- Top picks for portable smokers
- Best portable smoker – Weber Smoker Mountain Cooker
- Weber Smoker Mountain Cooker Features
- Runner up – GMG Davy Crocket
- Davy Crockett Smoker Features
- Best Portable Propane Smoker – Masterbuilt Portable Propane Smoker Grill
- Masterbuilt Portable Propane Smoker Grill Features
- Best Portable Smoker for Camping – Camerons Products Stovetop Smoker
- Camerons Products Stovetop Smoker Features
- Best Portable Smoker for Tailgating – Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill
- Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill Features
- Honorable Mentions
- Masterbuilt Smoke Hollow 30-Inch Electric Smoker
- Masterbuilt Smoke Hollow 30-Inch Electric Smoker Features
- Kamado Joe Jr
- Kamado Joe Jr Features
- Char-Griller Akorn Jr
- Char-Griller Akorn Jr Features
- How to Pick The Right Portable Smoker
- Related posts
Every pitmaster knows that the best choice for creating an authentic barbecue in his backyard is a pellet smoker. But, there’s something special about being able to take your barbecue with you when you’re on the road. And, unfortunately, a pellet grill is too bulky to bring it along. Luckily, you can get a quality pellet smoker that is also portable and take it with you wherever you go!
There’s nothing like being able to bring your grill when you go camping or tailgating. You get to spend time outdoors with the people you love and eat great food. There’s no better recipe for making memories! A portable smoker will allow you to infuse your food with smoky flavors and take advantage of the tenderness imparted by cooking food low and slow while allowing you to fit it in the back of your car. And, of course, these smokers will fit in your patio or balcony, even if you don’t have too much space.
Whether you’re looking for a smoker you can take with you camping or tailgating or even for a weekly beach cook-up, we have prepared the best portable smokers that will fulfill all your needs. Our picks have been carefully examined and rated according to their performance, portability, and customer feedback.
Top picks for portable smokers
Best portable smoker – Weber Smoker Mountain Cooker
All those who decide to get Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker are in for a high-quality, bullet-shaped smoker that is fueled by charcoal. If you’ve ever been to a BBQ competition, it is quite likely that you saw this smoker competing for head to head with large commercial cookers. And, even though it is a portable smoker, it can still beat all those cookers. The greatest thing about this unit, besides you being able to take it with you wherever you go, is that it takes little time to master.
The 14-inch version of this smoker provides less cooking surface than its 18- and 22-inch siblings do, but still, you can pack plenty of food there. How you may wonder? Well, it’s thanks to the dual 14-inch diameter grates and a more than fair amount of height.
The solid construction ensures that this smoker cooks at a steady temperature for hours and changing the temp is as simple as just opening and closing the vents. The lower body of the smoker features three dampers that help you control how much air will get to the wood chips and charcoal. The cooker also features a damper built into it which makes controlling the smoke density and releasing excess heat very easily.
The sturdy legs feature a bowl-shaped aluminum heat shield which will allow you to place this Smokey Mountain Cooker anywhere. But, be careful! If you’re planning to use it on a wood deck, then you should place the unit on a grill mat.
The smoker comes with a water pan that collects the excess drippings. The bi-metal thermometer is built into the lid, however, it’s not as precise as you would expect it to be. Luckily, Weber added a soft, heat-resistant silicone grommet on the side which allows you to easily insert your digital probe thermometer. There is also a side access door for adding water, coal, and wood.
When it comes to cleaning and maintaining this smoker, it’s easier than your oven! Proper cleaning includes just scrubbing the grates with a grill brush or crumpled aluminum foil, cleaning the water bowl, and disposing of all the unburned charcoal and cold ashes. If you plan to use the integrated thermometer, make sure to clean its stem.
Just like every other smoker, this one will also develop a patina on the inside from the accumulated smoke and the grates will discolor. However, to prevent the flaking of the interior make sure to clean the smoke that accumulates regularly, especially on the underside of the lid. When it comes to the exterior, it is enough just to wipe it clean.
Last but not least, this smoker can be easily converted into a traditional grill. The fire grate and ring fit perfectly where the water bowl would normally rest, then the top grate is put in its normal place for grilling.
In the world of grills and smoker, the name Weber comes with an expectation of high quality. This smoker is built for excellent performance, long lifespan, and it is enough for a beginner to master. All these features make it pricy, but every penny you invest will pay off definitely.
Click here to see more charcoal smokers as good as this one!
