BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
This is a top-notch smoker that’s easy to assemble and operate. Two silicone grommets monitor the internal temperature. The dampers let you control the temperature, and the fuel door is removable so you can add more charcoal or wood at any time.
Doesn't have some of the bells and whistles that other high-end smokers have.
This versatile pellet stove lets you cook over indirect heat with 5-degree precision, or you can sear with the flame broiler. The 15-pound easy-access hopper facilitates refueling and cleaning. The set-and-forget operation is great for beginners.
This entry-level model is best for beginners who do not cook for large groups.
This heavy steel offset smoker includes sausage hooks and five smoking racks. It has a precise temperature gauge, a convenient pull-out side tray and lots of cooking space. The charcoal grate and ash pan are removable for easy access and emptying.
At 124 pounds, this is an especially heavy smoker.
With wood pellets, you get the convenience of a gas grill with the smoke-infused flavor of wood. Cleaning is effortless, precise temperature is achievable and the 500-degree maximum temperature lets you grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise and barbecue.
The price is high compared to other quality smokers.
The digital control panel lets you set cooking temperature and time at the press of a button. Four chrome racks offer a combined cooking surface of 710 square inches. The side loader lets you add wood chips while cooking without sacrificing heat or smoke.
Because it is an entry-level model, it’s not as rugged as pricier smokers.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
If you want a tender and flavorful backyard meal, you gotta go with a smoker. But not every model is a champ. To get that mouthwatering, low-and-slow, smoke-infused meat, you need to buy the best smoker. You want a model with exceptional insulation, reliable temperature control and adjustable airflow. You also should choose a model that reflects your space limitations (if you have any) and ability level. For example, can you operate an offset smoker, or would a vertical model be better for your skill level?
At BestReviews, we research products, compile data, test models, evaluate consumer reviews and consult experts to find the best options on the market. Our top choice is the Weber 22-Inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, which can hold a lot of food despite its compact design.
Product Specs: Fuel Source: Charcoal | Weight: 68 lb | Dimensions: 23" W x 24" D x 48.5" H | Cooking Surface: 726 sq in | Temperature Range: NA
This vertical smoker is ideal for beginners who want to get full-flavored, fall-off-the-bone results using charcoal. It features a porcelain-enameled lid, bowl and center for superior heat retention, and the dampers let you easily adjust the airflow to control the temperature.
Despite its rounded, compact size, this smoker can hold a lot of food. The two grilling racks let you smoke two large items at once, such as a turkey and brisket. You can monitor the temperature of the grill and the meat using the silicone grommet. And, if you prefer (or require) remote monitoring, you can connect to your phone via Bluetooth.
This smoker is best for novices who want authentic low-and-slow cooking. With just a small learning curve, the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker can help you cook like a pro. It is well-built and easy to use without confusing bells and whistles. It just has the features you need to get the job done right.
Best overall value
Product Specs: Fuel Source: Wood pellets | Weight: 90.39 lb | Dimensions: 37.72" L x 24.88" W x 42.40" H | Cooking Surface: 543 sq in | Temperature Range: 180 to 500 degrees with direct flame searing up to 1,000 degrees
This might not be the largest offset smoker on our list, but it's the best smoker for the money. You get a compact design that still has over 500 square inches of cooking space, which means you can cook about 30 burgers at once. Plus, it has a storage shelf to hold all your essential accessories.
The firebox is fueled by wood pellets and can be set in 5-degree increments for precise heating. The temperature ranges from 180 to 500 degrees, so you can cook slow or fast, depending on your desire. And, if you are after a scrumptious sear, the adjustable flame broiler feature can reach temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees.
This smoker has two meat probe ports so you can monitor temperature at all times. With eight cooking features (smoke, bake, sear, grill, barbecue, braise, char-grill and roast), this is one of the most versatile workhorses on our shortlist. Plus, the simple operation makes it great for beginners.
Most cooking surface
Product Specs: Fuel Source: Charcoal | Weight: 124.3 lb | Dimensions: 24.9" W x 45.5” D x 58.8" H | Cooking Surface: 1,382 sq in | Temperature Range: 50 to 500 degrees
If you are looking for a model that can feed the masses, the Dyna-Glo is an innovative vertical offset smoker that offers an impressive 1,382 square inches of cooking space. Besides its five chrome-plated steel cooking grates, this model has chrome-plate sausage hooks. The offset firebox doubles as a small grill for additional versatility, and the oversized wheels help you move it to your chosen cooking location.
