Looking to elevate your outdoor cooking game? Look no further than the best portable smokers on the market. These versatile and compact cooking companions allow you to add that irresistible smoky flavor to your favorite dishes, whether you’re camping, tailgating, or hosting a backyard barbecue. With their innovative features and sturdy construction, portable smokers ensure consistent heat distribution and easy temperature control, delivering perfectly cooked meats, fish, and vegetables every time.
From pellet smokers to charcoal options, there’s a portable smoker to suit every grilling enthusiast’s needs. In this article, we’ll explore the top contenders in the market, providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision and take your outdoor cooking to the next level.
What is Portable Smokers?
Portable smokers are compact, lightweight versions of traditional outdoor smoker grills. They allow you to enjoy the same smoky flavor and results with much less effort, making them ideal for tailgating or camping trips. Portable smokers offer a range of features from adjustable smoking time and temperature control to digital readouts and removable wood chip trays. With these devices at your disposal, you can craft mouth-watering dishes with ease.
Benefits of Using a Portable Smoker
- Easy to transport and set up
- Can be used anywhere without a power source
- Offer adjustable smoking time and temperature control
- Digital readouts for precise cooking results
- Removable wood chip trays for quick cleaning
- Designed to maintain consistent heat across the entire cooking surface
Top 10 Best Portable Smokers for Outdoor Cooking in 2023
1. Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
The Traeger Tailgater 20 is a portable wood pellet grill smoker, with 300 square inches of cooking space, making it a perfect fit for tailgating or camping trips. It is made of powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated cooking grates, making it durable and easy to clean.
The grill has collapsible legs, making it easy to store and transport. It also has a temperature control that maintains the temperature range between 180 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
The grill’s hopper space of 8lbs burns at about 1lb per hour, offering up to 8 hours of smoking, providing ample time to smoke your favorite meats.
One of the main features of the Traeger Tailgater 20 is its portability, making it easy to take on the go. It is also great at grilling and smoking, making it a versatile grill. The only downside is that it does not have WiFi technology capabilities.
- Powder-coated steel construction
- Porcelain-coated cooking grates
- Collapsible legs for easy storage and transport
- Temperature control from 180 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
- 8lbs hopper holds enough pellets for up to 8 hours of smoking
- Portable and easy to set up
- Durable and long lasting
- Perfect for small gatherings and tailgating
- Easy to clean 5.Versatile- can be used as a grill or a smoker
- No WiFi technology capabilities
- Can be a bit expensive
2. Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker
The Weber Smokey Mountain charcoal smoker is the perfect fit for those low and slow smoking needs. This smoker features a durable and reliable porcelain-enameled steel construction, two nickel-plated 18-1/2-Inch-wide cooking grates, a removable door and individual vents on bowl and lid for precise temperature control.
The Smokey Mountain Cooker has three sizes available: 14″, 18″, or 22″ so you can choose which size best fits your smoking needs. With a weight of 39.1 pounds, it’s great for easily moving from patio to porch or even around the backyard.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a highly-regarded and widely-used backyard/camping smoker. It is a lightweight, compact, and easy-to-assemble charcoal smoker with a stylish design.
In use, the Weber Smokey Mountain generates heat and smoke using charcoal and wood, while the water bowl stabilizes temperature and adds humidity. Its distinctive flavor is authentic and available in three sizes.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a user-friendly and versatile smoker, offering features such as heat-resistant handles, an adjustable vent, and a built-in thermometer.
Although it is more expensive than competing brands, it has limited capacity, requires effort to maintain the charcoal, and does not have built-in WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity.
- Durable and reliable porcelain-enameled steel construction
- Removable door and individual vents on bowl and lid for precise temperature control
- Three sizes available (14”, 18”, 22”)
- Easy to transport and set up
- Heat resistant handles
- Adjustable vent for heat control
- Built-in thermometer for accurate temperature readings
- Easy to assemble and maintain
- Three size options available
- Simple to operate and clean
- Have two cooking grates
- No wheels for transport
- No WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity available
After conducting thorough reviews and research, we highly recommend purchasing this exceptional smoker.
One buyer rated as follows: “After extensive research, I opted for the 18-inch WSM, which has proved to be the ideal size for my needs. So far, I have smoked pork, chicken, and ribs (as pictured) with the results being incredibly succulent and full of flavor. I use a combination of charcoal briquettes and lump, with the briquettes impressively lasting for long periods. If you have the budget, I advise investing in the larger version – although I’m extremely pleased with my current choice.” Read detailed review here.
