Best smoker 2024: cooking low-and-slow with the best pellet, charcoal, gas and electric smokers

Treat your palette and start smoking food outdoors with the best smokers and charcoal barbecues available today

Best barbecues
(Image credit: Traeger)

If you want to start smoking food outside, then look no further than T3's guide to the best smokers and charcoal barbecues.

Now, before we get into the list, there's a big difference between a smoker and a barbecue. Granted, both cook food infused with smoke created by fats dropping on hot coals or a heat-radiating sheet of metal. But a smoker does it much more efficiently and over a period of five to 12 hours until the meat generates a thick 'bark' or crust and the pink flesh beneath it literally falls off the bone.

But the reason we've put smokers and charcoal barbecues together is that charcoal is typically the most popular way to smoke and cook outside. So, we've compiled a list of our favourite smokers that use gas, wood pellets and electricity, and have included a separate section further down for smokers and barbecues that just use charcoal.

That's enough rambling from us, so keep reading to find the best smokers and charcoal barbecues you can buy today.

In addition to selecting your smoker, we'd also recommend T3's guides to the best barbecues, best portable barbecues, best meat thermometers and best pizza ovens.

WRITTEN BY
Author
WRITTEN BY
Bethan Girdler-Maslen

Beth is Home Editor for T3, covering style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations.

The top three

Best smokers ranking 2024

Why you can trust T3 Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The best smoker overall

Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 burn inT3 Awards 2024 Winner logos

The best charcoal smoker you can buy

(Image credit: Derek Adams)
The best smoker overall

Specifications

Grill size: 560 inches squared
Type: Charcoal

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile charcoal smoking and grilling
+
Computer controlled temperature settings
+
Extremely easy to use
+
Great build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
It’s big and heavy

If charcoal is your favourite smoking fuel then this is the smoker for you. The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 is incredibly easy to use, computer controlled like a pellet grill and it produces brilliant results no matter what you put in it.

The app-enabled Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 uses lump wood charcoal or briquettes, the simple power of gravity, a large fan and computer-controlled heat management to provide consistent low-and-slow smoking with very little input by the user. It can also grill and sear exceptionally well.

The Gravity Series 560 comes with 560 square inches of meal estate comprising a pair of reversible cast iron grill grates, two wire shelves that can be positioned at two different heights and a 10lb charcoal hopper that is refilled from the top without affecting the cook.

Simply load in the charcoal, light it from beneath, set your preferred smoking temperature using the intuitive computer interface and load on your favourite ingredients. This barbie heats up to 221˚F in about seven minutes and will go on smoking till the cows come home – or at least until you run out of charcoal.

In the pantheon on charcoal smokers, the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 is a stalwart smoker that can also grill and sear steaks to succulent splendour. Highly recommended.

Read our full review of the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560

The best premium smoker

Weber SmokeFire EPX 6 reviewT3 Awards 2023 Logo

If money is no object, the best pellet smoker you can buy is the Weber SmokeFire EPX 6 Stealth Edition

(Image credit: Future)
The best premium smoker

Specifications

Grill size: 987 inches squared
Type: Wood pellets

Reasons to buy

+
Absolutely huge cooking capacity
+
Premium build quality and materials
+
Spacious wood pellet hopper
+
Heats up fast (for a wood pellet system)
+
Excellent cooking performance
+
Looks the absolute business

Reasons to avoid

-
It weighs an absolute ton
-
Setup is awkward in places, even with 2 people
-
Incredibly expensive
-
App is good but not best in class

As we detail in our full Weber SmokeFire EPX 6 Stealth Edition review, this is one of the best money-no-object smokers on the market today. It's also absolutely massive, meaning you can cook for an entire army on it all at once.

The SmokeFire EPX 6 is expensive, mind, but for the substantial investment you get premium build quality and craftsmanship, buckets of style, and a system that not only heats up fast but also grills, roasts and smokes food superbly.

It's not without flaws, though. The setup is a tad awkward due to its massive size and weight, and while the Weber Connect app is good, it isn't the best in class.

There are smaller, cheaper smokers on the market, though, so unless you can stretch financially to one of the very best and – more importantly – need the capacity delivered by the SmokeFire EPX 7, we'd advise looking at less beastly models made by Traeger, Broil King and Pit Boss.

