The Best Charcoal Smoker (Guide) – 2016 Reviews

best-charcoal-smoker-review-guideSummer is the perfect time to break out your outdoor charcoal smoker to slow cook your favorite meats and other dishes. To get a consistent cook and a wood-fired taste, ensure that the smoker functions properly and it is suited to your specifications. You will impress your friends and have a perfect cook every time.

Today I’m breaking down the top selling charcoal smokers on the market.

Compare: The 10 Top Rated Charcoal Smokers of 2016

Charcoal Offset SmokerCharcoal Offset Smoker
American Gourmet Offset SmokerAmerican Gourmet Offset Smoker
Smokey Mountain CookerSmokey Mountain Cooker
Smoke-N-Grill Charcoal SmokerSmoke-N-Grill Charcoal SmokerBrinkmann$$4.8
3-in-1 Kabob3-in-1 KabobBlackstone$$$4.6
Smokin ProSmokin ProChar-Griller$$$4.7
Black Electric Digital SmokerBlack Electric Digital SmokerMasterbuilt$$$4.7
Vertical Charcoal SmokerVertical Charcoal SmokerChar-Broil$$4.7
365 Kettle Smoker365 Kettle SmokerNordic Ware$4.8
2-door Propane Smoker2-door Propane SmokerMasterbuilt$$$4.6

What is a Charcoal Smoker?

A charcoal smoker is a specific kind of heating tool that cooks your meat over flaming coals, at reduced temperatures, oftentimes with hardwood included to obtain a more natural taste. Smoking is a less direct kind of heating that typically occurs over several hours, at reduced temperatures. Charcoal smokers function through a combination of lit and unlit coals in addition to the layout of the coals so that the fire stays active over a greater amount of time.

Related: The Best Electric Smoker (Guide)

What are the advantages?

The best charcoal smokers provide a more consistent cook and a smoky flavor. You do not lose nearly as much moisture when cooking meats or other dishes that you would with baking or using a stove. Meats come out much more delicate, tasteful, and cooked much closer to your originally intended amount.

See Also: The Best Gas Grill (Guide)

What are the different types of charcoal smokers?

When you need the best charcoal smoker for the cooking at hand, it makes sense to do your research ahead of time. You need to make sure that the smoker is designed for the types of cooking that you have in mind. You do not want to end up with inconsistently cooked pieces of meat because you did not take the time to prepare. Below are the three main types of smokers:

  • Vertical or Cylinder Smoker – This variation of smoker is favored by consumers due to its simplicity of use, its reduced size, and its reduced price compared to similar models. These kinds of smokers typically include two bowls in the inside compartment. The bowl located at the base of the smoker is where you need to position your charcoal and smoker wood. Frequently, there is also a bowl located in the middle, which will keep water in place so that your dish stays hydrated throughout the smoking process. Typically, these smokers include a trap door at the front of the smoker, so that you can insert new charcoal and wood to keep up the temperature. Because the heat will travel upwards from the bottom bowl to the top, you will store your dish at the top where your lid comes in contact with the bottom of your smoker. When you are using a vertical smoker, make sure that the lid is shut so that all of the heat and smoke stays inside.
  • Cabinet Smoker – Even though a cabinet smoker looks very similar to a vertical smoker, it is important to note that there are a lot of differences between the two. Most of the time, cabinet smokers include a large number of racks that can be readjusted depending on the types of dishes you are smoking. Cabinet smokers are much greater in size and can more effectively distribute smoke at the bottom. Cabinet smokers include a greater amount of vents when compared to vertical smokers, as a result giving you a larger amount of power over the heating process. If you smoke frequently, it is worth purchasing the more effective cabinet smoker.
  • Offset Firebox Smoker – Offset smokers are an ideal option if you want to purchase a charcoal grill and smoker in one device. The main chamber works much like a conventional grill. However, you are able to smoke your meats using a reduced sized firebox chamber. Most of the time, these types of smokers have two adjustable vents that are situated on the firebox to keep a steady temperature. It is important to open all of the vents to ensure the temperate goes up in the smoker. After you have reached your ideal temperature, it is important that you shut your vents one-fourth of the way to keep up the heat.

Choosing a Charcoal Smoker

In the process of determining which smoker you want to purchase, it is crucial to think of a number of aspects. First, what is the amount of space that is available in the chamber? Think about the number of people that you may be feeding and purchase a smoker with enough space to accommodate these individuals. Second, what are the mechanisms by which you can verify the temperature? It is crucial that you have a reliable measurement of the heat so that you will know exactly to take it out. Frequently opening and closing the smoker will cause temperatures to spike in the smoker. Third, how easy is it to maintain an exact heat with the quantity and adjustability of the vents. A lot of dishes do not need exact temperatures so long as they are within a specific range. If your dishes are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, it may be a better idea to get a cabinet smoker with a built in thermometer.

