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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Smokers For Beginners Reviewed

Choose one of these top brands and start smoking up your first BBQ meats today.

by

Buyers Guide & Information

Best Smokers For Beginners Reviewed

Choose one of these top brands and start smoking up your first BBQ meats today.

by JohnL

by JohnL
Best Propane Smoker for Beginners
Char-Broil The Big Easy 14101550

Char-Broil The Big Easy 14101550

Imagine a hot summer day with your family and friends hanging out by the pool. This type of get-together is perfect for a good old-fashioned barbeque. One of the best summer investments is a smoker for beginners.

A smoker is similar to a grill in that it can cook your meat to perfection. It differs in that it is used to cook meat at low temperatures for more extended periods of time. It uses smoke to enhance the flavor of your BBQ. If you are in the market for a beginner smoker, then check out this buyer's guide so that you can impress your friends and family at your next party.

Image

Product

Temperature Range

Cooking Surface Area

Check Price

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 22 Inch Smoker

Weber Smokey Mountain 731001

100 - 350 Fahrenheit

726 Sq. In.

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

Classic Pit Barrel Cooker

100 - 310 Fahrenheit

18.5-inch grate

Char-Broil The Big Easy 14101550

Char-Broil The Big Easy 14101550

250 - 450 Fahrenheit

180 Sq. In.

Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt MB20071117 RA49220

Up to 275 Fahrenheit

708 Sq. In.

KBQ C-60 BBQ Smoker Pit

KBQ C-60 BBQ Smoker Pit

150 - 300 Fahrenheit

960 Sq. In.

Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker

Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn 17202053

100 - 350 Fahrenheit

1060 Sq. In.

Traeger TFB42LZBC Grills Lil Tex Elite 22 Wood...

Traeger TFB42LZBC

200 - 450 Fahrenheit

418 Sq. In.

How Smokers Work: Are They Different Than Grilling?

While many people may have grills at home, they may be less familiar with smokers. They generally require you to cook BBQ meat for longer periods. They are powered by many different types of fuel, which we will cover later in this guide. A grill is mostly powered by an open flame. Most smokers require a stable temperature of around 225 degrees. There also must be a sufficient amount of smoke to supplement the heat to cook food to tender perfection.


Benefits of Using Smokers

While grilling can make for great meals, a smoker has even more benefits. Everyone loves their food to have flavor, and a smoker adds immense flavor to your meat. It gives it that tender, smoky flavor that reminds you of a proper barbeque.

Another advantage of using a smoker is that your meat can be preserved for longer periods of time. The smoking process allows the meat to be saved and dried out over time. It also decreases the chance of bacteria growth.

One significant benefit is that you can smoke almost anything on your beginner smoker. You can smoke vegetables, chicken, pork, and beef. It allows you to cook everything in the same area, which decreases dishes and waste.


Factors to Consider When Buying Your First Smoker

Smoking/Grilling Needs

It should be noted that all smokers come in different sizes. You should keep in mind how many people you will be cooking for in your household. There are many different ways to smoke meat. You should consider if you want to have a wood, propane, or electric beginner smoker.

Smoker and Fuel Type

There are many different types of smokers to consider when shopping. The classic wood-burning type uses only wood or sticks to create smoke for cooking. Charcoal smokers are more hands-off than wood burning. You light the coals and control the heat with a valve. Pellet smokers are temperature controlled by the user and feed small sawdust pellets into a flame to create smoke. An electric smoker uses wood chips, water, and heat to produce smoke rather than an open flame.

Performance, Smoking/Grilling Consistency, and Capacity

One fantastic thing about smokers is that they are made to cook your meat consistently throughout. When it comes to grilling, it can be challenging to get a consistent temperature throughout since you will need to turn the meat over. Another critical item to look at is the capacity of the smoker. Some are made to cook enough meat for a large party while others are more family size.

Temperature Adjustment

Depending on the type of smoker you buy, the temperature control mechanism will be different. Some smokers come with a valve that you will need to open and close to adjust the heat. Other smokers will come with a temperature adjustment knob that changes the heat based on the setting you choose.

Cooking Space/Storage

You should keep in mind what kind of cooking space you are looking for when it comes to your smoker. There are smoking grills that come with a standard single grate while others come with dual, stacked grates. Most smokers are rather large, so you should have a storage place in mind when shopping. You should determine if the smoker can be left outside or needs to be brought in from the elements.

