The best meat smoker isn’t necessarily the most expensive or professional. In fact, you can do a lot with a basic smoker if you have the right amount of heat and cooking time. Therefore, this top pick makes meat smoking a straightforward task by giving you all the essentials without a complicated setup.
The Masterbuilt 20075315 is a fully enclosed smoker oven that provides a professional finish at an affordable price. Offering a total of 975 square inches of cooking space, the smoker is divided into four separate levels to cook large amounts of meat at the same time. Wood chips are loaded at the bottom using an integrated loader system with an easy-to-clean drip pan that catches excess meat juice.
Large smokers can get rather complicated when you get into the intricate details of heat sources, smoker layouts, and cooking times. Most of these things will be overwhelming to the beginner. Therefore, it’s easier to start off small when you’re searching for your first smoker. This user-friendly, beginner smoker will make your first time smoking experience easier and more fun.
For those new to the world of smokers, the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker is hard to beat for a truly user-friendly experience. The 18-inch smoker is a small, vertical unit that functions more like a grill. Using charcoal for the heat source, cooking with the smoker involves placing the meat on the single rack, closing the lid, and waiting. The cooking rack provides a total of 481 square inches of surface space.
Weber Smokey Mountain 18-Inch Smoker Review
Best Pellet Smoker: Tailgater Elite 20 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Buy on Home Depot
If you’ve never tried a wood pellet grill or smoker you’re definitely missing out. Pellet smokers use 100 percent hardwood for a quick and clean burn that is much healthier than charcoal. It still infuses your food with beautiful, smokey flavor but there are no additives and almost zero ash. Whether you’re looking to invest in your first pellet smoker, or you’re replacing an older model, you can’t go wrong with the Tailgater Elite 20 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker. It can grill, smoke, roast, bake, and so much more. It boasts 300 square inches of grilling space, so if you need to feed a crowd this smoker won’t let you down. The digital controller is easy to operate, and when you’re done cooking the porcelain grates can be easily cleaned with a grill brush or grill cleaner. If you want to take this grill to a neighbor’s house or a space with limited square footage, the legs fold down flat.
Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill Review
Best Offset Smoker: Oklahoma Joe Highland
Buy on Walmart
One secret to good smoked barbecue is heat control. Many people worry about the heat source itself, but they really need to think about the position and amount of heat. Offset smokers, for example, try to maximize overall heat control and smoke distribution by removing the heat source from the meat itself. With a little bit more control and coverage, you can get better results with the same amount of effort.
For optimal control and heat distribution, the Oklahoma Joe Highland smoker is the only real option to consider. Using durable metals, the heavy-duty construction of the smoker makes it a great choice for places with poor weather conditions. The offset design loads firewood on the side and places multiple dampers to control the heat and smoke between the fire and meat. A single storage rack provides plenty of space for multiple pieces.
Best Budget Smoker: Masterbuilt 20050211
Buy on Amazon
A budget meat smoker can be a great way to explore this unique world of barbecue without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment you aren’t sure will be useful. We like this model because it has a good build quality, along with a lower price tag so you can still make some outstanding barbecue.
The Masterbuilt 20050211 is an outdoor cooker with a simple setup. Fueled by gas, the smoker sports a control valve and spark igniter that will create a steady heat source at the bottom of the unit. Four interior smoke racks provide plenty of space for multiple pieces of meat to absorb the smoky flavors all at once. The exterior is protected with a black powder coat that will resist the elements outdoors.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best smokers under $400.
Best Large Smoker: Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D
Buy on Walmart
Meat smoking for great barbecue is a time-intensive process. In order to make a lot of barbecue, it’s smart to do as much of the cooking and smoking as you can at the same time. This is where large meat smokers really shine. By offering more cooking space for large amounts of meat, you can cut down on the overall smoking time.
The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D is a vertical offset smoker with enough space to cook around 150 pounds of meat at once. The vertical offset design increases heat control and a more even smoke distribution since the heat source is removed from the meat. On the inside, the interior contains six adjustable cooking grates so you can position each piece of meat to accommodate different sizes. This smoker uses charcoal as a heat source.
Best Professional Smoker: Bradley BTDS108P
Buy on Amazon
For the best results, a professional meat smoker is a great addition to any barbecuer’s arsenal. These meat smokers usually offer more space, finer control, and a completely enclosed environment to seal in the smoke for the best results. Even though they aren’t the most budget-friendly option, buying a professional smoker is an investment that will keep making a return for years to come.
The Bradley BTDS108P smoker brings meat smoking into the digital age. As a fully contained, vertical smoker, this unit creates an enclosed environment that traps all of the smoke indoors. Six individual racks offer plenty of space for people wanting to smoke a large amount of meat. Everything is digitally controlled with a computer that automatically smokes meats up to eight hours at a time.