It’s not a long shot to say that to be able to barbeque, grill or smoke appetisers for a crowd using charcoal is an ‘Art’.
While traditional grills and barbeques require a lot more effort and frequent supervision, charcoal smokers are equipped to get the job done, though over a longer period of time.
However, the longer wait time is offset by the moist, unique flavoured food we get. So, which charcoal smoker is the best to use at your next get together?
There is a diverse range of charcoal smokers available in the market but this guide will help you identify the best of the lot, assess their pros and cons and pick the one that suits your purpose perfectly.
So, let’s clear the smoke and get to the best in the business.
5 Best Charcoal Smokers
Three package variants, having different additional accessories – Essential (BHC 18C Barrel Cover, 2 Meat Hanging Hooks, 0-Grate, Half Grate), Deluxe (BHC 18C Barrel Cover, 2 Meat Hanging Hooks, 0-Grate, Half Grate, Drumstick Hanging Rack, EZ-Load Large Meat Hanger) and Super Deluxe (BHC 18C Barrel Cover, 4 Meat Hanging Hooks, 0-Grate, 2 Half Grates, 2 Drumstick Hanging Racks, EZ-Load Large Meat Hanger, Slotted Grill Grate, Cedar Plank).
Removable and convertible base – the base can be removed for easy addition and management of charcoal and wood, and removal of ashes. The base also converts to a hibachi grill and has a central air intake operated by a damper.
Adequate Capacity – do not go by the compact look; it has a huge capacity to cook ample food for a party in one go.
Strong build – the drum and base are made from 20 gauge steel. Porcelain coated drum and lid provide durability and elegance.
Setup and cleaning – initial setup takes as less as 15 minutes and cleaning and maintenance is as easy as it can get.
Multiple applications – serves many cooking applications like smoking, grilling, baking and heating. The O grate holds over a dozen other grates, allowing you to cook different foods simultaneously.
Temperature gauge – there is no in-built thermometer or temperature gauge, unlike other products in the same price range.
Easy to set up and clean – three main parts of the smoker can be easily set up and cleaned; maintenance cannot be a hassle here.
Ample cooking space – with two 18.5 inches cooking grates, it provides 481 square inches of space for smoking multiple foods simultaneously.
Superior build – porcelain-enameled steel, rust-resistant aluminum shield, and heat-resistant nylon handle prove excellent build quality.
Accessibility – door assembly (access door) for adding coal and wood chunks can be replaced by a slightly bigger door for managing the food on the lower cooking grate without disturbing the upper grate.
Minor air leaks – the access door can be better insulated to prevent any minor air leaks.
Cooking space – six height adjustable grates can accommodate 25 lbs each, giving you the option of cooking a total of 150 lbs of food.
Offset style vertical smoking – ensures that all the food is evenly cooked and the lower most grate is not exposed to direct heat from the charcoal.
Set up and maintenance – the briquettes compartment and removable ash tray can be easily cleaned before or after cooking. Independent double doors allow for adding coal while cooking without opening the smoke chamber with the grates.
Air leaks – there are many gaps that you would need to seal (using RTV silicone or Nomex tape) to prevent air leaks through the cracks and doors.
Temperature gauge – the thermometer is not always accurate and can be off by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Average build – the charcoal and wood chamber is built well but the smoke chamber with the 6 adjustable grates feels like thin steel and does not seem durable for the long run.
Reasonable – it certainly is the cheapest good quality vertical charcoal smoker out there, with the 16 inch variant costing only about $100.
Portable – it is compact enough to be taken along on a trip.
Setup and cleaning – the setup takes less than 30 minutes to get the cooking started and cleaning is not a hassle.
Strong build – the smoker is made from high gauge steel and feels durable enough to last 3-4 years on average.
Charcoal space – a bigger charcoal tray could solve the limitation of the smoker going for about only 5-6 hours without refilling coal and wood.
Ash can – the ash can is not attached perfectly and may fall off while adjusting the air vents.
Temperature gauge – the thermometer on the front is not very accurate and can be a bit off sometimes
Portable – Small enough to take anywhere for smoking food.
Durable – Made of high gauge steel and porcelain coated.
Reasonable – At it’s current price, this bullet smoker will not burn a hole in your wallet.
Modification needed – a charcoal grate could be added to the charcoal pan to keep the wood chips and charcoal out of the ashes.
Air vent – Without any air vent to control temperature, it may get fussy and require monitoring.
Limited cooking space – It has adequate space for cooking for a small group of people but cannot accommodate large meats like brisket or ribs.
When the Smoke Clears
Do you want to carry your smoker on a camping trip? Answering these questions is important to be able to decide which smoker is the best.
Assuming an average usage and cooking requirement and based on overall features, value for money, ease of use, durability, maintenance, and last but not least, the quality of food you get from the smoker, we have rated these 5 best charcoal smokers.
Barrel House Cooker 18C Wood & Charcoal Smoker
Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker
Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker
Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18” Charcoal Smoker