Best Vertical Smokers for Competition: Top Picks for Serious Pitmasters

If you’re a competitive barbecue cook, you know that having the right equipment is essential to winning. One of the most important pieces of equipment is a vertical smoker. Vertical smokers are designed to smoke meat evenly and maintain a consistent temperature, making them ideal for competition cooking.

When it comes to choosing the best vertical smoker for competition, there are a few critical things to consider. First, you want a smoker that is well-built and can withstand the rigors of competition cooking. Second, you want a smoker that is easy to use and can maintain a consistent temperature. Finally, you want a smoker that has enough cooking space to handle multiple cuts of meat at once.

After researching and testing multiple vertical smokers, we’ve identified the top five models that are perfect for competition cooking. In the following sections, we’ll break down each smoker’s features and benefits to help you choose the best one for your needs.

Best Vertical Smokers for Competition

If you’re looking to take your smoking game to the next level and compete in BBQ competitions, you need a vertical smoker that can handle the heat. These smokers are designed to provide consistent heat and smoke, allowing you to create mouth-watering meats that will impress the judges. In this article, we’ve rounded up the best vertical smokers for competition, so you can find the perfect one for your needs. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, these smokers will help you take your BBQ to the next level.

PIT BOSS PB5000SP Wood Pellet Smoker

PIT BOSS PB5000SP Wood Pellet Smoker

If you’re looking for a versatile vertical smoker that can handle all your competition needs, the PIT BOSS PB5000SP Wood Pellet Smoker is a great option.

Pros

  • The all-natural hardwood pellet fuel delivers a rich, smoky flavor that’s perfect for smoking fish, game, jerky, and more.
  • With a temperature range of 150°F to 420°F, you can smoke, roast, bake, barbecue, and braise all on one machine.
  • The dial-in digital control board works hand-in-hand with Pit Boss meat probes so you can monitor meat doneness and adjust cooking temperatures without ever opening the smoker door.

Cons

  • Some users have reported receiving dented units due to poor shipping packaging.
  • The smoker is on the heavier side at 129 pounds, so it may be difficult to move around.
  • The included meat probe may not be as accurate as some users would like.

This smoker boasts a more than 1,700 sq.in of cooking capacity, five adjustable cooking racks, heavy-gauge stainless steel construction, 55 lb. hopper capacity, large pellet view window, and four locking caster wheels. It’s a solid choice for any competition BBQ enthusiast.

In our experience, the PIT BOSS PB5000SP Wood Pellet Smoker holds temperature well and provides consistent results. The large cooking capacity and adjustable racks make it easy to smoke a variety of meats at once. The hopper capacity is also impressive, allowing for long smoking sessions without having to refill.

However, some users have reported receiving dented units due to poor shipping packaging, so it’s important to inspect the smoker upon delivery. Additionally, the included meat probe may not be as accurate as some users would like, so it may be worth investing in a separate one.

Overall, if you’re looking for a versatile and reliable vertical smoker for competition, the PIT BOSS PB5000SP Wood Pellet Smoker is definitely worth considering.

Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

If you’re looking for a high-quality vertical smoker for competition, the Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker is definitely worth considering. With its large cooking space, adjustable cooking grates, and efficient charcoal and ash management system, this smoker is designed to deliver excellent results every time.

Pros

  • The six height-adjustable cooking grates provide plenty of space for cooking a variety of foods, and the porcelain-enameled steel charcoal chamber helps ensure efficient burning for consistent heat and smoke.
  • The offset design of the smoker keeps direct heat away from your food, allowing for slow, even cooking and delicious, smoky flavor.
  • The built-in thermometer and adjustable smoke stack give you precise temperature control, while the pre-installed sausage hooks and removable rib racks provide added versatility for cooking a variety of meats and vegetables.

Cons

  • The smoker can be a bit tricky to assemble, and some users have reported issues with the door seal and other components.
  • The charcoal and ash management system can be a bit difficult to clean, and the smoker may require frequent maintenance to keep it running smoothly.
  • The smoker is relatively heavy and bulky, making it difficult to move around or transport to different locations.

