Best Charcoal Smokers – 2020 Reviews

With the abundance of smokers available, there’s no doubt it may get confusing when searching for a new or improved smoker. As one of the oldest styles on the market, charcoal smokers offer users a surefire ways to achieve succulent, delicious results.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at a handful of charcoal smokers and help you answer the question on your mind of what is the best charcoal smoker?

With this, we’re going to examine the core features of each, then dive into the pros and cons shared among recent customers. Believe us when we say you won’t want to miss this.

Comparison Chart of the Best Charcoal Smokers

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker

  • Available in 14", 18", and 22" models
  • Dual cooking grates allow users to cook a variety of things at once
  • User-friendly damper vents help control heat and air flow
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Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Offset Smoker

  • 1,176-square-inches of total cooking space
  • Dual door set up allows users to easily add wood chips
  • Designed with an adjustable smoke stack for full control over smoke and flavor
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Char-Broil American Offset Smoker

  • 1,025-square-inches of total cooking space
  • Smoker has max capacity of up to 18 burgers at once
  • Features a built in thermometer on the lid for quick monitoring
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Char-Broil Vertical Smoker

  • 365-square-inches of total cooking space
  • Vertical design allows smoke to deliver authentic flavors and results
  • Multiple dampers provide unique control to each smoking experience
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Masterbuilt 20060516 Vertical Smoker

  • Constructed with 2-chrome plated grates designed to hold up to 50 lbs
  • Side vents and built in thermometer allow users to closely monitor the entire process
  • Does not come with wheels but does feature side carry handles
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Types of Charcoal Fuel    

Regardless of whether you’re an avid chef or a weekend warrior, there are several types of fuel to consider. Each style comes with its own unique benefit, so let’s find out which suits you best.

Lump Charcoal

One of the most popular fuel styles is lump coal, commonly known as natural charcoal. Most chefs enjoy this type of fuel due to its clean burn style and heat output. One of the downsides to this type of fuel is that it burns quickly. If you’re using lump charcoal, be sure to stock up.   

Briquettes

Another favored type of fuel is briquettes. Briquettes are attractive because of their ability to burn for an extended period of time. They’re constructed with additional fuel inside to help users ignite them with ease. Some people aren’t huge fans of using briquettes since they contain a mixture of chemicals that can give off a heavy smell, sometimes impacting flavor.

Binchotan

Also called white charcoal, this style of charcoal is traditionally used in Japanese cultures and is burned at lower temperatures for longer periods of time. This charcoal is firmer than black charcoal and does not produce the genuine wood flavor most crave.

For those who are not avid smokers, this fuel can be a little tricky to get going. If you’re determined, be sure to allocate time properly.  

Review of the Best Charcoal Smokers

Now we’re going to dive into the products on our list and review some of the best charcoal smokers. As mentioned, we’ll be giving you the list of information you need to make a well-informed purchase and set yourself up for success. We did our homework so you don’t have to. Let’s get started!

Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 14-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black

Pros

  • Assembly is straightforward
  • Very effective smoker and continuously delivers succulent results
  • Comes with 5-year warranty for most parts, 2 years for excluded parts
  • Vents are easy to use and grant more control over heat and smoke output
  • Small size is not a noticeable constraint in regards the amount of meat that can be held. Customers can still smoke large amounts at once

Cons

  • There’s no built-in way to store the hood on the smoker when working with meats
  • Built-in thermometer may not always be as accurate as other upgraded, aftermarket thermometers
  • While door is rust-proof, it could be improved. Door is not very strong and may let small amounts of smoke escape

What Recent Buyers Report

This grill comes in three different sizes and every user has a different preference depending on how many people they entertain and the size of meat they plan on cooking. For one user, one pork butt needed no more than the 14-inch grill. For another user, the 14-inch grill was too small since they usually cooked spatchcock turkey or full pork belly. Once they got the right size for them, the actual cooking or grilling was more than satisfactory for everyone. The grill is said to be easy to use and clean. Some users have even used it to win BBQ competitions since it heats up quickly and easily maintains a fire.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This product has three sizes i.e., the 14-inch grill for small family gatherings, the 18-inch grill for bigger meat and gatherings, and the 22-inch grill that can be used for commercial purposes. There is a size for every size gathering. It has two plated steel grates that allow room for cooking more food at a time. It has an in-built thermometer so you can keep track of the temperature inside and change it if you need it. It has a porcelain coating to prevent rust. Adding fuel is also very easy. You just have to remove the fuel door. It also has a large water pan so you can expect moist and flavorful food.

