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Smoker Grill: 5 Expert-Backed Options, with Pros & Cons

By James King

January 5, 2024

If you’re looking to explore the world of backyard barbecuing… You’ll quickly realize there’s a lot more to it than just steaks and burgers.

When you see the enormity of that culinary potential opened up to you… The last thing you want to do is limit yourself.

You want to experience it all.

With that in mind… The equipment you choose for the task should be capable of anything you throw at it.

And ultimately, that’s why you’re looking for a smoker grill.

jet tila grilling at smoker grill station

You don’t want something that can only grill… Or only smoke. You need both.

In this article, we’ll be diving into exactly what a smoker grill should be, the options available, and some of the best options on the market.

Let’s fire up the grill.

Quicklinks:

What is a Smoker Grill?

red kamado joe ceramic smoker with meat cooking

Before we dive into the meat of this article… Let’s get crystal clear on what a smoker grill actually is.

To assist us with nailing down the definition… We asked this question to our resident BBQ expert, Ethan Fullenkamp.

Unsurprisingly, a smoker grill is an appliance that should be equally proficient at smoking and grilling.

“A smoker grill is going to be versatile, it’s going to be convenient, and I would even say cost effective, because you’re getting a two-in-one combo. They won’t do either thing fantastically, but you will be able to have good products come off that grill in a convenient manner”, Ethan explains.

You won’t be able to achieve show-stopping, competition-grade results on either end of the spectrum… But a smoker grill will still allow you to achieve a delicious product, especially for a beginner to intermediate barbecuer.

Plus, a smoker grill makes it easier to get some smoking and grilling skills under your belt.

“It’s a good way to have the convenience of grilling and smoking without the headache, the long hours, work of tending a fire, etc.”, Ethan continues.

While most gas grills are relatively simple to use… Smoking on an offset smoker proves to be exceptionally difficult for a beginner. You have to learn how to manage the firebox, the fire, the smoke… It’s a lot to keep track of.

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A smoker grill can offer you some “training wheels” to make the experience of smoking just a bit more foolproof… Which will encourage you to go deeper as you’re getting started.

And that’s not the only reason why Ethan recommends a smoker grill for beginners. You can save yourself a lot of money by buying a single appliance, rather than a dedicated smoker and grill.

Most beginners don’t want to buy two appliances “because the cost adds up when you’re trying to get into it. So the value might not be there since you’re a beginner and don’t know what you’re getting into”, Ethan says.

Aside from getting you into the hobby at a reasonable price… If you decide it’s not for you, you don’t lose out on much.

If you do end up loving to smoke and grill… You can always upgrade to a dedicated appliance later.

Got it?

Let’s move on over to different types of smoker grills.

4 Smoker Types to Satisfy Your BBQ Cravings

Now that you’ve decided you want a smoker grill… The next question you’ll want to answer is:

“What kind should I buy?”

Great question. Let’s take a look.

Pellet Smoker Grill

pellet grill rta outdoor kitchen

Pellet grills are currently dominating the outdoor cooking industry.

As Ethan says, “They’ve really just taken over the market.”

It’s easy to see why!

Pellet grills are incredibly convenient to use… And still dish out high quality flavors.

You just add wood pellets to the hopper, set the temperature on the digital control panel… And grill or smoke to your heart’s content.

Plus, most pellet smokers come with meat probes and WiFi capability… To keep track of temperatures remotely.

It’s as “set it and forget it” as you can possibly get in the grilling and smoking world.

Most pellet grills won’t break the bank, either.

Ethan chimes in, “Nowadays, you can spend $300 – $400 and get into the market. When they’re on sale, I’ve seen pellet grills as cheap as $200 – $300.”

With this low barrier to entry… You can always upgrade to a premium option later without feeling like you’ve wasted money initially.

There’s only one caveat, though.

Not all pellet grills reach a high enough temperature to sear optimally. Most big-name pellet smokers will max out at 500°F… (Traeger, Z-Grills, Camp Chef and Pit Boss are good examples.) So you’ll need something hotter if you want to experiment with high temperature sears.

Or alternatively… You might set your eyes on a charcoal grill, instead.

Charcoal Smoker Grill

built in charcoal grill

While the popularity of charcoal grills may have been dethroned in recent years by the formidable pellet smoker… Charcoal grills still hold their own in the BBQ world.

And how could they not?

The image of Weber’s kettle grill is indelibly etched into the American mind… With a man in an apron standing right next to it, spatula and beer in hand.

Despite the stereotype, there’s a valid reason why charcoal grills have such staying power.

They’re simple and effective.

