Buying expensive smoked meat can be frustrating. However, the charcoal smoker is one of the most inexpensive ways to get smoked meat. Not only do you eliminate the need to add electricity, but it uses natural sources of fuel.
A charcoal smoker looks excellent, and with even more portability, you can take your smoked cuisine to the next level.
One thing you will find is that charcoal smokers are found in abundance, and you will see many of them on the market. However, only a few racks will make the cut.
We have tried to isolate the best of the best and to give you the best charcoal smokers that will not only blow your mind but also make you the number one griller in your neighborhood.
Table of Contents
- Best Charcoal Smokers on the Market Today: My Top 13 Choices
- #1. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker – Best Overall Smoker
- #2. Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Jr. Portable Kamado Charcoal Grill – Best Budget Smoker
- #3. PK Grills PKO-SCAX-X Original PK Grill & Smoker – Best Versatile Smoker
- #4. Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D 36" Vertical Charcoal Smoker – Best Family Smoker
- #5. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill – Best Home Smoker
- #6. Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro Charcoal Grill – Best Competition Smoker
- #7. Dyna-Glo DGN576DNC-D Premium Charcoal Grill – Best Old School Smoker
- #8. Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D - Best Built-Quality
- #9. Cuisinart COS-116 Vertical Smoker - Best Charcoal Smoker for Beginners
- #10. Realcook Vertical Steel Charcoal Smoker - Best Charcoal Smoker and Grill Combo
- #11. Masterbuilt MB20040221 Gravity Series 800 - Best Charcoal Smoker With Smart Functions
- #12. Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker - Best Space Capacity
- #13. Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker - Smart & Small Charcoal Smoker
- What to Consider in a Great Charcoal Smoker?
- Which One Is the Best?
Best Charcoal Smokers on the Market Today: My Top 13 Choices
A charcoal smoker is one of the most natural things that you can choose. You don’t need to worry about voltage or power output or any of those technical terms.
While we have isolated a couple of the essential features, we are starting this article with the top charcoal smokers to get your taste buds ready.
For most brands, it can be hard to compete with someone like Weber. The brand has a massive reputation in the barbecue market.
The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is a durable unit with a porcelain-enameled bowl. This allows it to resist any rust, while still having some excellent heat retention on the inside.
It comes with a massive primary cooking area that reaches 726 square inches in total. It also features a door at the bottom for refilling with some added wood or fuel of your choice. In the lid, we have an accurate thermometer that makes it easier for you to maintain the right temperature for smoking your meat.
Until you look at the unit, it does not seem to be as big as one might imagine. However, it’s around 68-pounds in total, and you will need two people to move it around. We don't consider it a bad thing since you have two different cooking grates.
Now, you can cook two different meals simultaneously without any cross-contamination of food.
Since Weber is one of the top brands, you will notice that the price is also on the high-end of the scale. Unfortunately, it is one of the most expensive charcoal smokers on the market today. It does come with a decent warranty, and you can find it in three different sizes depending on all of your cooking needs.
Overall, it’s an excellent investment.
If you imagine the older and more standard barbecue units, you will have an idea of the Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Charcoal Kamado Grill. It is constructed from durable steel materials, instead of having ceramic coated around. However, it proves to be a little better at retaining heat than the ceramic options.
You will have a 153 square inch cooking grate that stands out for the fact that it has been constructed from cast-iron. This allows it to resist any rust while giving you many years of cooking. Two dampers are evenly spread along the vertical axis of the unit for better temperature control.
The unit comes with a built-in thermometer for temperature control, and once your fuel starts to run low, you can open the hole at the bottom and add more.
According to the manufacturer, it should easily retain temperatures of up to 700-degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the red color gives it some elegance as well.
Compared to Weber, it does not have all the same unique features, or does it have the size. However, the weight is only around 36-pounds, and this does make it much more portable for traveling.
