Tired of dull backyard barbecues? Yearning for that smoky, savory aroma that only the best can master? Welcome, my friend, to the world of vertical pellet smokers – the secret weapon of BBQ enthusiasts and the pathway to culinary nirvana. Immerse yourself in this guide as we explore the best vertical smokers of 2023, handpicked for those who crave the perfect harmony of flavor, convenience, and style. If you have a hankering for mouth-watering brisket or fall-off-the-bone ribs, and wish to transform your BBQ game from average to extraordinary, then this is the read for you. Buckle up, gentleman, because we’re firing up the best in the BBQ world.
What Are the Top Vertical Smokers?
Stepping into the realm of vertical smokers, you’ll find an array of options, each with its unique offerings. We’ve painstakingly analyzed various models based on performance, reliability, user reviews, and value for money to present you with the crème de la crème of vertical smokers. Here’s a sneak peek of the top players in each category:
|BEST CHARCOAL||BEST PROPANE||BEST ELECTRIC|
| Dyna-Glo Signature Series:|
This beast stands out with its robust construction, ample cooking space, and precise heat control. Its ability to achieve that much-desired smoky flavor with charcoal efficiency sets it apart from the rest.
|Cuisinart COS-244: |
The COS-244 shines in the propane category, offering an unrivaled combination of convenience, power, and consistency. The ease of temperature control and its remarkable heat retention capacity make it a clear winner.
|Bradley Smoker BTDS76P: |
For those who value simplicity and consistency, the Bradley Smoker BTDS76P takes the crown. Its ease of use, paired with excellent temperature regulation and a fully insulated cabinet, makes it the king of electric vertical smokers.
As we delve deeper into the BBQ sphere, we’ll explore these models further, analyzing what makes them excel in their respective categories. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a BBQ novice, this guide is tailored to assist you in making the right choice to suit your BBQ Smoking aspirations. So, ready your tongs, my fellow BBQ enthusiasts, as we fire up this comprehensive tutorial.
The Cuisinart COS-118 is a vertical charcoal smoker designed with the avid barbecue lover in mind. Its vertical barrel design allows for efficient heat distribution, while two 18″ stainless steel racks offer a generous 510 square inches of smoking space. Crafted for performance and convenience, this smoker combines the classic smoky flavor of charcoal with modern design features.
- Two 18″ stainless steel racks offering ample cooking space
- Efficient vertical barrel design for even heat distribution
- Easy-to-read temperature gauge for precise control
- Porcelain-enameled water bowl to maintain moisture levels in the food
- Dual air vent system for uniform smoke distribution
The Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical Charcoal Smoker is priced at $159.99, making it a value-packed choice for BBQ enthusiasts who love the unique, smoky flavor imparted by charcoal.
H4: Pros & Cons
- Reliable performance from a trusted brand
- Ample cooking space
- Efficient heat and smoke distribution
- Learning curve for beginners due to the use of charcoal as a heat source
- Manual temperature control may require more attention during cooking compared to digital control models.
This smoker is an excellent choice for those who love the process of traditional charcoal smoking and are looking for a device that combines modern convenience with old-school flavor.
More than just a smoker, the Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D is a testament to a lifestyle of culinary prowess and hardiness. Boasting a heavy-gauge steel body construction, this smoker exudes durability while also offering the functionality of both a smoker and a grill. Its offset design allows for non-intrusive heat control, ensuring a slow and steady cooking process that will encapsulate all the flavorful goodness in your meat.
- Five chrome-plated cooking grates offering a vast 1382 square inches of cooking space
- Heavy-gauge steel body construction for superior durability
- Dual-purpose design as both a smoker and a grill for added versatility
- Cool-touch handles for safe access to fuel and food
- Smoke zone indicator on the temperature gauge to maintain the perfect smoking temperature
The Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D comes at a price of $399.99. A worthwhile investment for the versatility and substantial cooking space it offers.
Pros & Cons
- Durable construction for long-lasting use
- Massive cooking space to cater for large gatherings
- Versatile as it functions both as a smoker and a grill
- Its large size may require more space and is not easily portable
- Due to its heavy-duty nature, it might take longer to heat up
This smoker is a fantastic choice for those looking for a versatile and durable solution to their smoking and grilling needs. Its robust construction and superior functionality make it a gem in the world of BBQ smoking.
3. Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker with Temperature & Smoke Control, Four Removable Shelves, 36″, Black with Cover Bundle
Back with another product from the renowned Cuisinart, we present the COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker. This propane-powered smoker embodies the perfect blend of convenience, capacity, and precision, ensuring a smooth smoking experience without sacrificing the quality of your smoked creations. With its generous interior and four removable stainless steel shelves, the COS-244 is well equipped to handle a diverse range of meats and vegetables, making it an essential addition to any BBQ lover’s collection.
- Offers a spacious 785 square inch interior, ideal for smoking a variety of foods
- Four 14 x 14-inch removable stainless steel shelves allow for versatile usage and easy cleaning
- Adjustable gas supply for precise control over the amount of heat
- Rear vent can be opened or closed to regulate the amount of heat and smoke exiting the chamber
- Comes with a durable, water-resistant cover for protection
Priced at $262.66, the Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker comes bundled with a protective cover, adding extra value to your purchase. This price tag makes it a cost-effective option for anyone seeking a high-quality, high-capacity smoker with the added convenience of propane fueling.
Pros & Cons
- Large interior space for versatile smoking
- Propane fuel source allows for easy setup and use
- Comes bundled with a protective cover for durability
- Limited to the use of propane as a fuel source
- Due to its size, it may require a larger storage area
In summary, the Cuisinart COS-244 is a great investment for those seeking an easy-to-use, high-capacity propane smoker. Its large interior and temperature control features offer an effortless and enjoyable smoking experience, making it a must-have for both novice and seasoned BBQ enthusiasts.
Representing the legendary Weber brand, we present the 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker. This charcoal smoker masterfully combines the traditional allure of charcoal smoking with the convenience and quality that contemporary barbecue enthusiasts demand. Its compact form packs a punch with two cooking grates, enabling you to smoke multiple food items simultaneously.
The Smokey Mountain Cooker is designed to imbue your smoked delicacies with a tantalizing smoky flavor while preserving their juiciness, thanks to its porcelain-enameled water pan. Additional features like a built-in lid thermometer and heat-resistant handle elevate your smoking experience. Weber goes beyond offering a mere smoker – they extend a warm welcome to join an enthusiastic community of barbecue lovers, offering a wealth of shared knowledge, tips, and recipes.
- Compact form with two cooking grates for versatile smoking
- Porcelain-enameled water pan to enhance the smoky flavor while maintaining juiciness
- Built-in lid thermometer and heat-resistant handle for a safe and convenient smoking experience
- Access to an active online community of barbecue enthusiasts
The Weber 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, along with a cover, can be yours for $279.00. Given Weber’s well-established reputation for quality, this smoker offers great value for money, especially for those seeking the authentic flavor of charcoal smoking in a compact, user-friendly design.
Pros & Cons
- Compact design with considerable smoking capacity
- Authentic charcoal flavor
- Access to Weber’s online community
- May require more manual effort compared to propane or electric smokers
- Limited temperature control compared to other smokers
To sum up, the Weber 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker is a top contender for anyone seeking a compact yet powerful charcoal smoker. Its blend of quality, versatility, and community support makes it a wise choice for both beginner and seasoned BBQ enthusiasts.
Embrace the versatility and craftsmanship of the CMI Multi-Function Barbecue and Charcoal Smoker Grill. An epitome of ingenious design, this 5-in-1 smoker and grill combo allows you to explore smoked, grilled, steamed, baked, and braised delights, as well as operate as a fire pit for those cool evenings. Constructed from heavy-duty steel, this smoker is designed to withstand the test of time, weather, and many a BBQ session.
- The unique barrel design distributes heat evenly and enhances smoke flavor.
- The smoker grill combo boasts three chrome-plated cooking grates, providing ample space for all your smoking and grilling needs.
- It is equipped with 6 hooks and a crossbar inside, offering flexibility in cooking various sizes and types of food.
- A built-in thermometer with a detailed temperature scale and adjustable air vents offer greater temperature control.
