Grill

How to Choose the Best BBQ Smoker

A good BBQ grill can hit high temperatures for that perfect steak and still hold a steady low and slow temperature for great barbecue. All the while adding great smoke flavor to the dishes.

However, when it’s time to choose the right BBQ grill and smoker, there are many things to consider and finding the right ones for you can be quite a challenge. Well, no worries! In this article, I will present to you the top best BBQ smoker that bangs for your bucks.

Benefits of BBQ smokers

In terms of what a BBQ smoker brings to us, basically there are three:

  • Smoke
  • Temperature control
  • The meat results

First up, smoke!

I had conducted a small test to find out the difference between barbecuing with and without a smoker. The samples of that day were two same-sized ribs, barbecued with the similar amount of smoking wood.

With a smoker, I could clearly see that there is much lighter smoke ring and its smokier flavor than the grill without any smoker. But, this problem is still solvable by adding more smoking wood into the kettle.

So, move on to the next test – temperature control.

This one gives a clearer result. With the grill without a smoker, I have to constantly hand-holding its temperature every 15 minutes, which was inconvenient if I was busy on that day.

With a smoker, to be honest, it was unstable at first, but the fluctuation was just up and down roughly between 5-7 degrees so, I didn’t find that was a big matter at all. After a couple of barbecuing, up to now, I needn’t check the grill every 15 minutes, but up to each hour.

In this test, it’s asserted that the smoker already promotes its use.

Lastly, the result of meat!

And this is the most important thing. With a smoker, its taste is much more delicious than the grill without a smoker. The meat delivers a unique tasty, smoky flavor with juicy and tender taste, which doesn’t as dried and serviceable as the usual grilled meat.

Besides, the meat is pretty easy to pull out of the bone and it’s nonstick as well.

From these three giant advantages, I’m truly convinced and also highly recommend any grillers to own one. Compared to the usual barbecues, it doesn’t cost much. So, why not?

Things to consider buying the best BBQ smoker

When it comes to choosing the best BBQ smoker, there are 4 major features to bear on mind which are the temperature control, heat distribution, smoker types (literally based on the fuel types), shape, design and price.

Types of smoker grill

Due to different kinds of fuel, we have four major types of smoker grill: the charcoal, the gas/propane, the electric and the pellet.

Each one will obviously come in different specific pros and cons that are presented clearly in the table below:

Type

Pros

Cons

Electric smoker-Cost-efficient in the long run

-Don’t require much manual efforts

-Safety

-not as delicious as charcoal smoker

-Complicated

Gas smoker-Easy to use

-Can reach high temperature

-Compact dimensions

-Some smart parts are easy to break down -> replace frequently

-Need fuel -> costlier

Charcoal smoker-Give delicious smoky flavor food

-Durable

-Easy to maintain

-Good temperature adjustment

-Easy and simple cleaning

-The fame is easy to go out -> require to check frequently

-Need to check and control temperature stably

-Difficult to smoke in winter

Pellet smoker-Easy to use

-Easy to buy and store

-Highly efficient

-Always ready to use

-Costly

-Ask regular maintenance

-Make noise

Design and shape

Now, this feature depends on the purposes of your smoker. For example, for those who love making basic barbecue for a group of people or family, a small-sized bullet-shaped smoker is a perfect choice. And my advice for this is a Traeger. Their portable-sized smokers truly bang for your buck.

On the contrary, if you need more space for more various kinds of food, consider a smoker with huger cabinet or barrel.

Lastly, those truly large-capacity models are suitable for competitions, big parties or businesses.

But on top of that, thick walls and heavy steel material are two priorities no matter which designs you will choose because they help to hold in easily as well as concentrate heat for a very long time.

Temperature adjustment & Heat distribution

Actually, a couple of years ago, electric smokers were ranked No.1 in terms of the ability to control temperature as well as keep it stable during a long time.

