Best Vertical Pellet Smoker for 2023 | Rock the Grill

Best Vertical Pellet Smoker for 2023

Lucas
LucasPublished: September 15, 2023
Best Vertical Pellet Smoker for 2023

We understand that smoking food is more than just a cooking method — it's an art. Whether you're a novice experimenting with BBQ flavors or a seasoned pitmaster, a high-quality vertical smoker can significantly enhance your smoking game. That's why we've tested and tried countless pellet grills to find out which is the best.

Sure, we had a lot of fun smoking brisket, pork, chicken, and numerous other meats. But we also paid attention to the details, such as temperature and smoke control, evenness of cooking, ease of use, and overall construction.

It's all in the name of science. At least, that's what we told ourselves. But it was a delicious experiment.

Some of these vertical pellet smokers were already our go-to smokers, while others we had to go out and purchase them. We tried tons of these smokers and went through around 100 pounds of wood pellets.

We think you'll like what we dug up, and you'll be ready to fire up that smoker in no time.

Vertical Pellet SmokerHopper CapacityAdjustabilityCooking SpaceConstructionEase of Use
Camp Chef XXL Pro Vertical Pellet Smoker18 poundsSmart digital temperature control system2,408 square inchesHeavy-duty steelPatented Ash Cleanout System
Pit Boss Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker60 poundsTemperature range of 150°F - 420°F1,513 square inchesDouble-walled insulationEasy-to-read digital controller
Masterbuilt MWS 330S Pellet Smoker12 poundsDigital panel for precise adjustments977 square inchesHigh-quality steelPatented side wood chip loading system
Smoke Daddy Pellet Pro 230035 poundsPID controller with precise temperature control10 square feetHeavy-duty 14-gauge steelSmoke-all-day capability
Pit Boss Copperhead 335 poundsTemperature range of 150°F - 450°F901 square inchesDouble-walled insulationDigital control board

Vertical smoker features we used to find the best.

When we set out to find the best vertical pellet smoker on the market, we had to determine what features meant the most to the average consumer. So we reached out to our readers and determined there are five critical areas most backyard chefs look for.

  • Hopper capacity. One of the first things most look for is the size of the hopper. This is where the wood pellets are held and can be fed into a burn pot for smoking. The larger the capacity, the less often you have to refill it during a long cooking session. If you're smoking a brisket, you know that can take hours upon hours.
  • Adjustability. Another primary feature is adjustability. You need to be able to control the temperature of your smoker. You can cook various items with any desired smoke or heat levels.
  • Cooking space. Just like the hopper, you want maximum cooking space to fit larger items like a whole turkey or brisket. However, the bigger the cooking space, the more it weighs and the bigger the footprint in your outdoor space.
  • Construction. We also wanted to know what kind of materials the smoker was constructed with. How sturdy is it? Is it designed to last and handle many hours of smoking?
  • Ease of use. Finally, most consumers want an easy-to-use smoker. How difficult is the assembly? Is it user-friendly to use while cooking and cleaning? Sure, most smokers are much easier to use than a charcoal grill, but some are built for convenience more than others.

As we tested dozens of vertical pellet smokers, we looked for these features and more before determining the best of the bunch. After all, we want to present our readers only with the best and most reliable smokers available.

5 of the best vertical pellet smokers.

We've tested over 10 vertical pellet smokers and narrowed down the best ones to these five. These five shine in their respective categories, so you're sure to find the right one to fit your outdoor cooking style.

Best overall vertical pellet smoker — Camp Chef XXL Pro Vertical Pellet Smoker

Camp Chef XXL Pro Vertical Pellet Smoker

From our perspective, the Camp Chef XXL Pro Vertical Pellet Smoker takes the crown. This model's standout feature is its massive hopper capacity, which can hold up to 18 pounds of pellets, allowing for nearly 20 hours of continuous smoking without frequent refills. This makes it an excellent choice for those long, slow cooking sessions key to achieving that perfect smoke flavor.

The Camp Chef XXL Pro also excels in terms of adjustability. Its smart digital temperature control system lets you precisely set your desired cooking temperature. Once set, the smoker maintains the temperature within 10 degrees, ensuring consistent results every time. Hovering over your smoker is a thing of the past with the XXL Pro.

