Best Charcoal Smoker In 2022 – Top 11 Reviews & Buying Guide

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Craving to enjoy the super delicious, juicy, and perfectly smoked flavor of charcoal foods? Well, there is nothing better than buying the best charcoal smoker. But wait, do you think choosing the right smoker is easy? Maybe to some extent, but to be honest, analyzing countless options available on the market and then deciding the select the best charcoal smoker for BBQ can be a challenging task.

If you are a beginner, investing in smokers can be frustrating for you as all smokers have different shapes, purposes, features, and prices. Well, I know you want some experienced person to help you and make things easy for you. I have been a smoker fanatic for years and love to share my experience with different smokers. Out of countless smokers available on the market, I have selected these top-rated charcoal smokers for you.

Comparison of the Best Charcoal Smoker for 2022

Best Charcoal Smoker- Top Rated Charcoal Smoker for Every Budget


1. Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D- Best Vertical Charcoal Smoker

Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D

  •  Item Weight: 56 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 20.83 x 21.45 x 49.73 inches
  • Cooking Area : 784 square inches

One of the best-selling vertical charcoal smokers on the market, Dyna-Glo DGX780BDC-D offers a variety of features to make both grillings and smoking convenient for you. Offering a spacious cooking area of 784 square inches, this charcoal smoker comes with four adjustable cooking grates. One excellent benefit of these grates is their easy cleaning after a smoking session.

It is made with steel to ensure perfect heat insulation, weather resistance, and above all, long-lasting durability. There are two side doors for easy loading. The best benefit of double door design is that it ensures less heat loss during food and fuel placement. Also, the porcelain-enameled charcoal chamber keeps briquettes stacked properly for enhanced burn efficiency.

There is a removable steel ash pan to handle a huge amount of ash for long cooking sessions. The manufacturer has added three temperature modes to adjust it according to your smoking needs. Additionally, the chimney-like smokestack on the top allows t regulate temperature and airflow.

The adjustable dampers are located at the bottom side to achieve desired cooking temperature. Last but not least, the built-in stainless steel thermometer offers a smoke zone indicator for straightforward usability.

PROS

  • Dual door design for easy food and charcoal access
  • Large charcoal chamber and removable ash pan
  • Ceramic enameled coating interior
  • Built-in thermometer with smoke zone indicator
  • Three-way temperature adjustment

CONS

  • Water pan missing

2. Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker

Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker

  • Item Weight: 39.1 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 21 x 19 x 41 inches
  • Cooking Area : 481 square inches

One of the best smoker and grill manufacturers on the market, Weber needs no introduction. In fact, this Weber 18-inch Smokey mountain cooker charcoal smoker is a bright example of its innovative design, great features, and user-friendliness.

Featuring 481 square inches of cooking space, it is a reasonable option for a 3 to 6 people party. It comes with two plated steel cooking grates and a steel charcoal grate. The best part is that they are porcelain-enameled for improved durability. The prime benefit of high-quality coating is that it prevents the grates from high-temperature effects.

It has a lid-mounted built-in thermometer gauge for convenient temperature control. You can easily monitor the internal temperature without opening the door. The lid and bowl are also porcelain enameled with premium-grade US steel for superior heat retention.

There are multi-dampers added to control the smoker and temperature according to cooking needs. Made from durable aluminum material, these dampers are rust-resistant and can last easily for a long time without environmental effects. This charcoal smoker can easily handle a full-sized turkey and a large ham in the bottom.

The design is ideal for safety, efficiency, and comfort. The water pan keeps the smoking environment a bit damp to prevent the meat from drying out. Also, the adjustable vent helps to control the airflow. For safety, Weber has added a heat-resistant handle. Last but not least, the removable metal legs are rust-resistant and durable.

PROS

  • Excellent temperature control
  • Two adjustable cooking grates
  • Easy access fuel door
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • It comes with a safety cover

CONS

  • Not for large gatherings

3. Oklahoma Joe’s 19202089- Best Charcoal Drum Smoker

Oklahoma Joe’s 19202089

  • Item Weight: 136.6 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 30.28 x 25.35 x 43.3 inches
  • Cooking Area : 630 square inches

A heavy-duty charcoal smoker offering precision and customization for excellent smoking results, Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Charcoal Drum Smoker comes with adjustable cooking porcelain grates. It has handy meat hangers to create an ideal setup combined with a decent airflow control system to smoke your food perfectly. There is a sealed lid for precise temperature management. You can easily use the side damper to control air amount and the top damper to enhance airflow.

