9 Best Smokers for Beginners 2021

If you’re new to smoking and don’t know where to start, this article is for you. We’ve compiled a list of the nine best smokers that we think will be perfect for beginners just starting out on their journey into the world of barbecue and outdoor cooking.

If you want to buy a smoker for your outdoor kitchen, you might not know the models to purchase especially if you are a first-time buyer. First, you can research the types of smokers in the market, how they work, and the food you can cook with the smoker. Then learn about the things to consider when buying a smoker, as they guide you to find the smoker which suits your lifestyle.

So without any further ado, let’s jump right in!

Top 9 Smokers for Beginners Comparison Table

ImageNamePower SourceCooking SpaceRating (1-5)
1. Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet SmokerCharcoal395.4 square inches4.4
2. Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital SmokerCorded Electric730 square inches 4.4
3. Z Grills ZPG-7002ENC Wood Pellet Grill & SmokerWood Pellet700 square inches3.7
4. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal GrillCharcoal447 square inches4.7
5. Masterbuilt MPS 230S Propane SmokerPropane186.7 square inches4.5
6. Masterbuilt MB20041220 Gravity Series 1050 Digital Charcoal Grill + SmokerCharcoal1050 square inches4.4
7. PIT BOSS 77435 Vertical Lp Gas SmokerGas884 square inches4.6
8. Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36" Propane SmokerPropane5.45 square feet4.6
9. Bradley Smoker BTDS108P 990223 SmokerCorded Electric780 square inches4.1

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Smoker for Beginners

Temperature Adjustment

New smokers have temperature adjustments, and you should go for the smokers which offer temperature adjustment and insulation. Insulated smokers do not lose heat which leads to reduced energy costs.

Electric smokers provide efficient temperature control, but you can find gas and charcoal smokers, which offer temperature control. Thus, you would look for a smoker with temperature control features or opt for a temperature control probe that will help manage the heat released by the smoker.

The smart temperature probe makes it possible to control the heat emitted via a mobile app.

Chose the Fuel Type

It is hard to choose a fuel type, as different smoker types offer noticeable results. For instance, if you opt for charcoal smokers, your meat would have flavors. For example, you would incorporate wood pellets which release the flavors which make the BBQ delicious.

Master Chefs tend to go for the charcoal smokers, and you could go for it also when looking for an additional appliance for the outdoor kitchen. However, they don’t have effective temperature control and need experience positioning the food in the smoker.

You might consider electric smokers too. They use a lot of energy, and you would pay a high bill. Electric smokers have high-tech sensors and controls which improve temperature control but don’t have a smoky flavor like charcoal smokers.

Another option is the gas smokers, which use propane faster and easier to use than charcoal smokers. However, gas smokers produce better flavors than electric ones and are suitable for beginners.

Finally, you would consider the pellet smokers, which incorporate wooden pellets with the electric or gas smokers. The pellets add a modern twist to the charcoal smoking approach. You can find the grill hybrid pellet smokers, which offer different uses, including smoking.

Design and Shape

You can choose the smoker’s design and shape based on what you like and the other accessories in your kitchen. A bullet-shaped smoker is suitable for people who smoke food occasionally, but the larger barrel is suitable for serious work as they have enough room for different meats.

When hosting parties on a deck, you would go for the towable large-capacity model. However, despite the model you choose, it would be better to go for heavy steel construction and thick walls which can hold the heat long while offering the best smoking experience.

Heat Distribution

Your smoker should distribute heat evenly, and you should pay attention to the heat distribution, which depends mainly on the smoker’s shape and the fuel used to smoke the food.

You should know which areas on the smoker will be the hottest, and this is important for the charcoal smokers, which have fluctuating hot zones which can be carefully managed.

Consider Your Budget

The charcoal smokers tend to be cheaper, while the gas and electric ones are mid-range, and the large competitive smokers are very expensive. You should buy a smoker which falls within your budget.

Top 3 Best Smoker for Beginners Reviews

1. Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker

The Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker is a beginner smoker, and you will need a basic and affordable smoker, which gives your food a rich smoky taste. You will enjoy the smoky food, and you can easily add charcoal and wood to the smoker from the front chamber. Moreover, the smoker is cheaper than most of the charcoal smoker models in the market.

Unfortunately, you will keep a close eye on the smoker all the time, as the temperature gauge might not last as expected. Moreover, you might purchase an upgraded temp gauge that checks the temperatures frequently.

Pros
  • It is easy to use and does not require complicated tech
  • It offers excellent smoky flavors
  • It is easy to assemble
Cons
  • Its temperature gauge is inconsistent
  • You will watch the smoker constantly to ensure it is at the right temperature

2. Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker

Although Masterbuilt is renowned for charcoal smokers, it has an efficient electrical smoker and will not disappoint you. The Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker has about 730 square inches of cooking space.

The smoker includes four chrome-coated racks which withstand high temperatures in the chambers. The Masterbuilt digital smoker also has a secure lock that prevents heat loss and has good insulation, maintaining a precise temperature.

The smoker does not need charcoal or propane and relies solely on electricity to smoke your food. However, you can use a side loader that adds a smoky flavor to the food using wood chips without letting the smoke escape from the chamber, but when done smoking, you can let out the smoke when done. Thus the smoker would be an excellent addition to an indoor kitchen as it does not emit any smoke to the house.