The side tray can slide out while you are cooking, making it possible to add fuel without losing a great deal of heat. You can also slide the tray out after it cools to make cleanup easier. The professional-grade temperature gauge lets you see how hot the inside of the smoker is. It also shows when you've reached the ideal temperature for smoke-infused cooking.
The Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker and Grill is large and heavy. It is best for an experienced user who requires versatility and intends to prepare large amounts of food. However, the price is low enough that a serious beginner could consider this as a first smoker.
Best wood pellet smoker
Product Specs: Fuel Source: Wood pellets | Weight: 166.66 lb | Dimensions: 49" W x 27" D x 55" H | Cooking Surface: 780 sq in | Temperature Range: 180 to 500 degrees
Since this model is a little pricey, it’s best for someone who will be using it more than occasionally. It has a push-button start, and the set-and-forget functionality is designed with multitasking pitmasters in mind. You can use the Wi-Fi connectivity to monitor and control your smoker no matter where you are, as long as you have your smartphone with you.
The Traeger has a broad temperature range of 180 to 500 degrees, which means you can grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise and barbecue. We like the brushless motor and single-piece auger as well as the durable build and rugged wheels. This model feels like it’s built to last.
Bells and whistles such as the magnetic hopper cleanout door, temperature probe, extra grill rack and exterior hooks are all welcome conveniences. Porcelain grill grates make cleanup a breeze. This model is simple enough for a beginner but has pro-grade quality for exceptional results. If you have the budget, you won't be dissatisfied with this Traeger smoker.
Best electric smoker
Product Specs: Fuel Source: Electric | Weight: 58.32 lb | Dimensions: 25.6" W x 19.9" D x 41.3" H | Cooking Surface: 970 sq in | Temperature Range: Up to 275 degrees
For the individual who has never used a smoker before and wants convenience and precision, the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is a good way to go. This model works the same as your oven. Just select the temperature and cooking time and press a button — that's all there is to it. The unit will only heat up to 275 degrees, so it's hard to make a mistake when smoking.
The four chrome-coated cooking racks give you 970 square inches of cooking space, which is enough to smoke an entire meal with meats, vegetables and more. You will have to add wood chips to get that authentic flavor, but the clever side-loader design makes this an easy task. Easily adjust the smoke level with the smoke damper.
This affordable entry-level model will need access to an outlet, but it is the most effortless way to see if a smoker is for you.
Best gas smoker
Product Specs: Fuel Source: Gas | Weight: 75 lb | Dimensions: 24" W x 16" D x 44" H | Cooking Surface: 301 sq in | Temperature Range: 150 to 350 degrees
If you want the ease of an entry-level model but do not have a power supply nearby, this gas smoker is the best way to go. The stylized bank vault design is an attention-getting look that cleverly mimics the purpose of sealing in the smoke to enhance flavor.
This vertical smoker has two cooking grids, a jerky rack and a water pan. Its convenient snap-ignition allows you to fire up the smoker without matches. The maximum temperature this model can reach is 350 degrees, and the easy-to-read door thermometer lets you see the internal temperature at a glance without opening the door. Three damper valves allow you to control the temperature and smoke level.
If you are already comfortable cooking with gas but want to expand your culinary skills, Camp Chef Smoke Vault is a fun and rewarding way to do exactly that.
Best entry-level smoker
Product Specs: Fuel Source: Electric | Weight: 62 lb | Dimensions: 18.97" W x 17.56" D x 32.44" H | Cooking Surface: 725 sq in | Temperature Range: 100 to 275 degrees
For a budget smoker that’s about the size of a mini fridge, this model has an impressive variety of features. The wood chip loader is large enough to hold two to three hours’ worth of wood chips. It has a built-in handle, a removable grease tray and an interior light. The glass door allows you to see your food as it cooks.
Despite its small size, the four tightly stacked chrome racks give you 725 square inches of cooking space. It is large enough to cook two chickens, a brisket, vegetables and more, all at one time.
This model, like the Masterbuilt, runs on electricity and has a maximum temperature range of 275 degrees, making it nearly impossible to mess up. The East Oak Digital Electric Smoker is a feature-packed, budget-priced model and an excellent entry-level smoker.
When cooking on a gas grill, flavor-enhancing smoke is not produced. Consequently, the meat will not taste the same as when it is cooked on a wood or charcoal grill.
This rugged smoker box has a hinged lid and holds over 2 cups of wood chips. Simply place dry wood chips in the box and set it above the burner, between the flavorizer bars. That's it! You can add spices, different wood or other elements to enhance the flavor if you wish. It is a cost-effective, simple-to-use upgrade to your gas grill that produces that char-grilled flavor you crave.
