When smoking meat, we’re required to undergo a process of cooking a cut or piece of meat slowly and on a low heat. The common temperature used when smoking meat is approximately 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
The meat becomes tender and juicy from placing it in an area with condensed smoke and indirect heat. Smoked meat gets its signature flavor from the smoke produced from wood chips and chunks. As a result, many find that smoked meat is more delectable than roasting or grilling.
All of these benefits from smoking meat are highly dependent on the type of smoker you use. When looking to purchase a smoker, you need to take into account the type of smoker and the features its equipped with.
Navigating these different smokers and smoker features can be incredibly challenging as a beginner. However, we have designed this article to help beginner smokers understand everything there is about a smoker, along with providing some of the best beginner smoker options on the market to make choosing a smoker easier.
Short on Time? Here Are Our Top 3 Smokers
Weber Smokey Mountain Best Charcoal Smoker
Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Best Alternative Charcoal Smoker
Camp Chef 24-Inch Smoke Vault Best Gas/Propane Smoker
What Are The Different Types of Smokers?
There are a variety of different smokers available on the market. Each of these smokers is equipped with a set of unique features from other types of smokers. For this reason, it’s important to identify which smoker satisfies the preferences you would like to receive from using a smoker.
We have provided some of the most common types of smokers that are available on the market. We advise you to consider all the different features these smokers have to offer, along with the pros and cons, before you decide on the smoker that’s going to best suit your needs.
This charcoal smoker uses charcoal as fuel. Along with other smokers, this charcoal smoker offers a classic smoky flavor with the addition of a smoke ring. This type of smoker has been around for a good while and is used all across the globe.
When using a charcoal smoker, wood chunks or chips are incorporated into the process to provide extra flavor and tenderness to the meat. A charcoal smoker comes in a variety of different shapes and sizes.
One of the benefits of using charcoal is that it’s known to be an effective fuel for the smoking process. However, this method of smoking does require close attention and monitoring when compared to propane smokers or electric smokers. The charcoal smoker has the reputation of providing great results to pieces or cuts of meat. However, a charcoal smoker can only offer these results if you perform a high amount of effort when preparing, cooking, and cleaning.
- The barbecue is good tasting with a smoky flavor.
- It’s a cheaper option when compared to more advanced smoker types.
- The smoker is versatile as you can also use it on a variety of meats and vegetables.
- It can be used in conjunction with smoking accessories and tools, which enhances the smoking process.
- The temperature is harder to maintain as charcoal needs more effort to obtain effective temperature control.
- The smoker is difficult and potentially dangerous to clean if the ashes aren’t cooled down enough.
- Some facilities may not allow you to use a charcoal grill due to the mess created from the smoking process.
Propane smokers or gas smokers are known as one of the most convenient and easy-to-use smokers currently available. In addition to this, a propane or gas smoker also provides users with good value for money. The processes involved in using these gas smokers make these products the perfect option for first-time or beginners in the smoking world. All that’s required from you when using a propane or gas smoker is to set it up and let it do its magic.
The construction of a propane or gas smoker is similar to the construction of a metal box. The smoker is designed with a set of legs, which allows for it to stand well. Along with this, the smoker is also made to resemble the design of a vault or locker. The utilization of gas smokers and propane smokers provides users with a simple design. This simple design offers a larger cooking area. Not to mention, it’s easy to operate, is equipped with a burner located at the bottom of the smoker, and contains a tray to place your selected wood chips or chunks on.
- The smoker is inexpensive when compared to other models.
- It offers great quality even with it having a low price point.
- It is designed to have a sturdy and good build.
- It’s generally equipped with a good-sized cooking space that increases in accordance with its price.
- The setting up process is very quick, and you don’t need to monitor the meat while in the smoking process closely.
- It’s a good option for outdoor cooking, especially if you have limited space.
- The temperature control is easy to maintain.
- The cleaning up process is easy, as the soot on the burners can easily be cleaned off.
- The use of propane or gas doesn’t offer a rich smoky flavor to the food when compared to charcoal smokers.
- Some gas and propane smoker models don’t come with insulation and have a low build quality.
- There is a potential threat of leak heat and smoke. This can cause uneven cooking.
