The perfect buying guide on the best charcoal smoker

Today, we want to take a look at another great way to smoke meat, using the best charcoal smoker.

We want to look at the best Charcoal smoker options available on the market, and give you a guide on how to pick one.

As most of us know, there are many ways to cook meat.

Smoking meat has always been a totally different cooking approach than grilling it.

Mainly, smoking meat is done with indirect heat, whereas grilling is not.

As always, we suggest that you take a look at our smokers 101 guide if you are new to smoking.

There, you will find everything you need to know about smoking.

Additionally, if you are unsure if a charcoal smoker is what you are looking for, then take a look at our buying guide.

After all, only you know what are the specifications you need, and what are the main features you are looking for in your ideal smoker.

Nevertheless, this guide will help you find the best charcoal smoker regardless of your needs. So let’s get started!


Best charcoal smoker

What is charcoal?

the first thing you should know before you look at any of these products is what exactly is charcoal? And, how does it work.  Firstly, charcoal is a very light black carbon.  Mainly, charcoal is mostly made by heating up wood or any other substance, when there is no oxygen. 

There are many advantages to using charcoal as compared to just burning another substance such as wood for example.

Basically, by using charcoal you are removing the need of other components.

Which, in turn allows the charcoal to burn to much higher degrees.

More importantly, the use of charcoal produces hardly any smoke.

Moreover, charcoal has many uses. But, for our purposes it is an excellent cooking fuel.  

Furthermore, the most common charcoal is usually made from  substances like coal, petroleum, and wood(among others).

More importantly, make sure you take into account a few things when it comes to charcoal.

No matter which type you are using(as  you are about to see some of these types), take into consideration the following pointers.

Firstly, do not put the coal into your charcoal smoker before they are ready.

Secondly, You should use a chimney starter to light your coal and nothing else.

Thirdly, do not heat both sides of your smoker to the same degree of temperature.

Types of charcoal to use 

Charcoal briquettes

There are a few types of different charcoal types you can use.

Firstly, you should consider using charcoal briquettes. Mainly, it is the most popular type of charcoal in the US.  

This type of charcoal is extremely popular due to how inexpensive it is.

Moreover, they are very easy to prepare and not difficult to get a hold of.

Briquettes are made of wood, and contain other material such as starch, that will inevitably make it burn better.

More importantly, Briquettes will burn constantly and are perfect for those looking to cook dishes that take less time to make such as Steak.

Hardwood lump charcoal

On the other hand, you also have hardwood lump charcoal.

Namely, this is made out of charred wood. Additionally, hardwood lump charcoal does not have any of the ingredients that you would see in briquettes.

Moreover, you have to take into account that this type of charcoal is way more expensive than briquettes. 

But, it does burn cleaner and is easier to start. Thus, it produces very little smoke.

And, because the pieces of which is made is actual wood, you can get that smoky flavor in your dishes.

In addition, as you could have imagined, it also burns a lot hotter than briquettes.

Nevertheless, do not forget that the heat briquettes is still more consistent.

White charcoal

Thirdly, we have white charcoal Which, is a pure charcoal from Japan.

Especially relevant about this type of charcoal is that it can burn at very high temperatures.

Moreover, it produces no smoke. And, still last you at least 3 hours smoking.

Hence, it is quite the useful charcoal to have for your cooking.  

However, please note that this is probably the most expensive charcoal available.

Additionally, it can be more difficult to turn on compared to other types of charcoal.

Especially, if you are new to igniting charcoal for your charcoal smoker. 


Best Charcoal Smoker: how to use a charcoal smoker?

Before we take a look at the best charcoal smoker options. Let’s briefly take a look at how to use one.

Firstly, you want to make sure you get your charcoal heated. Normally, this is done in a Chimney, more specifically a charcoal chimney.

As the name suggest, it is simply a container where you can get your charcoal heated before placing it on your charcoal smoker.

This is a pretty straight forward process, you put the charcoal in the chimney and let it heat for about 15-20 minutes.

It is important to remember that if you don’t have a charcoal chimney, you still need to preheat the charcoal before adding it to the smoker.

Afterwards, place the charcoal to your smoker and make sure to have a pile of charcoal that’s not lit on one side of the smoker.

