Ask any good ole’ BBQ King and he will tell you that his smoker grill is the best smoker grill there is. And that the size, shape, quality of materials, and type of heat source will affect your results. He will also tell you that wood is the best source of heat because it gives your meat an optimum flavor. But, you should only commit to wood if you are willing to fork up the dough, to do it “right”. Quality input gives a quality output. If your budget is a bit smaller, going with a coal or gas solution is probably your best bet. When looking at grills, in general, keep in the back of your mind that, just like all famous restaurants have a secret recipe or blend of spices, a smoker grill will have the same level of variety and personality. And, being able to settle on one depends on numerous factors.
This article hopes to serve as a “universal guide” to selecting the right product for you. Keep in mind what’s best for you might not work for another person. The beauty of choosing the best smoker is often found in your own personality and tastes. After all, why should you shell out a bunch of money for features you don’t even use? That would be like buying a smart phone only to use it as a watch!
So without any further ado, let’s get cracking!
For starters, what are smoker grills?
Proper smoker grills are similar to the common grills you see on sale at Walmart all the time. They, often, are a barrel or semi-spherical in shape and they come on some sort of stand elevated off the ground.
What makes the best smoker grill different from your run-of-the-mill product is: heat source and the resulting range flavors, the amount of time it takes to cook, the quality of the results, and the fact they can save you money over time because you will most likely be wasting less food. Since smokers are generally easier to manage, maintain, and are more forgiving while you are cooking, they seem to be growing exponentially in popularity. It’s simple; if you let your perfectly cut steak to sit on the smoker for a few extra seconds, it’s not going to take your meat from raw to black bricks in 0.01 seconds (I can’t tell you how many times I ran in the house to grab the plate or something for my meat and in the few moments I was gone the meat had turned from perfect to looking like the Kingsford charcoaled briquettes I was cooking with…). These grillers solve most of those little “incidents” and a few others as well.
Many of the models, nowadays, are barrel-shaped (the horizontal) and come complete with separate grilling racks (in a variety of sizes) so you can cook your meat separate from your vegetables or your burgers separate from your steaks. This provides you with the ability to get everything that goes into your smoker cooked to absolute perfection, or to scrape clean one rack while everything else is still cooking. These tiny yet crucial elements can be incredibly helpful and can make life so much easier if you are trying to juggle children, guests, your dog, cat, or any other sort of distraction that can present itself at the most inopportune moment.
This specific type of grill allows you to cook your meat, with only the rare occasion of the meat getting too dry or being under cooked. It makes the job safer and super easy!
Smokers only require you to light it, wait about 15 min or less, depending on the size and type of your smoker for the grill to get hot, then slap that seasoned meat on there, close the lid, and let the smoker do its magic. Depending on the size and thickness of the meat or vegetables you are cooking, you can have food ready in as little as 30 minutes (or 10 minutes of actual cook time for things like fish). This saves you quite an enormous amount of time, which you could be using to do something else. Importantly, you do not want to keep your family and/or guests waiting for a meal.
These grills come in a variety of shapes from round, hollowed out oil drums, to modern grilling machines (more of a square shape) with vents, or even a custom design like cows, pigs, dragons, etc. When people say grilling is an art: sometimes the smoker itself can be the art! The internet is full of people and artists trying to make it some of the local metal workers in my area get commissions from time to time to build smokers for local businesses and enthusiasts! Grilling is just one of those areas where having a little bit of creativity can go a long way. Using the grill to your own perfection would, in a way, require creativity which is impressive to many, besides you.
Differences in heat source
Having a good heating source is like putting the right gas in your car. If your car takes premium yet you fill it with low grade it can act funny and not run as smoothly. The story is the same for grills if you want the best performance you have to bite the bullet and spend a little more. Quality over quantity. Many of the models in my local area are made of copper and come standard with propane gas nozzles which means if you don’t already have a propane tank you will need to purchase one and find somewhere to fill it. Just a consumer heads up depending on your town filling propane may be harder to come by than you think. Over the years, many gas stations have discontinued filling stations for propane. Make sure your town has a proper filling station! In my little town with 7+ gas stations there is one place for us to get the tank filled and if they are out, it is a trek to the next town.
Moving on to wood and coal! Much to my delight there is still a market (seems to be growing in recent years) for a coal or wood heat source. Most of the more commercial brands, such as what you can find at Home Depot, have some form of the word “Texan” or “Texas” in the title and other keywords like “combination”. Many are steel drums (so they will generally be fairly heavy) or have very large tops and tall vents which can make them a bit more difficult to transport if you don’t own a large truck or have an extra pair of hands. If you don’t have a Home Depot, most other hardware stores have a grill selection of some type.
