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Best Portable Smokers: Live the Life With One of These!

BEST OVERALL

recteq Road Warrior
recteq Road Warrior
4.7/5

BEST WIFI

Grilla Grills Chimp
Grilla Grills Chimp
4.6/5

BEST CHARCOAL

Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch
Weber Smokey Mountain 14"
4.8/5

BEST LARGE CAPACITY

Pit Barrel Cooker Junior
Pit Barrel Cooker Jr
4.6/5

BEST TABLETOP

Traeger Ranger
Traeger Ranger
4.6/5

BEST BUDGET

Z Grills Cruiser 200A Portable Pellet Smoker
Z Grills Cruiser
4.5/5

A good barbecue at home is great. But, there’s just something about smoked meat that’s cooked on the go that really is next level!  Whether you’re camping, at the beach, tailgating, or around at a friends house, a portable smoker is a great investment in good food and good times.

Here you’ll find the best portable smokers on the market.

There’s something for everyone with reviews covering all the major types of portable smokers at a range of sizes and budgets.

Before you go wondering, if you’re thinking of going a portable pellet smoker that needs power while you’re away from home, check out our guide on the 3 simple setups to power a portable pellet grill. One of them is sure to hit home as a good solution for you.

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How We Tested the Best Portable Smokers

Unfortunately we didn’t get to spend months camping on holiday testing out these portable smokers. We actually tested them at home in our own backyard. But, each of these smokers was tested in a range of different weather conditions, and we did practice folding, packing, moving, and storing these smokers before recommending them.

Using the Z Grills 200A Cruiser with Traeger Pellets

To put together this list of the best portable smokers, we tested more than 12 different models. They were all used for a minimum of 10 cooks with us having used some of the top portable smokers consistently over a number of years.

In testing them, these portable smokers (plus the one’s that didn’t make the cut) were assessed on the following factors:

Although you really need decent quality to handle the rougher than usual life on the road, portable smokers are notoriously poor quality.

We don’t want to recommend anything that’s only going to make it through one summer so we set about finding models that were as good a quality as you’d get from a regular, full-sized smoker or better.

And, we were pleased with the build quality of this lineup. Durable materials and quality materials make for an easier time smoking on the go plus a longer lasting barbecue.

We’re experienced at using all types of smokers and cooked a range of meats on these smokers to see how they performed.

To keep things even heeled, we use the same basic cuts in testing all barbecues, follow the same general technique, stay consistent with our favorite Hardcore Carnivore rubs, and use the MEATER Block wireless thermometers to check the pit’s temperature and to cook to internal temperature.

Portable smokers are understandably more compact than full-sized grills. But, you still want to be able to fit a decent amount of food on one and have the racks set out in a practical way that gives you the height that you need for larger cuts.

In the best portable smokers reviewed below you’ll find notes on how much meat fits on each of these models.

We’ve included a range of sizes too so that you can find something that caters to your specific needs.

Being able to pick up, move, and pack a portable smoker easily is a big consideration in making the cut as one of the best models on the market.

We’ve folded legs, checked the weights, tested the quality of wheels, checked for awkwardness, and even timed the setup to see how long it’ll take you once you arrive at where you’re going.

The smokers you’ll find below are some of the easiest to transport because aside from smoking well, that’s what you need them to be able to do.

A lot of people don’t really think about fuel efficiency when they buy a portable smoker. But, poorly insulated and poorly designed models with inefficient controllers or lots of leaks will use more fuel which means having to take more with you.

We don’t want you to have to hook up an extra trailer just for your charcoal or pellets (we are joking and being extreme but you get our point). These models shouldn’t blow through fuel like there’s no tomorrow making them practical to pack up for longer trips too.

Portable smokers often have shorter warranties than their full-sized counterparts.

I’m not sure if it’s because the quality isn’t as good as larger smokers or if it’s just because life on the road is going to be rougher than in a backyard. But, while a lot of portable pellet smokers have shorter warranties, not all do.

