The best BBQ smokers you can buy

The best BBQ smokers you can buy

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  • Smoked meats are tender, flavorful, and sure to please the crowd.
  • Smoking takes more time than just about any other cooking method, but it's always worth the wait
  • The cooking process is relatively hands-off, allowing you to enjoy the day with only occasional checks on the BBQ smoker
  • The Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker is our top pick because it doesn't take up too much space, yet offers a large 1,890 square-inches of cooking surface.

Back in 2012, a friend stayed at my house for a few weeks while he looked for an apartment. Along with helping us install a sprinkler system and lay sod in the back yard, my buddy did something else that seriously improved life at the homestead: He got me into smoking meat.

My friend had gone to school in Texas, where barbecue - smoking, in particular - are a matter of state pride. I had a grill/smoker combo out on the patio that got regular use as a regular charcoal grill, but not to smoke meat. That all changed the first time our guest spent three hours smoking a rack of ribs. One bite and I knew that offset firebox was going to see a lot of action over the next few years.

Once you have eaten perfectly smoked ribs, brisket, or pork, you may never want to eat meat prepared any other way. Smoking produces flavorful and tender meat thanks to the extended exposure the meat gets to flavor-imbuing smoke and the low cooking temperatures.


And far from being a bastion reserved for the diehard barbecue devotees, anyone can smoke up a great meal as long as he or she has a fine smoker, a recipe or two to follow, and several hours of free time. Because while smoked meats are delectable, they're certainly not efficient.

You could (and probably should) spend hours finding the best marinades and rubs for your smoked meats, but as for finding the right smoker for your household, that will only take you a few more minutes. We put together a list featuring a great smoker from each of the categories of meat smoker available. Depending on how hands-on you want the process to be, where you'll use your smoker, your budget, and the number of mouths you have to feed, one of these smokers will surely be a perfect fit for you.

Here are the best BBQ smokers you can buy:

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

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The best BBQ smoker overall

The best BBQ smoker overall
Why you'll love it: The Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker is one serious piece of meat-smoking hardware, with six cooking grates that can each handle up to 25 pounds of food.

The proper name of this smoker is the Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker. Now, that's kind of a mouthful, to be sure. But you know what else is a mouthful? Up to 150 pounds of food slowly smoking away inside the behemoth main chamber of this pro-grade smoker. It comes with six steel shelves, each capable of supporting up to 25 pounds of food — creating a total cooking area of 1,890 square inches. (For reference, that classic 22-inch Weber charcoal grill your dad used has a 363 square- inch cooktop.)

Sheer volume aside, there's a lot to love about this Dyna-Glo Smoker. In fact, the real beauty here is in the details. Like, the ash management system that allows you to remove and clear out ash without disrupting the charcoal or wood burning in the offset box, allowing for hours of uninterrupted cooking. Or, the pair of adjustable dampers — one on the side and one atop the chimney — that allow for custom smoke control. Or, the sausage hooks and rib racks.

Also take a look at the thermometer on the front. It has an ideal smoke zone indicator, so you can raise or lower the heat to maintain the ideal slow-cooking temperature, no guesswork required. And for all that, this smoker carries a pretty good price, too.

The Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker has nearly 900 reviews on Amazon and enjoys a 4-star average rating. One customer who stated he had "been in the meat business for 15 years" and has "smoked thousands of pounds of sausage and meats" was "impressed ... and would recommend this one above others."

A writer with ProjectSmoked praised the Dyna-Glo smoker's "heavy-duty construction" and its many "high-quality components," calling it the best offset smoker you can find priced under $1000.

Pros: Huge cooking area, efficient ash management system, easy smoke control, decent price point

Cons: Some smoke loss through door gaps

Get a Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker on Amazon for $225

The best pellet smoker

The best pellet smoker
Why you'll love it: The Traeger Renegade Pro Wood Pellet Grill uses a digital controller to automatically maintain the temperature you set.

There is a common misconception that cooking with a pellet grill is complicated. It's not, unless you consider pouring a few pounds of pellets into a chamber, turning a dial, and flipping a switch to be complicated, that is. The Traeger Renegade Pro Wood Pellet Grill uses digital controls to meet the temperature you set and hold it there within plus-or-minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit. And as you likely know or are now figuring out, consistent temperatures are critical for proper meat smoking.

What's that you say? You love the idea of smoking meats, but you also need a traditional barbecue? Well, with the heat cranked up, the Traeger Renegade Pro Wood Pellet Grill makes a perfect conventional grill for baking or roasting. (Pellet grill pizza? That's a winner, people.) Just note that with all that versatility comes a price: this is the most expensive option on our list — and that's not including the options you can add.

When slow cooking at lower temps, the grill will only go through about a pound of pellets per hour; at higher temperatures, you'll burn through three or more. While a pellet grill like this does, of course, necessitate the purchase of wood pellets, with that added expense comes the bonus of flavor options. Traeger offers all sorts of different wood pellets, from hickory to maple to mesquite.

The Traeger Renegade Pro Wood Pellet Grill has dozens of reviews posted on Amazon and enjoys a 4.1-star averaged rating. One owner called it the "easiest smoker [he has] ever owned," while another appreciated that it was "very efficient in the consumption of pellets and produces a minimal amount of ash."

In a review on SeriouslySmoked, a writer noted the Renegade's many user-friendly features, like "an easy to exchange and clean hopper" and its "side grease drain."