The Weber SmokeFire EPX 6 Stealth Edition won the Best Smoker award at the T3 Awards 2022 and again in 2023.

The best all-in-one smoker

Broil King Regal 500 reviewT3 Approved badge

The Broil King Regal 500 is a king of smokers

(Image credit: Broil King)
The best all-in-one smoker

Specifications

Grill size: 865 inches sq
Type: Wood pellets

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Reaches 315˚C for searing
+
Comes with a rotisserie

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive compared to some smokers
-
Very heavy

This no-nonsense do-it-all leviathan is one of the best pellet smokers money can buy – and also one of the most expensive. But you do get an awful lot of great features for your hard-earned.

Firstly, the broil King Regal 500 is built like a locomotive and made almost entirely from 2mm thick 14 gauge steel. And yet despite the weight (135kgs), it was one of the easiest barbecue smokers to build.

The Regal 500 comes with 865 square inches of grilling estate, including the porcelain-coated warming rack. The main 625 square-inch cast iron cooking grate is divided into five separate sections for easy removal when cleaning. Mind, cleaning is something you may not have to do that much because the Regal 500 has a fire pot cleaning agitator that empties the burnt ashes into a container. This is an extremely handy feature because with most other pellet smokers you have to remove the grill plate and baffle and reach for a cordless vac to suck up all the pellet dust. The Regal also ships with a full rotisserie set, including the motor. The large pellet hopper, meanwhile, will accommodate a whole 9kg bag of pellets.

All pellet smokers are equipped with an onboard computer that regulates the temperature so that they retain constant heat throughout the entire grilling process. It’s this electronic wizardly coupled with an electrically-powered pellet auger that makes these types of smokers by far the easiest type to use.

This model’s control panel is one of the biggest on the market and the lettering on the LED display is large enough to check the running temperature from the other side of the patio. The controller also produces consistent temperatures that rarely fluctuate, even during long, methodical smoking sessions of several hours. 

The Regal 500 also has one of the widest temperature bands on the market and is one of only a handful of pellet grills capable of reaching a temperature of 600˚F (315˚C). This makes it an ideal grill for searing steaks, something many pellet grills are incapable of. Like quite a few pellet grills on the market, this model can also be used with an app so it can be controlled remotely.

If you’re hunting for a pellet smoker that performs admirably well whether it’s low-and-slow-smoking or fast-and-loose grilling, this model ticks all the right boxes and then some.

Get more information about this top smoker in T3's Broil King Regal 500 review

The best budget smoker

Pit Boss FB 500 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

A great budget option with unique searing system

(Image credit: Pit Boss)

4. Pit Boss FB 500

The best budget smoker

Specifications

Grill size: 16 x 23 inches
Type: Wood pellets

Reasons to buy

+
Great price
+
Unique searing system
+
Good brand

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic controls
-
Not as stylish as a Traeger

The Pit Boss FB 500 is simplicity personified. Aside from a few digital menus, its interface is mostly comprised of a single knob with temperatures that go up in increments of 25˚F (4˚C) – simply turn the knob to the illustrated number and that’s it. The FB 500 has smallish  2.5kg pellet hopper and comes packaged with two ports for the included meat probes.

Pit Boss has nailed steak-searing with an excellent deflector design that is unbelievably simple in structure. Like most pellet grills it has a full-width heat deflector shield mounted at an angle for the excess fats to run safely into a bucket on the side and this system is proven to work very efficiently. Nevertheless, this isn’t just any old deflector plate because it can be slid across to expose the open fire beneath.

Needless to say this model produces amazing steaks and tear-apart brisket replete with deep pink smoke rings. It will also produce some of the best ribs you’ve ever tasted and the most succulent roast chicken that even your indoor oven may have trouble beating. And yet it will also perform mundane tasks like grilling chicken legs, burgers and sausages.

If you just want a great value pellet smoker-cum-grill that’s cheap to buy and grills and smokes impeccably well, go grab yourself one of these.

The best gas smoker

Char-Broil The Big Easy smoker on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

Char-Broil's unique gas smoker cuts the mustard

5. Char-Broil The Big Easy

The best gas-powered smoker

Specifications

Grill size: 15 inches
Type: Gas

Reasons to buy

+
Cavernous interior
+
Simple to use
+
Effective gas smoker

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs gas supply

This R2-D2-shaped gas smoker is available in the UK and USA and comes with a removable basket large enough for a big bird, a leg of lamb or a brisket, four rib hooks to hang on the basket, a smoker box for the obligatory handful of wood chips, an easy-clean drip tray and a removable porcelain-coated cooking grate for conventional grilling.

