Best Smokers

You may be the grill master—but have you mastered the art of smoking meats?
There’s nothing better than a summertime BBQ with friends and family. If you’re really looking to take your grilling skills to the next level and impress everyone at your next backyard get-together, smoking meats is the way to go. Smoking is a bit more complicated than grilling, and can easily go south if you’re not well-versed in what you’re doing and what kind of smoker you’re dealing with. Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up all the details you need to know to purchase the right smoker for you. Let’s get smokin’!

Best Pellet Smoker

Z GRILLS ZPG-450A Pellet Grill & Smoker
ULTIMATE 8-IN-1 (Cover included): Barbecue wood fire pellet grill: bbq✓bake✓roast✓braise✓smoke✓grill✓sear✓char-grill
# of Reviews: 3935+

Best Charcoal Grill and Smoker Combo

Realcook Vertical Steel Charcoal Smoker
Built-in thermometer with detailed temperature scale and adjustable air supply on lid for greater temperature control.Porcelain-enameled water pan and charcoal pan can provide you the stable use. The heat resistant bakelite handles make transport, basting and cooking a breeze.
# of Reviews: 1761+

Best Gas/Propane Smoker

Cuisinart Vertical 36″ Propane Smoker
5.45 SQUARE FEET OF INTERIOR: The spacious 5. 45 square foot interior means there is plenty of room to smoke a variety of meats along with several trays of vegetables. The vertical footprint makes it a perfect size for patios and barbecue kitchens.
# of Reviews: 1684+

Best Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker
Digital panel controls on/off, cooking temperature and time
# of Reviews: 7068+

What is a smoker?

Smokers are a receptacle used to cook meats at a low temperature over a long period of time. All smokers usually have a wood chip chamber and a water chamber that work together to cook meats with indirect heat. This takes time (up to 10 hours, depending on the meat type and size) but enhances the flavor of the meat and gives it the signature smoky taste traditional barbecue is known for.

Choosing a smoker

Fuel Type


If an authentic BBQ taste and flavor is what you’re looking for, charcoal smokers are your best bet. However, these smokers aren’t for rookies. While cooking the meats, you’ll need to consistently be checking the temperature and air flow and also be mindful of refueling and smoke levels. The trade-off to all of that hard work? The flavor! Meats smoked with charcoal give a traditional and genuine BBQ taste.


Similar to a grill, gas smokers are fueled by propane tanks. Smoking with gas ensures the meat receives an well dispersed amount of heat and makes it easy to control the temperature and airflow. While this is almost as easy to use as an electric smoker, with a gas smoker, taste isn’t sacrificed. Your meats will still have that same great BBQ taste but without any taste from the heat source (think: a charred, burnt taste).


Pellet smokers are simple to use. Dare we say, maybe even simpler than electric! Pellet smokers are made from natural materials and do all of the work for you automatically, from airflow and temperature control to smoke levels and refueling. Some pellet smokers may have programmed settings so all you have to do is push a button to get your desired taste. Pellets give off a subtle smoke, making it hard to overcook or oversmoke your meats.


Electric smokers, as the name suggests, run on electricity and work similarly to how ovens operate. These types of smokers do the heavy-lifting for you with built in thermostats to control the temperature, so all you need to worry about is the amount of smoke and airflow. However, it can be tricky to figure out the smokers settings and features to ensure you get the desired temperature and taste of the meat. Speaking of taste—experienced smokers note that the taste from electric smokers is quite different than any other fuel type.

Body Type


If a smoker’s heat source is located next to the main chamber, it’s most likely an offset smoker. Offset smokers are usually fueled by charcoal or wood and waft smoke from the fire box and into the chamber. While these types require a lot of effort and are better suited for more experienced smokers, using tools like a temperature controller.


The heat source for vertical smokers is directly below the main chamber. Because heat rises, it makes it a bit easier to manage temperature and smoke levels. Also, because they’re vertical, they’re best for those smokers with limited space to work with. Most usually have an easy access door, making it simple to refuel.

Factors to consider before purchasing a smoker

Temperature Control

Without proper temperature management, you won’t be able to properly smoke meats. Be sure to take the time to understand how the temperature control and airflow management work. Check out the placement of the dampers (vents) to ensure they’re easily accessible to adjust the airflow. Does the smoker come with a thermometer? Will you need to purchase a temperature controller? How much effort will it take to manage the temperature and airflow? These are great questions to ask before making a decision.


Keeping the heat within the chamber is crucial when smoking meats, so it’s important to consider the insulation of a smoker before purchasing. The metal on your smoker should be very thick and well sealed—because less insulated smokers release more heat, they often require frequent fueling as well.


Just as important as the insulation of the smoker is how its made and its durability. Is the smoker you’re looking at built to last? Be sure to ask questions about the workmanship, materials its made out of, if its portable, and if the paint is rust and/or water proof.

Water Pans

While they’re called water pans and originally meant to hold water, these pans can actually be filled with a number of different liquids to alter the taste and flavor of your meats (some popular options are to fill it with wine, beer, or herbs!). Some of the best smokers have a pan above the heat source rather than below. Why is this important? The water (or any other liquid) reduces fluctuation in temperature and increases humidity so the meat stays moist and tender.

Best Pellet Smoker

This 8-in-1 smoker doesn’t just smoke, it also grills, bakes, roasts, braises, sears, barbecues, and char-grills! Like most pellet smokers, all you have to do is set the temperature, relax, and wait for your delicious meal. It’s PID technology holds the tightest temperature possible to ensure consistent results every time with a temperature range of 180° to 450°. This smoker is built to last, made out of sturdy steel with a high-temperature powder coating finish. It can hold up to 15 lbs of pellets, meaning you’ll be able to smoke more and refill less! Lastly, with a measurement of 425 square inches, it’s perfect for smaller spaces.

