When it comes to picking a smoker, you have some choices. You can go horizontal or vertical, and then there are various options.
Different fuel types and designs all add to the difficulty of choosing.
Choosing the best vertical smoker brings choices of coal, wood, pellet, gas, and electric, size, shape, cooking capacity, warranties, and of course, your budget.
Selecting which one will be the option for your cooking and smoking requirements may take time and consideration.
Now, fire up a couple of the best vertical smokers around.
Look at the different types of smokers available to get the smokin’ low-down to make your vertical smoker that much easier.
What Is A Vertical Smoker ?
As the name implies, it is a smoker that stands upright with the firebox at the cooker’s base.
Many vertical smokers have a second or even third cooking rack to increase the cooking capacity.
The smoke is generated using wood chips placed above the firebox and the water tray.
As the heat moves over the wood, it causes the wood to smolder, and the smoke is released through the cooking chamber and into the meat.
The water is used to prevent the meat from drying out, and good vertical smokers will have a fuel door that allows the user to add fuel as needed.
Life will be a little more complicated if the vertical smoker you are looking at doesn’t have a fuel door.
Vertical Smoker Cons
Vertical smokers don’t create as much smoke as offset horizontal ones do, and some people feel that the smoke profile is a little light.
This means that the depth of smoky flavor isn’t as pronounced as offset horizontal smokers.
They can also be more expensive for less cooking space than an offset horizontal smoker, so you can’t cook for many people at once.
But, quite a few vertical smokers offer some phenomenal cooking space, too.
So you need to know how many people you’ll be cooking for before choosing your vertical smoker.
Vertical smokers mostly run on coal, but there are electrical smokers too, and vertical pellet smokers use wood pellets.
While you can add wood to your firebox, in most cases, they use coal only with the wood placed in the tray for adding the smoking flavor only.
Another consideration is the loss of heat and smoke when you open the door to turn the food.
Due to the vertical design, you will need to turn your food to ensure an even smoke distribution into the meat.
When this happens, you will need to access the cooking chamber door.
One last thing. Vertical smokers do not grill.
Due to their design, they can’t double up as grills, so if you want the versatility of a smoker that can grill, too, you’ll need to go horizontal offset.
Vertical Smoker Pros
For starters, vertical smokers are more compact and generally lighter, and more portable than horizontal smokers.
They use much less fuel as the natural heat flow is more efficient, and they cook faster.
They also don’t release as much smoke.
This can be handy when you live in an apartment and cook on your balcony.
They take up a lot less space as well, which is excellent if you don’t have a massive backyard.
Another big plus is that they don’t require nearly as much effort to clean and maintain as offset smokers would.
With some smokers, you just have to wipe them down occasionally and remove the ash leftover from the coal.
Vertical smokers are fantastic.
So let’s look at the best ones in each fuel category of coal, gas, pellets, and electricity and which is the best offset smoker and best heavy-duty smoker.
What Is An Electrical Vertical Smoker
This smoker uses an electrical element to generate the heat, and those can be rated from 500W upwards, so they don’t cost a lot to run at all.
An electrical smoker is the easiest to use and requires the slightest effort to deliver great smoked meals consistently.
Set the desired temperature, add the wood for smoking and the water, put your meat on the rack and let it go!
The design allows more cooking space, and more racks can be stacked, so more food and different types can be cooked simultaneously.
The epitome of the’ set-and-forget smoker, so if leisurely perfection with smoking is your goal, the electric smoker is for you.
Best Vertical Smokers
Best Electric Vertical Smoker – Bradley 4 Rack Digital Smoker
Aside from the impressive design, this digital smoker comes with tricks, including a smartphone app for control at your fingertips.
The cooking chamber is made from rust-resistant stainless steel, and the exterior wall is epoxy coated.
Suing two heating elements for maximum temperature and smoke control, plus an automatic briquette feeder, just set the temperature and smokiness level and let it be.
You may not even have to add wood chips as the briquette feeder keeps the smoke steady.
This dual-element design is unique to Bradley, and you can have that low-and-slow deep smoked finish or turn it down for a lighter, more delicate flavor.
This is effortless hands-off smoking at best, with an auto-off feature to prevent overcooking.
But you can only use the Bradley brand briquettes for the feeder, but they come in 16 different flavors, so that isn’t an issue.
This smoker is not recommended for cold climates due to the smaller heating element.
Best Vertical Pellet Smoker – Pit Boss 5 Series
The vertical pellet smoker uses an electrically powered auger to feed the wood pellets into the firebox and maintain a steady temperature and smoke level.
The fully adjustable Pit Boss 5 vertical smoker can take anything from ribs to a full-sized Christmas turkey.
The temperature is monitored on a large LCD screen on the front of the unit and adjusted accordingly with the controls.
The 40lb hopper means this smoker can cook for up to 24 hours without running out of fuel, and adding pellets is a simple task.
