The Best BBQ Smoker
When the sun starts shining with all its might, it’s time to come out of your cozy homes and welcome the grilling season. Once the BBQ season has set in, you need to find the best and the most reliable tools for grilling. The best BBQ smoker doesn’t necessarily need to be the most expensive one. In fact, you can get the best out of a basic smoker if you get the right one according to your needs. If you are looking for BBQ smoker reviews, this comprehensive guide will help you choose one.
What is a BBQ smoker?
A BBQ smoker is a unit or apparatus that cooks food in a controlled, smoky environment. A BBQ smoker is basically equipment used for preparing barbecue and they are of many types. There are small BBQ smokers and large ones that are big enough to entertain a large group of people easily. BBQ smokers can be powered by different types of fuels such as natural gas, propane, electricity, wood, pellets, and charcoal. No matter which type of fuel is used, the job of a smoker is to maintain a controlled smoking temperature to cook the food.
The temperature of a BBQ smoker should be somewhere around 225 F/1100 Celsius and there should be enough smoke at all times to cook the food. Electric BBQ smokers need wood to be put in the heated chamber to produce smoke, as compared to traditional smokers that burn wood to create smoke and heat both. Any equipment or apparatus that can hold a low temperature for many hours and cook food in that heat is called a smoker.
A good smoker efficiently cooks food at low temperature for an extended period of time. It keeps on holding the smoke around the food, especially meat so that the smoke gets absorbed. This makes the meat delicious as well as tender. You can buy gas smokers, wood smokers, charcoal smokers, electric smokers, and more. Smoked barbecue meat tastes amazing and the BBQ smokers do this job very efficiently.
How to use a smoker?
Using a BBQ smoker is not as easy as it seems, but it delivers amazing results if you use it properly. You will just need some practice so that you learn to calibrate it well. Then you can smoke your meat to perfection so that it tastes amazing. Following are some steps which will help you understand how the smoker functions:
- You have to set your smoker so that it maintains a stable temperature at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. You have to especially ensure that the temperature remains stable. Cheap BBQ smokers can be inaccurate as they measure the temperature on the top of the grill only and not where the food is. Good quality smokers have built-in thermometers so that you can gauge the temperature from time to time. So, the first step is to set up the two temperature probes.
- Next step is to light up the fuel such as charcoal or wood in a chimney starter before starting ash over. Wood fires are a bit hard to manage and using coal supplements is much easier.
- Most of the smokers have an ‘intake baffle’ which is present near the firebox, and a chimney baffle that is present on the chimney. You have to set these baffles such that they are completely open before you add fuel. When the smoker heats up, you can adjust the intake baffle. Now put the coals into the firebox and wait for the temperature to rise to the desired level. Also, make sure that the firebox doors remain closed most of the time otherwise there may be fluctuations in the temperature.
- Your main goal should be to maintain the temperature so that your food is cooked the right way. The chimney baffle regulates the temperature and controls the smoke to a certain level. The intake baffle is responsible for controlling the flow of oxygen and it has a big impact on the cooking temperature. When the cooking starts, the temperature will continue to drop because coals will start fading. However, you have to keep the chimney baffle completely open and close the intake baffle halfway.
- If you want more flavour, you can add wood chunks too. Don’t put the wood chunks directly into the fire. Instead, put them next to the fire.
- Adding moisture to the smoke is another important step. This will help your food to absorb the smoky flavour and get more delicious. To add moisture, you can place a water pan on the grate by placing a metal rack over the coals. You can also add moisture by sprinkling the meat with apple juice or water. This way the smoke will get humidified and the meat will become juicy as well as smoky.
- Always remember that good barbecue needs time and you’ll have to spend some hours for that. If you want juicy, tender and delicious meat, you’ll have to cook it for many hours and for that you’ll need patience since the smell will be unbelievably appetising.
How to choose the right BBQ smoker?
If you want to make the right choice for a BBQ smoker, read the short buying guide below. This section will explain about the factors that you need to consider before buying a BBQ smoker. These are some of the important things that you should look out for:
BBQ smokers can be fuelled in many different ways. There are charcoal and wood smokers, pellet smokers, electric smokers, and propane smokers. If you want to get the best and the most authentic wood flavour to your food, you must use the wood charcoal. Gas propane is easy to setup and you just have to set it up and forget. Propane smokers are faster than the electric ones and are easier to use too.
Electric smokers are also easy to use, and you just have to set them up, add the food and then you can do whatever you want while it cooks. Electric smokers, however, can’t give that authentic barbecue flavour to your meat. The smokers fuelled by wood pellets are very precise as they use advanced technology and are completely automated too. Pellet smokers are convenient, and they give you a good flavour similar to that given by the hardwood/charcoal smokers.