- The smoker may require you to constantly refill the gas bottle as it can run out quickly.
- It offers a small footprint that can hamper your larger cooking pieces or cuts of meat.
A pellet smoker uses wood pellets as a source of fuel to smoke the pieces or cuts of meat. These wood pellets are comprised of small wood chips but offer a high volume of energy. Along with this, the wood chips included as a fuel source also provide a rich and tasty BBQ flavor. In addition to this, these pellet smokers are equipped with a digital controller, which allows the user to monitor the temperature control within the pellet smoker.
The temperature gauge included in the best pellet smokers helps feed the pellets automatically into your fire port. This feature is used to keep the pellet smokers at the designated temperature setting. The addition of these features makes pellet smokers a very popular smoker among smoking enthusiasts.
Pellet smokers are one of the best smoker options for beginners as it offers a classic smoky wood flavor to the meat that doesn’t need a lot of monitoring to achieve. Most of the best pellet smokers are equipped with a ‘set it and forget’ functionality. Thus, you’re able to achieve this rich smoky taste without giving too much attention to the best pellet smoker or pellet grill.
- The pellet grill is a versatile smoker that can be used for smoking, roasting, baking, braising, and barbecuing.
- The pellet grill and smoker are equipped with a wide temperature range, making the cooking fast and even.
- The pellet grill and smoker holds the ability to preheat easily and takes 10 minutes to do so.
- It provides a flavor to the meat that’s consistent.
- You have a temperature control feature that’s precise when smoking unforgiving selections of meat.
- You aren’t required to perform complicated setting up techniques, and constant monitoring isn’t needed.
- The smoker can be used to accommodate different pellet flavors for a variety of food requirements.
- The power of the smoker is dependent on the source of electricity. This can make it hard to take along on trips.
- This type of smoker is usually more expensive than other smokers due to the premium features included in the design.
- The small pellet smoker model doesn’t provide a grilling functionality.
- The smoker requires the proper handling of the wood pellets as moist pellets don’t work well.
The electric smoker is a new model in the range of different smoker models. The purpose of these electric smokers is to enable more people to start smoking in an easier way. Unlike the traditional propane and BBQ smokers, these electric smokers don’t utilize flames to undergo the smoking process effectively.
The majority of best electric smokers for beginners are operated through regulating electricity through a heating element or component. Electric smokers don’t use flames and airflow as a source of heat. This feature makes the electric smoker more controllable, making it an ideal option for beginners.
- A straightforward and simple set-up is all that’s needed. You can leave these electric smokers cooking without having to monitor the smoker constantly.
- There isn’t any mess generated as opposed to charcoal and wood pellets.
- These electric smokers hold the ability to smoke most types of food, including beef, pork, and fish.
- Electric smokers work as an excellent alternative to charcoal, especially when you’re in areas that prohibit the use of charcoal smokers.
- The temperature range is limited when compared to other smoker types. This can be seen as a problem if you wish to smoke meat that requires high heat and smoke feature.
- The portability is quite low as it needs electricity in the form of a power source or outlet.
- It doesn’t offer a pink smoke ring on the meat.
The Kamado smokers are based on traditional Chinese and Indian cookers and work effectively well as a first smoker for someone without any experience in smoking meat. This particular smoker is designed to feature an oval or egg-like shape. These smokers hold the reputation of being incredibly versatile as the model can bake, grill, roast, and smoke a variety of different food types.
The Kamado smoker is generally made from ceramics, and the best Kamado smoker for beginners is one that is equipped with material with great insulation properties. These types of Kamado smokers can effectively store and radiate heat. This makes them great for any cooking and smoking activities. It’s also great for outdoor cooking, as the design is portable and lightweight.
- The smoker is made with high-quality materials such as stainless steel and ceramic, making the structure robust and durable.
- It’s equipped with excellent conduction of heat and smoke, as the heat evenly radiates and makes it easier to control the temperature of the smoker.
- It offers good flavor to the food and resembles the taste that’s provided from using an oven.
- The smoker is incredibly versatile and can be used in conjunction with tools and accessories for an easy cook.
- It takes a considerable amount of time to heat up as the side walls are known to retain heat effectively.
- Ceramic is known to be a brittle material.