The main difference in the selection of your heat source will be manifested in the final flavor of your food. As someone who has tried all three types the two best heat sources that provide the richest flavor are wood and coal. Depending on the type of wood, hickory, cherry, and maple (or others) tend to be the most popular whatever you cook will have the subtle smoky flavor of the wood. I would highly recommend that if your wallet can handle it, go for the wood chips.
Why do we need the best smoker grill?
Well, why do we need good durable socks in the winter? Or need good quality shoes? Because, we want to improve or maintain our quality of life; the best smoker grill can transform ordinary steak into a culinary work of art. Because of how the meat cooks, it alters the taste; from dull and drab to the BBQ everyone is talking about! And not only that, but these things can last for a lifetime if they are taken care of properly. Just like your grandmother’s cast iron skillet, these smokers only get better with age; it is like developing any good relationship. At first, things are crazy and exciting then you learn each other and life blossoms into a masterpiece (or a disaster, but for grilling it is pretty much all bliss).
Which smoker grill do I buy?
The best thing you can do as a consumer is to do your research. Plain and simple. So before you hit the Google machine or the local store take a moment to ask yourself some research questions:
- How many people will I be cooking for? Will I be cooking for my family or a large group of friends and coworkers?
- What does my budget look like?
- How long is this investment supposed to last? Is this a lifelong product or are you looking for something just for the next few seasons or years?
- How big of a space do you have to put your grill so it does not become a fire hazard? (is my patio paved, wood, or cement)
- Does it need to have child safety measures?
- Do I need a temperature gauge?
- Do I want to cook everything on the same rack (in shifts) or have space to grill multiple things at the same time?
- What type of flavor am I looking for? (Light=Gas, Medium= Coal, Rich= Wood)
- What type of heat source do I want? A wood, gas, or coal smoker grill?
- What type of meat or food products am I going to cook with it?
- Do I have a place to store it? Does it need to be weather treated or a cover? Do covers even come in the size we need?
- Obviously, if you want to cook ribs on a regular basis a grill that can cook only two large chicken breasts might not be what you are looking for…
- Does the grill need to match the decor? (Do I want the barrel/drum look or a modern grill look)
- Are there any other specifications I want? Perhaps, if you are tall you want something a little higher off the ground.
- Do I want a custom grill or one right off the production line?
Sometimes research can’t always help, but it can provide some much needed direction for making an informed decision. By answering most of those questions above, the results can narrow from a staggering billion to just a few thousand by adding keywords like “wood”, “coal”, “copper”, “gas”, “combination”, etc. I really can’t stand here and tell you exactly what grill to buy because let’s face it, my priorities are going to be different than yours. Lay them out and explore them.
A good grill can cost anywhere from a few $100 to thousands; but some can be purchased for less. Heck, if you have a welder with some know-how, you can do this project yourself! I have seen some pretty cool smoker guys made just from stuff they had in their backyard and laying around the garage. A clean (not used for oil or other contaminates) steel drum, some steel rods or beams for bracers, old wheels, and dryer vent! Don’t think just because you can’t cough up $800 that you can’t have a decent smoker grill; be creative.
All I can do is arm you with the basic knowledge of flavors and the resulting quality of your food. The rest is up to you!
If you want to know what difference the wood can have on the flavor of your food check out your local smoke house! The men working on the smokers live for grilling and are usually the most knowledgeable guys around. Test their menu and make note of your favorites. Don’t be afraid to ask, try new things, or experiment with the tools you already have!
Trust me on this when I say when it comes to picking out the best smoker grills, “you will know what you want when you see it”. You might even picture yourself using it when you go to buy one. Whether it’s online or in a magazine you are going to read about or see the right smoker sooner or later and that experience can be like finding a diamond in a pile of rocks—don’t be afraid or discouraged if you did not find what you wanted right away. Great things take time and finding the right smoker is a process, not an impulse buy.
For a lifetime of perfectly or mostly perfect cooked meat, you need to give full consideration and respect to your purchase. Make sure you consider value, quality, results, usability, and safety.
