Best Charcoal Smokers: Top Picks for Authentic BBQ Flavor

Charcoal smokers are a popular choice for those who enjoy the smoky flavor and slow-cooked tenderness of meats. These smokers use charcoal as the fuel source and provide a unique flavor profile that cannot be replicated by other methods of cooking. Charcoal smokers come in various sizes, shapes, and designs, each with its own set of features that cater to different needs and preferences.

When choosing the best charcoal smoker, there are several factors to consider. The first is the size of the smoker, which will depend on the amount of food you plan to cook and the available space you have. The second factor is the material of the smoker, as it should be durable and able to withstand high temperatures. Additionally, the design and features of the smoker, such as the type of grates and dampers, should also be considered.

We spent hours researching and testing various charcoal smokers to identify the ones that provide the best flavor and ease of use. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pitmaster, our top picks will help you achieve delicious, smoky results every time.

Best Charcoal Smokers

Looking for the perfect charcoal smoker to take your BBQ game to the next level? Look no further than our list of the best charcoal smokers on Amazon. We’ve researched and tested a variety of models to bring you our top picks for the best combination of quality, performance, and value. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a backyard BBQ enthusiast, our list has something for everyone. So fire up the coals and get ready to smoke some serious meat with our top-rated charcoal smokers.

Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker

We highly recommend the Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker for those looking for a versatile and affordable option for outdoor cooking.

Pros

  • The build-in thermometer with detailed temperature scale and adjustable air supply on the lid allows for greater temperature control.
  • The 2 pieces cooking grids provide total 453 square inches cooking space, making it easy to smoke different sizes and shapes of meat.
  • The latch locking system provides stability and makes it easy to assemble and use.

Cons

  • The instructions for assembly could be clearer.
  • The metal is thin and can get quite hot, so be careful when handling.
  • The one vent for adjusting temperature may not be enough for some users.

We recently used the Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker to smoke a variety of meats and found it to be a reliable and efficient option. The porcelain-enameled water pan and charcoal pan provided stable use and the heat resistant bakelite handles made transport, basting and cooking a breeze.

We appreciated the multi-functional aspect of this smoker, as it can be used for cold or hot smoking and can cook in a variety of ways, including smoking, grilling, steaming, baking, braising, and roasting. The 2 access doors were also a nice feature, allowing us to easily check the status of our food and add charcoal or wood when necessary.

Overall, the Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker is a great option for those looking for a versatile and affordable smoker.

Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker with Cover

In our experience, the Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker with Cover is a solid purchase for anyone looking to invest in a charcoal smoker.

Pros

  • The grill offers ample space with 811 square inches of cooking area, including 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates, 184 sq. in. chrome-plated warming rack, and 184 sq. in. offset smoker.
  • The offset smoker is firmly attached to the grill to ensure good circulation of heat and smoke. The easy-to-open side door makes it convenient to add charcoal and remove ashes, and the air vent stokes the fire instantly.
  • The 2-level height-adjustable charcoal pan creates better heat control and holds up to 4.4 lbs. of coal. The lid-mounted thermometer gauge helps check and monitor the cooking temperature, allowing you to cook with great confidence.

Cons

  • The bottom shelf provides extra storage space, but it can only hold up to 20 lb. accessories when they are evenly distributed.
  • The grill cover included is made of heavy-duty fabric and protects the grill from elements, but it may not withstand the harshest weather.
  • The assembly instructions may be challenging to follow, and it may take some time to assemble the grill.

In our experience, the Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker with Cover is a great choice for those looking for a charcoal smoker with ample cooking space, adjustable heat control, and a lid-mounted thermometer gauge. However, the bottom shelf may not hold a lot of weight, and the grill cover may not withstand extreme weather conditions. Overall, we would recommend this product to anyone looking for a reliable charcoal smoker.

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – 35LB 1 – 35lb Bag

If you’re looking for a high-quality, all-natural charcoal for your smoker or grill, Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal is definitely worth considering.

Pros

  • 100% natural South American hardwoods, with no chemicals or fillers
  • Superior burn, with twice the cook power and longer burn time than other charcoal brands
  • Mild flavor-enhancing aroma that enhances flavor profiles without overpowering them

Cons

  • Can be more expensive than other charcoal brands
  • Lights quickly and gets hot very fast, which can be a downside for some users
  • Bag may contain some small pieces, which can be frustrating for those looking for larger chunks

We’ve used Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal on a variety of different meats, including brisket, chicken, and pork, and have consistently been impressed with the results. The mild flavor-enhancing aroma adds a subtle smoky flavor without overpowering the natural taste of the meat.

