People love the taste of smoked meat. In fact, some people love it so much that they want to start smoking meat at home. We at Taber’s Best Reviews love smoked salmon, smoked turkey at Thanksgiving, at smoked Tri-Tip at our annual Christmas banquet at church.
Turn your summer bbq into a meat smoking extravaganza!
All of these great foods and memories are made possible by meat smokers.
Owning a meat smoker opens up a world of new possibilities of culinary delights for the food aficionado. However, what if you want to start smoking meat at home? Where do you start? What is the best meat smoker for the money?
Our team of writers and researchers set out to answer the question of what is the best meat smoker for the money. We asked the experts, listened to buyers, and put the smokers to the test, which was such a tedious chore. (Do you believe that?)
So here are the results of all our efforts. We hope that this article helps you start your meat smoking journey at home.
How We Chose These Meat Smokers For You
Why You Should Trust Us
We spent over 40 hours researching and writing this list of the best meat smokers for home use so you wouldn’t have to spend your time doing the research. We consulted with the top experts in the industry and coupled that with our own experience to bring you this list. We do not accept free products or incentives when we review products to keep our opinions unbiased and helpful to our readers.
In making this list of the best meat smokers for home use, we kept three things in mind: Features, price, and customer satisfaction.
One of the most important things about purchasing a new meat smoker is the features that the smoker has. How hot does it get? Is it gas, charcoal, or electric smoker? Is it just a smoker or is it a grill/smoker combo? Does it have multiple racks and good temperature control? Is it large enough to smoke all the meat you want to smoke in one setting?
All of these things are important in choosing your new meat smoker, or deciding which one will be an excellent gift for a friend or loved one. So that is what we looked for in a meat smoker. We only picked smokers that had one or more of these options.
We kept the price range reasonable for a top of the line smoker so that anyone can afford a top quality meat smoker. It really would do you no good if we did a survey of the best meat smoker for the money and then didn’t take into consideration the price.
When starting out learning how to smoke meat you do not want to buy the most expensive one. You want to learn on a beginner smoker then upgrade to one of these smokers at a later date later if you feel that you need to.
Most people buy a meat smoker to make their job of cooking great food easier and their quality of life better. We made sure that we only listed the meat smokers that will accomplish that goal.
Every meat smoker that we have listed are rated by customers at 80% or higher depending on the rating system used on different websites.
We also read all the individual customer reviews to see how well the manufacturer responded to customer issues and how well people recommended these smokers. We only took into account customers with a verified purchase. They are real buyers reviewing the product.
What Is The Best Meat Smoker For The Money?
Picking the best meat smoker for home use depends upon your needs.
- Do you need to cook much meat at once?
- Are you going to smoke other food besides meat?
- Do you need the ability grill and smoke at the same time?
- How much space do you have for your smoker?
- Do you need the smoker to heat quickly or keep the food warm after being smoked?
These are the type of questions you need to think about when buying a meat smoker. Not all of the smokers will fit your need.
Here is our list of the best meat smokers for home use that we think you should consider.
Best All Around Meat Smoker And Grill For The Money
There are five different type of smokers. They are pellet smokers, gas smokers, charcoal smokers, electric smokers and infrared smokers. We are only recommending three of these types of smokers to use at your home.
Here is our pick of the best all around meat smoker for home use.
The Best Gas Meat Smoker For The Money
Some people prefer the convenience of a gas smoker. If you have a bbq pit that is away from the house, then a gas smoker is might be a better choice because there is no need for electicity.
Here is the gas smoker that we recommend for those that are going to be doing their meat smoking at home.
The Best Electric Smokers For The Money
Some people do not want the muss and fuss that comes with pellet, charcoal, and gas smokers. They want a smoker that can be used without having to prepare in advance by buying fuel. This makes sense if you are a busy person and just want a smoker that will meet all your meat smoking needs.
Here is the electric smokers that we recommend for you to start out your meat smoking journey at home.
The Best Charcoal Meat Smoker For The Money
Finally we come to our recommendation for the best charcoal meat smoker to use at your home. Many people love the added flavor and taste of meat smoked with charcoal briquettes. It adds a certain flavor that just can’t be replicated with other smokers.
If you are one that likes the flavor that comes with using charcoal then you will love this meat smoker.