Overall, the Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker is a solid choice for anyone looking for a high-quality vertical smoker for competition. With its large cooking space, versatile cooking options, and efficient design, this smoker is sure to provide excellent results every time. Just be prepared to put in a bit of effort to assemble and maintain the smoker, and you’ll be well on your way to delicious, smoky BBQ.

Badger Barrel BBQ – 16″ Drum Style Smoker

Badger Barrel BBQ - 16" Drum Style Smoker

If you’re looking for a versatile, portable, and easy-to-use smoker, the Badger Barrel is definitely worth considering.

Pros

  • Patent-pending design combines the best qualities of smokers and slow cookers to create a unique “vertical cooking experience” that produces perfectly cooked food every time.
  • Shorter cooking times without the need to regulate temperature or smoke.
  • Lightweight, portable, and extremely versatile.

Cons

  • Assembly required; tools not included.
  • Diameter is proprietary and may not fit with other accessories.
  • May not be suitable for larger cuts of meat.

The Badger Barrel’s versatile, convenient design allows for several cooking styles resembling the most popular grills and smokers on the market, as well as maximum portability. Use the included hanging rack to hang and smoke meat, or remove the hanging rack and replace it with the included grill grate to grill or smoke foods at standard temperatures. The sliding vent covers allow you to easily control temperatures inside your Badger Barrel.

One of the standout features of the Badger Barrel is its additional adjustable air vent on the lid, which allows you to increase or decrease air flow and adjust the temperature seamlessly. This feature makes it easy to maintain consistent temperatures and produce perfectly cooked food every time.

Another great feature of the Badger Barrel is its ability to function as a hibachi. Remove the midsection and use the included grill grate to quickly sear steaks, burgers, vegetables, and other foods at very high temperatures. The Badger Barrel is truly a versatile cooking tool that can be used in a variety of ways.

Overall, if you’re looking for a versatile, portable, and easy-to-use smoker that produces perfectly cooked food every time, the Badger Barrel is definitely worth considering.

PIT BOSS Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker

PIT BOSS Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker

If you’re looking for a versatile and high-capacity smoker for your next competition, the PIT BOSS Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker might be a good choice for you.

Pros

  • The digital LED readout and meat probe allow you to monitor internal temperatures with ease.
  • With five porcelain-coated cooking grids and a 1548 sq in cooking area, you’ll have plenty of space to smoke a variety of meats.
  • The 40+ lb hopper capacity with pellet purge gives you over 24 hours of use, so you can smoke low and slow without worrying about running out of pellets.

Cons

  • Assembly can take some time, and the smoker may arrive with some cosmetic damage due to shipping.
  • Some users have reported issues with the digital controller and have had difficulty getting in touch with customer service.
  • The smoker may not maintain consistent temperatures in very cold weather.

In our experience, the PIT BOSS Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker is a solid choice for competition-level smoking. The LED readout and meat probe make it easy to monitor your meats, and the large cooking area and hopper capacity give you plenty of space and time to smoke a variety of meats. However, assembly can be time-consuming and the smoker may arrive with some cosmetic damage. Additionally, the smoker may struggle to maintain consistent temperatures in very cold weather. Overall, if you’re looking for a high-capacity smoker with plenty of features, the PIT BOSS Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker is worth considering.

Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill

Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill

Upgrade your backyard cooking game with the Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill.

Pros

  • Features five chrome-plated cooking grates and a total cooking space of 1382 square inches
  • Cool-touch spring lid grip provides safer access to food
  • Stainless temperature gauge with “Smoke Zone” indicates the ideal temperature for infusing smoke flavor

Cons

  • Heavy and difficult to move around
  • Some gaps in the construction may cause heat loss
  • Assembly can take several hours

This multifunctional smoker and grill is perfect for competition cooking or backyard barbecues. The offset cooking grates allow for maximum heat transfer and searing, and the professional-grade, stainless steel temperature gauge features “Grill Zone” and “Smoke Zone” indicators for maintaining an ideal cooking temperature.

The Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill features heavy-gauge steel body construction, providing durability and longevity. The oversized steel wheels make it easy to move the smoker and grill before and after use.

Overall, if you’re looking for a versatile and durable smoker and grill, the Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Heavy-Duty Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker & Grill is a great choice.

