Best Vertical Smoker — Top Contenders For 2021

Looking for the best vertical smoker? You have plenty of choices that fit your budget, preferences, and fuel type. 

The traditional horizontal drum is still a viable option for smoking food. However, many consumers find that vertical smokers are an excellent option. More often than not, they take less space, can be cheaper, and relatively more portable due to their lower weight.

Of course, it’s not possible to apply the same characteristics across the board. So, here we have a list of the top options available, each of which stands out on its own.

Vertical Smokers That Should Be On Your Wishlist

1. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is an excellent pick for a vertical smoker. It is portable, spacious, and quite easy to operate. The build quality is good enough to believe that this smoker will last for years. 

Smokey Mountain Cooker from Weber is available in three sizes by diameter. These are 14, 18, and 22 inches. Consumers get a good range of sizes to choose from based on their needs and with consistent quality. 

If you’d prefer to smoke food while out camping, the 14-inch will be more attractive. And if volume is what gets you rolling, pick the 22-inch. Personally, I prefer to get the best of both worlds with the 18-inch version.

Weber’s charcoal smoker is made from porcelain-enameled steel and includes two nickel-plated cooking grates. It’s spacious enough for most food items and the space is large enough to hold fuel to last hours. There’s a temperature gauge at the lid and a heat-resistant nylon handle to make handling the smoker easier.

I like the heat control method here. A damper system is placed at the bottom and rotating it provides a convenient way to control the heat. Simple and easy – just what we want from a good quality vertical smoker. 

Pros

  • High-quality and durable construction.
  • Portable and easy to manage.
  • Spacious to allow smoking most foods.
  • Simple temperature control through a well-placed damper.

Cons

  • More expensive than similar competing smokers.
  • Works best with a few extra mods.

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2. PIT BOSS 77435 Vertical Lp Gas Smoker

PIT BOSS 77435 Vertical Lp Gas Smoker

Running on liquified petroleum gas, this smoker uses a dual valve and burner system to stay within 100-350 °F temperature range. The stainless steel burners offer a total of 12,500 BTU, giving the PIT BOSS 77435 Vertical Lp Gas Smoker enough power and flexibility to move things right.

Pit Boss Red Rock Gas Smoker Series is a 3-series vertical smoker. It has a stainless steel body and three cooking racks allowing a total cooking area of 884 square inches. You can customize the area requirements by moving the grates/racks. 

It’s spacious enough to hold (and smoke) a turkey. Adjust the grates a bit and you could place a 20 lb turkey inside this smoker. Though to be fair, you will have to get inventive if you want to cook brisket.

The clear window on the smoker is a good touch and the visual feedback is enjoyable. Having separate access for wood chips is useful too since you don’t have to open the main door which lets all the smoke disappear. While the temperature plays a role, on average you will have to replace wood chips every 1 to 1½ hours. 

Speaking of temperature, the thermometer placed on the unit is good for estimates but not entirely accurate. It might be so due to the different placement of food and the thermometer, but yes, you will need a probe. 

PIT BOSS 77435 is a good vertical smoker – and that’s really all you can expect from it. Attempts at baking or grilling aren’t likely to succeed.

Pros

  • Very easy to set up.
  • Good temperature control.
  • Separate access for cooking chamber and wood chips.
  • Quick to heat.
  • Good value for money.

Cons

  • The temperature reading is not reliable.
  • Needs frequent refills for wood chips.

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3. Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Wide Body Vertical Charcoal Smoker Offset

Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

Vertical smokers are good at their job. But sometimes, you do need more space, or rather, more width. Especially for times when you want to get that brisket into the smoker. Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker is a good choice when you want a little more space.

Its wide body is around 43.3 inches, which is enough room and larger than the competition. This is a conventional smoker taking the offset route. That makes it a good choice for traditional low and slow cooking. 

Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Smoker has plenty of room for cooking. You get a total of 1890 square inches of cooking space on its six adjustable grates, each with a 25-pound capacity. Simple to use ash and charcoal management system helps further with the cooking.

