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Best Smokers – Tested. Reviewed. Results.

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Ever wondered if the secret to top-notch BBQ is the smoker you use? Well, the seasoned pros say its not, but if you’re looking to elevate your BBQ game, having a dedicated smoker could be just the ticket. We’ve put our BBQ passion to work, testing countless smokers and grills to bring you our top picks. We’ve considered everything; value for money, performance, ease of use, and even threw in some unexpected choices like pellet grills and a convection cooker.

Finding the perfect smoker is not a one-size-fits-all deal. It’s about what is best for yonike air max 270 men’s air jordan mid 40 air jordan retro 1 mid casual shoes air jordan 1 low flyease nike jordan series 06 nike air max 270 women’s sale nike ispa 270 nike air max 90 futura nike jordan zoom air cmft air max 95 nike air max 270 women’s sale nike air max 270 women’s sale air jordan 4 military black jordan max aura 4 nike air force jordan u. Are you a BBQ enthusiast in search of a dedicated smoker? Or do you find yourself grilling more often and seek a versatile backyard cooker that can produce mouthwatering BBQ and sear a delicious steak? Maybe you’re looking for simplicity over the ultimate BBQ outcome — after all, you’re not looking to win a cookoff competition — maybe you just want a user-friendly smoker or outdoor cooker that can deliver decent BBQ on a Wednesday night. We’ve considered all these factors when putting our winners together. Some smokers made the cut not because they are the ultimate barbecue smokers, but because they offer ease of use and provide good value for your money.

Our goal for this page is not to list “the best smokers money can buy”, but instead, to list our favorite units based on the factors we’ve listed above while giving you the details you need to find the perfect match for you and your family’s BBQ and/or grilling needs. Side note: If you’re looking to discover the top smokers for competition cooking, jump over to our competition review article.

shot of bbqed pork shoulder

 

Revealing our top smokers

Spoiler alert: below is a quick reference guide to see our winners in a snapshot. Click to jump down to our detailed review to see why we’ve selected these models and discover which one fits your cooking style, budget, and experience level the best.

PRODUCT NAME & SPEC RATING
Weber Smoky Mountain Product image Weber 18” Cooker

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Bullet/Charcoal
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
CHECK PRICE
JUMP TO REVIEW
Kamado Joe Classic product image Kamado Joe

  • Price: $$$$$
  • Type: Egg/Ceramic/Charcoal
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
CHECK PRICE
JUMP TO REVIEW
Pit Barrel product image Pit Barrel

  • Price: $$
  • Type: Barrel/Drum</Charcoal/li>
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
CHECK PRICE
JUMP TO REVIEW
Masterbuilt MB20070210 product image Masterbuilt MB20070210

  • Price: $
  • Type: Vertical/Electric
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
CHECK PRICE
JUMP TO REVIEW
Char-Broil 725 Deluxe product image Char-Broil 725

  • Price: $
  • Type: Vertical/Electric
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
CHECK PRICE
JUMP TO REVIEW
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado product image Char-Griller Akorn

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Egg/Charcoal
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
CHECK PRICE
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Masterbuilt Gravity Series 1050 product image Masterbuilt Gravity 1050

  • Price: $$$$
  • Type: Digital Controlled/Charcoal
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
CHECK PRICE
JUMP TO REVIEW
Weber Orginal Kettle product image Weber Orginal Kettle

  • Price: $
  • Type: Kettle Grill/Charcoal
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
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Z Grills 8 in 1 Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker ZPG-700D product image Z Grills 8 in 1

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Pellet Grill/Pellet/Propane
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
CHECK PRICE
JUMP TO REVIEW
Dyna-Glo product image Dyna-Glo

  • Price: $
  • Type: Vertical/Charcoal
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
CHECK PRICE
JUMP TO REVIEW

Best Overall Smoker

Weber 18” Smokey Mountain Cooker (WSM)

The Squirrel Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

If you want to do it classic and old-school like the pros, then a charcoal smoker is for you. You can’t go wrong with the Weber Smokey Mountain, a popular name in the meat smoking community. And for good reason—these bad boys are the kings of meat smoking, even winning a few competitions here and there. This is a charcoal smoker which makes many aspects of heat easy to control, and is a fuel type accessible anywhere.

