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Looking for the best vertical smokers on the market? We’re here to help! We’ve grilled, smoked, and roasted our way through an array of models to bring you the top standouts on the market, from high-end to budget picks, and those perfect for beginners. Join us as we delve into the world of these BBQ game-changers.
What is a Vertical Smoker?
A vertical smoker, also known as a cabinet smoker or a bullet smoker, is a type of barbecue smoker designed to cook food using indirect heat. Vertical smokers are typically designed with a heat source at the bottom, food racks in the middle, and a vent at the top.
As the heat rises, it smokes and cooks the food, giving it a distinct, smoky flavor that is characteristic of barbecue. The vertical design allows for efficient heat distribution and consistent cooking, providing a rich flavor to food while using less fuel.
There are four main types of vertical smokers, categorized based on the fuel they use. Each type has distinct features, advantages, and methods of operation.
Wood Pellet Vertical Smokers
Wood pellet vertical smokers utilize wood pellets as the primary fuel source. The wood pellets are fed into a firebox at the bottom of the smoker, which then produces the heat and smoke necessary for cooking.
Charcoal Vertical Smokers
Charcoal smokers use charcoal as the heat source, which can be a little more challenging to manage compared to wood pellets or gas. However, the effort can be well worth it, as many barbecue enthusiasts swear by the unique taste that charcoal-smoked food offers.
Propane Vertical Smokers
Vertical propane smokers, also known as gas smokers, are popular for their ease of use and temperature control. With a simple twist of a knob, you can set the desired temperature and maintain it throughout the smoking process.
Electric Vertical Smokers
Electric vertical smokers are the epitome of convenience in the smoking world. They use electricity as their primary heat source, making them incredibly easy to use.
While they may not give as deep a smoke flavor as other types of smokers, they will often have wood chip trays so that you can still get that wood-fired flavor we all know and love.
Our Picks: The Best Vertical Smokers
- Best Pellet Smoker: Pit Boss® 5-Series Vertical Pellet Smoker
- Best Charcoal Smoker: Weber Smokey Mountain
- Best Gas Smoker: Pit Boss 3-Series Vertical Gas Smoker
- Best Electric Smoker: Pit Boss 3-Series Analog Electric Smoker
- Best High-End Smoker: Louisiana Grills Black Label Vertical Smoker
- Best Beginner Smoker: Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24″ Vertical Smoker
Best Wood Pellet Vertical Smoker
Pit Boss® 5-Series Vertical Pellet Smoker
Let’s dive into the world of vertical smokers with our first pick, the Pit Boss® 5-Series Vertical Pellet Smoker! This beast offers a generous 1,513 square-inch cooking area, perfect for feeding the whole gang at your next backyard barbecue. It’s easy to use with its digital PID control board and it can reach temperatures as low as 150°F or as high as 420°F.
This particular smoker actually comes in three sizes so you can pick the best one depending on how many mouths you have to feed!
- The Pit Boss 3-Series Vertical Smoker has a cooking surface area of 720 square inches and is the most cost-effective of the three.
- The Pit Boss 5-Series is the one we’re talking about here with 1,513 square inches of cooking space.
- The 7-Series Vertical Pellet Smoker is the biggest of the three, with a whopping 1,815 square inches of cooking space across 6 adjustable cooking racks.
Our time with the Pit Boss® 5-Series Vertical Pellet Smoker was a delight. We were particularly impressed by its capacity and versatility. Whether we were smoking a brisket, roasting veggies, or baking a pizza, this smoker delivered delicious results.
Compared to other smokers we’ve tried, the Pit Boss 5-Series stands out for its large hopper capacity. While other models might require you to refill the pellets more often, the Pit Boss 5-Series lets you set it and forget it.
Plus, this smoker is like a Swiss Army knife for outdoor cooking, thanks to its 5-in-1 cooking technology. It can handle just about any task you throw at it, being able to smoke, roast, bake, braise, and barbeque all on one single machine!
What We Liked
- The 60-pound hopper capacity can keep smoke going for up to 35 hours, perfect for that slow-cooked, smoky flavor
- Large viewing window lets you keep an eye on your food without letting heat escape
- Porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grids are durable and easy to clean
- Wood pellets give your food that authentic, wood-fired flavor
What We Didn’t Like
- It’s a large piece of equipment. Make sure you have enough space for it.
