Home Reviews The Best Vertical Smokers for 2019

The Best Vertical Smokers for 2019

by Burning Brisket

As we all know, hot air rises. And, the cool thing about that is that vertical smokers are designed to make use of this law of physics to make meat that’s more tender, more juicy and more tasty. So, whether you’re just starting out in the world of smoking, or you’ve been giving hunks of meat the low and slow treatment for decades, there’s no denying that a vertical smoker is an awesome weapon when it comes to supersizing portions and flavor.

To make it easy for you to find the best vertical smoker for you, we’ve rounded up the top choices on the market today. Here you’ll find all the info, pics, specs, pros and cons you need to decide which one is right for your backyard. We’ve also provided links to buy these vertical smokers on Amazon so all you’ll need to do is get down to the butchers and pick yourself up a nice joint for your next cookout. Just be warned, your family and friends will be begging you to smoke every weekend once they get a taste of your mouth-watering ribs, brisket or pork butt.

Best Ugly Drum Smoker:

Pit Barrel Co. Cooker

We’re starting this list of the best vertical smokers with the good old UDS. And, whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that the Pit Barrel Co. Cooker provides unbeatable value and unparalleled cooking.

Don’t be fooled by this barbecue’s plain looks! Sometimes basic is best and the Pit Barrel Cooker makes it super easy to make your own charcoal smoked meats in your backyard or on the go.

Making use of a porcelain-enameled steel drum, the vertical design of this ‘cue shortens regular smoking times by creating a vertical shaft of heat and smoke that’s directed right where you want it. You also don’t need to stand there and monitor the temperature all the time. Just fire it up, load it up with the goods and sit back to enjoy a cold one while dinner cooks.

Included in the package price are all the racks and hooks you need for the ultimate flexibility in what you cook and how you cook it. You’ll also get a couple of the Pit Barrel Co’s delicious dry rubs so once this baby arrives you’re seriously good to go – it doesn’t even need seasoning before use!

But, if this smoker is out of stock when you go to order it, just try back. It’s so popular that it sells out quickly but is restocked fairly frequently.

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:

  • The top rated smoker on Amazon.com
  • Capable of turning out competition-quality meats
  • Unbeatable value for money
  • Long-lasting porcelain-coated shell
  • Doesn’t take up much room but can hold a lot of meat thanks to the included hooks and racks
  • Can be used to smoke or grill
  • Easy to use
  • Doesn’t require constant temperature monitoring
  • Faster cook times than most other smokers
  • Doubles as a portable smoker

Cons of the Pit Barrel Cooker:

Best Vertical Charcoal Smoker:

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Solid, durable and capable of exceptional results, if you’re in the market for a charcoal vertical smoker, the Weber Smokey Mountain is our top pick.

Backed by the most well-known name in barbecue (and their impressive warranty), this unit has been thoughtfully designed to make smoking easy, and, great results achievable, by everyone and anyone.

The body is made from hard-wearing, porcelain-enameled steel and the elongated kettle body with quality dampers make temperature and smoke control cinch. Simply use the separate fuel door to add charcoal and wood chips and load up the stainless steel racks with your favorite cuts of meat, sit back and relax. The Smokey Mountain Cooker is also compatible with Weber’s internal meat thermometers, iGrill 2, which can send real-time temperature readings to your phone to let you know exactly when your meat is done.

Available in three different sizes, the Weber Smokey Mountain is a solid smoking investment that even doubles as a portable barbecue.

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.

Model: 731001

Dimensions: 48.5(H) x 23(W) x 24(D)

Weight: 68lbs

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:

  • One of the top rated smokers on Amazon.com
  • Durable, porcelain-enameled body that’s backed by a 10 year guarantee
  • Suitable for beginners to advanced, competitive pit masters
  • Small footprint
  • Available in three different sizes to suit your needs
  • Adding extra coal and wood mid-cook is easy thanks to the large, removable fuel door
  • Quality dampers for precise temperature and smoke control
  • Works with Weber’s iGrill 2 for real-time, hands-off monitoring of internal meat temperature
  • Portable

Cons of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker:

  • Unlike most of the Weber range, there’s no handy hook to put the lid on while you’re tending to the meat. But, being a smoker instead of a grill, you shouldn’t need the lid off too often
  • A little smoke can leak from around the door, but, in our opinion, this isn’t a problem at all

Best Vertical Offset Smoker:

Oklahoma Joe's Bandera Smoker and Grill

Solid, reliable and huge – The Bandera from Oklahoma Joe is our pick for the best vertical offset smoker. With 738 square inches of vertical smoking space and a bonus 254 inches to grill on, this bad boy is ideal for anyone who wants traditional, charcoal smoked barbecue but doesn’t have the space for a horizontal offset smoker in their backyard.