Features & Specifications

The Smokey Mountain Cooker comes in 3 sizes, the 18 inch is the most versatile in our opinion. Offering 481 square inches of usable cooking surface, you can easily cook enough food for a decent sized group. The porcelain enameled 3-section chamber comes with an integrated water pan that leaves meats moist, tender, and super juicy.

Why We Love the WSM

What sets the WSM apart is its dual functionality – it effortlessly transitions into a grill when the water pan is removed. This feature adds a versatile edge to your outdoor cooking experiences. Additionally, Weber’s assurance of a 10-year warranty on all their products underscores their commitment to durability, making WSM a solid investment. Given its affordability, robustness, and efficacy, it’s no wonder that WSM is our top pick.

What I Don’t Like About the Weber Smokey Mountain

One of the issues I ran into was with the rather flimsy aluminum door. It just doesn’t seal properly, allowing heat and smoke to escape during the cooking process. Fortunately, this problem isn’t insurmountable and can be addressed by manually sealing the door yourself. Another potential pitfall is that the WSM might not be as user-friendly for beginners as some other smokers on the market. There is a bit of a learning curve when getting started, but I personally think that’s a small price to pay for the deliciously smoked meat that results.

Pros

  • 10-year warranty
  • Three different sizes
  • Competition-level smoked meats
  • Can also be used as a grill

Cons

  • Not 100% leak proof
  • Steep learning curve for beginners

CHECK PRICE


Best Overall Runner-up

Kamado Joe Classic

The Squirrel Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

This device would easily be the Best Overall, but to be realistic we have to consider the price point. It is high. That being said, the product delivers on almost every level. The egg style cookers use heavy weight ceramic panels for superior heat retention and even distribution allow for low and slow cooking. The shape allows a funnel of heat to rise up giving you upwards of 750 degrees or more for searing and grilling.

Review Summary of Using the Kamado Joe Classic

The price point may be a bit higher, but the quality of the device justifies every penny. One of the highlights is the heavy-duty cart and robust side tables that reflect the thoughtfulness that went into the design. The air lifting hinge is another standout feature, showcasing the brand’s commitment to user-friendly operation. Kamado Joe is known for great air flow and control and rightfully so — its efficient upper and lower venting systems are legit. The grill’s split surfaces accommodate for a variety of foods, making it a great versatility smoker. When it comes to cleanup, it’s straight forward as the ash drawer is well positioned and easy to empty. One thing you should know upfront though is it’s built like a tank but the wheels make for easy maneuverability. The only real downside to the Kamado Joe is it really wants hardwood lump charcoal to preform as intended so it’s a little bit of a drawback as hardwood lump charcoal isn’t always available at the local supermarket. See more on Kamado cooking here.

Pros

  • Sturdy build
  • Exceptional overall package
  • Easy use with short learning curve

Cons

  • Single fuel type
  • Weighs a lot

CHECK PRICE


Best Value BBQ Smoker

Pit Barrel 18.5” Classic Cooker (PBC)

The Grill Squirrel Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Barrel smokers harken back to a simpler age. Food meets smoke and heat in an enclosed space. You can easily see early barbecue fans looking at a pit barrel smoker, an empty 55-gallon drum, and thinking I can make that work to smoke some food. Yeah baby, flame and food synergy. The guys over at Smoking Meat Geeks love this smoker for the price. See more on this cooker here.

Features & Specifications

best smoker for the money
Unboxing Pit Barrel Cooker

The pros at the PBC Company use an enameled 30-gallon 18-gauge steel drum to retain heat with their crafted charcoal basket to create an easy-to-use smoking environment. In addition to a standard grill grate, they include rods and hooks to suspend your meat in the center of the chamber. Set the bottom vent to match your altitude range and you are off and running.

