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Best High-End Smokers: Top Quality, Best Performance

HIGH-END CHARCOAL

Kalamazoo FREESTANDING SMOKER CABINET
Kalamazoo Cabinet
4.9/5

HIGH-END KAMADO

Kalamazoo Shokunin Kamado Grill
Kalamazoo Shokunin
4.9/5

HIGH-END PELLET

MAK 3 Star General
MAK 3-Star General
4.8/5

HIGH-END OFFSET

Yoder Cimarron
Yoder Cimarron
4.8/5

HIGH-END DRUM

BPS Stainless Steel Drum Smoker
BPS Stainless Steel Drum
4.8/5

If you’re in the market for the absolute best of the best when it comes to smokers, you’ll find your match here.

These high-end smokers are investments that’ll pay you back time after time as you whip up some of the finest barbecue you’ve ever laid eyes on.

You won’t find any of the ‘standard’ smoker brands like Traeger or recteq here. These premium makes and models sit streets above the rest for a unique backyard line-up that works as well as it looks good.

Whether it’s premium materials, wizard gadgetry, or, an array of extras, these luxury smokers work hard for every dollar. So, take your pick and prepare to have the neighbours queueing around the block as soon as they smell your ribs.

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How We Selected the Best High-End Smokers

With the assumption that price is no objection, we scoured the market for the very best smokers that money can buy. Hundreds of makes and models were considered for the following factors:

There’s nothing ordinary about the build of the smokers we’ve recommended as the best high-end models.

With thicker steel, better welds, premium hinges, more advanced digital components, and better craftmanship, these smokers are the best that you can get. Most also have longer warranty periods to match.

Here you’ll find features that you won’t see in a lot of other more ordinary smokers including dual firepots, better insulation, more advanced digital controllers, and unique designs. But, instead of just being wowed by something that sounds good, we’ve checked that these innovative features actually translate to making better barbecue easier.

Almost every single mass produced smoker is produced in China these days. But, the best high-end smokers are made right here in the US.

Instead of being flat packed into a box and shipped half way around the world, they’re usually shipped more ready to use. As such, shipping costs may actually be higher. Because of this, your smoker should arrive in perfect condition and won’t require hours and hours of assembly.

Below you’ll find the best high-end smokers of our choice in each of the main categories of barbecues so you should find something that matches what you’re looking for.

Table of Contents

Best High-End Smokers: Our Top Choices

For the very best in looks, quality, and performance, look no further than these incredible barbecues.

BEST CHARCOAL

Kalamazoo Smoker Cabinet

4.9/5

BBQ type: Charcoal

Power required? Yes

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Capacity: 1,275 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 7 lbs

Heat range: 32˚F-475˚F

Dimensions: 32″D x 42″W x 41″H

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$$$$

Model: K-SMOKE-42-R

Warranty: 25 yrs body, 5 yrs hinges & legs, 2 yrs controller

The handmade Kalamazoo Freestanding Smoker Cabinet is an eye-wateringly, high-end unit that delivers incredible results effortlessly.

This electric-powered, gravity-fed charcoal system is designed to manage heat and smoke output automatically. It’s so well crafted and insulated that it can run for up to 16 hours at 225°F temperature from only 7 pounds of charcoal, even in cold weather conditions.

The temperature is controlled by the DigiQ® DX3 BBQ Temperature Control. It’s not their own unit which is a little annoying because the warranty is shorter than Kalamazoo’s for this component. But, DigiQ know what they’re doing so you’re getting THE most precise temperature regulation to within +/- 2˚F anywhere from 32˚F-475˚F.

Included with the smoker is a single, wired temperature probe. This plugs directly into the control unit so you can see exactly where the meat is at.

Kalamazoo Cabinet Smoker loaded with ribs and single meat probe

It would be nice if there were more probes or extra ports another because for the super large, 1,275 square inches of cooking space, you’ll most probably be cooking more than one thing.