- The design features an access door, making it easier to add charcoal, wood, or pellets, and check on your food without releasing too much heat.
- A large capacity charcoal pan ensures long smoking sessions without the need for frequent reloading.
- A removable ash pan for easy and efficient disposal of ashes.
The CMI Multi-Function Barbecue and Charcoal Smoker Grill is priced at $240.99, offering excellent value given its multifaceted functionality and robust construction.
Pros & Cons
- Versatile 5-in-1 functionality
- Durable and heavy-duty construction
- Large cooking area
- Easy to assemble and transport
- Convenient access door design
- The 3.8-star rating suggests that some users may have encountered issues. Be sure to read the reviews and understand any potential downsides before purchasing.
6. Broil King 923610 Vertical Charcoal Smoker
Experience the power of precision smoking with the Broil King 923610 Vertical Charcoal Smoker. Engineered to combine functionality, style, and efficiency, this charcoal smoker incorporates innovative features that ensure consistent, high-quality smoking results. Its double-walled steel construction and large stainless steel water bowl create an optimal smoking environment for tender, flavorful smoked goods.
- With a total cooking surface of 770 square inches and 4 cubic feet of overall cooking capacity, this smoker offers ample space for all your culinary ventures.
- Features four fully adjustable 5 mm stainless steel cooking grids for diverse cooking needs.
- Equipped with a multi-purpose roast/rib rack for added versatility.
- Roto-Draft™ damper technology and Accu-Temp™ thermometer provide superior temperature control.
- Secondary door offers easy access to the extra-large stainless steel water bowl and smoker box.
- Includes 16 stainless steel meat hooks for convenient hanging of meats or sausages.
The Broil King 923610 Vertical Charcoal Smoker is priced at $549.00. This price reflects its premium design features and superior construction quality.
Pros & Cons
- Spacious cooking capacity
- High-quality, durable construction
- Superior temperature control
- Versatile cooking options with roast/rib rack and meat hooks
- Easy access to water bowl and smoker box
- Higher price point compared to other smokers on the market
- The weight of the smoker is not specified, which might impact its portability.
The Bradley Smoker BTDS76P is an outdoor electric smoker that elegantly combines technology and tradition for a superior smoking experience. This digital vertical smoker stands out for its fully digital control system, offering precision control over heat, cooking time, and smoke. Ideal for both beginners and experienced smokers, this device provides a seamless, user-friendly smoking experience.
- Large Capacity: With four included racks, the smoker accommodates a variety of foods, whether smoking for a few people or a crowd.
- Professional-Grade Design: Fully automatic, allowing you to load your bisquettes and smoke for up to 9 hours.
- Easy to Clean: The stainless steel interior is easy to clean and will not rust. A smoke diffuser system keeps the smoke flowing and prevents dirty smoke and “black rain” from dripping onto your food.
- Master Smokers: With a focus on flavor, Bradley Smoker products are designed to produce the best smoke flavor possible.
The Bradley Smoker BTDS76P 4-Rack Outdoor Electric Smoker is priced at $549.99, reflecting its advanced digital capabilities and spacious capacity.
Pros & Cons
- Fully digital control system
- Large smoking capacity with four racks
- Automatic operation allows for up to 9 hours of smoking
- Easy-to-clean stainless steel interior
- Smoke diffuser system for cleaner smoking
- Higher price point compared to some other smokers on the market
- Electric power source may not be ideal for all outdoor locations
- The weight of 57.5 pounds might limit portability.
The Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24″ Vertical Smoker is a robust and high-performing device that brings a wilderness smoking experience right to your backyard. Its vault-like steel body enhances durability, while the adjustable heat-control dials, three damper valves, and door thermometer ensure consistent and tantalizing smoking results. This gas-powered smoker is versatile and accommodates a range of foods, from ribs to a whole turkey or even pies.
- Durable Construction: Made from alloy steel for enhanced durability and longevity.
- Precision Control: Features adjustable heat-control dials, three damper valves, and an easy-to-read door thermometer.
- Versatile Cooking: Comes with two cooking grids and a Jerky Rack, allowing a range of smoking options.
