A smoker is a type of outdoor cooking appliance that uses smoke from a fire to impart a smokey flavor to food. The best smoker for beginners must be easy to use and provide all the necessary functionality for quality smoking.
Smokers can be used with meat, fish, cheese, fruits, and vegetables. Nonetheless, it may seem like a device that only a chef can use. However, in fact, there are many types of smokers, suitable for both beginners and experienced users. So, a new home smoker is a possibility to cook a delicious restaurant meal at home. Plus, if you’ve been grilling for a while, a good smoker is your chance to take your cooking to the next level.
Smokers come in a variety of different shapes and sizes and offer different functions. Many first-time smokers make the common mistake of buying a cheap and small device. The truth is that the vast majority of them just can’t provide good smoking, making the very first experience with a smoker quite disappointing.
In this regard, we have reviewed six of the most popular smokers, with the help of which you can prepare tasty food even if you are not a skilled cook. Learn about their key features, advantages and disadvantages, and make an informed decision. So read the next paragraphs to find out about the best smokers for beginners and choose the right option for you.
Reviews of Smokers For Beginners
Masterbuilt MB20072918 — Best electric smoker for beginners
This is an electric smoker with a simple and intuitive interface. It’s inexpensive and easy to use, thanks to its digital interface. The unit is 19.9 inches long, 25.6 inches wide, and 41.3 inches high. It’s square-shaped, and its body is made of solid steel. The weight is 58.3 pounds. There is a handle on the rear of the appliance and two wheels on the bottom, so even despite its weight and size, transporting it from place to place will be easy.
If you want to smoke many products at the same time, this model may be the best smoker for beginners in terms of size. It provides more than 970 square inches of cooking space, and its 4 chrome-coated cooking racks can accommodate up to 16 chickens simultaneously. This way, you can cook food for the whole family in one attempt.
The grease tray is removable. The door locks and opens effortlessly. There is also a small tray on the side of a smoker for loading the wood chips without opening the smoker.
The control panel allows you to adjust the timer and cooking temperature on display. Thanks to that, you can easily achieve the ideal level of heat. These all make the Masterbuilt MB20072918 a good smoker for beginners.
- The smoker ensures professional-quality smoking.
- There is no need to monitor and maintain a perfect temperature (275°F).
- It heats up quickly, in less than 5 minutes.
- When the sun shines on the display, it becomes difficult to see figures.
- A full rack of ribs doesn’t fit on a rack.
Overall rating: 9/10
This electric smoker is not digital, and thanks to that, the price is kept low. This way, it can be the best inexpensive smoker for beginners as its price is noticeably lower than that of many comparable smokers.
The smoker has a powerful, 1500W heating element. The temperature can be easily controlled with an analog dial. The temperature gauge is located on the front door, just under the Cuisinart logo.
It has 548 square inches of cooking space and provides enough room for cooking many products simultaneously. There are 3 removable stainless steel racks. By removing them, you can place large cuts of meat inside of a smoker. In addition, having 3 racks instead of 4 will allow you to smoke something taller like pork shoulder, for example. You can easily clean the racks in a dishwasher.
Thanks to the vertical footprint, the size of the smoker is reduced: it’s 19.88 inches long, 17.32 wide, and 33.3 inches high. As you can see, it will easily find a place on most patios and mid-sized kitchens. The unit weighs 59 pounds and stays on four long legs, but it doesn’t have wheels, so transportation may be problematic.
There are two dedicated trays for wood chips and water. Thanks to that, you can add chips to get an amazing wood flavor, and your food won’t become dry while smoking as you can add water.
This BBQ smoker for beginners has a spring lock handle that isn’t good enough at sealing the door, so we recommend using foil for additional sealing to keep more smoke in.
- It allows you to smoke at low temperatures down to 150°F.
- The smoker comes with a 3-year warranty, whereas many of its competitors offer only a one-year warranty.
- The heating temperature quickly rises from 100°F to 400°F.
- The power cord is only 30 inches long.
- The racks easily get scratches.
- The dripping pan doesn’t collect all the grease.
Overall rating: 9/10
Weber 721001 — Best charcoal smoker for beginners
Asking “What is the best smoker for a beginner?”, you are unlikely to get the answer “a charcoal smoker”. Nevertheless, the Weber 721001 is one of the most basic charcoal smokers and can be used by beginners. As most charcoal smokers, it allows achieving an authentic smoky flavor.