I’d recommend grabbing at least one of the MEATER 2 Plus’s for a wireless probe system with the best smartphone app and prediction algorithms instead of making do with the single probe.

Other than that, this smoker is incredible.

Available in both a stand-alone and built-in model for outdoor kitchens, it’s hand-crafted in Michigan from 304 grade stainless steel. If you live seaside, you can upgrade the Kalamazoo Smoker Cabinet to marine-grade stainless steel for added protection against that sea spray.

The freestanding model has a high-quality, solid-surface porcelain countertop in your choice of white or black.

Kalamazoo Freestanding Charcoal Cabinet Smoker with White Countertop

Either way, it can be the centerpiece of any backyard, or beautifully integrated into an understated, top functioning kitchen. The underbench version looks incredible beside Kalamazoo’s Built-In Gaucho Grill.

Any way you go with the models and customizations, the Kalamazoo Freestanding Cabinet Smoker isn’t cheap, and it does take a few weeks to make because they’re all hand-made to order. But, if you want THE best with competition-grade performance and a stylish design, there’s no beating Kalamazoo. This smoker is incredible.

Pros
Cons
BEST KAMADO

Kalamazoo Shokunin

4.9/5

BBQ type: Kamado

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Capacity: 432 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke & grill

Dimensions: 29″D x 38″W x 48″H

Price guide: $$$$$

Model: KSHOK430

Warranty: 25 years

From the material to the shape, almost everything about this kamado is in no way ordinary.

Made from high-quality graded stainless steel with two inches of glass fibre insulation, a full 12 pound load of charcoal can burn for up to an incredible 65 hours at 225°F in winter conditions. It’s extremely efficient.

Kalamazoo Shokunin kamado being used

Temperature control is super easy with not the normal two kamado vents but four air shutters to give the best cross-ventilation. There’s laser-etched markings in them at 10% intervals allowing you to really hone your cook and remember exactly what setting is needed to achieve the temperature you’re after.

Inside you’ve got our favorite grate setup for flexibility while still being easy to use.

There’s a series of 1/4 inch thick stainless steel grates that are excellent at retaining heat for grilling. The rectangular shape really maximizes the space you’ve got to cook on. And, the grates simply flip up and hold there so that you can add fuel and adjust their placement.

Kalamazoo Shokunin Flexible Grate Setup

Set the fire grate down low for smoking, or move it to the middle or upper position for more heat for grilling. They even include two charcoal fences so you can set the charcoal to one side of the grill only which is perfect for reverse searing or two-zoned cooking.

Like all of the Kalamazoo range, these kamados are hand-made in their Michigan factory.

Unfortuantely the Shokunin is only available in a freestanding model at this stage. But, the rectangular shape with wooden, ipe frame slots perfectly into outdoor kitchens as well and looks every bit as good as it performs.

Pros
Cons
BEST PELLET

MAK 3 Star General

4.8/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Grilling: Direct heat

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Capacity: 858 – 3,217 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 2 x 15 lbs

Heat range: 170°F – 550˚F

Dimensions: 27”H x 48”W x 34”D

WiFi: Yes

Price guide: $$$$$

Model: 3-Star General

Warranty: Limited lifetime

For a high-end pellet smoker, the USA-made, no expense spared, MAK 3 Star General is out top pick.

Our favorite thing about this model is that it’s got two separate hoppers which not only gives you enough power to heat it’s large cooking capacity, it also lets you set different heats to each side of the grill. Set one side ultra low for extra smoke, even them out, or grill on one side while you smoke on the other. It comes with a divider to partition off the spaces if you want to. The flexibility is great.

But, you can also get even better and hotter grilling with the Dual funnel FlameZone feature as well. This is basically a set of 2 sheilds that sit over the firepots, funnel the heat upwards towards the cooking grate, and let more intense heat through while blocking flareups.

Grilling set up on the MAK 3-Star General Pellet Smoker

You sure can just set the heat up to max and grill with the deflector plate on but I do prefer the more intense grilling experience you get with the grilling plates.

