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Best Meat Smokers For Beginners In 2021 - Best Home Preserving
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If you are new to BBQ and meat smoking you will need to find the best meat smokers for beginners.

There are many different types of meat smokers available today.  They vary greatly in cost, ease of use and size.  Before you buy a dedicated smoker, it is worth looking at these factors.  That way, you will find the best meat smoker for you and your family. 

Wanting to learn how to smoke meat, fish or vegetables?  You have come to the right place.

This article reviews the top 5 meat smokers for beginners.  It includes a buying guide to help you choose the best one based on your needs.  Our experts have also listed each product’s pros and cons, so you can make a more informed decision. 

Meat smokers are fueled by charcoal, gas, pellets or electricity and sometimes, a combination of these.  Thus, before you start you need to know which fuel type is more convenient for you.

Electric, charcoal and pellet smokers are relatively easier to operate.  Propane and offset smokers are harder to control and thus better for people with more experience in barbecuing.

Choosing your first smoker may seem daunting, but by the end of this article you will have a better idea of which meat smoker is best for you.

Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain
Masterbuilt 20072115
Classic Pit Barrel
Char-Broil 17202004
Traeger Grills Bronson
Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker
Masterbuilt 20072115 Bluetooth Smart Digital Electric Smoker, 30-Inch
18-1/2 in. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package
Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker, Deluxe, Silver
Traeger Grills Bronson 20 Pellet Grill - Black (10526)
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Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain
Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker
Masterbuilt 20072115
Masterbuilt 20072115 Bluetooth Smart Digital Electric Smoker, 30-Inch
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Classic Pit Barrel
18-1/2 in. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package
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Char-Broil 17202004
Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker, Deluxe, Silver
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Traeger Grills Bronson
Traeger Grills Bronson 20 Pellet Grill - Black (10526)
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5 Best Meat Smokers For Beginners

Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

Overall Rating:

4.8/5

Product Specifications:

      • Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 41 inches
      • Weight: 39.1 Pounds

Driven by charcoal, the Weber Smokey Mountain relies on briquettes as fuel coupled with wood or chips to enhance the smokey flavor.

It’s simple design and ease of use make it one of the easiest meat smokers for beginners.

Coated in porcelain enamel with a steel inner structure this meat smoker is rust-resistant and thus, long-lasting.

It includes two steel grates that have a surface area of 18.5 inches.

This means it is sufficient for a full turkey and an entire pork shoulder cut, simultaneously. 

It features a vent, and aluminum dampers that allow for air to pass, which helps control the temperature.

A side door allows you to easily add more fuel during the smoking process.  These include wood, chips or charcoal chunks.

A water basin made of porcelain steel keeps the food moist whilst cooking and helps stabilize the temperature.

Pros Cons
  • Adequate cooking capacity 
  • Keeps temperature steady for 8 to 12 hours 
  • Features thermometer ports
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable for every budget
  • Superior construction quality
  • Impressive cooking capacity with 481 square inches of cooking space
  • 3 sections for portability & versatility
  • Use as a food smoker, single or double grill or fire pit
  • Roast, smoke, braise, grill, steam or bake
  • Its water bowl can give over 10 hours of moisture-filled cooking
  • Requires long oven mitts to reach into the pit
  • The door is not sturdy & may bend allowing cold air in
Masterbuilt 20072115 Bluetooth Smart Digital Electric Smoker, 30-Inch

Overall Rating:

4.2/5

Product Specifications:

      • Dimensions: 20.87 x 20.08 x 31.89 inches
      • Weight: 53.7 Pounds

An affordable entry-level meat smoker that runs on electricity, making it easy to use. 

Ideal for beginners who are just starting out smoking meat.

This compact meat smoker has a cooking space of about 721 sq. inches and a heating element of 800 Watts.

What sets it apart is its digital smart technology which allows you to control the smoker via your smartphone.

You can adjust the temperature, set a timer and turn it on or off all from the convenience of your phone. 

Masterbuilt Smart Electric Smoker can cook enough meat for a large crowd and is great for a big family or to host large gatherings.

It offers terrific value for money and allows you to monitor your meat without having to constantly open and close the smoker.

If you are after a top meat smokers for beginners that gives value and uses advanced technology, this is the right one for you.

