- The Best Smoker for Fish Reviews (Top Picks)
- Best Smoker for Fish Buyer’s Guide (Your Guide to Selecting the Best Product)
- Types of Fish Smokers
- Benefits of Using a Smoker for Fish
- Features to Consider
- Tips for Smoking Fish
- Best Smoker for Fish Comparison Chart
- Wrap Up
If you haven’t tasted smoked fish, you haven’t lived. There’s nothing better than putting some fresh seafood in the smoker, kicking back on the deck, and letting the machine do most of the work for you. The result is delicious!
Whether you’re an aspiring griller or consider yourself a pitmaster, you’ll find the essential information you need to know about the best smokers for fish in this buyer’s guide.
First, you’ll get the details on our top product picks in the fish smoker reviews. We’ve culled through all the different types of smokers and compiled a list of 8 of the best smokers for cooking fish.
After the product recommendations, we’ve included a guide to help you select your perfect fish smoker. You’ll learn about smoker types, styles, features to consider, and more. Plus, you’ll get the scoop on the benefits of smoking fish.
[Product Table (created by owner)]
The Best Smoker for Fish Reviews (Top Picks)
Here is the list of some of our favorite smokers. All of these have received outstanding reviews and will help you take grilling to the next level. The product reviews listed are in no particular order.
Home cooks and professionals alike will love using the Weber Smokey Mountain to get a genuine smokehouse flavor. The charcoal smoker features a plated steel grate cooking surface, rust-resistant metal legs, a built-in thermometer, and a cover.
The grill also comes with a large water pan to help maintain the unit’s heat, no matter how long you need to keep the smoker going. As a result, you get tender and juicy fish instead of dried out fish that lacks flavor.
The fuel door on the Weber smoker provides access to the firebox so you can easily add or remove the charcoal. Regulating the temperature is also simple and done manually using the dampers on the unit top and bottom.
On the 14-inch version (also available in 18 and 22-inch), you can check the lid-mounted temperature gauge, or you can use the side probe thermometer port if you need to check the temperature of the cooking grate that sits near the fire.
- The 14-inch smoker is lightweight (24 pounds)
- Efficient fuel capacity
- Maintains steady temperatures
- Easy to assemble and clean
- Flimsy side door
Char-Broil is known for their gas and charcoal grills, but their smokers are gaining popularity. The analog electric smoker has a large cooking capacity of 544 square inches spread across three chrome-plated grates.
A steel water pan helps keep your fish from drying out, and the drip tray makes cleaning up a breeze. The Char-Broil electric smoker also features a large capacity wood chip box that allows for hours of smoking without refilling.
The door-mounted temperature gauge allows you to monitor the inside temperature easily. You’ll also find the double-wall insulated construction helps regulate and maintain the perfect temperature for smoking fish.
Heavy-duty door latches, carrying handles, and a one year warranty make this analog electric smoker an all-inclusive product. You can choose to buy just the smoker or the smoker and cover at an additional but small cost.
- The analog gauge provides more exact readings.
- Heavy-duty insulation and dual door latches keep the flavor in and the elements out.
- Consistently maintains temperatures
- The gauge may fog up in inclement weather.
- You need to open the door to load chips.
Masterbuilt takes its tech up a notch by providing a smoker with Bluetooth capability. Imagine how people of the past would react to such a marvel?
If you need to step away from the smoker, want to lounge on the deck, or would rather stay inside your home on a cold winter day, you can still monitor the meat from your smart device. The app also has built-in alarms that make temperature control even more convenient.
Not only that, but you can use the integrated meat probe to check the food’s temperature as well. The digital electric smoker also has an upper element you can use to finish cooking the fish for grilling or broiling.
One of the best things about this Masterbuilt fish smoker is that it allows you to load wood chips from the side. That means you don’t have to open the smoker door while you’re cooking to refill the wood tray.
The unit comes with three standard racks and one custom rack that can hold a pan on top or below the notched shelf. Both 30 and 40-inch versions are available. To give you an idea of how much these can hold, the 40-inch can handle up to 16 chickens and four turkeys.
