Home The Best Charcoal Smokers in 2023

The Best Charcoal Smokers in 2023

How to Smoke a Steak

by Alexander Wong

You love the taste of a juicy, smoked piece of meat. After spending a lot of money purchasing smoked meat from restaurants, you’re wondering if you can make this type of meat at home. The answer is an absolute yes. To get the best piece of smoked meat, you need the best charcoal smoker on the market.

If you Google charcoal smokers, you’re going to see that there are more charcoal smokers than you can imagine.

And for every smoker, there are a ton of charcoal smoker reviews. I know that you don’t have time to sit down and read them all, so what I’ve done is taken a mixture of personal experience and information from these reviews and compiled them into the definitive charcoal smoker guide.

I’m going to show you the most popular and the best charcoal smokers with the goal of empowering you to make a good buying decision.

The 11 Best Charcoal Smokers:

1. Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker 22″

Weber 22-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

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This is the big brother of the 18.5-inch Smokey Mountain charcoal smoker. Its larger size allows you to cook more meat.

This device allows you to replicate the exact same award-winning cooking experience you had with the smaller model, only for a larger crowd.

This unit is made from heatproof and rustproof components. It is aesthetically pleasing thanks to its porcelain finish. It comes complete with the standard Weber handle, thermometer, and water pan.

This is the complete package. It allows you to enjoy the same smoky barbecue taste that the large competition smokers produce yet in a compact model.

The parts are of high quality and both heatproof and rustproof. It is aesthetically pleasing to look at and cooks a darn good piece of meat.

Charcoal smoker reviews are all but unanimous that this is one of the best charcoal smokers on the market. It is a relatively small unit when compared to the competition models.

But, boy, does it pack a powerful punch. The smoker is easy to get to temp and regulates its temp fairly easily. One bag of charcoal can last for about 18 hours.

It’s clear to see how such a little grill is able to actually win against composition-size grills. It’s well put together, it’s well-engineered, and you’re going to love how it works.

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2. Char-Griller E06614 Charcoal Kamado Grill

Char-Griller E06614 Charcoal Grill

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The Char-Griller Kamado Grill is one of the best charcoal grill smoker combos. The Kamado style of this grill ensures the enhanced flavor and even heating of your foods. There are air dampers on the bottom and the top. This ensures greater temperature control.

This grill is lightweight, but the materials are thick and strong. It also uses less charcoal compared to ceramic grills. The dampers allow for dual airflow. The heat gauge lets you monitor the temperature of the grill throughout the cooking process.

The grill has insulation and triple-wall steel. This ensures that the temperature remains consistent throughout the smoking process.

This grill provides a good smoky flavor for everything that you cook in it. It is also easy to sear a variety of meats and other foods.

It only takes approximately 12 coals to get to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Heats fast so that you do not have to wait to start the cooking process. Small and thin cuts of meat can cook in a matter of minutes.

The grill surface is smaller than other grills, but overall, there is enough space to smoke a meal for a small family. It is also portable, so you can take it camping or for tailgating.

This smoker is among the best charcoal BBQ smoker choices. The strong grates and other materials ensure long-term durability. It is also easy to maintain the temperature due to dampers and insulation.

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3. Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

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The Dyna-Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker is one of the best charcoal for offset smoker choices. The smoker’s body seals well so that the temperature remains consistent for several hours for thorough and even cooking.

The offset design ensures the best indirect heat flow. This ensures an easy infusion of smoke flavor during the slow cooking process. The multiple cooking grates allow you to slow-cook several items at the same time.

There is a smoke zone gauge on the door. This makes it simple to monitor the cooking without needing to open the smoker. The flue on the smokestack is adjustable so that you get the right level of smoke.

Even when you use this smoker outside in cold weather, it maintains its internal temperature. There is no need for extra cooking time in the cold.

The inside can get messy fast, but it is also easy to clean. Once the unit cools down, you can wipe it out with a wet cloth.

It has a viewing window so that you can monitor what you are cooking. Combined with the gauge on the door, it is easy to make sure that your meats and other foods are smoking to your specifications.

This unit is one of the best-rated charcoal smokers. It maintains its temperature well throughout the cooking process. It is easy to assemble and season, making it an ideal choice for people who are new to using a smoker.

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4. Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker

Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18" Charcoal Smoker

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One of the best-rated charcoal smoker grill choices is the Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker. The steel water bowl is porcelain-enameled for durability. This also helps to ensure moist and tender meat when you are cooking.

