Best Smokers

10 Of The Best BBQ Smokers On The Market

When looking for smokers, there can be a lot of distractions with all the cool-looking pits out there. Add in the different styles of BBQ from the various regions and it might be even more confusing. If you’re still trying to figure out what kind of smoker is best for your needs, check out our breakdown on the different Types Of Smokers to get started. If you’ve already picked a style you’re interested in and are ready to look at the top choices, this page is for you. Check out our list of the best smokers below.
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Smokers come in many different shapes and sizes, but we still need standards.

Putting the list together, there were certain standards that needed to be met in order to qualify. Anyone can slap a list of smokers together by skimming a few pics and focusing on looks. But, it’s what underneath the hood that counts first, we can worry about visual appeal later. And hey, there’s some good looking smokers here too, but they also need to stand up to the heat, so to speak.
The first two columns are must haves. This includes heavy-duty materials to hold heat and stand up to the elements (whether it’s smoking in the cold or not rusting out). The third column is a set of options. Not necessary, but bonus if they make the list.

Housing

  • Sturdy ✔︎
  • Good insulation ✔︎
  • Rust proof materials ✔︎
  • Leaks where it’s supposed to (exhaust) ✔︎
  • Doesn’t leak everywhere else ✘

Cooking Chamber

  • Even heat ✔︎
  • Good temperature control ✔︎
  • Spacious ✔︎
  • Durable materials ✔︎
  • Easily maintained ✔︎

Versatility

  • Multi-purpose ✔︎
  • Doesn’t need mods just to function ✘
  • Can be modded for enhancements ✔︎

We’ve got our bases covered, let’s look at the best smokers!

Best Barbecue Smokers

Vertical Charcoal

pit barrel smoker, best smokers

Pit Barrel Cooker

This Pit Barrel Cooker package is a pre-built UDS (ugly drum smoker) which is a vertical type that is inexpensive, portable and built to last. With multi-levels of cooking surface, smoke racks of ribs horizontally, or remove one of the grates and hang them to get more done at once. You can also hang sausage links or even turkeys for a beautifully smoked meal to impress your dinner guests with.

This 30-gallon, porcelain-coated steel drum has only one vent that stays in position, creating a low-oxygen environment to help prevent flare-ups and save on fuel. This means shorter more controlled smoke sessions every time you barbecue. It’s what we call a “set it and forget it” system for barbecuers of all levels of experience.

weber smokey mountain, best barbecue smokers

Weber Smokey Mountain

Another vertical smoker, the Weber Smoker Mountain is a popular unit in both backyards, and on the national competition circuit. This water smoker is divided into sections. From the bottom up, you’ve got a fuel section which is then separated by a large water bowl, adding moisture to the chamber while stopping any juices from hitting the coals (flare-ups). Then, you’ve got your cooking area which has two levels of grates and a large dome area on top. Both levels provide ample cooking space.

The WSM uses a two vent system which allows for more temperature control. It’s made out of the same long lasting materials as the Weber kettle and if you remove the middle cylinder, you can grill on it just like the kettle too!

All in all, this is a top-quality unit for the price and will last you for years on end. A definite front-runner in our best barbecue smokers category.

Best Smokers

Kamado

primo oval smoker, best bbq smokers

Primo Oval

The Primo Oval is a ceramic kamado style grill that doubles as a smoker. Its versatility lands it with a spot here in best smokers, as well as top choice for a kamado on our best grills list. What sets this Primo apart from other ceramic cookers is its oval shape, giving it more grill space and better two-zone cooking.

They have great insulation, not only for cold weather cooking but to conserve fuel energy. Using its removable diffuser plate, you can get down to 180f for low and slow, or remove the plate and use the Primo as a high-temperature grill, which can get as high as 800f for amazing steak sears or even cooking pizza.

At first glance, Primos seem pricey but compared to other high-end kamados when can reach upwards of $5000, they’re really a great value smoker-grill.

