Best 5 Charcoal Smokers (May 2017) – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

The gold standard for barbecue smokers is a charcoal smoker. Though charcoal smokers are not much easy to use, they are able to give any kind of meat a truly delicious flavor. However, properly using a charcoal grill with smoker requires some practice. Continuous monitoring of the fuel and air is necessary to get that perfect taste. There is a large variety of charcoal smokers in the market and simply stating one as the best charcoal smoker is not easy. Nevertheless, we have rounded up the 5 best smoker grills presently available in the market to help you know what to expect when you start searching for the best charcoal smoker for you.

1. Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain

best charcoal smokerIf you are looking for a charcoal smoker grill that offers a large cooking area with a host of other features, the Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain should be one of the top choices in your list. With dimensions of 26.50 x 34 x 26.5 inches, it offers a total cooking area of 726 inches spread across 2 plated steel cooking grates. This is the best charcoal smoker in terms of durability and quality of construction. Its lid and bowl are made of porcelain enamel, which makes them durable and gives them a high degree of heat-retention capability. This means nothing else but a faster, energy efficient and more effective cooking experience.

Every charcoal BBQ smoker must have an efficient heat control mechanism and Weber provides it wonderfully with the 731001 Smokey Mountain. This smoker has 4 dampers- 1 on the top and 3 more on the bottom. All these dampers have air vents and possess rust-resistant qualities. The smoker also has 2 handles made of glass-reinforced iron. This material makes the grill easy to handle and adds heat-resistant properties to the handles of it, which means that they do not get hot no matter what the temperature of the grill may be.

Unlike most charcoal BBQ smokers, assembling this one is not a tough task and it never takes more than 20 to 30 minutes. One of the most complicated tasks while using a wood smoker is adding charcoal or wood in the midst of the cooking process. But Weber has taken care of this issue properly by providing users with wider doors that make adding wood or charcoal simpler to avoid any heat loss while doing so. Furthermore, to keep a better track of the temperature, there is a built-in thermometer in the Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain that eliminates the need of buying an additional thermostat.

Cleaning the Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain is an easy process, as its bottom pan has an ash catch pan that makes catching and throwing out ash easier. The rest of its surfaces can be cleaned with a damp cloth without requiring any special cleaning agent.

Key Features

  • 2 plated steel cooking grates
  • Total cooking are of 726 square inches
  • 4 rust-resistant dampers with individual air vents
  • Glass-reinforced nylon handles that are heat-resistant for easier movement
  • Ash catcher pan to make the cleaning process easier
  • Built-in temperature gauge

Pros

  • Large cooking area
  • Dampers with air vents for better temperature management
  • Heat-resistant handles that make it portable
  • Easy cleaning and maintenance

Cons

  • Temperature indicator may not be accurate sometimes
  • Not perfect for beginners

2. Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker

best charcoal smokerFor those who want the best charcoal smoker to cook for a small group of people, the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-inch Charcoal Smoker is surely an ideal choice. The fact that Weber has 2 of its products in this list of the best charcoal smoker grills surely says a lot about what its products have to offer. With dimensions of 41 x 19 x 21 inches, this charcoal smoker has a cooking area of 281 square inches spread across 2 plated steel cooking grates. To make temperature management effective and easy, this Smokey Mountain has 4 dampers made of aluminum. These dampers are rust-resistant, which adds to the overall durability of the smoker.

The uniqueness of the brand Weber lies in the quality construction that it gives to all its charcoal smokers. The Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker comes with a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl that ensure efficient cooking and durability. This smoker also has a built-in temperature control system that can help users keep track of the present temperature levels and make adjustments as required. The smoker has a water pan made of porcelain enamel for distributing steam to keep the meat moist and tender. Furthermore, the cooking grates of this smoker are also highly durable due to the heavy-duty plated steel used for making them.

Despite of its huge size, the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker is highly portable and easy to move around, as it has rust-resistant glass-reinforced nylon lid handle. This means that you do not have to worry about the smoker being too hot to move it around since the handle is resistant to heat. Weber displays utmost trust in providing quality products, which is evident by the long-term warranties backing all its products. This smoker has a 10-year warranty on its bowl, lid and center ring. The plastic components as well as the One-Touch™ System are covered by a 5-year warranty and there is a 2-year warranty on all of its other parts as well. Along with all these, all the parts of it also have a no rust/burn through guarantee.

Key Features

  • 2-Steel plated cooking grates
  • 481 square inches of cooking area
  • 4 Aluminum rust-resistant dampers
  • Glass-reinforced heat-resistant handle
  • Porcelain enameled charcoal chamber and water pans

Pros

  • Strong and durable construction
  • Large cooking area of 481 square inches
  • Effective and rust-resistant dampers
  • Portable
  • Built-in thermometer

Cons

  • No side handles for easy movement
  • Thermometer is not much accurate, readings can vary as much as  15 degrees 

3. Pit Barrel Cooker Package

best charcoal smokerThe Pit Barrel Cooker Package is one of the pioneers of charcoal smoker. While this smoker may not be a latest model, it surely gets the job done and has a lot to offer to every smoke-meat lover. The first benefit of having the Pit Barrel Cooker Package is the versatility of cooking options it offers. It has a steel grate that lets the package to be used as a grill and allows the users to take advantage of the greater’s depth and temperature control. This grill is perfect for searing steaks and cooking at higher temperatures with the lid removed. Additionally, keeping the lid on, you can add an extra depth to pizza, fish and even cookies.

The PBC uses steel together with porcelain enamel coating to give the smoker a durable and long-lasting structure. It is suitable for cooking large quantities of food and you can hang as many as 2 full-sized gobblers in it at once! The steel grate has a diameter of 17.5”, large enough for almost anything that you may want to cook in it. With 8 pounds of charcoal, the PBC will last for around 2 hours.

