Smoking food is very rewarding when done right, but it’s also a very tricky business. As a beginner, you need to keep things simple but still get amazing results, and the best way to do this is with a beginner smoker.
Their ease of set up, ability to forgive your mistakes and internal temperature stability make certain smokers better suited for beginners than others.
You don’t need to find these smokers by yourself because this beginner smokers review offers you a list of the top beginner smokers in the market, plus lots of other helpful information.
What to Check Before Buying Best Beginner Smoker?
For a smoker to be rightly called a beginner smoker, it must offer certain features that make it stand out from other smokers and make it more valuable for beginners.
Following are these features and what to watch out for when deciding on a particular smoker to buy.
1. Ease of Use
As stated earlier, ease of use is very important when it comes to beginner smokers. What you’re looking for is a smoker that won’t give you a tough time to perfectly smoke meat with.
This means a smoker that’s easy to understand and run, one which is forgiving to your mistakes because you’ll be making lots of them as a beginner, and it shouldn’t cost much as well because you are still learning.
2. Cooking Surface
This refers to the available space inside the smoker, which determines how much food you can smoke at a go. Cooking surface is given in square inches and is usually available on two or more grates.
How much cooking surface you’ll need depends on the size of your family and friends. If you’ve got a small family, then about 300 sq. inches can do, else there are smokers with 800 and more sq. inches of cooking surface for larger groups.
3. Fuel Source
There are different types of smokers based on their fuel source. These types include charcoal smoker, which is the most popular, affordable and produces the best-smoked food aromas.
The other types include electric smokers, gas smokers, and pellet smokers, which use small wooden pellets as fuel and are usually a costly option, although they produce very authentic flavors.
This has a lot to do with the build quality of the smoker and depends on features like construction material, smoke and airflow design, maximization of fuel, as well as of heat.
An efficient smoker reduces your running costs and is more hands-free to cook with. Even when it costs more than cheaper options, it still offers you more savings in the long-term.
Some manufacturer will add plenty of accessories that make smoking easier in their package, while others will add fewer accessories. Depending on how you intend to cook, the accessories may be useful, or not.
Read More: Smoker Accessories You Need to Have
You’ll find smokers in all price ranges, so it’s left for you to make up your mind about how much you are willing to spend and then stick to it.
Also, because you want to buy a beginner smoker, the best advice is often to buy something low-priced. Once you’ve developed your smoking style and have gained more experience, you’ll then become free to get any smoker you want.
7 Best Beginner Smokers of 2021 Reviewed
1. Char-Broil 12701705P1 (Best Budget Propane Gas Smoker)
2. Weber 721001 (Best Charcoal Smoker)
3. Masterbuilt 20070910 (Best Digital Electric Smoker)
4. Smoke Hollow 44241GW (Best Propane Gas Smoker)
5. Char-Griller 06614 (Kamado-style)
6. Cuisinart COS-118 (Stylish & Portable)
7. Smoke Hollow 26142E (Electric Smoker for Large Families)
1. Char-Broil 12701705P1 – Best Budget with Propane Gas
- Cooking Surface: 595 square inches
- Fuel Source: Gas
If you want a propane gas smoker that’s affordable at the same time, then you may want to check out this offer from Char-Broil. It’s one of the best beginner smokers and it’s offered at a good price.
It offers 595 square inches of cooking surface and 4.4 cubic feet of space, which is large enough to cook meats for a medium-sized group of friends or family.
One interesting feature here is the included warming rack on top of the smoker, which lets you use the hot air that’s escaping from the top vent to keep anything warm.
There are three chrome-plated grates and porcelain-coated wood and water pans.
- Offers a large 595 square inches of cooking surface
- Wood and water pans are porcelain-coated
- Features a warming rack on top of the smoker
- Offered at a low and affordable price
- You can’t automate it like electric models
- It’s heavy and not portable
2. Weber 721001 – Best -Charcoal -Smoker
- Cooking Surface: 481 square inches
- Fuel Source: Charcoal
Weber’s Smokey Mountain Cooker is a good beginner smoker designed to offer you a fine and very reliable charcoal smoking experience every time. It’s made of porcelain-enameled steel and is available in three sizes of 14, 18, and 22 inches.
This offer is for the 18-inch model with a total cooking surface of 481 square inches, ideal to smoke enough meat for a small group of family or friends.
It also comes with a number of accessories, which include 2 nickel-plated cooking grates, a built-in thermometer, a water pan for keeping your meat moist and juicy, and a storage cover for the smoker.
One thing that might come across as off-putting is this smoker’s price, which is over twice as costly as base models from other manufacturers. If you want quality though, then you better pay for it. Weber backs it with a 10-year warranty.