Ceramic cooking has been around thousands of years. This unit might not last a few millennia but its got a limited lifetime warranty with a 20-year guarantee on all ceramic parts. You’ll get great mileage out of your Primo.

Best Cabinet Smokers

Propane

camp chef smoke vault 24, best bbq smokers

Smoke Vault

Here we take a look at the first “gasser” on the list. But, what sets this Camp Chef apart from other a lot of other propane smokers, is that they provide their own optional natural gas conversion kits (no third-party brand hook up).

The spacious Smoke Vault 24 comes equipped with two standard cooking racks, a jerky and fish rack with a finer mesh to hold food that may fall apart easier, and it has the option to add two more racks for five levels of smoking.

The temperature settings can give you a colder smoke at 150f, low and slow steady at 225f, or hot and fast as high as 400f. It has a stainless steel tray for wood chunks, with a sizeable water pan directly above to help add moisture to your food.

The Smoke Vault is an inexpensive unit that includes a handy guide with cooking tips, barbecue ideas, and recipes to help get you started with smoking.

masterbuilt propane smoker, best smokers

Masterbuilt Pro Two-Door Propane Smoker

The Masterbuilt Pro is one of the more budget cookers on our best barbecue smokers list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an effective unit. It’s a vertical cabinet design, the 30″ model being a two-door, and the 40″ model being a single door smoker. What’s great about the two-door model is heat retention.

It is a gas smoker, but you still need to add your wood chunks. Your fuel area is at the bottom with its own separate door so when you get in there to add your favorite smoking wood, you don’t lose heat in the main chamber. This is especially useful for those of us that live in areas with colder winters and need all the heat we can get.

The tradeoff here is that if you want to cook longer racks of ribs on the 30″, you have to lay them diagonally or cut them. They’ll still fit two uncut racks of baby backs per level, though, so it’s not as bad as it sounds. They’ll also fit Boston butts or other large cuts of meat, and the four levels of cooking grates will allow you to fit a great variety of food simultaneously. Just don’t expect to cook any huge briskets.

These are really popular entry level smokers, just check out some community reviews to see how many people have these in their backyards. You can pick up a lot of tips on how to make these little smokers contend with the big boys.

Electric

masterbuilt electric smoker, best barbecue smokers

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Electric smokers don’t always get a lot of love on barbecue websites, you won’t see them on many best smoker lists either. Whether it’s purists that only want wood-fired BBQ, or maybe it’s a size factor so they often get overlooked. But there are those that find them convenient. Some have no other option because they live in an apartment. Either way, electric smokers have their place for some people,

Here’s a unit that deserves a look if you’re one of those people who don’t care about status and just want to add some extra smoke in your life. This 40″ front controlled smoker from Masterbuilt is spacious and can smoke a variety of foods. From full slabs of ribs to whole chicken and whatever else you want to add to the mix.

It’s remote controlled and has a handy built-in meat probe (no worries about closing the door on probe wires). Front access to the water bowl and drip-pan for easy clean up, with dishwasher safe cooking racks. It has an internal light for late-night smoking and an easy-load system for your favorite smoking woods.

Best Barbecue Smokers

Pellets

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GMG Daniel Boone Pellet Smoker

The Daniel Boone pellet grill is the only unit on our best smokers list to feature a Wi-Fi enabled control system. This connects to your iOS or Android phone and conveniently lets you know the status of any smoking session.

It will notify you of any system malfunction or low fuel situations. Turn it on or off from your phone, monitor temperatures from the built-in digital meat probes. You can even set up multi-stage cooking based on recipe profiles. For example, step one: low and slow until a certain temp. Step two: raise it up to crisp or brown any skin. Step three: the cool down. This is all done automatically, you don’t have to touch a thing. That’s about as set it and forget it as you can get.

