Even though “smoke masters” use all different smoker types to get their meats juicy, smoky, and perfectly cooked, more and more of them are beginning to turn to vertical smokers. Why? Because many of them believe that these smokers deliver the right amount of smoke to their pork butts, steaks, and seafood. And that’s just the beginning, they’re also good for smoking baked goods and bread as well.
For these smokers, smoke is the key. This is smoke that rises due to the laws of natural thermodynamics and covers each piece of meat as it makes its way from the bottom of the smoker and migrates towards the top of it. It’s those curled wisps of smoke that does all of the magic. We know because we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing some of the best vertical smokers and have found them to be incredible tools for smoking meat.
- Editor’s Choice
Pit Boss 2-Series Gas Smoker (Amazon) – Review
- Also Recommended
Masterbuilt 30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker (Amazon) – Review
- Also Consider
Realcook Charcoal BBQ Smoker Grill (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: Pit Boss 2-Series Gas Smoker
Even though some people might look at this vertical smoker and think that it’s just another one that’s flashy looking but doesn’t have a lot of substance, we urge all of these people to take a closer look at it. That’s because this is not only a nice looking smoker that comes in a bright red color, but it’s also one that has many of the features that consumers are looking for in a smoker.
This smoker is approximately 21.5-inches by 23-inches by 41-inches and contains four porcelain-coated cooking grids that give the consumer a total cooking space of 884 square-inches. The total amount of space inside this smoker is 2.5 cubic feet, which is large enough to meet most people’s smoking needs. This model also features stainless steel burners that provide a total of 13,500 BTU in total.
This model also features a wood chip tray in which the consumer can use their favorite variety of wood chips, a grease tray for catching drippings, and a water tray. And it’s with the water tray that we had our first problem with this vertical smoker. We just don’t feel that it holds enough water. While smoking in the 250-degree range, we had to add more water after about 3-3.5 hours. Consumers don’t want to have to keep adding water during long smokes—at least, in our opinion.
Other than the water storage being a little small, we think that this is otherwise a great smoker. It has an oversized front wood chip tray that’s easy to use, and it has a window in its front door. This model also had a built-in thermometer that allows the consumer to keep an eye on their smoked meats and an easy-to-use temperature dial.
It also has a push-button ignition that makes it easy for the consumer to start the smoker and get it running. That’s why we have no problem giving this model two thumbs up and we encourage all of our readers to check it out.
– It features 2.5 cubic feet of smoking space.
– Temperature range from 100-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
– It has a push-button ignition system.
– The water pan doesn’t hold enough water for long smokes.
Also Recommended: Masterbuilt 30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker
Another vertical smoker that caught our attention and fired up our desire to smoke more meats is this one from Masterbuilt. This smoker is doesn’t look fancy or has a handy window in its door so that the consumer can see their meat smoking, but it does retain heat and smoke very well. It also had quite a few other features that we liked and that prompted us to place this smoker on our list.
This model is approximately 19.88-inches by 20.47-inches by 33.26-inches. It’s made out of black steel and weighs about 46-pounds. Inside of this unit is four chrome-coated smoking racks that are large enough to hold a total of four pork butts, four racks of ribs, two whole turkeys, or six whole chickens. It’s not a tremendous amount of smoking space, but it’s large enough to fit the needs of most people.
This smoker also had a thermostat temperature control that allowed the consumer to control the temperature and the cooking time so that they can achieve the best results possible. It also has an air damper that allows the consumer to control smoke and heat inside of the smoker, and a water bowl that allowed the consumer to keep their smoked meats from drying out during the smoking process.
This is an electric vertical smoker, so as long as the consumer has access to an outdoor outlet, they’re good to go. All they have to do is add wood chips to the tray and this smoker is ready to turn those chips into tantalizing smoke that can be used to create delectable “meat candy.”
In our opinion, the weakness of this smoker is in the size of its wood chip tray. We felt that the tray was a little too small and we found ourselves having to refill it more often than we would’ve liked. It’s not a big enough of a hassle for us to take this smoker off of our list, but it’s still worth mentioning.
– It’s large enough to smoke four pork butts or six chickens.
– It has digital controls.
– Its insulated body holds heat well.
– The wood chip tray is a bit small.
Also Consider: Realcook Charcoal BBQ Smoker Grill
The last product on our list is this one from Realcook. This is both a vertical smoker and a grill, so consumers who purchase this model can enjoy both at a low price point. This is a 20-inch charcoal grill that’s made out of steel and is approximately 24.8-inches by 20.67-inches by 41.34-inches in size. This barrel smoker is also easy to set up and most people can have it up and running in about half an hour or so.
