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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Charcoal Smokers Reviewed

Add smokey flavors and increase the tenderness of your meats with these high-quality brands.

by JohnL

Does your mouth water at the thought of fall-off-the-bone ribs, slow-smoked beef, or juicy barbeque pulled-pork? If you thought your only option was getting these at your nearest barbeque joint, then think again.

Slow cooking meats at home is simple and easy when you know what type of fuel to use and which smoker to buy. With our guide of the best charcoal smokers on the market, you can easily become a grilling-master right at home.

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Product

Grill Size

Temperature Range

Check Price

Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal...

Weber Smokey Mountain

21 x 19 x 41 inches

100-400°

18-1/2 in. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package

Pit Barrel Cooker Co.

19 x 25 x 36 inches

270-320°

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill,...

Weber Original Kettle

39.5 x 27 x 22.5 Inches

150-600°

PK Grills PKO-SCAX-X Original PK Grill & Smoker...

PK Grills

16 x 35 x 35 inches

180-750°

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Charcoal Grill, 18...

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Ceramic

26.4 x 26.4 x 36 inches

225-750°

Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D 36' Vertical Charcoal Smoker

Dyna-Glo DGX7808DC-D

20.38 x 21.45 x 49.73 inches

100–350°

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker,Black

Dyna-Glo DGO1176DC-D

20.2 x 34.52 x 47.03 inches

100-350°

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker, 20'

Char-Broil Bullet

25.4 x 24.8 x 42.8 inches

150-550°

Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker

Masterbuilt 20060416

19.13 x 21.65 x 31.49 inches

150–400°

Benefits of Using a Charcoal Smoker

While it’s true that it takes a bit more patience to use a charcoal smoker, there’s one thing that keeps people coming back for more: the flavor. If you’re looking for a grilling unit that will create a crispy and caramelized exterior while locking in flavor and juices, then you’ll enjoy a charcoal smoker.

Smoking locks in the nutrients of the protein and offers you an alternative to cooking in the kitchen, especially during the summer. You and your guests will be amazed at how rich and succulent beef, fish, poultry, and lamb can be when it's been smoking on the back patio for hours.


How to Buy a Good Quality Charcoal Smoker

Smoking/Grilling Needs

How your smoker will be used is the best way to determine which one is right for you. If you’re feeding a large household, consider going with a larger unit with multiple grilling racks for more food. If you plan on smoking meats for special occasions only, then you may not need a big charcoal smoker.

Durability

Durability plays a key factor in dictating which charcoal smoker is best for you. Keep in mind how rust-resistant the outer shell is and how heavy a unit is when assembled. Look for a smoker that’s sturdy and well-built to ensure that it doesn’t tip and can handle all of your cooking and smoking needs.

Cooking Space

Before you invest, think about extra cooking space such as side burners or platforms for your pans. The size of the grates and how much surface area you have for all of your meats will also help you determine which unit is best. If you like to smoke a variety of meats at the same time, go with a larger smoker.

Performance, Smoking/Grilling Consistency

When looking through the best charcoal smokers on the market, consider the grilling performance and how quickly a unit will grill or smoke your meats. Water pans that come included ensure that your meat won’t dry out during the cooking process. Cast aluminum units will also heat up more quickly and cook your meat faster than steel.

Temperature Adjustment

Mastering the temperature of a charcoal smoker can be tricky, which is why you should look for units that have proper ventilation and a side door so you can add charcoal and smoking woods while your meats cook or release heat when needed. The more vents that a unit has, the more precise and control you’ll have over the temperature inside the smoker.

Storage & Footprint

The size of a smoker will determine where you store it and how much space you need to designate in your garage or back patio. Brick enclosures are great additions to your backyard and can be perfect storage units for large smokers. If you don't have space for a large horizontal unit, then stick to a barrel or Kamado smoker.

Ease of Use & Easy Cleaning/

If you’re a beginner, search for a smoker that is easy to use and has functions such as an exterior thermostat and extra ventilation door. Choose a unit with large grates that are easy to clean and a door that gives you easy access to clean out the charcoal ash. Some units may also come with removable ashtrays, making clean up quick and easy.

