Skip to content
Home » Best Charcoal Smokers in 2023

Best Charcoal Smokers in 2023

Charcoal barbecues are a source of great pride for many people.

There’s no denying the seductive allure of a charcoal smoker. Perhaps it’s because it’s more interactive and needs some expertise to use well.

Although “slaving over the coals for 12 hours” may make for great storytelling, lighting up a charcoal grill need not be a Herculean effort. A well constructed charcoal smoker can maintain its temperature for long periods of time with little maintenance.

We put several charcoal smokers through our paces, and after much deliberation, we have settled on the Weber Smokey Mountain. It’s user-friendly enough for novices to master, yet flexible enough to be seen in competitive barbecues. The Pit Barrel Cooker is an excellent option if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to try.

Be sure to check out our comprehensive list of the finest charcoal smokers in a number of pricing ranges, as there are a few additional viable alternatives to consider.

Charcoal Smoker vs. Charcoal Grill

The primary distinction between a smoker and a charcoal grill is the smoker’s ability to maintain a low, even heat of 225°F to 250°F (110°C to 120°C) throughout the duration of the cooking process.

But a grill is made to cook food rapidly and at high temperatures by concentrating the heat in a small, open area underneath the meal. In any case, the standard charcoal grill can do both tasks with ease. Real barbeque requires low temperatures, which may be achieved by keeping the fire small and off to one side of the grill.

Review of Best Charcoal Smokers in 2023

1. Best all-around charcoal smoker – Weber Smokey Mountain 18-Inch

  Get it now on

The Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) charcoal smoker has come a long way since its introduction in 1981, but it is still the greatest all-around model available. The 18-inch variant is recommended for most individuals, although the comments about the 14- and 22-inch versions are also valid.

Weber has been developing improvements to its smoker for a long time, and now it’s widely used by professional and amateur pitmasters alike. Although we deemed the WSM to be the finest charcoal smoker for beginners, it has shown to be competitive even against more expensive smokers at barbecue contests.

The popularity of the Smokey Mountain may be attributed to its high build quality, user-friendliness, and reasonable pricing.

When it comes to charcoal smokers, bullet or water smokers like the WSM are by far the most common, thanks to their compact size and ability to maintain a constant temperature for hours.

What we like:

  • High Standards in Building Construction: This smoking device reeks of high quality in every way. You can tell this smoker was made to endure thanks to its robust legs and durable porcelain and chrome covering.
  • Facilitation of Use: Even though charcoal has a bad reputation for being difficult to cook with, this smoker is about as “set it and forget it” as you can go without shelling out for an expensive automated temperature controller. There were no temperature issues when I started a brisket at 11 p.m. and let it cook until noon.
  • Capacity for Cooking: We pointed out that this smoker is compact, but it doesn’t mean you have to worry about storage. The 18-inch model’s two cooking grates are 18 1/2 inches wide, for a total of 481 square inches of space—enough to accommodate a mountain of food.

What we don’t like:

  • Affordable secondary entrance: The WSM’s sole real flaw is that the inexpensive metal shipping door sometimes leaks. As the buildup from smoking eventually creates a natural seal, this will cease to occur on its own. A gasket kit may be purchased for a low price and used to solve this issue.

Despite this slight flaw, the Weber Smokey Mountain is an excellent charcoal smoker suitable for both novice and experienced pitmasters alike.

2. Best budget Kamado Smoker – Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Charcoal Barbecue

  Get it now on

The finest kamado-style barbecues are the subject of our comprehensive buying guide. Kamado grills, which belong to their own family of grills, are also great for smoking meat over charcoal.

The Akorn Kamado-style smoker is priced about right, but the Char-Griller brand has gotten a bad reputation for mass-produced, low-quality grills that are difficult to use.

The typical heavy duty ceramic has been replaced with a considerably lighter double-wall insulated 22 gauge steel, allowing the manufacturer to lower the price of the Akorn. In comparison to conventional Kamado stoves, this one is both more long-lasting and more budget-friendly.

Both the outside and interior are made from steel that has been coated with either powder or porcelain.

The main cooking area is 314 square inches, and the warming rack is 133 square inches for a total of 447 square inches of cooking space.