One of the standout features of this charcoal is its superior burn. With over 7000kcal/g, it burns hotter and longer than other charcoal brands, making it perfect for slow cooking and smoking. Plus, it produces very little ash, which means less cleanup time after your cookout.

While Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal may be more expensive than other charcoal brands, we believe the superior burn and flavor make it well worth the investment. If you’re serious about your BBQ and want to take your grilling to the next level, this is definitely a product to consider.

Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker

If you’re looking for a versatile smoker that can handle a variety of foods, the Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker is a great option.

Pros

  • The built-in thermometer and adjustable air supply make it easy to control the temperature and get consistent results.
  • With 453 square inches of cooking space and multiple racks, you can smoke different sizes and shapes of meat.
  • The 2 access doors make it easy to check on your food or add more charcoal or wood.

Cons

  • Assembly can be time-consuming and the instructions could be better.
  • The metal is thin and can get very hot, so be careful when handling it.
  • The latch locking system could be more secure.

We’ve used the Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker to smoke everything from cheese and sausages to steaks and chicken, and we’ve been impressed with the results. The built-in thermometer and adjustable air supply make it easy to control the temperature and get consistent results, while the porcelain-enameled water pan and charcoal pan provide stable use. The heat resistant bakelite handles make it easy to transport, baste, and cook your food.

With 453 square inches of cooking space and multiple racks, you can smoke different sizes and shapes of meat, and the crossbar and 4 hangers inside the lid give you even more flexibility. The 2 access doors make it easy to check on your food or add more charcoal or wood, and the latch locking system provides some extra stability.

Assembly can be time-consuming and the instructions could be better, but once you have it set up, it’s easy to use. Just be careful when handling the metal, as it can get very hot. The latch locking system could also be more secure, but we haven’t had any major issues with it.

Overall, we think the Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker is a great option for anyone looking for a versatile smoker that can handle a variety of foods. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done and produces delicious results.

Tengchang 32″ Charcoal Smoker BBQ Grill

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly charcoal smoker that is portable and easy to use, the Tengchang 32″ Charcoal Smoker BBQ Grill might be a good option for you.

Pros

  • The smoker is easy to assemble and disassemble, making it a great option for camping trips or backyard barbecues.
  • The built-in thermometer with a detailed scale helps you to observe and control the temperature of your food.
  • The smoker is equipped with two doors that make it convenient to check the food condition and add charcoal in time.

Cons

  • The vent doors could be larger to make it easier to add fuel or chips.
  • The smoker is cheaply made and could arrive with some damage or missing parts.
  • The cooking time varies based on the exact temperature, type of meat, and type of smoker, so it may take some trial and error to get it right.

We’ve found that the Tengchang 32″ Charcoal Smoker BBQ Grill is a decent option for those who are new to smoking and want to try it out without breaking the bank. While it may not be the most durable or high-quality smoker on the market, it gets the job done and produces tasty smoked meats.

Captiva Designs Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker

If you’re looking for a reliable and durable smoker for outdoor cooking, the Captiva Designs Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker is a great option.

Pros

  • The offset smoker provides additional grilling or smoking space for small side dishes.
  • Made of metal iron, this smoker is thicker and more stable than others, and better at keeping warm.
  • The grilling rack is wrapped with safe enamel material, making it acid-proof, high-temperature resistant, and safer to use.

Cons

  • The material is thin and the durability is questionable.
  • The quality is poor and needs to be made more durable for the price of this smoker.
  • The grill part needs to have holes drilled with a slight angle to allow grease to drain.

This smoker provides a total of 512 sq. inches cooking space, including 366 sq. in. primary cooking area and 146 sq. in. offset smoker. The lids adopt groove design, ensuring sealing performance of the side smoker box, and the smoker fire box is seamlessly attached to the main fire chamber for good circulation of heat and smoke.

Overall, we recommend the Captiva Designs Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker for those who want a reliable smoker for outdoor cooking.

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker 16″

If you’re looking for an affordable and reliable charcoal smoker, the Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker 16″ is a great option.

Pros

  • The innovative air control system makes it easy to set and maintain cooking temperatures.
  • The removable ash pan system makes clean-up a breeze.
  • The dual-carry handles make it easy to move around.

Cons

  • The cooking space is limited to 388 square inches.
  • The porcelain coating may chip or crack over time.
  • The temperature gauge may not be completely accurate.

We recently had the opportunity to test out the Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker 16″ and were impressed with its performance. The innovative air control system allowed us to easily set and maintain the cooking temperature, resulting in perfectly smoked meats every time. The removable ash pan system also made clean-up a breeze, saving us time and effort.