For those who plan to feed a herd, the Camp Chef XXL Pro boasts an impressive 2,408 square inches of cooking space, making it suitable for large gatherings or even commercial use if that's your thing. It's built with a sturdy construction that ensures durability and longevity. The smoker is made from heavy-duty steel and features four meat racks, three jerky racks, and a hanging rack with twelve sausage hooks. Your post-hunting season extravaganza will never be the same.

Ease of use is another area where the Camp Chef XXL Pro stands out. It comes equipped with a patented Ash Cleanout System that makes cleaning after your cookout a breeze. Pull a lever, and the ash is cleared from the firebox into a removable cup.

The XXL Pro's large capacity, precise temperature control, ample cooking space, robust construction, and ease of use make it the best choice for any BBQ enthusiast. Whether a beginner or a seasoned pro, this smoker has all the features to take your smoking game to the next level.

Best quality pellet smoker — Pit Boss Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker

Pit Boss Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker

The Pit Boss Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker is well-regarded for its superior quality in the community. One of its most notable features is its massive hopper capacity. With a 60-pound capacity, you can smoke your food for up to 35 hours without refilling the hopper. Do you enjoy long, slow smokes? 60 lbs will get you there!

The adjustability of this model is another reason why it's considered the best quality. The smoker offers a temperature range of 150°F – 420°F, providing flexibility for different smoking recipes. Its digital PID control board allows you to adjust temperatures in 25°F increments, enabling precise control over the cooking process. That's not as precise as the XXL Pro, but it works well.

This Pit Boss Grills smoker also impresses with its ample cooking space. Offering 1,513 square inches of cooking area provides plenty of room to smoke various foods at once. We love the various racks such as the sausage rack — it's great for venison. The smoker is constructed with double-walled insulation, which ensures heat retention and allows it to withstand high temperatures, contributing to its durability.

It features an easy-to-read digital controller and a large front window that eliminates the need for peek-a-boo cooking. This means you can keep an eye on your food without opening the door and letting precious smoke escape. We always recommend keeping the cooking chamber closed as much as you can to retain that smoke flavor.

The Pit Boss Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker shines in terms of quality due to its high-capacity hopper, adjustable temperature settings, spacious cooking area, sturdy construction, and user-friendly design. All these features make it a reliable choice for those seeking quality and performance in a vertical pellet smoker.

Most consistent vertical pellet smoker — Masterbuilt MWS 330S Pellet Smoker

Masterbuilt MWS 330S Pellet Smoker

The Masterbuilt MWS 330S Pellet Smoker is a top contender for those who value consistency in their smoking process. This smoker features a 12 lb pellet hopper capacity, which is not as big as the others, but it gets the job done. Be ready to keep filling up the hopper, however.

What sets the Masterbuilt MWS 330S apart is its extraordinary adjustability. It includes a digital panel that controls on/off, temperature, and smoke time, allowing you to make precise adjustments for your smoking recipes. The smoker offers a temperature range from 180°F - 350°F, providing a perfect environment for low and slow cooking.

The MWS 330S also offers a generous amount of cooking space, with four chrome-coated cooking racks that provide 977 square inches of cooking space. The smoker's body is made from high-quality steel, ensuring durability and long-lasting performance.

In terms of ease of use, the Masterbuilt MWS 330S shines with its patented side wood chip loading system, allowing you to add wood chips without opening the cooking chamber door. This design helps maintain a consistent smoking temperature and reduces heat loss, leading to more consistent results.

Reliable performance, precise temperature control, spacious cooking area, sturdy construction, and convenient features make the Masterbuilt the most consistent vertical pellet smoker. This model offers the consistency you need to get the perfect smokey results every time.

Best high-end vertical smoker — Smoke Daddy Pellet Pro 2300

Smoke Daddy Pellet Pro 2300

We must admit that we didn't see the Smoke Daddy making this list, but it did. We thought it was too expensive and it doesn't look like much. However, for those who appreciate the finer things in life and are willing to invest in a high-end smoker, the Smoke Daddy Pellet Pro 2300 is the perfect fit. Of all pellet grills, this smoker is a premium option with features that justify its higher price point.

The Smoke Daddy Pellet Pro 2300 boasts a large 35 lb hopper capacity, allowing you to smoke for extended periods without worrying about refilling the hopper. This feature is particularly handy for those all-day smoking sessions or overnight cooks.