Pros Cons
  • Cooking racks are adjustable 
  • Integrated Bluetooth technology
  • Glass door allows you to view food without opening  
  • Inexpensive for the features it has
  • Remote controlled
  • Capacity can accommodate 12 whole chickens, 2 whole turkeys, 4 racks of ribs, 48 sausages, 24 burgers, 4 pork butts.
  • Has a 275 degrees F limit so not suitable for high-heat smoking 
  • The wood/chip tray is relatively small meaning you need to deep topping it up
18-1/2 in. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package

Overall Rating:

4.8/5

Product Specifications:

      • Dimensions: 21 x 21 x 31.1 inches
      • Weight: 57 Pounds

This sleek and shiny black-colored barrel smoker is one of a kind.  With integrated handles, vertical rotisserie, and fitted lid it is very easy and convenient to use.

Steel construction with porcelain coating, make it sturdy and sure to last many years.  It is portable, durable, and produces fantastic results.

Grill meat, vegetables, and even cheese on the grate itself or the included planks.  A sizable coal holder allows 6-8 hours of cooking.

Get a unique vertical cooking experience that the manufacturers say “produces perfectly cooked meat every time”.

In addition, 8 stainless steel hooks and 2 steel hanging rods allow you to hook-n-hang your meal.  This handy package also comes with a standard grate for grilling and searing, a 3-point stand, and a wooden hook remover.

Moreover, it includes a good-sized coal basket giving the ideal amount of charcoal for a perfect cook.

Its unique design makes the Pit Barrel Cooker simple to operate and one of the best meat smokers for beginners. 

It produces consistent and impressive results with minimal hassle compared to other cooker options.

It uses charcoal, wood, and chip chunks for fuel and is ideal for beginners wanting to smoke meat. 

Pros Cons
  • Suitable for any terrain 
  • Balcony, apartment and HOA-friendly
  • Produces enough for a medium-sized crowd
  • Simple to operate
  • No hassle cooking
  • Sleek and sturdy build construction
  • Temperature range is limited – does not provide very high heat
  • Cleaning out the ash is not so convenient once finished
Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker, Deluxe, Silver

Overall Rating:

4.4/5

Product Specifications:

      • Dimensions: 2.5 x 5.4 x 14.6 inches
      • Weight: 2 pounds

This digital electric smoker offers a portable design and is easy to use.  Get a great smoked flavor without all the hassle of charcoal preparation.

A cooking area of 725 sq. inches and a heating element of 800 Watts, make it is a smoker worth considering.   With a low price point and ease of use, it is one of the best meat smokers for beginners.

However, don’t think that this nifty unit doesn’t deliver.  If you are an outdoor cooking, grilling, or smoking enthusiast this top meat smoker gives terrific results.

The Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker comes with wheels which sets it apart from other smokers that are not portable.

Its grate can be adjusted to 4 height options and the viewing window allows you to see the food without compromising airflow. 

Stainless steel construction and a double-wall build allow it to easily maintain temperatures.  In fact, with its removable and washable meat probe, you get perfect results every time.

Using the meat probe, the smoker will tell you when your meat has been cooked to your programmed internal temperature.

The Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker will keep your meat warm after cooking until you are ready to serve.

This smoker is up to 10 times more efficient than other electric smokers.  Therefore, fill the 4-cup capacity wood chip box and produce up to 7 hours of smoking.

If you love camping and looking for the best meat smokers for beginners, this is a great option.

Pros Cons
  • Warming feature
  • In-built grease tray 
  • Durable and rust-resistant stainless steel construction
  • Insulated, double-wall construction.
  • 750 Watts of power
  • Advanced control panel with easy-read, blue LED display
  • Removable meat thermometer
  • Glassdoor for easy viewing
  • Large, stainless steel locking latch for smoke-tight seal
  • The remote control can be inconsistent
  • Digital display may not show accurate temperature
Traeger Grills Bronson 20 Pellet Grill - Black (10526)

Overall Rating:

3.8/5

Product Specifications:

      • Dimensions: 22 x 35 x 38 inches
      • Weight: 77 pounds

A multipurpose unit, that can smoke, grill, bake, roast and braise.  Cook low and slow or hot and fast with this versatile unit.

Impressive design with its horizontal barrel-rolled top and attached drip bucket.

Giving a generous 300 sq. inches of cooking space it is not as heavy as other smokers with similar capacity. 