You can read full reviews from buyers at here.
3. PK Grills Portable Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker
The PK Grills Portable Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker PK PK200-SFL is a popular choice for serious charcoal grill enthusiasts.
It is made of thick, cast aluminum that will never rust and is built to last . The PKTX model offers a generous cooking space of 305 square inches while still being portable. It has four vents, two on the bottom and two on the top, that allow greater temperature control for low and slow cooking.
The folding cart and rubber wheels make moving the grill easy. The PK200-SFL also functions as a smoker and has a precision air control system that allows for temperature control and the ability to adjust the amount of air that circulates inside the grill body.
However, the grill does not come with a lid thermometer and the hinges for the lid can be a bit difficult to manage.
Overall, the PK Grills Portable Charcoal BBQ Grill and Smoker PK PK200-SFL is a high-quality and durable option for outdoor cooking and smoking enthusiasts.
- Made of thick, cast aluminum that won’t rust
- Generous 305 square inches of cooking space
- Folding and rubber wheels for easy mobility
- Precision air control system for temperature control and air circulation
- Durable and long lasting construction
- Easy to move around with folding cart and rubber wheels
- Temperature control and air circulation capabilities
- Easy to clean 5.Versatile- can be used as a grill or a smoker
- No lid thermometer included
- Difficult to manage hinges for the lid.
4. Traeger Grills Ranger Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
The Traeger Ranger is a portable pellet grill that is great for smoking, baking, grilling, and roasting food. It is a compact tabletop-style grill that uses wood pellets as fuel and has a cooking timer, Keep Warm setting, and precise temperature controls.
The grill comes with a cast iron griddle that is perfect for cooking breakfast and a meat probe that tells you when your food is cooked to your desired temperature.
While the Ranger lacks the mobile app offered by its pricier sibling, the Ironwood 650, it offers a programmable timer, alerts when food has reached the desired internal temperature, and the above-mentioned Keep Warm mode.
The grill is small enough to fit on a picnic table or tailgate but is 60lbs. It lacks the smarts of its bigger siblings, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios.
The Traeger Ranger is strong and durable and can withstand the rougher life of being a portable grill. Reviewers have smoked everything from ribs, pork butts, turkeys, ducks, and more with this little hero .
- Portable tabletop-style pellet smoker
- Uses wood pellets as fuel
- Programmable timer, alerts when food reaches desired internal temperature
- Keep Warm mode
- Digital Arc Controller and Advanced Grilling Logic for precise temperature performance
- Strong and Durable design that can withstand rougher life of being a portable grill
- Easy to clean, porcelain-coated grill grates and separate cast iron griddle included
- Meat probe included
- Not as feature packed as other models in Traeger’s lineup, including not having Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radios.
- Heavy at 60lbs.
5. Pit Barrel Cooker Junior – 14 Inch Drum Smoker
The Pit Barrel Jr. is a scaled-down version of the Pit Barrel Cooker, with a reduced diameter of 14”.
Despite its smaller size, the Pit Barrel Jr. still produces smoke with a deep flavor and is easy to use. It has adjustable vents, a medium-sized barrel capacity, and is sturdy and durable.
However, the distance between the hanging rods can make it difficult to fit in a larger cut of meat, such as a pork butt.
Additionally, the testers found that the temperature exceeded 325 degrees Fahrenheit instead of a steady 270 degrees, which could affect cooking times and results.
Overall, the Pit Barrel Jr. is an affordable high-quality smoker that is versatile and suitable for smoking, grilling, and hanging food.
While it may not be suitable for large gatherings or direct grilling at high temperatures, it is an excellent option for smoking small to medium-sized meats.
As the #1 Best Selling Drum Cooker on the market, it is a great choice for those looking to elevate their outdoor cooking game.
- 14” diameter barrel
- Adjustable stainless steel vents
- Sturdy and durable construction
- Medium-sized barrel capacity
- Affordable and high quality
- Versatile and suitable for smoking, grilling, and hanging food
- Easy to use and produces smoke with deep flavor.
- Smaller size makes it difficult to fit in larger cuts of meat, such as pork butts.
6. Ninja OG701 Woodfire Outdoor Grill & Smoker
The Ninja OG701 Woodfire Outdoor Grill & Smoker is a versatile and durable outdoor cooking appliance that offers both woodfire grilling and smoking capabilities. It features a large cooking area that can accommodate plenty of food, an adjustable charcoal tray for precise heat control, and a built-in thermometer for accurate temperature monitoring.