There are a variety of different smokers on the market. If you want a versatile one, go for the one that has multi-purpose features. You can go for a smoker that can grill too, as there are many smokers that have this feature. But do keep in mind that most of the units that offer grilling and smoking both are much more expensive than others. Another important feature is to consider is the ease of use. Do you want a smoker with which you just have to set and then forget about it? Or do you want a smoker which allows you to participate and contribute fully? There are a lot of smokers that have the automated option and will help you cook your food whichever way you want to cook it.
Smokers can be very affordable too, but the most high-end ones are too expensive. You can buy a BBQ smoker for as low as £50 and as high as £10,000. In between this price, you can also get an all-in-one smoker or griller combinations. Gas or propane smokers are the cheapest and you can get a good unit easily under £200. A good quality charcoal smoker can be bought for around £300. The pellet smokers are the most expensive ones and they start selling at £600.
Materials and durability:
You must also consider the durability and craftsmanship of the smoker. You should know how the welds are and whether the moving parts are good enough or not. Look for a paint that is rust and waterproof and is not going to get chipped or withered because of heat or any type of harsh environment. Are the hinges and latches big? Are the wheels and legs sturdy enough? Are the edges sharp? These are some of the questions you might consider. Stainless steel looks good, but it might not be the best choice always. Also make sure that the screws won’t rust easily and that there is not a lot of plastic in the smoker.
Thick steel readily absorbs heat and dissipates it uniformly around the chamber and then radiates it back too. If you want your smoker to have the best material, go for thick steel. Good quality smokers have dampers and doors shut tightly and the cheap ones are those that leak. If there is leakage, it will be more difficult to stabilise the temperature and keep it consistent. So it is important to know about the welds, seals, insulation, and thickness of the metal before you buy a smoker.
Temperature control is one of the most important factors that you should take into account before buying. You should look for a BBQ smoker that allows you to control the temperature easily. After all, it is very important to serve your family and friends on time. Good models of the smokers have high quality thermostats that are very reliable too. Also, if you want to measure the temperature precisely, place a good and reliable thermometer at the grate level where there will be food. Most of the grillers and smokers don’t have thermometers and they are too unreliable for having a controlled temperature.
Best BBQ Smoker Reviews:
1. Weber BBQ Smoker:
When it comes to BBQ smokers, Weber is the best brand because its products are reliable and long lasting. Weber has a history of professionalism and top-notch products and tools and one of its best products is Weber Smokey Mountain BBQ Smoker. The BBQ smoker relies on some of its best features such as good smoke production and real fire. The smoker BBQ is one of the most popular among BBQ and grilling enthusiasts because of its simplicity and amazing performance.
One of the best features of the Weber Smokey is its sturdy and durable construction. The Weber Smokey has three different models which differ from each other according to their size. There are 14.5 inch, 18.5 inch, and 22.5 inch models of this brand. All these types of Weber Smokey have almost the same features and have almost the same design too. Following things are included with each model:
- Plated steel cooking grates
- Main cooking chamber
- Smoker cover
- Built-in lid thermometer
- Porcelain enamelled bowl
- Rust-resistant aluminium fuel door
- Silicone temperature grommet
- Rust-resistant aluminium heat shield
- Heavy gauge steel charcoal gate
The main material used in the Weber Smokey brand is porcelain enamelled steel which retains heat very well and makes sure that the heat is consistent throughout the period. It has a beautiful finish and the construction is solid. The smoker looks very beautiful and stylish and performs equally good too. The water pan is made up of same material as the main one. The cooking grates are coated with nickel so as to improve its strength and ease cleaning. The handles are made up of nylon and are heat resistant. There are air vents at the top and bottom and a side mounted thermometer too.
- There are multiple air vents.
- It has a sealed design that allows you to shut the smoker and save charcoal.
- It has a superior airflow design.
- The warranty is good enough; 5 years for plastic components, 2 years for remaining parts, and 10 years for the bowl, centre ring and lid.
- The front access door is a bit cheap and flimsy.
2. Vonhaus BBQ Smoker:
Vonhaus Charcoal BBQ and Smoker is a beautifully designed BBQ smoker which is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also gives a great performance. The BBQ smoker will allow you to cook almost anything such as fish and vegetables, charcoal grilled meat, and more. Also, there is a side table with it and you can turn off the smoker too by closing the ventilation and turn it into an American style smoker.
