Grilling is different from smoking, just like a smoker is different from a grill. So, is there a cooker that can do both?
The answer is an astounding Yes. Introducing the smoker grill combo.
In this article, we’ll show you what features to look for when shopping for one. We’ll also go through what it is and the pros and cons of owning one. Hopefully, all the information will help you decide which is the best smoker grill combo for you.
That said, let’s first take a look at some of the best out there.
In A Rush? Here Are Our Top 7 Picks For The Best Smoker Grill Combo
- For Beginners: Weber Original Kettle Premium Grill 22″
- All Around: The Original PK Grill & Smoker
- Best Splurge: Kamado Joe Classic III
- Most Economical: Chargriller E3001 with Side Fire Box
- Gas Charcoal Smoker Grill Combo: Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn
- Best On The Go: 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
- Camp Chef Woodwind 24″ Pellet Grill with Sear Box
Notice: The links above will direct you to either Amazon, BBQ Guys or Home Depot for more details and the latest information on the products.
What Is The Best Grill Smoker Combo?
For Beginners – Weber Original Kettle Premium Grill 22″
The Weber Kettle Grill has always been a classic. It only uses charcoal as the main fuel.
The Weber Kettle body is made from porcelain-coated steel. This material not only protects the interior metal from rusting away but also makes the whole grill shiny and glossy. One downside of this is that if you chip away the porcelain, that’ll expose the bare steel to the elements, causing it to deteriorate over time.
That said, the Weber Kettle has an efficient air vents system. This is important if you want to smoke meat since maintaining low temperatures over a long time is a part of the equation. Now, there will be a short learning curve at first but once you get used to it, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Besides the vents, this grill also has a great ash cleanout system. Turn the bottom lever and all the ash will go down an ash pan. Remove the pan and dump the ash away. It’s that simple! Mind you, when you clean the ash, you also adjust the bottom vent. These two features go hand in hand, making your life easier.
Now, the most important thing about the Weber Kettle is that you can both grill and smoke on it. To grill, you just have to spread the hot coals out, open up the vents, and start cooking. If you want to turn it into a smoker, either set up a charcoal snake or minion, then voila! Or buy many special smoking accessories (e.g. the Slow N Sear) made specifically for the Weber Kettle.
However, keep in mind that the grill isn’t good at retaining heat if it’s cold outside due to the thin steel body. It’s a grill to begin with. It’s decent but not great at smoking.
The Weber Kettle is simple to put together. It has 3 sizes, from 18” to 26”, with the 22” being the most popular one. You also have four color choices to mix and match with the rest of your backyard. The grill comes with a 10-year warranty from Weber, backed by their incredible, around-the-clock customer service.
If you’re just getting started in the wonderful world of charcoal grilling and smoking, look no further than the Original Weber Kettle. It’s durable, functional, and affordable at the same time.
- Efficient vents system for better temperature control
- Porcelain coating protects the internal steel
- Great ash cleanout system with a removable ash pan
- Short learning curve
- Best beginner smoker grill combo
- Durable if porcelain coating remains intact
- Available in many sizes and colors
- A wide variety of special accessories made specifically for the Weber Kettle
- Great warranty from a well-known manufacturer
- Porcelain coating can chip away, exposing the bare steel to the elements
- Not great at maintaining temperature during the winter
All Around – The Original PK Grill & Smoker
PK stands for Portable Kitchen. This company is based in Arkansas. They have been around for a while but haven’t got the attention they deserve. The Original PK is indeed a great product and we think it earns the best overall smoker grill combo spot. Let’s explore further.
Unlike the Weber Kettle, the PK uses cast aluminum as the main material. Known for its toughness, cast aluminum doesn’t rust either and if you take care of it properly, the grill will last for many, many years. It has a rectangle shape with rounded corners. They call it the capsule over at PK.
