Best BBQ Smoker: UK buyers guide for 2020
Best BBQ Smoker
Nothing quite beats the smell and taste of smoked meat. Whether it be a huge rack of ribs, a whole chicken, or a niece chink of beef, that aroma followed by sinking your teeth into juicy, tender meat, is one of life’s little luxuries.
Some people try and try to achieve these smoked dishes on a regular open charcoal barbecue grill and are often disappointed by their results even though considerably better than your average gas bbq. Their steak is good but how come their steak doesn’t taste like the one from the expensive steak house downtown?
Well, it’s because they are missing one thing from their cooking arsenal- a good smoker.
The best BBQ smokers that are out on the UK market at the moment will make it much easier for you to attain the smokehouse flavour you’re looking for, and the cheapest of them are easily affordable by most people. Of course, there are also high-end models out there costing hundreds of pounds, and they work incredibly well, so I guess it all comes down to how serious you are about your smoked meat. Here’s a table of contents and a price comparison board to get you going with in depth reviews below.
Table of Contents
Barbecue Smoker Reviews
Now it’s time for our main feature- our best BBQ smoker reviews. We have tried to put in a variety of models that span the price range so there’s something for everyone.
If you don’t have time to read the in depth reviews, you can simply check out the bullet points underneath each one to see the best and worst features.
Our first review on this list of best BBQ smokers is our most expensive product. We realise it might be out of reach for a lot of people, but if you’re serious about buying a top quality BBQ smoker and you have 600 quid going spare, you can’t go wrong with this model…
1. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Grill
Weber are a trusted name when it comes to all things barbecue related, and their smokers are no exception, this is easily the best smoker with exception of maybe the portable cosmo charcoal barbecue.
Their products are renowned for their robustness and durability, and if looked after properly with basic cleaning and maintenance, will last you as life time.
This BBQ smoker is not a barbecue grill. It is a machine designed to slow smoke meat, and that is something it does incredibly well.
The Weber Smokey Mountain grill is so good at maintaining a steady temperature, you can set it up and then leave it for hours to cook itself. You could even leave it overnight and come down to the most perfectly slow smoked pieces of meat you’ve ever eaten.
The reason that this model retains heat so well is its design and construction. The outer shell is made from porcelain enamelled steel which is not only extremely solid, but also does an excellent job of spreading the heat out evenly and also keeping it consistent. The water pan that you place inside the main cooking chamber is also made of this robust material.
The good sized fuel door is made from aluminium which is a material known for being rust resistant and also doesn’t corrode easily like some metals.
In fact, everything about this BBQ smoker is high quality, even down to the small details. For instance, the cooking grates are nickel plated to make them stronger, and increase their working life, heat resistant nylon handles make working with this model safer, and there is a silicon temperature grommet where you can slide in a temperature probe.
The dimensions of this Weber BBQ Smoker are- 102 cm high, 47 cm wide, and 47cm deep, although there are different sizes available at varying prices. This particular model gives you the space to cook a huge amount of food all at once, and is perfect for the professional chef, catering company, or just someone who entertains a lot.
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Grill Review
Best Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Grill Features
What needs work on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Grill
|Excellent build quality||It’s high price may put it out of reach for a lot of customers|
|Will last a lifetime if looked after properly|
|Excellent temperature control|
|Thick porcelain enamelled steel casing|
|Rust resistant baffle doors|
|Nickel plated cooking grills|
|Silicon temperature grommet|
|Large enough to cook a lot of food|
|Heat resistant nylon handle|
|Built in lid thermometer|
Coming up next is the ProQ Frontier Elite BBQ Smoker – Version 4.0. It is very similar in design and function to the Weber BBQ smoker above bit is available at a much lower price.
2. ProQ Frontier Elite BBQ Smoker - Version 4.0
The ProQ elite BBQ smoker is an excellent product and well worth 300 pounds of anyone’s money. It’s as manoeuvrable and easy to use as a the simplest portable gas bbq but with all the flavour and benefits you get from charcoal. That’s some compliment by the way.
It has a modular design that makes it very versatile. Each section can be accessed, removed or added again to suit your needs. This makes it easy to switch from using it as a kettle grill for your more everyday barbecuing tasks like cooking burgers and hotdogs, to assembling it to work as a slow smoker for those quality pieces of meat.
Like the Weber Smokey Mountain, the body of this BBQ smoker is made of porcelain coated steel ensuring a great cooking environment inside the main chamber. Despite its modular nature, it still regulates temperature very well, and the slightest adjustment of the air vents will have an effect on the internal temperature, giving you a nice level of control.
It also has multiple air vents for controlling the temperature ( including 3 vents in the base), a built in thermometer in the lid, and silicon eyelets on each stacker where you can insert extra thermometer probes, so you can always have a clear idea of the heat levels inside the smoker.