You light up some charcoal briquettes… Get your grill up to the target temperature… And lay down some burgers.

That charcoal flavor is nothing to turn your nose up at… And the simplicity of a charcoal grill allows you to focus on the joy of cooking.

But compared to a pellet grill, you will lose out a bit on the smoking side of things.

This is simply due to the way a charcoal grill is designed. You can certainly smoke in them… But they’re not typically made with this purpose in mind.

As Ethan put it, “The whole thing gets kind of smoky in there. And while it does get vented out, it’s not quite as efficient as a kamado or other smoker.”

Which brings us to…

Kamado Grill Smoker Combo

tamara day cooking a pizza on a coyote asado smoker

While not as ubiquitous as the classic charcoal grill… Kamado grills have been increasing in popularity in recent years.

Brands like Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe have made a splash in the grilling scene… Offering up colorful charcoal smokers to jazz up your backyard.

But a kamado does far more than provide a unique aesthetic. It’s an impressive appliance when it comes to both smoking and grilling.

Firstly, since kamado grills are fueled with lump charcoal… That right there will give you more flavor than wood pellets or charcoal briquettes.

This is because lump charcoal is essentially pure wood that’s been burned down… Which gives you a flavor far closer to the real thing.

Plus, “You have a lot more flavor options. That’s where you can start mixing and matching meat profiles with smoke profiles and get some interesting combinations”, Ethan explains.

The same thing applies for the wood chips you use! You can mix hickory lump charcoal with maple chips… Or any other number of things.

But let’s get back to the kamado itself. Being a charcoal appliance, it can get to high heat grilling temperatures with relative ease.

On the flip side… The heat retention and insulative nature of ceramic grills also makes them excel with smoking.

“You’re farther away from the heat source, you have indirect heating plates, and the airflow is a lot different than a regular charcoal grill. It’s coming around that indirect heating plate, coming around the ceramic, and that heat is actually coming from the top down”, Ethan shares.

For smoking, these are the things you want to look for to get a great product. But what’s the tradeoff?

Temperature control and fire management are a bit more challenging with a kamado grill. Once you get that temperature set… You’re good to go. But it’s getting there that’s the trick!

You’ll need to invest some more effort into a kamado… But it’s worth the results.

Now, what if you want the flavor of charcoal, while maintaining convenience?

Gravity Smoker Grill Combo

Gravity smokers are a super-recent addition to the backyard barbecue scene… Being introduced by Masterbuilt only in 2019.

Although there are still just a few options available… Their popularity is growing rapidly, and it’s easy to see why.

Gravity smokers take the convenience of a wood pellet grill… But use lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes for fuel.

So you can get that deep, smoky flavor of charcoal… Without sacrificing on the convenience a pellet grill will bring.

And we must say, the results when smoking are quite magnificent.

As Ethan put it, “Some of the product I’ve taken off of a gravity smoker has been really phenomenal. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it’s like offset-type quality.”

Talk about some high praise!

So it’s no doubt that gravity smokers excel in that category. What about grilling?

Well, it really depends on the model you choose. Masterbuilt’s Gravity Series 1050 can hit maximum temperatures of 700°F… Which is plenty of heat for all your grilling needs.

But, you might be twiddling your thumbs a bit before the grill really gets going.

“Gravity smokers can get the heat higher, but it takes a lot longer”, Ethan clarifies.

No doubt, your patience will be rewarded.

And while it may seem like a gravity smoker is the no-brainer choice… Being a new category of grill/smoker combo, they will be on the pricier side. So you’ll want to keep your budget in mind before making a final decision.

With that said… Let’s take a look at some smoker grill brands to consider for your backyard!

Best Smoker Grill Brands & Models of 2023

As you’re surfing the web for the best BBQ smoker and grill combo… It’s likely you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options.

And that’s not surprising at all… There’s more being released every day.

So to narrow down your search… We’ll discuss some of the best brands on the market, depending on your needs… So you can make a decision on the best BBQ smoker grill for you.

Budget Friendly Starter Options: Char-Griller

Char-Griller Wrangler
Product Highlights

Price: $149.00

Warranty: 1 year

Cooking Surface: 640 Square Inches

If you’re a beginner and don’t have much money to spend… A Char-Griller can be your inexpensive ticket into the grilling and smoking world.

They offer several kamado and charcoal grill options to help you get started.

Their most well-rated charcoal grill, the Wrangler, has quite a bit to bring to the table.

This barrel-shaped grill provides 640 square inches of cooking area… And you can even purchase a side firebox to convert this grill into an offset smoker. (Pretty neat, right?)