The 630 square inches cooking space is good enough for a medium-sized party. Thanks to the oversized charcoal basket, you can add fuel for all-day smoking. Whether you prefer charcoal briquettes, lump, or wood charcoal, this basket is can easily handle all types. It also has a professional temperature gauge combined with glow-in-the-dark accents to conveniently monitor the food temperature without opening the door.

When it comes to cleaning, the charcoal smoker has been equipped with a removable ash pan. You can lift out the pan for mess-free dumping. For additional protection, the manufacturer has added a porcelain coating to protect against rust. One of the significant advantages of this drum charcoal smoker is its durable construction. It is made with heavy gauge steel for long-lasting durability. Additional features include a rubber handle grip large wagon style wheels for mobility water resistant cover.

PROS

  • Excellent Airflow Control System
  • Adjustable cooking grates with meat hangers
  • Oversized charcoal basket for all-day smoking
  • Removable ash pan for easy cleaning
  • Easy to read temperature gauge

CONS

  • It takes some time to assemble

4. Dyna-Glo DGSS1382VCS-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill

Dyna-Glo DGSS1382VCS-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill

  • Item Weight: 124.3 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 45.5 x 24.9 x 58.8 inches
  • Cooking Area : 1382 square inches

Whether you want to grill or smoke your favorite food for a large gathering, this multifunctional smoker is the best choice for you. Offering an extra-large cooking space of 1382 square inches, this charcoal smoker grill combo has pre-installed chrome-plated sausage hooks. There are five chrome-plated steel grates to accommodate different types of foods.

The smart temperature gauge has a smoke zone function to notify about the right temperature for infusing the ideal amount for desired smoked flavor. You can easily keep an eye on the food temperature for the best results. There is a pull-out side tray for straightforward fuel access and to prevent heat loss.

The offset firebox easily doubles as a grill and has porcelain-coated steel cooking plates to sear food perfectly. Thanks to the cool-touch handles, you can easily move the grill smoker from one place to another without hurting yourself. The charcoal smoker comes with a cool-touch spring lid for safe food access. Last but not least, the oversized steel wheels provide hassle-free mobility before and after smoking.

PROS

  • Five chrome-plated cooking grates
  • Cool-touch spring lid grip
  • Heavy-Gauge Steel Body Construction
  • Analog Temperature Gauge with smoke zone indicator
  • Removable Offset Charcoal Grate and Ash Pan

CONS

  • Not recommended for clod areas

5. Char-Broil Bullet Smoker- Best Budget Charcoal Smoker

Char-Broil Bullet Smoker

  • Item Weight: 16.5 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 21.2 x 23 x 37.6 inches
  • Cooking Area : 388 square inches

If you are looking for an affordable option with super-smoking performance, this durable and high-quality smoker offers a fantastic value for your money. This bullet charcoal smoker comes with an innovative airflow control technology that simplifies settings and helps to maintain smoking temperature. It has a durable porcelain-coated steel body with excellent smoke and heat retention performance.

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker offers 388 square inches of cooking surface shared by two porcelain cooking grates. Thanks to the porcelain coating, the food doesn’t stick and also helps to clean them effortlessly. A removable ash pan neatly collects all ash from smoking and allows cleaning the mess in no time.
A lid-mounted temperature gauge helps to check the temperature of the food.

Smoke and heat retention plays a vital role in the food taste. That’s where the formed fire access door helps to seal the smoke chamber perfectly. Although the performance of the charcoal smoker is exceptional still manufacturer is offering one year warranty for the product. For convenient transportation, there are two durable chamber fit handles located on each side of the smoker’s body.

