What is the Best BBQ Smoker: Top Picks for 2024

What is the Best BBQ Smoker: Top Picks for 2024

Transform your outdoor cooking with the art of smoking, a technique that infuses rich, smoky flavours into your favourite dishes. As a seasoned expert with over a decade in the culinary field, I've explored and tested a wide range of BBQ smokers available in the UK.

This article is your guide to finding the best BBQ smoker, offering insights grounded in extensive experience and rigorous testing to ensure your choice not only meets but exceeds your grilling expectations.

Our Selections

1. SUNLIFER 3-in-1 Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker

I’d recommend the SUNLIFER 3-in-1 Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker for its versatile cooking options and portability, making it an excellent choice for outdoor grilling and smoking enthusiasts in the UK.

I recently used the SUNLIFER Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker for a weekend cookout and was impressed with the precise temperature control options provided by the built-in thermometer and adjustable airflow on the lid. The porcelainenamelled water pan and charcoal pan added stability when cooking, while the heat-resistant bakelite handles made it easy to transport and handle the grill.

One aspect I enjoyed was the multifunctionality of this grill. I tried various cooking methods such as smoking, barbecuing, baking, stewing, and roasting, which added a lot of flexibility and variety to my outdoor cooking. The large cooking space with two grates allowed me to cook meat and vegetables simultaneously, while the crossbar and hangers in the lid accommodated different sizes and shapes of meat.

When it came time to pack up, I appreciated the portable design, which allowed me to easily disassemble and transport the grill in my car. However, I felt the grill loses heat rather quickly, and its longevity may be limited. Regardless, the SUNLIFER Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker offers a solid option for those looking to make the most out of their outdoor cooking experience.

It’s difficult to definitively say that the SUNLIFER 3-in-1 is the “best” choice over the other products without knowing more about your specific needs and preferences. However, based on the criteria listed in the table, the SUNLIFER 3-in-1 stands out for its heavy-duty steel construction, adjustable airflow and temperature control, and portability. Additionally, it offers a large cooking space with two grates and a unique two-layer design that can be easily disassembled for cleaning and transportation.

However, depending on your needs, one of the other products may be a better fit. For example, the Outsunny Charcoal BBQ may be more suitable for those who need a spacious cooking area and extra storage space, while the First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 and First4spares 3 in 1 may be better for those who prefer wood chips over charcoal as a fuel source.

The user reviews of the SUNLIFER 3-in-1 reveal some valuable insights that were not already mentioned by the manufacturer. According to users, the assembly process was fairly easy but a little time-consuming, taking up to 90 minutes. Some users commented on the quality of the product, with some parts reflecting the low price point. However, users reported that the product works well and delivers good results. The thermostat works quickly, and the smoker maintains temperature well, but it requires practice to keep the temperature constant over longer periods.

Users recommended buying a waterproof cover to protect the smoker when it is kept outdoors. Some users suggested that a cookbook would be a useful addition to help get started with using the smoker. On the positive side, the customer service was highly rated, with replacements offered promptly for missing or damaged parts. Overall, users found the SUNLIFER 3-in-1 to be a good value product that delivers what it promises.

Overall, the SUNLIFER 3-in-1 Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker offers versatility, portability, and a satisfying cooking experience for UK outdoor cooking enthusiasts. Despite some assembly and heat retention issues, its quality construction, precise temperature control, and multifunctionality make it a solid choice. The grill’s large cooking space and portable design add convenience, while user reviews highlight its value and commendable customer service.

Our score: 4.5/5

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2. Outsunny Charcoal Barbecue Grill with Offset Smoker

I believe the Outsunny Charcoal Barbecue Grill with Offset Smoker is an excellent choice for small outdoor gatherings due to its versatile cooking options and convenient design.

I recently tested the Outsunny Charcoal Barbecue Grill with Offset Smoker, and I must say, it made my outdoor cooking experience much more enjoyable. The combo design, featuring an offset smoker, BBQ, and charcoal grill, allowed me to prepare various dishes simultaneously, making it perfect for entertaining friends.

The spacious BBQ area was able to cook around 9-12 chicken legs at once, providing enough food for 5-10 people. The on-lid thermometer let me monitor the temperature inside the BBQ without having to lift the lid constantly, ensuring that my food was cooked to perfection.

The two handy shelves on the side and bottom provided ample storage space for food, condiments, cutlery, and charcoal. The inclusion of two wheels added portability, making it easy to move the BBQ around my garden. However, the grill size may be too small for those looking to cater to larger gatherings, and some users may find the assembly process to be a bit challenging due to the unclear instructions and potential adjustments needed for certain parts.

