If you’re short on time and just want to know what the best portable smoker is, then we recommend the Weber 14 inch Smokey Mountain Cooker as the best one.
You’re a beginner or perhaps an expert in smoking and looking to do it on your next outdoor adventure. Transporting something large and heavy is too much hassle. In this case, let’s go small! We’ve done some work to find the best portable smoker for your next barbecue.
In this article, we’re going to be reviewing the following smokers:
- Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill
- Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker, Heavy Duty Round BBQ Grill for Outdoor Cooking, Black
- Cuisinart COS-116 Vertical Smoker, 16″ Charcoal
- Weber 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker
- Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker, 16″
Factors to Consider for a Portable Smoker
We Like Easy Assembly
If you’re looking for portability, you definitely want something that is easy to put together. For a portable smoker, easy assembly is one or two people being able to put the product together in an hour or less. The instructions should be fairly easy to read with little or no additional tools. We don’t mind pulling out our Phillip’s head or flat head screwdriver. Yet, we don’t believe you should need to pull out an entire 50 piece toolset that’s way in the back of your shed or closet.
Think about the Cleanup
Putting the smoker together is one thing. Cooking with it is another. People who buy cars with the maintenance cost in mind before buying are smart. Considering the maintenance of your smoker before buying is no different than that. Is it easy to clean? We prefer to be able to throw the cooking grates in the dishwater and call it a day. For everything else, a simple scrub brush should do the job. Clean after each use.
What Fuel Type Do You Prefer?
Portable smokers have different power sources. They can be electric powered, fueled by charcoal, gas, or wood. If this is your first smoker, educate yourself on how to use at least one of these power sources. It’s not hard, but some units may need more work and clean up than others. For example, with charcoal, you’ll have to empty out the coals and clean up the ash. Yet, charcoal offers a certain flavor to your food. Wood offers its own flavor as well.
Size of Cooking Area
Despite easy portability, you still want it to be of a size that is suitable for the number of people you plan to serve. Considering the length, width, and height of the smoker itself can give you an idea. You want to be looking at how much food it can cook in one round. Is there enough of a cooking area or surface for your brisket, pork shoulder, or whatever your choice is? That is the question you want to ask yourself.
Design and Material Considerations
Quality of Cooking Grates
Cooking grates can be stainless steel, cast iron, or porcelain enameled. Some smokers come with grates built with handles. Nonetheless, poorly constructed grates may warp easily under heat so, watch for this as well. A stainless steel grate will heat up faster. Cast iron will hold heat longer. Both have their pros and cons.
Can I Get Good Temperature Control?
Compared to grilling, you need lower temperatures for smoking. 200 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit is what you’ll be working with here. Some smokers may have a poor design that doesn’t keep smoke and heat on the inside well. How well the heat is regulated can be dependent upon how well the door closes or seals. The damper (vents) play a role as well.
You want a robust product that doesn’t leak heat and smoke. Otherwise, your meals will cook unevenly or the cooking time will be off. If the smoker is made of thick steel, that’s a positive. This steel will be able to retain the heat well. The dampers must be of good quality as well because if not, they could rust easy. A rusty damper does not open and close well. There’s nothing like a damper that you can’t open!
Check those Legs…..on The Smoker
Some smokers have very flimsy legs that cause the need for repair or replacement. They need to be sturdy. This is important as you will be carrying this smoker during the next outdoor adventure of yours. Some legs are foldable and can function as a handle in that way. The vertical smokers, generally won’t have foldable legs.
How Heavy is It?
If it’s portable, we prefer that it be light, but not so light that durability is compromised. After all, you’ll want to put it in the trunk or strap it to the vehicle.
A smoker under 50 pounds is reasonable. Many are under 25 pounds. The ones that lean beyond 20 pounds may be a grill and smoker combo. With the weight, the handles need to be in a reasonable place. You have to be able to get a good grip when lifting and moving the whole unit. You want to feel fairly comfortable especially if you have a bad back.
Portable Smoker Reviews
The Davy Crockett portable grill and smoker combo comes with Wi-Fi connectivity. This helps you follow the temperature of your food from your smart device. However, the Wi-Fi may have connectivity issues with your device, even at close range. If you’re reliant on this feature, you may end up under or overcooking your meat. When it does work though, it is highly convenient. Being able to set the cooking instructions and walk away is a nice bonus.
You should be able to cook for 2-6 people with the amount of cooking space. Cooking a couple of 8-pound pork shoulders (bone-in) is achievable if you cut them both in half. However, this smoker has issues with cooking food evenly. Part of the reason for this issue is that it is not insulated very well. This may be even more of a problem if you live in colder climates. You may have to buy a thermal blanket.
If you’re taking the smoker out on the road, on a camping trip or RV’ing, you’ll be carrying about 57 pounds. It’s a little on the heavy side for portability but, not too bad.
Also, it will run on a 12-volt battery and can connect to your car’s battery or cigarette lighter. The necessary cables come with the product.