The unique thing is that the aluminium is poured by hand. It is then shaped to ensure a tight seal between the lid and base. For this reason, the Original PK is exceptional at trapping heat inside (better than the Weber Kettle in the wintertime). Combined with its smooth sliding 4 vents system for precise temperature control (2 tops & 2 bottoms), the Original PK is no doubt an efficient smoker.
That said, you can also grill on it. Due to its rectangle shape, it’s easier to separate direct and indirect heat zones, allowing you to achieve that perfectly-seared steak. With about 310-sq-in of cooking space, you can grill 12 burgers all at the same time, which is enough for a small gathering.
Another thing we like about this grill is that it sits in a cart with side and bottom shelves. These come in handy when you need to find a place for your cooking utensils or charcoal. By the way, this grill only uses charcoal (come on now, charcoal is great).
The lid is also hinged, meaning you don’t have to worry about where to put the hot lid when checking on the grill. The body is also removable from the cart, allowing you to travel around with the grill.
The only downside is that this grill doesn’t have a thermometer. Not really a deal breaker, consider all the perks that it has to offer. Besides, it’s better if you have your own thermometer anyways.
Similar to the Weber Kettle, the Original PK has a 10-year warranty. It’s available in 2 colors, graphite and silver. We really like the silver since it makes the grill look like a space-age cooker (go really well with an Airstream).
To sum up, if you want the best smoker grill combo in terms of performance and build quality, give the Original PK a shot. Price-wise, it’s neither cheap nor expensive. A perfect balance between cost and value.
- Made from tough & rust-proof cast aluminum
- Hand-poured and shaped to ensure a tight seal between the lid and body
- Easy to use and precise vents system
- Great at grilling and efficient at smoking
- Really a workhorse of a smoker grill combo
- Extra cart with shelves for storages
- Lid is hinged so no worry about hot lid when checking on food
- Available in 2 colors (the silver color looks amazing)
- Has a 10-year warranty
- No built-in thermometer
Best Splurge – Kamado Joe Classic III
If you’re into kamado grilling, you’ve probably heard of Kamado Joe (KJ). The Classic III (along with Big Joe III, except for Joe Junior) is the third makeover of their popular product line.
For this redesign, KJ came out with the SloRoller. This thing creates a whirlwind of air to smoke your food evenly. Combined with the superior heat retention nature of ceramic (though fragile and heavy), these features make the KJ Classic III one hell of a smoker.
Besides the SloRoller, you will also find the Divide & Conquer cooking system. It has been upgraded to 3 levels to create more cooking space. The fire grate is now replaced by a charcoal basket with a divider in the middle. This now makes creating two distinct heat zones easier.
The rest of the KJ Classic III is made from high-quality material, e.g. 304 stainless steel. In fact, there is no plastic found in this grill. It also comes with many accessories, both included or purchased separately.
A lifetime warranty for the ceramic body and lid, 5-year for metal parts, and 1-year for gaskets and thermometer. Don’t forget to register your KJ and if you happen to claim a warranty, KJ will pay for your shipping.
With all these features, the KJ Classic III doesn’t come cheap. In fact, it’s the most expensive in this list.
Now, we believe that a kamado grill is a good smoker grill combo. However, it’s better at smoking than grilling. Don’t get us wrong. You still can grill with a kamado but it isn’t as good as other grills, say the Weber Kettle or PK. The main reason is that the food is too far from the fire. So, if smoking is more important to you, we’d highly recommend the KJ Classic III.
- New SloRoller add-on makes the grill a better smoker
- Included many accessories, along with those you can purchase later
- Overall well-made and sturdy
- Lifetime warranty on ceramic body and lid
- KJ pays for shipping when claiming warranty
- Not good at grilling compared to other grills
- Ceramic is fragile and heavy
Most Economical – Chargriller E3001 with Side Fire Box
The next in line is the first gas grill in this roundup review. Introducing the Char-griller E3001.
This grill has 3 burners that allows you to set up different heat zones to cook different food altogether. With about 438-sq-in of the primary cooking space, it’s plenty to cook for a small party. If that’s not enough, the E3001 does include a secondary warming rack.
