In this resource, we are giving you our reviews of the best smokers for beginners and budding smoking enthusiasts. One of the most important considerations is the type of smoker you prefer to work with and also the make and model your space can conveniently make room for.
These considerations in mind plus the budget range you are going to work with will make it much easier for you to pick the one that matches your requirement.
We’d love for you to enjoy your journey in the world of meat smoking. If you’re ready, let’s get started.
Best Electric Smokers For Beginners – Our Top Picks
If you want to start cooking amazing smoked meats, cheeses, and fish minus the extra hassle then electric smokers are perfect for you. Electric smokers make use of electric heating to slow cook the food. All you need to do is plug it in, set the temperature, and sit back while your food is being smoked.
Below are the best digital electric smokers we recommend based on user experiences and trials for those who are just setting out to start their meat smoking journey.
1. Masterbuilt Analog Electric Smoker
The Masterbuilt Analog Electric Smoker is a prominent choice not only for newbies but also for those who are looking to buy a cost-effective digital smoker.
Although it is an electric smoker, the smokey flavor can be enhanced by adding wood chips easily on its wood chip tray that you can easily slide out from the outside. Additionally, it has a separate water tray so your smoked meats come out juicy rather than dry.
You can smoke 3 racks of ribs, 2 whole turkeys, or 3 whole chickens in its three chrome-coated racks. Cooking in this smoker takes a lot of guesswork and it can be operated in a few easy steps. It also has a built-in temperature gauge so you no longer need to open the doors and stick thermometers to check the temperature, and an analog temperature dial so you can comfortably adjust it.
This smoker is budget-friendly making but is built with well-made materials like the more expensive counterparts. Cleaning and maintenance are also a breeze with its accessible front-access grease tray that catches excess food drippings.
2. Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker
Among the other electric smokers, the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is the best electric smoker for beginners who are looking to buy their first smoker below $200.
Aside from being easy to use – you just plug it in, set the temperature, and start smoking – its digital controls make it more simple to operate. Even seasoned smokers (pun absolutely intended) find favor for this feature for its convenience.
Built by one of the smoker/grills standards, this digital electric smoker from Masterbuilt doesn’t only look like a solid safe but the materials are top-notch in quality and as sturdy as the best safe you can trust. So even if you’re purchasing this smoker as a beginner, you can keep using this as you grow to be an enthusiast – or a pro – over the years.
Additionally, the instructions and buttons are clearly marked, making cooking easy peasy. Like the analog model, this digital version also has its patented side wood chip loading system for you to add wood chips without having to open the door. Lastly, the removable drip pan that catches excess food drips simplifies the post-cooking cleaning process.
3. Char-Broil 19202101 Deluxe Black Digital Electric Smoker
From one of the renowned smokers and grills brands, this make and model is the best electric smoker for beginners and every smoking enthusiast of different levels who love the convenience in every turn.
You now probably have a greater idea about the convenience of having electric smokers, plus the ones with digital gauges and controls. On top of those things, add other features that would make cooking even easier – a meat probe and a glass door that levels up the ease of monitoring your smoked food without having to open the door.
Use the Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker’s integrated meat probe by simply inserting it into the meat you’re cooking and then the smoker will alert you when the meat is cooked to a pre-determined internal meat temperature. When it is done cooking, this smoker’s warming feature keeps your food warm inside the smoker until you’re ready to remove it and serve.
This Char-Broil smoker also has a 4-cup wood chip capacity, and with its premium insulated double-wall construction that locks in heat and smoke, it is 10 times more efficient with wood chips in comparison to other electric smokers.
Priced for under $400, this Char-Broil electric smoker makes a nice, cost-effective choice for your meat smoking journey. With its easy-to-use and convenient features, you get to focus on exploring, experimenting, learning, and most importantly, having fun as you go.
Best Pellet Smokers For Beginners
Next to electric smokers that are plug-and-play easy, pellet smokers are the next best easiest type for bbq newbies. Pellet smokers utilize wood pellets as their fuel source. These wood pellets come in a broad spread of flavors that produce a rich aroma and flavor to the meat. These wood pellets are metered into the electric burning chamber which then provides both heat and smoke.
Because of their ‘set it and forget it’ style and the flavors they bring to smoked foods, pellet smokers are a fantastic choice for people who have a bigger budget for a smoker. Additionally, they are often a combination unit that can smoke, grill, and even braise foods.
Pellet smokers can give you the best of both worlds – the smoky flavor and depth of flavors like the ones from charcoal smokers, and the ease of usage that digital temperature controls and gauges provide like most electric smokers have.