First on our list is the 14” Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker. Backed by the incredible Weber name, this affordable model is perfect for beginners and those looking for a straightforward, easy to use smoker.

Because of its size, the Weber Smokey Mountain is great for traveling and transporting - you can take this camping, RVing, or tailgating. 

One of the great benefits of this smoker is the fact that a handful of parts on it are rust-resistant.
If you don’t have a cover for it or are traveling, rest assured that the aluminum fuel door and heat shield are safe from the elements.

But we don’t want to dive into all the bells and whistles just yet. Below are a few advantages that come with the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, let’s see what they are.

  • Built-in thermometer makes monitoring internal temperature a walk in the park
  • Charcoal chamber, lid, water pan, and center section are porcelain-enameled
  • Fuel door and heat shield are rust-resistant
  • Silicone side grommet allow users to easily access meats and take temperature with secondary thermometer or probe
  • Easy to transport - only weighs 23 lbs.

Who Will Use This Most

Since it comes in varying sizes, its users also vary. You can cook for any size gathering in the range of 20 to 40 or above. You can also add your choice of fuel to it i.e., wood or charcoal. Of course, charcoal would be the better choice and would provide a nice, smoky flavor.

Bottom Line

This is one of the best charcoal smokers that you can buy. Its decent size lets you entertain any number of people you want and no one will go hungry. You can easily control the temperature by adjusting the dampers. Plus, the water pan will let you maintain the temperature for when you have a long day of cooking ahead and give good moist meat all day long.

When it comes down to the Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker, this easy to use, beginner model is perfect for everyone. This lightweight and durable model allows users to effortlessly use it outside of their home and cook while camping or hunting.

Additionally, Weber provides an outstanding five-year warranty over a bulk of the core parts on the smoker, with a two-year warranty for all other parts. Overall, this is a well-rounded, excellent charcoal smoker for the price.

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Affordable and excellent value
  • Comes with limited 1 year warranty
  • Optional protective cover (sold separately)
  • Racks are adjustable and removable which makes for easy cleaning
  • Heat is held for a long time - one customer reported using “only 6 chimneys of charcoal in a 13-hour smoke”

Cons

What Recent Buyers Report

The smoker is easy to put together and use. The price, for the most part, is also affordable. Many experienced grillers have called this perfect. The body of the grill is also reported to be sturdy and reliable. Some users needed extra gaskets to complete the grill, but that wasn’t too much of an issue. Once you set up and get started, it cooks great food. The user guide helped everyone with getting used to it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This grill comes in two variations. One is the standard size, which is not too big and not too small. You can buy it with a cover, as well. The other option is the wide grill size. It has room for more food, and it also comes with a cover, if needed. The standard size grill has 784 square inches of smoking area and multiple grates. The wide grill has 1890 square inches of cooking area. The other functionalities are the same for both sizes. It has a porcelain coating that protects the surface from any tear or other damage. It has a unique feature of two separate doors for the grilling area and the fuel chamber. This allows for minimum heat loss when adding more fuel.

The first model on our list is the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker - this thing is a beast. Dyna-Glo did it’s job in ensuring you have all the resources necessary to become a master chef.

Equipped with six height-adjustable cooking grates, this smoker lets you have full control over what you’re smoking and how you do it. Additionally, each grate can hold up to 25 lbs! With a combined total of 1176” of cooking space, users have a plethora of options available regarding how they mix and match their upcoming menu.

The vertical design lets natural heat rise to the occasion and naturally take care of all those meats on the top rack.

This particular style of offset smoker, encourages slow cooking and keeps direct heat away from your food. There are several other excellent features we’d like to highlight before getting to the pros and cons.

