If you’re looking to wow your mates with some melt-in-the-mouth smoked meat, but don’t have the room for a full-on smokehouse in your back yard, a charcoal smoker is the ideal solution. Inexpensive, simple and efficient to run, smoking with charcoal creates a strong, but not overwhelming, smoky flavor that’s hard to beat.
But, not every charcoal grill is also suitable for smoking. If you’re looking for a unit that’ll give you two cooking methods for the price of one, you’ve come to the right place. Here we’ve reviewed the best charcoal smokers for 2020. All of these models are tried and tested companions that won’t let you down. So, take your pick, get your hands on some charcoal and prepare for a feast.
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Best Offset Charcoal Smoker:
Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse
When it comes to finding the best offset charcoal smoker for your backyard, you simply can’t go past the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker. This barbecue wins this category for us because it offers such a great mix of quality, size and affordability. But, it also comes with a baffle plate and two smoke stack positions so you can set it up as a regular, or a reverse flow offset smoker for more even temperature and smoke distribution.
Made from high-heat tolerant painted steel, the Highland Reverse offers 619 square inches of cooking space. That’s more than enough to cook a whole brisket and pork butt in one go, but it’s not so big that you’re wasting fuel heating too large a space.
With a large, easy to clean offset firebox, simply build your charcoal fire and add some wood for delicious smoked meats. Or, add the charcoal to the bottom of the cooking chamber for direct charcoal grilling. You can also grill in the firebox where there’s an additional 281 square inches that’s ideal for reverse searing or doing up a few burgers for lunch while dinner does its thing.
Controlling the heat and smoke levels is simple with quality dampers that are easy to adjust and monitor via the built-in thermometer. Complete with a storage cart, removable rack and cool-touch handles, the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse is all you need to get serious about your smoking game.
Stats for the Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Offset Smoker
Fuel type: Charcoal or wood
Barbecue material: Painted steel
Grate material: Porcelain-coated wire
Cooking capacity: 619 sq. in. primary, 281 sq. in. secondary
Assembled size (in): 53(H) x 57(W) x 33.5(D)
Warranty: 2 years
Pros of the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Offset Charcoal Smoker:
- Reverse flow offset smoker offers better heat and smoke distribution than a traditional offset smoker
- Can also be set up as a traditional offset smoker if you wish
- Large smoking capacity
- Also doubles as a charcoal grill in the firebox and main chamber
- Comes with a built-in stand with sturdy wheels and a removable rack so you don’t need anything else
- Will last a lifetime with proper care
- Great for backyard use but this model is also popular with the semi-pros
- Built-in thermometer with one additional bung so you can add another if you wish
Cons of the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Offset Charcoal Smoker:
Best Kamado Charcoal Smoker:
Kamado Joe Classic II
To pay homage to smoking tradition, a kamado is a great option that will allow you to smoke and grill to your heart’s content. The Kamado Joe Classic II is the result of generations of expertise and is undoubtedly one of the best smokers on the market.
Let’s start with the materials. The Kamado Joe is excellent at locking in heat, moisture and smoke with their high-fired ceramic walls, but their porcelain glazed shell still keeps your unit cool to touch. The wire mesh fiberglass gasket is unique to Kamado Joe and is guaranteed to keep your grill sealed for 10 years longer than any other model on the market. We sure like those odds.
Additionally, Kamado Joe has solved all the problems you might traditionally associate with a kamado grill as well. That heavy old lid? Lift it with your little finger thanks to the Air Lift Hinge. And, let’s not forget the Kontrol Tower: rust-proof, aluminum vents that allow maximum control over your airflow and temperature, perfect for you control-freaks out there. Finally, the Divide and Conquer cooking system means you have maximum versatility with where you set your grills, meaning you can cook a multitude of goodies all at once on separate surfaces.
With all the basics in place, a quality thermometer, steel latch, cast-iron stand and folding shelves, this model comes at an awesome price when you factor in the quality and versatility you get for your hard earned dollars.