Weber Smoker Mountain Cooker Features
High-Quality Materials That Ensure Long Life
Every component of this smoker is built out of quality materials. The body is made from powder-coated steel that can withstand heat and any weather conditions. Legs, vents, and internal brackets that hold the grates are made of aluminum. Grates, on the other hand, are chrome-plated and very easy to clean. The manufacturer made the access door handle, as well as the top handle, out of plastic so they would stay cool during cooking.
Excellent Heating Capacity
What many users love about this smoker is that it heats up quickly and it doesn’t take long for the temperature to stabilize. The temperature will stay within 20 degrees of your target smoking temperature, even during long smoking sessions. External factors such as wind or sunlight affect the temperature, which results in these slight temperature fluctuations.
Professional Grilling Performance
Even though this smoker is only 14-inches, don’t let its size fool you! Just like the units used during professional competitions, this Smokey Mountain Cooker can reach temperatures as high as 400 degrees. You can also control the airflow to keep the heat down to 180 to 200-degree range.
When it comes to the size, you’re not limited to only one 14-inch grill grate. The manufacturer included two of them, giving you 308 square inches of cooking spaces.
Weber Smoker Mountain Cooker Pros:
- Built out of high-quality materials
- A unit decent for gatherings but also BBQ competitions
- Side access door to reload charcoal and wood is included
- Features two cooking grates and a silicon grommet for a probe thermometer
- Comes with a superior warranty
Weber Smoker Mountain Cons
- The integrated thermometer could be more precise
- The smoker is on the pricy side
Runner up – GMG Davy Crocket
Green Mountain describes their Davy Crockett as the Ultimate Tailgater Pellet Grill. However, despite being categorized as a portable grill, this unit is difficult to fold by only one person. You will need someone else to help you lift the smoker and then fold up the steel tube legs which are meant to function as a handle. In general, Davy Crockett rises to the top of our list, however, there are a few drawbacks that make it the runner up and not the top pick.
To ensure portability, the grill is small in size but it is suitable for all those who plan to cook for their friends and family, not for large crowds. The small size is also perfect for apartment and condo dwellers with space considerations.
The only downside of the Davy Crockett is the uneven temperature. The firepot is located at the center of the smokebox, but, the temperature on the left side is higher than the right which results in two different heat zones. However, it is very easy to adapt to this and it’s not a big problem at all. For example, you can cook chicken breast on the left, hotter side wheres thighs can be placed on the right side. Since many users complained to this, GMG decided to do something about it and they claim that the more recent units don’t feature this issue.
GMG Davy Crockett requires electricity to work, but it is one of the few grills that can be plugged into a car outlet and it works with 120V and 12V adapters. If you’re searching for the ultimate grill for tailgating, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Also, if you plan to go car camping, take a look at this auto power inverter which will definitely come in handy!
To see other Green Mountain Grills products, click here!
Davy Crockett Smoker Features
Great Cooking Quality
It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or just getting started with smokers, all barbecuers can get a very quality cook with this unit, especially if you take the time to play around with certain features that affect the flavor.
For example, you can use the chimney to control how smokey your food will taste. And, you can always try out various wood chip flavors that will infuse your food with a special taste.
Reliable Temperature Control
Davy Crockett performs as well as every other average pellet smoker. However, what sets it apart from the rest is the temperature control. Instead of using a knob, this smoker features up and down arrows. Once you set the desired temperature, the unit will maintain it very well, staying within 50 degrees of the desired temperature.
In addition, the grill comes with WiFi, making it even easier to control the temperature with just a few taps on your screen.
As Portable As It Gets
Even though folding this smoker is a bit awkward, the Davy Crockett is still light enough to be carried by one person only. Also, the unit comes with a standard 110v AC plug option, an auto (cigar lighter) plug, as well as a 12v battery option. You can use this smoker anywhere as long as you can connect to power, whether it is a standalone battery or a car battery.
Davy Crockett Smoker Pros:
- Works with various power sources and compatible with various adapters that fit in your car
- Weighs only 57 pounds, making it easy to carry around
- Reliable temperature and great cooking results every time
- Features WiFi and can be controlled via a smartphone app
- Comes with a side shelf for utensils and a built-in rack for storage and prep
Davy Crockett Smoker Cons:
- The unit is small in terms of cooking space
- The uneven temperature on the left and right side of the grill
Best Portable Propane Smoker – Masterbuilt Portable Propane Smoker Grill
If you dislike the idea of using charcoal or electricity to run your smoker, then this Masterbuilt Portable Propane Smoker is an excellent choice for you. Despite its small size, the manufacturer didn’t save on high-quality materials when building this unit. The heavy-duty body and decent amount of cooking space show that this smoker was truly built by the masters of their craft.