Adjustability is another area where this high-end smoker shines. The Pellet Pro 2300 has a PID controller with precise temperature control. It allows you to set the temperature anywhere from 160°F to 450°F, providing a wide range of options for different types of food and cooking preferences. Smoked salmon? Brisket? Of all of the vertical wood pellet smokers, this big boy does it all.

When it comes to cooking space, the Pellet Pro 2300 doesn't disappoint either. With a total of 10 square feet of cooking area spread over six adjustable cooking grates, you’ll have plenty of room to accommodate large cuts of meat or multiple dishes simultaneously.

For the price, the Pellet Pro 2300 is built to last. It's made from heavy-duty 14-gauge steel and features a double-wall insulation. This ensures excellent heat retention and consistent cooking temperatures.

The Smoke Daddy Pellet Pro 2300 is the best high-end vertical pellet smoker due to its large cooking capacity, massive hopper, precise temperature control, durable construction, and user-friendly design. If you're willing to invest in a premium smoker, the Pellet Pro 2300 is a choice that won't disappoint.

Best budget-friendly vertical smoker — Pit Boss Copperhead 3

Pit Boss Copperhead 3

For those on a budget but still want a quality smoker, the Pit Boss Copperhead 3 is a fantastic choice. Despite its lower price point, this smoker doesn't compromise on features or performance, making it the best budget-friendly vertical pellet smoker on the market.

The Pit Boss Copperhead 3 has a large pellet hopper capacity of 35 lbs, allowing continuous smoking without frequent refills. This feature is especially useful for those long, slow cooks often associated with smoking. Just because it's cheap doesn't mean it can't go the distance.

We also love that the Pit Boss Copperhead 3 offers a digital control board and a temperature range from 150°F to 450°F. This provides flexibility for various smoking recipes, from slow cooking at low temperatures to searing at high heat.

Despite being budget-friendly, this smoker offers ample cooking space with five porcelain-coated cooking grids that provide 901 square inches of cooking area. Not bad for the budget. Its construction is durable, featuring double-walled insulation and a high-temperature door seal to retain heat and smoke effectively.

The Pit Boss Copperhead 3 is the best budget-friendly vertical pellet smoker due to its respectable hopper capacity, adjustable temperature settings, and more-than-generous cooking space. You get a lot of smoker for the money.

Tips for using vertical smokers.

Glazed Ham on a Smoker

If you're considering purchasing a new pellet grill, our grilling experts want to give you a few tips on getting the most out of your vertical smoker. These aren't just any tips you can get anywhere. These are tips for making the most of your vertical pellet smoker. These will even work on charcoal smokers as well.

  • Start low. Pellet smokers (even charcoal smokers) produce more smoke when set at a lower setting between 180°F and 250°F. Keeping the temperature low and slow allows the wood pellets to smolder, producing more smoke for that sleek, smooth flavor.
  • Lay down the foil. Although this is a bit controversial, we recommend using aluminum foil to line your smoker's drip pan and water bowl. This helps keep the smoker clean, providing easy cleanup after each use. You'll thank us later.
  • Season your new smoker. Many grill masters want to use their new pellet smoker immediately, but we recommend seasoning your smoker first. This helps break in the materials and build up a protective layer of grease before using it for food.
  • Proper airflow. Depending on your smoker, you may need to adjust the air dampers for proper airflow. Ensure enough oxygen flows through the smoker to keep a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process.
  • Preheat your smoker. Always preheat your smoker to the desired temperature before placing food inside. This ensures the hottest starting temperature and helps avoid over-smoking or undercooking food.

While you might not be a pro (yet) at using a vertical smoker, following these tips helps ensure that your food comes out juicy and flavorful every time.

Smoke that brisket! Or chicken... Or Pork...

Whether you're getting one of the smokers we listed above or even a vertical charcoal smoker, the best vertical pellet smoker for you is the one you feel most comfortable and confident using. With a bit of practice, you'll be smoking up delicious brisket, salmon, ribs, or whatever your heart desires in no time! From beginner to pro chef — just smoke it.

We'll add additional models to our list as they're released, and we can test them, so be sure to check back for updates and reviews.

Lucas

Lucas

BBQ Master

Lucas holds a degree in Culinary Arts from the Dallas Culinary Arts School, where he specialized in grilling techniques. He has spent over a decade in the culinary industry, working in high-end steakhouses and hosting popular BBQ events. His passion lies in experimenting with different grilling methods and sharing his knowledge with others. Lucas’ expertise ensures that every recipe he shares has been tested and perfected on the grill.