The separate firebox chamber makes it easy to build and add to your fire to get everything just right without disrupting the heat and smoke level in the cooking chamber. Then, simply adjust the quality dampers and sit back while all that smoky goodness filters through your meat and out the centralized chimney.

Included with the Bandera Smoker are 4 adjustable cooking grates, two rib racks and meat hanging hooks. These standard accessories alone will give you a huge amount of flexibility in terms of being able to arrange different cuts of meat in the best configuration for maximum results.

Whether you’re using straight charcoal or adding wood chips for bonus flavor, the heavy-gauge steel and quality build of this unit will see you through decades of home smoking. Add to that an easy clean-out ash door and a strong cart with a couple of storage shelves and you can’t go wrong with this top choice.

Stats for the Oklahoma Joe's Bandera Smoker and Grill

Fuel type: Charcoal

Barbecue material: Heavy-gauge steel

Grate material: Porcelain-coated wire

Cooking capacity: 744 sq. in. primary, 248 sq. in. secondary

Model: 16202020

Dimensions: 63(H) x 39.3(W) x 28(D)

Weight: 198lbs

Warranty: 2 years

Pros of the Oklahoma Joe’s Bandera Smoker and Grill:

  • Made from heavy-gauge steel that’ll last for years with proper care
  • Offset design makes it easy to adjust your fire without letting all the heat and smoke out of the main chamber
  • Large cooking capacity
  • Small footprint
  • Comes standard with flat racks, rib racks and hooks so you can arrange meat how you like it
  • Suitable for smoking and grilling
  • Built-in temperature gauge
  • Cool-touch spring handles
  • Large ash door for easy cleaning
  • Sturdy cart with storage shelves and wheels to make it easy to move

Cons of the Oklahoma Joe’s Bandera Smoker and Grill:

Best Vertical Electric Smoker:

Bradley 4-Rack Digital Smoker

When it comes to vertical electric smokers, we simply can’t go past the Bradley Digital 4-Rack Electric Smoker. This unit is not only well-made but it’s kitted out with all the technological extras that makes electric smoking truly hands-off.

Starting with a polished, rust-resistant stainless steel cooking chamber and an epoxy coated exterior wall, this dual layered smoker box holds heat effectively and is easy to clean.

But, where the difference really starts to shine is in it’s automatic control features. Simply set the digital controller to your required temperature, load it up with briquettes and get busy with something else while your dinner cooks. With not one but two heating elements, the cooking temperature will be self-regulated while the second element takes care of smoke creation. This feature that’s unique to the Bradley Digital gives you greater control over how you like to smoke. Set it to maximum smokiness over low-and-slow heat, or, turn it down for a more delicate smoked finish. The auto-feed briquette system will keep a steady supply of smoke going so you don’t even need to add wood-chips.

There’s also a smartphone app for completely remote control, and, the auto-off feature will make sure that overcooked meat is a thing of your past.

Stats for the Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker

Barbecue material: Stainless steel

Grate material: Coated wire

Cooking capacity: 572 sq. in.