Don’t forget to check out some other propane smokers!
Masterbuilt Portable Propane Smoker Grill Features
Portability Meets Performance
Just like every portable smoker, this one is small-sized and lightweight, making it easy to take it with you wherever you go. In addition, the unit has legs that can fold, making it very compatible.
However, the small size of this Masterbuilt Portable Propane Smoker doesn’t affect its performance. The grill heats up very quickly and it can reach a temperature of 275 degrees in a matter of minutes. Once you get acquainted with this little guy, you’ll see that smoking has never been easier.
Decent Cooking Space
The feature that suffers the most when it comes to portable smokers is the cooking space. In order to make the units compact, the manufacturers must reduce the size of the cooking space. However, this smoker features two chrome-coated cooking racks which will allow you to cook a turkey, two racks of ribs, four chickens, or two pork butts at the same time.
Very Affordable Price
When choosing the right smoker, it’s difficult to find one that is high-quality yet affordable. However, Masterbuilt thought of everything and they created this smoker that performs just like its big brothers, but comes for a much cheaper price!
Masterbuilt Portable Propane Smoker Grill Pros:
- Heats up very quickly
- Two cooking racks which provide plenty of cooking space
- The compact and lightweight unit, easy to carry around
- Keeps a consistent temperature and cooks food evenly
- Very affordable
Masterbuilt Portable Propane Smoker Grill Cons:
- The water pan is very small
- Flare-ups are not uncommon
Best Portable Smoker for Camping – Camerons Products Stovetop Smoker
Camerons Products Stovetop Smoker is both an indoor and outdoor smoker. At 3.5″ high x 11″ wide x 15″ long, this is the largest stovetop smoker from this manufacturer. Using it is incredibly easy. Just put the lid on, turn on the exhaust fan and the burner on high, and in less than 30 minutes you will have smoked moist meat.
The smoker weighs only seven pounds and cleaning it is a piece of cake; just put the smoker in a dishwasher. However, keep in mind that this unit can warp under extreme heat.
Camerons Products Stovetop Smoker Features
Multiple Purpose Smoker
Well, a smoker is meant for smoking foods and with this one, you can smoke meat, vegetables, and even fish. Besides smoking food, you can use Camerons Products Stovetop Smoker for steaming, roasting, and poaching food. The product works well with all sources of heat such as electric, gas, or campfire.
Excellent Cooking Performance
Even though it is very small, this smoker does an excellent job. Since it is meant to be used as an indoor smoker, it is very useful to know that this product doesn’t leak any smoke but you might want to crack your windows open since you will feel a strong smoky odor coming from your food.
The only downside of the smoker is that it is meant for smaller pieces of food. Larger cuts can’t fit in because of the lid; however, you can use foil instead.
This smoker comes with a recipe booklet and instruction manual. In addition, samples of wood-chip flavors, stick-free rack, drip pan, lid are included. The product is covered by a seven-year warranty against factory defects. All these components can be placed inside the smoking box for easy storage. And, you can even use this smoker in your oven!
Camerons Products Stovetop Smoker Pros:
- Affordable price paired with great cooking performance
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Made of stainless steel
- Works on any heat source, including open flame or electric stovetops
- Very compact and extremely portable
Camerons Products Stovetop Smoker Cons:
- The flat-top lid reduces the capacity of the smoker
- Despite the stainless steel, the inside of the smoker will become discolored with use.
Best Portable Smoker for Tailgating – Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill
The Broil King Keg 5000 kamado grill is a high-quality cooker that can be used in the comfort of your home or hitched to your vehicle. Several things make this grill excel from the competitors. First of all, it does a great job at baking, roasting, and smoking all food, including thin meats. And, the Keg comes packed with tools that other brands charge additionally such as the shelves, stand, an extender rack, and a “multi-tool,” which is very useful for handling the grate and dampers.
For more awesome kamado grills,click here!
Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill Features
Traditional kamado grills are made of ceramic, however, Broil King decided to go for double-walled, insulated steel instead. Why? Well, all kamado grills made of ceramic are at an increased risk of cracking. However, double-steel isn’t vulnerable to cracking. The powder-coated exterior remains cool to the touch while cooking.