Pit Boss Grills PBV3G1 Vertical Smoker

Pit Boss Grills PBV3G1 Vertical Smoker

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly vertical smoker for competition, the Pit Boss Grills PBV3G1 Vertical Smoker is a great option to consider.

Pros

  • The dual valve and dual stainless steel burner system allows for precise temperature control and better smoke production.
  • With 720 square inches of cooking space and 4 porcelain coated cooking grids, you can cook a lot of meat at once.
  • The external wood chip and ash removal system makes it easy to add and remove wood chips without losing heat.

Cons

  • The smoker door may arrive with scuffs or other cosmetic damage.
  • Some users have reported issues with the temperature gauge accuracy.
  • The smoker may require frequent cleaning to prevent grease buildup.

This vertical smoker is a great option for those who are just starting out in competition smoking or are on a budget. The dual valve and dual burner system allows for precise temperature control and better smoke production, giving your meat that authentic smoky flavor. With 720 square inches of cooking space and 4 porcelain coated cooking grids, you can cook a lot of meat at once, making it perfect for larger gatherings. However, the smoker door may arrive with scuffs or other cosmetic damage, and some users have reported issues with the temperature gauge accuracy. Additionally, the smoker may require frequent cleaning to prevent grease buildup. Overall, the Pit Boss Grills PBV3G1 Vertical Smoker is a solid choice for those looking for a budget-friendly option for competition smoking.

Buying Guide

When it comes to buying a vertical smoker for competition, there are a few key features that you should consider to ensure that you get the best product for your needs.

Size

The size of the smoker is an important consideration. You need to make sure that it is big enough to accommodate the amount of meat that you will be smoking. A larger smoker will also give you more flexibility in terms of the types of meat that you can smoke.

Temperature Control

Temperature control is another important feature to consider. You want a smoker that allows you to easily control the temperature to ensure that your meat is cooked to perfection. Look for a smoker that has a built-in thermometer and adjustable vents to help you control the temperature.

Fuel Source

The fuel source is another important consideration. Vertical smokers can be powered by electricity, gas, or charcoal. Each fuel source has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you need to consider which one is best for your needs.

Construction

The construction of the smoker is also important. Look for a smoker that is made from high-quality materials and has a sturdy construction. This will ensure that it lasts for years and can withstand the rigors of competition.

Additional Features

Finally, consider any additional features that may be important to you. This could include things like a built-in water pan for added moisture, multiple racks for smoking different types of meat, or a built-in timer to help you keep track of cooking times.

By considering these key features, you can ensure that you choose the best vertical smoker for competition that meets your needs and helps you achieve the perfect smoke every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of smokers do competition pitmasters prefer?

Competition pitmasters typically prefer vertical smokers that offer ample cooking space and precise temperature control. They also prefer smokers that are durable and easy to clean. Some of the most popular types of smokers used by competition pitmasters include electric, charcoal, and pellet smokers.

Which vertical smoker is used by most competition smokers?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as competition pitmasters have their own preferences when it comes to vertical smokers. However, some of the most popular brands used by competition pitmasters include Traeger, Weber, and Pit Boss.

What are the key features to look for in a competition-grade vertical smoker?

When looking for a competition-grade vertical smoker, it is important to look for features such as ample cooking space, precise temperature control, and durability. You should also look for smokers that are easy to clean and have a good reputation among competition pitmasters.

Are pellet smokers better than charcoal smokers for competition?

This is a matter of personal preference, as both types of smokers have their own advantages and disadvantages. Pellet smokers offer precise temperature control and are easy to use, while charcoal smokers offer a more traditional smoking experience and can produce a more authentic flavor.

What is the most reliable brand of vertical smoker for competition?

There is no one brand that is universally considered the most reliable for competition, as different pitmasters have their own preferences. However, brands such as Traeger, Weber, and Pit Boss are known for producing high-quality vertical smokers that are popular among competition pitmasters.

How much should I expect to spend on a high-quality vertical smoker for competition?

The price of a high-quality vertical smoker for competition can vary widely depending on the brand and features. However, you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $2,000 or more for a top-of-the-line smoker. It is important to invest in a high-quality smoker if you plan on competing, as the right smoker can make all the difference in the quality of your food.