Meat Smoker Buying Guide
If you have never bought a meat smoker before, then it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed when making the decision about which one will best meet your needs.
With so many different models on the market, you may not know where to even begin your search, which is why you will want to use a meat smoker buying guide.
This guide will ensure that you know what to look for in your new smoker and will keep you from accidentally going over budget while shopping.
Complete Meat Smoker Buying Guide For The Backyard Gourmet
Questions First-Time Meat Smoker Buyers Should Ask Themselves
- What Kind of Smoker Do I Want? There are a few main types of smokers: wood-burning smokers, charcoal smokers, pellet smokers, and gas smokers. Each one has its pros and cons as well as a rabid following of fans. While deciding which smoker is right for you can be tricky, it’s essential so you can narrow down your search.
- What Foods Will I Be Smoking? You may want to be smoking substantial cuts of meat such as Boston butt, in which case you will want a smoker that has much space and the ability to cook over indirect heat. On the other hand, if you’re going to smoke smaller items such as chickens or fish, then you can choose a smoker that is a lot smaller.
- How Many People Will I Be Feeding? If it’s just you, then you can get away with buying a much smaller meat smoker than if you are going to be catering large parties for your friends and family members. Of course, it’s important to remember that you will likely grow into a more massive meat smoker so instead of having to buy another one in a few years, you may want to buy one a size up from what you think you need now.
- How Much Space Do I Have For A Meat Smoker? If you are lucky enough to have a huge backyard or patio, space will not be a huge issue, but many people have to consider how much room their new smokers will take up. Upright smokers need a lot less floor space but don’t come in the larger sizes that you may prefer.
- Does it Need to Be Portable? Some meat smokers are so large that you will need to haul them behind your truck if you want to take them anywhere. The chances are good that you will be happy with a smaller smoker, but you will still want to be able to move it from one location to another on your property.
Types of Meat Smokers
Your next step will be deciding what kind of smoker you want to buy. While there are different styles of smokers, the type depends on what type of fuel source that you have for the heat. You will have to make this decision while taking into consideration how hands-on you want to be during cooking as well as weighing the pros and cons of each available type.
Ideal for anyone who wants to put his or her meat on the smoker and then forget about it for a few hours, gas smokers are very easy to operate. They do tend to be more expensive than wood smokers, but some people find that the increase in price is worth the ease of cooking.
You have to vent the top when cooking and make sure that you have enough propane on hand, so you don’t run out while using the meat smoker. Some people complain about the taste or smell of food cooked in gas smokers.
These are the least expensive smokers available on the market and are relatively simple pieces of equipment with very few moving parts. The type of wood that you use can impart fantastic flavor to your meat, and it’s easy to add additional liquid so that everything is moist.
You do have to know how to start a fire to use a wood smoker, and it’s important to keep an eye on them to make sure that they have enough fuel during the time that you are using them.
These are the most technical of all of the meat smokers and are digitally controlled. That makes it easy to manage the whole smoking process correctly. They are an excellent option for people who want complete control over their meat but don’t want to have to monitor it. The downside of pellet smokers is that they can be costly.
By far the easiest smoker to use, these smokers let you add water, wood, and your meat and then turn it on and walk off. Unfortunately, that convenience comes with a price and the meat smoked in electric smokers does not taste as good as meat prepared in other smokers will.
They tend to be pricey but not as expensive as pellet smokers are. Your food will not have a crust or the much-coveted smoke ring that is typical with smoked meat.
Top Meat Smoker Manufacturers
With so many meat smokers available on the market, it can be very tricky to find one that is reliable, will meet your needs, and is still well within your budget. That being said, there are a few manufacturers that are well known, have been in the business for a while, and consistently produce high-quality products.
It’s smart to start your search by looking at meat smokers from Weber, Masterbuilt, Bradley, and Dyna-Glo. While other manufacturers will make high-quality meat smokers, these brands are a great place to begin your search so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you will be buying from a reputable source.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Meat Smoker
When you take time to research potential meat smokers, then you will be better prepared to make a purchase. Also, this will ensure that you are happy with your decision in the future and that you won’t regret the smoker that you buy.
Horizontal vs. Vertical:
This choice is one of the central decisions that you will have to make when choosing a meat smoker. Vertical smokers take up much less space than horizontal ones do and are great for allowing the smoke to circulate around your meat. They are generally much less expensive than horizontal smokers are. Unfortunately, they aren’t the best option if you need to smoke much meat at one time since they are smaller in size.