Why I Think the PBC is the Best Bang For Your Buck

The Pit Barrel 18.5” Classic Cooker (PBC) is in a league of its own when it comes to value for money. The unique cylindrical design facilitates natural convection, evenly distributing heat and smoke for exceptional smoke flavor infusion. Add that to the ability to hang various meats with only one or two hooks as the point of contact, leaving all else exposed to direct heat and smoke. The design is so simple and works better than any other smoker under $400 when it comes to yielding authentic tasting BBQ. This innovative design enhances the flavor of you meat while keeping it moist with the fat and water drippings landing directly on the hot charcoal basket and turning into delicious smoke. Plus, the PBC is exceptionally fuel efficient with a single load of charcoal providing a solid 8 hours of cooking time (I’ve had a single basket last as long as 10 hours cooking at an average of 255°F). The one downside, if you’re hanging a longer cut of meat like ribs or a brisket, the bottom portion of the meat is usually cooked to a crisp so you’ll need to get a feel for how to hang the meat. But, for the price, it’s hard to find a smoker that yields a great final product, hands-off, in less time.

Pros

  • Minimal assembly
  • No moving parts to break
  • Fast learning curve
  • Very effective
  • Ideal for camp

Cons

  • Not pretty or stylish
  • No wheels for easy mobility
  • You’ll need to manually flip the drum to empty the ash – it can be a messy job
  • No insulation
  • Bottom portions of meat can easily become burnt

CHECK PRICE


Best Electric Smokers for the Beginners

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker MB20070210

The Grill Squirrel Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Having spent a considerable amount of time with the Masterbuilt MB20070210 Analog Electric Smoker, I can attest to its performance and share some of my personal experiences. First it’s easy to use, making it ideal for beginners – especially at the pricepoint. Cleanup is easy with the wood chip tray and grease drip cup that slide right out.

Features & Specifications

With three removable racks, the 30-inch model smoker has a respectable 536 square inches of cooking space—more than enough for several racks of ribs, a pork butt, whole chickens, or even a mid-sized turkey. It uses a dial very similar to an electric frying pan without the numbers, just a low to high scale. Simple tried and true electronics.

Pros and Cons

While you can cook somewhat hands-off for hours, you will need to add more wood chips and replace the water about two times throughout a 8 to 10 hour smoking session. It’s a little less than ideal if you’re hoping to set it for an all night smoke.

I also didn’t love that you don’t have much control of the vents to adjust how much airflow and smoke was lingering in the smoker.

When it comes to the temperature control, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The thermostat is relatively accurate (better than any of the other electric smokers we looked at in this price range), but, the lack of a digital readout makes is less than ideal for beginners. Getting the temperature dialed in at first does require some level of tinkering. But once you’ve cracked the code, maintaining the desired heat level becomes easier. So, while not perfect, the thermometer and temperature control is more than serviceable given the smoker’s price point.

Final Take

The Masterbuilt MB20070210 Electric Smoker is a testament to the value for money principle. It’s a no-frills, robust unit that delivers on its promise. It’s a smoker that’s designed to do one job and do it fairly well.

Pros

  • Decent smoking capacity
  • Relatively easy even for beginners
  • Great price point

Cons

  • Initial learning curve
  • No legs to keep it off the ground
  • Vague control settings
  •  Wood chips and water need replaced throughout smoking session

CHECK PRICE


Runner-up Electric Smoker for Beginners

Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker 725 Deluxe

The Squirrel Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

This one is our runner-up choice for the “Best Smoker for Beginners”. It has one or two more  drawbacks than the Masterbuilt for around the same price; but in comparing the two, one benefit of of the Char-Broil is you don’t need to replace the water and chips as often.

Features & Specifications

The insulated cabinet offers 725 square inches of cooking space across four removable and adjustable racks. The digital settings allow you a degree of precision, and the sensing equipment is pretty accurate if maintained properly. The broad range of 4-7 hours of smoking time is correct, and varies based on how high the temperature is set, the maximum being 275 degrees.