Should you be looking for a great budget option with a small cooking area, this can be the best option for you.
If versatility is important, the PK Grills PKO-SCAX-X Grill & Smoker Combination is best. The unit is constructed from cast aluminum and can be found in either black or silver. Many have claimed that it has 4x better heat retention than some standard metal ones.
The unit is slightly smaller than some of the others and only features 300 square inches of cooking area. However, side tray has been added to make it possible for you to add some of your accessories you are using on the side. With four vents, you can control the temperature with ease when you are smoking.
Unfortunately, the unit does have a couple of drawbacks when it comes to smoking. Most smokers will have some thermometer, but here you will need to buy your own.
It also lacks the removable ashtray that we look for in some of the top units. However, you won’t have any trouble when it comes to durability and long-term use.
I think it is slightly overpriced, but this is due to the functional stand that has been included. The stand contains ample storage space for your charcoal, while featuring durable wheels to transport it around when needed.
If you need something for versatility, this one will work the best, but need to spend a couple of bucks.
If you have a large gathering and you need to be the one that cooks for everyone, wouldn’t it be easier to find something substantial?
The Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D 36" Vertical Charcoal Smoker now gives you this opportunity and features a massive charcoal smoker that will not only work for the family but also for the competitions.
It does not only have a single cooking position but features four different racks that can be removed and cleaned after they are used. In total, the unit will add up to 784 square inches of cooking space and give you some versatility as well. The four racks make it possible to cook different meats while avoiding the dreaded cross-contamination issue.
Dyna-Glo has focused on making this one of the more manageable units for you to use and it features a massive door at the side for you to check on the fuel. Whether you are using wood or charcoal, it will retain all of the ash and make it easier to dispose of. The overall weight is merely 56-pounds for all of this cooking space available.
One of the downsides is that you might need to seal the door on your own and it might have a tendency to leak some air. However, the affordable price does make it easier for you to buy some sealant products.
If you are entertaining or need something for commercial use, this can be the ultimate option.
The Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill is the bigger brother of the original Akorn Kamado Grill. It is slightly bigger and includes a few extra features and versatility. Made from the same solid steel and cast iron, it does tend to hold temperature quite well to save you fuel.
The primary cooking surface is 314 square inches, but an additional 133 square inches have been added to the side warmer. One might not think of this, but it is excellent to keep the meat warm if you need to cook a second piece.
On the inside, we have porcelain added, it prevents the buildup of rust and makes it easier to clean.
It might be harder to add some more fuel since you need to lift the grill. However, the grill can be locked to the bottom or the top to make this easier. The unit also includes the standard thermometer for even more functionality and to keep the temperatures at the right level when you are cooking your favorite meals.
With side shelves and the addition of wheels, you can understand why it is a little more expensive. At a massive weight of 90-pounds, the unit is one of the hardest to move around, but with your wheels, you can push it across most surfaces.
If you need some versatility with a lot of cooking space, the Char-Griller Grill is for you.
This might be the third entry from the same brand, and it is not something that I like doing, but when you think of a charcoal grill, you avoid a brand with half the words in the name. The Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro Charcoal Grill is designed for professional use and looks like one of the older classic smokers we used in the past.
One of the reasons we have included it is not the 830 square inch total cooking surface, but the additional side firebox. What makes it so unique is that you can always have some coals ready for smoking. If you accidentally forget about it, you will have a backup plan that will make the whole thing work.
It is also worth noting that the charcoal container can slide out without you having to lift the grill. The benefit of this is that when you need to smoke meals for an extended period, it should be easy to dump the ash and add some new hot coals from the firebox. Additionally, the firebox has a small grill that can also be used for cooking.
We have seen some of the expensive options from Char-Griller, but this one has been designed for affordability.
The unit includes two wheels on the side for easy transport, but with a 113-pound weight, it can be hard to move around. If you need some versatility and a lot of cooking space, this is the smoker to go for.
The thought of cranking up the temperature with your hands is something that is lost on the new generation. However, the Dyna-Glo DGN576DNC-D Premium Charcoal Grill takes us back in time to the original crank for controlling the temperature. It is one of the most important aspects, especially when smoking meats.
Made from durable steel materials, with a rust-resistant coating, this grill stands out for the crank and the 816 square inches of cooking space, that has been offered.
It also includes a small door at the front that one can use for refilling the charcoal and removing some of the ash. No one wants the taste of charcoal or wood ash on the meat.
Since the unit also features a small chimney that can be added to the top, you can adjust the smoke that is retained on the inside. If you have some great wood chips for smoking, you can reduce the smoke that leaves the unit for more flavor. However, it can also be used when you are looking to grill the meat instead of smoking.
Dyna-Glo is not one of the most expensive brands and features excellent value for your money, especially when you are looking to grill and smoke your meats.
The unit might be a little heavy at 96-pounds, but the addition of wheels will make it much easier to move around when you need to find the perfect cooking spot.
You heard about the Dyna-Glo Signature Series charcoal smoker lots of times! I bet that at least one of your friends knows and owns their smoker and constantly reminds you of their fantastic quality!
If that’s the case, this review is a sign you should finally invest in the Dyna-Glo Signature Series smoker!
When you are smoking meat for a big crowd, you need a smoker to satisfy your cooking needs! This smoker has a spacious 1382 square inches of cooking space along with five chrome-plated grates. The cooking grates are easy to maintain and clean as none of the food gets stuck to them.
The Dyna-Glo smoker is known for its incredible quality. This one features a heavy-gauge steel body that retains heat inside and does not interrupt the smoking process.
Plus, it has a temperature gauge on the top with a smoke zone, allowing you to control and observe the temperature. Along with that, the DGSS1382VCS-D smoker includes a cool-touch handle so you can maneuver it safely.
Moreover, you will also get to safely conduct the lid as it's also cool to touch and offers a safe approach to food.
Since this is a bulky and cumbersome construction, the Dyna-Glo includes wheels for easy mobility across the yard. For additional flexibility, the smoker provides sausage hooks so you can endeavor culinary creations.
Next up, we have another trendy name among grillers and smokers. The Cuisinart COS-116 vertical charcoal smoker is all you need if you want an affordable but high-quality smoker!
The Cuisinart retails for just under $100, and if that isn’t enough of a reason why you should consider it, then wait to see what it has to offer.
The spacious cooking area is perfect if you are looking for a compact size! To be exact, it offers 402 square inches of cooking space along with the 16’’ stainless steel racks that are easy to maintain.
This would also be our top choice when it comes to beginner-friendly charcoal smokers! It’s super easy to set up and offers you the chance to pursue your culinary creations!
You can smoke everything from meat, veggies, or cheese! Plus, it includes everything you need. Except for the charcoal and wood chips, but we have a separate article that will help you make the right choice.
This Cuisinart COS-116 charcoal smoker includes two air vents, so it’s easy to control the heat and the smoke in this one. They can be opened or closed, but it all depends on the amount of smoke you are looking to get.
The Cuisine charcoal smoker may be small, but it includes two tiers of smoking racks stacked inside. There is more space in there than you think!
If you want to become a ‘real-cook,’ then you need this RealCook charcoal smoker in your backyard! Not only does it look rather terrific, but it also gives off excellent performance! Let’s take a quick look.
We have first to discuss the fantastic value this charcoal smoker offers! With the practical design, you will get to use two of the most prestigious features for home cooking.
The Realcook Vertical charcoal smoker allows you to both smoke and grill the meat! You will not have to purchase a separate grill as now you get the chance to prepare everything you want in this unit.
Moreover, the charcoal smoker offers convenience to those who need it the most! With its three separate parts, you can disable it and easily take it along a camping trip or a picking. Then, just pack it up in your trunk, and you are good to go!
