7 Best Portable Smokers of 2023 (Reviewed)

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Matt Richard

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My Top Pick

The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is the best portable smoker. I’ve tested dozens of models over the years, and this Weber stands out for its solid construction, even smoke distribution, and overall ease of use.

If you’re a barbecue fanatic like me, a portable smoker is a must-have for any weekend trip. Unfortunately, finding the right one is tough since many are heavy, awkward to carry, or subpar at cooking.

In this guide, I’m sharing my top picks for the best portable smokers on the market based on the dozens of models I’ve tested over the years.

Reviews of the Best Portable Smokers

Here’s an overview of the smokers that made the list. You can click the link to jump to that product’s review.

  1. Best Overall: Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
  2. Best Portable Pellet Grill: Traeger Tailgater
  3. Most Compact: Traeger Ranger
  4. Best Portable Electric Smoker: Ninja Woodfire
  5. Best Portable Gas Smoker: Masterbuilt Patio-2-Portable Smoker
  6. Also Great: Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler
  7. Also Great: Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker

1. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

This smoker is my go-to weapon of choice when barbecuing away from home (usually camping or tailgating). Even after 6 years of regular use, it hasn’t let me down.


Weber 18-Inch Smokey Mountain Cooker

A highly durable charcoal smoker with adjustable vents and an accessible fuel door. It’s the easiest charcoal smoker I’ve ever used.

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You can choose a 14, 18, or 22-inch model. They all come with two cooking grates (the inches represent the grate’s diameter). The only difference between them is the dimensions and weight.

So I recommend choosing the size based on what type of meat you cook most often. I own the 18-inch one, and I’ve found it’s a perfect size.

FYI: As I’ve had my WSM for several years, the inside isn’t exactly new looking. So, instead of cleaning it just for pictures, I took photos of the one I bought for my dad (also the 18-inch model).

Weber Smokey Mountain front view
Fully assembled Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

I’ve cooked many different meats on my Weber, from brisket to ribs to pork shoulder. So, as long as the meat you’re smoking fits within the width of the smoker, you can cook it.

Since this Weber uses charcoal, you won’t have to haul around heavy propane tanks or set up near an electrical outlet (it doesn’t have any electrical components).

Of course, you’ll have to ensure you have enough charcoal briquettes.

Helpful Tip

To help you gauge how much charcoal you’ll need, I fill the charcoal ring about halfway up, which is enough to last about 8 hours.

A door on the front allows you to add more charcoal or wood chunks during your cook. This feature is handy for longer cooking sessions, enabling you to maintain a consistent temperature.

Weber Smokey Mountain door open
The door allows you to add more wood and charcoal

There’s a built-in thermometer on the top, but it’s not very accurate (like all smokers).

As a result, I recommend purchasing a separate meat thermometer whenever using a smoker, whether it’s this one or any other.

Weber Smokey Mountain temperature gauge
Built-in thermometer (which I don’t advise using)

This particular Weber model also comes with a heavy-duty cover to protect against outside elements like rain which cause rust over time.

I suggest using this cover whenever it’s not in use, especially if you plan on storing it outside.

Weber Smokey Mountain cover
Storage cover for the WSM (included with purchase)

Although it would make sense for a portable smoker to have handles on the sides, this one doesn’t.

Thankfully, I have not encountered that as a major setback since the unit is lightweight and can separate into three pieces. This separation feature makes it easy to fit into a vehicle.

Weber Smokey Mountain top view with three components
Disconnects into three parts

Overall, the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is excellent for beginners and experienced pitmasters alike. There’s no doubt it’s built to last. To date, I haven’t experienced any issues with it.

2. Traeger Tailgater

If you love the style of the traditional pellet grill but want a smaller (and more portable) version, the Traeger Tailgater is a solid choice.


Traeger Tailgater 20 Wood Pellet Grill

The Tailgater has precise temperature control and a decent cooking capacity. It has carrying handles on the sides, but the legs could be better.

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When I first unboxed the Traeger Tailgater, it was much smaller than I anticipated. This model mimics the design of Traeger’s traditional pellet smokers, just much more scaled down.

That said, it holds up in terms of cooking performance. It maintains a steady temperature, which you can easily adjust by pressing the buttons on the digital controller.