Other notable features include a smokestack with adjustable flue to give you greater control and a built-in stainless steel thermometer. The thermometer has a temperature zone marked for smoking food, so you know the smoker has the right temperature to cook. 

While the gauge is wonderful and easy to read, the thermometer itself isn’t very accurate. As with most smokers, it’s best to use a probe thermometer so you get the reading right.

Pros

  • Good value for money.
  • Wide-bodied smoker provides a larger cooking space.
  • Adjustable grates and large cooking area.
  • Conventional offset smoker.
  • Easy-to-manage ash pan.
  • Adjustable flue for greater control over cooking.

Cons

  • Average build quality, the body is rather thin even though it uses steel.
  • The smoker can get leaky and will need mods. 

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4. Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36″ Propane Smoker

Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker

Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36″ Propane Smoker looks similar to a vault – well, more so than other vertical smokers. And there’s a good reason for that. This smoker is built to be tough and durable. Made largely from alloy steel, the smoker has stainless steel shelves and enamel steel trays.

The steel racks are removable allowing for greater flexibility in deciding what you can cook. Since it works with propane, the smoker includes a 40-inch hose and regulator. It’s designed to work with a standard 20 lb propane tank. 

An advantage here is that propane is quick to action. Once you switch it on, the smoker gets to the required temperature rather quickly. It’s easy to read the temperature thanks to the gauge placed at the front of the smoker. 

It takes some learning to get the temperature settings right. The temperature dial/control only shows range from “low” to “high”. A pitmaster well-acquainted with smokers could manage the temperature but if you’re new, it will take some learning to handle things.

There are two doors and a rear vent on this smoker. The main door handles the cooking area, the second one is for the wood chips and water tray, while the rear vent helps manage the temperature.

Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36″ Propane Smoker is easy to assemble and looks great. And its value for money, so that’s a big plus.

Pros

  • Very easy to assemble and good looking.
  • Good value for money.
  • Dependable build quality.
  • Very fast to heat, so it reaches cooking temperature quickly.
  • Small smoker with a small footprint.

Cons

  • Several consumers report quality issues with the paint and ignition system.
  • Temperature gauge isn’t accurate.

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5. Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker

Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker

Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker is amongst the most reliable and well-built vertical smokers available. Given its massive 60 lb hopper size, it is truly a set-and-forget smoker. Theoretically, you could cook an entire brisket without ever having to go check the cooking process. And still have enough pellets left!

Double-walled insulation keeps the temperature in check and makes this a suitable smoker even for colder temperatures. There’s a clear pane for better visibility, which helps with visual feedback. Insulation here is handled properly and so the presence of the clear window isn’t much of a problem.

Louisiana Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker is made from heavy-duty steel with powder coat finish and sits on heavy-duty caster wheels. The cooking grates are made from porcelain-coated steel. 

The smoker works with two programmable meat probes and has a cooking temperature range of 100° to 420°F. Given its skillful temperature management, you can be reasonably sure that the smoker’s temperature stays within the set limits. It’s one of the joys of having a good-quality pellet-style smoker.

As with conventional high-quality pellet smokers and grills, this pellet smoker doesn’t come cheap. But it’s worth the price for quality, convenience, and general use.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality, which could reasonably last for years.
  • Good and reliable temperature management.
  • A large-sized hopper enables long cooking/smoking sessions without interruption.
  • Large cooking area and easily manageable grates.

Cons

  • Expensive.

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6. Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker, Deluxe

Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker

A remarkable digital electric smoker, Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker is a worthy choice for the best vertical smoker. It has an insulated, double-wall construction to ensure uniform cooking and better efficiency. Then there’s the clear pane so users can see their food smoking and get visual feedback.

An ergonomically placed control panel at the top makes setting up the smoker easier. You can see the readings on the control panel and set it up without having to bend very low. It’s a small quality-of-life change for the device, which goes a long way. 

The control panel can be used to switch the smoker on/off, set the temperature, use the timer, and to switch the light on/off.

It’s a nice touch, but the light is placed a bit awkwardly. It ends up being more on the door and less on the smoking chamber. There are four racks on the smoker, offering a total cooking area of 775 square inches. 

