Holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics, loves traveling and learning new languages. Fluent in Spanish, is learning French and Czech at the moment. Enjoys exploring national cuisines every time he visits new countries.
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous online and offline grilling masterclasses runs his own BBQ accessories shop.
Last updated: April 19, 2021
LilGrill is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
As a host, you want to serve meals that cater to even the pickiest, gluten-free dietary guests, while impressing them with your divine culinary skills. Smoked fish meat is the perfect treat! So, you’ll need to find the best fish smoker.
Most smokers are able to handle smoking both meats and fish, but you want a unit that maintains consistent heat and provides more temperature control, in the event that you would like to cook your fish at a lower temperature. Or maybe you want a smoker with portability, therefore, wheels would be important, as well as weight and dimension.
We’ve put in over 100 man-hours of loading wood chips and coal, seasoning, soaking/brining, smoking, checking water basin levels, tasting fish, cleaning out ash – the whole gamut, just to bring you our findings.
Below is a list comprised of in-detail product reviews, and a buying guide for the best fish smokers, how we rated them, and our recommendations, all for your consideration when making your purchase.
"Vertical box-style with window, electric, wood chip burning, stationary smoker with low portability, digital readout and Bluetooth Technology. Best high-tech smoker, perfect for smoke chefs looking to impress!."
If you’re looking to smoke or grill for a large group, Camp Chef’s is a great fit! With 1,950 square inches of cooking space, it is the largest of all on our best smokers list. XXL indeed! It offers the Smart Smoke Technology which ensures the necessary amount of smoke and stable temperature while you’re smoking fish, as well as a digital display with a controller and a collapsible tray. It also brings the heat, so if sausage is in your menu, it’s got hooks waiting just for them. You can’t go wrong with this smoker because not only is it the most versatile of all our picks but has all of the features you want in a quality smoker. If you don’t mind the heavy weight, and the small investment in sealant to make it pro-grade air-tight, then you have a winner in this Camp Chef XXL mega-smoker.
This smoker is a camper’s delight! Weighing less than 40 pounds, you can carry this little guy with you on all of your outdoor excursions. Load it with coals or rocks, then let the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker do its job. Whether you’re a nomad, outdoorsman, or conqueror of all waters, you can add your fresh catch to the chamber wherever you go. Live in a flat or an apartment that has a limited patio space that’s too small for a standard grill? Forget about it! This was made especially for you. You won’t find another like anywhere on the web. It’s light-weight, compact, easy-to-clean and friendly on your pocketbook.
Smoke to the future with this Masterbuilt’s Bluetooth-ready smoker. This baby also comes with a patented side-loader for adding your wood chips, which means no one else has this capability. No seepage here folks, this smoker’s window design is not only attractive to look at, it serves as an air-tight insulator, locking in the heat. It comes complete with an integrated thermostat temperature control, so you can kick back, relax and watch the smoking process take effect while listening to your favorite podcast.
This unit combines the traditional smoking method, with new age digital tech. Save money on gas with this plug-in smoker that reaches temperatures as high as 275 degrees. Not sure if your meat has reached the desired internal temperature? No problem! The Char-Broil Digital Electric smoker comes with its very own removable thermometer. Beat that! You won’t have to worry about your heat or smoke escaping because this puppy is sealed tighter than a bank vault. Slow and low cooking is its specialty, so if you’re looking to do some big-time grilling, this isn’t the smoker for you. Only snail-paced, slow-cooked, juicy, mouth-watering meat output here buddy, sorry.
Why did it make our list?
Large cooking capacity
What is not ideal about it?
Things to Consider
Having trouble deciding? The following buyer’s guide will lay it out for to help you narrow down your decision.
Benefits of using a top-quality smoker to smoke fish
One of the many benefits of using a top-quality smoker to smoke fish, is being in the spirit of “set it, and forget it.” One only needs to do minimal prep work, and let the smoker do the rest. However, temperature control is a very important feature. You want to buy a smoker with a wide temperature range in order to smoke fish at lower degrees, or to make jerky or sausages at higher temps. Achieving restaurant quality smoke flavor, right in your own backyard!
Features to consider when choosing a smoker for fish
When choosing a smoker, consider the conditions in which you are likely to smoke. Will you need to move it around or travel with it? Then a smoker with wheels would be best for you. The ability to control a wide temperature range is important as well, in the event a recipe calls for extremely high or low heat. A unit that is well-insulated matters greatly, as well as whether or not it can maintain its heat levels when you check the internal temperature of your meat. Is a digital readout important to you? How do you intend to fuel the smoker, and have you considered what affect can it have on the resulting taste? These features should all be taken into consideration when making your shopping selections.
