If you don’t have much time, then I recommend the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 22 Inch Smoker as the best charcoal smoker.
Whether you are the kind of barbeque enthusiast willing to brave the cold weather, or you are looking onto the horizon at the warm spring and summer days to come, a new charcoal smoker can go a long way in improving your grilling game.
Why Go With A Charcoal Smoker?
When you ask many seasoned smokers if it makes a difference whether you choose an electric, propane or charcoal smoker, the answer will be yes.
Sure an electric smoker is easier to clean, but you don’t get that extra smokey goodness that can only come from a hot, even charcoal burn. For many a connoisseur, charcoal smoke is a key ingredient in barbeque flavor. Add some hickory chips and you’ve got perfection.
Using a charcoal smoker allows more freedom in giving distinct flavor profiles and experimenting with unique tastes. It is easy, and there’s nothing like the taste of juicy brisket that has slow-cooked basking in the aroma of charcoal and wood chips.
What To Look For In A Charcoal Smoker?
With the wide variety of charcoal smokers, choosing the one that best suits your own grilling needs can make smoking a brisket seem like a New York minute. Knowing what to look out for can do wonders in speeding up this process.
The capacity of the smoker is a big factor. Whether you are going to be smoking some prime meat for two or throwing a huge family barbeque, there are plenty of choices in size. The capacity of the smoker can also be reflected in the price tag. So being realistic about what you need can be beneficial in more ways than one.
Shape plays an important factor. Curved, egg shape smokers like the Akorn for example, provide insulation and a tight seal drastically changing the end result. Shape plays a part in coal consumption as well.
A well-insulated smoker is going to keep heat while limiting airflow. Because of that, you can make a little bit of charcoal go a long way in comparison to a standard charcoal smoker. Not to say that one is better than the other, but the shape and airflow lead to unique smoking experiences.
The features that the smoker that you desire to offer can tell you a lot of things. While it’s true that often more features make for a higher price, it’s what those features add to the experience that matters to you. Pay attention to what it offers; temperature control, sensors, time settings and variable cooking modes, and decide if they add ease to your cookout, or it’s just extra bells and whistles.
Because there are so many options out there spanning a wide range of prices, it can be hard to tell if the smoker in your budget is up to quality. Luckily, today there are plenty of impressive and reliable smokers on the market that can do a lot for a little.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Charcoal Smoker?
A charcoal smoker can handle all the major fixings you’d expect at a barbeque. In my experience, high-fat cuts of meat like ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket. I get the best results smoking up a nice juicy cut of meat without losing a lot of moisture.
Don’t limit yourself! The added flavor profile brought to the table by using a charcoal smoker is just limited to meat. Throw your veggies on there too and let them soak up the smoke.
Whether you’re cooking up racks of ribs or smoking asparagus to perfection, keeping a clean smoker is key in its longevity. Once your smoker has cooled down, use the ash trays and clean those racks. They definitely get seasoned and you don’t want it to build up by the time you go to fire it up next. Letting tar build up in your smoker is not a good look.
No one knows your grilling needs better than yourself. So it’s important that you think about what you’re trying to get out of your future charcoal smoker. Think about what you like to cook up and what you’d like to try to smoke in the future.
Examine your outdoor space where you’ll be placing the smoker and take into account how much room you’re willing to take up and consider getting one that is easily mobile if you aren’t sure. How much or how little you’ll be smoking at a time should also narrow down your choices.
You’ll find smokers ranging in all sizes below. Nowadays, affordable smokers that can grill pounds and pounds of meat and veggies for a large gathering are readily available for prices rivaling smaller end, personal use smokers.
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 22 Inch Smoker
This large, sturdy smoker provides an easy and reliable cookout experience. Coming in at 22”, this smoker can handle more meat and retain heat for a long day of smoking. Bring your stomachs for this one, you can be grilling up all of your favorite cuts of meat with this one.
Whether you’re cooking for yourself or having a full-on barbeque, a large grill surface will eventually come in handy. Especially one that retains heat as well as a thin one.
- A large water pan offers superior heat retention and is easy to fill.
