Smokers are a great addition to a household. It’s the best cooking range for hot or cold smoking to amplify the overall flavor of meat. However, like all kinds of appliances, they can be costly if you purchase the branded ones you immediately see. So, we have done extensive research for you – considering the price point, performance, quality, durability, and cooking capacity. Check out these ten best budget smokers to start smoking your bbq.
1. Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
The Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker is one of the most popular choices among value buyers. Its large cooking space with height-adjustable cooking grates allows you to cook various food types and sizes. You can put thin fillets or sausages on one rack, a cheese wheel on another, and large meat cuts or a whole chicken on the other.
It’s a vertical smoker that sits off of the ground and has an offset firebox that facilitates more heat control. You can also easily monitor the cooking temperature with its built-in stainless steel thermometer. It features a “Smoke Zone” indicator and an easy-to-read gauge so you can get a perfectly infused smoke flavor.
Other significant features of this smoker include the easily accessible and removable steel ash pan so you don’t have to lift the whole grate to empty it. The pan is designed to handle large amounts of ash giving you hours of maintenance-free cooking. You’ll also love that it’s made from rust-resistant heavy gauge steel and is coated with porcelain enamel for easy cleaning and maintenance.
2. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
If you’re just starting out smoking meat and want to get an affordable smoker with enough cooking space for large chicken, turkey, and other meat cuts, the Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal is the ideal one for you. It comes in 14inch, 18-inch, and 22-inch size options. With less complex components – just the cooking grates, a water pan, and the charcoal basket – this charcoal smoker can be mastered in just a few hours.
Its space-saving bullet design also makes allowances for portability. And while it does look pretty compact, its two nickel-plated cooking grates provide ample space so you can cook a whole turkey and large meat cuts at the same time.
For its price, this charcoal smoker’s build quality is very good; it can last for many years of regular smoking and grilling. Although it comes in 3 different size options, the 18-inch is more crowd-favored for its ability to hold a more stable temperature. The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker has been around for many years and has become known as one of the best value smokers on the market.
3. Masterbuilt Analog Electric Smoker
Masterbuilt is lauded as one of the widely used and most versatile smoker brands in the market. This unambiguous electric smoker has a built-in temperature gauge with an analog dial that makes temperature reading and control simple. It features 3 chrome-coated smoking racks that have enough cooking space in between so you have enough room to cook 3 chickens, 3 racks of ribs, 2 turkeys, or 3 pork butts.
For its very affordable price point (under $200), you get complete practical features such as the variable temperature control with easy dial temperature settings, front access grease tray that catches excess food drippings, and very useful accessories like the ones on the higher price range. Like its other budget smoker counterparts in the list, this product is well-made and can last long with proper care and handling.
All you need to do is plug it in and sit back while waiting for the final product. You don’t need to worry about charcoal or propane; one of the pros of using an electric smoker versus the charcoal and pellet smokers. It’s also very easy to clean; you can use basic soap and water to clean all of the smoker’s components.
4. Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker
Like its analog brother, the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is one of the ideal choices for beginners looking for reasonably priced smokers to cook with. But unlike its analog brother, this smoker features a digital panel to control the temperature and cooking time. And with its integrated thermostat control, you’ll be sure that your meats, cheeses, or vegetables will always be cooked consistently.
This model from the popular Masterbuilt brand has 4 chrome-plated smoking racks, an aluminum water pan, and a patented wood chip loading system that allows you to add wood chips without opening the smoker door. Per-user research and experiences, the Masterbuilt smoker product line produces excellent smoky flavor on different foods. What’s even better is that it’s so easy to use: plug it in and wait for your food to come out perfectly smoked.
With its price point, the materials used to build this product are high in quality. This smoker also comes with a durable polyurethane-coated cover to protect the smoker from harsh weather elements. Nonetheless, it is weather-resistant so you’ll be at ease leaving it outdoors.
5. Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WiFi Pellet Grill and Smoker
A pellet smoker sold around $300, you get a flavorful wood-fired smoked meat that easily makes this worth your investment. The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crocket Wifi Pellet Grill/Smoker is made of stainless steel, has reliable temperature control, and is Wifi-equipped. It has good features for a budget cooking range.
Davy Crockett has a temperature range that goes up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. It comes with a meat probe so you can check the doneness level of your bbq. This pellet smoker does not have a wide cooking space but its 219 square inches is decent enough for smoking recipes for a family. For an overview, it can hold about 2 roasted chickens, 6 pieces of steak or 2 racks of ribs.
The Davy Crokett can give users amazing value for a fair price. This unit can run on 12V or 120AC and it’s portable so you can bring it anywhere or store it in your place easily. Pellet smokers are efficient smoking ranges that can produce savory bbq. It’s a lot less hassle to maneuver and cook with because of the use of pellets plus the equipment’s friendly features.
6. Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker
The Char-Broil brand also has a commendable budget electric smoker. For under $200, it has a large cooking capacity with 544 square inches of cooking space spread across its three chrome-plated cooking grates. The wood chip box is also large enough for hours of cooking and requires less refilling.
The Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker’s double-wall insulated chamber helps maintain an even smoking temperature that results in a perfectly infused smoky flavor. It has a door-mounted temperature gauge so you can monitor the internal temperature from the outside. And the integrated water pan prevents drying out so your meat comes out juicy and tender.
Other convenient features include a front access water tray, removable drip tray for easy cleanup, dual heavy-duty door latches, and side-carrying handles so you can move it around. This analog electric smoker is built with useful features and everything is made with sturdy and quality materials that can last very long.
7. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill
Although Kamado grills are not exactly the budget type, the Char-Griller brand provides us with great Kamado options that are still within the budget range we’re working on. Their Akorn Kamado Grill is exactly the best option for price-conscious buyers but still love to experience the versatility and efficiency that higher price range smokers can offer.
While the Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado is dubbed as one of the “cheapest Kamado” in the market, it certainly isn’t built with a cheap box that leaks smoke and heat. It is, in fact, made with durable steel construction so it’s built to last. This charcoal grill has a triple-wall design that has a protective powder-coated outside layer to guard it against rust and scratches, and a porcelain-coated smooth surface on the inside so you can easily clean it.
This griller does not only do a great job for grilling. It also does smoking, braising, and baking perfectly well with its wide heat range from 400°F to 700°F. It has top and bottom adjustable dampers that result in maintained airflow into and out of the chamber while cooking or smoking.
8. Asmoke AS300 Electric Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Portable, affordable, with 8-in-1 use, Asmoke AS300 delivers a lot with its compact design. This tabletop electric pellet smoker has the versatility to cook bbq, bake, braise, sear, grill, broil, roast and of course, smoke. With a temperature range of 180 degrees Fahrenheit to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s ideal for either hot smoking or cold smoking meat.
The Asmoke AS300 portable pellet grill has a steel body and stainless steel components. This tabletop pellet grill comes with two tiers of 256 square inches iron cooking grids that heats up 15% faster. It comes with a 4-pound pellet hopper capacity and digital controller that makes smoking easier and uses 20% fewer pellets.
Whether you want to cook low and slow or fast and hot, you can do it all with this budget smoker. It can run on 110V to 120 V with a 235 W service with its compact design. This is perfect for your backyard or bringing it with you when traveling or camping.
9. Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical 18″ Charcoal Smoker
The Cuisinart COS-118 Charcoal Smoker is relatively simple and easy to assemble. Its vertical barrel design distributes the heat evenly throughout the cooking chamber which makes it easy to keep a consistent temperature with minimal adjustments. You can control the amount of smoke as well as the temperature with some adjustments to the top and bottom air vents that can be opened or closed.
The smoking chamber has sufficient space and has two tiers of steel wire racks that you can stack inside so you can have enough cooking room for a variety of food that can be cooked at the same time.
This charcoal smoker is 45 inches tall with 3.54 square feet of cooking space. It has porcelain-enameled steel bowls that hold the water and is made of steel housing. It is very easy to maintain and clean.
10. Pit Barrel Cooker Junior
If you want your first brisket cooked like a seasoned smoking enthusiast, we recommend you get the Pit Barrel Cooker Junior. It is very easy to set up, portable, and functional. This small smoker can easily fit inside any car, making it an ideal smoker not only for at-home use but also for carrying it around for camping or wherever you want to prepare mouth-watering smoked food.
The Pit Barrel Cooker Junior is a scaled-down version of the world-famous original Pit Barrel Cooker. Although this version has a small build, its horizontal grill design provides ample space for a full packer brisket, 6 chicken halves, or 6 racks of ribs. You can use either charcoal briquettes or wood chips for an enhanced smoke flavor.
Its vertical drum design eliminates guesswork, gives you superior heat retention, and smoke absorption just like a full-size smoker but in a compact size. It is also easy to clean and made with impressive quality stainless steel. This cooker is durable enough to last years of outdoor cooking.
11. Char-Griller E06614 AKORN Jr. Portable Kamado Charcoal Grill
This portable and smaller Char-Griller Akorn Kamado version is perfect for both high heat grilling and low, slow cooking anywhere. Its convenient handles and compact build make it a reliable cooking companion for barbecue at the park, tailgating, camping, or just at the home backyard. Like its bigger brother – the E16620 Akorn Kamado – this charcoal grill is made with best-in-class features and durable materials.
It allows you to easily monitor and control the heat levels with its indexed adjustable dual dampers and a thermometer mounted outside. The Char-Griller Akorn Kamado signature triple-walled insulation, also featured in this junior size, delivers superior cooking quality. With its compact size, the Akorn Jr. provides a cooking space that is big enough for eight burgers.
Other notable Kamado features you will love include cast-iron grates that help enhance flavor while providing unmatched heat retention. These grates keep flare-ups low and allow you to grill more with less charcoal. It also has an easy dump ash pan for quick and easy clean-up after cooking.
12. Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker Roaster & Grill
This Char-Broil product has many functions. You get 3-in-1 equipment for a very affordable price. But it’s nothing like Jack of all trades, master of none because it does a great job at smoking, roasting, and grilling.
With infrared technology, this smoker roaster can cook without the flare-ups so your turkey, chicken, brisket, and other food products are cooked evenly. It also produces tender and juicy cookouts along with a mouth-watering smokey aroma. It can hold up to 25 pounds for roasting and a wide space of cooking area for large meat cuts or multiple smaller pieces of food at the same time.
You will also appreciate the removable grill grate to grill corn cobs, burgers, wings, and veggies. Other features to love are the removable grease tray for easy disposal and mess-free cleaning, side-mounted stainless steel smoker box that is accessible from the outside of the unit so you can add wood chips without having to open the lid. This smoker is also made of durable stainless steel material that resists rusting so it can last for many years with proper care.
Which type of smoker is good for meat-smoking beginners with a limited budget?
Now you might be thinking about the differences among charcoal, electric, and propane (used in infrared types) smokers and whether or not one works better than the others in terms of efficiency, taste, and cooking output. So we are giving you each smoker type’s most important pros and cons. We hope this will help you to narrow down your search even more.
1. Charcoal Smokers
This is the best option for those who want the classic smokey aroma and flavor of their meat, cheeses, briskets, and other food to smoke. Charcoal grills and smokers produce more smoke which gives the food a more distinctive smokey taste and aroma compared to the propane smokers and electric smokers.
Charcoal smokers and grills require more work for cleaning and maintenance due to the excess ash and smoke they produce. You might also need to learn how to handle charcoal properly. But charcoal is an inexpensive fuel for smokers. They are typically less expensive than gas. Aside from the traditional distinctive smokey taste, these types of smokers are also popular for their portability. With its straightforward design, this unit tends to be much cheaper but can be trickier for beginners.
2. Gas or Propane Smokers
Infrared smokers, like the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Smoker Roaster and Grill, use propane or gas for fuel. Propane-fueled smokers and grills are a better option if you prefer more temperature control. But the cookouts can result in a lesser smokey flavor.
Many users prefer this type of smoker as they require much less maintenance and can be easily fixed and cleaned as there is not a lot of ash left after cooking. Since it uses propane tanks, these smokers are less portable. It’s the average of smokers in terms of price and user-friendliness.
3. Electric Smokers
Electric smokers are the easiest to use. Just plug it in and start cooking. Also, they have the best and easiest temperature controls perfect for beginners.
Electric smokers are mostly versatile; aside from smoking, they can also be used for roasting and baking. The major catch though is that you don’t get that charcoal or traditional smokey taste because electric smokers produce less smoke than charcoal grills. Also, it would be quite costly especially with long hours of smoking.
4. Pellet Smokers
Pellet smokers are close to electric smokers in the sense that both need electricity to operate. However, pellet smokers have a lot more features like temperature control, pellet hopper, and the amount of electricity needed is minimal.
This type of smoker combines elements of charcoal smokers, gas grills, and kitchen ovens. Many pellet smokers or pellet grills are able to function for different types of cooking. Its most distinct difference is its use of a pellet hopper and pellets which provide wood-fired flavor to bbq. Pellet smokers tend to be the most expensive but are very convenient for bbq newbies.
What kind of smoker should a beginner get?
Pellet smokers, or grills, are ideal for beginners because it has a lot of features that make smoking and bbq easier. Other types of smokers can take time, effort, and experience to maneuver successfully.
The next best thing is an electric smoker for ease of use or a basic charcoal smoker for that smoky aroma.
What is the most versatile smoker?
Kamado-style smokers are reputed to be the most versatile grill. It can operate as an oven, grill, or smoker. With this kind of cooking range, you can cook pizza, steam rice, or smoke meat.
Is a vertical or horizontal smoker better?
It depends on a person’s preference but here are some notes to consider. Vertical smokers have a compact design so they won’t take up too much space wherever you place them. With its setup, you can smoke or roast more meat at one time with its tiered racks which could help you save on electricity bills.
Horizontal smokers or grills usually have a lot of uses too like smoking, baking, grilling, and even direct flame broiling. It is much easier to maintain an even temperature as well with its design.
For bbq beginners, vertical pellet smokers cannot grill and are made only for roasting and smoking foods. It’s a better choice if these are your purpose. If you have more space and more budget, getting a horizontal pellet smoker grill will let you have more versatility in your bbq experience.
Budget smokers are a great option for casual cooks and hobbyists who don’t want to spend a lot of money on an expensive smoker. There are many features to take into consideration when choosing a smoker, and there is no one smoker that is best for everyone. And while these smokers that we rounded up may not have all the bells and whistles that some of the more pricey models will offer, they still produce excellent smoked products in their own right.
We hope that this guide of the best budget smokers has been informative, useful, and ultimately helps you decide which smoker is best for you.