You’re looking for the best vertical charcoal smoker to provide a traditional, authentic flavor and style to your cooking. The best vertical charcoal smoker is well-made from quality materials that allow you to accurately control temperature and gives you the opportunity to produce the best smoked meat.
Temperature control may be the most crucial factor in choosing the best vertical charcoal smoker, but it’s not the only consideration. What should you look when choosing a charcoal smoker?
Accurate Temperature Control
For many cheap charcoal smokers, accurate temperature control is possible, but difficult. If you must monitor temperature through the night because your smoker can’t hold heat, that’s a problem. Any smoker you buy should be insulated enough to hold the temperature you want, not leak heat through doors or dampers, and have an accurate thermometer to tell you the current temperature. Ideally, you will be able to establish the proper temperature, that temperature will be even from the bottom to the top, and your smoker will hold that temperature as long as you need.
How do you control temperature in the best vertical charcoal smoker? You use dampers that control the oxygen to the fire and allow a measured amount of heat to escape. Tight sealing dampers are important, but properly “seasoned” smokers may solve an apparent problem with loose dampers.
Interested in learning about other outdoor cooking solutions? Be sure to see our other articles about some of the best!
A water pan can contribute to temperature stabilization by sitting between the fire box and the cooking chamber and absorbing heat and reradiating it in the form of moisture-laden air. The added humidity created by the hot water can keep meat from drying out and can help with flavor by helping smoke to adhere to the meat. A water pan is a necessity in a bullet smoker grill while many offset smokers already have a separate cooking chamber and fire box by design.
Continuing the topic of temperature, an accurate thermometer is necessary to know what the exact temperature is inside the BBQ smoker. Unfortunately, integrated thermometers provided by manufacturers are notoriously inaccurate. Part of the problem could be the placement while they also may be lower quality.
The solution is to invest in a top-rated thermometer that you can place near the food where you need to know the temperature. It should be intuitive that the temperature anywhere else in the smoker is not as important as the temperature at the location of your meat.
Smoking Temperature Capability
Most meats are smoked at around 200 to 200 degrees F, but if your trying to sear meat with those wonderful sear marks from the grate that takes a grate that is over 500 degrees F. Can the smoker you’re considering do both?
Quality Construction and Materials
Cheap, thin steel construction won’t hold heat and it won’t properly radiate internal heat evenly throughout the smoker compartment. High-quality smokers with thick steel provides better temperature control and better temperature distribution.
How is the smoker constructed? Is the hardware high-quality, is the base sturdy, and is the smoker going to last for years in your harsh outdoor environment? It needs to be able to withstand rain, snow, and other corrosive environments to last. Smokers with too much plastic or poor-quality welds are not going to stand the test of time.
One problem with cheaper units is that they have doors or dampers that don’t seal properly and continuously leak heat and smoke making accurate temperature control nearly impossible and reduce the smoky flavor you love.
You have to be careful, because smokers build up grease and smoke that can improve the seal of doors and dampers over time. Properly “seasoned” smokers may solve a leaking problem even with higher quality smokers that appear initially to leak.
Bullet smokers are less expensive, have a small footprint, and can maintain temperature better, but they have the drawback of being top loading and more difficult to access. Front loading smokers are easier to access, but they are larger and generally have more difficult temperature control. If you need easy access to a lot of meat, you should choose the model appropriately.
Do you need to move your smoker? If so, portability is an important consideration. A portable smoker has different meanings to different people. A smoker can be portable with wheels or skids, or it may just be easily disassembled to move it. Whatever parts make your smoker portable, make sure they are durable enough to take being moved over and over.
When a manufacturer provides a long warranty on their product, they are telling you that they have faith in their materials and workmanship. Look for the longest warranty from a reputable manufacturer.
That Chinese smoker may be the right price, but how easy will it be to contact them once something goes wrong? I’m a big fan of saving money, but not at the expense of quality and support.
We searched smoker forums, manufacturer sites, consumer sites, social media, and customer review sites to find the most popular and highest rated vertical charcoal smokers.
Take a look at our choice and see if this bullet smoker is the best vertical charcoal smoker for your needs!
Best Vertical Charcoal Smoker: Top Rated Midsize Bullet Charcoal Smoker
A Weber charcoal smoker is the popular way to cook meat “low and slow” and get that amazing smoky flavor that you love, and the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker in Black is one of the most popular charcoal smokers. It features high-quality construction with a porcelain-enameled bowl, lid, and water pan, rustproof aluminum vents and spring-loaded fuel door, and a glass-reinforced nylon handle. It has a built-in thermometer, so you can easily monitor temperature and a water pan that adds moisture to the smoking process, so meat stays moist, tender, and flavorful. Its two 18.6-inch cooking grates distribute heat evenly and allow for simultaneous smoking. With all its features and quality, this could be the best vertical charcoal smoker for your needs.
Individual vents on the bowl and lid give you better temperature control
Quality materials and construction includes a porcelain-enameled premium-grade U.S. steel bowl, lid, and water pan, rustproof aluminum vents and fuel door, and glass-reinforced, heat-resistant nylon handle
Two 18.6-inch, Heavy-duty, plated steel cooking grates are built to last, provide even distribution of heat, have 481 square inches of total cooking area for simultaneous cooking
Porcelain-enameled water pan adds steam to the smoking process keeping meat moist and tender while helping to regulate temperature
Integrated lid thermometer allows you to easily monitor smoker temperature
Easy-access charcoal chamber and water pan through the spring-loaded aluminum door
Dimensions with the lid open are approximately 41H x 19W x 21D inches
CERTAIN CONTENT THAT APPEARS ON THIS SITE COMES FROM AMAZON SERVICES LLC. THIS CONTENT IS PROVIDED 'AS IS' AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE OR REMOVAL AT ANY TIME.
Best Vertical Charcoal Smoker
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Gas smokers deliver moist, juicy cuts of meat with that smokehouse flavor everyone loves. We sincerely hope that this article has provided you with valuable information that helps you choose the best vertical charcoal smoker for your needs!
Mark is a Systems Engineer with an advanced degree who has been trained to interface between non-engineers and engineers to design products that meet customer needs. He uses this training to help consumers make smart choices about the products they buy. He is a prolific writer who loves to research and provide helpful information about consumer products. He calls Virginia home along with his wife and three kids and loves all that it has to offer including the mountains, the beaches, and the historic sites. His hobbies include his three kids, NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, Premier League Soccer, UEFA Soccer, and MLS Soccer. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.