If you want to make delicious smoked meat and vegetables, you need the right smoker. A smoker cooks the food in smoke and indirect heat for several hours at temperatures between 200° and 220°F, giving it a unique flavor and aroma. The food in a smoker also undergoes the Maillard reaction, the browning of the food to perfection.
A smoker also allows you to smoke sugar, oil, spices, and fruits. Modern smokers come in various versions depending on their fuel source. This post lists the types, some of the best smokers for beginners, and tips to help you select the right one.
Types of Smokers For Beginners
- Charcoal: They use wood or charcoal and ensure ease of use. The smoked meat is of top quality, having a smoke ring, and adding different wood chips to the charcoal as a seasoning provides a unique flavor.
- Electric smokers: They can be set and left for long durations to smoke meat, without the need to check the temperature frequently. A tray for wood chips gives the meat a rich flavor, and the smoker is easy to clean and maintain.
- Offset smokers: The firebox is positioned on the left side and not below the chamber to smoke the meat. These heavy-duty smokers are ideal for smoking large quantities and are versatile tools for grilling.
- Pellet smokers: They combine charcoal and electric smokers by working on electricity to heat the wood pellets in controlled temperatures. The smoked meat has a smoke ring and is full of flavor.
- Propane smokers: Propane-fueled smokers require less experience to operate and maintain. It does not leave the meat coated with ash, but you will still give it a smokey flavor.
13 Best Smokers For Beginners
Manufactured by Weber, this smokey cooker can smoke a turkey, ham, and various meat cuts. It has sufficient space to fit an entire ham or turkey with ease on the two nickel-plated cooking grates. The body is made from porcelain-enameled steel that is long-lasting. The sturdy legs allow the cooker to stand in a stable position, preventing accidents.
- Rust-resistant metal legs
- 18½-inch wide cooking grates
- Includes water pan
- Heat-resistant nylon handle
- Built-in thermometer in the lid
- Gap in the door allows smoke and heat to escape
Considered one of the best electric smokers for beginners, it has a digital control panel to turn it on and off. It comes with an option to add wood chips to give the food a smokey flavor. The smoker can also be used with a generator, sold separately, to cold smoke cheese. There are four chrome-plated racks and a thermostat-temperature control for consistent and efficient smoking of meat. It has a water bowl that keeps the moisture level high.
- Patented wood chip loading system
- Air damper controls smoke
- Good insulation all over the body
- Fits up to six chickens
- Thermostat allows easy temperature control
- Insulation might burn
- Thermometer may not be accurate
The Dyna-Glo Offset Charcoal Smoker is designed to let heat and smoke to rise vertically. It has 784in2 smoking space, with each grate capable of holding up to 25-pounds. The porcelain-enameled-steel charcoal chamber is designed to keep the briquettes for efficient burning. The smoker ideal for those who want to learn tocook on a grill.
- Removable and sliding ash pan
- Wood can be added as and when required
- Height-adjustable grates
- Keeps food away from direct heat
- Thermometer with smoke-zone indicator
- 1176in2 total cooking space to smoke various foods
- Produces a smoke ring on the meat
- No user manual is provided
- Door latches may not be easy to operate
This impressive option from Masterbuilt is a sophisticated smoker with digital control. It features Bluetooth technology that allows smart operation of temperature, lighting, and switching on/off the power. It comes with four chrome-plated racks and a patented system for loading wood chips. It also has a built-in thermometer for probing and finding the temperature of the meat.
- Patented-side wood chip loading system
- Thermostat allows easy temperature control
- Digital control panel
- Top element for grilling and broiling
- Fits up to six chickens or two turkeys
- Customer support is poor
- Temperature probe may not be durable
It is simple to operate and is powered by a 1200-watt heating element. There is 544in2 of space for smoking meat and vegetables and dual exhaust ports that allow smoke and air to pass through quickly. It has double-wall insulated construction and a large-capacity wood chip box.
- Includes water pan and drip tray
- Gauge for monitoring the temperature
- Three chrome-plated grates
- Portable with carrying handles on the sides
- Dual latches keep the door secure
- Heating element may not last long
Made of a 100% durable steel frame, it uses charcoal to create heat and is ideal for using outdoors. It allows smoke, convection heat, and steam simultaneously to cook a whole turkey weighing 12lbs within one and a half hours. The smoked meat is flavorful, moist, and the cooking process is swift and hassle-free.
- Poultry stand for turkey or chicken
- Three cooking grates and three rib hangers
- Quickly cooks the food
- Low maintenance and easy cleanup
- Good 360in2 cooking surface
- Does not produce a good crust
- May form rust
Powered by electricity, this smoker has a good capacity and is ideal for smoking up to 50 pounds of meat. Its ignition system includes a heating element operating at 165°F, the perfect temperature for smoking meat. A premium smoke vent ensures a rich, smoked aroma and flavor to the meat and vegetables. The grills are designed for front-loading and slide in easily.