Stats for the Kamado Joe Classic II
Fuel type: Charcoal
Barbecue material: Glazed ceramic
Grate material: 304 stainless steel
Cooking capacity: 256 sq. in. in basic setup, 407 sq. in. with grill expander, 508 sq. in. with 2 sets of grates or 660 sq. in. with 2 sets of grates and expander
Heat Range: 225°F-750°F
Model: Classic II
Assembled size (in): 46.5″ W x 48″ H x 28″ D
Warranty: Lifetime on ceramics, 5 years on metal parts, 3 years on heat deflector and pizza stone, 1 year on thermometer and gasket
Pros of the Kamado Joe Classic II:
- Versatile charcoal grill that does an excellent job of smoking when using the heat deflector plate
- The thick, ceramic shell is superb at retaining heat and comes with a lifetime guarantee
- Air Lift Hinge, unique to Kamado Joe, makes opening the heavy lid effortless
- Stainless steel racks are less prone to rusting which equals a longer life
- Kontrol Tower is easy to use, weather-proof and rust-resistant to make it long lasting
- Divide and Conquer system allows you to grill or smoke almost anything on the one unit
- Industry-leading, long-lasting wire mesh fiberglass gasket with a stainless latch ensures that all the goodness is kept where you want it
- Unique six-piece firebox design reduces the chance of the firebox breaking, one of the most common kamado complaints
- Slide out ash draw makes cleaning easy
Cons of the Kamado Joe Classic II:
- Although it’s helped by using the expandable grate system, kamado’s don’t offer the largest cooking capacity. But, you can always size up to the Big Joe that has all the same features
Best Pit Barrel Smoker:
The Pit Barrel Cooker Classic
The Pit Barrel Cooker Classic is the self-professed best-selling drum cooker on the market. And, rightly so, this one really delivers a top-notch result. It’s the vertical cooking experience that makes this charcoal smoker stand out. The theory being that you can cook your favorite foods in a shorter amount of time, without the need to regulate temperature or smoke, making it an ideal barbecue for beginners, or anyone else who appreciates an easy job.
Made from 18-gauge steel with a porcelain enamel coating, this baby is packed with enough accessories to ensure you’re ready to fire up whenever the mood takes you. You’ve got eight stainless steel hooks, two steel hanging rods, one grill grate and a wooden hook remover to get you started on the right track. But, if you’re looking to expand your repertoire, you can purchase additional items such as the turkey hanger, hanging basket and Pit Barrel Co rubs to take your cook even further.
Everything about this model is made with the chef in mind. So, you’re sure to have a stress-free cook with results that a pro would be proud to show off. They’ve even pre-drilled mounting holes so you can add a bottle opener with your team’s logo to your unit and be the envy of the whole tailgate.
Stats for the Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
Fuel type: Charcoal
Barbecue material: Porcelain-enameled, 18-gauge steel
Grate material: Stainless steel or regular steel depending on accessory
Cooking capacity: Varies depending on accessories used
Model: Pit Barrel Cooker Classic Package
Dimensions: 21″ W x 31.1″ H x 21″ D
Warranty: 1 year
Pros of the Pit Barrel Cooker Classic:
- Versatile charcoal barbecue that’s suitable for both grilling and smoking
- Easy to use
- Ideal for beginners
- Fairly inexpensive
- Good capacity for the barbecue footprint because you can hang meat instead of having to lay it flat on a rack
- Quality finish that doesn’t need to be seasoned when it first arrives
- Shorter cook times than other charcoal smokers due to design
- Hands down THE BEST reviews of any barbecue or smoker on the market
Best Bullet Charcoal Smoker:
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
The best charcoal grill smoker list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the household name, Weber. So, if you’re a Weber devotee looking to smoke your first brisket, look no further.
On the Weber Smokey Mountain, every design detail has been carefully thought out to ensure a consistent cook and gorgeous end result. From the porcelain-enameled exterior to the built-in water pan, removable fuel door and dual vents, this charcoal smoker is built to hold the heat and smoke in so that you can rest assured that every ounce of flavor and moisture will be fed right back into your meat as it cooks.
Available in three different sizes, the 22″ model is deceptively large. With 726 inches of grilling space, it’s definitely big enough to get your buddies round. And, with the iGrill 2 thermometers (sold separately) and app downloaded to your phone, you won’t even need to babysit the smoker, you can monitor the temperature right from your cell without leaving the party.
As with all Webers, you’re getting a ten-year warranty too, so you know your investment is going to see you through many cook-outs to come.
Stats for the Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Cooker 22"
Fuel type: Charocal
Barbecue material: Porcelain-enameled steel
Grate material: Plated steel
Cooking capacity: 726 sq. in.
Dimensions: 48.5(H) x 23(W) x 24(D)
Warranty: 10 years on bowl and lid, 5 years on plastics and cleaning system, 2 years on remaining parts
Pros of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker:
- Quality construction that’s been proven to last
- Vertical design offers a surprising amount of cooking space
- Fuel door is fully removable which makes adding extra charcoal and wood easy
- Dual dampers for excellent heat control
- Compatible with the iGrill 2 to give you an accurate internal meat temperature reading without having to open the lid
- Competition winning charcoal smoker
- Industry leading warranty
Cons of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker:
- Unlike other charcoal barbecues in the Weber range, the Smokey Mountain doesn’t have a hook that you can use to hang the lid off the unit so, you need to find somewhere to place it safely when hot
- Some smoke leakage may occur around the door, but in our opinion, this really doesn’t affect the awesomeness of this unit
Best Charcoal Grill Smoker Combo:
Pit Boss Memphis Ultimate Smoking Grill
If versatility is what you’re after, our pick for the best charcoal grill smoker combo is Memphis Ultimate 4-in-1 from Pit Boss. They call it the “pinnacle of outdoor cooking” and we are mighty inclined to agree. Get this… You’ve got a gas barbecue, a charcoal barbecue and an electric smoker all in one insanely cool package! Yep, everything. All in one.
