What’s the Best Smoker for Beginners? [2021 Buying Guide]

The process of smoking meat involves cooking meat slowly on low heat, sometimes as long as 24 hours. The temperature is around 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

With indirect heat and smoke, the meat becomes juicy and tender. Wood chunks or chips generate smoke, which allows the meat to absorb the flavor for more flavorful meat than grilling or roasting.

When looking for a smoker, you ought to pay close attention to the smoker type, as well as the product highlights. This article explores the various kinds of smokers. It also mentions some of the best beginner smokers under $500 around the market at the moment. 

We consider ourselves to be experts in helping you get the most out of your money through purchasing one of the best beginner vaporizers and working closely with them, even if you are just setting out.

Here are some of the best smokers for beginners that you can look at its Product Highlights to determine the best model that matches your needs. Also provided below are what the customers thought of these smoking machines.

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1. Smokey Mountain 18-Inch Charcoal Cooker Smoker from Weber – Best charcoal smoker for beginners

Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black

Recommended as a starter smoker, this smoker is an excellent value due to the value it provides for your money. Its build quality is better than regular smokers in the market, and it comes in three (3) sizes ranging from 14 to 22 inches.

Our recommendation is to purchase the 18-inch size variation because the 18-inch model seems to maintain its temperature better when cooking. The larger size will provide a higher temperature for the cooking process. This size may feed a group of up to eight (8) people.

While its construction is slim, you will still be provided with a large cooking area since it utilizes two racks. This best smoker grill for beginners offers double the cooking area.

Product Highlights:

  • Rust-resistant construction – This product utilizes an aluminum sheet that is heat and rust-resistant. This makes the product robust and can last for an extended period.
  • Heat-resistant handle – You can easily lift the lid using the heat-resistant handle. This allows you to check on the food quickly you are cooking without the fuss of getting mittens.
  • Porcelain-enameled steel – Made from high-quality materials, you can surely get the most out of your money.
  • Built-in thermometer – This equipment has a built-in temperature gauge. You no longer need to purchase an additional tool just to check the heat temperature.
  • Temperature control – The smoker has vents on both the lid and bowl. With this, you can easily control the temperature by opening or closing these vents.

What we liked:

  • Keeps your meat and vegetables moist due to the water pan
  • Easy to control the temperature, which provides even cooking
  • It offers versatility as it has several functions that other cookers do not have
  • Inexpensive compared with specialized smokers
  • Robust and can last a long period with a 10-year warranty

What Could Be Improved:

  • Hard to follow instructional guide for set-up and cooking process
  • May quickly get dents if not handled properly

2. Pit Barrel Classic Cooker from Pit Barrel Cooker Co. – Best charcoal alternative to the Weber Smokey Mountain

18-1/2 in. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package

Pit Barrel Cooker Co. offers this smoker in place of Weber Smoker because it is cheaper and provides the same features, making it a great alternative. You don’t have any shortcomings with this smoker, which may lead you to believe something you didn’t try before.

It works just like a smoker grill using hooks to hang the food inside the drum instead of racks. This allows you to cook even the most enormous meat because the drum becomes your cooking space. Fact is, you can fit up to eight (8) rib racks in this cooker.

Hanging your meat allows for even heat distribution. There are no direct contact areas between the meat and heat as it is not lying on a grate.

 

Product Highlights:

  • Hooks made from Stainless steel – This product includes heavy-duty hooks made from stainless steel. You can easily hang your meats for searing and grilling.
  • Coal basket – This component allows you to contain the appropriate amount of charcoal required for the cooking process. It is a great way to hold the coal securely while still not in use.
  • Grill Grate – If you are used to utilizing grill grates when smoking frets, no more. There are still grill grates available in this equipment. Aside from the hooks, you can also lay your food in the grates during the cooking process.

