Top 5 Best Smokers For Beginners (2021 Review)

If you’re a beginner and looking for the top options for smokers, you’ve come to the right place!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How smokers work
  • How to save time and money choosing the right smoker
  • The top 5 smokers for beginners 
  • And much more!
Best Smokers For Beginners

I’ve had several different smokers in the last several years and I’ve seen it all. The ones that are bad and the ones that are the best smokers for the money. 

That’s why I’ve made this list for you! I want to save you time, money, and frustration by using my experience to your benefit. 

How can I save you time and money?

  • I’ve wasted so much money on smokers that didn’t last long, I’m going to help you avoid those
  • Some smokers have a big name, but don’t stack up to their pricepoint
  • Some lesser-known styles of smokers are perfect for beginners, so I’ll show you those as well!

Below is a quick list of all our top products. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose and use the best smoker for a beginner. Here we go!

ImageProduct
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Masterbuilt Gravity Smoker
  • Charcoal and Wood Smoked Taste
  • Fan Auto Controls Temp
  • Perfect for Smoking And Searing
  • Charcoal and Wood Smoked Taste
  • Fan Auto Controls Temp
  • Perfect for Smoking And Searing
View on Amazon
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Pit Boss Pellet Smoker
  • Very Easy To Use
  • Built For Durability
  • Lot of Accessories
  • Very Easy To Use
  • Built For Durability
  • Lot of Accessories
View on Amazon
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Masterbuilt Bullet Smoker
  • Very Simple Style
  • Great Strong Smoke Flavors
  • Easy To Assemble
  • Very Simple Style
  • Great Strong Smoke Flavors
  • Easy To Assemble
View on Amazon
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Traeger Pro 780
  • WiFire Technology
  • Easy To Create Great Meals
  • Large Online Community
  • All The Tech
  • Easy To Create Great Meals
  • Large Online Community
View on Amazon
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Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
  • Couldn't Be Easier To Use
  • Easy Clean Up (No Ash)
  • Easy To Find Accessories
  • Couldn't Be Easier To Use
  • Easy Clean Up (No Ash)
  • Easy To Find Accessories
View on Amazon

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

 

Our top pick is the Gravity Series by Masterbuilt because they produce the best quality and design, and they are manufactured in the USA.

Whether you want to grill hamburgers, sear steaks, or smoke a brisket, this thing won’t let you down! It is a true combination of a grill and a smoker.

The gravity-fed hopper means you can put enough charcoal to last for hours. The electronic fan then pushes the perfect amount of air to maintain accurate grilling temperatures. 

It is truly the best smoker for beginners!

Demand is high for Masterbuilt’s Gravity Series right now, so get your hands on yours and have it shipped to your doorstep from Amazon today.

Table of Contents

Top 5 Best Smokers for Beginners?

In a hurry? Check out our top 5 smokers! Keep reading to learn more about our top picks. 

  1. Masterbuilt Vertical Smoker (Best Overall)
  2. Pit Boss Pellet Smoker (Best Pellet Grill Option)
  3. Masterbuilt Bullet Smoker (Best Budget Smoker)
  4. Traeger Pro 780
  5. Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
Best Smokers For Beginners Facts

What Are The Different Types Of Smokers For Beginners?

For us to get the best smoker for the money, it’s crucial that we understand how these smokers work and what we can expect from each.

pellet smoker for beginners

Pellet Smoker

Pellet smokers, or grills, are ideal for beginners because it allows us to cook foods with extra smokey flavor using the convenience of an electric smoker.

Buying a pellet grill is also a great investment because it can be used as a grill and oven.

You’ll never cook pizza inside after cooking it on a pellet grill.

Pellet smokers work by heating a cooking chamber where air circulates and then allow foods to heat and cook through convection.

This type of smoker has a built-in thermometer to keep the temperature inside stable and determine the amount of pellets to be fed into the firebox through an auger.

Pros:

  • Because of its unique cooking system, using pellet grills allows us to combine the flavor of actual wood smoke with our foods.
  • It provides options for us to set the temperature, so we don’t have to check our food every single minute.
  • They are versatile because we can use them as a smoker, grill, and oven.
  • The wood pellets used in this type of smoker are burned down to nearly nothing, which means that we don’t have to spend too much time and effort cleaning it up.
  • The firebox where the pellets are placed can easily be removed and emptied.

Cons:

  • An expensive price tag is one of the biggest drawbacks of a pellet smoker.
  • Expect to pay at least $400 for an entry-level and simple pellet smoker.

electric smokers for beginners

Electric Smoker

Electric smokers are the perfect solution for beginners who want to experience “fire and forget” when smoking foods.