We’ve aimed for portable smokers that have a decent warranty period with good coverage and a decent reputation for customer service.

Please also note that just because they’re portable, any of the smokers recommended here can be used as your main at-home smoker too. In fact, they’re great solutions of individuals and couples who don’t want to cook a lot, or anyone on a budget.

Table of Contents

The Best Portable Smokers: Our Top Choices

Whether you’re after a charcoal, pellet, or kamado-style portable smoker, you’ll find the best possible models to take with you on the road.

BEST PORTABLE OVERALL

recteq Road Warrior

4.8/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Grilling: Indirect heat

Capacity: 460 sq in

Hopper capacity: 14 lbs

Heat range: 200 – 700°F

Dimensions: 39.5″H X 35″W X 19D

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: 340P

Warranty: 2 years

WiFi’s literally the only thing that’s missing from this top performing portable pellet smoker and something that, we personally, don’t mind that it doesn’t have.

But, what the recteq Road Warrior does have is more stainless steel components than any other portable smoker on the market. This translates into improved durability which is an important factor, especially when it’s living a rougher than normal life on the road.

The firepot is stainless steel, the cooking chamber walls are, the grates are, the heat deflector is, even the drip pan is all stainless steel giving you better protection against rust.

The temperature is controlled by an accurate and very effective PID-based system. In our testing, it doesn’t go further than 7°F of the target at a low and slow temperature which is very reliable performance.

recteq Road Warrior with lid closed

What’s also great is that the recteq controller has a wider than normal temperature range, being able to get all the way up to 700°F. This means you can get hotter for grilling and searing and the results are really good.

There’s still no open flame option, it’s indirect high heat. But, with the temperature cranked up towards that maximum point, you can get great sear marks and really seal in the juices on a steak.

Although cooking at higher heat will use a lot more pellets than when it’s sitting at a smoking temperature, because the cooking space on this portable grill is quite small, we’ve found it to be reasonably efficient on the fuel, even when we’re grilling.

Talking cooking space, the Road Warrior gives you a moderate 340 square inches to cook on. It’s enough to fit a couple of racks of ribs across, four pork shoulders, or a small whole brisket.

Grilling on the recteq Road Warrior

If you’re cooking shorter cuts of meat like racks of ribs, you can get an extra grate, creating a second tier and upping the capacity to 510 square inches. Doing so will reduce the height you’ve got between the grates though so just be aware of that.

When it’s time to pack up, you can literally have this thing packed down in about 15 seconds.

recteq Road Warrior packed down

The folding legs work very easily. They convert into a handle with the hopper-side wheel pulling along easily.

Yes, it’s portable but unlike a lot of portable smokers on the market, the recteq Road Warrior doesn’t feel like you’re cooking on a flimsy portable model. This thing is solid and gives you every bit as good a quality and performance as you’d expect from a regularly sized smoker. It’s top notch.

Pros
Cons
BEST PORTABLE WIFI

Grilla Grills Chimp

4.6/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Grilling: Indirect heat

Capacity: 460 sq in

Hopper capacity: 15 lbs

Heat range: 180 – 500°F

Dimensions: 41 H x 38 W x 20 D

WiFi: Yes

Price guide: $$

Model: Chimp

Warranty: 2 years

If WiFi is on your must-have list then there’s not a lot of portable smokers that have this feature. But, even if there were, the Grilla Grills Chimp would take the title as the best with WiFi every single time.

Similar to the recteq Road Warrior in terms of quality and performance, this portable model rolls all of Grilla’s regular features into a smaller, lighter, folding version.

The firepot, cooking chamber, grates, and heat deflector are all stainless steel, giving you that extra durability and rust-resistance you’ll want for a life on the road. Plus, it’s partially insulated with added protection from the cold from the grates down, giving you better performance when the weather’s not crash hot, and higher fuel efficiency year round.

But, another thing that really sets the Grilla Grills Chimp apart from the other models on the market is that you’ve got more control over the smoking process.