- Includes 1.75lbs bag of wood chips
- Wide and deep fuel pan
- Dishwasher-safe drip pan
- Long-lasting aluminum build
- Low-moisture smoke
- Grill racks are not straight
The BBQ smoker for beginners has a vertical design and can be used to smoke, grill, BBQ, braise, bake, and even roast. It has a latch locking system and can even be used as a fire pit for cold weather. It has a thermometer, a bottom vent, and an ash collector. It features 636in2 smoking space and comes with two racks.
- Easy to assemble and disassemble
- Fits a large turkey
- Hangers for food present inside of the lid
- Built-in thermometer monitors the inner temperature
- Water pan creates a balance between smoke and moisture
- Heat-resistant handle for easy transportation
- Ideal for hot and cold smoking
- Steel frame is not thick
- Temperature may be difficult to control
The Z Grills is a wood pellet smoker with good fuel efficiency. It is an eight-in-one cooking smoker used for smoking, grilling, searing, roasting, baking, and braising. Its quick ignition system works with the press of one button. The wood pellets ensure the temperature stays within the user’s range, irrespective of the weather condition when cooking.
- Cooking temperature is between 160° and 450°F
- Takes 20 hours for cooking 20lbs pellets
- Requires no fluid for ignition
- Automated electric feed allows consistent heat
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Collector for grease and waste oil
- Wheels allow portability
- 504in2 grill area and 190in2 smoking area
- Poor after-sales service
Ideal for outdoors, this propane smoker is considered one of the best smokers for beginners. It has good control systems, including three adjustable damper valves, a built-in thermometer, and a temperature display reading from 50° to 550°F. It has an easy-to-use quick ignition system and a removable porcelain base for easy clean up after cooking.
- Two adjustable racks
- Water pan and steel tray for wood chips
- Drum for better heat control
- Includes recipes and tips booklet
- May not cook and smoke meat properly
- Water in the pan evaporates quickly
The Cuisinart propane-fueled smoker can create delicious smoked meat even when outdoors. It has four removable steel racks to smoke a large turkey or cuts of meat and provides 5.45ft2 cooking space. The gas supply can be adjusted to ensure the temperature remains optimum for smoking. There is also a large porcelain-enameled tray for the wood chips and water.
- Easy-to-read, built-in thermometer
- Control systems for smoke and heat
- Dishwasher-safe racks for easy cleanup
- 14×14-inch removable steel racks
- Twist-lock handle seals the door tightly
- Some parts may be missing
- Difficult to assemble and setup
This is a compact, bullet-shaped charcoal smoker with 370in2 cooking space and two grates. Its innovative circulation system for heat ensures the cooking temperature is maintained at the right level, and meat gets a smoke ring. The porcelain-coated steel frame is durable and resistant to rust. It features a removable ash pan and two chamber-lift handles for easy portability.
- Easy to clean
- Easy-to-read gauge for temperature control
- Provides consistent heat
- Adjustable vent
- Includes water pan
- Water pan is slightly small
- Smoker might get damaged easily
You can easily make smoked meat and vegetables for special occasions with this Oklahoma Joe’s Offset Smoker. It has a big main chamber and a 619in2 smoking space that can fit large cuts of meat. There are adjustable dampers to control heat and smoke with ease, and a firebox side door allows you to stoke the fire without opening its lid. The porcelain-coated grates are durable and easy to clean.
- Rust-resistant grates
- 281in2 secondary cooking space
- Temperature control gauge on the lid
- Cool-touch handles to protect your hands from heat
- Front and bottom shelves for accessories
- Large wheels make them portable
- Warming section within the firebox
- Paint on firebox tends to peel
- Poor customer service
How To Choose the Right Smoker For Beginners?
Here are some aspects to consider while purchasing a smoker for beginners.
- Type of smoker: Consider the area you live in and if it is easy to get charcoal and wood pellets. If you do not have access to good quality charcoal briquettes or the right wood pellets, opt for an electric or propane version.
- Indoor or outdoor use: Electric meat smokers are ideal if you want to use it indoors in safety, while charcoal and wood-fueled versions are ideal for outdoor use.
- Cost: The electric smokers are costlier compared to charcoal and wood smokers that have conventional mechanisms.
- Space: If you have less room for installing and using the smoker, then get a smaller option, while wood pellet smokers are better if you have a bigger area.
- Quantity of smoked meat: If you plan to make a large amount of smoked meat, check if the smoking surface is sufficient for your needs.
- Quality of smoked meat: When you want your smoked meat with many flavors and a smoke ring, getting a charcoal smoker is a better option. Some also consider the interaction between the amino acid and sugar, resulting in the Maillard reaction, which offers the distinct flavor of browned meat.
- Versatility: Meat smokers are often versatile and can also be used for grilling, baking, and barbecuing. Look for a smoker that can be used for all these purposes.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do all smokers need to be airtight?
No, a smoker does not have to be airtight and requires some ventilation to function properly. However, doors should be airtight and sealed for the smoke should not escape through them.
2. Does the shape of the smoker matter?
Smokers come in several sizes and shapes. If you want a compact version, go for a bullet-shaped model.
Adding smoked meat to your table, whether beef brisket, pork shoulder, or ham, can be a great way to impress your guests. Getting one that is best for your needs will help you create a delicious meal with various smoked meat delicacies. The above list and the buying guide should make the selection process less taxing.