Impressive Grilling Performance
You can use the Broil King Keg 5000 both as a smoker or a direct grill. However, the catch is that you must keep the lid closed for both choices. This can be a bit unusual when you want to sear a steak, for example, because you want to keep an eye on any flare-ups. However, your steak will be safe until you open the lid because excess oxygen will rush into the system and cause a flareup. When you want to use the product as a smoker, make sure to place the grate at the highest setting.
Even though it is a portable smoker, King Keg 5000 comes with plenty of cooking space. The primary cooking grate is made from cast iron for maximum heat retention and it measures in at 280 square inches. The warming rack provides an additional 200 square inches.
Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill Pros:
- Made of quality materials that won’t crack
- Backed by a 10-year warranty
- Features 480 square inches of cooking space thanks to the warming grate
- A multitool is included in the purchase
- Comes with a sturdy cart and two shelves
Broil King Keg 5000 Kamado Grill Cons:
- Takes a while to cool down
- Warming rack gets in the way sometimes
- Not that heat efficient as ceramic kamados
Masterbuilt Smoke Hollow 30-Inch Electric Smoker
All Smoke Hollow electric smokers are affordable yet highly functional units that are designed to compete against the well-known Masterbuilt electric smokers. If you’re just getting started with smoking, and you’re looking for a product that is easy to use, maintains a steady temperature, and cooks food well every time, then this electric smoker is an excellent choice for you!
Masterbuilt Smoke Hollow 30-Inch Electric Smoker comes with three cooking grids that can accommodate five pounds of meat. This is enough to feed a large family! However, there is one thing you have to keep in mind when it comes to getting this smoker. The product uses electricity, so, it might not be the most suitable smoker for camping or tailgating.
Click here to check out some other amazing smokers from Masterbuilt!
Masterbuilt Smoke Hollow 30-Inch Electric Smoker Features
What makes this Smoke Hollow smoker stand out from its competition is the exceptional insulation. It features two steel walls and is completely resilient to the outside temperature. The fact that there is very little temperature fluctuation gives the owner greater control over the unit’s temperature, resulting in evenly cooked food every single time.
What buyers love about this smoker is the consistent heat. The unit is well insulated which is the reason why the heat is consistent. This allows the pitmasters to cook meats quickly and get perfect results every single time.
There are a few other features worth mentioning. The doors feature a magnetic sealing mechanism that prevents smoke from leaking out and leaving tasteless meat behind.
Then, the unit comes with an electrical control mechanism which further improves the performance of the smoker by keeping the temperature steady all the time.
Last but not least, cleaning this smoker is super easy, which is very useful if you plan to cook often.
Masterbuilt Smoke Hollow 30-Inch Electric Smoker Pros:
- Made out of high-quality materials
- Comes with three removable grids
- Exceptional insulation and sturdy construction
- Straightforward to use
- Features three heat settings for different types of food
Masterbuilt Smoke Hollow 30-Inch Electric Smoker Cons:
- It needs constant monitoring because the wood burner goes through wood chips pretty fast
- The smoker doesn’t display temperature gauges
Kamado Joe Jr
Kamado Joe Jr features all the benefits of a traditional kamado grill packed into a 68-pound unit. Even though it is smaller in size compared to other Kamado Joe grills, 68 pounds is still not that easy to move around. As all kamado grills, this one also remains hot for some time once you’re done with cooking, so don’t expect to be able to move it as soon as you finish grilling your food. The grill features 148.5 square inches of cooking space which is enough to keep the entire family happy and fed.
For more awesome kamado grills, click here!
Kamado Joe Jr Features
Innovative & Versatile
Just because Kamado Joe Jr is smaller, it doesn’t mean that it lacks anything that larger versions have. Just like all the other units, you get to smoke, bake, sear, and slow-roast your food with just one grill. In addition, the product features the revolutionary SlōRoller and the Divide & Conquer Flexible Cooking System, pushing the boundaries of traditional grilling.
The Kamado Joe Jr. is built of high-quality materials that will allow you to get the most out of your grilling experience. In addition, this kamado grill features a range of different surfaces that will allow you to mix and match different cooking styles.
Due to its smaller size, Kamado Joe Jr lacks some features that its larger brothers have. For example, you won’t get the airlift hinge, AMP firebox, or the slide-out ash drawer. Luckily, these aren’t the accessories you need if you plan to use this smoker for portable cooking.