The material of the Vonhaus BBQ smoker is a powder coated steel with a classic black colour. The tough coating keeps the whole unit safe and durable and it is quite resistant to scratches as well. The coating also prevents chipping and various forms of wear and tear. It has a large grill tray along with a warming rack so that you can add more dishes if you want to. There is a thermometer dial too that makes sure you get your cooking times exactly right.
The large and fully adjustable grill tray can easily by changed using the crank handle and you can also choose the distance between the coals and the rack. It has a neat integrated design which allows you to keep your already cooked dishes warm on the side table while the other dishes are still cooking. The grill cart has a deep lid that keeps the food warm and delicious just like any other convection oven. The twin level grill rack and lid makes the indirect grilling much easier. The built-in thermometer measures the temperature of the food so that you know the right time to add fuel.
- It is stylish and beautiful.
- It can be turned into an American style grill cart.
- It has an integrated warming rack.
- It has a large fully adjustable grill tray.
- It is very versatile.
- It is difficult to assemble.
3. Texas Smoker BBQ:
The Texas Smoker BBQ offers an easy and reliable way to cook delicious food. Texas Original Pits offers various types of upright smokers and offsets that might suit your preference and tastes. The Texas BBQ smoker is designed to satisfy the grilling lovers. The Texas Offset Smoker is ideal for you if you’re determined to bring the original Texas BBQ taste to your food. The entire unit is made up of steel and has a beautiful flat surface that is perfect for cooking. It has a rugged construction and has a superior heat management system.
If you’re looking for versatility and quality in a BBQ smoker, then this one is the right product for you. It delivers amazingly moist smoky flavours and offers direct cooking too. The cooking grill is porcelain enamel and there is one main burner. There is a temperature gauge included and the firebox material is made up of high temperature painted steel. The Texas smoker BBQ includes the following items:
- Framed grill grates
- Pot warmer
- Heavy duty log grate
- Steel wagon wheels
- Stay cool spring handles
- 1 temperature gauge of 3’’
- Contoured firebox ash clean-out tool
- Off-set firebox and includes upper grill grate
- 2’’ grease drain with pail hook
The Texas BBQ smoker is very portable too, it comes with steel wagon wheels which makes it very portable. There are stay cool spring handles too that make sure you don’t burn your mitts. The heavy-duty log grate and a pot warmer on the firebox, all are of top-notch quality. The BBQ smoker also features dual dampers for airflow adjustment and 3’’ multi-temp zone heart gauges. The overall construction is leak free and all steel. The good thing is that, the smoker will provide steady and consistent temperatures with only few adjustments.
- It is a versatile BBQ smoker.
- It is very easy to use.
- It is portable.
- It can hold temperature for hours.
- It delivers excellent value for money.
- High heat can damage the smoker.
4. Landmann BBQ Smoker:
Landmann is very popular among BBQ lovers as it has more than 10 years of experience in the industry. Their products are reliable and award-winning. The Landmann Kentucky Smoker is one of the most loved BBQ smokers because of its versatile functionality and unique design. The offset smoker box of this unit can be filled with wood chips and charcoal if there are large joints of meat that have to be placed into the main chamber. The smoker is very easy to use and whether you’re a beginner or an expert, it can be mastered with ease.
The main chamber can also be used to cook sausages and traditional burgers separately. The wood chips are flavoured, and they suit a variety of meats. The fire bowl and firebox have a powder coated hood and the cooking grills are enamelled. There is an integrated thermometer in the hood that allows you to check the temperature throughout the cooking process. The ash catcher tray is easily removable and offers easily cleaning. The warming rack is a large one and the cooking area of the smoker is good enough too. The BBQ smoker has a 5 year warranty too.
- It has a good build quality.
- It is sturdy and has a rugged construction.
- Air ventilation is good.
- There is a thermometer and a temperature gauge provided.
- The steel construction is thick and heavy.
- It is a bit difficult to assemble.
5. Houston Smoker BBQ Grill:
The Houston Smoker BBQ Grill is designed in a traditional American style. It has two sections and two great cooking methods. The two sections comprise of a smoker and a grill and both of them give great taste to the BBQ. The smoker BBQ grill is very easy to move around and is very stylish and sleek. The smoker and grill both have separate lids. The multi-purpose grill is versatile and can be used in two different ways. You can place the food in the larger section and close the lids, and wood chips and charcoal in the smaller firebox.
