The Smoker Grill – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

Best smoker grill

Smoker Grills

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you buy a smoker grill unit.

“How much do you want to spend?

Do you like using gas or would you prefer a charcoal grill?

Or would you prefer the ease of using an electric smoker?

Do you plan on cooking for huge backyard barbecues or just plan on making delicious, BBQ for your family.. ”

Charlie Reeves – Owner of Simply Meat Smoking

Their many different types of smokers out there, ranging from very cheap to very expensive. Some are fueled by gas and some are fueled by pellets.

Some just have a single gas burner and some have the newest geeky technology like WIFI connectivity. At best it can be confusing trying to decide what would be the best smoker or grill for you.

One thing you can be sure of is that the right smoker grill is somewhere out there for you. It could be a Camp Chef or it could be a Weber, but the most important thing is that it suits your personal grilling and smoking needs.

By questioning yourself and comparing the different smoker grills on the market with the help of Simply Smoked Meats. You can make a well-informed purchase and walk away with the perfect smoker grill for your needs.

inside our smoke hollow 30 in
Inside our Smoke Hollow 30 Inch Smoker

What Makes A Good Smoker Grill?

This is a question that I was asking myself for years.

After a lot of reading, cooking and eating I discovered something. There is not one specific thing that makes a good smoker.

There are 9 elements that come together to make a good smoker. Well, let’s call a combination of all 9 ‘the perfect smoker grill.’

Now I realize every smoker out there is not going to have all 9 elements. Therefore, the closer you can get to all 9 the closer you will come to having the perfect smoker.

In no particular order here are the 9 important elements to a good smoker and how you should think about each element before investing in a BBQ, grill or smoker.

  1. Cost: 
    The first thing you need to establish is your budget. You can spend anything from $100 to $20,000 on a BBQ, grill or smoker set up. Having an idea of what you want to spend will allow you to see what is in your price range and then you can take a closer look at the below 9 elements, see what is most important to you and then see how they fit into your budget.

2. Cooking Space: 
When looking at a BBQ, Grill or smoker one of the most important things is to decide what size you need. These are not 1 size fits all products. You need to consider how many people you are going to be cooking for, how much space you have available and if you will need to move it around once it is set up.

We would all love to have a brand new Coyote S-series 5-burner ; However, for most of us (sadly), that is just not a real-life option.

3. Construction: 
The materials your smoker grill is constructed from will play a big role in the quality, price, and longevity of the unit. A stainless steel grill might look impressive but if you are going to be storing and using the grill outside they can rust very easily.

Smoker grills that have a quality coat of paint or enameling last much longer in these conditions. Think about where you will be using your grill and decide what will work best for you.

4. Maneuverability: 
Is your grill going to stay in one place? or do you have a large outdoor area where you will be moving your smoker grill around depending on where you want to cook? Do you often go camping or fishing and like to take your cooking with you? Or are you the tailgating type who doesn’t go anywhere without your trusty grill?

You can get different models of smoker grills that come on wheels, poles, stands and even some that have adapters to fit onto the back of your car. Depending on what you want to do with your barbecue will play a big role in how much maneuverability you need with your grill.

5. Reliability: 
There is an old saying that goes ‘you get what you pay for’. Generally speaking, this is true for smoker grills. Of course, this is only a general rule of thumb and there are exceptions to this rule. Obviously not every cheap unit is going to be rubbish and not every expensive unit is going to be the best. But it is definitely something to keep I mind when you are looking at a unit, there is usually a reason why something is very cheap.

6. Cleaning:
 It is very important to keep your grill clean and tidy. A clean and tidy grill will produce better food, run at peak performance and last longer. Cleaning your grill can be a big job if you don’t keep on top of it. However, you can find grills that have easy cleaning features to make this job easy for you.At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you are with cleaning your grill. I find cleaning my smoker grill quite therapeutic and love taking it apart. So when buying a new grill I don’t go looking for how easy it is going to be to take apart and clean. I love tinkering around and putting things back together.

7. Temperature Range: 
The temperature range is something that you need to think about before looking into a new smoker grill. How do you plan on doing most of your cooking? Are you going to be cooking low and slow most of the time? Or would you prefer a versatile unit that you can cook low and slow, sear and even cook a pizza on?

8. Features:
 These days smoker grills are more than just a cooking grate over a wood fire. Features such as wifi, remote controls, automatic feeders, wheels, rotisseries, and multiple temperature gauges are common these days. Think about what you really need for your smoker grill before getting wowed by all the fancy features.

9. Fuel: 
A major thing to consider when buying a BBQ, grill or smoker is to consider what kind of fuel you want to run it. There are three main kinds. Gas/propane, pellets, charcoal and electric. Each different fuel has its own pros and cons. More on those below.