Although the unit appears small, I smoked two whole chickens simultaneously without issue. It took about 4 hours at 225°F, and they turned out excellent.

Interior parts such as the deflector plate, grill grates, and drip pan are easily removable, making them easy to clean and maintain.

Buyer’s Note

Don’t consider this model if you’re buying it for the legs. I found this product works better when the legs are folded away or removed because they’re short and challenging to deploy.

The vent’s positioning is also impractical sometimes since they’re slots at the top of the lid. So, if it rains, water can enter easily. However, the vents aren’t a concern if the weather is nice.

Like almost all pellet grills I’ve used, you’ll need the instruction manual nearby when learning to master the unit because the control panel buttons are ambiguous.

In short, I’ve ranked the Traeger Tailgater as the best portable pellet grill. Its large cooking capacity and ease of use are impressive for such a small unit.

3. Traeger Ranger

The Traeger Ranger is a smaller version of the Tailgater mentioned above. Still, it works just like a standard pellet grill.


Traeger Ranger Pellet Grill

The Ranger is perfect if compactness is your priority. It’s effortless to set up and stress-free to use.

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I was excited to try the Ranger and see how it compared to its predecessor, the Scout. I’ve noticed that the Ranger isn’t prone to the drastic temperature swings the Scout had. I’m glad to see they fixed this!

Another improvement with the Ranger is its hopper capacity, which now holds the same amount of pellets as the Tailgater (8 lbs).

The Scout had a notoriously small hopper capacity, which made it annoying to smoke for extended periods as you’d have to refill it frequently.

Of course, since this is a pellet grill, you’ll need access to an electrical outlet to power the unit.

Helpful Tip

You can use a generator if you don’t have an electrical outlet nearby. I’ve used a Duracell power generator (battery-operated) to keep the Ranger going for an 8-hour smoke, and it worked great.

The Traeger Ranger weighs 54 pounds, which isn’t the lightest option on this list. However, transporting it is nearly effortless with the latches to keep the lid closed and the compact design.

The cooking capacity of the Ranger is small, with only 176 square inches of cooking space. This means that you’re limited in what you can cook.

Still, it has some depth, so I could fit a pork shoulder inside and close the lid. Although, it probably wouldn’t fit anything taller.

Lastly, the pellet hopper is housed inside the unit, making it more compact. Although, this design inherently decreases the cooking space.

In a future iteration, it would be neat to see if Traeger could house the hopper inside the unit for transport but make it removable and attach it to the outside while you’re cooking.

All in all, the Traeger Ranger is perfect if you value compactness over cooking capacity. For example, if you have an RV, you can store it in a cupboard and always have it with you.

4. Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill and Smoker

Although Ninja may not be the first brand that comes to mind when you think of barbecuing, they’ve made an outstanding mini portable smoker that also functions as a grill, air fryer, and more.


Ninja OG701 Woodfire Outdoor Grill & Smoker

This smoker-grill combo is beginner-friendly and performs great. Plus, its lightweight build makes it ideal for outdoor events.

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The Ninja smoker is extremely user-friendly, requiring no prior experience or learning curve. Even if you’re a novice to smoking meat, you can easily produce a mouth-watering meal on your first attempt.

Hands down, this is the most straightforward smoker I’ve ever used. And it comes pre-assembled. You only need to put the side handles on.

It’s easy to move around and store thanks to the compact design, so it’s great to take camping or on road trips.

Still, despite its small size, this Ninja is incredibly versatile. You can smoke, bake, air fry, roast, and dehydrate your food.

Since it’s electric, there’s no need to worry about carrying around propane tanks or bags of charcoal. However, you need access to an electrical outlet to operate it.

Noteworthy Feature

The front panel has a switch enabling you to change cooking modes, and you can adjust the temperature with the press of a button.

Once switched to the smoking setting, the device ignites the wood pellet burner and typically takes 3 minutes to produce smoke. The lid has a tight seal, preventing smoke from escaping.

The cord is relatively short, measuring only 2.5 feet, so you’ll likely need an extension cord to reach a power outlet.

