It would require you to research the best smoking techniques and tricks. But most of all, you need a high-quality smoker.
Most beginners are too excited to try out smoking meat that they forget to consider what smoker to buy. Most of the time, they end up purchasing a highly complex smoker, which results in lousy cooking.
In this article, we included six of the best smokers made for beginners in the market today. If you’re looking for a smoker that won’t overwhelm you, you can choose from anything below.
We’re going to go over each of these and talk about each smoker’s:
- Quality and Built
- What’s good and bad about them
So, if you’re buying that first smoker soon, read on…
How To Choose Your First Smoker
Choosing your first smoker can be more challenging than you’d think. Each smoker listed above can be a good choice for the right person. So, don’t just choose a smoker that everyone picks; instead, you need to choose a smoker that is most suitable for you.
And with that, you need to consider some factors like budget and the type of smoker.
How much are you willing to spend?
The very first thing that you should ask yourself is how much you want to spend.
Since this will be your first smoker, of course, you would want to get one worth your money. So you can either start with a cheaper smoker to learn the techniques and upgrade soon, or you can spend more for a smoker that you know would last for years.
Whichever you want to do, it’s up to you!
Decide What Type of Smoker To Buy
Next, you need to decide on the type of smoker you want to buy. There are several types of smoker out there:
- Charcoal smoker
- Gas and Propane smoker
- Electric smoker
- Pellet smoker
- Kamado smoker
Some of this type may be easier to use than the others, so let’s explore the pros and cons of each to know what would work best for you.
Charcoal Smokers are among the best smokers to use if you want to achieve the best smoky flavor on your meat. It’s also one of the most affordable smokers out there.
However, charcoal smokers are also one of the most challenging to use. You need to learn fire management, airflow control, choosing the right wood, and more. But, if you just learn the right techniques, you can produce the best-flavored meat in this smoker.
- Gives the best smoky flavor
- Produces higher heat
- Opportunity for dual-zone cooking
- Requires more attention
- Messy and potentially dangerous
- Should only be used outdoors
Gas and Propane Smokers
Gas Propane Smokers are one of the smokers that are easy and consistent to use. You can easily set temperatures and just forget it.
Compared to charcoal, natural gas or propane gas don’t release unpleasant chemicals that may go into your food. Also, you’ll be able to smoke even when you’re indoors.
- Easy to start and clean
- Most are space-saving
- Easy temperature control
- Propane tank can last for long hours of smoking
- No smoky taste
- Can be too narrow (depending on the model)
Electric Smokers are almost the same as gas or propane smokers. The only difference is that they’re operated using electricity.
They’re straightforward to use and provide a great convenience in terms of temperature control. With just a simple push of buttons, you can leave the smoker running without having to monitor it.
The only problem is that this smoker requires electricity, which means you need to have access to a power outlet every time.
- Easy to set-up
- Easy temperature control and monitoring
- Can be used inside your home
- Requires you to be near a power outlet
- Can’t produce smoky flavor
Pellet Smokers are the latest introduction to our grill types. We would like to describe them as a combination of charcoal and electric grills.
They use electricity to operate, and they’re very convenient to use because everything works automatically. But the best feature these smokers have is their pellets, which give the meat a very smoky flavor that you can get from a charcoal smoker.
- Very versatile
- Have a wide temperature range
- Easy to use
- Generally, longer cooking time
- More expensive
- Runs on electricity
Kamado Smokers are best for those who are looking for a grill and smoker combo. They’re very versatile, but the learning curve can be quite high. And since they’re fueled by charcoal, they’re a great alternative if you’re looking for an upgrade to your charcoal smoker. (1)
Since most Kamado Smokers are made from ceramic, they can be quite heavier than their counterparts.
- Durable and high-quality that will last for years
- Versatile smoker
- Holds heat for hours
- Heavy smoker
- Must need to be taken care of well
- Takes time to heat up
Do you need a dedicated smoker or smoker grill combo?
Third, you need to decide if you need a dedicated smoker or a smoker grill combo.
As you can see from the list above, there are smokers that you can use as a grill and a smoker. Take the pellet grill and the kamado grill, for example.
So, try to think about if you’re looking to use other cooking techniques like grilling, braising, or baking. If you want that, then a grill smoker combo is the best choice for you.
However, if you’re just starting out and just want to master smoking, a dedicated smoker is something you should consider. They’re much more affordable, they hold smoking temperatures much better, and it’s designed for smoking. You can even expect some smoking accessories.
What To Look For A Beginner Smoker
The factors above are important things to consider when choosing a smoker, in general. However, if you’re specifically looking for a smoker for beginners, you need to consider other factors like:
- The food you’re cooking
- Number of people you’re cooking for
What type of foods do you think you’ll be cooking?