Here are the best pellet smokers you can start with:
1. Z GRILLS ZPG-450A+ 2021 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker 6 in 1 BBQ Grill Auto Temperature Control
Z Grills are the next best thing to the Traeger grills (a household name for pellet smoker users). You can get close to some of Traeger’s qualities and benefits at a lesser price. Additionally, Z Grills are built with excellent construction quality and usability for its price point.
We picked the Z Grills ZPG-450A+ as the best pellet smoker for those who aren’t ready to invest in a Traeger yet because of its very reasonable price – just a little above $400 – build, and versatility. It is a multi-purpose item that you can grill, sear, bake, barbecue, smoke, braise, roast, and char-grill with which means you can smoke a rack of ribs low and slow, or wood-fire bake a pizza hot and fast, or even bake a cobbler.
This Z Grill model is perfectly sized for small households or smaller spaces but has a big enough (450 square inches) grilling area with a 15-pound pellet hopper for a longer cooking time.
This pellet smoker’s digital temperature control automatically adds wood pellets as needed to regulate and maintain cooking temperature. All you have to do is set the temperature, sit back, and wait for your perfectly smoked, grilled, braised, or baked food because this Z Grill pellet grill will do all the work once the temperature is set.
Since it is built with sturdy steel construction with high-temperature powder coating, you can grow your smoking experience with this long-lasting smoker.
2. Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Electric Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
For some beginners who have done some research already, a Traeger grill may have come up in the search results. It’s one of the most popular smoker brands as it pioneered and invented the pellet – or previously known as wood-fired – grill. As its patent came to its expiration date, other grill manufacturers also created their own pellet smokers to enter the marketplace.
Since it’s the first and the inventor, Traeger perfected the pellet smoker design and mechanisms. It works consistently even when you’re just smoking for the first time. So if you are considering getting one that you will be using for a long time and improve your smoking game with, then we highly recommend the Traeger Grills Pro Series 22.
Don’t be intimidated with the ‘Pro Series’ name on it as it is not exclusively designed for seasoned pitmasters but also built to last for those who are just entering the world of food smoking.
Level of experience aside, if you want a smoker that is reliable, consistently produces perfectly smoked or grilled meat, with little effort (or experience) then this is the best choice. You can get a near 100 percent success with smoked brisket (which is notoriously difficult to barbecue) for the first time on this versatile smoker.
3. Pit Boss Vertical Pellet Smoker
The Pit Boss PBV3P1 Vertical Wood Pellet Smoker uses only all-natural cooking-grade wood pellets for fuel. Its innovative flame broiler well equips any new or aspiring backyard cook to master smoking racks of ribs, fish, cheese, and jerky, bake authentic wood-fired oven pizza, grill burgers or vegetables, or charbroil a steak confidently any time. The Flame Broiler is a simple slide-plate that allows complete control for direct flame grilling.
This smoker has four-deck porcelain coated cooking grids that have ample spaces so you can do high-volume smoking or grilling. Its auto-start 300-watt igniter quickly fires off the pellet smoker’s heating rod while its auto shut-off feature turns off the heating rod once the fire is going. These features eliminate burning.
All Pit Boss smokers use wood pellets that are brand exclusive. The Pit Boss hardwood pellets are made from 100% all-natural hardwood that is dried and ground into sawdust. It can hold up to 40 lbs of pellets so you can host barbecue parties with family and friends.
Best Charcoal Smokers For Beginners
Charcoal smokers are the most well-known type of smoker on the market because of the significant smoky aroma and flavor it incorporates in any food you cook with them. These smoker types are fueled by either charcoal briquettes or lump coal. Charcoal smokers are mostly portable since they don’t require electricity. So you can easily move it around or bring one with you to camping.
Here are the best charcoal smokers we found:
1. Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker
The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is easily the best charcoal smoker for beginners, even for long-time pitmasters because everything in this smoker screams of quality.
Its design is simple, smart, and functional, and it weighs 39.1 lbs and stands 41 inches tall. This smoker takes very little space but can accommodate a whole turkey or an entire ham at the same time.
It comes with a manual to aid you with your first smoking batch although it takes some time to master the finer aspects of charcoal smoking different types of meats, poultry, and other foods. But if you follow the simple steps outlined in the manual, you’ll be very happy with the results even at your first smoking attempt.
It is made of durable porcelain-enameled steel and comes with 2 nickel-plated cooking grates that have an extra middle section of tube to set the grates at an ideal distance for low and slow smoking.
This smoker has a built-in thermometer and well-structured air vents for easy temperature monitoring and control. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker also comes in 2 other sizes: 14-inch and 22-inch. All of them are built well enough to see you through your food smoking quest in the long haul.
2. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
The Pit Barrel Cooker is also an old-timer in the world of smoking. Its timeless barrel smoker design is optimized for faster and efficient cooking and does not require lots of cooking management. But unlike the Weber smoker, it doesn’t have a thermometer which is a useful tool.
This smoker is well-accessorized with eight stainless steel hooks, two steel hanging rods, a standard grate for searing and grilling, a charcoal basket, and a hook remover.
This barrel cooker requires minimal assembly and is also simple to operate making it ideal for beginners. It can also produce consistently impressive smoked meats.
It comes at a great package price with complete accessories for you to get started. This smoker is also built to last being crafted with an 18-gauge steel coat with porcelain enamel that locks the heat and smoke but leaves the unit cool enough to touch while it’s cooking. This makes a worthy alternative to a Weber smoker.
3. Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
While its cabinet style is more common for electric and propane smokers, this unusual vertical charcoal smoker is a rare example of an affordable charcoal smoker.
One of its advantages compared to the Weber and the Pit Barrel is you can easily access all the rack levels and the height-adjustable cooking grates to accommodate different meat and other food sizes.
Another advantage of this vertical offset smoker is that it allows naturally rising heat that makes cooking more efficient and gives an improved smoke flavor. Although its build is ideal for small spaces, it has a 784 square inch smoking area with a 25-pound capacity per grate which is good enough for large capacity cooking.
The Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker also allows for a boost in cooking precision and control with its steel smoke stack’s adjustable flue. You can also easily find the ideal temperature for infusing smoke flavor in your food with its stainless steel temperature gauge that features a ‘smoke zone’ indicator.
Finally, this charcoal smoker has a dedicated charcoal chamber, charcoal grate, and sliding removable ash pan so you only need to remove everything to clear out the dirt and grime.
Best Propane Smokers For Beginners
These types of smokers are fueled by clean-burning propane or natural gas. They’re a ‘set it and forget it’ alternatives like the electric smokers so they don’t require constant monitoring and management after you turn the smoker on. Although you will not be getting the same smoky flavor that you can effortlessly achieve with charcoal or pellet smokers, these smokers are one of the easiest to work with to get smoking in a hurry and often ideal for those just starting out.
Here are the best propane smokers for bbq novices:
1. Masterbuilt MB20051316 Propane Smoker with Thermostat Control
This is one of the newest propane smokers from the reliable Masterbuilt brand. With its updated features, this smoker is easily one of the most top-rated advanced propane smokers in the market.
Masterbuilt’s patented ThermoTemp innovation features a thermostat control to maintain desired and accurate cooking temperature with no requirement for monitoring.
This Masterbuilt model also has a safety valve that shuts off the burner when the flame is extinguished providing a safe smoking experience. A 15,750 BTU stainless steel burner with a heat diffuser helps to distribute heat evenly. It has a tank fuel level gauge that indicates the amount of propane in the tank so you know if you have just enough for smoking a batch of food.
With its 2-door access, you can easily access the chip and water trays for easy refilling. It also has a window on the smoking chamber door so you can have a glance at the cooking progress without having to open the door. This Masterbuilt propane smoker is also easy to clean, thanks to its side-mounted grease tray.
2. Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36″ Propane Smoker
Manufactured by one of the well-known producers of quality kitchen appliances, this propane smoker worthily makes it to the list of best smokers for beginners. There’s a lot to like about this smoker; from being a great value for money to its remarkably significant features.
Although it has a compact footprint that makes it a perfect size for small areas, this propane smoker has a generous 5.45 square feet of interior cooking space. This smoker includes four stainless steel racks that can be removed for smoking whole turkeys or large cuts of meat. It has a built-in thermometer on the front door for accessible temperature monitoring.
This Cuisinart propane smoker is built with a seal-tight twist-lock door and handle. It is easy to clean up after use with its porcelain-enameled steel tray that holds the wood chips and water.
What are the best smokers for beginners?
The satisfaction of making your own juicy and nicely smoked meat, fish, and cheese is a dream. It is also fun. But a lot of beginners get dejected by the first results they get from their eager but often uninformed efforts on their shiny new smoker. In the end, they lose interest and the shiny smoker gets buried deep into the garage, never to see light again.
Here are some points to note: Charcoal smokers are the most basic and portable, electric smokers are the easiest to set up, propane smokers are the best alternatives to electric, and pellet smokers are the more pricey ones but have lots of hassle-free features. If you’re a bbq novice, you can start with either budget-friendly options with simple uses or invest in high-tech easy-to-use smokers.
Make an informed buying decision to skip this discouraging trial and error that can also be a waste of money. Let’s make sure you get to choose the smoker that works best for you, will give you satisfying results with minimal learning to go through, and are comparably easy to operate and maintain.