Reporting the Good & Bad

In terms of maintaining a steady internal temperature, the DES Deluxe performed quite well due to its double steel-wall insulation. We did however notice discrepancies between the readings from the included Charbroil probe and our trusted Signals Thermoworks thermometer. The DES seemed to run hotter than it was set to, sitting around 20-30°F above the target. While this could be an issue in some cases, it’s also workable by setting the temperature lower or cooking a bit faster which we did prefer.

We found that loading up the chipbox beneath the grates with about 4 cups of wood chips kick-started the smoking process within about 45 minutes. However, we noticed that the smoke didn’t last as long as Charbroil’s advertisement claimed. Realistically, we got a steady smoke for around 5-6 hours, as opposed to the promised 8 hours, but this can be impacted by factors such as moisture content and type of wood smoking chips you use.

What we found somewhat puzzling were the cook set options. The unit allows you to cook by either time or temperature. While this might initially seem like an advantage, the interface for setting up these options was not as intuitive as we would have liked. In theory, you can set a target temperature for your food, and the smoker will keep cooking until the internal temperature of your meat hits that target. Alternatively, you can set a cook time, and the unit will cook for that specified duration. However, in practice, we found the process of toggling between time and temperature settings to be a bit confusing and could definitely be better streamlined for user-friendliness.

At its price point of around $300, the Charbroil Digital Electric Smoker Deluxe is an okay investment for beginners.

Pros

  • Efficient use of smoke fuel
  • Well insulated, and holds moisture

Cons

  • No legs
  • Confusing temperature and/or time settings
  • If you purchase the model with the glass door, which is what we purchased, it’s hard to keep the glass looking clean

CHECK PRICE


Best Green Egg Alternative

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado

The Squirrel Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

This is our top choice for the “Best Big Green Egg Alternative”. This kamado-style grill and smoker has proven its worth, not only as a worthy competitor in the grilling market but also as a fantastic cost-effective alternative to the revered Big Green Egg or the Kamado Joe.

Features & Specifications

The Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Grill and Smoker comes packed with several nice features that make for a great grilling and smoking experience: The Akorn is made of 22 gauge steel and comes with a powder-coated exterior and a porcelain-coated steel interior. It uses charcoal as its primary source of fuel. As for the cooking surface you get a total cooking area of 447 square inches with a main grilling area of 314 square inches and a warming rack that is 133 square inches. The Akorn has cast iron grates with a removable middle insert, allowing for easy change out charcoal. It has dampers on the top and bottom that can be adjusted. It is surprisingly light for a Kamdo smoker, coming it at around 90 lbs.

Our Experience & Review

The Akorn’s assembly was straightforward, and though the instructions were slightly vague, it only took me about an hour and a half to put together.

When using the Akorn I found it to be good for both smoking and searing which can’t be said for most smokers. Smoking a whole chicken gave it a distinctive smoky flavor, with the skin crisping up nicely. The warming attachment was nice feature, keeping the grilled chicken thighs warm while I prepared veggies.

How does it compare to other Kamado style smokers?

When comparing this Kamado style grill and smoker to the Big Green Egg the first thing I noticed is that it wasn’t nearly as solid or sturdy – but rightfully so as the price is much less. However, they didn’t skimp on the caster wheels. Heat control was slightly more challenging on the Akorn compared to the Big Green Egg, often requiring a bit more attention to maintain the desired temperatures.

One thing I really like is the solid cast iron grill grates come with a removable middle insert, to easily swap charcoal – which is something the Big Green Egg doesn’t have.

So, you’re probably wondering how the Akorn compares to our runner up choice for the best overall smoker, the Kamado Joe. The Akorn’s lightweight design and quality casters make it easier to maneuver compared to the tank-like construction of the Kamado Joe. While the Akorn lacks the insulation of Kamado Joe’s ceramic construction, it compensates by heating up surpassingly fast. Its user-friendly features, like the removable middle insert for charcoal swapping, make it a strong competitor. All this, combined with its far more affordable price tag, certainly makes the Char-Griller Akorn a good choice for beginners and pro grillers alike.