- It might take a bit of time to master the digital PID control board, but once you do, you’ll have precise control over your cooking conditions.
In summary, the Pit Boss® 5-Series Pellet Smoker is a versatile and high-capacity smoker that’s perfect for large gatherings or serious smokers. The convenience of the digital PID control board and the flavor of 100% hardwood pellets make it a top contender.
Best Charcoal Vertical Smoker
Weber Smokey Mountain
The Weber Smokey Mountain, also known as the “Bullet” for its unique shape, is a charcoal-fueled vertical smoker and barbecue legend. This vertical smoker has a porcelain-enameled lid, bowl, and center section that are designed to retain heat without rusting or peeling. This unit will be looking and performing at its best for years to come.
We fell in love with the Weber Smokey Mountain the moment we fired it up. The built-in temperature gauge gave us confidence that our food was being cooked just right and the rich, smoky flavor from the charcoal was simply unbeatable.
Compared to other charcoal-fueled smokers, the Weber Smokey Mountain stands out for its build quality, heat retention, and small footprint. While some other models struggle with temperature control, the Smokey Mountain’s adjustable dampers and temperature grommet offer superior control.
What We Liked
- Built-in temperature gauge lets you keep a close eye on the internal temperature of your smoker
- The large aluminum fuel door makes it simple to add charcoal whenever you need
- The water pan maintains a steady smoking temperature and adds humidity for juicy, flavorful results
What We Didn’t Like
- The fuel door can be a little tricky to reattach once it’s been removed, but with practice, it becomes easier.
- Keeping your temperature steady throughout a long cook can require some effort
All in all, the Weber Smokey Mountain is a top-notch charcoal smoker. Its durability, temperature control, and ample cooking space make it a fantastic investment for any serious barbecue fan. If you’re looking for a smoker that delivers excellent performance and mouth-watering flavor, the Smokey Mountain is a stellar choice.
Best Gas Vertical Smoker
Pit Boss 3-Series Vertical Gas Smoker
The Pit Boss 3-Series Vertical Gas Smoker brings competition-level quality to your backyard. It has 720 square inches of cooking space spread over 4 racks and can comfortably reach temperatures up to 320°F.
We loved the dual burner system on this unit. One stainless steel burner is dedicated to wood chips and another is for controlling the cabinet temperature. Both can be easily managed with a single control knob, giving you a wide temperature range.
And let’s not forget the viewing window! Everyone loves to be able to see their food smoking away without having to open the door.
This smoker is ideal for anyone who loves the convenience of propane and wants competition-quality smoked food at home.
What We Liked
- Piezo ignition for quick and easy lighting
- Large glass viewing window lets you check on food without losing heat
- Cleanup is a breeze with easy wood chip and ash removal, and a front-access grease drawer
What We Didn’t Like
- The temperature can fluctuate a bit during longer cooks, but with a bit of attention, it can be easily managed.
- Some users might find the assembly a bit challenging, but the instructions are clear and once it’s set up, it’s worth the effort.
All in all, the Pit Boss Gas Smoker is a winner in our books. It offers great value for its price, especially considering its impressive features and the delicious food it produces. Plus, it comes with a best-in-class 5-year warranty, so you can rest easy knowing your investment is well protected.
Best Electric Vertical Smoker
Pit Boss® 3-Series Analog Electric Smoker
Say hello to the Pit Boss® 3-Series Electric Smoker, the best electric vertical smoker on our list. Offering 748 square inches of cooking space across 4 porcelain-coated steel cooking racks, this smoker can comfortably handle a couple of racks of perfectly cooked 321 ribs or even a whole turkey.
We were pleasantly surprised with the Pit Boss® Electric Smoker. The consistent temperature control made smoking a breeze, and the classic Pit Boss viewing window is always a nice touch.
In comparison to other electric smokers, the Pit Boss® Electric Smoker stands out for its consistent heat control and stylish design. It’s a great combination of functionality and aesthetics.
This smoker is perfect for backyard chefs who prefer the ease and convenience of electric smoking without compromising on capacity or quality. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner, you’ll find this smoker user-friendly and capable of delivering delicious results.
What We Liked
- It’s a single-element electric smoker that provides steady and even heat
- The double-walled cabinet helps retain heat and keeps the temperature consistent
- Oversized front-load wood chip tray delivers that delicious wood-fired flavor
- Large viewing window lets you keep an eye on your delicious smoked meals without having to open the door and disturb the heat and smoke levels.
