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 7 Choices
- #1. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker – Best Overall Smoker
- #2. Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Jr Charcoal Kamado Grill – Best Budget Smoker
- #3. PK Grills Original Outdoor Charcoal Portable Grill & Smoker – Best Versatile Smoker
- #4. Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D 36" Vertical Charcoal Smoker – Best Family Smoker
- #5. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker 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
- What to Consider in a Great Charcoal Smoker?
- Which One Is The Best?
Best Charcoal Smokers On The Market Today: My Top 7 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 Jr Red 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 Outdoor Charcoal Portable 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 Akorn Kamado Kooker 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.
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.
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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.
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.