First, think about what type of foods you like to smoke. Whether you’ll be focusing on pork butts, brisket, ribs, or chicken, you need to make sure that your smoker is large enough to fit whatever foods you’re cooking.
How many people do you typically cook for?
Next, you need to consider the number of people you’re looking for.
Naturally, if you’re cooking for a larger number of people, you need to buy a large-sized smoker. However, you would also need to consider the space you have in your home or your backyard.
Do you want a portable smoker?
Lastly, consider portability.
Are you only planning to smoke meat only at home, or do you want to bring a smoker when camping, too? If it’s the latter, then a portable smoker should be a great choice.
Yes, they are smaller than a full-standing smoker and provide smaller cooking space, but they’re perfect for bringing for road trips. They are also very easy to set up.
1. Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker
2. Smoke Hollow PS4415
3. Char-Broil 17202004
4. Green Mountain Davy Crockett
5. Char-Griller AKORN Kamado
6. Z GRILLS ZPG-450A
Best Charcoal Smoker
- Model: Weber Smokey Mountain 18-inch Cooker
- Total Cooking Area: 481 square inches
- Fuel Source: Charcoal
- Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 41 inches
- Weight: 39.1 pounds
More features: Porcelain-enameled bowl, lid, and water pan; lid thermometer; glass-reinforced nylon handle; probe thermometer;
First on our list is the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, one of the best charcoal smokers in the market. The smoker offers easy set-up, clean-up, and temperature control.
At first glance, this smoker looks so simple that it almost seems like it doesn’t have a lot to offer. However, the fact that this smoker is so simple is actually what makes it most suitable for a beginner.
Because it doesn’t have a lot of features, the smoker is very easy to set up. However, one concern we saw is that instructions can be vague.
The smoker also features a black porcelain-enamel finish that is looking very classy. On top of that, it helps protect your smoker from outside elements so that it lasts longer.
The smoker features a 481 square inches total cooking area, larger than most smokers of this type. Another impressive thing about this smoker is that it offers two-level smoking with its two cooking grates. This allows you to cook more meat at once and at different heating levels.
This provides excellent versatility in cooking, whether you put meat on direct grilling or indirect grilling.
We also like the easy access fuel door that gives you access to the charcoal chamber and water pan. This allows you to adjust the heat by adding more charcoal or refilling the water without disassembling your smoker.
With this smoker, you also have access to four aluminum dampers that helps you adjust the airflow easily. You also have access to a lid thermometer that makes temperature monitoring easier.
One major disadvantage we see in this smoker is that it’s low. You might need to put it on a higher platform if you’re quite tall. But, this is something expected as it’s a portable and lightweight smoker. It’s also hard to see the water level. But, we won’t consider these some significant flaws, as the smoker’s advantages outweigh its drawbacks.
Other than the 18-inch cooker, there are also two more sizes you can choose from. If you want a smaller smoker, you can opt for the 14 inches one, or if you want something bigger, the 22 inches might be what you need.
- Space-saving design
- Stable temperature
- Large cooking space
- Large water pan
- Vague assembly instructions
- The water level is quite difficult to see
Best Propane Smoker
- Model: Smoke Hollow PS4415
- Total Cooking Area: 475 square inches
- Fuel Source: Propane Gas
- BTUs: 22,000 BTUs
- Dimensions: 24.47 x 33.29 x 60.83 inches
- Weight: 93 pounds
More features: Two independent burners; two large wood chip trays; five cooking racks; porcelain-coated water pan; heat indicator; viewing window
Next on our list is the Smoker Hollow PS4415 Pro Series Propane Smoker. If you prefer using a gas smoker to a charcoal one, the smoker is one of your choices in the market.
This smoker comes with a cooking space of 475 square inches. It may not be a very large smoker, but it comes with five cooking grids, including two jerky-style grids, two standard grids, and a combination rib rack cooking grid. This provides you great versatility on what and how much you can cook.
Another nice feature we love is that it comes with two independently controlled burners, giving you full control of your temperature. The burners reach up to 11,000 BTUs of power, which can heat your smoker to your desired temperature fast.
The smoker also comes with a large water pan to ensure that your meat remains tender and juicy after long hours of smoking.
When using gas smokers, one common disadvantage is that meat doesn’t have that nice, smoky flavor. But thanks to this smoker’s wood chip trays, you can add a really good smoky flavor to your meat. However, the only type of wood chips you can use are the small ones.
We also love the viewing door feature of this smoker, which helps with easier monitoring of your meat without having to open your smoker. Not many smoker brands have this feature, so this is a great advantage.
Other features included are the easily adjustable upper chimney and a heat indicator.
Overall, it’s a versatile smoker that retains heat well because of its really good insulation. The smoker is also very durable and will definitely last with you for a longer period.
