The 12 Best Smokers for Beginners to Grill Like Pros

Smokers-for-Beginners

Smoking meats like brisket or beef short ribs is remarkably rewarding and generates a taste you can’t replicate using other cooking methods.

Many beginners are put off smoking, though, and this often comes after unwittingly purchasing a smoker unsuitable for newcomers.

Today, we’ll help you avoid this mistake with our showcase of the best smokers for beginners.

The primary difference between smokers is the cooking method they utilize, so we’ll break down the things you need to consider when you’re choosing between the following types of smoker:

  • Charcoal smokers: The most popular and well-known of all smokers, charcoal smokers use either charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal. You can even make your own charcoal from wood to use as fuel for these smokers. Although this type of smokers involves a lengthy and complicated process at first, once you get the hang of adjusting the air dampers to regulate temperature, you’ll find a charcoal smoker is very beginner-friendly, while also delivering a trademark smokiness tough to achieve with other cooking methods
  • Electric smokers: An electric smoker offers you a beginner-friendly, set-and-forget approach to smoking food. While you might not get the full BBQ experience with one of these smokers, and while purists may look down on these units, if it makes the right choice for you, embrace the raw convenience of cooking with an electric smoker
  • Gas smokers: A liquid propane gas smoker or a natural gas smoker are both beginner-friendly options. You’ll need to ensure you have a steady supply of LP if you don’t have a natural gas supply at home. Controlling the temperature of these units is seamless and they are super-simple to start, too
  • Offset smokers: These are the hardest smokers for beginners to use so avoid these if you want the simplest route to smoking food
  • Kamado smokers: These smoker/grill combos are made from ceramic and they’re pretty pricey. Fueled by wood, charcoal briquettes, or lump charcoal, you’ll get that trademark smoked taste from one of these smokers as long as you can stretch to the stiff price tag
  • Wood pellet grills: These highly adaptable outdoor cookers allow you to grill, smoke, and bake in one powerful package

Once you have determined which of these styles of smoker makes the right fit, we would suggest you go here to explore our guides to buying smokers the easy way.

Right now, though, it’s time for our reviews of the best smokers for beginners. Scope out these dozen models and see if any deserves a place on your patio this summer.

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I. The 12 Best Smokers for Beginners

1. Our #1 Pick: Pit Barrel Cooker Co Classic Smoker

18-1/2-in.-Classic-Pit-Barrel-Cooker-Package

Features

  • Fuel type: Charcoal
  • Total cooking area: 462 square inches
  • Dimensions: 21 x 21 x 31.1 inches

One of the very best smokers for beginners and our overall favorite comes from the Pit Barrel Cooker Co, so what do you get for your money here?

Firstly, you’ll have this smoker up and running almost straight out the box. Only minimal assembly is required, and you won’t need any tools or any DIY skills.

Using the smoker is just as easy, despite the fact you’ll need to learn how to cook with charcoal.

The vertical configuration of this smoker allows you to cook large quantities of food slow and low for that perfectly smoked taste. One of the many advantages of this layout is the way you can efficiently smoke food without taking as long as some other smokers demand.

Now, if you plan to smoke food all day long, you may encounter some issues with consistency of temperature management. This is one of the few complaints we could unearth, though, in a sea of very positive user reviews.

There are 8 stainless steel hooks inside this unit, ample for hanging a variety of foods you want to impart with that trademark smokiness. You also get a grill grate, a charcoal basket, and a tool for removing the hooks. Just about the only thing that isn’t included in this beginner-friendly smoker is the food and seasonings you need for your next cookout.

Even if you’ve never attempted smoking food before, if you invest in the Pit Barrel Cooker Co’s entry-level smoker, you’ll be grilling like a pitmaster in no time.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • User-friendly operation
  • Minimal assembly required
  • Traditional charcoal taste
  • Inconsistent temperature management

2. Weber 18-Inch Smokey Mountain Cooker

Weber-18-inch-Smokey-Mountain-Cooker,-Charcoal-Smoker

Features

  • Fuel type: Charcoal
  • Total cooking area: 245 square inches
  • Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 41 inches

Weber is a household name in this vertical with good reason. This dinky 18-inch smoker is perfect for beginners and shows why this brand is so dominant in this market segment.

Despite the space-saving dimensions – this smoker measures just 21 x 19 x 41 inches – you’ll have enough space inside for a whole turkey and ham at the same time.

The porcelain-enameled steel build means the Weber is built to withstand the elements and plenty of sustained smoking without letting you down.

