Best Small Charcoal Smokers For The Money: With Ultimate Buying Guide
So many smokers in the market and each one of them can cook mouthwatering dishes for you. But both you and I have to confess that nothing can beat out the wonderful smoky flavor of a charcoal smoker.
You can praise the gas or electric smokers for its convenience, but all we want in the final is the taste of food. Create the true flavor as the appetizing dish you’ve eaten in the restaurant worth your effort.
So if you’re keen on buying a charcoal smoker, I’ll make it easier for you. No more wasted time asking yourself whether this product is suitable for you. You only have to reach my list of 6 best small charcoal smokers then you could choose your favorite one out of them!
Best Small Bullet Charcoal Smokers
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker SmokerTop-Rated Choice
- Compact and portable to move
- Simple and easy to use even with beginners
- Cook the best smoke food
- Easy to maintain temperature
- Use less charcoal
- Require users to down on the ground to refill charcoals
- Some report that that door leaks a bit smoke
No one can complain about the product’s quality of Weber because of their strong credibility in the industry. The same goes for their charcoal smokers, especially these Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smokers. It has many advantages that customers look for such as the reasonable price and the compact design.
It comes with 3 sizes for you to choose from, 14”, 18” and 22”. While 18” and 22” smokers are more ideal for large cuts of meat, the smallest size is only 14 inches and weighs 23lbs, making it easy to move around while not taking many places in your home.
We suggest the 22” model if you have big items like a full pork rib to cook and a huge party to throw and 18” model if you don't need to cook for more than 4 people at once and don't care about shortening the rib racks.
It also has a simple design so even the beginners know how to use it right away. The porcelain-enameled lid with a built-in thermometer helps the amateurs cook the perfect dishes at the exact temperature.
It’s smaller than other giant smokers but its two large racks can cook lots of food than you can imagine. The water pan allows you the best meat with a juicy and tender texture.
|Number of Racks||2|
|Cooking Space (sq.in)||286|
|Dimensions (in)||21 x 19 x 41|
|Highlight Features||Affordable, Compact and portable, Charcoal-saving, Fits in dishwasher|
I think Weber 711001 is a must-have, essential beginner smoker for every family all over the world.
Cuisinart COS-116 Vertical SmokerMore Affordable Choice
- Most affordable under $100
- Large cooking areas
- Compact and lightweight
- Premium and durable materials
- Easy to use, great for beginners
- Small water pan
- The wood chip tray is not as good as we expect
“You get what you pay for” is not right in this situation. With only $98 you can get a solid, high-quality Cuisinart smoker with two extra-large cooking racks to cook a lot of food for your loved ones.
Not only meat but you can use this product to smoke different food like cheese, veggies, or burgers. It’s easy to assemble to smoke like a pro and the flavor it brings is amazing. This product has two air vents so the users can control the heat and temperature during the smoking processes.
The smoker’s materials are durable and ensure a long lifespan so you don’t have to worry about spending over the family budget for smokers. Just take it outside, place it on the ground, and let it cook the best smoke dishes of your life.
|Number of Racks||2|
|Cooking Space (sq.in)||402|
|Dimensions (in)||21 x 21 x 32|
|Highlight Features||Very affordable under $100, Small and lightweight, Large cooking areas, Two air vents for easy heat & smoke control.|
Spend just a humble budget to get this high-quality Cuisinart COS-116 smoker, is there anything greater than that?
Realcook Vertical 17 InchMost Lightweight
- Most lightweight
- Versatile to cook various foods
- Can be used for hot or cold smoking
- Large-cooking areas
- Small handles
- No insulation for cold seasons
I know lots of people who love cooking and smoking more than anything in this whole wide world but hate cleaning and moving heavy devices after the parties end. If you’re that person, this product is for you! Very lightweight which is only 19.8lbs makes it a piece of cake to move around when needed.
Do you know what my favorite thing about this smoker is? It’s the versatility. You can use it to cook in four ways as a fire pit, as a barbecue grill, as two barbecue grills, and as a smoker. If you’re finding a multipurpose device to cook for your husband, your children, your parents, and maybe your friends in the weekend gatherings, choose this one.