The Houston Smoker BBQ Grill is also equipped with tough and sturdy wheels that make it easier to carry around. There is a chimney attached to the smoker that draws the heat from the unit and gives the meat a smoky taste and make it tender. The Houston Smoker BBQ grill looks beautiful in a patio as it can complement any type of setting. The main frame is made up of steel and it weighs 21 kg. The Smoker BBQ grill is black in colour and it looks very decent in any type of setting.
- It is easy to move around.
- It has a great BBQ taste.
- It is versatile and offers two cooking methods.
- It is very sleek and stylish.
- It is very tough and sturdy.
- It is easy to assemble and use.
- The overall size is a bit small.
6. King BBQ Smoker Grill Station:
The King BBQ Smoker Grill Station has an offset side box combination grill, BBQ, and smoker. The BBQ Smoker Grill station has a large main cooking chamber and a small chamber so that indirect smoking could be created using the fire. The good thing is that, the food can also be cooked in the small chamber as it has an enamelled food rack. However, most of the people use the smaller chamber as the firebox and the larger box for smoking meat. The main chamber is quite large at 61 cm, and can easily accommodate three chickens or even an entire leg of a lamb.
The oxygen ventilation is good enough through the ventilation valves and there is a chimney too that allows the smoke from them to escape. There are three ash grates and a drip pan too so that cleaning the mess gets easier. The BBQ smoker is equipped with two wheels too so that moving the whole unit gets easier. The front wooden panel can be used for various purposes, such as for storing the cooked food and having the raw ingredients ready before cooking. The wooden panel can also be used to place plates so that the people can be served there.
There is a built-in thermometer that keeps the temperature in control. You can check the temperature of the food and cook it as you like. The BBQ smoker is very affordable and because of its versatility, it delivers excellent value for money. The customer support provided by the company is good and the package usually arrives on time.
- There are two cooking chambers.
- The main chamber is large enough.
- There are ventilation valves for good airflow.
- There is closed BBQ, direct grill and offset smoker.
- It has wheels for mobility.
- The lower shelf is for storage.
- The front shelf is for working.
- There are three ash grates and enamelled cooking grids.
- Assembly is a bit difficult as the parts don’t align perfectly.
- The construction is flimsy.
Cheap BBQ Smokers for Sale:
BBQ smokers are available at a very affordable price too. If you’re looking for a smoker BBQ that is light on pocket, here we have compiled a list of the cheap ones available for sale:
1. Callow Offset Charcoal BBQ Smoker:
The Callow Offset BBQ Smoker can also be used as a normal BBQ grill as it is a very versatile one. You can load the main chamber with charcoal and keep your barbecued food warm or use the lid to roast it. The BBQ smoker has wheels for portability and the material is coated with a heat resistant coating. There is a front rack provided too so that you can prepare your food then and there. The BBQ smoker allows you to have full control over the temperature using the lid. There are vents in the main chamber and the firebox so there is adequate air ventilation.
The cooking area in the main chamber is large enough, that is, it’s around 54 X 30 cm. The whole unit weighs around 22 kg, and the presence of two tough wheels makes it easy to move around the garden or the patio. You can choose from a variety of wood chips and rubs to make your food get delicious and smoky.
- It has wheels for portability.
- It has a heat resistant coating.
- There is enough ventilation.
- There is a useful temperature gauge.
- It is very affordable.
- It is a bit flimsy.
2. Landmann Kentucky Smoker BBQ:
The Landmann Kentucky smoker is a popular charcoal BBQ smoker. It has a large cooking area that can serve around 10 people at once. There is a chamber on its side that allows you to burn wood chips and adds the tasty smoky flavour to your meat. It is available at a very good price and the best thing about it is that it delivers excellent value for money. The smoker has a warming rack too and a fat drip tray or ash collector that makes it easier to clean the mess after the cooking is done.
The Landmann Kentucky smoker BBQ is equipped with air vents, a temperature gauge, and storage shelves too. The smoker BBQ is very ergonomically designed and is overall very easy to use. The smoker BBQ also allows you to control the temperature very precisely so that the food you’re cooking is tender, juicy, and delicious enough. It has a powder coated lid and an enamelled cooking grill. There is a thermometer in the lid that allows you to check the temperature all the time and make sure it remains consistent. Before you start the job, put charcoal in the side firebox and then wait for 20 minutes before you start cooking.
- It has a large cooking area for serving more people.
- It is easy to use.
- The thermometer in the lid tells you the temperature precisely.
- It has an ergonomic design.
- There are vents for air circulation.
- It is easy to clean.
- It is a bit difficult to assemble.