And, if the 2,100 square inches of cooking space the Memphis Ultimate gives you isn’t enough, we say you’ve got too many friends.
Fire this baby up and you can be grilling burgers to perfection on your gas grill and searing steaks on your handy side burner. Then for that unmistakably smoky flavor, the charcoal grill will be your go-to. With its six-position grill adjustment, you’ll have the optimum flexibility to cook anything from racks to ribs to charcoal-grilled corn.
Now let’s talk about the smoker. 3 racks, over 2.7 cubic feet, giving you plenty of room to smoke up a storm. You can even offset smoke into either of your grills so that smoky flavor can carry through into everything you prepare.
With two drawers, tool hooks, a preparation shelf and a bottle opener, rest assured that your needs are fully taken care of. Locking caster wheels make it a cinch to grab out of the garage as soon as the sun comes out.
It’s pretty much an outdoor kitchen all in one.
Stats for the Pit Boss Memphis Ultimate 4-in-1 Gas, Electric and Charcoal Smoker
Fuel type: Charcoal, gas and electric
Barbecue material: Painted steel
Grate material: Porcelain-coated cast-iron
Cooking capacity: 2,127 sq in
Number of gas burners: 3
Main burners BTU-per-hour-input: 15,000
Wattage electric smoker: 1,500
Assembled size (in):47.5(H) x 74(W) x 25(D)
Warranty: 1 year
Pros of the Pit Boss Memphis Ultimate 4-in-1:
- All-in-one barbecue that lets you gas or charcoal grill, sear and/or charcoal and electric smoke
- Great value for money charcoal grill smoker combo
- Large cooking capacity
- Porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grates for excellent, long-lasting function
- Vents can be opened or closed so that you can add smoky flavor to foods that you’re gas grilling too
- Locking caster wheels make it easy to move
- Comes with a table with plenty of built-in storage so this combo smoker is literally all that you’ll need
Cons of the Pit Boss Memphis Ultimate 4-in-1:
- Because it’s a 4-in-1, it takes longer than average to build this barbecue after purchase
- Some argue that combo grills aren’t great at everything, and, we would agree but this one is still such good value if you’re looking for one unit to do the lot
- Would be nice to have a warranty that’s longer than 1 year
Best Portable Charcoal Smoker:
Weber Jumbo Joe
With all the basics hidden under one lid the Weber Jumbo Joe is everything you could ask for in a portable charcoal smoker, plus a little more. Measuring a compact, 18 inches, simply chuck this baby in the trunk along with your favorite charcoal and you’ll be enjoying all the smoked delights on your next camping trip, tailgate or beach party.
While it’s true that smoking on a smaller charcoal grill, like this one, takes a bit of practice to master, the Jumbo Joe is large enough to smoke a whole chicken you’ll be proud of. The kettle shape is ideal for locking in smoke and it’s fantastic for high-heat grilling too.
But, what makes the Weber Jumbo Joe so great? To start with, as a Weber, you’ll get a quality, porcelain-enameled body with rust resistant vents and a sturdy base that’s strong enough to stand up to the beating it’ll get from being on the road. Then, there’s the trademark Tuck Away lid-locking system that lets you hang the hot lid off the side of the barbecue instead of having to find a place to put it while you check on the goodies. And, because cleaning a still hot smoker on the go can be so tricky, they’ve also added a removable, external ash tray so you’ll be good to go in no time at all.
Since it’s a Weber, you’ll also be able to take full advantage of their cool range of add-ons. From to griddle plates to chimney starters and instant read thermometers, smoking on the go has never been easier.
When you’re grabbing your Jumbo Joe for portable smoking, don’t forget to add the charcoal rails to your purchase. These will make it heaps easier to create the perfect smoking environment. For more tips, read our article, how to smoke on a kettle grill.
Stats for the Weber Jumbo Joe
Fuel type: Charcoal
Barbecue material: Porcelain-enameled
Grate material: Plated steel cooking grate with heavy-duty charcoal grate
Cooking capacity: 240 sq. in.
Assembled size (in): 19.7″H x 19.7″W x 20.5″D
Warranty: 10 years on bowl, 5 years on plastics, 2 years on everything else
Pros of the Weber Jumbo Joe:
- Strong body with rust-resistant vents and a built-in stand to handle a bit of weather
- Large enough to have a decent cooking capacity while being small enough to stay portable
- Ingenious Tuck-Away lid locking system to make it easy and safe to handle
- Suitable for grilling or smoking with the right setup
- Removable ash tray for easy cleaning
- Compatible with a range of Weber accessories
- Backed by a solid Weber guarantee
Cons of the Weber Jumbo Joe:
- Doesn’t have a built-in thermometer
- Stand can be a bit wobbly on uneven ground but it’s usually not too hard to find a bit of flat ground that’s big enough for the Jumbo Joe