8 Best Charcoal Smokers for the Money

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Everyone knows one thing for sure – charcoal smokers are such a fancy way of smoking your meat that you would definitely take up hard work for it.

But here’s the deal, once you have practiced smoking meat on a charcoal smoker the initial few times, it gets pretty easy!

Of course, BBQ charcoal smokers don’t make the job as easy as electric smokers, or propane smokers, but once you get used to them, they won’t be needing constant supervision either.

We’re not saying that they are the easiest way out for you, but we are implying that smoking with charcoal smokers is much more impressive and even fun!

Therefore, we are here with the best charcoal grill smokers for sale for you to choose from and benefit from.

Contents show

Best Charcoal Smokers – Product Reviews

Top Pick

1. Weber Charcoal Smoker

Weber Charcoal Smokers are the best bullet smokers that are available in three different sizes – 14”, 18”, and 22”.

These smokers have rightfully earned their position in the market by delivering high-quality construction and design to their customers. They are both sturdy and durable.

These charcoal smokers offer good temperature control. You can fully control the heat inside the cooking chamber by opening and closing the vents of the smoker according to your need.

The Weber Charcoal smoker has also been designed to be user-friendly. Therefore, it also has an inbuilt thermometer, which has saved us a lot of time!

Pros
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to use, a little practice is all you need to master it
  • Transportable, although this might be a little hard for the largest size of this smoker
Cons
  • The smallest size is very portable but can’t fit in large cuts of meat, whereas the largest size is not that portable but can fit in any large cut of meat

Affordable

2. Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker

The Char-Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker comes in a very compact design to perfectly blend in any setting, whether it’s your backyard or elsewhere.

It also features a porcelain-coated removable water pan that can easily be refilled, as well as a drawer tray to collect ashes. Both these slide-in trays make cleaning them very convenient.

This is a large charcoal smoker that contains enough adjustable dampers for you to easily control the heat and temperature of your smoker.

To make this product user-friendly, a cool touch handle is included in its construction that makes holding the smoker much easier and safer for us.

Pros
  • Adjustable dampers make controlling temperature very convenient
  • The water pan and ashtray are both slide-in and easy to clean
  • Separate chambers for smoking meat and burning charcoal as a heat source
  • Features a cool touch chrome-plated spring handles in its design
Cons
  • The charcoal tray does not allow sufficient airflow, especially in extreme climates and weathers

Finest

3. Classic Pit Barrel Cooker

If you are looking for a charcoal smoker purchase that includes accessories, then the Classic Pit Barrel Cooker might be a good option for you.

With 8 stainless steel hooks, 2 steel hanging rods, 1 wooden hook remover, 1 charcoal basket, 1 grill grate, 1 to 30-gallon porcelain-coated steel drum, as well as 1 to 3 point barrel stand, this smoker will give you a bunch of useful accessories in just on purchase.

This smoker is easy to use and has delivered quality in all of its models for a long time now.

With the Classic Pit Barrel Cooker, you can get the traditional vertical smoking experience, without having to monitor the smoking meat constantly. The smoker offers good temperature regulation and we noticed that it does not need to be observed all the time.

Pros
  • Offers good temperature and heat regulation and does not need to be monitored continuously
  • This is a very inclusive purchase that includes 8 stainless steel hooks, 2 steel hanging rods, 1 wooden hook remover, 1 charcoal basket, 1 grill grate, 1 to 30-gallon porcelain-coated steel drum, and 1 to 3 point barrel stand
Cons
  • Does not allow much manual temperature control through vents
  • Generally more suited to smaller and less tough cuts of meat

4. Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker

This model of charcoal smoker features 4 removable baffles, along with the optional smokestack locations that allow hot air to combine with the heat of the smoker in such a way that it allows the smoker to reach high temperatures.

The Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker is a huge smoker with a cooking area that expands to about 619 square inches. This is big enough to easily fit in most of the large cuts of meat.

The charcoal smoker is sturdy and durable and has a construction made of heavy-gauge steel. Its cooking grates are all porcelain-coated.

We get ample temperature and heat control with the smoker since its dampers are adjustable.

You can see our full review here.

Pros
  • The large charcoal basket makes fuel management convenient
  • 4 removable baffles along with optional smokestack locations allow a combination of hot air with radiant heat to reach really high temperatures inside the cooking chamber
Cons
  • The paint comes off easily and the construction easily rusts off if not taken proper care of

Finest

5. Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker

The Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker is one of our favorite charcoal smokers because of the convenience it offers in its use.