This Realcook Vertical smoker includes adjustable air vents, allowing you to manipulate the temperature, moisture, smoke, and airflow! In addition, it provides a steady flow that is necessary for creating those juicy ribs!
It comes with four hanging hooks and a crossbar, so you can just as easily hang fish, cheese, meat, sausages, or any other meat.
Lastly, the Realcook Vertical charcoal smoker includes two cooking grids with a total of 453 square inches of cooking space!
Seriously, who wouldn’t like to grill and smoke meat all in the same unit? This Masterbuilt smoker is the ultimate pick when you don’t want to stinge on quality and want only creme de la creme!
Firstly, the Masterbuilt MB20040221 Gravity charcoal smoker is an innovative Gravityfed charcoal hopper! If you enjoy low-and-slow smoking, then you will appreciate this model. The charcoal hopper holds up to 8 hours’ worth of fuel! You can either use lump or briquette charcoal, and there is no need to remove it after use!
One of the best features the Masterbuilt Gravity smoker offers is the sear and smoke versatility option.
To be exact, you can reach the high temperature of 700 degrees Fahrenheit in 15 minutes and enjoy the grill and sear cooking. But, if you want to achieve low-and-slow smoking, you can do so by adjusting the temperature to 225 degrees. Plus, you will get reversible cast-iron grates that will support these options.
With the Masterbuilt app, you can connect your smart device with WIFI and control the grilling and smoking from the palm of your hand. All of the convenience is one click away!
You can even enjoy the extra space as the Masterbuilt smoker includes the FoldAway warming plus smoking racks! Along with these, you can enjoy the prep space with the stainless steel shelves.
You will find Royal Gourmet in the yards of many American cooks! This charcoal offset smoker is there to deliver incredible performance, well-built quality, and convenience to those who encounter cooking for the first time!
The Royal Gourmet CC1830SC smoker is heat-resistant by incorporating a black coating durable design that can easily withstand the heat of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Even during these high temperatures, the coating does not come off, so you can trust its durability!
Furthermore, the Royal Gourmet CC1830SC smoker offers 801 square inches of total cooking space but, let’s see what this space carries. For starters, you have 443 sq in porcelain-coated grates.
Along with those, you will get 169 square inches of chrome-plated warming rack that keeps the food warm until serving but does not continue the cooking process. Lastly, the smoker includes 189 square inches of offset smoking space!
As you know, you can use this smoker for grilling as well, so it’s important to note that it easily attaches to the grill! During the process, the Royal Gourmet CC1830SC smoker ensures good heat and smoke circulation!
You will also get to use the adjustable pan, which is designed in two levels. The charcoal pan can hold up to 4.4 lbs of coal and makes sure you reach the perfect temperature and heat control.
Lastly, if you ever felt limited by cooking space, that will not be the case with this smoker. It features both side and front shelves, which serve as an extra preparation space.
It’s time we wrap up. But, before we do so, we should take a second to review the Char-Broil Bullet charcoal smoker!
As you already know by now, Chair-Broil never disappoints! The brand is one of America’s special deliveries, and you find more and more home chefs using their grills and smokers.
This 16-inch bullet smoker is compact, lightweight, and super easy to use! Its many innovative and quality features offer a unique smoking delivery for an even better value.
You will see so many positive comments on this smoker that it adopts a unique design. The Char-Broil has a bullet design with an innovative airflow control system to assist you in temperature control.
As you know by now, Char-Broil stands tall when it comes to quality. This smoker is made from a heavy-duty porcelain-coated steel body which is rust and corrosion-resistant.
The inside parts, such as cooking grates, are easy to clean and maintain if you want to make sure the smoker stays in your service for a long time.
The Char-Broil Bullet charcoal smoker features an impressive 388 square inches of cooking space. Some may say it’s relatively small, but you first need to consider the capacity you want to use.
