When you really love barbecue, that hankering for some low and slow, falling off the bone meat doesn’t just disappear when the weather starts to get cooler… But, if you want the same results without having to babysit your unit while you use four times the amount of fuel then you do need the right gear. So, what’s the best smoker for cold weather?
In this article we review the best smokers for cold climates. These ‘cue’s aren’t listed in any particular order. They’re all great to use when the temperature drops, it’s been raining for weeks on end, there’s a howling wind or you’re knee deep in snow. After all, it’s never a bad night to give the mrs a night off cooking and treat your friends or family to some oh-so-satisfying barbecued goodness!
And, once you’ve bought yourself one of these ‘cues, don’t forget to check out our 7 tips for cold weather smoking.
Kamado Joe Classic II
When it comes to saving you money on fuel consumption, heat retention is key for smoking in cold weather. And, no non-blanketed smoker offers better heat retention than a kamado.
Built with a dome-shaped, thick, ceramic shell, the Kamado Joe Classic II creates 360 degrees of radiant heat that’s perfect for no-fuss, low and slow cooking when the weather isn’t crash hot. With a cool-touch exterior, an industry leading gasket and stainless steel latch keeping the heat exactly where you want it, you should get approximately 8 hours of burn time out of quality lump charcoal without having to add more. Although it is a bit shorter than the 12 hours you’d expect from a Kamado Joe in better weather conditions, it’s still plenty for most cuts of meat. And, you can always just top it up if you want an even longer cook.
Another feature that makes the Kamado Joe Classic II stand out from other kamados on the market for cold weather cooking is the Kontrol Tower. This patented, cast-aluminum top vent is designed to keep wind and rain out of the cooking chamber while giving you precise temperature control for outstanding results when all you want is a warming and satisfying meal.
But, the Classic Joe’s cold weather features aren’t all that make this smoker so great. From it’s extreme versatility to the unique firebox design, the Kamado Joe Classic II rates as our absolute favorite all-round kamado.
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 for cold weather smoking:
- Thick ceramic shell locks in heat and radiates it from all angles
- Industry leading gasket gives an exceptionally good seal and lasts much longer than that of other kamado’s
- Stainless steel latch ensures a tight fit without heat or smoke leakage
- Kontrol Tower minimizes wind and rain from getting into the cooking chamber
- Allows hands-off cooking for up to 12 hours (less in adverse weather) so you don’t need to open the lid and let the heat escape to add more fuel
- It’s equally as good in warmer weather and doubles as a grill or pizza oven for summertime meals
Cons of the Kamado Joe Classic II for cold weather smoking:
- Limited cooking capacity compared to other types of smokers
Although the Kamado Joe is our favorite kamado on the market, if you want more options, check out our full article on the best kamado barbecues. Just keep in mind that when smoking in cold weather you need excellent heat retention. This means you should AVOID budget kamados and metal kamados (except for the well-insulated Caliber Pro) that’ll just lose heat and cost a fortune to run.
Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill
Offering a generous amount of smoking space plus completely hands-off operation, the Traeger Pro 34 inch pellet grill is another great choice for smoking in cold weather.
Thanks to the Digital Pro Controller with Advanced Grilling Logic, the Traeger Pro measures the temperature 60 times per second. This means that it knows exactly how many pellets to release into the fire to keep you within a tight 15°F of your target temperature at all times. And, yes, while this does mean more pellet usage when the weather isn’t so good, the branded insulation blanket will quickly pay for itself if cold weather smoking is on your agenda.
In terms of general use, the Traeger Pro 34 is a solid purchase that does everything it needs to and not much else. There’s no fancy features like WiFi connectivity, but, when this smoker is so good at keeping a steady temperature, what’s not to love about just setting and forgetting it while you get on with other things?
Being a dedicated smoker means this unit (like most pellet smokers) isn’t great for grilling. You can do it but we recommend using it for people who want to low and slow only, or, are happy having a second ‘cue for high-heat grilling.
The plus side of this is that there’s a tonne of space to smoke almost anything you can dream of. Eight chickens, forty burgers, seven racks of ribs, or a mix of all of that will be sure to satisfy your guests or give the family delicious leftovers for the week.