More Detailed: Weber 721001 Review
- Offers a total of 481 sq. inches cooking space
- Feature a heat-resistant nylon handle
- Package includes a water pan and thermometer
- Comes with 2 cooking grates
- Charcoal smokers are not the easiest to use
- There is no glass window to see inside
- It’s comparatively costly as a charcoal smoker
3. Masterbuilt 20070910 – Best Digital Electric
- Cooking Surface: 730 square inches
- Fuel Source: Electric
- Temperature Range: 100 to 275° Fahrenheit
If you can’t handle the hassle of charcoal smokers, then check out this electric smoker from Masterbuilt because it promises to make smoking perfect meats a walk in the park.
With its “set it and forget it” control system, you can easily set both the cooking temperature and the time, then just let the smoker do its thing. The control system is digital, so you get precise temperatures between 100 and 275 degrees F.
There are four chrome-plated racks, which combine to offer a total smoking surface of 730 square inches, enough to smoke meats for small to medium-sized groups.
Another impressive feature of this smoker is the side loading system for wood chips. This makes it easy for you to load the wood chips that electric smokers need to create smoke without opening the smoker’s front door.
The body is also fully insulated, making it a top-rated beginner smoker, although it comes with just a 90-day warranty.
- This smoker offers you a precise digital temperature control
- It features 4 racks for a total of 730 square inches of space
- There’s an easy wood loading system on the side
- It comes with a 90-day warranty
- Many enthusiasts prefer charcoal to electric smokers
- It lacks a glass window to see your meat inside
4. Smoke Hollow 44241GW – Best with Propane Gas
- Cooking Surface: Over 1,000 square inches
- Fuel Source: Propane gas
If you’re looking for the best meat smoker for beginners and you’ve got the cash for it, then here’s an interesting offer to take a closer look at.
It offers 6.5 cubic feet of cooking space and includes 7 cooking grids, which include 4 standard grates, a sausage hanger, a rib rack, and two jerky grids. Using just the 4 standard grids, you’ll get a cooking surface that’s over 1,000 square inches large, making this the ideal smoker for large groups.
Other important features include the large glass window that lets you see what’s going on inside and the two 12,000-BTU stainless steel burners that you can use independently of each other.
This smoker is comparably large and heavy. So it’s in no way portable, and you’ll always need help in moving it. On the other hand, it comes with a 1-year warranty, two porcelain-coated wood chip pans, and a water pan.
- Offers enough space to cook for large gatherings
- Powered by two 12,000-BTU stainless steel gas burners
- Comes with 7 cooking grids for different meats
- Smoke Hollow backs it with a 1-year warranty
- It’s a costly smoker but it’s maybe worth it
- This smoker is large and heavy
5. Char-Griller 06614 – Kamado-style
- Cooking Surface: 153 square inches
- Fuel Source: Charcoal
- Temperature Range: 200 to 700° Fahrenheit
Here comes a beginner-friendly Kamado-style grill and smoker. It lets you experience the beauty of this type of smoker at a lower price than a traditional Kamado grill.
It features a triple walled chamber made using 22-gauge steel and able to keep up any temperature between 200 and 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it one of the best beginner smokers under $500 because you can either grill or smoke with it.
It’s also lighter than traditional Kamado grills and its well-positioned handles make it ideal for camping, tailgating, or having fun in the park.
Other important features include a thermometer, upper and lower dampers which control the internal temperature, an ash pan for easy cleanups, and a 5-year manufacturer warranty from Char-Griller.
More Detailed: Click here
- Features a beautiful design and nice color
- Includes accessories like a thermometer & ash pan
- It holds heat like a real Kamado grill
- Char-Griller backs it with a 5-year warranty
- There are only 153 sq. inches of cooking surface
6. Cuisinart COS-118 – Stylish & Portable
- Cooking Surface: 510 square inches
- Fuel Source: Charcoal
Standing 45 inches tall with an 18-inch width, this Cuisinart COS-118 offers you a stylish and spacious beginner-friendly smoker with 510 square inches of cooking surface on two racks.
These 18-inch racks are from stainless steel while the entire smoker housing and water bowl are from enameled steel. Extra features include a latching base for easy cleanup and a vertically hinged door for easier access to what you’re cooking.
The handles are stylish as well, making it both easier to carry around and giving it a distinct look from other similar smokers. Other standard features like a thermometer and two vents are available as well.
Cuisinart offers a 3-year warranty on this smoker and its price is good as well. It’s without doubt, one of the best budget smokers for beginners with small to medium-sized families.