It has two smoking layers and two doors that allow you to remove them separately to refill the food without affecting the other layer thanks to the locking system. If you’re not a professional, you still can cook great dishes with this smoker. The air vent and built-in thermometer help you to adjust the right temperature for grilled food.
|Number of Racks||2|
|Cooking Space (sq.in)||453|
|Dimensions (in)||22 x 17 x 35|
|Highlight Features||Versatile, Most lightweight, Large-cooking areas, Affordable, Easy to use|
Realcook Vertical 17 Inch is the most lightweight yet versatile smoker that’s hard to find in the market. It can surpass your expectations of a usual smoker by its quality and reasonable price.
Best Small Offset Charcoal Smokers
Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-DEditor’s Choice
- Extra-large cooking area perfect for large cuts of meat
- Easy to assemble and to use, even for a novice
- Adjustable and removable racks
- Solid and sturdy
- Firebox is easy to clean
- Maintain stable temperature for a long time
- No water tray
- No wheels for easy transport
- It leaks a bit between firebox and cooking chamber door
The first time I saw the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D smoker, I thought it was my dream product for the weekend gatherings with my big family. It’s just like a giant cook processor that allows you to cook a lot of food so no one has to be hungry. You can hardly find a 6-rack smoker with a sleek design like this one on the market.
You can cook the best meat ever with this smoker thanks to the dual-door design. It ensures no heating loss during the process. The charcoal chamber has a unique design to allow briquettes to stack tightly. It helps to boost the heat efficiency to cook your food evenly.
Besides, it is an offset smoker so it’s even suitable for slow-cooking food. Made of heavy-duty steel and other durable materials, this smoker can against the temperature fluctuation during harsh weather.
|Number of Racks||6|
|Cooking Space (sq.in)||1,176|
|Dimensions (in)||20.2 × 34.52 × 47.03|
|Highlight Features||Extra-large cooking area with 6 racks, Solid and sturdy, Convenient removable ashtray|
If you don’t mind frequent seasonings, Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D is the best smoker to cook for a big family at a reasonable price.
Char-Broil 18202078Budget-Friendly Option
- Durable materials and construction
- Easy to assemble and clean up
- A convenient additional table and bottom shelf
- Can flare-up sometimes
- You may need to put a sealer around doors to keep smoke inside
Do you miss the good old times when people sit around the charcoal smoker and enjoy delicious grilled food? The gathering experience made the food taste better than ever. Now you can have it back with this budget-friendly Char-Broil 18202078 smoker. How can you say no to a great product like this?
Most of the drawbacks of charcoal smokers are they’re tricky to assemble. But this smoker is an exception. Setting it up costs you no effort. The side access door allows you to refill the charcoal easily during a long time of grilling. Two cooking areas can separate food with different cooking times, such as veggies and meat for better monitoring.
The smoker also features an additional side table and a bottom shelf so you can store more food. It can be a heavy smoker but with the handles and wheels, you still can move it around as you want.
|Number of Racks||2|
|Cooking Space (sq.in)||605|
|Dimensions (in)||22.13 x 57.24 x 43.9|
|Highlight Features||Two separate cooking areas, Easy mobility, Feature a side storage space, Premium materials|
If you love the traditional charcoal grilling while not going over the family’s budget, you can consider the Char-Broil 18202078 smoker.
Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-DBest Grill Smoker Combo
- Extra-large cooking areas
- Heavy-duty and well-built
- Easy to control heat and smoke
- Give excellent smoky flavor
- Oversized steel wheels for greater mobility
- Heavier than other models
- The door may leak heat
Are you looking for a professional, well-spent grilling machine that can offer convenient features? Dyna-Glo DGSS1382VCS-D is the ideal choice to take a glance at. With five chrome-plated racks, it has a 1,382-square place to cook a lot of food at the same time.
The whole smoker is made of stainless steel and heavy-duty materials to offer a long lifespan against the harsh weather. If you’re not a pro, you can easily cook with its temperature gauge which shows the right level. You don’t have to be afraid of the heat inside because this smoker features a cool-touch handle.