PID is great for it’s ability to stick really close to your temperature range. But, in staying super steady, you also get slightly less smoke production. But, the Chimp’s controller lets you select between PID and regular modes with the regular giving larger temperature fluctations for a smokier environment and stronger woody flavor.

The difference in the meat is discrete but noticeably different and we like that we’ve got the choice.

In terms of cooking capacity, you’ve got two racks included with 340 square inches on the bottom and 120 on top for a total of 460 square inches.

It’s a pretty decent capacity for a portable pellet smoker. But, because of the Chimp’s compact overall size, you can’t fit tall cuts like a pork shoulder on without taking out that top rack, losing you a bit of cooking real estate.

Smoking on the Grilla Grills Chimp

Nevertheless, two sizeable chunks of meat will feed quite a few mouths and if you’re grilling burgers, sausages, or smoking your latest catch, you’re going to be able to do a decent amount of food at one go.

The snap and lock legs are easy to fold up and down.

The Chimp is packed full of features in a very good value for money bundle.

Pros
Cons
BEST PORTABLE CHARCOAL

Weber Smokey Mountain 14"

4.5/5

BBQ type: Charcoal bullet

Material: Enameled steel

Grates: Plated steel

Capacity: 286 sq inch

Heat range: Low to high

Dimensions: 31.4(H) x 14.7(W) x 14.7(D)

Price guide: $$

Model: 731001

Warranty: 10 yrs bowl, 5 yrs plastics, 2 yrs other

When it comes to portability, you simply can’t go past a good old charcoal barbecue. And, what could be better than one of the top rated smokers from the industry leader, Weber?

The Smokey Mountain Cooker is high-quality, lightweight, and enjoyable to use, making this smoker perfect for on the go cooking anywhere.

Made from a porcelain-enameled shell with rust-resistant dampers and a sturdy built-in stand, the Smokey Mountain should long outlive it’s generous 10 year warranty (ours is 9 years now and still going fairly strong).

Inside the charcoal fire which sits at the bottom of the bullet with a water pan above and two racks that stack on top of each other.

Inside the Weber Smokey Mountain

The door is large enough that you can add charcoal and wood easily.

But, although you can see that bottom rack through the door, it’s more of an access point for the fire, not the food. To load and baste or warp, we tend to go in from the top which does mean you have to have somewhere safe to sit the hot lid and top grate down which, depending on where you are, can be a bit difficult.

Charcoal and wood fire inside the Weber Smokey Mountain 14

The two vertical racks give you a total of 286 square inches of cooking space.

It’s not huge and doesn’t fit a rack of ribs laid across. But, a couple of chickens or two pork shoulders fit easily to feed quite a few hungry mouths.

You can up-size to the 18″ model if you want something that’s wide enough for larger cuts of meat. No, it’s not as easily portable as the smaller 14″ WSM but, the vertical configuration and light weight of the thing still means you’re going to be able to load it into your trunk or the back of your truck fairly easily anyway.

Like most charcoal smokers, the Weber Smokey Mountain isn’t set and forget but it’s not meant to be.

You’ll have to check the temperature fairly regularly, adding fuel and adjusting the dampers to keep the temperature close to your target. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys the experience of barbecuing and wants to be pretty hands on while you sit around the campsite, enjoy a beer or the view, this smoker is a great choice and can be a whole heap of fun to use.

Pros
Cons
BEST LARGER CAPACITY

Pit Barrel Cooker Jr

4.6/5

BBQ type: Drum smoker

Material: Enameled steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Capacity: 4 hangers

Heat range: Approx 275°F

Dimensions: 21.5″ W x 33″ H x 21.5″ D

Price guide: $

Model: Pit Barrel Junior

Warranty: 1 year

If you need to cook a lot of meat on the go, the Pit Barrel Cooker really lets you maximize the cooking space by allowing you to hang your meat inside the vertical drum.

It comes with four stainless steel hooks which you can use to hang just as many racks of ribs or even two whole briskets (we use two hooks per slab of meat for large and heavy cuts). But, you can always grab yourself some extra hooks to cram some more food in there with no trouble.

