A charcoal smoker grill is a fantastic addition to any outdoor grill kitchen, whether you are the occasional hobby griller or all-year-round grill enthusiast.
Our top choices of the best vertical charcoal smokers will produce juicy flavorsome smoked meat, ribs, turkey and other mouthwatering treats everyone will enjoy.
With the summer season just around the corner, al fresco dining and entertaining with family and friends is one the main perks of beautiful sunny weather.
Let’s check out the best vertical charcoal smokers on the market and see which one will be best for you and your outdoor kitchen. Best of all, due to vertical build, these smokers won’t take up to much space on your patio.
Of course, there also gas-fueled and electric smokers available but we have found that charcoal-fueled smokers deliver the best flavor.
Best Vertical Charcoal Smokers – Comparison Chart
For our quick overview including price range, overall rating, and dimension, please check out our comparison chart for the best vertical charcoal fueled smokers.
Weber Smokey Mountain 18"
|39 lbs||19 x 21 x 41 in||481 sq in||$$$||4.8/5
Dyna Glo Vertical Offset Smoker
|57 lbs||20.2 x 34.5 x 47 in||5 cubic feet||$$$||4.5/5
great customer service
Dyna Glow Charcoal Smoker
|56 lbs||21.45 x 20.83 x 49.73 in||784 sq in||$$||4.3/5|
Cuisinart Charcoal Smoker
|25 lbs||25 x 25 x 45 in||510 sq in||$$||4.2/5
3 -year warranty
Masterbuilt Vertical Smoker
|28.5 lbs||20.47 x 20.07 x 33.37 in||holds 50 lbs of food||$||4.1/5|
- Price indicator: $$$ – $200 plus; $$ – under $200; $ – under $100.
Reviews For The Top 5 Best Vertical Charcoal Smokers
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker
But don’t take my word for it. The WSM is used by so many grill enthusiasts who travel the country to compete in various bbq competitions and swear by this fantastic smoker that will give you excellent results time and time again.
This fantastic smoker is made of porcelain-enameled steel and features three bottom vents and one vent in the lid to control a precise temperature to smoke your favorite food to perfection.
Two nickel-plated racks offer a combined 481 square inches of cooking space where you can fit a few ribs and a pork shoulder or turkey easily.
A rust-resistant aluminum heat shield at the bottom will protect the surface where you are placing the WSM. The inbuilt temperature gauge does a great job of telling you the exact cooking temperature.
The no-rust aluminum door gives you easy access to the water pan and the charcoal which is surrounded by a fire ring.
Once you got the temperature up to speed at 225ºF, the WSM keeps the temperature consistent for 6-8 hours.
There are not many to be quite honest, but some customers have found the aluminum door a bit flimsy and didn’t always align properly.
A hinge for the lid is missing so it can be a bit tricky to place it somewhere without leaving brand marks.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is our top choice due to its fantastic performance, high-quality materials, and the ability to keep a consistent temperature for around 8 hours.
Besides being a smoker, you can also use it as a barbecue grill without any issues.
The WSM comes with a 10-year limited warranty, a cover and a Weber cookbook. The hardest decision might be to decide which size to get, the smaller 14.5″, the 18.5″ or the bigger 22.5″. It really depends on how much food you want to smoke at a time and your budget.
Dyna-Glo 36″ Vertical Charcoal Smoker
It features four cooking grates, and a well-thought-out charcoal and ash management system. The ash pan is removable for easy disposal of the ashes.
One of our favorite features is the double door design to access the porcelain enameled charcoal chamber without letting to much air in which could interfere with the smoking process and change in temperature.
The Dyna Glo is easy to assemble and even though it is not insulated does a pretty good job of maintaining the heat level at consistent temperatures.
The stainless steel temperature gauge is according to some customers not accurate and can be off between 10 and 20ºF. Your best will be to get a digital/infrared thermometer.
There is also no water pan included with this charcoal smoker!
The Dyna Glo is a durable vertical smoker with plenty of space to cook your favorite meat. Due to its medium price range, it would be a good model for beginners or someone on a tight budget.
Dyna Glo’s customer service is excellent as well.
Dyna-Glo Vertical Charcoal Offset Smoker
The offset features not only keeps the charcoal fuel away from the food to ensure indirect heat. It also means there is more space in the vertical smoking chamber to cook your favorite cuts of meat and sausages.
It smokes up to 100 pounds of meat at a time so you surely can feed a crowd. The six cooking grates are adjustable to make sure even the biggest cut of meat will fit.
The Dyna Glow Offset Smoker is made from heavy-duty steel and has a powder coat finish for more durability.
The enameled charcoal chamber holds the charcoal tightly together, and the removable ash pan is great to get rid of the ashes.
There is no water pan; it needs to be bought separately. The temperature gauge may not work correctly.
Some customers also noticed smoke leaking, so they had to seal the gaps with silicon and get a gasket for the doors.
Due to the offset firebox, you’ll need more space in your backyard for this vertical smoker.
Overall, the Dyna Glo Vertical Offset Smoker is a solid product for the price. It needs some small adjustments to reach its full potential.
Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker
The charcoal sits on the charcoal grate and is held together by a fire ring. The water pan is porcelain enameled to ensure longevity.
You can easily control the temperature by adjusting the top and bottom air vents.
The hinged door allows for easy access to the water pan and to refuel the charcoal and wood chunks.
The inbuilt temperature gauge is surprisingly accurate according to customers. The unit is lightweight with only 25 lbs and therefore can be transported anywhere you want.
Some customers found the assembly of the Cuisinart Vertical Smoker a bit tricky. The bottom vents are a bit hard to reach, and the heat retention could be better.
It usually needs to be refilled with charcoal after 5 hours.
Overall, the Cuisinart Vertical Charcoal Smoker is affordable and offers great value for money. It looks stylish and would make a great addition to your backyard kitchen.
This cooker comes with a three- year warranty for peace of mind.
Masterbuilt Vertical Charcoal Smoker
The Masterbuilt offers two chrome-coated cooking grates, a porcelain-coated charcoal pan, water bowl as well as a built-in temperature gauge.
There are air vents/dampers on both sides that will help you to regulate the temperature of your smoker.
With a weight of just 28.5 lbs, this smoker is pretty lightweight and thanks to handles on the sides it is easy to lift and move.
On the downside, it also means that the material is not heavy-duty. The steel is quite thin so it can be hard to maintain a consistent temperature for an extended period.
It is recommended to use silicon to close some gaps for better heat-and smoke retention. Also, the charcoal pan doesn’t hold a lot, so a few customers got a wok pan suitable on a grill and noticed a considerable improvement. (Find it on Amazon)
The temperature gauge can be an issue as well.
The Masterbuilt Vertical Charcoal Smoker is best for people on a budget and beginners who want to get started with smoking but don’t want to spend a lot of money.
With some adjustments, the Masterbuilt is a good smoker that cooks around 50lbs of food at a time.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Vertical Charcoal Smoker
Before you invest in a vertical charcoal smoker for your backyard, it is important to ask yourself a few questions. That will make it easier for you to decide which smoker is best for you since these charcoal smokers come in different sizes.
- How often are you going to use a smoker?
- How much food do you want to smoke at once?
- How big is your backyard/patio?
- How well does the smoker retain the heat?
- What are the warranty conditions?
- Does the bottom of the smoker have air vents? If not, it is rather difficult to regulate the temperature.
If you are only planning on using your smoker a few times a year, you could start with a low budget smoker like the Masterbuilt or Cuisinart.
The best option for various sizes and price range and overall quality is the Weber Smokey Mountain which also offers a 10-year limited warranty. Best of all, you can use the WSM as a barbecue grill as well.
How Does A Vertical Charcoal Smoker Work
Unlike an offset smoker, the fuel for the smoker (in this case the charcoal) sits directly underneath the food you are going to smoke.
Once the charcoal is burning, you will put the wood chunks on top of the charcoal fire. The wood chunks, of course, will give your food the most amazing taste and flavor.
A vertical charcoal smoker is also called a Charcoal Water Smoker because of the water pan that has different functions and advantages.
First up, the water pan works as a barrier between the charcoal and the food. It keeps the meat moist, even after a long time of smoking.
It also works as a drip pan, so the juices don’t drip on to the fuel source. Tip: wrap the water pan in aluminum foil for easy cleaning.
To add more flavor to your meat, you could even fill the pan with beer, cider, or wine instead of water.
Once the temperature is up and running, it is vital to keep the temperature consistent at around 225 – 250ºF. That’s where the air vents/dampers come in. To lower the temperature, close the vents; to increase the temperature open them up because of oxygen the charcoal will burn hotter.
During the smoking process, it is important to also check if the charcoal and wood chunks need to be replenished and if you need to add more water to the water pan.
Advantages Of A Vertical Charcoal Smoker
They have a small footprint so it is great for smaller backyards and patios. They are also affordable with a price range of under $300.
The water pan keeps your food moist and the charcoal is a fantastic fuel that helps to give your smoked ‘goodies’ an amazing flavor.
They are easy to clean. Simply clean out the ashes and get rid of any grease on the inside and on the cooking grates. If you look properly after your smoker, they will last for years.
Also, most models weigh less than 50 pounds which makes them portable. Why not take your smoker on your next camping trip or tailgate party.
They are easy to use for beginners.
Drawbacks Of A Vertical Charcoal Smoker
If the material is thin like in lower budget smokers, it can be hard to retain the temperature, especially in cold and windy conditions.
They are not suitable for use only with wood. You’ll need charcoal as the primary fuel source.
Some of the charcoal water smokers are not airtight and need some adjustments like gaskets and silicon to prevent too much air leaking.
The cooking space can be a bit limited if you want to smoke lots of meat, sausages, or seafood at once.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully, our post has helped you to find a smoker that will be a great addition to your outdoor kitchen. Impress your family and guest with delicious food from your smoker.
Enjoy the process and once you are a pro, you can even start experimenting with more flavors by adding a different kind of wood chunks, or by using beer or wine in the water pan.
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