This smoker tube is a slightly different way to infuse food with flavor. It is a 304 stainless steel hexagon tube — designed so it won't roll. You fill it up with your favorite wood pellets (cherry, hickory, mesquite, apple, pecan, etc.), set the pellets on fire and let them burn for about nine minutes. The item fits on nearly any grill and, when full, can smoke for up to five hours.
If you’re looking for a super-affordable way to infuse your grilled food with a smoky flavor, this is an easy way to accomplish that task.
It takes time and patience to find the best smokers on the market. We don't just look at a list of features and trust that they work the way the manufacturer intended. We also want to make sure the features we’re paying for are things we’d actually use in a real-world situation. That is why we consult experts, try the products ourselves and consider what other users have said.
We research to understand the different models and technologies that make things work to learn if one is superior or at least better for a particular user. When all the research has been completed, our writer compiles and presents the data in a way that helps consumers make confident purchasing decisions.
These appliances can be separated into two categories: horizontal offset smokers and vertical smokers.
Horizontal offset smokers are easy to identify. They have two chambers. First, there is a large horizontal grill where cooking takes place. Often, this looks like a barrel on its side with a smokestack coming out the side.
On the end opposite the smokestack, you will find a smaller firebox. This is where the heat is. Firebox-generated heat and smoke are pulled across the food, slowly cooking and flavoring it.
While this type of smoker is typically preferred by the experienced grillmaster, it requires greater skill and attention while cooking because it is much more difficult to maintain a uniform temperature. If you love working like the pros and don't mind putting a little more effort into the process, a horizontal offset smoker might be best for you.
In a vertical smoker, the heat source sits directly beneath the food. This makes it much easier to control the temperature while cooking.
Above the heat source, you will usually find a smoker box or wood shelf, a water pan and several layers of grill racks for food. In these models, the heat and smoke rise from below. Heat and smoke cook and flavor the food before traveling out the exhaust damper at the top.
This type of smoker is best for beginners, as it is easier to achieve consistent success. If you are relatively new to low-and-slow cooking or prefer ease of use, a vertical smoker is probably a better option for you.
The most basic style of smoker, the drum smoker, is easy to use. These appliances are portable and lightweight, but they struggle to cook large cuts or quantities of meat.
As the name implies, this type of smoker is shaped like a box. Food loads through the front door. Box smokers can smoke an impressive amount of meat in one go. However, cheaper box smokers rarely produce the best results because they lack the insulation necessary to hold heat.
Recognizable by their egg-shaped design, these smokers double as grills. They require some modifications to work effectively as smokers, such as adding deflector plates, but they successfully pull double-duty. The high price makes them most practical for those who grill and smoke frequently.
Besides deciding which type of smoker you prefer, you'll need to consider your fuel. Your choices are charcoal, wood pellets, electricity and gas.
Charcoal is the best fuel for natural flavor. It will give your food that intoxicatingly delicious char-grilled taste. On the downside, charcoal is the most difficult fuel to work with because of the arduous cleanup. It also requires tending, as it can be tough to maintain a steady temperature. Charcoal is for the connoisseur who isn't afraid of a little extra work.
Wood pellets are compressed wood. They are fed into the firebox automatically, so this type of cooking is more set-and-forget (as long as you don't run out of pellets). Cleanup is minimal because the pellets almost completely burn away. And, they add a natural wood flavor to your food.
On the downside, models that take wood pellets tend to be more expensive than others. And many (but not all) require access to electricity, which could be a problem depending on where you want to place the smoker. Wood pellets are for people who want convenience and have a larger budget.
An electric smoker is the easiest to use. Like an oven, you just turn it on and let it do its thing. Obviously, you will need access to a power source.
While cleanup is minimal, electricity doesn't infuse your food with any sort of flavor. To get the taste you crave, you need to smolder wood chips and heat a pan of water to create a vapor that gives your food the taste you desire. Electric smokers tend to be entry-level options.
A gas smoker is like an electric smoker, but instead of electricity, it uses natural gas or propane to create heat. Most often, the smoker connects to a portable tank, but some models hook directly into a gas line (if that is an option in your home).
A gas smoker allows for greater precision when it comes to setting temperatures, and it provides much better responsiveness — you can raise or lower the temperature without effort. It is a set-and-forget appliance, but it does not give your food any flavoring. Like electric models, you will need to heat wood chips and water to infuse your food with that outdoor grill flavor.
Gas is for the person who wants an effortless experience that gives them precision control but is willing to sacrifice a little flavor.