Top 5 Smoker Grill on the Market
1. Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D
Grilling with offset smokers also known as barrel smokers can be a fun and a very rewarding experience. The market is flooded with a variety of smokers, but there are just some that make an astounding difference when it comes to grilling, and this is where the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker comes in. First of all, smokers will give your meal a truthfully distinct flavor and a variety of custom cooking options. Secondly, you can greatly alter the flavor of any given meal you have placed on the grate by simply using a different type of wood chip. The Dyna-Glo Offset Smoker offers you not only these fantastic benefits but also those associated with using charcoal as a fuel. What is even more amazing about this smoker is that it comes with 6 height-adjustable grates and boasts of 1,176 Sq. inches of total cooking area. You heard me right! Each grate can comfortably accommodate about 25 pounds of your meal. The smoker also features an offset functionality that is ideal for slow cooking with indirect heat. In order to improve the burn efficiency, the Dyna-Glo Offset Smoker features a specially designed charcoal system which includes a porcelain-enameled charcoal chamber.
Below are some of the smokers astounding features:
- Dimensions: 20.20 × 34.52 × 47.03 inches
- Heavy gauge, porcelain-enameled steel charcoal tray
- An offset charcoal box for heat control and direction of flavors
- Six adjustable cooking grates each capable of holding about 25 pounds of meat
- 1,176 Sq. inches of smoking area
- High quality steel body construction
What’s So Great About The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D?
- The offset charcoal box is uniquely designed for maximum heat control and also directs the smoked flavors
- The six adjustable cooking grates are capable of holding foodstuffs of up to 100 lbs. at one go.
- The smoker features a dual design door that serves to minimize heat losses while adding wood chips
- Comes with an inbuilt, stainless steel thermometer that enables you to easily monitor smoker’s temperature
- The smoke stack features an adjustable flue for additional flavor and temperature control.
- The high quality steel-body construction ensures durability of the smoker
What’s Not So Great About The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D?
- The seals around the charcoal offsets, the doors and the main body are not great. You can solve this setback by use of high temperature Caulk: it works like a charm!
Is This A Great Purchase?
If you want to experience a whole new and exciting level of outdoor cooking, I highly recommend the Dyno-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker. This smoker will not only take your outdoor cooking to the next level, but will also give you value for every single dime you invest in it. It is a well-known fact that most of the smokers you’ll find in the market lack a good cooking system that is easy to clean. With the Dyno-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker things are different as it comes with a cooking system that features an amazing charcoal and ash management system with a charcoal chamber, grate, and a completely detachable steel ash pan that makes it easy to clean. All you need is a smoker that will give your steaks, ribs or chicken that professional smokehouse flavor, the good news is that you can now end your search right here.
2. Masterbuilt 20076314
Masterbuilt 20076314 electric smoker has great features to make your smoking a smooth experience. Designed with a 721 square inch cooking area, you are certainly assured of enough space to smoke your meat on. More so, the smoker is made of stainless coating to make it durable even when exposed to extreme weather conditions. And these aren’t the only unique features that make this smoker a class above the rest. This comprehensive review outlines every detail of this smoker. Read on.
Who Should Buy This Machine?
Masterbuilt 20076314 electric smoker is ideal for anyone who needs to smoke pieces of meat often. This may be restaurant owners, caterers who organize outdoor events and of course for preparing tasty pieces of meat at home. Because of its features, the machine can be used to prepare meals for small groups to a moderately larger number of people.
- A stainless coating makes the smoker durable even when used in extreme conditions.
- A 721 square inch cooking area makes it ideal for preparing small family meals to meals for larger groups of people.
- Its four chrome-coated racks with a 1.7 cubic feet smoking capacity makes it possible to smoke large pieces of meat at the same time.
- It includes a built thermometer to help monitor the smoking temperature.
- There are also the wireless remote controls to help the user to regulate temperature, cooking time and turn the smoker on and off by a click of a button.
- To make the smoking even, this electric smoker has thermostat temperature controls that can allow a smoking temperature of 275 degrees (F).
- The machine also comes with an accessory pack that includes carving gloves, smoker recipe CD, smoker cover, rib rack, sausage hanger and of course chicken stand.
What’s So Great About The Masterbuilt 20076314?
- You can easily attend to other tasks at hand as the smoking progresses as the radio-frequency remote control regulates the cooking temperature, internal lighting, cooking time and the on/off functionality.
- The smoked meat is tasty, soft and well-cooked as the thermostat control keeps the meat temperature in check.
- It’s designed in a compact design, making it fit easily in the carriage spaces such as a car boot.
- Its weight is around 55 pounds, which isn’t overly heavy, thus you can easily move from one location to another as need dictates.
- You don’t have to start your smoking on a trial and error basis as the recipe contained in the CD acts as your guide in the smoking process.
- The sausage hanger, chicken stand and rib rack all make handling of the food being smoked easy. This is especially helpful outdoors.