The sausage hooks inside will take away the heart of sausage lovers. It’s convenient and saves spaces to cook other foods. After cooking, you can quickly remove the grates and ash pan for simple cleaning.
|Number of Racks||5|
|Cooking Space (sq.in)||1,382|
|Dimensions (in)||45.5 x 24.9 x 58.8|
|Highlight Features||Extra-large cooking areas, Cool-touch handle, Sausage hooks, Analog temperature gauge|
If you have a garden or a backyard, I recommend you to buy this Dyna-Glo DGSS1382VCS-D smoker to leverage the grilling experience and the flavor of smoked food.
How To Choose The Best Small Charcoal Smoker (Buying Guide)A good charcoal smoker can be a lifesaver in the kitchen to simplify the cooking steps and deliver perfect smoky dishes. Some small charcoal smokers are as powerful as the bigger ones and keep your budget on the right track. So choosing a great small charcoal smoker is easier like you think if you know the tips. Keep scrolling down to read the important information.
Bullet Charcoal Smokers vs Offset Charcoal Smokers
Bullet Charcoal Smokers
How they work
Bullet or cylinder charcoal smokers consist of 3 compartments. At the bottom is the fire tray where you insert charcoal or wood chunks. Above it is the water pan which deflects the direct heat from the fire tray, controls the temp and provides moisture to keep the food in the top cooking chamber juicy.
They are perfect for smoking novices, all you need to do is build a fire, fill the water pan and toss in your food. Bullet smokers are also the least expensive in the market, and are fuel efficient. They are compact and lightweight, ideal for small backyards and patios.
What I like most about bullet charcoal smokers is I don't have to babysit them. I love the idea of being able to toss in a baby rib rack the night before and wake up to the smell of smoky meat without having to wake up in the middle of the night to mess with fire.
Their small sizes can post a few problems to some. While some of the bullet charcoal smokers can accommodate your small family, large cuts and portions of meat can barely fit inside.
Every time you lift the lid to check the meat, you will lose a lot of heat and it takes time to recover (a digital thermometer controller can solve this problem).
Since there are two layers of grates, the largest issue a vertical charcoal smoker has is that you can only put in or take out the food on the lower rack when you have removed the first one, which results in greater heat loss.
Offset Charcoal Smokers
How they work
An offset is a two-part smoker with a fire box and a cooking chamber. Smoke and heat from the fire box go through a small hole to enter the chamber and cook the meat. The temperature and the amount of smoke is manageable thanks to the intake dampers and the smokestack.
If you are looking for an authentic BBQ, an offset charcoal smoker is definitely made for you. Grab your beer and enjoy it next to the smoker while waiting for the scrumptious barbeque meat.
Offsets smokers are designed for slow and low cooking. Your meat will be well-penetrated, which is ideal for those who look for a truly smoky taste that is crisp on the outside but tender fall-of-the-bone inside.
Most of the time, offset smokers come with more spacious cooking space which is suitable for large cuts of meat such as a full baby rib and a Boston butt. And most of them can be used as a grill as well.
Unlike a bullet charcoal smoker, an offset smoker requires more work and TLC (not exactly a bad point for those who love playing with fire). Preheating is a pain in the ass ‘cuz it may take you more than 1 hour to keep the temperature constant. And to be able to get the hang of controlling the temp, you will have to sacrifice (to be exact, undercook or burn) a lot of food.
The biggest problem you will face is that the best way to distinguish a good and a bad offset smoker is to fire it up, which means you’ve already made a purchase. A bad quality smoker will let smoke escape through the doors and the parts between the cooking chamber and the fire box.
And a good smoker can be expensive and heavy to move around. However, it is always a good idea to invest in a good-quality offset smoker since the cheaper models are made of thin metal that doesn’t contain heat well, which results in lousy barbeque.
With some people, price is their priority when buying a new product. The good news is at a reasonable price, you still can afford a nice smoker to cook for your family. You can look at the Cuisinart COS-116 and Char-Broil 18202078 smokers.