Mobility/Portability, Ease of Use, Set up, and Cleaning

Smokers are generally pretty heavy. If you want to be able to move the smoker around, then you should buy one with wheels. You should read the instructions before purchasing to see if you will be able to set up the smoker yourself or if you should hire someone to assist. All smokers will need to be cleaned from time to time. Check and see the optimal cleaning methods for your smoker before purchasing. Most require a scrubbing of the metal grates after every cookout.

Extra Features and Accessories

All customers love a good bonus when they invest money into a new product. Some smokers on the market will come with additional features such as cooking tools, extra grates, or even recipe books for barbecuing. If you want an all-around package, make sure you check to see what will be included in your purchase.

Warranty Coverage and Budget

All of the products in this review will include warranty coverage. Some are better than others, but always register your product after purchase to activate the warranty. Another important factor for everyone is their budget. We will include beginner BBQ smokers for every budget, so you can find what you need.


7 Best Smokers for Beginners Reviewed

1. Weber Smokey Mountain 731001

Our Top Pick

Dimensions

24 x 23 x 48.5 inches

Weight

68 lbs

Temperature Range

100 - 350 Fahrenheit

Cooking Surface Area

726 Sq. In.

Material

Porcelain-enameled

Warranty

Yes, 10 years

If you are looking for a top-notch smoker made by one of the best brands in the business, then the Weber Smokey Mountain is the model for you. We have named this model the best smoker for beginners. It performs well for any occasion, and you'll be the talk of the neighborhood once you BBQ on this great machine.

The Weber Smokey Mountain comes with a 22-inch grilling surface area with one top rack for meats and an additional bottom rack for vegetables, potatoes, or beans. This beginner smoker will have your backyard filled with the smoky aroma of freshly cooked BBQ meat. It is made out of a porcelain-enameled lid, bowl, and center section. The porcelain holds heat like no other material. It can support wood or charcoal as fuel, so you have options for cooking. It boasts a temperature gauge on the lid, so you can always know how long to cook your meat.

 Jay from Weber’s website claimed, “This smoker is FANTASTIC and I'm so glad that I bought it.”

Pros

  • Quality build and design
  • Dual cooking racks 
  • Temperature gauge on the lid

Cons

  • May be expensive for some users

2. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker

Best Charcoal Smoker for Beginners

Dimensions

21 x 21 x 31.1 inches

Weight

57 lbs

Temperature Range

100 - 310 Fahrenheit

Cooking Surface Area

18.5-inch grate

Material

Porcelain-coated steel

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

Charcoal is the perfect way to smoke up your favorite meats for any party. It is easy to use and readily available at most stores. We recommend the Classic Pit Barrel Cooker for the best charcoal smoker for beginners. It is easy to use and simple in its design. It also has a classic look that is sure to impress all of your party guests.

This model includes 8 stainless steel hooks so that you can hang your meat to smoke it. This is a unique feature that we thought was an awesome addition. If you don't want to hang your meat, it also comes with a standard grate for cooking as well. It boasts a coal basket that is designed to hold as much charcoal as you will need. The porcelain coated steel drum is sure to retain heat for long periods. The addition of the easy access top lid will make cooking a breeze. 

 The best feature of this barrel cooker is that it provides for a vertical smoking experience. I thought this was a pretty great addition. It made it easy for me to check the temperature of the meat quickly. It also helped the meat retain moisture.


Christopher from Pit Barrel expressed, “The PBC really brings amazing bbq to the common man.” I wholeheartedly agree with him that this smoker is easy to use and perfect for beginners.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Hanging hooks for meat
  • Portable and lightweight

Cons

  • Does not include a thermometer

3. Char-Broil The Big Easy 14101550

Char-Broil The Big Easy 14101550

Char-Broil The Big Easy 14101550

Best Propane Smoker for Beginners

Dimensions

23.1 x 23.4 x 36.2 inches

Weight

22.7 lbs

Temperature Range

250 - 450 Fahrenheit

Cooking Surface Area

180 Sq. In.

Material

Steel

Warranty

Yes, 90 days

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than smoking your turkey and other delicacies in an all in one cooking machine. The Char-Broil Big Easy is the best propane smoker for beginners. It can do everything that you need in one beautiful package. This model is a smoker, grill, and roaster. You will be able to cook an entire meal at once.

