Today:17 April, 2021

Best smokers for beginners

If you are looking to enter the world of true, low-and-slow barbecue, then you may need to look for a quality smoker. Looking for the best smoker for beginners may be a challenge due to the many choices available in the market.

The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is our top choice among many others. It is one of the easiest smokers to use that includes a water pan, a built-in thermometer, and a heat-resistant nylon handle. It is a great quality smoker that can produce that true “wood-fire flavored” meat you are craving.

BEST CHOICE - WEBER SMOKEY MOUNTAIN COOKER

Weber Smoker for beginners

WHY WE CHOSE IT:
  • Three different size variations that you can choose from based on your situation
  • Ample cooking space
  • It is capable of keeping the temperature steady during the cook
  • Easy to set up and operate
  • It is a great charcoal smoker that can produce that “smokey flavored” meat you are craving

However, before you decide on a smoker, make sure you consider the other models that we have listed down below as they all have their own benefits. We have also provided some tips and tricks that a beginner smoker may need.

Our pick of the TOP 3 smokers for beginners

WEBER SMOKEY MOUNTAIN COOKER

Charcoal

Weight: from 23 lbs 

Cooking area: from 14 sq.in.

BEST CHOICE FOR BEGINNERS

TRAEGER TFB88PZBO

Pellet

Weight: 140 lbs 

Cooking area: 884 sq.in.

BEST VERSATILE SMOKER

MASTERBUILT MB20071117

Electric

Weight: 45.9 lbs 

Cooking area: 33.26 sq.in.

EASY TO USE

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker – Best smoker for beginners in 2021

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

KEY FEATURES:
  • Ample cooking space (14”, 18” and 22”)
  • Built-in lid thermometer
  • Heat-resistant nylon handle
  • Rust-resistant metal legs
  • Plated steel cooking grates
  • Easy to set up

If you are wondering which smoker is best for a beginner, then the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is for you. This is a charcoal smoker that would be a great purchase due to its many benefits.

It includes three variations that can be used in different situations. The 14” would be most suitable if you live alone, while the 22” would be great if you host barbecues and events. The 18” would be the best type of smoker for a normal-sized family.

Besides its ample cooking space, it also includes a water pan, individual vents on the bowl and lid, and heat-resistant nylon handles that remain chill even thorough the cooking process.

It can go up to 350˚F and its built-in lid thermometer is helpful in keeping the heat of the smoker consistent throughout the cook.

This smoker’s design would be its selling point as its slim design saves room, while still giving ample space for cooking.

It also smokes the meat well as the temperature is kept under control. It is extremely high quality and easy to clean up as well.

The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker would be the best smoker for beginners as it is so easy to use.

The Good:

  • Easy to use and set up
  • Its design helps save space
  • Provides an ample cooking area
  • The temperature for cooking is kept under control
  • It has a water pan that is helpful in keeping the temperature stable

The Bad:

  • It may expose you to soot
  • The water level in the water pan is difficult to see when being used

Traeger TFB88PZBO Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill and Smoker

Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill and Smoker

KEY FEATURES:
  • Versatile
  • Digital Pro controller
  • Porcelain grill gates
  • Ease of use
  • Digital display
  • Large hopper capacity

The Traeger Pro Series is a good smoker for beginners as it is versatile and can be used for other things besides smoking. It can be used for grilling, baking, roasting, and many more.

It is a great product for someone who would want a true smokey flavor in the meat. The Traeger Pro Series can go up to 400˚F and it has a Digital Pro Controller that allows you to set the dial to your preferred temperature.

It also has porcelain grill gates that prevent sticking and are easy to clean, as well as an 18-pound hopper to store wood pellets in.

The grill area of the Traeger Pro Series can hold a lot of meat as there is ample space provided. It is perfect for someone who is a beginner smoker and may love hosting barbecues for special events.

Traeger TFB88PZBO grill and smoker is very easy to assemble and it usually stays at a consistent temperature that allows for the perfect cook on your meat. It also has a digital display that shows the temperature in the smoker, as well as the temperature in the center of the meat. This is very helpful in monitoring the cook of the meat.

