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Best Smoker For Beginners Latest Reviews - Enhance Your Interior Space

Swinton FitzWilliam
  Oct 4, 2022 1:38 PM

The best smoker for beginners mainly supports convenience and efficiency in daily activities. In addition, it also contributes to your home space's subtleness.


There are a lot of reasons to take the plunge and buy your first smoker.

Maybe you had some delicious brisket at your local BBQ joint and decided it’s time to give it a try at home.  Or maybe you’ve been grilling for years and now you’re ready to try your hand at smoking.

Either way, now is always the best time to get your first smoker! I’ll agree though, there are tons of different options and types of smokers on the market, so picking out your first one can be tough.

That’s where we can help – we’re here to help you find a great fit.  We’ve compiled a list of the best smokers for beginners right here in this article.  After we go over that list, we’ll talk about some different aspects of smokers and what you should be on the lookout for when you’re acquiring one.


What Makes the Best Smokers for Beginners?

Buying your first smoker can be an overwhelming process at first.  There’s a lot of information out there and it can be tough to sift through all of it.  Which features are important?  What do you absolutely need to have in your smoker and what can you live without?

To help you with the process and to know what to look for, we’ve put together a list of factors you should consider when shopping for a smoker.

Heat Retention and Distribution

One of the most important features of any smoker is how well it retains heat.  Some foods like brisket can be on the smoker for upwards of 8-12 hours – and a unit that leaks heat can wreak havoc on your results.

You want to make sure that the smoker you buy is well insulated and built to retain heat.  Consistent and even heat will do wonders for your food – and make you look like a Michelin chef in the process.

Price

Obviously, you should consider your budget before you go into any big purchase.  There are tons of smokers out there – and I guarantee that you can find one that suits your budget.

Our two cents about price is that below the $100 threshold, it’s probably not even worth the money.  Most smokers less than $100 are pretty junky, and you’ll have to replace them within a year or two – or potentially sooner.

The $150-$400 price point is a really nice range where you can find all sorts of different kinds of smokers that can suit your needs.  There are also lots of smokers in that range that are incredibly well made and will be void of issues with heat retention.

Of course, you can certainly go big and buy a smoker that’s anywhere from $500 to the $2,000+ range.  For beginners though, we’ve found that the honey hole is that $150-400 area.

Warranty

One of the most overlooked features of any grill or smoker is the manufacturer’s warranty.  It’s crazy to me how overlooked warranties are because many times you’re spending a lot of money to get one of the best smokers for beginners – don’t you want the most protection for your purchase?

I’ve also found that often times, the highest quality smokers have the most generous warranties covering them.  Funny how that works.  It makes intuitive sense that a manufacturer who is confident in their product is willing to back it with the most generous warranty.

Industry standard warranties for grills and smokers is generally about 3 years.  Some companies (like Weber) are known to offer 5 or even 10 year warranties.  Our advice: if you’re stuck between two smokers – choose the one with the better warranty.

Which Types of Foods Do You Plan to Smoke?

Picture yourself with your new smoker.  What are the types of foods you plan on smoking?

The answer to that question matters a lot, mostly because you’ll want to make sure that you have enough cooking area in your smoker to accommodate.

For example – if you love making ribs, a propane smoker probably isn’t for you.  Most propane smokers are pretty narrow, so to fit ribs you’d have to do extra prep work and cut your racks down to a size where they could fit.

It might not sound like the biggest deal, but it just makes the entire smoking experience better when you have enough cooking area to work with.

Generally speaking, the best smokers for beginners are able to accommodate many different types of food so you can experiment and figure out what you like.

How Many People Will You Smoke For?

Are you the type to make BBQ for a big group of people at a backyard cookout?  Since smoking often takes a really long time, having enough cooking area on your smoker is incredibly important.  It’s not like a grill where you can cook quickly in batches.

With that in mind, just make sure you’ve planned how much food you see yourself needing to smoke at once.

Do You Need a Portable Smoker?

If you want to take the delicious BBQ with you on the go for camping or tailgating trips, that should be considered too.  There are definitely smokers that are lightweight and portable enough to travel with – you just may need to do a little research and figure out which one will work best and fit in your vehicle.


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Do You Need a Grill or a Smoker?

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between a smoker and a grill is, it basically comes down to different techniques of cooking food.

Grills are meant for high temperature, direct heat cooking.  Grills are ideal for burgers, searing steaks, and other foods that you want to cook relatively quickly while adding some delicious smoky flavor.

Smoking on the other hand is a much longer process where you slow cook foods at low temperatures for long periods of time.  During this process, smoke from your wood logs or chips absorbs into your food, which adds a delicious and complex layer to your food.

Smoking is ideal for tougher cuts of meat.  In fact, the most ideal meats for smoking are typically tough, not tender, and pretty cheap to buy.  Brisket, for example, is one of the toughest cuts of beef you can buy.  It’s essentially a muscle that a steer flexes constantly to hold up its gargantuan weight.

