charcoal bbq vs smoker which is better

When it comes to outdoor cooking, the age-old debate of charcoal bbq vs smoker which is better rages on. With so many different grills and smokers out there today, it can be difficult to know which one will best suit your needs. In this blog post, we’ll compare a charcoal BBQ and a smoker side by side, outlining their pros and cons in order for you to make an informed decision about what type of grill or smoker is right for you. So let’s dive into the debate: charcoal bbq vs smoker – which is better?

Table of Contents:

Charcoal BBQs: Pros and Cons

Charcoal BBQs have been a popular choice for outdoor cooking since the early 1900s. While they may not be as convenient or efficient as gas grills, there are still many advantages to using charcoal.

One of the main benefits of charcoal is its affordability. Charcoal is generally cheaper than propane and other fuel sources used in gas grills, making it an ideal option for those on a budget. Additionally, charcoal is widely available at most grocery stores and home improvement centres, so you don’t need to go out of your way to find it.

Another advantage of using a charcoal grill is portability. Since they are usually smaller than their gas counterparts, they can easily be moved from one location to another without much effort or hassle. This makes them great for camping trips or tailgating events where space might be limited but you still want to enjoy some delicious grilled food.

charcoal bbq vs smoker which is better

The flavour that comes with cooking over hot coals cannot be replicated by any other type of grill – this alone makes it worth considering if you’re looking for something special when entertaining guests outdoors. The smoky taste that comes from burning wood chips adds an extra layer of flavour that just can’t be matched by anything else. Plus, the heat generated by burning coal helps seal in juices and moisture while giving your food a nice char-grilled finish – perfect for burgers and steaks.

Finally, although it takes longer than firing up a gas grill (usually about 20 minutes), once lit properly charcoal grills require very little maintenance throughout the duration of your cookout; all you really need to do is keep an eye on temperature levels and adjust accordingly if needed. This makes them incredibly easy to use even if you’re new to outdoor cooking – no complicated knobs or settings required here.

Key Takeaway: Smokers offer convenience, cost-effectiveness, flavour profiles, portability and a time commitment – all factors worth considering when choosing the best outdoor cooking option.

Smokers: Pros and Cons

Smokers are an increasingly popular way to cook food, and for good reason. They offer a unique flavour that can’t be achieved with other cooking methods, as well as the ability to slow-cook meats over long periods of time. But before you decide on investing in one, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons of using a smoker.


Temperature Control – Smokers allow you to maintain consistent temperatures throughout your cooking process which is key for ensuring even doneness of whatever meat or vegetables you are preparing. This makes them ideal for slow-cooking large cuts of meat like brisket or pork shoulder without having to worry about burning them.

Flavour – Smoking adds a unique flavour profile that can’t be replicated with any other method of cooking; this is why many people choose smokers over traditional grills when they want something special from their meals. The smoke produced by wood chips or chunks infuses the food with its distinct taste while also helping keep it moist during the lengthy smoking process.

Time Commitment – One major benefit of using a smoker is that once you have set up your fire and adjusted your temperature settings, there isn’t much else required until it’s time to take out your finished product. This allows busy cooks who may not have hours at a time available for tending fires or adjusting heat levels the opportunity to still enjoy smoked foods without having to constantly monitor their progress every few minutes (or worse yet, forgetting about them entirely).


Fuel Source – Depending on what type of fuel source you use (wood chips/chunks vs charcoal), smokers require more attention than traditional grills when starting up and maintaining steady temperatures throughout their use; this means more frequent refilling if using wood chips/chunks or needing additional charcoal briquettes added periodically if using charcoal instead. Additionally, some types may require specific fuels such as propane gas tanks which could add extra costs depending on how often they need replacing or refilling

After each use, smokers must be cleaned thoroughly in order to prevent residue buildup from previous smokes which can negatively affect future flavours. This means scrubbing down all surfaces including inside walls where grease has built up over time as well as disposing of any used fuel sources such as ashes from burned wood chunks/chips etc. All these tasks create quite a mess so plan accordingly

Overall, smokers offer a great way to slow-cook food and provide a unique flavour that charcoal grills can’t replicate. However, they are more difficult to use and require greater maintenance. Now let’s explore which is the better option for your outdoor cooking needs – charcoal bbq or smoker?

Tips for Choosing the Right Grill

charcoal BBQs and smokers. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to know which one is right for you before making a purchase.


Charcoal BBQs tend to be more affordable than smokers, making them the ideal choice if you’re on a tight budget. Smokers can range from basic models that cost around $100 up to high-end units that can cost thousands of dollars.

Space Constraints:

If space is an issue, then a charcoal BBQ may be your best bet as they typically take up less room than smokers do. However, if you have plenty of outdoor space or even an entire patio dedicated to grilling, then a smoker might be the way to go since they offer larger cooking surfaces and greater temperature control capabilities.

charcoal bbq vs smoker which is better

When it comes down to flavour profile preference, both charcoal BBQs and smokers will get the job done but in different ways. Charcoal BBQs give food that classic smoky flavour while also providing some charring due to direct heat exposure over hot coals; whereas smoking food slowly over indirect heat gives food more of a subtle smokiness without any charring or burning flavours associated with direct heat grilling methods like those used by charcoal BBQs.

Temperature Control Capabilities:

Temperature control capabilities vary between these two types of grills as well; generally speaking though most charcoal barbecues don’t offer much in terms of precise temperature control other than adjusting how close/far away your food is from the coals (which isn’t always easy). On the other hand, many smokers come equipped with digital thermometers which allow for accurate temperature readings and adjustments throughout your cook time ensuring perfect results every time.

Key Takeaway: Charcoal BBQs and smokers both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to consider budget, space constraints, flavour profile preference, and temperature control capabilities when deciding which one is best for you.

FAQs in Relation to Charcoal BBQ vs Smoker Which is Better

Is a smoker better than a BBQ?

It really depends on the individual’s preference and needs. Smokers are great for slow-cooking meats, giving them a unique smoky flavour. On the other hand, BBQs are more versatile as they can be used to cook a variety of foods quickly and easily. Both have their advantages and disadvantages so it is important to consider your own needs before making a decision. Ultimately, there is no definitive answer – it comes down to personal preference.

Is it better to smoke meat with wood or charcoal?

The debate between smoking meat with wood or charcoal is a long-standing one. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the type of flavour you’re looking for in your smoked meats. Wood tends to give a more subtle smoky flavour while charcoal can produce a stronger smokey taste. Additionally, wood produces more smoke than charcoal which can be beneficial when trying to achieve that classic smoked flavour. Ultimately, both options are viable and will yield delicious results depending on the type of food being cooked and the desired outcome.


In conclusion, when it comes to charcoal bbq vs smoker which is better, the answer really depends on your preferences and needs. Charcoal BBQs are great for those who want a quick meal with minimal fuss while smokers provide more control over the cooking process and can create delicious smoky flavours. Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on what type of grilling experience you’re looking for. If you take into account all of the pros and cons outlined in this article as well as our tips for choosing the right grill, you should be able to make an informed decision that will give you years of enjoyment.

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