The Good:

  • Versatile – can be used to smoke, grill, bake, roast, etc
  • Easy to assemble
  • Large cooking space
  • Set-it and Forget-it” function
  • Easy to clean up

The Bad:

  • The temperature may not be high enough to cook certain types of meat
  • Instructions for assembly of the Traeger Pro Series is not very clear

Masterbuilt MB20071117

Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

KEY FEATURES:
  • Digital control
  • Large cooking space
  • Patented wood chip loading system
  • Temperature control
  • Fully insulated body

The Masterbuilt MB20071117 is an affordable smoker that does not need any charcoal or propane. Since this is an electric smoker, just plug it in and let it do all the work.

This smoker includes a digital panel that allows you to control the cooking temperature of your meat, as well as chrome-coated smoking racks.

It has a patented wood chip loading system that lets you add wood chips without having to open the door, as well as a wood chip tray for easy ash removal. The Masterbuilt smoker is durable and sturdy, and it produces intensely flavored meat.

If you are looking for a great starter smoker, then the Masterbuilt MB20071117 would be a great choice for you. A beginner will have no problem using it as all you have to do is just plug it in to use.

The Masterbuilt smoker is simple to manage and clean up. This smoker has a fully insulated body making it easy to retain heat, and it can maintain your desired temperature giving you a perfect smokey flavor on your meat.

The Good:

  • Digital control makes it easy to use
  • Long-lasting
  • The wood chip tray allows for easy cleanup
  • A fully insulated body that retains heat
  • It can maintain your desired temperature

The Bad:

  • Cannot smoke anything below 180-200˚F

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D – Affordable entry-level charcoal smoker for beginners

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

KEY FEATURES:
  • Offset design
  • Charcoal and ash management system
  • Built-in stainless-steel thermometer
  • Smokestack

The Dyna-Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker is considered the best budget smoker. Its vertical design allows natural heat to rise which helps in improving the flavor of the meat, therefore giving you that authentic taste.

This Dyna-Glo smoker has an offset design that keeps direct heat away from the meat which is very useful for slow cooking. It can go up to 350˚F and its smokestack quality is great for additional flavor and temperature control.

For a budget smoker, the quality of the Dyna-Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker would be appropriate. It still produces intensely flavored meat which is the main selling point of this smoker.

This entry-level smoker has a built-in stainless-steel thermometer that would tell you the ideal temperature to help you achieve that “wood-fired” flavor.

It can manage large amounts of ash for a long period of time due to the ash pan that it comes with. The Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker has a large cooking space that would be able to hold a lot of food.

The Good:

  • Can hold a lot of meat
  • Lightweight
  • The racks are adjustable
  • Can keep in heat for a long time
  • Easy to assemble
  • Affordable

The Bad:

  • It does not have a heat shield/deflector which causes the bottom rack to cook faster
  • The damper on the firebox does not have a handle
  • The smokestack is not as adjustable

Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP

 Dyna-Glo 36

KEY FEATURES:
  • Easy-to-use double door design
  • High capacity water bowl
  • Electric ignition button
  • Large control dial
  • Water bowl and wood chip container
  • Grease and moisture control system

The Dyna-Glo Vertical Gas Smoker would be the best first smoker to buy because it is both high-quality and affordable.

With a single push of a button, your craving for a classic, smokehouse flavor would be solved. This smoker has a wood chip container made from porcelain that has handles and a lid that allows you to cook for hours without having to constantly check on your meat.

Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP has a water bowl that would ensure your meat stays tender and juicy throughout the cooking process. It includes a double door design which is easy to use and allows for greater smoking, as well as a nice decorative temperature gauge.

This smoker allows for undemanding cooking as it has a substantial water bowl and wood chip container that maintains the temperature of the cook. It has a distinctive grease and moisture control system that brings the liquid back to the water pan. Dyna-Glo gas smoker can lodge different sizes and types of food as the cooking grates are adjustable.

The Good:

  • Lightweight
  • The water bowl is accessible and easy to maintain
  • The temperature gauge is accurate
  • Very large cooking space
  • The racks are adjustable

The Bad:

  • The smoke sometimes leaks out of the doors
  • The build of the smoker may be flimsy
  • The vents on the side do not close completely

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we have discussed the products that we highly recommend, several questions may have popped into your mind as a beginner smoker. We will be answering all of your questions to help you out on your journey.