When fully stacked up, this BBQ smoker stands 102cm tall and 43cm wide, and the two 40cm stainless steel cooking racks will allow you to prepare enough food to feed a good sized group of people. There is even a hanging bar with 5 meat hooks included to hang your ribs on.
Aluminium has been used for a lot of the smaller parts of the ProQ elite BBQ smoker such as the baffle hatches, and other parts such as the bolts are stainless steel. All together this makes the ProQ are well built and durable piece of kit.
Now for the negative part. The whole unit is made from durable materials such as stainless steel, aluminium, or porcelain plated steel, but the fire basket isn’t and after only a few uses it started to rust. Now, I know this isn’t the end of the world and won’t affect much, I just thought it let down an otherwise excellent product.
ProQ Frontier Elite BBQ Smoker – Version 4.0 Review
Best ProQ Frontier Elite BBQ Smoker – Version 4.0 Features
What needs work on the ProQ Frontier Elite BBQ Smoker – Version 4.0
|Porcelain enamelled steel casing||Fire basket is not up to the high standard as the rest of the smoker|
|Great temperature regulation|
|Modular design makes it very versatile|
|Can be used as a kettle bbq or a slow smoker|
|Hanging bar with 5 meat hooks included|
|Aluminium hatches and vents|
|Stainless steel cooking grills|
|Built in thermometer|
|Silicon eyelets in each stacker for temperature probes|
Moving on to our third review now with the Azuma smoker barbecue. Unlike our two previous reviews, this BBQ smoker isn’t a ‘bullet’ design and instead resembles more of a traditional charcoal barbecue grill.
3. Azuma Smoker Barbecue Black Barrel BBQ Outdoor Charcoal Grill
The Azuma smoker barbecue is a two in one product that allows you to grill steaks, burgers and vegetables on the racks in the main unit, and also to slow smoke whatever you fancy in the separate, off set smoker.
Priced at a penny under 190 pounds, it is in the price range for most people who are looking for an affordable yet still quality product.
The chambers on the Azuma BBQ smoker are made from 1mm thick steel that has been powder coated to prevent premature rusting. After a while, you will still get rusting on the inside of the hood and fire basket though as this is where most of the heat is, and this is the same with nearly all barbecues and smokers unless you really want to shell out for something like the Weber Smokey Mountain model above.
In addition to the cooking racks inside the grill and smoker, this model sports a front facing shelf rack that comes in really handy for placing your tongs and other utensils on, and under the main grill near the wheels is a fifth rack where you can store plates and sauces.
The wheels are adequate for rolling the 33.4kg weight of the Azuma BBQ smoker around on flat surfaces or on even ground, but I wouldn’t want to try moving it over any particularly bumpy lawns or overly soft ground.
Once stationary it is stable enough if on level ground, but it is a little top heavy so care has to be taken to find a good spot to sit it down.
With a 68cm long main cooking chamber, this model is large enough to keep family and friends topped up with more than enough food. The offset firebox measures 39cm long.
Temperature control is handled by adjusting the air vents in the side firebox and smoke levels can be adjusted by opening and closing the chimney baffle.
When the lid is closed, you can keep an eye on the temperature inside the BBQ smoker by using the thermometer that is integrated into it, but I as always, I would advise using temperature probes to get a more accurate reading of the food’s temperature.
The offset smoker works well if you keep rotating the meat around every now and again so that the nearby firebox doesn’t cause one side to burn. Either that or place the meat to the far side away from the direct heat.
This product is ideal for people who are new to smoking and want to get their feet wet before investing in a more expensive model. It also has the added benefit of being a good sized open grill charcoal barbecue.
Azuma Smoker Barbecue Black Barrel BBQ Outdoor Charcoal Grill Review
Best Azuma Smoker Barbecue Black Barrel BBQ Outdoor Charcoal Grill Features
What needs work on the Azuma Smoker Barbecue Black Barrel BBQ Outdoor Charcoal Grill
|Well-built and sturdy||Smoker needs some practice to get your meat right|
|Full sized 68cm long barbecue grill||It’s a little top heavy|
|39cm long Offset smoker|
|1mm thick powder coated steel casing|
|Fitted with wheels to make manoeuvring it easier|
|Built in thermometer|
|Additional storage racks|
|Large wooden handles|
|Adjustable air vents|
|Chimney baffle to control smoke|
Our fourth and final product in our best BBQ smoker reviews list is a budget option for those of us with tighter purse strings, or for people who just want a barbecue grill with the option to do a little smoking from time to time.
4. TecTake BBQ Charcoal Barbecue Smoker
With a similar design to the Azura BBQ smoker above, this TecTake model comprises of a barrel style barbecue grill and an offset smoker compartment.
