You too can do it; all you need is the best smoker for beginners, then follow the instructions on how to use your smoker, and you will have that smoky food you always wanted all along. If you're new to the world of BBQ and smoking, you want an easy-to-learn smoker that will still give excellent results. You can smoke meat, fish, chicken and even cheese or burgers. Besides, having an easy-to-learn model will give you the courage to learn more recipes. On that note, in this guide to the best smokers for beginners, we review and recommend the selection of the best easy-to-use and efficient models on the market.
What is a Smoker?
A smoker is a device for cooking at low temperatures in a controlled, smoky cooking surface for smoking food. Besides, it is a piece of cooking apparatus for making barbecue. There are different types of smokers that we will discuss in detail later on. With a smoker, you're supposed to maintain a constant smoking temperature of about 110 degrees C/ 225 degrees F, and there should always be smoke.
To use a smoker, prepare your food, light your charcoal, pellets, plug into a power source, turn on your propane smoker, and add some wood chips into the pan. Now, wait for the recommended temperature, which is 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, set your food, cover the food with a lid and wait. Smoking takes about six to eight hours. However, larger pieces of meat such as brisket can take even up to 24 hours to smoke.
Now that we understand what a smoker is and how it works check out the best smokers for beginners.
Which is the best smoker for beginners?
1. Masterbuilt 30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker, MB20071117
- Digital panel controls on/off, cooking temperature and time
- Electric Smoker dimensions – 20.47" W x 19.88" L x 33.26" H | Max temperature setting...
- Patented side wood chip loading system allows you to add wood chips without opening door
- Thermostat-temperature control for even, consistent smoking
- Fully-insulated body retains heat
When you come across electric smokers, the main advantage that stands out is that they offer a hassle-free smoking experience. Without a doubt, the Masterbuilt 30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker is not exceptional. Whether you are a newbie or a professional, you will enjoy using this smoker to smoke your meat with ease. As a 30" smoker, it can hold huge volumes of meat for smoking. With that said, you can cook as many as two turkeys, six chickens or four ribs or butts.
All you have to do is plug the unit into a power source, set the meat to cook and forget all about it until you have the delicious meat you have been waiting for. Besides, the smoker features a loader with a patented design to use when adding wood chips. It allows you to add the wood chips without opening the smoker's door. So if you want to refuel, you can easily do it without distracting the smoking process.
You can opt for an electric smoker since it will still give you the ideal smoky flavor, and you won't need to struggle with charcoal. Besides, the digital control panel will make everything easier.
2. Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker, 17202004
- Insulated, double-wall construction. Wattage-750
- Advanced control panel with easy-read, blue LED display
- Removable food thermometer
- Glass door and stainless steel, dual-tone finish
- Large, stainless steel locking latch for smoke-tight seal
Check out the Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker if you're looking for the best electric smoker for beginners. Though smoking enthusiasts prefer charcoal smokers, this model will prove that electric smokers are also the best models in their way. This smoker is uniquely designed to make smoking delicious meat a hassle-free cooking process. Besides, one of the primary advantages of this smoker is that it's powered by electricity, meaning you don't have to compromise with smoked flavor.
This smoker comes with a chamber that allows you to add four cups of wood chips meaning that the unit works as an advanced wood smoker, and the meat you cook in the smoker will turn out to be great every time, with discernible smokiness. Additionally, the smoker knows how to lock in the deliciousness with the double insulated walls. So, the construction usually traps heat inside while cooking and makes the meat taste smoky.
You don't have to refuel this smoker for 7 whole hours though you will still get a lot of smoke. Besides, its innovative control panel with an LED display and a glass door makes cooking even easier.
3. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, 18-inch
- Material Type: Steel
- The Weber Smokey Mountain charcoal smoker helps you achieve an authentic smokehouse flavor...
- It can accommodate a whole turkey and an entire ham at the same time. Item weight- 39.1...
- Made of porcelain-enameled steel, this smoker comes with 2 nickel-plated 18-1/2-inch-wide...
