BBQ smokers differ to regular barbecues in that they use a low, indirect heat to cook food more slowly, and infuse it with a smoky flavour. They can be powered by charcoal, electric or gas, and often use wood chips to increase the smokiness. You can use a smoker to cook all kinds of food, including meat, fish, cheese, and vegetables.
Smoking food in this way can take several hours, but if you’re happy to wait, a BBQ smoker makes a great addition to the garden of anyone who likes to cook and entertain outside. With so many sizes, styles and price points on the market, you can be sure there’s one to suit every household.
Last update on 2020-08-13 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API
To help you choose the right one for you, we’ve selected what we think are 5 of the best BBQ smokers available, thanks to their superior size, quality, temperature-monitoring abilities, and value. With one of these smokin’ hot appliances in your garden, you’re sure to be the envy of your neighbours.
Our best BBQ smoker is large and robust, with a decent-sized cooking area, storage shelves and a built-in temperature gauge
This CosmoGrill 90kg XXL Barbeque is our favourite BBQ smoker. It’s made from heavy duty cast iron with a heat-resistant lacquer, and features a robust and durable design, that’s built to last.
This large smoker weighs 90 kg, and measures a sizeable L 170 x H 145 x W 70 cm. It has a huge cooking area of 70 x 40 cm, which offers plenty of space for all the food you want to smoke.
There are convenient shelves to the front and side, to hold your utensils or cooked food, as well as a further shelf underneath the grill. The two wheels and wooden handle ensure it’s easy to move the smoker around your garden, or in and out of storage.
It has two barrels, so you can compartmentalise, and dedicate one barrel to the fire, and the other to cooking and smoking your food. A built-in temperature gauge allows you to monitor the internal temperature, and make sure it’s at the perfect level for whatever you’re cooking.
This is the most expensive BBQ smoker on our list, but we also believe it’s the one with the best design, construction and function – this is a smoker for serious barbecue masters.
- Made from durable cast iron.
- Sturdy and stable construction.
- Large cooking area of 70 x 40 cm.
- Heat-resistant lacquer.
- Includes built-in temperature gauge.
- Two wheels and a wooden handle make it easy to move around.
- Shelves at the front, side and bottom offer convenient storage space whilst you’re cooking.
- Easy to assemble.
- Large size means it takes up a lot of space.
- No drain hole for grease.
- This is our most expensive BBQ smoker.
Our best value BBQ smoker is compact, affordable, and comes with a variety of accessories, for flexible cooking
If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, this Callow Premium BBQ Smoker is a great alternative for those on a budget. It’s also a much more compact smoker and could be ideal for users with balconies, patios or smaller gardens.
Although it’s small, this stylish BBQ smoker still packs a punch – it’s made from powder-coated 0.9mm carbon steel, and boasts a large charcoal pan with full ventilation, and a water pan with a 1-gallon capacity.
The 6 hooks, 2 cooking grates and smoking rack provide the user with numerous cooking options, and there are built-in air vents and a thermometer, to allow you to monitor and control the internal temperature.
There are also access points for a meat thermometer, so you can make sure your food is cooked, before removing it from the smoker. We would advise using your own thermometer for checking the cooking temperature too, as the built-in one isn’t particularly reliable.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that, even though there are 2 cooking grates, the small size of this means there isn’t as much cooking space as on the larger models. It should be enough for families, but might struggle with parties and gatherings. However, when you consider how affordable this high-quality outdoor smoker is, it’s hard to find too much to fault with it.
- Made from high density, powder-coated 0.9mm carbon steel.
- Large, fully ventilated charcoal pan, and 1-gallon capacity water pan.
- Built-in adjustable air vents and thermometer, and two thermometer access points, give you full control over the temperature.
- Includes 6 hooks, 2 cooking grates and a smoking rack, for flexible cooking options.
- Comes with a weatherproof cover.
- Ideal for balconies, patios and small gardens.
- Not as much cooking space as larger options.
- The thermometer is not very reliable – we recommended buying your own.
This BBQ smoker features 2 barrels, enamel cooking grids and a large cooking area
This Tepro 1087 Biloxi Barrel Smoker offers a similar design to our best pick, at a slightly more affordable price. It’s made from durable, 1mm thick, powder-coated steel, and is heat-resistant to 350°C.
It boasts a generous cooking area of 58 x 40 cm, that offers plenty of space for cooking for large groups of people, as well as a warming rack. The double-barrelled design offers you full flexibility when it comes to barbecuing – you can grill over charcoal or smoke over a wood fire.
A large air vent on the side chamber enables you to easily adjust the internal temperature, without opening the lid, and a built-in thermometer keeps you informed of the current cooking conditions.
Shelves at the front and underneath offer a convenient place for utensils and condiments. At 32.5kg, it’s considerably lighter than our top pick, and the two wheels on the base ensure that it’s easy to move the smoker around your garden.
Assembly of this one can be a little tricky, as the instructions aren’t great. However, once you’ve got it together, it makes an excellent choice for anyone looking for a double-barrelled design, with a large cooking area.