While the cooking space is limited to 388 square inches, we found it to be sufficient for small to medium-sized gatherings. However, if you’re planning on smoking for a larger group, you may want to consider a larger smoker. Additionally, we noticed that the porcelain coating may chip or crack over time, so it’s important to handle the smoker with care. Lastly, while the temperature gauge is helpful, we found that it wasn’t always completely accurate.

Overall, we highly recommend the Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker 16″ for those looking for an affordable and reliable charcoal smoker. It’s packed with features and provides exceptional performance without breaking the bank.

Captiva Designs 18-inch Vertical Charcoal Smoker Grill

If you’re looking for a versatile smoker that can also be used as a charcoal grill, then the Captiva Designs 18-inch Vertical Charcoal Smoker Grill is definitely worth considering.

Pros

  • The porcelain-enameled smoking chamber helps to control the temperature better and is rust-resistant, anti-peeling, and easy to clean.
  • The modular stacking design allows this smoker to be easily converted into a charcoal grill, making it multi-functional and practical.
  • The two adjustable levels of cooking area, with a total height of 15 inches and a diameter of 17 inches, allow you to adjust the cooking space according to your needs.

Cons

  • The smoker is not the sturdiest and may wear out over time.
  • Some customers have reported missing parts or damage upon delivery.
  • It may not be the best option for those who are new to smoking meat.

We’ve used this smoker for a few months now and have found that it performs well, producing tasty and tender meat. The porcelain-enameled smoking chamber is a great feature, as it helps to maintain a consistent temperature and is easy to clean. We also appreciate the modular stacking design, which makes it easy to convert the smoker into a charcoal grill.

One thing to keep in mind is that the smoker may not be the sturdiest option out there and may wear out over time. Additionally, some customers have reported missing parts or damage upon delivery, so it’s important to inspect the smoker carefully upon arrival.

Overall, we think the Captiva Designs 18-inch Vertical Charcoal Smoker Grill is a solid option for those who are looking for a versatile smoker that can also be used as a charcoal grill. However, it may not be the best option for those who are new to smoking meat and want something that is more user-friendly.

Buying Guide

When it comes to choosing the best charcoal smoker, there are several features that you should consider. Here are some of the most important factors to keep in mind:

Size

The size of the charcoal smoker is an important consideration. You want to make sure that the smoker is large enough to accommodate the amount of food that you plan to smoke, but not so large that it takes up too much space. Consider the size of your outdoor area and the amount of food you typically smoke when choosing the size of your smoker.

Material

Charcoal smokers can be made from a variety of materials, including ceramic, steel, and cast iron. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. Ceramic smokers are excellent at retaining heat, while steel smokers are more durable. Cast iron smokers are great for retaining heat and distributing it evenly.

Temperature Control

Temperature control is an important feature to consider when choosing a charcoal smoker. Some smokers have built-in thermometers, while others require you to purchase a separate thermometer. Look for a smoker that allows you to easily adjust the temperature to ensure that your food is cooked to perfection.

Ventilation

Ventilation is another important factor to consider when choosing a charcoal smoker. A smoker with good ventilation will allow smoke to circulate evenly throughout the smoker, resulting in perfectly smoked food. Look for a smoker with adjustable vents that allow you to control the amount of smoke that enters and exits the smoker.

Accessories

Finally, consider any accessories that come with the charcoal smoker. Some smokers come with extra racks, hooks, or other accessories that can make smoking food easier and more convenient. Look for a smoker that comes with the accessories that you need to smoke your favorite foods.

By considering these factors, you can choose the best charcoal smoker for your needs and enjoy perfectly smoked food every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top-rated charcoal smokers for budget-conscious buyers?

For budget-conscious buyers, we recommend the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill and the Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker. Both of these models are affordable and offer excellent performance.

Which charcoal smokers are most suitable for beginners?

Beginners should consider the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and the Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker. These models are easy to use and provide consistent results.

What are some high-end charcoal grills that provide the best value?

If you’re willing to spend more, we recommend the Kamado Joe Classic II and the Big Green Egg. These high-end charcoal grills offer exceptional performance and durability.

How do vertical charcoal smokers compare to traditional models?

Vertical charcoal smokers are designed to provide a more controlled cooking environment than traditional models. They also require less fuel and are easier to clean.

What are the distinguishing features of Weber and Masterbuilt charcoal smokers?

Weber charcoal smokers are known for their durability and ease of use, while Masterbuilt charcoal smokers are popular for their large cooking capacity and digital controls.

In terms of flavor and usability, how do pellet smokers differ from charcoal smokers?

Pellet smokers use wood pellets to generate heat and smoke, while charcoal smokers use charcoal and wood chips. Pellet smokers are easier to use and offer more consistent results, but charcoal smokers provide a more authentic smoky flavor.

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