The material used to make a smoker can make a big difference in how well it works and how long it lasts. As a rule, look for a model that is almost completely made from 304 stainless steel. This type of stainless steel offers strength, durability, easy maintenance and resistance to corrosion. It can endure intermittent heat up to roughly 1,600 degrees.
Sometimes, manufacturers mix other grades of stainless steel, such as 430, with materials to make their products. Notably, this can create an inferior smoker.
A smoker has a narrow window of operating temperatures. To get the best results, it only needs to reach about 250 degrees. However, some pitmasters prefer to cook at a temperature closer to 350 degrees. For this reason, even the budget models on our list, the East Oak Digital Electric Smoker and the Masterbuilt 40-Inch Digital Electric Smoker, can reach 275 degrees.
Other models can get even hotter. If you want to sear a steak, for example, the Traeger Grills Pro Series 780 can reach 500 degrees, while the Pit Boss Lexington can sear directly over a flame at temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees.
There are two dampers on charcoal and wood smokers. The intake damper, located closest to the firebox, feeds the flame with oxygen while the exhaust damper, located at the opposite end of the cooking chamber, lets the heated air (and moisture) escape. You control the temperature inside the smoker by controlling the airflow through both of these openings.
In general, the more air that flows through a smoker, the hotter it will be. If you limit airflow through the dampers, it will bring the temperature down. The better the damper control, the more precision you will have when cooking.
As noted in the previous section, if you choose a charcoal or wood smoker, the dampers control the temperature. In every other situation, there will be a dial or buttons, like you have on an oven. This gives the convenience of set-and-forget — you can set the temperature and feel fairly confident the smoker will cook as intended.
Maintaining a consistent temperature is essential to getting the best results when cooking in nearly any situation. If the recipe calls for cooking at 225 degrees for four hours, but poor insulation and leaky joints and seals drop the temperature to less than 200 degrees, you might not get your meat to a safe internal temperature.
You want a model that is well-built and has no leaks. If your smoker isn't the best in this area, or you are cooking outside in the winter, consider an insulation blanket for your grill, as this will help maintain consistent temperatures, even in frigid weather.
A smoker’s cooking surface area determines how much meat you can smoke at once. If you plan to smoke for a crowd, an offset or box smoker is usually the best choice.
Vertical smokers and Kamado grills have additional racks to increase the cooking area, but they can be hard to access.
The size that’s best for you also depends on what type of meat you want to cook. A turkey or long rack of ribs requires a larger smoker, for example.
For $100 or less, you’ll find small smokers of various designs. In this price range, smaller models perform better since they aren’t trying to do the work of large smokers with lower-quality construction. However, insulation and temperature control aren’t as good in this price range.
Between $150 and $300 are smokers that are ideal for those who want to smoke meat periodically. Again, you’ll find smokers of various designs, but the key is to look for one with good seals and temperature control.
In the $300 to $500 range, the smokers get larger, and the metal gets thicker, which means the insulation improves. If you’re looking to cook for a crowd, start looking at this price point.
At $500 and above, you’ve entered the price range for serious chefs who smoke meat regularly. Smokers of all designs can be found in this price range. These high-end smokers have better insulation, thicker metal and tighter seals to keep heat and smoke trapped tight.
A. A simple drum smoker is a good place to start. They are small, easy to use and affordably priced. Another option is a basic horizontal smoker with digital controls. They are easy to use and don’t take up a lot of space, and you don’t have to sit around feeding it charcoal or wood chips while the smoker works.
A. Be careful not to use charcoal with additives in your smoker. These additives can leave a strange taste in your food. You’ll have the same problem if you use lighter fluid. The best way to start a smoker is to use a charcoal chimney and something flammable, like newspaper. Chimneys also allow you to light more charcoal at once.
A. Yes and no. A good smoker needs a layer of seasoning that can only be achieved with an initial coating and use. You don’t want to remove this protective layer. But you will get splatters of fat on your smoker. Running the empty smoker at a high temperature will burn off the residue you don’t want while maintaining the seasoning. You can clean out any noticeable deposits but don’t scrub with a brush. Do remove any racks and the drip pan or water pan for cleaning after each use.
Allen Foster has been researching, testing and evaluating products for BestReviews since 2018. He has also sold outdoor equipment at one of the largest home-improvement chains in the country. Consequently, he has in-depth knowledge of products ranging from chainsaws to lawn mowers to outdoor grills. As part of his training, Allen was required to attend seminars and workshops on a wide variety of outdoor products, so he could help the customer find what they needed.
Get emails you’ll love.
Learn about the products you’re wondering if you should buy and get advice on using your latest purchases.