Top 3 Contenders

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

The Dyna-Glo is easy to utilize outdoor smoker appropriate for any season. It enables you to smoke and slow-cook up to one hundred and fifty pounds of material at one time. The interior includes six large adjustable wire racks that enable you to cook whole chunks or small portions as necessary. Dyna-Glo enamels the offset charcoal box in porcelain, which ensures that it easy to maintain the temperatures and clean without any problems. This device has a sturdy steel frame with angled, strong legs. In addition, it has a completely vertical design that conserves smoke and maintains flavors. Thanks to the built-in temperature gauge, it is very easy to determine the correct amount of fuel. Not only that, it has an easy to use a grease-management system that assists with the interior cleaning and collects any food run-off in one convenient location. It has adjustable racks that can fit entire birds, a large fish, and veggies. It is utilized with charcoal fuel for a rich, natural flavor.

Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker

The Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker has a large cooking chamber that has a large porcelain wire-cooking grate. It has a removable door and is very easy to use. This variation is one of the simpler models so it is an ideal choice for beginners who are just starting out to smoke. It has an offset firebox that allows for indirect cooking through the transmission of smoke, low heat, and flavor throughout the cooking chamber.

Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker

When you are trying to find the tenderest and juiciest cuts of meat, low heat and slow cooking is the preferred method. This smoker has a pan, a porcelain enamel bowl, a vented lid, and two glass steel cooking grates. This smoker comes with a deluxe glass grade cover, an aluminum door, a built-in thermometer, and legs.

Factors to consider when shopping

Price – An important consideration is price. If you plan on frequently smoking multiple dishes for many people, you should upgrade your capabilities. For the occasional weekends and holidays, think about a model that balances functionality and price.

Included features – Having enough features on a smoker is particularly important if you are going to be serving up a lot of people or need to maintain exact temperatures.


Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

Thanks to the right balance of included components and affordability, this is a more moderately priced option.

Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker

Since it is made with less available options and lower quality material, this is one of the most economical models available.

Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker

Due to the included features and advanced capabilities, this is one of the pricier choices. It is one of the best charcoal smokers available on the market.

Included features

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

Since the Dyna-Glo is a balance between price and functionality, it has a fair amount of features. It has a grease management system, a sturdy steel frame, and an easy to clean design.

Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker

This model includes the least amount of features of the three. While it may be both a grill and a smoker, it lacks basic components such as a thermometer.

Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker

The Weber includes a built-in thermometer, a bottom ash catch pad, silicone temperature grommet, and two levels. This has the most included features of the three models.

Our Charcoal Smoker Reviews Are In

Best Inexpensive Choice: Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker

American Gourmet Offset SmokerThe Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker is an ideal option for the “beginner” smoker or those who are not feeding a lot of people every time you cook. The offset firebox facilitates a classic indirect cooking through the transmission of flavor, smoke, and low heat through the cooking chamber. The cooking chamber is covered with a 288-square-inch porcelain wire cooking grate. It features an easy to use ash removal door and a convenient side shelf.


It is a great entry-level smoker. It has a dual grill and smoking capabilities. It retains heat well. It includes a side table for storing your cooking accessories.


It is not suitable for serving many people. It paint has been known to peel on the smoker. It is comprised out of lower quality materials.

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Best Value for the Money: Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

Charcoal Offset SmokerThis design is simple to use outdoors, in any season. The Dyna-Glo Offset smoker enables you to smoke and slow cook up to 150 pounds of food in a single instance. The inside has six heavy-duty adjustable racks, which means that you can cook both whole chuck roasts and smaller portions as needed. It has an offset charcoal box that is enameled in porcelain. As a result, it is very easy to clean and the temperature can be readily adjusted. It includes a grease management system that maintains the cleanliness of the interior and collects extra food into one location. Thanks to the sturdy steel frame, the angled legs, and the vertical design, it is a very efficient rig. The adjustable racks can keep veggies, large steaks, and even whole fish. If you utilize the charcoal fuel, you will get a smoky, rich flavor.


It has dual capabilities. It is incredibly efficient smoker due to the smaller size. It has a sturdy steel build.


It has difficulty holding heat. Dyna-Glo smokers tend to break down after a shorter period of time.

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Best Overall: Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker

Smokey Mountain CookerIf you are in the market for real smokehouse flavor, the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker is a fantastic choice for you. The porcelain-coated smoker includes a built-in thermometer, a deluxe glass grade cover, an aluminum door and legs, and cooking grates. Weber has a lifetime warranty on all of its products.


You can smoke three things at a time. It has a built-in thermometer on the lid. It includes a weather-resistant cover. It has a lifetime warranty.


It can only smoke, not grill. Weber customer service is known to be slow to respond to repair requests. Users complain about the quality of the opening latch.

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These models are some of the best charcoal smokers in their categories due to their reliability and favorability among consumers. When you are just cooking for yourself and a couple friends, use the Char-Broil American Gourmet Cooker. For a gourmet dinner with the boss and the family, consider smoking with the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker.