11 best BBQ smoker grills for your 2024 summer cookouts

Bring more fun and flavour into outdoor food this summer with this must-have.

BBQ smoker grills

by Piper Huxley |
Updated on

Guaranteed to tantalise your taste buds, we're excited to share a favourite outdoor cooking trend – the best smoker grill. If your BBQ grill isn't quite as exciting anymore, then we suggest shaking things up a little with a smoker. This method uses smouldering wood chips or smoky charcoal to give your alfresco food tons of flavour that'll have your mouth watering. Luckily, we've got some advice from Modern Gardens contributor Jill Morgan on how to pick the best smoke grills for your summer cookout.

A smoker is your must-have garden accessory for giving your meat, fish and veg some pizzazz. Super alfresco, the smoke from burning wood is channelled into the container where your precious BBQ food is cooking. The smoke gives your meal even more flavour to contend with. Smoker grills come in many different shapes and sizes, says Jill, and "vary from components that can be added to existing charcoal or gas barbecue, to stand-alone smoking cabinets."

Best smoker grill at a glance:

Best all-in-one smoker: ProQ BBQ Smoker - view on Amazon UK
• Best off-set BBQ smoker: Char-Griller Duo BBQ - view on Keen Gardener
• Best Kamado grill for smoking: Mini Pig Bluey 13-inch Kamado Egg Grill BBQ - view on Snaffling Pig

Jill adds that the longer your meal is "exposed to the smoke, the stronger the flavour," so there's plenty of wiggle-room to experiment with your outdoor dining, not to mention plenty of enjoyment. As a smoker grill can come in many forms, costs vary considerably, meaning there are smokers for all households at many price points. Luckily, you can try this fun way to cook relatively cheaply. If you thought the smokiness of a charcoal grill was amazing, just wait…

If you're looking for the perfect smoker grill to suit your lifestyle, it's easy to choose something that won't fit your skill level or household needs. After all, you don't want to pick a tricky smoker if you're a novice. Luckily, we've made it easier – as we cover different types of smokers and explain their uses, advantages and disadvantages down below.

Best smoker grills

Best all-in-one smoker

ProQ BBQ SmokerAmazon/ProQ
Price: $399.99

For cold smoking, hot smoking, grilling, and roasting, we recommend this ProQ cabinet. It has a sleek design and is made from weather-resistant stainless steel, featuring an in-built lid thermometer, and multiple vents with cool touch tabs allowing you to control your temperature with ease. You also get five meat hooks, and probe eyelets.

One reviewer claims the smoky flavour this bullet-style smoker can impart took him right back to Texas, but recommends that you marinate proteins for 24-hours before they even think about hitting the grill. While some users are happy to trust the built-in thermometer, other suggest investing in a standalone version, especially when poultry is involved.

With space to feed up to 12 hungry people at once you can't go wrong. One satisfied reviewer has successfully cooked smoked brisket, beef chuck, beer can chicken, and spatchcock chicken, apparently all with great results.

Pros

  • Spacious and sleek design
  • Versatile usage for multiple cooking methods
  • Smaller and larger versions available

Cons

  • Smoke generators sold separately

Best off-set BBQ grill

CHAR-GRILLER DUO GAS AND CHARCOAL BARBECUE WITH SIDE BURNERKeen Gardener/Char-Griller

As recommended by Jill, and one reviewer who states that they would recommend without reservation, we have this Char-Griller Duo BBQ for our top off-set smoker pick. The Char-Griller Duo BBQ can be used for both charcoal and gas grilling.

This is a comprehensive solution offering you dual primary cooking surfaces with warming racks, dual smoke stacks for even heating, plus a side burner for additional cooking capacity. In total, you get 1,260 square inches of BBQ grilling and smoking space.

Each cooking area gets its own thermometer, something users appreciate for accuracy when cooking anything that requires precise temperature control. This duo BBQ puts some people off due to its large footprint, but if you have enough space in the garden, we don't think you'll be disappointed with this capable outdoor cooker.