The Big Easy runs off propane gas and uses Char-Broil’s famed TRU-Infrared tech to evenly roast, smoke or grill whatever you throw in it. Despite its weight and height, its footprint is actually small enough for a balcony or small yard. 

A top gas-powered smoker-cum-grill for fuss-free al fresco feasting, although grilling purists may bristle at the minimum temperature of 250ºF.

To see how this smoker compares to a large wood pellet-powered version be sure to check out T3's Traeger Ironwood 650 vs Char-Broil The Big Easy comparison feature.

The best wood pellet smoker

Traeger Ironwood 650 reviewT3 Approved badge

A superb grill, BBQ and smoker, the Traeger Ironwood 650 does it all

(Image credit: Future)
The best wood pellet smoker for smoking, grilling and roasting

Specifications

Grill size: 650 inches sq
Type: Wood pellets

Reasons to buy

+
Superb results
+
Wi-fi enabled
+
Top features
+
Brilliant app

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest smoker on the market
-
Setup requires two people ideally

Traeger is arguably the most popular pellet grill manufacturer which isn’t surprising given that its founder Joe Traeger is credited with having invented the pellet grill system we know and love today. We’ve already reviewed the Traeger Pro 575 and the amazing Traeger Ranger portable so here’s the next level.

The Ironwood 650 differs in a number of ways to the cheaper Pro 575 we review below. Its grill grate is bigger for a start and it has a rear exhaust instead of a chimney. It also comes with double insulated sidewalls which help it hold its pre-set temperatures more consistently in cold weather. 

Heading over to the heart of the system – the D2 computer interface that keeps everything ticking over – you’ll find two extra buttons. The ’Super Smoke’ button functions at lower temperatures and produces oodles of extra smoke to help infuse meats with that delicious woody flavour that pellet barbecues are so good for, while the dedicated Keep Warm function is handy for those occasions when someone turns up late or you simply fancy a second helping of smoked ribs that haven’t already gone cold and congealed. Aside from an interior light and a handy place to store the provided meat sensor, the hopper is also equipped with a sensor that lets you know when it’s due for a top up.

Traeger’s WireFi system works a treat with the Traeger app and if you don’t know about this app then you should immediately download it even if you don’t own a Traeger because it contains some of the best grilling and smoking recipes on the planet.

As is the case with all Traeger pellet grills, build quality is excellent while the lockable casters and big soft rubber wheels make it easy to move around. Oh, and final high praise for the assembly process which was an absolute breeze even if it did take two to lift the main carcass onto its legs. 

If you’re after an exceptional smoker that also grills, bakes, sears and roasts then this one’s a shoo-in. Just be sure to buy a cover for it, especially if you plan to leave it outside.

Check out T3's Weber Smokefire EX4 vs Traeger Ironwood 650 comparison feature.

The best electric smoker

Masterbuilt MES 130 smoker on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

Smoking with the power of electricity

7. Masterbuilt MES 130

The best electric smoker

Specifications

Grill size: 730 inches sq
Type: Electric

Reasons to buy

+
Uses electricity for endless smoking
+
Huge cooking area
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets very greasy
-
Looks only a mother could love

Yes, it's against the LAWS of The Barbecue to grill electric but there are very good reasons to try an e-smoker. Despite the fact this looks like the ugly lovechild of a safe and a drinks cooler, the Masterbuilt is another hugely popular smoker Stateside. At 20 inches square, it has a relatively small footprint so you could easily use it on a balcony, neighbours permitting. It’s also cheap to buy.

Because it's an electric smoker, you’re going to need a secure outdoor power outlet or a high-quality extension lead. The Masterbuilt MES 130 comes with four chrome-plated smoke racks with a combined surface area of 730 square inches – enough smoking space to feed the neighbourhood.

Given that it’s electric – it uses an 800-watt heating element – this thing will go on smoking till the next blue moon and remain at a constant preset temperature throughout the process. It’s certainly a doddle to use: slap some seasoned meat on one or all of the cooking grates, fill the wood chip tube with your favourite chips, top up the small water reservoir and set the temperature on the digital interface – or the supplied remote controller – to your preferred temperature. Now go watch a Netflix series for about eight hours while the Masterbuilt does its low and slow cooking thang.