With a smoker that is electric, we won’t have to worry about burning any charcoal or exerting a lot of effort during cleanup.

Choosing to buy an electric model will make it very easy for us to cook as we can easily set the temperature and lounge around with a beer in our hands while waiting for our food to cook.

Some newer models of electric smokers even come up with a Bluetooth app that allows us to control the smoker even from a distance.

Pros:

  • They are very easy to use, making them one of the best choices for a beginner.
  • Save money in the long run as we don’t have to buy charcoal, gas, or pellets to use it.
  • We don’t have to babysit an electric model because we can set it based on our preferred temperature and expect it to cook our foods thoroughly even when we’re not around.

Cons:

  • Because they don’t create very much smoke, the flavor it produces might leave you disappointed.

charcoal smokers for beginners

Charcoal or Wood Smoker

Charcoal or wood smokers come in different shapes and sizes and add the most flavor to our foods.

However, for us to create the most flavorful dishes using a charcoal or wood smoker, we need to exert more time and effort for its setup, babysitting, and cleanup.

Read More >> How To Season a Smoker (5 Step Guide)

More me personally, I learned how to smoke meats on a charcoal/wood smoker. It was a great starting point to learn a lot about the basics. 

There is an option, though, to get the charcoal and wood taste while being able to regulate temperature extremely well.

That’s where the Masterbuilt Gravity Series comes into play. This is what I’m currently using!

Read More >> How To Put Out A Charcoal Grill (3 Quick Steps)

Pros:

  • For us to achieve that deep smokey flavor in our foods, using charcoal smokers is the best way to go.
  • Regardless if we have a small patio or spacious backyard, we can easily find a charcoal smoker that fits just right.
  • If you choose a smaller charcoal smoker, you won’t have any problems transporting it from one location to another.
  • You can use a variety of wood chips or wood chunks to get different flavor profiles.

Cons:

  • Charcoal smokers require more babysitting and a lot of practice for us to get that perfect smokey flavor.
  • This can mean spending long periods of time around the smoker (that could be considered a pro for some).

offset smokers for newbies

Offset Smokers

Offset smokers were traditionally made using unused oil drums, which is why this type of smoker still comes in a barrel-like shape today.

They are often big and bulky but have enough room to cook several foods at the same time.

Although I wanted to let you know these exist, I don’t recommend an offset smoker as your first smoker.

In my experience, those who start with a smoker box that is offset give up and never return to this amazing lifestyle.

Pros:

  • Because of its big barrel cooking chamber, they allow us to cook massive amounts of food at the same time.
  • Offset smokers that come with a grill plate attached above the firebox are also available today. These models can work as a smoker and a grill.
  • The firebox of offset smokers is located separately from the cooking chamber. This will enable us to add more fuel to the fire without letting out the smoke and heat it creates.

Cons:

  • You’ll need to exert a lot of time and effort to set up an offset smoker and begin cooking with it.
  • You’ll have to allow at least one hour to set up this type of smoker before you can start using it.

Top 5 Best Smokers For Beginners Reviewed

Pick #1: Masterbuilt Vertical Smoker

(Best Overall Pick)

If you want the ability to grill and smoke, you can’t go wrong with this one!

One of the problems folks who are new to smoking run into is keeping the temperature right where it needs to be. You don’t have that with the vertical charcoal smoker from Masterbuilt!

You load your charcoal and wood into the gravity-fed hopper. Then the digital fan helps keep the exact temperature you set. 

It’s really the best of both worlds as a grill and smoker.

You get the ease of automatic temperature control of other models while also getting that smoke flavor you’re used to from a charcoal smoker. 

Check out this Masterbuilt Vertical Smoker! It is a perfect smoker for beginners and even for those with a lot of experience!

They have 3 models out right now. They’re each named for their cooking capacity: 

  • 560 Model has 560 square inches of cooking space
  • 800 Model has 800 square inches of cooking space
  • 1050 Model has 1,050 square inches of cooking space

Even with a ton of experience, this is the smoker I am currently using for daily cooks. It is worth every penny! It is the #1 best smoker for beginners.

Pros

  • Amazing charcoal and wood smoke taste
  • Easy to control temperature
  • Great smoker for beginners
  • Can sear unlike any smoker on the market!

Cons

  • Built-in app has a few bugs

Pick #2: Pit Boss Pellet Smoker

(Best Smoker For The Dollar)

If you want to get that wood-fired taste, you really can’t go wrong with Pit Boss. 

Their customer service is top-notch as it’s a family-owned business, so if you have issues, they’re easily resolved.

After preheating your pellet smoker, you’re able to put your meat in, walk away, and come back to a finished meal without touching it again!

