The best overall smoker is the Weber Smokey Joe design. It offers great value with a decent sized cooking area, great smoke flavor, and a durable build!
Recently, I have been going on camping trips with my friends a lot more. And so, I have needed to buy lightweight smokers that I can take with me. Come along with me as I test out the top models on the market and what they are made of!
Here are the reviews of the best portable smokers and what they have to offer. I have also included a buying guide at the end.
Here are the best portable smokers that you should be investing in:
One of the reasons that this is the best portable smoker is that it is so easy to transport. First of all, the dimensions of this portable smoker make it one of the smallest options around. Therefore, you can even use it to smoke food on a small balcony if you want.
The other upside is that this portable smoker is incredibly lightweight. You should have no problem handling it by yourself.
As far as the construction goes, the only complaint that I have is regarding the plastic handle. It is quite a mismatch considering how hot this portable grill can get.
Just because it is small and easy to move around doesn’t mean that this charcoal grill smoker doesn’t have plenty of cooking area. You should be able to cook up to five hamburgers or two steaks at once, making it a great option for up to two people.
Not only is this the best portable charcoal smoker, but it is also one of my favorites to use because of how easy it is to manage the temperature. Simply adjust the air vents to set the temperature and you can guarantee that the temperature inside the smoking chamber isn’t going to budge.
As with all Weber charcoal grills, this one is built with top materials. As a result, it is wonderful at trapping heat inside the smoking chamber. In doing so, your meat cooks at a more consistent rate.
If you are looking for a low cost charcoal grill smoker that functions like a mid range smoker, then the Char-Griller should be your go-to option. I was surprised that a grill and smoker at this price point could perform so beautifully and effortlessly.
One of the things that I like is that while this is a fairly portable smoker, your cooking surface area isn’t compromised in any way. You can easily fit up to a dozen burgers and a couple of racks of ribs. So, if you are cooking for a slightly larger crowd, this is a great choice for you!
I was really impressed with the level of smoke flavor that I got out of this portable smoker when using wood chunks or wood chips. The level of smoke was just right, even when cooking thicker cuts of meat. The meat was properly infused with smoke without taking on that burnt or bitter taste.
Don’t let the price tag fool you, this portable smoker is made from heavy gauge powder coated steel. It holds up really well to constant use and can be easily transported around without showing signs of wear or tear.
The only thing to be mindful of is that the paint can peel so you will need to paint over the original layer with heatproof paint to continue using the smoker.
Best Portable Pellet Grill and Smoker
Green Mountain grills are no stranger to portable wood pellet grills but I have to say that they did a really good job with the Davy Crockett portable smoker. After putting it through its paces, I found that it did a fine job of smoking everything from hamburgers to small cuts of pork butt and pork shoulder. Definitely on the same level as full size smokers.
I also really like the hopper capacity – 9lbs – on the Green Mountain grills Davy Crockett. This is great if you want to smoke a slightly larger cut of meat for longer. This way, you can guarantee that the cook will not be interrupted as you will not need to top up the hopper any time soon.
I really like all the features that you get with this portable pellet smoker. To start with, you have the Sense-Mate that tracks the smoker temperature at all times. There is also a Wi-Fi controller that allows you to monitor and control the smoker temperature at will.
You get a meat probe with the smoker to keep track of the internal temperature of smoking meat. There is also a peaked lid for the ribs. These additional features really secure the top position for this model from all the best portable pellet grills.
One of the downsides of this portable smoker is that t is pretty heft. You are likely going to need somebody else to help you carry the smoker from one place to another.
On the upside, the folding legs and features of this smoker do make it a lot easier for you to transport to another spot.
Best Portable Electric Smoker
Electric smokers are usually not my top option for smoking, but Masterbuilt has changed my mind in the past. This portable electric smoker actually does a great job of smoking your food. I have tried everything from hot dogs to small pork butts and I have enjoyed smoked infused food each and every time.
This may seem like such a small touch on your electric smoker, but it pays off big. See, when the wood chips tray is on the outside, you can easily refill the tray without opening the door. This helps to retain heat and keep the smoking process steady.
I will give it up to this electric smoker, it is one of the easiest smokers to use. You simply fill up the water pan, adjust the temperature, add the wood chips, preheat the electric smoker and you are good to go!