This charcoal smoker works differently to most in that it’s a set and forget, fixed temperature smoker.

That means all you need to do is set the bottom vent based on how high above sea level you are, place lit coals in the included charcoal basket, and hang your meat.

Pit Barrel Cooker Junior In Use

The design of this thing means that it runs at about 275°F which is a little hotter than most people smoke at. But, that just means it’ll be done sooner which isn’t a bad thing after a long day of enjoying the outdoors.

In terms of performance, we do find that the very bottom of anything long that we’re cooking like the last rib, does get a little charred from being close to the fire. If anyone in your group likes them that way, they’ll enjoy the crispiness. Otherwise we simply slice the bottom off and away we go. We feel it’s well worth losing one rib for the convenience that this portable charcoal smoker gives you.

Pit Barrel Cooker Portability

As for the quality of this drum, Pit Barrel give you a really durable build. The whole thing is porcelain-coated for maximum rust-resistance, and the steel is thick enough that it doesn’t just dent up from moving it around, even if you’re a little rough.

Like the Weber Smokey Mountain, you can upsize to the larger Pit Barrel Classic for even more cooking in what’s still a pretty portable design.

We do recommend grabbing the ash catcher that’s sold separately. This attaches to the bottom of the charcoal basket and makes cleanup easier which is especially important on the go.

Read our full review of the Pit Barrel Cooker.

Pros
Cons
BEST TABLETOP

Traeger Ranger

4.6/5

BBQ type: Pellet smoker

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Grilling: Indirect with cast iron griddle

Capacity: 176 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 8 lbs

Heat range: 165°F – 450°F

Dimensions: 20″D x 21″W x 13″H

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: Ranger

Warranty: 3 years

If you’re kinda unimpressed by how not small most portable smokers are, the Traeger Ranger might be the one to impress.

Measuring at just 21 inches by 20 inches and 13 inches tall, this suitcase-style pellet smoker has absolutely no legs to fold up and pack down, and it fits away easily in the trunk or the garage without taking up a decent amount of space.

To cook on you get 184 square inches of cooking space, powered by a 8 pound pellet hopper.

We’ve easily fit eight buger patties on here, a rack of smaller ribs, and even a pretty decent pork shoulder although you’ve got to buy a piece that’s not super tall.

Traeger-Ranger-Cooking-Chicken

Because it’s a Traeger, you can trust that the Ranger is good high-quality and our time using it confirms that there’s no issues in terms of the materials and build of this small smoker.

The lid’s stainless steel latches both holds the lid closed, and the pellet hopper inside, even if you’ve filled it up with pellets before you take it on the road.

The temperature controller isn’t a newer PID model. Instead, it’s Traeger’s older Digital Arc version. And, while you can set the temperture within 5°F, it will fluctuate considerably throughout your cook. The plus side of this is that you get quite a bit of smoke production for lots of flavor.

The controller maxes out at 450°F which is lower than a lot of pellet smokers but is just hot enough to grill. With the Ranger, you also get a cast iron griddle which really improves the grilling results. So much so that I’d really recommend taking with you even though it adds to the smoker’s weight. If you’re camping, use it to fry yourself up some eggs in the morning too! They’ll be incredible.

Grilling on the Traeger RAnger with the griddle plate

One of our favorite things about the Traeger Ranger is that it’s very efficient on fuel usage.

Because the cooking space is so compact, the 8 pound hopper easily sees us through more than 8 hours of low and slow smoking time. It’s not even bad at high temperatures either. Regardless, we’re not constantly topping up the fuel. We do like to make sure it’s full before each use though.

Overall though, we really like the Ranger’s tabletop style. It’s fairly easy to pick up and move and makes for a simple and convenient barbecue for life on the go.