What we liked:

  • Provides easy cooking process as you can just set it up and leave it
  • Offers portability due to its lightweight construction
  • Easy to assemble for quick-cooking set-up
  • Maintains low and consistent temperature
  • Easy to control the temperature with the use of vents at the bottom of the smoker

What Could Be Improved:

  • It does not have a built-in thermometer which may require you to purchase one
  • May not perform well in terms of cooking capability

3. Liquid Propane Vertical Gas Smoker from Char-Broil – A budget gas smoker for bargain hunters

Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker

Compared to established brands like Weber, this vertical smoker from Char-Broil is generally much less expensive. It is considered that the best gas/propane smoker for beginners. If you are looking for a smoker with outstanding functionalities, this would be ideal for you.

This smoker offers a generous cooking space of 595 square inches. It is comparable to the 18-inch smoker from Smokey Mountain, so you can cook for many people without worrying about the smoking time. You can cook large portions of food simultaneously.

A significant drawback of the best propane/gas smoker for beginners is that it is pretty heavy. It cannot be carried during camping trips or traveling. This is a prevalent problem in this equipment.

This equipment is of high quality, made from good quality steel, with excellent insulation, with a thermometer that you will probably have to set up correctly to get it to work correctly.

 

Product Highlights:

  • Water tray – This equipment has a water tray that aids in keeping the moisture of the food. The water will evaporate due to the heat. The water vapor shall moisten the food throughout the cooking process.
  • Wood pan – In the middle of the water tray, there is a space where you can put the wood chunks or chips. This provides a smoky and deep flavor to the food inside.
  • Ample cooking space – You can cook vast portions of food at the same time. With the 595 sq. inch cooking space, you can utilize this smoker for large gatherings.
  • Chrome-plated grates – The grates are chrome plated, which makes them great for high temperatures. It is also preferable for slow-cooking as it can withstand the heat for an extended period. This truly makes it one of the best propane/gas smokers for beginners.
  • Gas feature – The fuel used in this smoker is gas. This feature allows the equipment to provide consistent heat throughout the smoking experience.

What we liked:

  • Keeps the food moist due to the porcelain water pan and wood chip tray
  • Allows you to warm the food through the use of the warming rack found on top
  • Provides good cook and flavor to your favorite food
  • Easy to learn functionalities which makes it great for beginners
  • Accommodates significant meat cuts and cooks them evenly

What Could Be Improved:

  • Utilizes small wood chip tray and water pan
  • It May does not last for an extended period if not handled properly
  • Encounters sealing issues on the door

4. Kamado Ceramic Grill from Pit Boss – Best Kamado Grill for beginners

Pit Boss 71220 Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22

Compared to other smokers, this model by PitBoss is at a higher price point. If you’re in the market for a smokehouse starter kit for under $500, this product doesn’t qualify.

Made from ceramic, this grill from Pit Boss is cheaper than other Kamado grills made from more expensive steel grills. However, it still provides the highest heat retention. That’s what makes it easy and efficient to cook food.

Ceramic materials help keep your fuel-efficient. However, charcoal is still more efficient than other fuel sources. Hence, it is considered to be one of the best smokehouses for beginners.

The quality of this Kamado Smoker is generally reasonable. It maintains a sturdy ceramic finish that is both durable and aesthetically-pleasing. It provides some Product Highlights that not every other smoker manufacturer can provide.

 

Product Highlights:

  • Stainless steel hinges and bolts – The smoker is constructed with stainless steel hinges and bolts. This means that it will not rust, especially on its weak points. It will last for an extended period even after multiple uses.
  • Bamboo shelves – It Product Highlights two bamboo shelves that are strategically placed on its sides. This aids the person cooking when keeping the tools, accessories, and ingredients in place for easy access. They also fold down for portability and ease in movement.
  • Stainless steel grates – The grates are made from stainless steel, which is easy to clean and rust-resistant. It also provides a considerable cooking space of 567 sq. inches. Moreover, you get two levels for cooking multiple dishes simultaneously.
  • Cast-iron top damper – The dampers allow you to control the airflow. With this, you can regulate the temperature accordingly.

