Best Smoker

We spent over 35 hours researching and testing 10 different brands of smokers and found that performance, ease of use, and design were most important. The Bradley Digital 4 Rack Smoker scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. This popular smoker is heavy duty and able to handle plenty of backyard cookouts and gatherings. It can handle smoking jobs as long as 8 hours and just requires a push of a button. The smoker heats up to 320 degrees and handles smoking a lot of different types of meats. If you do a lot of entertaining, this is the perfect smoker for the job.

Smoker reviews
9 mins to read
27 products considered
10 products reviewed
35 hours reviewing

1. Bradley

Best Overall Smoker

5/5 Product Rating

The immediate conclusion you’ll likely come to after first setting your gaze upon the Bradley Digital Smoker is that this is the smoker you need for some serious backyard sessions. This is not a little unit made for a quarter pork shoulder, nor will a few fillets of fish do it justice. The Bradley Digital Smoker has to be the most heavy-duty smoker when speaking purely of non-industrial, convenient usage. Despite this, you certainly wouldn’t be surprised to find out they use something like this at The Keg (not that they necessarily do). Of course, this is exactly what you need if you plan on tackling large culinary masterpieces or bulk batches at any one time.

With the Bradley Digital Smoker sitting in your back yard, you’ll be able to take on jobs as long as eight hours in length at the push of a button. It can also heat up to three hundred and twenty degrees. You can call it overkill or you can call it heavy-duty. Simply put, there’s nothing the Bradley Digital Smoker can’t handle. This is its best and most heavily-advertised selling point. On the other hand, if you’re the type to take on small cooking sessions, such as making yourself a little dinner before bed, you may find this unit a little clunky. This is where the Masterbuilt 2-door Propane Smoker comes in.

Sarah Lytle

2. Masterbuilt

Best Overall Smoker – Runner Up

4.8/5 Product Rating

If you take a quick look at the Masterbuilt 2-Door Propane Smoker’s specs, you’ll notice that it’s actually a little heavier than the above model. Don’t let its large weight fool you, however. Despite its size and overall capacity for food, you’ll be surprised at how quick it can heat up. It’s truly as simple as sloppily throwing some chips in and pressing a button. The Masterbuilt 2-Door Propane Smoker is far from picky, unlike many smokers which tend to force their users to closely follow their heat-up instructions. This makes it perfect for personal or family meals. This goes in contrast to many smokers, whose manufacturers seem to be under the impression that everyone smokes in bulk. But, as you and I know, this is not always the case.

While the Masterbuilt 2-Door Propane Smoker’s quick heat-up time is impressive enough, it becomes even more impressive when you consider the sheer size of the unit. Being that we’re seeing two characteristics which are almost never found together in the same smoker, this makes the unit great for big and small jobs alike. This adds a degree of versatility that you just can’t get it most similar products in today’s age. As such, if you find yourself unsure of just what you need in a smoker, you might find the Masterbuilt 2-Door Propane Smoker to be one of the safer purchases you could make, being that it will be more likely to be able to cater to all of your cooking needs as time goes by.

However, you may not find this particular unit to be the best at your disposal when it comes to low-and-slow-style cooking. It’s not that it is incapable of this (in fact, it still performs well above average in this regard), it’s that the other two smokers on this list are likely even better options for such purposes, especially the Bradley model we just covered. Overall; however, this is one of the very best smokers on the market, despite coming at a (relatively) low price.

Sarah Lytle

3. Char-Broil

Best Budget Smoker

4.6/5 Product Rating

The Analog Electric Smoker is brought to us by Char-Broil, a fairly well-known brand in the world of backyard cooking. It advertises itself as being less of a smoker and more of an all-purpose culinary device. However, it still does an excellent job in terms of smoking and could very well be bought for this feature alone. This unit is more or less the size of a barbeque, if that gives you any idea of the type of jobs you might expect to be able to take on with it in your possession. As such, it may be more suitable for smaller meals rather than bulk smoking.