What we like:

  • Cost-effectiveness analysis: For a tenth of the price of a Big Green Egg, the Akorn is still a high-quality smoker. Assembling it is simple, and there will be no leaks in your food because of how neatly everything fits.
  • Grill grates made of high-quality cast iron: The main cast-iron grate is quite strong and has a convenient detachable part in the middle, allowing you to place wood chunks on the coals as required. The warming grate isn’t as sturdy, but it should be able to support an 8-pound roast without any problems.

What we don’t like:

  • The added expense of using stone: To get set up for low and slow cooking, the smoking stone is often purchased, however there are also cheaper DIY choices. On the plus side, this doubles as a pizza stone!
  • Cheap gaskets can leak: If you cook at very high temperatures the gaskets can get damaged, causing a bit of smoke leakage. Fortunately, this can be easily and cheaply fixed with a Nomex high temperature replacement gasket.

Other than the extremely inaccurate dome thermometer (even more than usual so get yourself a decent thermometer setup), there isn’t much else to fault the Akorn on.

3. Best cabinet charcoal smoker – Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Charcoal Smoker

  Get it now on

The 36″ Dyna-Glow vertical smoker is one of the few economical examples of charcoal cabinet smokers, and it has a massive 784 square inches of cooking space.

In contrast to gas and electric smokers, vertical charcoal smokers are less frequent. The convenience of having quick and simple access to all of your food is the primary benefit of this kind of smoker. Access to all four racks is simple, unlike with a smoker like the Smokey Mountain, where you need to remove grill racks to reach the whole level.

Putting it together is a breeze. There will be less time spent fumbling with bolts since the main box is preassembled. It seems that good care was taken in the construction of the racks.

What we like:

  • In the style of a vertical door: All four grill racks may be easily reached with the top door open.
  • Numerous temperature-regulating choices: Adjusting the side dampers to your desired temperature can take some skill, but will offer you complete command of your smoker once you’ve mastered the technique.

What we don’t like:

  • Simple wooden case: The included wood chip box seems flimsily constructed, and the top doesn’t fit tightly.
  • Leaks often: A smoker in this price range probably already knew this. A lack of proper insulation was likely chosen as a cost-cutting measure, therefore smoke may escape.

There will be some smoke escape, but regulating the temperature is simple.

You can’t go wrong with this charcoal smoker if you’re on a tight budget and yet want a cabinet type smoker.

Compared to a vertical smoker like the Smokey Mountain, its performance may fall short, but its pricing per square inch of cooking space is unrivaled.

4. Pit Barrel Cooker

  Get it now on

Building your own ugly drum smoker (UDS) is a terrific choice if you’re on a limited budget or simply like the DIY route. Although it looks quite similar to a Weber Smokey Mountain from the top, a UDS is distinguished from a Weber in that it does not have a water basin.

These do-it-yourself smokers are all the rage because of their inexpensive price and high efficiency (if made properly).

If you are unable to get a drum or do not have the necessary equipment to construct one yourself, the Pit Barrel Cooker is a fantastic substitute and a novel variation on the UDS.

Recently, we announced that the PBC is our favorite drum smoker.

The PBC eliminates the need for grill racks by allowing food to be hung vertically in the smoker from metal hooks.

The drum and lid are 18-gauge steel and can hold 30 gallons. Condensation forms in the barrel as a result of the temperature difference between the outside and inside. The cooker’s cylindrical design promotes even heating through convection.

These cigarillos date back to 2010, when a Colorado-based family firm introduced them to the market.

What we like:

  • Innovative method of meat hooks: There is no need for a water pan while cooking vertically since gravity helps baste the meat with its own juices and creates a “smoke fog.”
  • In the absence of any hotspots: When using a traditional smoker, hot spots might occur owing to the position of the fire or the area of the meat that comes into contact with the grill. Meat may be cured more uniformly by hanging it from hooks.
  • There will be less muck to pick up: There is no need to rinse a water dish afterward since the meat fluids fall straight on the hot embers.

What we don’t like:

  • More costly: This alternative is far more expensive than the do-it-yourself ugly drum smoker. The Pit Barrel Cooker is competitively priced with 18-inch Smokey Mountain smokers while offering more precise temperature control.
  • The potential for overheating: Caution should be used before adding too much lighted charcoal at the beginning of the cook to ensure low and moderate temperatures are maintained throughout.

The Pit Barrel Cooker has only been around for 7 years, but it has already established itself as a formidable competitor to the Weber Smokey Mountain.