That’s plenty of space, but as with most electric smokers, smoking a brisket will require some adjustment and ingenuity.

A good thing is that Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker, Deluxe has a large wood chip tray. This means there’s no need to look at constant refills. On the downside, the chip tray is accessible by opening the main door. Should you need to refill or change wood chips, you’ll end up losing most of the smoke.

Pros

  • Double-wall insulation provides more uniform smoking.
  • Easy to manage, removable food thermometer/probe.
  • Control panel placed at the top of the smoker makes it easier to operate.
  • Good value for money.

Cons

  • The interior light is placed awkwardly and ends up being smothered by the door.
  • Many consumer complaints related to build and quality assurance.

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7. Camp Chef PGVXXLC Wi-Fi Pellet Smoker – Best Vertical Pellet Smoker

Camp Chef PGVXXLC Wi-Fi Pellet Smoker

Camp Chef PGVXXLC Wi-Fi Pellet Smoker is a good way to make your life and smoking experience easier. It is one of the best vertical pellet smokers available. 

The highlight for this Wi-Fi pellet smoker is of course its wireless control. The smoker can connect to your home Wi-Fi network and then be controlled through a smartphone app. Use this app to check or set the temperature, switch the smoker on/off, and perform related tasks.

It’s the classic set-and-forget approach, albeit you get to control the smoker as long as you’re connected to the internet. No need to be in the proximity of the smoker. You don’t even need to be in the house! 

As interesting and useful as the technology is, there are limitations. As with most pellet smoker and grill apps, the Camp Chef Connect has its issues. The connection can be difficult to manage and the response from the smoker can be slow. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is something to know. 

Camp Chef PGVXXLC Wi-Fi Pellet Smoker claims 2408 square inches of cooking space, thanks to 4 grill grates, 3 jerky racks, and a hanging rack with 12 sausage hooks. The cooking space number is an oversell, but yeah, the smoker is fairly spacious.

Pros

  • WiFi connectivity for ease of use.
  • Good cooking space.
  • Easy to use as a pellet smoker.
  • Good temperature control.

Cons

  • The WiFi app control is somewhat buggy.

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8. Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt could very well be the leading company in the world of smokers. It’s a trusted brand and with the acquisition of Smoke Hollow, it has an even larger presence in the world of smokers. 

And of course, that success largely comes from having some of the amazing smokers in the market. Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker is a fine example of this.

The digital electric smoker is easy to manage and very convenient to use. Setting it up is easy thanks to the top-mounted control panel. Use this to easily set the temperature or manage the smoker. Its fully insulated body is helpful with uniform cooking.

A thermostat temperature control is fairly dependable, even if not entirely accurate. The highest temperature here is 275°F. It’s convenient enough for most uses, though obviously not as high as several other smokers. 

One of the most interesting approaches here is the use of a side-loading system. You can pull the wood chip box out from the side, without having to open the smoker. It’s simple and convenient. However, there is a downside – the wood chip box is small and needs refills quite often.

Pros

  • Easy loading mechanism for wood chips.
  • Good value for money. 
  • Insulated body helps with more efficient and uniform cooking.
  • Easy-to-use digital control panel.

Cons

  • The wood chip tray is small and needs refills every 30 minutes or so.

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9. Camp Chef Smoke Vault, 18″ Vertical Smoker

Camp Chef Smoke Vault, Vertical Smoker

Camp Chef Smoke Vault takes its vault looks quite seriously. The design follows the looks of a traditional vault – well, as far as it’s possible for a vertical smoker can. This propane smoker isn’t huge, but it is good enough to cook for a family.

Available cooking surfaces include two adjustable smoking racks and a jerky smoking rack. A thermometer is placed on the door of the ‘vault’ and gives you a fairly good idea of the cooking temperature. It goes all the way from 50 to 350 °F, thus providing enough range for low-and-slow smoking.

Temperature control comes with three adjustable damper valves. One of these is placed on the top of the smoker, while two are on each side. The temperature control is placed at the bottom of the smoker. It will need some getting used to and tends to be temperamental. 

