Best Vertical Smokers

Best Vertical Smoker

Last Update: September, 2019

There’s something special about the smokey taste of meat that a smoker can offer. Traditionally, though, smokers are large bulky things that are cumbersome to move and a pain to use.

Thankfully, a new type of smoker has arrived on the scene: the vertical smoker. This highly-compact cousin to the traditional smoker is smaller and easier to use but provides the same great smoky taste.

So, what are some of the best smokers? How do you choose the best one for you?

Vertical Smoker

Summary

Dyna-Glo Signature

Dyna-Glo Signature

A sleek smoker with incredible mobility and innovative smoking technologies.

Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D

Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D

A versatile smoker that can hold an entire month’s worth of smoked meat.

Smoke Hollow 38202G

Smoke Hollow 38202G

An easy to use a vertical smoker with premium technology and a classic style.

Cuisinart COS-118

Cuisinart COS-118​

A spacious smoker that boasts great ventilation and plenty of cooking space.

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

A smoker/cooker complete with easy-to-manage settings and double cooking grates.

Pros:

  • Large cooking space
  • Made of durable steel
  • Mobile

Cons:

  • Thin internal shelving

More About The Dyna-Glo Signature

This matte black smoker is a great option for smoked meat enthusiasts who need a highly mobile option. Its wheels are oversized and made of steel, with its body crafted of heavy gauge steel for durability.

Internally, the smoker features five cooking grates that total to a cooking space of 1382 square inches and a temperature gauge. The smoker also features a cool-touch lid grip for safe food handling.

>> Related Content: Best Smokers

Shop Related PRoducts

Masterbuilt 20071117 30

Masterbuilt 20071117 30

Pit Boss Grills 77435

Pit Boss Grills 77435

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal

Cuisinart COS-330

Cuisinart COS-330

Pros:

  • 1,890 inches of smoking space
  • Adjustable grates
  • Charcoal and ash management

Cons:

  • Difficult rack removal

More About The Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D

This Dyna-Glo smoker offers 1,890 square inches of cooking area and 6 vertical height-adjustable grates.

It utilizes a specialized charcoal and ash management system that consists of a charcoal grate, a charcoal chamber, and a removable ash pan.  This model also offers improved burn efficiency.

>> Related Content: Best Electric Smoker Under $200

Shop Related PRoducts

Masterbuilt 20071117 30

Masterbuilt 20071117 30

Pit Boss Grills 77435

Pit Boss Grills 77435

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal

Cuisinart COS-330

Cuisinart COS-330

Pros:

  • Two door access
  • External temperature gauge
  • 4 cooking grids

Cons:

  • Weak hinges

More About The Smoke Hollow 38202G

The Smoke Hollow smoker features two doors for easy access to your smoked-to-perfection meat, as well as an included sausage hanger and both upper and lower vents. It boasts 3.4 cubic feet of space and 4 cooking grids that are chrome plated. Its temperature gauge is external.

>> Related Content: Best Smoker Box For Grills

Shop Related PRoducts

Masterbuilt 20071117 30

Masterbuilt 20071117 30

Pit Boss Grills 77435

Pit Boss Grills 77435

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal

Cuisinart COS-330

Cuisinart COS-330

Pros:

  • Plenty of internal space
  • Great ventilation
  • Variety of sizes

Cons:

  • Exposed flame

More About The Cuisinart COS-118

This highly-trusted smoker is a smart option for small quarters. It comes in a variety of sizes and uses either gas or propane. It also features a porcelain enamel water bowl and upper and lower vents. Its door has vertical hinges and inside, it houses two 18-inch steel cooking racks.

Shop Related PRoducts

Masterbuilt 20071117 30

Masterbuilt 20071117 30

Pit Boss Grills 77435

Pit Boss Grills 77435

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal

Cuisinart COS-330

Cuisinart COS-330

Pros:

  • Large cooking grates
  • Three sizes
  • Removable fuel door

Cons:

  • Interior paint flakes

More About The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

This charcoal smoker is available in three sizes. It’s made of porcelain-enamel parts and a body of steel. It features silicone temperature monitors, a removable fuel door, and easily-adjustable dampers. It houses two cooking grates and ample space for cooking large cuts.

Shop Related PRoducts

Masterbuilt 20071117 30

Masterbuilt 20071117 30

Pit Boss Grills 77435

Pit Boss Grills 77435

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal

Cuisinart COS-330

Cuisinart COS-330

Things to Consider When Choosing A Vertical Smoker

Choosing a vertical smoker isn’t a simple task. To decide on the best one for you and your family, you need to carefully consider a number of factors beforehand. A few of these factors include temperature range, size, versatility, brand name, and ease of use.

Temperature range

Every good vertical smoker will have a wide range of temperatures that it can reach. In general, though, most customers are happy as long as their smoker can reach anywhere from 100 to 350 degrees.

Size

Size is a big deciding factor when it comes to smokers. There are a variety of different sizes, each suitable for different households and lifestyles. Before buying a smoker, decide what size is best.

Do you need a small, compact smoker or a large, heavy-duty smoker with more than enough room inside? The answer is truly dependant on the space in which you want the smoker to be housed.

Versatility

A smoker with versatility is a great smoker. Why? Smokers that have an all-around versatile design and a plethora of uses to choose from gives you the freedom to try new smoking methods, experiment with smoking times, and aim for new flavors.

Brand name

 Generally, a product that has a brand name is no better than an off-brand product. However, when it comes to buying an electric smoker or a traditional charcoal smoker, you'll want to invest in a brand name product.

