Best Smoker for Beginners 2022

This is our review of the best smoker for beginners in 2022

best smoker for begginers

Whether you are a pitmaster or a grilling aficionado, your next big step is getting your smoker. Finding grills in people’s backyards is very common, but only true meat lovers have smokers. If you are looking to get one, you came to the right place! 

Using our experience and extensive market research we have chosen the best smokers out in the market for people starting this journey. 

The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is our number 1 for this category but be sure to check the others on the list. When talking about smokers there is no such thing as “One shoe fits all”.

We have also put together a detailed article on what parameters we use to make these picks and what to look for when buying a smoker for you to conduct your research. 

Best Smoker for Beginners – Our Top 7

Top Pick – Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker

Masterbuilt Gravity Series 1050 Smoker

Pit Boss 44 Deluxe Pellet Smoker (PB440D2)

Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker

Traeger Pro 780

Z Grills 700D4E Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

Pit Barrel Cooker

Best Smoker for Beginners – Individual Reviews

We have taken the time to review each individual smoker. We are sure this will help you to identify which one better fits your needs.

Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker

Main Features & Specs

  • Type / Fuel: Vertical Charcoal / Charcoal.
  • Quality / Construction Build Porcelain-enameled with rust-resistant aluminum dampers.
  • Temperature Control: Controlled by adjusting the dampers. 
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 481 sq. in.
  • Dimensions: 41″H x 19″W x 21″D. With the lid closed.
  • Temperature Range: 225°F to 300°F

The Smokey Mountain is our chosen winner for the best smoker for beginners review. It is the perfect balance between quality, price, and ease of use. The WSM was first introduced by Weber in 1981, so you are not only getting a smoker but also a piece of history. Quality and technology have improved during all these years but the original design remains. 

Pros – What makes the Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker a great option?

Let’s address the brand. Weber has been a well-known grill and smoker manufacturer for a long time. They have one of the best customer services in the business and are known for being affordable but with great quality. 

 This bullet-shaped smoker besides being fueled with charcoal has the particularity that works with water. Yes, this is a water smoker. There is a water bowl that is between the fire and the cooking. The fire, besides heating the smoker, evaporates the water in the bowl. This helps maintain the temperature stable for longer periods as well as adds humidity that translates to tastier food. 

This feature makes it incredibly good plus very easy to manipulate. Even a total beginner can get incredible results with this smoker, it is not a mystery why it’s often seen in BBQ competitions. That’s why we have named this our number 1 selection for the best smoker for beginners review. 

Cons – Downsides

The WSM comes in three sizes. 14′, 18′ and 22′. Although we have chosen the 18 inches as the best, depending on how often and for how many people you are cooking you may run out of space. The 14 inches is good for a couple or even a small family. But if you want to be sure you will have enough space for the 4th of July, you may want to consider going to the 22 inches. 




Masterbuilt Gravity Series 1050 Smoker

Main Features & Specs

  • Type / Fuel: Charcoal
  • Quality / Construction Build: Stainless Steel, Ceramic
  • Temperature Control: Controlled by adjusting the airflow.
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 1080 sq. in
  • Dimensions: 30” L x 46.5” W x 50.5” H
  • Temperature Range: 225°F to 750°F

This one is a grill and smoker combo. The computer-controlled fan system and its vertical design allow it to perform great in both functions. Masterbuilt did well-combining technology, design, and quality into this amazing design. That’s why we have it as our second choice for the best smoker for beginners. 

Pros – What makes the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 1050 Smoker a great option?

We have to start highlighting the quality and amount of special attention to detail they put on this design. They made it so easy for people that you just need to load your charcoal, set your temperature, and forget about everything

Controlling your temperature is possibly one of the hardest things to do when you are smoking, especially if you have to do it for long periods. A very sensitive and well-calibrated thermometer allows the inside computer to control the fan to perfection. The design will also regulate the charcoal intake. You don’t need to be concerned about controlling your temperature at all.

The finishing move for this smoker is the ability to control it remotely from Masterbuilt’s mobile app. You can control the temperature and even set timers if needed. 

The capacity is great and you can reach the first 250 Fahrenheit in less than 8 minutes.

Cons – Downsides

From a performance and quality standpoint, there isn’t anything negative to say. Gravity Series 1050 is truly a tool designed to serve its purpose. 

