Best Smokers of 2024 to Slow-Cook Butts, Brisket, and Ribs


The best gas grillsportable grills, and charcoal grills are all about efficiency. But the best smokers and pellet grills eschew ease. Purists prefer to cook low and slow over indirect heat with plenty of smoke to make mastery of ribs, pulled pork, and brisket.

Regional barbecue hotspots like Texas, Kansas City, and the Carolinas, all boast their own flavor profiles, but tender meat with a greater complexity of flavor is always consistent with smoking. Don’t think you’ve got to stick to tougher cuts; you can smoke the best cuts of steak, like filet mignon, to render the already velvety cut a juicier, smokier finish.

Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran pitmaster, there’s a wide array of the best smokers to pick from—classic hardwood charcoal smokers, lower-maintenance wood pellet smokers, easy-to-use electric smokers, and even natural gas smokers. 

Unlike traditional smokers that require constant monitoring, some new models have connected features that allow you to control the internal temperature via an app on your smartphone while also monitoring meat thermometers.

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Our pick for the best smoker overall is Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker. It’s a classic drum-style smoker with welcome features like a heavy gauge steel construction, unique air management system, and a sealed lid—plus it’s a bargain.

Read more of the greatest hits from our 2024 Grilling Awards, including the best griddles, best pizza ovens, and best grill tools—plus pro tips on how to clean a grill, how to grill a steak, and where to find the best mail-order steaks.

Related: Best Cheap Whiskey of 2024 for a Great Bottle on a Budget

Best Smoker Overall: Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker The simple and sturdy Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco is our pick for the best smoker overall.

Adam Bible

I began my smoking career on a Weber Smokey Mountain, which I put through the paces over a decade of testing various techniques and trying to unwind the mysteries of low-and-slow cooking. It worked well but was lacking in a few areas—the walls are thin gauge steel that don’t hold heat well, the vents at the bottom are flimsy aluminum that often bend and get stuck, and there are no gaskets to help hold heat and smoke in. The built-in thermometer is also at the top of the lid, which is the farthest point away from the heat source and grilling grate. 

Then I tested out the Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco. It solved all of the shortcomings of the Weber and at cheaper price—it’s now my go-to smoker for small jobs is the best overall smoker for every causal pitmaster.

Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Overall Impressions

The first thing you notice about most of the Oklahoma Joe’s products is the quality and sturdiness. They are simple, strong, and solid, and the Bronco is no exception. It’s made of heavy gauge steel that inspires confidence and lets you know that this grill is going to be around for a long time. The thick steel construction—all the way down to the massive wagon wheels—denotes a well-built product, and more importantly, it helps hold heat in and to prevent any wild temperature fluctuations. 

The other thing you catch on to is the attention to detail. The thick handle on the lid is made with a soft-touch rubber that feels great in the hand, and the thermometer is placed in the middle, under the grill grate so it offers a more accurate interpretation of the current environment close to the meat you’re trying to smoke. Another welcome addition is the thick heat-resistant gasket that rims the bottom of the lid, which again helps regulate heat and smoke and stave off any swings in temp. 

Properly loading up the Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco with charcoal and wood will provide hours of smoke and heat.

Adam Bible

And when you fire it up to get cooking, you’ll notice that the firebox system at the bottom of the smoker is made up of four separate pieces to maximize heat and smoke—a porcelain-coated ash pan and pan support, along with a charcoal grate and a charcoal basket. These are all centered on a vent that goes from the bottom of the smoker and curves up to right beside the right of the lid, allowing for easy and accurate smoke and heat control without having to bend down and fiddle with imprecise vents at the bottom. 

The smoke stack near the rear of the top of the lid helps draw smoke up and across your meat and also has a spring-assisted cap—like the bottom vent—that is easily adjustable with the flick of a finger and stays in place. Both vent caps have numbers and hash marks on them to help dial in the right about of opening you need for your smoking session. And the final bit of kit that helps make the Bronco an excellent smoker for the everyday user is the heat deflector, which sits above the fire to radiate heat and protect the burning charcoal from grease raining down from above.

