The best smokers: getting that authentic smoky taste has never been easier

Hot-smoked salmon and trout, piquant ribs and pork shoulder – make all your cured and slow-cooked favourites at home with the best smokers

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If you're thinking of buying a fabulous new barbecue, but are one of those people who simply can’t pass up a delicate sliver of gravlax, or a plate of devilishly sticky American-style ribs, why not make like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jimmy Doherty and legions of other artisanal food fanatics and give home smoking a go? It’s easier than you might think with the right kit, and we’ve rounded up the best smokers to make it even easier. 

The most important distinction to make is that all of our chosen models are hot smokers, which cook food low and slow for melt-in-the-mouth tenderness, although you’ll occasionally find a model, like the Bradley 6 Rack Digital Smoker, that’s compatible with a cold-smoker attachment.

The all-round best, according to smoking aficionados, is the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. Testers found that it was efficient, stable, and easy to use, making it ideal for both beginners and serious hobbyists, but if you’ve got your eye on something a little different, keep reading below. 

The best smoker

1. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Quick and stable heating, weatherproof provision: this smoker-cooker has it all

Specifications
Best for: All-rounder
Fuel: Charcoal
Material: Glass, porcelain, silicone, aluminium
Weight: 11kg
Reasons to buy
+ Holds temperature well + Multiple air vents 

Weber’s the big name in barbecuing, so it’s no surprise that they’ve successfully turned their hand to barbecue smokers too. The appropriately named Smokey Mountain Cooker is, as you’d reasonably expect, on the pricier end of things. However, reviewers, award-winning competitive smokers among them, agree it’s the best of the best, loving its ample water pan and saying it’s quick to heat and holds an even temperature, the ideal combination for successfully slow-cooking tough cuts of meat. Multiple vents are a nice touch too, letting you compensate for the inevitable high winds of the British 'summer'. 

Bradley 6 Rack Digital Smoker

2. Bradley 6 Rack Digital Smoker

For reliable results, this digital smoker is streets ahead

Specifications
Best for: Serious smokers
Fuel: Electric
Material: Steel, aluminium
Weight: 30kg
Reasons to buy
+ Easy to read and set + Huge capacity 

If you’re looking for a smoker that you can leave to its own devices while you kick back with a cold one, the Bradley Digital 6-Rack Smoker might be it. Ideal for big gatherings and batch cooking, it has six generous racks equating to the capacity for around 50 pounds of meat or fish, and reviewers found it superbly simple to set up and use. The clear digital display gives you control over the process, including the exact cabinet temperature, leaving things less to chance than with a more traditional smoker, and the automatic briquette delivery system means nothing will burn out, overheat, or otherwise affect those lovely cuts.

Char-Broil The Big Easy

3. Char-Broil The Big Easy

Smoke, grill and roast in this easy-to-use multi-tasker

Specifications
Best for: Versatility
Fuel: Gas
Material: Metal, porcelain
Weight: 22.7kg
Reasons to buy
+ Grill, roast and smoke + Included rib hooks 

It’s big, it’s easy, and like its NOLA namesake, it does a mean barbecue. If you can’t justify a standalone smoker, or just want a cooker that really earns its keep, this one’s a great option, because it grills and roasts too. Use it for steaks and burgers by flipping up the lid to get to the easy-clean porcelain grill, chuck a chook in the roaster for a mouth-watering twist on a Sunday classic, or pop some chips in the easy-access front-loading smoker and call on the included rib hooks to cook up the juiciest rack ever. Great for alfresco dinners, barbecues and all sorts of experimentation, this is our most versatile smoker. 

Landmann Tennessee Charcoal 200 Smoker

4. Landmann Tennessee Charcoal 200 Smoker

This traditional-style smoker looks fantastic and makes a great slow-cooker too

Specifications
Best for: Design
Fuel: Charcoal
Material: Steel
Weight: 31.76kg
Reasons to buy
+ Amazing traditional design + Use for direct and indirect grilling 

It does look a little like something an old-fashioned chestnut vendor would cart around, but therein lies its charm. This Landmann smoker would surely look very handsome on the patio or decking, but reviewers say it comes into its own when it gets fired up, and keen barbecuers have successfully used it for super slow cooking as well as direct and indirect grilling, making it stiff competition for the Big Easy in terms of usefulness. The Firebox air vent makes adjusting heat easy, and it’s a cinch to set up. Brains and beauty. 

American Smoker Charcoal BBQ

5. American Smoker Charcoal BBQ

A gentle gadget that won’t see your savings go up in smoke

Specifications
Best for: Budget smoker
Fuel: Charcoal
Material: Steel, enamel
Weight: 16.5kg
Reasons to buy
+ Inexpensive alternative to the Landmann + Great for a milder flavour 

If you like the look of Landmann’s traditional-style offset side box smoker above, but can’t find the wiggle room in the barbecue budget, this is a great alternative. While it might not boast some of the finer design details, it still looks great, and reviewers found it did the job when it came to melt-in-the-mouth slow-cooked meat. Some serious smokers commented that hitting the perfect temperature could be a struggle, however if it’s a mild smokey flavour you’re after, they noted that it should be ample. A good budget option. 

Landmann Tennessee Gas Smoker

6. Landmann Tennessee Gas Smoker

With chip drawers and adjustable heights, this is a very versatile smoker

Specifications
Best for: Gas smoker
Fuel: Gas
Material: Steel, chrome
Weight: 20.3kg
Reasons to buy
+ Gas barbecue and smoker in one + Adjustable grill heights and hooks 

Another Landmann option, this time powered by gas rather than charcoal, the Tennessee is a neat and compact smoker cabinet with barbecue capabilities and a charming retro look. The large smoker cabinet leaves lots of room for chunkier cuts, while the adjustable cooking height and additional hooks are there to handle anything you can throw at them including fish and vegetables, giving you the option to cook a whole meal in a single gadget. Impressive! The separate wood chip and water drawers and ventilation discs for variable air flow make setting up simple, so a good one for beginners. 

Keep enjoying your garden, whatever the weather