This product has a multi-layer design that allows it to be used as a fire pit, a barrel grill, or a smoker all in one. When fully assembled, it has two access doors—one in which the consumer can tend the food and another one in which the consumer can tend the charcoal. Inside of this product, the consumer will find two cooking racks that will provide them with 636 square-inches of cooking space. And because it’s a vertical smoker, the consumer can hang large turkeys using the hangers inside of the lid, or they can merely stack a slab of ribs in the smoker.
Because of its multi-layer design, the temperature of this smoker can be a little bit difficult to control at first, but once the consumer gets the hang of using it, it should get easier over time. What we did like about this unit was that it contained a built-in thermometer that allows the consumer to keep track of the temperature throughout the smoking process.
Other features found on this model include an adjustable air vent, extra-strong and stable legs, and a chrome-plated cooking grid. All in all, we felt that besides the temperature is difficult to control, this was otherwise a great vertical smoker/grill that is reasonably priced and ready to make an impact in the consumer’s life.
– This is a reasonably priced vertical smoker.
– Has 636 square-inches of cooking space.
– It has separate doors for food and charcoal access.
– Controlling temperature in this smoker can be difficult.
We are quite confident in the smokers that we reviewed, but we do understand that some people might want to choose a different smoker than what we’ve reviewed. That’s understandable, so we decided to write this guide on how to purchase the best vertical smoker available. This is a guide that we hope will help all of our readers find the smoker that suits their needs the best. So, let’s get started and find out what makes one vertical smoker better than another one.
Step One: Choose The Power Source
One of the first things that consumers might want to consider is how the smoker is powered. Nowadays, vertical smokers are powered by a variety of different methods. There are electric powered smokers, propane or natural gas smokers, and charcoal smokers. In our opinion, each of these smokers has its strengths and weaknesses—some of which we’ve listed below. Let’s take a look at each one and see what sets them apart from the others.
Electric Vertical Smokers
These smokers are easy to use and merely need wood chips (or pellets), and an electrical outlet. These smokers tend to be the easiest to clean and the easiest to use. They’re very straightforward and the consumer doesn’t have a large learning curve to overcome.
Gas Vertical Smokers
Gas smokers are also very easy to use and maintain. They do require the consumer to use 20-pound LP tanks, but those are usually easy enough to find at any local gas station. They also require wood chips to provide the smoke, and usually have a water pan for adding moisture.
Charcoal Vertical Smokers
The last type of vertical smokers that we’d like to mention is charcoal smokers. Many people swear by these smokers, but they can be difficult to clean once everything has been smoked. If choosing one of these models, the consumer should be sure it contains an ash pan and maybe a grease-pan so that it’s easier to use and clean.
Step Two: How Much Space Does It Offer?
The next thing that the consumer should think about is how much space the vertical smoker has. Some models are compact and only give the consumer about 300 square inches of space, while others are quite large and have 800+ square-inches of cooking space. It really depends on how much meat you need to smoke. If you’re only smoking for a family of four, then 300-500 square inches of smoking pace is probably enough. If you’re smoking meat for larger groups of people, then you’re going to have to get a larger smoker.
It’s also a good idea to check out how many racks the smoker has equipped. Usually, vertical smokers have anywhere from 3 to 7 grates—depending on the brand of the smoker and its size. It’s usually best to choose a smoker with more grates than less because grates can be removed as necessary for cooking larger pieces of meat.
Step Three: Think About The Smoker’s Construction
It’s also a good idea for the consumer to think about how the vertical smoker is built. Since some of the smokers that consumers come across will be cheaply-made budget models and others are well-made high-end models, it’s important for the consumer to inspect how the smoker is made. High-end smokers will be made out of high-quality steel or cast-iron, while cheaper models will be made out of rolled or stainless steel.
Step Four: Consider Airflow & Smoke Flow
The consumer is most likely going to want to make sure that they have control over the air and smoke in the smoker. Smoker regulates air and smoke using air dampers, and consumers who want good control over their smoker will want to get a smoker with at least one air damper. That will allow them to control the smoke and airflow within the smoker.
Step Five: Tie Up Loose Ends
As we wind this guide down, we wanted to make sure that we covered everything that we needed to cover about vertical smokers. So far, we’ve covered how the smoker is powered, the size of the smoker, how the smoker is built, and how the smoker deals with airflow and smoke. All of those are important things to consider when buying the best vertical smoker, but they’re not the only things to consider. Below are some other features that our readers might want to keep in mind when they’re shopping for their next vertical smoker. Let’s look at them before concluding this guide.
- Stay-Cool Bakelite Handles
- Digital Controls
- Built-In Thermometers
- Temperature Control