What you do get is a good-quality 304 gauge stainless steel grate, heat deflector, a built-in thermometer, regular hinge, and a neat little tool that will make cleaning out the ash easier.
Kamado Joe Jr Pros:
- A high-quality unit that is also affordable
- Comes with neat accessories
- Includes innovative features that other Kamado Joe grills have
- 148.5 square inches of cooking space
Kamado Joe Jr Cons:
- The unit takes some time to cool down after cooking
- It lacks some of the advanced features of the bigger Kamado Joe grills
Char-Griller Akorn Jr
Similarly to the previous product, Char-Griller Akorn Jr is a compact version of the Akorn ceramic grill. But, despite its compact size, this grill packs some serious power. Just like the original Akorn, this version also includes precise temperature control thanks to its steel and ceramic construction and large domed lid.
The compact design will allow the Char-Griller to fit in anywhere and still, you will get enough cooking space to feed your whole family. However, moving it around might be a bit difficult since the grill lacks wheels.
For more awesome kamado grills, click here!
Char-Griller Akorn Jr Features
The Akorn Jr is designed to mimic the internal cooking environment of expensive clay ovens. So, not only can you use it for grilling steaks, but also cooking veggies and baking bread and pizza.
The manufacturer didn’t focus only on the inside, but also made sure to make the outside of the grill from quality thick steel.
Grates & Dampers
The cast-iron grates do a great job of distributing heat evenly throughout the cooking surface. In addition, cast-iron is a better choice than stainless steel in terms of maintaining heat and speeding up the cooking time.
The dampers regulate the airflow and ensure precise temperature control which is very useful if you plan to use the grill as a smoker. Learning how far to open the dampers can be a bit tricky the first few times, but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it
What makes ceramic grills stand out is the excellent temperature regulation. If you are serious about your barbecue, then getting a ceramic grill is an excellent choice since it will provide the best temperature regulation there is. The ceramic interior is an efficient insulator and you won’t need to use too much fuel. In addition, the grill can produce very high temperatures that ensure great performance and excellent cooking results.
Char-Griller Akorn Jr Pros:
- 153 square inches of cooking space
- Built of high-quality materials
- Excellent performance and temperature regulation
- Can be used as a grill, smoker, and even an oven
- Simple to use and easy to clean
Char-Griller Akorn Jr Cons:
- There are no wheels, making it difficult to move the grill around
- It takes some time to cool down after cooking
How to Pick The Right Portable Smoker
Now that we’ve shown you so many different options, you may find it hard to decide which smoker is the right one for all your needs. But, don’t worry, we got that covered as well! Here is why you should look for in a portable smoker.
Choosing the type of smoker
There are four different types of smokers. You can choose between pellet, charcoal, electricity, or propane smokers.
Charcoal smokers are often regarded as the best smokers on the market since they infuse your food with that authentic smoky flavor. However, some people find using charcoal when they go camping or tailgating a bit complicated.
Gas smokers tend to be the most expensive type of smokers, but they are cheap to use since you don’t have to buy additional wood pellets or charcoal. These smokers give you more precise control of the temperature as you are cooking.
Electric smokers are smaller in size, making them a very good choice in terms of portability. These smokers also tend to be the cheapest option available as well. However, most people avoid getting electric smokers for camping or tailgating, because you must have an electric outlet nearby.
Pellet smokers combine electricity and wood pellets. They require electricity to run, but the wood pellets infuse the authentic smoky flavor into the food.
Check out our deep dive on the different types of smokers to learn more.
If you’re choosing your portable smoker based on a certain budget, there are two options for you. You can either go for a budget-friendly type or the high-end type.
The budget-friendly types have a price range between $50 – $100. They are not as reliable as the high-quality models and might fail you every now and then when it comes to, for example, heat retention or temperature control. The high-end portable smokers usually cost above $200, but they come with many desirable functions and features.
Smokers come in various sizes, and, portable smokers are a lot smaller than the regular ones. So, you need to plan out in advance what types of food are you going to smoke. Is it going to be just wings, a chicken, or a whole turkey? Also, do you want to smoke larger batches of food? Based on your answers to these questions, you can choose the size and capacity of your portable smoker.
The most important feature of a portable smoker is, obviously, it’s portability. Portable doesn’t just mean small enough to fit in your trunk. You also have to keep other things in mind, such as the ease of moving, the storage of the smoker, and so on. For example, do you remember GMG Davy Crockett? It is small, lightweight, and portable, however, lifting it up on your own can be a bit inconvenient.