Pros

  • All-in-one BBQ grill offering versatile cooking options
  • Good-sized smoking space for larger cuts of meat
  • Sturdy and durable construction

Cons

  • Some reviewers described this as difficult to construct

Best smoker on a budget

Argos Home Smoker Charcoal BBQArgos

For an option that's just over £100, and described by reviewers as great value for money, we recommend the Argos Home Smoker Charcoal BBQ. It may not be hybrid like the Char-Griller Duo but you can still serve up deliciously smoked barbecue food.

This BBQ smoker combo is perfectly sized to feed up to eight people, it's got a conventional charcoal BBQ grill and an attached side firebox to burn wood and get that desirable smoky flavour. There's a handy storage shelf under the barbie for all your grilling essentials.

Reviews are mixed as to how airtight this BBQ smoker is in terms of reports of gaps meaning smoke escaping, but by all accounts from multiple reviewers it's down to how well you construct it in the first place.

Pros

  • Good value as a charcoal BBQ and smoker combo
  • Authentic BBQ flavour in results
  • Easy to light and quick to heat up

Cons

  • Can be difficult to assemble

Best Kamado grill for smoking

Snaffling Pig Pig Bluey Charcoal Kamado BarbequeSnaffling Pig

Bold, blue, and stylish, we love this Kamado grill. Weighing in at a hefty 43 kilograms and sitting in a nifty grab-and-go cradle, this 33cm grill is big enough to cook an entire chicken, to grill a rack of ribs, or to sear a couple of hearty steaks.

This high-end, egg-shaped grill is perfect for roasting, baking, smoking, and grilling and is incredibly fuel efficient, as Kamado-style grills tend to be. The Snaffling Pig Co, which offers this grill for sale, claims that this "bad boy" - their words - can be lit in any weather conditions.

You can use the stainless-steel door for easy ash removal and the exterior thermometer for monitoring cooking progress. One reviewer comments that cooking on this BBQ grill brings a lovely smoky taste to proteins like steak.

Pros

  • All-weather operation thanks to its easy lighting
  • Multi-purpose usage for various cooking methods
  • Integrated thermometer for precise temperature control

Cons

  • A little heavy
  • Best for smaller families

Best electric smoker

Vertical Electric Portable 1452Cm² SmokerWayfair

Sold complete with its accompanying smoke generator, this top electric pick is perfect for those of us who like to smoke hot or cold. While other smokers need to be tended to constantly, the Bradley Smoker automatically produces clean, cool smoke for up to nine hours safely and without intervention, a quality reviewers appreciate for the hands-off ease-of-use.

This smoker can reach up to 140 degrees, dependent on ambient temperature, but the usual heat range of this smoker is from 80 to 110 degrees when set to the highest setting which makes it a great choice for anyone who likes to cook their preferred proteins using the classic "low'n'slow" method.

Overall, this high-tech bit of kit is automatic, innovative, and portable. For cold smoking, remember to add a Cold Smoke Adaptor to your shopping basket.

Pros

  • Modern, innovative design for great results
  • Digital temperature control to get the settings exactly right
  • Automatic settings for hands-off operation

Cons

  • Pellets not included in this purchase
  • Cold smoking adaptor sold separately

Best pellet smoker grill

Weber SmokeFire EX4 Black Wood Fired Pellet GrillWeber

Weber has outdone itself with this high-end, wood-fired BBQ, that's also capable of smoking your meat and currently enjoying a five-bar rating on the official Weber website. It's smart, reliable, innovative and comes with that touch of freedom, too.

Perfect for big cookouts, the dual grilling zones allow you to throw more than enough food on the barbie and allows you to cook directly and indirectly. Reviewers report successful results with everything from pizzas to ribs via steaks, although they do warn the cool-down time to be considerable - worth thinking about if you have little ones running around your garden.

