Best Charcoal Smoker

435 square inch porcelain-coated cooking grate with 180 square snch of secondary cooking area on chrome-plated swingaway

Summer is right around the corner and that means it’s the perfect time of year to start grilling and smoking. Even if you’re reading this review as we get later into the year, there’s never really a bad time to be grilling. As long as the weather is clear, there’s simply nothing better than getting friends or family together and enjoying a meal that is grilled or smoked to perfection.

Although gas grills have become incredibly popular in the last few decades, there’s still a lot that can be said for a charcoal grill. With charcoal you will get the authentic smoky flavor, and you could even add some wood chips to turn a quality hooded grill into one of the best charcoal smokers.

The Char-Broil CB940X offers a lot on paper, and could be an excellent choice if you’re looking for something that can do both smoking and cooking. Let’s take a look at the features and all of the benefits of owning this model.

Key Product Features of the Char-Broil CB940X

If you’re looking for the best charcoal smokers then you’ll need to check out all of the features first. Here’s what you’ll get with the Char-Broil CB940X.

  • Large fire pan with adjustable height.
  • Easy cleaning with a removable ash collector.
  • Wooden side shelves for convenience.
  • Integrated temperature gauge.
  • Separate firebox access door.
  • Large 435 square inch main cooking surface.
  • 180 square inch secondary tray/warmer.
  • Charcoal fueled.
First Impressions

Char-Broil has always made attractive and high quality grills, and the CB940X is no exception. The design is pure utilitarian, with a coated black exterior that has more in common with the grills of yesteryear than it does with the stainless steel models of today. This design choice is become rare in the market today, and it is appreciated by a number of consumers. If are looking for a grill that is understated in looks, then this one is a good option.

Upon taking delivery of your grill, there will be some assembly required. You’ll need a helper to mount the hood/lid, but everything else can be completed alone. Assembly can be done within 60 minutes, depending on how familiar you are with assembling large outdoor appliances. The assembly instructions are clear and the parts all align well.

Quality is something that will stand out from the moment you start assembling the grill. The parts feel durable without being overly heavy. The fit and finish is of high quality, and everything will feel sturdy once you have it all put together.

There are premium grills that do have better materials, however, the reasonable price of the CB940X makes it one of the best charcoal smokers/grills that we’ve seen in this segment of the market.

best charcoal smoker

Cooking Styles and Experience

If you’re looking for the best charcoal smokers then you are probably something of a grilling enthusiast. Smoking meats isn’t as popular as it once was, due to the time needed and the fact that you would need an individual smoker box in most situations. The Char-Broil CB940X solves this problem by offering both grilling and smoking capabilities in one package. Although it’s not quite the same as a dedicated smoker, it will serve the needs of most families.

The large cooking area definitely helps when it comes to cooking styles. The grilling surface is 435 square inches, which is much more generous than the average grill that you will find in this price range. This means that you’ll be ready to go whether you are cooking for a private family dinner, or a large group of friends and extended family. Being a charcoal grill, you can use as much or as little of the grilling area as you like, you can also control temperature zones with strategic placement of your charcoal bricks. Although the control is not quite the same as what you would get on a gas powered grill, there’s still plenty of flexibility and versatility in this model.

 The type of food you can cook is not limited in any way. The addition of a deep hood means that you’ll be ready to cook whole chicken or smaller turkey birds when you want to. Grilled fish will be effortless on a grilling surface of this size. Of course, hamburgers, steaks, chops, and even BBQ cuts will be perfect for the Char-Broil CB940X.

The charcoal infuses a unique flavor that you simply can’t get with a gas grill. The large firebox can be accessed from a door on the front of the grill, which means that you won’t release all of the heat when you need to top up the coals. If you are using this as one of the best charcoal smokers, then you can also feed your wood chips or pellets through the same door. You don’t need to use a separate wood smoker box with this grill, although you can if you simply want to add some smoky Hickory or Applewood flavor.

As a dedicated smoker, this grill wouldn’t be perfect, however, that’s not the design that Char-Broil was going for. Think of it more as a large grill that can do both. If you smoke large cuts of meat a few times every year, then you’ll be able to get by with this model. The fact that it also works as a standard grill means that you’ll save space and reduce costs.

