Steel Charcoal Smoker

The 10 Best Barbecue Smokers for Pitmaster-Quality Meals at Home

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Few things make us more excited than the perfect barbeque spread. And while we love indulging in classics like burgers and grilled veggies, there's no denying the mouthwatering masterpieces that can be accomplished from a smoker. 

What is a barbecue smoker?

A smoker is an outdoor appliance used for cooking at low temperatures and long periods of time in a controlled, smoky environment. While your standard barbecue grill relies on high heat to cook foods—we do love those pretty grill marks on our meats and vegetables—smokers enhance flavor with, you guessed it, smoke. If you're a seasoned griller ready for rich, fork-tender foods, purchasing a smoker may be a natural next step. 

What type of smoker do I need?

Barbecue smokers come in many different types and sizes, from small electric options ideal for tailgating to large rigs that could feed an entire football team. Smokers are great for cooking large cuts of meat like briskets, ham, and ribs. They also work well for dried foods like jerky.

Just like grills, there are very easy-to-use smoker options, as well as ones that demand a bit more skill. One of the simplest smokers to handle—and one we recommend for beginners—uses wood pellets. From hickory to maple to applewood, you can have fun infusing your smoked fish, veggies, cheeses, and meats with a range of different unique flavors. (Applewood smoked bacon, anyone?)

Gas smokers are another convenient way to make pitmaster-quality smoked meats. They operate similar to grills that use natural gas or propane tanks and require less cleanup than other options. But if you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty, you might want to consider a charcoal smoker. Charcoal lights easily, burns clean, and, unlike wood, produces very little ash. It also heats quickly and fairly evenly, which is why so many professionals swear by it.

To help you sort through the options and find the best barbecue smoker for your needs, we've combed through thousands of reviews from actual customers who have purchased and used the appliances for themselves. Most shoppers turned to brands like Cuisinart, Masterbuilt, and Oklahoma Joe's, and left high marks, value, quality, and size, as well as ease of use. Below we've rounded up the 10 best barbecue smoker options for every type of outdoor cook.

Ready to enjoy pitmaster-level dishes from the comfort of your own home? Keep reading for more on the top-rated barbecue smoker picks in 2021.

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Steel Charcoal Smoker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Electric: Masterbuilt 30-Inch Electric Meat Smoker

BUY IT: $220.87 (ORIG. $229.98); amazon.com

If you want to achieve competition-ready results with minimal effort, look no further. The Masterbuilt 30-inch Analog Electric Smoker does all the work without charcoal or propane. Simply plug in the unit, set the analog controls, and wait. It comes with three chrome-coated smoking racks, which easily fit up to three chickens, three racks of ribs, or two entire turkeys. Its 1,500-watt heating element thoroughly and evenly smokes foods, while the built-in temperature control and slide-out ash removal tray provide added ease of use. One happy customer wrote, "Works great, no fuss, fantastic results."

Steel Charcoal Smoker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Small Electric: Cuisinart Electric Smoker

BUY IT: $199.99; amazon.com

Cuisinart has a well-deserved reputation for producing high-quality kitchen appliances. So it comes as no surprise that customers love this small electric smoker. With 548 square inches of interior space, you have plenty of room to smoke everything from ribs and briskets to vegetables and specialty cheeses. Users love its vertical, space-saving design that makes this unit perfect for small patios and barbecue kitchens. One wrote, "Very solid build. Smoked chicken and salmon with an awesome result."

Steel Charcoal Smoker
Credit: Courtesy of Home Depot

Best Wood Pellet: Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill

BUY IT: $699.95; amazon.com

"Real wood, real flavor" is how users describe this wood pellet smoker from Traeger. With more than 900 five-star ratings, this unit is the ultimate option for any serious smoker. It has a roomy 884-square-foot cooking space fueled by all-natural hardwood pellets, easily holding up to eight chickens or seven racks of ribs. On the outside, this is a seriously robust appliance, featuring a sawhorse chassis for stability, a side-lift bar, and heavy-duty all-terrain wheels. Bonuses include an advanced function to keep all internal meat temperatures within 15 degrees for precise cooking, as well as an extra rack for those large smoking jobs.

Steel Charcoal Smoker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best for Beginners: Realcook 17-Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker

BUY IT: $101.99 (ORIG. $129.99); amazon.com

If the thought of a heavy-duty smoker makes you just a bit intimidated, consider this option by Realcook. Measuring just 17 inches deep, the steel charcoal smoker has been touted by customers as both easy to assemble and use. "It's inexpensive but not cheaply made," wrote one Amazon reviewer. "Two levels allow you to do quite a bit of food at one time. Hooks to suspend various meats from the lid, too." Many customers noted the Realcook's built-in thermometer and adjustable air supply provide great temperature control, while others praised the multifunctionality of the unit, which can be used for cold or hot smoking. "This one is fantastic," another reviewer writes. "Assembled easy in under an hour, good sturdy material, comes with instructions. Retains heat very well and overall a good value for the money." 