An effective built-in temperature probe will keep the internal temperatures at the required degrees as different food would need different temperatures to smoke better.

The Masterbuilt is easy to clean as it has a built-in removable drip that collects the grease drippings. Thus you would not get oil dripping to the floor and would be suitable for an indoor kitchen where cleanliness matters. You can assemble the smoker quickly as it comes with easy-to-follow assembly instructions.

You may purchase different accessories such as shelves that go well with the smoker, as the accessories make smoking versatile and improve your experience in the kitchen.

Pros
  • It offers massive cooking space and is suitable for hosting parties
  • It has inbuilt temperature control, which minimizes the guesswork when smoking
  • It has a durable construction, well-insulated body, and supports different accessories
  • It offers wide temperatures, which is effective when smoking different food
Cons
  • Unfortunately, the smoker has a narrow rack that might not fit the ribs
  • The thermometer is not as effective as expected from such a smoker

3. Z Grills ZPG-7002ENC Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

The Z Grills ZPG-7002ENC Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker is a high-quality kitchen appliance and comes at a reasonable price. The wood pellets are among the best smokers as they produce a smoky flavor and use electric power.

The Z Grills smoker has a stainless steel body incorporated with porcelain-enamel cast-iron cooking grids and offers high durability and heat retention. Thus the smoker offers higher durability and heat retention than most models in the market. 

It has an 8-in-1 versatility which is unparalleled; thus, you can use it to grill, BBQ, smoke, bake char-grill and sear your food. You might not find any other smoker with such applications in the market.

It offers almost 504 square inches of cooking space and is ideal for hosting parties and family gatherings. Its warming rack raises the capacity to 700 square inches and will keep your food warm for an extended time.

The grill has heavy-duty caster wheels, making it possible to move from one room to another, and has a locking mechanism that keeps in place when in use. Furthermore, it uses an auto electrical ignition system that offers faster start-ups and has a grease collecting pan that keeps the smoker neat and free from grime. 

The Z Grills has temperature control which offers innovative digital cooking, and you can adjust the cooking temperatures through the convenient LED screen. You can adjust the temperatures from 180 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Z Grills can hold about 20 pounds; thus, it is suitable for cooking for many people and has an automatic auger that maintains an optimum temperature in the chamber. Its conventional fan distributes the smoke and heat in the smoker leading to an even BBQ.

Pros
  • The smoker is sturdy and offers an 8-in1 versatility
  • It has an ample cooking space, which is practical for parties
  • It offers precise temperature control and hopper capacity, and a wide temperature range
  • The smoker uses electricity and has a practical LED screen which makes monitoring possible
  • It has a pellet feeder, which adds a smoky flavor to the food
Cons
  • The smoker does not contain meat probes
  • It does not have a proper ash disposal system

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Purpose of Smoking Meat?

Smoking meat adds flavor and it would be better to go for the charcoal smokers, which infuses the smoky flavor. Moreover, pellets are also helpful as they use electricity or gas but are incorporated with wood chips which bring the flavor.

If you don’t enjoy the smoky flavor, you can opt for the electric and gas smokers, as they don’t enhance the meat flavors.

What is the Easiest Thing to Smoke?

Whole chickens are the easiest to smoke as they need little seasoning, and pulled pork is among the best meats to smoke.

What is the Easiest Thing to Smoke on a Pellet Grill?

Although you can smoke different meats easily on a pellet smoker, pork ribs are the easiest to smoke, and you can use sweet runs on the pork ribs without using other additional seasonings. You can smoke the ribs, wrap them and smoke them again to let the flavor sink.

How Do Smokers Work?

Smokers infuse the smoky flavor to the meat, and they use indirect grilling for cooking the food. The smokers have two chambers where you can place the wood pellets and another one for cooking food. However, if you don’t enjoy the smoky flavor, you can opt for the electric or propane smokers, which don’t require the smoke to cook the food.

Which is Healthier: Grilling or Smoking?

Grilling food is healthier than smoking as it burns off the fat, thus reducing the calories, and the vegetables and meats cooked over a grill maintain more vitamins.

Does Smoking Preserve Food?

Smoking has been one of the oldest ways to preserve food before people pick it as an indirect method to cook it. Smoke infuses the smoky flavor and keeps the bacteria-carrying insects away from the food.

What is the Healthiest Way to Smoke Meat?

You should use indirect grilling when smoking your food as it keeps the fats from dripping into the fire leading to fire hazards. Moreover, it reduces the carcinogens rising in the smoke, and you can use rubs, marinades, and wood smoke.

What is the Best Meat to Smoke?

You can cut fatty meats for smoking, and you can opt for the beef brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder. The smoking process might dry off the meat, but the high-fat meats will retain some moisture, making them tender and delicious. 

Conclusion

If you like the smoky flavor when cooking your meats, you can opt for the charcoal smokers, which infuse the flavor. Unfortunately, charcoal smokers do not offer consistent heat distribution, and it might be challenging to attain an even cooked meal. The charcoal smokers are best for professional chefs, but you can try your hand and learn the art with time.

The pellet smokers offer the same experience, but they use gas and electricity to cook the food and efficiently manage the temperatures. Finally, if you don’t enjoy the infused flavors, you can go for the electric or propane smokers, infusing smoke into the meats. Good luck finding a smoker which meets your needs.

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