It doesn’t get easier than that! And PitBoss is known for being the best smoker for the dollar as its price per square inch is significantly lower than comparable models. 

This model here has 542 sq. in. of cooking space while some of their larger models have over 800 sq. in. of cooking space.

You get ease of use, value for money, and great tasting food!

The only real downside is it’s not great as a grill. Getting that nice sear on a steak is hard to do on a pellet grill. 

Pit Boss also makes some very large grills like this one if you’re looking for a bigger pellet smoker to meet the needs of your family size.

Pros

  • Put together really well; it will last forever
  • True “set it and forget it” style of smoking
  • Great wood fire taste on your food
  • Unlimited accessories available for it

Cons

  • Not great for searing as a grill
  • Not great for huge cooks as the cooking surface is small

Pick #3: Masterbuilt Bullet Smoker

(Best Budget Smoker)

When it comes to a basic, affordable smoker, you really can’t miss here. 

You’ll get that heavy smoke taste on your food when using a bullet smoker like this one.

With charcoal as the fuel and getting that nice smoke taste, you’ll love the end results!

You can easily add charcoal or wood during the smoke with the front chamber, which is very convenient.

The Masterbuilt version is comparable to the Weber Smokey Mountain. The biggest difference is the Smokey Mountain is significantly more expensive without much of a difference in quality. 

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. 

With a bullet smoker, you will need to babysit it a bit more than other smoker options. 

The temperature gauge doesn’t last very long, so you should expect to also purchase an upgraded temp gauge. Don’t worry, you’d need to upgrade it in the Weber Smokey Mountain as well. 

Pros

  • Very simple to use; no tech to figure out
  • Great, strong flavors
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Temp gauge is inconsistent
  • Need to constantly watch the smoker to ensure temperature

Pick #4: Traeger Pro 780

You can’t have a top 5 list of the best beginner’s smokers without having Traeger on the list. 

Traeger has built a reputation of being easy to use, being durable, and lasting forever.

If you’re looking for a good pellet smoker with all of the bells and whistles, you can’t go wrong with their Pro 780 model. 

Not only is it basically an easy bake oven for grown-ups (super easy to set it and forget it), it can create a nice wood-fired taste for your food. 

This specific model comes with WiFIRE technology. That means you can preheat and control the temp of your smoker from your phone. Yes, really!

And you can even connect it to your Alexa and have the ultimate smart grill. 

Those extra features are nice, but they do come with a price. 

If you want a high-end model because you know you want a pellet grill, and you know you’re going to love this lifestyle, this Traeger is a great choice!

If you’re just getting started and not sure if this is going to be something you do all the time, I’d recommend one of the options above. 

Pros

  • Very easy to smoke great foods
  • All the tech you could imagine
  • True set it and forget it style of smoking
  • Huge online community

Cons

  • Pellet grills are great for searing
  • Price tag is steep for many beginners

Pick #5: Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Quick disclaimer – if you want that deep smokey taste, this is not going to be for you. 

This thing could not be easier to use. Plug it in, insert meat, set temp, done. 

It does have a side tray to put in some smoke chips, but it does not produce a lot of smoke. 

Can you smoke foods on here? Yep! You can smoke low and slow for hours on end with this thing. 

It is so easy to use, I once started a cook before work, let it smoke while I was away all day, came home, and had perfect pork shoulder for pulled pork that night. 

I’m putting this on the list because this electric smoker for beginners can produce great-tasting food and it’s incredibly easy to use, but it will not get that deep smokey taste some of us truly desire. 

Pros

  • Could not be easier to use
  • Easy clean up (no ash)
  • Easy to find accessories

Cons

  • Does not add a lot of smoke flavor
  • No way to spritz or check food without letting out all heat

How Do Smokers Work? 

1. Smokers allow us to cook food slow and low (around 180 to 220 degrees) inside a smoke chamber to infuse foods with different flavors.

Is your mouth watering yet or just mine??

2. The air temperature increases inside the cooker and is carefully controlled to produce fully-cooked meats.

3. There are different types of smokers available for beginners today, and each comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Read More >> Top 5 Best Lump Charcoal for Smoking (2021 Review)

Final Thoughts On Begginer’s Smokers

Grill Safety

Once you’ve chosen which grill is best for your needs, always remember to keep safety top of mind. 

Smoking great meat starts with making sure the internal temperature is correct. You don’t want people getting sick, right? 

Have Fun

The next most important thing to remember is to have fun! Follow recipes as you begin and branch out to try your own as you get the hang of it. 

Drop a comment and let me know which smoker you’re going for. Did you choose one of our recommended best smokers for beginners?

Have fun and roll smoke!

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Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

Hey, I'm Shawn and I run this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family. I'm here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you're in great hands! I've tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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