Best Grills for Smoking

Get great barbecue flavor from all kinds of grills—charcoal, kamado, pellet, and yes, even gas

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You don’t need to buy a separate smoker to get mouth-watering, tender, wood-smoked barbecue. A grill that’s great at indirect cooking can perform double-duty—grilling brats and burgers and slow-smoking a beef brisket or pork shoulder.

Some grills are inherently better-suited to the task of smoking, though.

With charcoal and kamado grills, you can add wood chips or chunks into the charcoal at any point to create plumes of flavorful wood smoke. And pellet grills impart smoke almost by default, as the wood pellets they use for fuel also add flavor. Gas models don’t have an advantage here, but they can still get the job done.

“Grill manufacturers have noted that over the past decade, there’s been a lot of interest in smoking foods in the backyard, so they’ve added features like smoker boxes for wood chips to their gas grills to make them more adept at smoking,” says Mark Allwood, CR’s market analyst for grills. At the same time, they're also branching out by adding pellet, charcoal, and kamado grills to their lineups in order to capture more of the barbecue market.

More on Grills

Here, we’ve highlighted five of the best grills from our tests for smoking, including gas, charcoal, kamado, and pellet grills. For gas and pellet grills, that means the model earns top scores for indirect cooking and temperature range—so it’s capable of holding the low, steady temperature needed for smoking. For charcoal and kamado grills, it means the grill has thoughtful features that make it easy to control the temperatures or add wood.

In CR's grill tests, we assess five different styles of grills from brands, including Big Green Egg, Char-Broil, Napoleon, Nexgrill, Traeger, and Weber. CR members can jump right to our ratings of grills. You can also learn more about different types of grills in our grill buying guide.

Best Grills for Smoking

Paul Hope

As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.