Light in weight and with 2 wheels you get the ultimate in portability.

With a 6-in-1 wood-pellet grill, get amazing wood-fired flavor without having to buy gas or charcoal separately. 

Its large cooking capacity can smoke meat for any crowd and is great for a big family or large gatherings.

Cook 12 burgers, 18 hot dogs, 4 chickens, or 3 racks of ribs.

Temperature control is precise and easy with its digital elite controller.  In fact, keep the internal temperature at +/- 20 degrees F for perfect results every time.

A portable meat smoker that comes with all-terrain wheels and a sawhorse chassis. It is terrific for camping trips and picnics. 

Moreover, if you love cooking on a patio or balcony this is perfect to use.  With no open flame, this compact unit is safe for small spaces. 

Pros Cons
  • Suitable for all terrain 
  • Perfect size for balcony, apartment or patio
  • Feeds a medium-sized crowd
  • Versatile BBQ cooker
  • Precise digital temperature control
  • Fuelled by 100% pure hardwood pellets
  • Stabilized construction design
  • Auto-start electronic ignition
  • Take care with the wheels over rocks 
  • Thinner construction may allow heat to escape

Buying A Meat Smoker Guide

Choosing the right meat smoker can be a tedious task, so before you start know what to look for.

The type of smoker you buy will depend on budget, space, fuel availability, capacity, type of food you want to cook and most importantly, the type of smoker.

1. The Type of Meat Smoker

There are different kinds of smokers based on their fuel type and each has its pros and cons. 

Charcoal Smokers

Charcoal smokers are ideal for those who want to properly infuse the smoke flavor into meat. They also require you to learn how to manage the briquettes or charcoal, airflow, timing and wood choices.

It also happens to be the cheapest fuel source for smokers. However, they are only suitable for those who have open-air lawns or backyards.  They are not allowed for use on apartment balconies.

Gas Smokers

These use natural gas or propane as their fuel source.  Gas smokers are simple to use and are also a quick way of smoking meat.  Maintenance and cleaning are not easy however, they often don’t produce a truly smokey flavor.

Pellet Smokers

Pellets are made from hardwood, sawdust or other materials. They are easily loaded into the feeder of a pellet smoker and are added till the desired temperature and smoke is reached.

A digital controller allows you to maintain a steady temperature for even cooking.

Electric Smokers

As the name suggests they are powered by electricity which makes them the easiest to use.  All you need do is place your food inside, set the temperature and timer and let the process begin.

Their setup is simple and they are ideal for places where charcoal or gas smokers are not allowed.

Kamado Smokers

These are ceramic smokers.  An all-in-one unit that allows you to grill, smoke, bake and roast.  Kamado smokers make very tender meats because of their low oxygen, fitted space and high moisture.

They are perfect meat smokers for beginners wanting all of the perks of smoking and grilling units. 

2. Build Quality 

Thin materials simply mean the smoker is not durable and temperatures may vary.  For the meat smoker to properly insulate heat, construction material needs to be sturdy and well-coated.

If the material is too thin, then it also results in decreased efficiency as chances of leakages are high. 

3. Capacity 

The size and capacity of smokers should be carefully considered as you can later regret it.  Whether you want to serve at large gatherings or just for your own family is something you need to consider. The frequency of smoking should also be taken into consideration.

FAQS

  • Is smoking a better option than grilling?

The main difference between the two is time. Smoking requires greater time with a consistent temperature, whereas grilling is quicker and easier. Smoking results in more tender and flavorful meat

  • Are there any drawbacks of smoking food?

Smoking food is time-consuming and requires more attention. Keeping food moist may be difficult, and one has to be careful about not contaminating meat flavor. 

Conclusion

Hopefully you now have a fair idea of what to look for in meat smokers for beginners.

By matching your capacity, fuel type, budget and build quality with the available options, you can find the right one for you.

This article compares the 5 best meat smokers for beginners on the market.  However, most of these will serve you for many years as you journey from relative beginner to smokey BBQ expert!

If you enjoyed this article feel free to leave your comments below with any feedback.  We love hearing from our readers!

Find more kitchen and preserving tips on the links below relating to meat smoking techniques and tips.

Top Meat Smokers Forums For Great BBQ Taste At Home

5 Best Electric Food Smokers For Value And Taste

Can Smoked Meat Be Bad For You? Our Expert Results