It has a front-access door which makes adding and refilling charcoal easy. It also includes a built-in thermometer which is accurate and saves us quite a lot of time while smoking the meat.

Both the charcoal pan and the water pan of the smoker are porcelain coated and can be easily cleaned whenever the need arises. Even the smoking racks of this charcoal smoker are porcelain coated.

Pros
  • Includes an easy to read and accurate built-in thermometer in its design
  • All smoking racks, the charcoal pan, and the water pan are coated with porcelain and are easy to clean
Cons
  • The charcoal pan falls small for long smoking sessions and needs to be refilled every once in a while

Large

6. Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker, 16″

With an innovative airflow control system, the Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker has been designed to simplify temperature regulation and make it much easier and adjustable. That is because it has numbered damper settings to make the job much easier for you.

It has a porcelain-coated body that offers high durability. The cooking grates included in this charcoal smoker are also coated with porcelain.

The smoker is rather easy to clean since it has a removable ashtray. Its design also includes a lid-mounted temperature gauge and 2 lift handles for its chambers.

Pros
  • Features innovative airflow control system, with numbered damper settings, to make temperature regulation easier and more accurate
  • Includes lid-mounted temperature gauge and 2 chamber-lift handles
  • Has a very easy access door to charcoal pan
Cons
  • Not that well insulated
  • The doors loosen after a while and need to be tightened after a few smoking sessions

Finest

7. Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Smoker

One of our favorite things about the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Smoker is its oversized steel wheels which make it very mobile and portable.

The body of the charcoal smoker standing on these wheels is constructed of heavy-gauge steel.

There’s a temperature gauge included in this charcoal smoker which also indicates the temperatures that are ideal for infusing perfect smoke flavor to different cuts of meat you are smoking.

There are cool-touch handles attached to the body of the smoker which has made it very easy and safe for us to handle the smoker.

Pros
  • Features oversized steel wheels for easy portability
  • Has a smoke zone on the stainless temperature gauge for indicating the ideal temperature for infusing smoke flavor on different cuts of meat
  • Makes access to the smoker safer with cool-touch spring lid grip handles attached
Cons
  • The body is the smoker is a little fragile and needs to be handled with care

Grill

8. Louisiana Grills 24” Ceramic Kamado Charcoal Grill

The Louisiana Grills Ceramic Kamado Charcoal Grill is a double-walled charcoal smoker with an inside made of ceramic to provide great insulation. This means that it also offers good heat and temperature regulation.

Another reason why this smoker has good temperature and heat control is that it has a dual damper system.

This charcoal smoker is easy to use and needs only a few practices for you to be able to master it.

Pros
  • Dual damper system that is placed at both the top and the bottom to ensure good temperature and heat regulation
  • Features double-walled insulation
  • Includes a built-in thermometer
Cons
  • The assembly of this charcoal smoker is a little complicated
  • The air vents get hot rather easily

Features to Look for When Buying a Charcoal Smoker

To purchase the best charcoal grill smoker for your money, you need to know what exactly to look for in a good smoker.

Therefore, we are here to tell you about the most important features to look out for in your next charcoal smoker purchase.

Type of Smoker

Charcoal smokers can be divided into two main categories depending on their type: vertical and horizontal. 

In vertical smokers, the orientation of the smoker is like a chimney. The smoke and the heat of the smoker travel from the bottom to the top, smoking meat on their way. 

Whereas in horizontal smokers, the heat and smoke circulate rather than traveling in a straight path. They have a separate chamber for burning charcoal and producing heat for smoking, which then travels circularly towards the cooking chamber, where the meat is being cooked.

Vertical smokers include water/bullet smokers, the Kamado-style smoker, as well as vertical cabinet smokers. They are suitable for you if you need your smoker to occupy as little space as possible.

Horizontal smokers include kettle grills. They are better suited when you need a smoker with a large cooking space.

We’ve discussed these smoker types further below in this article as well.

Construction of the Smoker

Whichever smoker you decide you buy, you need to make sure that it has a sturdy and durable build.

Some brands will deliver you charcoal smokers made of such thin metals that their quality is low enough for the insulation in the smoker to be very poor. There are also door leaks, and other problems, such as loose vents, that also then make temperature control and regulation hard.

