The Best Charcoal Smokers – 6 Top Choices In 2022

It might be time for you to up your grilling skills with the long summer nights approaching. Smokers are great for meat that has been slow-cooked all day to tenderize.

There are many types of charcoal smokers. You can choose from portable smokers that are great for camping trips or tailgates, to heavier-duty charcoal BBQ grills that can cook for large groups.

These charcoal smokers are the best if you want to enjoy the real charcoal taste in your barbecue. These great models are a great choice because of their affordability and performance. We will give you our verdicts and recommendations.

What is a Charcoal Smoker?

A charcoal smoker is a cooking device that smokes food at low temperatures for long periods of time. It uses charcoal as its primary fuel source and adds wood to make smoke.

The ideal cooking temperature is between 225 and 2750F (93-120C). This method adds a smokey flavor to meat. To make your meat tender and juicy, lower temperatures and longer cooking times are necessary to slowly dissolve tough connective tissue in cuts of meat.

You can smoke with electricity, propane or natural gas. Charcoal is preferred by most backyard chefs, pitmasters, and barbecue cooks because it gives the meat a true flavor and produces uniform heat. Here, we’ll be focusing on charcoal smokers.

Types of Charcoal Smokers

There are many charcoal smokers with different looks, but there are five main designs you will see when you shop. These are:

  • Water or bullet grills

A small vertical smoking device with a dome-shaped cover. It provides constant heat for long periods at a steady temperature.

  • Kamado grills

Kamado is a Japanese-made, ceramic-egg-shaped barbecue. Because of its versatility and ease-of-use, it is becoming increasingly popular with traditional barbecues. A kamado can be used to grill, smoke, roast, and cook any type of food.

  • Kettle Grills

A kettle grill is a spherical charcoal barbecue that gets its name from its shape.

  • Horizontal offset

The offset smoker looks similar to a regular charcoal grill, but has 2 chambers for cooking and a small firebox attached to the other. It is called a horizontal offset smoker because of its position in the firebox.

  • Vertical Cabinet grills

An vertical smoker can also be called a cupboard smoker. It gets its name because smoke must move vertically from the cooking chamber.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Quick List of the Best Charcoal Smokers

The Complete List of the Best Charcoal Smokers

Pit Barrel Cooker Co Barrel Cooker Package

Pit Barrel Cooker Co Barrel Cooker PackageSpecifications
  • Brand: Weber
  • Model Name: WEBER
  • Power Source: Charcoal
  • Color: Black
  • Item Weight: 39.1 Pounds
  • Item Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 41 inches
  • Fuel Type: Charcoal

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Overview

Pit Barrel Cooker Co produces some timelessly popular smokers that are ideal for cooking with charcoal. You can use the variety of steel hooks to smoke for your family and friends.

Vertical cooking brings together the best features of both slow cookers as well as smokers into one powerful unit. You can enjoy a shorter cooking time without having to adjust the temperature. It is a simple, set-and-forget model that allows you to have fun with your guests and not be obligated to cook. A standard grate is also available for searing and grilling. The 30 lb capacity powder-coated steel drum is large enough to host a party. It is easy to clean and remove the coal basket.

The celebrity endorsements and industry awards have rewarded this smoker. Enjoy the classic smoked taste of a traditional smoker without all the hassles associated with conventional smokers. This Pit Barrel is easy to use and cleans up easily. It’s also very affordable compared to other brands. This superb unit is worth considering if you like the idea that meats can be cooked low and slow without any hassle.

What we liked

    • You get a vertical cooking experience that combines the most significant features of slow cookers and smokers into a single powerful machine. This is a set-and-forget smoker that will give you all the time you need to interact with your guests instead of forcing you to cook. Reduced cooking periods are possible because the design eliminates the need to adjust the temperature constantly.
    • This smoker has received accolades from the industry as well as celebrity endorsements. Get all of the benefits of traditional smoked flavour without the inconvenience of traditional smokers.
    • This Pit Barrel is simple to use and clean, and it comes at a meager price compared to the competition.