This very reasonably-priced smoker has garnered a very decent rating from Walmart buyers so it appears that the majority of users are very contented with their purchase. The others are presumably still stuffing their faces with smoked brisket.

The best portable smoker

Traeger RangerT3 Approved badge

Need to smoke on the go? You need the Traeger Ranger

(Image credit: Traeger)
The best portable pellet grill and smoker

Specifications

Grill size: 184 inches sq
Type: Wood pellets

Reasons to buy

+
Perfect for balconies, verandahs and patios
+
Ideal for RVs, tailgating and camp sites
+
Excellent performer

Reasons to avoid

-
Too heavy to carry long distances

This is far and away our favourite small smoker-cum-barbecue. The wood pellet-powered Ranger is extraordinarily heavy so don’t contemplate carrying it too far unless you have an extra pair of hands to hand. However, it is the perfect sized smoker, griller and slow cooker for balcony, verandah and patio use, and a great option for caravan, RV and campsite use. Just be sure there’s a suitable 120/240v electricity supply to hand or buy yourself an Anker Solix C1000 power station which will stand you in good stead both at the campsite and at home during a power cut.

The Ranger’s interior is divided into two sections: an 8lb pellet hopper on the left and a 184 square inch porcelain grill on the right, with a short auger to deliver the pellets in between. It’s all controlled by a Digital Arc controller that allows you to set the cooking temperature in five degree increments. Also featured is a handy timer, a ‘keep warm’ function that works brilliantly well and a single port for the supplied meat probe. It also comes with a heavy duty flat cast iron griddle plate for whipping up camp-side breakfasts.

If you’re a family of four, the new Traeger Ranger might just be the only barbecue you’ll ever need.

Now read our full Traeger Ranger review

The best smoker for build quality

Weber SmokeFire EX4 smoker on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

Weber's SmokeFire EX4 delivers the goods

(Image credit: Weber)
A top pellet-powered smoker-cum-grill from the house of Weber

Specifications

Grill size: 24 x 18 inches
Type: Wood pellets

Reasons to buy

+
Superb build quality
+
It sears as well as smokes
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires a cover
-
App needs improving

The smaller Weber SmokeFire EX4 can properly smoke as well as sear and grill. As with any pellet grill, this model uses a computer processor – and an app – to monitor the speed of the electrically-powered auger that continually delivers pellets from the huge rear-mounted hopper to the fire pot. This means that when you set the temperature for a slow cook to 120˚C, it’ll stay at that temperature for a full seven to 12 hour duration – just like your indoor oven.

For smoking and slow roasting of large cuts of meat like brisket, Weber suggests placing an aluminium tray of water on the main grill and the meat above it on the warming rack. Insert the provide met probe, select ‘brisket’ on the Bluetooth-enabled app, set the temperature to about 120˚C (248˚F) and tap ‘start cooking’. Leave the cut on the grill for up to 12 hours, checking the hopper contents from time to time and generally nurturing the meat until it’s fully cooked. The finished cut should literally fall off the bone and, when sliced, display the classic pink smoke ring just below the deep and delicious outer crust or ‘bark’.

Of course, the Weber Smokefire EX4 isn’t cheap but then grilling, smoking and searing doesn’t come much easier.

Read our full Weber SmokeFire EX4 review and to see how this pellet smoker squares up against a quality rival, then check out T3's Weber Smokefire EX4 vs Pit Boss Classic comparison feature.

The best mid-priced smoker

Traeger Pro 575 smoker on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

A sterling mid-priced smoker from the house of Traeger

(Image credit: Traeger)

10. Traeger Pro 575

Excellent mid-priced American pellet smoker from a trusted brand

Specifications

Grill size: 575 inches sq
Type: Wood pellets

Reasons to buy

+
Does what it says on the box
+
Superb app
+
Good build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Pushing a grand to buy

This pellet model doesn’t sear as well as the Broil King Regal 500 or Weber SmokeFire but it’s just as good at smoking. The 575 Pro looks more rustic than the Weber and its build quality isn’t quite up to the same level of craftsmanship. But in its favour, the Traeger app is better than Weber or Broil King’s even though it uses clumsy wi-fi instead of Bluetooth.