Compared with the SUNLIFER 3-in-1, the Outsunny Charcoal Barbecue Grill offers a larger cooking area and additional storage space with two shelves on the side and bottom. It also features an offset smoker, BBQ, and charcoal grill, making it a versatile option for cooking a variety of foods. The on-lid thermometer allows for easy temperature monitoring without having to lift the lid. The Outsunny Charcoal Barbecue Grill is made from cold rolled steel, which is known for its durability and strength. While the SUNLIFER 3-in-1 has a heavy-duty steel construction and adjustable airflow and temperature control, the Outsunny Charcoal Barbecue Grill may be a better option for those who need more cooking and storage space.

Based on the user reviews of the Outsunny Charcoal Barbecue Grill, some information not stated by the manufacturer includes the difficulty of assembling the product, especially with the legs and wheels, as noted by Nigel Eyre. Some users also mentioned that the cooking area of the grill is smaller than expected, as noted by Bluehippo. However, some positive feedback from Martin Sutherland suggests that the product is good value for its price and can be a great addition to the garden, as long as the user is willing to put in the time and patience to assemble and use it properly.

On the other hand, Kc reported dissatisfaction with the product due to the lack of detailed instructions and parts not fitting together properly. Overall, user reviews of the Outsunny Charcoal Barbecue Grill are mixed, with some praising the product’s features such as the closing lid and thermostat, while others express frustration with assembly and issues with parts not fitting correctly.

Overall, the Outsunny Charcoal Barbecue Grill with Offset Smoker is a versatile and convenient option for small outdoor gatherings, offering a combo design with ample cooking space, on-lid thermometer, and additional storage shelves. While assembly can be tricky and the grill size may not suit larger gatherings, its overall performance and features make it a reliable choice for enjoyable outdoor cooking experiences.

Our score: 4.5

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3. First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 BBQ, Grill & Smoker

I would recommend the First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 BBQ, Grill & Smoker for its versatile cooking options and great value for money.

Recently, I used the First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 BBQ, Grill & Smoker and I must say it exceeded my expectations. It is an excellent addition to my garden parties, allowing me to smoke, BBQ, grill, and roast all in one nifty piece of equipment. The built-in thermostat and ventilation offer great control over my cooking, ensuring my food comes out just the way I want it.

Although the assembly wasn’t as straightforward as I would have liked, it was relatively easy to put together with the provided instructions. It took me around an hour to assemble, but looking back, following a build video found online would have saved me some time. Once assembled, I was eager to try it out and fired up my first BBQ using the natural oak smoking chips that came with it. The flavour it added to the meat was fantastic!

One thing I noticed is that the temperature gauge might be slightly off, so I recommend getting a separate accurate thermometer for better precision. Also, the smoker has some leakage during use, but for the price, it still performs its job effectively. Overall, I’m pleased with my First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 BBQ, Grill & Smoker and I think it’s perfect for anyone looking to add some flavourful variety to their outdoor cooking.

Compared with the SUNLIFER 3-in-1, the First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 has a different fuel type, as it is designed to use wood chips instead of charcoal. The First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 also offers a built-in thermostat and hanging racks, providing more control and flexibility in cooking. Its oak wood construction offers durability and a rustic look.

However, the First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 does not offer a large cooking space with multiple grates like the SUNLIFER 3-in-1. Instead, it has easy-to-use compartments for smoking, BBQing, grilling, and roasting. Depending on your specific needs and preferences, the First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 may be a better option if you prefer wood chips as a fuel source and desire more control in your cooking. However, if you require a larger cooking space with multiple grates, the SUNLIFER 3-in-1 may be a better choice.

The user reviews of the First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 mention some useful information that is not provided by the manufacturer. For instance, one user reports that the temperature gauge is not accurate, and it reads around 40 degrees out. Another user mentions that filling the water tray with water takes away too much heat and instead suggests lining it with foil to catch grease and putting soaked wood chips in it.

The user also recommends making a ring of charcoal in the base and using a charcoal starter can to ignite it before pouring it into the middle once it’s glowing. Another user reports that the metal is thin and dents easily, but for the price, it’s a great garden smoker. These user reviews provide additional insights into the product and are helpful for potential buyers to consider.

Overall, the First4spares Deluxe 3 in 1 BBQ, Grill & Smoker is a highly recommended product for its versatile cooking options, value for money, and convenient features like the built-in thermostat and included smoking chips. Despite some minor drawbacks such as assembly effort, temperature gauge inaccuracies, and slight smoke leakage, it delivers excellent performance and functionality, making it an excellent choice for outdoor cooking.