Stats for the Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill
Barbecue material: Powder-coated stainless steel
Grate material: Porcelain
Cooking capacity: 884 square inches
Pellet hopper capacity: 18 lbs
Temperature range: 160°F – 475°F
Fuel type: Wood pellets
Dimensions: 53″ W x 49″ H x 27″ D
Warranty: 3 years
Pros of the Traeger Pro 34 Pellet Grill for cold weather smoking:
- Automatic temperature control means you don’t need to babysit the unit, trying to get the amount of fuel just right for whatever the weather is doing
- Works with the Traeger 34 Series insulation blanket to minimize fuel usage in cold climates
- Comes with two meat probes so you can tell exactly when the meat is safe to eat and perfectly cooked
- Large pellet hopper capacity for hands-off smoking
- Large cooking capacity to satisfy that wintry appetite
- Also suitable for slow roasting and baking
Cons of the Traeger Pro 34 Pellet Grill for cold weather smoking:
- Temperature doesn’t get much hotter than 400 degrees so it’s not great for grilling
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
This bestselling and top rated smoker by itself isn’t ideal for smoking in cold weather. It’s thin metal shell will just bleed heat and even if you use a tonne of extra fuel, if it’s really cold out, you’ll probably be going hungry.
But, pair it with a specifically-made thermo blanket and, bam, you’ve got yourself a mean cold weather smoker that ticks a lot of boxes in terms of capacity, quality and versatility.
Thanks to it’s light weight and space saving vertical design, it’s also really easy to move the Weber Smokey Mountain to the most sheltered spot in your yard (before you light it up, of course), so you naturally minimize the effect of nasty wind and rain on your cook.
You’ll need to use more charcoal to get it up to your target temperature. But, the Weber Smokey Mountain’s quality dampers make maintaining low and slow temperatures simple. There’s also a removable fuel door so when it’s time to add more charcoal, you won’t have to take the lid off and move the meat, letting the heat you’re trying to create out of the cooking chamber.
Built with a porcelain-enameled shell, the Weber Smokey Mountain is rust-resistant enough to handle a bit of water being thrown at it.
And, it’s compatible with Weber’s iGrill 2 meat thermometers for hands-off monitoring of your cook so you can stay inside in the warm too. Available in three different sizes to suit your needs, the Weber Smokey Mountain is a competition-quality smoker that’s suitable for year-round use by simply dressing it up in a thermo blanket.
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 for cold weather smoking:
- Easy to insulate by simply purchasing a Weber Smokey Mountain Thermo Blanket
- Portable design makes it easy to move into the most sheltered position when the weather is bad (but never smoke indoors!)
- Removable fuel door means you can add fuel without losing valuable heat
- Quality porcelain-enameled shell is rust-resistant for adverse weather conditions
- Compatible with iGrill 2 for remote monitoring of meat temperature so you can stay warm indoors
- Competition-worthy results
Cons of the Weber Smokey Mountain for cold weather smoking:
- Smoker design doesn’t seal super tight and might leak some smoke around the door. This isn’t significant enough to affect your results but if you’re bothered by it you’ll want to install a high-heat gasket to prevent this from happening
The Good One Generation 3 Marshall Smoker
For all you offset smoking fans who want something that’s thick enough and tough enough to handle a bit of weather, the Marshall Smoker from The Good One is, very definitely… wait for it… a good one!
Unlike most offset smokers on the market, the Marshall is made from 11-gauge steel that’s thick enough to hold most of the heat without having to worry about insulating blankets. You will need to monitor the temperature more than you would do in summer. But, because of the unique design of this traditional smoker, it is possible to pull off successful smokes even in sub-zero temperatures.
Featuring an angled firebox that runs the entire length of the cooking chamber, the smoke rolls over the meat evenly, eliminating the need to shuffle things around mid-cook. There’s also nifty spinner vents that can be closed off to minimize fuel consumption and temperature spikes in windy conditions.