Pros

  • Excellent price in the category
  • Fuel and temperature efficient
  • Easy clean up

Cons

  • Requires an accessory to smoke well
  • Couldn’t reach customer service via phone

CHECK PRICE


Best Versatile, Overall Smoker

Masterbuilt Gravity Series 1050

The Squirrel Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

This is a Cadillac level of production in our opinion. Think a pellet grill feeding type system, but it uses charcoal, either lump or briquets, and you can mix in wood either chips or chunk up to fist size. The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 1050 grabbed our attention for its unique gravity-fed charcoal cooking system and its versatility in managing a wide range of cooking processes from smoking, grilling, roasting, to baking. This gravity cooker utilizes a vertically stacked charcoal system, allowing for a consistent heat supply that can reach high temperatures quickly.

Features & Specifications

The stated rating, and it is pretty close to true, is that it will get to 225 degrees in 10 minutes and 650 degrees in 15 minutes, so searing and smoking are both workable. It can smoke cool, not quite cold, but at a 150-degree setting. The name calls it with an impressive 1050 square inches of usable cooking space. It features a digital control panel for straight-forward temp control. Of course, there’s the gravity-fed charcoal hopper that can hold up to 16lbs of lump charcoal or 20lbs of briquettes, good for about 12 hours of uninterrupted cooking. The reversible smoke + sear cast-iron grates are a nice feature.

What We Liked

During our test, we were able to pack the Masterbuilt 1050 with a smorgasbord of meats, and it handled them all well. We liked how quickly it reached temperature, allowing us to start cooking almost instantly. The incorporated digital control panel is user-friendly and was a real game-changer, which is more than can be said for several of our top ranked smokers.

The Masterbuilt Gravity 1050 yielded a much better authentic BBQ flavor than the Masterbuilt electric smoker, but that’s not saying much. It was fascinating to watch how the vertically stacked charcoal system provided a consistent heat supply for long smoking sessions. The large cooking is nice and the built-in temperature probes were accurate within 4+/- degrees. This was a major plus for us since so many of the grills and smokers were upwards of 10+/- degrees off. The Masterbuilt Gravity 1050 did a good job keeping temperature at our set temps of 235F.

Some Potential Drawbacks

The gravity-fed system, while innovative, requires a learning curve and may be less intuitive for those used to traditional smokers. The app could also be better – perhaps it is by the time you’re reading this article.

We noticed that it eats up a good amount of charcoal. As for design, it’s solid, but that means it’s heavy, making it less portable. And while the smoker does an excellent job maintaining a steady temperature, we found it challenging to bring the temperature down quickly once it has heated up.

Pros

  • Multiple fuel choices
  • Fast start up
  • Nice usable space

Cons

  • Consumes charcoal
  • App is so-so
  • Assembly is not simple

CHECK PRICE


Best Value Versatile Smoker / Charcoal Grill

Weber Original Kettle

The Squirrel Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

For many of us, using the Weber Kettle was our first chance to cook a full turkey or any large cut of meat outside over open flame. Okay, the last flame of this five-flame rating may be a bit of nostalgia. But c’mon, these guys were ubiquitous in every backyard when they came out, and with a realistic life expectancy well into the double digits, they still are. The Weber Kettle grill is not purposely built for smoking meat or traditional barbecue but, it’s unique design lets it function not just as an excellent charcoal grill, but also as a capable smoker.

Features & Specifications

The entry cost on these can be less expensive, our recommendation is a slight step up. In this case, the 22” model has a decent cooking surface at over 350 square inches for grilling, somewhat less for smoking. The Weber Kettle grill is equipped with dampers at both ends, allowing total control over the airflow. This feature makes it possible to cook at low and slow temperatures as well as to reach extreme searing temperatures swiftly by simply removing the lid and opening the bottom damper. This has the hinged grill sides which help with smoking and other long cooks to easily add more fuel, and the ash removal bucket which really does make your life easier, and cleaner. At less than 35 pounds empty, this is easily mobile, and sits high enough that working on deck surfaces has virtually no risk.

What’s not to like about the Weber Original Kettle?