The Big Easy model comes with a TRU infrared sensor to ensure that food is cooked thoroughly and evenly. It features a special roasting basket that can fit up to a 21 lb turkey. This model features a wood chip box to get that enhanced smokey flavor. It can be lit with a simple turn of a knob, so there is no need to stoke charcoal or wood. It boasts an easy read temperature thermometer to ensure that you get the right temperature every time.

One factor that really stood out to me on this model was the easy ON knob. It was so simple to turn the knob and be ready to start cooking in minutes. I didn't need to check on the heat of the wood or coals continually.

One customer noted, "I have cooked on it almost everyday since I bought it...love it.” This customer’s review stands as a testament to this smoker’s versatility.

Pros

  • All in one grill, roaster, and smoker
  • Easy read thermometer
  • Simple to ignite with a knob

Cons

  • The handles for moving the grill are not very durable

4. Masterbuilt MB20071117 RA49220

Best Electric Smoker for Beginners

Dimensions

30 x 20 x 20 inches

Weight

45.9 lbs

Temperature Range

Up to 275 Fahrenheit

Cooking Surface Area

708 Sq. In.

Material

Steel

Warranty

Yes, 90 days

One of the easiest ways to get started with smoking your favorite meats is by using an electric smoker. The Masterbuilt model is a gem in the category of best electric smokers for beginners. It is perfect for getting you started with everything that you need. You won't find a smoker that is more straightforward than this one. You simply plug it in, set the temperature controls, and this smoker does the rest. The Masterbuilt model will make you an overnight pitmaster!

This model features a side loading wood chip compartment so that you can easily experiment with different flavors without opening the smoker door. The Masterbuilt comes with four chrome-coated cooking racks. You can feed a couple or a party with so much space. It boasts an easy to use control panel that allows you to set the temperature and timer. You won’t have to worry about overcooking with this smoker.

I thought that this smoker was remarkably simple and easy to use. You can turn it on and have a fabulous smoked meal in a few hours. I enjoyed using the side loading wood chip box to change up the flavor of the meat. You can purchase different kinds of hardwood chips to get a different taste every time.

Pros

  • Side loading wood chip box
  • Four cooking racks
  • Simple temperature control

Cons

  • Interior coating may not be as durable as other models

5. KBQ C-60 BBQ Smoker Pit

Best Wood Smoker for Beginners

Dimensions

25.6 x 19.3 x 41.7 inches

Weight

92 lbs

Temperature Range

150 - 300 Fahrenheit

Cooking Surface Area

960 Sq. In.

Material

Stainless steel

Warranty

Yes, 2 years

If you are in the market for a genuine wood-burning smoker, then this is the model for you. We named the KBQ BBQ Smoker Pit as the best wood smoker for beginners. It uses actual wood to create smoke, which will give your meat the most authentic smoked flavor possible. You will be the talk of the latest family barbeque with this award-winning smoker.

This KBQ model features some of the most innovative technology found on the market today. It features an Inverted Flame box that creates a thin blue flame automatically. The Smoke Selector control allows you to easily control the flow of smoke into the chamber so that you can achieve your perfect unique flavor. The AutoDraft control box allows you to control the temperature with ease. It comes with four shelves so that you can feed an entire party. It is portable, with two wheels preinstalled on the rear. 

I loved that this wood smoker for beginners comes packed with patented features. You will get the best of the best if you buy this smoker. I thought that the Inverted Flame box was a brilliant addition, and it made smoking really simple.

Max Good from AmazingRibs.com exclaimed, "... very innovative, wood-burning smoker designed to help the greenest novice smoke meats like a wizened Texas pit boss." 

Pros

  • Inverted Flame box technology
  • Portable with two wheels
  • AutoDraft control box to adjust smokiness

Cons

  • Might be too expensive for some customers

6. Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn 17202053

Best Offset Smoker for Beginners

Dimensions

35.5 x 64.2 x 55.5 inches

Weight

196 lbs

Temperature Range

100 - 350 Fahrenheit

Cooking Surface Area

1060 Sq. In.

Material

Steel and porcelain-coated steel grates

Warranty

Yes, 2 years

This model is the only one that we have reviewed thus far that uses the reverse flow system for smoking. We named Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn as the best offset smoker for beginners. This model is made in more of the traditional smoker design that you see in pitmaster competitions. It features loads of space for you to cook as much food as you desire.

The Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn model features a massive 1,060 square inches of cooking space. It comes with a reverse flow smoking chamber. This is also known as an offset chamber. The wood burns in the chamber while a series of 4 baffles guide the smoke into the larger chamber to produce fantastic results. It boasts removable baffles as well as smokestacks for a customizable setup. The firebox chamber comes with a removable basket so that you can remove it for easy cleanup.