Additionally, keep in mind that this smoker has a relatively small cooking surface of 141 square inches. While I could smoke a rack of ribs, it wouldn’t fit a larger cut of meat such as brisket.

Overall, the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill and Smoker is versatile and durable and lets you control the cooking process precisely. It’s an excellent choice if you’re okay with the small cooking area.

5. Masterbuilt Patio-2-Portable Smoker

If you’re looking for a smoker that imparts a more authentic barbecue taste than an electric smoker, you should consider one fuelled by propane. In that case, this Masterbuilt model is an excellent choice.


Masterbuilt Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker

This smoker has a compact design with ample cooking space. It runs on a 1 lb. propane cylinder or 20 lb. tank (adapter sold separately).

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As evidenced by its name, this smoker is designed with portability at the forefront. The handles on both sides make it easy to carry, and the legs fold up neatly for storage.

Initially, I had doubts about the sturdiness of this unit. However, although it’s not as durable as other options, such as the Weber, it’s better constructed than it appears.

Since this smoker runs on propane, you don’t need access to electricity, which gives you a lot more flexibility in where you can use it.


The default valve is intended for a 1-pound propane tank (the small camping ones), but you can purchase an attachment to use the standard-size propane tanks.

In terms of performance, I found that this smoker did a great job producing and retaining smoke, and the vents were easily adjustable at the top backside. You control the propane with the regulator on the hose.

The only downside I found was that on very windy days, I had to wrap tin foil around the lower half of the smoker to prevent the wind from blowing out the flame.

In summary, this Masterbuilt Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker is reasonably durable, very light, and performs well, considering its low price.

6. Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler

There’s something undeniably impressive about the traditional style of the Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler. It turns heads wherever you take it, whether RVing or at an outdoor event like a race or tailgate.


Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill

The Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler is a durable and practical smoker with an authentic appearance. It is also user-friendly and easy to clean.

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When I first saw the box, I assumed this unit would weigh at least 100 lbs. Yet, it weighs under 50 lbs, which is surprising considering its durability.

It fits comfortably into my SUV, leaving plenty of space for other gear. However, it could easily fit into the trunk of a small car.

This Rambler is also quite versatile for a charcoal smoker. You can adjust the height of the charcoal tray to accommodate whatever you’re cooking.

Good to Know

This Rambler is also quite versatile for a charcoal smoker. You can adjust the height of the charcoal tray to accommodate whatever you’re cooking.

I was able to smoke two racks of ribs in 4 hours. However, if you’re smoking longer, you’ll need to add charcoal a few times.

One issue with the Rambler is that smoke can leak from underneath the lid. This flaw occurs because the lid doesn’t have a tight seal.

Although this issue is prevalent in many charcoal smokers, it’s more noticeable in this one because the space is smaller, affecting the temperature more.

While not necessarily a downside, it’s important to note that the charcoal tray hooks can get quite hot during use, making it crucial to wear mitts when touching them.

This is especially important to remember since the positioning of the hooks can make it easy to forget to wear mitts (speaking from experience here!).

In short, the Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler is an eye-catching portable smoker grill combo with sturdy steel construction built to last. Yet, it weighs under 50 lbs, making it manageable to carry.

7. Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker

If you want a portable electric smoker but need more cooking space than the Ninja, you may want to consider this alternative.


Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker

This portable smoker has carrying handles and a lightweight design, making it a good value despite its lack of durability.

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Most electric smokers aren’t designed to be portable. However, this one weighs just under 50 lbs and has handles on the sides for carrying.

This Char-Broil differs from many other electric models because it doesn’t have a digital display screen. Instead, the temperature controller is on the piece that plugs into the side of the unit.

The analog system makes this smoker an ideal choice if you plan to take it on the road or to an outdoor event because fewer components can potentially malfunction.

For example, there aren’t delicate buttons you must worry about while packing or transporting.

Buyer’s Note

There’s a sister model with a digital screen. However, the digital version doesn’t have handles on the side (making it less portable).

Another benefit that I like about this smoker is the dual latches. They feel sturdy and tightly hold the front door closed so smoke doesn’t leak out.

The cooking capacity isn’t anything to look down on, either. It has 544 square inches of space on three cooking grates. Additionally, you can adjust the grates’ height for various meat sizes.