We’ve tried a number of ingredients on the Traeger and it’s performed very well every time, partly because it holds its preset temperatures so accurately and partly because we used a variety of Traeger’s brilliant spice rubs that give any ingredient instant zing.

For smokers and grillers who like their barbecues to look like old fashioned steam engines, this is a prime choice that isn’t too expensive given all the tech on board.

Best charcoal barbecues ranking 2024

The best charcoal BBQ

Weber Master Touch Premium E-5775 barbecue shown with lid open and closed on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

The Weber Master Touch Premium E-5775 is a durable and easy to use BBQ with lots of cooking space.

(Image credit: Weber)
The best charcoal barbecue overall

Specifications

Total cooking area: 2342cm²
Dimensions: 141 x 65 x 76 cm
Type: Charcoal
Weight: 27.33kgs

Reasons to buy

+
Great 3-in-1 cooking performance
+
Reliable and durable build
+
Looks class and has a top-rate finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Everyone's got one
-
Quite pricey

If you have a habit of carbonising every barbecued meal you get your hands on, it’s time to get rid of the lidless brazier you’ve been using and embrace the simply technology of convection-based kettle cooking. 

The classic Weber Master Touch Premium E-5775 is very easy to use. Simply load one or both crescent-shaped charcoal baskets and place them on either side of the bowl. Leave the lid off – there’s a catch-stand at the rear – light the charcoal and retreat for about 25 minutes. Now drop your food onto the steel grate – which has enough space for about six placements – put the lid on and go chat to your guests.

This system only requires occasional intervention, whether it’s turning food or adjusting the air intake on the aluminium ash catcher (which also includes a  ‘smoke’ setting). If you follow the rule ‘if you’re lookin’, it ain’t cookin’, the food should come off the grill perfectly cooked with chicken skin just the right side of crispy.

This model is also designed to accept Weber’s Gourmet BBQ System of optional inserts, making it very much a true 3-in-1 system, capable of roasting, smoking and searing foods. Simply remove the grate’s centre section and drop in the sear grate, pizza stone, Dutch oven or poultry roaster.

Weber BBQs are renowned for their durability, and you can safely expect this one to last many, many winters. That said, a cover is always advisable to keep out the elements. 

For even more information on this top-rated 3-in-1 BBQ, take a look at our full  Weber Master Touch Premium E-5775 review.

The best pro charcoal BBQ

Big Green Egg Large on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

The pro chef's smoker of choice

(Image credit: Big Green Egg)

2. Big Green Egg Large

The best charcoal barbecue for professionals

Specifications

Grill size: 18 inches
Type: Charcoal

Reasons to buy

+
High quality ceramic materials
+
The pro chef's favourite
+
A true all rounder

Reasons to avoid

-
Weighs a ton
-
Delicate materials
-
Very expensive

This is the smoking model of choice for professional chefs the world over. In fact, the only reason it isn’t much higher up this list is because it’s expensive with a capital E and made from fragile ceramic that likely won’t survive an accident while assembling it. The addition of optional stands, side tables etc, takes the price to even more eye-watering levels. But put this gorgeous Japanese kamado-style barbie on your patio and your guests will certainly take notice. They’ll also expect the best al fresco banquet they’ve ever experienced. No pressure, then.

Top chefs – and most TV celebrity cooks – love ceramic barbecues like this because they’re able to reach a phenomenal 750˚F (399˚C) and the amazing insulation properties of ceramic means the charcoal will stay hot for up to ten hours. And that makes them perfect for smoking and slow roasting.

The Big Green Egg Large comes with an 18-inch grate but there are another four sizes available, from MiniMax to the huge 2XL, which sports a massive 29-inch grate. Available in any colour, as long as it’s green.

The best premium charcoal BBQ

Weber Kamado Summit charcoal BBQ shown with lid open on a white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Weber)

3. Weber Summit Kamado E6

The best premium charcoal BBQ

Specifications

Grill size: 61cm
Dimensions: 114 x 88.3 x 90.9cm
Type: Charcoal
Weight: 66.2kgs

Reasons to buy

+
Top choice for charcoal smoking and grilling
+
Solid build
+
Double insulation and innovative vent system
+
Weber Gourmet system

Reasons to avoid

-
Very large
-
Not cheap

This model may look like a classic Weber charcoal BBQ but on the inside it’s a different kettle of brisket. Kamado barbecues have been all the rage since Big Green Egg came onto the scene with its extraordinarily expensive range of ceramic models and, sure enough, other manufacturers like Kamado Joe, Char-Broil and now Weber have jumped on board with their own takes on the popular Japanese grilling and smoking method.