You receive a high-quality smoker that is easy to use and doesn’t need any adjustments for the price.

5. Best charcoal grill smoker combo – Weber Original Kettle Premium 22″ Charcoal Grill

  Get it now on

You may be shocked to learn that a regular Weber Kettle can be converted into a high-quality smoker with only a few of tweaks.

If smoking is your primary objective, you should still purchase a specialized smoker. But if you’re just starting started in smoking meat, you may be wondering whether it’s worth it to invest several hundred dollars on equipment you could end up not using.

Or maybe you’d like the option of a grill that can also be used as a smoker.

One thing is certain, though: a genuine, high-quality Weber Kettle is your best bet. Due to its high quality and low price, we deemed this charcoal grill to be the finest on the market. It is manufactured by Weber, which is widely considered to be the greatest barbecue brand.

When you’re ready for some smoked barbeque, you may do it by following one of the numerous detailed instructions available online.

What we like:

  • Constructed to last: The Weber’s body is built of steel sheets that are pressed together and covered with porcelain enamel. This means it won’t rust and may be used for a long time without detracting from the grilling experience. If you plan on leaving your barbecue outdoors, though, you need protect it with a cover.
  • Airtight and perfectly sealed: This grill’s versatility as a smoker stems in part from its precise temperature regulation, which keeps temperatures constant for extended periods of time while using a minimum amount of wood chips.
  • Easy to carry around: This grill is particularly portable because to the two wheels attached to the bottom of the legs.

What we don’t like:

  • Small in stature: It would be unfair to criticize the kettle since it wasn’t made for smoking, but if you intend to smoke more than one thing at a time, you will rapidly run out of room.

The versatility of the Weber Kettle is another one of its primary selling points. Two-zone cooking is possible with the addition of a low-cost aluminum water pan or by purchasing a Slow ‘N Sear.

This stainless steel basket attaches to your Weber and transforms it into a functional water smoker, as suggested by the name. Watch how Adrenaline Barbecue prepares “Last Meal Ribs” on a Weber Kettle using the Slow ‘N’ Sear technique.

Accessories are available to convert your Weber grill into a baker, roaster, or even a pizza oven.

When compared to a specialist smoker like a Smokey Mountain, the quality produced by a Weber Kettle will always fall short. The truth is, however, that it will get you quite near.

And if you want to try out smoking without spending several hundred dollars on a specialized smoker, it’s a great alternative since it’s cheaper and more versatile.

Check Out BBQ Smokers: Everything You Need to Know for Perfect Barbecue Cooking for more information

The Remainder of the Other Alternatives

There are, of course, other good charcoal smokers on the market than the ones mentioned above. Browse through them; you may find something that works for you.

7. Cuisinart Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker

  Get it now on

Cuisinart seems to have achieved a happy medium with the price and construction quality of their charcoal smoker. The cheaper the goods, the worse the quality will be, but we still believe this smoker is a fantastic buy.

This grill is comparable in size to the 18-inch Weber Smokey Mountain, since it has two 18-inch stainless steel cooking grates and 510 square inches of total cooking space.

Not quite a “out of the box” solution, but this smoker may nonetheless deliver respectable results. You’ll need to get inventive and make a few adjustments before you can get this smoker up to full speed.

This machine maintains temperatures well, even around the 225°F mark. With a few tweaks, this smoker can compete with more costly versions when used at higher temps.

Not even a user manual or instructions are included, which is odd (other than assembly instructions). You’ll need to do some research and experimentation to figure out how to utilize it.

For individuals who like tinkering and the thrill of a good purchase, none of these should be a dealbreaker. The price is about equivalent to that of a lot of other smokes, so it may be worthwhile.

8. Old Smokey Charcoal Grill #22

  Get it now on

Remember the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” since same maxim holds true for this barbecue. The old smoky, let’s be honest, doesn’t seem that sturdy. Even homemade. However, it has amazing culinary capabilities.

Although the Old Smokey was first solely known to those in the southern states, its cheap cost and high quality have helped it gain popularity elsewhere.

Aluminized steel is used to construct this unit. That’s why it’s so light and convenient to carry about. In any case, it’s not a little thing. If you want to take this 22-inch grill with you on the road, you’ll need to bring a suitable case or cart to keep it in while you’re not using it.

Since its intended purpose is to cook food, we call it a grill. However, if you smoke indirectly, it works just as well as a traditional smoking device.