After many years of using the Weber Kettle, I’ve learned that it’s essentially like cooking over an open flame, normally a tricky task, but  with the right system and quality charcoal you get consistent results every time. In fact, with a backyard full of grills and smokers, I love my Weber Kettle so much that I find myself using it more often any of my other options. This is because, when grilling, you want a mix of high and low heat and nothing, aside from a gas grill is more efficient. The downside to a gas grill, is you don’t get the tasty grilled flavor that charcoal brings to the table. The Weber Kettle not only is my favorite option for grilling, but it can preform long smokes as well.

There are countless accessories to customize your Weber Kettle according to your preferred grilling or BBQ style. Out of all the add-ons, the Slow-N-Sear  is a serious game-changer. It cuts down on the learning curve of maintaining consistent temperatures and heat zones.

For beginners, the learning curve is a little challenging when trying to dial in constant temperatures for a duration of time – but when it comes to preforming a quick grill it’s hard to get it wrong. With the ability to do so many things so well for an entry level price – I’m sure you’ll love your Weber kettle for any occasion; in the backyard, on the patio, balcony, tailgating, camping at the park and anywhere you feel like getting your grill or BBQ on.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Versatile
  • Effective across cooking styles
  • Durable
  • Tons of accessories available

Cons

  • A little tough to master
  • Requires practice for using as a smoker
  • Ash can could be a little smoother to remove

CHECK PRICE


Best Pellet Smoker for the Money

Z Grills 8 in 1 Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker ZPG-700D

The Squirrel Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

The Z-Grill Pellet Smoker, ZPG-700D, clinches our top spot for the best overall ‘Pellet Smoker’ because it’s a great alternative to the popular Traeger pellet grills, but at a significantly lower cost.

Pellet grills offer several luxuries to traditional charcoal or electric smokers. PID temperature controller technology, allowing users to set their desired cooking temperature easily and you can trust it to maintain better than electric or charcoal grills do. They are also easier to cook with when it coms to roasting or grilling than traditional smokers. However, while pellet smokers do yield a smoky flavor, the intensity of that flavor falls a bit short compared to a charcoal or wood smoker. If you prioritize genuine tasting BBQ over convivence, a traditional smoker might be a better choice for you. And of course, don’t forget, you’ll be needing power so don’t plan an hauling your pellet smoker out to camp – it’s a pet peeve of mine when I see people running a generator at their camp site for hours to power a pellet smoker instead of using a traditional style of smoker.

Features & Specifications

The Z-Grill Pellet Smoker, ZPG-700D has large grilling area of 700 square inches. The pellet hopper can hold 20 pounds which allows you to dump in a whole bag of pellets. The manufacture says the smoker will handle cooking ranges between 180°F to 475°F, but we found 200°F to 445°F to be more accurate. It has an auto-start ignition and PID digital auto temperature control.

Our Take

The Z-Grill Pellet smoker does a good job maintaining set low temperatures around 225F within +/- 9 °F, which is about average for pellet grills. It’s well insulated and utilizes PID temperature controller technology. When it comes to high temperatures for grilling we got it up to 423°F after 25 minutes which was above average speed for most pellet grills.

We like how easy it is to move around, and the pellet hopper cleanout is well designed. The storage shelf is a little small, and the solid lid picks up momentum when you go to shut it but none of the downsides outweigh the value you get – saving about 35% of the cost of a Traeger.

Pros

  • Good build quality
  • Comparable to more expensive pellet smokers like the Traeger

Cons

  • Cleaning is tough
  • Design is a little raw but doesn’t seem to affect performance

CHECK PRICE


Best Offset Smoker

Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill

The Squirrel Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

You can build a mini shed, duct in smoke from a fire 3 feet away and you have the classic smokehouse offset process…or you can buy this. Assembly required; you’ll end up with the original form of smoking at your fingertips. Using any charcoal and wood chunks, you are off to the races. The concept is simple: the vertical aspect of this design, being circular, promotes natural convection, ensuring even flavor and cooking by allowing smoke and heat to circulate. Unfortunately, many offset smokers on the market miss the mark with a horizontally placed barrel next to the fuel source. These poorly designed smokers hinder the convection process, causing most of the heat and smoke to pass over the top of the meat and escape through the vent. In contrast, the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker is intelligently engineered to position the meat in the center of the indirect heat, allowing for complete circulation around the entire cut.