But, some recent models of other types like gas/propane smokers, charcoal smoker and pellet smokers are already added this feature. Thus, when buying any smoker type, consider a smoker with precise temperature adjustment or at least a clever temperature probe to help you go a long way in making perfect tasty dishes.

Next up is heat distribution.

Two things taking huge influence on heat distribution of a smoker are design and shape. Also, when thinking about this feature, pay close attention to the fuel as well as which areas are going to be the hottest.

Besides, heat distribution will fluctuate the most in charcoal grills, which means you should manage it more carefully.

Budget

Like when considering the best BBQ grill, you need time to think about its price and which price range is perfect for your budget.

Basically, a mid-range gas/propane or charcoal smoker price range is within a couple of hundred dollars. For higher-end ones, they might be up to a thousand.

These pricy smokers will give you better temperature adjustment, better smoky flavor and other additional functions which are highly recommend for experts or chefs.

Besides, the larger, the pricier. But this belongs to a different investment level. So, I’m not going to talk much about it.

Though there are a lot of cheap smokers on the market, I don’t recommend you to choose them even if you are a newbie. I know as beginners, you might not know throughout about how to use it to invest on a higher-quality one, however, those cheap smokers not only come in poor quality to easily break down anytime but are also hard for you to control the heat retention.

So, here’s a trick for you – newbies, let’s opt for a combo of grill and smoker so that you can save a lot more money than when buying them separately.

Or, Weber smokers are also another perfect choice, both for quality and price.

For those whose budget is on the table, like around $200, I highly recommend to opt for choose those smokers with smart temperature control. You won’t imagine how huge its influence is on your cooking.

My picks

Well now, I know that a lot of us don’t have a smoker yet, or even a grill, right? Haha it’s okay because I’m here to save your time more.

In this part, I’m going to share my favorite collection based on different categories to help you find out the right one. So, check it out!

1. Char-Griller 2137 Outlaw 1063 Square Inch Charcoal Grill / Smoker

Buy it here >>

I’ll start off this list with the best charcoal smoker from Char-Griller. It truly bangs for your buck, the sturdy outer performance, great operation, easy maintenance, convenient additional features and there, it comes in very elegant and good looks that deserves to be one of the best grill smokers on the market.

Solid construction which is built to serve for years are what the Char-Griller is all about. From the thick-material hood and its large round legs to the smooth-working wheels and heavy-duty steel with powder coating for all of their essential parts.

Not saying that, its heat gauge and the adjustable fire grate provide the best heat control ever, especially when compared to the Akorn Kamado’s or the 3001 Grillin’ Pro.

Another spotlight is its easy dump ash catcher, unlike other models like 2137 Outlaw Grill.

Besides, this feature plays an important role in helping you clean the grill more easily and quickly. (So, keep it in mind when choosing a smoker grill, guys!)

When cleaning, all you need to do is pulling out the pan and dispose of the ash. No fuss, no mess. Easy peasy!

Besides, this smoker provides three available shelves for extra storage as well as to help you prepare preps quickly. (Meanwhile, with the bottom rack, it’s ideal to place unused charcoal.)

Talking about its dimensions, the best thing is there are three options: the 49″ L x 50″ H x 29″ W, the 50″ H x 29″ W x 35″ L and the 50″ H x 29″ W x 42″ L to make sure you will choose the best one fitting your backyard or grilling area.


2. Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

Buy it here >>

Another great charcoal smoker is this offset model from Dyna-Glo.

Dyna-Glo is by far a well-known brand for their high-quality, sophisticated, great-working and convenient products, especially grills and smokers.

For example this offset charcoal smoker, it all comes in standard with Heavy duty steel body construction, High Temp powder coating, Heavy gauge with porcelain enameled coating wood chip box, removable steel ash catcher, workable smoke stack and a convenient built-in thermometer. (And I also advise you to opt for a thermometer to control heat better.)

But the features that makes it stand out from the crowd is the Dual door design and custom-fit Dyna-Glo premium cover. For those who don’t know, dual door design will help you prevent heat loss as less as possible while adding fuel during the smoking process. That means it saves a lot of charcoal and you also needn’t watch it out frequently.

