Many people taste that genuine barbecue flavour and want to recreate it at home. However to achieve this flavour I believe you need a charcoal smoker.In this article we will explore the best charcoal smokers, and why they are the best.
Lots of people enjoy the simplicity of building a fire and cooking the natural way, not having to worry about any mechanical or moving parts. This is where charcoal smokers really shine. They are a basic design, easy to use and produce great flavour. Not to mention charcoal smokers also are the first choice for all professional and amateur BBQ chefs.
There are three main types charcoals smokers available on the market.
The Cabinet style smoker, which are high-quality smokers aimed at amateur and professional cooks. Off-set smoker and barrel or drum smokers.
We have found that one of the best charcoal smokers is the drum. For your dollar you get absolutely bloody top quality smoker!
Finding the best charcoal smokers isn’t all about the brisket and ribs (said my wife), I love having getting all my friends and family together.
I have put together this guide to help you strike that balance of features you want at a price point that won't give you a heart attack (not to mention a unit produces damn tasty food).
Let's get into it and find the best charcoal smoker for you!.
Jump Straight Into It
Don't have enough time to fully read through my thorough reviews of the 10 best charcoal smokers?
Here is just the essential information you need to know about each smoker and why it is in my top picks.
The Best Charcoal Smoker
There is no simpler way to smoke meat than with the Pit Barrel Cooker. This is a simply designed vertical smoker that is actually pretty hard to fault. You get a full on smoky hit in every cut you cook. It has enough space to cook for a large group of people and is lightweight enough to take tailgating, out in the woods or even around the corner to your friends house.
Its not often that I come across something that I think is so good I find it hard to fault. However the Pit Barrel Cooker is one piece of equipment I love. Without a doubt this unit is my top pick for the best charcoal smoker.
It is a top loading vertical smoker with a very simple design. It comes with a very sturdy charcoal basket which holds up to 145 briquettes, two steel re-bar rods that are used to hang the 8 meat hooks on. This is enough room to hang 8 racks of ribs, 4 chickens or 2 large briskets.
The Pit Barrel Cooker was designed to hold a consistent temperature of around 300 degrees, although this might be a little to high for traditional 'low & slow' cooking you can still get away with long cooks.
Sometimes we just want to show off our food. The Broil King Keg is perfect for this. One of the best features of this Kamado style charcoal smoker is that it can be detached from its stand and easily attached to your trailer hitch. It is a user friendly lightweight smoker built with lots of handy features to ensure your cook is a great one.
When you think the words Kamado smoker I bet the first thing that comes to mind is the Big Green Egg.
Don't get me wrong, the Big Green Egg is a fantastic Kamodo if you have one designated smoking area. The Broil King Keg is a lightweight, nonceramic Kamado you can take with you anywhere. This is partly thanks to the lightweight enamel steel construction, convenient carry handles, big rear wheels and the ability to take it off the stand and attach it right onto your trailer hitch.
Other genius features include bottle openers, detachable side pre tables, lid lock, and multi-story cooking grates.
The Broil King Keg has the ability to reach a maximum temperature of 800 degrees F, this is thanks to the two layers of baked enamel steel with a hidden layer of oven grade insulation sandwiched in between. This helps ensure that no hear or smoke escapes throughout the cook and also allows you to maintain a steady temperature no matter what the weather is outside.
When you pull up to tailgate with this bad boy in tow, everyone will know that you mean business (and great food).
The Weber Smokey Mountain is one of the most popular kamodo style smokers out there, and it has been for years if not decades. All over the internet you will find sites, groups and forums solely dedicated to the Weber Smokey Mountain range.
To be honest, its no wonder. This unit provides an amazing cooking experience at a very affordable price. There is not a unit out there that you will get better value for money with.
With this model; you get everything that you would expect from Weber. A sleek looking, durable body. Plenty of cooking space and all the right features.
This unit comes in several different sizes, the 22 inch is. perfect for those who are looking for a smoker to smoke whole turkey and large porkbutts, the 18 inch is great for ribs, brisket and poultry, and the smaller 14 inch is the one for those who are just cooking a small amount of food for one r two people.