Fuel type: Electric

Wattage: 500 watts (heating element), 125 watts (smoking element)

Temperature range: Up to 280ºF

Model: BTDS76P

Assembled size (in): 17(W) x 14(D) x 31(H)

Weight: 57lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker:

  • Automatic briquette feeding system makes this a true set and forget vertical smoker
  • Auto-off feature prevents overcooked barbecue
  • Smartphone app lets you control your cook remotely
  • Dual heating elements give total control as one sets heat level and the other regulates the smoke
  • Ash catcher makes cleanup easy
  • Long-lasting stainless steel construction
  • Available in two sizes depending on your needs
  • Bradley briquettes come in more than 16 flavors so you’ll have plenty of variety

Cons of the Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker:

  • Dedicated smoker that ONLY DOES low and slow temperatures – you can’t grill on it
  • You’ll need to buy the Bradley briquettes to use the auto-feed feature
  • Not great at holding heat well in cooler climates and because of the smaller heating power, it’s not recommended for use in the snow or other cold conditions

Best Vertical Pellet Smoker:

Camp Chef Vertical XXL Pellet Smoker

If pellets are your fuel of choice, you’ll feel right at home with this vertical version of the pellet smoker from Camp Chef. This unit is XXL by name and XXL by nature, with four meat racks, three jerky racks and a sausage rack with twelve hooks.

But, because this is smoking 2019-style, you also have digital temperature controls, Smart Smoke Technology and dual-meat temperature probes. It’s a true set and forget barbecue, leaving you free to sip on that ice-cold beer, keep an eye on the kids and chat to the lads. Who said pit-masters can’t multitask?

Once you’ve enjoyed every juicy mouthful, the Grease Management system and Ash Cleanout system on the Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker will have you tidied up in minutes, so you can get back to chilling out.

Stats for the Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker

Fuel type: Pellets

Barbecue material: Dual stainless steel door

Grate material: Unspecified

Cooking capacity: 1,950 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 18lbs

Temperature range: 150-350°F

Model: PGVXXL

Dimensions: 55(H) x 24(W) x 15.5(D)

Weight: 145lbs

Warranty: 3 years

Pros of the Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker:

  • Uncommon, vertical pellet smoker style
  • Set and forget smoking and baking
  • Accurate temperature control
  • Large cooking capacity
  • Small footprint
  • Also comes with jerky racks and hanging hooks
  • Internal fans circulate heat for an even cook
  • Clear pellet hopper window so you can see when it needs a top-up
  • Sturdy castor legs make it easy to move
  • Easy to clean

Cons of the Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker:

  • Can leak a bit of smoke

Best Heavy-Duty Vertical Smoker:

Backwoods Chubby 3400 Charcoal Smoker

If you’re a serious smoking addict and need a unit that’s going to last, this hardcore, professional-level model from Backwoods is for you.

At only 130lbs, the Backwoods Chubby 3400 is designed to be taken on all your camping trips, beach days and tailgates. But, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of room to give everyone a belly busting meal. You can easily cook a brisket, leg and thigh combos, a rack of ribs and a pork butt all at once without breaking a sweat.

Best of all, by simply removing the water pan, your smoker converts and you have yourself a nifty little grill or BBQ pit. You’ll quickly become attached to this unit’s supreme versatility and incredible results.

Stats for the Backwoods Chubby 3400

Fuel type: Charcoal

Barbecue material: Stainless steel cooking chamber with powder coated exterior box

Grate material: Nickle plated wire

Cooking capacity: 1,023 sq. in.

Temperature range: 180-300°F

Model: Chubby 3400

Dimensions: 29(H) x 21(W) x 20.5(D)

Weight: 138lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the Backwoods Chubby 3400 Charcoal Smoker:

  • No assembly required
  • Double walled design provides supreme insulation making it suitable for use in cooler climates
  • Quality latches help to create a great seal that doesn’t leak heat or smoke
  • Stainless steel cooking chamber is rust-resistant
  • Powder coated exterior gives excellent protection for use on the go
  • Small enough to be portable but large enough to still feed a small crowd
  • Doubles as a grill or bbq pit by simply removing the water pan
  • Award winning design that’s easy for beginners to use but also capable of turning out competition-quality meats
  • Easy to clean due to stainless steel inside

Cons of the Backwoods Chubby 3400 Charcoal Smoker:

  • Only 29 inches tall so it’s easier to use if you’ve got a table to sit it on or at least get the add-on casters to raise it a little
  • The 1 year warranty is rather short for such a well-built smoker

Best Propane Vertical Smoker:

Masterbuilt ThermoTemp Propane Smoker

If you prefer fueling your smoking with gas, the propane vertical smoker you need in your life is the Masterbuilt ThermoTemp.

