There’s nothing better in the hot summer weather than inviting all your friends around to your house for a nice barbecue dinner.
A great addition to your traditional barbecue set up is a smoker. They can provide food with a strong smoky taste making your burgers and sausages even yummier.
They also often require less effort than your traditional grill, so they are a great investment if you’re an avid barbecuer.
But with so many different smokers on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is the best to buy, particularly if you’re a beginner in this area of cooking.
That’s why we’ve put together this great guide to the best smoker for beginners.
We’ve even included an additional buyer’s guide to help you in your search, with an FAQ section to answer your questions.
Best Smokers for Beginners At a Glance:
Best Smoker for Beginners for 2023
Our favorite smoker for beginners is the Dyna-Glo DG01176BDC-D.
We think this is the best smoker on the market because it is packed with so many amazing features. It is designed vertically aiding the natural flow of smoke for better taste and efficiency.
This smoker has an offset design allowing you to slow-cook food if you wish. It also has an enormous capacity of 1,176 square-inches cooking space allowing you to cook plenty of food at one time.
With its built-in thermometer, you can easily measure temperature, and ensure it stays in the ‘smoke zone’ for optimum taste.
All of this combined with its ash capacity allowing for plenty of maintenance-free cooking, there’s no doubt that this is one of the best on the market.
Another excellent smoker to choose is the Cuisinart COS-224 smoker.
Similar to the last smoker, this also has a vertical footprint for greater efficiency.
Additionally, it has a 5.4 square-feet capacity with four stainless steel shelves allowing you to cook plenty of food in one serving.
Even better, the shelves are easily detachable and dishwasher-friendly. This smoker is designed with 2 doors allowing you to access all of the food within its compartment.
It also has seal-tight lock doors which ensure the smoker remains shut until you open it up, making it one of the best available.
You should also consider the Weber 18-inch smoker.
This smoker does have a slightly smaller design than the others on this list, but it is still an excellent smoker. Despite its smaller design, it still has a big capacity allowing you to serve a large number of guests easily.
It is built with porcelain-enameled steel for durability and comes with safety features including a heat resistant nylon handle to prevent injury. With all these amazing features, this is clearly one of the best smokers on the market.
Another excellent choice is the Char-Broil Analog smoker.
This smoker also comes with a large capacity of 544 square-inches which is plenty of space. Its interior is designed with three chrome-plated racks allowing you to separate meat from vegetables easily.
This smoker is built with an insulated construction for minimal heat leakage and has a door-mounted temperature gauge so you can monitor its heat throughout.
Finally, you should consider the Masterbuilt MB2007117 Smoker.
This smoker may be last on the list but that doesn’t affect what an amazing product it is. This is the only digital smoker on this list, and it comes with a digital control panel complete with a power button and temperature controls.
Its compartment comes with four chrome-plated racks allowing you to cook lots of food in one period. The main feature that makes this smoker stand out from its competitors is the side wood-chip loading system.
This feature allows you to easily refill the wood chip bucket without affecting the cooking process of your food. With all this in mind, the Masterbuilt MB2007117 is definitely one of the best smokers on the market.
Best Smoker for Beginners Buying Guide
A smoker is an excellent addition to your barbecue or outdoor kitchen set-up. With scrumptious smoky food available effortlessly, they are sure to take your next barbecue party to the next level.
With a smoker, you’re sure to be the envy of your friends.
But with so many different models of smokers on the market, we understand that it can be tricky to know what to look for when you’re a beginner.
That’s why we’ve put together this great buyer’s guide, complete with an FAQ section to aid you in your search. We also have a great article “25 Smoker recipes” perfect for beginners!
Types of Smokers
The most important thing you should consider before making a purchase is the wide variety of smokers that are available. Generally, there are 6 different types of smokers that you can choose from.
The smoker that you are most likely to buy as a beginner is an electric smoker. These devices are operated via an electric connection. They are generally very easy to use and are great value for money, making them a good first choice while you build up your skills.
Another common choice for beginners is a gas smoker. These operate almost identically to electric smokers except they are powered by propane tanks. A gas smoker is a great choice if you are a beginner but do not want to run your smoker on electricity.