Features

Some of the best charcoal smokers come with all the bells and whistles. However, all of these extra features have intended purposes that include ventilation and temperature gauging so you can monitor the smoker’s heat as your meat cooks. Look for a smoker that comes with seals and dampers as well as a quality paint job, so it looks nice, even after several uses.

Warranty Coverage & Support

Your new charcoal smoker should come with a warranty that covers all defects materials and how its constructed. Look for one that includes the external covering as well as the internal grates. The length of the warranty varies from brand to brand, so be sure to read the warranty guide that comes with your charcoal smoker.


9 Best Charcoal Smokers Reviewed

1. Weber Smokey Mountain

Best Overall

Weight

39.7 lbs.

Grill Size

21 x 19 x 41 inches

Temperature Range

100-400°

Cooking Space

481 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes; Bowl/Lid/Ring-10 yrs.; Plastic Components-5 yrs.; All other parts-2 yrs.

The Weber Smokey Mountain smoker has a long history of being the best overall charcoal smoker on the market. Weber makes this smoker in 14-, 18-, and 22-inch models, and backs up their quality with 10-year warranties. Most beginners have the best luck with the 18-inch smoker, making it the best charcoal smoker on our list.

The lower section of this bullet smoker features a charcoal ring and three adjustable vents so you can control the airflow and temperature. A water pan and two grilling grates make up the middle section, giving you easy access to the meats and a side door so you can easily add charcoal or smoking wood.

The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker allows you to easily control the temperature of the chamber with the use of the vents and dampers. The fuel door comes off so you can add charcoal or smoking wood as you need it throughout the day. Easily keep tabs on the temperature with the grommet monitors, and when you're done, close the dampers all the way to extinguish the coals. 

The best overall charcoal smoker would come with multiple grates to give you ample room for all of your slabs or ribs or pork shoulders. With two different layers and two large grates, you can smoke two different sized pieces at once.

Pros

  • Two separate grilling plates
  • Side door entry
  • Rust-Resistant aluminum fuel doors

Cons

  • Pricey depending on size

2. Pit Barrel Cooker Co.

Best Drum/Barrel Smoker

Weight

56 lbs.

Grill Size

19 x 25 x 36 inches

Temperature Range

270-320°

Cooking Space

324 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes; 1-yr. on any accessory

The Pit Barrel Cooker is the best drum/barrel smoker on our list. With a “Hook-and-Hang” cooking method, you can place food in the center of the heat action for all-around perfect smoking. With the hanging method, meat juices are allowed to fall onto the coals as they smolder, producing a thick smoke that surrounds the meat for the perfect smoke flavor. 

With cooking temps ranging from 270-320 degrees, and the drum is built to withstand the high heat that comes with burning white-hot coals for an entire day of smoking. The porcelain enamel barrel is weather resistant and is extremely portable, so you can take this to any tailgate or holiday gathering.

If you prefer to grill on the grate, you can do so with the one that’s included. Cooking on the grate also creates enough distance between the heat and the meat so you can avoid uneven hot spots in your cooker.

The coal basket in the Pit Barrel Cooker is large enough for an ideal amount of coals, and the barrel design gives you consistency without the hassle. There is also minimal assembly required to get started, and you get two hanging rods with eight stainless steel hooks with a hook remover.

Pros

  • Pre-Drilled for bottle opener
  • Hook system
  • Good for beginners

Cons

  • No temperature control
  • Best used as a smoker

3. Weber Original Kettle

Best Large Grill & Smoker Combo

Weight

33 lbs.

Grill Size

39.5 x 27  x 22.5 

Temperature Range

150-600°

Cooking Space

363 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes; Bowl/Lid/Ring-10 yrs.; Plastic Components-5 yrs.; All other parts-2 yrs.

The Weber Original Kettle is the best large charcoal grill and smoker combo on our guide. To give you the best of both worlds, Weber has designed a grilling unit that allows you to cook up to 13 hamburgers at once. With more than 363 sq. inches of cooking space and the capabilities of reaching internal temperatures up to 600 degrees, this unit allows you to grill or slow-smoke your meat all day.