What we liked:

  • Easy to clean as it is equipped with an ash-removal cover and tool
  • Offers ability to include charcoal without removal of grates
  • Provides good heat retention and easy regulation
  • A versatile product that can be used with different cooking techniques
  • Portable as it is lightweight and compact compared with other smoker models

What Could Be Improved:

  • It takes a long period of time to install tables on the sides
  • Has several quality issues in terms of fittings

5. Digital Electric 30-inch Smoker from Masterbuilt – Best affordable electric smoker

Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker, Top Controller

This Masterbuilt Digital Smoker is one of the best newbie smokers for new users and beginners. For starters, it has a built-in thermometer that makes it easy to monitor and maintain the temperature. Plus, you can adjust the temperature using the digital scale, eliminating the hassle of traditional charcoal and pellets.

There are several inexpensive smokers on the market that don’t compare well to Masterbuilt products. This particular smoker has good insulation that works well even in cold weather.

This product is excellent value for money as it offers an ample cooking space of up to 730 square inches. You can use it with various wood chips such as cherry, apple, pecan, and hickory. This way, you get delicious, aromatic, and evenly prepared dishes.

It might not be as potent as highly skilled smokers, but it can work well. It is one of the best electric smokers for beginners. We encourage you to try this product if you are looking for an inexpensive alternative that still offers the essential smoking characteristics.

Product Highlights:

  • Control Panel with RF Remote – This product is equipped with a control panel and an RF remote. You can utilize these to set the temperature and cooking time. After configuring these, you can just lounge around and wait for your food to cook.
  • Large cooking capacity – This product can fit up to 12 chickens or four rib racks. You can surely cook for everyone at your party.
  • Chrome-coated racks – The smoking racks are chrome coated which makes them ideal for high-temperature cooking. You get four pieces when you buy this equipment. With this, you can cook multiple lumps of meat and vegetables at the same time.
  • Wood chip or chunk loading system – This patented design allows you to load wood chips on your smoker without the need to open the door. This will help you maintain the temperature as no heat or smoker may escape.

What we liked:

  • Easy to control the temperature using the digital panel and integrated thermostat
  • Provides good cook and flavor to your food
  • It offers less hassle when setting up compared with propane and charcoal smokers
  • Allows you to cook a tremendous amount of food simultaneously
  • Has consistent smoking capability for an even cook and flavorful food

What Could Be Improved:

  • Irreparable should the internal thermostat fire off
  • Drip pan warps after some time

6. Junior Elite from Traeger – Best pellet smoker for beginners

Traeger TFB29LZA Grills Junior Elite Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker - Grill, Smoke, Bake, Roast, Braise, and BBQ (Bronze)

In general, the best novice pellet smokers are more expensive than other types of smokers. However, it is the most convenient and easy-to-use smoker as it does not need to be monitored every now and then. All you have to do is set it up and forget about it.

This Traeger product gives you the benefits of a pellet smoker at a lower price. It has an area of ​​300 square meters. Inches of cooking space are sufficient for a medium sized group. If you’re cooking for a large gathering, consider a more spacious one.

It may have less space than other competing models. It is characterized by excellent portability. Weighing just 60 pounds, it’s easy to take with you camping and hatchbacks.

It really is one of the best newbie smokers for new users and newbies. It is easy to set up and take away, especially during culinary activities and gatherings. It offers a range of flagship products at a lower price.

 

Product Highlights:

  • Temperature Control – Equipped with a thermostat, you can easily control its temperature to a correct setting. In this way, you are assured that your food is cooked well and evenly.
  • Heavy-duty construction – Considered as one of the best pellet smokers for beginners, its construction is made from heavy-duty and excellent quality steel. With this, you can get away with a lot of wear as well as tear.
  • Electronic Ignition – You no longer need fire starters or charcoal chimneys to start running your smoker. With just a flip of the switch, you are good to go with your smoking and cooking activities.
  • Porcelain grates – The grill grates are made from porcelain that is non-stick. It is easy to clean even with saucy meat or juicy patties. With this, you can easily clean it, saving you time for other activities you want to pursue.

