The 5 Best Beginner Smokers of 2018: Great Options to Learn On

Oct 15, 2018 | Grills, Reviews

Have you ever smoked meat in the comfort of your own home before? Considering you’re reading this article, we’ll assume the answer is “no.”

That’s understandable since not a lot of people even know what smoker to buy. Don’t fret, as this article will cover five of the best beginner-friendly smokers of the current year.

Naturally, of the five products, we personally think that ZGrills wood pellet smoker grill is the best. This an overview of everything you need to know about smokers as a beginner. Each of the five options is easy to use, and beginner friendly.

Let’s jump right in!

Top 5 Starter Smokers

NameCooking SurfacePowered by 

Z Grills

700 sq. inches

Electricity

Check Price

Weber

726 sq. inches

Charcoal

Check Price

Pit Barrel Cooker Co.

240 sq. inches

Charcoal

Check Price

Smoke Hollow

475 sq. inches

Propane

Check Price

Masterbuilt

730 sq. inches

Electricity

Check Price

Z Grills

Cooking Surface

700 sq. inches

Powered by

Electricity

Check Price

Weber

Cooking Surface

726 sq. inches

Powered by

Charcoal

Check Price

Pit Barrel Cooker Co.

Cooking Surface

240 sq. inches

Powered by

Charcoal

Check Price

Smoke Hollow

Cooking Surface

475 sq. inches

Powered by

Propane

Check Price

Masterbuilt

Cooking Surface

730 sq. inches

Powered by

Electricity

Check Price

1. Best Overall

Z Grills Wood Pellet Smoker

Our Rating

CHECK PRICE

Judging by its name, you can see that it’s a pellet smoker. More specifically, it’s a wood pellet grill & smoker with lots of options.

And what exactly do we mean by “lots of options?” Well, 7002E is a 7-in-1 smoker, sometimes advertised as an 8-in-1 because it can do two types of grilling – regular and char-grilling. Aside from those two options, this smoker can also be used for smoking, barbecuing, searing, braising, baking, and roasting.

One thing you ought to take note of is the sheer size of its grill area – 700 square inches, to be precise. You can smoke or grill large cuts of meat easily. And speaking of size, the large pellet hopper is capable of holding 20 pounds of pellet. The hopper and the grill area, as well as most of the grill, is made of and coated in fire-resistant and rust resistant materials.

Mobility is also a key part of this smoker. ZGrills 7002E has a pair of all-terrain black wheels, so you can take it anywhere you want. However, you will also be more “mobile” when it comes to this beast. Automatic ignition, electric feed system, and shutdown will ensure that you won’t have to sit around and monitor the 7002E while it’s doing its job. You won’t have to worry about any accidents if you leave the smoker alone for a short while. It’s the perfect smoker for any newbie.

Pros and cons

  • It switches on/off and regulates temperature automatically
  • Strong and durable materials
  • All-terrain wheels for increased mobility
  • Sizeable grilling capacity
  • Multiple uses
  • No pellet cleanout shoot

2. Best Value

Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker

Our Rating

CHECK PRICE

The next smoker on the list uses charcoal as its main fuel, and it’s a classic smoker-grill combo. Smokey Mountain Cooker looks very smooth and almost chic, with its black and metallic-gray color finish and ellipsoid shape.

While it might be small, Smokey Mountain Cooker has lots of advantages. For example, you can smoke meat using two heavy-duty grates. Both of them are made of stainless steel, making them easy to clean. Steel isn’t the only metal that makes this smoker tick. Aluminum plays a huge role, too, with four aluminum dampers installed on top and on the bottom of its body. Turning each of these dampers allows you to control the heat and level of smoke. When it comes to temperature, however, you can check the built-in lid thermometer.

Aluminum is also a huge part of the fuel door on the bottom half of this smoker. It provides you easier access to the fuel without having to open the whole smoker.

Other parts of this smoker include a porcelain-coated water pan and a handle made of nylon reinforced with glass. You won’t have to worry about getting burned with Smokey Mountain Cooker.

Pros and cons

  • Stainless steel high-quality grates for grilling and smoking
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Four aluminum dampers for heat regulation
  • Smaller smoking area

3. Best on a Budget

Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package

Our Rating

CHECK PRICE

Another charcoal smoker, Pit Barrel’s Classic Cooker is a perfect example of “do not mess with classics.” And of course, it looks like a regular, albeit black barrel. So what makes it stand out?

For one thing, the paint job isn’t just for show. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker is made of stainless steel and coated in porcelain. It comes with a single cooking crate 240 square inches in size. Aside from that, you get eight meat hooks, also made of stainless steel, and two suspension rods. The vent is at the bottom of the barrel, and you can adjust it manually to maintain heat. The bottom also holds the charcoal pan, which you can easily remove and clean.

