Interested in purchasing a smoker grill? They give such a wonderful flavor to meats, compared to a traditional oven. Modern smokers have temperature controls so you don’t need to constantly hover and fiddle around the machine while cooking. A smoker with good timing and temperature controls will get your food smoked perfectly at the time you want it. Let’s find out about some of the most popular smokers on the market today.
This affordable smoker offers ample cooking space – 370 square inches spread out over two cooking grates. And yet it only measures 16 inches wide, so it’s great for a small space. If you need more cooking space, there is also the 20 inch version.
It has a consistent cooking temperature. Its innovative airflow system makes temperature regulation simple. And there is a temperature gauge built into the lid so you can monitor the smoker’s internal temperature while cooking. In addition, the dampers are numbered so you can easily remember the settings that work best for smoke and heat.
This smoker boasts a sturdy build, yet it is lightweight for portability. The cooking grates are porcelain-coated for durability. There are two chamber-lift handles for added convenience. There is a fire access door that seals the smoke chamber. The smoker stands on steel tube legs, which bring the device to a convenient height.
It is easy to assemble and operate. It is also effortless to clean. The ash pan is removable so you can quickly clean it after the fire is out. The steel body is rust-proof and porcelain-coated for quick clean up.
One drawback is the lid does not always seal properly. Also, this smoker does not come with a grill cover.
- Great for small space – only measures 16 inches wide
- Offers 370 square inches of cooking space over two grates
- Innovative airflow system makes temperature regulation simple
- Temperature gauge built into lid
- Two chamber-lift handles
- Ash pan is removable for easy clean up
- Lid does not always seal properly
- Does not come with grill cover
This smoker is a bit different in that it runs on propane gas. There are some advantages to this. First, cooking with propane means the smoker is not as dependent on vent adjustments to control the temperature. Also, you don’t have to add fuel in the middle of cooking.
It is perfect for cooking meats slowly. Use it to make brisket, ribs, and anything else.
The smoker measures 36 inches tall and boasts 784 square inches of cooking space distributed over four shelves. Despite its ample size, it actually only measures 19 inches wide, so it will fit in a small space.
The shelves are height-adjustable, so you can distribute different types and sizes of food.
The cast iron body is durable and attractive to look at. There is a top door which gives access to all the smoking racks, and a bottom door where you can reach the water tray and wood chip box. There is also a thermometer mounted to the door.
This smoker has a 15,000 BTU burner that you can ignite with a simple electronic push button and control with a large dial. The wood chip box is made of porcelain-enameled steel. The smoker has handles and a lid. There is a large capacity water bowl to ensure your meat comes out juicy and tender.
One drawback is the smoke box might not get smoky enough for your liking.
- Runs on propane, which makes temperature control easier
- Perfect for cooking meats slowly
- 784 square inches of cooking space distributed over four height-adjustable shelves
- Only measures 19 inches wide
- Two doors for access to different parts of the smoker
- Thermometer mounted in door
- Smoke box might not get smoky enough
This electric smoker allows excellent control of smoking temperature and timing. It monitors timing and temperature using digital controls that can be operated by remote control. You can relax inside while having complete control over the smoking. It is a very convenient way to get your grilling and smoking done.
The cooking chamber is large enough to hold up to 12 whole chickens, 24 burgers, or four rib racks at one time, spread out over four chrome-coated shelves. Although it is roomy, it is only 19 inches wide, so it will fit in a compact space.
It has a wood chip system that loads from the side, so you can put in more wood without disrupting the temperature in the cooking chamber. The fully insulated smoker body is very good at retaining heat. The water pan is large enough to allow smoking for a long time.
This smoker is somewhat portable, too. It comes on a set of wheels in the rear and has a large handle which enables you to move it around your backyard quite easily. You just have to make sure it is placed near an electrical outlet or extension cord.
One drawback is it does not produce as much smoke as other brands. Also, the digital controls are hard to see in direct sunlight.
- Monitors timing and temperature using remote control digital display
- Large enough to cook 12 whole chickens at once
- Four chrome-plated shelves
- Wood chip loading system doesn’t disrupt cooking process
- Fully insulated body and large water pan
- Has wheels and large handle for portability
- Does not produce as much smoke as other brands
- Digital controls are hard to see in direct sunlight
This electric smoker has been around since the early 1980s and remains mostly unchanged because it was built well in the first place. It has a retro, utilitarian appearance. It was originally designed to smoke trout and salmon but is great with any kind of meat.
It is particularly effective at maintaining a constant low temperature, around 165 degrees Fahrenheit, for consistent smoking results. It can smoke up to 50 pounds of meat at one time.
This durable unit is made of embossed aluminum. The chrome-plated grill shelves slide in easily.
It is a front load unit with a small separate door to pull out the pan, so you won’t compromise the smoking process while replacing wood chips. It comes delivered with a bag of wood chips in a hickory flavor.
It is engineered for excellent ventilation, smoke circulation, and appropriate dehydration. This allows an excellent smoky flavor and texture every time.
