As seen in:
Weber
18-Inch Smokey Mountain
Char-Broil
American Gourmet
Nordic Ware
365 Indoor/Outdoor
Masterbuilt
30-Inch Electric Digital
Bradley Smoker
Original Smoker
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Good

A top-notch smoker. Customer complaints rarely, if ever, occur. Unlike most smokers, this package includes a protective cover.

A low-priced smoker that suits most basic smoking needs.

Can be used for indoor smoking.

Convenient digital control panel. Handy side-loading wood chip tray. A good choice for those who want to "set and forget."

Convenient, automatic briquette feed. Easy-to-clean interior. User friendly.

Bad

Doesn't have some of the fancy bells and whistles of the Bradley Original.

Some minor quality control issues have been reported, such as flaking paint.

Diminutive smoker. Best suited for households of one or two.

Occasional consumer complaints of construction and electrical flaws.

Less cooking space than the Masterbuilt.

Bottom Line

The very best smoker money can buy. An exceptional smoker from a company with a reputation for quality.

A good choice for bargain hunters who are willing to tolerate a few product flaws.

A smoker with a small cooking surface and the unique ability to smoke food inside your home.

As one of the most popular smokers on the market, this quality appliance cannot be beat in terms of value and price.

A quality smoker that resembles the Masterbuilt in many ways, but with a smaller cooking capacity.

How we decide
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Products received from manufacturers

Best Smokers

If you're looking for a good smoker, you're fortunate to have plenty of choices. However, with the enormous number of different smoking methods (and prices) around, making the right choice can be difficult.

We've simplified the process by focusing on models that suit the majority of owners. We didn't review any ultra-cheap smokers because these models are hard to control and don't tend to last. We didn't review ultra-expensive smokers either, as these specialist products are beyond the needs (and budgets) of most of us.

Our smoker shortlist is an impressive collection that offers something for everyone, from the occasional user who enjoys smoke-flavored food to the enthusiast who frequently prepares food for family, friends, and parties. Our list includes the following:

Products we Considered

Weber
18-Inch Smokey Mountain
Char-Broil
American Gourmet
Nordic Ware
365 Indoor/Outdoor
Masterbuilt
30-Inch Electric Digital
Bradley Smoker
Original Smoker

Considerations

Size & Construction

If you don't use a smoker often, a stove-top model might be just what you're looking for. If you're a serious smoker with lofty cooking goals, however, you'll want to make sure that what you're buying is big enough for your needs. Whatever model you choose, chances are it's going to spend most of its life outside - so being solidly built is a definite advantage.

Fuel Type & Smoking Control

Smoking methods go way beyond charcoal and a pile of smoldering wood chips, so you'll want to look at the benefits each product offers. For the best results, you also want a smoker that's easy to control, but does that mean you have to constantly keep an eye on things, or are there more convenient alternatives?

Features

Even basic models usually come with vents and thermometers, but more advanced modern smokers offer a variety of automated functions and digital controls. In this section, we look at the features and corresponding benefits of each smoker on our list.

Price

The smokers that made our top five list vary in price, but each requires a significant investment. In this part of the ratings, we tell you exactly what you get for your money.

Considerations

Size & Construction

Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill

For many people, the Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill is just what an outdoor smoker ought to be. It's modeled after commercial smokers (many of which use a separate source of heat and smoke), but it shouldn't be confused with those high-end versions. There's a claimed 426 square inches of cooking area, but 138 inches of this space is taken up by the smoke box. Overall, it's roughly 46 inches long, 44 inches high, and 17.5 inches deep. Several owners commented that it looked bigger in pictures than in real life, but it's certainly large enough for the average family. Construction is steel throughout, but a cover is recommended if you're planning to keep it outside all year.

Nordic Ware 365 Indoor/Outdoor Kettle Smoker

The Nordic Ware 365 Indoor/Outdoor Kettle Smoker is specifically aimed at smaller households (singles/couples) and those who smoke only occasionally. At 13 inches across and just under 7 inches tall, you can fit a decent-sized chicken, a nice steak, or perhaps half a slab of ribs inside. It's made of steel and is designed to fit your stove top, but it should not be used on ceramic or induction models. As the name suggests, the Nordic Ware Indoor/Outdoor Kettle Smoker can be used both inside and outside.

Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker

Cabinet-style smokers like the Masterbuilt 20070910 Digital Smoker are popular because they offer a good combination of size and convenience. This one is quite compact - around 33.5 inches tall, 20 inches wide, and 17 inches deep - yet it has 730 square inches of cooking area thanks to the four racks inside. This model is insulated well, allowing you to retain heat and reduce energy consumption as you smoke. It has a powder-coated steel outer casing, which should mean a long and productive life. As with all outdoor smokers, however, investing in a cover is always a good idea.

Bradley Smokers Original Smoker

In terms of size and build, the Bradley Smokers Original Smoker is quite similar to the Masterbuilt. Externally, the two are almost identical: the Bradley is just half an inch taller and an inch deeper, and its epoxy-coated steel exterior should be equally strong and long-lasting. Internally there are, once again, four racks - although in this case, the useable area is only 520 square inches. Like the Masterbuilt, the Bradley offers plenty of insulation. Its stainless steel internal surfaces also aid heat retention.

Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker

The sleek-looking Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Smoker is 41 inches tall and 19 inches in diameter. According to the manufacturer, this smoker can accommodate an entire ham and a full-sized turkey at the same time. While the manufacturer doesn't give weights for either of those items, the 481 square inches of cooking area and the height offered by the two-rack layout give it enough capacity for most types of meat. Like most good smokers, the Weber is of steel construction, this time with a hard-wearing ceramic coating. Unlike most smoker models, a high-quality cover is included with this package. We're particularly impressed with this feature.

Unlike most smoker models, a high-quality cover is included with the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker package. We're particularly impressed with this feature.
Considerations

Fuel Type & Smoking Control

Offset smokers like the Char-Broil American Gourmet Grill receive some criticism because the heat spread can be uneven. Obviously, when first lit, it's going to be hotter a the firebox end than the other end. There are several simple solutions to this problem: use charcoal (it burns more slowly and evenly), allow the smoker to heat thoroughly before putting in your meat, or move cooking contents from one end to the other half-way through the process. Small amounts of wood can be added to the charcoal for a particular flavor, but this wood should be specifically for smoking; using any old scrap of wood that's lying around can introduce too much smoke or even unpleasant (and potentially dangerous) tars and creosote. The Char-Broil will get the job done, but potential buyers should realize that this is a basic, budget model, so you'll need some time to learn how it works best.

Although the Nordic Ware 365 Kettle Smoker is described as an outdoor/indoor smoker, it's clearly aimed more toward the latter, so reducing smoke to a minimum (while still imparting the proper flavor) is important. Because of this, owners recommend following the instructions closely and using fine wood chips like those initially supplied. Proper venting also has an impact on flavor, but users who feared having a kitchen full of smoke have been pleasantly surprised by how little escapes. Indeed, some owners told us they have thoroughly enjoyed having the smoky aroma aroma in their kitchen and house.

Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker

We've already mentioned the convenience associated with smokers like the Masterbuilt 20070910 Digital Smoker. This is reinforced by the cleanliness of electricity as a power source and the control offered by the electronic thermostat. The top-mounted panel makes starting as simple as setting the required temperature, loading up some wood chips, and pressing a button. For added versatility, there's a removable water pan (some people add juices or spirits to introduce additional flavors), and there's also a damper to prevent the escape of smoke if you're looking for a particularly intense taste.

Like the Masterbuilt, the Bradley Original Smoker offers a high degree of electronic control that makes it particularly easy to use. Smoke is provided by briquettes which are fed automatically, meaning you can leave the Masterbuilt unattended for up to eight hours. Temperature is thermostatically regulated. The Bradley Original Smoker has a two burner set-up that provides you with extra versatility: you can have smoke, smoke and heat, or just use it as a slow outdoor oven if you prefer.

The Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Smoker is quite basic in operation. You simply fuel it with charcoal (use wood chips or liquids for extra flavor and moisture retention), then leave it to do its work. It doesn't have the flexibility of control offered by the Masterbuilt or Bradley, but the idea here is to cook long and slow, letting natural flavors permeate over time. It's enough to just keep an eye on it and add more fuel or vent it (top or bottom) as required. As uncomplicated as this smoker may be, none of the other smokers in our ratings gets the rave reviews that this one does. Everyone from first-timers to serious competitors can't stop talking about how great their end results are. Several owners did say it needs a little seasoning to perform at its best, but that's not difficult, and after a long, slow smoke, your patience will definitely be rewarded.