On the other hand, if you invest in a good quality charcoal smoker, it will be made of thick metal that will make its body far from fragile. Their tight seams and vents will also ensure constant temperature and heat control.

If your smoker is a little expensive but has great quality, you should always invest in it since it will last you very long, that too without many repairs.

Cooking Chamber Capacity

The cooking chamber capacity of your smoker is the total surface area or rack space that can take up meat for smoking. Therefore, this is a very essential part of your charcoal smoker. 

You need to make sure that you purchase a smoker that you can easily fit all your meat in. You wouldn’t want a large cut of meat to fit too tight in the cooking chamber.

This means that if you will only be cooking smaller cuts of meat, most cooking chamber capacities will be fine for you. But if you want to smoke briskets and pork shoulders, then you should purchase a smoker with a large cooking capacity.

Hopper Capacity

This is the amount of charcoal that your smoker can hold at one time. 

Usually, the hopper capacity is designed to be the fit for your cooking chamber’s capacity. It is scaled according to the cooking chamber’s area so that the charcoal in the smoker can smoke one session of the chamber’s worth of meat without really the need to refill the hopper again and again.

Temperature Range

The temperature range of a smoker determines the lower, and especially the upper limit of temperature that it can easily reach. 

This is important to note because you need to see if the upper limit range of the smoker’s temperature is enough to smoke the cut of meat that you would be smoking in the future.

The lower limit is important in cases when a really low temperature is needed to smoke meat that has already been cooked in some way, so that you don’t end up over smoking and hence overcooking it.

Temperature Control

Charcoal smokers offer great temperature and heat control since they have adjustable air vents.

However, just because all charcoal smokers will have air vents doesn’t mean that they all make temperature regulation easy. Some smokers will offer more control of their heat and temperature than others by offering better air vents than others.

Therefore, you need to look up reviews on different smokers to see which ones offer the best temperature control before settling on anyone.

We recommend reading AmazingRibs.com’s Smoker Temperature Control Guide.

Size of the Smoker

The size of the smoker here refers to its dimensions and weight, which are both yet two other factors to look out for in potential charcoal smoker purchases.

You need to decide where your smoker will go so that you can check how much space it can up, before hastily buying a smoker that is too big to place in that place.

Similarly, if portability and mobility are your top concerns, a lightweight charcoal smoker suits you best, and you should not buy one that is too huge and heavy.

Price

A wide variety of high-quality charcoal smokers manufactured by high-end brands are all budget-friendly. 

They might seem expensive as compared to other traditional types of smokers but with all the benefits that they offer, their price is only fair!

You can even find combinations of smokers and grills in the market for a little more price and benefit twice as much from just one product.

Warranty

The last factor that most people tend to dismiss is the warranty on the charcoal smoker purchase. 

The longer the warranty a manufacturer offers you, the better it indicates the quality of the smoker you are getting.

Although it is best to see what reviewers have to say about those warranties since some companies will offer long warranties but not help you out when you are in need.

Types of Charcoal Smokers

Charcoal smokers are mainly designed in 5 different ways by most manufacturers. 

These include the following.

Water or Bullet Smokers

Water smokers consist of three sections, all of which are removable. These smokers are commonly referred to as bullet smokers because of their shape that resembles a bullet.

The sections are such that the bottom section includes the firebox. Here, a perforated metal ring is where the charcoal is placed, so that it doesn’t touch the side walls. This lowermost section also contains a door for feeding the firebox with charcoal, as well as air vents of its own.

Above this firebox is the water pan. The reason behind using a water pan is simple; it helps regulate the heat and temperature of the smoker to keep it consistent, and also keeps the meat that is being smoked moist and juicy till the very end.

Above this water pan is the cooking chamber of the smoker. This chamber consists of a grate or two so that it can hold the meat that needs to be cooked.

Benefits of Using a Water or Bullet Smoker

Bullet smokers are relatively easy to get used to and can be mastered in a short time. 

Because of their size and weight, as well as their convenient shape — they are portable and can also be placed in any corner without taking up too much space.

Water smokers are also budget-friendly, hence they are a good option to go for if you are trying out charcoal smoking for the first time.

Because these smokers are divided into three different sections, they can be broken down and cleaned rather easily as well, so this shouldn’t create a hassle for you either.