- Includes a water pan, thermometer, individual vents on bowl and lid, and heat-resistant...
If you're looking for the best charcoal smoker to start with, count on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. This vertical smoker comes with a smart design that you will like. It weighs less than 40 pounds and stands 41 inches tall. In addition, the vertical charcoal smoker features porcelain enameled steel cooking grates with all-metal construction enhancing durability. Besides, this charcoal smoker is well designed to be used by a beginner or a professional in BBQ competitions. Therefore if you read the guideline manual carefully, you will succeed with your initial attempt, though it might take a while to master the finer aspects of smoking various types of meats.
You will definitely like this Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker takes very little space though you can fit a lot of meat inside. Also, if you need to add more fuel while still smoking your food, the side-mounted door allows you to do it effortlessly. Additionally, the smoker features a built-in thermometer and well-designed air ventilation, making it easy to monitor and control the cooking temperature.
Apart from the 18-inch model, Weber also makes two additional sizes; a 14-inch smokey mountain cooker and a 22-inch smokey mountain cooker. The 14-inch smokey mountain cooker model has cooking grates on the small side for smoking applications. It's an ideal charcoal smoker for a chicken or pork shoulder, though anything larger will not fit. Conversely, if you have a large family or like hosting BBQ parties, the 22-inch model is big enough to meet your needs. Also, this 18-inch smokey mountain will serve you too.
4. Traeger Grills Pro Electric Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker, Series 34
- Never use gas or charcoal again: cooking with wood just tastes better. Traeger created the...
- Versatile barbecue cooking: hot and fast, or low and slow, the Traeger Pro Series 34...
- Precision temperature control: The Digital Pro Controller rocks Advanced Grilling Logic,...
- Sturdy and Durable: Powerful steel construction and durable powder coat finish, easy to...
- Large cooking capacity: 884 sq. in. cooking capacity that can accomodate 8 chickens, 7...
Traeger Grills Pro Electric Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker usually runs on electricity and comes with a smart PID system that monitors your smoking process and self-feeds woodchucks when the temperature drops. The smoker comes with a large cooking area and has a sturdy construction. The good thing with an electric pellet smoker is that it usually takes all the assumptions completely. Just set it to the desired temperature, add some wood chunks to the hopper and walk away knowing that your meat is in good hands.
The smoker features a bronze barrel-top hood, and it sits on a strong cart with rolling wheels for easy movement. It usually provides 884 sq. inches of cooking space; enough room for the whole family and a group of friends. Besides, this is a 5-in-1 smoker allowing you to smoke, roast, bake, braise and BBQ all on one unit. Plus, it takes virtually all the assumptions out of the equation, making it one of the best smokers for beginners.
5. Kamado Classic Joe 18" Charcoal Grill, KJ23RH
- Divide & Conquer Flexible Cooking System transforms the humble grill grate into the most...
- Control Tower Top Vent lets you control air flow for precise temperature control. Perfect...
- With a slide-out drawer, cleanup is easy. Unlike other Kamado style grills, you no longer...
- Stainless Steel Cooking Grates
- Built-in Thermometer
Most charcoal smokers are mainly designed for smoking. However, you won't mind having a unit that allows you to smoke, grill and bake that's the Kamado Classic Joe 18" Charcoal Smoker. Kamado smokers are popular since they maintain moderate low and searing hot temperatures making them great options. You can grill burgers and bake pizza just like you would on a regular gas grill. Besides, the smoker comes with a two-tier cooking system and an 18-inch cooking surface. The cooking system design allows you to cook different foods on one cooking surface at the same time.
Furthermore, this Kamado smoker is designed from a blend of ceramic and stainless steel, enhancing its durability. Ceramic is a good heat conductor and won't rust or corrode over long. So though this smoker is pricier for beginners, it is designed to last decades and decades. Conversely, the smoker has a unique acorn-style body that sits on a strong car with two all-terrain wheels. Also, the smoker features tool hooks and two side tables which is rare for other beginner smokers.