- Bluetooth technology allows you to monitor and control your meat
- Built-in temperature probe
- Wood chips are loaded from the side
- Heats quickly and maintains steady temperatures
- The LED display is hard to see in daylight
- Customer service is hard to reach
You may know the Cuisinart brand from their home kitchen equipment, but their smoker is worth considering, especially if you’re new to the fish-smoking world.
This 30-inch electric smoker is compact in design with lateral feet, making it perfect for storing on patios, decks, and in kitchens. The smoker comes with three chrome racks and gives you 548-square-inches of cooking space. The racks, water pan, and wood chip tray are all removable for easy cleaning. You can even pop the racks into the dishwasher.
The Cuisinart electric smoker has a dial thermostat and a 1500-watt heating element that reaches temperatures from 100 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The large thermometer on the smoker door allows you to monitor the internal temperature easily.
Perhaps the best thing about the Cuisinart smoker is that it’s incredibly user-friendly. Load your fish into the unit, add wood chips and water, select the temperature, then kick back and relax. The straightforward set-it-and-forget-it system is ideal for novices and seasoned smokers.
- Great smoker for beginners
- Set-it-and-forget-it controls
- Easy assembly
- Easy to clean
- 3-year limited warranty
- It tends to leak black liquid.
- May need a heat gasket to control airflow.
This may be the best smoker for fish you come across. The award-winning Original PK Grill is a classic, no-frills, aluminum charcoal smoker that gets the job done. The four-point venting system and capsule shape create a combined system perfect for direct and indirect smoking.
Feel free to cook your fish and other meats hot and fast or low and slow.
The cast aluminum construction provides max heat radiation and smokes seafood uniformly. Aluminum is also rust-proof, sturdy, but lightweight enough to transport. You can even detach the unit from the stand and create a portable grill and smoker – perfect for camping and tailgating.
The semi-pneumatic rubber wheels allow for easy rolling around the patio, deck, or lawn.
This classic smoker gives you 300-square-inches of cooking space, plus side and bottom trays for holding food and storing utensils and condiments. It’s also backed by a ten-year warranty, which protects against breakage, rust, burnout, and corrosion.
- Constructed of high-quality, sturdy material
- Tight casting and air control cook meat evenly
- Handmade in the USA
- 10-year warranty
- Grill height is short (27 inches)
- No built-in thermometer
If it’s a feast you have in mind, the Traeger Ironwood pellet grill is for you. This cast iron six-in-one smoker weighs in at 175 pounds and gives you 885-square-inches of cooking surface.
The Traeger delivers state-of-the-art WiFIRE technology that connects your unit to your smart device. Through the app, you can monitor the temperature, control temps using your voice, set timers, create custom recipe cook cycles, receive alerts, and get notified when you’re running low on pellets. Genius!
This smoker’s standout feature is its ability to do more than just smoke. You can grill, bake, barbecue, braise, and roast on this sophisticated machine at high and low temperatures. The grill is entirely fueled by hardwood pellets, ensuring your seafood receives that robust, wood-fired flavor.
Additionally, the smoker delivers the pellets via a drivetrain straight to the fire pot!
- The fully-automated design makes cooking simple
- WiFIRE technology connects you to your grill
- 6-in-1 cooking options
- Large grilling space
- More expensive than other grills
The Barrel House Smoker is precisely what it sounds like – a barrel-shaped cooker that quickly delivers delicious results.
This built-to-last barrel is made with 20-gauge stainless steel coated with porcelain enamel both inside and out. It provides a 40% shorter cook time than other smokers of its type. Eight pounds of charcoal will give you more than six hours of burn time.
The Barrel House features traditional wire handles, a non-abrasive stand, a detachable base, a compact footprint, a built-in thermometer, a full grate, and meat hooks. The base also transforms into a hibachi grill.
Set the grate on the middle level and achieve an even cook without the use of water. Temperatures reach between 275 and 310 degrees Fahrenheit, making grilling, smoking, searing, braising, and barbecuing as simple as setting and forgetting.
(You might also be interested in reading about the Best Fish For Smoking)
- Holds and regulates heat without constant monitoring
- Cooks meat 40% faster
- Hanging wires allow more space for food.
- Easy to disassemble and clean
- Replenish coals by simply lifting the barrel off the charcoal basket
- One reviewer complained of the lid not fitting tightly.