- It offers 510 square inches of cooking surface
- Stylish design from Cuisinart makes it stand out
- You need only a screwdriver to set it up in just 15 minutes
- Backed by a 3-year warranty
- The package includes no recipe
- Its legs could get unsteady on uneven grounds
7. Smoke Hollow 26142E – Electric Beginner Smoker for Large Families
- Cooking Surface: 615 sq. inches
- Fuel Source: Electric
- Temperature Range: 175-325° Fahrenheit
If you don’t mind the rather crude look of this smoker, then you can benefit from a dependable smoker that’s offered at a low and attractive price.
In simple terms, you could call it a welded steel cabinet with racks and a heating element. This heating element uses 1,500 Watts of electric power to produce between 175-325° Fahrenheit of heat, and you can easily set the temperature you want.
For accessories, you get a porcelain coated water and chip tray, plus the two chrome-plated racks that offer a large cooking surface, and a commercial quality thermometer.
To be honest, this smoker is ugly, being made with simple welding processes, but it’s offered at a low, attractive price, and the maker backs it with a 1-year warranty, making it one of the best beginner smokers out there.
- Offers you precise temperature control
- Large 615 square inches of cooking surface
- Porcelain & chrome-coated parts make cleanup easy
- It comes backed by a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
- So many parts make its assembly a bit complicated
- It’s not stylish at all
Smoking Tips for Beginners
Smoking foods is a kind of arts and science combined, so although you may follow the rules, there’ll always be something different each time you cook.
For this reason, you’ll need to develop your own style and perfect it over time. Following are helpful tips that’ll help you get on top of your game in no time.
Tip 1. Meat Quality
While smoking is a great way to cook meats and other foods, you’ll only get the best results when you use the best ingredients, and that includes the meat. You should use meat that’s as fresh as possible and you shouldn’t smoke frozen meat. Let it thaw out completely first.
Tip 2. Wood & Flavors
You should know that the beauty of smoking lies in the flavors that the woods from traditional wood-smoking transfer to the meats. This smoky flavor helps make smoked meats so delicious, but all woods are not the same because some woods produce better flavors than others.
Popular woods include apple, hickory, oak, cherry, and pecan. Although some woods are better suited for smoking certain meats, such as using oak for smoking lamb, it remains a matter of personal preference in the end. So try them out and choose.
Tip 3. Moisture & Smoking
Without extra moisture, your meat will lose its juices and become dry and tough. To keep it juicy and tender, therefore, you’ll need to put some water in your water pan. Having this water also helps in maintaining the temperature and the humidity inside the smoker.
Tip 4. Smoking Time & Temperature
This is something that you’ll have to master with time. Different meats have different cooking times, depending on their fat content and on how large the piece of meat is. A quick-fix is to download any of the many smoking times and temperature charts as a guide until you’ve mastered it.
Tip 5. No Need To Flip It
While you need to flip your meats while grilling, you don’t need to do that when smoking. This is because the smoking process produces enough heat which slowly reaches all parts of the meat equally.
Tip 6. Use Meat Thermometers
Although you can rest assured that almost any type of meat will surely be cooked after about three to four hours of smoking, you can always use a meat thermometer in situations where you are uncertain.
Each type of meat has a minimum temperature that it should reach on the inside before you know that it’s properly cooked. For instance, pork needs a minimum of 145°-160° F, while a chicken is 165° F, rare beef is 130°-140° F, and well-done beef is 170°-180° F.
Tip 7. You can Smoke Pre-Cooked Meats
If you’re worried about reaching the suggested cooking temperatures of different meats, you can also pre-cook the meat before smoking. This way, you’ll be sure that it’s properly cooked and you wouldn’t have to smoke it for so long as well.
We’ve come to the end of this beginner smokers review and you’ve seen the top offers out there, including the charcoal fired and the electric and gas smokers.
You’ve also seen the round smokers, the shelf smokers, and the Kamado-style smokers. What you choose in the end anyway, is up to you.
You can go with Weber 721001 if you want the best charcoal smoker for beginners.
Or you can go with the Smoke Hollow 44241GW and its over 1,000 sq. inches if you are cooking for a mammoth crowd.
In this post:
- What to Check Before Buying Best Beginner Smoker?
- 2. Cooking Surface
- 7 Best Beginner Smokers of 2021 Reviewed
- 1. Char-Broil 12701705P1 – Best Budget with Propane Gas
- 2. Weber 721001 – Best -Charcoal -Smoker
- 3. Masterbuilt 20070910 – Best Digital Electric
- 4. Smoke Hollow 44241GW – Best with Propane Gas
- 5. Char-Griller 06614 – Kamado-style
- 6. Cuisinart COS-118 – Stylish & Portable
- 7. Smoke Hollow 26142E – Electric Beginner Smoker for Large Families
- Smoking Tips for Beginners