- The smoke cover and the carving glass guarantee your safety while smoking.
What’s Not So Great About The Masterbuilt 20076314?
- The fact that the smoker is electric may prove prohibitive, especially for people who travel to areas with no electrical power.
- The smoker is quite large for a small family that may only smoke small pieces of meat.
Is This A Great Purchase?
Are you looking for a reliable smoking machine that helps you smoke safely and conveniently? Then this machine is a great purchase as it includes unique features that regulates its temperature, cooking time and the on/off time. You can’t go wrong with a Masterbuilt 20076314 Electric Smoker.
3. Marsh Allen Deluxe Barrel Smoker Grill
The Marsh Allen Deluxe Barrel Smoker Grill is a versatile piece of appliance for all your parties and events. It comes with adequate rack space as well as features to feed a large crowd with ease. It is portable and can easily be disassembled for easy storage. This guide provides an in-depth look at its features as well as weighing its pros and cons so that you can make the choice to buy or not from an informed perspective.
Who Is This Product For?
This outdoor Smoker Grill is designed to be a home appliance. However, owing to its expansive cooking surface (786 square inches on the main rack and 253 square inches on the secondary rack,) you can comfortably grill 48 burgers at a go meaning even commercial restaurateurs will find it equal to the task.
- Barrel Construction Style
Designed to keep as much heat in, this smoker grill is ideal for all sorts of outdoor cooking and offers unmatched efficiency to boot. The barrel construction style is not only convenient, but compact enough to help you fit the grill even in nifty places. The entire grill is made from heavy gauge steel. The warming rack itself is chrome plated to ensure easy cleaning and, of course, long term durability.
- Convenient Features and Accessories
The grill bears a conspicuous temperature gauge on the lid so you can grill and smoke your dishes to perfection. Even more conveniently, there are substantial work tables both on the side and in front so that you can always have your ingredients as well as utensils safe and on the ready. Other features you will find welcome include the wire storage rack, the intuitive thermostat and air vent. To keep it all clean and snazzy, the grill bears an efficient smoke stack.
- Expansive Cooking Surface
The Marsh Allen Deluxe Barrel Smoker Grill bears a mammoth 786 square inches of cooking surface and this is just on the normal cooking rack. If you have a need for more, you can always resort to the equally convenient secondary rack with its 253 square inches of smoking and grilling surface.
- Adjustable Height Grate
This charcoal grill is designed to suit the user’s preferences with easy, workable adjustments. Perhaps no other feature brings out this design philosophy better than the charcoal grate with its height adjustable settings. This, along with the aforementioned temperature gauge, makes it easy and convenient to grill and smoke your meat dishes to the right consistency and flavor.
- Portable and Easy to Assemble
This barrel smoker grill is as convenient as you are ever likely to get with this type of equipment. It can easily be assembled and disassembled for storage with no more than just basic tools. To help you move it to a convenient outdoor location, make use of the wheels fitted on two legs to maneuver it wherever you like.
What’s So Great About The Marsh Allen Deluxe Barrel Smoker Grill?
- Versatile and expansive smoking grill
- Easy assembly with no need for special tools
- A detailed and self-explanatory manual included in the shipping package
- Barrel construction with lid helps keep the heat in; saving fuel and the environment
What’s Not So Great About The Marsh Allen Deluxe Barrel Smoker Grill?
Some users have complained that while it is easy and straightforward to add the charcoal, when it comes to the lighter fuel, this tends to drip onto the deck. This needs not be the case. You can use live coals right from the fireplace to avoid this or just use a little amount of lighter fuel to get the grill going.
Is This A Great Purchase?
This smoker grill is a great purchase for several reasons, not least of which is the affordable cost. Moreover, it features one of the most durable constructions for outdoor grills we have ever reviewed. It is also packed full of features to let you do all your grilling/ smoking without consuming too much charcoal.
4. Landmann 591320
Are you looking for an all-in-one BBQ unit for those outdoor parties? Then the Landmann 591320 Smoky Mountain Bravo Premium Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker Box is for you. It serves two separate functions so if you prefer to slow cook your meals, the indirect heat in the sizeable smoker box will work perfectly for you; if not, you have the main grilling area.
The Landmann 591320 Smoky Mountain Series Bravo is a combination Smoker/Grill. What this means is that in addition to the main grill, the unit has a large offset smoker box which allows smoke to pass through it to provide indirect heating. The main cooking area is 1048 square inches, which rests on grates made of porcelain cast iron. It is 26 inches in depth, 46 inches in height and approximately 70 inches wide.