Features & Specifications

The smoker comes with five chrome-plated cooking grates, offering a large 1382 square inches of cooking space – enough to fit eight racks of ribs. It can run of charcoal, or wood, giving the food that authentic smoky flavor. Heavy-duty carrying handles make transport relatively easier than previous models, despite being quite hefty.

Testing Results & Review

Having spent a whole weekend testing out the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker Series DGS, I can confidently say that this model is worth considering for those who take their barbecue seriously. The assembly is indeed a bit of a challenge and requires patience, but once you get it up and running, the results are impressive.

This smoker is a beast when it comes to capacity. We managed to fit 8 racks of ribs without any issue. The vertical design clearly had a major impact on how evenly the smoke and heat circulated, resulting in beautifully cooked, flavorful meat.

On the down side, wood isn’t cheap and Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Smoker is not the most fuel-efficient. We noticed it burned through wood quite quickly, meaning you’ll need a good supply of wood or wood chunks on hand – this may be a deal breaker if you have limited access to wood or are looking for an efficient method for yielding BBQ. With that being said, nothing beats wood when it comes to BBQ. We were also able to get a nice sear on our tri-tip by placing it on the rack in the firebox – so technically, you’d have a grill and amazing smoker for the price.

Moving this smoker around is not an easy feat, due to its solid build. But, on the flip side, it’s sold – even though the manufacturing could have been better (made in China). Some components felt a bit shoddy.

The unbeatable price coupled with the outstanding performance and the quality of BBQ produced makes the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker Series DGS a worthwhile investment for BBQ enthusiasts looking to save a buck.

Pros

  • Excellent BBQ quality and flavor
  • Unbeatable price-performance ratio
  • Massive cooking surface

Cons

  • Challenging assembly
  • Not easily movable
  • High consumption of wood
  • Some components feel less durable

CHECK PRICE


 

Summarizing Our Testing and Reviews

Choosing the best smoker from these amazing options was a lot harder than you think. Each one of them has something special and unique that they bring to the table. While I will reveal my ‘best smoker’ winner in just a bit, I believe that the best smoker for YOU is the one that fits your lifestyle, budget, and needs.

I especially liked the Weber Smokey Mountain for its incredible, competition-ready performance. Priced just right, it’s hard to deny Weber’s Smokey Mountain as the best meat smoker on the market. The Masterbuilt Gravity also wowed me with its multifunctional “set it and forget it” capabilities, as did the Z-Grill.

The Pit Barrel Cooker, while not technically a smoker, does a great job running for up to 10 hours on charcoal without the need for babysitting — impressive.

I also wanted to give a shout-out to the best value smokers on the market such as the Masterbuilt electric smoker and Char-Broil Deluxe, both affordable and electric for beginners looking for a start-up smoker.


What To Look For When Buying A Smoker?

Not all smokers were made equal. There are tons of things you need to consider before dropping potentially hundreds of dollars on the right brand and model. Each of the smokers, pit barrel cookers, and pellet grills I cover in this guide have their own pros and cons, but ultimately, it’s up to YOU to decide which is the best smoker for you.

Here are the things you need to keep in mind when choosing a smoker.

Power / Fuel Source

Choosing what power source or fuel type is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in buying a new smoker. The most common types are electric, gas, charcoal, and pellet grillers.

Electric

Super convenient and easy to use, electric smokers are a wonderful introduction to the world of smoking. Most electric smokers are “set it and forget it” types that require very minimal involvement. You can easily get a consistent temperature and amazing results with little effort.

However, some veteran smokers think that part of the joy is tending to your smoker and learning the various techniques. To each his own!

