on track for the last seven decades.
Made to be durable and easy to use, this offset smoker has two hundred and ninety inches of smoking and grilling space in its main chamber and another one hundred and forty inches of additional smoking space in its firebox.
A combination grill, barbecue, and smoker, it’ll let you enjoy, and make the most of all three disciplines and help you to effortlessly master them all. Its built-in dampers also provide all of the straightforward tools that you’ll need to control the flow of smoke and heat, and its hood-mounted temperature gauge ensures that you’ll always know exactly how hot it is inside the main chamber.
Its firebox also uses an easy cleanout system and the grates are porcelain-coated, so you’ll never have to struggle to clean up the Gourmet Offset Smoker when you’ve finished cooking. Char-Broil even installed a side shelf on their smoker, to make it easier to get your barbecue from the smoker to your plate.
There’s a reason why they became America’s favorite, and as soon as you start smoking with their Gourmet model, you’ll understand why and become a life-long fan of smoking the Char-Broil way.
- It’s All About The Control – The multiple dampener system that Char-Broil uses makes it easy to control the amount of heat and smoke that their offset smoker creates, which makes it easy to achieve the perfect smoke, time after time after time.
- Easy Clean – The straightforward and simple to empty firebox and porcelain-coated grates (that are also height adjustable) make this smoker easier to clean than it is to use.
- Built-In Gauge – The hood-mounted temperature gauge makes it easy to monitor and control the amount of heat inside the main chamber so that you can cook at the heat, and with the amount of smoke that you want to.
- Quality Control – Some smokers and grillers have complained that this smoker isn’t quite as durable as Char-Broil claims that it is and that no matter how careful or diligent you are when you’re using it to smoke, it just won’t go, or last the distance.
Dyna-Glo specializes in designing, engineering, and manufacturing smokers, grills, and barbecues that can, and will, transform the lives of anyone who has ever been tempted to try their hand at outdoor cooking.
Made to fit every yard and every budget, Dyna-Glo’s smokers are built to make smoking simple and fun, regardless of how much space you have or how well versed you are in the art of smoking.
With four separate cooking grates that provide a staggering seven hundred and eighty-four square inches of smoking space and a door-mounted, stainless steel temperature gauge, all you have to do is load the racks with whatever you want to smoke, light the charcoal, close the door, set your watch and sit, back, relax and let the Dyna-Glo do all your smoking for you.
And when you’ve finished smoking? Its patented, removable steel ash pan and easy to wipe down interior makes cleaning the Dyna Glo a breeze.
It’s also easy to control and maintain the heat inside the cabinet with the dampeners that are mounted on both sides, and with a little patience and practice, you’ll be smoking like a professional in next to no time.
- It’s A Size Thing – Standing just fifty inches tall and twenty inches deep, Dyna-Glo’s vertical smoker was made to fit, and smoke, in any yard, regardless of how big or small it is.
- Smoking Space – Seven hundred and eighty square inches of smoking space is an astonishing amount of room. If you’re looking for a way to smoke and cook for your entire neighborhood, then you don’t need to look any further as Dyna-Glo has provided the solution to your block sized barbecue dilemma.
- Smoke And Go – With its easy to use dampeners, door mounted gauge, wipe down interior, and removable ash pan, the Dyna-Glo is a masterclass in smoking simplicity that puts you in charge of the cook at every stage of the long, low, and slow smoking process.
- Some Assembly Required – Even though Dyna-Glo claims that it’s ready to go straight out of the box, this smoker does require some assembly. And if you don’t think that you’re up to the task, they’ll supply one of their technicians to do it for you. But it’ll cost you another hundred bucks if you do take them up on that offer.
Weber has a simple motto “There’s a barbecue for everyone”, and hidden away in their vast and extensive collection of precisely designed barbecues is a smoker that long time veterans and newbies both swear by.
At just forty-nine inches high and twenty-three inches wide, Weber’s Smokey Mountain Cooker has been made to bring the taste of the outdoors into every American home.
It might seem small when placed side by side with some of the monstrous charcoal smokers that dominate the backyard barbecuing scene, but don’t let its size fool you.