- Matchless Snap-Ignition: Adds convenience and ease to your smoking process.
- Recipe Inclusion: Comes with cooking tips, ideas, and recipes to inspire your culinary adventures.
The Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24″ Vertical Smoker is priced at $439.99, reflecting its robust design, precision control features, and cooking versatility.
Pros & Cons
- Sturdy construction with alloy steel body
- Precision temperature control features
- Includes two cooking grids and a Jerky Rack
- Matchless snap-ignition for convenience
- Comes with cooking tips, ideas, and recipes
- Higher price point compared to some other smokers on the market
- The weight of 75 pounds might make it less portable.
The Hakka Vertical Charcoal Smoker offers a unique and versatile cooking experience. This heavy-duty smoker and grill combo allows for a variety of cooking methods, from smoking and grilling to baking, roasting, braising, and barbecuing. Its smart heat control and adjustable vents offer precision cooking, while the integrated thermometer ensures perfect cooking results. The unit’s round barrel design promotes the chimney effect for rapid heating and consistent heat distribution.
- Versatility: Offers 6-in-1 cooking versatility, allowing you to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and barbecue on the same unit.
- Efficient Heat Distribution: Its barrel shape promotes the chimney effect for quick heating and even heat distribution.
- Durable Construction: The porcelain-enameled lid, bowl, and center section retain heat and resist rust and peeling.
- User-Friendly: It’s easy to assemble, use, transport, and clean, thanks to its two-layer design and latch locking system for extra stability.
- Precise Cooking: Comes with an integrated thermostat for monitoring the internal temperature of your smoker.
The Hakka Vertical Charcoal Smoker is priced at $129.99, an affordable option considering its versatile cooking capabilities and durable construction.
Pros & Cons
- 6-in-1 cooking versatility
- Rapid and even heat distribution with the chimney effect
- Durable, heat-retaining, and rust-resistant porcelain construction
- User-friendly design with easy assembly, usage, transport, and cleaning
- Integrated thermostat for precise cooking
- Lack of additional features compared to more expensive models
- The 14-inch size might not be suitable for larger gatherings or cooking large food items.
- Being made of porcelain, it requires careful handling to prevent chipping or cracking.
The Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker is a top-tier choice for those who prefer the convenience of electric smokers. Equipped with a fully insulated body, digital panel controls, and four chrome-coated smoking racks, it offers a consistent and seamless smoking experience. Its patented side wood chip loading system lets you add wood chips without disrupting the internal temperature by opening the door, making it easier to achieve the desired level of smokiness.
- Digital Control: On/off, cooking temperature, and time are all controlled by a digital panel, allowing for precise adjustments.
- Large Capacity: This smoker can accommodate 2 turkeys, 4 pork butts, 4 racks of ribs, or 6 chickens simultaneously, making it suitable for large gatherings.
- Patented Wood Chip Loading: The side wood chip loading system allows you to add chips without opening the door, maintaining the internal temperature.
- Consistent Temperature: The thermostat-temperature control and fully-insulated body ensure even, consistent smoking and heat retention.
The Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker is available for $234.99. Given its capacity and the convenience it provides, this smoker offers good value for its price.
Pros & Cons
- Digital controls for precise temperature and time adjustments
- Large capacity suitable for large gatherings
- Convenient wood chip loading system
- Consistent temperature control and insulation for even smoking
- Being electric, it requires a nearby power source, limiting its portability
- It may not impart the same level of smoky flavor compared to traditional charcoal or wood smokers
- The maximum temperature setting of 275°F may not be sufficient for all types of cooking.
The Big Wood Cooking Double Stack Smoker is a colossal and highly efficient unit that lives up to its name. This mammoth smoker, designed with two smoking cabinets, adjustable cooking grates, and a high-temperature resistant build, can manage up to 60 pounds of meat at once. It’s perfect for those who frequently host large gatherings or have a penchant for smoking large quantities of meat.
- Massive Capacity: It can handle up to 60 pounds of meat, ideal for large gatherings or bulk smoking.
- Double Stack Design: The innovative design allows for efficient and even smoking.
- Durable Construction: Built with heavy-duty steel and high-temperature resistant paint, this smoker can endure extensive use.
