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​​8 Best Charcoal Smoker of 2022 (Ranked & Reviewed)

best-charcoal-smoker

The charcoal smoker is one of the simplest ways to smoke food at home. It doesn’t cost much and is easy to use.

Charcoal smokers have a unique look and tons of appeal. Everyone should have one in their outdoor kitchen because of this.

A charcoal smoker can provide an outstanding smoking experience with the right accessories and modifications.

Most people agree that you can find the best one for your needs, but finding out which smoker truly offers the best features in terms of value can be pretty tricky.

As such, I took it upon myself to do some research on some of the top-rated best charcoal smokers to see just how well they stack up against each other.

In this article, we will cover:

  • 7 best charcoal smokers on the market based on features, price, and ability.
  • Pros and cons of buying a charcoal smoker
  • What to consider before buying a charcoal smoker

Let’s dive in!!

What is the best charcoal smoker?

Here are my top 7 picks for the best charcoal smokers to buy this year:

  1. Best Overall: Kamado Joe Classic III Ceramic
  2. Best Vertical Smoker: Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker 18″
  3. Best: Large Big Green Egg
  4. Best kamado style smoker: Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker
  5. Best Charcoal Grill and Smoker Combo: Weber Original Kettle Premium 22″ Charcoal Grill
  6. Best Offset Charcoal Smoker: Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
  7. Best Cabinet Style Charcoal Smoker: Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D 36″

1. Kamado Joe Classic III Ceramic

Best Overall

charcoal-grill

My take:

The Classic III is the best of both worlds: it’s a smoker and a grill with all the best features.

This versatile grill features a 4-inch-higher ash pan for improved airflow, a water pan that is easy to clean, and more room in the storage racks for your favorite accessories.

Overview

The Kamado Joe Classic II III Cooker is a portable Kamado grill specially designed for backyard cooks who want an innovative smoker that’s tough enough to build anything from tender steaks to juicy ribs at home.

It offers incredible low and slow cooking smoke flavor and tenderness as well as temperature control from 300°F to 500°F with its patented Yoder Fireplace Design.

This unit comes equipped with a premium digital controller and ready-to-use briquettes.

The Classic III includes the newest innovation, the revolutionary SlōRoller smoke, and moisture at any temperature.

Top Features

  • The grill is made of premium 18″ ceramic and includes a durable, heavy-duty steel grill cart and locking wheels.
  • With 3-Tier Divide & Conquer Flexible Cooking System for cooking various foods at various temperatures, you can now make all kinds of meals with this one grill.
  • With 250 square inches of maximum cooking space, this grill helps you cook everything from burgers and steaks to pork chops, chicken wings, and fish fillets—all at once!
  • Air Lift hinge significantly reduces the dome weight, so you can use more than one burner at once without having to worry about them falling off the base or tipping over during cooking!
  • The Kontrol Tower top vent maintains a consistent air setting during dome opening and closing, so you get perfect barbecues every time.
  • You can also use the SlōRoller hyperbolic insert to instantly convert your grill into a smoker for great smoked food!
  • The double-thick Wire Mesh Fireglass Gasket offers a superior airtight seal to help keep your food safe and delicious.
  • Other features and accessories include: Stainless Steel Latch, AMP Firebox, Stainless Steel Cooking Grates, Built-in Thermometer, Finished Folding Aluminum Side Shelves/Handle, Grill Gripper, and Ash Tool.
  • Stainless steel charcoal basket makes cleanup quick and easy.

2. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker 18″

Best Vertical Charcoal Smoker

charcoal-grill

My take:

The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker is a great choice for both beginning and experienced smokers.

It has a removable door to make it easier to clean and also comes with dampers so you can control the heat.

Overview

With its versatile design, you can use the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker for all of your favorite backyard barbecue needs.

It’s perfect for prepping a feast at the beginning of a long day or making juicy ribs from scratch.

Plus, it’s made from tough steel, with a durable rotisserie rack hanging off the smoker’s bottom for easy cleanup.

With two cooking grates for smoking multiple items at once and an easy-to-use smoker box control, it’s sure to be as useful as it is tasty!