The smoker is versatile; you can bake bread, fish, cheese and sausage, as well as grill up burgers and brats. However, Kamado Joe is more expensive than other smokers for beginners.
6. Cuisinart Vertical Propane Smoker, COS-244
- 5. 45 SQUARE FEET OF INTERIOR: The spacious 5. 45 square foot interior means there is...
- Product Dimensions: 19.3" L x 18.1" W x 38.6" H | Weight: 69.5 lb
- FOUR 14 X 14-INCH REMOVABLE STAINLESS STEEL SHELVES: Four stainless steel racks can be...
- BUILT-IN THERMOMETER: Features easy-to-read thermometer on the front door for accessible...
- TOTAL TEMPERATURE AND SMOKE CONTROL: An adjustable gas supply gives control over the...
Since it's all about personal preference, you can opt for a propane smoker; the Cuisinart Vertical Propane Smoker. The smoker is cabinet-styles, allowing you to load in a lot of food. It's 36 inches in size and has a 5.45 sq. feet of cooking area on four cooking racks. However, you can move the racks to suit your demands. Therefore, if you smoke something big like a turkey, you can remove a few racks.
The smoker weighs about 40pounds and stands 46 inches high. You might think that it's a large appliance, but it will occupy a minimal amount of space. The unit has an adjustable gas valve, a tight-fitting door and vent controls to offer excellent temperature control. Besides, there is a smaller door for adding wood; therefore, you don't have to worry about the smoke and heat escaping when refilling.
7. Classic Pit Barrel 18.5" Cooker
- EFFORTLESS: Whether you’re new to outdoor cooking or an expert trying to perfect your...
- VERSATILE: The cooking possibilities are endless. For the perfect smoked meat, grill or...
- DURABLE: Each Pit Barrel Cooker is made with a superior-grade porcelain enamel finish that...
- PORTABLE: Our cookers are made to be lightweight and compact to fit in most vans, SUVs,...
- THE COMPLETE SMOKER STARTER: Everything you will need to get started: The barrel (33”...
When looking for the best smoker for beginners, you will come across this affordable Classic Pit Barrel Cooker. Though it's low-priced, it doesn't offer poor insulation issues of any kind. The charcoal smoker features hooks made from stainless steel so you can confidently hang your meat for searing and grilling. Also, the smoker features a coal basket that allows you to contain the right amount of charcoal needed for the smoking process. Besides, it's a great way of holding the charcoal securely while not in use.
Additionally, the smoker allows you to smoke even large meat as the drum acts as your whole cooking space (you can fit up to 8 rib racks in this smoker). Finally, you have the right model if you prefer grill cooking grates when smoking. This Classic Pit Barrel Cooker features grill cooking grates, so you are sorted out. Besides, hanging your meat on the hooks allows the heat to flow uniformly and freely inside the drum. That means there are no conduction points since you aren't lying the meat on a grate.
8. Green Mountain Grill Davy Crockett Smoker
- 2021 Design, Davy Crockett is now the Trek - New for 2021 is an adjustable heat baffle....
- Coming soon are the extendable legs and cart option for the Trek ONLY. Not available on...
- Server Mode Connect to your grill remotely through the GMG Server Mode to control and...
- Includes Sense-Mate, a thermal sensor which constantly monitors grill temperature
- Includes Pellethead Durable All Weather Cover ($42.95 Value)
If you prefer using wood pellets, this one is for you; the Green Mountain Grill Davy Crockett Smoker. This smoker is perfect for beginners since it's easy to use, set up and move from one place to another. Sometimes, the hardest thing when using smokers for the first time is usually getting a constant temperature. It can be hard for a beginner to keep the smoker at a low temperature for a prolonged time but not with this model. With this pellet smoker, a beginner can maintain the temperatures at constant throughout.