Completely made from 14 and 16 gauge, 304 grade stainless steel, the 3 Star General comes with 858 square inches of grates but it’s expandable up to a whopping 3,217 square inches if you need the space. It’s huge and the length actually gives you enough space to do a whole, small pig or something similar if you’re ever able to. It’ll be 100% worth it!

Grate set up on the MAK 3 Star General Pellet Smoker

In terms of cold weather performace, the MAK 3 Star General isn’t insulated but it performs suprisingly well and doesn’t even power through the pellets when you’re grilling in really cold weather.

In my opinion, it’s the Flame Funnel feature that helps to direct the heat up to the grates instead of wasting it out the sides. It’s also got nice thicker than most steel which helps in the first place.

The temperature is controlled by the awesome Pellet Boss controller. With WiFi, you’ve got more than 20 customizable settings and 4 meat probes that you can set alerts for. The accuracy is spot on. You really don’t need a separate meat thermometer with this smoker. And, you can even use open grilling mode to maintain a set rate of fire for grilling with the lid open.

There’s a large grease tray, ash tray, pellet hopper dump, and removeable firepots to make the worst job a little easier.

It’s an incredible grill that’s hard to find fault with. If you’re hesistant because of the size, there’s the smaller MAK 2-Star, MAK 1-Star, and Mini-MAK as well.

Pros
Cons
BEST COMPETITION

Yoder Cimarron

4.9/5

BBQ type: Offset

Material: Painted steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Capacity: 2,225 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke

Dimensions: 47″D x 88″W x 61″H

Price guide: $$$$$

Model: Cimarron

Warranty: 5 years

For dedicated smoking purists who are willing to invest in a premium experience, the Yoder Cimarron smokes like a dream.

This is undeniably a competition-grade offset smoker with an impressive size suitable for catering.

But, before we get into the nitty gritty, lets stop for a moment and just check it out… I mean, this thing is without a doubt, an eye-catching show-stopper that means business. There’s no doubt about it or your commitment to the art.

Yoder Cimarron from the back

Crafted from 1/4″ thick steel with an insulated firebox ensuring optimal winter performance, fuel efficiency, and protection against paint flaking, the primary cooking chamber boasts a generous 2,225 square inches of cooking space on two grates. Whether you’re batch cooking your latest hunt or serving restaurant-quality barbecue to a sizable crowd, it’s got you covered.

No compromises were made in the construction of these smokers. Made in the USA and mounted on a convenient competition cart, we actually think it’s price is pretty reasonable considering the craftsmanship you’re receiving. If properly cared for, the Cimarron is an heirloom piece, just remember to write down your barbecue secrets too.

Featuring two precise temperature gauges at opposite ends and Yoder’s patented heat management system ensuring even temperatures, this smoker, like all offsets, requires attention but is designed for flawless results.

Yoder Cimarron heat management system with stainless racks

There’s an integrated probe port to feed meat wires without damage, a storage cabinet, stainless steel side shelves, and built-in tie downs for competitions or events. Everything’s been so well designed and thought out, it really does tick all the boxes.

Pros
Cons
BEST DRUM

BPS Stainless Steel Drum

4.8/5

BBQ type: Drum

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Capacity: 362 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke

Dimensions: 55 gallon

Price guide: $$$

Model: 932BPS

Warranty: 1 year

We’re not the biggest fan of drum smokers in general. But, building your own high-quality, fully customizable stainless steel drum is a project we can get on board with.

The process is involved enough while not being difficult to do, the parts are all top quality, and this smoker can sit alongside anything else you’ve got, or as a standalone smoker. I mean, check out it’s legit, old school, I’m doing it right look.

Big Poppa Smokers Stainless Steel Drum Assembled

What it is is a 55 gallon food grade, stainless steel drum with a charcoal nest insert, 21.5 inch cooking grate, top vent, and dual bottom vents.

