Charcoal hot smoked salmon large
Cured Salmon ready for the snake method charcoal smoking!

So I will cover off what I am familiar with and can stand by, and have put these against some criteria.

  • Budget -Kettle
  • Mid-range -Barrel
  • High end – Ceramic Egg

(Note below are Amazon Links – No additional expense to you, but a major assistance to this site)

One reason I like all of these, is they are dual purpose for searing effectively or low & slow BBQ smoking. (You can also attach a cold smoke generator to any of these).

If you get a chimney starter, any charcoal cooker is easier to start, or you can just make a pile of charcoal with some fire starters in the middle, then just shift them around a bit – but just takes a bit more effort.

Weber Kettle Grill Smoker/Grill

Weber smoking temperature medium
Ease of UseEasy for Charcoal
Heat Retention / InsulationGood
Adjustable Smoke LevelYes
WeatherproofCover Needed
Smoking Wood OptionsEverything

Definitely get the premium kettle, it has a much easier ash removal system compared to the original.

  • Completely proven over 70 years of refinement
  • Good seals and easy to adjust the airflow on top or bottom
  • Hinged grill means you can sneak in charcoal or wood if needed
  • Has a built-in thermometer, but always best to have one in the meat or on the same level as the food – here are some thermometers to go with.
Kettle weber smoker

It’s the best budget cooker & smoker option by far. If you want to go charcoal, check out the reviews on Amazon here.

Pit Barrel Smoker Smoker/Grill

Pit barrel smoker large
optional extra, bottle opener
Ease of UseEasy for Charcoal
Heat Retention / InsulationGood
Adjustable Smoke LevelYes
WeatherproofCover Needed
Smoking Wood OptionsEverything

Supposedly when a guy was selling me one, he said the inventor did 43 prototypes before settling on this one.

From a set & forget angle, this is probably one of the easiest charcoal smokers to use a mid-range price. Once the air has been adjusted, you will not have to change it.

But the biggest factor to control is the heat of the charcoal before you put this lid on, this is the key with the barrel cooker. The instructions say 20 minutes, and you really have to stick to that.

You can get 8 hours plus out of the barrel, so for charcoal that is really the easiest option out there. With the grill plate, you can do all the searing you want also.

  • Hook and hang method works very well
  • Easy to use and consistent results
  • Attention to detail and decent build quality

Note, the hinged grill is an optional extra, so this makes feeding the fire easier.

  • Some of the most consistent reviews I have seen on anything, and it definitely does produce competition-quality bbq smoked well. Check out the reviews on Amazon here.
Barrel smoker ribs large

Akorn Kamado Smoker/Grill

Akorn charcoal smoker
Ease of UseEasy/Efficient
Heat Retention / InsulationExcellent
Adjustable Smoke LevelYes -grill hole
Smoking Wood OptionsEverything

Now, this is my dream charcoal smoker, its what every BBQ Store Owner I have talked to has, as an egg insulation style bbq smoker. Also, a hospitality shop owner I spoke to, its all about Japanese efficiency.

Akorn kamado smoker grill large

The thing is, the $300 for the Akorn is just an excellent price point for a BBQ that can do so much more; you get all the bells and whistles of super hot or super low. Whilst being incredibly efficient when it comes to fuel consumption of either charcoal or wood.

You won’t use much charcoal, and the airflow system will provide excellent heat management. You know the Kamado will hold temperature, and you will get that circular/roasting effect.

What I know is they are easy to clean and incredibly accurate at holding 250°F or even 900° for Neopolitan-style pizza.

The only thing is keeping it covered and out of the elements is important.

  • Winner for Efficiency
  • Odd and unique design compared to most grills
  • Always talked about in the highest regard for those who know about grilling and smoking

Check out the review on Amazon here.