The barbecue grill has a cooking surface area of 58cm x 30cm, big enough to cook burgers for the whole family with room to spare. Beneath the main grill is a grease tray to catch all the juices that run from the meat. Not only does this make cleaning easier, but you can also use those juices for making a nice gravy or for basting.
The smoker is approximately 31cm x 30cm so you can get a decent sized piece of meat in there. However, this is a low cost BBQ smoker and the low price means that you have to pay in another way- with your time.
Unlike the Weber Smokey Mountain grill or the ProQ Frontier Elite where you can set it up and leave it to slow cook away, with budget BBQ smokers like this one, you will have to stand over the meat, keeping a close eye on it constantly and adjusting the air flow and chimney baffle to maintain the right temperature. It’s much harder to get right, but with practice you can do it.
As for extra features, the wooden shelf in front of the main grill is a nice addition, as is the wire shelf on the bottom of the unit. There is also a thermometer on the lid of the barrel barbecue and large wooden handles on the lid and sides.
At 24 kilograms, it is quite light compared to the Azura BBQ Smoker, and it too has a good set of 15cm wheels to get around on and standing on flat ground, the TecTake BBQ Smoker has good stability.
Something that I didn’t like about this BBQ smoker was the undersized ash tray. The ash built up quickly and started to smother the ashes, so you’ve got to be on top of emptying it regularly.
To sum up the TecTake BBQ smoker, I’d say you get what you pay for. You can’t expect miracles from something that costs less than 70 pounds, but it is good quality for the price and will allow beginners to practice using a smoker, well if they’re willing to put the time in that is.
TecTake BBQ Charcoal Barbecue Smoker Review
Best TecTake BBQ Charcoal Barbecue Smoker Features
What needs work on the TecTake BBQ Charcoal Barbecue Smoker
|Very cheap||Temperature control needs to be done manually|
|BBQ grill and smoker combo||Ash tray is too shallow|
|58cm x 30cm main grill area|
|Large Wooden shelf|
|Air vents to control heat|
|Chimney baffle to control smoke|
|Lower wire shelf|
|Built in thermometer|
That final review brings to a close this article on the best BBQ smokers and we sincerely hope you have found this page to be insightful, or at the very least, a little helpful but if you still need more info we have included some useful hints and tips below.
What is a BBQ Smoker?
A BBQ smoker can be a stand-alone unit or a part of a barbecue grill. It is used for cooking food at low temperatures of around 110 degrees Celsius / 225 degrees Fahrenheit, and this keeps the meat tender and prevents it losing moisture. Obviously the environment inside a BBQ smoker is…smokey, and that’s where that extra flavour comes from.
BBQ smokers can be fuelled by charcoal, wood, propane, or electric. Propane and electric models are the easiest to set up and use but you might find it hard to get that really authentic smoked taste with them, especially the electric kind. There are extra things you can buy that will give food cooked in an electric smoker more of that coveted bbq flavour but they usually have to be bought separately and the products offer varying levels of quality.
Charcoal and wood are the fuels of choice for the seasoned smoker grill chefs as they are the surest way to get that classic aroma and melt in your mouth, smoked meat. Some woods smoke better than others though, like hickory for example, so you should do a little research and shop around to find the best type.
How to use a BBQ smoker?
Using a BBQ smoker to get your meat just right can be compared to a fine art, and I know a few people who treated as such, taking it very seriously.
However, with advances in technology, and the wealth of information on the internet, it’s now possible for anyone to get amazing results every time, as long as they are using one of the best BBQ smokers in the UK and not a sub-par model.
Here is a quick guide with a few helpful tips that’ll have you impressing the wife and kids with your ‘barbecue kung fu’ in no time.
First, set up your thermometer(s). Most smokers have built in thermometers, and some can work well, but cheaper model’s might not do the job properly so it’s always a good idea to have a secondary temperature probe placed near the food while it’s cooking. This will ensure that you are getting an accurate reading of the heat where it counts and not the temperature as it is at the top of the grill.
Check that your baffles are open. We all know that things need oxygen to burn it’s the intake baffle and chimney baffle that control the airflow in a BBQ smoker. To begin with, make sure they are both fully open.
Next, get your fuel source burning. For this example we’ll use charcoal and wood as it’s my usual fuel of choice.
Put a good amount of charcoal in the firebox and heat it until you start to see ash forming over it (you can also use a chimney starter to get the coals going before adding them to the smoker’s firebox). Then add your wood. I use wood more as a supplement to give my meat the flavour I’m looking for rather than as a primary fuel source as it it’s much harder to manage and regulate temperature with. I usually place smoker wood chips next to, rather than directly on the flames so that I can avoid getting soot or ash on my food.
Get your temperature up to 110C/225F. To make this easier, make sure the baffles are open near the firebox and chimney, and also check that the firebox is closed properly and not leaking heat or smoke.
