Vertical Smoker Vs Horizontal Smoker: Which is Better?

Smoking is always at the top of the list of time-tested cooking methods which never fail to amaze. Eating anything that has been patiently and carefully smoked for a number of hours brings out an indescribable level of mouthwatering deliciousness.

When it comes to the ways in which a smoker may be utilized in the kitchen, there is a great deal of diversity available to you. Smoking, for example, can be used to prepare meals in a more casual or elegant style (or backyard).

I enjoy smoking a variety of foods, including salmon, trout, ribs, chicken, and even veggies.

There are countless dishes that can be prepared with a smoker, but if you’re looking to buy a new one, you might be unsure of which to choose: a vertical smoker or a horizontal smoker.

What distinguishes smokers who smoke vertically from those who smoke horizontally? The most noticeable distinction is that vertical smokers are oriented vertically whereas horizontal smokers are oriented horizontally.

In a horizontal smoker, the heat source is on the side; in a vertical smoker, it is at the bottom.

Keep on reading to see how these smokers compare and contrast, as well as how to choose the best one for your needs.

Vertical Smoker Vs Horizontal Smoker

Is there a quick and easy way to decide which one to get? Yes, you should purchase both.

Even yet, this may not be attainable for everyone, so here are a few things to keep in mind when making your choice.

Cooking Space

Let’s start with the cooking area, which is the most important component. The cooking space that is specified and what you really use differ.

If you have a large family or simply enjoy hosting events where you can display your smoking prowess, the quantity of area you have for cooking is crucial.

The amount of overall cooking space in square inches influences the smoker you should use.

The vertical smoker comes with a warming rack, which is great when you need more room.

Even yet, turning or flipping items on the bottom is made more difficult by the little gap between the warming rack and the bottom cooking grate.

It takes up a lot less room now that the warming rack is out of the way.

You never need to remove a rack from a horizontal smoker since the spacing between the several racks are much larger.

The racks can typically accommodate almost anything, but if not, certain models offer racks that are simple to move and rearrange.

How much meat a vertical smoker can cook at once depends on how many racks it has. Typically, vertical smokers contain 3 to 8 racks.

That indicates that there is a ton of room available. Other than the 3 to 8 racks, some vertical smokers also have hooks.

As a result, you can cook more meat at once because you can easily hang up any spare portions.

Therefore, the vertical smoker would be your best choice if you’re trying to feed a large group of people.

Imagine, though, that you’ll only be feeding yourself or a tiny family. A horizontal smoker is ideal for you in that situation.

Heat Distribution

It’s essential to have a smoker that distributes heat evenly if you wish to cook your meals that way.

Overcooked, tough meat should be avoided at all costs. For good reason, vertical smokers are frequently referred to be the king of smokers.

As the burn pot sits at the bottom, the heat goes up the sides evenly, ensuring an equitable dispersion of heat.

So, regardless of how long you cook, you maintain level, consistent temperatures.

In contrast, horizontal smokers are a jack of all trades because they can grill, smoke, and more.

Since the fire pot is located in the middle of the chamber, the temperature will be highest in the middle of the chamber. As a result, the rack’s heat dispersion isn’t exactly uniform.

Because of this, most people do not advise beginning meat smokers to use horizontal smokers.

Additionally, horizontal smokers are unable to achieve the same low temperatures as vertical smokers.

In addition, in the event that the temperatures within the vertical smoker shift, it is not difficult to switch the racks from the top to the bottom.

After several hours, the flesh becomes tender because to the flavoring and tissue breakdown from low-heat smoking.

Vertical smokers come in helpful in this situation. For instance, a sirloin steak shouldn’t be smoked for several hours.

You don’t want that in a steak; it will get chewy and dried out instead. Horizontal smokers would be most useful in this situation.

The issue arises, though, when you need to add extra fuel. Smokers that are vertical have an uneven temperature distribution.

Vertical smokers require opening the smoking chamber in order to add fuel, in contrast to horizontal smokers where it is simple to maintain a consistent temperature without doing so.