Charcoal-based Kamados (or more accurately Mushikamados) are excellent for slow-and-low smoking, roasting and both indirect and hard-and-fast grilling, so they’re ostensibly a three-in-one outdoor cooking solution. This wide-bodied model comes with dual-walled ‘air’ insulation and an oven-style gasket in the stainless steel lid to prevent heat escaping around the edges. This means it’s good for really long smoking sessions of up to five hours and possibly more. Mind, I would always suggest using prime charcoal or, for even longer cooking times, Australian Heat Beads or Weber’s own briquettes.

The Weber Summit Kamado's stainless steel Gourmet grill grate measures a substantial 61cm in diameter – in the pantheon of barbecues, that’s pretty humongous. Just below it is a removable aluminium heat deflector for indirect cooking and smoking but you can easily remove it for standard grilling as you would do on a Weber Master-Touch.

The Summit also comes with a charcoal grate that can be positioned at two heights, a huge spring in the lid that makes it really easy to open and close, Weber’s tried-and-trusted ash catcher, a lid-mounted thermometer and a damper on top which can be opened fully to allow quick through ventilation for grilling. As we’ve come to expect from Weber, build quality is exceptional so it should last many years, even without a cover.

I tested it with a rack of ribs and the Summit held its temperature for over four hours using only a small handful of Heat Beads. Even more impressively, it then went on to successfully grill half a dozen hamburgers on the same coals after I opened all the vents to increase the temperature.

The best budget charcoal BBQ

Landmann Kentucky Smoker on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

A classic no-frills offset smoker from Landmann

(Image credit: Landmann)

4. Landmann Kentucky Smoker

The best budget charcoal barbecue and smoker

Specifications

Grill size: 26 x 14 inches
Type: Charcoal

Reasons to buy

+
A good old fashioned smoker
+
Great price
+
Charcoal powered

Reasons to avoid

-
Steep a learning curve

If you’re on a tight budget, this model is well worth a punt. The keenly-priced Landmann Kentucky is comprised of two compartments: on the right a small charcoal chamber and, on the left, a large 26” x 14” grill on which to place the meat. It’s a clever, tried-and-trusted system but it does come with a steep learning curve. 

To use, load the right-hand chamber with charcoal and throw on a handful of wood chips or a pile of damp oak sawdust. Now wait until the charcoal turns grey, lift the lid of the main compartment on the left and put on a large brisket, seasoned leg of lamb, rack of ribs, a whole salmon or bird of your choice. 

Smoke and heat is drawn in from the smaller chamber and all cooking is performed indirectly with the lid permanently closed, so there are absolutely no flare ups. Just remember to place a tray of water beneath to keep the meat moist throughout the cooking process. It goes without saying that you can also use the main grill on the left as a traditional barbecue – just load the bottom chamber with charcoal and grill away with the lid on or off.

When it comes to smoking and slow roasting, it’s worth noting that it can take between four and 12 hours for the process to complete so make sure the meat is on the grill at least four hours before your guests arrive or they’ll be so hungry they might resort to eating the tablecloth.

The best basic charcoal BBQ

Weber Smokey Mountain smoker on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

Just want a basic charcoal smoker? Then the Weber Smokey Mountain is a great choice

5. Weber Smokey Mountain

The best basic charcoal barbecue

Specifications

Grill size: 14, 18, 22 inches
Type: Charcoal

Reasons to buy

+
Small footprint
+
Stays hot for up to seven hours
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Not that pretty to look at
-
Still over half a grand to buy

Available with a 14-, 18- or 22-inch cooking grate, the Weber Smokey Mountain is one of the most popular smokers on the US market. It’s comprised of four main parts: a lid, a cooking grate section, a charcoal and wood-chips bowl and a decent sized porcelain enamelled water pan to help keep the meat moist throughout the long cooking process. It also features a lid-mounted thermometer and side portal with rubber grommet to accept a meat probe.

You can expect to get about seven hours of low and slow smoking at the optimum 225ºF (107ºC) when using water and up to 11 hours without. For best results, consider using Weber’s own long-burn briquettes. 