As uncomplicated as the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker may be, it gets rave reviews from first-timers and serious culinary competitors alike.
Susan T.
Expert Consultant
Susan T.
Chef, Food Entrepeneur

Susan Sano Tuveson has been cooking for people for five decades. Educated in music, law, and languages, she left her legal practice to establish Cacao Chocolates in Kittery, Maine. A three-time Best of Seacoast New England winner, the shop was popular for its high-quality artisanal truffles flavored with unusual local ingredients.

Considerations

Features

Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill

We've mentioned that the Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill is a budget model, but the manufacturer has a good reputation for outdoor cooking equipment. This particular model offers features like ceramic coating on the grates that you wouldn't find on many cheaper models. There's a door on the fire box for easy ash removal, the necessary vent/damper/thermostat combination for temperature monitoring, and a useful little side shelf. The spring-wound handles remain cool, and it's got a couple of wheels to help you move it around. The Char-Broil Smoker is not a complicated cooking tool, but satisfied owners (and there are plenty of them) argue that it doesn't need to be. Of course if you leave the lid open, it can serve as a grill, too!

Nordic Ware 365 Indoor/Outdoor Kettle Smoker

The Nordic Ware 365 Indoor/Outdoor Kettle Smoker is a diminutive appliance, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. For a relatively small investment, you get a non-stick pan, tight-fitting lid, vent, thermometer, non-stick food rack, and liquid pan. The smoker comes with a small supply of fine wood chips and a recipe book, but the beauty of this appliance is in its simplicity - and the fact you can use it indoors all year round.

Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker

The defining feature of the Masterbuilt 20070910 Digital Smoker is its top-mounted control panel which regulates temperature (from 100 to 275°F) and allows you to set cooking time from zero to 24 hours. For added convenience, the wood tray loads on the side. (This feature also allows you to top up your wood tray while smoking, if necessary.) One or two owners did complain that you have to be very precise to keep the door from sticking, which can be a bit of an annoyance. The Masterbuilt's racks are chrome-plated, and there's a drip pan for catching meat juices and easy clean-up. Some models in this price range have glass doors so you can see the contents while they cook, but they do tend to cost a tiny bit more.

Bradley Smokers Original Smoker

If you want set-and-forget smoking, then the "Automatic Smoke Generator" on the Bradley Original Smoker will definitely appeal to you. Load the briquettes, adjust temperature (from ambient to 250°F), then leave the Bradley to do its job. There's a thermometer so you can keep an eye on temperature, but most of the other features are related to making clean-up as easy as possible. Racks are non-stick (and fully supported, so you're unlikely to tip them over), there's a useful drip tray, and the interior is easy to clean.

Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker

You don't get a lot of features with the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Smoker, but as we've already noted, the slow and simple approach to smoking can yield very tasty results. Quality is this smoker's main feature - as you would expect from Weber - and many owners compliment the way the manufacturer has put this appliance together. The fuel access door is aluminum, as are the vents - so they will never rust, even if you forget to use the provided cover. There's an accurate temperature gauge and a tough, glass-reinforced nylon handle for the lid. Plated racks make for easier cleaning and, like the Char-Broil, the Weber can be used as a grill when open.

The defining feature of the Masterbuilt Digital Smoker is its top-mounted control panel. This outstanding feature regulates temperature and allows you to set cooking time from zero to 24 hours.
Considerations

Price

Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill

A list price of just $74 makes the Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill a great value. It doesn't have the most robust construction, and many owners have said that the paint flakes off (you could use spray paint to touch it up). As one user pointed out, however, you're paying a relatively low price for a model that looks like a commercial-grade product. In some ways, it's a question of attitude. While some consumers think of the Char-Broil as nothing but a cheap smoker, others believe that, given how little it costs, a few foibles are perfectly acceptable.

Nordic Ware 365 Indoor/Outdoor Kettle Smoker

The Nordic Ware 365 Indoor/Outdoor Kettle Smoker is currently on sale for $55. That might seem like a lot of money when you look at the Char-Broil, but it's not really a fair comparison. The Nordic Ware fulfills a specific function (indoor smoking), and as such, it has few competitors. It's put together well, and although it can be used outdoors, indoor cooking is its star attraction. A few buyers were frustrated that the Nordic Ware 365 can't be used on ceramic or induction stove tops, but the majority were delighted with its ease of use and the flavor it imparts.

Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker

The Masterbuilt 20070910 Digital Smoker costs $177 -- an excellent value for an excellent product. It's no surprise, then, that this is one of the most popular smokers on the market. Any product that sells in the thousands is bound to attract some criticism, and a small number of owners had problems soon after delivery. While this was undoubtedly frustrating, faults of this nature should be covered by warranty and actually represent only a tiny fraction of the total units sold. Comments on the positive side far outweigh the negatives, with the majority of Masterbuilt owners being very happy with their purchase.

Bradley Smokers Original Smoker

For many consumers, the auto-feed of the Bradley Original Smoker is a compelling feature. If you are among this group, you should expect to pay around $256 for the Bradley Original. It doesn't offer quite the capacity of the Masterbuilt, but it's still plenty big enough for most consumers. Bradley is a manufacturer with a particularly good reputation, and owner feedback generally backs that up. There were one or two minor problems reported from people who had owned their smoker for several years, but comments like "Great for a novice!" and "Extremely user-friendly!" are far more common.

Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker

You would expect Weber quality to come at a price, but at $299, the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Smoker has to be a serious contender. It may not have the technology of the Masterbuilt or Bradley, but many would argue that the simple approach to smoking is actually the best. It's certainly a well-made product, and if owners' comments are anything to go by, it won't disappoint. The opinions of real users are extremely important when we put together our ratings, and we never gloss over valid complaints. So, are there any problems with the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker? Apparently not. ALL of the feedback we collected on this product was positive. The worst complaint we heard was that one person found the top handle uncomfortable!

If owner comments are anything to go by, the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker won't disappoint. In fact, ALL of the consumer feedback we collected on this product was positive!

Best of the Best

It's never easy to pick a winner when you've already narrowed the field down to a top five, but the smoker that gets our award for "Best of the Best" is the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Smoker.

You can get a feel for the Weber's quality just by looking at the pictures. This is a well-built item from a manufacturer with a tremendous reputation for outdoor cooking equipment. It's sturdy, big enough to feed family and friends, and has been designed to be easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to enjoy. Indeed, this appliance will turn out tasty food for you time after time! It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of smokers like the Masterbuilt or Bradley, but the question is, do you really need them? The Weber has the necessary vents and thermometer to monitor and control cooking temperatures accurately, and it offers that hands-on smoking experience that makes this kind of outdoor cooking so popular.

What sells this product for us is the feedback it gets from owners - the folks that have laid down their hard-earned cash for one. Customer ratings for the Weber are off the charts. Almost without exception, people love it. From novices to experienced grillers and smokers, they all think it's great. One man even reports having won prizes with it, competing against teams who spent up to $15,000 on their equipment!
Best of the Best
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Customer ratings for the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker are off the charts. From novices to experienced grillers and smokers, they all think it's great.

Best Bang for your Buck

If you're looking to spend a little less cash but you want a smoker that delivers, we recommend our "Best Bang for Your Buck" choice, the Masterbuilt 20070910.

This was actually quite a tough call. The low-priced Char-Broil would be perfectly adequate for many, and the Nordic Ware 365 can't be beat for its indoor smoking capabilities. The Bradley is a very good option, too, and the Weber is a tremendous value.

However, at a price of just $177, the Masterbuilt Digital Smoker is a superb all-round solution. It looks smart, has convenient features (easy-clean surfaces, side-loading wood chip tray), and offers the largest smoking area of any of our five finalists. Then there's the digital control panel. You can set the temperature precisely, time cooking for up to 24 hours (with automatic shutoff), then relax and leave the Masterbuilt to do its job.

There have been occasional complaints about construction flaws and iffy electronics, but it's almost inevitable that there will be a few problems with a model as popular as this. The flip-side is the thousands of satisfied owners whose typical comments are along the lines of "Smoking made easy!" and "Excellent smoker! Very convenient." What more do you need?
Best Bang for your Buck
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Simply set the temperature, program the timer, then relax and let the Masterbuilt Electric Digital Smoker do its job.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jasmin
    Jasmin
    Operations
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Kriti
    Kriti
    Data Scientist