As much as vertical smokers’ indirect heat helps to maintain a low and steady temperature, it can be readily disrupted when extra fuel is introduced.

If you would rather not have that take place, you may either make sure there is enough fuel for the entire cook or you can use a horizontal smoker, which will be more effective for you.

Time Required to Heat Up Smokers

Vertical smokers take twice as long to heat up as horizontal smokers.

The biggest benefit that horizontal smokers can enjoy is unquestionably that.

This is a result of vertical smokers having a large chamber.

Therefore, horizontal smokers are superior to vertical smokers if you want to cook quickly and quickly.

Although taking more time to heat up, a vertical smoker cooks food very quickly once it is operating because of its effective design.

Because you don’t have to watch your food continually, this is also a smoker that you can set and forget.

Ease of Use

Beginners are frequently advised to use vertical smokers since they are simpler to use. This is due to the fact that they come in many varieties.

Horizontal smokers typically require a little more expertise to function properly.

They are ideal for more seasoned smokers because of this.

All of the smoker’s components should be easily accessible in order to provide a successful cooking experience. How simple it is to use will be determined by this, and the simpler, the better.

Adding more meat or fuel shouldn’t be difficult for you to do at the same time.

Sear Plates

The Sear plate is another important factor in peoples’ fondness of horizontal smokers.

A significant advantage of horizontal smokers is the ability to achieve some lovely sear patterns on a steak.

Vertical smokers, sadly, cannot be considered to be the same.

Smokers vary greatly from one another. While others can only be used to smoke, some may also be used as grills.

The horizontal smoker’s slider plate may swing across to provide direct heat to your meat.

That characteristic is absent from vertical smokers. Because of this, horizontal smokers are a popular among people who enjoy both smoking and searing their meat.

Aftermarket Modifications on Both Smokers

Although both horizontal and vertical smokers can be changed, a horizontal smoker often has more aftermarket modification parts available than a vertical smoker.

Although they are more expensive, some fancier installations may even provide you with greater control over the temperature and smoke.


A vertical smoker is preferable to a horizontal smoker for those on a low budget.

Generally speaking, vertical smokers cost far less than horizontal smokers.

Contrary to popular belief, cheap goods are not necessarily of worse quality.

The vertical smoker may still smoke effectively even though it is less expensive.

Overall, vertical smokers often cost less than horizontal smokers, which makes them a great starting point for a new smoker.

Given that you can physically do more in a horizontal smoker than in a vertical smoker, they are often more expensive.

However, you can buy economical smokers in either choice that fit your budget.

Amount of Fuel

Because vertical smokers tend to have a more compact structure, they do not require a significant quantity of fuel to have the smoking chamber heated up to the desired level.

As a result of its size, the horizontal smoker often has a significantly larger smoke chamber.

Since this smoker is horizontal in form, more fuel will be needed for it to heat up.

Heat travels more quickly upward than horizontally, which is the cause of this.

Although there isn’t much of a difference, having to regularly buy additional fuel for the horizontal smoker will make you feel it in your wallet.

In light of this, a vertical smoker is preferable to a horizontal smoker if you would like a more power smoker.

Additionally, horizontal smokers’ hopper capacities are comparable to those of pellet smokers’ vertical counterparts.

The size of the hopper is important in determining how frequently you need to refill it since a hopper is a container that is used to hold pellets and send them to the firepot via an auger.

So it stands to reason that a horizontal smoker will require more fuel.

Therefore, you would choose a pellet smoker with a big enough hopper based on your cooking requirements.

Generally speaking, more fuel will be needed to heat a larger smoker and firebox.

One of the biggest disadvantages of the vertical smoker is that almost all of the heat is lost each time the cover is raised.

The water pan is capable of retaining heat, but it takes time for the temperature to return to normal.


You will need to make a decision regarding your priorities in order to select the smoker that will best meet your demands. In order to get more smoke and have greater control over the smoking process, the horizontal smoker is the best option.

For smokers with a little more experience and more room in their yards, the offset horizontal smoker is preferable.

If you’re new to smoking, short on counter space, or concerned about how much fuel you’re wasting, a vertical smoker may be the best option for you.

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