Grills are the most popular and fun way to cook meat, burgers, and sausages outdoors. Even in our changing times when people don’t have time to dedicate to an activity, everyone loves to spend a sunny day grilling their favorite food. Summers are defined through barbecue parties and a gathering of friends, family, and social acquaintances.
The grill used to be a complete outdoor cooking tool because of all the heat and smoke it created. Some people tried to bring it indoors with smokeless grills. However, these grills didn’t catch on because the flavor just wasn’t there and they still generate some smoke and smell which took a whole day to get rid of. Smoker grills are making a strong comeback now because of how good the food tastes and smells.
In this blog, we cover some of the best features of smoker grills and present the top 5 smoker grills you can find on Amazon for less than 0.
How Smokers Work
Smokers are specialized outdoor grills that work by generating a lot of heat and smoke inside a closed container. The controlled high temperature cooks food while adding a lot of smoky flavors to give it a rich barbecue taste.
The smoker works by creating a controlled smoky environment for cooking food. It can take a variety of fuel but charcoal and wood chips are preferred because these fuels create more smoke. Some manufacturers have even come up with electric smokers where you need to keep a few pieces of charcoal on the heating element that creates the heat and smoke to cook food. They are easy to clean and operate but suffer due to lack of taste.
Smokers come in a variety of sizes. Some smokers are very large and have multiple racks built inside them that can cook food for dozens of people in a single go. Others are smaller but still allow you to cook for 4 – 8 people with ease.
One of the features that smokers lack is that you cannot grill food on them unless the smoker is designed to offer that facility. If grilling is one of your main priorities then you can buy a grill with a cover lid to offer the smoking function. But if your priority is to get the thick charcoal flavor in your cooked meat, then a smoker is the better option for you.
Things to Consider When Buying a Smoker
Smokers can be a good option for barbecuing and smoking food. If you are looking to buy a smoker, you must consider these four factors before picking a smoker.
Size of The Group: The first thing you should consider is the number of people that you will generally be cooking for. If you will be making food for 2 -4 people, a small smoker will be enough for your needs. A smoker with roughly 200sq inches, or smaller, can cook for 4 people easily while a smoker with 700sq inches is considered large enough to cook for dozens of guests.
Ease of Cooking: Modern smokers are designed to be easy. Most of them come with push-button ignition start and coated for ease in cleaning. When buying a smoker, be sure to consider how much time you can dedicate to cleaning and maintaining the smoker, before and after use.
Flavor and Taste: Food, especially meat that is cooked in a lot of smoke is tastier and full of flavor than unsmoked meat. In order to achieve perfection, the smoker must be shut completely and allowed to build enough smoke that fills up the layers inside the meat.
Portability: The bigger and heavier your smoker, the more difficult it is to move around. This may not be an issue if you will be doing most of your barbecues at home. But if you will be having barbecues on a picnic or at the beach then the size and weight of the smoker should be taken into consideration.
The 5 Best Outdoor Smokers in the Market
We have looked at some of the best smokers available on the Amazon store and selected the top 5 smokers based on features, price and user ratings.
Weber Smokey Mountain
Weber is a popular brand when it comes to grills and cookers. The brand has been around for decades and they’ve built some really amazing products over the years.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is marketed in three different models. The three models come in 14.5 inches, 18.5 inches and 22.5 inches of cooking area. This gives the models cooking areas of 286sq inches, 481sq inches, and 726sq inches. The biggest model can easily cook 50+ burgers in a single go, making it ideal for big parties.
The three models have the following components.
- Main cooking chamber
- Heavy gauge steel charcoal grate
- Steel plated cooking grates
- Porcelain-enameled lid, bowl, center section, and water pan
- Temperature grommet made from silicone
- Built-in temperature monitoring lid
- Aluminum rust-resistant fuel door
- Aluminum rust-resistant heat shield
- Rust-resistant steel legs
The build quality and design on the models is quite good. The main material is a porcelain enameled steel that makes the smoker sturdy and rust-resistant. The cooking grates are coated with nickel to give them extra strength and damage resistance. The cover lid at the top has a heat-resistant nylon handle that makes it very easy to operate the smoker.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is an excellent choice for people who are new to grilling and looking for a low-cost option. Experienced user with a grill will also find it useful if they are looking for a specialty smoker for their barbecuing needs. The smoker can be purchased for less than $500 on online stores.
Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical
Cuisinart has made a good place in the market with their low-cost high-value grills and cookers in the market. The Cuisinart COS-118 is a nice addition to their smokers ranges in the market.