There are some nice touches on this smoker like the heat-resistant handle, allowing you to navigate your grilling duties without scorching your fingers.

You’ll find a thermometer baked into this smoker, allowing you to monitor the temperature at a glance.

The cooking grates are also coated with porcelain enamel. This helps to eliminate hot and cold spots, while also preventing food from sticking to the grates.

As with all charcoal grills, there is a slight learning curve involved, especially with temperature management. Once you get this mastered, though, you’ll find there is no experience quite so rewarding as a traditional BBQ smoker. If you feel this might be problematic, we’d suggest exploring some of the electric or gas smokers on our shortlist.

While most user feedback concerning this smoker is positive, we found some scattered complaints concerning a gap around the door leading to a less than airtight cooking environment. This minor gripe aside, you’re getting a smoker that’s great for beginners and more experienced grillers alike: what are you waiting for?

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Accommodates whole ham and turkey
  • Porcelain-enameled steel
  • Heat-resistant handle
  • Some reported issues with gap around door

3. Z-Grills Smoker and Wood Pellet Grill

Z-GRILLS-ZPG-7002E-2020-Upgrade-Wood-Pellet-Grill-&-Smoker

Features

  • Fuel type: Wood pellets
  • Total cooking area: 694 square inches
  • Dimensions: 48 x 22 x 51 inches

Z-Grills makes some highly effective grills and smokers, with this wood pellet grill and smoker continuing that tradition in fine style.

The 694-square inch cooking area means you’ll have enough space to feed the whole family as well as any guests. This manufacturer also offers smaller and larger models in this line if the capacity doesn’t suit.

You’ll use wood pellets to fuel this grill and smoker. 10 pounds of your favorite pellets should yield roughly 10 hours of cooking time, so you’ll be embracing a cooking method that’s as economical as it is effective.

You get the following cooking functions with this nifty unit:

  • Smoke
  • Grill
  • Roast
  • Braise
  • Bake
  • BBQ

So, not only does this represent one of the best smokers for beginners, but you’ll also have a great deal of latitude for whipping up foods using the various cooking methods above.

Starting this smoker couldn’t be easier thanks to the smooth auto-start ignition. You won’t need any matches or a lighter, and you’ll be instantly up and running.

Controlling the temperature is much easier than when you’re cooking with charcoal, so this smoker is ideal if you’re just starting out on your smoking journey.

This upgraded version of the enduringly popular model comes with some known faults addressed, and it also features a new and improved digital control panel.

Overall, operating this smoker couldn’t be much easier thanks to the automated feed system and automatic temperature control ensuring your smoked food stays within 10F of the set temperature even if you’re distracted and called away.

Although this is a generally excellent smoker, if you live somewhere with a lot of rain, it’s not the smartest choice.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 6-in-1 functionality
  • Cost less than cooking with gas or charcoal
  • Seamless auto-start ignition
  • Doesn’t work well in the rain

4. Masterbuilt 30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt-MB20071117-Digital-Electric-Smoker,-30-inch,-Black

Features

  • Fuel type: Electric
  • Total cooking area: 730 square inches
  • Dimensions: 20 x 21 x 33.3 inches

Masterbuilt is one of the most reputable and popular brands in the smoker vertical, and this 30-inch model shows why they remain a dominant market force.

As an electric smoker, you’re off to a strong start if this is your first time smoking food. This type of smoker is arguably the easiest to start and use. Electric smokers represent plug-and-play simplicity at its finest.

Reasonably lightweight and slender, measuring just 30 inches across, this smoker makes a neat fit if you have limited space outdoors.

Loading your wood chips in for smoking couldn’t be simpler thanks to the side-access door.

4 smoking racks provide enough room for a couple of turkeys, 6 chickens, 4 whole racks of ribs, or 4 pork butts if you’re a pulled pork lover.

Once your smoker is plugged in and switched on, punch in your desired temperature on the digital control panel and you can relax with your guests while the food cooks itself.

The overall cooking area is substantial, making this compact smoker ideal even if you need to cater for larger gatherings.

We would advise using a Masterbuilt cover. As long as you keep this smoker clean and properly protected, you can expect to enjoy years of faithful service.