Top Features

  • The porcelain-enameled lid, bowl, and center section retain heat for consistent smoking.
  • The finish prevents rusting, cracking, and peeling while withstanding high temperatures.
  • It features precise temperature control by easily adjusting the dampers. Closing the dampers completely will cut the oxygen flow to help extinguish coals.
  • For extra smoking space, the two cooking grates provide ample room for smoking multiple large items at once.
  • The built-in lid thermometer displays the internal temperature so that you know when to adjust the heat.
  • The water pan helps regulate the temperature inside your smoker so that it stays moist on all sides while remaining constant so that it doesn’t burn out before all of your food is properly cooked.

3. Large Big Green Egg

Best Vertical Charcoal Smoker

charcoal grill

My take:

The BGE is a hands-off, high-heat cooking machine that takes the guesswork out of your culinary experience.

It accommodates all EGGcessories for baking, roasting, or smoking.

Overview

The Large BGE is a versatile and efficient smoker for all your grilling, smoking, baking, and roasting needs.

The two racks can accommodate a family’s need, using it as a weekend cookout grill or as a pizza oven to make steaks for dinner.

The height can be adjusted according to the user’s preference.

Product Specs:

262 square inches of cooking

Fuel Type: Natural Lump Charcoal

Warranty: Limited 3-year warranty

Top Features

The large Egg can cook:

  • 20-pound turkey
  • 12 burgers
  • 6 chickens vertically
  • 8 steaks,
  • 7 racks of ribs vertically
  • The BGE’s body is made of one-inch-thick cast ceramic, and it has a heavy lid and an airtight gasket to trap heat inside the unit. This one-of-a-kind design allows the BGE’s interior to become scorching hot while its elegant green exterior remains cool to the touch.
  • It has two air vents, one on top and one on the bottom, allowing you to fine-tune your temperatures to the highest degree of accuracy—without worrying about losing heat or adjusting your time.
  • It takes just minutes to get started with this revolutionary new way to cook, thanks to the mechanism that allows air to flow in and out of the unit, so it can reach its maximum temperature quickly.
  • You can even use it as a pizza oven or grill.
  • The BGE has professional-grade stainless steel cooking grates that are easy to clean and retain their green glaze over time, so they never lose their luster.

4. Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker

Best kamado style smoker

charcoal smokers

My take:

The Char-Griller AKORN Kamado BBQ Grill and Smoker is designed with the latest technologies to ensure a smooth and efficient smoking experience.

This versatile grill and smoker is built to last with triple-walled 22 gauge steel and easily maintains cooking temperatures ranging from 200-700 degrees Fahrenheit.

Overview

The Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker is designed for the professional BBQ’er in you.

Whether you grill in the backyard or at family gatherings, this spacious model produces delicious BBQ with an excellent smoky flavor.

Its double-wall insulated design uses less charcoal and has less airflow than conventional kettle barbecues to achieve the right heat for juicy meat.

Top Features

  • The interior of this grill is porcelain-coated steel, and the exterior is powder-coated steel. This means the grill won’t rust or fall apart for a long time.
  • The top and bottom indexed dampers easily control the amount of heat.
  • There are two large 8-inch wheels in front and a rear wheel that locks for easy movement.
  • It has a built-in temperature gauge and a top damper that can be moved to control airflow and heat. This is perfect for slow smoking.
  • The bottom damper lets you control the flow of air, so you can set the temperature exactly.
  • With the easy-dump ash pan, cleaning up is quick and easy.
  • The warming rack made of stainless steel gives you even more space to cook.
  • Two handy side shelves with hooks for BBQ tools fold away when not in use or when you want to store them.

5. Weber Original Kettle Premium 22″ Charcoal Grill

Best Charcoal Grill and Smoker Combo

best charcoal smokers

My take:

The Original Kettle Premium charcoal grill is the perfect outdoor grill for anyone who loves to cook on a flame.

With upgraded features such as a hinged cooking grate and a high-capacity ash catcher, you can easily grill exactly the way you like.

Overview

Whether you’re grilling up a feast or simply getting together with friends and family, nothing embodies the warm, friendly feeling of outdoor cooking like the Original Weber Kettle.

This Charcoal BBQ Grill features a hinged cooking grate that allows you to insert coals into the charcoal chamber, which then catches and absorbs heat from your briquette fire.