3. Tepro Smoker BBQ:
Tepro Smokers a variety of options for preparing BBQ or grilled food. They design different types of Smokers, Grill, and BBQ units and their products are reliable because of the good quality. Most of their smokers have a small combustion chamber where the smoke is generated, and it then reaches the cooking chamber where there is food. The route of the smoke is directed using a chimney vent which allows the food to cook gently till it’s tender and delicious.
There is a thermometer built into the lid that allows you to control the temperature and keep it in between 80 to 130 degrees Celsius. You can also use it as a direct BBQ grill by lifting the lid. There is a smoking side chamber which has a small to medium cooking grid. This cooking grid allows you to serve a small to medium group of people at once. The smoking chamber can hold 0.5 kg charcoal. The unit has a heat resistant finish and has chrome plated steel handles. The instructions provided with the unit are very clear so that you assemble it easily.
- It is very affordable.
- It is made up of good quality components.
- It has a solid and robust construction.
- It offers easy assembly.
- There is a built in thermometer.
- It delivers good value for money.
- The cooking grid is small.
4. Char Griller Pro Smoker Deluxe:
The Char Griller Pro Smoker Deluxe is another good quality and affordable smoker on our list. It is a heavy duty smoker but isn’t heavy on your pocket. The cooking grills are made up of cast iron and the bottom is of double steel which increases durability. The smoker allows you to create some of the best grilled steaks, chicken and chops with the real Texas flavour. There is a warming rack too and the cart is constructed from tubular steel. For easy cleaning, there is a dump ash tray provided.
The Char Griller smoker also includes a temperature gauge which allows you to have a controlled temperature for cooking your food. There is a bottom wire shelf and a wooden side shelf. The charcoal gate is height adjustable so that you use it according to your preference. The smoker is a bit heavy, as it weighs around 41 kg, but since it has wheels, it is portable too. The overall size is compact and it doesn’t take much space in a garden or patio.
- It is very affordable.
- It is a heavy duty smoker.
- It is robust and durable.
- The dump ash tray offers easy cleaning.
- The cooking grills are of good quality.
- It is heavy.
Best Charcoal Smoker
1. Landmann Tennessee Smoker
The Landmann Tennessee Smoker is an offset barbecue smoker. You have to fill the small chamber with wood and coal and the air enters through the vent and leaves through the chimney. The smoker is a multipurpose one and can also be used as a grill. The smoker is perfect for slow cooking such as for cooking briskets and ribs. The space for cooking is enough and it can easily accommodate whole birds too. It has a fancy design and performs equally well.
The smoker is not very expensive, and it delivers a good value for money as compared to its expensive counterparts. It is basically a two-part smoker where the main cooking chamber is long grated and there is a firebox attached to one end. The firebox has a top access that allows you to put the fuel inside. There is a wooden shelf at the front too, so that you can prepare your food or keep it while other food is being cooked.
- It has a sleek and stylish design.
- It is compact.
- It is very versatile.
- It delivers good value for money.
- It offers a good cooking space.
- It is not very portable.
Best Electric Smoker
1. Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker
If you are looking for an electric smoker that allows you to just set it up, put food in it and forget about it, then you must try the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker. It has a built-in digital thermometer that allows you to control the temperature and choose according to your preference without worrying about maintaining the fire or charcoal. All you have to do is to plug in the smoker into an electrical outlet and start cooking. The Masterbuilt Digital thermometer is available in different ranges and styles. For example, you can buy with or without window and the sizes 30’’ or 40’’.
The Masterbuilt electric smoker is very well built and is insulated properly. It performs very well even when the weather is cold. If you need a window in the smoker, let us tell you that it is useful, but it can get dirty too.
- The cooking space is good.
- The temperature controls are simple.
- There are a range of accessories available.
- It is very well built and is durable.
- Since it is an electric smoker, it doesn’t deliver the best smoky flavour.
Each of the BBQ Smokers covered above are of top-notch quality but only you know which one suits you the best. Weber Smokey Mountain is one of the best BBQ smokers in UK but there are others too if you prefer any other feature in a different smoker. With a cheap smoker you’ll be spending more time and effort to control the temperature. But if you want a cheap smoker, you can buy it only to upgrade it later. You can easily buy a cheap smoker BBQ for around £50 to £100 and when you’re done learning barbecuing and grilling, you can get another one.
This guide is basically for beginners who have just started learning smoking. Smoked food is delicious and heavenly and spending this much time and effort to prepare the food is well worth it. You can’t be the barbecue master right at once, but someday you’ll learn to do it and your family and friends will enjoy your food. This buying guide lists cheap as well as high end BBQ smokers so that you can decide according to your budget.