Horizontal smokers, on the other hand, are more stable and much larger than their vertical counterparts. They are great for smoking large quantities of meat at once and can usually be pulled behind a truck but aren’t ideal if you are going to be smoking just a little meat for your family.
Not all meat smokers will be able to get hot enough to sear a steak or to caramelize the sauce. Generally, smokers aren’t as hot as other appliances such as a grill but having the option to turn them hot is always a benefit.
While you don’t want to have to make your final decision based solely on what you can afford, meat smokers tend to get very pricey, so it’s crucial that you have a thought-out budget before you go shopping.
Also, some smokers, such as pellet smokers and ones that use propane, will have regular costs associated with being able to use them. By knowing what your budget is, you can be sure that you can afford the smoker not only when you buy it but also when you want to use it.
If you are going to be taking your smoker with you when you travel, then its strength is especially important. Even if you are not going to be moving your smoker on a regular basis, it’s vital that you be sure that it has been built to last and won’t fall apart.
Make sure to check the welding, how sturdy the wheels and legs are, and the quality of the hinges as well as the latches. If there is much plastic, then you need to make sure that the smoker can handle high heat, and any exposed metal or screws can rust if the smoker is left out in the rain.
From small to huge, there are meat smokers for every person. Remember to plan ahead in case you decide that you need a larger smoker in the future but not to overbuy a smoker that you can’t move or easily store.
Features to Look for in a Meat Smoker
Different meat smokers will have various features from which you can choose. Remember that all optional features will likely add to the final cost of the smoker that you want so you will have to weigh your desired features against the budget that you have set for yourself.
- Moveable Shelves: Not all meat smokers offer moveable shelves in them, but these make it much easier to smoke all different sizes and shapes of meat without hassle. You won’t have to cut your meat into portions to smoke it when you can quickly adjust the shelves and being able to remove them makes cleaning your smoker a lot easier.
- High-Quality Thermometer: Unfortunately, many meat smokers come with cheaper thermometers that won’t work very reliably. This problem makes it very difficult to keep an eye on your meat and to make sure that it’s at the right temperature. A higher-quality thermometer will allow you to keep an eye on your smoker without worrying about if it is too hot or too cold.
- Water Pan: A water pan is useful for filling with herbs, water, wine, or beer. It doesn’t just help to flavor the meat but also to regulate any fluctuations in temperature. It’s smart to look for a meat smoker that has a large water pan; more than that, you want to make sure that you can easily access it. If you can’t get to the water pan while the smoker is full, then you will have many problems trying to add more liquid to it or check to see what’s left.
- Drip Pan: While you may want to let your drippings fall directly into the fire for more flavor and a better aroma, it is nice to be able to collect the drippings if you want to. These can make an excellent sauce.
Putting it All Together
With some information about choosing a meat smoker, you will be better prepared when it comes time to make your purchase.
Your first step is to decide on your budget and how much money you feel comfortable spending before you even go to look at a smoker. After you have come up with a firm budget, then it’s time to decide what type of meat smoker you want. Choosing between the four categories can be tricky, and you may need to do more research to see what kind is right for you. Once you have narrowed down your choice to the perfect type of smoker for you, then you will be able to consider manufacturers and features.
If you have an ideal manufacturer that you want to buy from, that’s great! It’s okay if you don’t as you can still get a great meat smoker. By knowing what type you want and your budget, you can look at available models from different manufacturers. You will need to consider the size of the smoker and if you can easily place it at your home.
Finally, you can think about the additional features that you are interested in and see if any of them are available on the smoker that you’re considering. Remember that you may not be able to find a smoker with all of the features that you want without going over budget so you may have to prioritize.
When you use this meat smoker buying guide to help you plan out your purchase, you can be sure that you’ll be happy with your new smoker. What may work for a friend or family member might not work for you, so it’s worth spending a little time doing research and considering the various options before spending any money.
Starting Your New Meat Smoking Journey At Home
Are you prepared for friends and relatives stopping buy at dinnertime? Everybody loves smoked meat. You just might become the popular family to visit once word gets out you are smoking meat at home.
There are many ways to smoke meat and many sauces you can use to add extra flavor.
Here are a few resources for you to start your meat smoking journey.