What we liked:

  • Easy-to-monitor temperature due to the digital controller and LED display
  • Provides excellent wood-fired flavor similar to what charcoal and gas produces
  • Offers consistent results as you can just set it up and wait for the food to cook
  • Ideal for camping and home use as it is heavy-duty and portable
  • Versatile as it can perform different cooking processes such as smoking, baking, grilling, roasting and braising

What Could Be Improved:

  • Unstable legs which may cause accidental spills and challenging cooking experience
  • Hard to find smoker pellets compared with charcoal

7. 2-Door Propane Gas 44-Inch Smoker from Smoke Hollow – Best gas smoker for beginners

Smoke Hollow 44241GW 44-Inch 2-Door Propane Gas Smoker with Window

Manufacturer Smoke Hollow has been offering affordable electric, offset and gas smokers for over a decade. This means that the products they make are of good quality and last a long time.

This product offers reasonable temperature control. This allows you to easily maintain the temperature at a stable setting which is essential for even cooking. If you are a beginner, it is essential to learn the basics of temperature control while smoking.

The construction has a window which is not absolutely necessary. Even so, it’s a great way to check the appearance and readiness of the meat. You can do this without opening the smoker’s door.

If one is considered the main problem, most consumers believe that the gas regulator, if not correctly connected to the tank, can cause problems. It can also make the flame go out quickly. Therefore, it is essential to assemble the equipment correctly.

Product Highlights:

  • Large cooking capacity – With 6.5 cu. feet of space for cooking, it can cook a massive amount of food for gathering. With its multiple racks, you can cook different meats and vegetables simultaneously.
  • Multiple cooking grids – This product is equipped with two uneven grinds, one sausage hanger, one rib rack and four standard cooking grinds.
  • Dual door – Made with high quality tempered glass, its viewing window allows you to see how your food is cooking. The door is a handy way to place and remove food easily.
  • Burners – The burners utilized by this product are made from stainless steel. It can be operated independently to optimize the performance of the smoker. You can also control the temperature to maintain the heat during the smoking process.

What we liked:

  • Has a large construction which is preferable when cooking for a large group
  • Easy to assemble and no issues encountered during the process
  • Provides easy temperature control management
  • Has a drip pan which makes it easy to clean
  • Lasts for an extended period of time due to robust construction

What Could Be Improved:

  • Has a tendency to get scratches
  • Better suited for wood chips instead of chunks

It is essential to look for smokers who are equipped with basic features like the ability to smoke, temperature control, and adequate cooking capacity. The information provided above will help you choose the one that best meets your smoking needs. Be sure to read the manual and the manufacturer’s instructions to get the best possible use from your smoker.

Grilling and Smoking Difference

Grilling requires high temperatures for a shorter time. Their temperature can reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This can include the use of wood smoke if necessary, for the smoking activity.

There are some grills that use a cover dome. This should be closed during the cooking process to allow better cooking of the food. In addition, it keeps the temperature constant and controlled.

On the other hand, smoking takes advantage of low heat temperatures of between 225- and 275-degrees Fahrenheit. It involves a slow cooking process. Wood smoke is also used to add flavor to foods.

Most smokers are equipped with a temperature gauge and a water pan. With the temperature display, the user can better control the temperature. The water pan, on the other hand, maintains the humidity of the food during the smoking process. If you are still a beginner, it is recommended that you find the best beginner smoker.

Process of Smoking

Slow cooking under low temperatures is the core process involved in smoking. It might be easy to imagine, but this old-fashioned way of cooking is hard to master. This is important for buying the best newbie smoker.

Smoking begins with the collection of fuels such as gas, charcoal, electricity, or wood pellets. Food becomes tastier when you add wood chunks or chips to the heat source. This creates the smoke that envelops the meat in the appliance and gives it a unique taste.

In order to maintain a consistently low temperature, you need to control the amount of oxygen in the smoker. This way you can achieve gentle heat for slow cooking with the best beginner smoker.

Barbecue Tools and Accessories

In addition to the smoking equipment used, you will need tools and accessories to help you with your cooking activity. If you are just a beginner, it is essential to equip yourself with the proper tools. Here are some tools and accessories that you can put together with one of the best newbie smokers.