- The easily removable fuel door makes adding charcoal easy.
- Great temperature and air ensure a consistent temperature all day.
- A double-deck rack leaves plenty of room for big cuts of meat.
- It doesn’t always seal very well at the lid or the access door. A little bit of elbow grease is needed to get a proper seal.
- Difficult to add water or reach the bottom rack while in the middle of smoking.
Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker
This beast offers a cast iron burner housed by thick, sturdy steel construction. Weighing 57 pounds, this charcoal smoker is strong but not as heavy as some smokers of equal power.
The porcelain wood chip box is an added bonus for fellow hickory smoked pork lovers. The Dyna-Glo has a classic smoker vibe with modern smoker technology.
- Easily adjustable and removable racks make it easy to clean up after that brisket and slab of ribs.
- The dual doors make it easy to add wood chips or more charcoal without losing heat while already smoking.
- Wide cabinet space keeps the temperature steady throughout the whole session.
- Porcelain wood chip box smokes evenly steadily adding that extra flavor.
- The temperature gauge is not always accurate, sometimes being between 20 and 30 degrees off.
- The firebox is not very large in proportion to the grilling surface and everything else.
- Smoke can leak from the door due to a weak seal.
Well insulated and designed to retain heat and minimize airflow adds up to some juicy, barbeque goodness. This bad boy sits on a cart and is lightweight and mobile.
Being so easy to use and coming with a reasonable price tag, this smoker is something for even novice grillers to look into. It’s also a good option for someone looking to get a smoker that requires little maintenance and doesn’t get too dirty.
- Has the potential to make your coal last much longer if it’s your primary smoker because a little bit goes a long way with the Akorn.
- The ash pan is easy to empty and clean and isn’t likely to get overfilled before the time that you would be going to empty it.
- The assembly can be a little bit difficult and would probably go easier with an extra set of hands.
- Side table seems to be less solidly constructed than the actual smoker itself and has the potential to come loose easily.
Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro BBQ Smoker, model E1224
This highly mobile smoker has the kind of a cooking space that can accommodate hordes of hungry barbeque attendees. It’s sturdy and isn’t going anywhere.
The temperature controls are very convenient and receptive. Airflow, surface area, and shape contribute to this one being a powerhouse.
- The side firebox gives excellent airflow making for some good smoke.
- Adjustable heat gage and fire grate on the hood are very accurate and make it easy to bring it up and down while knowing you can trust the temperature.
- Offers variety, from charcoal smoking up some meat and veggies to just straight grilling.
- Doesn’t hold up as well in the wind due to air leaks letting out heat.
- Somewhat confusing directions. It may take some toying around with things yourself to get a grasp on how to assemble the smoker.
- The paint tends to burn off fairly quickly leaving it looking slightly weathered.
Char-Griller Box Charcoal Grill
This small, simple charcoal smoker provides the opportunity grill on the go or smokes up some meat at home without taking up too much space. Because it can be used as an attachment to many other compatible smokers, it’s a good one to have around for big barbeque days.
Coming in at a bargain price, going with this smoker isn’t much of a risk. Whether it will be your primary smoker or an attachment to your current one, it’s a good unit to have around.
- Cast iron cooking grates heat evenly across 250 square inches of prime grilling space.
- Simple and easy assembly leaving you plenty of time to jump straight into using it.
- Can be used as an added attachment on a number of other smokers.
- Low price good for an economic griller.
- The sliding ashtray is somewhat flimsy.
- The whole unit gets hot very quickly. Handle with caution.
Which of these charcoal smokers takes the cake? That is going to have to be the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 22 Inch Smoker.
The Smokey Mountain Cooker wins out because of its versatility, capacity, and overall performance. What takes this cooker over the edge is the outstanding and consistent heat retention that suits my personal needs for both personal cooking as well as good old-fashioned family barbeques.
Whether the Smokey Mountain Cooker wins out in your heart as well, or one of the other impressive choices captured your attention, I hope you can get your grilling hands on a smoker that lasts you a long time and creates memories of a great, smokey barbeque for years to come.