One of the key benefits of this grill is the ability to infuse your food with a delicious smoky flavor that is hard to replicate with other cooking methods. It is also well-built and designed to withstand the elements, making it a great choice for outdoor gatherings and events.
However, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider. The grill can take longer to heat up than other types of grills. Additionally, some users have reported issues with the ash pan design and the grill grates being difficult to clean.
Overall, the Ninja OG701 Woodfire Outdoor Grill & Smoker is a solid choice for anyone who wants to add some woodfire flavor to their outdoor cooking. It may not be the most portable or easy-to-clean option, but its durability and versatility make it a great investment for serious grillers and outdoor cooking enthusiasts.
- Heavy-duty construction
- Large cooking area
- Dual-functionality (grill and smoker)
- Adjustable charcoal bed for temperature control
- Ash dump for easy cleaning
- Temperature gauge for accurate cooking
- Durable and long-lasting
- Easy to use
- Provides excellent cooking results
- Versatile cooking options
- Adjustable temperature control for precise cooking
- May take some time to achieve the desired temperature
7. Z GRILLS Portable Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker for Outdoor BBQ
With its lightweight, portable design and 8-in-1 grilling capabilities, you can easily transport, set up, clean and cook your favorite meal in one sitting.
The grill uses advanced digital temperature control technology to evenly heat across the entire cooking surface with temperatures ranging from 180°F to 450°F – so you get consistent results each time.
You’ll love the delicious smoky flavor of wood pellets while grilling, smoking, baking, roasting, searing, braising, barbecuing or char-grilling.
The grill measures just 25”x 20”x 13” and weighs 52.2 pounds making it easy to store when not in use. The products come with a 3-year quality assurance guarantee from a grill manufacturer with over 30 years experience.
- Portable for easy transport & storage
- Digital temperature control technology
- 8-in-1 grilling capabilities (grill, smoke, bake, roast, sear, braise, barbecue and char-grill)
- Wood pellet fuel is natural and adds great smoky flavor to food.
- Lightweight and portable design
- Versatile 8-in-1 cooking capabilities
- Easy to control temperature for consistent results
- Comes with a 3-year quality assurance guarantee
- Requires wood pellet fuel, which may not be easily accessible in some areas
- May take longer to heat up compared to other grills
8. Davy Crockett Pellet Grill
The Davy Crockett Portable Pellet Grill is a great option for those who want a compact and portable pellet grill. It’s perfect for camping, tailgating, or backyard barbecues. The Davy Crockett Portable Pellet Grill also features a digital temperature controller and a built-in meat probe.
- 219 square inch cooking area
- Digital WiFi controller
- Portable folding legs
- 15 pound pellet hopper
- Integrated meat thermometer probe
- Precise temperature control via app
- Compact and lightweight
- Good pellet hopper capacity
- Foldable legs for easy transport
- Versatile cooking options
- Small cooking surface area
- Possible electrical issues
- Can be tricky to clean
- App connectivity issues reported
The Davy Crockett Pellet Grill combines precise temperature control, compact size, and portability in one package. With WiFi monitoring and folding legs, it’s an ideal portable pellet smoker for camping and tailgating where space is limited. Just be prepared for a small cook surface and potential electrical gremlins.
9. Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker
The Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker is a classic charcoal smoker that’s perfect for beginners. It’s affordable and easy to use. The Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker also features a durable porcelain-coated steel cooking grate and a built-in thermometer.
- 365 square inch cooking grate
- Porcelain-coated steel construction
- Built-in temperature gauge
- Adjustable dampers
- Front access door
- Very affordable price point
- Compact and lightweight
- Maintains consistent temperatures
- Large cooking area for size
- Easy temperature monitoring
- Prone to rust over time
- Lid can warp from heat
- Limited temperature control
- Difficult to add charcoal during smoking
As a budget-friendly charcoal smoker, the Char-Broil Bullet excels at delivering classic smokey flavors without costing a fortune. While it lacks some bells and whistles, its simple design makes it perfect for smoking enthusiasts who want an inexpensive, portable smoker. Just keep an eye on potential rusting and warping over time
10. Broil King Kamado Grill
The Broil King Kamado Grill is a high-end portable smoker that’s perfect for serious smokers. It features a ceramic shell that helps to retain heat and moisture, resulting in delicious and juicy food. The Broil King Kamado Grill also features a variety of accessories, such as a cast iron grate and a heat deflector.