Our score: 4.5

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4. First4Spares 3 in 1 Round Charcoal BBQ Grill & Smoker – Black

The First4Spares 3 in 1 is a versatile grill and smoker perfect for those who want both functionalities in one device.

From the moment I set up this First4Spares BBQ grill and smoker, I was excited to get cooking. The assembly was relatively straightforward, and within no time, I was ready to fire it up. The three-chamber design allowed me to maintain the perfect temperature for my meats, ensuring even and thorough cooking.

When I used the smoker function, I was genuinely impressed by how well it retained the smoke, delivering rich, smoky flavours to my food. The adjustable ventilation and built-in thermostat made it easy to control and manage the cooking process, making for an enjoyable outdoor cooking experience.

My only concerns were the durability of the handles and potential rusting, given repeated use and exposure to the elements. Nevertheless, I found the First4Spares 3 in 1 Round Charcoal BBQ Grill & Smoker to be a solid investment for any BBQ enthusiast looking for a versatile, easy-to-use grill and smoker combo.

Compared with the SUNLIFER 3-in-1, the First4Spares 3 in 1 offers a similar three-in-one design for smoking, grilling, and BBQing, but it has a different fuel type, as it can be used with both wood chips and charcoal. The First4Spares 3 in 1 also features a 3-chamber steel construction with adjustable ventilation and temperature control, which allows for precise temperature management during cooking.

However, it does not offer a large cooking space with multiple grates like the SUNLIFER 3-in-1. Instead, it has a practical design with hanging racks, multiple grill levels, and coal trays. Depending on your specific needs and preferences, the First4Spares 3 in 1 may be a better option if you want the versatility of using both wood chips and charcoal as fuel and require precise temperature control. However, if you need a larger cooking space with multiple grates, the SUNLIFER 3-in-1 may be a better choice.

The user reviews of the First4Spares 3 in 1 provide some additional information not mentioned by the manufacturer. One user mentions that the handles are not very sturdy and one broke immediately upon touching it. Another user found that the smoker is not suitable for cold smoking in its present form, and that the dampened wood chips recommended by the manufacturer dried out and flared up, making it impossible to keep the temperature below 30°C. However, this user found that using a ProQ smoke generator in the lower compartment produced ideal results for smoking salmon and bacon.

Another user recommends seasoning the smoker by brushing the inside with cooking oil and firing it up with wood and charcoal at 150°C for 2-3 hours, then wiping the inside clean with a damp cloth and applying a thin layer of cooking oil. One user also notes that the thermometer included with the smoker is useless, and suggests using probes in the top and bottom chambers instead. Finally, some users report that the smoker rusted quickly, and that it is better suited for smoking than grilling or barbecuing.

Overall, the First4Spares 3 in 1 Round Charcoal BBQ Grill & Smoker offers a versatile cooking experience with its grilling and smoking functionalities, providing even temperature control and rich flavors, although there are some concerns regarding the durability of the handles and the potential for rusting over time.

Our score: 4.5

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5. Callow Retail Premium Charcoal Smoker BBQ Grill

If you’re looking for an affordable, high-quality BBQ smoker with excellent thermal properties, the Callow Retail Premium Charcoal Smoker BBQ Grill is the perfect choice for both beginners and experts.

From my experience using this smoker, I appreciate the high-density carbon steel construction and the quality powder coating, which gives it excellent heat retention for long, slow cooks. The large, fully ventilated charcoal grate allows for efficient burning and longer cooking times, making it easy to achieve the perfect low-and-slow barbecue experience.

One of my favourite features is the two meat thermometer probe access points, which allow me to monitor the temperature of my food without opening the lid and losing heat. Additionally, the adjustable air vents make it easy to regulate the temperature inside the smoker, ensuring my food cooks just the way I want it to.

The Callow Retail Premium Charcoal Smoker BBQ Grill comes complete with a smoking rack, six hooks, two cooking grates, and a weatherproof cover. These accessories add versatility to my cooking experience, allowing me to smoke a wide range of foods, from sausages and fish to ribs and more robust cuts of meat. I find this smoker to be great value for money, offering both excellent quality and design at an affordable price.

Overall, the Callow Retail Premium Charcoal Smoker BBQ Grill is an affordable, high-quality option for beginners and experts alike. With excellent thermal properties, durable construction, and included accessories, it delivers great value for achieving delicious barbecue results. Despite some minor drawbacks like unclear assembly instructions and a potentially flimsy door latch, its performance and versatility make it a reliable choice.