You can fit a whole beer can chicken or many huge hog shoulders under the high dome cover.

This model’s grill grate isn’t hinged, so refilling the tank might be a hassle if you plan on using it as a smoker. To access the charcoal below, you will have to raise the whole grate, food and all.

In addition, this device has a higher propensity for rust than similar units manufactured from thicker materials.

Old Smokey aficionados, though, would likely agree that these drawbacks are negligible in light of the smoker’s reasonable pricing and respectable performance.

9. Broil King 28’ Vertical Charcoal Smoker

  Get it now on

The Broil King is a high-quality smoker that will not disappoint if you have a somewhat larger budget. From the minute you pull this Canadian-made smoker out of the box, you’ll understand why it’s worth the additional money you spent on it.

This smoker’s large cooking area of 770 square inches means it can accommodate the needs of a large number of people at once. You may change the height of the four cooking racks made of stainless steel, and there are sixteen meat hooks made of the same material.

This smoker is not only simple to use but also large enough to feed a crowd. The water tray and smoker box are easily accessible via a side door. Even the water dish and smoker box have plenty of room.

The twin walls of the smoker eliminate the need for insulation. It does a great job of retaining heat for prolonged use.

It shouldn’t be that difficult of a process if you decide to save money by putting the unit together yourself. In case a screw becomes lost between the deck’s planks, the business will give replacements.

The answer is yes, the price tag is higher. But if you’re not into tinkering, this smoker is ready to use right out of the box, so even if you’re not a lover of DIY projects, you can still get a high-quality product.

10. Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker

  Get it now on

This little smoker has a total of 365 square inches of cooking area between its two racks. Like the Cuisinart smoker up above, this one can be improved upon to become an excellent smoker.

You can get much more usage out of this “excellent value” smoker by making a few inexpensive and easy adjustments, such as adding a seal around the door, installing more racks, and replacing the charcoal tray with a vegetable roaster (to allow for greater airflow).

The pull-out ash collecting mechanism and front-loading doors on this model make cleaning a breeze, and we prefer them over top-loading models.

This device can use both chunks and chips for smoking, however it may have trouble handling a full log.

If you don’t have a lot of room to spare, this smoker’s compact design will be a welcome relief.

This smoker is ideal for novice smokers since it doesn’t break the bank or take up too much room on the patio while yet providing a satisfying smoking experience.

11. Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker

  Get it now on

This is another another option for smokers who are just starting out or who only smoke a few times a month.

Our most cost-effective choice so far, this solution may be further optimized with little effort.

There is a total of 395.4 square inches of usable area in the kitchen. Not a huge appliance, but just fine if you don’t feed a crowd or smoke often.

Truth be told, the charcoal tray in this smoker has to be modified. With nowhere for the ash to land, the fire is smothered. Putting a grate in the charcoal pan is a simple remedy. Even then, if you think you may need extra ventilation, you can make a hole in the bottom of the charcoal pan.

Another simple adjustment that improves use is adding legs so that the whole thing is elevated slightly off the floor.

Even if you have invested in a high-end smoker, you will still need to consider purchasing a separate thermometer to use with your grill.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Charcoal Cigarettes



This is unquestionably the best part about using charcoal for stovetop cooking. Many people believe that the additional time and effort required to use a charcoal smoker is more than justified by the delicious results. Charcoal smokers provide you the freedom to choose the intensity and kind of smoke flavor you wish to add to your food.

Personalization Options

Charcoal smokers may be adjusted until they perform exactly as you want them to. It’s not possible to tinker with the more “techy” smokes without turning them worthless.


Charcoal grilling eliminates the need for electricity or bulky gas tanks. A charcoal smoker’s portability depends in part on its size, but in general, they are the easiest to bring along on a camping trip.


Charcoal smokers, with a few adjustments, can produce high temperatures suitable for searing, maintain the ideal humidity and temperature range required for smoking, and even be converted to a cold smoker.



You’ll have to dispose of the resulting ash and unused charcoal. The vast majority of people would rather not do this.

Comfort and Temperature Regulation

You won’t have as much trouble with this after you’ve figured out the basics and gotten to know your smoker. However, mastering temperature control with a charcoal smoker requires more practice at first.


Because of its traditional design, charcoal smokers often lack the modern conveniences seen in newer models.