Once you have gained more experience using a smoker there are a variety of other options you could move on to. One great choice is a charcoal smoker. These devices are shaped like vertical cylinders with the heat source located directly below the grilling area.
They provide the food with a strong smoky flavor through the burning of charcoal and wood chunks. Another option you could move onto is a pellet smoker. These devices maintain the temperature through the constant burning of wood pellets and require more attention than other models.
Alternatively, you can buy an offset smoker. These devices take their heat from a real wood fire which is located in a chamber that is slightly offset from the cooking area. This allows the heat to rise and cook meat or vegetables.
The final type of smoker is a combo smoker, but this is often just used as a way to describe other smokers, rather than its own type.
As a beginner, your best choice would be an electric or gas smoker but you can always look at other types of smokers as a choice in the future.
You should also consider the size of the smoker you are going to buy. Different smokers will be larger or smaller which will impact the amount of food you can cook at a single time in the chamber.
To identify the perfect size for you, you should consider a few questions. The first thing you should ask yourself is how many people do you usually cook for?
If you are a family of 4 and you only ever cook for your family a smaller smoker may do the job. Whereas if you often host parties or invite your friends around for barbecues a larger smoker may be better suited.
You should also ask yourself how often are you going to use the smoker? When it is not in operation you will have to store the smoker so you should consider this.
Larger smokers tend to have higher fuel costs as they are bigger to operate. But if you buy a smaller smoker you may later regret this when you have to cook for a larger group. You should weigh up all your options with your situation and decide from there.
Another factor you should consider is portability, which is closely linked to the size of the smoker. Portability is one of the factors that will either be important to you or it will be completely irrelevant.
The reason that portability is most likely to matter is if you are an avid camper. If you go camping regularly you may find that you want to take a smoker with you. If this is the case, portability will be important.
Portable smokers are generally designed to be smaller than non-portable smokers and are often built with more durable materials to ensure they aren’t damaged during transit. Portable smokers are also usually powered by propane or pellets as these are materials you can easily take on the go with you.
You may decide to buy a portable smoker even if you do not travel often. For whatever reason, a portable smoker may appear more attractive, but you should take into account that this might limit the smoker’s capacity and therefore the number of people you can cater for.
The importance of portability will vary depending on your situation but it is something you should consider when buying a smoker.
Quality of Build
Finally, you should consider the quality of the build the smoker has. This will have a huge impact on your overall experience with the smoker and will likely influence whether you are happy with your purchase or not.
The quality of build depends on the materials it is built with and will impact how durable the device is. It will also affect the sturdiness of the smoker and the amount of food it can cook at one time.
Furthermore, the quality of build will affect how long the smoker will last, and the rate at which it can regulate its temperature. These are all factors that are vitally important to your experience with the smoker.
A cheaper smoker might appear more attractive initially because of the price. But in the long run, you are likely to spend significantly more money on a cheaper smoker as they will leak heat and therefore use more energy.
The better-built smokers can be off-putting because they are expensive but they will save money in the long run and last a lot longer than their cheaper competitors.
The importance of quality of build will differ depending on your situation. If you want a smoker which you will only use a handful of times a cheaper device may be the job.
But if you want a smoker to use regularly, a better quality of build would be a greater investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a smoker and a grill?
Smokers and grills are very similar in that they both complete the task of cooking food.
However, they differ in the temperature by which they cook the raw ingredients placed in them. Smokers use indirect heat to cook the food it contains, whereas grills cook food through direct heat.
Will my smoker get hotter if I open the vents?
Yes, air entering the smoker via the vents is likely to increase its temperature.
The vents provide the function of drawing smoke up from the wood/charcoal, therefore increasing the temperature that your meat is exposed to.
How long will a propane tank last on a smoker?
It is difficult to calculate the amount of time that a propane tank will last with your smoker as it depends on different factors.
However, if you generally use the propane tank on warm days an 18-pound propane tank will likely last for roughly 40 hours. You might consider buying a propane tank gauge to help you better keep an eye on this.