Ideal for the low-and-slow meals, this smoker can also do most foods you can do in an oven, including pizza!
Best Vertical Charcoal Smoker – Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM)
Weber is a world-class brand famous for their kettle grills, and Smokey Mountain is the only dedicated smoker in its range.
This is one of the best and top-rated vertical charcoal smokers around.
Weber offers this smoker in three different models depending on what size you want.
They have added an extra pipe in the middle of what looks like a kettle grill to make this into a bullet-style vertical smoker.
It has two cooking racks with plenty of cooking space, and the water pan and wood pan are located above the firebox.
The enamel-coated steel provides superb insulation, so this smoker is hyper-efficient with fuel.
The thermometer in the lid will provide the temperature control and even links to their iGrill app, allowing Bluetooth connectivity for extra convenience.
This smoker is light and easy to clean and will last a lifetime if looked after.
This smoker is so good that even though the smoke profile may not be as deep as an offset, it has still done well in the competition arena!
Best Vertical Propane Smoker – Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker
Propane-powered vertical smokers are the next simplest to use besides electricity.
Aside from ensuring you have enough fuel, these are another set-and-forget smoker that delivers consistent results from low-and-slow up to 400F for crispier finishes.
This Masterbuilt vertical propane smoker is great for beginners as it is easy to use, control, and clean.
It is easy and efficient. Because it’s propane, temperature control is insanely easy, and this will suit novice smokers to the ground.
The newly redesigned thermostat control makes life that much more accessible.
The cooking space is substantial at 792 sq inches across four cooking racks, so cooking large meals for a lot of people is no sweat.
A good feature of this smoker is the individual access to the wood chip tray and burner, which prevents heat loss from the cooking chamber when adding more chips.
Made from stainless steel, this smoker is solid and robust.
One of the few drawbacks of this smoker particularly is the warranty.
At only one year, that doesn’t inspire confidence as most vertical smokers have a five-year and even a ten-year warranty in the case of Smokey Mountain.
Best Vertical Offset Smoker – Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker
A vertical offset smoker is similar to the horizontal design, just upright.
The firebox sits adjacent to the cooking chamber, and the heat and smoke are drawn through the chamber up to the chimney.
These smokers have excellent cooking space, more than most, as the firebox is not integrated into the cooking chamber but sits next to it.
The capacity is enormous with some 1176 square inches and six cooking grates taking up to25lbs of food each
If you have large family gatherings or do some serious cooking, this one could be your only and best option!
The heavy-duty steel construction makes this smoker highly durable, and dual doors reduce heat and smoke loss.
Controlling the temperature and smoke is done with the flue.
The temperature gauge and cleaning the ash out is a simple task with the removable ash pan, which is sizeable and able to hold a good quantity of ash.
This is a charcoal smoker and relatively lightweight at 57lbs, so portability isn’t an issue, and neither is space.
As a smoker, the Dyna-Glo ticks many boxes right off the bat, and you’d be hard-pressed to find better value and quality at this price level.
Best Heavy-Duty Vertical Smoker – Backwoods Chubby Charcoal Smoker
This is another smoker built for punishment and has a considerable cooking capacity of 1023 sq inches.
Made from stainless steel with a powder-coated exterior box weighing in at 138lbs, this is not lightweight.
But still lighter than most offset smokers and can be lifted to a tailgate or back of a truck without too much fuss.
Then temperature ranges from 180F to 300F, so it can do the low and slow and meat at higher temperatures when needed.
At just under $1000, this is more suited to pro-level smoking, and this bank-safe-looking smoker will deliver superbly smoked meals every time.
This rough and tough smoker doesn’t need assembly and is ready to go out of the box.
Its double-walled design provides excellent insulation, and the stainless steel interior is easy to clean.
This is one of the few vertical smokers than can double up as a grill, as removing the pan provides the depth to create a coal fire pit.
Its design is an award-winning one, and it is ideally suited for amateurs and professionals alike, capable of turning out head-turning meals!
Aside from the price tag, this compact smoker is only 29 inches high.
So you may want to uplift it a little to cook on it without bending your back all the time.
Another ill-conceived downside is the warranty. It has only one year warranty.
Considering the almost $1000 price tag, that could be the only true spanner in the works of an otherwise robust, hardy, durable, and efficient vertical smoker.
Compare that to the ten-year warranty of the Weber Smokey Mountain, which is almost half the price and weight; you can see why this could raise some eyebrows.
This is a world-class vertical smoker, and money on this investment would be well spent in terms of lifespan, ease of use, and cooking results.
Vertical smokers offer many benefits.
From faster cooking, less fuel and maintenance, good versatility and portability, ample cooking space, and various fuel options and designs to suit pockets and style.
The vertical smoker has proved it has a place.
Your choice of fuel, style, design and features will depend solely on how many people you want to feed and the types of food and level of flavor you want to impart.
But with the choices on offer here, that decision should now be that much simpler.