If you were to throw a brisket on the grill, it would be borderline not edible.  By smoking it for hours and hours at a low temperature, you allow the brisket to break down and tenderize.  At the end, you’re left with incredibly tender and juicy results!

What About Grill and Smoker Combos?

If you’re stuck between a smoker and a grill but you don’t want to buy two separate units, then look for a grill/smoker combo.

Honestly, combo smokers are some of the best smokers for beginners in general because you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself into smoking.  You can take your time to figure out if smoking is for you!  And in the meantime, you have access to a traditional grilling experience.

There are lots of charcoal grills that double as smokers – with the Royal Gourmet BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker being the most top of mind choice.

Alternatively, if you decide that a kamado grill or a pellet grill is right for you, both of those come with the added benefit of working as both a grill and a smoker by design.


Which Types of Smokers Should I Get?

At the end of the day, all smokers are designed with one goal in mind.  Help you to smoke delicious food as easily as possible.

With that being said, there are a lot of design philosophies and different means to achieve this goal.  In our reviews of the best smokers for beginners earlier in this article, we covered a few different types of smokers.

We wanted to take a moment here to highlight the different kinds and talk about a few of the pros and cons of each.

Charcoal Smokers

Charcoal smokers are probably the most popular, or at least most well known type of smoker on the market.  As the name suggests, these vessels are fueled by charcoal; either lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes.

If you love “the process” and putting time, love, and care into your cooks, you just might fall in love with charcoal smokers.  It’s a pretty involved process from start to finish.  You control everything from starting your fire, to achieving your desired temperature by adjusting your oxygen dampers, to a more active process of monitoring and managing your food while it cooks.

Even though they take a little time to work with, they’re one of the best smokers for beginners because they’re straightforward to use and lead to delicious smoky flavor in your food.

Charcoal Smoker Pros:

  • Typically very affordable smokers
  • Charcoal briquettes are widely available and impart traditional smoky flavor on your food
  • Lump charcoal is a more premium option that allows you to take the smoky flavor to the next level
  • For the process oriented, you get to spend a lot of involved time managing your cook

Charcoal Smoker Cons:

  • Compared to other types of smokers, charcoal ones require the most time and attention
  • Ongoing cost of charcoal fuel can definitely add up if you smoke often
  • Temperature management can take a few tries to get the hang of

Electric Smokers

Electric smokers are often marketed as set it and forget it solutions for smoking.  While the purists might scoff at the idea of an electric smoker, they’re practical and undoubtedly one of the best smokers for beginners.

Electric Smoker Pros:

  • The easiest type of smoker to use.  All you have to do is plug it in and turn the temperature dial to get going
  • Many can be easily used as a cold smoker to flavor foods like jerky, nuts, or cheese
  • You can relax and not worry about actively managing your smoke for the longer sessions

Electric Smoker Cons:

  • You don’t get the “full” BBQ experience with electric smokers.  They’re not capable of producing the same complex and smoky flavor of a charcoal or wood fueled smoker
  • These units rely on access to an electrical outlet and require a weatherproof extension cord
  • Many electric smokers are pretty low in quality.  Stick to Masterbuilt and Smoke Hollow
  • Some people don’t like how little involvement there is in the process of using an electric smoker

Offset Smokers

Offset smokers are fantastic and bar none one of the best ways you could ever cook your food.

The problem is that they aren’t great for beginners.

Controlling and managing your fire and temperature in particular definitely take a while to get the hang of.  Typically, we recommend starting out with a charcoal or drum smoker to get your feet wet and learn how to smoke in a more user friendly setting.

From there, you can explore the world of offset smokers and take your game to the next level!

Offset Smoker Pros:

  • Maximum control over smoke levels
  • Can be easy to use for long smoking sessions after you’ve mastered offset smokers
  • Offset smokers are best at maximizing your cooking area – you can get a lot done at once with vertical offset smokers in particular

Offset Smoker Cons:

  • Steep learning curve for fire and smoke management
  • Typically they get pretty expensive

Gas Smokers

Propane fueled smokers also fall under this category.  These units are fueled by a gas connection that gets ignited and cooks your food.

Similar to electric smokers, there’s not much ongoing attention to be paid to your food after you get things started.  Because of that, they’re an easy to use option and definitely one of the best smokers for beginners.

Propane Smoker Pros:

  • Set it and forget it alternative to electric smokers
  • You don’t have to constantly monitor and manage a fire while smoking
  • Generally pretty inexpensive

Propane Smoker Cons:

  • Refilling a propane tank can be a hassle
  • Less flavor in your results compared to wood or charcoal smokers
  • Many units in this class are far too narrow to even handle one full rack of ribs
  • Lots of these types of smokers are poorly built

Kamado Grills

Technically a kamado smoker is the same as a kamado grill, which are one of my personal favorite types of grills.