- The common model generally needs a variety of accessories, which can end up being quite costly when compared to other ready-to-use smoker models.
These are grills that also work as a smoker. A smoker grill is a great option for beginners who already know how to work a grill and don’t want to purchase a seperate smoker.
- The smoker grill is a versatile product that can be used as a smoker and a griller.
- It offers the same BBQ flavor as charcoal smokers and grills.
- It’s generally an inexpensive option that is easily accessible to those who don’t want to spend very much money on a smoker.
- The smoker grill requires a good amount of work and some modifications to utilize the grill as a smoker.
- Some of these smoker grills may not work as well as off-the-shelf smokers available on the market.
Offset smokers are a challenging first smoker for beginners but offer exceptional results if done correctly. Compared to different types of smokers, this offset smoker works extremely well for those who have experience in smoking. Offset smokers also work as a great alternative to a charcoal smoker.
The name for this particular smoker comes from the firebox being located a little below the side of the cooking chamber. This specific design allows the smoke to flow from the firebox into the cooking space. Due to this, offset smokers hold the capability of offering consistent and constant cooking.
- An offset smoker can smoke a large amount of meat at once.
- These types of smokers are known for being very versatile as it also works as a grill.
- The offset smoker has the reputation of being very durable when compared to the different types of smokers.
- Setting the right temperature and maintaining it can be challenging for those who aren’t very experienced using smokers.
|Weber Smokey Mountain
|21 x 19 x 41 inches
|Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
|21 x 21 x 31.1 inches
|Camp Chef 24-Inch Smoke Vault
|30.5 x 25 x 17 inches
|Smoke Hollow 44-Inch
|24.5 x 33 x 60 inches
|Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch
|20 x 17 x 33.5 inches
|Smoke Hollow 26-Inch
|16.5 x 19 x 35.5 inches
|Kamado Joe Classic III
|30 x 46.5 x 50.5 inches
|20.2 x 34.52 x 47.03 inches
|54.3 x 43.9 x 22.7 inches
The 9 Best Smokers For Beginners
There is a wide array of smokers available on the market. This can make choosing the best smoker for beginners challenging. That’s why we have compiled this list of best smokers for beginners to help make the choosing process less daunting. Here are our picks for the best smoker for beginners:
The Weber Smokey Mountain is designed as one of the best charcoal smokers for beginners. The Weber Smokey Mountain is equipped with porcelain-enameled steel to help retain heat and make the temperature extremely constant. This Smokey Mountain model is one of the most popular smokers out there. This is because this Smokey Mountain model features ease of use functionality and produces excellent BBQ.
This range of Weber Smokey Mountain charcoal smokers comes in three different sizes, accommodating a wide variety of cooking spaces for different user preferences. As a result, the Weber Smokey Mountain charcoal smoker holds the reputation of being the best charcoal smoker for those looking for their first smoker. The temperature gauge included in this Smokey Mountain model offers users the ability to easily maintain the temperature of the heat and smoke within the smoker. This makes the Weber Smokey Mountain ideal for those who want the taste of charcoal smoking without the hassle of achieving it.
There is so much to love about this smoker. The charcoal smoking system provides the meat with an excellent BBQ taste with limited effort.
- The water pan is made from high-quality stainless steel.
- The inclusion of a water pan helps regulate the temperature and maintain a low and slow cooking environment.
- The design of this Smokey Mountain model provides beginner users with a ‘set it and forget’ functionality.
- The use of charcoal as a fuel source provides the meat with a good BBQ taste. Wood chips can also be included in the wood chip pan for improved flavor.
- The design of the charcoal smoker gives it the best easy to use features.
- There aren’t any features included to make the smoker easy to clean.
- The charcoal smoking tool can’t be used as a grill.
Pit Boss has provided users with the Pit Barrel Cooker Package, which is the best beginner model for those who are just learning about smoking. This Pit Barrel Cooker is built made up of a 30-gallon porcelain steel drum that’s built with porcelain enamel coated 18-gauge steel. Due to the inclusion of these elements, a robust and durable container is made to undergo the smoking process. This can also help with heat retention.
What we really liked about Pit Barrel Cooker is that it’s designed to offer users a ‘set it and forget it’ function. Thus, you don’t need to constantly monitor your meat because the smoker does it for you. Not to mention, the product also comes fully assembled, which we found very convenient as you didn’t need to undergo the hassle of constructing the smoker.