Pros: Precision temperature control, efficient pellet use, easy to clean and maintain

Cons: Very expensive

Get a Traeger Renegade Pro Wood Pellet Grill on Amazon for $749.97

The best electric smoker

The best electric smoker
Why you'll love it: For the best possible control of your smoking temperature and timing, go electric. Specifically, go with the Masterbuilt 30 Inch Digital Electric Meat Smoker.

If you'd like your smoked foods to come with a side of convenience, then the Masterbuilt 30-inch Digital Electric Meat Smoker is your go-to. This smoker digitally monitors timing and temperature, and it can be operated by remote control. That's right, a remote — you can rest easy on a patio lounger or even sit inside watching the game while still having total control over your smoking meats.

And thanks to a side-loading wood chip system, you can add more wood without interrupting the smoking process or throwing off the temperature in the cooking chamber. Said cooking chamber can accommodate up to 12 whole chickens, four racks of ribs, or 24 burgers at once, to name a few of the foods you can cook in the Masterbuilt 30 Inch Digital Electric Meat Smoker.

While this smoker is a pretty bulky affair, weighing in at nearly 65 pounds, a set of wheels on the rear and a large handle make moving it around on level surfaces surprisingly easy, which is handy, as you'll need to be near an electrical outlet to operate it.

With more than 4,800 reviews posted and counting, the Masterbuilt 30 Inch Digital Electric Meat Smoker enjoys a 4-star rating. One proud meat smoker called it "very easy to operate" and praised its "accurate temperature" controls. Another loved that the remote control made it perfect for people who "don't want to babysit their smoker."

A number of people did report being unsatisfied with the volume of smoke the unit created, though, saying it did not produce the same rich flavors as other non-electric smokers.

Pros: Can be controlled remotely, side-loading wood chip system, easy to move on flat ground

Cons: Does not produce as much smoke as other options

Get a Masterbuilt 30 Inch Digital Electric Meat Smoker from Amazon for $313.79

The best propane smoker

The best propane smoker
Why you'll love it: The Cuisinart Vertical 36-inch Propane Smoker's pair of doors make it easy to access your foods or the wood chip tray, and they lock shut to seal in smoke and heat while you cook.

A propane smoker allows for the ideal balance between temperature precision and real smoke flavor. Unlike with a charcoal grill, you can regulate the intensity of the propane, and unlike an electric smoker, the wood chips you add to make smoke, burns up much more efficiently.

The Cuisinart Vertical 36-inch Propane Smoker has four smoking racks that create a combined 784 square-inches of cooking space. That's pretty solid for a smoker that only occupies a little more than a single square foot of space. If you want to smoke large volumes of meat but only have a smaller patio or balcony on which to do it, this unit is a great choice.

A pair of locking doors make it easy to access the main chamber to check on your food or the wood chip tray when it's time to clear out ash or add more wood. And an included water tray helps to ensure your foods won't dry out even during long smoking sessions.

The Cuisinart Vertical 36-inch Propane Smoker comes with a 40-inch hose so you can position your propane tank to either side of or behind the smoker, and a regulator is included, so you can easily control the volume of gas flowing to the burner.

With dozens of reviews posted on Home Depot's site, this smoker enjoys a 4.5-star overall rating. One customer speaks for many when he called it "one of the best purchases [he has] made," calling the smoker a great value and "easy to assemble."

And a writer with KitchenGuyd noted its "relatively compact size," durable construction, and heat-retention qualities.

Pros: Compact footprint, heats up quickly, dual door design

Cons: Gusty winds sometimes extinguish burner

Get a Cuisinart Vertical 36-inch Propane Smoker at HomeDepot for $175.35

The best BBQ smoker under $100

The best BBQ smoker under $100
Why you'll love it: The Nexgrill 29-inch Barrel Charcoal Grill with Smoker is a classic charcoal BBQ grill and a smoker in one, and for a very low cost.

You consider the Nexgrill 29-inch Barrel Charcoal Grill with Smoker because it costs less than $100, but you buy it because it turns out to be a perfectly capable cooking apparatus. This is a classic style of barbecue smoker, with a firebox offset to one side and a large primary cooking area in a barrel shape. That design allows for regular addition of wood chips, good smoke regulation thanks to a pair of dampers, and for placement of a water tray under the meat cooking in the main compartment.

The Nexgrill 29-inch Barrel Charcoal Grill with Smoker offers 741 square inches of total grill space when you count the square footage of cooking surface found in the firebox. This chamber can be used as a small grill when you are just making a couple of burgers, or for when you need extra-high temperatures.

But of course, the thing is at its best when the firebox is filled with smoldering charcoal and woodchips, and steady smoke and low heat permeate the main grilling space. A thermometer set into the barrel makes it easy to watch the temperature, and a removable charcoal drawer makes cleaning the firebox simple.

Home Depot customers have given this smoker/grill combo a 4.3-star average rating, with one calling it a "great entry level family grill with a smoker to boot." Another called it "an excellent grill, especially for the price."

But one owner did mention an issue with the handle burning off. This is indeed a great entry-level smoker, but it's probably not your forever choice.

Pros: Small price tag, great BBQ/smoker combo, handy side table

Cons: Durability issues

Get a Nexgrill 29-inch Barrel Charcoal Grill with Smoker at Home Depot for $99