That being said, some people, may have gone too far and made it too easy. Especially for the most enthusiastic pitmaster. They may come back and tell you this is not how it’s done, that you are losing touch with the smoker, and all the mystic behind controlling the temperature, airflows, and all of that. 

They are not wrong but also not right. It’s okay if you just want to chill down and enjoy your smoked food without stressing about things.




Pit Boss 44 Deluxe Pellet Smoker

Main Features & Specs

  • Type / Fuel: Hardwood pellets
  • Quality / Construction Build: Heavy-duty steel
  • Temperature Control: Fan-forced
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 518 inches
  • Dimensions: 50.2 x 24.02 x 39.8 inches
  • Temperature Range: 180° To 500°F

Pit Boss’s slogan is “where quality and economy come together” and is not only their motto but a fact. And this is why we have the 44 Deluxe as our third place. 

Pros – What makes the Pit Boss 44 Deluxe Pellet Smoker a great option?

Pit Boss is a family-owned brand so their customer service is usually very client focus. This is great if you are trying to resolve something or claim a warranty.

Overall this model gives you the best smoker for your money in terms of the price per square inch, plus you have the added benefit of having a great quality smoker. This design also allows you to use it as a grill or even a convection oven which may come in handy.

Drilling down to the usability, pellets in general are very user-friendly. You just load your preferred wood pellets, set the temperature with the integrated dial and you are all set. The smoker will reach and keep that temperature for as long as you have pellets in.

Cons – Downsides

Materials are not super high quality but it’s understandable due to its price. It does take about 10 minutes for the smoker to start heating up. 

It can get tricky to assemble, so make sure you have enough space, light, and a cool beer before you start. 




 

Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker

Main Features & Specs

  • Type / Fuel: Charcoal
  • Quality / Construction Build: Stainless Steel
  • Temperature Control: Controlled by adjusting the airflow
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 395.4 sq. inches
  • Dimensions: 19.13 x 21.65 x 31.49 inches
  • Temperature Range: 180°F to 500°F
In the 4th place for our best smoker for beginners list, we have this simple but beautiful smoker from Masterbuilt. Perfect for barbeques, tailgate parties, or even camping. 

Pros – What makes the Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker a great option?

This one may not have all the technology that other Masterbuilt´s have but its very well-thought design and versatility allow this smoker to be on our list. 

The lid comes with a high-quality temperature gauge and an adjustable air damper to help control the amount of smoke. It also has a little and convenient hook that lets you hang the lid next to the smoker. Very useful, especially if you are camping. There is also a door in the front that lets you access the charcoal chamber. This makes the fueling process very convenient. 

Overall this Masterbuilt charcoal bullet smoker it’s a great option for a beginner, especially if you are just getting started and don’t want to invest a lot of money in your first smoker but also want a quality product. 

Cons – Downsides

The charcoal chamber could be a little bit bigger to fit more charcoal. Understandable for small smokes, but you can get in trouble if not constantly checking the chamber and refueling. 

The charcoal sometimes gets mixed with the ashes, there should be a mechanism to prevent this from happening. 




Traeger Pro 780

Main Features & Specs

  • Type / Fuel: Pellets
  • Quality / Construction Build: Stainless Steel
  • Temperature Control: Integrated dial – wifi 
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 780 square inches
  • Dimensions: 55 x 49 x 27
  • Temperature Range: 180 to 500 F.

Easy to use, awesome features, great app and it makes grilling, smoking, and baking fun again.

Pros – What makes the Traeger Pro 780 a great option?

From start to finish the 780 is one of the most friendly and easy to use on the market right now. The initial setup will take you from 45  minutes to 1 hour, all the necessary tools come in the box along with a very clear set of instructions. 

It also comes with the WiFire app from Traeger, which is possibly one of the most functional apps we have seen for a grill or smoker. You can set up automation and even check on a wide list of recipes if you want somewhere to start. 

What sets this one apart is the temperature control system. Because it’s powered by direct current you get a temperature variation of only plus/minus 5 F, which is extremely accurate. 

Cons – Downsides

This Traeger does have all the functionalities to be as friendly to use as possible, which can also work the other way. To use this Traeger you will need to be positioned in a place where you can connect the power cord. Additionally, you need it needs to be a WIFI connection to use it at its full potential. 

This could limit how you want to set up your smoker. It’s not a terrible thing but it is something to keep in mind when deciding if this Traeger Pro 780 is the best for you. 




