There’s just something about charcoal.
While gas grills are a very convenient way to get a meal on the grill quickly, they just can’t infuse the same kind of flavors smoked into everything that touches a charcoal grill or smoker.
If you’re in the market for a charcoal smoker or grill, keep reading for an in-depth look at some of the best smokers on the market right now.
We have reviewed our top choices below and also done in-depth reviews by types, prices and brands, but if you are in a rush:
Our Top Choice: The Best All-Around Charcoal Smoker
If you’re looking for a simple, reliable, all-around smoker, the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill is hard to beat. It’s been a backyard staple for decades, and with good reason.
The Weber Kettle is made with durability and simplicity in mind. Plus, it’s versatile, and simple to use. And, with nearly 400 square inches of cooking space there’s plenty of room to grill or smoke large items.
Best Charcoal Smokers Reviews
How to Pick the Best Charcoal Smoker for Your Needs
Charcoal smokers come in all shapes and sizes. From portable units that make a great companion on a camping trip or your next tailgate, to monster size grills made to cook for a crowd.
Prices vary widely too. While inexpensive smokers can be found, most models come in at around $100 to $200. But, for a nicer grill expect to pay at least $300 or more.
Understand Your Needs
Before you jump in and start shopping, take a few minutes to really try and understand what you need in a charcoal smoker.
Do you just have a small family to cook for?
Or, do plan to prepare food for a crowd regularly?
Even a small, portable smoker can work for a family. But, if you’re smoking for a crowd, you’ll need a few hundred square inches of cooking space and a smoker that’s built to handle the stress that comes with heavy use.
Know The Market
As you begin your search for a charcoal smoker, it’s also important to understand what’s out there. Charcoal smokers come in many different configurations, so it’s important to understand what you’re looking at.
One of the most popular types of charcoal smokers is the traditional kettle style grill. And one of the most iconic kettle style smokers is the Weber Kettle, though many other manufacturers make similar grills. This style is good option if you plan to do a lot of direct grilling and smoking. They’re also typically fairly compact, making them easy to store and transport.
Another common style of smoker is the offset smoker. With these smokers, the charcoal is added to separate firebox that sits adjacent to the main grilling chamber. Offset smokers make it easy to keep the heat indirect and controlled.
Vertical charcoal smokers take the offset style to the next level by turning the main cooking area into a vertical space with a series of racks. These style smokers are great for smoking lots of meat.
Some of the other charcoal smokers available are small and portable units, as well as cabinet styles.
How Much Grill Do You Need?
Size is another important factor when buying a grill or smoker.
Most average size grills provide around 300 to 400 square inches of space. That’s plenty of room for a family or a few friends—even a smaller party or gathering.
But, if you’re planning to cook for a larger group, you may want to consider a smoker with at least 400 square inches of space or more. Most offset and vertical charcoal smokers provide at least this much room, making them ideal for a crowd.
Know Your Budget
Fortunately, most charcoal smokers are relatively affordable. They don’t need the same sort of complex systems that make gas or pellet grills tick, and this helps keep the price down.
Most charcoal smokers can be had for $100 to $500, with most of them being priced around $200.
The Best Charcoal Smokers for Every Purpose
Best Charcoal Smoker for Beginners: Char-Broil American Gourmet
If you’re just getting into charcoal smoking and looking for a smoker for your next backyard cookout, the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker is a simple, trusted option that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
The Char-Broil American Gourmet is a simple, average size charcoal smoker with plenty of space for a family cookout or a few friends. This grill has an area for smoking and a separate firebox that can also be used for direct cooking and searing.
With plenty of vents and a temperature gauge, tracking and adjusting temperatures is easy to manage. Inside, the American Gourmet has trays for both wood chips and water, making it easy to add extra flavor and moisture. Wheels make the American Gourmet easy to transport or move around your back porch.