Pros
Cons
BEST BUDGET PORTABLE

Z Grills Cruiser

4.5/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Grilling: Indirect heat

Capacity: 202 sq in

Hopper capacity: 8 lbs

Heat range: 160 – 450°F

Dimensions: 20″D x 25″W x 13″H

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: 200A

Warranty: 3 years

For a cheaper alternative to the Traeger Ranger, or just a budget-friendly portable smoker, the Z Grills Cruiser is a great little barbecue.

We’ve been using this smoker on the go for a few years now, and it’s never missed a beat.

It looks almost identical to the Traeger Ranger because it is. The setup is virtually the same although you get a slightly larger 202 square inches of cooking space with the same 8 pound pellet hopper. The lid latches hold the top on and the hopper closed when you’re moving it. And, the temperature maximum is the same when it comes to grilling.

Although the Z Grills Cruiser is considerably cheaper, the build quality is comparable as well. The porcelain-coated grill grates have held up well to regular use and the powder-coated steel body is strong enough that it hasn’t gotten all dinged up from a rough life on the go.

Unfortunately the Cruiser doesn’t come with a griddle plate for grilling. But, set to it’s maximum temperature, we love this smoker for grilling as well.

Grilling Sausages on the Z Grills Cruiser 200A

You can fit a fair bit of food, get good grill marks, and it’s smaller size means that it heats up quickly and doesn’t chomp through the pellets even when the heat is cranking.

There is one probe port where you can plug in a wired meat thermometer, Z Grills don’t give you a thermometer with the Cruiser. No idea why because they’re not expensive. But, that also means you can pick one up cheaply if you do want to use this feature instead of a separate wireless unit. They’re a standard size so you don’t need a special Z Grills one, any brand will work. We actually hooked one up from a full sized pellet smoker we were testing at the time instead of buying a separate one.

How does the food turn out?

We’ve smoked and grilled so many great meals on the Cruiser. The flavor’s great with good deep smoke rings and a nice bark.

Z Grills Cruiser 200A Smoking Ribs

I would recommend turning the meat half way through your cook though or wrapping it earlier than you usually would. The compact design means that the meat sits quite close to the firepot and even with the heat deflector, we do find the underside can get a little charred unless you flip the meat or protect it with a wrap.

Overall though, this portable tabletop smoker is budget but absolutely doesn’t feel it. It’s everything you need to smoke and grill on the go, set up in a strong briefcase that’s hassle-free to take on the go.

Pros
Cons
BEST PORTABLE KAMADO

Kamado Joe Jr

4.6/5

BBQ type: Kamado

Material: Glazed ceramic

Grates: Stainless steel

Capacity: 150 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke & grill

Dimensions: ‎19.75″ D x 20.75″ W x 27″ H

Price guide: $$

Model: Joe Jr

Warranty: Ceramic lifetime, 5 yrs metals, 1 yr other

Kamados are such a great type of barbecue because they smoke and grill equally as well, there’s no compromising. And, the Kamado Joe Junior is our top choice when it comes to the best versatile and portable kamado.

Made from the same high-quality, glazed ceramic as their full-sized models, it’s quality gives you excellent heat retention in all sorts of weather while making the smoking process that much easier. You don’t have a fancy lid lifting mechanism (but you don’t need it), the gasket is basic felt, and there’s no multi-tiered cooking system (there’s no room for it anyway). But, what’s here is easy to use and, most importantly, works well.

The single stainless steel grate gives you 150 square inches of cooking space. It’s not huge but is enough to fit two smallish whole chickens, a good sized pork shoulder, or quite a few burger patties.

Grilling on the Kamado Joe Jr

The Kamado Joe Jr does come with the heat deflector plate you need for low and slow smoking. With it, we find that it’s pretty easy to keep a steady temperature and the food turns out really top notch.

When it comes to grilling, you can’t really go wrong over the open charcoal flame. The flavor’s incredible. After the steak is done, we like to leave the coals to die down to bake a simple dessert or roast some mashmallows as well.

Because it is ceramic and ceramic is heavy, the KJ Jr is a lot easier to move with two people. Take one side of the stand each and it’s pretty safe to load into your trunk.