The Drum Smoker

A drum smoker is another subcategory of the bullet smoker, which is usually referred to as the bullet smoker’s big ugly cousin. 

This smoker is designed the same way as a bullet smoker. The only difference is that it’s much larger and hence is more canon shaped than bullet-shaped.

This smoker is basically a 55-gallon steel drum that also includes three separate sections in its design, but the sections can’t be separated or broken down here.

Despite being heavy and not so portable, these smokers are still widely used because of the large amounts of meat they can smoke at once.

They’re also inexpensive and easy to use. The only drawback is that they are constructed of thin metal and aren’t that well insulated.

Kamado Smokers

Like water or bullet smokers, kamado smokers are also vertical smokers that are designed to be compact, minimal, and portable.

These smokers are shaped like an upside-down egg, with a bottom that is narrow and a broad top.

Kamado smokers are made of much more durable materials so that they can have a good amount of insulation. 

What makes them different from the water smokers is their use of a deflector plate in place of a water pan. This plate helps deflect the heat and smoke here and there in the cooking chamber, preventing the meat from getting direct heat or being cooked under a direct flame.

Benefits of Using a Kamado Smoker

The kamado smokers are made from sturdy and durable materials, which also give them great insulation. This insulation causes a high internal temperature for high and fast cooking which is one of the popular qualities of these smokers.

Some new models of kamado smokers are constructed of ceramic materials instead of metal to provide even better insulation.

The temperature regulation of these smokers is so good that they don’t need many adjustable air vents. There are only two included, one on the top and one bottom, both being enough to give ample temperature control to the user.

However, they are still sensitive to airflow, and hence a small leak in the air vents or doors can cause a great temperature and smoker disruption inside the smoker.

These smokers also have a very airtight construction, because of which a water pan isn’t needed. This is because the tight seals surrounding the cooking chamber don’t allow any loss of moisture or juices from the meat being smoked.

However, for all the qualities they offer, they also have a higher price as compared to the common bullet smokers.

Vertical Cabinet Smoker

Like all other vertical smokers, the vertical cabinet smokers are also vertical and have a compact design. However, they are bigger and bulkier than the standard bullet smokers. 

The only benefit is that they make even the working of a water or bullet smoker much easier than before.

These smokers have a very high capacity, which can even further be increased with the help of placing additional shelves inside the cooking chamber.

They have the same body and design as a bullet smoker. They have three different sections, each one assigned to undergo a particular task. The only addition is an ashtray under the firebox, which is also present in some models and brands only.

Benefits of Using a Vertical Cabinet Smoker

The vertical cabinet smokers are great to practice on and get used to using charcoal smokers.

They’re also not that big of an investment to make.

Kettle Grill Smoker

Kettle grill smokers are tricky to use and will take a lot of your time until they can be mastered. These grills consist of a handle and a rotating air vent. On the inside, it contains a circular grate at the bottom where the charcoal foes. Above it is the grill grate where the meat is to be placed. 

There are also more air vents present at the bottom to give you ample temperature control.

However, this method of burning fuel and smoking meat over it is more suited to high and fast cooking. 

For low and slow smoking of meat, you set a two-zone fire inside the kettle grill. Therefore, setting a small portion of charcoal as a fuel source on one side, whereas putting the meat on the other side.

Benefits of Using a Kettle Grill Smoker

Using kettle grills as a smoker is a good option for people who want to experience charcoal smoking to some extent but without really making a big investment for it.

This is especially helpful because if you can get used to a kettle grill smoker and use it with perfection, you can buy any charcoal smoker and use it fine.

Horizontal Offset Smokers

The last type of charcoal smokers includes the horizontal offset smokers. These smokers are made of two barrels, one smaller than the other, with a smokestack sticking or hanging out of the bigger barrel.

Horizontal offset smokers contain the firebox in the smaller barrel and the cooking chamber in the larger one. The smoke and heat from the smaller barrel travel towards the larger one, gradually smoking the meat placed inside it.

These smokers can be found in several different construction qualities in the market. The best ones are the ones made of thick materials and feature airtight seals. Some of the latest models even work on reverse flow baffles.

Benefits of Using a Horizontal Offset Smoker

The only downside to a horizontal offset smoker is that it doesn’t smoke the meat evenly at times. But don’t worry, that can be easily fixed!

All you need to do is take a baffle, which is a perforated sheet of metal, and place it so that heat and smoke can channel from the firebox to the cooking chamber the right way.