With a total weight of just 33 pounds and equipped with rolling wheels, you can take this Weber grill anywhere. Wheel it out from the garage for driveway barbeques or load it up in the bed of your truck and take it to the tailgates.

This unit meets all of your smoking and grilling needs and houses it all under one lid. While the classic look of the grill may be deceiving to your guests, you’ll be able to masterfully grill up their favorites in no time. With a temperature gauge and a hinged grate, you can easily control the internal grilling or smoking temperature for proper cooking.

If you’re looking for a smoker that’s easy to clean, then the Weber Kettle is a perfect fit for your household. The removable, high-capacity aluminum ash catcher makes it easy to discard the coal and wood ash. The porcelain-enameled lid and bowl are resistant to rust, which means you won’t have to worry about your grill falling apart after just a few uses.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • 2-in-1 grill and smoker
  • 1-touch cleaning system

Cons

  • No side burner

4. PK Grills

Best Portable Charcoal Smoker Grill

Weight

45 lbs.

Grill Size

16 x 35 x 35 inches

Temperature Range

180-750°

Cooking Space

300 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes: 10-yr. warranty

Is heat consistency a problem for you when you grill with your current charcoal grill? Then you'll love upgrading to the best portable charcoal smoker grill: the PK Grill. The capsule design of this smoker allows for 2-zone cooking, and the four vents along the top will enable you to control airflow into the cooker efficiently. This gives you more control over the heat and the consistency at which you grill your meats.

With nearly 300 sq. inches of cooking space, the size of this smoker gives you plenty of room and versatility when it comes to grilling up some brats or cooking the entire turkey for Thanksgiving. The capsule also easily detaches from any of its stands, allowing you to take it anywhere you go and may want to slowly smoke a slab of ribs or grill hot dogs.

The durability of any of the PK grills makes this unit the best portable charcoal smoker on the market. Made from cast aluminum, the capsule is resistant to rust but is lightweight. Cast aluminum also conducts heat four times faster than steel, making this an extremely efficient grilling machine that’s all the rave with PK customers.

PK stands behind their products with a 10-year warranty, so you can buy in confidence. All of their smokers and grills are covered against rust, burnout, or breakage. Should anything go wrong with your PK Grill, simply call their customer service line, and they'll work with you to offer the best solution.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Both a grill & smoker
  • Cast aluminum

Cons

  • No side burner

5. Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Ceramic

Best Kamado Grill

Weight

188 lbs.

Grill Size

26.4 x 26.4 x 36 inches

Temperature Range

225-750°

Cooking Space

660 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes; 5-yr. Warranty

The Kamado Joe Classic II grill is one of the best charcoal smokers on the market. Innovative and expertly engineered to improve your cooking, this unit will quickly become the best device outside your kitchen. Constructed from durable powder-coated aluminum, this grill is widely known as the best kamado grill out there. It also comes with a premium cart and wheels, so you can take it from garage to patio in just seconds.

Nothing says efficiency like dividing and conquering, which is exactly what the Kamado Joe Classic II grill does with its flexible cooking system. A two-tiered grate design allows you to cook multiple items at different temperatures at the same time. Prepare a classic surf 'n turf with shrimp grilling on the top and steaks down below. The Kontrol Tower Top Vent is designed to give you consistent and precise airflow as you open and close the dome. While the unit is rather heavy when put together, the airlock hinge reduces the dome lid weight by 96%, making it easy for you to access your cooking. 

An additional feature that Kamado Joe customers can’t get over is the six-piece firebox design that helps eliminate breakage while increasing the grilling efficiency. The interior of the firebox comes apart in six slabs, which allows you to replace one or multiple quickly should they need it. You'll also find a wire mesh fiberglass gasket around the center ring, which helps create an air-tight seal and has a longer lifespan than regular gaskets.

Perhaps the easiest part about the Kamado Joe is the ask collecting box that slides in and out like a drawer for hassle-free cleanup when you're done using the griller for the day. Simply wipe away grease from the grates, and you're done.

Pros

  • 2-tier flexible cooking system
  • All-in-one unit
  • Ideal for large groups

Cons

  • Heavy

6. Dyna-Glo DGX7808DC-D

Best Vertical Charcoal Smoker

Weight

56 lbs.