Other notable features include a matchless snap-ignition and protected burner drum. The smoker includes a heavy gauge steel wood chip tray, a water tray, and a removable porcelain base for easier cleanup.

Pros

  • Good build quality and design.
  • Easily adjustable smoke racks.
  • Easy to use and assemble.

Cons

  • The temperature management is somewhat temperamental.

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10. Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill

Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill

Would we call this the best vertical charcoal smoker? Not really, but it does have the added benefits of being an offset smoker and can be used as a combo for grilling too. Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill is a cylindrical vertical smoker with a firebox attached to its side.

The vertical smoker has a lot of room available. Its five chrome-plated cooking grates put together a cooking area of 1382 square inches. If you need more space, or intend some BBQ or grilling, the firebox can handle the job. The space is obviously limited on the firebox, but it’s good enough for some light use.

This smoker and grill combo is made from heavy gauge steel. However, the sheets are thin. So the smoker does feel flimsy at times. This isn’t suited for colder climates, so choose this smoker if you don’t have to contend with cold winds.

A temperature gauge placed at the front door of the smoker includes three zones. These make it clear when the temperature is suitable for smoking, BBQ, or grilling. While the temperature isn’t hugely accurate, the zones are good enough to serve as markers.

The combo grill and smoker has a removable offset grate and ash pan for easy access to fuel and cleanup. Additionally, the vertical smoker includes sausage hooks for enhanced usability.

Pros

  • Combo vertical smoker and grill.
  • Large cooking area and plenty of space.
  • Attractive pricing.

Cons

  • Not suitable for cold climates due to its thin body. Might cause trouble with uniform cooking in more suitable climates too.
  • Though the temperature gauge is useful, it isn’t entirely accurate.

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A Quick Buying Guide – The Vertical Smoker Of Your Choice

The Good And The Bad Of Vertical Smokers

Vertical smokers are still something of a minority in the world of smokers. Yet, there are plenty of reasons to going vertical. A very simple reason is that they have a relatively low footprint, so you can work with them in a smaller space.

Besides, vertical smokers allow easy configuration of the cooking area. Moving or removing racks should give you enough space for most of the food/recipes you need. Well constructed and insulated smokers can also be faster and need less fuel. This is simply because having the fuel source at the bottom of the smoker is slightly more energy efficient.

On the downside, vertical smokers can end up requiring more effort. Food needs to be turned when being cooked. This is accomplished more easily and readily in horizontal smokers.

Also, the door design takes a renewed importance for the vertical smoker. Many of these have a single access door to the food as well as to the water pan and wood chips. That means if you need to remove or replace the wood chips, you’ll have to open the door and let out the smoke and heat.

Another point to note is that horizontal smokers or conventional offset smokers can usually be used for BBQ and grilling too. When going vertical, these combo options can’t be available.

Glass Or Clear Panes – Yay Or Nay?

You might have noticed, I have a soft spot for glass panes on smokers. They look good, and the visual feedback is very gratifying. A clear view of the smoker in action with the cooking chamber light on is a sight to behold. 

Visual gratification is good, but it does pose logistical challenges. A clear pane will lose heat, so the smoker gets less efficient. It will also negatively impact any insulation. And yes, you’ll have to deal with cleaning the window/pane, which is a chore by itself.

Choose wisely!

Build Quality, Insulation, And Budget

Cheap smokers are a dime a dozen. While it is worth hunting for a good deal and value for money, don’t be swayed by price alone. A cheap smoker will struggle to maintain the right temperature and uniform cooking. Longevity is an obvious issue here – cheap smokers with thin metal sheets rarely last long.

While often overlooked, insulation is worth looking into. Good quality insulation for the smoker keeps the heat contained and provides more uniform cooking. 

Please always remember that while price and quality are related, an expensive product isn’t necessarily the best buy. Your intended use and skill play a big role in making this choice.

The Choice For Cooking Low And Slow

Vertical smokers can be efficient, quick, and very easy to manage. Choosing the best vertical smoker does need some careful research. Many options are available on the market, with plenty of choices in fuel, budget, cooking area, and more.

We hope this list helps you narrow down your choice and find the right smoker to buy.