Another unique feature of the Pit Barrel Cooker Package is the trademarked “Hook-N-Hang” method that no other charcoal smoker has. In this method, any type of meat can be hung inside the smoker’s center. This allows an even cooking and thus lets the taste spread across the meat evenly. As the juices drip down the coal, the smoke-fog created helps in providing better taste in the meat. The Hinged Cooking Grate allows you to hang as well as grill at the same time. This helps you save money on coal costs, cook faster and make delicious food that has a mixture of your favorite flavors. The PBC can be used for cooking multiple types of meat at once, including fish. All of these features have come together to make it one of the best charcoal smokers available in the market.

Key Features

  • 5” diameter cooking grate
  • Can be used for searing and grilling
  • Hook-N-Hang™ method for better flavor infusion
  • Porcelain enamel coating with durable steel construction
  • Simple cleaning and maintenance

Pros

  • Can be used for cooking a large variety of meats
  • Requires no assembly
  • Large cooking grate
  • Even distribution of heat for better cooking
  • Light and portable

Cons

  • Temperature maintenance is not easy
  • Hanging the meat in the PBC is a bit inconvenient

4. Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill

best charcoal smokerA portable charcoal smoker grill can make any travel or outing a delight, as you can cook delicious meat whenever you want. This is where the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill shines to give you the best in cooking and smoking meats. The cooking system of this grill employs a steel-charcoal grate along with porcelain-enameled lid and bowl. This makes the grill energy efficient and helps it cook food faster with better taste. It offers a total cooking area of 147 square inches with dimensions of 17 x 14.25 x 14.5 inches. The grill has a glass-reinforced nylon handle that helps in making the grill portable. With this handle, you can carry the grill with you anywhere you want.

For any charcoal grill, having an efficient temperature control mechanism is the most vital aspect of creating evenly cooked and delicious food. This is why the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill comes with 2 rust-resistant dampers made of aluminum. These dampers not only offer an effective and precise temperature control, but are also highly durable and add to the overall lifespan of the grill. Both the dampers have individual vents that are also rust-resistant and made of aluminum.

When it comes to finding the best charcoal smoker from a portability point of view, it is important to ensure that its cleaning and maintenance tasks are not too much of a hassle. The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill has an aluminum ash catcher that makes the cleaning process relatively simpler and hassle-free. Its heavy-duty cooking grate made of steel is also easy to clean.  The total weight of this portable grill is around 10 pounds, which is perfect for loading it in your SUV and taking it with you even on the longest of trips. It can cook up to 9 burgers at a time, which should be sufficient for family picnics and outings. As far as the cooking area of the grill is concerned, the only downside is that there is no side burner or secondary working area on the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill.

Key Features

  • Total grilling area of 165 square inches, weighing 10 pounds
  • Can cook up to 9 burgers at a time
  • Quality construction with heavy-duty steel
  • Porcelain coating on lid and bowl
  • No-rust aluminum ash catcher and vents

Pros

  • Portable and lightweight
  • Easy cleaning and maintenance
  • Lid and bowl are rust-and corrosion-resistant
  • Vents make managing temperature easier

Cons

  • Does not have wheels
  • Tracking the internal temperature is hard


5. Primo 774 Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill

best charcoal smokerAlthough most grills are made of heavy-duty steel, the Primo 774 Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill is one that redefines what the best quality charcoal smokers can be made of. As the name suggests, the Primo 774 is made of ceramic and according to the manufacturer, it is the best ceramic cooker for using outdoors. It has a total working area of 360 square inches, including the rack extensions. However, the primary cooking space is 210 square inches. It has dimensions of 24 x 22 x 16 inches. The grill comes with a cast-iron chimney cap, reversible cooking grates, a built-in thermometer and a lower-vent door that is made of stainless steel.

The Primo 774 grill is one of the most versatile charcoal smoker grills currently available in the market. It can be used for cooking steaks, fish, pizzas, chicken, turkey, pork, vegetables and a lot more. It can be used for both smoking as well as grilling while maintaining the desired temperature. The heat is evenly distributed on the entire surface of the grill, thus helping to cook delicious meats. One of the first things that customers ask about the Primo 774 Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill is the advantage of having ceramics in a charcoal smoker grill. With ceramics, the grill gets a greater degree of strength than its steel counterparts. Along with that, it also has better moisture retention and temperature control capabilities. In this ceramic smoker grill, the temperature range goes from 95ºF to 750ºF, which is more than sufficient for excellently searing meat the way you want. It retains temperatures more easily and efficiently than any other grill, thus making it the perfect choice for those who are just getting started on smoking meats.

Primo has introduced a flush-rack design for this drill to maximize the total grilling surface. It is also easy to light it up that does not take too much time. The grilling surface is optimized and comes with reversible racks that make it possible for you to grill food at varying intensities. It is also fuel-efficient and utilizes coal better than most other grills. Primo backs up this grill with a 20-year warranty on all of its ceramic parts.

Key Features

  • Primary cooking area of 210 square inches
  • Cooking area can be expanded to 360 square inches with extensions
  • Temperature range from 210 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit
  • High-quality ceramic construction
  • 20-year warranty on all ceramic parts

Pros

  • Large and expandable cooking area
  • Durable construction
  • Maintains temperature effectively
  • Fuel efficient

Cons

  • No digital controls/display
  • Heavy and hard to move around


Although it might be hard to say as to which is the best charcoal smoker presently available in the market, this roundup of the best smoker grills should help you identify the one that would suit your requirements best. If you make an informed decision, you will be sure to find the best charcoal grill and smoker for enjoying the most delicious meat that you have ever had!