This premium Weber Charcoal Grill is designed to maximize airflow and heat retention, allowing outdoor chefs to cook foods perfectly.

Top Features

  • This Weber Kettle Grill is made of stainless steel and porcelain-enameled aluminum, which keeps it looking new for years and years to come.
  • It holds up to 13 burgers made with a Weber burger press, so you can prepare many different types of meals on this grill at once.
  • The built-in lid thermometer displays the internal temperature of your grill so you can keep track of what’s going on inside.
  • The one-touch cleaning system uses a high-capacity ash catcher to make cleanup hassle-free, so you can enjoy your time grilling without worrying about dirtying your hands or tools.
  • The cooking grate is hinged to easily add charcoal while grilling, so you can have even more fun when cooking up some delicious barbecue.
  • The tool hooks allow you to hang grilling tools, such as a spatula and tongs—something that’s especially helpful if you want to cook more than one burger at a time!
  • It’s also easy to use! Just add charcoal, place food on the grill, and close the lid—no more fighting with a hot grill lid or cooking over an open flame.

6. Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Offset Smoker

best overall

Offset Smokers

Millie’s Take

This smoker features four baffles under porcelain-coated wire grates that deliver even heat and smoke through the cooking chamber.

The large charcoal basket provides a more efficient burn, easier tending to the fire, and quick cleanup.

Overview

The Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker is a multi-functional combination offset smoker that can be used as a reverse-flow or a traditional offset smoker.

This smoker features four removable baffles that ensure even heat distribution and a large charcoal basket for easier use.

 Finally, It has a heavy-gauge steel construction built to last and high-temperature, heavy-gauge steel construction.

Top Features

You can choose between reverse flow smoking and traditional offset smoking, thanks to optional smokestack locations:

  • The reverse flow smoker is designed for large cuts of meat like brisket, which requires more smoke to be drawn through the cooking chamber. 
  • With the standard offset smoker, you can easily cook smaller cuts of meat like pork butts and ribs.

The Highland Reverse Flow Smoker uses four baffles locked under porcelain-coated wire grates to deliver even heat and smoke through the cooking chamber.

A large charcoal basket allows for a more efficient burn, easier fire management, and quick cleanup. This also saves you money by using fewer charcoal and wood chunks per batch of food.

Total Cooking Area: 900 square inches of cooking space

  • The main chamber has 619 square inches of primary cooking space 
  • The offset firebox has 281 square inches of secondary cooking space.

It has a handy door on the side of the firebox that allows you to stoke your fire without opening the chamber lid, making raking out the firebox ash much more accessible.

A professional lid-mounted temperature gauge is also included for accurate temperature monitoring.

Large wagon-style wheels allow it to be easily moved around your backyard and stored in an outdoor shed or garage.

Finally, cool-touch handles keep your hands cool while you’re inside working.

What is a charcoal smoker?

best charcoal smokers

A charcoal smoker is a device used for cooking food in a closed system. It uses charcoal and wood to produce smoke heated by the fire.

The burning wood or charcoal heat is transferred directly to the food being cooked, producing a smoky flavor.

A charcoal smoker can be used for cooking a wide range of foods, including meats, vegetables, and seafood.

Most smokers have an internal water pan, which should be filled with water during cooking to prevent burning.

Charcoal smokers are often used as outdoor cooking appliances because they require little maintenance and are easy to use.

They also work well when using large quantities of meat such as pork ribs because they have a large cooking area.

The pros and cons of charcoal smokers?

You might love it for

  • You can use it for a variety of foods. You can cook just about anything on a charcoal smoker: ribs, brisket, turkey,… you name it!
  • These charcoal smokers have many built-in features to make them easy to use.
  • They don’t require many tools or skills, so they’re good for beginners and experienced smokers.
  • They’re generally easier to clean than other types of smokers, so you don’t have to worry about as much scrubbing.
  • The food tastes better because the smoke imparts a smoky flavor to the food.

You might not love it for

  • Some people don’t like the flavor they get from their food when they cook it in a charcoal smoker.
  • Charcoal is messy, dirty, and smoky. This is true—there’s no denying it! But if you use it in moderation, then there’s no need to worry about this too much.
  • Charcoal takes longer than other types of grills (like propane and gas grill/smoker) to heat up fully. This can be a problem if you need something ready quickly.
  • Because charcoal smokers are not very portable, they may not be the best choice for a road trip.