The Best Charcoal Smoker
The Tailgaters Charcoal Smoker
Best Tailgaters Charcoal Smoker
Weber Smokey Mountain
Broil King Keg
21 x 21 x 31.1 in
41 x 27.5 x 47 inch
19 x 21 x 41 in
480 sq. in
480 sq. in
1-year limited manufacturer's warranty
10 years warranty on the main body and two years on everything else
10-year limited manufacturer's warranty
Overall Best Charcoal Smoker
Meet (in my opinion) the best charcoal smoker on the market... The Pit Barrel Cooker. We found it simple to use as well as inexpensive for the top-notch quality food it has provided for the family.
It’s a bit different from most smokers you may have seen. It’s a vertical smoker.. or in simple terms, it's basically a 30 gallon/ 18-gauge steel drum with a charcoal basket, and hanging racks.
It sits upright and been given the name the Ugly Drum Smoker, don’t judge it just yet (haven’t we always been told not to judge on appearance).
It is my favorite charcoal smoker and number 1 on my list of best charcoal smokers. This is because it is cheap, very well built and easy to use. It only takes a couple of minutes from arriving in the box until you are ready to get your first meal underway. After you initially light the charcoal and give her 15 minutes to warm up you are all set to go,
The Pit Barrel Cooker is perfect for those of you out there who love tailgating, camping or taking your smoker to the street for a block party. It doesn't have wheels, however, it does have two horseshoe handles on each side of the barrel. This can be used to easily move the cooker from place to place with ease. They also allow you to hang racks, cooking utensils and even the lid (which conveniently has its own horseshoe handle).
Towards the rear of the cooker, you will find the one damper, this allows you to adjust the airflow coming into the smoker, unfortunately, this does not help you change or maintain a temperature, but is more designed to change the airflow amount depending on what elevation you are cooking it. All the information you need to determine how this should be set is included with your instruction manual.
When it comes to cooking, the Pit Barrel Cooker is very simple. Simple slide the two steel re-bar robs into place, hook your selected cuts of meat and hand them from the re-bar. Cover and that's basically job done. It is a very 'set & forget' style of cooker.
Let's have a look at its key features below.
I'm already out a limb and have declared it my pick for the best charcoal smoker out there.
If your looking for charcoal flavours, simplicity, top quality results and mid of the pack price this is your smoker. I would recommend this smoker for anyone from a beginner to a well seasoned backyard veteran.
Just wait for the looks when you carry it from the car by yourself at the next cook out. They will think your superman. Then they taste the food and your bloody Chuck Norris & Martha Stewart in one.
4.9 / 5 Stars
The Tailgaters Dream Charcoal Smoker
The Broil King Keg 5000 is another high-quality charcoal smoker for a very decent price. It has a total of 480 square inches of cooking space. This is spread over two cooking grates.
One is inside the unit with another secondary grate that can be placed on top, this grate swivels out of the way so you can still access the lower grate easily. I find this handy for adding in different meats at different times so everything finishes together.
The Broil King Keg has a unique kamado-style design (which is a traditional Japanese wood or charcoal stove). You may recognise the design from the Big Green Egg, however, this is a more lightweight, transportable model that is not ceramic.
Overall I found the build of The Broil King EXTREMELY strong and sturdy. It has two layers of baked enamel steel, with a layer of extremely high-temperature oven grade insulation sandwiched in between them. Together with the lockable lid sealed lid you are able to create a very hot and efficient environment to cook in.
The Broil King keg was able to hit very high temperatures and maintain them while staying cool on the outside. Surprisingly, due to the efficiency of this unit you need a very small amount of charcoal to fire the grill. The small amount of fuel required is what makes this one of the best charcoal smokers you can buy right now.
Lets check out the key features of this charcoal smoker.
The Broil King Keg is a. kamodo grill that is a dream smoker for those who like tailgating, camping, fishing or just cooking in the backyard. Its is a. very solid unit that is constructed with convenience in mind.
It is a versatile smoker that allows you to cook low and slow, sear a steak or even grill your favourite vegetables.