What makes Char-Broil so great (and more frugal than it already is) is the fact that is can replace your barbeque as well as your smoker. Not only will this save money and space, but it will likely prove to be a huge convenience as well. Despite its all-in-one status, it can be had for under two hundred dollars (specifically on Amazon) and works great as either a standalone smoker or a standalone barbeque, so long as you don’t expect to be able to cook multiple turkeys in one go.

Sarah Lytle

Smoker Buying Guide

Smoker Reviews

What is a Smoker?

Smoker1If you just can’t get all that excited about the above smokers, it’s worth noting that there are still tons of viable options at your disposal which can be had with very little searching. Simply keep the below factors in mind and finding the smoker for you will be a piece of fishcake.

How much food will you be smoking at any one time?

This should be the largest deciding factor in your next smoker purchase. If you only plan on smoking a salmon or four at a time, getting a larger model just doesn’t make sense. Not only will it take more time to get the exact same job done, it will cost more money as well. On the other hand, smoking bulk batches of food with a tiny smoker will have you sitting there all day as you constantly take food out and put more in. It’s best to get a smoker that’s big enough for what you plan on cooking, but not so big that you’ll spend all day waiting for it to heat up. However, when you’re in doubt, a smoker that is too big is better than one that is too small.

How fast do you like to smoke your meat?

If you’re more of a low-and-slow type of cook, you’ll want to take a close look at any given smoker’s specs and see how long it can run for without taking a break. It can be easy to assume that all smokers can take on this style of smoking, but this is not always the case. If you can’t find its maximum runtime on its package or online, take a look at reviews regarding others’ experiences with this cooking style.

Optional Smoker Features

There are a few features you can find across many different smokers which will change your experience for better or for worse, depending on the type of cook you are. Consider which of the below two features you’d like to have in a smoker and which you could do without. This will ensure you get everything you’re looking for in your next purchase.

    Smoker2

  • A Digital Display – A digital display can prove very convenient and can take on the load of several different cooking tools at once. However, such a display introduces a huge price markup into the mix. You should only consider such a display if you think you’ll use it.
  • Barbequing Capabilities – One of the smokers we covered earlier exhibits this trait. Having a smoker which also acts as a barbeque can be a huge plus. This is especially true if you’ve been planning on buying a barbeque at some point, making such a feature convenient and However, such smokers will often be limited in size, making them less suitable for large-batch smoking.

Common Smoker Features

In contrast to the features listed above, there are a few that you always want to see in a smoker, no matter the type of cook you may happen to be. Keep an eye out for the below features while shopping for smokers.

  • A Wide Temperature Range – Take a smoker’s maximum temperature, subtract that figure by its minimum temperature and you’ve found your range. In this context, a higher number is always better. Even if you only plan on ever using one temperature, a large range may come in handy at some point or another. Either way, it’s a great indication of a product’s overall level of quality and reflects a large degree of versatility.
  • Removable Cooking Racks – Of course, if you plan on smoking turkeys or pork shoulders, getting a large smoker is an obvious requirement. However, it won’t do you much good if you don’t have enough space between any two racks to place the meat of your choosing. While you won’t need to worry about this with more high-end models, it helps to check to see if a smoker’s racks can be removed in a matter of seconds when you’re buying cheaper units. While every rack will be removable to some degree, you certainly don’t want to sit around all day disassembling your smoker. Make sure the racks are actually meant to be moved.
  • Smoker3

  • A Large Wood Chip Tray – While every smoker comes with its own recommendations as to how much wood you should use at any one time, you may wish to experiment a little as you begin to fine-tune your tastes. It’s always nice when a smoker gives you the option of playing around with its operation a little.

Conclusion

The above three features are always great to see in any smoker. Otherwise, just what you look for in your next unit is up to you. Because you and only you know what type of cook you are, keeping the above considerations in mind is sure to help you figure out which smoker is most compatible with your style.

Resources

  1. http://www.north-america.bradleysmoker.com/food-smokers/-digital-food-smoker/
  2. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Masterbuilt-30-in-2-Door-Propane-Gas-Smoker-20051311/203495099
  3. http://www.charbroil.com/the-big-easy-smoker-roaster-grill