The Kamado Joe Classic II may be on the pricier end of the grilling spectrum. However, it’s ceramic construction, and egg-shape design delivers exceptional results. With 18 inches of cooking space, you can smoke a feast of fish without a hassle.
The Classic II features a two-tier cooking system that allows you to cook different meats at different temperatures simultaneously. The Kontrol Tower Top vent maintains consistent airflow management, even when the lid is opened and closed.
The dual-adjustment top vent allows you to reach temperatures up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s rain and mold resistant. The smoker also comes with an advanced multi-piece firebox that helps the unit hold heat and prevents breakage. The fiberglass mesh gasket and stainless steel latch ensure an airtight seal.
When you purchase a Kamado Joe Classic II, you also receive a cast iron cart with locking casters and wheels.
- The lid-assist mechanism for easy lifting
- The Divide and Conquer tier system gives you cooking versatility.
- Multi-piece firebox holds heat.
- Removable ashtray for easy cleaning
- Built to last
- The lid may need frequent adjustments to stay open.
- Heavy (250 pounds)
Best Smoker for Fish Buyer’s Guide (Your Guide to Selecting the Best Product)
Now that you have eight of the best smokers for fish to choose from, how do you know which one is the right one for you? That’s where this ultimate guide comes in. As you probably noticed, there are several types, as well as designs. Let’s take a look at both of these and other factors.
Types of Fish Smokers
Smokers aren’t a one size fits all product. There are a variety of styles and heat source options to choose from.
Charcoal smokers are some of the most popular options among novices and pitmasters alike. These smokers use charcoal (lump or briquettes) as a fuel source, which gives food a deep smoke flavor.
Ultimately, charcoal is wood, but it’s been charred and sometimes compressed with fillers. Some brands infuse lighter fluid into their charcoal to make starting easier. Lump charcoal is not compressed, so it’s more natural. Charcoal briquettes do contain fillers, but they tend to burn longer and more evenly.
Charcoal smokers are known as some of the best for slow cooking.
Electric smokers are convenient and straightforward to use. Whereas charcoal smokers require some skill and a little patience to light, electric smokers are as easy as inserting the plug into the outlet.
One thing you have to consider when purchasing an electric smoker is the heating element’s wattage. The wattage shows you how fast the smoker heats up and how hot it can get. If you want to slow cook, electric smokers are up there with charcoal regarding keeping a constant low temperature.
The propane gas smoker is one of the most widely used, likely because they are easy to clean and maintain. They also make cooking at high temperatures much more manageable.
The problem with gas smokers is that they don’t give you the natural smoky taste because they don’t produce any smoke. Some propane smokers allow you to use natural gas, but you still won’t get the same results a charcoal or electric smoker provides.
Pellet smokers are perfect for those who regularly cook for long periods of time. These smokers run off compressed sawdust pellets that come in different wood flavors.
Pellet smokers are nearly automated in that once you fill the chamber, the pellets get automatically fed to the heat source. The auto-feed system means you don’t have to continually check to see if the unit is out of pellets.
If you love hanging by the pit, a wood smoker may be what you’re looking for.
Wood-fired smoking provides a “clean” smoke taste that’s as natural as it comes. These smokers use wood logs or splits as fire starters. The wood heats the chamber and smokes the fish.
Although wood smokers produce some of the best tasting smoked fish, they also require a bit more work as far as fire management goes. You may need to add wood and stoke the fire every hour or so to maintain the temperature.
Direct-style smokers generate smoke underneath the food. It’s harder to control the smoke output with this style, but it’s a great choice for personal use because of the price.
An offset smoker gives you more control over the smoke since, you guessed it, it’s offset to the food since the generation area of the fire is just next to your meal. It’s a more practical way to smoke but can also come with a higher price tag.
This style of smoker is usually made of metal and is barrel or drum-shaped. To use it, you place wood or charcoal at the bottom and hang your food items from bars that stretch across the drum’s top.
Ceramic cookers are versatile in that they can grill, smoke, barbecue, and more. Ceramic also retains heat more than metal.
Cooking on the patio or deck isn’t a problem when you have a vertical smoker. Usually made of metal, these smokers are compact and generally use direct heat.