Grill Size

20.38 x 21.45 x 49.73 inches

Temperature Range

100 – 350°

Cooking Space

784 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes; 1-year Limited Lifetime Warranty

Whether you're a pro or a beginner, the Dyna-Glo DGX7808DC-D is the best vertical charcoal smoker out there. Made from heavy-gauge porcelain-enameled steel, this unit lets you smoke all of your favorite foods with wood chips and fuel sources. If cooking with charcoal isn't your thing, Dyna-Glo also makes their vertical smoker in gas and electric, giving you a range of cooking options while still getting the best smoke flavor in your ribs and briskets.

With four levels of grates, you can easily cook for an army or cook a simple meal for two, all in one unit. The different levels give you more flexibility, and the water pan that's included will keep your foods moist and tender. You can fine-tune the smoke or grilling temperature with the adjustable flue and watch the temperature fluctuate properly with the "Smoke Zone" indicator on the outside of the smoker.

Ample cooking space is essential when looking for a smoker. The Dyna-Glo line gives you plenty of that with the multi-level tiers and is the perfect size for all of your foods. The stackable feature is ideal for those slow-smoking brisket days or for staking kabobs on the top rack while your chicken and steaks cook down below. 

Dyna-Glo has made cooking and cleaning a breeze with this smoker. The removable steel ash pan can handle a large amount of ash and is easy to remove when you need to discard it. The double-door hinge also gives you easy access to your food as it smokes or to the charcoal firebox to add more fuel to the flame.

Pros

  • Multi-level cooking
  • Water pan included
  • Heavy-duty and durable

Cons

  • Gaps in exhaust vents
  • Short warranty

7. Dyna-Glo DGO1176DC-D

Best Offset Charcoal Smoker

Weight

57 lbs.

Grill Size

20.2 x 34.52 x 47.03 inches

Temperature Range

100-350°

Cooking Space

1,176 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes; 1-year Limited Lifetime Warranty

If you like the idea of a vertical smoker, but want a separate firebox off to the side, then once again, Dyna-Glo has you covered. As the best offset charcoal smoker in our guide, this unit comes with a heavy gauge porcelain wood chip firebox and a cast iron burner for easy ignition and efficient burn throughout your entire cooking process. The whole unit is made out of a heavy-duty steel body and finished with a high-temperature powder coat to add durability.

Temperatures inside the fire box can reach a maximum of 700 degrees, but inside your smoker, you can control the temperature to be anywhere between 225 degrees near the bottom and 240 degrees near the top. Easily adjust the airflow and temperature with the adjustable flue that sits on top of the vertical chamber.

Larger than its simple vertical cousin, the Dyna-Glo DGO1176DC-D has more than 1,176 inches of cooking space, split between six different levels. This means that you’ll be able to grill or smoke nearly 100 pounds of food or meat at a time, giving you ample food for large parties or enough space to prepare an entire meal from start to finish.

The offset design is meant to keep the heat source directly away from the food, making this the best offset charcoal smoker for those that prefer to slow-smoke their food. This design creates more smoke that will seep into your meat as it slowly simmers away inside the chamber. This also prevents foods on the bottom rack from cooking faster than the rest of the chamber.

Pros

  • Lots of cooking space
  • Can use charcoal or wood chips
  • Racks are adjustable and removable

Cons

  • Short warranty
  • No damper included

8. Char-Broil Bullet

Best Bullet Charcoal Smoker

Weight

27 lbs.

Grill Size

25.4 x 24.8 x 42.8 inches

Temperature Range

150-550°

Cooking Space

584 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes; 1-year Warranty

With the Char-Broil Bullet smoker, you will not be disappointed. As the best bullet charcoal smoker on the market, you get a quality smoker for a reasonable price. If you like the look of a bullet smoker, then you’ll enjoy this one, which is made from durable steel and coated with high-heat porcelain. The 584 sq. inches of cooking space gives you plenty of room for all of your grilling and smoking meats.

Designed with an innovative airflow system, the Char-Broil Bullet charcoal smoker has two chambers that can easily be accessed through the lift handles or the top dome lid. You can easily adjust the airflow through the vent at the top and manage the internal smoking temperature through the temperature gauge.

Weighing in at just 27 pounds, this bullet charcoal smoker has a small footprint but is tall enough for you to access the chamber door easily. Bolted to three pegged-standing legs, you can easily set it down on the patio or smoke meats at a tailgate. If you need to store this unit away, you can easily disassemble and pack it away in three sections.

The Char-Broil brand is well known for making high-quality gas and charcoal grills, which is why so many customers trust the brand. Their bullet smoker is no exception. Whether you’re an experienced smoker looking to add an additional unit to your arsenal, or you’re a beginner just learning the art of smoking, this smoker is perfect. With a top dome lid and grate, you can also use this smoker as a simple grill for when you need quick hamburgers or hotdogs for parties.

Pros

  • Great quality
  • Affordable
  • Removable ash pan

Cons

  • No hanging racks
  • No hinge on lid

9. Masterbuilt 20060416

Best Cheap Charcoal Smoker

Weight

15.26 lbs.

Grill Size

19.13 x 21.65 x 31.49 inches

Temperature Range

150 – 400°

Cooking Space

395 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes; 1-year Warranty

The Masterbuilt 20060416 grill is the best cheap charcoal smoker in our guide. Not only is it compact in size, but it’s also perfect for those who are just starting out and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a charcoal smoker. This unit is perfect for smaller households or for those that want a simple unit they can pick up and take with their anywhere. You can still do plenty of cooking on the 395 sq. inches of grate space that comes with this small bullet smoker.

This smoker is well made and designed to withstand heat temperatures up to 400 degrees. It comes with a built-in lid thermostat, a porcelain-coated charcoal pan, and a water bowl so you can keep your ribs and briskets juicy and tender throughout the entire cooking process. Easily access the fire chamber with the front door and control your temperature the entire day.

Small, yet mighty, the Masterbuilt smoker is perfect for on-the-go grilling and smoking. Weighing just a little over 15 pounds, this unit is great for tailgates and camping trips. You can quickly load it up in the back of the camper or RV and enjoy slow-cooked meats and foods wherever you go.

Don't be fooled by the price of this charcoal smoker. While it may be the cheapest unit in our guide, it still gets the job done. For years, customers have been satisfied with the results they've gotten from such a simple smoker, and they keep using it for years. Take care of this smoker and it will give you plenty of meats cooked to perfection.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Affordable
  • Perfect for beginners

Cons

  • Needs constant supervision
  • Smaller cooking space

Types of Charcoal Smokers on The Market

Horizontal Offset Smoker

The offset smoker is a classic unit and one of the most popular among those who like this style of cooking. Charcoal and smoke wood burn in an offset firebox while your meat cooks in a horizontal chamber with different shelves to handle all of your brisket or racks of ribs. Offset smokers are often made out of heavy steel or aluminum, which means they’ll retain their heat and are often very heavy, so look for a unit on wheels if you go with this kind of smoker.

Kamado Grill

Kamado grills are charcoal-fueled units that mimic the cooking style of the Japanese earthenware urn. Similar in style to a Giant Egg, these smokers are made out of high-resistant ceramic, cement, terra cotta, or lava rock. They retain heat and act as insulators for cooking your meat at a steady and controlled temperature.

Drum or Barrel (UDS)

Commonly referred to as the Ugly Drum Smoker among professional barbecuers, the drum smoker is a simply 55-gallon steel barrel that's been converted into a smoker for all your delicious ribs and meat shoulders. Creating a sophisticated system of vents and exhausts is something you'll need to learn to do if you choose a UDS. 

Vertical Cabinet

With a vertical cabinet smoker, your heat source will be located directly below the food. Because of this design, your food will cook a lot faster than other smokers. These are usually best as electric or gas units rather than charcoal since you’ll need to control the temperature for even cooking throughout the entire unit.

Water/Bullet Smokers

A water smoker consists of three chambers and allows you to keep the water temperature well below 300 hundred degrees. Use the bottom chamber for the coals and smoking woods for flavor. Water rests in the middle chamber, and then your meat or grilling food slow-smokes in the top chamber. This keeps the food grease off the hot coals and gives you more control over temperature. 