Very versatile, it's a winner in our eyes if you're looking for a new grill with those exciting smoking capabilities. Reviewers also love the companion app that can help you master this beast of a grill by advising on best practice and cooking times.

Pros

  • All-rounder BBQ grill offers a one-stop solution
  • Smart and elegant modern design
  • A companion app is available to help with cooking advice

Cons

  • Cover is not included

Best charcoal grill smoker

Pit Barrel Cooker 18.5 ClassicRobert Dyas

For our top charcoal pick, we've picked this barrel-style cooker from Pit Barrel. Their 18.5-inch model is the perfect solution for all of your grilling and smoking needs. After all, it can cook anything from brisket to veggies flawlessly and easily.

It comes complete with two meat hooks so you can hang whole chickens to cook and there's also a wooden hook handler to remove the hooks safely. Reviewers who regularly cook for a crowd love its unmatched capacity that allows for more than double that of regular horizontal cookers.

Judged as excellent by one reviewer, this grill's smoker abilities are assisted by the fact the hanging cooking style helps create a "smoke fog" by the meat juices dripping directly on the coals. When we say large capacity, we mean it - this can handle eight racks of spareribs, up to three pork shoulders, or two large birds without breaking a sweat. It's a best-seller for good reason.

Pros

  • Unmatched capacity compared to horizontal grills
  • Portable and stylish rustic design
  • Offers versatility with the options to cook all types of proteins

Cons

  • Trickier to clean than standard grills
  • Self-assembly required

Tried and tested

Best compact size smoker

Ninja-Woodfire-Electric-BBQ-Grill-and-SmokerNinja
Price: £279

This BBQ from Ninja was made for foodies and keen cooks. The easy-to-use outdoor grill uses electricity with an integrated smoke box for real burning wood pellets - no need for charcoal, gas, or flames while still getting that lovely smoky flavour.

As a BBQ grill, smoker, and air fryer in one, it has seven cooking functions: grill, smoke, air fry, roast, bake, dehydrate, and reheat. You can use this in the garden, on a balcony, caravanning, or on a campsite - just make sure you have access to a power source. One reviewer describes this as a game changer if you only have a balcony or tiny patio.

Reviewed by Hannah Mellin, a Homes & Garden Product Writer for Modern Gardens, she recommends this multifunctional grill to cook everything from BBQ classics like burgers, sausages, and halloumi kebabs, to tender beef brisket, sticky ribs, juicy steaks, spatchcock chicken, a whole salmon fillet, chargrilled vegetables, and so much more. If that sounds a bit ambitious, be reassured this BBQ comes complete with a handy cookbook to help you through the process.

Read our full Ninja Woodfire grill review

Pros

  • Portable enough for camping trips
  • Integrated smoker box burns natural wood pellets for real smoky flavours
  • Amazing functionality

Cons

  • You will need to be within reach of a power source

Best budget vertical grill and smoker

Tower T978505 Smoker Grill XL with Charcoal and Smoker, BlackWayfair/Tower

For a beginner's smoker, we'd recommend this smoker grill solution from Tower. It features both a charcoal grill and a smoker BBQ, so you can heat up various succulent meats and vegetables to perfection, either cooking directly on the coals, or smoking in the barrel-shaped cooker.

The built-in temperature gauge lets you monitor and take control of the heat, ensuring your meat is grilled accurately with the perfect consistency, something that's very reassuring if you're not experienced at this type of outdoor cookery. The air control vents can be easily opened or closed depending on whether you need more or less air flow to perfect your cook.

Satisfied customers state that this budget-friendly choice gets the job done and cooks beautifully. Cool-touch handles ensure you can move this safely around your outside space if needs be, and the removable ash catcher at the base of this cooker helps with the clean-up process.