There are seven hundred and twenty-six square inches of grilling space packed inside this smoker, and thanks to its conveniently located side door, it’s easy to add charcoal to increase the smoking time and just as easy to clean it after you’ve finished smoking for all of your family and friends.
While we’re talking about how easy it is to clean, it’d be remiss of us not to talk about how easy it is to control the amount of heat and smoke that Weber’s Mountain Grill makes and uses.
It’s another dampener controlled machine, that with a single twist of a dial will grant you total mastery of this incredibly efficient, precise, and deceptively small smoker.
- Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em – It might be forty-nine inches high and twenty-three inches wide, but what the Weber lacks in size it more than makes up for in cooking space and its seven hundred and twenty-six square inches of smoking power make it a more than formidable barbecuing weapon that any outdoor chef would be proud to add to their arsenal.
- Easy To Use, Even Easier To Clean – That just about covers it. It’s simple to use, straightforward to clean and will help you to smoke like a champion.
- Weber Warranty – Like all Weber barbecues, the Smoky Mountain Grill comes with a ten-year warranty that’ll cover any design and manufacturing error. That’s one hundred and twenty months of bliss filled, happy smoking time.
- Reach For The Sky – Like every grill that wears the Weber name, the Smoky Mountain isn’t exactly cheap and if you decide that it needs to find a new home in your backyard, then your pocketbook will have to bear the financial burden of that decision.
All good things come to those who wait, and that’s why we’ve saved the best for last. Built on the back of one man’s dream, Oklahoma Joe’s smokers are proof positive that if you have the will and drive to succeed, then anything is possible.
Three decades after selling his first ten hand-built smokers at the Oklahoma State Fair in under an hour, Joe (as in Oklahoma Joe), has watched his smokers evolve from the little grills that could into a genuine barbecuing phenomenon.
A reverse flow smoker that channels all of the heat that it makes from its simple to fill and even easier to clean firebox into its main chamber, it uses four grates to ensure an even dispersal of heat and smoke throughout its one thousand and forty-nine combined square inches of smoking space.
And thanks to the ingenious system of baffles that the smoker uses, and its lid mounted temperature gauge, you’ll be able to fully control your cook from beginning to end.
Just like the natives of the state that this smoker takes its name from, it’s hardy, durable, and made to last. And, in all likelihood, this smoker will outlast you and end up being passed down to the next generation of your family who can keep on smoking the way that you, and Oklahoma Joe, taught them to.
- That’s A Lot Of Smoking Space – With a combined cooking area of over a thousand square inches, you’ll be able to feed an entire village or small town with this reverse flow smoker.
- Dampening Down The Heat And Cleaning Up – The dampeners make it easy to control the amount of heat and smoke that you use to cook with and the even easier to clean and empty firebox means that it’ll never be a chore to get the cleaning done.
- Big And Heavy – All that cooking space comes at a cost, and while there’s a considerable financial one involved in the purchase of this charcoal smoker, it also weighs more than the average family car.
Which Charcoal Smoker Is The Right One For Me?
Deciding which charcoal smoker is the right for you should be solely based on two factors. Your budget and the amount of available space that you have.
If you have limited space in your yard and an even more limited budget, then maybe you should look a little harder at the Dyna-Glo Vertical Smoker.
However, if you’re not hampered by either budget or space, the only charcoal smoker that should even be a blip on your barbecue radar is Oklahoma Joe’s Reverse Flow Smoker.
Once you smoke the Oklahoma way, you’ll never look back. That said, at the end of the day, the choice is entirely up to you. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Charcoal Smoker?
A charcoal smoker is a grill that’s been specifically designed to obey, and cook using the three rules of barbecue.
Using charcoal as its fuel source, the smoker adheres to the long, low, and slow rule and uses a lower heat to cook food over an extended period of time, and while cooking it, also imbues it with a rich, smoky flavor that comes directly from the fuel it uses, the charcoal.
Charcoal smokers are often big and bulky and while the flavor that they impart to the food that they’re cooking is always mouth wateringly delicious, learning how to perfect the art of cooking with one can take a lifetime.