Now, if you want to smoke food on this grill, you can actually purchase a separate fire box and install it to the side of the grill. The box is very affordable and it also acts as a charcoal grill on its own.
With the box, you will turn the E-3001 into an offset smoker. Your main fuel is now charcoal and gas. Keep in mind that there is no divider inside the cookbox so it might not be a good idea to grill and smoke at the same time.
This grill also has a side burner (good for starting a charcoal chimney). Close the burner’s lid and it turns into a side table. And despite being a 3-burner with the extra firebox, the E3001 still has a small footprint, allowing you to fit in into a limited space.
That being said, this grill does have its drawbacks. First, it’s quite heavy with no handle to move it around. Made from powder-coated steel, the grill body tends to corrode fast, especially if you live near the ocean. Finally, there is a front panel blocking the access to the propane tank. That makes it difficult to get to it if you position the grill against a wall.
All in all, the E3001 from Chargriller isn’t expensive. The same for the extra side box. If you’re buying on a budget, consider this combo. It’s the most economical option among all the cookers here.
- Budget-friendly option
- Small size for limited space
- 3 burners for different heat zones grilling
- Can also smoke if installing the extra side box
- Gas and charcoal (with the side box) smoker grill combo
- Side burner turns into side table
- Heavy and difficult to move
- Painted steel rusts away quickly
- Front panel blocking propane tank
Gas Charcoal Smoker Grill Combo – Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn
If you’re looking for the best gas charcoal smoker grill combo, check out this Longhorn beast from Oklahoma Joe.
The first impression about this grill/smoker is that it has two separate chambers for gas and charcoal. On the gas side, it’s equipped with 3 burners of 36000 BTUs in total. There is also another side burner of 12000 BTUs in case you want to warm up your pot of BBQ sauce. On the charcoal side, you’ll see the typical offset smoker style with one cookbox and a side firebox.
Now, the Longhorn has about 1060-sq-in of total cooking space. That’s a lot of capacity to cook for any type of BBQ cookout. To put things into perspective, you can grill 10 steaks or 12 hamburgers on the gas side, while smoking 2 8lbs pork shoulders or briskets on the charcoal side. And because the grill has a divider in between, you can do grilling and smoking at the same time without compromising the quality of each.
In terms of build quality, the Longhorn is made from thick and durable steel. Weighing around 205lbs, this thing is large and heavy. In fact, it’s about 6 ft 2 long, which is the same length of a grown adult male. The grill however does have a pair of sturdy wheels in case you want to move it around.
Furthermore, Oklahoma Joe attaches a thermometer on both cooking chambers, allowing you to monitor the temperature of each separately. The handles stay cool to the touch during cooking and there is a bottom shelf underneath the charcoal chamber for extra storage space.
That said, the Longhorn only comes with a limited 2-year warranty on the whole grill. A bit short for an all-in-one cooker of this great caliber.
- Large capacity for any type of party
- Two separate charcoal and gas chambers, with a divider in between
- Can smoke and grill all at once
- Decent at both smoking and grilling
- Side burner for secondary tasks, such as heating up a pot of BBQ sauce
- Additional bottom shelf for extra storage
- Built-in thermometer
- Only 2-year warranty
- Large and heavy
Best On The Go – 18.5″ Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
The Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC) recently came on the BBQ scene. It comes in 4 levels – Regular, Select, Choice, and Prime. With each level, the company adds extra accessories on top of what’s already included in the previous level. For example, the Select has everything in the Regular plus some more add-ons.
Ugly drum smoker is the style of this cooker. It uses charcoal exclusively. Constructed from porcelain-coated 18 gauge steel, the PBC can withstand all sorts of abuse. The porcelain is there to protect the inner steel from the elements, while making it easy to clean.