Final Verdict

In my many months of use with the Bronco, it’s been a solid performer, helping me make delicious meat candy out of many pounds of pork, beef, and poultry. It’s easy to get going and dialed into your desired temperature, and then—if you’ve properly set up the firebox to hold enough wood chunk coals for your cook, (more on this in a bit)—it will stick to that temp for hours with nary an vent cap flick or adjustment on your part. On my last smoke with a small pork butt, the only time I had to adjust the vents drastically was after the sun went down and the ambient temperature dropped 15 degrees. 

And that brings me to my only complaint with the Bronco—you can’t easily add new charcoal or wood chunks to the firebox as it’s nestled deep in the bottom of the drum and there’s no access door. So, if you haven’t put enough charcoal in the basket and skimped out on wood chunks (though you only really need enough smoke to bathe the meat for two or three hours, anymore is overkill and can make your meat taste acrid) it’s a bit of a rigamarole to restock. 

The air management system on the Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco is clever and easy to use to smoke meats to perfection.

Adam Bible

You have to open the lid, remove the grate, put the meat some place safe—or put your dogs inside—then pull out the deflector plate to get access to the charcoal basket. You can then pull it out with the provided tool to add more charcoal, or, which was my move before I learned how to set up the firebox properly, have a chimney starter of lit charcoal ready to go and pour into the basket while at the bottom of the smoker. Not ideal, but it works. It’s really the only ding on the Bronco and I’d like to see them add an access door, if they could properly seal it to prevent heat and smoke leaks. If you need to do a long smoke, like for a brisket, you will most likely have to add more charcoal near the end of the smoke, but that can always be done during the inevitable stall.

Besides that one annoyance, the Bronco Drum Smoker from Oklahoma Joe’s is my pick for the best-priced, most feature-filled, and accessible charcoal smoker on the market. It takes a bit to dial in your technique—which is generally true for almost any grill or smoker—but once you figure out the way to keep the fire going, it’s a sweet and smoky set up.

Key Features and Tech

The main reason the Bronco is our pick for best overall smoker is that it brings unique and thoughtful ideas to the typical drum smoke design. For just under $400 you get heavy-duty construction with thick steel throughout, a great air management system, and gasketed lid. The soft-touch handle and proper thermometer placement are two other features that make the Bronco a joy to use. For those that are into smoking ribs or larger birds, there is also a stainless steel hanging system that uses rods and hooks which can be used after removing the top grilling grate. A sturdy handle on one side and a wire mesh shelf on the other side round up the features of the Bronco.

Related: The 12 Best Watches Under $500 of 2024


  • Well-thought-out details
  • Affordable
  • Quality materials
  • Easy to fine-tune heat and smoke


  • Hard to add additional coals and wood chunks
  • Heavy and can be hard to maneuver 

How I Tested Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco The Oklahoma Joe’s heat deflector plate under the grill grate helps keep meat juices from hitting the fire.

Adam Bible

I put the Bronco Drum Smoker though its paces over a few months in my backyard, throwing all sorts of meat at it. I smoked three pork butts, each with a different rub, and fed neighbors and family for months. Two briskets were smoked, the first with not-quite tender results as I got impatient and pulled it before the recommended 203 degree temperature. The second was bona-fide meat candy. One rack of ribs ran through the Bronco, hung up on the hooks, along with a few whole chickens and a few dozen eggs. Kingsford charcoal was used mostly as fuel and wood chucks of vary species—hickory, mesquite, pecan—were added to get the smoke pumping.—Adam Bible

  • Cooking area: 284 square inches
  • Size: 25.4 x 43.3 x 30.3 inches
  • Fuel: Charcoal
  • Warranty: 2 years
$337 at amazon

Best Pellet Smoker: Camp Chef XXL Pro Vertical Smoker Camp Chef XXL Pro Vertical Smoker is the best pellet smoker.

