I enjoy all types of grilling, but there’s something about charcoal-fired units that get my taste buds thrumming like none other. When I hear about a behemoth like the Smokin’ Pro from Char-Griller, I want to find out all that I can.
If you’re like me, you want to do plenty of advance research before investing in a new charcoal grill—especially one as large and versatile as this one. To that end, I put together this Char Griller Smokin Pro review in an effort to share my findings.
Things To Consider Before Buying a Charcoal/Smoker Combo
Even if you’ve never cooked outside before, a charcoal grill can be a worthwhile investment. They’re affordable, fairly easy to operate, and available in a wide range of sizes and styles. Best of all, they deliver a flavor and texture that you just can’t get with any other cooking style.
That said, cooking over a charcoal fire requires a bit of practice, not to mention patience. Once the coals are lit, you’ll need to wait for at least 30 minutes before adding food to the grill. Some people aren’t willing or able to wait that long, hence the popularity of gas-powered grills, which can be ready to cook within minutes. If you’re a die-hard gas grill enthusiast, the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro might not be your best option. Similarly, if you don’t enjoy smoked meats, you’re unlikely to get much use out of the offset smoker option.
First-time buyers should familiarize themselves with the key features of charcoal/smoker combos before making a purchase. Even experienced outdoor chefs might have a thing or two to learn about the vetting process. Here are the criteria I use when shopping for a new charcoal grill.
- Price Range: Look for a grill that fits within your budget
- Assembly and Instructions: The unit should be relatively simple to put together, with clear instructions on how to do so
- Size: Couples and small families should be able to get by with as little as 300 square inches of cooking space, while big families should look for a grill with a larger surface
- Materials: Most quality charcoal grills will offer a heavy-duty steel construction, with cooking grates made of cast iron or stainless steel
- Care and Maintenance: The configuration of the grill should allow for complete ash removal, with removable parts that make cleanup easier
- Extras: Built-in temperature gauges, shelving, and wheels with locking casters are just a few of the options available
Char-Griller Smokin Pro: Product Specifications
When you buy the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro, here’s what you’ll receive:
- Heavy-duty steel grill barrel with built-in temperature gauge
- Front-facing storage rack and side shelf
- Nonstick cast-iron cooking grates offering 580 square inches of cooking space
- Powder-coated steel firebox featuring an additional 250 square inches for smoking or slow cooking
- Removable charcoal drawers
- Cart-style frame with lower wire rack and 2 oversized wheels
- Reasonable price point
- Sturdy construction
- Easy to use, especially for first-timers
- Lid doesn’t fit tightly
- Some minor design flaws
- Confusing instructions
Char Griller Smokin Pro Review: Features & Benefits
Now that you know what to look for in a charcoal grill, let’s see how the Smokin’ Pro measures up.
The Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro is set at an extremely reasonable price, especially for its size. It’s an especially good fit for first-timers who aren’t sure how often they might use the grill. Shoppers on a budget would do well to consider this model.
The assembly itself is not all that difficult, but there are a few issues in this department. First of all, the instructions can be downright befuddling at times, particularly if you’ve never assembled a grill before. Second, the manufacturer will sometimes forget to include some random bits of hardware—washers, for example. Neither of these problems are a deal-breaker, exactly, but they’re frustrating nonetheless. If you decide to buy this grill, you might want to enlist the help of a handy friend or family member for the assembly.
The unit offers 580 square inches of cooking space in the main grilling area, with an additional 250 square inches in the firebox. That gives you a grand total of 830 square inches with which to work.
To put it in perspective, the primary grilling surface should be able to hold at least 25 hamburger patties, 5 full rib racks, or 4 whole chickens. Not everyone will need this much space, but it’s a good choice for large families or true aficionados who like to grill everything they can get their hands on.
The main body of the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro is composed of heavy-gauge powder-coated steel, as is the side firebox. A double-bottomed cooking barrel gives it added durability and heat retention. The cast iron grates feature a nonstick coating, which makes the eventual cleanup easier. Removable charcoal drawers allow you to empty the ashes and add more charcoal during use.
The legs and lower wire rack are on the flimsy side, so I wouldn’t recommend moving the grill around too much once it’s been set up. Additionally, the wire mesh of the rack is spaced too far apart to hold anything smaller than a dinner plate. For tools and condiments, use the side shelf and front-facing storage rack instead.
Care and Maintenance
As I mentioned, the nonstick coating makes the cooking grates easier to clean, and the slide-out ash pan adds to the convenience factor. Because this is a large unit, it requires a bit more care than a traditional kettle-style charcoal grill, especially if you take advantage of the firebox on a regular basis.
Even with regular maintenance, however, I wouldn’t expect this grill to last more than 3 to 4 years. The good news? In that time, you should be able to get more than your money’s worth.
The smoker box is the main attraction here, allowing you to prepare smoked meats or additional sides while grilling. The temperature gauge is rudimentary, but typically accurate. The lower shelf, storage rack, and side shelf all provide ample storage space. Char-Griller also offers a one-year warranty that covers any craftsmanship defects or missing parts.
What Customers Are Saying
What do informed consumers have to say about the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro? To find out, I took to the internet and found a few positive reviews.
Testers were generally happy with the low price and the ample grilling space, although a few claimed that the package was damaged upon arrival. One user mentioned the excellent smoking capabilities, claiming that this made the product more versatile and exciting. Overall, the performance was thought to be solid, despite a few reports of shipping and manufacturing defects.
Want to keep your options open? You’re in luck—there are several grills that share many of the features of the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro, but with marked differences. Here’s the rundown on three of them.
#1 Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker
This unit from Royal Gourmet offers a grand total of 800 square inches of cooking space, with 183 of them courtesy of the offset smoker attachment. The grilling grates are made of porcelain-coated stainless steel, and assembly is simple and straightforward. Bargain shoppers, take note: This unit is priced even lower than the Smokin’ Pro.
How They Compare
- Price Range—Royal Gourmet
- Assembly—Royal Gourmet
- Care & Maintenance—Tie
Check out the Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker if you’re in the market for a charcoal smoker at a bargain price.
#2 Outsunny Portable Backyard Charcoal BBQ Grill and Offset Smoker Combo
Outsunny throws its hat into the charcoal/smoker combo ring with this unit, offering about 327 square inches on the main cooking surface. Since it’s smaller than the Smokin’ Pro, it’s a good fit for couples or families with limited deck or patio space. It’s also set at a comparable price, with a similar overall construction.
How They Compare
- Price Range—Outsunny
- Care & Maintenance—Outsunny
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, feel free to take a closer look at Outsunny’s Grill and Offset Smoker Combo.
#3 Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker
With just 290 square inches of main cooking space and 140 square inches in the side firebox, this is the smallest unit on the list. A minimalist offering with very little storage space, the American Gourmet features porcelain-coated wire grates and a streamlined design for a stress-free barbecue experience.
How They Compare
- Price Range—Char-Broil
- Care & Maintenance—Char-Broil
Think this product sounds like it would be more your speed? Check out the Char-Broil American Gourmet today.
The Bottom Line
Could the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro be a worthy addition to your outdoor kitchen? Assuming you have the space to accommodate it, I would say that the answer is yes.
The lid could fit more tightly and the hardware isn’t of the highest quality, but the overall construction is solid. The side firebox is larger than most of the competition, making this a good fit for grillers who want to add more smoked meats to their repertoires.
Click here to add the Char-Griller Smokin’ Pro to your outdoor kitchen.