The PBC includes 8 hanging hooks. By hanging your food, you end up saving space, allowing you to cook a huge amount of food. The cooker also has 1 regular cooking grate if you want to do some standard grilling. Keep in mind that it isn’t as good as a dedicated grill. It’s due to the upright structure of the PBC, which makes the food a bit far from the fire. For that reason, we’d recommend the PBC if you plan to smoke more than grill.
Now, one key feature about this cooker is that it’s not that heavy. Weighing around 60lbs, you can easily wheel this thing to the back of your truck and bring it to game day or camping trip. If you prefer a smaller size, there is a compact version – the Pit Barrel Junior. These are great options for people on the go but still prefer some quality and tasty food.
The PBC is also simple to assemble. Just open up the package, install the charcoal basket, light some coals up, and get cooking. Once you’re finished, put everything back to the cooker and that’s it. The hooks are also easier to clean compared to regular cooking grates, making the whole experience more enjoyable.
Finally, the PBC has a 1-year warranty. You too have the option of attaching a logo plate to the cooker, anything US first responders and military related. Keep in mind that the PBC is a veteran-owned business.
- Durable porcelain-coated steel construction
- Available in 4 levels with different accessories
- Comes with hanging hooks, allowing for more cooking space
- Portable, easy to move around
- Easy to assemble, clean, and store
- Excellent at smoking
- Not great at grilling compared to other options
Camp Chef Woodwind 24″ Pellet Grill with Sear Box
Everybody knows that pellet grills are great at smoking meat, just like charcoal grills. Similar to gas grills, they’re also quick to get started. However, pellet grills sometimes struggle to hit high temperatures thus aren’t made for high heat searing at all.
But with this Camp Chef Woodwind 24” version, there is a separate Sear Box attached to it (used independently from the pellet grill portion). And it isn’t just any regular burner. It’s actually a small-sized gas grill with about 16000 BTUs output. This is enough to reach 700 F in a matter of minutes. With 184 -sq-in of cooking space, you can cook a few burgers and steaks with no problem. Perfect for quick, after-work grilling.
Furthermore, the grate is enamel-coated cast iron. Cast iron is great at conducting heat, making sure that your food will get that crunchy golden brown exterior every time. The enamel is there to prevent the cast iron from deterioration, while minimizing food sticking to the grate.
Now, back to the pellet side of things, the Woodwind has two cooking racks of total 811 -sq-in. Enough to smoke two big briskets or a few racks of ribs. With a 22lbs hopper, you can go hours and hours of cooking without the need to refill it. Not to mention convenient bottom and side shelves for tools, thermometer, and pellets.
The Woodwind also has a simple ash cleanout system. Pull the rod and all the ash will fall down to a cup. Remove the cup and discard the ash. It’s that simple. Like any pellet grills, you can also connect to a free Camp Chef App to control the cooker from your smartphone. It also features cooking probes so you can monitor your meat temperature from a digital controller.
One downside of this grill is that it’s heavy. Weighing at 150lbs, it might be awkward to move it although the grill has a set of wheels on one side. Therefore, not a good option if you want something mobile. That said, the silver and black is actually a nice color combo, adding a touch of style to the whole unit.
- The Sear Box is a capable small-sized gas grill
- The Sear Box is good for mid-week after-work grilling
- Can do both grilling and smoking because there is the Sear Box is separated from the pellet grill
- Plenty of cooking capacity for grilling and smoking
- Durable porcelain-enamelled cast iron cooking grates
- Large 22 lbs pellet hopper
- Extra side and bottom shelves
- 3-year warranty
- Simple ash cleaning system
- Heavy. Not easy to move around
What Is The Difference Between A Grill & A Smoker?
A smoker is capable of cooking food at low temperature ranges (225F – 275F), while a grill cooks food at higher temperatures (up to 900F).
The style of cooking used in a smoker is referred to as low n slow or BBQing. The typical food cooked in this setting is large cuts of meat, such as brisket, pork butt, or ribs. On the other hand, people call it hot n fast or high heat grilling when cooking on a grill. The food is usually smaller like pork chop, steak, seafood, and vegetables.