The main complaint we encountered when exploring user reviews of this model concerns the fact it doesn’t put out a great deal of smoke. If you’re looking to make more of a striking statement when you’re grilling out, this might not be the best model for you.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Digital control panel
  • Thermostat-temperature control
  • Generous total cooking area
  • Doesn’t produce large amounts of smoke
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5. Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Grill

Char-Griller-E16620-Akorn-Kamado-Charcoal-Grill,-Graphite

Features

  • Fuel type: Charcoal
  • Total cooking area: 447 square inches
  • Dimensions: 26.6 x 24.8 x 21.65 inches

Char-Griller is one of the most famous brands in this market segment, and this Akorn Kamado Grill shows exactly why.

Designed in the classic kamado style, this unit weighs in at 90 pounds. You get some lockable casters underneath to streamline transporting this bulky beast if you need to shift it around the yard.

There are multiple configurations available with this model the classic grill/smoker combo.

The total cooking surface area at your disposal is 447 square inches, spread across the primary cooking area and a warming rack. While you won’t be able to cater a large party in a single sitting, you’ll have more than enough space inside to cook for the whole family.

The smoker’s body is made from 22-gauge steel which is powder-coated. The cooking surface is cast iron, also coated with a treatment to inhibit food splatter and minimize any hot spots or cold spots.

Controlling this grill is not as straightforward as when you’re cooking with an electric or propane smoker. While it’s still a suitable choice for beginners to the art of smoking, it’s not the easiest model to use on our shortlist. As long as you’re prepared to invest a little time mastering the initial learning curve, though, you’ll be up and running with confidence in no time.

The indexed marks on the damper promote seamless temperature control, allowing you to dial in the settings fuss-free.

A pair of side shelves fold away when not in use. When folded down, they provide you with plenty of space for prepping and serving food.

Overall, this smoker for beginners is well worth popping on your shortlist and will return a classic charcoal taste, even if you need to put in a little effort to achieve it.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Highly insulated
  • Tubular steel cart
  • Folding metal shelves
  • Brittle grilling grate

6. Masterbuilt Analog Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt-MB20070210-Analog-Electric-Smoker-with-3-Smoking-Racks

Features

  • Fuel type: Electric
  • Total cooking area: 730 square inches
  • Dimensions: 20 x 21.7 x 40.1 inches

Yet another smoker from the mighty Masterbuilt stable is up next. This time, you’re getting an electric unit, arguably the easiest type of smoker to use. So, if you’re new to this and you want an easy starting point, you can’t go wrong with this analog electric smoker from an industry specialist.

You can choose from several different set-ups here, with this model equipped with three cooking racks and no other bells or whistles. In return, the smoker is very affordable, especially considering the build quality and performance on offer.

The heating racks are coated with chrome to ensure your food doesn’t end up smeared and stuck all over. This coating also helps to eliminate any hot and cold spots as you cook.

You can slip the wood tray of this unit out for ease of cleaning and refilling. The grease tray is also easy to access through a tray at the front, so you won’t need to breach the cooking environment by opening the main cabinet more than necessary.

A powerful 1500-watt heating elements ensures you can create the smoky environment you need for transforming regular cuts of meat into tender, lip-smacking delicacies. If you’re stuck for ideas, explore our site for some guides to smoking brisket and pulled pork like a pro pitmaster, even if you’re only just beginning.

Controlling the temperature couldn’t be easier thanks to a simple analog dial. You won’t need any tech skills, but in return you’ll be rewarded with consistent and user-friendly temperature control.

With the exception of a few complaints about the paint on this smoker peeling off over time, the Masterbuilt attracts a shower of positive reviews, many of which touch upon the beginner-friendly nature of this smoker.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Front access grease tray
  • Integrated temperature gauge
  • Multiple configurations available
  • Some complaints about paint peeling

7. Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker

Royal-Gourmet-30

Features

  • Fuel type: Charcoal
  • Total cooking area: 801 square inches
  • Dimensions: 55.1 x 27.2 x 48.4 inches

As we push to the end of our hunt for the best smokers for beginners, here is a superb offset smoker in the Texas style from grill legend Royal Gourmet.

You get two for the price of one with this unit. The main grill features a primary cooking area of 443 square inches, and you also benefit from a 169-square inch warming rack. These grates are chrome plated.

Offset against the grill is the smoker. Here, you get an additional 189 square inches of space, ideal for smoking your favorite meats, fish, and veggies. This translates to a total cooking area of over 800 square inches, perfect for substantial cookouts.

The smoker comes firmly attached to the grill, so you’ll get efficient air circulation and the smoke will also circulate well. Just open the side door of the smoker to load in your charcoal and to remove the ashes when you’re done. This save you from unnecessarily opening the smoker itself.