Thermometer

The best electric smoker for beginners comes with a built-in thermometer or temperature gauges. However, if your smoker does not have this feature, it is recommended that you get one.

This tool allows you to monitor the temperature of the meat to be cooked constantly. This option allows you to easily adjust it whether it is higher or lower than the desired temperature. You can buy a wireless dual probe thermometer, which is a popular choice with smokers these days.

Natural charcoal

Most smokers use charcoal to achieve this smoky taste. If you smoke charcoal, natural charcoal is an excellent fuel to start. Besides imparting great taste and aroma, it creates better smoke with chips or pieces of wood.

Knife

This accessory is a must have for smoking. You can use knives to cut your meat to the size and portion you want.

Gloves And Claws

If you are a fan of pulled meat, gloves and claws are your best friend. You can easily handle hot food without having to burn your hands with the gloves on. On the other hand, the claws are an excellent tool for pulling meat with ease.

We encourage you to consult your local smokehouse and tool store for these accessories that can help you with your cooking activities. It will make your smoking experience faster and better with the best newbie smoker.

Types of Smokers

Types of Smokers

There are a number of smokers in the market. Each type has a number of flagship products that you can see when shopping. In doing so, it is essential to determine which is the best beginner smoker that fits your needs.

The most common, but not the easiest to use, is a charcoal smoker. It is usually stressful to install, use and clean this type of smoker. Even so, it offers the most aromatic meat with an authentic smoky flavor that is simmered at a low temperature. It works better than propane or electric smokers.

Below are the common types of smokers on the market. You need to consider the strengths, tastes, and drawbacks of the product before you decide.

Charcoal Smokers

The fuel used in this smoker is charcoal. Among other types of smokers, it offers a classic smoke flavor with a ring of smoke. It has been around for years and is used around the world.

Charcoal smokers use wood chips or pieces of wood to add extra flavor to their meat. It is available in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Charcoal is known to be good fuel for the smoking process. Even so, it requires close supervision and attention compared to electric or propane smokers.

You can get great results using charcoal smokers. However, you have to prepare with a lot of effort in preparation, cooking, and cleaning.

What we liked:

  • Good tasting barbecue with a smoky flavor
  • Cheaper compared with more advanced smoker types
  • Versatile as it can be used on a variety of meats and vegetables
  • Can be used with tools and accessories that can aid in the smoking process

What Could Be Improved:

  • Hard to maintain temperature as charcoal needs more work to start and control
  • Difficult and potentially dangerous to clean up if the ashes are not cool enough
  • Some places may not allow you to use a charcoal grill because of the mess it can create

Gas/Propane Smokers

The most practical and user-friendly are gas or propane smokers. They are good value for money. This type of smoker is an excellent choice for beginners or novices. All you have to do is set it up and let it take its course

Its construction is similar to that of metal boxes. It has a number of legs that allow it to stand up well. In addition, it looks like the design of a safe or locker.

Gas smokers use a simple design that provides ample cooking space. It is easy to use and includes a lower burner and a shelf for your selected pieces of wood or chips

.What we liked:

  • Inexpensive compared with other smoker types
  • Provides good quality despite being at a low price point.
  • Offers a sturdy and good build
  • Generally, has a considerable cooking space which increases along with its price
  • Needs less time to set up and you can leave it while waiting for the food to cook
  • A great option for outdoor cooking with less space
  • Easy to maintain temperature and requires less labor in setting up and usage
  • Simple cleaning process as the soot in propane burners are easier to get off

What Could Be Improved:

  • Does not provide a heavy smoky taste to your food compared with a charcoal smoker
  • No insulation and low build quality for some gas or propane smoker models
  • Has potential to leak heat and smoke which produces uneven cooking
  • May require frequent refills on gas at it runs out quickly
  • Provides small foot print which can hamper you in cooking large meat sizes.

Pellet Smoker

This type of smoker is known to use wood pellets, which are small but high in energy. They use a generally integrated digital controller that allows the user to monitor the internal temperature.