Pros

  • Easy to assemble barrel-style design
  • Useful built-in temperature gauge
  • Large capacity grilling areas great for cooking for a crowd

Cons

  • Budget build quality reflected in the price

Best kettle smoker

Weber Compact Kettle Charcoal Grill BarbecueAmazon/Weber
Price: $142.27

With this kettle grill, you can use that reinforced, porcelain-coated lid to your advantage. Equip yourself with a stovetop smoker box and let your grill do its magic. Alternatively, this Weber charcoal number works well with usual BBQ-type stuff like sizzling hot dogs and roasting veggie skewers.

This has a handy storage shelf, a simple ash removal vent, and a wheeled base for easy portability. As far as BBQs go, Weber is a brand you can stand by with reviewers describing this kettle-style BBQ as a quality classic.

This affordable BBQ has racked up nearly 8,000 4.5-star reviews on Amazon alone, so you can rest assured your hard-earned money will be well-spent with this outdoor cooking investment. One happy reviewer shared that they bought this BBQ smoker to replace an identical Weber model that had lasted them for 15 years - a real sign of a decent product.

Pros

  • Stylish, classic kettle-style grill design
  • Easy-to-clean BBQ bowl
  • Portable with a handy storage shelf

Cons

  • Fiddly assembly can take some time

How we chose the best smoker grills

All of these smoker grills have been hand-selected by our team of Modern Gardens shopping experts. We carefully considered the build quality, features and affordability in our selection of the best. Our team has spent hours investigating and researching smoker grills to make it easier for you to find the very best, and we'd never recommend a product we don't believe in.

Where possible, we also test and share the latest and best products you should know about. And with help from Modern Gardens Magazine, Garden News and Garden Answers, we share expert gardening knowledge to help you get the most from your product.

The different types of smoker grills explained

Offset

First, we have the offset variation. Trickier to use, this type of smoker grill is best for experienced barbeque enthusiasts. What sets them apart from the rest is the firebox set to the side of the smoking chamber, which moves the heat and smoke away from your meat. Supposedly, this makes it possible to manage cooking temperatures a little easier.

Advantages: Offset grills provide better smoke and heat distribution for your cookout, often capable of using multiple fuel types, also. They can come in vertical or horizontal varieties depending on preference and space on your patio. Plus, the cooking chamber is generally larger, so more food.

Disadvantages: They can be a bulky and pricey option.

Kamado grill
©Getty Images/ Starkovphoto

Kamado smokers

At Modern Gardens, we're a fan of Kamado grills, and they have become quite popular in recent years. Shaped like an egg and made from a thick ceramic, they're said to retain heat well. Their smoker counterparts are often smaller and far more portable BBQs. That being said, they're still heavier than other options out there. They're versatile smokers too, as you can use them as a BBQ and grill.

Advantages: Kamado smokes are versatile – giving you plenty of options to cook your grub – and better insulated than most. They use wood lump charcoal and offer portability.

Disadvantages: They can be often heavy and expensive, too.

Electric smokers

Electric smokers use electricity – as expected – to cook your food. They're far easier to manage than charcoal and gas smokers but may lack that desired smoky flavour. Wood chips can be added to enhance this. They're often phone-compatible, too.

Advantages: Not only are electric smokers notoriously easy to use, but they're easy to clean and, generally, cheaper to run. Here, with your digital options, you can get a wider (and more stable) range of temperatures for cooking.

Disadvantages: Requires electricity to operate, which can be a task in the garden. Plus, the smoky flavour isn't as powerful as its charcoal counterpart.

Pellet smokers

Pellet smokers (also referred to as wood fire smokers) have finally hit the mainstream, using small wooden pellets instead of charcoal. For this, the pellets are loaded into a pellet hopper, which will likely be to the side. Then, the pellets transfer to the cooking chamber to be heated. This method is perfect for slow-cooking meats such as ribs and brisket.

Advantages: Capable of smoking for many hours, pellet smokers are primed for slow-cooking meat for tenderness. Not only that but it's said to be healthier than charcoal and easy for beginners.

Disadvantages: These smokers could take up a lot of space on your patio.