The Different Types of Smoker Grills

You will find there are 4 main types of smoker grills out there to choose from. Each one has a different main heat source.

This is good news, that means that there is a smoker out there to suit every different kind of cook out there. Each different smoker has different pros & cons, and also produces a different flavour.

Let’s explore each different type of smoker and why you might want each one. Here is an overview on how to use a smoker grill.

The four different types of smoker grills:

Charcoal Smoker Grills

If you want genuine, mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone tender smoked meat a charcoal smoker is the way to go.

Charcoal meat smokers don’t require gas or electricity and have less moving parts, which is fewer parts that could fail.

However, learning the art of building your fire and maintaining that optimal level of heat and air supply is a bit more tricky than the other methods of smoking. It takes practice but as you get better and better the results speak (taste) for themselves.

The Different Types of Charcoal Smoker Grill

There are three main types of charcoal smokers on the market.

  1. Drum or barrel charcoal smoker
  2. Bullet charcoal smoker
  3. Egg or Kamado charcoal smoker
  4. Offset charcoal smoker
  5. Cabinet charcoal smoker

Your needs, price range, and lifestyle will determine the best fit for you.

If your an aspiring amateur competition smoker then a cabinet style smoker is a perfect choice as it is well insulated, and the meat it produces is top quality.

Off-set smokers can be hit and miss. When purchasing an off-set smoker A high-quality unit with no leaks should be your top priority.

An absolute firm favorite for all charcoal enthusiast is the barrel or drum smoker
. They are really easy to use, really affordable and produce top-notch smoke flavors.

​​I have put together ​best ​charcoal smokers I have come across in my smoking career just for you.

Each style of charcoal smoker is slightly different, however, they all work off the same basic principle.

The Pros and Cons of Charcoal Smokers

Charcoal Smoker Pros

Charcoal is readily available year-round.

You can use charcoal in all weather and produce the same results.

Charcoal is a relatively cheap fuel.

Easily reach and maintain high temperatures.

Charcoal produces the best flavor out of all smokers.

Charcoal Smoker Cons

Charcoal can be a messy clean up.

Cooking with charcoal takes longer to learn and master.

Some apartments and buildings ban the use of cooking with charcoal.

It takes longer for the charcoal to come to temperature than other fuel types.

How To Use A Charcoal Smoker

Each style of charcoal smoker grill is slightly different, however, they all work off the same basic principle.

Here is a basic overview of how a vertical charcoal smoker works

  1. Light and heat you charcoal in a charcoal chimney starter.
  2. Place the hot coals inside your smoker.
  3. Place your wood chips or wood chunks on top of the hot charcoal.
  4. Add water, stock, beer, cider or juice to your water pan.
  5. Add your food onto your cooking grate.
  6. Place your lid on top of the smoker and tightly seal.
  7. Using your vents and thermometer regulate airflow to keep a consistent temperature inside the smoker.
  8. Try not to open your smoker for the first 1.5 hours. At this time open your smoker and check the internal temperature of your meat.
  9. When your meat is at temperature you are done!

The Best Charcoal Smoker

The Pit Barrel Cooker is one of the simplest designs on the market. It is what we call a barrel smoker.

It is essentially just a barrel with a few minor adjustments which makes a perfect smoker. The Pit Barrel smoker is lightweight so its perfect for tailgating, camping, fishing or just moving around the neighborhood.

The intense smokey flavor you get from this smoker is unlike anything I have ever come across. This charcoal smoker is for the serious smoke lover!

Classic Pit Barrel Cooker

Pellet Smoker Grills

Pellet smokers or more commonly known as pellet smoker grills. They help produce juicy, flavorful meat and veggies!

Due to the design of the pellet grill, many models come with a dedicated grilling option making it a very versatile multi-functional unit.

Of all the different smokers available on the market, pellet smokers could be recognized as one of the easiest to use. Some actually refer to this style of smoker as the cheater’s smoker they are so easy to use and produce great flavors form.

All you need to do is select your cooking temperature, and the pellet smoker has a temperature controller that maintains your selected temperature. No guess work on your end required.

A pellet smoker is a simple design, you start by feeding wood pellets into the pellet hopper which then goes through an automatic auger which feeds a fire pot. The temperature controller feeds pellets as needed to maintain the temperature you wanted. Therefore pellet smokers are a true ‘set & forget’ style of cooking.

You are able to change up your flavors and tastes very easily by simply buying different pellets.You might find that the pellet smokers can be a little pricey than other smokers however you don’t need to purchase the most expensive top of the line pellet grill, you can find quality highly affordable models on the market.

The Pros and Cons of Pellet Smokers

Pellet Smoker Pros

Pellet smokers are very versatile.