The temperature display assists in the automatic feeding of pellets to your fire protection port. This will keep the smoker at the specified temperature. For this reason, pellet smokers have been one of the most popular types of smokers.

The best pellet smokers for beginners have a classic smoky wood flavor. You can enjoy these benefits without spending too much time maintaining a grill. This makes him known to be a great type of smoker for new users and beginners. It requires little to no experience but offers a good cook for your favorite dishes.

What we liked:

  • Versatile smoker which you can use for smoking, barbecue, braising, baking and roasting
  • Has an extensive temperature range which aids in even and fast cooking
  • Easy to preheat which takes for at least 10 minutes
  • Delivers consistent flavor throughout the meat
  • Allows precise temperature setting for unforgiving meat selections
  • Do not need complex setting up techniques as you can just leave it while it is doing its job
  • Can accommodate different pellet flavors for various food requirements

What Could Be Improved:

  • Dependent on the source of electricity which makes it hard to bring along on trips
  • Generally more expensive than other smokers due to its premium Product Highlights
  • Does not offer a grilling functionality in small pellet smokers
  • Requires proper handling on pellets as moist ones are susceptible to disintegrating

Electric Smoker

This type of smoker is now a new breed in the family of smoking devices. It is supposed to make it easy for more people to get started. Unlike traditional electric smokers and grills, no flame is used.

Most of the best beginner electric smokers work by regulating electric WiFi through a component or heating element. Flames and airflow are not used as a heat source. This makes them more controllable which makes it very ideal for beginners.

What we liked:

  • Needs a simple set-up and you can leave it running until the food thoroughly cooks
  • Provides no mess compared with wood pellets and charcoal
  • Has the ability to smoke any type of food such as fish, pork and beef
  • Great alternative to charcoal especially on areas where the latter is prohibited

What Could Be Improved:

  • Can only reach a certain amount of temperature which can be an issue on some food that requires high heat
  • Needs a source of power or outlet which makes it less portable
  • Does not provide a pink smoke ring on the meat

Kamado Smokers

This type of smoker is based on traditional Indian and Chinese cookers and is oval or oval in shape. They are known to be versatile in that they can smoke, grill, bake, and roast any type of food.

The best kamado smoker for beginners is usually ceramic and is made of materials with excellent insulation. It can efficiently radiate and store heat and therefore is ideal for any kitchen activity. This type is also ideal for outdoor cooking as it is lightweight and portable.

What we liked:

  • Made with high quality build using robust materials like ceramic and steel,
  • Offers excellent conduction of heat as the heat radiates evenly making it easy to regulate and maintain the temperature
  • Provides good tasting food which resembles the quality with that of an oven
  • A versatile product that can be used along with accessories for ease in cooking

What Could Be Improved:

  • Takes a long period of time to heat up as the side walls retain heat effectively
  • Made from ceramic which is known to be a brittle material
  • Needs several accessories which can be costly compared to other ready to use smokers

Smoker Grills

There are grills that double as smokers. The Best Smoker Grill for Beginners is an excellent alternative for people who already own a grill and don’t want to buy a separate smoker. With minor changes, you will be able to use your grill as a smoker in no time.

What we liked:

  • Versatile product as you can use the grill as a griller and smoker
  • Provides the same BBQ taste especially on charcoal grill
  • Inexpensive as it may require little to no money at all to get a smoker

What Could Be Improved:

  • Requires work and several modifications to utilize a grill as a smoker
  • May not work as good as off-the-shelf smokers in the market
Best Smoker for Beginners

These are the common types of smokers available in the market today. It’s important to note their differences to determine which one may meet your needs. We encourage you to consider the pros and cons in order to weigh the options before making a purchase decision properly.

There are a number of steps involved in smoking food. As a first-time smoker, you don’t have to be afraid to try new things and explore with different tools and accessories. It will make your smoking experience better and easier.

You can start with cheap pork or cuts of meat considered ruthless. This can be an excellent place to start learning how to manage your temperature and take a look at other smokers’ top products.

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