Besides, its vertical design delivers more tasty smoky flavors as well as keeps direct heat staying away from your food so that you can freely slow cooking. Going inside, you’ll be amazing at its 6 grates that comes in various dimensions and are all adjustable to make sure they can fit different sizes of food.

That’s why when getting this Dyna-Glo, you don’t get what you paid for, but even a lot more than that.

In terms of sizes, there are basically two, the standard and the wide. Also, Dyna-Glo offers two more combos which enclose their custom cover for better protection.

Just kindly understand that, the more options/the wider, the pricier. However, if your budget can stretch, I highly recommend you to opt for the combos because if your grill isn’t in use, at least you will have something to cover and protect it from outer impacts.


3. Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black

Buy it here >>

Now is a the last charcoal smoker and it’s from Weber.

Unlike two units above, this one is a portable model for easy transportation. There are three size options to make sure at least one of them will fit your car trunk.

A highlight is its super lightweight, only 23lbs compared to other similar models like the Masterbuilt 20071117 or the Cuisinart COS-118.

Along with that, Weber also offers a lot of combos, such as grill + thermometer, smoker + cover, smoker + thermometer, smoker +chimney bundle, smoker + apple wood chunks and smoker + lighter cube.

Selling the grill and its additional tools helps us to customize our own barbecue set with no worry of buying excess things rigidly. That’s why i give it a thumbs up for convenience and value for money.

Now is its construction. The entire smoker inluding bowl, lid, water pan and center section are all made out of high grade porcelain enameled. Besides, there are stainless steel grates, built-in thermometer, silicone temperature grommet and charcoal chamber.

Particularly, its fuel door and heat shield is built from anti-rust aluminum material for striking durability and longervity.

The biggest problem that I’ve found in this Weber’s is its lid. Every time after cooking, it almost always gets stuck in the middle section, which’s a little hard to pull off.

However, as it helps me to keep the charcoal amazingly long as well as the temperature stable, no other grills on the market has this sophisticated brain.


4. Traeger TFB65LZBC Grills Texas Elite 34 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Buy it here >>

If you are looking for a wood pellet grill that comes up with a compromise of easy operation, versatility and durability, this Treager is worth the bill.

It enables to let you make a lot of different dishes with unique smoky flavour, even better than the charcoal, but more convenient. Whether you’re baking a homemade apple pie or grilling a whole turkey, it’s going to do the best job.

And though considered as compact grill, the Traeger arrives in 646 square inches grilling area, enough to serve a large group of friends or a whole family. Particularly if you intend to make a basic barbecue party, it can hold up to 9 racks of ribs, 24 buns, 32 hot dogs, or 6 chickens.

The digital elite controller helps you to setup the grill easy peasy like when you turn on the oven. Besides, it can control a precise temperature within +/-20 degrees. This allows you to conveniently cook either low and slow or hot and fast because the hottest temperature it can reach is 450 degrees.

What i like the most about this Traeger is its non-stick grates. They not only help me flip food easily, but also help the cleanup, especially after cooking juicy buns or saucy racks. That’s said, you will have less time cleaning but more time enjoying your weeknight barbecue party.

One more feature that’s hardly other similar grills can have, like the Bronson 20, Junior Elite 20 or Lil’ Tex Elite 22, is the Locking Castors. Thanks to them, the product is much easier to transport, but also ensure it won’t slip or move while grilling.

Some more useful features you might concern are the LED display, the Electronic auto-start ignition, Traeger 100 percet virgin hardwood pellets and the powerful steel construction.


5. Camp Chef PG24DLX Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ with Digital Controls and Stainless Temp Probe

Buy it here >>

Next on the list, we have the Camp Chef.

This is arguably the best pellet grill with advanced digital control to help you adjust temperature easily. Moreover, it can automatically add pellets to keep the flame and smoke stable. Just set it and forget it!

