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.
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The Best Vertical Smokers for 2021
Camp Chef XXL WiFi Vertical Pellet Smoker - Best Pellet
Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker - Best Offset
Pit Barrel Cooker - Best Ugly Drum
Backwoods Chubby 3400 - Best Heavy-Duty
Bradley Digital Electric - Best Electric
Masterbuilt ThermoTemp Propane Smoker - Best Propane
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.
Specs 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 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
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 Pellet Smoker:
Camp Chef Vertical XXL WiFi 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 2021-style, you also have digital temperature controls with WiFi, Smart Smoke Technology to let you set the smoke levels independently of the heat, and, 2 meat 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 WiFi Vertical Pellet Smoker will have you tidied up in minutes, so you can get back to chilling out
Specs for the Camp Chef XXL WiFi Vertical Pellet Smoker
Fuel type: Pellets
Barbecue material: Dual stainless steel door
Grate material: Unspecified
Cooking capacity: 2,408 sq. in.
Pellet hopper capacity: 18lbs
Temperature range: 150-350°F
Dimensions: 55(H) x 24(W) x 15.5(D)
Warranty: 3 years
Pros of the Camp Chef XXL WiFi Vertical Pellet Smoker:
- Uncommon, vertical pellet smoker style
- Set and forget smoking and baking with WiFi connectivity
- Accurate temperature control thanks to the PID-based system
- Lets you set the smoke level independently of the heat
- 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 WiFi Vertical Pellet Smoker:
- Can leak a bit of smoke
- Dedicated smoker only
Best Vertical Offset 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.
Specs 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.
Dimensions: 50.2(H) x 35(W) x 21(D)
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:
- Steel box is thinner than more expensive offset smoker models which does mean greater heat loss
- Expect that this smoker won’t be an ultra-tight build and plan to install a quality gasket tape and seal joins with high-heat silicone if smoke leakage is going to bother you. Here’s a kit that includes both.
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.
Specs 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
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:
- Extra long barbecue gloves will come in handy to get the meat out without burning yourself
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.
Specs 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)
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 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.
Specs for the Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker
Barbecue material: Stainless steel
Grate material: Coated wire
Cooking capacity: 520 sq. in.
Fuel type: Digital electric
Wattage: 500 watts (heating element), 125 watts (smoking element)
Temperature range: Up to 320ºF
Assembled size (in): 17(W) x 14(D) x 31(H)
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 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 Propane 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 961 square inches of cooking real estate, plenty to feed the family with a heap to spare.
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.
Specs for the Masterbuilt ThermoTemp Propane Smoker 40"
Fuel type: Propane gas
Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel
Grate material: Chrome-plated wire
Cooking capacity: 961 sq. in.
Number of burners: 1
Total burner BTU-per-hour-input: 15,750
Model: MPS 340|G AKA MB20051316
Assembled size (in): 43.11 (H) x 23.42 (W) x 20.03 (D)
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