With a little more effort and care than the other types of charcoal smokers, you will get used to the horizontal offset smokers just as fine.

Pros and Cons of Using Charcoal Smokers

Like any other type of smoker, charcoal smokers also have a list of advantages and disadvantages.

Pros

1. Charcoal smokers use charcoal as their fuel source, hence there is no need for any power or electricity. 

This essentially makes charcoal smokers very portable since they can be taken anywhere and placed anywhere for use, without any concerns about whether the place has power access or not.

However, this portability is affected by the size of the smoker in discussion. The larger and heavier the charcoal smoker, the less portable it becomes.

Still, it’s fair to say that they are the most convenient smokers to carry around for camping, traveling, etc.

2. Charcoal smokers aren’t just good enough for hot smoking. With the right heat and temperature adjustments, they can also be easily used for cold smoking, searing, smoking precooked meat, etc.

3. One of the greatest benefits of using charcoal smokers is their ability to enhance the taste of meat that is being smoked. 

The flavor that charcoal smoking adheres to the meat is unmatched and cannot be obtained with electric smokers, as well as most other types of smokers.

Cons

1. Charcoal smokers do offer great temperature and heat control to its user through adjustable air vents and doors. However, it takes a little time to get used to this way of temperature regulation.

Without a few initial practices, this is a hard job to do and needs proper supervision for the meat to not be undercooked or overcooked.

2. These smokers are pretty messy when it comes to their clean-up process.

Charcoal is messy fuel and leaves behind a lot of leftovers that need to be cleaned after every smoking session.

This ash and leftover charcoal clean-up job are one of our least favorite things about charcoal smokers. 

3. Charcoal smokers are budget-friendly, but using charcoal as a fuel source is not the most budget-friendly option in the market. 

Who are Charcoal Smokers Best for?

Charcoal smokers are suited best to people who want to use traditional methods of smoking meat and experience smoking to the fullest.

Charcoal Smoker with Meat Beside It

It is true that using charcoal smokers is a little tricky and requires practice, but when you get used to the skills needed for this purpose, the smoking process gets quite fun for you!

Choosing charcoal smokers or any other type of smokers for your meat cooking journey is completely a personal choice.

However, we love using these smokers because of the flavor they leave on your meat, making it taste much better than before.

If you are someone who would not like to constantly babysit the smoker and let it be on its own, then maybe the charcoal smokers are not the best option for you.

Difference Between Charcoal Smokers and Grills

The differentiating feature between charcoal smokers and grills is their source of heat. Where grills use a direct source of heat, smokers use an indirect source.

This means that grills have a fire lit right under the meat that is being cooked. There’s only a few inches difference between the heat source and the meat being heated.

On the contrary, smokers have a separate firebox that is not present below the cooking chamber. This firebox, from where the heat is being sourced, is present on one side of the cooking chamber. 

From over there, the heat and smoke being produced swiftly move towards the meat that is being smoked in the cooking chamber in a circular motion.

Even if a charcoal smoker does not have a separate firebox for lighting up the charcoal, there will be a small charcoal pan present on one side of the cooking chamber and not under it.

Another major difference would be the cooking methods that both of these equipment adopt for cooking meat. Grills are supposed to be high and fast, whereas smokers cook meat low and slow.

Therefore, if you want to make yourself steaks and burgers, then grills are a better option. But if you want to cook briskets and pork shoulders, then smoking them is the right choice to make.

Converting Your Grill into a Smoker

You might not yet be aware of this, but your grills can be converted into smokers when needed. 

It’s not recommended if you truly want to experience smoking and its results, but it’s a good option to choose when you don’t have a smoker readily available.

This process involves converting your grill into a two-zone fire. This is when you place all your heat source, charcoal in this case, on one side of the smoker, while placing the meat on the other side of the grill grates. 

This positioning of the heat source and the meat results in somewhat indirect smoking for it. It also results in low and slow cooking.

How Do Charcoal Smokers Work?

There are two main reasons why charcoal smokers enjoy their popularity. One, because they enhance the meat’s flavor in their particular way, and two, because they are great at smoking meat low and slow.

Charcoal smokers don’t just do their magic alone. These smokers use charcoal as their primary fuel source but also add in wood chips and pellets in the open fire to produce smoke to flavor the meat even better.