Because of it’s design, the Gen 3 Marshall Smoker is one of the most efficient offset smokers on the market in terms of fuel usage. And, while you will need more charcoal to run it in the cooler months, you won’t find yourself using outrageous amounts of fuel just to get yourself a warming, smokey feed.
Specs for The Good One Marshall Generation 3 Smoker
Fuel type: Charcoal and wood
Barbecue material: Painted 11-gauge steel
Grate material: Expanded steel
Cooking capacity: 2,849 sq in
Model: The Marshall Generation III
Assembled size (in): 55(H) x 38(W) x 46(D)
Warranty: 10 years
Pros of The Good One Marshall Gen III for smoking in cold weather:
- Truly heavy-gauge steel construction to minimize heat loss in cooler climates
- Angled, full-length firebox distributes heat and smoke evenly for an effortless cook
- Spinner air vents are easy to use allowing for precise temperature control, even in windy conditions
- Internal damper gives more control of heat and smoke control than regular dampers
- Wheels and castors make it easy to move and/or turn the unit depending on the wind direction
- Very large cooking capacity to make it worth your while to do a big, winter cook-up
- Efficient fuel usage
- Doubles as a grill if you want to whip up a quick lunch or a snack mid-cook
- Removable racks, drip and ash pans for easy clean-up inside in the warm
Cons of The Good One Marshall Gen III for cold weather smoking:
- Manual-style smoker does require regular monitoring to make sure the temperature stays within your target zone – it is NOT a set and forget!
Smokin-It Model #2
Last, but not least, in the cold weather smoking game is a heavy-duty electric model. The great thing about electric smoking in cold conditions is that maintaining your target temperature is completely effortless!
But, when the weather is really worse for wear, any old electric smoker won’t cut it. Most lack insulation in the thin metal sides and without a powerful enough heating element, you simply won’t be able to reach a safe cooking temperature.
That leads us to, the Smokin-It Model #2!
We know this smoker isn’t super pretty. But, you’ve got to remember that a pretty face isn’t the goal, a to-die-for meal is! And this baby will do just that.
Made from 100% heavy-gauge stainless steel with fiberglass insulation and a double-latch door system, the Smokin-It electric smokers do an excellent job of keeping the heat where you want it. The full stainless steel construction is also rust-resistant, giving you confidence that it’s still going to fair alright if it gets hit with some sideways rain.
But, to make it easy to move to the best cold weather smoking location, there’s also heavy-duty casters, side handles and a generous 12-foot power cord.
To set the temperature on the Smokin-It Model #2, simply turn it on and flick the dial to where you want it. Once it reaches your target temperature, it should stay within 25 degree window for reliably good results, independent of what the weather’s doing.
And, because there’s not much worse than standing outside in the cold trying to clean a barbecue after you’ve already enjoyed your meal, the external and removable drip pan paired with dishwasher-safe racks mean that you don’t have to.
The Smokin-It Model #2 really is a great value-for-money smoker that does an excellent job in cold climates.
Stats for the Smokin-It Model #2 Electric Smoker:
Barbecue material: Double walled 18 gauge, 201 stainless steel with fiberglass insulation
Grate material: Stainless steel
Cooking capacity: 1,247 sq. in.
Fuel type: Electric
Wattage: 800 watts
Model: Model #2
Assembled size (in): 28.25”H x 17”W x 20.5”D
Warranty: 3 years
Pros of the Smokin-It Model #2 for cold weather smoking:
- Insulated stainless steel smoker reduces heat loss in cold climates
- Double latch on the door creates an excellent seal against the elements
- Set and forget temperature control
- Using electricity as your fuel source means you never need to stock up on extra fuel during the winter
- 201 stainless steel is rust-resistant allowing it to handle a bit of adverse weather
- Castor wheels and long power cord make it easy to move the smoker to the best location to shelter it from the wind and rain
- Removable cooking grates and drip pan mean less time spent outside cleaning in the cold
- Available in three different sizes to minimize electricity consumption or max out cooking capacity depending on your needs
Cons of the Smokin-It Model #2 for cold weather smoking:
- You will need to add wood chips every now and then which means a trip outside into the cold
- There’s no side loading port to add wood chips so you do need to open the door to do this which will lose you some heat