Moving the Kamado Joe Jr

We really do love this one and it really rates up there as one of the best portable smokers. The Kamado Joe Junior is solidly dependable for a meal in the woods, on the boat, or while you’re waiting for the game.

Pros
Cons
BEST CHEAPER KAMADO

Char-Griller Akorn Jr

4.5/5

BBQ type: Kamado

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Cast iron

Capacity: 155 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke & grill

Dimensions: 20.5″D x 20″W x 26″H

Price guide: $

Model: E86714

Warranty: 5 years

The Char-Griller Akorn gives you a cheaper option for portable kamado cooking in a unit that’s still durable, versatile, and effective.

Unlike the traditional ceramic kamados like the Kamado Joe Jr reviewed above, the Akorn Jr is actually made from triple layered steel. Not only does this mean that it’s not as heavy as it’s counterpart, it’s also crack resistant. If you drop or knock the Akorn Jr as you’re moving it around, you might get a little bit of a ding but the whole thing won’t shatter, something that’s particularly great on a portable smoker.

Overall, the quality isn’t as good as the KJ. The gasket is pretty average, the parts don’t fit together seamlessly, and even though it is insulated, don’t expect heat retention like you’d get from a ceramic kamado.

But, we do like the heavy-duty cast iron grates. They’re good for both smoking and grilling and can always be fixed up if they do rust a little.

Grilling chicken breast on the Char-Griller Akorn Jr

The pop down ash catcher makes it easy to empty the ash before you load it back in your car but does take a little getting used to how it operates.

In terms of temperature regulation when you’re smoking low and slow, we found it easy to keep a steady temperature on the Akorn Jr.

The heat deflector they call a smoking stone that you absolutely do need for smoking isn’t included in the base price though. Make sure you factor this in if you’re on a budget. But, it’s still a very affordable and versatile portable smoker that’s totally worth it for that smoked fish or grilled steaks on the go.

Pros
Cons
BEST PORTABLE ELECTRIC

Smokehouse Big Chief

4/5

BBQ type: Electric smoker

Material: Aluminum

Grates: Chromed wire

Capacity: 576 sq in.

Wattage: 450

Dimensions: 24.5 H x 18 W x 12 D

Price guide: $

Model: Big Chief

Warranty: 2 years

This one’s a bit of a speciality smoker. But, if you go fishing and want an easy way to process and cook up your latest catch, the Smokehouse Big Chief Electric Smoker is an awesome little buy.

This basic smoker has been around since the 1960’s. There’s nothing much to it, it’s no-frills, and it does a darn good job with fish in particular.

It’s a fixed temperature smoker so there’s only one temperature of 165°F and literally nothing else to do other than load it up, plug it in, and replenish the wood chips every now and then.

Topping up the Smokehouse Big Chief electric smoker

We get really nice flavor that’s definitely noticeable but not overpowering. Because the temperature is lower than you’d usually smoke at on other types of smokers, the meat stays moist and doesn’t run as high a risk of drying out.

Lightweight and compact, yet big enough to cook up to 50 pounds of meat at a time, the Big Chief has definitely earned it’s top ratings as a fan favorite over the years.

Fish isn’t all that the Big Chief is good for though. You can make incredible jerky in this simple smoker. It’s my number one, easy choice. Nuts and cheese also turn out really well in here.

As for regular meats like chicken, pork, and beef, you can use the Big Chief to smoke them. But, because the temperature is so low, you need to finish them off in an oven to bring them up to a safe internal temperature for eating. No matter how long you leave them in here, they just won’t get hot enough to be safe for consumption alone. Still, for the flavor, cooking meat this two step way is better than just not smoking if this is your only barbecue.

Other than that, don’t expect a great quality build. The thin aluminum shell is a bit flimsy. You’ve got to be pretty careful not to dent it up on stuff as you’re moving it around. And, there’s nothing in the way of insulation so definitely don’t try this thing in the snow or on a cold winters day.

But, for mid-summer smoking of the delicate items, the Big Chief is easy, affordable, and very effective.