- Made from 1mm thick, powder-coated steel.
- Two durable enamelled cooking grids.
- Large grill and warming rack offers plenty of space for food.
- Heat resistant to 350°C.
- Two large steel wheels make it easy to move.
- Built-in thermometer and air vents allow you to easily monitor and alter the internal temperature.
- Shelves for storage.
- Not the most affordable option.
- Assembly instructions are pretty poor.
This stylish BBQ smoker has Nordic wooden details, and is highly affordable – it’s a great entry-level model
If you want a double-barrelled design for even less, take a look at this TecTake BBQ Smoker, which is both stylish, and affordable.
This one also features 2 cooking chambers, to give you full flexibility with your cooking. A built-in thermometer on the lid ensures you can monitor the internal temperature.
The BBQ smoker is made from durable, powder-coated metal, with wooden handles and a shelf, to give it a stylish Scandinavian look. The grilling area measures 58 x 30 cm, which is smaller than the other two smokers of this style that we’ve featured, but still offers plenty of room for food.
There’s also lots of space in this model to hold your condiments, spices and cooking utensils, thanks to the wooden shelf, and shelf below. Two wheels and a side handle improve the manoeuvrability of the smoker, and help to make it easier to move in and out of storage.
It might not be the best quality option on the market, but it is good-looking and functional. We’d recommend it as an entry-level model for newbies, who don’t want to splash out too much on their first BBQ smoker.
- Made from powder-coated metal, with heat-resistant paint.
- Stylish wooden details.
- Two cooking chambers.
- Adjustable side vents for airflow control.
- Built-in thermometer on the lid.
- Drip pan to collect juices.
- Storage shelves in front of and below the grill.
- Two wheels make it easy to move.
- Comparatively lightweight (24kg).
- Not as much cooking space as smokers of a similar style.
- Poor assembly instructions.
- Not the best quality finish.
Fire Mountain American Style Drum Barbeque
An affordable yet decent-quality BBQ smoker, with two compartments, air vents, and wheels for easy manoeuvrability
Our final BBQ smoker is this American-Style Drum Barbeque by Fire Mountain. It’s crafted from heat-retentive metal and offers many of the same great features as the other BBQ smokers on this list.
This includes two compartments and grilling areas, so you can choose to cook directly over hot coals, or indirectly from smoke generated in the other compartment. Built-in air vents to allow you to control the internal temperature, and an integrated temperature gauge on the lid lets you know what’s going on inside your smoker.
Shelves in front and underneath provide an accessible place for you to store spices, condiments and crockery, and a convenient side handle and wheels make it easier to move the smoker, despite its large size.
With its all-metal construction, we don’t think this one is quite as stylish in appearance as our previous option, but it is comparatively functional and affordable. It’s another solid choice for those looking to break into the world of outdoor barbecuing and smoking, without breaking the bank.
- Made from thick metal, with excellent heat retention.
- Two chambers and two grilling areas, for versatile cooking.
- Air vents allow you to adjust airflow, and control temperature.
- Integrated temperature gauge on the lid.
- Shelves for convenient storage.
- Two wheels and a side handle help with moving the BBQ.
- Comparatively low price.
- Not as aesthetically pleasing as some models.
- Can be tricky to assemble.
- No cover included.
How To Use A Smoker
To use one of the BBQ smokers we’ve featured here, you will first need to assemble it. Always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, as well as for how to operate your smoker.
As a general rule, you should light the fire in your BBQ smoker (using charcoal, gas or electric, depending on your smoker), and then add pre-soaked wood chips to the smoking chamber.
Ensure the air vents (baffles) are open so that oxygen can circulate, and allow the internal temperature of the smoker to reach 110 – 120°C, before you begin cooking. You can maintain this temperature by adjusting the baffles.
Add your food to the grill, close the lid of the smoker, and leave to cook. Check regularly (at least every hour), and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food before removing it from the smoker, to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.
How Do You Smoke Cheese In A Smoker?
You can smoke most types of cheese in your smoker, including cheddar, mozzarella and Swiss cheese. The key to smoking cheese is ‘cold smoking’, where you create enough smoke to give it flavour, whilst keeping the internal temperature low (under 30°C), so that the cheese doesn’t melt.
To achieve this, fill the firebox of your smoker one-third full with wood pellets – apple, cherry or maple wood are good choices – and light them using a charcoal briquette. Cut your (room temperature) cheese into blocks of 10 x 5cm, and place them on top of the grill.
Close the lid, making sure the baffles are at least 5% open, and leave the cheese to smoke for 1 – 3 hours, depending on how strong you want the flavour. Use a thermometer to monitor the internal temperature throughout – if it starts to get too hot, open the vents more to cool things down. After 3 hours, open the lid of the BBQ smoker, and remove your cheese. Place the blocks in zip-lock freezer bags, and refrigerate for at least a week, to let the flavour mellow. Serve your delicious smoked cheese with crackers, in a sandwich, or just enjoy on its own.