Charcoal smoker
©Getty Images/ Johner Images

Charcoal smokers

Coming in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, charcoal smoking is old and reliable – as it provides that traditional smoky flavour that we're all craving. From offset smokers to Kamado grills to drum variations, charcoal comes with a wide price margin – so it can suit all budgets.

Advantages: Charcoal offers a range of grills at all prices. So, you can get that traditional, smoky taste that charcoal seems to be good at producing. It's easy to get your hands on the fuel, too.

Disadvantages: However, charcoal smokers can be trickier to clean and use.

Gas smokers

Next, we have gas smokers, which use propane gas as the primary fuel source. Propane is way easier to use than charcoal, so it's ideal for those barbecue enthusiasts who aren't experienced. Often, gas smokers are easier to clean and maintain temperature-wise. However, the smokiness may not be the same. You can supplement this with wood chips, though.

Advantages: Gas smokers are easier to keep clean and control the temperature, making them handy for beginners. Plus, they're often more portable and cheaper to operate than others.

Disadvantages: You will need a propane tank, and the flavour is not smoky in the traditional sense.

Vertical smokers

Or why not consider something vertical? They're also known as box, cabinet or offset horizontal smokers. This variation is composed of stacked grilling grates, where the heat and smoke flow upwards, making the top of the grill the smokiest area. Regardless, it still provides even heat and smokiness throughout. You can even set up sausage hooks here.

Advantages: Vertical smokers offer a better distribution of heat and smoke. As well as this, you can use either wood or charcoal to fuel them. For this, the optimal smoke zone is at the top.

Disadvantages: Often, they're heavier than others - so they're usually bulky and less portable.

kettle bbq
©Getty Images/ D + G / 500px

Kettle smokers

Though they're smaller than most charcoal barbecues, kettle grills are affordable, useful and good for those who lack room in their outdoor space. However, they're not smokers in the traditional sense but can be used as such if done correctly. As a result, they're inconsistent. Simply grab a stovetop smoker and let the wood do its work.

Advantages: They're easier to use, cheaper to buy and cook all types of food. Plus, fuel is easy to come by.

Disadvantages: On the other hand, kettle grills may fluctuate more temperature-wise and are less easy to clean.

Cold smokers

Cold smoking uses low heat and smoke to infuse the food with that good smoky taste we all know and love. It does not cook meat. Thanks to Jill, we discuss cold smoking a little more below our round-up.

Advantages: Perfect for smoked meats and fish, providing an extra smoky taste and preservation.

Disadvantages: This method does not cook meat and needs plenty of preparation.

Stovetop smokers

For a low-cost option or for first-timers, we recommend something stovetop. These can come as a smoker box, which is plonked onto your gas or charcoal barbecues. But, this will only work if your grill has a tight-fitting lid to keep all the smoke in, says Jill. Add wood to this box and place it directly on the coals. This is an affordable option. Or it can come as a stovetop tray-style box complete with a sturdy fuel tray, drip tray and wire rack, which will seal in the flavours.

Advantages: These are compact, portable and affordable options, ideal for beginners. Not only that, but they also maintain a lower, even cooking temperature that'll smoke your food well.

Disadvantages: They are less impressive than our other picks – and smaller, too.

Smoker grilling
©Getty Images/ golubovy

Best smoker grill FAQs

How does a smoker grill work?

Jill Morgan says that there are two ways to smoke food with a smoker: hot smoking and cold smoking.

Hot smoking: Considered the easier option, it's perfect for experimenting with flavours and different wood types at home. Although it's called 'hot' smoking, Jill points out that "cooking temperatures tend to be lower than those used for barbecuing." With this method, your grub is cooked slowly, as this allows those mouth-watering flavours to be absorbed.

Cold smoking: This involves "soaking and drying food before it's cured in the smoker," says Jill. Therefore, this method requires "careful preparation overnight or over the course of a few days". With this method, you can create culinary feats of cured and smoked favourites, such as smoked salmon and chorizo, which are eaten raw. Or, you can cook after smoking and have bacon, too.

