Best Smoker for Beginners

By Chris / January 22, 2015

What is the best meat smoker for beginners? If you know how to work a traditional charcoal grill properly, you can make some pretty good smoked meat. If you've smoked meat on a charcoal grill, you know how much hard work it can be. You need to constantly tend to various factors, such as the temperature, the positioning of the dampers, adding wood, and playing with the coal. If you're wanting to take your meat smoking to the next level, consider buying a meat smoker. Smokers come in charcoal, propane, and digital varieties. With a meat smoker, you just put your meat in, turn a few knobs, and wait. Some high-end meat smokers can run you over $1000. For someone new to smoking meat, you don't need an expensive machine to produce high quality smoked meat. Here are some of the best meat smokers for beginners:

Best Electric Smoker for Beginners

smokehouse little chief

Learning to smoke can be a costly prospect. A lot of us start with our grill but when you get the taste of BBQ it is time to move on to better things.  The Smokehouse Little Chef Front Loading smoker is a great way to start living your smoking dreams. It comes with everything you need to start cooking right out of the box. It has proven itself to be long lasting and durable.  While it is not as large of other machines in its class it does a great job and many people continue to use it for years.  It also has a reputation for making great jerky.  If you are not ready to commit to a more expensive electric smoker than this one is more than adequate for you to learn with.


  • Great smoker for fish and jerky
  • Smaller size for people with less area to work with


  • Difficult to clean
  • Only one temperature available

Best Gas Smoker Under $200

Masterbuilt 20051311

The GS30D is a robust smoker by Masterbuilt is a cabinet style model that uses propane as its power source. The 20051311 is a bit more complex than some of the other starter designs, but is still a great first choice for beginners who want to roast a lot of meat. This smoker boasts 717 square inches of cooking space and comes with four smoking racks. You can haul this smoker around if it's still hot thanks to the wheels on its back legs. The push-button ignition system on this model makes smoking as simple as loading your wood and meat, turning a knob and pushing a button. No matter how hot you turn up the temperature, the wire handle stays cool to the touch. Keep in mind that the temperature gauge on the door is typically off by about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • Holds a lot of food
  • Easy to assemble
  • Great heat control


  • Leaks smoke in places
  • Small grease catcher
  • Thinner skin

Best Offset BBQ Smoker

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC

The old Smokey Joe might be good for learning technique but if you are serous about smoking with charcoal you should upgrade sooner than later.  You will save money.  The DGO1176 by Dyna-Glo is a charcoal powered smoker that is a bit more complex than either of the smokers mentioned on this list. However, this unit offers you more control over smoking your meat. This is a great product for learning how to use a side smoker. The Dyna-Glow is very easy to assemble and the assembly instructions are straightforward. What's more is that this smoker is a great aesthetic accessory to any backyard with its sleek, simple design. The DGO1176 has an offset charcoal box which lets you channel smoked flavors and control the heat. This model performs well if you're smoking for one, but it really shines when cooking for a crowd. This Dyna-Glo smoker had 784 square inches of smoking area and can hold up to 100 pounds of meat at once! Despite the large cooking area, this smoker does a great job of retaining heat.


  • Retains heat well
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to put together


  • No wheels
  • Does not include cover

Investing in a meat smoker will provide you with such delicious BBQ that you'll hardly step foot in a barbecue joint again. The smokers on this list are perfect for beginners and will produce quality smoked meat for years to come.

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