The smoker features stainless steel cooking grates, powder-coated steel body and a peaked lid for beer can chicken or any other cuts of meat that need the extra height. It has a temperature range of 150-500f for low and slow smoking or hot and fast grilling. The controller also features a turbo-mode to get you up to temp faster, as well as a fan-only mode to blow ashes out after cooking.

rec tec pellet smoker, best barbecue smokers

REC TEC Pellet Grill & Smoker

They’re known as REC TEC “Grills” and for sure, you can do some great steaks on these bad boys, but where they really shine is their smoking ability. They can go for ridiculously long stretches of time without refueling, and have the space to smoke all kinds of impressive meats. They’re also built strong as a bull (horns and all).

REC TECs use what they call “smart grill technology”. A PID system (a controller that will regulate based on environment) is used to feel pellets when needed, and regulate air flow based on desired temps. This is much more useful and accurate than pellet smokers that use timers to add fuel. It also has a massive 40 lbs hopper to feed pellets. At an hour a pound on low temps, that’ll give you 40 hours of smoke.

The huge cooking chamber can fit a couple of 30 lbs turkeys or even a 50 lbs whole hog! Inside the grill, it’s all quality build. Marine grade stainless steel parts all throughout, 1/4″ thick stainless steel fire pot, stainless steel grates, etc. This will not rust out on you. REC TEC is so confident in their grill, you even get a card on purchase with the direct line of the general manager, as well as the personal cell numbers of the co-founders, Ray Carnes, and Ron Cundy.

Best Smokers

Real Wood

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RiverGrille Rancher’s Grill & Smoker

What is it about “stick burners” that barbecuers love? They’re big, they’re old school, and they’ll make you look like someone who knows exactly what they’re doing standing next to one. Instant credibility. But here’s the thing about offset smokers that some don’t realize, if it’s a good one, it won’t be cheap.

Big box store offsets may look cool, but they use thinner gauge metals and cheap finish that won’t stand the heat. They’ll warp, rust, and leak like a sieve.

This RiverGrille, on the other hand, uses 4.0 mm heavy-gauge steel construction and weighs a hefty 352 lbs. The double lid reduces heat loss on opening and the double-layer, porcelain-coated steel grates allow for heat retention with a total of 1,713 square inches of cooking space. The fire box also doubles as a grill.

This beast will have you smoking like a true pitmaster in your own backyard, without having to spring for a $10k trailer.

BBQ Technology Advances

Cleanest Smoke In BBQ?

That might be up for debate and would be a fun comparison test, but for now, we’ll just call it one of the cleanest and leave this smoker here to take in for the cool factor.
karbecue c-60, best smokers

Karubecue KBQ C-60

The KBQ C-60 in one word? Brilliant! To get more detailed, the technology behind this smoker is so innovative it will take your barbecue to another level. This is not a set it and forget it machine. By all means, you’ll still have to tend to your fire on this all natural wood smoker, but that’s part of the fun for some us, isn’t it?

First, how it works. The detachable firebox (sitting on the rear-top of the smoker) holds your fuel source. While your fire burns upwards, the hot gases from the wood being burned off are sent through a tailpiece that connects to the intake on the cooking chamber. The controller (front-top) acts as a vacuum, drawing heat through the cook box using a draft fan and a convection fan. Sensors let it know how hot it is inside and will act accordingly. There’s a mixing tube for the hot air in the back which eliminates hot spots and creates an even temp throughout the smoker.

Because it’s using the inverted flame and taking the heat from underneath, while the firebox has it’s side ventilation for oxygen, it’s a clean combustion process. Meaning that while that fire burns on top without smoldering, you’re only getting the cleanest thin blue smoke circulating through the unit. No bitter taste from over-smoking.

Owner/designer Bill Karau makes these smokers out of his garage using the highest of quality materials. The firebox is 14-gauge, 304-grade stainless steel. The cooking chamber is 18-gauge, 430-grade stainless steel and can hold up to 60 lbs of meat on various levels of its 4 cooking grates (with 12 positions available). The grates can also be swapped out for commercial-sized steam pans. The controller is easily removable, so there’s no need to worry about leaving it outside.

This is an amazing unit that uses a mix of modern technology with old school wood burning for the cleanest of burns. It’s definitely one of the biggest game changers on our best smokers list.

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