Char-Broil American Gourmet Specifications:
Best Vertical Charcoal Smoker: Weber Smokey Mountain
For simple, authentic charcoal smoking, a vertical smoker provides lots of space in an easy to use platform.
The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch Charcoal Smoker is a durable smoker with enough space for a crowd.
With two nickel-plated cooking grates and over 700 square inches of space, the Smokey Mountain has enough space for a turkey or other large items. Below the cooking grates, this smoker is fitted with a large porcelain enameled water tray to help keep meats moist and tender.
A side access panel allows users to quickly add charcoal, wood chips, or water without disturbing the food. Upper and lower vents provide simple temperature control.
Weber Smokey Mountain Specifications:
Best Small Charcoal Smoker: Char-Griller 2-2424
If you’re tight on space or want a charcoal smoker you can take with you, check out the Char-Griller 2-2424 Table Top Charcoal Grill
This small charcoal grill still has about 250 square inches of cooking space, despite its compact size of just 18.5″ x 17″ x 16″. With a barrel shape that’s suitable for both indirect, 2-zone smoking and direct grilling, this little Char-Griller is a very versatile unit.
As the name implies, this smoker is designed to sit on a table or other suitable surface. The short legs only hold the Table Top a few inches off the ground.
The exterior of this grill is constructed of heavy duty steel with a wood covered handle and vents at either end. Inside, you’ll find a long-lasting cast iron cooking grate.
Char-Griller 2-2424 Table Top Charcoal Grill Specifications:
Best Portable Charcoal Grill: Weber Smokey Joe Premium
For true portability, it’s hard to go wrong with the classic Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill. This little grill is truly compact and portable with a cooking grate that’s just 14.5 inches wide.
The Smokey Joe also employs a handy retainer for the lid that keeps the unit in one piece during transport. The same retainer also forms a rest for the lid while cooking.
At less than 10 pounds, the Smokey Joe is also very easy to transport for camping, cookout, tailgates, or other events.
The only downside to the Smokey Joe is its size. At only 14.5 inches wide, it’s probably not the best way to smoke foods, but will work with smaller dishes.
Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill Specifications:
Best Charcoal Grill Smoker Combo: Char-Broil Kamander
While smoked meats are undeniably good, sometimes you need a little diversity. Direct grilling takes less time and is considerably easier.
While many of the other smokers already covered are made for double duty as both a smoker and grill, one of the best options for both charcoal grilling and smoking is the Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill.
With an all steel insulated double wall exterior, the Kamander is capable of maintaining steady temperatures for long periods of time. A built-in temperature gauge and a set of air vents help users find the perfect temperature.
Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill Specifications:
Best All-Around Charcoal Smoker: Weber Original Kettle Premium
Sometimes it’s hard to beat simplicity. There are few experiences like grilling over charcoal and there are few charcoal grills like the classic Weber Kettle.
The Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch is a medium sized grill that provides plenty of space for cooking for a family or a small group. The Weber Kettle is a versatile grill that can be used for both traditional grilling and indirect smoking.
The Kettle’s durable, porcelain enameled bowl has nearly 400 square inches space. Even though it’s round, the large cooking grate provides plenty of space for large items like ribs or brisket.
This premium version also includes a one touch, easy to use ash collection system. This allows users to quickly disconnect the ash collection tray and empty when necessary.
The Kettle Premium is fitted with a lot of great features. There are heat shields to protect hands on each of the handles, a thermometer, plenty of vents for heat control, and hooks for utensil storage while cooking.
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch Specifications:
Best Cabinet Charcoal Smoker: Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D
If all you want to do is smoke—and lots of it—a vertical, cabinet-style charcoal smoker is the way to go. Instead of laying your food out on just one grate, cabinet smokers let cooks to stack several grates on top of each other inside the unit, providing maximum space. The inside is accessed with a door instead of hinged or removable lid, making it easy to slide food in and out.