If you’re a novice looking for the best smoker for fish, a vertical water smoker is a good option. Like the vertical, these smokers sit upright and use electric or charcoal heat sources. A water chamber sits above the heat source, which adds moisture and keeps food from drying out.
The drawback is that the moisture can sometimes cause the food to taste more steamed and lacks the rich, smoky flavor.
Benefits of Using a Smoker for Fish
There’s certainly nothing wrong with cooking fish on a gas or charcoal grill, but the rich and robust flavors smoking provides is second to none.
You can choose from a variety of flavor profiles just by using different kinds of wood. For example, mesquite wood will give fish a different flavor than apple wood.
Here’s a basic comparison of grills and smokers:
- Smoker: low to medium heat gives you a heavy smoke flavor; temperature control varies depending on the type of smoker
- Charcoal Grill: medium to high heat gives you a little smoke flavor; the temperature is easy to maintain
- Gas Grill: low to high heat provides no smoke flavor; the temperature is easy to maintain
Grills may be convenient and easy to use, but smokers bring out a different flavor that you can’t achieve on a grill.
Aside from providing incredible flavor, smokers are also versatile. Most come with wide temperature ranges that you can control to achieve the flavor profile. Smoking on low heat is perfect for fish recipes, whereas high heat is ideal for sausages and jerky.
The only drawback to using a smoker for fish is that it takes a bit more time. Fortunately, most high-quality smokers are set-it-and-forget-it systems that only require you to monitor the temperature occasionally.
Features to Consider
Aside from the various heat sources and design styles, here are some of the essential features to consider when shopping for your fish’s best smoker.
While shopping for fish smokers, think about what size works best for you. You should consider the smoker’s dimensions, how much it weighs, and the total cooking area. Otherwise, you may end up purchasing a smoker that’s smaller than what you need, or you could buy one that’s too big, and you may not use it to its fullest.
This is where the style of fish smoker comes into play. For example, if you only have a small patio, you may want to opt for a vertical smoker that has a small footprint and which you can easily tuck away. On the other hand, if you have ample backyard space, a larger unit shouldn’t be a problem.
Also, think about the cooking grates’ size and how much space they provide for fish and other food. If you’re buying for your household, purchasing a fish smoker with a slightly larger cooking area than what you think you need is a safe bet. That way, if you decide to entertain friends and family, you’ll have plenty of space for larger quantities of food.
Don’t neglect to look for wheels on smokers. Although a small detail, they can come in handy when you need to move the unit around. Even lightweight smokers can be cumbersome to transport, so having wheels makes the job much more comfortable.
Temperature range is another feature to consider when you’re looking for the best smoker for fish. The recommended temperature for smoking fish is 145 degrees Fahrenheit, so you will need to look at units that can hit that minimum cooking temperature. If you plan on smoking other kinds of meat, make sure the smoker reaches at least 375 degrees.
Cleaning and maintaining a fish smoker isn’t a problem when the unit has features like removable cooking grates and grease pans. Smokers with porcelain enamel coating are typically easier to clean, but as long as your smoker has the right parts, it shouldn’t matter too much what it’s constructed of.
For example, if you want a charcoal smoker, look for one that comes with an ash pan so that you can quickly dispose of the ash at the end of the cook. Also, grease pans help collect food drippings, which makes clean-up afterward much more effortless.
It’s important to keep the little details in mind when shopping for the best smoker for fish. As we mentioned before, wheels can be beneficial for moving the smoker around, especially if you purchase an electric smoker and you need to move it closer to an outlet.
If you want a more portable unit to take on camping trips and events, look for a fish smoker that easily disassembles and has sturdy handles.
As with most investments, you’ll want to consider fish smokers with generous warranties above the others. A lifetime warranty ensures that the manufacturer guarantees the product is built to last and that if you have any problems at any point, they are willing to send replacement parts or whatever you need to get your smoker up and running again.
Extra features, although not necessary, generally make using your fish smoker a pleasant experience. You don’t need all the bells and whistles to smoke delicious tasting food, but having them can make the process easier.
Some companies are incorporating Bluetooth technology into their smokers. This technology connects your smart device to the smoker through an app you download.