Z GRILLS 700D4E Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

Main Features & Specs

  • Type / Fuel: Pellets
  • Quality / Construction Build: Heavy-duty steel
  • Temperature Control: PID temperature control technology
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 697 sq in
  • Dimensions: 48 L × 22 W × 51 H
  • Temperature Range: 180-450 °F

This 8-in-1 grill and smoker can do it all, no wonder is Z Grill’s flagship. This top-of-the-line is an upgrade from their previous 700D version.  

Pros – What makes the Z GRILLS 700D4E a great option?

First, we have to highlight the PID temperature control technology which makes it really accurate in controlling temperatures and subsequently very easy to handle. In addition to this, we have double-walled construction which makes the insulation increase a lot. 

This model is very good at holding temperatures, which translates to better fuel consumption. This is great if you want to smoke during winter or you live in a really cold place. 

This is a set it and forget it. Just make sure you have loaded enough pellets to support your cooking! 

Cons – Downsides

The lid is very heavy, you need to be careful not to let it drop too hard or someone can get hurt. Not a downside, just something to keep in mind. 

There is also the issue that there is no wifi or app where you can control the temperatures, for being a flagship this is a big missing piece if you compare it to other pellet smokers in this line. 




Pit Barrel Cooker

Main Features & Specs

  • Type / Fuel: Charcoal
  • Quality / Construction Build: Heavy-duty steel
  • Temperature Control: Controlled by adjusting the airflow
  • Size / Cooking Capacity: 240 square inches
  • Dimensions: 21 x 21 x 31.1 inches
  • Temperature Range: 180°F to 400°F

The Pit Barrel Cooker is as simple as you can get. Only a 30-gallon steel drum and a lid, that it! 

Pros – What makes the Pit Barrel Cooker a great option?

It comes with 8 stainless steel hooks and 2 steel bars on which to hang them. Cooking vertically allows you to cook bigger pieces of meat in less space. 

This design and quality from Pit Barrel have an airtight construction that helps keep the temperatures very well, which is sometimes very tricky to manage in other barrel-type smokers. 

This makes it very friendly to beginners!

Cons – Downsides

Controlling the temperature requires you to be checking and making adjusting frequently, at least until you get the hang of it. You do it by using the rotatable steel plate over the air hole near the bottom of the drum.

With a bit of time and practice, you should be able to get this mastered in no time.




Guide to buying the best smoker for beginners

What to look for in a smoker

Although you can smoke on grills, using a smoker is a different story. You need to know what to look for when buying a smoker. We have chosen a few points that can help you make your own decision. 

Material quality

When buying a smoker or anything for that matter, you are investing. To ensure that you invested your money correctly, the first thing you have to check is if what you are buying will hold over time. 

The materials from what your smoker is made will indicate how durable the smoker will be. The best ones are made from powder-coated steel, vitreous enamel bonded to steel, cast aluminum, or high-quality stainless steel. 

You should try to avoid thin metal or those that use paint for coating since it chips and peels easily.

Cooking surface

First, you want to determine how many people you will normally be cooking for. Is it just family and friends or are you planning to throw parties often? In the smoker specifications, look for square inches of the primary cooking surface or the size of the main cooking grate. 

Keep in mind that you would normally like to leave ½ inches between the foods being cooked and even from the smoker itself. 

Footprint

Try to think where you want to see your smoker placed at your house, get some measurements ready and make sure to use that when making your decision. You need to leave enough space for airflow and ventilation as well as be as far as possible from any flammable item.

A good tip when measuring the smoker is to open the smoker´s lid or doors. Consider that extra space!

Manual, warranty, and support

Don´t buy only on looks. Make sure the grills come with a good manual. Warranty is very important. Check to see if any parts have a separate warranty, sometimes the burners are. You should be looking for a 5 to 10 years warranty on your smoker. 

Also, make sure there is enough information about the smoker and that you are buying from a reputable dealer. This will make it easier in the future if you need to claim the warranty or search for any replacement parts.  

Types of smokers

Let’s start by understanding at a high level the different types of smokers out there.

Vertical Charcoal Smokers

Also called bullets or drum smokers, they are vertical cylinders or boxes in which fire is placed in the bottom with water pans between the charcoal and the food. 

Vertical smokers are not easy to use for beginners, controlling the temperature can get tricky because they have poor air control. Despite that, you can get creative here and even build your own using a steel drum.

Kamado/Egg Ceramic Smokers 

They are commonly sold as a grill/smoker combo but truth is that they are better used as smokers. Their insulation is one of the best, it holds steady temperatures well. It does take a minute to head up but once they are on, they are on. This makes them good for places with cold weather.

