2018 Buyer’s Guide: The Best Charcoal Smokers

With the over 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 a question that must be on your mind, “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

Types of Charcoal Fuel    

Regardless if 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, or commonly known as natural charcoal. Most chef’s enjoy this type of fuel due to it’s 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 are 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 the 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!

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

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 100lbs of food at once
  • Dual doors help trap heat while adding fuel
  • Built in smoke stack vent gives you have more control over smoke and temperature
  • Model comes with a stainless steel thermometer to easily monitor process

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Affordable and excellent value
  • Comes with limited 1 year warranty
  • Option get 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

  • Does not have a heat shield/deflector  
  • Smoker does not come with wheels, making it harder to transport
  • Small amount of smoke have been known to leak, but this can be easily fixed with high heat silicone and smoker gasket
  • Thermometer is not very high quality. Be sure to visit our write-up on the Best Smoker Thermometers to combat this

Bottom Line

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 let’s nearly anyone cook like a master chef. Plus, this is perfect for budget shoppers and may be one of the best valued smokers around.

Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 14-Inch Charcoal Smoker

Next 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 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.

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
  • Seals are not tight - rain can enter smoker if left out in bad weather
  • 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

Bottom Line

​​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 just their home and cook while camping or hunting.

Additionally, Weber provides an outstanding 5 year warranty over a bulk of the core parts on the smoker, with a 2 year warranty for all other aspects. Overall, this is a well-rounded and excellent charcoal smoker for the price.

Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker

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 having to awkwardly use the handles to maneuver your smoker in 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 ensure more control over heat and temperature

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 is required

Bottom Line

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 it’s vent control and easy-access drawers, meats are prepared with ease.  

Masterbuilt 20060516 Vertical Charcoal Smoker

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 let’s 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 amount 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

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

Bottom Line

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 wheel. 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.

Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker

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. T

he Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker comes with 3 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

Pros

  • Ash removal is very simple due to the ash-catcher drawer
  • Option to purchase with 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 cover - but it’s well worth the price of less than $20
  • Does not feature wheels, which may make transporting or storage more difficult

Bottom Line

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

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

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

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 to buying 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!

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