- Temperature Control: The integrated thermometer and adjustable air supply help regulate temperature for optimal smoking conditions.
The Big Wood Cooking Double Stack Smoker is priced at $1,299.99. While it is on the pricier side, its capacity, construction, and efficiency justify the cost.
Pros & Cons
- Exceptional capacity can handle up to 60 pounds of meat
- Double stack design allows for efficient and even smoking
- Durable construction with heavy-duty steel and high-temperature resistant paint
- The price point might be high for casual or infrequent smokers
- Its large size may require significant space for storage and use
- This smoker may be overkill for those who only need to smoke small quantities at a time.
What Is a Vertical Smoker?
A vertical smoker, also known as a bullet smoker due to its shape, is a type of smoker designed to distribute heat and smoke evenly throughout the chamber for optimal cooking. Its vertical design utilizes the natural tendency of heat to rise, allowing it to travel from the heat source at the bottom, through the food, and out through the vent at the top.
In a vertical smoker, the heat source can be charcoal, gas, electric, or wood, depending on the specific model. The smoker typically features a water pan above the heat source to help maintain a consistent cooking temperature and add moisture to the smoke, helping to prevent the food from drying out.
These smokers are often popular among barbecue enthusiasts due to their relative affordability, compact size, and efficiency. They are excellent tools for low and slow cooking, making them perfect for smoking meats to perfection. However, they do require some mastery of temperature control and regular monitoring to achieve the best results.
Benefits of a Vertical Smoker ?
A vertical smoker offers several benefits to enhance your outdoor cooking experience.
- Efficient Use of Space: Vertical smokers have a compact footprint, making them an excellent choice for those with limited outdoor space. They make efficient use of vertical space to accommodate multiple cooking racks, allowing you to smoke a large amount of food at once.
- Versatile Cooking Options: Many vertical smokers are multi-functional, offering the ability to grill, smoke, roast, and even bake. This versatility allows you to explore a wide range of cooking techniques with just one device.
- Efficient Fuel Use: Vertical smokers are designed to distribute heat and smoke evenly throughout the cooking chamber, which often results in efficient fuel use. This can be a cost-saving benefit over time.
- Flavorful Results: Because of their design, vertical smokers are excellent at providing a deep smoky flavor to food. The heat and smoke rise naturally from the bottom, circulating around the food for a rich, smoky flavor.
- Temperature Control: Vertical smokers often come with features that allow for excellent temperature control, such as adjustable vents and built-in thermometers. Some models even offer digital controls for precise temperature setting. This feature is vital for low-and-slow cooking methods like smoking.
Buyers Guide: How We Conducted Our Researched
To bring you the most reliable information and to choose the best vertical smokers on the market, we followed a systematic process in our research:
- Analysis of Consumer Reviews: We started by examining numerous customer reviews across different online platforms to understand the real-world performance and durability of different smoker models.
- Pricing Evaluation: Pricing is a critical factor in any purchasing decision. We considered a range of price points to accommodate different budgets, weighing cost against the features and quality each smoker provides.
- Features Assessment: We looked at the key features of each smoker, including their capacity, build quality, temperature control capabilities, versatility, and any unique features that set them apart. We also examined the type of fuel each smoker uses, as this affects both the flavor of the food and the cost of operation.
- Negatives Identification: No product is perfect, so we also identified any common complaints or potential downsides for each smoker. This included issues like difficulty in assembly or maintenance, challenges with temperature control, or any reported durability issues.
- Support or Refund Policy Analysis: We also examined the level of customer support provided by each brand, as well as their warranty and refund policies. Good customer service and a robust warranty can significantly enhance the value of a product, particularly for high-ticket items like smokers.
- Brand Reputation and Reliability: Lastly, we considered the reputation of the brands themselves. Brands with a long history of quality and reliability, or that are known for innovation and excellent customer service, were given preference.
By following this rigorous process, we were able to provide a comprehensive overview of the best vertical smokers on the market today.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: How do you use a vertical smoker?