It’s suitable for smaller batches of meat, but if you are looking for something ampler, we suggest the above pick!
What to Consider in a Great Charcoal Smoker?
As mentioned, it is not that hard to find the best charcoal smoker. However, one needs to be mindful of a couple of features. Since there are numerous options available, these features will make it much easier for you to find the right one.
We also used it as the criterion for selecting the charcoal smokers mentioned above.
The construction of the unit features heavily. Not only do you want to focus on the all-round durability of the outer structure and the grates, but you also want to consider the type of material.
Steel will suffice, but cast-iron and cast aluminum you’ll have a little better heat retention. However, it will make the unit a little heavier than most.
2. Temperature Control
When smoking, you always need to keep a watchful eye on the temperature. You don’t want to burn out all the fuel too fast, but the fire might die at a low temperature.
A thermometer and temperature vents can help to combat this, and it will ensure that you have a corresponding temperature that remains the same.
3. Cooking Area
With large grills such as these, the cooking area is not only restricted to the main area. You would want to focus on the cooking area of the main compartment while taking note of any side compartments as well.
Depending on the number of people you are cooking for, it should not be less than 300 square inches for a small smoker.
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Is a charcoal smoker good?
Yes, charcoal smokers are good, especially if you value the authentic BBQ smell and taste! In addition, charcoal smokers allow you to get the most out of the smoke, which gas ones could never come close to.
Even though it might be complicated to use at first and tricky to clean, the results will pay off!
How to smoke a turkey in a charcoal smoker?
Smoking a turkey in a charcoal smoker does not have to be a tedious task. However, you need to make small steps first!
So, before you put the turkey into the smoker, make sure you let it soak in spices and marinate for at least 12 hours. Once it’s prepared, season it both inside and outside out with seasonings of choice.
Next, you need to set the lumps of charcoal into the parallel configuration along with a water pan in the center. Place the turkey over the grates of the pan and monitor the temperature from then on.
How to smoke ribs on a charcoal smoker?
Smoked ribs begin with food preparation. Therefore, before you fire up the smoker, season the ribs with spices of choice. Then, assemble the charcoal lumps in the so-called ‘snake method.’ Finally, soak some wood chips and place them on top of the charcoal.
Place the tray with water and a bit of apple cider vinegar directly under the meat. After that, you can place the ribs and smoke them for around five hours to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to use a charcoal smoker?
Start by preparing the fuel and adding the pre-soaked wood chips on top of the charcoal for an extra flavor. Then, fill the water pan with cold water. Using a charcoal chimney, you will now fire up the charcoal and place the meat on the grate.
Always keep an eye out for the temperature and control it if necessary. You can also add more wood chips during the smoking process.
How to use a vertical charcoal smoker?
First, prepare the charcoal fuel and add water to the bowl in the center. You can even add some herbs and spices of choice to the water to enhance the flavor or place pre-soaked wood chips on the charcoal.
Next, you should place the meat on the grate. After that, you should monitor the temperature to make sure everything is smoked as you imagined!
Which One Is the Best?
Widely regarded as the best brand in the world of BBQ, Weber is undoubtedly the one you need to keep your eye on. More specifically, the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker comes with great features, but it can be a little expensive for the budget of most people.
Nevertheless, we have it ranked at the top for the quality and longevity that is offered.
- Porcelain enameled lid, bowl, and center section retain heat and won’t rust or peel
- Two cooking grates provide ample room for smoking two large items at once
- Silicone temperature grommet monitors the internal temperature of your smoker
- Control the temperature of your smoker by easily adjusting the dampers
- Fuel door comes off to make adding charcoal or wood easier while smoking
The electric smoker and the charcoal smoker both have their benefits, but if you want to save in the long run, the best charcoal smoker is the way to go. We believe in these options, and they should ensure that you have great tasting meals, while offering you the luxury of versatility for grilling.
Let us know if you think we missed one of your favorites.