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

May 31, 2018 | Grill

The key to having successful barbecues is having a good smoker/grill. Your smoker will make all the difference to your family and friends when determining whether the food was well cooked or not. A good smoker should be able to smoke/ grill your food to perfection regardless of what fuel it uses. Smokers can use either propane gas, charcoal, or wood chunks for fuel. It should also allow you to regulate the temperature inside the grill.

Although not necessary, I have found that water pans make a huge difference when it comes to smoking. For me, grills/ smokers that come with water pans are a bonus. I have been smoking and grilling food for a while now, and I have experimented with quite a number of cookers. I found that these five below were among the best, especially for beginner smokers.


Pit Boss


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Smokey Mountain

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Smoke Hollow


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Oklahoma Joe

3 in 1

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Weight141.1 lbs39.07 lbs39.34 lbs68 lbs204 lbs
Cooking Surface820 sq. in.481 sq. in.730 sq. in.1120 sq. in.1060 sq. in.
FuelPelletsCharcoalWood ChipsGasCharcoal & Gas

Top 5 Beginner Smokers

pit boss beginner smoker

1. Best in Pellet

Pit Boss 820FB Pellet Grill

Cooking Range 180 – 500 Degrees
Cooking Surface Area 820 sq. Inches
Flame Broiler  

This pellet grill from Pit Boss comes with a flame broiler for open flame searing. The best thing about this smoker is that for fuel, it only uses cooking grade wood pellets that are all-natural. This means that you can forget all about propane and charcoal.

With a digital control center, the dial-in control is quite easy to use giving you ultimate control from approximately 77ºC to 316ºC. To maintain a clear burning flame, an electric ignition is used and the air is forced to accelerate by a fan.

This grill is pretty much a set and go. Just set your temperature on the digital control center and let the grill do the rest. The hardwood pellets are fed to the burn pot by the auger where they are ignited by the electric ignition system. You will certainly need no further fire accelerations.

When you are done with the cooking, all you have to do is to press the power button on the digital control. This allows a period for the grill to cool down before eventually shutting down.

Pros Cons
  • The uses of this grill are diverse; you can smoke ribs, bake pizzas, grill burgers or charbroil a steak
  • It uses a lot of pellets making it a bit more expensive than propane grills
  • The automatic temperature control makes it easy for first-time grillers
  • The broiler part is hard to open/close after the first use as grease gets it stuck
  • It is heavy duty, and therefore durable
  • The paint on the body comes off really fast making the grill prone to rust after a short use.
  • It holds temperature. Once the required temperature to cook is achieved, the grill holds that temperature till the food cooks.
  • There is plenty of room to cook a lot of food at once

2. Best in Charcoal

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Fuel Source Charcoal
Material Porcelain-enameled steel
Size 14 – 22 Inches

Unlike the pellet grill from Pit Boss above, this particular smoker uses the traditional charcoal. This black 18-inch charcoal cooker from Weber is made of porcelain-enameled steel. The handles are of heat-resistant nylon to ensure that you do not get burnt when handling the cooker. The outer shield is made of strong, durable aluminum that is also rust-resistant.

Regulating the temperature of the cooker is so easy with this particular model. It comes with a durable built-in thermometer that allows you to monitor the temperature on your grill. The smoker comes with two heavy-duty plated steel cooking grates that provide ample space for smoking ribs as well as a roast simultaneously. The additionally featured porcelain water pan also comes in handy while smoking by adding some steam to your meat leaving it soft and tender.

In addition, this smoker comes with a free Weber cover and a 10-year limited warranty. To get a full overview of this grill you can read our full review here.


Pros Cons
  • The smoker is quite big giving ample space to cook a considerable amount of food
  • The door is a bit flimsy leading to a lot of smoke and heat loss from the gaps
  • With proper cleanup and storage, you can be sure the cooker will serve you for many years
  • It is not easy to move, you will have to move it in parts
  • The porcelain enamel finish makes it scratch-resistant
  • It is easy to use
  • It uses a small amount of charcoal to cook

Masterbuilt starter smoker

3. Best in Electric

Masterbuilt 30 Inch Electric Smoker

Patented Side Wood Chip Loading System
Maximum Temperature 275 Degrees F.
Weight 39.34 lbs

With all things digital, this smoker from Masterbuilt comes with digital panel controls for switching on and off, setting the time and regulating the temperature. The thermostat temperature control ensures even and consistent smoking. With four smoking racks, all coated with chrome, you have more than enough room to smoke food for a large group of people.