Steel Charcoal Smoker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Charcoal: Weber 14-Inch Charcoal Smoker

BUY IT: $229 (ORIG. $239.99); amazon.com

Cooking with charcoal is a must for many barbecue enthusiasts. So if you're looking for a reliable charcoal option for smoking your meats, more than 2,000 Amazon buyers would agree Weber's model has everything you need. Reasonably priced at just over $200, this 14-inch smoker offers 143 square inches of interior cooking space capable of reaching approximately 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, it features an oversized water pan to maintain a steady temperature during those all-day smoking jobs.

Steel Charcoal Smoker
Credit: Courtesy of Home Depot

Best Smoker-Grill Combo: Kamado Charcoal Cook Surface Grill & Smoker

BUY IT: $1,133.37 (ORIG. $1,999.99); wayfair.com

Can't decide whether to invest in a barbecue grill or smoker? This option by Kamado lets you have both without compromising on quality. It has 600 square inches of cooking space with ceramic insulation to reduce the amount of charcoal needed during each use. It also comes with adjustable air vents, an easy-to-read heat thermometer, a locking lid and door, and a warming rack. This grill heats up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit and can smoke for up to nine hours. It's a great option for cooking steak and ribs, though customers have also used it for searing hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as pizzas and desserts. We also love the beautiful drop-down bamboo side shelves that can be used to hold serving platters and utensils.

Steel Charcoal Smoker
Credit: Courtesy of Wayfair

Best Budget-Friendly: Dyna-Glo Charcoal Smoker

BUY IT: $70.50 (ORIG. $93.99); wayfair.com

Finding a good smoker doesn't have to break the bank. Just ask any of the hundreds of satisfied customers who purchased this charcoal smoker by Dyna-Glo. For under $100, this unit gives you just more than 11 square inches of cooking space with a removable middle section to offer both grilling and smoking capability. It is also outfitted with an adjustable base and lid, as well as a stainless steel temperature gauge to help easily read and adjust the temperature while cooking. "Great compact smoker," wrote one happy customer. "It gets the job done. I smoked a Thanksgiving turkey for the first time with it."

Oklahoma Joe's Highland offset charcoal smoker
Credit: Courtesy of Ace

Best Offset: Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Flow Smoker

BUY IT: $599.98; amazon.com

When it comes to creating professional-grade barbecue appliances, Oklahoma Joe's has earned an excellent reputation among pitmasters—and for good reason. Its heavy-duty smokers are built to last, crafted with a 12-gauge black oil pipe. This offset smoker is the perfect option for a professional pitmaster, offering a massive 619 square inches of cooking space, plus an additional 281 square inches to smoke in. Other perks include multiple adjustable dampers to regulate heat and smoke, a firebox door to help you regulate your flame without opening the entire chamber, as well as rust-resistant, porcelain-coated wire cooking grates. "On this unit, I have made some of the best barbeque I have ever made," one reviewer shared. "Temperature is always fairly consistent from left to right sides, more so than any other smoker I've had." The Amazon shopper also added, "With some basic care, I can see this smoker lasting me a long time. It is built like a tank." 

Steel Charcoal Smoker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Portable: ASmoke AS 300 Portable Wood Pellet Tabletop Grill & Smoker

BUY IT: $249.99; amazon.com

This tabletop smoker and grill combo by ASmoke is perfect for camping trips, tailgates, and family gatherings. Like other wood-burning options, it uses pellets to cook up mouthwatering meats, fish, and vegetables every time. Its wide temperature range of 180 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit is comparable to larger appliances, allowing you to easily cook low and slow or fast and hot. "The ASmoke provided good smoke at the low temperatures and the aroma of the wood is fantastic," said one reviewer.

Steel Charcoal Smoker
Credit: Courtesy of Ace

Best BBQ Pit: Pit Barrel Cooker Vertical Smoker

BUY IT: $349.99; homedepot.com

For a smoker that "exceeds expectations," try the Pit Barrel Vertical Smoker. The durable coal-burning appliance is designed with a high-quality porcelain enamel coating inside a 30-gallon steel drum. It features more than 3,000 square inches of cooking space, functioning as both a standard grill and smoker. Besides being extra large—enough room for eight racks of ribs and two large turkeys—this smoker includes all the tools you need for an epic cookout: eight stainless steel hooks, a standard grill grate, a charcoal basket, and a hook remover tool. Customers also noted that despite being heavy duty, this smoker was easy to assemble. "This product exceeded our expectations," one customer shared. "Easy set up. [We] cooked ribs and tri-tip [for the] first time with no issues."