The smoker features steel housing. This ensures durability. You can keep the smoker outside, and it will not rust prematurely even in inclement weather.

You can use this smoker for a variety of foods from beef to a variety of cheeses. It uses charcoal, so it provides a smoky flavor. You can also choose to use chunks of wood if you prefer.

There are two vents on this unit. This allows you to have control over the heat level. Simply pick up the lid when you want to check on the foods that you are cooking.

Many customers have remarked that this unit is one of the best inexpensive charcoal smoker choices. This smoker performs well, and it cooks meats and chicken evenly.

It is easy to keep this smoker clean. Once it is cool, you can quickly remove all of the ask and wipe it down.

This smoker is portable, but it also has a lot of cooking space. You can make racks of ribs and other larger items without running out of room. The airflow control makes it simple to achieve and maintain the right temperature.

This smoker features a dual vent system for even smoking. It is compact, but it also accommodates medium to large cuts of meat without a problem.

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5. Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18 Inch Smoker

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This smoker is going to leave you with some of the juiciest cuts of meat you have ever eaten. After having one piece of smoked meat made by this device, you are going to want to have slow-smoked meat every night.

The porcelain enamel lid, water pans, and bowl make this unit attractive. The vent is no rust aluminum, and it beautifully complements the no-rust aluminum fuel door.

Two 18-inch diameter cooking grates give you all of the space you need to make a delicious meal for yourself, your family, and your friends. Don’t worry about burning your hands on this grill. The handle is glass-reinforced nylon that is heat resistant.

The smokers made by Weber changed the game. They proved that a small smoker can provide a flavor that was even better than the big guys. This is an entry-level-priced item that is going to give you professional flavor.

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6. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill and Smoker

Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker, Black

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There are a lot of generic smokers. However, the Akorn Kamado Kooker really shakes things up. It is designed to make your food taste as if it came out of a clay oven.

If you’ve never had food out of a clay oven, then you really do not know what you’re missing. The insulation provided by clay allows food to reach a temperature and flavor infusion not otherwise possible.

Although the unit is not made from clay, charcoal smoker reviews are unanimous in saying that this product acts exactly as clay would. What you are left with is a beautiful smoker that gives you a unique flavor not found anywhere else.

With more than 314 in.² of cooking space and a unique insulated design, this is among the best charcoal smoker grills you can buy. It is so well insulated that it uses less charcoal and has less airflow. The result is juicier meat.

The exterior is powder-coated steel. The interior is porcelain-coated steel. Thanks to rubber wheels, you can move this smoker wherever you need it to be.

This is a unique product. Its shape and design are a little different than what most people are accustomed to. It can take a little bit to get used to it, but when you do, you are left with a stellar product.

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7. Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker, 20"

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The first thing you’re going to going to notice is that this unit is very easy to assemble. This is a plus, especially if this is your first time using a smoker or if you are not that technically inclined. The smoker is the perfect size to feed your family or a small party of friends.

The unit comes equipped with 365 in.² of cooking surface separated by three adjustable chrome-plated cooking grates. You will have no problem adjusting the temperature thanks to dampers that control the heat and smoke.

The unit is easy to use, beautiful to look at, and leaves you with a juicy mouthwatering piece of meat. It is the best cheap charcoal smoker we have included in this guide.

We will not say that this is the best charcoal smoker grill on the market, but for the price, it offers a superb result. You have complete control over the smoke and the temperature thanks to the dampers that allow you to adjust these factors.

The handle is cool to the touch, so you can get a firm grip on the lid. There is a nice pull-out drawer that allows you to grab whatever ashes you need for easy cleanup.

This is a good choice if you’re a fan of smoked foods. It’s compact, so it’s going to fit on your deck or on your patio. This is definitely a good entry-level unit to determine if you like smoking.

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8. Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

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The Dyna-Glo outdoor smoker is perfect to be used all year round. This is a beast that will allow you to cook more than 150 pounds of food at one time. Versatile wire racks let you choose if you’re going to cook portions of meat or just throw the entire animal in there and cook it all at once.

The steel frame has a vertical design that serves the purpose of giving you the most flavor using the least amount of smoke. You don’t have to guess the temperature because it has a beautiful built-in temperature gauge.

This is an extremely versatile unit. It has six high adjustable cooking shelves. You can put food in different sizes. Each grate can hold 25 pounds of meat.

It is easy to keep clean thanks to a uniquely designed charcoal and ash management system. A built-in stainless steel thermometer indicates when your charcoal smoker is in the perfect smoke zone. This is a well-designed product that will get you going fast.