Most importantly, unlike other barrel-like smokers, Classic Pit Barrel Cooker stands upright. That way the heat flows upward, spreading evenly and smoking the meat just right.

Pros and cons

  • Strong stainless steel and porcelain construction
  • Vertical design for better smoke distribution
  • Eight stainless steel hooks and two rods for smoking multiple portions
  • Easily removable charcoal pan
  • The brand recommends using a specific type of charcoal

4. Best in Propane

Smoke Hollow Pro Series Gas Smoker

Our Rating

CHECK PRICE

Propane smokers can be very useful for beginners since they are easy to switch on and maintain. This smoker is one such example. However, that wouldn’t be the first thing you notice about it. Instead, you’ll notice that it’s massive, a whole 6 cubic feet of smoke space. So if you’re looking for a smoker that can hold large amounts of meat at the same time, Smoke Hollow has the perfect product for you.

PS4415 has two wood chip trays, where you can feed it wood chips. The trays are located on the outside, so you can do this and not lose any heat in the process. This smoker has two stainless steel burners. Having two separate burners gives you the ability to adjust the temperature easily. In order to check this temperature, you have a temperature gauge which is built into the door of the smoker.

Smoke Hollow thought ahead and gave this model five separate grids. Two are for jerky-style smoking, the other two for regular smoking, and the final grid serves as a combination between a regular grid and a rib rack.

Pros and cons

  • You can smoke a lot of meat at the same time
  • The external trays are easy to refill and clean
  • Five separate grids for smoking
  • Independent stainless steel burners
  • Made of materials that are inferior to other smokers

5. Best in Electric

Masterbuilt 30″ Digital Electric Smoker

Our Rating

CHECK PRICE

Masterbuilt makes great electric smokers, and you won’t go wrong with their 30″ model.

Most newbies are afraid of using electric smokers because they seem complicated to use. That’s not the case with the Masterbuilt. All you need to do is plug it in and set it up with a simple set of digital controls. These controls contain the on/off switch, time and temperature adjustment buttons. Right next to these controls is the air damper. You can slide it open or closed in order to regulate the heat level within the smoker.

However, Masterbuilt made sure that this smoker has more to its name than easy usage. For example, it comes with a high-quality water bowl, which you can place inside to add a bit of moisture to your meat. In addition, it will pick up any extra drippings. The other, arguably better addition to this smoker is the easy-to-remove wood chip loader. All you have to do with it is pull it out and add wood chips you prefer. There’s no need to open the entire smoker and lose the smoke and heat your meat needs.

If you’re after a smoker for jerky, you won’t find a more consistent smoker for maintaining lower temperatures.

Pros and cons

  • Compact and easy to use
  • Digital controls for time and temperature change
  • It distributes smoke evenly
  • Works best for maintaining low temperatures
  • Electric smokers can have trouble reaching higher temperatures
  • Operation is seemingly impossible when it rains or if powers out

What Makes a Beginner-Friendly Smoker Grill?

Size and Grilling Area

When buying a smoker, you must know how often you’ll use it and how much meat you plan on smoking. Smaller products are good for occasional smoking, but there are folks out there who prepare large meals for parties, gatherings, weddings, etc. In that case, a bigger smoker will do better.

Also, take into account the area where you actually grill the meat. Sometimes even smaller smokers can have wide grilling areas, so you don’t have to sacrifice space in your home for smoking lots of meat at once.

Price and Materials

Most grills and smokers are made of stainless steel, porcelain, or other flame-resistant materials. However, you should still be careful and always check this section before deciding on what to buy.

The price of smokers ties heavily into this. Cheaper smokers can break down more easily because of the poor materials they’re made of. The best thing to do here is to spend a little more for a high-quality smoker since it will last longer.

Temperature Maintenance

The best smoker is one with which you can adjust your smoke temperature with. Charcoal, wood, and pellet smokers take some getting used to. Once you dial in how the process works, you won’t have trouble further down the line. Electric smokers are the easiest to adjust but have trouble maintaining higher temperatures.

Conclusion

As a beginner, you may not know which smoker to buy. In this article, we looked at grills of varying fuel source. The overarching goal was to find the best in each category of smoking. For instance, while our number one pick is the Z Grills pellet smoker, if you prefer charcoal, the Weber or Pit Barrel smoker are perfect. If you only plan on smoking items like jerky or ribs, the Masterbuilt works best. Then there’s propane, which works well for higher temperature smokes.

Needless to say, all fuel types have their place and it’s up to you to pick your starting point.

Happy Grillin’!

References

Billy Stewart

Chef and Reviewer for Barbequesmoked.com

Barbeque Smoked

Sign up for new recipes and reviews every week