Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: July 23, 2021

Traditional smokers make it difficult to control temperatures. Using these, you run the risk of undercooked meat that can make you sick.

With a vertical pellet smoker, you get a more consistent cooking temperature and more evenly cooked meat.

We’ve narrowed down and reviewed the best vertical pellet smokers to help you up your grill game.

Table of Contents
Editor's Choice
pit boss grills pellet smoker
Pit Boss
Price
3.5
Product Material
5.0
Product Quality
5.0
Cooking Capacity
5.0
Overall Score
4.6
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#2nd Best Choice
masterbuilt mes electric smoker
MES Electric Smoker
Price
5.0
Product Material
4.0
Product Quality
4.5
Cooking Capacity
4.5
Overall Score
4.5
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#3rd Best Choice
Pit Barrel Cooker
Pit Barrel Cooker
Price
4.0
Product Material
4.0
Product Quality
4.0
Cooking Capacity
4.0
Overall Score
4.0
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Top 10 Vertical Pellet Smokers in 2021

1

Pit Boss Grills Vertical Pellet Smoker

If you are looking for the best vertical pellet smoker, this is the model you should consider first.

The Pit Boss Grills Smoker has everything you need in a pellet grill, including digital controls and readouts and stable temperature control.

It has a sizable door-sized viewing window, which we like as you can monitor the cooking without regularly opening up the unit.

The total cooking space is 1,513 square inches, with five porcelain coated cooking racks to work with.

Pit Boss Grills smokers can get up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius), which is enough to cook any meats you want. Many reviews pointed out that Pit Boss Grills has easy to reach customer support.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 28.82 x 27.83 x 52.76 in
BTU Value: 20700
Cooking Area: 1513 square inches
Hopper Capacity: 55 pounds
Fuel Type: Wood Pellets
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Large front viewing window
  • Large 1,513 square inch cooking capacity
  • Temperatures up to 450 degrees
  • Easy to read digital controller
  • With locking caster wheels
Cons
  • Hopper can be hard to clean
2

Masterbuilt MES Electric Smoker

The Masterbuilt MES provides a good balance between the smokey flavor you’re looking for from a traditional smoker and the ease of use and consistency of an electric smoker. This is an entirely self-contained unit with an efficient loading system on the side of the smoker.

You can load and refill wood chips without opening the cooking chamber and messing up the temperature range. The MES can hold up to six chickens, two turkeys, four racks of ribs, or four pork butts.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 19.88 x 20.47 x 33.26 in
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Electric
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Digital temperature control unit
  • Water bowl to add moisture
  • Four chrome-coated cooking racks
  • Easy to use pellet loader
Cons
  • No viewing window
3

Pit Barrel Co. Cooker

The Pit Barrel Cooker is another model you should definitely consider if you’re looking for the best vertical pellet smoker on the market.

Despite its plain and basic looks, the Pit Barrel Cooker provides an unparalleled cooking experience as it makes smoking easy and flexible. This 18-gauge porcelain-enameled drum has a vertical design that allows for shorter smoking time without monitoring the temperature every minute.

It also includes racks and hooks for plenty of cooking options. Overall this is a reliable option, but the one thing that held this back is that the cooking capacity actually varies depending on the accessories used.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 21 x 21 x 31.1 in
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 240 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Flexible cooking space
  • Simple to operate
  • Eight stainless steel hooks
  • Includes a coal basket
Cons
  • Barrel may not be deep enough
4

Weber Smokey Mountain Vertical Smoker

Weber is one of the biggest names in the grilling industry. This is one of their most popular charcoal smokers.

This is an easy to assemble smoker capable of reaching temperatures up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit (87 degrees Celsius). The total grill has over 700 square inches (4,516 Sq Cm) of cooking space with two smoking grates for cooking meat.

It’s important to note that wood pellets can be used with charcoal smokers. The pellets can improve the flavor of the meat and cook more consistently.