It is surprisingly large for the price. It’s very versatile. It’ll get you up and running and making delicious meat in a short time.

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9. Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro Charcoal Grill with Side Fire Box

Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro 830 Square Inch Charcoal Grill with Side Fire Box, Black

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This is one of the best grill smoker combos available. It has a traditional charcoal grill with a side firebox. This allows you to have a good old Texas-style barbecue.

Both the grill barrel and the side firebox are made from heavy-duty powder-coated steel construction. The cooking grates are non-stick cast iron.

Removable charcoal drawers let you add as much charcoal as you need and get rid of the ash so that you can keep smoking longer. The temperature gauge, storage rack, and wheels make this a flexible unit that you’re going to be happy to transport wherever you go.

This is meant to be a professional-grade smoker. And it really does offer a lot of the bells and whistles you would want from a professional grill at a backyard enthusiast’s price.

It has 838 inches of cooking space and a 250 in.² firebox.

Designed to give you even heat and delicious meat. It has heavy-gauge steel construction and a double bottom that makes it sturdy and lasts a long time.

This is a nice unit if you want to have some friends over and enjoy a meal. You’re going to be frustrated sometimes because the heat is not going to be consistent throughout. But if you can learn the tricks of using this unit, you’ll be able to produce some decent meat.

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10. Dyna-Glo DGN576DNC-D Premium Charcoal Grill and Smoker

Dyna-Glo DGN576DNC-D Premium Charcoal Grill, Extra Large, Black

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This is a serious grill for serious grillers who want to do something special. It’s a larger smoker and has a little bit higher price bracket than some of the smaller smokers we have reviewed.

However, if you are having an outdoor party with a bunch of friends, you are going to be happy that you purchased this.

This is a heavy-duty device that is made to last. Of course, if you are going to be investing in something like this, you want it to stand the test of time. This is not the most expensive model this company produces, but it is one of their premium brands.

When you look at this unit, it’s clear to see that the designers understood how important it was to have smoked meat cooked at the right temperature.

They paid special attention to the cooking surface with a grate that is made from cast iron and porcelain enamel. The unit is easy to clean and is designed for maximum heat transfer.

This unit is not the cheapest unit you’re going to find, nor is it the best. But what it does is merge the best of both worlds.

You’re going to have a high-quality unit that is going to last. Is going to give you a good piece of meat and allow you to feed many guests.

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11. Char-Broil Offset Charcoal Smoker

Char-Broil Offset Smoker, 40"

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With 1280 in.² of cooking space, this beast is perfect for that big backyard barbecue. There are multiple dampers that are going to allow you to perfectly control the temperature and the smoke that permeates your meat.

The temperature gauge will help you keep everything at a low and steady temperature. Easily clean away the ash with the ash cleanout door.

This is definitely a beginner smoker. There is an offset firebox that uses indirect cooking to give your meat a smoky flavor. It provides the low heat needed to infuse the smoke into the meat.

The cooking chamber has a 228 in.² porcelain cooking grate. This gives you a decent-sized cooking area.

This product is all that you need to get a good piece of meat. You can smoke it, you can grill it, you can fry it, you can boil it, you can use gas, and you can use charcoal.

This is one of those rare products that has multiple functions and is able to accomplish each one of the functions well.

This is far from a professional smoker. You’re going to have to fight with it to get it to work. But for the price, it does a decent job.

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What is the Best Charcoal Smoker?

There are a lot of contenders for the best charcoal smokers. For my money, hands-down your number one option is going to be the

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18 Inch Smoker

It is going to give you a smoky flavor instead of a charcoal one. It is the epitome of slow and low.

Proves once and for all that there is no better way to enjoy a piece of meat than taking it straight off a charcoal smoker.

The smoker has a unique bullet shape design and weighs a little under 50 pounds. This means that you can move it around with you, but it’s not so light that the wind is going to blow it over.

It has legs instead of wheels, so it’s sturdy. It has a rustproof coating, which allows you to use it in inclement weather.

The lid, water pan, bowl, and steamer are all coated with a porcelain enamel coating. This makes it a lot easier for you to keep a consistent temperature.

The device is tall, at 41 inches. And if you use all of the racks, you have 481 in.² of smoking space.

The unit has a water pan that can hold up to a gallon of liquid. You do not have to refill it while you are smoking. The handles are made from nylon, which makes them both heat-resistant and weather-resistant. All in all, this little dynamo packs a powerful punch. It leaves you with some of the most flavorful meat you’ve ever enjoyed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Charcoal Smokers

Charcoal Smokers vs. Other Types

Charcoal smokers give you the authentic taste you won’t find with other smokers. However, they are a little bit more problematic than the other options available.