And, while it’s quite a basic design of smoker, this drum gives you up to 10 hours of low and slow smoking in what’s largely a set and forget setup.

But, what really makes this setup special compared to others is all the different customizations you can get. Add a second grate for grilling or to hold a water pan, pop in the stainless steel hanging rack, a lid hinge, side tables, and an ash catcher for easy cleaning. You can even fully automate this drum with the BBQ Guru fan kit which will regulate the temperature for you.

Hanging rack in the BPS Stainless Steel customizable drum smoker

There are so many parts available, you can play with this setup until you get it exactly how you like and it cooks great food.

The warranty is a limited 1 year. But, with no electronic parts and quality steel components, we don’t think this is too much of an issue.

Pros
Cons

What to Look for in a High-End Smoker

The most expensive smoker isn’t always the best. Instead of judging by price and the look of the barbecue, check out the following features:

While it doesn’t have to not budge a degree, large temperature fluctuations do make it hard to turn out good barbecue, especially consistently good stuff.

So, one of the primary considerations should be if the high-end smoker in question is able to maintain a steady temperature, and how easy it is to do so.

The models recommended here all keep a steady temperature themselves, or have quality dampers and the proper setup for you to maintain it.

When you’re spending money on the best, don’t expect anything less than top quality materials, regardless of which type of high-end smoker you go for.

Thicker steel, stronger welds, better finishes, and premium fixtures and fittings should all be non-negotiables.

While a lot of the high-end smokers have very good, built-in insulation, they don’t all.

Having thick insulation does help to keep the temperature steady and maximizes fuel efficiency, making your job easier while saving you money in the long-run.

But, some smokers, like the Meadow Creek TS120P recommended here, don’t have insulation and instead rely on the thicker steel and smart design for the smoker to perform well in cold conditions.

Nevertheless, if you live somewhere cold, check out the insulation level and how well they perform in similar climates to yours.

Some extra features can be gimicky. But, a lot of high-end smokers have additional features that do make smoking easier and better.

Before you buy anything, check out all the fine details to make sure you’re getting something that really is worth the big ones.

A lot of the high-end smoker manufacturers have also developed better and easier ways to keep these units clean. Check out what’s required to make sure you’re happy to do the maintenance to keep your investment in tip top shape.

You’re not buying an average smoker so don’t get one with an average warranty.

25 years or even a lifetime warranty on premium smokers is fairly normal.

Expect a shorter warranty on smokers with electronic components like high-end pellet smokers. But, there should be nothing stopping manufacturers of offsets or kamados from offering darn good warranty terms and periods.

FAQs About the Best High-End Smokers

There’s a huge variety in what type of smokers the pros use and prefer.

While some think smoking isn’t smoking unless it’s done on a offset, stick burner, others think you might as well take the easy option as far as temperature regulation is concerned and go pellet so you can really hone in on the meat itself.

Nevertheless, brands like Yoder, Stumps, Jambo, Mak, and Meadow Creek, some of which are featured here, are all competition-winning smokers that professionals do use.

Of course there’s a certain level of skill to it and you’ll need a bit of time and practice in order to work out the particular do’s and don’t’s of any smoker.

But, with better materials, better designs, higher-specced electronics, and a whole host of other features, high-end smokers are capable of producing better meat than your regular run of the mill models.

Many experts, us included, believe that unless you’re smoking fish, you just can’t get as good as a results on a propane or electric smoker.

So, for a high-end smoker to be worth it, we recommend looking for a barbecue that runs off hardwood pellets, charcoal, or hardwood logs. These fuel types will give you the best flavor alongside the precise temperature control you need to really master your cook.

If you’re not sure what to go for, read more about the different types of smokers in our guide.

When you’re buying the best, you can expect a much longer warranty period than you’d get on your standard, mass-produced models.

How long exactly will depend on the brand and the type of smoker but 25 years or a lifetime guarantee isn’t uncommon.

Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is commited to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.

About Burning Brisket

Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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