Easy to use and learn to cook with.

This style of smoker maintains a consistent temperature easily.

Easy to clean and maintain.

The perfect unit to set and forget.

Pellet Smoker Cons

Pellets can be difficult to find unless you buy offline.

The unit must be plugged in at all times to run the automatic auger.

Produce a lighter smoke flavor.

How To Use A Pellet Smoker

Most pellet grill smokers use the same basic principle. You simply load the hopper and set your temperature. Here is a basic overview on how a pellet smoker grill works.

  1. Plug in your pellet smoker and set too your preferred temperature and smoke mode.
  2. Make sure your auger is spinning and not blocked.
  3. Make sure that air is blowing out of your burner and things are starting to heat up.
  4. Make sure your grease pan, baffle and grill trays are all in the correct place.
  5. Fill your hopper right to the top with wood pellets.
  6. Close the lid and pre heat your smoker.
  7. When the smoker has come to temperature place your selected meat inside and close the lid.
  8. When your meat is at temperature you are done!

The Best Pellet Smoker Grill

The Daniel Boone ​Green Mountain Pellet Smoker is more than just a pellet smoker.

It is a versatile cooker that you can BBQ, grill or smoke with. It has a huge temperature range that allows you to cook low & slow or sear your favorite steak.

The wifi model allows you to control your entire cook from your smartphone, this is perfect for cooking in wintertime, entertaining or for when you would just rather be watching the game.

The Daniel Boone is a serious smoker for serious backyard cooks!

Daniel Boone Pellet Smoker

Gas and Natural Gas Smoker Grills

Gas smokers use propane or natural gas to heat the wood chips to produce smoke.

Gas smokers are another unit that is very easy to use and is perfect for the ‘set and forget’ style of cooking. Which for a lot of people out there is a much more convenient style of cooking.

No building a fire and tending it to all day here.The flavors from a gas smoker are very similar to what you get from other smokers, however, you get a better flavor than from electric smokers due to the combustion of fuel.

Gas smokers allow you to combine a level of high-level affordability with the effectiveness of producing great tasting food. It won’t produce the same type of smoke or flavor as the pellet or charcoal smokers, however, it does mighty well.

Gas smokers are for the smoker out there who wants a reliable, easy-to-use unit that can be switched on and automatically switched off when the food is cooked.

our smoke hollow gas smoker

The Pros and Cons of Gas Smokers

Gas Smoker Pros

If you are using a natural gas connection you never have to refuel.

Gas smokers maintain a consistent temperature easily.

Clean up is usually quick and easy.

A true ‘set and forget’ style of cooking.

Propane smokers are very portable.

Gas Smoker Cons

Switching propane bottles or running out of gas mid-smoke.

More parts that can break or wear out.

The cheaper units are usually low quality.

Gas smokers are not versatile – smokers are designed to smoke only.

How to Use a Gas Smoker

All gas grill smokers use the same basic principle. You simply turn on the gas and press the ignition button, set your desired temperature and you are good to go.

Here is a basic overview on how a gas smoker grill works.

  1. Top up your water pan with water, beer, cider, juice or stock.
  2. Connect your propane tank to your smoker. Open the valve.
  3. Open the main door and light your smoker following your manufacturers instructions.
  4. Once lit, set your desired temperature using the digital controller.
  5. Preheat for 10 – 20 minutes until your ideal smoking temperature has been achieved.
  6. Add your wood chips & or chunks to the wood chip tray above the propane burner.
  7. Continue with your pre heat until you notice a good amount of smoke being produced.
  8. Place your food on the cooking racks and shut the door tight.
  9. Check the water pan periodically throughout the cook to ensure your meat does dry out.
  10. Alternate UtensilsWhen your meat is at temperature you are done!

The Best Natural Gas Smoker

The Weber Genesis II LX 340. Why did I pick the Genesis II LX 340  as the best gas smokers?

Aside from Weber’s famous aesthetically pleasing looks and craftsmanship, the Genesis II LX 340 is a very solidly built unit with all of the key features you need to consistently deliver quality tasting smoked food.

It is easy to use and in my opinion a good gas smoker for both beginners and advanced pitmasters. It doesn’t matter if this is the first time you are smoking, or your 1000th time, the Genesis ii lx 340 is the perfect tool for the job.

Weber Genesis 340

Electric Smokers

Many people out there like to use electric smokers because they are easy to set up & start smoking with.

One big perk of using an electric smoker is you don’t have to worry about tending to the fire and don’t have to spend the whole night outdoors with it, you can spend your time entertaining guests, watching the game or hanging with loved ones.