- It’s available in stylish colors to match your backyard aesthetic.
What We Didn’t Like
- The analog control might not be as precise as the digital controls found in some other models.
- The temperature range is great for most uses, but it might limit some high-temperature cooking options.
In conclusion, the Pit Boss® Electric Smoker offers excellent value for its price. Its consistent performance and stylish design make it a fantastic choice for anyone looking to step up their smoking game. With this smoker, you can confidently host your next backyard party, knowing your smoked dishes will be a hit.
Best High-End Vertical Smoker
Louisiana Grills Black Label Vertical Smoker
Meet the Louisiana Grills Black Label Wood Pellet Vertical Smoker, the best high-end vertical smoker on our list. This luxury smoker is a part of the Black Label Series, a full redesign of the original Louisiana Grills® Line, and it screams upscale design and premium technology at every corner.
The Louisiana Grills Black Label Smoker truly lives up to its title of luxury outdoor cooking. The digital control board and the Smoke iT™ app made it extremely convenient to adjust and monitor the temperature. We loved the generous cooking space, and the adjustable racks provided flexibility for different types of food.
Compared to other high-end smokers, the Louisiana Grills Smoker stands out with its advanced technology, generous cooking space, and ease of use. Its unique features, such as the Smoke iT™ app and the two fully-programmable meat probes, truly set it apart.
This smoker is perfect for serious grill enthusiasts who are willing to invest in a high-end product that offers advanced features, convenience, and generous cooking space. It’s well-suited for those who regularly host large cookouts or those who simply want the best of the best when it comes to smoking.
What We Liked
- The Smoke iT™ app allows you to control all aspects of the smoker from your phone.
- The smoker has been designed to achieve hotter grill temperatures at faster speeds than ever before, thanks to maximized airflow.
- Four easy-to-maneuver wheels make it simple to move around your cooking area.
- The generous 1,077 square inches of total cooking area across four adjustable cooking racks
- Comes with two fully-programmable meat probes
What We Didn’t Like
- As a high-end smoker, it comes with a higher price tag compared to some other models.
- The advanced features may take some time to get used to, especially for beginners.
Overall, the Louisiana Grills Black Label Smoker is a fantastic high-end vertical smoker that offers excellent value for its price. Its advanced features, generous cooking space, and luxury design make it a top choice for any serious grill enthusiast. This smoker is a worthy investment that will elevate your outdoor cooking game to a whole new level.
Best Beginner Vertical Smoker
Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24″ Vertical Smoker
Introducing the Camp Chef Smoke Vault Vertical Smoker, the perfect choice for those new to the art of smoking. This propane-powered smoker is available in two sizes, 18″ and 24″, and comes packed with features that make it easy for beginners to get started.
The Camp Chef Smoke Vault was a joy to try out. It was easy to set up and operate, and the included recipes and cooking tips were particularly appreciated. The adjustable heat-control dials and damper valves made it easy to maintain the perfect temperature, and the large cooking space was perfect for cooking large cuts of meat.
This smoker is perfect for individuals who are just starting out on their smoking journey. Its easy-to-use features and included cooking tips make it an excellent choice for beginners.
What We Liked
- Heavy-gauge steel wood chip tray and water pan infuse your food with a delicious smoky flavor.
- Adjustable heat-control dials and damper valves allow for easy temperature control
- The door thermometer helps you monitor internal temperatures
- It comes with cooking tips, ideas, and recipes to help you get started as a master outdoor chef.
What We Didn’t Like
- As a propane-powered smoker, you’ll need to ensure you always have a propane supply handy.
- Some users have reported that the thermometer may not be entirely accurate, so you might want to consider an additional meat probe for precise temperature readings.
Overall, the Camp Chef Smoke Vault is a fantastic option for beginners looking to dip their toes into the world of smoking. It offers great value for its price, with its easy-to-use features, generous cooking space, and helpful recipes. This smoker proves that you don’t need to be a pro to create delicious, smoked meals.