  • 15,000 BTU burner with user-friendly electronic pulse ignition
  • Smoker can hold up to 100 lbs of food at once
  • Dual doors help trap heat while adding fuel
  • Built -n smoke stack vent gives you more control over smoke and temperature
  • Model comes with a stainless steel thermometer to easily monitor process

Who Will Use This Most

This grill is best for slow-cooked or smoked meat. It uses indirect heating that is perfect for slow cooking and also gives the meat a smoky flavor. Adjusting the temperature to your needs is also easy. It has a temperature gauge and adjustable flue. If you are planning on feeding your family with amazing slow-cooked meat that gives you all the flavors of a smokehouse, then this is a good option. It is also big enough to cook several pieces of meat at a time for large parties.

Bottom Line

This is a great option for smoked meat and it lets you have control over the temperature and fuel. Heat loss during fuel adjustments is also a minimum. Its size is perfect for both small and medium-sized gatherings. You can use it for all-day cooking with little hassle.

When it comes down to it, the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker stands alone compared to competitors. With its massive space, ease of use, and versatility, this model lets nearly anyone cook like a master chef. Plus, this is perfect for budget shoppers and may be one of the best valued smokers around.

Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker, Deluxe

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Can hold up to 18 burgers!
  • Perfect beginner model to learn on
  • Comes with 1-year limited warranty
  • Great value and cost for the standard model
  • Set up is straightforward and directions are not very complex

Cons

  • Learning curves vary with grasping heat control
  • Prone to rust, be sure to keep it protected and covered
  • Not a "set-and-forget" smoker - some attention and care are required

What Recent Buyers Report

Some users have called this the best entry-level smoker because of its size and easy handling. The ashtray is removable, so cleaning it was not too difficult for users. A commonly reported problem is that the lid does not close tightly. It still produced good smoke, though. Most of the users used it for gatherings with four or five people at most.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a classic-style 3-in-1 smoker, grill, and barbecue machine. With this, you get three options. The deluxe has a 670 square inch cooking surface and a separate firebox chamber. The standard has a 290 square inch cooking area. In the third option, you get the deluxe grill with a charcoal starter. It has an adjustable damper, and you can also change its height according to preference. The firebox is separate, so removing the ash is relatively simple. Its handles are chrome-plated so you don’t accidentally burn yourself. It also has a storage rack for your utensils.

Recognized as one of the best smokers around, the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset is a solid model for those on the hunt for a new charcoal smoker. This high-quality, well-designed smoker is perfect for anyone searching for a dual-action model.

The grill is ideal for a backyard BBQ session, while the side action offset box allows for indirect cooking.

One of the overlooked advantages to this particular model is that it comes with wheels. While you can easily upgrade nearly any model and add them yourself, the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker comes equipped. No need to worry about awkwardly using the handles to maneuver your smoker between uses.

With everything that’s been previously mentioned, there are several other key features you should be aware of. Let’s find out what they are.

  • 450 sq. inches of combined space within cooking area
  • Steel grate is height adjustable
  • Built-in damper makes for easy ash removal
  • Comes with wheels for easy transportation and storage
  • Top chimney vent ensures more control over heat and temperature

Who Will Use This Most

This is not suitable for big gatherings. It will be perfect for an average-sized family. You can do backyard BBQs and enjoy the summer afternoons with this grill. You can also cook for a small group of friends. The grill is also very easy to use. It is designed to keep the smoke inside so you can expect the best flavors. The chimney is adjustable, so the heat control is also in your hands. If you know what you are doing, then it will be easy to use.

Bottom Line

This is a standard backyard grill. It gives you the most flavors out of your meat by not letting the smoke out, thanks to the water pan. It is also easy to move around with the wheels. This is a perfect small family grill that uses wood-chips or charcoal for fuel.

The Char-Broil American Gourmet 300 Series Offset Charcoal Smoker and Grill is the perfect model for budget shoppers and those still learning how to smoke.

Regardless of your experience level, this charcoal smoker will always perform as needed. With its vent control and easy-access drawers, meats are prepared with ease.  

Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker

Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker

Pros

  • Ash removal is very simple due to the ash-catcher drawer
  • Option to purchase expert assembly (for additional cost)
  • Compact design makes it a great asset for any backyard or patio
  • Excellent capacity - this smoker holds a massive amount of meat

Cons

  • Does not come with a cover - but it’s well worth the price of less than $20
  • Does not feature wheels, which may make transport or storage more difficult

What Recent Buyers Report

The price of this product is pretty good for the quality it gives. For users, the vertical design lets more meat be cooked together. Users had to make some adjustments to it, but they were not too big or expensive to handle. It has also been used several times a day, with good results every time.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This product has a vertical build that is ideal for smoking. It has 365 square inches of cooking area. The intake and outtake dampers are adjustable so you can control the heat. Its handles are heat protected, so you don’t get burned accidentally. The water pan and ashtray are both removable and easy to refill. It has three cooking grates so you can cook multiple pieces of meat at a time.

Last on our list, but certainly not least by any means, is the Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker. Similar to the previous smoker, this model utilizes vertical smoking to transfer heat and smoke to the top of the smoker, slowly delivering those smoky flavors we’re all after. 

The Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker comes with three adjustable, chrome-plated racks and a variety of dampers for heat control.

A majority of recent buyers really enjoy the slide-in water pan because it’s so easy to refill. With this, the bottom pull-out drawer makes for simple clean-up after each smoking session. Before we discuss the pros and cons, there are a few more essential features you should be aware of. Let’s see what they are:

  • Chrome-plated handles are heat protected - no more accidental burns
  • 365 sq. inches of cooking space
  • 3 racks are chrome-plated
  • Vertical design carries flavor up through smoker and to food
  • Comes with built-in temperature gauge for quick and easy readings

Who Would Use This Most?

The grill is not too big, but you can easily use it for medium-sized gatherings or small family events. It has an adjustable air intake so you can control how the meat gets cooked. It is built for smoking because of the vertical design. So if you love good smoked meat, then this is also a good option. Unlike many other models, it is for fewer people.

Bottom Line

This is a good smoking option for smaller parties. It has a compact design and is pretty easy to use. With two to three grates, you can cook a meal for your family. The heatproof handles, the removable grates, and adjustable dampers all make the cooking and cleaning part easy for everyone.

After purchasing the Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker, you’ll be on your way to enjoying delicious, smoky meals.

This slow-cooking vertical smoker lets flavors rise and add those long sought-out flavors to your meats. For its price, buyers can expect a well-rounded, solid smoker packed with amazing features.

The only downside to this model is that it doesn’t come with wheels and we couldn't find any information related to warranty. But both of these can easily be fixed. Overall, it is an excellent smoker!

Masterbuilt 20060516 Vertical Charcoal Smoker

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Legs add extra height
  • 90-day limited warranty
  • Cooks meats evenly with ease
  • Grease cup makes for simple clean-up

Cons

  • Smoker does not come with wheels
  • Learning curves vary with vent control and heat adjustments
  • Thermostat has read low for a few customers, but not everyone; consider upgrading to an high-quality thermometer

What Recent Buyers Report

This is a cheap grill perfect for home users. Customers love that the cooking grates are removable, which makes using it easier. It also gives an airtight seal necessary for a good smoke. The quality of the body is also reported to be pretty sturdy, given the price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is another vertical smoker. It is smaller than the others with two cooking grates. It also comes with a porcelain-enameled charcoal and water pan. It has two separate doors for the fuel and cooking area. This makes cleaning and refilling charcoal easier, and heat in the cooking area is not lost unnecessarily.

One of our favorite smokers is the Masterbuilt 20060516 Vertical Charcoal Smoker. This user-friendly model is ideal for camping, parties, or just an evening of kick-back smoking.

Masterbuilt leads by example in making smoking simple. The built-in air damper lets users have more control over smoke output, while the grease cup makes for easy cleaning.

One of the best features of this model has to be the dual-door design. With this, users can effortlessly add fuel without the worry of losing massive amounts of heat.

Additionally, this smoker comes with its own temperature gauge to assist those who don’t have one. There are some additional benefits we think you should know about. 

  • The 2 chrome-plated racks can hold up to 50 lbs of food.
  • Side air damper is easily adjustable for full control over smoke.
  • Pan and water bowl are porcelain-coated to add flavor and moisture to cooking process.
  • Powder-coated charcoal grate finish.
  • Comes with Masterbuilt built-in thermometer.