If you have the means, you should buy either a dedicated grill or smoker. Keep in mind that a grill isn’t built to smoke food and vice versa. But, you can still turn it into a smoker and, in some cases, the opposite is also true, however that will require skills and special equipment.
If space and/or money is the limiting factor, a better option is to buy a smoker grill combo.
What is A Smoker Grill Combo?
A smoker grill combo allows you to do both hot n fast grilling and low n slow smoking, all in one single unit. Therefore, you don’t have to buy two separate cookers.
The way a grill smoker combo works is similar to your kitchen stove. Let’s use steak as an example. You roast your meat first in the bottom oven for a juicy interior, then move to the stove top to pan-sear for that caramelized Maillard-effect exterior. Or reverse sear if you prefer.
A typical smoker grill combo usually has two cooking sections, one for grilling and one for smoking. Some only have one chamber for both tasks. In terms of fuel, they use either charcoal or gas or sometimes both. Some models use smoking pellets or even wood.
Now, one thing to pay attention here is that a smoker grill combo is different from a hybrid grill (even though combo and hybrid somewhat have the same meaning). They do sometimes run on both charcoal and gas, but the main difference is that a hybrid grill can’t do any smoking. They’re strictly for grilling.
Pros & Cons, Compared To A Dedicated Grill Or Smoker
As mentioned earlier, one of the primary benefits of a smoker grill combo is to save space. If you have a small backyard or maybe you live in a condo with a limited deck (remember to double check the local fire regulations), getting a combo grill is a reasonable choice rather than buying two different grill and smoker. In some cases, it might be even worth it if you live in an RV or go camping quite often.
The second benefit is money. You like outdoor cooking but are on a budget. A decent smoker grill combo typically costs less than a dedicated unit. If the combo grill can also run on both charcoal and gas, you get the best of both worlds. And end up saving money in the long run.
The main drawback of a grill smoker combo is that it’s average at both tasks or good at one but OK at the other.
For example, the Weber Kettle grill is incredible at grilling. You can also smoke on it but you’ll sometimes have troubles maintaining low temperatures during the winter. That’s because of its thin steel construction.
Another example is the kamado grill. Ceramic has a high thermal mass, which makes the kamado an amazing smoker. However, due to its deep bottom, the food is usually too far from the coals. And that sort of defeats the whole purpose of high heat grilling which is getting the food close to a roaring hot fire.
What To Look For In The Best Smoker Grill Combo?
There are many fuel sources available for a smoker grill combo. But the typical ones are gas, charcoal, and pellets.
The thing with gas is that it has no flavor of its own. Some people don’t care about that, but some do. If you want flavor smoking with gas, you need to add some wood chips.
Charcoal is better than gas in the flavor department. After all, it’s a by-product of burning wood, thus still retains some of the flavors. Smoking pellets are essentially wood but in a condensed sawdust form. If you choose either of these two, be prepared to clean up the ash after cooking.
Grilling vs BBQing – Which Is More Important?
After deciding the fuel source, you need to think about which type of cooking is more important to you. As mentioned earlier, most smoker grill combos are average at both, except for some special cases.
If you prefer grilling, consider a combo grill that runs on gas since it’ll be able to hit high temperatures easier. You will lose out on some smoking actions but it’s still doable.
Pellet grills are built for smoking. In fact, some pellet grills do have problems achieving higher temperatures for grilling. But maybe find out if you can buy any extra accessories, such as a sear burner, if you still want to do some grilling from time to time.
Charcoal combo grills are great at both smoking and grilling. However, there will be a learning curve for temperature control at first. Also pay attention to the material of the grill. Some are built with thick material that is great for smoking. While some are built with thinner one, which is more for grilling.
Finally, try to find out if there is any combo grill that uses two fuels. That way, you can reach a wide temperature range for both grilling and smoking. Charcoal and gas combo is the most common.
Material & Build Quality
You save money when buying a smoker grill combo. But that doesn’t mean you should cheap out on the material. In fact, you want to choose the best material you can afford to ensure the grill lasts for a while.