Then, pour some of the heated charcoal on top of the unlit pile, slowly.

Don’t forget to arrange one side of the smoker with the charcoal and then add the meat on the other side of the smoker.

Namely, so that the meat is cooked with the smoke and indirect heat, you want to avoid direct heat above all.

Furthermore, add wood chunks to give your meat that tender savory flavor you want.

Wood chunks smoke for long periods of time, a key aspect to combine with the best charcoal smoker possible.

You want to place the wood with the charcoal in the chimney(if you have a chimney).

But, separate it from the charcoal once you move it to the smoker.

Final steps

Follow that up by placing a 3/4 to full cold water pan. This is great to make sure you get sufficient vapor.

Remember the water pan will most likely sit in the center of the smoker.

The water is key in helping you reach that even temperature where you want to smoke at.

 Particularly, at first when the temperature is a bit higher than where you want it to be. Finally, place your meat on the grate.

You then want to create an air flow that circulates the smoker by setting the lid in a way to that the vents are above the meat being smoked.


Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

Our first option for best charcoal smoker is the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D.

As the name suggests, it is manufactured by Dyna-Glo which is Chicago based and specializes in outdoor grills and inside/outside heating products.

They are a subsidiary of GHP GROUP, INC, a manufacturing company that focuses on fireplaces, portable heating products, and barbecue grills.​

They are very well known in the United States, and you can find their products just about anywhere in the country.

The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D comes in two options, a standard size and a wide size.

Furthermore, both options allow you to add a custom fit premium cover for an additional cost of 30 USD.

The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D counts with a wood chip box made out of porcelain enameled steel.

Additionally, the dual door design makes sure you don’t lose much heat while placing more wood chips throughout the smoking.

On the other hand, you are guaranteed a long lasting charcoal smoker.

Because, of its steel body construction, that counts on a high temperature powder coat finish.

Specifications and features

The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D is 20.2 x 34.5 x 47 inches, and It weighs 57 pounds.

However, the shipping weight is 76.8 pounds. It comes with over 700 total square inches of smoking.

And allows you to smoke up to 100 pounds of meat at once. It includes a 15,000 BTU heavy duty cast iron Burner.

Furthermore, you will be able to start it up relatively quickly thanks to the electronic ignition system that comes with it.

Thanks to its offset functionality, you won’t have to worry about the food on the bottom racks from cooking too fast.

We consider it one of the best charcoal smoker options because you get all these features, under 200 USD.

You can get this charcoal smoker for 154.98 USD. Quite honestly, it is a bargain!

It also includes a temperature gauge, and a smokestack with flue and a grease/condensation management system. 

Furthermore, it comes with 6 grates that are adjustable allowing you to appreciate it’s vertical design.

Not to mention that It is listed as Amazon’s choice in Charcoal smokers.

A quite note too, is that this item ships outside of the US(of course you have to check which countries).

Finally, unlike most charcoal smokers, this one comes with a user manual, that is quite clear.

Similarly, it has a 1 year warranty for manufacturer defects. You also get a good specific pdf of the warranty as well.

Often times, we find that some of these manufacturers do not give a clear concise warranty explanation.

That won’t be the case with the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D. It is without a doubt one of the best charcoal smoker options on the market.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Dual door design for minimal heat loss
  • Steel body construction
  • Over 700 square inches of total smoking area
  • plus
    Wood chip box made out of porcelain enameled steel

Cons:

  • Some customers complained about receiving dented doors, from bad packaging.

Despite the fact that the packaging for delivery might not be the best, this is without a doubt one of the best charcoal smoker options you can get.

The amount of features, and versatility this smoker grants you are second to none.


Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black

Our next option for best charcoal smoker is definitely the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch.  

Manufactured by Weber, one of the industry's leaders in smokers, you know you are getting a top notch smoker.

Weber has revolutionized backyard cooking, they focus on making products for all their consumers, from beginners to experts.

Weber will make sure that their product will get nothing but rave reviews.

Hence, we expected the same from this charcoal smoker.

The Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker has everything you can ask for in a smoker, from features, to  versatility, to design.  

You are bound to get the most delicious and savory meats possible. So long as you have a recipe, this smoker will execute it to perfection.

Features and specifications

The Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker comes in 3 sizes.  