Of course, you can also use charcoal for smoking meat, and if you want to learn which charcoal type we think is the best you can check out this review.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 24 x 23 x 48.5 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 726 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Cookes with charcoal or wood pellets
  • Easy to assemble
  • Built-in lid thermometer
  • Rust-resistant material
Cons
  • More difficult to control temperature range
5

Dyna Glo Vertical Charcoal Smoker

The Dyna Glo DGO1 is an offset charcoal smoker. This is similar to the Weber Smokey Mountain in that you can use both charcoal, wood chips, or pellets for cooking meats. The cooking area is quite large, roughly 764 square inches (4,929 Sq Cm).

One thing we liked during testing was the dual door design, which keeps the unit from losing heat when adding more fuel. This can help to prevent massive temperature fluctuations and makes loading fuel much more manageable.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 34.52 x 47.03 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 1176 square inches
Hopper Capacity: 25 pounds per grate
Fuel Type: Charcoal
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Built-in easy to read thermometer
  • Dual door design for more stable temperatures
  • Burns charcoal, wood chips, or pellets
  • High-temperature powder coat finish
Cons
  • No viewing window
6

Masterbuilt MWS 330S

The Masterbuilt MWS 330S is a heavy-duty pellet smoker for serious meat lovers looking to do large amounts of grilling. It has four chrome-plated racks that can cook up to twelve chickens, two turkeys, four racks of ribs, or three kurobuta pork butts.

The cooker comes with numerous accessories designed to help you cook a variety of foods such as asparagus or potatoes. The unit is made from stainless steel and has a side-mounted smoker box with a digital temperature gauge.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 20 x 21.69 x 40.15 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Corded Electric
Material: Cast Iron

Pros
  • Digital gauge with LED display
  • Large smoking space
  • Easy to clean pellet hopper
  • Temperature probes for exact measurement
Cons
  • No viewing window
7

Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker

The Char-Broil Analog is a bit smaller, which can be a good option if you have limited space for your grill. The total cooking area is 544 square inches (3,509 Sq Cm) spread across three cooking grates.

There is an easy to read thermometer installed on the front of the door with dual latches to help keep the grill properly sealed during smoking.

The front access water tray, grease cup, and wood chip tray makes it easy to use and allows you to quickly add water or more chips or pellets while in use. Learn how to use wood chips in an electric smoker.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 15 x 20.7 x 33.5 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 544 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Electric
Material: Grate Material Chrome Plated Wire

Pros
  • More affordable than some other options
  • Large capacity wood chip box
  • Door mounted temperature gauge
  • Cooking time up to 24 hours
Cons
  • Lacks digital readout
8

Bradley Smoker BTDS76P

This is one of the more technologically advanced smokers on the list. It’s an offset cooker with a powerful digital control panel and smart smoke technology. You can easily control the entire cooking process by quickly setting the cooking temperature range for a more consistent experience.

The smoker uses electricity for heat and pure wood sawdust Bisquettes, which are specially compressed to form wood discs of uniform thickness that burn for a precise time. They produce consistent pure smoke and are extinguished before converting it to ashes, to enjoy only the pure flavor of smoke.

The unit is made from high-caliber materials and designed to be airtight to prevent smoke leakage and provide a more consistent temperature range. The ash cleanout is smooth with a removable ash pan you can wash.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 14 x 17 x 31 inches
BTU Value: N/A
Cooking Area: 4x 135in2 ( 4x 871cm2)
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Electric
Material: Polished Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Stainless steel build
  • Four cooking racks
  • Large cooking capacity
  • Complete digital temperature controls
Cons
  • Short warranty of only 1-year
9

Dyna Glo Wide Body Gas Smoker

The Dyna Glo Wide Body is the alternative to their charcoal cooker discussed above. We will always be partial to charcoal or natural burning wood pellets over a propane smoker, but this unit has its place. The total cooking capacity is 1,235 square inches (7,967 Sq Cm), which is plenty to cook large meals and entertain.

There are four adjustable cooking grates with other excellent features such as sausage hooks and vegetable racks. The unit comes with a 15,000 BTU cast iron burner and a built-in front-facing thermometer for more precise slow cooking.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 20.35 x 31.28 x 49.71 inches
BTU Value: 20000
Cooking Area: 1235 square inches
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Liquefied Petroleum Gas
Material: Iron

Pros
  • Dual cast iron burners
  • Four cooking racks and large area
  • High capacity wood chip and pellet box
  • Sausage hangers and rib racks
Cons
  • No window for monitoring
10

Smoke Hollow Propane Smoker

The Smoke Hollow is a propane-fueled vertical pellet grill with some great features. This also comes with two standard smoking racks, two jerky racks, and two combo smoker/rib racks to make cooking a variety of meats easier.