The cooking temperature at which charcoal smokers usually smoke the meat is around 225 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit for most cuts of meat. This temperature is high enough to impart a rich smoky flavor to the meat that is being cooked, but also low enough for the connective tissues of the meat to slowly break and make it juicy and tender.

So, in easier words, charcoal smokers will heat your meat slowly at consistent temperatures, until the internal temperature of the meat matches the surrounding temperature of the cooking chamber.

While most other smokers are easier to use and have simpler working, a lot of pitmasters still prefer using charcoal smokers because of the traditional taste that they impart on smoked meat.

Aaron Franklin – How to Smoke Meat With a Charcoal Smoker

A charcoal smoker works by heating your food at a consistent temperature for many hours on end. Eventually, the internal temperature of the meat will be the same as the temperature of the surrounding air within the cooker. You can only get that distinctive BBQ smoker flavor if the meat cooks very gradually, which makes the cooking process different than that of a standard barbecue grill, where flames lap at the meat and it sears within minutes.

Tips & Tricks: How to Effectively Use Your Charcoal Smokers

Igniting Your Charcoal Smoker

When it comes to igniting and starting charcoal smokers, you will need a little practice to get used to the method.

In a gas or electric smoker, all you have to do is press a button to get your smoker all ignited and ready to be used. But charcoal smokers are far more complicated when it comes to lighting them up.

The easiest way to do that is by using a chimney starter. The chimney starter is a device that helps light up charcoal so that it can be used as a heat source for your smoker.

These devices will make your job easier to a great extent and not even cost you much! If you want help using one for yourself, this video is all you need:

Setting and Regulating Your Charcoal Smoker’s Temperature

If you want to smoke your meat low and slow, the best method to use for lighting up charcoal is through the minion method

In the minion method, you fill up your smoker’s firebox with unlit charcoal. Only a little portion of these charcoal or briquettes are then burnt until they convert into ash. This ash is further burnt for another 15 minutes after which it is spread on top of the remaining unlit coals.

This allows you to produce an environment for low and slow cooking because not all charcoals burn at once. The ash slowly ignites some of the charcoals, and then the lit charcoals ignite more charcoals present below them, and so on.

To further adjust the temperature and smoke of the smoker, all you have to do is open and close the air vents accordingly.

Once you’ve set up your smoker for success, you can make adjustments by opening and closing the intake dampers.

When you open the vents, more air is allowed to enter, giving you a bigger flame and higher temperature. And if you close them a little, the airflow is restricted and the temperature of the smoker is lowered.

It’s best to keep the top exhaust damper of the smoker always fully or partially opened. This is because the airflow from this damper helps the charcoal fire burn clean, and not turn into bitter thick smoke that could ruin your meat’s flavor.

You should always keep a track of how fast the temperature and heat level of your smoker usually rise. This will help you take better charge of the adjustments needed. This is especially important because you should not change the opening of vents too often. 

Such regulation of temperature takes a lot of time and practice, so if you didn’t get a hold of it the very first time, that is completely fine!

For this reason, we do recommend that you smoke some smaller and less tough cuts of meat in your initial smoking sessions with a charcoal smoker, and then proceed to cuts like briskets and pork shoulders.

How to Take Care of Your Charcoal Smokers

You can give your charcoal smokers a very long life by simply taking care of them the right way. Maintenance of these smokers is not complicated at all and just needs a little time on your part.

If you follow the given list of basic maintenance rules, your smoker will go a long way for you.

  1. Cleaning the cooking chamber is the most important part of the maintenance journey for your charcoal smoker. However, you don’t have to do this step every time after smoking some meat.

There is a point when the inside of the cooking chamber of a charcoal smoker has a layer of crustiness that starts curling up and also flaking off, this is when the inside needs to be cleaned.

This can be gotten rid of with the help of a plastic putty knife along with a vacuum handy to collect any flakes that fell off.

If this doesn’t work out for you and the insides are a little more sticky to come off easily, then you should clean it with a scrub and soap.

If that doesn’t work out either, then it’s best to switch to professional help.

  1. To further clean the cooking chamber, you need to switch to the grill grates of the smoker and make sure they are spot clean.

Any greasy leftover on the grill grates will go bad itself and then make your food taste bad.

Similarly, if there is any leftover burnt charcoal on the grill grates, it will adhere to the meat being smoked and make it taste bitter.