PROS

  • Innovative Airflow Control technology
  • Durable Porcelain-coated body
  • Lightweight and portable design
  • One year warranty
  • Lid-mounted temperature gauge

CONS

  • Weak door latch

6. PK360 Cast Aluminum Portable Outdoor BBQ Grill Smoker- Best Camping Smoker

PK360 Cast Aluminum Portable Outdoor BBQ Grill Smoker

  • Item Weight: 90 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 23 x 54 x 43 inches
  • Cooking Area : 360 square inches

A new and improved cast aluminum grill and smoker by PK, the PK360 is one of the best small smokers available on the market. Featuring a unique, innovative design, the charcoal smoker is manufactured with marine-grade stainless steel material. It offers 360 square inches of cooking surface to smoke a variety of food without losing the flavor and heat.

One of the most appealing features of this charcoal smoker is that it provides distinctive versatility for low and slow or fast and hot grilling. The portable design is specially created for traveling and camping.

Equipped with a 4-point venting system, the unit offers revolutionary precision heat management and air control. If you are looking for a grill smoker to enjoy both direct and indirect cooking, PK360 is the best choice for your needs. This is one of the best portable smokers for tailgating, camping, hunting, and fishing.

Clean up is effortless after cooking, thanks to the ash hole to simply clean out. The rust-proof, superior cast aluminum charcoal smoker evenly distributes heat across the cooking surface, and amazingly, the distribution is 4x faster than steel material. There are two zones in the cooking chamber, one for direct heating and another one for indirect heating. Additionally, you can set the smoker in two separate heating zones in one session simultaneously.

PROS

  • Best portable smoker grill combo
  • Two separate heating zones
  • Four points venting system
  • Durable aluminum construction
  • Maintains perfect temperature

CONS

  • Hard to clean grease at the bottom

7. Realcook Vertical Charcoal Smoker

Realcook Vertical Charcoal Smoker

  • Item Weight: 18.55 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 22 x 17 x 35 inches
  • Cooking Area : 453 square inches

Enjoy fantastic smoking and barbecue experience with the Realcook Vertical Charcoal Smoker. Featuring controllable air dampers along with the multi-layers design, this lightweight and durable smoker can be easily modified into a superior performing grill. You can quickly separate the smoker into three parts ad store the unit on your trunk for the beach, camping, seaside barbecue, and other outside places.

The best feature of this versatile smoker is its flexible usability. You can smoke, grill, bake, steam, braise, and roast in the smoker. There is a built-in thermometer offering a detailed temperature scale and combined with the adjustable air supply mechanism on the lid for excellent temperature control. Additionally, you can use this small smoker for cold and hot smoking.

Assembling the unit is a straightforward task with easy to use design. It has two layers design which is easy to take them apart for convenient transportation and cleaning. With a secure latch locking system, the smoke and heat are perfectly retained inside the cooking chamber.

Also, the two access doors allow checking the food status and adding charcoal or wood without any hassle. For effortless and safe transportation, there are two heat-resistant, durable handles added to the body. Other notable features include a porcelain-enameled water pan and stable legs for convenient mobility and reliable stability.

PROS

  • Versatile smoker for broad cooking types
  • Build-in Thermometer gauge
  • 4 Hanging Hooks & a Crossbar
  • Adjustable Air Vents
  • Chrome-plated cooking racks

CONS

  • Temperature maintaining issues

8. Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical Charcoal Smoker

Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical Charcoal Smoker

  • Item Weight: 37 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 20.5 x 20.5 x 22.8 inches
  • Cooking Area : 510 square inches

Designed for grilling enthusiasts, the Cuisinart COS-118 comes with a portable design to provide an excellent cooking experience anywhere you want. You can smoke your favorite foods, including vegetables, cheese, and meat, easily. There are two air vents to control the heat and smoke amount inside the cooking chamber. You can quickly open the vents to manage the desired amount of smoke and heat.

It has two steel wire racks that can be conveniently stacked inside the smoking chamber. There is a porcelain enameled steel bowl for water and also a vertical side access door for quick access to fuel and water. One of the prime advantages of the vertical design is that it perfectly distributes the heat throughout the cooking chamber.

The overall cooking surface of the smoker is 508 square inches. Each stainless steel rack has a 254 square inches portion that allows placing two large butterflied chickens or six racks of ribs. The design is simple, but cleaning may take some time due to the barrel structure. Cuisinart is offering three years warranty for this charcoal smoker.