What we didn’t like

      • The grill grate that comes with the kettle grill is a typical one. They sell a hinged grill grate with half of it that can drop down so you can hang ribs, etc. on one side while using the grill grate on the other. This needs to be switched around. The hinged grill grate should come with the package, while the normal one can be purchased separately.
      • There is only one way to smoke or cook! There is no way to adjust! You can't cold smoke (below 120 degrees) and keep adding new wood unless you want to drop fresh coal and wood down past the hanging meat from a height of a couple of feet.

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill Specifications
  • Brand: Kamado Joe
  • Material: Stainless Steel, Ceramic
  • Color: Blaze Red
  • Item Dimensions: 26.4 x 26.4 x 36 inches
  • Item Weight: 250 Pounds

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Overview

In our search for the best charcoal smokers, we next look at a grill/smoker combination from the legendary Char-Griller. This is how it stacks up.

First, it is heavy at 90 pounds and measures 22 inches in diameter. You’ll be able to cook on a large area of nearly 450 square feet if you are willing to put up with the bulk. This gives you enough space to host a large party without having to make multiple batches. The unit is super-insulated and precision engineered so that you will use less charcoal while cooking. Because of the reduced airflow, your meat will stay tender and juicy instead of being dry to a crisp.

You’ll be able to fine-tune the temperature using the dampers of the smoker. This will make it much easier to achieve the perfect setting. Both the grill’s interior and exterior are made of powder-coated steel. This grill offers durability, insulation, heat retention, and heat retention that is unmatched in a smoker or grill. Triple-walled to keep all heat inside, the grill can be adjusted from 200F to 700F. This allows you to grill, smoke, or sear to your heart’s delight.

What we liked

    • Because this device is finely constructed and super-insulated, you'll be able to cook with less charcoal. Because of the decreased airflow, your meat will remain soft and juicy rather than being dried to a crisp.
    • When you're fine-tuning the temperature on this smoker by manipulating the dampers, you'll appreciate the numbers, making it easier to dial in your ideal settings.
    • Powder-coated steel is used on both sides of this grill, providing a mix of durability, insulation, and heat retention.

What we didn’t like

      • The air controls don't appear precise enough to maintain a consistent temperature. Close the top and bottom vents to suffocate your charcoal effectively; however, this is not the case with this grill.
      • If you use a lot of charcoal for a long smoke, you won't be able to restrict your oxygen intake enough to keep the temperatures low. This has led to some experimenting with how much coal to start with and adding or removing coal during the smoking process.

Weber Premium Charcoal Grill

Weber Premium Charcoal Grill Specifications
  • Brand: Weber
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Color: Black
  • Item Dimensions: 42.9 x 27 x 33 inches
  • Item Weight: 56.6 Pounds

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Overview

Weber’s Original Kettle is known for its excellent results in grilling, even when you are on a tight budget. Although this 22-inch model is not cheap, it is very affordable considering its performance and build quality. The capacity is good with a total cooking area of 363 inches and enough space on the grill plate to cook more than a dozen burgers. Porcelain enamel is heat-resistant and will keep the heat in its place.

The grill is easy to use and will give you the authentic taste of charcoal for deliciously smoked food. You can load more coal into the grate by using the hinged design. This allows you to cook quickly and efficiently. Hooks for the lid will prevent you from putting it on the floor. The lid can be easily removed and disposed of using a simple cleaning system. 3D instructions are available in-app for anyone who struggles with practical assembly.

Although most reviews are positive about the model, there were a few complaints about it being susceptible to tipping over. This grill should be used with care. You can be sure that you are getting the best quality Weber grills, and this 22-inch beauty continues that winning tradition.

What we liked

    • Using the grill is simple, and you'll receive all of the traditional flavour that charcoal imparts for beautifully smoked meals. The hinged grate allows you to load additional coal while cooking with minimal effort.
    • A lid hook prevents the lid from falling to the floor. A one-touch cleaning system in place makes removing and disposing of ash a breeze.