What kind of smoker should I buy?

There are 5 most common types of smokers. These are the propane/gas smokers, charcoal smokers, offset smokers, pellet smokers, and electric smokers. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages which will be listed below.

  1. Propane/gas smokers

Propane or gas smokers make use of natural gas or propane to generate heat. They do not make as much smoke; however, wood chips are used to mimic that genuine “smokey” flavor. Propane or gas smokers are usually lightweight; therefore, it would suit people who often go camping.

Advantages:

  • Propane or gas smoker fuel is readily available anytime
  • The temperature can be controlled easily
  • It can be set up much faster than a charcoal smoker

Disadvantages:

  • Gas produces chemicals that may be harmful
  • It does not produce as much smoke
  1. Charcoal smokers

There are many variations to charcoal smokers such as Bullet Smokers, Drum Smokers, and Ceramic Kamado Ovens. The chemicals that are generated by the charcoal enhances the flavor of the food being smoked. The heat created is controlled by the air allowed near the charcoal. The more air allowed, the more the charcoal will burn.

Advantages:

  • This smoker produces that genuine, smokey flavor that people love
  • They come in different variations
  • Charcoal can be easily accessed

Disadvantages:

  • They are extremely high maintenance
  • It takes longer to set up as the charcoal needs to be ignited first before adding it to the smoker
  • Requires more cleaning
  1. Offset smokers

Offset Smokers are usually huge and heavy; however, this characteristic allows you to smoke as much food as you want. It is considered “offset” because of the firebox that can be found below and on the side of the central cooking area. These smokers are excellent for people who are willing to put in the time and effort into smoking their food.

Advantages:

  • It can hold large amounts of food,
  • The firebox is separate from the cooking chamber. This lets you add more fuel without losing any heat or smoke

Disadvantages:

  • Cheap offset smokers are often of bad quality
  • It can take up to an hour to get it to the right temperature for cooking
  1. Pellet smokers

These types of smokers are a blend of an oven and a smoker. These smokers are considered flexible as it can be used as an oven, grill, or a smoker all at once. Pellet smokers use incorporated thermometers to keep the temperature consistent. It also uses wedged sawdust called pellets that are put on the hopper located on side of the smoker.

Advantages:

  • It creates a flavor that mixes that of wood and a cooking system that does not require much attention
  • Versatile
  • Easy to clean up

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive
  • Wood pellets are hard to find
  1. Electric smokers

The best thing about electric smokers is the fact that you can start it and then let it cook by itself. It uses a heating element, instead of combustible fuel, to generate heat. The smoke will come from wood chips that are hung above the heating element. It usually includes a water pan that brings out the smokey flavor of the food, as well as protects the meat from direct heat. Perhaps this is the best type of smoker for beginners.

Advantages:

  • Easy to use
  • Do not require any additional fuel source
  • Usually have a consistent temperature
  • They are undemanding

Disadvantages:

  • The meat produced is not as flavorful as other smokers
  • The water pan makes it harder to create a crispy crust on some foods

How do I choose a smoker?

Even though you know of the different types of smokers, you may still be wondering how you are going to choose a smoker due to the many variations in the market. There are many factors that must be considered when choosing a smoker.

  • Price

When choosing a smoker, it is important that you check the price of the product you are buying first. If you are looking for a high-quality smoker, then it is more appropriate for the price range to be higher. However, if you are not willing to spend as much money on a smoker, then there are also budget smokers available in the market that are able to produce flavorful meat.

  • Design

Although this may not matter to most, it is important that you consider the design of the smoker you want to purchase as well. Look at the cooking space of the smoker. Make sure it is large enough for the food you want to cook. It would also be preferable to have wheels on your smoker so that it is easier to move. You must also make sure that the material used on the smoker is durable and long-lasting so that your money would not be wasted.

  • Warranty and support

This is a very important factor when choosing a smoker to purchase. You should choose a manufacturer that offers a warranty and support in case anything goes wrong with your purchased smoker such as a missing part, broken materials, etc.