A: To use a vertical smoker, start by preparing your meat or vegetables and then preheating your smoker to the desired temperature. Once it’s heated, place your food on the grates, close the door or lid, and monitor the temperature periodically. Make sure to add more fuel, water, or wood chips as needed throughout the smoking process.
Q2: What’s the difference between a vertical smoker and an offset smoker?
A: A vertical smoker, also known as a bullet smoker, has a heat source directly below the food. This allows the heat and smoke to rise and circulate around the food. On the other hand, an offset smoker has a separate firebox attached to the side and the heat and smoke are directed into the cooking chamber, allowing for more temperature control.
Q3: Can you grill on a vertical smoker?
A: Some vertical smokers are designed to be versatile and can also be used as a grill. However, it’s important to check the features of the specific model as not all vertical smokers have this capability.
Q4: How do you control the temperature in a vertical smoker?
A: Most vertical smokers have vents or dampers that can be adjusted to control the temperature. Opening the vents increases the airflow, which raises the temperature, while closing them reduces the airflow, lowering the temperature.
Q5: Do vertical smokers use more fuel than other types of smokers?
A: Generally, vertical smokers are quite efficient in fuel usage due to their design. However, the amount of fuel used can depend on various factors such as the model of the smoker, the temperature you’re cooking at, and the weather conditions.
Q6: Is it better to smoke meat with charcoal or wood?
A: Both charcoal and wood can be used for smoking meat, and each provides a different flavor. Charcoal tends to provide a more subtle flavor, while wood can impart a stronger smoky taste. The choice largely depends on personal preference.
Q7: How often do I need to clean my vertical smoker?
A: It’s recommended to clean your vertical smoker after each use. This involves removing and cleaning the grates, scraping off any residue inside the smoker, and emptying the ash pan. Regular cleaning helps maintain the smoker’s performance and extends its lifespan.
Q8: Can I use a vertical smoker in the winter?
A: Yes, you can use a vertical smoker in the winter, but it may require more fuel to maintain the desired temperature. It’s also recommended to use a smoker cover or windbreak to help retain heat.
Q9: Are electric smokers as good as charcoal or wood smokers?
A: Electric smokers are often praised for their convenience and ease of use, but many barbecue purists believe that charcoal and wood smokers provide a better, more authentic flavor.
Q10: How long does it take to smoke meat in a vertical smoker?
A: The smoking time can vary greatly depending on the type of meat and the temperature at which you’re smoking. For example, it can take anywhere from 3 to 8 hours to smoke a whole chicken, while a large cut like a brisket can take up to 12-14 hours.
Q11: Can you use a vertical smoker indoors?
A: No, you should never use a vertical smoker indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Always use your smoker outdoors in a well-ventilated area.
Q12: Do I need to season a new vertical smoker?
A: Yes, it’s recommended to season a new vertical smoker before using it for the first time. This involves heating the smoker without any food in it to remove any manufacturing oils or residues.
Q13: How much meat can I smoke at once in a vertical smoker?
A: The capacity depends on the size and design of the smoker. Some large vertical smokers can accommodate up to 60 pounds of meat at once, while smaller models may only hold around 25 pounds.
Q14: Can I use wood chips in my vertical smoker?
A: Yes, most vertical smokers are designed to be used with wood chips or chunks. Some models also allow for the use of charcoal or pellets.
Q15: Does the type of wood used in smoking affect the flavor?
A: Absolutely, different types of wood produce different flavors. For instance, hickory and mesquite produce a strong and smoky flavor, while fruitwoods like apple and cherry impart a milder, sweeter flavor.
Q16: Are vertical smokers better than horizontal smokers?
A: Neither is categorically “better” – it depends on your specific needs and preferences. Vertical smokers tend to be more compact and efficient, making them a great choice for small spaces and fuel economy. However, horizontal smokers often have a larger cooking area and may offer more precise temperature control.
Q17: How do I maintain my vertical smoker?
A: Regular cleaning is essential for maintaining your vertical smoker. This includes cleaning the grates, the interior, and emptying the ash pan after each use. Periodically, you should also check and clean the vents or dampers, and check for any signs of rust or damage. Cover your smoker when not in use to protect it from the elements.
JL Surjan, signing off.
Disclosure: Our blog contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.