There is so much to love about this smoker. One thing that's well-liked is that you don't need to constantly monitor the meat while it's cooking.
- This Pit Boss model is portable due to its lightweight and easy to set up features.
- You have a range of cooking options incorporating stainless steel rods, grates, and hooks in the Pit Barrel Cooker, so you don’t need to buy additional accessories.
- The 240 square inches of cooking space may be limiting for those who wish to cook a good amount of meat.
- The charcoal smoker doesn’t work as a grill.
This Camp Chef Smoke Vault model is designed to be one of the easiest and best gas and propane smokers for beginners. The unique design of this gas propane smoker isn’t the only attractive thing. There are a variety of features included in the design that make this Camp Chef 24-Inch Smoke Vault one of the best beginner smokers.
The Smoke Vault offers users a refreshing twist to what a smoker is conventionally supposed to look like, which we really liked. However, this Camp Chef model is also available in two sizes to fit a range of user preferences. The Smoke Vault is designed as an 18-inch and 24-inch smoker. These different-sized models offer almost the same features, where the size is the main difference. The primary problem with gas propane smokers is the built quality. However, the built quality of the Camp Chef Smoke Vault is exceptional and effectively retains the heat and smoke within the smoker.
There is so much to love about this smoker. The effective heat and smoke retention are the two best features making up the smoker.
- A snap ignition is included in the design for instant lighting that’s convenient.
- The temperature of the Smoke Vault can range between 50 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The inclusion of a heavy-duty steel wood tray is perfect for larger pieces of wood.
- No water pan is included in the design.
- No grill feature is included in the functionality.
The Smoke Hollow 44-Inch Propane Gas Smoker is equipped with incredible features that make it one of the best smokers for beginners. Not to mention, these gas propane smokers can also be used as gas grills. This Smoke Hollow Gas Propane Smoker offers some of the best rich smoking features while still having a pretty attainable price tag.
The Smoke Hollow Gas Propane Smoker features a large 6.5 cubic feet cooking area, which allows you to prepare meat for a large group of people. In addition to this, it also comes with seven cooking grids. These seven cooking grids come as four standard cooking grips, two jerky cooking grids, a rib rack, and a sausage hanger. There is so much versatility offered in this propane smoker that we fail to see anyone needing another cooker.
There is so much to love about this smoker. You're given complete control over the temperature control, which allows you to determine the performance of the smoker.
- There is a push-button for easy and convenient lighting.
- The Smoke Hollow is equipped with dual stainless steel burners designed to independently operate from each other. This gives you optimal performance and maximum control over your temperature gauge.
- The structure is known to leak a little bit of smoke. However, this can be corrected with the use of a gasket.
- A grill feature isn’t included.
This electric Masterbuilt model is the best electric smoker for beginners. It’s designed with exceptional features that make it easy for beginners to understand and use effectively. The Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Smoker is one of the most popular on the market from all the features offered. The Masterbuilt Electric Smoker is also known as being a good option as the best electric smoker for beginners. One reason for this popularity is that the smoker is available at a very reasonable price. This makes it a great smoker for beginners as we understand that not many people want to spend a lot of money on an activity they are just trying out and may not like.
Moreover, this Materbuilt model is also incredibly well-built when you take into account the cost of the smoker. It isn’t as stable as some of the more expensive models, but it does get the job done well. Not to mention, it’s well insulated and holds the capability to maintain the heat within the smoke effectively. Nonetheless, the most prominent feature is the massive cooking area. This Materbuilt electric smoker has 730 square inches of cooking space, which accommodates cooking for large groups of people.
There is so much to love about this smoker. One of its best features is the removable drip pan, as it makes cleaning up a lot easier.
- Cleaning up is made easy with the removable drip pan.
- The temperature gauge helps effectively maintain temperature, and a top-quality air damper is used to provide control over the airflow, which offers the best results for the meat.
- The finish isn’t as robust as other smokers on this list.
- You can’t use it as a grill.
The Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker is built with incredible features that make it one of the best beginner smokers on the market. If you’re looking for a cheap electric smoker that still offers great functionality, then we highly recommend checking out the Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker. The cooking space provided by this electric smoker holds the ability to fit two whole turkeys. In addition to this, the electric smoker has two chrome-plated cooking grids. These are adjustable so that you can smoke different foods at once.
The electric smoker also included a porcelain wood chip tray and water pan. These features ensure that you have everything you need to start smoking your meats effectively. The entirety of the smoker’s construction is incredibly well-made and sturdy when you consider the reasonable price of the electric smoker. We really like that the digital electric smoker features effective temperature control. This feature provided us with a ‘set it and forget it’ functionality, making the digital electric smoker easy to use for beginners.
There is so much to love about this smoker. You're able to 'set it and forget it' when cooking your food.
- The temperature control is fully adjustable and has a maximum temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- You don’t need gloves to operate the smoker as it’s designed with a cool-touch spring wire door and side handles.
- The digital electric smoker has a full range of heat indicators.
- Many users have stated that replacing the wood chips is quite tricky, and there isn’t an easy-access door included in the design.
- There isn’t an option to use the smoker as a grill.
The Kamado Joe Classic III incorporates the kamado concept into its design and provides users with a high cooking efficiency and ease of use. This makes this Kamado Joe model good for beginners and more experienced users.
The built quality of the grill and smoker is excellent as it’s equipped with heavy, thick, and long-lasting, high-quality materials. It comes with a single set of thick grates that are made from stainless steel. However, this set can be expanded to increase the cooking space to 500 square inches of cooking space.
There is so much to love about this smoker. The large cooking area accommodates the smoking of larger pieces of meat.
- It’s easy to use and versatile, as it can be used as a grill.
- The rolling cart is heavy-duty and features locking casters.
- Many available accessories can be incorporated into the design.
- It’s quite expensive compared to other smokers on this list.
- The diameter cooking surface is only 18 inches (but it can be expanded).
The Dyna-Glo offset smoker is designed with a great cooking space. With an impressive 784 square inches of cooking space, the Dyna-Glo offers a wide enough cooking space to perfectly smoke meat for massive groups of people.
The offset charcoal smoker is designed with six height-adjusting cooking grates. In addition to this, the smoker also offers the best temperature gauge. This is a helpful feature for beginners who are yet to know how to effectively set the ideal smoking temperature. Thus, you hold the capability of setting a temperature that isn’t too high or low for smoking your meat effectively. The removable ash pan feature makes it easy to maintain the smoking process without checking the cooking chamber.
There is so much to love about this smoker. You're able to replenish the wood cut tray without disturbing the smoking process, thanks to the ash pan feature.
- The smoker is versatile and can also be used as a grill.
- The use of charcoal offers an effective source of smoke and heat that provides you with a tasty BBQ flavor.
- You are restricted to only using the smoker in places that allow charcoal offset smokers.
One of the best offset smokers on the market is the Char-Broil offset smoker. The smoker offers a cooking area of 605 square inches. This may not seem like the best amount of space for cooking than the other smokers on this list. However, this Char-Broil offset smoker makes up for it by including some of the best additional features into the design.
The inclusion of black, powder-coated steel construction provides the smoker with the best durability. In addition to this, the porcelain-coated cooking grates make the Char-Broil smoker easy to clean and maintain.
There is so much to love about this smoker. The cooking grates are easy to clean, thanks to the inclusion of porcelain-coating in the design.
- Charcoal can be used as a fuel source which offers a rich BBQ taste.
- The offset smoker can be used as a grill alongside being a smoker.
- The space for cooking may be limited for some users.
A Buyer’s Guide: What To Consider Before Making a Purchase
There is a variety of considerations you need to make before purchasing a smoker. Here are the most important factors to consider to help you buy the right smoker for you:
The cooking space of the smoker should be large enough for your needs. Of course, everyone’s needs are going to be different. Thus, it’s important to consider how much cooking space you’re going to need your smoker to be equipped with.
An important feature that your smoker should be designed with is an easy-to-clean component incorporated into the design. This feature is incredibly beneficial as you gain the ability to focus on your meat rather than focusing on scrubbing away the grime that’s collected on the smoker.