The unit has an oval shape. It is supported by two aluminum legs that will not rust. There is a heat-resistant nylon handle and a temperature gauge on top of the lid. The housing is made of porcelain-enameled steel that is resistant to rusting, cracking, and peeling. However, its finish is glossy, so you should be careful not to scratch it. According to instructions, the smoker should be cleaned once per year using a mild detergent.
The smoker measures 21 inches long, 19 inches wide, and 41 inches high. The weight is 39.1 pounds. It has two 18.5-inch wide racks where you can place food. There is also a water pan that helps adjust the temperature and moisten meat.
The heat is controlled by 4 special vents (three on the bottom and one on the lid), so you don’t have to open the lid. As you can see, there is nothing difficult in terms of control, so this model can be considered the best charcoal smoker for beginners.
There is a special silicone temperature grommet to conveniently monitor the temperature inside of the smoker. Moreover, it’s compatible with the Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub, so you can monitor the cooking process via your phone.
- Temperatures that are optimal for hot smoking are marked on the temperature gauge.
- The smoker comes with a case that you can use when storing it outdoors.
- There is a special door where you can add charcoal briquettes and wood chips without having to open the lid.
- The assembly is not easy, and the provided instructions are unclear.
- It’s difficult to monitor the water level as the water pan is located at the very bottom of the unit.
Overall rating: 8/10
Although the Masterbuilt MB20070210 is one of the cheapest yet large models on the market, it can safely be included in the list of good smokers for beginners. It’s straightforward and doesn’t require too much of your attention while smoking. Just set the temperature, add wood chips, and load the food. All you have to do is keep an eye on the water level and wood chips since the trays are too small to hold a sufficient amount of water and chips. Plus, it smokes just like more expensive options from Masterbuilt.
The temperature is regulated with the help of an analog knob. It is pretty accurate, making it easy to cook. The 1500W heating element ensures even smoking. The temperature can be regulated from 100°F to 300°F. The temperature gauge is built into the door, so you’ll always have it by hand.
The smoker offers 536.3 square inches of cooking space, allowing you to cook food for 3 or 4 people at once. It incorporates 3 chrome-coated smoking racks. The top rack provides more space, so you can put thick cuts of meat there. The racks cannot be washed in the dishwasher and must be cleaned by hand in soapy water. The wood chip tray and grease tray slide out easily.
This model features a durable, all-steel shell, making it one of the best beginner smokers in terms of durability. The unit is 20 inches long, 21.69 inches wide, and 40.15 inches high. The weight is 49.86 pounds.
- Thanks to the insulated walls, the heat is kept inside of a smoker.
- It quickly reaches and maintains the desired temperature.
- The smoker is equipped with industrial-grade components and wiring to ensure safe and reliable operation.
- It doesn’t smoke well when the outside temperature is low.
- After a few uses, the paint begins to peel.
Overall rating: 8/10
Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D — Best offset smoker for beginners
The Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D is a large-capacity smoking machine that is 21 inches long, 43.3 inches wide, and 50.2 inches high. The assembled unit weighs 83 pounds.
The smoker features 6 cooking grates with adjustable height, so there is plenty of room to place your food (each grate can accommodate a maximum weight of 25 pounds). In total, the cooking area measures 1890 square inches.
It has a vertical offset design, thanks to which the heat rises naturally, and the direct heat is kept away from the food. Slow-cooking is achieved with the help of indirect heat. Thanks to that, you can easily obtain an exceptional smoky flavor. That is why we consider it as the best offset smoker for beginners on out top.
The steel charcoal chamber is porcelain-enameled for better durability. There are two small latches that secure the door. The ash pan is big enough to hold a lot of ash. Plus, it can be removed very easily.
The integrated thermometer is made of stainless steel. The smoker easily keeps the temperature even in freezing weather. That is why it’s considered as one of the top smokers for beginners.
- The smokestack has an adjustable flue that allows for additional temperature control.
- The Smoke Zone indicator on the gauge permits you to maintain perfect smoking temperature easily.
- The door features a pre-installed seal that retains heat inside of a chamber, minimizing smoke losses.
- The matt surface of the smoker’s shell is prone to scratches.
- The food on the bottom rack cooks a bit faster since the smoker doesn’t have a heat shield from the firebox.
Overall rating: 8/10
The Char-Griller E16620 is a Kamado-style smoker. Such smokers are considered the best meat smokers for beginners as they can maintain a consistent temperature, allowing for cooking with zero worries. This smoker has an egg-like shape. It’s available in 3 colors: blue, graphite, and red.
