The Best Charcoal Smoker Grills – for the authentic smokehouse BBQ

The only way to achieve authentic smokehouse flavour is to use charcoal fuel for heating, here we explore some of the best charcoal smoker grills.

Forget electric or propane, traditional charcoal fired smokers are the best for pure flavour that you cannot get with a non-charcoal smoker.

The idea of smoking the main course of even your entire meal without having to stand over a hot grill is perfect for family gatherings at home or a party. This allows you more time to mingle and entertain the family and guests without having to baby sit the food.

For those who already own a big kettle barbecue (round or rectangular), did you know that it is possible to smoke on the grill? With clever positioning of the outflow vent, banked charcoal, wood chip box, water pan and ultimately the cut of meat, the kettle grill can work quite well as a smoker. They are less ideal for larger cuts of meat which requires longer cooking time, but perfect for small cuts and short to medium cooking time.

If you are taking smoking seriously then consider a dedicated offset, cabinet or upgright smoker. These are purpose built smokers with plenty of room for big cuts of meat, whole chicken or two or even a turkey and offers better control over the temperature.

Before we dive into the list of best smokers, lets take a look at some key things to consider when choosing the right smoker for you and your family.

Things To Consider When Choosing a Charcoal Smoker

You have decided on a charcoal fired grill and smoker so that makes choosing a smoker a lot easier, simply ignore all propane gas and electric powered units. Next, consider the following key factors listed below:

Profile or Type: The different types of smokers or combination grill-smokers are as shown below in order of smoking efficiency:

  • Round Kettle Grill Barbecue,
  • Rectangular or Horizontal Barrel Kettle Grill Barbecue,
  • Offset Smokers (Barrels),
  • Cabinet Smokers (Rectangular Upright),
  • Upright Smokers (Water, Egg or Bullet).

Char Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker

Our list below features the three most popular smokers; offset, cabinet and upright smokers. Choosing one can be a matter of preference. As a rule of thumb, if you are serious about smoking, pick the offset smoker, cabinet smoker or upgright smoker. If you only dabble in smoking and would like the option of using the grill then a round kettle grill or rectangular outdoor grill barbecue is for you.

Size & Capacity: from table top smokers to full scale party size smokers, find the right size that suits your needs. Smoking for 2 or 20 require very different beasts. That said, most medium or standard size smokers will be sufficient for a medium to big family. Anything more requires a full size deluxe smoker. Our list below is marked according to the different sizes, small, medium or large to help you choose the right smoker for your family.

Temperature: Check the temperature range achievable with the different smokers. Heat control is an important part of smoking. With a charcoal smoker, temperature control it is truly a science and one can only perfect this over time and with frequent use. Still, temperature gauge on the body or the temperature, vent stack or outflow vent lid as well as inflow vent lid and easy access to fuel means better control over your cooking.

Essential Accessories: These are must have accessories for smoking. Digital meat probes thermostat, wood chip of choice, wood chip pan (if not included), water pan (if not included) and a smokers guide or cookbook will all enhance your smoking experience. Also consider a pair of barbecue gloves and suitable cover for the smoker to protect the smoker when not in use.

Budget: This is an entirely personal factor and our only advice is to get the high model you can afford from any given manufacturer or smoker of choice. This ensures that your smoker will last.

Top 5 Best Charcoal Smokers Grills

Here is an overview of our best smokers:

  1. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker – UPRIGHT, STANDARD
  2. Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker – UPRIGHT, DELUXE
  3. Char-Broil American Gourmet 800 Series Charcoal Grill – BARREL GRILL, DELUXE
  4. Char-Griller 2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill – BARREL GRILL, STANDARD
  5. Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Offset Smoker – OFFSET, DELUXE

BONUSDyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker – CABINET, STANDARD

OTHERSChar-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker Deluxe – OFFSET, DELUXE

Let’s take a closer look at each of these smokers. We also feature smaller and some portable smokers at the bottom of this article for those looking smaller grills and smokers.

1. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker – UPRIGHT SMOKER, MULTIPLE SIZES

  • Made of porcelain-enameled steel; heat-resistant nylon handle
  • 18-inch model: 2 nickel-plated 18-1/2-inch-wide cooking grates for a total of 481 square inches – STANDARD
  • 22-inch model: 2 nickel-plated 22-1/2-inch-wide cooking grates for a total of 726 square inchesDELUXE
  • Water pan; built-in thermometer; individual vents on bowl and lid; storage cover
  • 18-inch model measures approximately 21 x 19 x 41 inches – STANDARD
  • 22-inch model measures approximately 24 x 23 x 48-1/2 inches – DELUXE
  • 10-year limited warranty

  

Other Sizes: SMALL 14-inch and DELUXE 22-inch (image below)


2. Char-Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker – UPRIGHT

  • Cooking space: 306 square inches, Warming rack: 165 square inches
  • Insulated design means more heat uses less charcoal and less airflow means insulated heat for juicy meat
  • Cooking surface is cast iron, Body is constructed of 22 gauge steel, Exterior finish is powder coated steel, Interior finish is porcelain coated steel
  • Cart is constructed of tubular steel w/rubber wheels, locking caster on front, Indexed damper is numbered so you can note the position of the damper
  • Features Locking Lid, 2 folding black metal shelves, Easy dump ash pan, Double wall insulation, Heat gauge

Other Sizes: Kamado Joe KJ23RH Classic Joe Grill 18-inch and Kamado Joe BJ24RH Big Joe Grill 24-inch

 


3. Char-Broil American Gourmet 800 Series Charcoal Grill – DELUXE, BARREL GRILL

A vertical charcoal barrel grill perfect for grilling and smoking. Given the shape, it is easy to create a smoking indirect cooking zone, putting the banked charcoal on one side heating the wood chip box and water pan. As the outflow vent is on the left, put the heat source on the right. Place the food on the left side of the grill once the fire is ready.

  • 840 sq in total cooking area; 568 sq in cast iron cooking grate plus 272 sq in chrome-plated swing-away secondary grate
  • Adjustable-height steel fire grate
  • Convenient side shelf and folding front shelf
  • Temperature gauge on the hood
  • Cool-touch spring handle
  • Multiple dampers for easy heat control

Other Sizes: Char-Broil American Gourmet 300 Series (SMALL) – image below, Char-Broil American Gourmet 600 Series (STANDARD)

  • 300 series 225 sq in cast iron cooking grate
  • 600 series 625 sq in total cooking area; 435 sq in cast iron cooking grate, 190 sq in chrome-plated swing-away secondary grate


4. Char-Griller 2828 Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill – BARREL GRILL, STANDARD

In very much the same as profile as the Char Broil American Gourmet 800 series except for the wooden handle and shelf, the Char-Griller Pro Deluxe is another vertical barrel grill with plenty of room to maneuvre. Place your heat source (charcoal), water pan, wood chip box for smoking on the right and the cut of meat or whole bird on the left and let is smoke.

  • 580 square inches of primary cooking space, warming rack 250 square inches
  • Cast iron cooking grates in four lift-able sections for access to coals
  • Easy dump ash pan and adjustable charcoal grates
  • Cart is constructed of tubular steel, body is constructed of heavy duty steel, Large 8 inch wheels
  • Includes heat gauge, wood side shelf with utensil hooks, condiment basket and large bottom wire shelf
  • Dimensions: 50″ H x 29″ W x 42″L

Other Sizes: Char-Griller 2137 Outlaw Charcoal Grill DELUXE(1038 sq. in.) – image below, Char-Griller 2123 Wrangler Charcoal Grill SMALL (635 sq. in.)


5. Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Offset Smoker – OFFSET, DELUXE

Oklahoma-Joes-Highland-Offset-Smoker

The advantage of an offset smoker is that you can control the temperature better by opening and closing the flue or inflow vent, or topping up the separate fire pit without opening the main cooking chamber. Hot air on the lower fire box or firing chamber will rise and circulate through the cooking chamber and cook the meat indirectly. Use the dampers or vent controlled openings for more precise air flow control to get your target temperature.