Dimensions (L, W, H): 29.92 x 14.96 x 21.65 inches
Brand: Green Mountain Grills
Weight: 68 lbs
Cooking surface: 219 sq. inches
- Easy to assemble
- Foldable legs become a handle
- Easy cleanup
- Cables included to connect with your vehicle
- Cooks for a small group
- A little heavy, but still portable
- Heat unevenly even if you move the heat shield around
- Not well insulated which may cause you to burn more pellets than you should
- Wifi connectivity issues
- Thin steel grates
Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Steel Charcoal Smoker, Heavy Duty Round BBQ Grill for Outdoor Cooking, Black
What we like about this smoker is its multi-functionality. It can be easily pulled apart and used as a fire pit, grill, smoker, or used as 2 grills. There are also hooks inside to hang your meat for smoking. The versatility of this smoker gives you more creative freedom with your cooking.
It has a 2 access door system. This is great for you to be able to check the progress of your food via the upper door. Add charcoal or wood using the bottom door.
This lower budget smoker’s material is not very durable. The painting from the lid can peel off easy after exposure to high temperatures over time.
Temperature regulation can be an issue for some as you have to learn to work with it. Smoke comes out everywhere. The doors aren’t tight either.
Dimensions (L, W, H): 22 x 17 x 35 inches
Weight: 18.55 lbs
- Easy to assemble
- Lightweight at about 19 pounds
- Clean up easy
- Easy to take apart for different options
- Lower budget smoker offers cooking flexibility
- Product isn’t durable
- Paint peels
- Airflow somewhat compromised at the bottom
- Temperature regulation could be a challenge as nothing is sealed well
This Cuisinart smoker is also on the lower end of the budget. It has enough cooking space for a family allowing you to cook several dishes at once. There are some design flaws we see, though.
The door does not seal well. Also, the latches don’t stay latched. Smoke just leaks out everywhere. With the previous smoker we mentioned, you are able to check the status of your food by opening the top door. On this Cuisinart, you lift the lid.
It’s not the sturdiest material, but not too flimsy either. This smoker weighs about 23 pounds so it’s easy for the average person to carry.
As far as longevity is concerned, it may survive in the long run if you only use it on occasions like a camping trip.
Dimensions (L, W, H): 21 x 21 x 32 inches
Weight: 23 lbs
- Lower budget
- For the quality and budget, not a bad starter smoker on infrequent use
- Easy assembly
- Easy to clean
- Spacious cooking area
- The door doesn’t seal
- Flimsy latches
- Smoke leaks everywhere
- No hooks to hang meat
- You have to be “handy” enough to make several modifications to the smoker yourself in order to make it great.
Weber’s 14-inch charcoal smoker is a great size for portability and weighs about 23 pounds, so it’s easy to carry. They do offer an 18 inch and 22-inch model, but those weigh 39 and 68 pounds, respectively. The 14-inch has enough cooking space for a small group you’re entertaining at home or on your camping trip. For example, you should be able to fit 2 pork butts or a 5-pound brisket on your 14-inch.
Clean-up is easy as well. The assembly is easy. However, the door can be a little flimsy, but overall not too bad. It’s built pretty well as the construction is not of cheap material. This smoker may have more difficulty with performing in cold weather, though. We do not think it’s such a big deal. It may just take a little more charcoal or a slightly longer cooking time. This smoker does hold the smoke in well enough though.
Dimensions (L, W, H): 31.4 x 14.75 x 14.75 inches
Weight: 23 lbs
Cooking surface: 143 sq. inches
- Easy to assemble
- Easy to clean
- Quality material build
- Spacious cooking area
- Easy to transport
- Door may be a little flimsy
- Slightly underperforms in cold weather
This Char-Broil smoker cooks fine. There may be some challenges keeping the temperatures low enough for smoking. The construction is good enough for the money, but it may leak smoke around the lid and other areas. This makes it difficult to regulate temperatures. Door does not seal all that well either.
It is easy to carry and travel with as it is about 16 pounds. The ash tray is easy to access for you to dump out.
Due to the smoker’s texture, condensation build-up sticks to it. This makes the clean up a little more difficult.
Dimensions (L, W, H): 21.2 x 23 x 37.6 inches
Weight: 16.5 lbs
Cooking surface: 370 sq. inches
- Decent performance for the money
- Easy access ashtray
- Easy to use dampers
- Access door is large, making it easy to add wood
- Smoke leaks
- Lid does not sit inside the body of the smoker. Lid’s lip sits on top of the smoker.
Our Pick For Best Portable Smoker
The Weber 14 inch Smokey Mountain Cooker is our winner here. Its construction is built well enough to reduce the amount of maintenance you’d have to do. The smoke holds in quite well compared to some of the other products we’ve reviewed. Because of this, you won’t have to babysit it so much during cooking. Also, it has reasonable value for the money. You also have the same consistency of quality in their 18 and 22-inch models that are fit for larger groups. Remember, if you get the 18 and 22-inch models, they will be heavier. Keep that in mind especially when it comes to taking it on a trip!