Masterbuilt really took into consideration your safety while using this smoker. It comes with a fully-insulated body. Using it is also quite easy. The wood chip loading system is a patent on the side that allows you to add wood chips with the door of the digital electric smoker closed. It is a set and go! All you have to do is set the temperature and time and leave the rest to the smoker.

Just like the Weber Smokey Cooker, this one also comes with a water pan to enhance your smoking. Steam from the water leaves your meat soft and tender.

Read More: Masterbuilt 30″ Electric Smoker

Pros Cons
  • The cooker is well built and sturdy enough to last long
  • With time, the LED display stops working due to the heat
  • It holds heat and temperature quite well
  • It is not the best for low-temperature smoking as it does not produce any smoke
  • The insulation on the cooker is top-notch. You will certainly not get burnt by holding the outsides
  • Easy to use

Smoke Hollow 38202G

4. Best in Gas

Smoke Hollow 38202G Gas Smoker

 Fuel Gas
Cooking Surface 3.4 Cubic Feet Cabinet
BTUs 20,000

This smoker from smoke hollow has a 3.4 cubic feet cooking capacity allowing you to cook a large amount of food at the same time. It also comes with 4 cooking grids which are plated with chrome and have several adjustment levels. Unlike the others above, this smoker from smoke hollow uses propane gas as its fuel. It uses the standard propane tank, just as any other gas grill would use and a 20 lb tank will serve for around 15 to 22 hours. You may, however, want to keep an extra tank handy.

The two-door system on the smoker allows you to easily regulate internal heat and moisture from the water pan. You are able to feed the water and wood chip pans without opening the top door, which would otherwise result in loss of smoke and heat. You also get to have complete control of the smoker with the cast brass gas control system. The system also allows for increase from low to a high-temperature range. In addition, there are upper and lower air vents for maximum temperature control.

Read More: Smoke Hollow 38202G

Pros Cons
  • It heats up very quickly and is a great option if you live in an area with low temperatures throughout the year
  • It does not come with door gaskets and you may have to purchase one for the top door
  • It is quite easy to assemble
  • The door latches are a bit difficult to use as the doors frequently fall inside the latch rather than outside
  • The wood pan is large enough to hold chunks of wood if you prefer
  • It is well built and sturdy, making it durable
  • The smoker includes a sausage hanger

Oklahoma Joe 3 in 1 smoker

5. Best 3-in-1 Option

Oklahoma Joe’s Charcoal/LP Gas/Smoker Combo

Cooking Surface 1,060 sq/inches
Offset Smoker  
4 Baffle System

This 3-in-1 smoker allows you to choose the method of cooking. The heavy-gauge steel construction makes it sturdy enough and durable. For you to have complete control, this smoker combo comes with a convenient fire access. It also has 3 temperature gauges and a couple of dampers.

This liquid propane gas grill has 3 cookers in 1 with an offset smoker box. The cast-iron cooking grates are porcelain coated to ensure a consistent temperature. The coating also makes it easy during cleanup.

Startups are quick and easy thanks to the electronic ignition system. You also get to have some extra prep space as the smoker comes with a fixed side shelf. The temperature gauge allows you to monitor the heat level easily as well

Pros Cons
  • It is easy to put together and easy to use too
  • The wheels are pretty useless as they do not help move the very heavy smoker combo
  • It is very sturdy and is well built
  • Some smoke leaks through various parts of the grill
  • The versatility is definitely a bonus
  • The air vents/air chimneys aren’t perfect
  • The doors do not fit perfectly. Some smoke and heat is therefore lost

Things to Consider

If you are a beginner to BBQ and are looking to learn then the options above are solid. However, before you get one, you need to consider a few factors. For example, what kind of fuel are you comfortable using? Smokers can be charcoal, electric, gas, and pellet based, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

You may also want to consider other factors such as temperature adjustment and control as well as the capacity of the smoker. The design and shape of the smoker are also important. Do not forget to check the heat distribution and pricing as well.

Tips for First Time Smokers

It is important to season your grill/ smoker before you use it. This is because it will heat up too much and may end up burning your food. Seasoning is simply covering the cooker with oil. Ensure that every part of your cooker is covered before you start using it.

Consider getting a cover for your cooker. While some smokers/ grills come with their covers, others do not. If yours is the latter, investing in a cover could save you a lot. Leaving your grill out in the open and exposed to weather conditions shortens its lifespan.

Clean up your smoker after every use. Using your grill with accumulated grime and grease is simply unhygienic. Get a good grill brush with which you can quickly scrape the gristle off your cooking grates after each meal.


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