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What Type of Smokers Are the Best?

The words ‘smoking’ and ‘grilling’ are often used interchangeably, but the truth is they’re two totally different things. Grilling involves cooking food quickly over a hot fire. Smoking is like grilling for the pros: It involves cooking food over wood chips at a lower temperature, and it really brings out the flavor. Any time something is advertised as a BBQ smoker, or smoker grill, it is referring to a smoker or a grill that doubles up as a smoker. 

When comparing smokers, the most important thing to consider is the fuel source. There are five main types of smoker, and each has its pros and cons.

  • Wood smoker. This is the classic, natural way of smoking, but it’s not suitable for beginners. If you cook at the wrong temperature or use the wrong type of wood, your food will end up charred.
  • Pellet smoker. Uses wood pellets instead of real wood, achieving a strong wood-smoked flavor without the hassle. Suitable for beginners, although selecting the right pellets is still crucial.
  • Charcoal smoker. Charcoal is just wood that has been burned over a very strong heat. Charcoal smokers are cheaper than the wood and pellet alternatives, although they take longer to start up and require more cleaning.
  • Electric smoker. Electric smokers don’t give off the true smoked flavor of wood smokers, although you can add wood chips for a small amount of smokiness.
  • Gas smoker.  Like electric smokers, propane smokers are easy to use and you can add wood chips for smoky flavor.

Now that we’ve got that brief intro to wood smokers out of the way, here’s our list of the best smokers in 2020:

1. Masterbuilt Pro Series 30-inch Digital Electric Smoker – Best electric smoker

Sold exclusively at Home Depot, the Masterbuilt Pro Series is the standard-bearer for electric smokers. With built-in smart technology, this smoker ensures perfect results whether you’re a novice or a pro. Its patented side wood-chip loading system lets you add wood chips without ever opening the door.

Features include:

  • Bluetooth smart temperature control
  • Built-in meat probe thermometer for perfect results
  • 4-chrome-coated smoking racks, 3 traditional racks, plus 1 notched rack

2. Traeger Pro 780 Pellet Grill – Best pellet smokers

The popular Traeger Pro Series just got an upgrade with Trager’s own patented WiFIRE technology. WiFIRE allows you to monitor and adjust your grill from the Traeger app on your smartphone. The new Pro 780 also includes a new D2 drivetrain, ensuring your smoker starts up faster and gives out great wood-fired flavor.

Features include:

  • Traeger app gives you remote temperature control
  • Porcelain-coated grill grates prevent food from sticking
  •  2 racks, with total capacity for 34 burgers, 6 rib racks, and 6 chickens


3. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker 18” – Best charcoal smoker

Weber’s Smokey Mountain Cooker offers all the benefits of cooking with charcoal, namely great smoky flavor. It’s also easier to set up and clean than your average charcoal smoker. It comes with rust-resistant metal legs and rust-resistant aluminum dampers, making it a charcoal cooker for all types of weather.

Features include:

  • Cover included
  • Porcelain-enameled bowl, lid, center section, and water pan
  •  Plated steel cooking grates

4. Smoke Hollow Model 3615GW 36" Gas Smoker– Best propane smoker

Smoke Hollow has a solid line of gas smokers, from 26” to 44”. We picked the 36” just to demonstrate what it can do. This compact gas smoker is built on variable-controlled propane gas, allowing you to find your ideal smoking temperature in all types of weather. The fully adjustable chrome-plated cooking grids let you smoke numerous types of meat simultaneously.

Features include:

  • Tempered glass window for easy viewing
  • Smoke tray for easy, external wood-chip loading while retaining smoke/heat
  • 4 adjustable cooking grids

5. Char-Broil 16-Inch Bullet Smoker – Best budget smoker

You’d be hard-pressed to find any other smokers for sale that can beat the Char-Broil for value. This charcoal cooker promises high-quality smoking performance at a fraction of the price of the best smokers. It doubles up as a smoker and grill, making it suitable for the person that likes to occasionally do some smoking without breaking the bank.

Features include:

  • Airflow control system simplifies the settings and maintains cook temperatures
  •  Removable ash pan system collects ash, reducing clean-up times
  •  2 fixed racks, space for an adjustable rack, and a grill on top

6. The Original PK Grill & Smoker – Best portable smoker

The Original PK has been a best-selling item for more than 50 years. What it lacks in technological features it makes up for with the fact that it is still the same stylish, high-quality smoker it has always been. As the name suggests, it doubles up as a grill and smoker, with enough space in the cooking area to feed a sizable family.

Features include:

  • Built entirely from aluminum, ensuring heat is dispersed evenly throughout the cooking area
  • Has 4 vents, allowing you to set up zones within the smoking capsule
  • Industry-leading 20-year warranty

7. Z-Grills 7002E – Best versatile smoker

Is it a smoker? Is it a grill? Is it a barbeque? The Z-Grills is all those things and more. This 8-in-1 cooker lets you smoke, grill, barbeque, bake, roast, sear, braise, or char-grill. Just use the digital control board to set the temperature anywhere between 180F and 450 degrees Fahrenheit and away you go. The Z-Grills can be purchased on its own or as part of a master kit with cover, wood pellets, thermometer, and more.

Features include:

  • Automated electric feed system maintains the heat for you
  • Built with stainless steel, preventing corrosion
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

8. Memphis Elite - Best luxury smoker

Memphis Elite is at the top end as far as the best pellet smokers go. With a massive 1,274 sq. inches of cooking surface and a 24 lb. pellet hopper (which lets you mix and match pellet flavors), it’s built for the cook that regularly hosts large gatherings. It can be bought as a stand-alone smoker or built-in model.

Features include:

  • Temperature range of 180-700 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Intelligent temperature control with Wi-Fi
  • Shelves open up to extra 50% capacity

9. Traeger Ironwood 650 Pellet Grill – Best smart smoker

Traeger is the only company to get two mentions on our list of best BBQ smokers, and with good reason. The Ironwood takes built-in smoker technology to the next level, with WiFIRE technology, precise temperature control, and built-in meat probe thermometer. The most unique feature is the pellet sensor, which remotely monitors pellet levels through the Traeger app so you never run out in the middle of a cook.

Features include:

  • All-terrain wheels
  • Porcelain-coated grill grates
  • Double side-wall insulations guarantee temperature consistency

10. Kamado Joe Classic I – Best Kamado smoker

A kamado is a type of kettle-shaped smoker grill that you’re probably already familiar with, even if you didn’t know the name. The Kamado Joe Classic I is a stylish, spacious charcoal-fuelled kamado made for backyard grilling and smoking – even as a rotisserie. With so many positive customer reviews, it was impossible not to include the Kamado Joe on our list of best home smokers.

Features include:

  • Adjustable 18-inch cooking surface
  • 2-tier Divide & Conquer flexible cooking system lets you cook different foods at different temperatures
  • Durable cast aluminum JoeTisserie turns this smoker into a rotisserie
How we created this
list
Compiled from “Best of” lists published by the world’s most trusted sources, and with our own recommended brands peppered in - this Top10 list aims to help consumers make smarter decisions.