The unit is 47 inches high, 45 inches wide, and 31 inches long. The total cooking area measures 447 square inches. It has 20 inches in diameter. The whole unit is pretty heavy, weighing 97 pounds.
You can easily move the smoker from place to place thanks to two large, 8-inch wheels mounted on its legs. Two foldable shelves on the left and right sides of the unit have 6 hooks for hanging utensils. There is also a storage shelf at the bottom. The ash pan and warming rack are both detachable.
The heat levels are controlled with the help of indexed adjustable dampers located on the top and bottom of the smoker. The thermometer can be found on the lid. If you prefer high-heat smoking, this model can be the best beginner smoker for you as it can maintain the temperature from 200°F to 700°F.
- The unit ships with a 5-year warranty.
- The triple-wall design allows for superior insulation.
- The grates are super-durable, being made of cast iron.
- There is no additional tray for adding wood chips.
- The thermometer is not accurate.
Overall rating: 8/10
Best Type of Smoker for Beginners
There is no clear answer to the question “What type of smoker is best for beginners?” as there are many types of smokers, and each of them has its pros and cons.
Horizontal offset smoker
This is the most classic type of smoker. For a beginner, it may take a few tries to get used to a horizontal offset smoker since it doesn’t have automatic functions, but the result is worth it: it provides a unique smokey flavor that will satisfy even picky gourmands. That is why they are used by both professionals and beginners.
A horizontal offset smoker consists of a cooking chamber and a firebox. It also has special vents that allow you to regulate the amount of smoke and temperature.
Vertical offset smoker
A vertical smoker functions just like a horizontal one with one exception: heat and smoke come through the main chamber vertically. Their main advantage is a small footprint. Despite this, the cooking chamber is still large.
Pellet smokers cook food with the help of wood pellets that are fed through an auger. Normally, they have a control panel and an LED display where you can control and see the exact temperature. Thanks to that, you won’t have to control the cooking process: just set the temperature, and the smoker will do the job. Plus, they give your food an enjoyable wood-fired taste.
The best propane smoker for beginners can provide great smoking and has simple functionality, featuring just one knob for adjusting the temperature and the temperature gauge. It cooks food with the help of a propane tank that connects to the unit.
An electric smoker is just as easy to use as a regular oven and is among the most widely used ones. Simply plug it in and turn the dial to get started. Most of such smokers also have a tray where you can add wood chips, allowing you to get wood flavor without a hassle.
A charcoal smoker smokes food thanks to the heat generated by burning charcoal. This type of smoker takes a lot of time for smoking but can provide an excellent, mouthwatering smoky flavor as the food cooks gradually. It has simple operating principles, so beginners won’t have problems with it.
How to Use a Smoker for Beginners
Most modern smokers give you a lot of control over the smoking process. This said, knowing how you use it properly, you can make incredibly tasty food without having special cooking skills. So read our simple smoker tips for beginners, and you will be able to make delicious meals on your first try.
The perfect temperature for smoking ranges from 200°F to 250°F. Nonetheless, the thermometers on most smokers aren’t perfectly accurate. It is recommended to install two additional thermometers to track temperature changes in this manner. You can install them in cooking chambers.
Fire up the smoker
It’s recommended to smoke cold meat since it absorbs the smoke better. Before you load the food, preheat the smoker. To get a wood flavor, you can use wood as an additive when kindling.
Controlling the intake of oxygen
Temperature can be adjusted by controlling the intake of oxygen. Most smokers have intake baffle and chimney baffle that allow you to control the supplement of oxygen during the process of smoking. They should be fully open as you fire up the smoker.
Maintain the temperature
If your smoker isn’t automatic, you should use the intake baffle to maintain the perfect smoking temperature. Keep it wide open at first, and then gradually close it until the temperature stabilizes at the desired level.
Wood chunks for flavor
Most frequently, people use wood chips to add wood flavor. However, it’s recommended to use large wood chunks because they smolder more consistently and slowly. Leave one or two large chunks of dry wood (don’t soak them) next to the fire. It is best to use wood of hardwood, fruit or nut species.
When you add moisture to the food you are smoking, it absorbs the smoke more effectively and keeps the meat juicy. You can add water to the grate or spritz it directly on the meat. In addition, you can use juice instead of water. Don’t add too much water: you may wash away the smoke from the meat.
Time for smoking
Most types of meat require hours to smoke, so don’t try to speed up the process (large meat cuts require around 24 hours to smoke). The slower you smoke your meat, the more tender and juicy it will be.