Kamado grills rely on millenium old techniques to precisely control temperature in an egg shaped vessel by manipulating air flow with built in dampers.

It might sound complicated, but it’s actually a really simple and straightforward process – and the simplicity combined with performance makes a kamado grill one of the best smokers for beginners.

Kamado Smoker Pros:

  • Versatile, all in one grills.  If you want a grill/smoker combo – a kamado is by definition just that.  You can even bake pizzas on a kamado.
  • Incredibly precise and intuitive temperature control
  • Fueled by lump charcoal, briquettes, or wood, so you get that delicious smoky flavor on your food

Kamado Smoker Cons:

  • The ceramic kamados are really expensive and might be out of a beginner’s budget
  • You’ll probably get more cooking surface area per dollar spent on most other types of smokers

Pellet Grills

Similar to kamados, pellet grills are super versatile, all in one outdoor cooking machines that afford you the luxury of grilling, smoking, and baking all in one unit.  As such, they’re without a doubt one of the best smokers for beginners.

Pellet grills are fueled by wood pellets, which are essentially capsules of repurposed wood and sawdust.  Pellets are widely available and pretty cheap, so your ongoing costs will remain pretty low.  They’re also found in a lot of different flavors – so you can experiment with different pellets for different types of foods.

Pellet Smoker Pros:

  • Pretty hands off to use
  • Wood pellets mean delicious smoky flavor on your food
  • Pellet smokers remain incredibly consistent temperature wise – your heat level is set by a knob and the smoker maintains a steady pellet burn rate to remain at your desired temperature

Pellet Smoker Cons:

  • Compared to other types of units, pellet smokers are typically on the more expensive end of the spectrum
  • On cheaper units, you’ll have trouble achieving the sort of flavor you’d get from a kamado, offset, or charcoal smoker.

Which Accessories Do You Need?

You might think the work is done after acquiring one of the best smokers for beginners.  While you could definitely get away with it, there are a few key accessories that you’d be doing yourself a favor if you acquired them.

Probe Thermometer

One of the first things any aspiring pit master should acquire is a probe smoker thermometer.  Many beginners wrongly assume that the pros have mastered the art of knowing when the perfect time is to pull of your food from the smoker.

Wrong – even the pros rely on probe thermometers.  You should 100% be cooking your meats until they reach your desired internal temperature.  There are lots of guides out there about how long you should cook a certain meat per each pound – but at the end of the day what really matters is reaching the right internal temperature.

Many probe thermometers come with multiple probes.  That means you can monitor two or more separate meats at the exact same time.

Wood Chunks and Lump Charcoal

We don’t have anything against charcoal briquettes, don’t get us wrong.  But when it comes to smoking, you just get the best performance and flavor out of wood chunks, logs, or lump charcoal.

The type of wood you use matters greatly.  Different woods impart different flavors and affect beef, poultry, and fish all differently.

We’ve made a few resources about which are the best types of wood for different types of meat right here if you want to check them out:

Slicing and Trimming Knives

One of the most overlooked aspects of the smoking process is the knives you use to work with your meat cuts.

You’d be surprised how big of a difference a proper brisket slicing knife can make on the presentation and tenderness of your brisket.

The type of blade you use matters a lot, and it’s worth the extra 50 bucks to get something that’s going to last you a long time and enhance your food.


FAQs

What is the Easiest Thing to Smoke?

No one thing is ‘easiest’ to smoke per se. That being said, there are several different items of food and meals that can be seen as being relatively easy to smoke. This is especially true for beginners who are new to smoking and are looking for something simple to ease them in.

Sure, this doesn’t mean you will master it right away, but it is worth trying some of the simpler meals first. If you have just gotten your smoker and want to try your hand at something simple, why not try smoking one of the following food items:

  • Smoked steak (ensure it is cut thickly)
  • Chicken thighs or breast
  • Pork chops
  • Boston Butt (a cut of pork from the shoulder which is great for pulled pork)
  • Sausage (like brats or any other sausage you like)
  • Turkey thighs or breasts
  • Fish fillets (salmon works well)

Final Words

With all of the information and attention grabbing headlines out there, it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day, smoking delicious food is about making memories with family and friends.

If you’re new to smoking, acquiring one of the best smokers for beginners can go a long way to help you achieve the sort of results that will be come the stuff of legend at your backyard cookouts.

I hope by reading this article you know that you don’t need something super expensive to create delicious BBQ.  All you need is a little know how and a smoker that helps to set you up for success.

Which one did you end up with?  We want to hear about it in the comments section below!  Did we miss an obvious candidate on our best smokers for beginners list?  We want to hear about that too.  Let us know in the comments and happy smoking!


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