PROS

  • Side access door for easy use
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and interior
  • Adjustable dampers
  • Easy to setup
  • Durable and heavy-duty construction

CONS

  • Grates may be a little sticky

9. Masterbuilt MB20041220- Best Digital Charcoal Smoker

Masterbuilt MB20041220

  • Item Weight: 202.9 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 33.07 x 61.02 x 52.17 inches
  • Cooking Area : 1050 square inches

One of the most popular cooking accessories manufacturers on the market, Masterbuilt is the name of quality and trust. The Masterbuilt MB20041220 is an ideal choice for RV-ing, tailgating, camping, picnic, and barbeque parties. The convenient to use control panel allows navigating from 225 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Whether you are smoking, searing, BBQ, slow and low, or roasting, MB20041220 offers a wide range of cooking.

The most appealing feature is the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity option with the Masterbuilt official app. It allows monitoring the cooking progress from your smartphone. Another handy feature is the all-new Master Thermometer Probe to check the internal temperature of the food with an easy-to-read display. Additionally, it allows installing three more probes if needed.

Masterbuilt has equipped this grill smoker combo with reliable digital controls for precise temperature control during cooking. The digital fan control system helps to control the airflow effectively from the hopper that passes through the chambers. Using this function effectively cooks the food at the desired temperature and maintains the moisture in the meat.
The charcoal hopper has the capacity to offer cooking time for about 8 hours.

The grates are reversible, which allows smoking or searing the food. When it comes to the extra space option, the foldable front shelf provides additional space to store grilling accessories. There is a valuable tray at the back of the grill smoker to collect the grease and oil drippings from the grates and make cleaning effortless. Other notable features include safe cord storage, porcelain-coated racks, rubber wheels for easy transportation, and a one-year limited warranty.

PROS

  • Convenient front-door access
  • DigitalFan™ for precise temperature control
  • Built-in temperature gauge and meat probe thermometer
  • Foldable stainless steel shelf and stainless steel side shelf
  • Stainless steel lid and latches

CONS

  • Expensive accessories

10. Broil King 923610 Vertical Charcoal Smoker- Best Charcoal Smoker Under $500

Broil King 923610 Vertical Charcoal Smoker

  • Item Weight: 70 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 22 x 18 x 48.5 inches
  • Cooking Area : 770 square inches

Finding a lightweight charcoal smoker with 770 square inches of cooking space is a challenging task, but this Broil King 923610 has solved the problem for barbecue lovers. Weighing only 70 pounds, this vertical charcoal smoker comes packed with high-quality features, including four adjustable and durable stainless steel cooking grids. It features root-draft damper technology combined with a multi-purpose roast/rib rack.

Equipped with an Ace-Temp thermometer, the smoker allows monitoring of the internal temperature of the cooking space. Thanks to the double-walled, highly durable construction, it perfectly retains heat and smoke for delicious taste. The manufacturer has added a secondary door for convenient access to the large stainless steel water bowl, which helps to keep the proper moisture inside the meat.

The adjustable rib/roast rack allows adjusting it according to your cooking needs. There are four adjustable stainless steel cooking grids and four cubic feet of cooking capacity to prepare mouth-watering smoked food. Additionally, there are three heavy-duty door handles for convenient transportation.

Other noteworthy features include four durable tool hooks, sixteen integrated meat hooks, heavy-duty charcoal tray, two rugged steel doors with premium latch system and silicone gasket, and two front leveling feet wheels combined with the two rear easy to move wheels for effortless mobility.

PROS

  • Adjustable multi-purpose rib/roast rack
  • Double-walled steel construction
  • Two front leveling feet and two rear easy-move wheels
  • Door mounted Accu-Temp™ thermometer
  • Adjustable Roto-Draft™ cast aluminum damper system

CONS

  • Small firebox

11. Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker- Best Charcoal Smoker Under 200

Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker

  • Item Weight: 15.26 Pounds
  • Power SourceCharcoal
  • Item Dimensions : 19.13 x 21.65 x 31.49 inches
  • Cooking Area : 395.4 square inches

Whether you are a competition-ready pro or a beginner to the smoking world, this Masterbuilt 20060416 is one of the best options for you. Weighing only 15 pounds, the charcoal smoker works best for fishing, tailgating, camping, and all backyard parties. The cooking surface is 395.4 square inches which make it perfect for 2-4 person gatherings.

