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Grilling is great, but smoking takes outdoor cooking to a whole new level. From pork roasts to chicken to ribs, smoke flavor penetrates the meat during long, slow cooking. The meat emerges fully cooked, tender, and juicy. If a smoker is on your wishlist, check out our list of top picks.
When it comes to smokers, this one has everything you need for easy smoking at an affordable price. Since it’s electric, there’s no need to fuss with lighting charcoal, and the design is sleek, modern, and attractive. This uses Bluetooth to connect to your smart device, so you don’t have to keep track of a separate remote control. When you’re cooking, there’s no need to leave your comfy lawn chair to check the temperature or turn the cooker on or off.
This smoker has four chrome-plated racks that can handle up to 16 chickens, four turkeys, or eight racks of ribs. There’s no need to open the door to load more wood chips during cooking, since they load from the side of the smoker. When you’re done smoking and you want to crisp the chicken or finish ribs with sticky sauce, there’s a broiling element that can handle that for you, so there’s no need to fire up a separate grill or heat the oven to complete the cooking process. If smoking continues after dark, an interior light turns on when the door is open for easy visibility.
okThis user-friendly smoker doesn’t have dials or controls to worry about and works much like a familiar charcoal grill, so it can be a great introduction to smoking for people who just want something basic that does the job making tasty barbecue. Heat and smoke are controlled by adjusting the vents, and a water pan collects drips and keeps the interior humid for juicy results.
This uses charcoal for the heat source and has two cooking grates so you can fit plenty of food for the family or for a backyard party. A thermometer on the top lets you monitor the interior temperature, while a silicone plug in the side allows standard remote meat thermometers to slide through into the meat for perfect cooking every time. For additional versatility, this smoker can be configured to be used as a standard grill, as well.
Just because this smoker is designed to be portable, it doesn’t mean it’s less capable. It even includes Wi-Fi control so you don’t need to hover near the smoker to monitor the cooking. This uses pellets as a heat source, so all you need to do is fill the hopper and let the grill do the rest.
This smoker weighs 68 pounds, so it’s sturdy but still liftable. The legs fold to make it more compact for storage, or to tuck it into the trunk or the back of the pickup for a tailgate party. It runs on standard house current when it’s available, and it comes with three adapters so it can plug into your car for use on the road.
A smoker doesn’t have to break the budget, and this 16-inch bullet smoker from Char-Broil is the perfect example. It has two porcelain-coated cooking grates that offer a total of 370 square inches of cooking space. A temperature gauge on the lid makes it easy to monitor the smoker’s internal temperature for perfect cooking every time.
The dampers are numbered to make it easy to remember the best settings for heat and smoke, and the ash pan is removable for easy cleanup when cooking is done and the fire is out. For those who need more cooking space, there’s also a 20-inch version of this model.
Not everyone has outdoor space for smoking, and that’s where this little stainless steel smoker box comes to the rescue since it can be used on the stovetop. Of course, it can also travel outdoors to cook on the grill and it can also be used on a campfire. This includes the 11 x 15-inch smoker box, a cooking rack, a drip pan, a lid, and three pints of wood chips, so it’s ready to use when it arrives.
The handle makes it easy to move the smoker, but it folds away for neat storage. When smoking is done, this is completely dishwasher safe. Even better, the smoker can be used as a steamer or roasting pan when there’s no smoking on the menu.
The Masterbuilt MB20074719 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker is our top pick because it's electric, meaning there's no need to worry about charcoal and it'll be easier to control the temperature. Plus, it features Bluetooth connectivity. If you're new to smoking, we recommend the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker. It's easy to set up and use, and has a relatively small footprint.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
From smoking guns for cocktails to a stovetop smoker to an electric smoker, Donna Currie has been experimenting with home-smoked food for a long time. She’s smoked cocktails, salt, cheese, and even her own home-cured and smoked bacon. When it comes to lighting things on fire and creating billows of smoke, she knows what she likes.
What to Look for in a Smoker
Smoking capacity: Smokers come in a variety of sizes, so think about what types of foods you plan to smoke—from a plate of wings for a party to a whole turkey or something larger. Also, consider if you plan on smoking larger batches of food ahead of time and freezing them for later.
Portability: Portability isn’t just about tossing your smoker in the trunk to take it to a party—it’s also about the ease of moving it out of storage to the yard and back again. Especially if you don't have a permanent outdoor space for a large smoker, think about portability as you shop.
Heat source: Electric smokers are easy to use—just plug them in and add wood, water, and food Their heat is also easy to regulate since it’s much like a stove. On the other hand, smokers that use propane are more portable, since you don’t need a power outlet, but you need to watch its propane levels to make sure you don’t run out in the middle of smoking that brisket.
The Ultimate Smoker Buying Guide
Smokers come in many shapes and sizes and can be powered by a wide range of fuels. Here is what to consider when you start shopping for a smoker.
Cost of a Food Smoker
Smokers can be had for as little as $50 and up to $10,000 or more. If you aren't going to use it heavily, you may want to start with a small vertical water smoker. These are the least expensive smokers you can buy. You can make good barbecue in these smokers, and for many people, it is the only smoker they need, but there is a lot more to smokers than these simple units.
Smokers by Fuel Type
Smokers can be fueled by charcoal, hardwood, electricity, wood pellets, or propane. There are advantages (and some disadvantages) to these different fuels:
- Charcoal and wood smokers are more traditional and typically provide a more authentic flavor to your cooking. The cheapest smokers on the market are usually charcoal, but some of the most expensive use charcoal as well.
- Electric smokers are the most convenient, but many lack authentic flavor. Computer-controlled electric smokers allow you to set up the smoker and let it run until the food is ready.
- Pellet smokers are electrically powered but burn wood pellets to provide heat and smoke. These units can be as convenient as an electric smoker, but give you the flavor of the best charcoal/hardwood smokers.
- Propane smokers typically heat faster and easier than electric smokers but are still easy to use.
Depending on the price you can get a smoker that gives great barbecue with very little effort. One question you want to answer is how involved do you want to be in the process. Barbecue is a long and noble tradition of people sitting by the fire making great food. Do you want to set it and forget it or do you want to take an active part in the food you cook? Look for the electronic or computer control features that may automate some of the processes for you.
The smallest smokers can produce enough food for a large family (maybe as many as 20 people). The largest smokers make enough barbecue to cater a party all day long. It is important that you consider how much barbecue you want to make before you buy. If you are only going to be smoking for the family on the weekend, then a small unit will be enough. If you want to be able to smoke for the company party, then you will need a lot more space. Most smokers will tell you how much food you can prepare. As a general rule of thumb, you need one pound of meat (raw) per person. That can mean a lot of food.
There are a number of units on the market that can smoke and grill. If you want to be able to have the best of both worlds, then these are the units for you. Charcoal units, like the Kamado Joe Classic II, are the most common of this kind of multipurpose smoker. While many of the lower-priced units will promise this feature, you must be aware that take a great design to be both a good smoker and a good grill. Most of the less expensive models do one or the other well, but not both.
While you may not recognize the names stamped on many smokers, you should look into the company that produces the smoker you want to buy. There are a number of generic units that are store brands. These units offer no future of service or support. When you find a smoker that looks good to you, research the smoker reviews from experts and users.