This smoker has received a raft of positive reviews from US users who mostly recommend the cheaper, 14-inch model as the best size for most family gatherings – it’s more than capable of providing enough smokey nosh for a party of six to ten.

If you’re after a reliable smoker from arguably the world’s most reputable barbecue brand, then this is one to stick in the yard.

The best large charcoal BBQ

Broil King Regal 400 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

The Regal 400 is one of the most robust BBQs on the market

(Image credit: Broil King)

6. Broil King Regal Smoke 400 Charcoal Grill

Best large charcoal BBQ for build quality and heat retention

Specifications

Grill size: 60 x 40cm
Dimensions: 134 x 81 x 65cm
Type: Charcoal
Weight: 68kgs

Reasons to buy

+
Superior materials
+
Excellent performance
+
Large grilling surface
+
Cast-iron grates
+
Sealed lid
+
Great price

Reasons to avoid

-
Extremely heavy
-
Some fiddly assembly required

For the price – a smidge under £400 – this heavy-weight charcoal model is one of the most robust and remarkably well engineered models on the page. Like Broil King’s Regal 500 pellet grill we review below, the similarly-named Regal 400 shares the same design and high-end materials – namely a 2mm/14-gauge steel carcass with weighty insulated lid, rock-solid adjustable legs, chunky wheels and four high-end reversible cast-iron grill grates that amount to 500 square inches of meal estate – enough space, in other words, for a party of six to eight.

This model comes with a vented chimney and a vented side hatch to help with temperature control. The inclusion of an oven gasket around the weighty lid is a welcome addition because it means the temperature inside the grill isn’t as badly affected by outdoor temperature and that means you can use this grill more effectively than most during the winter months.

I love the cast iron grill grates on this model because you can reverse them from pointed side up to pointed side down. In the latter configuration, the V-shaped grates provide a channel for hot, smokey fats to gather so they can bring more flavour to the meat. Being of the charcoal variety, this model is also top notch at high-heat searing as well as smoking at lower temperatures.

The Regal Smoke was generally really easy to assemble though I did have trouble assembling the latch on the side hatch. That minor quibble apart, this is a sterling option that grills like a beast and looks like it will last for decades, especially if kept under one of Broil King’s BBQ covers – surely the toughest and longest lasting covers on the market. Highly recommended.

The best hybrid charcoal BBQ

Char-Broil Gas2Coal 210 Hybrid BBQ reviewT3 Approved badge

A hybrid BBQ that can use charcoal or gas

(Image credit: Char-Broil)
The best charcoal and gas BBQ hybrid

Specifications

Grill size: 47.8 x 44.5cm
Dimensions: 116.8 x 114 x 62.9cm
Type: Charcoal and gas hybrid
Weight: 36.4kg

Reasons to buy

+
Hybrid grilling
+
Good design
+
Cooks food quickly

Reasons to avoid

-
Coal tray can be tricky to clean

Now for something a little different. The Char-Broil Gas2Coal is a hybrid BBQ, which means you can choose to cook on gas for convenience and speed or on coals for taste and the authentic barbecue experience. It gets even better than that, because you can use the gas to light the coals, meaning there are no awkward moments where you fail to light a fire and have to resort to the oven.

This makes it one of the most versatile barbecues around, offering the perfect mix between gas and charcoal. The cooking capacity is great, and I like that I have the option to customise it with optional accessories. The only disappointment is that the coal tray can be difficult to clean, but really, what BBQ is easy to clean?

The Char-Broil Gas2Coal comes in three sizes, with two, three of four burners. After using this model, we’re certain that it's the future of BBQ, as it's just so adaptable.

Read our Char-Broil Gas2Coal 210 Hybrid BBQ review to find out what it's like to use in the real world.

How to choose the best smoker for you

Broil King Regal 500

(Image credit: Broil King)

A smoker is a type of barbecue that is designed for ‘slow & low’ cooking of meats and fish using wood chips or pellets to infuse ingredients with an aromatic smokey flavour. Smokers are especially well suited to cooking tougher cuts of meat like ribs and brisket over a period of four to seven hours at temperatures as low as 107˚C (225˚F). When done, the meat should literally fall off the bone or tear apart like a piece of pulled pork. That said, smokers are equally brilliant at slow cooking more delicate meats like lam