What we didn’t like

      • The grill tends to topple over. When using this device, exercise caution and ensure it is positioned on a level surface.
      • There are issues with getting one leg in; it was challenging to put the one leg together for some reason.

Kamado Joe Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe Ceramic Charcoal GrillSpecifications
  • Brand: Kamado Joe
  • Material: Stainless Steel, Ceramic
  • Color: Blaze Red
  • Item Dimensions: 46.5 x 28 x 48 inches
  • Item Weight: 188 Pounds

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Overview

Kamado Joe, an industry heavyweight, produces a variety of distinctive grills like this ceramic charcoal model that is perfect for the looming season. The twin-tiered arrangement allows you to cook for guests or family members in a variety of ways.

This grill is more expensive than other options, so it’s not the best choice if you are looking for a bargain. This Classic II is one of the most popular configurations. The 18-inch grill is placed on a cart provided with locking wheels. This allows for easier maneuverability and safety. This grill is a combination of a traditional half-moon design and the pioneering Divide and Conquer cooker system. It takes some getting used to but you will soon find it a useful addition to your backyard.

You have many options. The top has a dual-adjustment vent that allows you to adjust the temperature from 225F (great for smoking) to 750F for searing. This innovative air hinge allows you to lift the dome of the grill with just one finger. The airflow management process is also simple to understand. Apart from the brutal pricing, we have no other options to get the Kamado Joe.

What we liked

    • This grill has a slight learning curve due to its traditional half-moon form and integrated Divide and Conquer cooking system, but it will quickly seem like a user-friendly addition to your yard.
    • The dual-adjustment valve on top lets you regulate the temperature from 225F (ideal for smoking) to 750F (for searing), giving you plenty of options.
    • The revolutionary air hinge allows you to lift the dome of this grill with one finger. Airflow management is just as simple to understand.

What we didn’t like

      • The handles have been replaced with low-quality plastic that barely fits together. If the lid isn't perfectly aligned on the kettle, it won't close properly.
      • On the negative side, assembling proved more difficult than necessary. There were no written directions, but the visual instructions were adequate if followed carefully. Even so, it would have been wonderful to have some written instructions to go along with the pictures.

Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker

Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet SmokerSpecifications
  • Brand: Masterbuilt
  • Power Source: Charcoal
  • Item Weight: 15.26 Pounds
  • Item Dimensions: 19.13 x 21.65 x 31.49 inches
  • Fuel Type: Charcoal

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Overview

Masterbuilt offers a wide range of smokers and grills. The classic bullet smoker is one of their most prized products. You’ll still be able to enjoy an expansive cooking surface of nearly 400 square inches despite being small and light. This is a huge advantage over larger smokers in terms of their capacity. You won’t have to look around while you load this thing up, as the door is right in front of you.

A thermometer is built into the lid of your smoker. This allows you to check the temperature without having to rely on any third-party equipment. The porcelain coating on the cooking racks prevents food from sticking to them. The same coating is applied to the charcoal pan and water bowl. You’ll enjoy the distinctive taste of charcoal in your food, as well as a stress-free way to smoke your meats at home.

The majority of user reviews are positive. However, we did find some complaints about the poor quality vent. Many users have reported that you can adjust the temperature by changing the amount of charcoal used. It is not ideal, but it is not an issue. Overall, it’s a highly versatile charcoal smoker from a brand that you can trust.

What we liked

    • A thermometer is incorporated into the smoker's lid, which is an excellent addition that allows you to check the temperature without relying on third-party equipment.
    • A porcelain coating is applied to a pair of frying racks to prevent food from sticking to them. The water bowl and the charcoal pan are likewise coated with the same coating.
    • You'll receive the signature taste of charcoal in your cuisine, as well as a stress-free technique of smoking your favorite meats at home because you'll be cooking with it.

What we didn’t like

    • The low-quality vent is the source of most complaints. This, according to some users, means you'll need to adjust the temperature by adjusting the amount of charcoal you use. This isn't ideal, but it's not a deal-breaker.
    • The metal tray/cup hanging below the bottom of the kettle to gather the ashes as they fall during cooking and cleaning; the clips do not hold the tray securely in place. It continues to fall off.