I really enjoyed using this model and had great results with my latest beef brisket creation. I liked that it had such a large surface area for cooking. I also like that offset smokers tend to keep the temperature low for the most tender meat.

One customer from Oklahoma Joe’s site stated, “I bought this so I could throw big parties in my yard, perfect size, great price, and amount of food it handles is amazing.”

Pros

  • Large surface area grate
  • Easy to set up
  • Portable with a set of wheels attached

Cons

  • May have a more difficult time holding steady temperature

7. Traeger TFB42LZBC

Best Smoker Grill for Beginners

Dimensions

42 x 22 x 49 inches

Weight

98 lbs

Temperature Range

200 - 450 Fahrenheit

Cooking Surface Area

418 Sq. In.

Material

Powder-coated steel

Warranty

Yes, 3 years

If you are looking for something that is a little bit smaller and easy to move around the backyard, then Traeger has you covered. It is easy to move and features a grilling and smoking function. This model is the best beginner smoker grill on the market. It comes in a luxurious looking package with its porcelain coated grates and interior.

The Traeger Lil’ Tex Smoker is perfect for grilling and smoking your favorite BBQ meats. It can comfortably accommodate a whole family meal with 418 square inches of cooking space. Many people believe that smoking with wood makes the meat taste significantly better. With the Traeger wood pellet grill, you will definitely notice a difference. The wood pellet design slowly feeds pellets into the auger and down into the firebox. This creates an even amount of smoke every time.

I absolutely loved that the Traeger grill was capable of being both a smoker and a grill. While I enjoy smoking meat for barbecues, it can be time-consuming. If I want to cook something more quickly for dinner, then I could easily switch over to the grilling function. I also enjoyed the easy to read digital temperature controller that maintained temp perfectly.

Pros

  • Digital temperature readout
  • It has the ability to grill and smoke food
  • Easy loading firebox

Cons

  • Needs to be kept in a dry place or the pellets will get wet and clog the auger

Types of Smokers: Which One Suits You Best?

Pellet Smokers

This type of grill involves the use of wood pellets that are fed into an exterior firebox. The pellets are then driven through an auger and emptied into the fire pit when needed. This creates a constant flow of pellets to maintain the temperature of your grill. They are often set it and forget it style smokers. One item to note is that they are not great for wet environments.

Electric Smokers

This type is among the simplest to use. It uses the electrical outlets from your home, similar to a standard electric oven. The temperature can be easily set and left to its own devices for the most part. Electric smokers are ideal for someone who doesn’t want to worry about maintaining a wood or charcoal fire. They operate with an electricity source, water tray, and some wood chips for flavor.

Offset/Reverse Flow Smokers

This model is typically seen in many pitmaster competitions or smokehouses. It is arguably the most advanced type of smoker. You will need to add wood or charcoal to maintain the temperature. They consist of a firebox where wood can be placed. Once there is smoke from the burning wood, it will be funneled through to the main pit.

anatomy of an offset smoker

image source: smokedbbqsource.com

Charcoal Smokers

This type of smoker is popular and relatively cheap to buy fuel for. Charcoal or briquettes fuel these models. You place the charcoal in the firebox and get a fire going. Once you have the coals hot enough, the smoke will fill the chamber and provide heat for smoking your meat. Charcoal smokers are ideal for people who want simplicity and a cheap fuel source. This model is featured above in product number 2.

Vertical Smokers

This type contains the heat and smoke source directly below the food that you are cooking. Vertical smokers often include a rail and hooks to hang the meat that you plan to smoke. You can see an example of this in product number 2 in our reviews. Since the smoke source is directly below the food, it often cooks faster than other types of smokers.

Smoker/Grill Combos

These products are perfect for people who want the ability to slow smoke or sear their meat. Like product number 7 from our reviews, you can turn the heat up to cook high and fast or cook low and slow. These are ideal for people who want the best of both worlds.


How to Use a Smoker: Tips and Tricks

Now that you have chosen a brand new smoker,  let's get you ready to throw your first BBQ party. There are a few things to keep in mind when using your smoker.

Before you begin, you should check the instruction manual for your new BBQ smoker and see if you should break it in. Sometimes this will simply consist of letting it run hot for a brief period before cooking food.