Electric Smoker

With one of the best electric smokers, you just plug it in, add your wood chips, and let it go. With the charcoal smoker, you’re going to need to constantly tend the fire.

Electric smokers will infuse your meat with a smoke flavor, but the flavor they provide pales when compared to what you get from using charcoal. If you compare electric vs charcoal smokers, charcoal wins in the flavor department.

Gas  Smoker

Gas or propane smokers will provide a little bit more powerful flavor than their electric counterparts, but they come nowhere close to what you get from using charcoal.
Most gas smokers simply require you to set the temperature and walk away.

This sits in stark contrast to charcoal. With a gas smoker, you run the risk of running out of propane. This obviously does not happen with charcoal. You can get the best of both worlds by purchasing the best gas and charcoal grill combo.

Pellet Smokers

Pellet smokers simply require you to set the temperature, light the heating unit, and let the meat smoke. However, with a pellet smoker, you have the problem of the auger jamming, and even at its best, a pellet smoker is only going to infuse your meat with a light smoky flavor.

If the electricity goes out, your pellet smoker stops. Nothing stops charcoal.

You do not get the blue smoke associated with charcoal grilling that gives you that delicious smoky meat flavor most pitmasters are after with pellets. That only comes from charcoal.

Things To Consider When Purchasing A Charcoal Smoker

Price

If you are getting a new smoker, realize that a professional setup can run you upwards of $10,000.

However, you can purchase top-rated charcoal smokers for just a few hundred dollars, and these will still give you some delicious meat.

Quality

Charcoal smokers are finicky. Regardless of if you purchase the best vertical charcoal smoker, you still need to fight the fire to keep a consistent temperature.

If you purchase a low-quality smoker, that fight gets a lot harder because cheap models have poor heat regulation.

Versatility

Some people like to have a smoker that can also work as a grill. This is a good idea, especially if you have limited space.

Frequency of Use

How often are you going to use the unit? If you’re not going to use it frequently, you may want to purchase a smaller unit.

Other Charcoal Smoker Brands

Kingsford

Kingsford is a name that families have trusted for generations. They have been cooking and smoking over coals from coast to coast.

Not only are the majority of Kingsford Charcoal grill reviews positive, but they have garnered loyal fans.

What makes Kingsford so amazing is that they not only understand the smoker side or the grill side of it, but they also are adept at making unique fuels to satisfy the needs of their customers.

They created a product that keeps bringing people back time and time again. Check out the following models:

  • Kingsford Charcoal Water Smoker
  • Kingsford® Side Kick Fire Box/Table-Top Combo

Char-Broil

Since 1948, Char-Broil has been pioneering charcoal grills and smokers. Every single year since then, their focus has been on innovation.

Now they have reached the point where their product is the standard by which other grills are judged.

They pride themselves on their ability to make innovative grills and smokers easier to use, affordable, and able to produce a memorable product.

For them, pride comes from looking across backyards all around America and seeing people enjoying themselves using their products. Two of their memorable products include:

  • Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker
  • Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker, Deluxe

Brinkmann

Brinkmann has been serving the public for more than two decades. Their goal has always been to push the limits when it comes to creating innovative grills and smokers.

They have been rewarded for their hard work by a large following of faithful smokers.

Brinkmann has become the product that picky smokers use. They use this product because they know they’re going to get a consistent temperature, and great flavor, and it is going to be easy and intuitive to use.

See for yourself why so many people have fallen in love with the Brinkmann Smoke n Grill Charcoal Smoker.

Some of the Brinkmann charcoal smokers that you may want to look at include:

  • Brinkmann 810-5301-C Smoke-N-Grill Charcoal Smoker and Grill
  • Brinkmann 852-7080-E Charcoal Gourmet Grill and Smoker

How to Smoke a Steak

Who doesn’t love a good steak? Whether grilled or pan-seared, a memorable steak is surprisingly easy to cook for yourself at home. However, if you’re looking to mix it up in terms of flavor, you might want to try something new: smoking a steak.

Doing this takes only slightly more effort than grilling, but if you like authentic smoke flavor and have a smoker at your disposal, this will probably become your go-to method. In this guide, we’ll take you through a step-by-step method to smoking a great steak.

Can You Smoke a Steak?

The short answer here is yes – and it’s a lot easier than you might think. But a good smoked steak starts with the right choice of meat.