The best time to clean your grill grates is right after a smoking session when no grease or burnt charcoal has yet stuck to the grates and can be easily wiped off.

  1. Ashes that sit in your smoker need to be disposed of right after each smoking session so that they can’t harm the interior of your smoker. 

Ashes sitting like this inside a smoker tend to attract moisture, which in turn make the metal interior of the smoker rust. Therefore, to prevent that from happening, you need to dispose of it before it causes any damage.

But before you dispose of the ashes, remember that burnt charcoal and its ash are both leftovers of charcoal that retain heat for very long periods. Therefore, you need to be sure they have cooled down to protect yourself from any unforeseen burn.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Charcoal or Wood Better for Smoking?

Charcoal makes smoking easier but wood gives the most flavor to your meat.

It’s best to practice for a while and use both charcoal and wood together for best smoking results – charcoal as your heat source to cook the meat, and wood to create a flavored smoke to enhance the taste of your meat.

Charcoal can help you smoke your meat easily but it will add no flavor to it. 

Does Wood Burn Hotter Than Charcoal?

No.

Charcoal burns at a higher temperature than wood. Yet it doesn’t produce that visible of a flame, and will only give you carbon dioxide and heat for your smoking process.

Does Wood Burn Longer or Charcoal?

Charcoal burns longer than wood.

Although charcoal takes longer to light up as compared to wood, it will last you longer than wood because it burns both longer and hotter.

For reference, a 15-pound standard-sized bag of charcoal can burn for about 15 hours.

Are Charcoal Smokers Hard to Use?

Yes, but not necessarily.

Charcoal smokers are more tricky to get used to as compared to much easier electric smokers and propane smokers.

However, they aren’t that hard to get used to. A little practice will help you out just fine!

How Do You Control Charcoal Smoker Temperature?

The best way to regulate the temperature of your charcoal smoker is by changing the opening of its vents.

If you want to lower down the temperature, you should close the vents a little because that prevents oxygen from reaching the flame. Similarly, if you want a higher temperature, you can get that by opening the vents further to let in more oxygen for a bigger and hotter flame.

If you want more help to regulate your charcoal smoker’s temperature correctly, this video can help you out.

Can Your Charcoal Expire?

No, but not necessarily.

Charcoal is sold in two different styles: lumps and briquettes.

Lump charcoal is very solid and lasts forever if stored properly. If you protect it from moisture and place it in a dry and cool place, it will last indefinitely.

However, briquettes are not solid charcoal and also contain other components. These components tend to absorb moisture from the air over time and hence make them non-usable, and hence unusable after about 2 years of storage.

Is Lump Charcoal Better or Briquettes?

Briquettes are easier to use.

This is because they are easier to stack and also give a much steadier temperature for smoking as compared to lump charcoal. You can also find them for a lower price than lump charcoal.

However, briquettes are not pure, solid charcoal and include chemical additives. Lump charcoal, on the contrary, is completely pure and hence burns cleaner, and also hotter.

Can You Use Wet Charcoal?

No.

Wet charcoal cannot be burned properly and hence it can’t be used as a heat source for smoking.

Most cheaper wet charcoal will crumble and break as soon as it becomes wet. If it’s more solid and that doesn’t happen, even then it can only be used when it has completely dried.

Still, it will be better to use that dried charcoal for only slow-burning smoking methods.

What is the Difference Between Charcoal Smokers and Standard Smokers?

The only basic difference between charcoal smokers and other standard smokers is their fuel source. 

For instance, where charcoal smokers use charcoal lumps or briquettes for producing heat and smoke for cooking meat, an electric smoker might use electricity, a propane smoker will use natural gas, and a pellet smoker will use wood chips or pellets.

The result of these smokers is almost similar, although they are not replicated. But because of the flavor added through additional smoke produced through a wood in all smokers, all smokers enhance the meat’s flavor in the same manner.

Wrapping it Up

Despite the number of options available in the market, our favorite charcoal smoker is the Weber Charcoal Smoker (Available in 14”, 18”, and 22”).

However, you should look for a smoker that fulfills your exact needs so that you have no complaints about it!

TYLER LACHANCE

Tyler Lachance is a cookout professional. His expertise on cooking grilled food, creating marinades, formulating sauces and matching his food with the perfect drink is unrivaled.

Born and raised in a family that has a long history of cookout, he has treated this activity as a part of his culture and who he is.