Overall, cooking on the Char-Broil CB940X is enjoyable and you won’t feel limited by the size of the grilling surface or the hood. If you’ve been looking for the best charcoal smoker and also need grilling capabilities, then there are only a few models on the market that can compete directly with this one. If you insist on charcoal for authentic BBQ flavors, then this model is the obvious choice.

Construction Quality and Materials

There’s a combination of steel, iron, and wood used on the Char-Broil. The material choices allow for a more accessible cost, but they are also durable. One of the advantages of having a black coated grill is that it will never suffer from heat discoloration in the same way that a stainless steel grill would.

It’s expected that this grill would rust more easily than a comparable stainless steel grill, which is something that you will need to consider in your care and maintenance. Providing you keep this grill covered when not in use, it should last for many grilling seasons without trouble.

The cooking surface is coated in porcelain enamel, which makes it easy to clean while also protecting against rust. The surface is of high quality and transfers heat as good as any high-end grill. If you have been frustrated by low quality cooking grids in the past, then you’ll be impressed by what Char-Broil has included with the CB940X.

Some parts could be improved, including the plastic wheels and casters that are used on the bottom. The wheels are usually a weak point in most grills under $1000 today. This is not such a problem when you consider that replacement wheels and even upgrade wheels are available from any well-stocked hardware store. When considering the price, the overall quality of the materials is good and there are no real complaints to be made.

Pros and Cons of the Char-Broil CB940X Best Charcoal Smoker

This grill cooks well, looks good (depending on your preference), and is made from quality coated steel. Let’s take a look at the key pros and cons of one of the best charcoal smokers.

Pros

  • High quality construction with good component fit when assembled according to instructions.
  • A huge cooking surface that will be perfect for the largest cookouts.
  • The firebox access door is convenient for long cooking sessions.
  • Doubles as both a grill and a smoker.
  • Competitive pricing.

Cons

  • Wheels and casters may eventually need replacing.
  • Traditional black finish and squared design may not appeal to all buyers.
  • Charcoal cooking isn’t as fast or convenient as gas.
  • One of the best charcoal smokers / grills, but wouldn’t be suitable as a dedicated smoker.
  • Doesn’t work with a generic rotisserie kit.
Customer Feedback for the Char-Broil Grill

When considering any significant purchase, it’s important to take a look at customer feedback before you make your buying decision. Customer feedback is useful because it includes real opinions from people who have tested products over extended periods in real-world conditions.

The Char-Broil CB940X has an impressive 3.9/5 Star rating, with 78% of all reviewers scoring the product above four Stars.

Owners have commented that the assembly was simple for a large grill, and that the materials felt solid and of high quality. A number of owners have also praised the product packaging (something that is critically important when you order online), noting that the grill was delivered undamaged with all pieces protected inside the package.

There has also been positive feedback for the large cooking grate, the convenience of the charcoal feeder and ash collection system, as well as its flexibility to perform smoking without the need for an additional accessory. Despite our own impressions, a number of owners have commented about the quality of the wheels that are included. A number of long term owners have had no problems when regularly greasing the wheels and ensuring that they aren’t subjected to regular moving/impact on uneven surfaces.

One piece of advice offered by owners is that the side trays can be coated with a polyurethane lacquer to prolong the life of them, and to prevent any moisture getting into the wood. This is something to consider if you want to maximize the lifetime of one of the best charcoal smokers/grills on the market today.

Final Thoughts and Recommendation

Considering the price point, this grill offers a lot. There’s a large cooking surface with high quality materials, and the overall package feels solid and long lasting. It’s a good investment that won’t show any major signs of breaking down after a few grilling seasons. This is important, especially considering that some inexpensive grills today are made to be disposable.

Charcoal cooking will be preferred by many people, particularly the grilling enthusiasts who miss the taste and experience of the old days. Combine this with the fact that it can be used as one of the best charcoal smokers, and what you have is an excellent product that is fairly priced and highly capable of taking care of all of your outdoor cooking needs.

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