The real point of difference with this model compared to other propane smokers is the unparalleled temperature regulation. Their patent-pending ThermoTemp technology allows the temperature sensor to control the burner, so any fluctuations are automatically ironed out at the source without you having to adjust the gas bottle. There’s also an inbuilt heat-diffuser to distribute that well-managed heat evenly, guaranteeing you stellar results every single time.

But, what also makes this propane smoker invaluable is its unique safety feature. Instead of just leaving the propane flowing if the flame burns out (like on most gas smokers), the Masterbuilt ThermoTemp comes standard with a safety valve which shuts the fuel off automatically when there’s no flame. There’s also no danger of running out of gas mid-cook thanks to the fuel level gauge which makes it simple to see exactly how much propane you’ve got left in your tank.

You’ve also got cooking space for days with this model. Four smoking racks amount to 700 square inches of cooking real estate, plenty to feed the family. Or, upgrade to the 40-inch model if you’re hosting.

As well as impeccable design and sturdy materials, the wood chip tray has its own door. It’s yet another nifty little feature designed to minimize heat loss and maximize flavor on this excellent bit of kit.

Stats for the Masterbuilt ThermoTemp Propane Smoker 30"

Fuel type: Propane gas

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel

Grate material: Chrome-plated wire

Cooking capacity: 713 sq. in.

Number of burners: 1

Total burner BTU-per-hour-input: 15,750

Model: MPS 340|G

Assembled size (in): 43.11 (H) x 23.42 (W) x 20.03 (D)

Weight: 75lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the Masterbuilt ThermoTemp Propane Smoker:

  • The unique self-regulating propane temperature control minimizes any temperature variations for an easy and consistent cook
  • Contains a heat diffuser for an even temperature throughout
  • Nifty fuel level gauge shows you exactly how much propane you’ve got left
  • Safety valve conveniently turns off the gas if the flame is blown out by the wind
  • Double door design means you can add wood chips and water without disrupting your cook
  • Available in two sizes depending on your needs

Cons of the Masterbuilt ThermoTemp Propane Smoker:

  • Glass door looks good but doesn’t really work well as it’ll fog up once your cook gets going

Best Budget Vertical Smoker:

Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker

Shout out to all the smokers on a budget! There’s no need to suffer substandard results at the hands of a cheaper machine. The Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker is the answer to your prayers.

And, as an offset smoker, you’re guaranteed to achieve that traditional low-and-slow awesomeness that’s the stuff of daydreams. Despite its reasonable price tag, the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker is made from heavy-duty steel for durability. Yes, it’s a bit thinner than most expensive models. But, if you’re smoking in warmer conditions or, don’t mind putting a bit more fuel on the fire, this unit is definitely capable of turning out some decent chow.

Size isn’t an issue either, with 784 square inches across six grates to smoke on, the Dyna-Glo Vertical should handle around 100lbs of food at a time. Heat loss is minimized thanks to the dual door design, whilst versatility and control are taken care of with the adjustable flue and handy temperature gauge. There’s also a steel ash pan that’s large enough to hold a decent amount of ash, meaning there won’t be any heat-wasting mid-cook clean-ups and packing down at the end of your cook will be a doable.

At the end of the day, Dyna-Glo has packed a lot into a bargain price with this vertical offset smoker, making it perfect as an entry model for backyard smoking.

Stats for the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker

Fuel type: Charcoal

Barbecue material: Heavy-gauge steel

Grate material: Chrome-plated steel

Cooking capacity: 1,176 sq. in.

Model: DGO1176BDC-D

Dimensions: 50.2(H) x 35(W) x 21(D)

Weight: 57lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker:

  • Inexpensive, entry-level model for backyard smoking
  • Offset design creates traditional tasting charcoal and/or wood smoked meats
  • Large cooking capacity without taking up a tonne of room in your yard
  • Made from heavy-duty steel which will last a long time with proper care
  • Comes with a charcoal burner box to keep the coals packed nice and tight for better efficiency
  • Adjustable flue height helps to control temperature
  • Built-in thermometer with ‘smoke zone’ markings to make it easy to tell when your fire is just right
  • Large, removable ash pan means you don’t need to clean up mid-cook

Cons of the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker:

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