The 10 best smokers over $400 for making true, low and slow barbecue. These smokers offer a wide variety of options from electric to charcoal with many great features. If you are serious about smoking, these are the units you should be looking at. This list includes smokers that run off of a variety of fuels and offer everything from true pit master smoking to the best “lazy-Q” smokers around.
Cookshack has over 40 years experience making smokers for restaurants, barbecue competitions and backyard cooks, but they let their users design this unit. What you get is the ultimate in computer controlled backyard smoking. This unit will let you load up a brisket in the morning set a desired temperature or time and head off to work for the day. When you get home, you’ll be eating barbecue brisket. It really is that easy. With temperature probes, hold cycles and automatic smoke generation this is the perfect smoker for the barbecue lover who doesn’t have a lot of time, but has the money to pay for the best.
One of the great advantages of this unit is that it’s large capacity can get you smoking 8 whole chickens or one. Since the unit is heavily enclosed you don’t need a lot of wood to generate authentic smoke, making this unit very efficient to operate. The complete 304 stainless steel construction and machine washable cooking racks make it easy to clean and maintain. While its $1,700 is steep for a backyard smoker this units fantastic construction and efficient design means you get more barbecue for your buck than you would with large, traditional units.
Good One Open Range Smoker
The Good One smoker is one of the top competition smokers on the circuit. This one, the Open Range, is the smallest of these smokers. Heavy and solid, this charcoal smoker has incredibly precise temperature control via the three “spinner” vents that not only let you set the temperature exactly where you want but let you find out how many turns it takes to get there so you can set it every time. With a removable drip pan, cooking grates and ash pan this is an easy unit to clean. In addition to this, The Good One is amazingly versatile since it can smoke and grill at the same time, but can also be used as an oven.
The nearly $1,100 price tag makes this an expensive smoker, but the durable construction, excellent cooking abilities, and efficient design make it a perfect smoker for the person who is serious about barbecue. But more than just a great smoker, this unit is amazingly versatile. You can use the fire box area for direct grilling of the smoking chamber as a roasting or baking oven. This is one cooker that really can do it all.
Big Green Egg
Big Green Egg is marketed as a charcoal grill, but its ability to hold low temperatures for an incredible amount of time has made it and other Kamado cookers very popular amongst smokers. This “smoker” is based on an ancient Japanese design, made of ceramic and looks a little like a vertical water smoker. The ceramic shell absorbs heat and holds it. The top and bottom vents allow you to control the temperature and easily hold it at the ideal smoking temperature for many hours without attention. For smoking you definitely need the Big Green Egg Plate Setter option.
The Big Green Egg is legend amongst backyard cooks. With the ability to hit temperatures over 600 degrees or hold them as low as 200 degrees this unit is perfect for searing steaks and smoking briskets. The Large unit is the most popular of the Eggs and the 18 inch diameter cooking surface (255 square inches of primary cooking space) is large enough to hold a 20-pound turkey. This gives you the space too grill or smoke plenty of food.
For something larger (and more expensive), but similar in appearance and function, look down one.
Primo Oval XL Charcoal Grill
In recent years there has been a flood of Kamado style grills on the market. Primo Grill is not one of these companies. Years of experience and hard work have taught them how to make a superior ceramic grill and to offer versatility that no one else has. The Oval XL, the largest of their charcoal grills, is oval in shape and comes with a dividable firebox making indirect grilling quick and easy. There is no other Kamado style grill on the market that offers this. Add to this a thick ceramic shell, quality construction, and you have one of the best ceramic grills on the market.
Primo Ceramic Charcoal Smoker Grill On Cart With Side Tables - Oval Xl
The Primo Oval XL is large. With 400 square inches of primary grilling space, it is one of the largest of the ceramic Kamado grills. The thing that makes it unique, however, is the divided firebox. With the oval shape and the larger design you can split the fire down the middle for direct and indirect grilling space without having to work with a diffuser plate (like the Big Green Eggs plate setter, though diffuser plates are available). If you want to smoke a brisket, simply build the fire on one side, adjust the vents to a low and slow arrangement and put on the brisket. You may need to add additional coals once in a while, but when the brisket comes off, you can open up the vents and hit high temperatures for steaks and burgers. This makes the Primo Oval XL a versatile Kamado and a perfect grill for smoking.