- Large cooking capacity
- Easy temperature control
- Powerful gas burners
- Wood chip trays
- Only functions with small wood chips
Best Electric Smoker
- Model: Char-Broil 17202004
- Total Cooking Area: 725 square inches
- Fuel Source: Electric
- Dimensions: 16.5 x 18.1 x 32.5 inches
- Weight: 50.2 pounds
More features: Digital controls; double-walled construction; removable food thermometer; glass viewing door; 4 adjustable or removable racks; 4-cup capacity wood chip; side-locking latch
Next on our list is Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker. This smoker runs in electricity, and as it is manufactured by Char-Broil, you can expect great quality.
At first glance, you’ll notice that this is a very simple smoker. It comes with a rectangular design, four racks, and a big window glass door that allows you to see clearly what’s happening on the meat you’re cooking.
But one thing that’s really impressive about this smoker is its double-walled insulation. This allows your smoker to hold heat better than its competitors. It also allows you to maintain temperature and smoke better.
In addition to the double-walled insulation, the smoker’s door comes with great quality seals and a side-latching handle. This way, you get to ensure that maximum heat retention.
Another thing we love about the Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker is its large cooking space. The smoker gives you a total of 725 square inches of cooking space, which is a lot bigger than its competition.
We already mentioned that the smoker comes with four racks. But as an additional feature, each rack is removable. So, if you think the space is too narrow for a whole chicken or turkey, you can remove one rack to fit the chicken.
It’s a very versatile smoker. And the digital controller makes it easier to set temperatures and smoke levels. You can simply set the smoker and forget about it while you enjoy some great conversations with your family.
And if you’re done smoking meat, and it’s not yet ready to serve, just use the warming feature to ensure the meat stays warm without overcooking it.
You’ll also love how easy it is to set up the grill. It already comes pre-assembled, so you don’t really have to do a lot of things. Added to that, it’s pretty easy to clean with its excellent grease management system.
One downside we see is that the grill runs in electricity. So, if you’re going to bring it out for camping or outdoor smoking, you need to have access to a power outlet to use it. Also, if your area is prone to power outages, then buying an electric smoker may not be the best decision.
- Easy to use digital controls
- Compact and space-saving
- Lightweight and portable
- No high-heat option
- Uses up smoking fuel quickly
Best Pellet Smoker
- Model: Green Mountain Davy Crockett
- Total Cooking Area: 219 square inches
- Power Source: Electric
- Fuel Source: Pellet
- Hopper Capacity: 8 pounds
- Dimensions: 31.75 x 34 x 23 inches
- Weight: 57 pounds
More features: Foldable legs; grease tray; digital controller; good pellet capacity; WiFi-enabled; side tray with enabled hooks; thermal sensor
Next on our list is the Green Mountain Grill Davy Crockett Pellet Grill. If you love going out for campings, tailgating, and outdoor road trips, this is one of the best smokers you can take with you.
The smoker is compact and lightweight, making it easier for you to take it anywhere. It even comes with foldable legs that also doubles as a handle.
What we love about the Davy Crockett is that it’s a pellet grill. And like many pellet grills, it’s very versatile, making it possible for you to smoke and grill meat without having to buy two separate cooking equipment. It’s also easier to achieve a smoky flavor that you would usually get in a charcoal smoker.
Because of its small size, you only get a total cooking area of 219 square inches. You may not be able to serve a large group of people, but that’s enough space for a small-sized family. The best part is that the smoker grill reaches high temperatures quickly, which means you can cook meat fast.
The hopper capacity for this grill is only 8 pounds, which is smaller than other pellet grills. But, you can rest assured that the grill uses fuel efficiently, allowing you to smoke for long hours without any problem.
The grill features an overall stainless steel construction which speaks a lot about durability. But what we love is the side shelf with built-in hooks, which provides more space for prepping. Sometimes, when manufacturers design a portable smoker, they leave out the side shelf, which is a definite plus point for the Davy Crockett.
But what sets this grill apart is its WiFi capability.
Simply linking the grill to an app allows you to monitor temperatures even if you’re away from the grill. You can enjoy a great amount of time with your family while waiting for the food to cook.
And since this grill runs through electricity, we absolutely love the multiple power options. It comes with three kinds of adapters, so that whatever kind of power source you have, you won’t have any problems connecting this smoker grill.
Overall, the Davy Crockett Pellet Grill is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a portable, versatile, and convenient grill smoker combo.