When it comes to this Camp Chef PG24DLX, chances migh you find this similar to the Camp Chef Smokepro STX, but, the biggest difference is its standard second cooking rack which takes 144 square inches, rather the than the Smokepro STX’s which is just an optional.

They also provide an assembly video on CampChef site to help you setup the grill more easily in just a couple of minutes.

So, for the question about which is better, I will, without hesitation, tell you to choose this PG24DLX for more value of money. Its temperature range is very impressive, from 160-500 degrees Fahrenheit, unlike the Traeger above with only 450 degrees. So, for those who loving cooking hot and fast, I, again, highly recommend this unit.

The grill is also large enough to hold a heavy loads of burgers, brisket, chickens and stuff like that.

Besides, it allows you to grill, smoke, roast, barbecue, bake and braise with tasty, smoky flavour. On top of that, the aftercooking job is very easy thanks to the Grease Management System and the exclusive Ash Cleanout system.


6. Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36″ Propane Smoker, Black

Buy it here >>

Now, we’ll move to gas smokers. Start off with this Cuisinart.

Like the Weber, it’s a portable unit (only 14 x 14 inches) for easy transportation. Besides, thanks to its compact size, no matter whether it’s a barbecue or a patio kitchen, the product will fit conveniently.

But, never underestimate the power of this small grill smoker. It can cook almost any kinds of food, from veggies, seafoods, to chicken, breast, fish and even a whole birds. That won’t be a challenge for this baby because it comes off 4 racks and an adjustable gas supply as well as the smart vent design to allow you to close or open when in need.

There’s a thermometer on the front door to conveniently monitor the inner temperature.

Easy to use, easy to clean. The grill doesn’t ask much experience to setup or maintain, just fire this baby up to have all excess grease and leftover peeling off, then use a spatula or tongs to scratch them out. No fuss, no mess.


7. Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker Roaster & Grill

Buy it here >>

This Char-Broil, on the contrary, solves cleanly the biggest drawback of Cuisinart’s. Not only enable to roast and grill, it also lets you smoke food – just all in one.

Talking about this product, there are two things that impress me the most. First up is no flare-ups. This big annoyance is very common when grilling and barbecueing however, with this Big Easy Tru-Infrared Smoker, just kiss it goodbye.

Second and also another common problems when you grill a whole turkey, cuts of meat, roast or ribs, it’s that your food doesn’t cooked evenly. There are raw meat somewhere while the others get burnt.

With the Char-Broil 23.1 x 23.4 x 36.2 in, you never have to worry about under cooking or overcooking such kinds of food anymore thanks to the TRU-Infrared cooking system. You can grill your food with no need of charcoal or oil and besides, this system prevents hot and cold spots pretty well.

But my biggest compliment would be for its heated inner wall. Thanks to this special design, hot air will be lead out before approaching your food to keep all moist inside. So, when it’s done, the meat is juicy and tasty without being dried. Woah-la!

Though small, it enables to fit 25-pound chicken so, just easy peasy to rock it in a weeknight party for family use or a large group of people.


8. Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe’s Charcoal/LP Gas/Smoker Combo

Buy it here >>

Now, if you are looking for a perfect backyard grill smoker, this Oklahoma is worth considering. Coming in 1060 square inches in cooking area, solid construction and high-quality material are not all it’s about. There’re more!

The versatility of this grill can give you endless possibilities in cooking, fast as a gas grill, tasty smoky flavour as a charcoal and convenient as an offset smoker.

In fact, this is a 3-in-1 product that integrates 3 gas burners, a gas side burner and an electronic ignition. Besides, there are two separate champers to allow you to smoke on one side and gas cooking on the other, which helps to speed up your barbecuing process awesomely.

With this design, you can have everything controlled, for example, to monitor temperature, there’s a built-in thermometer on the front lid whereas to control heat and smoke, the Multiple dampers will give you a hand.