How do I use a smoker grill?

Smokers bring a unique flavour, allowing you to slow-cook food over a longer period of time. Thanks to Homes Whiz, we have a small, step-by-step guide on how to use a charcoal smoker grill in the UK.

1. Position your BBQ smoker away from trees and other structures and on a level area.

2. Fill the barbecue smoker with charcoal – if your smoker is charcoal-based. The recommendation is to fill the chamber to about halfway, unlit. Then, light a few coals and allow them to redden.

3. Add wood chips to the lit charcoal, as this determines the smoky flavour.

4. Place the meat on the rack, avoiding stacking in the chamber. If the meat is larger, centre it.

5. Close the cooking chamber lid and set the temperature to 225°F (around 107°C).

6. Smoke the meat for around six hours. The longer you smoke it, the better it'll taste.

7. Check the temperature and remove the meat – which should be 145°F (around 62°C). Remove the meat and allow it to rest before slicing and serving.

How to maintain the temperature in your BBQ smoker?

Keeping the temperature consistent is going to make sure the meat is cooked well. Homes Whiz have three important tips on how to keep the temperature maintained when smoking your meat, no matter the barbecue fuel you're using.

Using a thermometer will keep track of your smoking meat.

Keeping the vents open will ensure air can flow in and out of the smoker.

Adding wood chips will maintain the temperature and add flavour.

Any recommendations on wood?

Did you know that the type of wood you use in your smoker has a huge effect on the taste of the food you cook? Well, in the smoker grill game, the flavour possibilities are endless. As mentioned earlier, smoker grilling offers an opportunity to experiment with our alfresco dining. Different wood types and wood chip blends create new experiences. Jill recommends:

Apple – has a strong but well-rounded flavour for pork and poultry.

Cherry – gives a rich, fruity flavour that's milder than apple wood, and it's great for lamb, fish and veggies.

Beech – has a subtle, nutty flavour perfectly suited to seafood, delicate fish and white meat.

Oak – gives an intense taste that works well with robust red meat such as beef.

Wood chunks or chips?

You can use sawdust, shavings, chips or chunks in your smoker, says Jill. Though wood chips burn hotter and faster than chunks, making them better for shorter times, chunks are the most cost-effective option. If you need the meat to cook and smoke for longer, chunks are your best bet.

On the other hand, sawdust is an option you can consider. It's a good option if you want a really long, low heat, says Jill. She suggests simply placing a few small twigs in the tray also and lighting. As we're all looking to make choices better suited to our precious planet, Jill recommends grabbing natural, untreated wood from responsible sources. After all, we need to be doing our bit.

Meat being smoked
©Getty Images

How do I clean a smoker grill?

How to clean a smoker grill will depend on the material, variation and fuel type used. Luckily, most manufacturers will help with a cleaning guide in the instructions manual and even include some brushes and products. Check out our guide to cleaning barbecues, which features the products you may need to do so.

Any must-have accessories for a smoker grill?

Accessories for your smoker grill will be pretty similar to that of a regular barbecue. However, if you need a list, you're going to need things like a decent thermometer, heat-resistant gloves, some tongs, a proper cleaning kit and some shape knives for slicing and dicing your way to a successful cookout.

Essential BBQ tools you need to become a grill master

Best fire pit tables for a cosy and contemporary garden

The ultimate guide to the best BBQ food

Subscribe to Modern Gardens magazine and get the most out of your outdoor space. Discover everything you need to know to make your outside space look fantastic, quickly and easily, with hundreds of simple ideas, designer tricks, affordable products and expert advice in every issue of Modern Gardens. View our latest subscription offers to save on shop prices.

Piper Huxley is a Homes, Garden and Wellness Product Writer for Modern Gardens Magazine, an all-rounder. When she’s not writing about houseplants, she’s tending to her own growing collection…

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us