A 14 inch, 18 inch, and 22 inch. Giving you tremendous versatility for your specific needs.  

You also have the option to purchase add-ons.  It comes in black, and has dimensions of 14.75 x 14.75 x 31.4 inches.

Additionally, it weighs 23 pounds, while having a shipping weight of 28.15 pounds. 

It is a perfect water smoker for beginners. Furthermore, you can purchase an expert assembly for an extra 125.95 USD.

While it is not needed, it is a nice option to have, specially for beginners.  

It has a built in thermometer, that allows you to monitor the internal temperature of your smoking.

This is something that most smokers only have as an add-purchase. 

On the other hand, the door is made out of rust resistant aluminum.

With the purpose of allowing you to add fuel easily. Furthermore you can have total control of the airflow during the smoking thanks to air dampers.

Especially relevant, is the fact that the smoker gives you even more temperature control thanks to the porcelain enameled charcoal chamber.

Which, keeps your fuel concentrated in one area.

Additionally, you also have a porcelain enameled water pan, to help you add steam while smoking.

And,  a silicone grommet that allows you access into the smoker to probe the temperature.

Take note , that for the sizes, it really depends on how much space you have and who your audience is going to be.

For example, the 18 inch size is ideal if you plan on entertaining groups of over 30 on a regular. 

If that is not your plan, the go with the 14 inch, this is perfect for family style cooking, and not taking up a huge space in your backyard. 

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Built in thermometer
  • Porcelain enameled charcoal chamber
  • Aluminum fuel door built to resist rust
  • plus
    Easy access into the smoker with  a high temp silicone grommet
  • plus
    Excellent pricing

Cons:

  • Can be a bit complicated to setup initially

The Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker is hands down the best charcoal smoker you can get your hands on.

It has a ton of features and versatility.

We always say that the one of the biggest things to remember when it comes to smoker purchases, is that it has to be the best fit for your particular needs and specifications.

This is the only Charcoal smoker on the market that gives you variety within the same smoker with the sizes.

Hence, satisfying customers of all types, whether you are just cooking for your own family, or for large groups. ​

Without a doubt this is one of the best charcoal smoker options available.


Alternative best Charcoal smoker: Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill - Red

The next charcoal smoker we will be reviewing is the Char-Griller Akorn Jr.

This smoker is manufactured by Char-Griller.

A company that specializes in grilling, and providing clients not only with great backyard smoking and grilling options but also with anything else they may need, such as recipes and tips.

This Charcoal smoker will allow you to try Kamado style cooking.

It is a small smoker compared to the average model, but it packs quite the power and comes with tons of features.

It specializes in allowing you to easily try otherwise complex smoking recipes thanks to its versatile grill.

Features and specifications

The dimensions of the Char-Griller Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker are 25.3 x 21.5 x 25.3., 25 inches tall, and 21 inches wide.

Additionally, it weighs 37 pounds, with a shipping weight of 41.4 pounds. It comes with an extensive user manual to help you with the setup.

You will definitely have a long lasting smoker, thanks to its 22 gauge steel triple wall.

It benefits from a powder coated exterior, and a 14 inch diameter cooking surface.

Furthermore, you will be able to manage the temperature easily thanks to adjustable dampers that are located in both the top and bottom of the smoker, in order to maintain the air flow where you want it to be.

It also includes  a temperature gauge and a dump ash pan.  The ash pan in particular will allow you to do a fast cleanup. 

More importantly, its great at heat retention thanks to its triple walled insulation.  

It also includes cast iron cooking grates, and can maintain temperature from as little as 200 F and as much as 700 F.

Moreover, its a lot more affordable and lighter than ceramic grills.

Essentially, it is great for mobility, so you can use it for tailgating, camping, or something as simple as a barbecue in the park.  

To aid in the mobility department, it includes handles for easy carrying.  

It also guarantees that you will be able to smoke for longer hours while using less charcoal.

It also includes a hinged locking lid. All in all it is a very good charcoal smoker. 

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Handles for mobility
  • Great temperature control with top and bottoms dampers
  • Cast iron grates
  • plus
    Consumes less charcoal than the average smoker

Cons:

  • Some consumers have received product with missing screws

This is a great option for a charcoal smoker. Particularly, if you are looking for mobility and savings on charcoal.