Old Smokey Charcoal Grill

Old Smokey Charcoal GrillSpecifications
  • Brand: Old Smokey
  • Material: Aluminized steel
  • Color: Silver
  • Item Dimensions: 22.5 x 22.5 x 13 inches
  • Item Weight: 19 Pounds

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Overview

The Old Smokey charcoal grill is traditional and provides everything you need. Although the aluminized steel chassis is built to withstand continuous use, we were surprised to find some complaints about it rusting.

This grill is easy to assemble and use. It’s a great choice for beginners. This portable grill is ideal for camping, hiking, fishing or tailgating. This beauty can be stored in your trunk to ensure that you have a great way to char-grill food whenever you need it.

Side handles provide better maneuverability, and are made to be cool to the touch. This charcoal smoker is made in the USA. You can feel confident buying it.

What we liked

    • This grill is simple to assemble and operate, making it an excellent choice for even total beginners.
    • This is an excellent travel barbecue if you frequently go camping, hiking, fishing, or tailgating. Put this gem in your trunk and have wonderfully char-grilled meals whenever you want them.
    • A pair of side handles meant to stay cool to the touch boost agility.

What we didn’t like

    • The water pan was too shallow, and the charcoal pan was too tiny. The temperature gauge didn't operate at all; when it was cold, it read the same temperature as when it was filled with hot coals.
    • There was no damper beneath the coal pan on this smoker. The only damper was on the lid, and it didn't help much.

FAQS

1. Can I use my charcoal smoker straight out of the box?

You should always start with a dry fire. Dry burning will not only remove any manufacturing grease but also help to properly season your smoker. You’ll be able to determine how much charcoal is needed to heat your smoker by starting a dry fire. You can practice adjusting the temperature and airflow without worrying about causing food to spoil. After you are done, take out the ash pan. The water pan should be cleaned and emptied. After rinsing the grates, you can scrub them with hot soapy water. Then, get ready to smoke with a seasoned.

2. How do I regulate the temperature of a charcoal smoker?

This is the most difficult aspect of using a charcoal smoker. This is why they are notoriously difficult to use. It is easy to use these devices once you have mastered the basics. An intake vent is usually located near the bottom of your charcoal smoker. The intake vent controls the airflow to the coals. The coals will burn hotter if the vent is open. If the vent is closed, it will reduce the heat. If you close the vent completely CO2 builds up and will smother your smoker.

3. What are the main components of a traditional charcoal smoker?

The firebox is where the heat is created. Here you place your charcoal. A whole 15-pound bag of charcoal should be enough to burn for a full day. This will allow you to smoke the perfect brisket. To give your brisket that distinctive smoked aroma and taste, you’ll need to load some wood chips. The water pan is located above the firebox. To regulate the temperature in the smoker, you will need to fill it about three quarters of the way. This will also produce steam. The food is placed into a cooking chamber. It then sits on top grids, just like a regular charcoal grill. The lid keeps the heat in. The lid is vented to allow steam and smoke to escape.

4. What is the ideal temperature to smoke meat?

For best results, you should aim to keep the temperature between 225F – 250F. The best charcoal smokers have integrated thermometers, so there’s no need to mess with any third-party equipment.

5. How long does it take for meat to smoke?

Smoking meat is best done at low temperatures for long periods of time. This produces succulent results. A rack of ribs will take between 6 and 7 hours, while a large turkey will require 18 hours. Be patient and you will be amazed at the results.

Conclusion

Charcoal smokers are still a popular choice for backyard barbecue lovers. You can debate the flavor of charcoal, but it’s clear that this method of cooking produces better bark, smoke rings and a unique Smokey flavor that is hard to duplicate in other styles.

These smokers are very easy to use and you can get a great smoker for as low as $300. With charcoal, everything is spent on the design and manufacture of quality parts that can withstand long periods of time. This is in contrast to pellet smokers which require a lot more money.

If the idea of messing around with the air valves or managing the coals is not overwhelming, you might consider getting a charcoal smoker.

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