The grill itself will only set you back $149.00… And will be covered by a 1 year warranty.

Although Char-Griller claims a “heavy duty steel construction” on this grill… The affordable price and short warranty implies that you can’t expect much longevity out of this grill.

So the price is great for getting started… But you’ll likely want to save for an upgrade if you catch the barbecuing bug!

Char-Griller AKORN
Product Highlights

Price: $339.00

Warranty: 5 years

Cooking Surface: 445 Square Inches

These points will also carry over to Char-Griller’s kamado options.

Their kamado series is named the “AKORN”, with a couple portable options that are great for tailgating and camping.

But for their standard option… The original AKORN will provide 445 square inches of cooking area and a temperature range of 200°F – 700°F.

Unlike most other kamados… This one will not be made from ceramic, but rather, triple walled steel.

Again, the longevity of this steel will be in question… But it does contribute to a more palatable price, sitting at $399.00 with a 5 year warranty covering rust through or burn through.

Great Starter to Intermediate Pellet Grill Smoker: Recteq

Product Highlights

Price: $499.00

Warranty: 2 years

Cooking Surface: 380 Square Inches

If you’re set on a pellet smoker… Recteq grills are a fantastic option for your beginner to intermediate smoking needs.

In fact, it’s one of Ethan’s preferred pellet grill brands!

He himself owns both a Recteq Bullseye and RT-590… With the Bullseye being the grill he uses several times a week.

Getting into some of the specs… The Bullseye has a temperature range of 200°F – 750°F, which is plenty of heat for grilling as well as smoking.

It will come with a decently sized 15 lb hopper, and 380 square inches of cooking space.

Recteq advertises a stainless steel construction, although the grade is unknown (we like to see 304)… And will come backed by a 2 year warranty.

Ethan’s had his Bullseye for several years, and “It holds up fantastically. I live in Florida where everything rusts out in 5 minutes when it gets rained on, but this thing is a tank.”

In terms of longevity… This grill is well constructed for the price! (Which is $499.00, by the way.)

Recteq RT-590 Pellet Smoker
Product Highlights

Price: $899.00

Warranty: 4 years

Cooking Surface: 592 Square Inches

If you don’t mind spending more money to gain a larger cooking surface… You might want to bump up your investment to the RT-590, priced at $899.00.

You’ll get a larger 592 square inch cooking area, and a slightly different temperature range… Sitting at 180°F – 700°F.

The hopper capacity is doubled, at 30 lbs… And same goes for the warranty, which is extended to 4 year coverage.

The RT-590 contains a 304 stainless steel firepot, heat deflector, and steel drip pan, which is great to see. However, the rest is constructed with an unspecified grade of stainless steel. (So you’ll want to follow up with Recteq on the quality here.)

That said, Recteq offers several excellent home smoker grills to get you started… That won’t break the bank.

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Best Gravity Smoker Barbecue Grill: Masterbuilt

Masterbuilt is a brand known for offering a variety of outdoor cooking appliances… Including charcoal grills, gravity smokers, electric smokers, propane fryers, and even an outdoor air fryer!

But for our purposes… We’ll be zoning in on the gravity smokers and charcoal grills.

Starting with some of the charcoal grills… Let’s take a closer look at the 30” version. (There’s a 36” available as well.)

Aside from its impressive appearance, this grill boasts a 504 square inch cooking area… With plenty of space to grill or smoke for the entire family!

This grill also includes two adjustable vents and a short smoke stack… Allowing you to be more accurate with temperature control.

This grill will currently cost you a quite affordable $299.99, and come with a 1 year limited warranty.

The only trouble is… The exterior is made with an ambiguous grade of “painted steel”, which is likely to rust and corrode if the coating chips off.

The cooking grates are made from cast iron, which will require careful maintenance on your part.

Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 smoker
Product Highlights

Price: $497.00

Warranty: 4 years

Cooking Surface: 592 Square Inches

But if convenience and great flavor is what you’re after… Masterbuilt’s Gravity Series 560 might pique your interest.

The charcoal hopper automatically shuttles in fresh lump charcoal or briquettes as needed… Leaving you with more time enjoying the outdoors, and less time fiddling with the fire. (The 560 can hold 10 lbs of lump charcoal, or 16 lbs of briquettes.)

And as the name implies… This gravity smoker will come with 560 square inches of cooking area, being slightly larger than the 30” charcoal grill. (Larger sizes are available as well.)

The temperature range will peak at 700°F, which will give you no trouble when searing a delicious steak.