For the quality of construction, ease of use and amount of features you get on this smoker It is well worth the price. Its not the cheapest unit on this list of the best charcoal smokers, however will not break the bank compared to other similar units.
4.6 / 5 Stars
Best Value For Money Charcoal Smoker
The Weber Smokey Mountain 18.5 does a amazing job of producing quality smoked meals anywhere you want. The Weber 18.5 has a total cooking area of 481 square inches.
This cooking space would allow you to cook for around 20 people maximum however, if needed there is a larger model the Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5. Or if you need less cooking space there is also the 14 inch model.
In true Weber style they have built a very simple nit that includes only the necessary features. Including a steel barrel, two grills, a porcelain coated water and drip pan, and a charcoal grate.
Due to the design, the airflow is evenly distributed creating a constant cooking temperature. Weber have designed a air tight smoker, which is very important when cooking with charcoal.
Because of its size and quality it’s easy to transport. If you're constantly moving your smoker around with you, you want a quality product like the Weber 18.5.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is made of some quality steel, is built to last with 10 year guarantee. You’ll find yourself using this smoker for many years because of its durability and dependability.
Lets take a closer look at its main features and discover why it is the last of my picks for the best charcoal smoker.
As you can see the Weber Smokey Mountain is a smoker that is suited for everyone from a professional competition smoker to a first timer in the backyard. It is built in true Weber style and designed to last.
The two seperate cooking grates allow you to cook lots of food in quite a small space, even on the 14 inch model. For a smoker that lasts this long, performs this well and is backed up by such a decent warranty it is very underpriced in my opinion.
Do yourselves a favour and get one of these smokers. There are a tonne of online communities who get together and share their love, knowledge, recipes and tips and tricks about cooking with this smoker, which is great proof that this really is a fantastic unit.
4.8 / 5 Stars
If you enjoy the top-notch flavours of smoked meat, then you should be looking at a charcoal smoker. The charcoal smoker will give you most authentic smoked flavor to your food. But this comes at a with a little more work. You’ll have to start, watch, and dispose of your charcoal, just like you would with a charcoal grill.
With a charcoal smoker, you can add two levels different wood flavoring by burning flavored charcoal and wood chips together. This lets you mix and match woods to create delicious deep flavors as well get that converted smoke ring. The charcoal smoker is the choice of the gourmet smoking enthusiast.
If your on the hunt for the best charcoal smoker or grill for your budget you might have noticed that there are a lot of smoker and BBQ sites out there. Each will trying to to give you most accurate information. However, I have personally used all the charcoal smokers I have recommended above.
I want to give you all the most informative and in-depth reviews from first- hand experience to ensure you are cooking and eating like a king.
There are a few options when it comes to picking your charcoal either briquettes or hardwood lump. Some people are very wary of self-starting charcoal as it usually has lighter fluid additives, which will taint your food and is notoriously bad for the environment.
Briquettes generally use a natural, sugar-based binding agent that burns clean. The usually are a combination of charcoal, coal, starch (as a binder), sawdust, and sodium nitrate (to make it burn better) molded into easy-to-light lumps.
These are a good choice for your smoker, provided you get the cleanest versions possible.
Hardwood lump charcoal is actual pieces of wood that have been fired into charcoal., and there’s large variety of brands. With no fillers to burn, hardwood lump will produce a lot less ash than charcoal briquettes and it burns for about 20 minutes longer. It will also produce a much more flavorful smoke.
Something that is new is on the market is Coconut Charcoal. This is just charred coconuts shells pressed into cubes or rods. Its has a great almost sweet smell to it. It also produces very little ash and burns very evenly
I hope my picks and thoughts about the best charcoal smokers on the market right now helps you decide on your first unit. I want you to start off on the right foot on your smoking journey.
Smoking with charcoal brings us back to our roots, there is nothing more satisfying than sitting down to a big hunk of meat that was cooked using this method. It makes you feel like a caveman.
Smoking with charcoal is a little more difficult than other methods, however, in my eyes it is worth every minute of practice that goes into it.
Happy smoking everyone
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