Choosing the Meat

You can smoke pretty much any kind of steak, but some options take better smoking than others. You’ll need to take a couple of things into account – the grade of the steak and the cut itself.

USDA Beef comes in eight different grades:

You can also find beef graded as Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner, although these options are more commonly sold to fast-food restaurants and canning establishments.

Choosing the right grade of steak is a good start, but you’ll also need to choose what cut you want to smoke. If you have the time to keep the smoker running for a while or if you’re cooking for several people, you might want to smoke a brisket, chuck roast, or beef ribs.

On the other hand, if you just have an hour or so to smoke, New York Strip, Tenderloin, and Ribeye steaks are all excellent options.

Smoking a Steak: Step-by-Step Guide

Whether you have a stand-alone smoker or a grill with a smoker attachment, you can prepare a smoked steak right in your backyard.

Plenty of people don’t just smoke their steaks – they use the reverse sear method.

This method combines delicious smoke flavor with the taste you can only get from a seared steak.

Reverse Sear Method

Reverse-searing a steak just means that you roast or smoke steaks to raise the temperature before searing — the conventional method is to sear and then roast.

If you want to reverse-sear your steaks, you’ll need to keep them on the smoker until they reach your desired doneness level of minus 10 degrees. If you get your steaks to the right level of doneness on the smoker, you risk overheating them during the searing phase.

Smoking a steak is an art in itself, but so is searing. If you want the best flavor possible, use a cast-iron skillet with cooking oil designed to handle high-heat cooking. Coconut oil and avocado oil are great choices.

Once your oil is heated, you just need to sear the steaks in the pan for about two minutes per side (more if the steak is thicker than 1.5″).

Make sure you check the middle of each steak for the desired doneness before removing the steaks from the heat.

Once you’ve removed your steaks from the heat, don’t forget to let them rest for about 10 minutes. This gives juices time to redistribute.

If you cut into your steak right after cooking, the juices may just run out, leaving the steak itself dry.

Pro Tips

Now that we’ve been through some of the basics of smoking a steak, let’s look at some tips that can help you take your smoking game to the next level. For the best flavor, you’ll want to optimize every step of the smoking process.

Seasoning

In most smoking recipes you’ll find an online note that you don’t really need a lot of extra flavors if you’re smoking a steak.

This is true – even a simple rub of cracked black pepper and kosher salt, when combined with the smoke flavor, will give you a steak that’s plenty delicious. Salt tenderizes the meat, and when you choose to reverse-sear it, it helps create that crisp outer surface that all good steaks have.

Whether you season your steak right before smoking or let it sit is up to you, and you may want to try out both ways before choosing which you like best.

Dry-brining is an easy way to add some more flavor. To dry-brine, you simply rub salt liberally over the meat and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.

You also can marinate your steak before smoking or use a dry rub. While it isn’t absolutely essential, marinating or dry-rubbing is a great choice if you like a little extra flavor on your steak.

Humidity

Some smokers come equipped with a water pan. If yours has one, it’s a good idea to use it when smoking steak for a few reasons. For one, water vapor (or steam) creates an evaporative cooling effect, which keeps the smoker from overheating.

The steam also keeps the temperature even in the smoker. Most importantly, the steam from the water will keep the humidity up, which makes it harder for the steaks to dry out.

Smoking Woods

If you’re doing your best to create the ideal smoked steak, the type of wood you use in the smoker is of paramount importance. As a general rule, hardwoods are the best for smoking, and you’ll want to avoid softer woods like pine or cedar. Softer woods tend to produce excessive smoke, and some people even believe they may lead to illness.

Different hardwoods have different flavor profiles, and you might find that one or the other suits you best:

Smoking a steak well is a skill that involves a bit of a learning curve, but it’s well worth the effort. Of course, if you want optimal flavor, you’ll need to make sure each step in the process is carefully planned.

By choosing a quality cut of meat, seasoning it carefully, selecting the right wood for the smoker, and even choosing the right oil if you choose to reverse-sear it. Take your time, be open to a little experimentation, and enjoy your smoked steak!

Making The Decision

Well, we have presented you with our review. Our goal, as always, was to give you the information you need to find the best charcoal smoker.

We looked at the pros and cons of certain units and even identified those that we thought were good all-around smokers. Now the ball is in your court. We recommend that you buy your smoker online.

It is going to be less expensive, you’ll be able to look at other charcoal smoker reviews, and you get it delivered to your door. So what are you waiting for? Go out, get yourself a smoker, and make yourself some meat!

5/5 - (1 vote)

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