There are two porcelain-coated smoking racks to place the food. When it comes to temperature monitoring, Masterbuilt 20060416 comes with a built-in lid thermometer to check the status of your food temperature. You don’t need to open the door, which helps to keep the heat and smoke inside the cooking chamber for adding delicious smoked flavor.

There is a front access door for convenient charcoal addition. An air damper helps to keep the precise temperature, moisture, and smoke control. The removable drip pan collects the oil and grease drippings for convenient cleaning. You can conveniently smoke up to 24 sausages, four chickens, and 18 burgers in this Charcoal Bullet Smoker. Other notable features include a porcelain-coated charcoal pan, water bowl, and durable steel legs.

PROS

  • Ultra-lightweight and portable design
  • Built-in temperature gauge
  • Front access door
  • Two porcelain coated smoking racks
  • Removable drip pan and water bowl

CONS

  • Temperature regulation is difficult

Essential Things to Consider before buying a Charcoal Smoker

Charcoal smokers are best known for creating rich smoky flavors but getting your favorite flavor needs the right selection. So, there are many essential things you should consider before investing in a charcoal smoker.

Here are the most important aspects of the best charcoal smoker.

Before probing into charcoal smoker features, you should know the different types of smokers available on the market.

Different Types of Smokers

You will find a variety of smokers while searching for a smoker. The Texas-style offset smoker is trending nowadays. There have been plenty of modifications and advancements made in the charcoal smoker industry.

From digital control systems to effective airflow technology, even beginners can perfectly smoke their favorite foods effortlessly.

However, you should know how much experience and effort is required smoking food with different types of smokers. Let’s explore the world of smokers briefly.

Offset Smokers

The most popular type of charcoal smokers nowadays, Offset smokers have two compartments. The first compartment is horizontal, and the second is the cylindrical-shaped main compartment.

The cylindrical-shaped compartment is a small one and is found on the left or right of the main compartment. Charcoal is burned in this apartment, and then the smoke and heat move to the large compartment through the vent. The food is placed and cooked in the main compartment of the charcoal smoker.

Although these smokers are made for charcoal, you can also use wood to smoke your favorite food. It is recommended to use dampened wood chips to produce more smoke and enjoy the rich smoked flavor.

Remember, an offset smoker needs more attention to the fire and airflow. You should have some practice and patience to get the most out of charcoal smokers. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why offset smokers are used by barbecue experts.

Cabinet or Box Smokers

These smokers are designed in a way that charcoal is located at the bottom, and the water pan is used above it to keep them moist in the food. The food is placed at the top of the racks.

Cabinet or Box smokers are equipped with front-load doors, whereas you may find some models with glass windows on the front to keep an eye on your food without opening the door. It helps to keep the smoke and heat inside the cabinet for best results.

Some cabinet smokers feature separate pans to hold wet wood chips on the hot charcoal. Also, the exhaust on the top helps to manage the fire and the airflow to provide consistent heat to the food.

Vertical, Barrel and Bullet smokers

As the name suggests, vertical smokers are tall and narrow in shape. However, there are some large vertical smokers that look like a metal drum. The charcoal fire is located at the very bottom in a vertical smoker, just like the cabinet smoker. The smoke and heat travel upwards where the food sits on the rack to smoke.

These smokers are also known as water smokers. The water pan or water bowl is placed between your food and the heat source. The pan protects the food from direct heat and cooks it slowly and consistently.

The fire size, smoke, and temperature out are controlled with the airflow from the bottom and limiting the exhaust at the top. You need moderate experience and attention to smoke food in vertical smokers.

Different types of Charcoal

You should know what type of Charcoal you use to smoke food. Remember, Charcoal is the prime factor in a smoker. Here are different types of Charcoal that are used for the charcoal smoker.

Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is the most used one by smoking experts. They look like the blackened chunks of broken wood. Wood pieces burned within an extremely low-oxygen environment to make lump charcoal. The process results in releasing volatile compounds, including water, hydrogen, and methane.
As a result, pure carbon is left behind. These types of Charcoal burn without flames and produce less smoke. If you want to smoke food at a high temperature, lump charcoal is best for you. It has the ability to reach higher temperatures as compared to the typical wood.
Most wood has been burned off in the making process; lump charcoal produces less ash as compared to raw wood. However, it doesn’t produce a decent amount of smoke and therefore dampened wood chips are used on the top of the Charcoal to produce desired smoke amount.