Our score: 4.5

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6. CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Smoker Barbecue

I highly recommend the CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Smoker Barbecue for anyone seeking the perfect BBQ experience with large cooking capacity and excellent heat control.

After using the CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Smoker Barbecue, I must say that it delivered an excellent BBQ experience. The generous grilling area enabled me to cook various foods for my guests, including over 10 burger patties, sausages, whole baby chickens, steaks, fish, and more. The adjustable coal tray height ensured the perfect amount of heat for each dish.

The temperature control features allowed me to cook everything to perfection. The built-in temperature gauge, chimney, and air vents ensured a better flow of heat and smoke for that optimum flame grilled flavour. Moreover, I appreciated the convenience this BBQ brings, including a stainless steel warming rack, foldable side tables, a bottle opener, and four hooks for utensils.

However, be prepared to put in time and effort when assembling the BBQ, and you might want to consider upgrading to the cast iron grills for improved cooking results. In conclusion, the CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Smoker Barbecue is a fantastic investment for entertaining guests or enjoying family gatherings with delicious grilled delights.

Overall, the CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Smoker Barbecue is a fantastic investment for a perfect BBQ experience. With a generous grilling area, adjustable coal tray, and excellent heat control, it delivers deliciously grilled food. Assembly may require effort and upgrading to cast iron grills may be necessary, but its convenience and quality make it highly recommended for entertaining or family gatherings.

Our score: 5

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7. CosmoGrill XXL Charcoal Outdoor Smoker BBQ

You should definitely consider this CosmoGrill XXL Charcoal BBQ for your next outdoor event due to its outstanding cooking performance and versatility.

I recently had the chance to use the CosmoGrill XXL Charcoal BBQ at a garden party, and it did not disappoint. The spacious grilling area allowed me to cook various types of meats and vegetables at once, thanks to its adjustable coal tray and excellent heat distribution. I also appreciated the cast iron grill which added a great flavour to my dishes.

As the event went on, I found the warming rack to be incredibly useful for keeping food warm without overcooking. The side tables provided ample space for prep work and were easily foldable when not in use. Not to mention, the included heavy-duty cover made storage a breeze in unpredictable UK weather.

On the downside, I noticed that the main compartment let out a bit more heat than I would have liked. While the charcoal burner tray may need to be replaced in a year or two, the overall cooking experience was top-notch. Overall, the CosmoGrill XXL Charcoal BBQ is an excellent choice for anyone seeking a versatile and practical outdoor cooking solution.

Overall, the CosmoGrill XXL Charcoal BBQ is a highly recommended option for outdoor events. Its excellent cooking performance, versatile features, and spacious grilling area make it reliable for simultaneous cooking of various foods. Despite minor drawbacks like heat escaping and potential charcoal tray replacement, it remains a standout choice for any outdoor cooking enthusiast.

Our score: 4.5

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8. Tepro 1087 Biloxi Offset BBQ Pit Barrel Smoker – Black

If you’re after a versatile and high-performing BBQ smoker, the Tepro 1087 Biloxi is a fantastic choice for a flavourful cooking experience.

I recently had the pleasure of using the Tepro 1087 Biloxi Offset BBQ Pit Barrel Smoker at a garden barbecue, and I must say it was quite impressive. The generous grill size, together with its warming rack, allowed me to cook a variety of food options for all my guests. The enamel cooking grids were not only durable but also easy to clean, which made the whole experience stress-free.

One thing to note is that this smoker isn’t the easiest to assemble, and it took me some time to put it together. However, once it was set up, I discovered how practical the trolley-mounted design was. The steel wheels are large, and while they may require a stable surface, they allowed for easy manoeuvrability – although, with a weight of over 30 kg, this smoker is not easily portable.

Lastly, I appreciated the heat resistant finish and the built-in thermometer. These features enabled me to have peace of mind when it came to maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process, ensuring delicious, well-smoked food for everyone to enjoy.

Overall, the Tepro 1087 Biloxi Offset BBQ Pit Barrel Smoker is a versatile and high-performing choice for flavorful cooking. Despite its assembly challenges and limited portability, it impresses with a generous grill size, durable cooking grids, and convenient features like heat resistance and a built-in thermometer. It delivers deliciously smoked food for any gathering.

Our score: 4.5

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9. COSTWAY Charcoal BBQ Grill

I would recommend the COSTWAY Charcoal BBQ Grill for its sturdy construction and spacious cooking area, although it can be challenging to assemble.

