Ask just about any pit master willing to tell their secrets, and they’ll tell you that the most important part of obtaining high-quality smoked meat is the smoker. A quality smoker can mean the difference between a tasty piece of smoked meat, or a piece of meat that’s been overcooked or undercooked. The smoker makes all the difference in the world.
That’s why we’ve decided to review some of the smokers we liked. In this episode of our reviews, we’re going to review some of the best charcoal grills available. Why charcoal-powered ones? We chose these smokers because there’s something magical about smoking with charcoal and we recommend everyone to try it at least once.
- Editor’s Choice
Weber Smokey Mountain 22-Inch Cooker (Amazon) – Review
- Also Recommended
Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker (Amazon) – Review
- Also Consider
Realcook 17-Inch Vertical Steel Charcoal BBQ/Smoker (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: Weber Smokey Mountain 22-Inch Cooker
Okay, before we start this review, we should get something out of the way. This charcoal smoker might not be for everyone. This 22-inch model is extremely large and can accommodate full racks of ribs laying down or multiple roasts to feed large families. This product has the main grilling area of 363-inches and a total grilling area of 726 square inches. If a person isn’t going to use all of this space to smoke large amounts of meat or seafood, then they’re just going to end up wasting fuel, and they’re better off buying the Weber 14-inch or 18-inch models. However, for a person who does need a large amount of meat smoked at the same time, then this is probably the best charcoal smoker around.
The next thing that we’d like to talk about this smoker is how it’s built. This is a very sturdy smoker/grill that seems like it’s going to smoke meat for many years to come. It’s a product that’s easy to put together and is one that’s approximately 23-inches wide, 24-inches deep, and 48.5-inches high when it’s fully assembled. It also has a good weight to it, weighing just a smidge under 70-pounds. Inside of the unit, it has the main cooking grid that’s approximately 21.5-inches by 21.5-inches. This smoker is one that’s capable of reaching internal temperatures of 190-degrees Fahrenheit, and it has a vent that can be fully opened or close to adjust the heat and amount of smoke inside of it.
We’d also like to mention that this product has a built-in lid thermometer that allows the consumer to keep track of the smoker’s internal temperature. And the entire thing sits on rust-resistant legs that give it good stability. And finally, it has a removable fuel door that allows the consumer to add charcoal to it quickly and easily.
– This product can hold a lot of meat at one time.
– This is a high-quality, well-built unit.
– This product is very easy to put together.
– This 22-inch smoker might be too big for some people.
Also Recommended: Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker
Many pitmasters say that vertical smokers are the ones that work the best because as smoke rises it’s capable of passing over the meat at the lower level as it rises towards the meat on the racks above. So, we decided to see if this vertical offset smoker would work as well as we hoped it would. And we weren’t disappointed in its performance. It did an amazing job of smoking meat, seafood, and veggies, although we do think that its lower rack cooks a little bit faster than the racks above it. This is probably due to their being no heat-shield between the offset smoker and the vertical portion of the smoker. It’s not a bid deal, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
This smoker is approximately 20.2-inches by 34.53-inches by 47.03-inches and can be assembled quickly and easily. It features six cooking grates that are height adjustable and can be removed for when the consumer is smoking smaller loads of meat. The racks provide the consumer with 784 square inches of the smoking area, while the inside space of the unit is approximately 1,176 square inches. Each of the cooking grates can hold approximately 25-pounds of food, which means that this unit can hold approximately 150-pounds of meat for smoking. That’s a lot of smokers for a very reasonable price.
Additional features that can be found on this smoker includes a porcelain-enameled charcoal chamber that allows briquettes to be stacked tightly, a smokestack with an adjustable flue for proper smoke and temperature management, and a built-in stainless-steel thermometer. This is everything a pitmaster could want out of a smoker and we’d think it would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s outdoor recreation areas—regardless of where the consumer decides to use it outdoors. It’s just a great, quality charcoal smoker that’s built to last a long, long time.
– This product holds a lot of meat, seafood, or veggies.
– This smoker is extremely easy to put together.
– This product’s racks are removable and adjustable.
– The bottom rack cooks faster than the racks above it.
Also Consider: Realcook 17-Inch Vertical Steel Charcoal BBQ/Smoker
For our readers who are looking for a more budget-friendly, albeit smaller, charcoal smoker is going to love this one. This smoker is just the right size for most people but isn’t so large as to be inefficient while using. People who don’t have a lot of food to smoke at one time do better smoking with a smaller smoker, and that’s why this one is so great. Inside it has cooking grids that provide up to 453 square inches of cooking space. This is a size that’s sufficient for smoking or barbecuing enough meat for a family of four, but not for much larger than that. Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the features that can be found on this smoker.