RR Rating:
# of Reviews: 3935+
◘ Set the Temperature, Relax, and Enjoy: Z Grills pellet grills will do all the work for you once you set the temperature. No labor-intensive start-up. No babysitting the grill. Enjoy the cooking!
◘ Consistent Results Every Time: The PID technology holds the tightest temperature possible throughout your cooking for consistent results.
◘ ULTIMATE 8-IN-1 (Cover included): Barbecue wood fire pellet grill: bbq✓bake✓roast✓braise✓smoke✓grill✓sear✓char-grill
◘ Pellet Grill Technology: There isn't an easier way to get wood-smoked flavors than with a pellet grill. Try it, and you'll taste the difference from a GAS or CHARCOAL grill

Best Charcoal Grill and Smoker Combo

We’ve talked a lot about temperature control, and this charcoal smoker comes with a built-in thermometer and an airflow adjuster. The best part? It’s a grill, too! With a cooking space of 453 square inches, 2 cooking grades and 4 hangers, you can smoke and grill all different shapes and sizes of meats and refueling is a breeze with its 2 access door This grill and smoker combo is also easily transportable with a latch-locking system that can be taken apart for storing or carrying.

RR Rating:
# of Reviews: 1761+
◘ It's easy to assemble and easy to use. Two layers design you can easily take them apart to transport or clean. Use as a bbq grill or a smoker it depends on you. With the latch locking system, it can provide you more stability.
◘ The advantage of 2 access door is you can open the door according you request, more flexible than the one access door. When you need to check the status of foods, you just need to open the upper door. Open the other door, you can add charcoal or wood easier.
◘ Built-in thermometer with detailed temperature scale and adjustable air supply on lid for greater temperature control.Porcelain-enameled water pan and charcoal pan can provide you the stable use. The heat resistant bakelite handles make transport, basting and cooking a breeze.
◘ 2 pieces cooking grids provide total 453 square inches cooking space. With crossbar and 4 hangers inside the lid, you can smoke different sizes and shapes of meat.

Best Gas/Propane Smoker

The Cuisinart propane smoker has tons of smoking room with a 5.45 square foot chamber and 4 removable shelves that are dishwasher safe, making for easy clean up. Like the Realcook smoker above, it has a built-in thermometer and an adjustable gas supply to control the amount of heat being released into the chamber. As far as durability, its seal-tight door ensures heat stays in and comes with a porcelain enameled steel tray for holding both wood and water.

RR Rating:
# of Reviews: 1684+
◘ BUILT-IN THERMOMETER: Features easy-to-read thermometer on the front door for accessible monitoring of the internal temperature.
◘ TOTAL TEMPERATURE AND SMOKE CONTROL: An adjustable gas supply gives control over the amount of heat. Optimal smoker access through two doors and a rear vent can be opened or closed to control the amount of heat and smoke exiting the oven.
◘ 5.45 SQUARE FEET OF INTERIOR: The spacious 5. 45 square foot interior means there is plenty of room to smoke a variety of meats along with several trays of vegetables. The vertical footprint makes it a perfect size for patios and barbecue kitchens.
◘ Product Dimensions: 19.3" L x 18.1" W x 38.6" H | Weight: 69.5 lb
◘ FOUR 14 X 14-INCH REMOVABLE STAINLESS STEEL SHELVES: Four stainless steel racks can be easily removed for smoking whole birds or large cuts of meat. Racks are dishwasher safe, making cleanup easy.

Best Electric Smoker

The Masterbuild electric smoker enables you to control everything digitally—including temperature and time. With a max temperature setting of 275° it doesn’t get as hot as the others, but its thermostat assists with temperature control for even and consistent results. In addition, its patented side woodchip-loading system allows you to refuel your smoker with chips without even having to open a door!

RR Rating:
# of Reviews: 7068+
◘ Thermostat-temperature control for even, consistent smoking
◘ Fully-insulated body retains heat
◘ Digital panel controls on/off, cooking temperature and time
◘ Electric Smoker dimensions – 20.47" W x 19.88" L x 33.26" H | Max temperature setting – 275ᵒ F | Inside capacity – 2 Turkeys, 4 Pork Butts, 4 Racks of Ribs, 6 Chickens
◘ Patented side wood chip loading system allows you to add wood chips without opening door

FAQs about Smokers

What’s the difference between a smoker and a grill?

While very similar, smokers and grills are actually not the same. The biggest differentiator is how the heat is dispersed. Smokers use indirect heat through smoke and moisture for low and slow cooking, while grills apply direct heat to food to cook it quickly.

Does it matter which pellets and/or wood I use?

Yes! The type of wood or wood pellet used will determine how your food tastes. Oak wood produces a mild flavor, hickory gives a smokier, stronger flavor, pecan gives a sweeter flavor, and mesquite is the strongest and burns fast with a lot of smoke. The same holds true for the type of wood pellets you use.

What are some accessories I can purchase for my smoker?

Depending on how sophisticated you want to get, there are lots of accessories to purchase with your smoker. A few we’ve already talked about are temperature controllers and thermostats, but popular other ones include torches and firestarters. And, just like a grill, you can extend the lifetime of your smoker with a cover.

Do I have to use the water pan?

While you could technically smoke without it, the water pan and its placement is crucial for heat absorption and temperature fluctuation. Omitting a water pan won’t result in the best tasting meat. You can evey try filling it with other things for added flavor, like beer, wine, and herbs.

Where should I put my smoker?

When deciding where to place your smoker for use, safety is first! Be sure to put it in an open, well-vented area for the best air flow and do not put it near anything that is flammable or combustible. While note necessarily a safety hazard, you may want to place it away from windows as well to avoid the smell of the smoke entering your home.


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