The first drawback is that it only reaches a maximum temperature of 275°F. That’s appropriate for smoking most meats, but you can’t sear as you would with a pellet or charcoal smoker.

Second, it feels slightly less durable than other models on this list. So I would avoid this one if you want to make a long-term investment.

All in all, the Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker is a good entry-level option for beginners. And, although it’s less durable than other options on this list, it still offers acceptable value considering the low price.

What to Consider Before Purchasing a Portable Smoker

Finding the best portable smoker for your needs depends on several factors. Let’s look at these considerations in more detail.

What Fuel Type Do You Prefer?

The fuel source is one of the most important features of a smoker. It impacts the cook time, temperature range, ease of use, and flavor.


A traditional charcoal smoker can often provide the best value since they have fewer parts and more durable construction than other types. As a result, they typically last longer.

Since electricity isn’t needed, they’re often less expensive and suitable for use almost anywhere.

They can also reach very high temperatures. However, it’s more difficult to control the temperature than with an electric or propane smoker.

For example, you need to manually adjust the air dampers to adjust the temperature.

Good to Know

Operating a charcoal smoker requires a slight learning curve since you’ll need to learn how to light and align the briquettes for effective smoke.

Charcoal smokers are worth it despite a few extra steps for cleanup and maintenance because they produce a BBQ flavor that’s hard to replicate when using a gas smoker or electric smoker.

Wood Pellets

Pellet smokers rely on wood pellets for fuel instead of charcoal. An auger automatically feeds pellets from a hopper to a box on the bottom of the smoker. Of course, this requires electricity.

The built-in controller regulates the feed rate based on the temperature that you set. 

Thanks to the electric components, pellet smokers are easier to control than charcoal smokers. And they’re next best in terms of the taste they produce.

However, these components also add to the smoker’s cost. Additionally, they may also weigh more and take up more space than a charcoal smoker with the same cooking capacity.


A gas smoker offers greater temperature control than pellet and charcoal smokers. You can adjust the knob to change the temperature.

As you turn up the temperature, the propane burner increases the size of its flame as more gas is introduced.

Some models use a small 1-pound propane tank, while others rely on full-size tanks. Either way, remember to keep extra propane on hand, so you don’t run out before you’re done cooking.

Gas smokers are great if you’re camping because they don’t require electrical hookups, and propane is often sold at gas stations or convince stores.


An electric smoker is one of the simplest options if you can access electricity.

After you plug the unit into an electrical outlet, you can turn it on and set the temperature. Then, a coil inside heats up to burn the wood chips, creating smoke.

However, electric smokers also have more parts, meaning more can go wrong. For example, they can experience malfunctions, such as faulty heating elements and electric components.

Despite a few drawbacks, an electric smoker is easy to use and clean up. They’re also great if you don’t want to deal with messy charcoal or heavy propane tanks.

How Much Cooking Space Do You Need?

The cooking capacity of the smoker is measured in square inches. It refers to the overall surface area of the cooking grates.

You can also use the size of the grill grate to estimate the cooking area if the manufacturer does not supply this detail.

For example, a smoker with a 14-inch circular grill grate has a cooking capacity of about 154 square inches. A 15×10-inch smoker would have a total of about 150 square inches.

These smaller smokers can cook multiple servings of smoked meats. Still, you may need a larger smoker (18 or 20 inches) for a full-sized turkey or brisket.

Some designs include multiple levels, which is ideal if you want to smoke several items simultaneously.

Do You Need a Smoker That’s Beginner-Friendly?

If you want the most straightforward option, consider getting an electric smoker like the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill. You can plug it into an outlet, turn it on, and set the temperature with a dial.

The manual controls on propane and electric smokers typically include an on/off switch and a temperature range.

Charcoal smokers don’t typically include any controls but may come with a temperature gauge. Pellet smokers have an electric pellet igniter, making it easier to light the pellets.

Along with manual controls, some propane and electric smokers allow you to view and adjust the temperature using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a handheld remote.

Is the Smoker Light and Can It Fit in Your Vehicle?

The weight, size, and shape of the smoker impact its portability. For example, some smokers only weigh about 20 pounds, while others weigh 60 pounds or more.

