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.
Many people enjoy the simplicity of building a fire and not having to worry about any mechanically moving parts to break or fail on you. 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. 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 BBQ!
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 the price your comfortable with (not to mention produces bloody tasty food).
Let's get started (and smoking).
My Top 3 Charcoal Smokers For 2018
Pit Barrel Cooker
Broil King Keg
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
21 x 21 x 31.1 in
41 x 27.5 x 47 in
1-year limited warranty
10 years warranty on the main body and two years on everything else
10-year limited warranty
Why Should You Buy a Charcoal Smoker?
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.
Need Help Picking A Charcoal Smoker?
If your on the hunt for a new smoker or grill 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 below.
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
My Top 3 Charcoal Smokers
Meet our favourite charcoal smoker... 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. It’s basically it is a 30 gallon/18-gauge steel drum.
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)
What makes this unit so unique is that it gives you the ability to hang your meat. We have been able to fit in EIGHT racks of ribs at once.
One of it top design features is that because as the meat hangs vertically, it consistency bastes itself with it own juice. Believe us, it makes a world of difference.
So we have talked it up (but no joke we love it). Lets find out if this is the best charcoal smoker for you!
- Height: 36 inches
- Width: 25 inches
- Weight: 57 lbs
Simply Yet Strong Design
What really makes the Pit Barel stand out from the crowd is the highly effective design. We found that it basically a 35-gallon vertical barrel that was constructed using strong sturdy steel. It pretty much built like a tank.
Less Room for Error
Unlike most other smokers which are a horizontal shaped barrel, you don’t run the risk of burning your meat one side and under cooking the other side.
Top Notch Design
This where The Pit Barrel Cooker design excels. It that allows the heat to circulate in a whirlwind manner while evenly cooking all parts of the meat.
The hook system also allows you to cook more. When you hang meat vertically rather than laying it out you can easily fit eight racks of ribs or two pork butts.
Not only that we got a strong smoke penetration due to the constant dripping on the coals.
Versatile Grilling Options
This smoker also comes with a steel grill grate. So you don’t have to hang everything. We have cooked pizza, salmon and wings on this grate. We also like that you can control the temperature by positioning this grate higher or lower.
Ideal Air Circulation
This Pit Barrel has been designed really well for air circulation. The unit also comes with a stand to sit on, keeping it elevated. You don’t need to worry about the level of ventilation you're getting or if the wet ground will affect your cook.
One Man Portability
If you have ever moved a smoker, you know it not a one-man job. This is why this is one of the best charcoal smokers, wait for it, scratch that try best smokers on the market.
I managed to get this unit in the car by myself, and it was super easy. It would definitely fit in any size car from a Corolla to an SUV.
What I Liked
What I Didn't Like
I'm already out a limb and have declared it one of the best charcoal smokers out there. If your looking for charcoal flavours, simplicity, top quality results and mid of the pack price. This is your smoker.
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.
5 / 5 Stars
You know when a something has been changed in over 40 years it must be bloody good!
Smokey Mountain first introduced the Smokey Mountain Cooker back in 1981, over the years it been a tad refined with improvements and features.
We found it is simple to use, easy to maintain temperature for hours and is capable of producing some of the best smokey flavours I have eaten.
It’s a favourite amongst first timers as well as seasoned professionals (it's even used in competition around the world).
For what it can produce and the quality of the construction its no wonder they have been among the best charcoal smokers for the past 40 years.
Let's see if this is the smoker you have been searching bloody everywhere for!
- Height: 41 inches
- Width: 18 inches
- Weight: 39.07 lbs
Hold Temperature Perfectly
This unit was able to maintain a slow, steady heat for a long period of time.
Required Very Little Attention
We little that since we had to go we didn’t have to stand by watching it the perfect smokey flavour.
Expensive Cooking Space.
With over square inches, we need never ran out of room when cooking for our friends and family
Strong & Sturdy Construction
This unit is super durable, lid, bowl and water pan are all constructed using porcelain-enamel. This material is known for lasting capabilities especially when left out in the elements uncovered.
Perfect Smoke Ring
We found it really effective at creating the perfect smoke ring each time.
What I Liked
What I Didn't Like
We should have guessed that this would be another glowing review for Weber. It’s perfectly designed and built which allows it to maintain temperatures consistently and made smoking for us super easy. They are almost perfect for both beginners and veterans, alike.
4.5/ 5 Stars
The Broil King Keg 5000 is another high-quality charcoal smoker for a very decent price. It has 255 square inches of cooking space. It has a unique kamado-style design (which is a traditional Japanese wood or charcoal stove)
We 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 in between them.
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.
Let's see if unique yet highly efficient charcoal smoker is for you.
Strong Construction = Long & Strong Temperatures
The two layers of baked enamel steel have a layer of high temperature, oven grade insulation in between them. Using this type of material means we were able to hold a temperature 250 degrees 2 hours after I had closed down the lid and smothered out the fire.
Super Efficient With Fuel
The efficiency of this smoker means you don’t need much charcoal to fire the grill but will still be able to reach temperatures up to 800 degrees F. if you want to do some low and slow barbecue cooking you don’t have ration the charcoal. Just keep the vents nearly closed to hold a temperature around 225 degrees F.
Huge Cooking Area
18-inch diameter primary cooking surface (255 square inches) with a 16 inch diameter secondary grate (201 square inches)
Easy to Transport
Transporting the Broil King Keg wasn’t a problem but comes standard with a trailer hitch mounting so you take it camping, fishing or to neighbours cookout.
Listens to Customers
After some customer feedback we noticed that Broil King has made a number of modifications. They eliminated most of the problems people were having with the unit.Such as replace many rivets with stainless ones, this greatly reducing the rusting issues that were evident with earlier versions.
What I Liked
What I Didn't Like
We found this unit to loaded with features as well constructed of the of the highest quality materials available. If want something that will last you for years and years this is the unit for you.
4. 5 Stars
Factors to Consider
You want to ensure that the charcoal smoker has thick metal, insulation and high-quality seals. Thick steel ensures heat and smoke is distributed evenly. Have high-quality seal ensures you don’t any leaks. If you have leaking heat or smoke it’s extremely hard to maintain a correct temperature.
The grills should sit solidly on the supports. so there is no danger of them falling when loaded with a lot of heavy meat.
Prices for charcoal smokers can vary from $100 to $15,000. Unless you’re looking to compete, a drum or barrel smoker is perfect. There has been cases of people winning professional competitions with them.
Ease of Use
Some features you might want to look for to ensure the ease of use include; the smoke box having an access door so adding more wood or charcoal isn’t a problem. Making sure the water bowls is accessible during cooking as your don’t want your meat to dry out.
A large charcoal smoker should have wheels to make it possible to move it around.
A good thermometer is almost a necessity. Most smoker usually come with a cheap thermometer, which is usually inaccurate. Invest in a really good thermometer and start excelling with your charcoal smoker.
What’s The Best Charcoal to Use In A Smoker?
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
How A Charcoal Smoker Works