You can fit up to 4.4 pounds of charcoal in the pan, ideal for a lengthy cookout. The pan is height-adjustable, allowing you to create a comfortable cooking environment.

The thermometer gauge is mounted in the lid of the grill and lets you keep a close eye on what’s cooking, perfect if you’re new to smoking and grilling food and you don’t want to fuss around with an external thermometer.

Aside from some scattered complaints about build quality, the majority of user reviews of this combo grill/smoker are overwhelmingly positive. Put simply, this is one of the best smokers for beginners, and it also works well if you’re a more experienced pitmaster.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Dual-grilling functionality
  • Oversized cooking area
  • Ideal for camping
  • Poor quality lower tray

8. Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

Dyna-Glo-DGO1176BDC-D-Vertical-Offset-Charcoal-Smoker

Features

  • Fuel type: Charcoal
  • Total cooking area: 1176 square inches
  • Dimensions: 20.2 x 34.5 x 47 inches

Next in line is another offset smoker with an efficient vertical design and a distinctly user-friendly nature.

You’ll benefit from no less than 6 cooking grates inside this bumper smoker. The total cooking area is a class-leading 1176 square inches making this one of the largest smokers for beginners you’ll find. Don’t let that put you off, though!

Each of the cooking grates is capable of accommodating up to 25 pounds of food, so that should give you an indication of the huge feast you can prepare inside the Dyna-Glo.

The charcoal chamber is coated with porcelain enamel. The design of the chamber ensures that your charcoal briquettes stay tightly stacked inside.

There is a stainless steel thermometer baked into this smoker, allowing you to monitor the temperature throughout your cookout at a glance.

Charcoal and ash management are straightforward and should present you with no problems at all, even if this is your first cookout. Overall, this beast of a smoker is a great addition to any backyard, whether you’re a beginner to the art of grilling and smoking or you’ve been grilling out for years.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Spacious interior dimensions
  • Porcelain-enameled steel chamber
  • Seamless ash management
  • Quality control issues reported

9. Z-Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Z-Grills-ZPG-700D-2020-Upgrade-Wood-Pellet-Grill-&-Smoker

Features

  • Fuel type: Wood pellets
  • Total cooking area: 694 square inches
  • Dimensions: 48 x 22 x 51 inches

Next in line is another combined grill and smoker from Z-Grills running on wood pellets. You’ll ensure that your food is imparted with a delicious smokiness with this beginner-friendly unit that’s also extremely cost-effective.

This model, the ZPG-700D, sits near the top of the deep bench of pellet grills. This grill has a combined cooking area nudging 700 square inches. This is comprised of a primary cooking area and a warming rack. With this much space up your sleeve, you can confidently host large cookouts this summer.

The hopper capacity is equally generous at 20 pounds. Load in your wood pellets and you’ll have enough fuel to smoke and grill food all day long.

The pellets are fed from the hopper into the smoker chamber through an automated system, rendering this model one of the mot beginner-friendly smokers out there.

Use the intuitive digital controls, punch in your desired temperature between 180F and 450F. Once set, the smoker will keep the temperature within 10F of this without any further input on your part. This alone makes the Z-Grills ZPG-700D one of the most beginner-friendly grills on the market.

The auto-start ignition system is another superb touch that makes using the smoker a cinch even if it’s your first time.

A few users have reported issues with this smoker when used in conditions of high humidity. If you live somewhere hot and humid, you might want to reconsider this smoker. For most other beginners to the art, this makes a wonderful entry point.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Imparts smoky flavor
  • Seamless ignition system
  • Lockable casters
  • Doesn’t cope well in high humidity

10. Masterbuilt Propane 30-Inch Smoker

Masterbuilt-MPS-230S-Propane-Smoker,-30

Features

  • Fuel type: Liquid propane
  • Total cooking area: 800 square inches
  • Dimensions: 17.3 x 18.3 x 26.2 inches

Next up in our quest for the best smokers for beginners comes another user-friendly gem from Masterbuilt.

This model, also measuring 30 inches across, is fueled with liquid propane. You’ll need to make provision for a standard 20-pound tank of propane which is not included.

As with all the most effective gas grills, you’ll benefit from push-button ignition, removing one of the obstacles to grilling for beginners.

The stainless steel burner is rated at 15,400 BTU, ensuring you have more than enough power in reserve for all your favorite smoked delicacies.

You control the smoke, temperature, and moisture using the air damper. The water bowl is coated in porcelain enamel and this allows you to add both flavor and moisture with ease. This bowl is removable for your convenience.

