Best Charcoal Smoker Reviews
There’s nothing more primal to the taste buds than the smell of meat cooking over an open flame. Whether your favorite meal is burgers or brats, the smell of food on the grill is tantalizing for meat lovers. Using the best charcoal smoker is the surest way to get the most delectable flavor from the meats. The savory smells will have your stomach grumbling for more. The guests at your next cookout will be ready to crown you King of the Grill!
Using a charcoal smoker to make your meals means you appreciate the subtle side of cooking food. Grilling is the polar opposite of the meal that you slap in the microwave for a few minutes before parking your butt in front of the TV for the evening.
It means you like the simpler things in life; the ones you have to wait for because they take time to get right. Spending time on the patio with the fresh air and the summer breeze is part of the overall experience for you.
When it comes to finding the right charcoal smoker for you, there’s plenty of research and decision-making that needs to be done before you buy. Before you roll your new purchase to the backyard to light up your first fire, you need to consider factors like:
- How much is your budget for your charcoal cooker?
- Are you an experienced outdoor cook, or will you need a more basic model?
- How much space available do you have in your backyard or patio?
- Is gas or charcoal better suited for your grilling needs?
Depending on your answers to those questions, there are a host of different charcoal cookers that can suit your needs. To make the best decision, we’ll walk through them all to see what makes the most sense and get you smelling mouth-watering meat on the grill in no time.
Primo 778 Extra-Large Oval Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill
It’s not much to look at, but this isn’t exactly a beauty pageant. The Primo 778 incorporates a unique oval design that brings amazing flexibility to the grilling and smoking part of your meal planning. That oval shape means you’re getting the heat from all sides. It creates a two-zone direct/indirect environment without you having to push charcoal briquets around while the meat is smoking. The interior features 400 square inches of cooking area but incorporates a rack system that can expand the cooking space all the way to 680 square inches.
The Primo smoker is a big-boy charcoal smoker for big-time cooking. It can grill fifteen to twenty-five steaks in one use. It can pivot to tasks like roasting turkeys, smoking briskets, even baking wood-fired pizzas. Made of premium-grade ceramic, it has reversible cooking grates and a reversible cooking grill. When you combine that flexibility with its extension racks, heat deflector plates, and other accessories, the Primo 778 has seventy different cooking configurations. It is quite literally able to cook just about any recipe you have that requires a heating component. This unit is a prime cooker for hardcore grillers.
Unfortunately, the price reflects that elite status. The Primo 778 retails for $1,338 on Amazon, and that’s with you assembling it yourself. If you’re a serious griller with the means, this is a long-term investment that will provide mouth-watering results for years to come. It has a twenty-year warranty for all ceramic parts, is made in the US, and measures 28” W, 21.5” D, 27.5” H.
Champ Chef PG24DLX Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ with Digital Controls and Stainless Temp Probe
The Champ Chef PG24DLX will likely fill you with nostalgia the first time you see it. This smoker looks very much like the style of grill your grandpa would fire up when having a get-together. Remember those days when the kids played in the pool while the grownups enjoyed some frosty beverages?
The Champ Chef PG24DLX has a fantastic array of digital controls and versatility and only fits into the category of charcoal smoker because of its design. Instead of briquets, it uses pellets that are automatically fed into the cooking area by an automatic auger. The days of pouring the charcoal, measuring out the lighter fluid, and checking the temperature every few minutes are in the past with the Champ Chef PG24DLX.
Push-button digital temperature control allows you to set the grill temperature anywhere from 160°F to 500°F. There’s a meat probe to ensure the internal temperature of the food reaches smoking perfection. You can use the controller lets you make changes on the fly. The Champ Chef PG24DLX’s upper rack area has 141 square inches of cooking space, and its total rack surface area is 570 square inches.
Cleanup is a snap thanks to its ash cleanout system that empties the ashes into a small cup under the grill. Unscrew, empty, and replace the ash cup in a few minutes. With all of its features and conveniences, the Champ Chef PG24DLX is one of the best-priced options on the market, going for around $437.74 on Amazon.
Why is Weber a household name in the charcoal smoker niche? Probably because its rapidly approaching the sixtieth anniversary of the release of its original home cooking unit – George’s Barbecue Kettle – back in 1951. It sold so well in Chicago that a year later an entire division just for barbecue grilling was incorporated at the Weber Brothers factory.
Priced just under $300, the Weber Original Kettle might be the best charcoal smoker for the money on the market today. Its 26-inch diameter gives it a cooking area of 508 square inches. The interior is simple, safe, and efficient. The machine uses a porcelain-enameled bowl and lid combined with a stainless steel hinged cooking grate and a heavy-gauge steel charcoal grate. To keep you from singed fingers, the lid handle contains a heat shield, and the side handles are glass-reinforced nylon.