This smoker is easy to clean and the drip pan is dishwasher safe. It is easy to store away and does not take up much space.
One drawback is, if you want to smoke bigger, thicker meats, you will need to move the meat to an oven or grill after smoking it in the Big Chief. Also, the heating element is not temperature-adjustable.
- Effective at maintaining a constant low temperature
- Can smoke up to 50 pounds of meat at one time
- Front load unit with a small separate door to pull out the pan
- Engineered for excellent ventilation, smoke circulation, and dehydration
- Chrome-plated grill shelves slide in easily
- Drip pan is dishwasher safe
- After smoking thicker meats, you may have to continue cooking in an oven or grill
- Heating element is not temperature-adjustable
This affordable electric grill and smoker uses wood pellets, which are considered the most flavorful way to smoke meat. Wood pellets are also less messy than charcoal. They burn cleanly and provide a perfect smoky taste. You can smoke, grill, roast, braise, or BBQ with this unit.
It is compact, lightweight, and portable. It is perfect to keep on your balcony or take to a tailgate party or camping.
The cooking space is a bit smaller than other smokers, at about 300 square inches, but it is enough to cook 12 burgers or two whole chickens.
It is convenient to smoke with. It has easy to use digital controls with five temperature settings to a maximum of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also a meat probe and a keep-warm setting.
This smoker has an electric auto-start ignition and an auger system that feeds the wood pellets into the fire for you. Just make sure the hopper is full and this grill will take care of everything else. The pellet hopper holds up to eight pounds.
It is easy to store away indoors if you need to. The legs fold flat to make it more compact during storage.
One drawback is there is some inconsistency in temperature throughout the cooking process.
- Uses wood pellets, considered the most flavorful way to smoke meat
- Compact, lightweight, and portable; perfect for a balcony or tailgate party
- Can cook 12 burgers or two whole chickens at one time
- Has easy to use digital controls with five temperature settings
- Electric auto-start ignition
- Has auger system that feeds the wood pellets into the fire
- Some inconsistency in temperature throughout cooking process
What to Look For When Buying a Smoker Grill
Now that you have seen some of the most popular smoker grills on the market today, let’s take a look at what you need to consider when buying one of your own.
Type of smoker
Your choices include charcoal, wood pellet, propane gas, or electric smokers. Each have their own pros and cons, as discussed below. In general though, electric smokers are most convenient but can be lacking in flavor. Wood pellet smokers are clean and provide the most tasty cut of meat, with charcoal as a close second. Propane smokers provide flavor and they can be convenient because you don’t have to change up any charcoal or wood pellets. Propane smokers also tend to be less expensive.
Think about the people you plan to use the smoker to cook for. Will it usually be a small nuclear family or a large party? This will help determine the size of smoker you should buy and the capacity of meat it can hold.
Temperature control is very important. You want to be able to present your meal hot and perfect at the time you intended. Look for a unit that has easy to use temperature controls. Some brands even offer remote control or WiFi-enabled controls.
Some wood pellet smokers and all electric smokers also have a thermostat. Alternately, you can find a third party thermostat to add onto your smoker.
Make sure your unit is known to provide even heating. The temperature should be the same at the top as at the bottom.
Also check the temperature range. Some units are built for slow cooking at a low heat. Others can reach high temperatures and/or have a wide temperature range. The wider the range, the more versatile the unit. However, if you are partial to slow cooking, choose a device that sticks to low heat.
If you are looking for a wood or charcoal smoker, check out the dampers. You use these to control heat by cutting back on oxygen. Make sure the dampers are easy to reach and operate and that they make a tight seal when closed.
Make sure the components you need are accessible while smoking. If you are buying a charcoal or wood smoker, the firebox should be easy to reach and open. The box for chips, chunks, or pellets should be within easy access. And of course you should be able to easily reach your food while it is smoking, and check its temperature. In general, front loading smokers offer easier access to shelves of food than top loaders.
Look for a unit that is made of thick steel. This material absorbs heat well and distributes it evenly around the cooking area. It controls temperature fluctuations. It insulates and seals.
Also look for a unit that has doors and dampers that close well so they do not leak out heat or smoke. This type of unit will have more stable temperature and more manageable smoky flavor. Leaky smokers tend to have unpredictable results.
Look for a brand that is known for durability and workmanship. See if the paint is waterproof and rustproof, and is known to stay that way.
Safety is very important of course, especially if you have kids or pets. Make sure any electrical parts are safe from the outdoor elements. Check if the wheels lock. Also check out the handles. They need to stay cool. Stainless steel handles are a good choice because they disperse heat and remain cool to touch. Wood handles tend to disintegrate.
There are lots of other features to consider when buying a smoker grill. Here are a few examples:
- Wheels for portability
- Tool hooks
- Extra racks
- Deflector plates to help tune heat distribution
- Baskets to hold charcoal
- Removable drip pan
Consider the plethora of options available on the market today, and then make a list of the features you would like to see in a smoker grill. By reviewing your options and comparing pros and cons, you will be sure to find the brand that works best for you and your family.