Home Reviews What’s the Best Smoker for Beginners?

What’s the Best Smoker for Beginners?

by Burning Brisket
What's the Best Smoker for Beginners?

Thinking it’s time you try your hand at smoking? And, who could blame you? Just thinking of a smouldering hunk of brisket or melt-in-the-mouth fish is enough to get our bellies rumbling. Whilst smoking is undoubtedly one of life’s greatest pleasures, if you’re just starting out there are some major pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. And, a lot of that is down to getting yourself the right bit of kit.

Many first-time smokers will buy something cheap to test out the technique before investing. But, it’s often hard to get a good result on a cheaper smoker, which can put a newbie off for life. At the same time, you don’t want to splurge on a unit that requires a more experienced hand for smoking, like a kettle grill. And, we all know the guy who buys the hottest looking kit but has no idea what to do with it… Don’t be that guy either.

So, if you’re looking for the best smoker for beginners, our selection has been picked for their winning combination of ease of use, quality, price and longevity. Guaranteeing you a hiccup-free learning curve into big-league smoking and beyond, you should have enough change to buy a stonking piece of meat to smoke too.

Best Budget Smoker for Beginners

Pit Barrel Cooker

For beginners on a budget, we highly recommend this well-reviewed model from respected old-timers Pit Barrel. The vertical shape of the Pit Barrel Cooker drum gives you a faster smoking experience without needing lots of management during cooking.

Plus, this cooker is built to last and last. They’ve used 18-gauge steel coated with porcelain enamel to keep heat and smoke locked in whilst leaving the unit cool to touch during cooking. It’s well-accessorized, offering two steel hanging rods, eight steel hooks, a grill grate and a wooden hook remover all included in the package price. Once you’ve exhausted those options, top up with the turkey hanger and hanging basket to keep your family on their toes.

Great for smoking beginners, don’t forget to try the all purpose Pit Barrel Co rub. This delicious dry rub takes the guesswork out of flavoring your meat and ensure your end result goes down as the stuff of legend.

Stats for the 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

Assembled size (in): 21″ W x 31.1″ H x 21″ D

Weight: 57lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the Pit Barrel Cooker:

  • By far, the highest rated smoker on Amazon
  • Easy to use which makes it ideal for beginners
  • Can be used for smoking and grilling
  • Great package price with lots of accessories
  • Vertical design doesn’t take up a lot of space
  • Decent cooking capacity as you can hang meat instead of laying it flat
  • Doesn’t need to be seasoned before first use so you’re ready to go
  • Generally faster cook times than other smokers
  • Can be used as a portable smoker (if you have a truck)

Cons of the Pit Barrel Cooker:

  • Can be a bit tricky to get meat out so we’d recommend using extra long barbecue gloves to keep you safe from burns
  • Doesn’t come with a thermometer which isn’t necessary but may be useful. We love the bestselling ThermoPro

Best Pellet Smoker for Beginners:

Green Mountain Davy Crockett Pellet Grill

If you’re new to smoking and aren’t keen on having to stoke the fire, add pellets and check your meat every hour or so, a pellet smoker is the ideal barbecue for you. Simply load up the pellet hopper, set your temperature and sit back while the smoker works for you.

And, the Davy Crockett Pellet Grill by Green Mountain is our top choice for beginners who want a set and forget unit that’s going to turn out great food.

Although this unit is one of the best priced pellet smokers on the market, this doesn’t mean poor quality and a lack of features. Instead, this well-priced model offers a portable 219 square inches of cooking space with rust-resistant, stainless steel racks and lid. You’ve also got built-in folding stand, a meat probe and utensil tray included as standard.

However, what really sets the Green Mountain Davy Crockett apart from other pellet smokers is it’s WiFi capability. Simply sit back with a beer, catch up with your mates or watch a game, while you manage your smoking from your Apple or Andriod, safe in the knowledge the Sense-Mate temperature monitoring is doing the hard work for you.

At home, the unit powers up from the mains, and all you need to do when you’re on the go is connect it to your car’s 12-volt power or the battery and you’re good to go. Chuck in a disposable grease tray with your purchase and the clean-up will be as much of a dream as the cook.