There’s a cleaning system that includes an aluminum ash catcher designed not to rust. No matter the weather that can be removed and emptied in a matter of seconds. The Weber Original Kettle can use whatever style charcoal you select and make amazing tasting food.
Weber 15402001 Performer Premium Charcoal Grill
The Weber Performer Premium might look a bit like Frankenstein’s Monster; it’s a bit of a jumble of components. However, once when you grasp what Weber has done with this model, you might fall in love a bit with this unit despite its clumsy appearance. It could be the best budget charcoal smoker on the market. If you’re a fan of the Swiss army knife, you’re going to love the Performer Premium. Weber’s classic kettle grill is incorporated into what amounts to a condensed outdoor kitchen.
It would be great if we could all enjoy a sprawling patio full of grills and sinks and storage. However, that’s not realistic for most of us. Weber appreciates that and has put together this grill for those who want the convenience of the outdoor kitchen without the price tag. So, what’s inside? For starters a 22-inch diameter porcelain-enameled bowl with a cooking area of 363 square inches. That gives you the room to cook thirteen hamburger patties at once. The charcoal smoker is just one component of this overall unit, however. Integrated into the unit is a work table for all your cutting, slicing, seasoning, and stacking. Underneath the workspace is a storage rack for extra supplies. In front are three hooks perfect for hanging your favorite grill utensils.
Even the interior charcoal storage is well-organized, with two Char-Baskets to evenly distribute the heat. When the cooking is done, and you’ve eaten your fill, the Performer Premium has a one-touch cleanup system. The system features an aluminum ash catcher that can be removed and dumped. The Performer Premium has wheels for
smooth movement and a built-in charcoal supply holder. No more trips back-and-forth to the tool shed or garage to refill the grill.
If you’ve never seen a vertical charcoal smoker in action before, you might think you’ve stumbled upon an old-time safe that someone left on their patio for some reason. Vertical smokers are fascinating pieces of technology. The lowest part of the smoker is where you put the charcoal that heats the whole operation.
Above that, you can put hardwood chips or pellets that use the smoke, and above that is a water pan that keeps the food moist while it cooks. You can use other liquids – such as beer, wine, or fruit juice – to infuse different flavors into your meat. The actual racks are up top like a traditional grill. The Char-Broil Vertical has 365 square inches of cooking surface. You can control the temperature very precisely with some adjustable dampers while you’re cooking.
Since the heat is very present in this model, the handles have been built with cool-touch protection. The water pan has a slide-in feature, making it easy to fill and refill. Its porcelain coating makes it heat-resistant so you don’t have to worry about damage. There are a lot of moving parts in the Char-Broil Vertical, and it’s definitely a departure from the traditional charcoal smoker. However, at $99, it’s also the best inexpensive charcoal smoker around.
Weber’s take on the vertical charcoal smoker is this compact 18-inch high unit. The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker features 481 square inches of cooking space. Vertical charcoal smokers combine charcoal, wood pellets, a water pan, and the actual grill to give the meat a low, slow cook that accentuates flavor in a smokehouse environment.
The Smokey Mountain Cooker features two nickel-plated 18-½ inch wide cooking grates, individual vents on the bowl and lid, and a built-in thermometer. Retailing for less than $300, it’s an excellent investment for grill masters who prefer the slow and steady process of making great meats. Porcelain offers protection up and down the unit. The fuel door and heat shield are both made from rust-resistant aluminum to endure the elements. You’re safe to cook year-round with this beast!
The side handles are made of glass-reinforced nylon to make them exceptionally durable and cool to the touch.
This is the kind of charcoal smoker where you can really experiment with different flavors. Using different flavors of wood chips and pellets gives you a unique cooking experience. A variety of different liquids can be added to the mix. How do beer-infused brats sound? Or a brisket smoked with your favorite whiskey? It’s all possible with the Smokey Mountain Cooker.
The offset smoker is a classic design that is gaining popularity with backyard grill masters. The concept works just how it looks. Food is placed on racks in a long chamber. The wood is in an attached firebox – hence the ‘offset’ terminology. With so much rack space, this is a great charcoal smoker for managing lots of food at once. There are 290 square inches of cooking surface in the main area. An additional 140 square inches are in the firebox chamber.
The Char-Broil American Gourmet model has an adjustable height steel fire grate. This allows you to manage how much heat is coming into the cooking chamber. It also makes things very easy to clean after the food has been devoured. There’s a clean-out door to remove the ash cleanly and safely.
For your convenience, a thermometer is built into the grill lid to make sure you’re getting the necessary temperature. A small prep area sits just off the right of the cooking area. The attached prep area makes it easy to plate food as it comes off the fire. The unit has two wheels so it can be moved quickly to a new location if necessary.
