Best Propane, Electric and Charcoal Smokers Reviewed for your Kitchen

You might be able to make serviceable smoked meat using a regular charcoal grill but if you’re looking for authenticity as well as a true taste sensation, there’s no substitute for the best smoker.

5 Best Smokers Reviews

We’ll get directly into our best smoker reviews straight off the bat then we’ll give you some basic guidance on getting the most fitting smoker for your needs.

If you’re looking for a large and capable smoker that avoids the leakage plaguing many gas models, the Smoky Hollow Pro Series is the obvious solution.

With a pair of 11,000 BTU steel burners, you can tweak the controls independently so you’ll be able to cook very flexibly. 5 grates gives you ample space for pretty much anything you care to throw the smoker’s way. It’s very easy to fine-tune the temperature once you’ve tried it out a few times.

2 doors allows easy access at all times and using this smoker is a pleasure.

The only real complaint centers, unfortunately, on build quality. Everything is well-made, but you shouldn’t expect decades of service from this smoker. If you keep your expectations realistic, however, you’ll get great value for money and BBQ food any time you want.

Pros.

  • Generous 44-inch capacity
  • Dual burners for broad spread of temperatures
  • Snugly fitting doors minimize leakage
  • Powder-coated sheet steel built to last
  • No smoke and heat spilling out like with many gas smokers

Cons.

  • Extremely bulky standing 5 feet tall

Next up in our smoker reviews is a slightly smaller but still sizeable 36-incher from the industry legend Cuisinart. You know you’re buying into super-reliable brand heritage and this smoker is not only great value but also available at an aggressive discount if you act quickly.

With a pair of doors making it easy to dive in and out of the smoker even if there are several people attending to it, everything about smoking with the Cuisinart is a pleasure.

Although it’s not quite the behemoth of the 44-inch Smoke Hollow, you’ll still get a whopping 6 feet of space inside which should be more than enough to keep all your guests happy and stuffed with BBQ.

Since the vent is in back, you can take advantage of the top of the smoker as a makeshift table space.

All you need is a tank of propane and you’ll be fired up in no time. Check out the Cuisinart if you want the convenience and traditional flavor of a gas BBQ.

Pros.

  • Double doors for easy access
  • Easy to monitor and adjust temperature
  • Almost 6 square feet of internal space
  • Fun and user-friendly smoker even for beginners
  • Handy recipe book with cooking tips thrown in

Cons.

  • Propane tank not included

Masterbuilt has a stranglehold on smokers and we could easily have produced a compilation of nothing but their products. As it is, we limited ourselves to just a pair and at the midpoint of our smoker reviews, here’s an outstanding electric smoker from the industry legend.

If you’re looking to cook up a storm for large groups of people, you’ll get a whopping 730 square inches of space so you can really load things up.

Remote control access is a boon and the digital display is clear and easy to read.

Use your favorite wood chips to ensure your food is imparted with that full BBQ taste sensation. You load these chips into the side which means you won’t need to open the smoker door and queer the cooking temperature.

Although smokers tend to stay in one place, you might want to move the Masterbuilt around from time to time. Wheels underneath make this a breeze even though it’s a pretty heavyweight unit.

If you’re looking for a medium-sized electric smoker offering you convenience without compromising on taste or aroma, the Masterbuilt is tough to beat.

Pros.

  • Substantial cooking area of 730 square inches
  • Remote control to streamline your smoking experience
  • Wheels to simplify transportation
  • Front access drip pan for your convenience
  • Unbeatable brand heritage at a competitive price point

Cons.

  • If thermostat blows, it’s not repairable

We try to include something for everyone so as we near the end of our smoker reviews, we’ve got a charcoal bullet model, again from Masterbuilt who need no introduction.

For a cheaper but more hands-on approach to smoking, this traditional charcoal bullet is simple but effective.

Although the onboard thermometer is designed to simplify things, you will need to keep a close eye on things when you’re cooking. Using this smoker is not quite the set and forget experience you’ll get with an electric smoker so buckle up and prepare for the ride.

The trade-off is food barbecued to perfection and a smoker that costs little more than a cheap restaurant meal.

Build quality is impressive for a cheap smoker and you should expect many happy years of barbecuing if you invest in this mid-sized understated beauty.

Pros.

  • Exceptional value for money
  • Integrated thermometer to make your life easier
  • Porcelain-coated smoking racks built to last
  • Great size 395 square inch cooking area for compact smoker
  • Add charcoal easily with front access doors

Cons.

  • Needs a lot of attention to maintain consistent temperature

Rounding out our smoker reviews, we’re got a front-loading electric smoker from Smoke House Products. The Little Chief Smoker doesn’t offer quite the same range or performance as some of the other smokers we looked at but it’s enduringly popular for good reason…

While you won’t be able to ratchet the temperature up and down, you will be able to maintain a slow and steady 165 degrees Fahrenheit so you’ll take a different approach to smoking.

This front-loader lets you cook up to 50 pounds of meat or fish without needing coal or fire. This smoker is strictly for outdoor use and it’s weatherproofed accordingly.