But once again, material quality does leave more to be desired. We get the same ambiguous steel construction, as well as cast iron grill grates.

This $497.00 grill is backed by a 1 year limited warranty… So again, durability in the long run is in question here. But if this doesn’t bother you… You can always upgrade to a more robust option later.

Which brings another thought into mind. If you’re feeling pretty confident that this hobby is one that’s going to stick… You might just want to spring for a premium option from the get-go.

Best Smoker Grill for the Money: Coyote Outdoor Living

coyote 28 inch pellet grill
Product Highlights

Price: $3,499.00

Warranty: Lifetime

Cooking Surface: 450 Square Inches

If we’re going to talk about some of the best grill smokers out there… We’re going to have to touch on Coyote’s premium appliance line.

They offer an exceptional range of outdoor appliances and grills, including pellet grills and kamado grills.

Should you also be interested in incorporating your new pellet grill into an outdoor kitchen… Both of Coyote’s pellet grills (the 28” and 36”) are available for built-in use, in addition to freestanding.

Since we brought up the Coyote pellet grill… Let’s take a closer look at the 28”, shall we?

This pellet grill comes with a respectable 450 square inches of cooking area… And a temperature range of 175°F to 650°F.

That extra-low end is fantastic for infusing extra smoke flavor into a rack of ribs… And the high end is still great for searing a steak.

The 28” pellet grill will come with a 12 lb hopper, which is on the smaller side… But should still be adequate for most of your barbecuing needs.

Where the Coyote pellet grill really shines is the construction. With inside and out 304 stainless steel construction and a lifetime warranty… This is one of the best pellet grills you’ll find in terms of quality and value.

But of course, the initial investment will be much higher… With the freestanding 28” pellet grill currently sitting at $3,499.00.

Product Highlights

Price: $1,499.00

Warranty: Lifetime

Cooking Surface: 254 Square Inches

Alternatively, you might have your eye on a fully-fledged ceramic kamado smoker… In which case, Coyote’s got you covered with their asado.

This beautifully constructed ceramic grill will come with 254 square inches of cooking area… And be packaged with Coyote’s heavy duty laser cut grill grates.

The black finish offers an appealing look with any backyard aesthetic… And will perform flawlessly for years to come, with its lifetime warranty.

The freestanding Coyote Asado is currently available for $1,499.00.

Most Beginner Friendly Outdoor Smoker Grill: Weber

Product Highlights

Price: $219.00

Warranty: 2, 5, 10 year plans

Cooking Surface: 363 Square Inches

This blog wouldn’t be complete without mention of Weber.

As Ethan says, “Weber does make a really good entry-level kettle grill. I’ve seen absolute pitmasters that have been doing this for the last 50 years use Weber grills.”

What can we say? They’re reliable.

For that reason, the original kettle grill from Weber is still one of the best beginner friendly smoker grills out there.

The 22” premium model in particular has 363 square inches of cooking area… And comes with a 10 year, 5 year, or 2 year warranty, depending on the parts in question.

And being offered for the low, low price of $219.00… The warranty is decent for such a low barrier to entry.

Just know that these things aren’t bulletproof! Weber grills come with a porcelain enameled coating… Which will get you into trouble if that starts to chip or flake off.

Also note that the kettle grill won’t perform as well for smoking as it will for grilling… So if you plan on doing more smoking, you might consider getting a Weber smokey mountain (a dedicated smoker) or the summit kamado smoker/grill instead.

While Weber grill smokers are a great way to get your barbecuing legs… You might be looking for a way to go all-out with your new purchase.

Grill Smoker + Outdoor Kitchen = Barbecuing Bliss

Once you’ve had some time to hone your barbecuing skills… You’ll quickly realize that there are some significant inconveniences when it comes to cooking outdoors.

Most grills come with small side shelves… Which doesn’t leave enough room to set down all your utensils, seasonings, and food. (Some don’t come with a shelf at all!)

Which means, you’re constantly running in and out of the house for supplies.

It also means that you can’t serve your delicious meals right outdoors… Can you imagine trying to have a spread of burger toppings laid out buffet style?

You can’t do that with a simple side shelf.

An outdoor kitchen solves the problem of space… And so much more.

You’ll get as much counter space as you could possibly desire… Plus have the potential to add a wide array of other grilling accessories.

Gas grills, refrigerators, sinks, pizza ovens… You get the idea.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

If you’re at all curious about how an outdoor kitchen can make your grilling and slow cooking experience easier… Play around with creating your ideal design.

Our free outdoor kitchen design tool will allow you to do just that in a few clicks… And with no cost to you.

Have fun designing!

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