The flame disc bowl has an intelligent design, allowing the flame to lick up under the wood chips while protecting the burner from being splattered with grease.

The spacious interior capacity of 800 square inches makes this Masterbuilt smoker ideal for larger cookouts.

We found several complaints in otherwise positive user reviews of this propane smoker flagging the flimsy construction and disappointing lifespan. If you were hoping for a sturdy smoker to last for years, this may not be your best bet. If you’re looking for an easy entry point to smoking, though, it’s one of your finest options.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Push-button ignition
  • Powerful 15,400 BTU burner
  • Ideal for novice grillers
  • Fairly flimsy build

11. Barrel House Cooker Smoker

Barrel-House-Cooker-Smoker-BHC-18C

Features

  • Fuel type: Charcoal
  • Total cooking area: Not disclosed by manufacturer
  • Dimensions: 18 x 24.5 x 35.5 inches

The first thing to make clear about the Barrel House Cooker Smoker is that a competitor bought out the BHC company and this model is now discontinued. This will make it tough to get hold of any spare parts, so you should bear this in mind and decide whether this is a deal-breaker or a non-issue. Assuming you’re not concerned about the buyout, what do you get for your money here?

Well, this smoker gives you the ability to smoke food more rapidly than much of the opposition at temperatures from 275F to 310F. This is an option proven effective in competitions as a rival to the classic slow and low technique.

Load up your smoker with 8 pounds of charcoal briquettes, and this will give you enough fuel to cook for up to 6 hours before you need to top it up. Feel free to add wood chunks or chips alongside the charcoal if you want to impart even more flavor into your ingredients.

The vertical configuration makes this a space-saving smoker perfect for compact patios or small decks. Weighing just 45 pounds, it’s a travel-friendly grill, too. Pop it in the trunk of your car with ease and enjoy smoked food when you’re tailgating, fishing, or camping.

The barrel of this smoker is constructed from 20-gauge metal, and there is a porcelain enamel treatment inside and out. This serves to eliminate the hot and cold spots that play havoc with consistency when you’re smoking food.

Aside from the issue of this model being discontinued and the company folded, you’re still getting one of the best smokers for beginners, so why not give it a try if you’re new to the art of smoking food?

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Smoke food fast and hot
  • Burns for 6 hours untended
  • Porcelain-enameled metal barrel
  • No spare parts available

12. Pit Boss Vertical Liquid Propane Smoker

PIT-BOSS-77435-Vertical-Lp-Gas-Smoker,-Red

Features

  • Fuel type: Liquid propane
  • Total cooking area: 884 square inches
  • Dimensions: 21.5 x 23 x 47 inches

Last but by no means least in our curated collection of the best smokers for beginners comes this classic vertical smoker from industry heavyweight Pit Boss. How does this grill stand and fall, then?

Firstly, the liquid propane fuel offers you one of the easiest entry points to smoking food. The push-button Piezo ignition ensures you light your grill first time, every time.

Once the twin burners are ablaze – these can be easily controlled with a single knob – you’ll have up to 12,500 BTU of combined heat output. One burner is reserved for heating the wood chips, while the more powerful burner is responsible for the cabinet temperature.

You can access the wood chips and the grease tray through the front without needing to open the cabinet and compromise the cooking environment.

You get 4 cooking racks bundled with this smoker, all coated with porcelain to eliminate hot and cold spots while also minimizing food splatter sticking on.

A sizeable viewing window made from glass that can withstand high temperatures allows you to monitor your smoked delicacies without opening the unit.

The total cooking area is spacious at 884 square inches, so you can rustle up your favorite smoked dishes for a large family and guests.

Most customers praise this smoker, especially with regard to its beginner-friendly nature. The only real gripes we unearthed concern the fact it won’t heat up beyond 310F. Unless this represents a no-go, you’re getting one of the best smokers for beginners at a very competitive price point.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 12,5000 total BTU rating
  • Dual-burner system
  • Front access wood chip tray
  • Will not heat above 310F empty

II. Conclusion

We very much hope today’s detailed breakdown of the best smokers for beginners has given you plenty of inspiration. There’s no need at all for smoking food to be intimidating, and there’s no need to be put off if you’ve never tried smoking meats and fish before.

Stick with any of the smokers on our shortlist today and you can buy with your eyes wide open and a clear understanding of where these smokers stand and fall. Some are easier to use than others as you would expect – this mainly hinges on the cooking method used – but all these smokers are suitable for beginners.

Take a moment to bookmark Madiba before you go and be sure to pop back soon!

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