Pros
Cons

What is a Portable Smoker?

A portable smoker is any barbecue that can be used for smoking meat and that is specifically designed to be used away from your home.

In order to make that happen, portable smokers are usually easy to transport by either being a more compact design and/or having folding legs. Additionally, they’re lighter than their full-sized counterparts and often have sturdy handles that make them easy to pick up and take with you.

Despite being designed as a portable smoker, just because you can load it into your trunk or onto the back of your truck easily, doesn’t mean you can’t use a portable smoker as a regular at-home smoker too.

Portable smokers can be a great budget-friendly option, and are the perfect size for individuals, couples, or even small families that want to be able to smoke up a smaller amount of food without burning through an excessive amount of charcoal, pellets, or other type of fuel.

What to Look for When Buying a Portable Smoker

We’ve assessed the reviewed and recommended portable smokers here. But, in choosing the one that’s right for you, consider the following points:

All of the best portable smokers we’ve recommended here will do a good job of smoking. But, not all of them are suitable for grilling.

Being able to quickly grill up a steak, some fish, burger patties, or some sausages can be really handy when you’re away from home.

If you do want a portable smoker that grills too, check out any of the pellet smokers and the kamados. The two portable charcoal smokers reviewed here are better used as dedicated smokers.

There’s a fine line between getting a small enough smoker to be considered easily portable, and one that’s large enough to smoke everything you want.

Have a think about what types of meat you like to cook the most, how much space they take up, and how many people you want to cook for.

You can cater to more people on a smaller smoker by carefully choosing larger cuts of meat like a pork shoulder or brisket that can be sliced up as opposed to a burger patty that only serves one.

If you’re planning to smoke some meat up on a hot summers day down by the beach, you’re good to skip this one. But, if you’re camping somewhere cold, where there’s harsh winds, or even rain, go for a model like a kamado or the Grilla Grills Chimp that’s got insulation built in.

Not only will it work better, but you’ll also use less fuel and be a happier camper all-round.

All of the portable pellet smokers recommended here do require power to use.

If you’re using it at a powered RV site, you’re good to go. But, for most people in most locations, you’ll need a portable power solution to run the thing.

Fear not, we’ve got a full guide that we wrote in conjunction with an electrician on the best possible power setups for portable pellet smokers. It’s easier than you’d think and not a huge hurdle.

If you never want to have to lift a smoker, go for a folding pellet model. If you prefer to not have to worry about legs and awkward folding parts, there’s tabletop pellet smokers or charcoal smokers that give you just that.

Also think about how much space you’ve got in your vehicle for your smoker and check that it’ll fit before you hit buy now.

FAQs About the Best Portable Smokers

Portable smokers are generally smaller and lighter than full-sized smokers. In addition to that, portable smokers often have folding legs and/or strong handles to help you move, transport, and store the smoker easier.

Charcoal and pellets are the most common fuel types for portable smokers.

Charcoal smokers comes with the advantage of not ever needing electricity while pellet smokers always require the juice (read about how to power a portable pellet grill).

A bag of charcoal is dirtier to carry and handle than a bag of pellets is, and, you’ll have more ash to dispose of as well.

Depending on how long you’re planning on using a portable pellet smoker for, you might even be able to fill the hopper before you leave home and not worry about taking extra pellets. Just be aware that you are adding the weight of the pellets to the smoker though so it’ll be that much heavier to lift.

While there are a selection of our favorite portable pellet smokers here, check out our full review of the best portable pellet grills for even more great models.

Some portable smoker models are suitable for grilling as well as smoking.

All of the pellet smokers recommended here can be used to grill. Just be aware that you’ll be grilling over high, indirect heat that’s blocked by the heat deflector that sits over the firebox. There’s no open flame access option in any of these models.

If you want to grill over an open flame, look at getting one of the portable kamados reviewed here.

The two basic portable charcoal smokers we’ve recommended are best used as dedicated smokers and don’t have the best setup for grilling.

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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