The unit is powered by two independently controlled 15,400 BTU heating units. We also like that it’s designed and sealed in such a way as to lower temperature loss for a more consistent cooking experience.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Product Dimensions: 21.26 x 29.13 x 43.5 inches
BTU Value: 15400
Cooking Area: N/A
Hopper Capacity: N/A
Fuel Type: Liquefied Petroleum Gas
Material: Stainless Steel

Pros
  • Four different types of cooking racks
  • High caliber heat inductor for better management
  • Cooking time up to 24 hours
  • Porcelain-coated water container
Cons
  • No digital controls

7 Important Considerations Before You Buy

smoked chicken near bricks

1. Vertical Smoker Water Pan Capacity

One of the downsides with pellet cookers is they can dry out the meat more quickly. The solution to this is having a water container that will evaporate the water and help keep the meat moist and tender. You want to look for a water container that has a larger capacity.

Remember that the more often you have to open the door to replace the water, the more spikes and dips you are going to have in the internal temperature. Ideally, the best vertical pellet smoker can hold at least three liters of water.

2. Pellet Smoker Hopper Capacity

The hopper is the area where you put your pellets. As with the water container, you want a hopper that will hold enough, so you don’t have to add more pellets continually.

Every time you open the door, you are adding enormous amounts of oxygen into the cooking chamber, which can cause temperature spikes before the temp settles back.

This isn’t an issue as much with offset smokers, which generally have larger hoppers but can be more of a problem with traditional pellet grills.

The best vertical pellet smoker should have a large enough hopper so you don’t have to open the door and add more pellets too often.

3. Temperature Control

using a masterbuilt smoker

One of the most significant challenges, when you are smoking meats, is temperature control (1).

Vertical smokers are typically better for maintaining a consistent temperature compared to different types of BBQ smokers and grills.

This is especially true for offset cookers as there is a separate fuel door that you open to add fuel and water. You can find out which offset smoker model we think is the best by clicking on this link.

Electric smokers are also better as you digitally set the temperature, and the heating unit will kick in to help regulate the temp.

This is in contrast to gas-powered cookers that use dials or charcoal cookers that you have to work with to maintain the temperature. For the doneness level of meat you desire, it is best to use a meat thermometer.

Recommended Article: ThermoPro TP Review

4. Pellet Smoker Heating Element

There are various types of heating elements that you can select from (2). When it comes to the best pellet smokers, you will likely be deciding between an electric heating element or a gas heating element. Most traditional pellet smokers use an electric element that can be controlled digitally.

The reality is, however, that you can use pellets with any type of grill. If you’re looking for an easy to use option that will give you the best and most consistent temperature range settings, we recommend a smoker with an electric element.

5. Cooking Grate

It may not be the most apparent aspect of grilling, but the material of the actual cooking surface can affect how your meat turns out. Cooking grates can be made from a variety of materials, including porcelain, stainless steel, and cast iron.

Some of the differences between cooking grate materials include:

  • Porcelain-Enameled steel - this is easier to clean than cast iron and, because of the porcelain, retains heat better than traditional stainless steel.
  • Stainless Steel - the main benefit of stainless steel grates is that they can last for a long time if properly maintained. These may be a good option if you don’t want to replace parts regularly.
  • Porcelain-Enameled Cast Iron - because of the combination between porcelain and cast iron, this grate type retains the heat level for much longer than others. This also makes it ideal for achieving sear marks in steaks.

6. Ease of Use

smoking meat in the backyard

If you’re new to smoking meats, these smokers can be a great place to start. The main draw for many people is the electric components, which make it a more straightforward process to set the temperature.

This also makes it much easier to keep temperatures regulated throughout the cooking process for a more consistent cooking experience.

That being said, not all units will be easy to control, and if you haven’t used one before, the best vertical pellet smoker will be the one that’s simple to use.