Once you have the app and you’ve synced your device to the smoker, you can do things like set alarms and check and adjust the temperature from a different location. This feature is especially nice if you plan on cooking during the winter and would rather spend more time inside than by the smoker.
Additional extras like internal thermometers, self-cleaners, and digital displays are also worth considering. Some smokers come with these extras, while others provide them at an additional cost.
Tips for Smoking Fish
People have smoked fish for thousands of years. Although our ancestors likely did it more for the preservation benefits (through cold smoking), the incredible taste hot smoking provides has delighted people throughout the ages.
Now it’s easier than ever to partake in this traditional cooking method. Once you’ve purchased the best fish smoker for you, it’s time to start your culinary journey.
Bookmark these tips for smoking fish, so you’ll have them handy when it’s time to start smoking your own.
- Brine or marinate the fish before hot smoking. The brine can be as simple as a salt and water mix that the fish sits in for about 15 minutes. If you want to boost the flavor, you can replace some of the water with white wine and add seasoning like peppercorns or brown sugar.
- You can use any type of fish, but fatty fish like salmon and trout are ideal because they soak up more of the smoke flavor.
- The type of wood you choose depends on what kind of flavor you want. Some of the most popular are maple, mesquite, hickory, and alder. Alder is typically used when smoking salmon due to its traditional roots.
- Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes. Soaking allows them to produce smoke over a long period of time.
- Do not mix dry wood chips with wet chips, as it will create the opposite effect.
- Keeping the temperature low is the safest bet when smoking fish. Maintain a temperature below 150 degrees Fahrenheit for about two hours. Then, increase the heat to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit for the remainder of the cooking time. The internal temperature of the fish should reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Let the fish rest for 20 minutes before serving. Squeeze lemon juice onto the fish (or provide a slice for your guests) to enhance the flavor.
- You can store hot smoked fish in a sealed container for up to one week. Reheat the leftovers in a pan over medium heat.
Best Smoker for Fish Comparison Chart
|Product||Price||Fuel Type||Item Weight (Pounds)||Unique Features|
|Weber Smokey Mountain||$$$||Charcoal||39.5||Efficient fuel capacity, maintains steady temperatures|
|Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker||$$$||Electric||49.5||Analog gauge provides more exact readings, consistently maintains temperatures|
|Masterbuilt MB20074719 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker||$-$$||Electric||66||Built-in temperature probe, wood chips are loaded from the side|
|CUISINART COS-330 Smoker||$-$$||Electric||51||Great smoker for beginners, set-it-and-forget-it controls|
|Original PK Grill and Smoker||$-$$||Charcoal||45||Constructed of high-quality, sturdy material, tight casting and air control cook meat evenly|
|Traeger Ironwood Series 885 Pellet Grill||$$$||Electric||171||6-in-1 cooking options, large grilling space|
|Barrel House Cooker Smoker||$$$||Charcoal||44||Cooks meat 40% faster, easy to disassemble and clean|
|Kamado Joe Classic II||$$$||Charcoal||250||Multi-piece firebox holds heat. removable ashtray for easy cleaning|
Smoking fish isn’t anything new, but people are rediscovering the benefits of cooking their fish and other meats using this method. The rich, full, smokiness flavor it provides is unique and unlike any other flavor profile.
If you’re reading this article, there’s no doubt you’re interested in smoking fish. We’ve strived to bring you a rundown of the best smokers for fish available on the market. The best one for you depends on things like how many people you plan on cooking for, what kind of heat source you prefer, and the style that fits your needs.
If you’re brand new to smoking, you may want to go with the user-friendly Cuisinart Smoker. If you’re looking for a hardy, no-frills smoker, the award-winning Original PK Grill and Smoker is an excellent choice.
Those who like to combine technology with their cooking gadgets will love the Traeger Ironwood, and anyone who wants a true set-it-and-forget-it smoker should consider the Kamado Joe Classic II.
It can be hard to choose from so many great options. The most helpful thing you can do is to look over the fish smoker buyer’s guide. All the points will help you understand what makes the best smoker for fish and what you should look for when shopping. You’ll be able to narrow down your choices until you come to the perfect smoker for you.