Stats for the Green Mountain Davy Crockett Pellet Grill

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Barbecue material: Stainless steel

Grate material: Stainless steel

Cooking capacity: 219 square inches

Pellet hopper capacity: 9lbs

Heat range: 150-550°F

Model: Davy Crockett

Assembled size (in): 34″ W x 31.75″ H x 23″ D

Weight: 68lbs

Warranty: 2 years

Pros of the Green Mountain Davy Crockett Pellet Grill:

  • Great price for a pellet grill with WiFi
  • Rust-resistant stainless steel construction
  • Mid-sized smoker which is large enough for home use but small enough to still be portable
  • WiFi capabilities mean you can control and monitor your cook from the couch
  • Comes with a meat probe for internal temperature monitoring to smoke to perfection
  • Higher temperature range means that this smoker can be used for grilling too

Cons of the Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Pellet Grill:

  • Doesn’t hold the heat well in cooler conditions due to thinner steel construction
  • The pellet hopper isn’t huge so you might need to add more pellets mid-cook
  • Some general quality issues but for the price plus a two-year warranty, we still think it’s a great deal for beginners to smoking

 

Best Electric Smoker for Beginners:

Bradley Digital Smoker

Another set and forget model, the Bradley Digital Electric Cabinet Smoker is super simple to use. Perfect for the beginner who wants smoked meat without a fuss.

What we love about the Bradley Digital is that it features two heating elements, one to maintain an even temperature, while the other is exclusively for smoke production and regulation. But, you’ve also got stainless steel construction combined with an automatic feeder for wood biscuits, meaning this novel set-up gives the beginner supreme control and little room for error.

The clever automatic feed of wood chips regulates the cook for you whilst you focus on other things. Spend a minute or two with the control panel at the start setting your temperature, cook time and smoke level and your work is done until serving time. If like us, you’re glued to your smartphone, you can even set up your cook from the app, which will then notify you when it’s time to eat. Nifty!

Depending on how many mates you’ve got, or how hungry you are, go for the six rack or four rack model and load up with succulent cuts of juicy meat.

Stats for the Bradley Digital 6-Rack Smoker

Fuel type: Electric

Wattage: 500 watts

Barbecue material: Stainless steel

Grate material: Coated wire

Cooking capacity: 838 sq. in.

Model: BTDS108P

Dimensions: 21″ W x 31.1″ H x 21″ D

Weight: 60.5lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the Bradley Digital Electric Automatic Smoker:

  • Automatic wood feeding, electric smoker makes this a true set and forget barbecuing experience
  • Auto-off feature to avoid overcooking your food
  • Can be controlled via the app so you’re free to hang with mates or watch the game
  • Dual smoking elements for precise control over the heat and separate control over the amount of smoke created
  • Ash catcher makes clean up easy
  • Quality construction holds heat and smoke well for an efficient cook
  • The Bradley wood bisquettes are available in a wide range of flavors so you can achieve the perfect smoky flavor for each meal you make (the variety pack is great for beginners)

Cons of the Bradley Digital Electric Automatic Smoker:

  • 500-watt heating element is a little under-powered for running the larger, 6 rack model which means you’ll probably be smoking lower and slower but that also, generally, turns out better results
  • You need to buy the Bradley bisquettes or make your own

Best Kamado for Beginners:

Vision Grills Professional C-Series Kamado

If you’re keen on the idea of taking it back to the old school with a kamado grill, the Vision Grills Kamado is perfect for beginners as it’s packed with features that make it cinch for even a novice to use.

Right from lighting up, Vision Grills have your back with the time saving electric starter that’s included in some packages. Then, controlling the temperature and smoke levels is super easy with the top and bottom vents that are managed by separate and simple to use, control systems.

Because it’s a kamado design, the glazed ceramic body of the Vision Grills Kamado holds temperature and smoke very well to minimize your charcoal usage (costing you less), and making clean-up easy with less ash and a slide-our ash drawer.

But, if you’re hesitant about committing to a kamado-style barbecue because they do require a while to get going, you can even get an interchangeable gas insert for the Vision Grills Pro to convert it into a gas grill.

Built to be enjoyed for many cookouts to come, this great beginner unit will do you proud every single time. It’s a bargain deal for any beginner.