Our Results for The Best Vertical Smokers
- Best Vertical Pellet Smoker: Pit Boss® Pellet Smoker
“generous 1,513 square-inch cooking area, perfect for feeding the whole gang”
- Best Vertical Charcoal Smoker: Weber Smokey Mountain
“stands out for its build quality, heat retention, and small footprint”
- Best Vertical Gas Smoker: Pit Boss Gas Smoker
“One stainless steel burner is dedicated to wood chips and another is for controlling the cabinet temperature”
- Best Vertical Electric Smoker: Pit Boss Electric Smoker
“convenience of electric smoking without compromising on capacity or quality”
- Best High-End Vertical Smoker: Louisiana Grills Black Label Smoker
“high-end product that offers advanced features, convenience, and generous cooking space”
- Best Beginner Vertical Smoker: Camp Chef Smoke Vault
“packed with features that make it easy for beginners to get started”
What to Consider When Buying Vertical Smokers
When buying a vertical smoker, several factors should be considered, including the material, the capacity based on the size of your typical gatherings, the number of racks, and the power source.
The material used in the construction of vertical smokers plays a significant role in its durability and heat efficiency.
High-quality smokers are typically made from cast iron or rust-proof steel. These materials are not only robust and durable but also excellent at retaining and evenly distributing heat.
A well-constructed smoker will last for many years and provide consistent results, making your barbecue sessions more enjoyable and productive.
The dimensions of the smoker are another crucial consideration. This includes the overall size, portability, cooking capacity, and the number of racks. Vertical smokers vary greatly in cooking surface area, ranging from 500 square inches to over 2000 square inches. The number of cooking racks the smoker has is also something to be considered.
Weight also varies and can affect the portability of the smoker. Some models come with wheels for easier movement. If you plan to regularly move your smoker, consider one that is designed with portability in mind.
The right size for you depends on how much food you typically smoke at once. If you often host large gatherings or smoke large cuts of meat, a larger smoker might be a good choice. Conversely, if you only smoke for a small family or occasionally, a smaller model might suffice.
The power or fuel source is another essential factor when deciding between vertical smokers. The four primary types are electric, propane, charcoal, and wood pellet. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
- Electric Vertical Smokers are incredibly convenient and easy to use, making them an excellent choice for beginners or those who prefer a more hands-off approach.
- Propane Vertical Smokers offer the convenience of easy temperature control while also providing a good smoke flavor.
- Charcoal Vertical Smokers, while requiring more effort in terms of temperature management, are favored for the intense, authentic smoky flavor they can impart.
- Wood Pellet Vertical Smokers, on the other hand, offer a blend of convenience (with automatic feeding systems) and a variety of smoky flavors depending on the type of wood pellets used.
Your choice of fuel source will likely depend on your personal preferences, skill level, and how much time and effort you’re willing to put into the smoking process.
Benefits of Vertical Smokers
Vertical smokers have totally transformed how we cook outdoors. These unique smoking marvels are super efficient and have tons of benefits that make them the ultimate backyard sidekick. Here are a few more reasons to invest in a vertical smoker:
- Efficient Use of Space: Easy to access all racks without needing to move other food out of the way.
- Even Heat Distribution: Heat and smoke to rises naturally to distribute evenly across all the racks, leading to consistent cooking results.
- Large Capacity: Multiple racks stacked vertically offer ample space to smoke various foods simultaneously.
- Ease of Use: Many models come with temperature controls, making it easier for beginners to achieve desired results.
- Versatility: Suitable for various types of food, including meat, fish, vegetables, and cheese.
- Variety of Fuel Options: Available in different types – charcoal, propane, electric, and wood pellet – catering to different user preferences and requirements.
- Cost-Effective: Generally, vertical smokers are more affordable compared to their horizontal counterparts, offering good value for money.
- Moisture Retention: The design of vertical smokers helps to keep the meat moist by allowing the juices to drip down and steam up again.
Vertical Smokers FAQs
Are vertical smokers any good?
Yes, vertical smokers are excellent for their efficient use of space, heat control, and ability to produce flavorful, smoked foods.
Why are vertical smokers better than other smokers?
Vertical smokers are better because they allow heat and smoke to rise naturally, leading to even cooking. They also often have multiple racks, letting you smoke different foods at the same time.
Can I use wood in a vertical smoker?
Yes, you can use wood in a vertical smoker. Wood chips or pellets are commonly used in many models to generate heat and smoke.
What is a horizontal smoker?
A horizontal smoker, also known as an offset smoker, has a long, horizontal chamber for food and a smaller, attached firebox for heat. Smoke and heat from the firebox move into the cooking chamber, flavoring the food.