Who Will Use This Most

This is more suited for smaller parties. The compact size allows it to be carried in the car easily. So, with this, you can enjoy a good BBQ or smoked meat with your friends on a trip or a picnic. Since it is a smoker, you would mostly use it for that and not for the grill, but if you decide to do so, then that will serve you well, too. 

Bottom Line

This is a compact version of a vertical smoker. It has everything a bigger one might have. You can control the temperature yourself and get the perfect tender smoked meat. Plus, using water can just add to the flavor and tenderness. 

With the Masterbuilt 20060516 Vertical Charcoal Smoker, the bottom line here is that you’ll get a model that’s dependable and will always deliver genuine, delicious flavors. The size of this thing is insane for the amount of meat it can hold.

The only downside we found was that it doesn’t come with wheels. But, this can easily be changed with a quick trip to your local hardware store. Overall, this is a fantastic model to learn on and a top-notch charcoal smoker.

How to Use a Charcoal Smoker

If you are new to barbecuing and are confused about how to use a charcoal smoker, then refer to these steps given below:

  1. Remove the upper body of the smoker. 

  2. Pour the charcoal into the chimney. 

  3. Put a newspaper in the middle of the charcoal tray on the bottom part of the smoker you just removed. 

  4. Put the chimney on top of the paper.

  5. Light the paper using a lighter.

  6. Remove the cooking grate from the top portion of the smoker and take out the water pan.

  7. Add water to the water pan.

  8. Put the water pan and cooking grate back.

  9. Add your meat to the cooking grate.

  10. Put the lid on.

  11. When the charcoal is ready, remove the chimney.

  12. Add wet wood chips to the charcoal.

  13. Put the top half of the smoker on the bottom.

  14. Seal everything up.

For detailed steps of how to use these grills, refer to the following video: 

Conclusion

From the variety of smokers available, there’s no question that setting your sights on a charcoal smoker is the way to go.

Their timeless style of smoking allows users to smoke with ease and receive outstanding flavors. From the smokers we’ve covered in this review, our top pick is the Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 14-Inch Charcoal Smoker.

We hope this review has greatly contributed toward your hunt for a new charcoal smoker. If there was anything special that stood out, be sure to drop a comment below and let us know. We love hearing from our readers and look forward to hearing about which model you chose. Happy smoking!

People Also Ask

If you still have some questions about which grill to buy, how to use it, or which fuel to use, you can refer to our list of questions that people usually ask when buying a grill.

How Much Charcoal Should I Use in a Smoker?

How much charcoal you add depends on the wind, temperature, what you are cooking, and other things. Usually, it’s best just to fill up the charcoal tray provided in the smoker.

How Long Does Charcoal Burn in a Smoker?

Depending on your grill size, the amount of charcoal you add varies. If you are using a standard-size smoker for your home, then the amount of fuel that goes into it usually burns out in two hours.

What is Better for Smoking, Lump Charcoal or Briquettes?

There are two main types of charcoals, the briquette and the lump. The lump charcoal is the purest form. It is made by burning hardwood and it does not contain any additives. It burns faster and is more suited for grilling. For the purpose of smoking and slow-cooking meat, the briquette is better. It gives a more consistent supply of heat and lasts longer. 

How Do You Keep a Charcoal Smoker at 225 Degrees?

Two-hundred, twenty five degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature for smoking. Smokers usually come with temperature gauges. If yours does not have one, then buy a thermometer. To maintain this high temperature, open the oxygen vents completely to let as much oxygen in as possible.

Does Charcoal Go Bad?

Charcoal does not go bad. But if you are using briquette, it will have chemical additives to help it burn faster and longer. These additives wear off over time and if you store the charcoal for too long, it will not be able to burn.

How Do You Use Wood Chips in a Charcoal Smoker?

Before adding wood chips to the smoker, you need to soak them in water for about half an hour. All you have to do is add the chips to the smoker box or charcoal tray if you are using it with the charcoal. Put the box on the lit burner and you will get the smoky flavor you want. 

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