Pitmaker BBQ Safe Smoker
The guys from Pitmaker have followed the Houston tradition of pitmaking, using quality metals and superior welding for years. The BBQ Safe Smoker is their mini-vault smoker. This charcoal powered “little” smoker weighs in at over 400 pounds and has over 1,200 square inches of smoking space. The high grade insulation and seams keep the smoke and heat inside, making this a highly efficient smoker, perfect for the backyard cook who wants to be able to feed a large party or maybe even do some catering. The carbon steel version comes in around $2,000 (without the cart) and for an extra $200 you can get it custom painted (they do excellent work here too). Additionally, there are several customizations you can make with this smoker.
BBQ Pits by Klose
In the world of serious barbecue there is one name that means smoker and that’s David Klose. This Texan has made some of the best smokers on the market. He also makes many of the custom units you’ll see at the really big cook offs. Klose smokers are top quality, handmade, serious smokers and the 20 inch unit is perfect for your backyard. If you want a Klose smoker your best bet is to contact him directly and set up delivery, you can get it anywhere.
Okay, it costs more than $1,000 and there are several units cheaper and larger than this little smoker. However there isn’t a single unit out there that is better made. David Klose of Houston, Texas has been making the worlds best smokers for decades. He’s also been making practically every custom unit out there. He knows smokers and he knows barbecue like no other. The 20 by 30, what he calls the Owner Recommended is the smallest smoker he makes but it is a great smoker for the backyard cook, or anyone who wants to bring home trophies from the cook offs.
Lang Model 48 Patio
The Lang smokers are built like tanks from 1/4 inch rolled plate steel. These are some of the heaviest and most solid smokers you can buy without custom ordering it. While more expensive than many offset smokers, the Lang is so solid it will probably out last your grandkids. Great heating and airflow so you can smoke enough for about 100 people on this unit.
Horizon Smokers – Custom Offset
There was a time when any smoker worth cooking barbecue on was a horizontal offset smoker just like this one. Since then a lot of things have changed. It seems like a month doesn’t go by that I don’t hear about some new type of BBQ smoker. If you are looking for a classic, this smoker (or the larger 20-inch) is a great choice. Built on years of experience and out of heavy steel, this smoker is idea for the backyard BBQ cook who wants to go old school. This is a charcoal (or hardwood) burning BBQ pit. Solid construction and good engineering make it about as efficient as you can make an offset.
The Horizon 16-Inch Classic, is just that, a classic style horizontal offset smoker that is going to run you around $800USD. The solid construction is heavy and durable. The engineering and craftsmanship means that the doors don’t leak smoke like many offset smokers and the damper and stack design gives you good airflow and temperature control. These are all the things you would expect from a good quality smoker. This traditional charcoal smoker will have you building and tending fire and smoking the old fashioned way. The superior design of this unit will make that job easier than it would be on many of the less expensive (more mass market) offset smokers.
For over 20 years Backwoods Smokers has been making some of the most popular competition smokers around. Several of the most successful teams on the BBQ circuit use one of these and for a few simple reasons. Basically this is a vertical water smoker, making it easy to operate and its efficient use of charcoal makes it inexpensive to run. The 2-inch thick insulation holds in heat giving you easy temperature control. The large capacity of this unit (you can smoke 8 full briskets) gives you the space you need while still being a relatively portable unit. Mounted on whatever rig you have, this smoker travels perfectly.
The construction of this smoker is excellent. Each Backwoods Smoker is hand made in the United States and features thick gauges metals, heavy duty latches, handles, hinges and corner accents making this a highly durable smoker. Without electronics or moving parts this smoker is hard to break. If you are interested in competing in barbecue or just making a lot of barbecue this charcoal powered unit is certainly one you should be looking at.
Fire Magic Charcoal Smokers
Fire Magic has been producing great grills for years and now have a charcoal smoker. This all stainless steel unit isn’t cheap, but then it isn’t cheap either. Solid construction with an efficient and simple to work gravity feed system and multiple vents give this smoker a wide range of temperatures in an efficient design. What really makes this charcoal smoker a great choice isn’t that it has all the features you want, which it does, but that it is a simple smoker that has loads of capacity and looks great.
What this all stainless steel smoker gives you is 6 cubic feet of space on five cooking racks with 1640 square inches. There is a digital temperature gauge on the front, but this is purely informational and will tell you the smoker temperature or the temperature of what’s smoking inside via a meat probe. The vents in the bottom back and the two top stacks allow for manual, yet precise temperature control and the gravity feed system allows more charcoal (or wood) to be added without accessing the fire box, or even opening the smoker.