Smokers are made from premium and durable materials such as stainless steel or porcelain can against harsh weather to last a long lifespan. Checking the material before you make a new purchase so you don’t have to waste more budget to fix the broken parts or buy a new product later.
You mustn’t want to spend hours sticking to the smoker just to cook a huge amount of food for the whole family. If you aim to cook for a party, choose the smokers with five to six racks.
If you’re not good at assembling devices, the best solution is to buy the products with simple assemble steps. Most of the smokers I introduced above are easy to assemble and use so you can lean on it.
Who Makes The Best Small Charcoal Smoker?
Dyna Glo is a manufacturer for grills, smokers, and heating solutions with a wide range of products. The brand set high quality for their products and put them through lots of severe tests. They build their credibility in the market by the product’s quality and excellent customer services.
Weber is a world-famous brand and an originator of the kettle grill in 1952. From there, Weber continues to lead the industry with innovative and high-quality products. They put their huge passions into the production to bring the best grilling experience to customers all over the world.
Founded in 1973, Cuisinart is the pioneer to bring the concept of art and cooking into one. Not only grills but they also produce other food processors to help people for their daily cooking jobs. The Cuisinart products gain lots of awards for exceptional quality and superior services.
Are charcoal smokers better than electric smokers?
Have you ever wondered which is better between a charcoal smoker and an electric smoker? Both have advantages and drawbacks but I can give you the answer that it depends on many factors.
Easy to useAn electric smoker is easy to use even with beginners or amateurs. All you have to do is to start and select the temperature. Charcoal smokers can require a lot more attention and skills to adjust the heat and temperature to cook food evenly.
FlavorCharcoal smokers lead the competition of flavor creator with its unique, original smoky taste that everyone loves. Electric smokers can create great flavors but people don’t think it can compare to the fantastic smoky flavor of charcoal smokers.
ConvenienceUsing electric smokers can be more convenient but with some people, they love the feeling of sitting, grilling, and talking with each other. It’s a precious experience that money and convenience can’t buy.
PriceAt a low price, you can buy a decent and durable charcoal smoker to cook a lot of food for a long time. With electric smokers, sometimes you are required to spend a significant budget to have a good product.
Can you smoke meat with just charcoal?
Yes, you can smoke meat with only charcoal. But you have to do the right thing to succeed with a perfect dish. You can build charcoal into two or three layers to keep the heat evenly through many hours.
Can a smoker be used as a grill?
You can use a smoker to grill food, just check to see if your firebox has a grate or a place to input a grate inside. The offset smokers are suitable to grill food with spacious areas for many ribs or briskets.
Does more charcoal mean more heat?
Yes, if you add more charcoal inside, the heat will increase. High heat can help to get the best sear food.
Should you flip meat on a smoker?
Don’t flip your meat! Smoking is a slow and indirect cooking process. Every time you flip your meat, you will open the lid that may release the heat outside. The temperature stability is the most important thing in smoking food.
How do you season a new smoker?
- Use canola or grapeseed oil to cover the inner parts of the smoker, including racks, lid, and walls.
- Add coals into the chimney and light the fire. Wait for the charcoal to be burned in a few minutes.
- Fill more charcoals inside the firebox. When the chimney is ignited, put fire into the firebox.
- Ensure to open the chimney for the airflow.
- Adjust the temperature to let it hit 275-300 degrees in 2-3 hours.
- Let the smoker cool down before you start cooking.
How do you keep the meat moist in a smoker?
The easiest way to smoke juicy meat is to place a water pan below in the smoker. If your smoker doesn’t feature one, you can marinate the meat for 24 hours with water and vinegar before you cook on it.
Besides, you can wrap the meat with an aluminum foil to remain moist inside.
People in the modern, busy life may prefer the convenience of electric smokers but to the rest of the world, nothing can beat the wonderful original smoky flavor and the precious moments of grilling together.
With the reviews and recommendations, I hope you will find the article useful and informative to buy the best small charcoal smoker. Thanks for reading and see you in the next post!