Briquettes

Another popular type is charcoal briquettes. They are manufactured from wood byproducts, binders, and sawdust. The ingredients are processed and then compressed into a cube, pillow shapes.
Briquettes brand also uses chemicals for binding them more effectively and helps in convenient lightening up. Make sure to read the briquettes label before buying them. Just like lump charcoals, wood chips can be added to achieve desired smoke amount.

Important features of Charcoal Smoker

Smoker Design
There are two types of smokes include vertical and horizontal.
The heat and smoke in vertical smokers go in a straight line from the bottom to the top, just like an oversized chimney. Horizontal smokers include Kamado, water/bullets, and vertical cabinet smokers.


These smokers have the fire off to one side that allows the heat and smoke to circulate throughout the chamber before moving towards the smokestack. Usually, they are equipped with one or more opening doors to access the food and fire.
The prime benefit of vertical charcoal smokers is their footprint. Also, they need less space on your patio or deck.


On the other hand, horizontal smokers provide a maximum smoking surface. You can effortlessly place multiple racks of ribs without rolling or hanging them. If you want to smoke food for a large gathering, horizontal charcoal smokers are best for you.


Build Quality
The manufacturing quality of every product is extremely important. When it comes to a charcoal smoker, build quality plays a vital role in smoking food.


A low-quality charcoal smoker comes with thin materials like sheet metal without insulation. In fact, the seams and doors may leak, which makes it challenging to maintain consistent smoke and heat inside the chamber.


When it comes to high-end charcoal smokers like Kamado grills, they feature thick walls, tight vents, and seams.
Always consider the durability of a lock, handles, and gasket for the best smoking experience.


However, the thicker steel costs more as compared to the thin material. The lower the heat fluctuates during smoking due to weather and wind and the longer it lasts.
Choosing the best charcoal smoker ensures to prevent other hassles, including drilling holes for temperature gauge, making modifications to make them work properly, and moving them from one place to other.


Versatility and Usability
A versatile charcoal smoker allows using it for more than smoking foods. For instance, you can smoke and grill at the same time. A combo of smoker and grill is always useful as there comes a time when you need to grill food for guests.


Convenience
User-friendliness plays a vital role in choosing the right charcoal smoker. It includes automatic functioning and work efficiency. There is a set and forget feature in advanced charcoal smokers for your convenience. All you need is to place the food in the smoking chamber, set desired temperature, and enjoy your party.


Another essential convenience feature is the flexibility and mobility of your smoker. Moving a smoker from one place to another is sometimes difficult, especially when the smoker has heavyweight or doesn’t have wheels for mobility.


Cooking Surface
Smoking meat needs patience and expertise. The smoker racks will be occupied for a long time, and you can’t use the space for cooking anything until you are done with the meat. Make sure your chosen charcoal smoker has enough space in the main chamber for your cooking needs.


I don’t think smoking meat in two or more batches is a good idea. Not only will it take more time, but it also results in uneven cooking. However, if you have a small family, you need a small charcoal smoker for your needs. It is better to consider the number of people you want to prepare food for and then choose the cooking surface of a charcoal smoker.


Smoke Grates
The grates are responsible for holding the food inside the cooking chamber. You can place your food directly on them or use the surface in-between the two grates. No matter how you use it, the importance of grates is very important.


Make sure the charcoal smoker grates are made with durable material to hold the food easily and withstand the smoke for a long time. Grates manufactured with heavy-duty steel, cast iron, or porcelain-coated are always best.


Stainless steel cooking grates are easy to clean.
• Cast iron or heavy-duty steel transfers heat perfectly.


It is essential to take care of the grates for the best smoking result. You should oil them regularly to prevent rust issues.
Porcelain-coated grates are a decent choice, but they scratch or chip more easily. However, using a porcelain-safe brush to clean such grates prevents scratch problems.
Don’t forget to check the adjustable feature of the grates. It helps to improve the functionality of a smoker as you can quickly move the grates to facilitate different meats and sizes of cuts.