Upon receiving my COSTWAY Charcoal BBQ Grill, I immediately noticed the heavy-duty iron construction that seemed built to last. The rust-proof black finish adds a layer of durability and stability, ensuring the grill will withstand regular use.

The cooking area is quite spacious, making it suitable for parties of 8-10 people. I found the two storage racks particularly useful for food preparation as they held everything I needed – from seasonings to utensils and plates. The adjustable air vent and built-in thermometer allowed me to control the heat and airflow seamlessly, ensuring perfectly grilled food every time.

However, assembling the grill was quite challenging due to unclear instructions, and it took me longer than expected. The two wheels provided for mobility also made it a bit difficult to maneuver. Despite these drawbacks, I enjoyed using the COSTWAY Charcoal BBQ Grill and would recommend it for its performance and sturdy construction.

Overall, the COSTWAY Charcoal BBQ Grill is a highly recommended choice for its sturdy construction, spacious cooking area, and excellent heat control. Although assembly can be challenging and the mobility is limited, its durability and performance make it a worthwhile investment for grilling enthusiasts.

Our score: 3.5

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10. HomeVibe 3-in-1 Charcoal Smoker BBQ Grill

This HomeVibe 3-in-1 charcoal smoker BBQ grill is a fantastic addition to any outdoor cooking space, delivering impressive results with its versatile and user-friendly design.

Having recently used the HomeVibe 3-in-1 Smoker BBQ Grill, I couldn’t be happier with the results. The SmokeHouse Triple Chamber design allows me to cook meats and vegetables separately, ensuring even cooking and flavour distribution. I particularly appreciate the built-in thermostat, allowing me to monitor the temperature without constantly checking on my food.

The adjustable ventilation system is another excellent feature, allowing me to control the smoke and heat levels while cooking. The charcoal fuel adds a fantastic smoky flavour to my dishes, but it does take some getting used to if you’re more familiar with gas-powered BBQs.

Overall, the HomeVibe 3-in-1 Charcoal Smoker BBQ Grill is a top choice for outdoor cooking enthusiasts looking for versatility and quality results. Though there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to charcoal grilling, the effort is well worth it for the delicious smoked flavours!

Our score: 4

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Buyer’s guide

When it comes to choosing the best BBQ smoker for my needs, there are several factors I need to consider. In this buying guide, I’ll discuss the most important features to look for and tips to help make the right decision.

Types of Smokers

First and foremost, I need to understand the different types of BBQ smokers available on the market. Each type has its own pros and cons, so it’s essential to know which one suits my needs best:

  • Offset Smokers: These smokers have a separate firebox for the wood or charcoal, allowing for better temperature control and smoking efficiency.
  • Vertical Water Smokers: With a water pan between the heat source and the cooking grate, these smokers maintain a moist cooking environment.
  • Kamado Smokers: Typically made of ceramic or metal, these smokers are well-insulated and can reach high temperatures for versatile cooking.
  • Pellet Smokers: These rely on wood pellets as the fuel source, automatically feeding them into the firebox for consistent temperature control.

Alternatives to using a BBQ Smoker

An alternative to using a BBQ smoker is to use a stovetop smoker or a portable electric smoker. Stovetop smokers work by placing wood chips in a pan and heating them over a stove burner, while the food is placed on a rack above. Portable electric smokers work similarly to traditional smokers, but are more compact and can be used indoors. While these alternatives may not provide the same smoky flavor as traditional smokers, they can still add a delicious smoky flavor to your food without the need for an outdoor grill or smoker.

Capacity and Size

Another factor I must consider is the capacity and size of the smoker. Depending on the space available in my garden and the number of people I typically cook for, I should choose a smoker that can accommodate the right amount of food and fits comfortably in the available space.

Temperature Control and Ease of Use

As a BBQ enthusiast, I understand the importance of precise temperature control when smoking meats. That’s why I should look for a smoker that offers reliable temperature control features, such as built-in thermometers, adjustable vents, or digital controls for pellet smokers. Additionally, the smoker should be easy to operate and maintain.

Materials and Construction

The smoker’s durability and performance can be heavily influenced by the materials used and its overall construction. Quality materials, such as stainless steel or heavy-duty ceramics, can help maintain heat distribution and promote even cooking. I must also ensure the smoker has a sturdy construction that can withstand the test of time.

Budget

Lastly, my budget plays a crucial role in my decision. Smokers come in various price ranges, so it’s essential to find a high-quality option that matches my spending limits. It’s worth considering what features I’m willing to sacrifice to stay within my budget.

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