You load and unload this smoker pretty much like a conventional oven and using it is child’s play even if you’ve never prepared food this way before.

For a no-nonsense introduction to the art of grilling your food, the Little Chief packs quite a punch.

Pros.

  • Maintain low temperatures with consistency
  • Solid aluminum build for outdoor use
  • Dishwasher-friendly drip pan
  • Chrome-plated grills a pleasure to use
  • Recipe book and bag of hickory flavor chips chucked in

Cons.

  • Non-adjustable heat

OK ...

Now you’ve scoped out some of the best smokers at your disposal, we’ll help you out further with a quick guide to buying the best smoker the easy way.

What To Look For In The Best Smoker

The first thing you need to think about is the type of smoker you’ll be comfiest with.

Types of Smoker

You can find numerous variants but smokers are divided into 4 broad categories:

  • Gas Smoker
  • Electric Smoker
  • Charcoal Smoker
  • Pellet Smoker

Gas Smoker

Gas smokers are a great way to roll out that authentic BBQ taste without all the mess.

When you cook with gas, you won’t notice any hint of the cooking source and you’ll get your meat healthily cooked with that unbeatable barbecued edge.

You won’t need to keep fiddling around with your meat either and cooking with a gas smoker really is no more challenging than using an oven.

Pros
  • Extremely easy to use with little monitoring required
  • Gas smokers can hit super-high temperatures of 450 degrees and above
  • Most gas smokers are extremely portable so ideal to take camping
Cons
  • You obviously need to always have a supply of fuel on hand
  • Small parts tend to frequently break down on gas smokers

Electric Smoker

An electric smoker just needs a power outlet to get you up and running without any of the ceremony of firing up a charcoal smoker.

While BBQ purists might scoff, many people appreciate the simplicity and convenience of an electric smoker. If you don’t mind losing out on that classic burnt crisp to your food, an electric smoker can work well.

Pros
  • Very little input required for first-class results
  • Safe so ideal for use around children
  • Cost-effective way of cooking with no ongoing fuel costs
Cons
  • Lacks the authenticity of a true BBQ

Charcoal Smoker

A basic charcoal smoker gives you a traditional BBQ flavor and these smokers have developed so the experience is now far less hands-on.

While you’ll still need to keep an eye on proceedings, using a charcoal smoker is still pretty simple.

Pros
  • Get the best BBQ taste without spending a fortune
  • Couldn’t be easier to quickly adjust temperature
  • As close to maintenance-free as possible
Cons
  • Cooking in winter can be challenging due to poor internal heat retention

Pellet Smoker

Pellet grills pack a rod that ignites when you switch your smoker on.

You’ll get the flavor and aroma you associate with a charcoal smoker with almost no effort at all on your part.

You won’t need extra flavoring or wood chips since the pellets themselves give off a nice subtle flavor.

Pros
  • Environmentally-friendly and a breeze to use
  • Pellets readily available online at keen prices
  • 90% efficient so among the most effective smokers
Cons
  • Maintenance is tiresome

General Factors To Think About When Buying a Smoker

Regardless of what type of smoker has grabbed your attention, there are a few simple pointers to consider which will simplify your buying decision and help you get the best smoker for your needs.

Price

Price should never be the determining factor in your buying decision but it obviously plays an important role.

If you obsess over the bottom line in the quest for nothing but the cheapest smoker, it’s highly unlikely you’ll end up with a solid piece of kit to last the distance.

Stick to your budget and look for the best smoker you can find within those parameters.

Temperature Control

You should focus on how easy it is to regulate the internal temperature of the smoker when you’re cooking.

While pellet smokers will come with a thermostat, other types of smoker leave it in your hands. You should buy a decent thermometer to make sure you’re eating safely cooked meat.

Think about how and what you like to cook and buy accordingly.

Temperature Range

Think about whether you really need that super-high searing temperature for steaks.

Think about how you like to cook and make sure the smokers on your shortlist can cope with the band of temperatures you require.

Materials and Build Quality

You should check that the smokers you’re checking out have sturdy components weatherproofed and built to stay the distance.

Stainless steel looks commanding but isn’t always the best bet.

Look for the workmanship of hinges, legs and any moving parts.

And remember…

Buy cheap, buy twice.

Work Space and Storage Space

Do you need lots of extra work space for chopping and prep when you’re cooking?

How about room to store all those sauces and condiments?

Many upscale smokers come with plenty of extra real estate for all your catering needs so look for what you’ll make use of.

Capacity

It might seem obvious but make absolutely sure the smoker you’re looking at will give you adequate capacity to cater for all the family and guests too.

It’s pointless making an investment in a smoker then selling yourself short with something unfit for purpose.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Some smokers call for much more by the way of maintenance than others.

Some are a cinch to clean while others are an absolute grind.

You know your habits and what you’ll put up with so make sure you do your due diligence so you don’t end up with any nasty surprises.

A Final Word

With any luck, you’re now clear on the different smokers at your disposal and you have an appropriate model in your sights.

Get the BBQ taste year-round with the best smoker and rustle up some treats for all the family and any lucky guests.

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