Additional features
It is essential to consider some extra features in a charcoal smoker.
A charcoal smoker should have two cooking grates (minimum) along with a warming grate.
A built-in thermometer in the smoker lid helps to monitor the internal temperature without disrupting the smoking process.


The best charcoal smoker comes with advanced features like a digital thermometer, reverse flow cooking chamber, insulated cooking compartments, cold touch handles, large water pans, adjustable dampers, and air vents to feed fresh air to the firebox.
Also, a smoker should handle various types of charcoal to provide more versatility and cooking options.
Lump charcoal has a large size, so ensure the wooden boxes have a large size to accommodate the amount of charcoal you need for the capacity of a smoker.


Portability
Whether you want to take the smoker on vacation or move it around the backyard, you have to pay attention to its portability.
A large charcoal smoker is usually heavy and difficult to move around. However, durable wheels and locking caster help to move the large smokers easily and keep them in place.
The best small charcoal smoker is easy to move around or load into the back of your truck. Such smokers are the best portable option if you prefer to move the smoker frequently.


Price
No matter what you are buying, price is always the main factor. The price of a smoker starts from $150 and reaches to thousands. It depends on your budget and needs to buy the smoker.
Higher-end models are expensive but have more smoking options as compared to cheap charcoal smokers which are less durable and have limited features.

Pros and Cons of Charcoal Smoker

PROS
A charcoal smoker improves the taste and flavor of your food. The charcoal and wood used in the smoker infuse the smell and taste of food during grilling and smoking.
Most charcoal smokers are inexpensive.
Maintenance is convenient, and chances of damage are less as compared to other types of smokers. Cleaning charcoal smokers is super easy.
Charcoal smokers provide multiple ways to control the temperature.
Once the required temperature is reached, the heating reaches its peak rapidly.
Best for outdoor smoking
These are different ways of lighting a charcoal grill or smoker.
CONS
You have to stay active throughout the cooking process.
There are fewer automated features which makes it less convenient. They are not recommended for busy professionals.
Maintaining the required sanitation is challenging as keeping your food clean from the ash is difficult.
Controlling flame is tough as the burning nature of charcoal is not predictable.

Difference between Smoker and grill
The prime difference between a grill and a smoker is that a smoker separates your food from facing direct heat. On the other hand, a charcoal grill features a fire that ranges right below the meat.

A smoker separates the fire so that the heated air and the smoke circulate in the chamber to meat slowly.
Another difference is the cooking temperature of the grill and the Smoker. You need high to grill burgers or steaks for fast cooking results.


You need at least 500 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to cook a medium-rare steak properly.
However, smoking takes plenty of patience and time. For instance, beef briskets take about 12 hours or longer to cook perfectly.

The fire in the best charcoal smoker is off, whereas some models protect the food from the fire with a deflector, and the air is dampened down through vents. The temperature inside the Smoker stays around 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you want to cold smoke salmon or cheese, you need lower temperatures such as 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The best part is that you can turn your charcoal grill into a smoker. All you need is to build a heat source on one side of your grill and put the meat on the other side. If you don’t need a Smoker during large BBQ parties, you can use this method known as the two-zone fire method.


How to use charcoal smoker and grill
Grilling is an ideal way to enjoy your favorite meal. Using a charcoal smoker may not be easy, like gas grills, but they are excellent for adding maximum flavors to foods. Here is how to use a charcoal smoker and grill.

The first thing is to select the right fuel for the fire. You can choose from charcoal briquettes, lump charcoal, or a mix of both. No matter what fuel type you choose, make sure to store some extra charcoal in a dry place.

There are many ways to lighten a charcoal smoker.


Lighter Fluid
This technique is the most common one used around the world. Pour charcoal in the Smoker and shape them into a mound. Now sprit the fluid evenly over the coals and allow them to absorb for at least 20 seconds. Toss a match into the coal bowl and let them go. When the coals turn into white-hot, it’s time to shift them around in the base of the grill.


Electric charcoal starter
If you are looking for hassle-free lighting, electric charcoal starters are best for you. Mound the charcoal in the kettle of your Smoker and touch the gadget to coal. The electric starter will help the coal catch and let you enjoy grilling in no time.