It can be tough for a charcoal smoker to stand out in the crowd, but this Char-Griller model does just that thanks to its offbeat model name – the AkornKamadoKooker – and its fire-engine red paint design. With a 22-gauge steel body, powder coated steel finish, and cast iron cooking surface, it’s definitely unique. The AkornKamadoKooker is clearly made for heavy-duty grilling.
Its short height is deceptive as it comes with a spacious interior. This grill includes 314 square inches of primary cooking space and 133 square inches of warming rack for a total of 447 square inches of functionality. There are work spaces built in on both sides of the grill, making it much larger than it looks. The double workspace is perfect for putting your grilling tools, knives, and seasonings at your fingertips. Plates for the finished products can go on the other side without any fear of cross-contamination.
To keep hands safe, the AkornKamadoKooker features a locking lid. A locking caster on the front serves to keep the unit stationary when it’s being used. The two black metal workstations fold in for storage. The whole unit can be cleaned in a jiffy thanks to an easy dump ash pan.
Dyna-Glo is the premium grill subsidiary of the GHP Group, which also produces water purification systems, mobile heating components, and various indoor products. At 36 inches tall, you won’t be overlooking this vertical charcoal smoker any time soon. Combine your favorite type of charcoal with wood pellets or chips and liquid components to get the low, slow flavor of smokehouse meats.
With four height-adjustable cooking grates, this Dyna-Glo model boats an enormous 784 square inches of cooking space. That capacity means you don’t just have to cook for tonight’s meal. You could prepare a week’s worth of entrees in one cooking session. You could also spend fall evenings cooking meals ahead to store in the freezer, giving you the flavor of smoked meats even on the coldest winter days. With separate doors for food and fuel, the Dyna-Glo model keeps heat loss to a minimum. The porcelain enamel in the charcoal chamber will hold your briquettes stacked neatly, which significantly improves your burn efficiency.
There’s a removable ash pan that can handle an enormous capacity of waste before needing to be removed and replaced. The spacious ash pan augments the amount of available cook time. The stainless temperature gauge keeps you up to date on what’s happening inside. The Dyna Glo creates a smoke zone that helps you pick the perfect temperature to get that smoky flavor infused properly into the meal of your choice. Retailing at a little more than $100, this is an excellent value for a vertical charcoal smoker designed to take its time to make tantalizing food.
If you’ve ever felt yourself getting worried about grilling thirty hamburgers at the same time, you’ll have no worries with Dyna-Glo’s Premium Charcoal Grill. This supersized grill has 816 square inches of total cooking area. In fact,the Dyna-Glo Premium Charcoal Grill is one of the biggest available in the consumer market. With this model, size isn’t everything. The Dyna-Glo grill uses three-cast iron heavy duty sliding porcelain-enameled cooking grates to sear your foods. These grates help lock in all those delicious natural juices. If you’re looking to take your cooking to the next level, this is your grill.
The grill plates sit over a charcoal basket adjustable tray system that offers flexibility and the ultimate in heat control. You can add more charcoal through a separate door without opening the smoker, allowing a more constant temperature for your food. Moreover, if you’re a big fan of extra utility, the Dyna-Glo has it in spades. Eight-inch heavy-duty resin wheels give it easy mobility; side shelves give you plenty of prep space; an underneath storage basket gives you room for tools; and a bottle opener, perfect for cracking open a cold one while you grill for your friends and family.
What’s even better than a great grill? One that comes with a cover to keep out the elements. The Big Easy is a grill. It operates outside of the box, using infrared heat to cook food evenly without flare-ups.
It can hold up to twenty-five pounds of food for roasting and has 180 square inches of grilling space inside. You can smoke, roast, or grill food. You can also add extra flavor by adding wood chips and pellets to the smoker box.
The inner lining won’t scratch, and a vent near the top of the cover prevents condensation from forming inside regardless of the weather conditions. It’s easy to clean; just use a damp cloth to wipe away dust and food residue!
If a lack of a backyard didn’t keep you from your passion for grilling at your first apartment or away at college, this portable Weber brand probably looks mighty familiar to you. The Smokey Joe is the little grill that packs the big punch at cookouts and tailgate parties. A 10-year warranty protects the porcelain enameled coating of the best small charcoal smoker.
It measures just 15.6” W by 15.6” H x9” D and has a 14-½” diameter cooking grate. The grate is treated with triple nickel-plate which helps prevent rust. Moreover, the price is impossible to beat, just $30 to start firing up your burgers, steaks, and barbecue.
There’s a grill for every preference, price tag, and personal taste in how to grill your food best. Do your research before you hand over your credit card to make your next charcoal smoker purchase and you’ll get one that gives you, your friends, and family years of deliciously cooked meals.
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