The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker is a excellent cabinet charcoal smoker that lets you smoke a lot of meat at once—up to 100 pounds at a time! Six cooking grates and nearly 800 square inches of cooking space provide plenty of room for all sorts of dishes.
This Dvna-Glo is durable and reliable with heavy-duty, all-steel construction. The steel construction combined with an assortment of vents provide for good temperature control also. The vertical cabinet-style design also allows the heat and smoke to rise naturally.
Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker Specifications:
The Best Charcoal Smoker Brands
Weber is another classic name in grilling and smoking. Odds are, when you close your eyes and picture a grill, you’ll see a Weber Kettle. They’re an American classic.
The Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill puts a modern spin on the time-tested Weber design. The Performer takes the traditional Kettle design and places it in a rolling cart with a handy side shelf. Users also get an easy to use electronic ignition system and a convenient ash collection set up. A built in LCD timer and thermometer make monitoring food a breeze.
The Performer Deluxe also provides users with 363 square inches of cooking space and a hinged cooking grate for easy charcoal additions while cooking.
Char-Broil is one of the oldest and most well known names in the grill industry. For over 50 years, they’ve been making everything from propane grills, to smokers, and charcoal grills.
The Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill is one of their most innovative and best performing models. The Kamander makes uses of a double wall insulated all steel exterior that helps channel and maintain heat.
This grill is great for both indirect smoking and direct grilling and smoking. The insulated exterior and innovative ventilation system make it easy to really dial in the correct temperature.
Another big name in grills is Char-Griller. While Char-Griller makes grills and smokers of all shapes and sizes, their specialty is the barrel style smoker.
The Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro 830 Square Inch Charcoal Grill is one of their most popular, classic models. With over 800 square inches of total cooking space there’s plenty of space for large groups.
The Smokin Pro is great for indirect smoking and direct grilling with an offset smoker set up that allows for smoking in the main chamber and direct grilling in the smokebox.
Dyna-Glo is another manufacturer of all types of grills and smokers. They have a wide selection of vertical smokers with several different power sources.
The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker is one of Dyna-Glo’s biggest and best performing vertical smokers. With six adjustable cooking grates and nearly 800 square inches of smoking space, there’s plenty of room for lots of food—including large items like whole turkeys or ribs.
Being a vertical smoker, this Dyna-Glo doesn’t have space for direct grilling, instead it allows users to really focus on getting food smoked right.
The Best Charcoal Smokers for Every Budget
Under $500: Weber Performer Deluxe
If you’ve $500 to spend and want the best charcoal smoker you can get, check out the Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill.
The Performer Deluxe is a thoroughly modern charcoal grill with a convenient cart and side shelf, along with a thermometer, LCD timer, and convenient ash collection system. Nearly 400 square inches of grilling space provide room for plenty of food.
Under $300: Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro 830
For less than $300, the Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro 830 Square Inch Charcoal Grill is great choice for anyone looking for a smoker that’s capable of traditional grilling and smoking. And with over 800 square inches of cooking space, it’s ready to cook for a crowd.
Sturdy, all steel construction and a traditional barrel shape ensure that this grill is built to last.
Under $300: Char-Broil American Gourmet
If you’re on a budget and looking to keep your smoker-related spending below $200, be sure to check out the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker.
This smoker is an offset design with a separate firebox that doubles as a traditional, direct heat grill. With over 400 square inches of grilling space, there’s plenty of room to grill or smoke for smaller groups or family gatherings.
If you’re looking for the best all-around smoker that can handle both smoking and grilling, it’s hard to beat the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill.
The Weber Kettle is simple, durable, and easy to maintain. It also has plenty of space to cook for a few people or a small crowd with nearly 400 square inches of cooking space.
The Kettle’s distinctive shape make is a great platform for smoking, despite its compact overall footprint.
So, if you’re on the market for a new charcoal smoker, be sure to take a look at the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill. It’s guaranteed you won’t regret it!