  • Step 1:
    The ideal temperature for smoking is around 225 to 250 degrees. You should gather your fuel source before you begin. Whether it’s charcoal, wood, pellets, or propane, ensure that you have enough to last for the full cooking time.
  • Step 2:
    Fire up your smoker and get started! If you have a wood or charcoal smoker, you will need to start a fire to produce enough smoke. Keep the fire tindered throughout the process. If you have a pellet or electric smoker, you will just need to plug it in and set the temperature.
  • Step 3:
    Once you have your fuel source up and running, make sure that you check that the temperature is holding steady within the ideal range.
  • Step 4:
    Now, it's time to start cooking. Add your food to the grate inside the smoker and set a timer. Ensure that you check the temperature often and add fuel as needed. You should also check the meat with a meat thermometer.

Easy Smoker Recipes for Beginners

Now that you know how to work your smoker like a pro, you can use that brain space for working on the perfect recipe, rub, and BBQ sauce. In this section, we will include some easy recipes for you to practice and get your technique down.

One of the ultimate smoked treats is pulled pork. You can put it on a sandwich or eat it straight up. This recipe should be included in everyone’s arsenal.

  • Step 1:
    Buy a pork shoulder. These can be found at your local butcher or grocery store. It is preferable to have a bone-in pork shoulder, but a boneless one will work just fine.
  • Step 2:
    Create a rub to slather on the pork shoulder before you cook it. The rub ingredients below are simple and easy to find. Cover the shoulder in oil or mustard before applying the rub.
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • ¼ cup of paprika
  • 3 tablespoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons of dry mustard
  • Step 3:
    Once your smoker gets between 225 and 250, place the pork shoulder on the rack. Make sure the temperature is always between that range, but otherwise, for the first 5 hours, do not open the lid to your smoker.
  • Step 4:
    After 5 hours, spritz the pork shoulder with some apple juice every hour to moisten it.
  • Step 5:
    After 8 hours, check the internal temperature of the pork with a meat thermometer. It should be around 160 degrees.
  • Step 6:
    Wrap the pork shoulder with butcher paper and continue to let it cook until it reaches around 200+ degrees.
  • Step 7:
    Take the meat off the grill and wrap it in foil over the butcher paper. Then, place it in a tightly sealed box, such as a cooler with towels. Let it sit for a minimum of 1 hour. After this step, cut the meat and enjoy!

Smoker Cleaning and Maintenance

As much as cleaning can be a hassle, if you want to maintain your smoker, you'll have to clean it after use. The first step in cleaning will be the cooking grates. The build-up that you see on the grates is not seasoning, and it won’t make your food taste any better. 

The best way to do this is by firing up your smoker and getting it as hot as possible. This will cook off all of that grease build-up on the bottom. Once you clean one side, flip the grates over and repeat the process. You should use a piece of aluminum foil or a scrub brush to scrape the grates clean.

Before you begin, you should check the instruction manual for your new BBQ smoker and see if you should break it in. Sometimes this will simply consist of letting it run hot for a brief period before cooking food.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long do these smokers last?
Most of the smokers that we have reviewed include some type of warranty to protect your investment if something happens. Most smokers will last about 5 years before needing new grates or other small parts.
What are the best brands for beginner smokers?
The brands that we have reviewed, such as KBQ, Char-Broil, Weber, and Traeger, are the best brands available. They are known for using the highest quality materials. They are also known for their innovative design and excellent customer service.
Which smoker is better - propane or electric?
This answer will depend entirely on what your needs are. Many people believe that a propane smoker will give a better flavor than an electric one. An electric one is straightforward to use in that you can set the temperature and walk away without worry.
Can smoked meat make you sick?
Like any cooked meat, if not done correctly, you could get sick. There is no difference between smoked meat and meat cooked in a pan on the stove. We recommend buying a meat thermometer so that you can always ensure your meat is cooked to the correct temperature.
Where is the best place to buy these smokers?
We recommend shopping on Amazon for all of your smoking needs, including smokers, recipe books, and accessories.

Conclusion

In this informative buyer’s guide we have provided you with all of the tips and tricks necessary to become a pro pitmaster in your own backyard. We have reviewed the best products on the market so that you would be able to find a beginner smoker within your budget.

By now you are probably wondering what the absolute best choice for your new BBQ smoker is. In this roundup, I highly recommend the Weber Smokey Mountain 731001. It is the perfect size for beginners and easy to use. It provides you with the best options for using charcoal or wood for cooking up your latest batch of BBQ ribs.

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