Besides, this pellet smoker's controls are easy to read and use. Also, the wood pellets are automatically added in with an internal auger. So although you will need to ensure you add more fuel after a while, this isn't challenging to do. And when you need to add more pellets, it won't distract the smoking process.
The pellet smoker features a remote control, which is easy to use. This controller usually allows you to set and monitor the temperature from a distance. That way, you don't need to babysit the unit and can get other chores done while you're smoking your meat. However, the only thing you need to pay attention to is that you clean out the grease regularly, as its small size makes this a major concern.
What Are the Common Types of Smokers for Beginners?
1. Pellet smokers
A pellet smoker or a grill is perfect for newbies since it can prepare food with extra smoky flavor using the pellets. Purchasing a wood pellet grill is also a wise investment since you can use it as an oven and grill. Besides, pellet smokers usually work by heating a cooking chamber packed with wood pellets where air circulates and then allowing your food to heat and cook through convection. Conversely, these pellet grills feature built-in thermometers to keep the temperature level and determine the number of wood pellets needed to be added to the firebox through an auger.
- They are versatile since you can use them as a smoker, oven and grill.
- Offers options for setting the temperature, so you don't have to check your food every single minute.
- The wood pellets used in pellet smokers are burned down to virtually nothing, meaning you don't have to spend too much effort and time cleaning it up.
- Due to its unique cooking system, using wood pellet grills allows you to combine the smoky flavor of actual wood smoke with your foods.
- Offers low and slow smoking
- You can easily remove the firebox for emptying.
- Comes with an expensive price tag.
2. Gas smokers
A gas smoker or grill usually runs on clean-burning propane or natural gas, meaning no harm of unpleasant chemicals going up in smoke or marrying the flavor of your meal. Propane (also known as petroleum gas) is natural gas stored under regulated pressure in tanks. The good thing is, creating a gas-fed outdoor kitchen in your home heated by natural gas is very easy.
Besides, most gas smokers usually resemble a small thin refrigerator or a locker with cooking racks above a tray of wood that lies above the fuel source. Moreover, a gas grill is one of the easier ways to get smoking in a hurry and a good beginner smoker for their ease of use.
- Easy to start and clean, making it the perfect smoker for beginners
- Comes with a fair price tag
- The smoker doesn't occupy much cooking space in your kitchen
- Minimal learning curve
- Lack the added charcoal flavor
3. Charcoal or wood smoker
Charcoal smokers come in different sizes and shapes and add the most flavor to your foods. However, to create the most flavorful foods using a charcoal smoker, you need to exert more effort and time for its setup, babysitting as well as cleanup. Therefore, charcoal smokers are among the best smokers for beginners. As a beginner, you can learn virtually all the basics. Moreover, there is an option to get charcoal and wood taste while still managing the temperature very well.
- You can use different wood chunks or wood chucks to get a variety of flavor profiles
- If you buy a smaller charcoal smoker, you won't have issues transporting it from one place to another.
- For you to achieve that deep, smoky flavors in your foods, using charcoal smokers is the best option
- Regardless of the space you have, you can easily find a charcoal grill that fits right
- Charcoal smokers usually require more babysitting for you to get the perfect smoky flavor.
4. Electric smokers
Electric smokers are ideal for newbies who experience "fire and forget" when smoking dishes. With an electric smoker, you won't have to worry about burning charcoal or using a lot of effort during cleanup. Besides, purchasing electric smokers will make it easy for you to cook as you can easily set the temperature and lounge around with a glass of juice while waiting for your food to cook.
Most electric smoker models have a place to load wood chips to get the smoke rolling. You can try various types of wood chips to get unique flavors. Additionally, some newer electric smokers come with a Bluetooth app that allows you to control the smoker from a distance.
- Electric smokers save you money in the long run as you don't have to buy gas, charcoal or pellets.
- Feature excellent temperature control
- Easy to use, making them one of the best options for beginners
- You don't have to babysit since you can set it based on your preferred temperature and expect it to prepare food perfectly even when you are not around.
- Since they don't create much smoke, the flavor might disappoint you.