The only issue is that you have to keep an eye on the temperature as it can fluctuate. It is best to set the temperature to as low as possible with this model.
Electric smokers aren’t known for being easy to transport but this one gets the job done nicely. It is lightweight and the folding legs fold easily for transport.
Best Portable Vertical Grill
This grill has one of the largest cooking spaces of the grills on this list. However, what is great about it is that because of the vertical design, the smoker still remains compact. Due to this, you get the best of both worlds.
Even better, the design of this grill allows you to remove or add racks so that you can adjust the cooking chamber to suit the types of meat that you are cooking.
I really like the smoking chamber. It has been designed to allow smoke to permeate completely through. At the same time, the chamber has been built so that none of the heat or the smoke can escape. This results in a far more stable cook.
The only thing is that because the temperature is controlled by dampers and air vents, it can take you a while to get hang of temperature control.
One of the great design elements of this smoker is that there are two doors. The first door lets you access the cooking area and the second door lets you get to the area with wood chips and the water pan. This makes it a lot easier to make alterations and changes throughout the cook.
This is an incredibly light grill and compact to boot. As a result, you will find it a breeze to carry and transport all on your own.
Best Smoking Performance
One of the things that I really like about this portable pellet grill is that it is on the same level as traditional smokers and grills. Due to this, you get to enjoy the same smoke flavor as more professional models. So, if you are looking for an authentic smoking experience, then this is the pellet grill to go with.
This is a set it and leave kind of pellet grill. The temperature management on this pellet grill is sublime and there are very few fluctuations throughout the cook. Due to this, you can set up the grill and walk away without worrying that your food is going to be under or overcooked.
The settings on this grill are very intuitive. Once you have the smoker set up and primed, it takes you just a few moments to get it up and running. It really is as easy as that! Even if you are a beginner, you will have no problem figuring out how to use this smoker.
With a hopper capacity of 8 lbs, this is an excellent smoker for longer cooks. In fact, you can even smoke a smaller brisket in this smoker if you want. The hopper can easily accommodate this without you needing to refill it.
Of course, with added capacity comes additional weight. This is one of the heavier grills on the list. And, although it has folding legs, you are going to need some help to carry it around.
Best for Durability
Just because you are buying a portable smoker doesn’t mean that you don’t want it to last you a long time. If you are looking for a portable charcoal grill that will be with you for the long haul, then this is the one to get.
One of the things that I really like about this charcoal smoker is that they are built for heat resistance. As such, you can use them time and time again – at high temperatures – and the portable grill will still be standing.
The only complaint about the build quality that I can make is that you have to make an effort to keep the lid closed.
Even if you are new to charcoal smokers, you will have no trouble figuring out how to work this one. Want to increase or decrease the food’s exposure to heat – simply move the tray up or down. Also, just by adjusting the vents, you can easily change how hot the smoker gets.
My least favorite thing about charcoal grilling or smoking is the cleanup. Luckily, it is super easy to do with this charcoal smoker. Just empty out the tray below the cooking surface and your job are half done!
I love that you can cook so much food with this small smoker. As there are two levels, you still enjoy that compact design while being able to cook different types of food all at once. You will be able to cook a lot of smaller cuts of meat without any issues.
If you are going on a camping trip or want a grill that is easy to carry around, then this smoker fits the bill perfectly. You should be able to handle it by yourself and, as an added bonus, it will fit in nearly any vehicle that you want, even when fully assembled.
I really like the smoking process with this smoker. It disperses the smoke flavor beautifully and the smoke taste is also very clean.
The only issue is that it can be tricky to manage the temperature, especially if you are not used to working with such smokers. You should get the handle on it in a short while though.
If you are looking for a grill that is so small that you can proper it up on a table, then this is a great model for you. It is also a great option if you want a portable grill that can be set up so that it is closer to eye level.
Unfortunately, this also means that you have a much smaller cooking area to work with. This is a grill that is better suited to single people or perhaps a couple.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the smoking experience offered by this grill. It uses wood pellets to infuse smoke into the food and it does a really good job of doing so. It is very close in flavor to a traditional smoker.