Stats for the Vision Grills Professional C-Series Kamado

Fuel type: Charocal

Barbecue material: Glazed ceramic

Grate material: Stainless steel dual flip grates with handles

Cooking capacity: 596 sq. in.

Temperature range: 200-700°F

Model: CF1F1

Dimensions: 47(H) x 22.5(W) x 28.8(D)

Weight: 252lbs

Warranty: Lifetime on ceramics, 5 years on metal, 90 days on shelves and temperature gauge

Pros of the Vision Grills Kamado Professional C-Series:

  • Electric starter makes it so easy and fast to light charcoal
  • Calibrated ProZone temperature settings are simple to use
  • Handles on stainless steel grates make it easy to add charcoal (just wear high heat gloves)
  • Multi-level grate arrangement significantly improves the capacity of this kamado vs others
  • Cart with lockable wheels makes it easy and safe to move around
  • Removable ash draw allows for easy cleaning
  • Can be turned into a gas grill by using the Vision Grills gas insert sold separately
  • Pro package comes with everything you need to get started including electric starter, cover, heat deflector plate, and more
  • Covered by a great warranty

Cons of the Vision Grills Kamado Professional C-Series:

  • Some reports of smoke leaking around the ash drawer, but, we didn’t find this to be an issue

Best Combo Smoker for Beginners:

Pit Boss Memphis Ultimate 4-in-1

This gem might look a bit daunting, but trust us, it’s a dream to use. And, for the beginner smoker who wants versatility, the Pit Boss Memphis is the top choice. Featuring a gas barbecue, a charcoal barbecue and an electric smoker all in one purchase, you really can create it all.

Soon you’ll be experimenting with 2.7 cubic feet of grill space over 3 racks. You’ve also got the option to offset the smoke into one of your grills allowing you to combination grill and smoke.

Offering 2,100 square inches overall, you’ll struggle to fill this grill real estate even if you invite the whole street. Thrown in, you’ve got two drawers, tool hooks, a preparation shelf and a bottle opener, so no need to leave your smoker’s side unless somebody scores. The locking caster wheels mean you won’t think twice about wheeling it out weekend after weekend.

The Pit Boss Memphis 4-in-1 will have you smoking some brisket, grilling some burgers and starting some steaks off on high heat. All at once. While sipping on a cold beer. If that’s not ‘cue heaven we don’t know what is.

Stats for the Pit Boss Memphis Ultimate 4-in-1

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

Model: 75952

Assembled size (in):47.5(H) x 74(W) x 25(D)

Weight: 183lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the Pit Boss Memphis Ultimate 4-in-1:

  • Charcoal, gas and electric combo lets you experiment with multiple ways to smoke and grill without having to buy more than one barbecue
  • Option to vent smoke into the gas grill for a quick, wood smoked flavor
  • Great value for money
  • Large cooking capacity
  • Porcelain-coated cast-iron grates clean up well and are long lasting
  • Comes with a built-in cart with plenty of room for storage and side shelves for convenience

Cons of the Pit Boss Memphis Ultimate 4-in-1:

  • Due to all the different components, it takes longer than usual to set up this barbecue together the first time
  • Combo barbecues do it all but don’t do everything exceptionally well. But, if you want the flexibility, the Memphis is definitely capable of creating some great meals

Best Offset Smoker for Beginners:

Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse

We’ll be real with you, if you’re new to smoking, the learning curve on a traditional offset smoker is kinda steep. But, practice is the only way to get good at it and if you want to learn how to smoke the Texas way then you might as well jump in and get yourself this baby.

The Oklahoma Joe Highland Reverse Flow Smoker is a great choice for anyone who’s new to offset smoking because it’s one, solid and two, has a few stand-out features. Made from quality painted steel that’s thick enough to hold a stable temperature, the reverse flow design is perfect for the less experienced because it naturally disperses the heat and smoke throughout the barrel, reducing the need to turn your meat as is a must in a traditional offset smoker. And, Oklahoma Joe’s are the only mainstream smoker manufacturer to produce a reverse flow model for home use.