Pro Tip

You should also check the dimensions (assembled) of the smoker if you intend to transport it in your vehicle.

Some options include folding legs to help take up less space. In contrast, others, like the Weber Smokey Mountain, can easily be separated into pieces for transport.

Many designs also include two or four wheels. While wheels can make moving a smoker easier on pavement, remember that small wheels don’t roll well on grass.

Is the Smoker Durable?

There are two main characteristics of a durable smoker. How it’s assembled and the material.

The type of material used on the exterior of the smoker is important, as some materials are more prone to rusting and damage. Common choices for the exterior include:

  • Stainless steel
  • Cast iron
  • Ceramic
  • Aluminum

Out of these materials, stainless steel and aluminum are the most common, as they are lightweight and affordable. 

If you plan to leave your smoker outdoors, consider purchasing a cover. No matter the material, the exterior will likely include bolts and pieces that may rust when exposed to moisture.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is sturdy but not always easy to clean. In addition, it has poor nonstick properties, which makes it more challenging to scrub food debris from the surface.

You may accidentally scratch the exterior if you use an abrasive cleaner or scouring pad. However, it’s more durable compared to aluminum.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is the most durable material for a smoker. It heats slowly but retains the heat longer. Cast iron smokers also tend to heat more evenly.

The main drawback is the weight of the cast iron, as these smokers tend to weigh significantly more compared to other options. 


Ceramic is the easiest material to clean and least likely to scratch compared to stainless steel and aluminum.

It also weighs less than cast iron. However, ceramic can crack if dropped or hit with a heavy object.


Aluminum is lightweight and rust-free. It also conducts heat very efficiently. However, it is also more prone to dents and dings compared to the other materials.

Aluminum is the least durable option but also less expensive. 

Consider a Smoker Grill Combo if You Need a Grill Feature Too

While many smokers only smoke food, some models offer grilling capabilities, too. The added advantage of a smoker-grill combo is you can smoke meat like steak and finish it off with a sear on the grill.

Typically, smoker-grill combos are charcoal or pellet grills, as electric ones often fall short of the required grilling temperature.

However, the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Grill stands out as one of the few portable electric smokers that can also grill.

Similarly, you can use the Weber Smokey Mountain charcoal cooker as a grill by placing the food on the bottom grate directly above the charcoal.

Although, if you don’t plan on using the grilling feature or if you have a standalone grill, you won’t need this option.

What’s Your Budget?

The average price of a reliable smoker is about $200 to $600. Charcoal smokers are often the most affordable, as they don’t include any electric components. 

Along with the fuel source, the size of the smoker is one of the main details that influence the cost. A larger smoker tends to cost more.

Cast iron and ceramic-coated smokers are likely to have a higher price tag compared to stainless steel and aluminum smokers. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have a few questions about portable smokers? I’ve answered the most common ones in the FAQ below.

What Is the Best Portable Smoker?

The best portable smoker is the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker because it’s lightweight, easy to carry, simple to use, and uses charcoal to take it anywhere.

How Much Should I Pay for a Smoker?

A reliable portable smoker will cost between $200 to $600. Above that price, there’s a diminishing rate of return.

Do You Have to Plug In a Pellet Grill?

You must plug in a pellet grill because it requires electricity to power the auger, which moves wood pellets to the fire pot.

Final Thoughts

With hundreds of models on the market, finding the best portable smoker can be challenging. After testing dozens of products, it’s clear that Weber Smokey Mountain is the winner.

While it’s not the cheapest option, its durable construction and overall performance make it worth the investment for serious barbecue enthusiasts.


Weber 18-Inch Smokey Mountain Cooker

A highly durable charcoal smoker with adjustable vents and an accessible fuel door. It’s the easiest charcoal smoker I’ve ever used.

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I hope this guide helped you find the best portable smoker for your needs and budget. Remember to routinely clean and maintain your smoker to extend its lifespan.

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Hey, I'm Matt Hollingshead, a BBQ enthusiast, beer connoisseur, and the founder of Grill Mentor. When I'm not trying new recipes with my Traeger or sampling a craft beer, I'm publishing articles for this site.

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