Although some clients have reported missing screws, it rarely happens.

It is a great option for best charcoal smoker on the market.


Char-griller 16620 Akorn Kamado

Another Char-griller product, this is an absolute monster of a charcoal smoker.

It is considered one of Char-grillers top notch work. And, for good reason. 

Namely, with its versatility and amount of features, and quite affordable compared to other charcoal smokers. You can't possibly go wrong.

Firstly, you want to take into account that this smoker, you'll have over 300 square inches of cooking space.

Furthermore, you'll have a warming rack of about 130 square inches. Basically, you'll have plenty of cooking space!

More importantly, thanks to its insulated design, you'll have more heat.

And, you'll save more charcoal and the lack of airflow will give you a very juicy meat.  

Namely, it is very versatile in what it allows you to do, you can easily go from slowly roasting something to searing meat at high temperatures. 

Additionally,  this charcoal smoker was made with the intent of having durability.

Hence, you don't have to worry about having to buy another one anytime soon.

Specifically, it is with a triple walled 22 gauge steel.  

Hence, it will without any difficulty reach temperatures of up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit!

While, the inside is made of porcelain coated steel. Namely, it is a monster of a charcoal smoker. 

Consider that it is priced a lot cheaper than models with similar features at right about 300 USD.

And, this is definitely a no brainer.  On the other hand, Char-griller made sure it was a convenient charcoal smoker as well.

Hence, it has 2 side shelves with hooks that can be folded when not in use. Thus, you'll be able to easily store it away. 

Without a doubt this is one the best charcoal smoker options on the market. Thus, we suggest you take a through look at it. 


Char-griller 2-2424 table top charcoal grill

Finally, we have what we consider our favorite charcoal smoker in this list. While being reviewed last, do not be fooled.

It is probably the most popular charcoal smoker on this list and one of the best charcoal smoker options you will ever see.  

It has a ton of features, and quite unorthodox when you consider it is a table top charcoal smoker.

Firstly, you'll notice that it is quite versatile in that it is table top charcoal smoker.

Therefore, it is perfect for outdoor activities and for carrying out.

Hence, consumers love to use this charcoal smoker for activities such as camping, hiking, picnics, football tailgating, etc.

More importantly, just because it is portable it does not mean it does not have a lot of smoking space.

Namely, you have 250 square inches grilling space.

Moreover, it has a unique feature of being able to turn into a side firebox for another Char-griller barrel grill. 

Thus you can rest assured you are not bound to only using it as a table top charcoal smoker.

Additionally, as with a lot of char-grill charcoal smoker products, this one also includes an ash pan in order to make cleaning an easy affair.

With its sliding drawer, and its heat resistant handle, you truly have a marble of a smoker.

We absolutely suggest you get this, particularly if you already have a bigger char-griller charcoal smoker. 

It is one of the best charcoal smokers on the market. Also, it is Amazon's #1 best seller in charcoal grills.

Finally, if you are still having doubts, then consider that it is only priced at right around 55 USD.

Consequently, you are looking at one of the true bargains in the charcoal smoker world. 


Final verdict

You definitely have some options when it comes to picking the best charcoal smoker.

All 3 of these smokers provide you with plenty of features and versatility tailored made for whatever your specific needs might be.

That being said, if you are still undecided, we definitely recommend the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker. 

It is indisputably the best charcoal smoker available right now. It comes with tons of features at a very affordable price.

The fact that it also comes in multiple sizes is perfect to help you accommodate your living arrangements.  

It also helps that the manufacturer is one of the leaders in the smoker industry.  

Therefore, go get your hands on this marvelous smoker as soon as possible.

If you feel like this one is not the best choice for you, then you should definitely go with the Char-griller 2-2424 table top charcoal smoker.

Namely, it is the most versatile of this group of smokers, and  quite frankly, the most affordable.

Furthermore, despite it's smaller size, it has quite a big cooking space, and its ability to attach it to a bigger Char-griller cannot be understated. 

We hope this helps, please leave a comment or any question you may have in the comment section below.

Also, make sure to take a look at our reviews section for other posts such as this one.

Also make sure you take a look at our page thecookingsmokers for more interesting products.

Resources:

Amazon
Wikipedia
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