The Highland Reverse model offers a generous yet not over the top, 619 square inches of cooking space. That’s plenty to smoke a whole brisket, a pork butt and maybe squeeze in a rack of ribs for lunch. But, if you’re wanting larger, there’s also the Longhorn, the Highland’s big brother, offering 751 square inches of smoking space in the main chamber.

Both of these models come with a sturdy cart with wheels, a side table, thermometer and cool-touch handles. Plus, you can grill directly over the coals in the firebox to reverse sear some steaks or quickly cook a burger or two.

Everything you need to get started smoking at a great price, the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse will set you up to earn pit-master status in your own backyard.

Stats for the Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Flow Offset Smoker

Fuel type: Charcoal

Barbecue material: Painted steel

Grate material: Porcelain-coated wire

Cooking capacity: 619 sq. in. primary, 281 sq. in. secondary

Model: 17202052

Assembled size (in): 53(H) x 57(W) x 33.5(D)

Weight: 180lbs

Warranty: 2 years

Pros of the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Smoker:

  • Reverse flow design offers superior heat and smoke distribution to the traditional offset smoker design, making it easier to get great results
  • Can also be set up as a regular offset smoker if you’d like
  • Large cooking capacity
  • Firebox doubles as a side grill to use while smoking
  • Use it as a charcoal grill by removing the baffle plate from the main cooking chamber and adding included grill grates
  • Comes with built-in stand, thermometer and front rack
  • Additional bung so you can add another thermometer for an even more precise understanding of your cook
  • Will last a lifetime with proper TLC
  • Great price

Cons of the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Smoker:

  • The offset smoker style takes a bit of practice to master
  • Does leak a bit of smoke (we never worried about fixing it), but you can add a Lavalock gasket for improved seal
  • If the steel gets too hot, the paint will flake off. But, it’s easily fixed by reapplying high-heat barbecue paint

Best Top of the Line Smoker for Beginners:

Memphis Grills Pro Pellet Smoker

If you’re just starting out but want to invest in a premium smoker that does everything and will last you for years to come, the Memphis Grills Pro Pellet Smoker is it.

Constructed from high-quality stainless steel with a double walled design and oven-grade gasket for superior insulation, this smoker could almost replace (and outshine) your regular kitchen oven. With two, large automatic pellet feeders and two fans to circulate heat, the Memphis Grills Pro can smoke for 62 hours without you needing to touch a thing.

But, it also comes with a perforated insert that enables you to grill with high-heat directly over the pellet fire so you can quickly whip up some smoky flavored steaks without having to fork out for a separate gas barbecue as well.

And, as you’d expect on a smoker of this quality, the Memphis Grills Pro Pellet Smoker is also WiFi enabled. Hook it up to your smart phone and take total control of your cook from anywhere you want to be. There’s even an upgraded #304 stainless steel version available for superior rust resistance, especially important if you live in a coastal area.

Stats for the Memphis Grills Pro Pellet Smoker

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Barbecue material: Double walled stainless steel (#430 model available or #340 upgrade for coastal areas)

Grate material: #340 stainless steel

Cooking capacity: 4,230 cubic inches

Pellet hopper capacity: 18 lbs

Heat range: Up to 600°F

Model: VG0001S4 (#430 stainless steel) and VG000S2 (#340 stainless steel)

Assembled size (in): 47(H) x 57(W) x 29(D)

Weight: 213lbs

Warranty: 30 days on meat probe, 3 years on electronics, 7 years on remaining parts

Pros of the Memphis Pro Pellet Grill and Smoker:

  • High quality #430 stainless steel or #304 upgrade for superior strength and rust-resistance in coastal areas
  • Double walled design for superior heat retention
  • Oven-quality gasket for a leak-proof seal
  • Dual fans to circulate heat for an even cooking environment
  • Perforated insert to allow you to grill directly over the pellet fire
  • One of the cheapest pellet grills to run due to it’s efficiency in retaining heat and smoke
  • Dual pellet hoppers which allows you to mix different flavored pellets for even more smoking options
  • WiFi control from your smart phone
  • Comes with a meat probe and cart with side shelves
  • Also available in a built-in version for integration with an outdoor kitchen
  • Long warranty

Cons of the Memphis Grills Pro Pellet Smoker:

  • Nothing – we can’t get enough of this smoker!

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