- 188 square inch cast iron cooking grate
- Premium ceramic shell
- Built-in thermometer
- Sliding top damper
- Removable ash pan
- Locking wheeled cart
- Superb heat retention and control
- Distributes heat evenly
- Fuel efficient
- Versatile cooking options
- High quality construction
- Heavy and bulky for portability
- Ceramic shell is prone to cracking
- High initial cost
- Learning curve to master temperature control
With its thick ceramic shell that locks in heat and moisture, the Broil King Kamado Grill consistently delivers exceptionally juicy and flavorful smoked foods. It provides precise temperature control and versatility once mastered. Just be prepared for the heavy weight and high cost if seeking maximum portability and value.
Editer Choice and Recommend
After examining a variety of portable smokers, our top pick is the Traeger Tailgater Portable Pellet Grill. It’s versatile, compact, and easy to use, making it perfect for both beginners and experienced smokers. Plus, its digital temperature control allows for precise cooking every time.
We also highly recommend the Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker for those who prefer a more traditional smoking experience. Its durable construction and large cooking surface make it a great choice for backyard BBQs and camping trips.
For those interested in a high-end option, the Broil King Kamado Grill is an impressive and versatile portable smoker with excellent heat retention and control. However, its heavy weight and high cost may not make it the most practical choice for all situations. Whichever portable smoker you choose, you can enjoy delicious and perfectly smoked food no matter where your adventures take you.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Portable Smoker:
- Portability and weight: Look for a grill that is lightweight and compact enough to fit in tight spaces.
- Temperature range: Make sure you choose a smoker with the right heat range to accommodate different types of recipes.
- Fuel type: Different smokers offer different fuel sources, such as gas, charcoal, and wood pellets. Choose the one that best meets your needs.
- Construction material: Choose a smoker that is made with high-quality materials such as stainless steel for maximum durability.
- Accessories: Look for a smoker that comes with accessories such as a thermometer, probe, or warming rack to help you get the best possible cooking results.
- Price: Consider your budget when selecting your ideal smoker. Quality smokers are available at all price points.
- Cooking area: Ensure that the smoker has enough grilling surface to accommodate your desired number of guests.
- Ease of use: Look for a smoker that is easy to operate and understand, with simple controls and intuitive assembly instructions.
- Temperature range and control: Look for a smoker with adjustable temperature controls to ensure you can cook at the right heat range.
- Durability and construction materials used: Look for a smoker that is constructed with high-quality materials such as stainless steel or cast iron to ensure maximum durability.
- Easy cleanup: Look for a smoker that comes with features such as an ash pan and removable grates, which make it easier to clean up after your meal.
- Extra features & accessories (e.g., wheels, covers, etc.): Look for additional features such as wheels and covers that make the smoker easier to transport and store.
- Brand reputation and customer reviews: Read up on customer reviews to ensure you buy a smoker that is backed by an established brand and has satisfied customers.
- Warranty: Look for a smoker with a strong warranty policy, which can provide added assurance in case of any product issues.
Tips for Using a Portable Smoker Effectively:
1. Preheat your smoker for at least 15 minutes before cooking to ensure the heat is evenly distributed throughout the grill.
2. When using wood pellets, choose a dryer and cleaner variety that will burn hotter and produce less smoke.
3. Monitor the temperature closely during cooking using an accurate thermometer to ensure food is cooked through safely without overcooking or burning.
4. Use lump charcoal to maintain consistent temperatures for longer cooking times.
5. Avoid opening the smoker lid too often, as this can cause a sudden drop in temperature and result in uneven cooking.
6. Always keep your smoker clean and well-maintained to ensure optimal performance and safety.
7. To keep food warm after cooking, wrap it in foil or place it on a warmer rack.
8. Experiment with different types of fuel to find the flavor you like best.
9. Use smoking chips and wood chunks for added smoke flavor when grilling or barbecuing.
10. Use caution when handling hot charcoal, grates and other parts of the smoker.
11. Always use your smoker outdoors in well-ventilated areas.
12. Follow instructions provided by the manufacturer when using and cleaning your portable smoker.
Portable Smoker Maintenance and Care Tips:
1. Clean your smoker after each use to ensure optimal performance and safety.
2. Ensure all parts are properly assembled and secured before using the smoker.
3. Store your smoker in a dry place when not in use, as moisture can cause damage or rusting to some parts of the grill.
4. Check for any tears, rips or cracks in the smoker and replace any damaged parts as soon as possible.
5. Use a brush to clean the insides of the smoker, removing grease, ash and other debris that can accumulate over time.
6. Clean the grates regularly with warm soapy water after each use to prevent sticking.
7. Keep the lid tightly secured when cooking and only open it when necessary.
8. Regularly check for any loose connections or parts that may need to be tightened or replaced.
9. Use a cover for your grill to protect it from the elements when not in use.
10. Always use protective gloves and eye-wear when handling charcoal or hot metal parts of the smoker.
11. Regularly check the temperature settings to ensure accuracy when cooking.
12. Use high-quality wood pellets for best results and optimal flavor.
13. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of any accidents or fires while using the smoker.