What to consider when buying a charcoal smoker that meets your needs?

charcoal grills

1. Type of Charcoal Smoker

Vertical Smoker

Vertical smokers are one of the most popular ways to cook food in your home.

A vertical smoker is a barbecue smoker using a firebox at the bottom of the cooker and a water pan above it. The water pan is directly below the cooking chamber.

Horizontal Smoker

A horizontal smoker is a type of pit that uses the indirect heat transfer principle. It is also known as an offset smoker or a pit.

A horizontal smoker differs from a vertical smoker because the smoke is directed towards the meat from one side rather than rising to the top of the pit from the bottom.

This helps cook the meat more evenly and prevents it from drying out. It also allows for more penetration of smoke into the meat.

The side firebox allows you to more easily tend to the fire without opening the main cooking chamber and disrupting the smoke and heat flow.

The firebox usually has doors separate from the cooking chamber so you can get to the fire easily. It also has an extra grill grate that can be used as a grill.

Because they take up more room than vertical smokers, horizontal smokers are not good for travel or camping.

If you want to learn more about the differences between vertical and horizontal smokers, you can check our article here!

The total size of the cooking space

When shopping for a charcoal smoker, one of the first things you’ll want to consider is how big of cooking space you need.

The size of the cooking space refers to how much room your smoker will have for you to cook food.

It’s important to know that some smokers, like horizontal and offset smokers, can often take up more space than other models because they are built on an elevated platform with a large chimney running through it.

If you’re just starting and want to make small batches of food for your own family, a small smoker with between 300 and 800 square inches of cooking space may be what you need.

On the other hand, if you have a big family and want to cook lots of different things at once (like ribs), then a larger smoker with more than 1,000 square inches of cooking space might be right for you.

If you want a vertical smoker, make sure it has at least two grates so that you can cook more food at once.

Water or Drip Pans

Most types of smokers have an internal water pan, which should be filled with water at all times during cooking to prevent burning.

A water pan is important to keep the wood burning evenly and prevent flare-ups.

The water prevents hot coals from igniting the bottom of the smoker, which could cause an explosion or fire.

A water pan also keeps the wood from burning too fast and stops it from drawing too much air into the smoker.

Also, If you’re looking for a charcoal smoker that’s easy to use and clean, then you need to look for a model with drip pans. These pans help collect any water from the meat or vegetables you’re cooking.

Temperature Control

Temperature control is something to consider when buying a charcoal smoker. When smoking meat, it’s important to control the temperature inside the cooking chamber.

The heat must be steady and low, between 200 and 250 °F.

It’s also important to ensure that the smoker comes with a built-in thermometer so you can monitor the temperature of your food while it cooks. This will ensure that you don’t burn your meat or cause it to dry out.

Is it a portable charcoal smoker?

A portable charcoal smoker is a great option for those who want to move it around their home and use it as needed.

Portable charcoal smokers are also great for campers, hunters, and others who want to take their smoking experience with them.

However, they can be more expensive than other models, so you must consider your needs and budget when deciding on the model that will work best for you.

Construction materials

When buying a charcoal smoker, you want to ensure it’s built with the best materials.

The most important thing is that it will be durable and safe for your family.

You want something that will last for years and doesn’t easily break down after just a few uses.

Many different types of smokers are available on the market, so it can be hard to know what to look for.

A good example of this would be heavy-duty or sticker steel construction with cast-iron grates because they both have been around for centuries and are well-known for their durability and longevity.

Another important consideration is how well it cooks food in general. If it cannot produce a great amount of heat and cook foods evenly, it may not be worth purchasing in the first place because it won’t meet your needs as an avid smoker!

Charcoal smoker – FAQs

To Sum Up

In the end, while charcoal smokers can vary greatly in terms of build, function, and method, the best charcoal smoker is not a simple choice.

However, we’ve explored various styles on our journey toward finding the best charcoal smoker.

Hopefully, you’ll find the above recommendations useful as you decide about charcoal smokers and their role in your cooking experience.

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