This smoker is approximately 35-inches high, 22-inches wide, and 17-inches deep. It weighs approximately 22-pounds and is easy to assemble. It’s a product that is equipped with chrome-plated cooking grids, heat-resistant bakelite handles, and a built-in thermometer. It also features strong legs that keep the product stable while the consumer is using it. It’s also equipped with access doors and an adjustable air vent for proper temperature control.
Probably the greatest feature of this product, however, is that it can be used in any number of different ways. This product can be used as a charcoal smoker, of course, but it can also be used as a fire pit or a BBQ grill. It can even be taken apart and used as two separate BBQ grills. That makes this reasonably priced smoker one that consumers might want to consider buying and using. It doesn’t cost a whole lot but it can do a whole lot. All made possible thanks to this unit’s special locking system that allows the parts to be used together or taken apart.
– This is a quality BBQ/smoker model.
– This product is easy to put together and use.
– It’s an inexpensive model.
– This is a very versatile product.
– This product is smaller than other charcoal smokers.
Even though we anticipate that most of our readers are going to be excited about the charcoal smokers we’ve selected, but we wanted to take a few moments and talk about these smokers a little bit more in detail before they left this article and headed out to buy one for their home. The following guide is designed to help give consumers a few last details to think about before they commit to anyone smoker, so we sincerely hope that everyone gives it a chance. Now that we’ve stated our purpose here, let’s get this guide started.
Consider The Smoker’s Price Range
The first thing that consumers should think about when buying the best charcoal smoker for their needs, is their budget. Charcoal smokers come in a wide variety of different sizes and with a wide array of different features, but the price is probably the most important of them for the consumer to think about. After all, why should a person consider buying a smoker with all of the bells and whistles if they haven’t even ascertained whether or not they can afford it? Therefore, it’s always best to start with the budget and then work from there to avoid disappointment.
Consider The Smoker’s Versatility
It’s also a good idea for the consumer to think about if they want a product that only serves as a smoker, or if they want a product that can be used for several different things. There are products that are just smokers, products that can be used as a BBQ grill or a smoker, and even some models that can be used for all of those things, as well as a fire pit.
Consider Whether It’s a Vertical Or Vertical Offset Smoker
The consumer should also think about whether they want a vertical or vertical offset smoker. What’s the difference? Well, the difference is whether the smoker cooks the food as well as smokes it. Vertical smokers have the food on top of the fire, so they end up being cooked while being smoked. Offset smokers can provide heat as well as smoke, but smoke is their primary purpose. With a vertical offset, it’s easier to smoke food without cooking it than it is with a vertical smoker.
Consider The Access To The Fuel Via A Door Panel
Regardless of whether the consumer chooses a vertical smoker or a vertical offset one, it’s important for them to think about whether it has an access door or not. Access doors allow the pitmaster to tend to their charcoal while the smoker is being used, and do it without having to open it up and letting out all of the smoke.
Check For A Functional Damper System
Although it’s important for most smokers to have some sort of damper system to regulate heat and smoke, it’s especially important for a charcoal smoker. Having at least one damper will give the consumer some control over their smoking endeavors.
Additional Features To Look For On The Smoker
While the above points might be the basics the consumer needs to consider when buying a new charcoal smoker, they aren’t the only features to consider. We’ve rounded up a few more features that consumers might want to consider before purchasing their next smoker.
- Built-in thermometer (preferably, stainless-steel).
- Sturdy, heat-resistant legs.
- Removable grates.
- Easy-to-clean out ash bin.
- Smoker’s total cooking area.
Before we conclude this guide and allow all of our readers to go in search of their favorite charcoal smoker/BBQ grill, we decided that we’d give them some of the most valuable information in this whole guide. This information is the advantages and disadvantages of using these types of smokers. That will help our readers determine whether a charcoal smoker is suitable for them or not.
The Advantages Of Charcoal Smokers
One of the primary advantages of using a charcoal smoker is that it imbues the meat/veggies with a smokey flavor that can’t be replicated by propane or electric smokers.
Another advantage to charcoal smokers is that they’re cleaner than wood smokers, although we do have to say that they’re not as clean as propane or electric models, they’re still not as dirty as wood.
The Disadvantages Of Charcoal Smokers
Ease Of Use
A big problem with many charcoal smokers is that they present somewhat of a learning curve. It can be difficult getting the temperature and smoke level just right—at least, in the beginning. Once the consumer learns the basics, however, these smokers can become pretty easy to use. It just takes a little patience to learn how to use it.