The temperature control on this smoker is pretty good. Yes, there are some fluctuations but this is to be expected with all smokers. In general, though, once you set the temperature, it is maintained at this throughout the cook.
I really like the smoking features of this smoker. With a large cooking area and a 10lb smoker, there is no end to the different kinds of cuts that you can smoke. You can easily smoke a brisket out in the wild with this portable pellet smoker. I was also impressed by the level of smoke flavor too.
The only downside is that this is a pretty hefty smoker. It can be folded up but you are likely going to need a couple of people to help you out.
I like that this grill comes with a lot of additional features. This includes meat probes to help you keep track of the internal temperature of the meat. There are various smoke settings to ensure that you can customize the cook specifically to your tastes.
This pellet smoker is surprisingly easy to use. The digital control panel is easy to see in all kinds of light and has settings that allow even beginners to get a quick handle on the grill.
Here are some guidelines for choosing the right smoker for you:
Now, you would imagine that when choosing portable smokers that size would be the first thing to think about. In reality, though, you should consider the fuel source.
If you like a traditional, old school BBQ flavor, then I would suggest going with charcoal smokers. Here, you use a combination of briquettes and wood chunks.
These can seem a bit tricky as they have pretty basic features. Once you figure out how to get this kind of smoker working, though, it will be a breeze.
Then, there is the portable pellet grill and smoker. Pellet smokers use compressed wood pellets to produce a clean smoke flavor.
One of the things that I like about the portable wood pellet grill is that it is quite simple to use. Also, these pellet grills tend to be fairly high tech so there are plenty of additional features to enjoy.
Next up are portable electric smokers. These usually have trays where you add the wood chips, this is what produces the smoke flavor. They do run on electricity, though.
So, if you do want to buy this kind of grill, I will advise you to think about where you are planning on having your cookouts. If you are going to stay close to home or a generator, you are fine. If not, you are going to need to take a power source and power connection with you.
Last but not least, there are propane smokers, also known as gas grills. These aren’t a very popular option for portable smokers or any smokers really.
This is because to get a smoke flavor with this kind of grill, you need to use a smoker box. The problem is that as with most of these portable machines, space is an issue. And, so, you don’t really want to take away precious cooking space with a smoker box.
As you can imagine, size is pretty important here. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that you should go for the smallest or lightest smoker available.
Instead, consider how much smoking you do and how many people you typically smoke for. If it is just you or you and a partner, then you can afford to go with a very light and small option.
On the other hand, if you are cooking for a slightly larger crowd, it is best to get a bigger grill as it means you have more cooking surface area to work with.
It is all about finding the right balance here.
At the same time, consider whether the smoker can be folded or broken down to a more compact size if it needs to be transported. And, if can be broken down, how easy is it to set it up again once you reach your destinations?
Just because you want a portable smoker doesn’t mean that you should ignore quality. A well built smoker can last you for years. So, if you are someone who grills or cooks often, I would suggest looking at the build quality.
Look for an exterior that is made from steel or stainless steel. As for the grates, cast iron is a good choice although stainless steel or porcelain coated steel works just as well.
Of course, you should always check the warranty as well. A company that believes in its products will make it a point to offer you great terms and conditions for your smoker.
Just be mindful of the fact that well constructed smokers can often be a bit heavier. So, you should be ready to take on this disadvantage.
Most portable models are often a combination of grills and smokers. This is why you should always check the minimum temperature of any model you wish to buy. When smoking, you will need to set the machine to temperatures of around 225 F or 250 F.
Due to this, you should look for a minimum temperature of around 180 F. This will be a good option if there are fluctuations within the temperature range and you need to keep the temp as low as possible.
It is difficult to know how good the temperature control of a portable smoker is until you make the purchase. This is why it is important to read reviews of a smoker before purchasing it.
After you buy the smoker, make sure to keep a thermometer inside for the first few cooks to determine if they are any fluctuations or not. If there are fluctuations, the thermometer will help you figure out how big they are and how to adjust the cooking temperature accordingly.
The Weber Portable Grill is certainly the best on this list. It offers a great smoking taste and experience, is durable, has plenty of cooking space, and is a great value overall.
Of course, if you want to find the best fit for you, then it is important to go through the reviews for each of the portable smokers on the list. You can never tell which one might be the perfect option for you!