5. Offset smokers
Offset smokers were initially made using oil drums, explaining why they still come in a barrel-like shape. They are usually big and bulky but have ample room to cook several foods simultaneously. Besides, these offset smokers are regularly referred to as barbecue smokers, so they are a staple in the BBQ world, whether you refer to them as barbecue smokers or something else. However, we don't recommend an offset smoker if you're a beginner smoking meat for the first time.
- Features a grill plate attached above the firebox
- Due to its big barrel cooking chamber, they allow you to cook a large amount of food at once
- These offset smokers can work as a grill and a smoker.
- The firebox is usually located separately from the cooking chamber allowing you to add more fuel without allowing the smoke and heat to escape from the chamber.
- You will need to exert effort and time to set up the smoker before cooking.
6. Kamado ceramic smokers
Kamado is a roaster, smoker, baker and griller with different accessories available to help with these coking methods. They're traditionally made of high-quality ceramic, although other refractory materials such as (lava rock, terracotta, tile) and stainless steel are nowadays being used. With a kamado smoker, there is a learning curve from using it correctly so that it might test your commitment level with the learning curve than a gas or electric grill. However, if you have your heart set on a charcoal-powered cooker, then a kamado grill is one of the best charcoal smokers for beginners.
Though they weigh more than 50 kgs, with smaller models available, if you're an enthusiast, the weight won't prevent you from picking them up for away-from-home adventures. And due to its design, the kamado grill creates high moisture, low-oxygen, well sealed-in environment, which makes for moist and tender meats even after 12 hours or more of slow cooking.
- Highly fuel efficient Kamado smoker model
- They are versatile since you can use them as a smoker, baker and griller
- Made of durable and high-quality ceramic that will last a lifetime
- Design usually holds heat for hours without intervention
- Takes a bit of time to get up to smoking temperature
Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Smoker for Beginners
1. The types of smokers
When buying the best smoker for beginners, it's important to check the smoker type. As discussed above, each has pros and cons. The choice of the smoker will depend on the living space. Patience for learning, budget and availability of power supply or fuel, how much food you want to cook, and what cooking you would like to do.
2. Fuel type
Apart from the types of smokers, consider the fuel type before buying your best smoker for beginners. If your house usually runs on gas, connecting a smoker to your house line offers a constant fuel source without added costs. However, it's not clear how much flavor is compromised when using full instead of charcoal. Can you tell the difference between a roast smoked by charcoal versus one smoked by gas? Well, we can tell, and we prefer the use of charcoal. Pellet smokers are some of the most expensive smokers to run, with specialized wood pellets required are not as surplus or easy to source as charcoal.
3. Cooking area
When looking for the best smoker for beginners, remember to pay attention to the cooking area since it determines how much food you can make at a time. So, if you are looking for a smoker for large gatherings, the last thing you want to do is choose a model that can't handle the food quantity you want to prepare. Therefore, a smoker with 800 sq inches is the best model to count on.
Conversely, if you're looking for a smaller-sized model, there are still options for you. For example, although you won't prepare as much food as you could on a larger model, it doesn't mean you can make great meals. It only means that the smoker will be smaller, and you won't need to pay much for it.
4. Build quality
You intend to buy something that will last you for decades to come. However, most of the time, when it comes to smokers, inexpensive usually means a thin material that leaks smoke, fails to maintain the heat in and results in your inexpensive smoker's temperatures ebbing and flowing with the wind. Therefore, you will want to balance between inexpensive though still well-built.
The fact is that too many episodes of getting a badly smoked steak at the cost of smoking up your hair, clothes and even home can easily turn your smoker useless. And the savings you made buying the cheaper smoker can soon be eaten away by extra fuel costs required to maintain the heat inside the poorly insulated smoker. Therefore, before buying the best smoker for beginners, consider the build quality because it matters a lot. A well-built smoker that is sealed and perfectly insulated will save you money when it comes to fueling.