How does a portable smoker work?
A portable smoker is a compact cooking device that uses smoke and heat to cook food. Heat is generated from a fuel source such as charcoal, gas or wood pellets, and the smoke infuses flavor into the food. The heat range can be adjusted for different types of recipes, and the smoker also often comes with accessories such as a thermometer, probe or warming rack to help you get the best possible cooking results.
What are the advantages of using a portable smoker?
A portable smoker is an easy and convenient way to enjoy outdoor cooking without having to use a full-sized smoker or grill. They can be used in small spaces, such as balconies or patios, and they often come with useful features such as wheels, covers and adjustable temperature controls. Portable smokers also tend to be more affordable than traditional smokers or grills, making them a great option for budget-conscious cooks.
Does a smoker need to be air tight?
No, smokers do not need to be air tight. In fact, it is important that they have some ventilation in order to control the temperature and smoke level.
How often should I clean my smoker?
It is recommended that you clean your smoker after every use in order to prevent any buildup of grease or debris. Additionally, a deep clean should be done at least once a month to ensure maximum performance and safety.
What type of fuel should I use in my smoker?
It depends on the type of smoker you are using, but some common fuels for smoking are charcoal, wood pellets, and propane gas. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which fuel source works best for your needs.
Is it easy to use a smoker?
Yes, with the right setup, smokers are relatively easy to use. Most come with detailed instructions on how to assemble and operate them correctly. Additionally, some models may include helpful accessories such as thermometers or warming racks to make the process even easier.
What temperature should I set my smoker to?
The ideal temperature for smoking depends on what you’re cooking. Generally, lower temperatures (200 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit) are used for long-cooking foods such as ribs or brisket, while hotter temperatures (up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit) are used for quick-cooking items like burgers and steaks.
Do I need to use a cover for my smoker?
Yes, it is recommended that you use a cover for your smoker when not in use to protect it from the elements. This can help extend the life of your smoker and ensure optimal performance. Additionally, some covers may include additional features such as pockets or straps that make it easier to transport your smoker.
How many guests can my portable smoker serve?
The number of guests you can serve with a portable smoker depends on the size of the smoker. Generally, most models can accommodate up to 8 people at once; however, larger smokers may be able to feed up to 10 or more people.
Can I use a portable smoker indoors?
No, it is not recommended that you use your smoker indoors as this can lead to smoke and carbon monoxide poisoning. Additionally, using a smoker indoors can be a fire hazard and is not safe.
Can I use my smoker to cook pizza?
Yes, some models of portable smokers have the ability to cook pizzas as well as other items such as fish or vegetables. To do this, you will need to purchase a pizza stone for your smoker, which will help ensure the pizza is cooked evenly with a crisp crust.
Can I use my smoker to smoke cheese?
Yes, many models of portable smokers come with the ability to cold-smoke food items such as cheese. Cold smoking is done at temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and takes several hours in order to achieve the desired flavor and texture. This method of smoking requires patience but can yield delicious results.
Taking your love of food outdoors doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor—with the right portable smoker, you can bring the heat wherever you go. Our roundup of the best portable smokers for outdoor cooking is a great place to start if you’re planning to take your grilled meals on the road. From pellets and propane to charcoal and gas, each option has its own unique strengths that make it perfect for specific occasions. With proper maintenance and patience, your portable smoker will provide years of smoky, delicious barbecues out in nature—bringing friends and families together over good meaty times!
And by knowing exactly what’s in your food, grilling and smoking with a portable device ensures that no unhealthy preservatives show up in your meal. No matter which type you choose, you can guarantee that a lot of savory memories are going to be made. So thanks for reading our post on top 7 portable smokers–happy (and delicious) barbecuing!
Randolph Castillo is the owner of a restaurant barbecue and pub. He also has his own cooking blog, where he specializes in baked goods. Randolph is an experienced chef and loves to review different grills and kitchen tools. He is always looking for ways to improve his cooking skills.