Courtesy Image

If you’re new to smoking meats, your research will soon lead you to the realization that most think that vertical smokers are the best way to get into smoking. The Camp Chef XXL Pro combines the ease of a pellet grill with the benefit of a vertical smoke vault, all in one powerful piece of gear. With over 1,800 square inches of rack area—including three meat racks, three jerky racks, and a sausage rack featuring 12 hooks—this beast is designed to cook it all. The large-capacity pellet hopper (30 pounds) will keep the smoker running uninterrupted for low-and-slow smokes that allow you to control the temperature range from 150 to 350 degrees. Access the controls via the controller pad or login to the Camp Chef Connect app. And to give it that extra flavor, the smoke box allows you to add hardwood chunks, chips, charcoal, or additional pellets to smolder and infuse additional flavor.

  • Cooking area: 1,806 square inches
  • Size: 49 x 51 x 21 inches
  • Fuel: Wood pellets, wood
  • Warranty: 3 years on body/hopper body/lid/legs/bottom shelf/ grates, 1 year all other parts
$900 at Camp Chef

Best Electric Smoker: Bradley Smoker Professional P10 Bradley Smoker Professional P10 Electric Smoker is the best electric smoker.

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Electric smokers are the easy-to-use option, whether you’re a veteran smoker or new to the scene. Bradley Smoker Professional P10 sports a four-rack design that lets you load it up. Then, just plug it in and go to get your smoke on—there’s no babysitting once you start it. For smoke the unit uses their own “bisquette” wood pucks that can provide smoke for up to 10 hours. The brand’s bisquettes are made with 100-percent natural ingredients and come in 16 flavors for dialing in your desired smoke output. Dual temperature probes allow you to measure the internal temperature of your meats to ensure a perfectly prepared feast. A professional-grade stainless steel case gives this a beautiful look, no matter where you place it, cementing its spot as the best electric smoker.

  • Cooking area: 806 square inches
  • Size: 17 × 22.25 × 28.5 inches
  • Fuel: Wood pucks, electricity
  • Warranty: 1 year limited
$799 at walmart

Best Offset Smoker: Yoder Loaded Wichita Yoder Loaded Wichita Smoker

Adam Bible

For smoking purists, this is a slightly smaller version of the traditional barrel smokers often seen at some of the best barbecue joints from Texas to North Carolina and everywhere in between. With handcrafted and hand-welded construction of 1/4-inch steel, the Yoder Loaded Wichita, is a monster of a smoker compared to most home units. We spent a few weekends running this beast and it was rock solid, turning out well-smoked briskets and pork butts along with the occasional sausage appetizer on the side.

Set up is fairly simple, especially for home pitmasters who already know their way around a smoker. Load charcoal (lit with fire starter or pre-lit in a chimney starter) in the side firebox, either on the included grate or in the optional charcoal basket. Then add the wood of your choice to get the smoke rolling once the coals are red hot and ready. If using the charcoal basket, you can add chunks instead and rely on the charcoal for continued heat. Two built-in thermometers, one near the firebox and the other at the far end by the smoke stack, allow you to fine tune the internal temperature by adjusting the vents on the stack and at the end of the firebox.

The Loaded Wichita is built for efficient fuel burning, even temperatures, and durability. The main chamber has 752 square inches of cooking surface, which is ample room for meat and sides, and the slide-out, 35.5 x 14.5-inch upper shelf is easy to install if you need extra space. The offset firebox can also be used as a stand-alone charcoal grill if needed as can the main cooking area if you add in the optional large cooking grate.

  • Cooking area: 1,610 square inches
  • Size: 77.9 x 58.2 x 34.5 inches
  • Fuel: Charcoal, wood
  • Warranty: Lifetime
From $3,059 at a yoder dealer

Best Smoker for Beginners: Cuisinart 16-Inch Vertical Charcoal..

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