But here is where the real fun begins, its firebox access door allows you to stoke the flame conveniently without opening the champer lid. From that point, heat and smoke will have chances to flow evenly into the champer.

Two more spotlights are its side storage shelves and the cool handles to avoid burning your hands when you want to open the lid. Seems small but very important to consider!

For the price, this grill is a little costlier than other models that I know it’s not a reasonable choice for those who have tight budget. However, if you ask if it’s worth the price, that’s definitely a yes from me!


9. Masterbuilt 20072115 Bluetooth Smart Digital Electric Smoker, 30-Inch

Buy it here >>

Choose from two size options: the 20 inches and the 30 inches, but if you are intend to bring it for camping, i highly recommend to opt for the smaller because such dimensions as well as weight are suitable and portable for almost car’s back trunk.

In terms of Masterbuilt, they comes in a variety of grill smoker lines, but in my experience, this one comes in the most convenient and functional features.

Though small, it can hold a heavy load to serve any basic nightweek barbecue parties, like 48 sausagers, 12 whole chickens, 24 buns, 4 pork butts or racks of ribs or 2 whole turkeys. In general, its capacity is a wow.

On the other hand, this 20072115 receives countless compliments for its unique smoky taste flavor. That’s a big thank you to the Hickory chips. They are pair well with almost kinds of meat, especially pork and chicken. Along with that, they are also very mild.

(Tips: Mesquite delivers very strong smoky taste to suit for beef while the Alder is perfect for fish smoking.)

Compared to other Masterbuit’s product lines, what makes this unit stands out from its herb is the Bluetooth Smart Technology. Instead of using RF remote like the 20070411 or the 20077515, this feature allows you to power on/off the smoker from distance as well as control or monitor cooking time and temperature easily, just by a switch.

It also comes in High output LED interior lights while the 20071117 or the 20078715 doesn’t. So do the wheels! They help you to easily move your grill smoker around to anywhere wanted with no difficulty whereas keep it stay in place without slip or move around.

There’s just one thing you should bear on mind for the very first time cooking on this unit, remember to turn it on for a couple of hours.

If you are interested in this smoker type, kindly have a look at my collection of the best charcoal smoker later. There’s surely a lot of useful and functional products out there, i swear!


10. Smoker Box for BBQ Grill Wood Chips – 25% THICKER STAINLESS STEEL WON’T WARP

Buy it here >>

Last but not least is this separate smoker box. It’s truly a money saver for any tight budget, not mentioning to its convenience.

With this guy, you can either attach it to a gas grill or a charcoal grill without bulk. Just kindly keep in mind that with a gas unit, place it on tops of the burners whereas with a charcoal, put this directly on the fuel.

For those who are wondering about the wood chips, actually, the manufacturer advises us to opt for the dry ones, but in my opinion, it’s up to the way to usually have your grill smoker burnt. I myself choose the soaked chips as I aldready get acquainted to this type and I don’t find it’s inconvenient at all.

And might it take couple of minutes to heat this baby up and release smoke but i swear to God, it does work efficiently. Whether it’s a chicken, turkey or rack of ribs, the smoky flavor is totally no joke.

Along with the smoker box, you will find a recipe book including up to 25 professional cooking preps with clearly step-by-step instruction to vary your dishes. More importantly, there are some tutorial videos as well that are easy to follow.

Measured by 9 x 3 x 1.5 inches, the smoker fits perfectly any kinds of wood chips and contain a large capacity. Plus, 25% thicker higher-quality staineless steel material to prevent any pity problems, such as warping.

Last but not least, lifetime warranty! I know that many of us don’t try these brand’s products yet, so here is surely the killer feature. Try it with no fears, guys!

Okay, this’s the end of my article. I understand it’s a little bit too long but can’t help, I truly want to share all of my experience, knowledge as well as tips and tricks to help you figure out the best BBQ smoker. As i know, you know and we know that smoking food is freaking delicious and that can’t happen without a good smoker.

So well, good luck and hope this article helped you more or less!

chefmaster

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