The front panel has two access doors that open up into the charcoal chamber where there are two adjustable trays to place the coal. This is to make it easier to regulate the heat as you can either add or remove charcoal to attain the desired temperature. It also comes with a removable ash tray which makes it quite easy to clean out when the need arises.
For the best possible temperature control, this combination smoker/ grill has a gauge on the lid as well as three air vents on its sides which are adjustable.
Its wheels are made of a heavy duty caster material that allows for smooth movement and better placement of the grill. It also has a large handle to help with moving and a smaller one which can be used as a towel rack. The grill also has a large storage unit at the bottom and two big shelves which fold on the side making it handy for outdoor grilling.
What’s So Great About The Landmann 591320?
- It can be used as both a grill and a smoker giving it that all-in-one quality. The large offset smoking box allows you to cook in indirect heating as you grill on the main cooking area.
- It has an excellent design in addition to being easy to assemble.
- It is very easy to clean out the ash from the charcoal chamber as the ash tray is removable.
- You have optimum control of the temperature with this grill. You can easily access the charcoal in the chamber through the panels that open up into it. You can also add or remove the charcoal by removing the coal trays. Maintaining the same temperatures for extended periods of time is also made possible because you have the gauge at the top to help monitor the heat as it rises and drops.
- The cooking and storage areas are quite large meaning you can BBQ for a large party at once.
What’s Not So Great About The Landmann 591320?
- The grill is quite heavy when assembled making movement challenging without taking it apart first.
- The coal trays aren’t durable due to the thin material used in making them; they are also prone to rust.
- The offset smoker chamber is not quite level and adjustments have to be made to get the smoke to move nicely into it.
Is This A Great Purchase?
Indeed it is. The Landmann 591320 Smoky Mountain Bravo Premium Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker Box is not only an excellent looking product, but also a highly functional multi-purpose grill that’s a must have for BBQ lovers.
5. Smoke Hollow 3500
The Smoke Hollow 3500 gas/charcoal/smoker grill with side burner is designed to make grilling more convenient. This is because it is endowed with various outstanding features and it is made with materials that makes grilling better. Furthermore, it is made into a size that it is possible to grill a considerable large quantity of meat. Assembling and using this grill is also simple where it comes with instructions on how to assemble the various provided parts. This is helpful especially for people who might be using the grill for the first time and have no knowledge on how to assemble it. This makes the grill ideal for people who enjoy grilling tasty meat in their backyards or even for people looking to enjoy tasty meet while on a trip.
Amongst the features that make this Smoke Hollow 3500 grill stand out includes that it has a side smoke. This increases grilling room and also ensures that the smoke from the grill is disposed properly. It also has 860 square inch cooking area which means it can be used even by people who have relatively large families and require a grill with a large cooking area. This grill also has cast iron cooking grids on both charcoal and gas cooking areas. Besides making the grill more durable, the iron is helpful in ensuring that the grill heats up quickly once it is put on. It is also endowed with three 10, 000 BTU tube burners which are made of stainless steel. This enhances hygiene since it is relatively easy to clean after use and also in ensuring that it does not rust once it’s not in use for relatively long periods. The side burner on this grill is also 10, 000 BTU which further improves the quality of the grill. The dimensions of this grill are forty five inches by sixty six inches by twenty two point five inches. This means that the grill does not take a lot of space once it needs to be stored. Its total weight is one hundred and ten pounds, which makes it easy to move from one place to the other.
What’s So Great About The Smoke Hollow 3500?
- This dual fuel grill is easy to assemble even for people who have never used it before because it comes with a detailed user manual which contains even pictures
- The materials used to make the grill are durable and helps in heat preservation
- It does not produce unnecessary smoke, especially when used properly
- It is easy to clean and therefore enhances hygiene and ease of use
- While using charcoal it requires a relatively small quantity of charcoal, but still produces ample heat consequently making it fuel efficient
- The side burner increases cooking space
What’s Not So Great About The Smoke Hollow 3500?
- Some users have complained of some of the components of the grill not fitting properly when assembling
- The top of the grill allows a considerable amount of heat to be lost
- The legs of the grill are relatively weak and therefore it might not be able to hold a lot of weight
Is This A Great Purchase?
This grill is definitely a great purchase especially considering its outstanding features. Despite the minor problems, it is evident that it has more positive attributes compared to the negative attributes. Therefore, the Smoke Hollow 3500 gas/charcoal/smoker drill is a great purchase and it is ideal for different kinds of grilling.