5. Type of foods you intend smoking
As a beginner, what type of food do you intend to smoke? You should buy a smoker that offers sufficient space to smoke the foods you want to prepare. For example, if you love making smoky ribs, you should avoid being a propane smoker. Propane smokers are narrow in size to fit ribs. And to make the ribs fit in a little smoke, you will need to do lots of preparation work and cut them down to size. Conversely, a tall smoker is perfect if you want to smoke brisket since you can only smoke them for about 8-12 hours. Although most smokers for beginners can hold different foods, it is still better to concentrate on smoker designs that suit your preferred food option.
6. Heat retention and distribution
You need to know how well the smoker retains heat before buying it. The smoker you choose should be well insulated for heat retention. If the smoke application and temperature are not consistent, you might find it tough to prepare certain foods such as brisket fully. Brisket can be on the smoker for about 8 to 12 hours, and a model that leaks heat can wreak havoc on your results. The best smokers for beginners can retain heat for up to 24 hours.
Efficiency is somehow related to the build quality. How well does the smoker do what it should? If leakage is an issue, you know that your food won't get the proper, constant flow of heat and smoke required. That means there will be a lot of wasted wood, charcoal or gas and irregularly cooked food with cold and hot spots, which equals poor results. Therefore, when shopping for the best smokers for beginners, pay attention to efficiency.
8. Additional features
Color options include standard black and colorful green, silver, red or the earthenware/terracotta look. The function can range from a committed smoker to bake, cook, and grill, making the smoker versatile. Accessories are needed for alternate cooking methods and to make the smoking experience easy. Besides, material options include porcelain-enameled steels, ceramic, tile and stainless steel. You can also find a smoker with glass doors and steel liners.
When looking for the best smoker for beginners, most people tend to overlook the manufacturer's warranty which can be an issue later. Since purchasing a smoker is costly, your product needs protection. When shopping, you will realize that the highest quality smokers usually have the most generous manufacturer's warranty covering them. This also makes intuitive sense that a manufacturer is confident in their product.
Industry-standard warranties for smokers and grills are about 3 years. However, some companies are known to give 5 -10 year warranties. Therefore, our buying tip is that if you are stuck between two smokers, we recommend choosing the one with a better warranty.
10. Customer service
As a beginner, you need to buy the best smoker for beginners from a company that has great customer service support so that in case of anything, you can contact them for help. Moreover, manufacturers nowadays use Facebook, Instagram and other social media to communicate with their customers. Also, some manufacturers usually sponsor owner forums, troubleshooting, where tips, gripes and praises are freely shared. Therefore, if the smoker you bought has a community built around it, with users helping each other and sharing smoking tips, this can increase the enjoyment you will get from your smoker.
What Accessories Do you Need for Smoking?
1. Heat resistant gloves
Handling a smoker involves a lot of heat and high temperatures. Therefore gloves are a must for your safety.
2. Wireless meat thermometer
A high-quality meat thermometer usually allows you to check the internal temperature of the meat you smoke.
3. Chimney fire starter
This tool has a self-explanatory name. A fire starter that you can use to light a charcoal smoker.
The best way to flip a piece of meat in the middle of the smoking process or handle freshly smoked meat is with the help of strong tongs.
5. Basting brush
If you want to apply marinade on your meat while cooking, you need a basting brush to apply the marinade in the last hour.
6. BBQ grill brush
There will be grease and burn pieces on the smoker's grate once you start smoking meat regularly. That will call for a brush, and a BBQ grill brush is the best option.
7. Boning knife
If you have been handling meat for a while, you know the importance of a sharp knife. You will need a knife while smoking your meat for cutting and trimming tasks.
8. Butcher's block
This accessory is useful while resting, marinating, or cutting a piece of meat before and after the process of smoking
9. Thermometer gauge
This device usually helps monitor the heat and control the temperature inside the smoker during the smoking process.
10. Rib rack
This accessory comes in handy when you smoke ribs; you can load the pieces of meat on it.