Electric smokers are a great choice for beginners, as long as you have access to a power outlet close to your grilling area. Electric smoker grills also don’t require much maintenance, this is great for those of you out there who are new to the smoking world or are not too technically minded.

They usually come with an instruction manual with instructions for setting up, maintenance and use. Electric smokers allow you to get started smoking delicious meat almost instantly. Electric smokers come in small or large units which makes it great for just singles, couples or those throwing a big party.

You do have to add wood chips in order to produce smoke, however; you don’t have to worry about messy charcoal or dangerous gas. Many people prefer electric smokers because they don’t like burning fuel or dealing with gas. It could also be that the area you live in doesn’t allow it, such as an apartment.

The Pros and Cons of Electric Smoker Grills

Electric Smoker Pros

Electric smokers are easy to use.

You do not have to make a fire or deal with charcoal.

Cheap to run.

Set and forget style fo cooking.

Easy to control the temperature.

Can be used indoors.

Electric Smoker Cons

The most complex style of smoker with lots of technical parts.

Low cooking temperatures.

Electric smokers are not rain friendly.

You are limited for space. electric smokers are designed for smaller cooks.

How To Use and Electric Smoker

An electric grill smoker is very similar to a gas smoker. All electric smokers use the same basic principle. You simply turn the unit, select your temperature, load up your chips and you are smoking.

Here is a basic overview on how an electric smoker grill works.

  1. Plug your electric smoker into the wall socket.
  2. Turn the electric smoker on and select your desired temperature.
  3. Preheat for 10 – 20 minutes until your ideal smoking temperature has been achieved.
  4. Add in water, beer, cider, juice or stock into your water pan.
  5. Add your wood chips to the wood chip tray and slide into place.
  6. Continue with your pre heat until you notice a good amount of smoke being produced.
  7. Place your food on the cooking racks and shut the door tight.
  8. Check the water pan periodically throughout the cook to ensure your meat does dry out.

What Features to Look For in a Smoker Grill?

Each style of smoker grill requires slightly different must-have features, this is because they all have slightly different designs, parts, and cooking styles. In general, you will find that having the below features are going to make your life a whole lot easier.

If you have a smoker that is not small enough to be carried by yourself (and even if it is) having a smoker on wheels is going to make your life a lot easier. Having wheels allows you to move your smoker around your backyard, to the neighbor’s house or just to make moving the unit to the car a breeze.

Wheels are essential for larger pellet and charcoal smoker that you plan to move around often. For gas grills that are connected to natural gas, wheels are not necessary because you will not be moving the unit once is hooked up in place. If you have a unit that is on a stand wheels will also not be necessary.

A cover is very important. When your grill is kept outside a cover will help keep your smoker grill in tip top condition. If a grill is stored outside without a cover and it is exposed to the elements they can start to rust quite quickly.

Always invest in a good cover when you purchase your smoker. If you plan to transport your smoker a cover also works as padding while in transit. The last thing you want to happen while in transit is something fall onto your smoker damaging it. It is well worth investing in a decent cover, you want one that fits well, has padding and is made from a durable, waterproof material.

Side Table: 
Having workspace next to your unit is important if you have a unit that can be used as a grill. When grilling it is really handy to have space to store your trays, different cooking utensils and most importantly your beer.

If you have an electric or gas smoker this is not something that you should worry about as you will not be spending a lot of time standing around the unit when it is cooking.

Having storage shelves under the unit is handy to have. When you are cooking it is handy to have somewhere to store your cover, spare charcoal, fire lighters, and other equipment that you often need while cooking. Again this is not a feature you will need on a gas or electric smoker.

Secondary Racks:
Having secondary cooking racks can give you a huge amount of additional cooking space, on some units you can get up to an additional 40% of cooking space. This is most important with charcoal and pellet smokers, however, having the option for more racks or interchangeable racks in electric and gas smokers is handy depending on what you are cooking.

Sturdy handles are important. When moving your unit around you want to make sure that it is not going to break, warp or twist. Having sturdy handles make moving any unit a breeze. The last thing you want when moving your unit is to be thinking to yourself ‘uh-oh is this going to make it??

Large Hopper (Pellet Grill only): 
Essentially the bigger your hopper the longer you can leave the smoker to do its thing. If you have a pellet hopper around 18 – 20 litres you will get around 6 hours of cooking time before you need to refill the pellets again. A larger hopper will allow you to do low and slow cooks overnight without having to get up at midnight to refill the pellets.

Still Hungry For More?

Best Charcoal Smoker
Charcoal Smoker Buyers Guide and Reviews
Best Gas Smoker
Gas Smoker Buyers Guide and Reviews
Best Pellet Smoker Reviews
Pellet Smoker Buyers Guide and Reviews
Best Electric Smoker
Electric Smoker Buyers Guide and Reviews