Type of smoker and fuel used
Buying a smoker isn’t as simple as you may think, as they come in multiple types and styles. They can run on the traditional charcoal, the more convenient plug-in electric, or the ever-popular gas propane, each operating differently and manufactured to suit your smoking needs. Cooking using propane gas should be equivalent to using your stove, other than what you add in your recipe (i.e. seasoning, marinade, flavored chips), you can expect it to serve as a heat source only. Cooking with wood chips or wood pellets would be the same as cooking over a log fire. There is an added hint of outdoorsy, woodey taste to the meat, in any flavor of your choosing, such as: cherry, mesquite, apple, hickory, and many others. Meat prepared over coals ensures that backyard barbecue flavor we’ve all come to love.
You can also combine coals and wood to create your very own distinct, signature flavor that would hold its own in any smoking competition. Just send us a plate after your first blue ribbon.
Some people prefer to smoke their fish at a lower temperature, in which case you would want to select a unit that can be set as low as 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and still be able to maintain that heat level, as it is the minimum cooking temperature recommended for smoking fish. If you will use your smoker to cook other meats, or to prepare jerky, the unit will need to reach temperatures 375 degrees and above.
Total cooking area
Commercial units are available for mass output, however, for residential purposes consider your family size when selecting a smoker. A safe bet would be to go for a unit slightly larger than what you would need for your household, the event that you decide to entertain. Otherwise, you would have to spend an entire day preparing batches, while the quality of the dish diminishes in the meantime.
Dimensions and weight
The size and weight of a smoker should matter to a buyer as much as the cooking capacity. Units without wheels can prove to be difficult to carry so take into consideration if you will need to carry or move your smoker around much. That’s to say, if you have a smaller garage, yard, or patio where you plan store it.
As a rule of thumb, any product supported by a lifetime warranty means that the manufacturer fully guarantees and stands behind their product. This signals that a unit is built to last, and assures your product purchase with warranty protection to ensure that it does. Same goes for the Protection Plan that is offered on Amazon for the majority of these products.
Added features like Bluetooth technology, internal thermometers, digital readouts, and self-cleaning systems can be quite handy, and impressive! Imagine being able to entertain your guests in the living room, while adjusting the temperature setting on the smoker out on the patio, with a simple click. Checking the internal temperature of your fish is a must, so why not buy a unit that comes with its own? If you wear glasses, save yourself the eye strain and get a smoker with a digital readout. Problem solved! Food’s done and everyone has gone home, and it is on you to clean up the mess of ashes? No problem there, simply buy a smoker with a self-cleaning system, and the work is done before you even begin.
Tips on smoking fish
Here is a helpful list of tips on smoking fish, which will help you achieve the desired results:
Freshwater fish such as: salmon, trout (boneless), and tilapia are most suitable for smoking.
Maple, hickory, and alder are the most popular, ideal smoke flavors.
Fish must be marinated, seasoned and/or brined before smoking.
Wood chips must be soaked in water for 30 minutes, in order to produce smoke for an extended period. They should be placed over coals, rocks, or loaded into a pan or a heat-bearing container. Do not mix wet and dry chips, it will create an adverse effect.
After cooking for 2.5–3 hours, achieving 165-degree internal temperature, rest the fish for 20 minutes. Before serving, squeeze lemon juice onto the fish to enhance smoke flavor.
Leftover smoked fish can be stored in a sealed container for up to 7 days and can be pan-reheated over a medium temperature.
Electric units should be properly stored and not left outdoors year-round. Refer to your User’s Manual for storage instructions.
There is a combination of factors that can determine how your dish will ultimately turn out. So honestly, that is a tough call to make. Look into the Cuisinart COS-244 model which comes in all fuel source types, or experiment with tasting fish from different fuel sources from restaurants, and get tips on chip flavors, etc. Then try it at home.
For sanitary and safety reasons, it is recommended that you smoke fish at a temperature no lower than 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Try doing a search for: ceviche. That’s a cold fish recipe you might enjoy.
Yes. The desirable internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, smoked fish should take 2.5 to 3 hours to cook. Any longer, and you risk drying it out. The Charbroil Standard Digital Smoker actually comes with its own thermometer, which is a really great feature not many smokers have.
We’re sold on the Camp Chef XXL Vertical Grill and Smoker, a total mash-up of smoker styles and features, with an unmatched capacity, which would be enough for even a large company. It is also easy to control thanks to a handy digital readout.
Our second pick is the Weber Smokey Mountain. Smoking is all about being in the great outdoors, and this smoker is a celebration of that, in all its splendor. This is perhaps the only vertical water smoker with such a great performance. Just ask anyone who has one.
Our grill and smoker combo pick for fish was the Traeger Texas Elite 34. This horizontal barbeque style model combines the best of both worlds and makes your cooking options almost limitless.
We enjoyed bringing you the tools to finding the best fish smoker. We hope you find our research helpful, and will refer back to us when you are seeking expert product reviews.