The more complicated the electronics are, and the more options you have, the more difficult it will be the first few times you grill. If you’ve never used a pellet smoker before, you should opt for one with easy to set up controls and read our guide on how do pellet grills work.

Related Articles:

7. Setting Options & Accesories

One of the significant benefits of these smokers is the wide variety of extra features and accessories you can get. This ranges from various attachments for monitoring the temperature of your meat to numerous different types of racks for cooking vegetables, carnivore jerky, ribs, or fish, which is why these smokers are often considered as one of the best smokers for fish.

Some of the extra features you should look for in a pellet smoker include:

  • Jerky racks
  • Vegetable racks
  • Rib racks
  • Tube smokers
  • Bluetooth monitoring
  • Sausage hangers

Some of the best vertical pellet smoker units include all of these things. Other units will have some of these features with the option for you to add the rest as you need them. Before purchasing a grill, you should think about which features will be most helpful or you can try to build your own pellet smoker.

“Pellet grills are gaining prestige among professional grillers. Two of the top five teams in the Kansas City Barbecue Society competitions this year exclusively used pellet grills.”

-Candy Weaver, President of the Kansas City Barbecue Society

If you regularly cook sausage, for example, having built-in sausage hangers can help make sure the meat is more evenly cooked and doesn’t burn. Likewise, if you know you want to cook multiple racks of ribs at one time, then having a rib rack can be helpful.

FAQs

Are vertical or horizontal smokers better?

It depends. Vertical smokers are better than horizontal smokers if you are looking to smoke or roast different types of meats. These types of smokers cannot grill due to the heat source being further away. If you want to grill different meats, then a horizontal smoker may be a better choice.

Can you get a smoke ring with a pellet smoker?

Yes, you can get a smoke ring with a vertical pellet smoker. The smoke ring occurs when the compound myoglobin mixes with the nitric oxide dissolved in the tissues of the meat. Nitric oxide is a byproduct of nitrogen dioxide, the product of burnt wood, mixing with hydrogen in the meat.

Is a vertical pellet smoker better than an electric smoker?

Generally, yes. A vertical pellet smoker is better than an electric smoker if you are looking to get the smoky flavor in the meats. Pellet smokers are a good mix of traditional smokers and electric smokers. You get the ease of use of an electric smoker with the flavor of a traditional smoker.

Do you need a water pan in a vertical pellet smoker?

Yes. You need a water pan in a vertical pellet smoker if you plan on slow cooking meat at lower temperatures. The water container serves as a barrier between the heat source and the meat. It also helps to catch any drippings from the meat to prevent flare-ups.

How do you offset a vertical smoker?

You offset a vertical smoker by adding a smokebox to the side of the smoker. An offset smoker is one where the smokebox is to the side of the cooking chamber with smoke entering from the side. A vertical smoker has smoke going from the bottom up to the cooking chamber.

Is an offset smoker better than a vertical pellet smoker?

Not necessarily. Offset smokers take up a larger space because it lies horizontally. Unless you have extra space or area to spare, opt for a vertical smoker.

Do I need to put water in my vertical pellet smoker?

Yes. If you're using a vertical pellet smoker, place at least 2 liters of water, wine, apple juice, or beer in the pan.

Is a vertical pellet smoker better than a regular smoker?

It depends. If you are after convenience and consistent decent outcomes, then go for a pellet smoker. However, if you like a more authentic flavor and experience, you can stay with using chunks.

And the Best Vertical Pellet Smoker is ...

All of the smokers on this list are good, but the Pit Boss Grills Smoker gets our vote for the best vertical smoker you can buy right now. We are particularly impressed with its digital control panel that makes each grilling session more enjoyable.

One of the main selling points was the sizable door-sized viewing window that allows you to easily monitor your food without opening up the unit every time. You also get five cooking racks to work with. Overall, we consider this model the best vertical pellet smoker that comes in at an affordable price when compared to similar smokers.

PIT BOSS 5-SERIES WOOD PELLET VERTICAL SMOKER

Pit Boss

Our #1 Recommendation

  • Features a 60-pound pellet hopper
  • 1,513 square inches of cooking space
  • Has a sleek and mobile design
  • Includes a dial-in digital control board
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