Overall they make a great choice for your first smoker, once you bring them to temperature there isn’t a lot to do. Another thing to highlight is that they use a lot less charcoal because of how well they hold the temperatures.

Offset Charcoal Smoker

This is probably one of the oldest designs, it originated in Texas. Nothing says you are serious about smoking as having an offset in your collection. You create and control the fire from the lower side chamber and the smoke and heat move almost horizontally into the cooking chamber. 

The design makes it great to reach high temperatures and the desired blue smoke a lot faster than using any other smoker. Overall they are great and easy to manipulate, but you have to be aware of cheap offsets. Typically you want your offset to have thick steel, tightly sealed doors, and vents for the heat to distribute evenly. Cheap smokers tend to lack those, causing a lot of trouble using the entire cooking chamber. 

Cabinet Charcoal Smoker

This fridge-like design is one of the best, you have the cooking section on the top, and the button holds the fire and vents. They usually have two doors in the front, but there are some with a single door. The good ones are very well insulated and the doors close very tightly. 

The cooking area is very large and the food is very accessible for adding and removing food or even if you have to sauce it. The firebox is also very easy to use and refuel. This is one of the best choices for beginners.  

Propane Gas Smoker

Down to price, this type of smoker is the most accessible for a modest budget. It’s also one of the easiest to use, next to the electric smokers. The gas produces clean steady heat, and the smoke flavor comes from wood chips, pallets, or chunks. 

They are usually made from thin metal and the doors are loose and leak a lot of heat. This does not impact how you cook the meat but it does consume a lot more chips/pallets/chunks as they burn faster.  They also tend to have a narrow cooking area, cooking an entire slab of ribs could be challenging. 

Still, it is one of the best choices for beginners for ease of use. They are banned from most barbecue competitions because organizers consider them too easy. 

Pellet Smoker

This is the definition of set it and forget it. Nothing is as easy to use as a pellet smoker, they are almost fully automated. They burn pellets made from compressed hardwood and a digital integrated thermostat controls the temperature. 

A computer uses the thermostat input to control the air intake or fan and also to feed pellets to the fire. The fuel consumption is almost perfect and the combustion is so efficient that the smoke flavor is very clean. 

The cooking area is very good. You should consider that they are fully electric, they have to be plugged in to use them, which limits their mobility or convenience for some people. One thing to watch out for is that the cheapest pellet smokers only have “low”, “medium”, and “high”. Avoid that, you want to have one that allows you to set up your desired temperature. 

Electric Smoker

You can forget about refueling or making a mess with charcoal. Electric smokers are very well insulated and the best to use in the winter. They use very little wood for the smoky flavor, only between 2 to 4 ounces. They are especially friendly if you live in a really cold place or even in a condo or apartment where they don´t let you use charcoal or gas equipment. 

They are overall a great nice to have and easy to use for a beginner. That being said, the taste is not the same, even though you are still generating smoke something is missing. There is a difference between the heat created by the electric smoker and the ignition process that happens in charcoal and gas grills. 

That’s something to keep in mind when making your purchase.

FAQ

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions beginners have when buying a smoker. 

What is the point of a smoker?

People mainly do it because it adds an interesting smoky flavor to the food. It was born as a way to preserve proteins for longer times, especially in places with hard winters.

What is the easiest smoker to use?

Electric smokers are the easiest to use, although not many people like them as their main smokers. Gas smokers and Pellets smokers are the next ones in line. 

What is the easiest thing to smoke?

You can smoke everything you want, salmon is a good option. If you are a beginner you may want to start with cheaper cuts of meat. Once you understand how you smoker works, you can try out the 3,2,1 method for smoking Ribs.

What Pellets or wood chips should I use?

A great question! There are a lot of options, you should use what you like of course. But if it helps, we have created a chart in our smoking for beginners guide.

What about grill and smoker combos?

Combos are a great option to get the best from both worlds, especially if you are on a budget or your space is limited. If you want to explore this option, make sure to check our article to find the best smoker grill combo

Our Top Choice 

There are a lot of options in the market with multiple price points to adjust to your budget, but there are also multiple smoker types to combine. 

Although we have selected the Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker as the best smoker for beginners, we invite you to analyze all of the options and make your own choice. 

Once you have it, make sure you check our guide to learn everything you need to know about beginning to smoke meat

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