Most combo grills are made from steel. Check if it is either stainless or powder-coated. Stainless steel is obviously better. The thicker, the better. The thickness is actually measured in gauge. The lower the number, the thicker the steel.
Powder-coated steel, on the other hand, often rusts away quickly. Some grills have porcelain-coated instead, which is a better choice.
Ceramic is another option. It’s used in kamado grill. It won’t corrode and offers better insulation than other materials. Insulation is crucial if you do more smoking (again, this refers back to the previous section – which type of cooking is more important to you?). That being said, ceramic is fragile and heavy so avoid moving the grill often.
After considering the material, you should look at the build quality of the unit. Does it have any sharp edges? Does it have strong legs to support the grill body? How’s about the nuts and bolts?
Ask yourself how many people that you’re planning to cook for? From there, you can determine how much cooking space you need. A good rule of thumbs is that always go one size up. Things do happen, such as an unexpected party on a Saturday evening, that you wish you should have got a bigger cooker.
Also consider the space for each section of your smoker grill combo as well. If you’re going to cook a Turkey for Thanksgiving, think about the headspace in the cooker. Some don’t have a lot of clearance so it might not fit the whole bird. If you’re going to host a lot of parties, consider an extra warming rack for more cooking capacity. While you’re at it, maybe a side burner, too.
There are several important features to look for.
For example, a good combo grill smoker should have a divider between the smoking and grilling area. That allows you to do both tasks at once without sacrificing the quality of each. If it has everything in one place, smoke and heat for a brisket will escape when you check on your grilling steaks and vegetables. And that ends up affecting the brisket and prolonging the length of the cook.
Other features to look for are built-in thermometer and good vents system. These are important for temperature control during a long smoking session. Also don’t forget a digital temperature regulator if you decide to go with pellets. Make sure that the manufacturer offers an App so you can monitor your cooker from the comfort of your smartphone.
Check if the smoker grill combo has anything extra that comes with it. Things like a heat deflector, rotisserie kit, or even pizza stone. These might come in handy later on. And if you don’t have to purchase them separately, that’s a bonus.
Ease Of Cleaning
Make sure that the smoker grill combo you’re interested in is easy to clean. Check the surface. Is it easy to wipe with a rag? How’s about the ash cleanout system if you choose charcoal or pellets? If you go with gas instead, is the drip pan system decent?
Also check the cooking grates. If they’re coated with porcelain, that’s a good sign. Porcelain coating not only protects the inside of the grates but it also prevents food from sticking. Some grills even have hanging hooks instead of cooking grates. And they’re way easier to clean.
If you’re on a budget, you might want to consider a cheap gas or charcoal grill to start with. Some charcoal grills can do both grilling and smoking. Gas grills are better at grilling, but some models offer you an extra charcoal fire box. You can then use both charcoal and gas on those units.
There are also some charcoal and gas combos that are already built-in together. They’re generally more expensive. The most expensive ones are the pellet grills. With all the technologies that come with pellet grills, they command a higher price. As mentioned above, pellet grills are better at smoking although some expensive versions can achieve high-heat grilling with ease.
You only buy one so make sure that the manufacturer offers you a reasonable warranty. High-end models will come with a lifetime warranty, while cheaper models have a limited one. But generally, most brands offer a warranty somewhere from 2 to 3 years.
Also don’t forget to check the warranty of different parts of the cooker. They usually have separate requirements.
A smoker grill combo allows you to grill and BBQ altogether in the same cooker. Thus you don’t have to purchase two different units.
It can save you both money and space. You only have to buy one so choose carefully. In fact, consider it an investment.
When shopping for a smoker grill combo, you need to look at the fuel source, cooking space, material, and features. Also don’t forget to weigh cost, ease of cleanup, and warranty.
Compare different options. Read reviews and blogs. Use this article as a guideline. Then choose the best smoker grill combo for your circumstance.
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