  • 619 square inches of cooking space in main cooking chamber
  • Convenient access door on the firebox makes stoking or adding wood easy
  • Multiple dampers for easy heat and smoke control
  • Shelves to keep accessories organized
  • Firebox included

ALSO: Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Offset Smoker – OFFSET, DELUXE

  • 1060 square inch of cooking space (751 sq. in. in primary surface, 309 sq. in. offset firebox chamber) 20-inch diameter smoking chamber.


BONUS: Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker – CABINET, STANDARD

Charcoal fuelled cabinet smokers follow the upright smoker design but differs slightly in that the focus is on retaining the heat in the insulated chamber. Cabinet smokers tend to be double walled or use steel that contain different types of heat-resistant insulation. As it is cabinet shaped like an oven, it allows for easy access to cooking area. A separate firebox is a bonus which can sometimes be directly underneath the cabinet as with Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker featured under small smokers below.

  • Heavy gauge porcelain enameled steel wood chip box, heavy duty cast iron burner
  • 784 square inch of total smoking area; Smokes up to 100lbs of food at a time on 6 adjustable cooking grates
  • Dual door design minimizes heat loss while adding wood chips throughout the smoking process
  • Heavy duty steel body construction with high temp powder coat finish for durability and long life
  • Charcoal & ash management system includes charcoal chamber, charcoal grate & removable ash pan

Other Size: Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal SmokerCABINET, DELUXE

  • 6 cooking grates totalling 1,890 square inch of cooking area


OTHERS: Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker Deluxe – OFFSET, DELUXE

  • 3-in-1 smoker, barbecue and grill with 670 square inches cooking surface in main chamber and 355 square inches in firebox chamber
  • Chrome-plated cool-touch handles to protect your hands from the heat
  • Multiple adjustable dampers to easily control the heat and smoke in your cooker
  • Storage rack allows user to keep cooking utensils and extra charcoal close-at-hand

Other Sizes: Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker Standard – OFFSET, STANDARD

  • 290 sq. in. in main chamber, 140 sq. in. in firebox chamber


SMALL SMOKERS

Here are smaller smokers and kettle grills that can also double up as smokers for small portions users.

Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker

 

  • 365 square inches of cooking surface on 3 adjustable chrome-plated cooking grates
  • Multiple adjustable dampers to easily control the heat and smoke while cooking
  • Cool touch handle protects your hands while allowing a firm grip on your grill lid
  • Convenient pull-out drawer catches ash for simple clean-ups when you’re done cooking
  • Easy-to-refill porcelain-coated slide-in water pan

Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill – SMALL, PORTABLE

The small portable weber is a kettle rectangular unit for smoking in small scales. It does require a little rigging as it is after all a grill first. For smoking, you will need to keep one side of the outlet vent closed where the heat source is and the side where you have the food open.

  • 160-square-inches of cooking surface on the triple nickel-plated cooking grate
  • A great companion for camping and tailgate parties
  • The porcelain enameled coating prevents rust and fading
  • Pivoting legs lock the lid in place for add safety

Nordic Ware 365 Indoor/Outdoor Kettle Smoker – SMALL, STOVE TOP

This is not quite a charcoal but a stove top smoker but since we are on the subject of small smokers, here is a small stove to table top smoker for any home.

  • Smoking foods at home has never been so easy
  • Transforms everyday food into delicious meals
  • High dome cover allows for maximum capacity
  • Measures 6-7/8 x 13 x 13-1/2 inches

 


Char-Griller 2-2424 Table Top Charcoal Grill – SMALL, PORTABLE

  • Use as a table top grill or horizontal Texas style smoker with 250 square inch primary cast iron grate cooking area.
  • Fits the Chargriller Pro Deluxe, Wrangler, Outlaw and Duo as a Side Fire Box
  • Heavy steel construction, Cast iron cooking grates, 250 -square inch of primary cooking space
  • Sliding drawer for easy access to coals and ashes, easy dump ash pan and stay Cool hood handle


Char-Griller 1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill – SMALL

  • Same as table top charcoal grill above but with stand and shelf.
  • 250 square inches of cooking space, cast iron cooking grates, side drawer
  • Ideal for small decks or patios
  • Features Stay Cool wood handle, side shelf, double steel bottom and side air vent