Once you hit our golden temperature, it’s time to add your meat.
Regulate and maintain the temperature. As we already mentioned, you want to maintain a temperature of around 225 degrees Fahrenheit at all times but it’s ok if it wanders up a little from time to time as long as it doesn’t exceed about 250 degrees.
You use both the intake baffle and chimney baffles to regulate the temperature in the grill. The intake baffle controls how much air gets to the coals so obviously this has a large effect on the temperature and needs to be monitored and adjusted as needed.
The chimney baffle controls how much smoke is released and this also effects the temperature of the grill, only to a lesser extent.
Take your time. Creating the perfect, juice filled piece of smoked meat is not an instant process, so be prepared to cook for at least a few hours.
Find out what the perfect internal temperature should be for your cooked meat (not the grill’s temperature, the actual meat itself) and use a food thermometer to keep an eye on things. There’s plenty of information about this kind of thing on the internet so do a bit of homework and remember, the best things come to those who wait.
How to choose the best BBQ Smoker?
When choosing the best BBQ smoker, there are a few factors that you need to consider. Here we have highlighted them for you so that you can make a more informed choice.
As we already mentioned above, BBQ smokers can be fuelled in a variety of ways.
For the most authentic flavour you would use wood only, but controlling a fire of this type takes a fair bit of skill, so using charcoal with a little wood for flavour is probably better for most people.
Propane gas and electric smokers give you convenience when it comes to setting up and it is much easier to control the internal temperature of these kinds of smokers. You won’t get the same flavour as with charcoal and wood, but for some people the simplicity of propane gas smokers and electric smokers makes them desirable.
There are also pellet smokers, which feed wooden pellets into the smoker automatically and also have electronically controlled thermostats. This means that they can be programmed to cook at a certain heat and then they will cook in an automated way, taking a lot of the work, and also control, out of your hands.
The price range of BBQ smokers is vast, starting out at under 100 pounds for a budget gas or electric model, all the way up to thousands of pounds for custom made units. For around 300 pound you can get your hands on a good quality charcoal smoker that will last you for years, and if a pellet smoker tickles your fancy, be prepared to shell out at least 600 quid for a decent model.
Take my advice, it’s better to spend a little extra in something that is made of high quality materials and put together solidly, than to save a few quid on something with low quality parts.
The best BBQ smokers are constructed of thick steel because this material not only absorbs heat well, but also helps to spread it evenly around the cooking chamber. Obviously, thick steel is also incredibly durable so you don’t have to worry about accidentally damaging it if you drop it.
On top of the type of material, you should also check things like the quality of the welds, the thickness and sturdiness of the legs, and the quality of the smaller moving parts such as latches and wheels, as you don’t want your BBQ smoker falling apart on you after only a few uses.
Another import thing is that all the doors, hatches, lids, etc. shut tightly. Smokers need a constant temperature and smoke to work, so if it’s leaking out left right and centre, you’re not going to get the quality of meat you are after.
Even the type of paint used on the barbecue can affect its durability. Ideally you want a model that is coated with weather and rust proof paint so you don’t have to panic every time it rains.
What are you looking for in a BBQ smoker? Do you want one with automated cooking features that you can just program, throw your meat into and forget about?
Or, do you prefer the hands on approach and want to be able to control every minute and aspect of the cooking process?
Maybe you are looking for a smoker and barbecue grill combo?
There are numerous options available to you when it comes to the best BBQ smokers so you should think about what your needs are before deciding on whether a certain product is right for you or not. Shelling out a lot of money for something that has a myriad of features is a waste of money if you’re not going to make use of them.
Probably the most important feature to take into consideration before buying a BBQ smoker is temperature control.
You want a BBQ smoker that is fairly airtight to prevent uncontrolled temperature fluctuations, and also one with easy to use controls for the baffles.
A good thermostat / thermometer is also essential and that is why I don’t recommend going for most cheap models as the thermometers on them are usually low quality and inaccurate.
To make extra sure that you are getting an accurate reading of the temperature, I would always suggest using extra thermometer probes anyway, even with top BBQ smokers.
With smokers, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for so if you’re serious about getting your meat perfect without having to spend hours in front of the grill, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and shell out for a good spec model.
It is possible to get good results with a cheaper model, though it requires more skill, practice, patience and time to get it right.
Personally, I’m a bit lazy and I like the results without too much hard work. Then again, for some people the challenge of getting it right the hard way is all part of the fun so I guess it comes down to the individual.
Whichever model you decide to go with, it is always worth spending a bit of time online watching videos on YouTube and such, to give yourself the best chance of getting your smoked meat just right.
An hour or so in front of the computer today could pay off in the form of a beautifully moist and juicy piece of brisket later.
This site is packed full of pages and reviews of a huge array of products, so if you have time, feel free to browse away at our main bbq page.