Chimney starter
Some smokers and grill enthusiasts are sensitive to the flavor lighter fluid. That’s why fluid-free methods are extremely famous, including the chimney starter.
Crumple a sheet of newspaper into the base of the chimney and fill it to the top with some charcoal. Light the paper at the bottom and allow the heat up until the coals are white. Make sure to give about twenty minutes for the best results. Pour them into the grill kettle and enjoy grilling.


Strike-able fire starters
Strike-able charcoal starters are also used for lightening charcoal. Such fire-starting sticks ignite just like a match and burn down with charcoal. Form a well in charcoal and strike the fire starter. When the coals are white-hot, you can redistribute them in the grill according to your needs.
Color is the best indicator of how hot the coals are. Make sure they turn white to glowing red for best cooking results.
Seasoning the grill grates is a good idea before smoking or grilling food. Clean the cooking grates and give them a spritz with oil such as canola or vegetable oil.

Charcoal grilling basics
Here are a few effective charcoal grilling basics to enjoy mouthwatering food.


Turn your food only once
Don’t full with what you are grilling too much. Whether it is a veggie kabob or a brat, cook the food halfway through on one side and flip. The best way is to flip the food only once to enjoy the ideal taste and also excellent grill marks.


Never press on proteins.
Don’t press down on steaks or burgers. The sizzling sound may sound satisfying, but when you press the meat or burger, it squeezes out the juices, which results in dry food.


Control the heat
An effective way to keep the grill or Smoker hot is to keep the lid on. It not only helps to trap the heat inside for the best taste but also keeps the smoke inside the cooking chamber. Use the lid and vents to control the heat.


Check vents
The charcoal smoker and grill come with vents on the underside and lid. It is better to change the position of vents to help with the heat. Closed vents decrease the heat as fewer oxygen fuels the fire. Open vents provide more oxygen to the charcoal to burn hotter.


How to clean a charcoal smoker and grill
To keep your charcoal grill and Smoker ready for a cookout after cookout, it is wise to give it a quick clean. Take a look at how to clean a smoker and enjoy frequent barbecues.


Brush the cooking grates
When you are done with grilling, and the grates are still hot, grab a grill brush to clean the grate and remove any major debris. The heat makes some of the baked-on debris convenient to remove.


Clean the grates
After brushing, if the grates are still grimy, it is better to give them a serious clean. Soak the grates in dish soap and hot water mixture. Take a good dish scrubber and remove the extra dirt with it.


Remove the ash
Wait for the grill to cool properly, and then remove the grates. Remove any ash into a metal container.


Clean the interior
If the bowl of the grill is getting grubby, take steel wool or wire brush to remove the stuck-on mess. Scrub the interior for deep cleaning using dish soap and warm water mixture. When you are done with cleaning; rinse the bowl with clean water.


Wipe the exterior
Always keep the exterior of the Smoker and grill shiny. Give the outside body a quick wipe with dish soap and warm water.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is wood or charcoal better for smoking?

Charcoal is pure carbon made from wood. It is pre-burned in an oven with less amount of oxygen. When burned in a smoker or grill, charcoal burns hotter than wood and produces many combustion byproducts, although less than does wood.

Can you mix wood and charcoal?

When cooking meat, bread, veggies, or cheese, adding a few wood pieces can make a significant difference. The right way to mix cooking wood and charcoal is to start by lighting the charcoal.

Can I put wood chips directly on charcoal?

Yes, you can put wood chips directly on the charcoal to achieve the desired flavor. However, if you prefer, you can use them separately in a smoker box.

What are the best grates for a charcoal smoker?

Heavy-duty steel, stainless steel, and porcelain-coated cooking grates are best for charcoal smoker. These grates can easily hold different types of food and are easy to clean.

How many coals do I need for 225 degrees?

You need about five lit coals to get up to 225-250 Fahrenheit heat. Speed the unlit coals evenly on a single side of the coal grate.

Final Conclusion:

Whether you are a seasoned Smoker or a beginner, selecting the right charcoal smoker is crucial for you. All you need is to decide your budget, the number of people you want to cook for, features, and food you want to smoke. Make sure the Smoker can smoke and grill for best results. If you are still confused, go to the reviews section on Amazon, read user reviews, and select the right charcoal smoker for your needs.

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