You will be impressed with the design of the smoker. It has a vertical barrel-shaped design and built with a sturdy steel-plated body that feels quite smooth and sleek to the touch. The first thing you will notice is the size. The smoker is about 25 inches high and offers a cooking space of just over 500sq inches.
The smoking area is made of two tiers of steel wire racks and offers plenty of space for smoking meats, fish, burgers, sausages, and even a whole chicken.
The smoker comes with a non-stick, fine mesh mat that prevents meats and fish from sticking to the grills. The model also includes aluminum dip trays and recyclable pans for catching drips and create extra greasy flavor.
The only main downside is that there is no temperature monitoring lid. Some customers have also complained that the fuel compartment builds up ash and the vents get clogged sometimes. Nonetheless, the model has mostly positive reviews on Amazon and other online stores.
Masterbuilt 20051311 Propane Smoker
Masterbuilt offers a good range of reliable outdoor smokers. We looked at two of their most popular smokers on the market, the electric model 20071117 Digital Smoker and the propane-based 20051311 GS30D. While the electric model is quite good and easy to use, we went with the propane model as it can fulfill the needs of expert users and offers better cooking options.
The first thing you will notice about this smoker is the size and weight. The 20051311 weighs about 70 pounds, showing it is a sturdy smoker built with good quality steel frame.
It has a rectangular vertical frame and comes with 4 cooking racks that offer 717sq inches of cooking space. The large cooking space makes this model one of the bigger sized smokers in the market. The smoke is lighted at the bottom and goes up through the racks to infuse the meat with barbecue flavors.
The model has 2 doors, one for the cooking area and a separate door at the bottom that opens into the fuel pit. The separate doors ensure that heat and smoke doesn’t escape from the pit while you attend to the meat.
It has an easy push-button igniter start that is convenient and can be used even by beginners. All you need to do is connect your propane tank to the smoker and fill the dish at the bottom with wood chips or charcoal, based on your preference. Propane is the main fuel for the smoker that helps light up the charcoal or wood chips that create the smoke for flavor.
The model which costs less than $500 can be purchased online through the Amazon store. It is a fine addition for any barbecue lover.
Camp Chef Smoke Vault
This smoker is great for people who are on a budget and want something simple but reliable. The Camp Chef is a propane powered smoker that will have you cooking like a pro and make great tasting barbecues with very little effort.
This smoker is available in 18-inch and 24-inch models with the larger model offering more cooking space. The 18-inch model offers a cooking area of just over 210sq inches which should be enough to prepare food for 4 – 8 people.
The best thing about the model is that it is very easy to operate with its matchless, push-button ignition system. It comes with adjustable dampers that allow you to control the temperature between 160 degrees and 400 degrees. When the smoker is completely shut, it can maintain the temperature at the required level without any need for additional adjustments.
The model weighs just over 60 pounds and you can carry it on your camping trip or to a beach party with ease. Being made with heavy-duty steel, it can stand the elements easily. However, the model lacks insulation and cooking can be affected if you are using the smoker at a low temperature.
It includes a wooden chip tray at the bottom and a water tray that can hold around 2 quarts of water. The wood chip tray is also made of good quality steel that should work for 5 years at the very least.
The model has positive ratings at online stores and costs around $200.
Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill
Pit boss is quite popular among new users for barbecuing and grilling. The company targets customers who hold barbecues once or twice each summer and want a low-cost grill that is easy to operate, even if it doesn’t offer a lot of features. The 700FB pellet grill is a nice option that is easy to operate but doesn’t compromise on cooking flavor.
The 700FB is one of the most versatile smokers on our list. It would be difficult to call it a smoker as it offers a lot of grilling options that you won’t get with regular smokers. It has a horizontal, drum-shaped build and offers a large cooking area that is around 700sq inches. The 700FB is big enough to prepare food for dozens of people very quickly.
The cooking grid is made of iron with porcelain coating for a nice flavoring for your food. The smoker weighs over 75 lbs but it has a set of wheels on one side, making it easier to move around. It has a huge cover-lid at the top that can be used to completely shut the grill area and cook your food with smoke.
Wood pellets are the recommended fuel for this smoker. It is not recommended for use with charcoal, gas, or propane. The smoker can generate temperatures around 170 degrees to 600 degrees. It has an easy electric ignition start and a fan-forced air accelerator.
It offers versatility as you can simply open the lid and use the model for grilling, cooking breakfast or dinner or sautéing vegetables. You can even use it for baking cakes, cookies, and any other items that you normally bake in your oven.