  • Temperature

When smoking food, keeping the temperature consistent is very important. You must choose a smoker that can control the temperature of your cook, as well as able to reach the temperature range that you think you may need. Having a smoker that has a thermometer and temperature gauge would also be helpful as you would not need to purchase extra materials.

  • Access

This factor may not be the first thing on your mind; however, it is just as important as the other factors listed. When choosing a smoker, make sure that the fuel needed to power the smoker is easily accessible. If you know that wood pellets are hard to find in your area, then it would be not suitable for you to be a Pellet Smoker.

  • Cleaning

If you do not have the time to be thoroughly cleaning your smoker after every use, then this factor may be one that you should consider. Some smokers create a lot of mess, such as charcoal smokers. If you prefer being able to clean your smokers immediately and swiftly, then you should consider purchasing an electric smoker instead.

Which smoker gives the best flavor?

Out of all the smokers that have been mentioned, the smoker that would produce the best flavor on your meat is a charcoal smoker. We recommend that you buy this type of smoker if you are looking for a genuine wood-fired flavor. Any barbecue or person who has been smoking their meat for a long time would agree with this choice as charcoal has qualities that tend to enhance the flavor of the meat. The meat becomes smokey and authentic due to the charcoal, and it is a flavor that other smokers seem to be missing.

What foods can be smoked?

Meat is the food that is most smoked such as beef, poultry, or lamb. However, fish such as salmon or trout are also great for smoking as they have tender meat which would be perfect for smoking. Cheeses and vegetables are also smoked, along with materials used to create drinks such as beer and whiskey.

What are the best meats to smoke for a beginner?

Every type of meat has a different cooking time. The size and toughness of the meat would matter, as well as the type of cut on the meat. The best meats to smoke for a beginner include beef, seafood, poultry, and lamb.

Beef such as a chuck roast would be easier to smoke than a brisket as it is much smaller in size. However, other cuts of beef such as brisket, rib, or tri-tip can also be used by a beginner.

For seafood, salmon is most recommended for beginners as it is rich in fatty oils that is the best for smoking.

When it comes to poultry, turkey may be the best option for beginners, however, chicken and duck may also be used if it is marinated properly to keep the meat moist.

Lamb is a delicate type of meat; however, the shoulder and leg part of the lamb can be smoked easily by a  beginner as it has a large quantity of fat that would enhance the flavor of the meat.

Essential accessories for smoking

Now that you have chosen the type of smoke that you want, here is a list of accessories that are essential in enriching your smoking experience.

Heat-resistant barbecue gloves

BBQ Gloves

When smoking meat, you must make sure that you keep yourself protected as you are exposed to heat. Heat-resistant barbecue gloves are an essential accessory when smoking as these protect your hands, while still giving you the ability to grasp your tongs and a knife.

BBQ grill brush

Grill Brush

A BBQ grill brush is essential to properly clean your smoker. By using this brush, any grease or gunk can be removed without the use of any water or chemicals. However, you should choose a high-quality grill brush as some bristles could break off and end up in your food while cooking.

Boning knife for trimming

Shun Boning and Fillet Knife

This type of knife has a sharp edge and a thin blade. It is essential for the preparation your meat before smoking. A boning knife is used to trim and remove the bones of any poultry, meat, or fish.

Wireless meat thermometer

Smart Wireless Meat Thermometer

With this device, you would be able to make sure that your meat is cooked perfectly well. It is also very easy to use and it is a great tool if you want your meat to be crispy outside while remaining tender inside. With the help of a wireless meat thermometer, you can achieve the perfect balance with no effort wasted.

Barbecue tongs

Weber Barbecue tongs

If you want to be considered a professional smoker, then barbecue tongs are a must-have to complete the look. This tool is necessary as it is helpful for getting the food on and off the smoker. It is also used for turning the meat and keeping it moist.

Final thoughts

Smoking meat is the best way to achieve that genuine “wood-fired” flavor. Since getting started on the path to smoked meat can be quite challenging, we hope this article was helpful to you. We hope that after reviewing the best smokers for beginners, you are certain about the type of smoker you need.

Joseph Patrick

Joseph is the founder and Chief Editor of "Indoor To Outdoor". He is an entrepreneur with experience in sales of household products. He also travels a lot, takes pictures and loves to ride a bike.

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