Why? Brand new smokers (and electronics) are more likely to offer great warranties and satisfaction guarantees, which can prove to be highly beneficial.

Having a brand name smoker also ensures that, should you need replacement parts, you’re able to find them without too much hassle.

Ease of use

Smokers that are hard to use are those most likely to be returned, neglected, or never used at all. It’s a good idea to check out your smoker’s instructions and features before making a purchase.

Look for what makes the smoker easy to use, and make sure that you can understand its instructions without any trouble.

Price

Like all things, vertical smokers are available at various prices. Ranging from just over $100 to upwards of $200, there is a smoker to match every budget.

Don’t buy the cheapest smoker you can find just because of its pretty price point. Always double check the other factors and features that it offers before deciding to go for the lower-end smoker. This being said, don’t choose a pricy smoker thinking that its price will be indicative of its usefulness or quality.

Vertical Smokers: Different Types 

When choosing your smoker, you can choose one of several different types, and each uses a different type of power to cook and add flavor to your food. 

Charcoal

A charcoal smoker is one of the more traditional types of smokers; you might have seen one of these at a restaurant or maybe a neighbor’s barbecue. This smoker houses your standard charcoal in the bottom of the unit in a steel drum.

It's a basic design, and charcoal smokers are relatively inexpensive and easy to use since you can get charcoal at most convenience or hardware stores. That charcoal, of course, adds a distinctly charred taste that's very popular.

Gas

The most common gas smoker on the market is powered by propane. Propane is another tool easy to find at most hardware stores. Propane smokers are convenient due to their portability.

Most models have a built-in temperature gauge and push-button ignition, so it's user-friendly even if you're new to smoking your food.

Propane smokers also work the quickest, but they don’t necessarily provide the same quality of flavor as you would get if you used a charcoal (discussed above) or wood (discussed below) smoker.

Wood Smokers

Wood smokers, as the name suggests, produce the smoke through wood chips or wood pellets. Your heat source could be flame or electric (which we’ll discuss below), but the smoke remains the same.

This type of smoke produces the most distinct, recognizable flavor. Things like applewood smoked bacon or hickory smoked barbecue meats utilize the varying flavors produced by different types of wood.

Electric

Electric smokers are ideal for users who are looking for the simplest and most convenient model. While the other types of smokers we've discussed using a flame as a heat source, electric smokers use, you guessed it, electricity to power a heating element within the unit.
These models usually come with built-in temperature controls, which means you have more precise control over the heating and cooking process, as compared to the unpredictability of fire.
The upside? You don’t have to babysit your food. It’s a great factor to consider if you’re hoping to entertain family and friends, so you don’t have to be away from your guests for too long manning a grill or one of the higher maintenance smoker models.
However, that convenience does come with a couple of downsides. Since it’s electric, it, of course, needs to be plugged into an outlet, so it's not as portable as some of the other models we've discussed. It also doesn't pack the same flavor punch as the flame-smoked item. But it still does its job well, and easily!

Maintenance

Proper cleaning and maintenance are crucial to not only getting the best flavor for your food but also to make sure you're staying safe when you operate your smoker.

Greasy build-up can turn rancid and contaminate whatever you put in your smoker. Even worse, that build-up can ignite into a dangerous fireball. There’s evidence of many such accidents with both grills and smokers.

Anytime you cook, you should wipe down your unit just to make sure you’re smoking safely, and your food will taste good. Ultimately, your smoker will last longer because of your efforts.

At least once a year, you should do a more intensive clean. Each model is different, so make sure to consult your device manual for any specific instructions on cleaning, but we’ll go through some general tips below.

Cooking grates

These grates are your main cooking space and have direct contact with your food, so you want to make sure they are sanitary and free from build-up that can stick to and taint your food. 

Cooking Chamber

You’ll want to wipe down the hood and sides of your smoker to make sure and eliminate soot and scale. 

Tips for the Best Smoked Meats 

If you’re talking to a pitmaster, he or she could probably talk for hours about the best ways to use your smoker for optimal flavor. Here are a few simple steps you can follow to make the best-smoked meats.

Quality

It may be a little costly, but if you can, try to buy organic or grass-fed meats. (even better if you find it local!) What your meat eats is just as, if not more, important to the final product as your cooking methods.

Low and Slow

You may have heard your favorite TV chef use this catchphrase, but it’s certainly true! Especially when cooking larger pieces of meat like ribs or brisket, cooking at a low temperature for a longer amount of time results in a more delicious meal!

Rest

This is probably the most difficult part of your smoking process; once it’s done, let your meat rest, no matter how delicious it might look or smell! If you cut into your meat right away, you’ll lose all the scrumptious juice from inside. Resting allows those juices to redistribute into the meat, which means a more tender finished product!

Airflow

When adjusting the settings on your smoker, remember more air means higher heat, and less air means lower heat. That lower heat also means more smoke!

Water

It may be a little costly, but if you can, try to buy organic or grass-fed meats. (even better if you find it local!) What your meat eats is just as, if not more, important to the final product as your cooking methods.Even if your standard H2O doesn’t bring much to the party in way of flavor, it can still be vital to your smoking process. By using your smoker water pan, you can regulate the heat and humidity inside the cooking chamber, keeping your meat from getting too dry!

Conclusion

You can use your smoker for the obvious pork and ribs, but chicken, seafood, even vegetables have something to gain from the smoky flavor! The best vertical smoker will definitely add an extra flavor of fun to your party.

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