Size plays an essential role when deciding on the type of smoker you’re ultimately going to purchase. You need to look around and see what space you have available to keep your smoker. This available space is going to dictate how big or small your smoker can be. Otherwise, you may opt for a vertical smoker instead of fitting the smoker into a smaller space.
As previously mentioned, there are a wide variety of smoker types available on the market, and each has its own pros and cons that are discussed above.
When choosing the best smoker type for you, you need to consider your living space, power or fuel supply, budget, and how much food and how you want the food to be cooked.
When deciding on a fuel type, you should consider how easily available the fuel is. Charcoal is incredibly plentiful. Thus, you’re never going to have a problem getting charcoal to provide energy to your smoker.
Using a gas smoker can also be really easy to source gas for if your home runs on gas. All you need to do is connect the smoker to your house line. This is going to provide you with a constant fuel source without incurring additional costs.
Wood pellets aren’t as easy to source or plentiful as charcoal. In addition to this, pellet smokers are also more expensive to purchase.
However, the availability of the fuel source shouldn’t be the only factor when deciding on the fuel type that your smoker is equipped with. You also need to take into account the type of flavor you would like to provide to the food you’re smoking. The fuel source plays a crucial role in this.
The build quality is largely dependent on how much you’re willing to spend on the smoker. Inexpensive models have the reputation of being made with thin material, which is susceptible to leaking smoke and fails to regulate the heat effectively. This often results in the smoker’s temperatures fluctuating.
Due to these circumstances, you’re going to need to find a good balance between purchasing an inexpensive model that’s still effectively built. It’s no use in purchasing the cheapest model out there if you aren’t able to use it effectively. In cases like this, spending a bit more on a well-built smoker that’s sealed and has good insulation is going to save you money on fuel over the course of the smoker’s lifetime.
There are a variety of different features that can be included in the design of a smoker to make the process of smoking food easier for beginners.
One of these features is temperature control. Having effective temperature control settings designed into the smoker can help you regulate the temperature you’re smoking the meat at. Thus, preventing you from over or undercooking the food you’ve placed in the smoker.
The inclusion of stainless steel in the design also adds to the smoker’s durability. This also helps with insulation, which makes the heat within the smoker remain constant.back to menu ↑
Frequently Asked Questions
How does smoking work?
The old fashioned process of low and slowing barbecuing is a simple idea to understand but a complex mechanism to master. When smoking food, you need to start with a fuel source. This could be electricity, wood pellets, gas, or charcoal.
The flavor incorporated into the meat or other food products is provided by additional wood chunks or chips to the heat source. This addition of the wood is also the element that generates the smoke. By having control over the oxygen, you are provided with the ability to achieve low temperatures. This is how the smoking process gets its nickname as ‘low and slow.’
What is the difference between grilling and smoking?
Smoking meat is all about going low and slow. The temperatures usually used in this process are between 225 and 275 degrees Fahrenheit and are maintained for long periods, generally spanning between three and 15 hours. This smoking process commonly involves burning wood chunks, chips, or pellets. This imparts smoky flavors into the taste of the meat being placed in the smoker.
Grilling foods is usually done at higher temperatures. This is around 350 degrees Fahrenheit and is placed under these temperatures for shorter durations. The process of grilling food may or may not include wood smoke. However, this is highly dependent on the flavors you wish to achieve. Moreover, you may not need to close the griller’s dome. However, this decision is highly dependent on what you’re cooking and what results you wish to receive.back to menu ↑
When looking at purchasing your first smoker, you need to determine the budget for this particular purchase. This can prevent you from impulsively purchasing a product that you might regret. This is especially the case if you decide that smoking isn’t for you after trying it out with your first smoker. You want to restrict the amount of money to spend to prevent this regret from occurring.
In addition to determining the budget, you should also decide on the type of fuel you would like to use. This decision ultimately affects the purchase cost of the model, along with the ongoing costs, the effort needed when cooking, and the results of the smoked food.
Moreover, you also need to decide if you want a device that works as a dedicated smoker or a combination grill and smoker. Choosing this in the purchasing stages helps eliminate the need for expensive add-ons or purchasing a separate grill at a later time.
Determine how much food you’re going to be smoking. The number of people that you’re going to be preparing food for is going to ultimately decide on the correct smoker size to buy.