Charcoal Fuel Types

  • Lump/Natural charcoal
    Lump coal is the purest form of charcoal, and many grilling purists prefer it over everything else. It lights up quickly and burns hotter than other materials. It also leaves behind very little ash, leaving you with little to clean up after a long day of smoking. You can also control the temperature of natural charcoal since it reacts well with oxygen, which can be funneled through your smoker if you have proper air ventilation.
  • Binchotan
    Binchotan charcoal is a Japanese coal that has been traditionally made in the Kishu province of Wakayama in Japan. These coals are 100% carbon and produce clean white ash when burned. These coals burn best at lower temperatures, which means you'll need to designate enough time to smoke your meats properly. 
  • Coconut Shell
    Coconut charcoal is a cleaner and safer version of lump coals since it's activated from burning coconut shells at very high heat to create a charcoal nugget. Coconut coals have tiny pores on the surface and tend to be more beneficial for those looking for a more organic route to smoking meats.
  • Briquettes
    Known on the market as a fast-food version of lump coal, briquettes are made from wood by-products, and what's in them isn't always known. They burn quickly, are cheap, and can be covered in chemicals. Let these coals burn until they are white to ensure that all of the harsh additives have burned away before placing your meat on the grates.

Electric vs Charcoal Smokers

There is a lot of debate between electric smokers and charcoal smokers. While both will cook tender brisket, pork ribs, and whole chickens. Charcoal smokers can be time-consuming but are worth both the money and time investments.

Electric smokers offer up convenience but don't quite give you the same results as a charcoal smoker. We’ve put together a comparison chart for you to get a better idea of what’s right for your grilling style and needs.

Pros

Electric

  • Set it and forget it. Doesn’t need much attention until the meats are done.
  • Can enrich the flavors with the built-in bowl for wood chips.
  • No need to adjust the temperature or open vents
  • Can cold smoke meats.
  • Cooks with electricity and doesn’t leave ash behind.

Charcoal

  • Gives meat a smoky flavor.
  • Can use during any weather conditions.
  • Come in a variety of sized units and made from different materials.
  • Can expect an excellent warranty with any brand.
  • Can add a variety of smoking woods for different flavor.

Cons

Electric

  • Cannot use during rainstorms or near water.
  • Many parts that require cleaning and can break down after several uses.
  • Not mobile as they rely on an outlet for electricity.
  • Food flavors lack in intensity.
  • Can have limited warranties

Charcoal

  • Requires attention throughout the entire cooking process.
  • Have to learn how to burn charcoals properly and when to use the vents.
  • Requires skills and patience when it comes to smoking meats.
  • Cooking can take a long time, depending on coals used and how intense you want flavors.
  • Cannot cold smoke meats.

Tips for How to Use Charcoal Smokers

1. Starting the Fire

Starting the fire for your charcoal grill is one of the most difficult tasks, especially for beginners. The most common way to a charcoal fire is to place cold coals in the firebox while you set fire to a small pile in a charcoal chimney. Add the hot coals to the firebox along with your smoke flavor wood chips and keep it open to the air to allow a flame to heat up the coals.

Another way is to create an all-across filling of coals in your smoker. This involves a layer of coals across the entire bottom to produce heat throughout your entire smoker. However, you may want to use coals that are less dense, so you get a more even cooking temperature. 

2. Managing the Airflow

Managing the airflow means you’ll be managing the temperature. If you want a lower temp, shut the vents and dampers so that very little air can pass through. If you want to ramp up the heat, then open the vents and damper all the way to allow for maximum passage. The more oxygen that your coals are exposed to, the more fire and heat they will produce.

3. Wear Heat Protective Gloves

Always wear heat-protective gloves when handling a smoker. Look for a pair of gloves that have grips on them so you can easily turn your meat, open the door and vents, or simply handle your grilling with care. The aluminum or steel build of smokers means that everything gets hot, including the handles. Protect yourself and handle your smoker with care. 

4. Start Small

If you’re just starting out and are new to smoking with a charcoal unit, take it easy your first time. Many beginners find that they have success when they start with a simple slab of beef or pork ribs and then build on their expertise from there. Never fill your smoker full your first time since you might not be used to temperature adjustments and proper cooking techniques.


Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning your charcoal smoker is rather simple and easy. Most models on our list come with a removable ashtray, which means you'll be able to discard the ash when you're done.

After each cooking session, take a wet or damp cloth and wipe down the grates when their still warm, so they're not caked with leftover food the next time you want to smoke or grill. If you want, use a non-stick cooking spray on your grates before you grill, or wrap them in aluminum foil to help protect them from dripping juices and grease.

You should also do a thorough cleaning of your smoker at least twice a year. This involves taking it apart, washing the grates with mild soap and water, and cleaning out the ashtray to remove the small layer of dust and ash that's accumulated over time. Never use bleach on any of your cooking grates or in the ashtray, as this can cause a harmful burn off when you set your next fire.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long do these charcoal smokers last?
These charcoal smokers can last for many years when taken care of properly. During each use, you can expect 8 -12 hours of smoking from the coals.
How long do these smokers take to reach desired temperatures?
When heating up your coals, start by heating them up in a chimney or other fire-safe device for 15 minutes. Once they warm, add them to the remaining cold coals in the firebox and surround them with smoking woods. Your smoker will be ready for meats in about 30 minutes.
How can I ensure the meat doesn’t burn?
To ensure that your meat cooks evenly, adjust the vents and dampers to control the temperature. Completely open vents allow more air in, making the fire hotter. Partially closed vents keep a steady temp in the chamber.
How long does it take to smoke meat?
Depending on the type of coals you use and the unit you go with, you can expect your meats to be ready in 3-4 hours.
What are the best meats to smoke or grill in a charcoal smoker?
Try smoking slabs of ribs, briskets, or any other meats that you want to have that smoke flavor when they're done. There's no right or wrong choice when it comes to meat selection.
What else can I do with a charcoal smoker aside from smoking meat?
Many smokers can also function as a grill. Simply allow more airflow to create more heat and check on your meat until it's done.
What is a smoke ring, and how can one achieve it with a charcoal smoker?
The smoke ring is the pinkish color that can be found around the outermost layer of slow-cooked meats. This ring is usually achieved by the combination of the fuel type with a slow and low cooking method. Charcoal briquets or wood is often best in achieving this smoke ring.
What is cold smoking?
Cold smoking meat is a delicate process that involves curing and preserving meat and then exposed to smoke for hours or days. If you’re curious about the entire process, check out online guides and tools.
What is the best charcoal to use in a smoker?
Traditional lump coal is the best fuel to use in a charcoal smoker as they tend to burn hotter and longer, giving you more use and longer smoke times for juicier foods.
What are some accessories often used with charcoal smokers?
Depending on the type of coals you use and the unit you go with, you can expect your meats to be ready in 3-4 hours.
  • Covers: If you intend to keep your charcoal smoker outdoors, keep it covered. Many brands come with suggested covers and provide exact fits like the Masterbuilt.
  • Charcoal Starter: Getting your charcoal fire started can be tricky. With a chimney starter, you will be able to heat up a select few coals quickly and efficiently. Look for a hand-held coal chimney starter for optimal convenience.
  • Turkey Hanger: If you like to cook the turkey for Thanksgiving, or want another way to smoke whole chickens, invest in a hanger that allows you to hang your bird in the smoker. Hanging will give you more even cooking and will let the smoke surround the entire bird.
  • Meat Thermometer Probes: Cooking and grilling meat to the proper temperature is essential to your health to prevent the transfer of contaminated meat or the consumption of undercooked foods. Invest in a thermometer probe so you can get an accurate reading on your meat every time.
Where is the best place to buy these charcoal smokers?

Check out Amazon for all of the best deals on these charcoal smokers.


Conclusion

At the end of the day the Weber Smokey Mountain unit is still the best charcoal smoker on the market. Its durability, performance, and overall look beat out the competition in our opinion, but that doesn't mean the other smokers won't work for you.

Keep in mind your cooking style, how often you intend to use the smoker, and how much meat you want to smoke at one time, and one of these units will suit you best. In the end, we all just want those fall-off-the-bone ribs and tender brisket year-round. 

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