Gas

Also known as propane, gas-powered smokers are another easy to manage option with good control over the temperature. Propane is a very cheap fuel source, but there’s always the risk of running out of fuel mid-way through the smoking process. Plus, propane smokers don’t give you that rich sought-after smoke ring, and cheaper models don’t keep a stable temperature very well.

Charcoal

Most smoke masters swear by the low and slow technique that charcoal smokers are best known for. You’ll get a lot of that authentic smokey taste and coveted smoke ring. However, you’ll need to be much more involved in the process to get it right. It might not be the most beginner-friendly, but the flavor-packed results are more than worth the attention and effort.

Pellet

Are you more of a multi-purpose kind of cooker? Then a pellet grill might be the best smoker / grill for you. Pellet grills allow you smoke, bake, grill, and more with just a push of the button. A true “set it and forget it” that doesn’t skimp on flavor, pellet grills are ideal for entry-level beginners who want juicy, tender meats without the risk of messing it up.

Because the smoker does everything pretty much automatically (including feeding the wood pellets at the right intervals), they often cost more, and they may not get to the same level of quality as a classic charcoal smoker.

Smoking Space/Capacity

Smokers come in all configurations and sizes, so you should make sure that the one you get fits your needs. If you’re planning to smoke large amounts of meats, like for parties or get-togethers, then you’d need a smoker with a larger capacity. If you’re just cooking for a small family, then a smaller smoker should suffice. Some brands offer their flagship smokers in a variety of sizes so you can still get the great features in the size you want.

The general rule of thumb is that while bigger smokers can handle more meats, it’s also less likely to keep a stable and consistent temperature throughout. Smaller smokers use less fuel and have easier temperature control, but you’ll have to sacrifice shelf space.

Durability

With proper use and maintenance, a good quality smoker should last you several years if not a lifetime! Always take note of the materials, design, build quality, and construction of the smoker. You want something that is solidly-built, rust-resistant, leak-proof, and well-insulated. While a durable smoker will cost you more initially, it’s definitely more economical in the long run to invest in a high-quality smoker because you don’t have to worry about it falling apart. I always recommend making sure a cover is available for purchase as none of the smokers on our list come with one and they are well worth it.

Portability

If you’re planning to use your smoker on the road or on camping trips, then portability would be a very big factor. Here, you’ll have to take into consideration size, weight, design, and how easy it is to set up your smoker.

Some smokers come with handles and wheels for easy storage and portability. Even if you plan to use your smoker mainly at home, it can still be helpful to have these features so that you can move them around the yard or place them in storage when you need to.

Performance

A smoker is only as good as the flavors it produces, everything else is just bells and whistles. If you’re going to spend time and money smoking your meats, you’ll want a smoker that you can rely on to deliver consistent, quality flavors. As for fuel, when it comes to great tasting grilled food or BBQ; wood is best, followed by charcoal, electric, then gas. I say electric is better than gas when it comes to BBQ because all electric smokers include a place for some type of wood or pellets to be housed, while gas grills require you to purchase a smoke tube/box to introduce some type of authentic wood flavor. 

Besides getting a reputable smoker, one way to get a high-performing machine is to look for one with a wider range of temperatures and smoke options. It’s nice when you can rely on an effective smoker to also sear, grill and yield tasty smoked foods.

Features

This is the part that’s entirely subjective and up to your personal tastes. Additional features may not be absolutely necessary to making the perfect smoked brisket, but the convenience could be worth the extra cost. Some common product features include:

  • Windows or a clear front panel are nice, but need to be maintained 
  • Built-in thermometer and/or meat probes 
  • Versatility; the ability to cold smoke, grill, bake, or do other things with your smoker
  • Grates with swing hinges
  • Functionality of ash or grease trays
  • Smart/automated technologies
  • Quality of wheels

Value

Get the most bang for your buck. Think of value as not just cost, but how cost-effective a smoker is. This means factoring in the size, features, build quality, durability, design, and performance into the price. Again, if you get a grill or smoker that meets your needs and does both grilling and smoking well – then you have a winner; but ultimately, the value comes down to what you need your backyard cooking machine to do on a regular basis. 

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