- WiFi capable
- Thermal sensor for temperature monitoring
- Side-tray with enabled hooks for convenience
- Portable power options
- Lightweight and compact
- The learning curve in temperature control
Best Kamado Smoker
- Model: Char-Griller AKORN Kamado
- Cooking Area: 447 square inches
- Fuel Source: Charcoal
- Dimensions: 45 x 31 x 47 inches
- Weight: 97 pounds
More features: Locking lid; two folding black shelves with hooks; easy dump ash pan; double-wall insulation; heat gauge; 3 wheels; lid temperature gauge
Next, we have another charcoal grill, the Char-Griller AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill. Despite being called a grill, this can easily double as a smoker due to its impressive versatility.
Despite being named a kamado grill, the Char-Griller AKORN is made of steel. This makes it a lot lighter than the ceramic ones, which is why it’s still a good grill in terms of portability. It also comes with wheels to make transport from one place to another easier.
One major feature this grill has is its triple-walled insulation. It retains heat better than the double-walled alternatives, which makes it easier to maintain consistent temperatures. There are also top and bottom dampers that give you more control over the amount of heat or fire.
The grill has a wide temperature range of 200 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that you’ll be able to do different cooking techniques, from smoking to grilling. It also reaches high temperatures easily because heat is retained better. Added to that, the temperature is distributed evenly, giving you perfectly cooked meat every time.
We love that the grill comes with two side shelves with integrated hooks. This provides you extra space for accessories, condiments, tools, and other things you’d need for cooking.
Other features included are the lid thermometer for temperature monitoring, a warming rack for warming up cooked foods until they’re ready to serve, and a dump ash pan that aids for easy cleaning.
Overall, this is a great grill that provides good value for your money. It’s durable, versatile, retains heat well, and evenly cooks meat. The downside, however, is that it has a bit of a learning curve.
- Durable metal construction
- Double-walled insulation
- Exterior stays cool, protecting people from burning
- No smoking accessories included
Best Grill and Smoker
- Model: Z GRILLS ZPG-450A
- Cooking Area: 450 square inches
- Fuel Source: Pellets
- Temperature Range: 180 °F to 450 °F
- BTUs: 25,000 BTUs
- Dimensions: 45 x 28 x 49 inches
- Weight: 84 pounds
More features: PID technology; 15-pound hopper capacity; foldable working shelf; heavy-duty all-terrain wheels
Last on our list is the Z Grills ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker. It’s another smoker grill combo, but this time, it runs using pellets, which means it’s convenient to use and allows you to achieve a really good smoke flavor on your meat.
One thing you’ll like about this grill is its classy and expensive look, without you having to actually spend a lot of money. It is made of heavy-duty powder-coated steel, which protects your grill from outside elements, allowing it to last longer.
The grill offers a total cooking space of 452 square inches. Although smaller than most standing grills, it’s still enough space for you to cook food for less than ten friends. You can also cook a variety of meat with this space.
What we love about this smoker grill combo is its versatility. It comes with 8-in-1 versatility, which means you can grill, barbecue, sear, smoke, braise, roast, char-grill, or bake using this. No need for you to buy a separate smoker or grill because you can do everything here, thanks to its fan-forced convection cooking system.
The hopper capacity of the grill is 20 pounds. This allows you to smoke meat for longer hours, even if it’s overnight. The best part is that it’s fuel-efficient, thanks to its auger system.
The smoker grill also comes with a 25,000 BTUs burner, allowing you to reach high temperatures fast. The digital temperature control features a PID technology that automatically adds pellets as needed, helping you regulate the temperature better.
We love that the grill is very easy to clean because of its grease management system. The porcelain-coated grill grates don’t allow food residue to stick to them.
Other features you’ll love are the warming rack to let food sit while waiting for it to be served, adjustable feet if the height is not fit for you, a foldable side shelf for extra space, and all-terrain wheels for easy transport. The grill also comes with really good extras like a free rain cover and a dual meat probe.
Overall, this is a really good grill if you’re looking to try out different cooking techniques and produce great flavored meat.
- 8-in-1 versatility
- Durable construction
- Longer-cooking time
- Easy to use
- Smaller cooking space compared to alternatives
The six smokers above are perfect for beginners. They are durable, easy to set up, easy to use, easy to clean, and produce well-flavored meat.
But for us, the Weber Smokey Mountain 18-Inch Cooker stands above the rest. The fact that it’s a dedicated smoker already means that every feature is decided to be placed there because it makes smoking easier.
It may look simple, but it’s very versatile, and as a beginner, going for a non-complicated smoker might be best if you’re still learning.
However, what’s best for you would depend on several factors:
- Your budget
- The type of smoker you prefer
- The kind of food you’re cooking
- The number of people you’re cooking for
You need to think about these five factors first before deciding on the best smoker for you. This way, you won’t be wasting money.
Smoking shouldn’t be a technique that only experts can do. Even beginners should be able to smoke meat as much as they’d want, and a high-quality smoker would help significantly with that.