“How to find the best smoker under $500?” must be a tricky question for you if you are so into the appealing aroma curling up from grilling meat, but a professional smoker is often out of your budget.
However, that question will no longer be a tough task once you read our smoker recommendation list. You can even get an ultimate one with just a half price of your current budget, but its quality is still one of the top-notches.
So, if you are a BBQ lover, and you often hold a backyard grill with your family and friends, stay tuned and hop into this article to find your ideal smoker now!
5 Things You Should Consider When Looking For A Smoker
Quality and Design
Actually, there is a wide range of smokers on the market today with different designs, so it’s not hard to find one that suits your taste.
However, besides considering the smoker’s eye-catching design, don’t forget to take its build quality into account. You never want to end up in a situation when your new smoker is broken only after several uses, right?
So, a high-quality smoker must be durable and heavy-duty so that it can hold a significant amount of meat for a family party. Besides, it should be well-sealed so that it can maintain stable heat and air during grilling.
Another essential point that you should also focus on is that the smoker must have an enamel or a powder-coating cover to minimize rust, acid rain, and high heat.
A low, constant temperature is the key to have tender smoked meat. With this kind of slow-cooking, smoke will have enough time to sink into every slice of meat, tenderizing it and making it become more flavorful and have a taste of natural sweetness.
The ideal temperature that a smoker should always keep for juicy smoked meat is from 225℉ to 250℉. And, a small tip here is that drum and bullet smokers often complete this job better than offset ones.
Yes, this might be the most crucial aspect that you often consider when it comes to shopping, and of course, a smoker is not an exception.
We all know that an expensive smoker can surely offer some great dishes, but not everyone can afford it. Still, don’t worry, as we have picked out for you some of the best smokers at the lower price range (under $500). They are cheaper, but their quality is definitely not a joke!
Size and Cooking Area
When choosing a smoker, its size and cooking area are important factors too. If you tend to often bring the smoker with you when traveling, instead of buying a big one, a medium or small and portable smoker will be more suitable for you.
However, if you often hold a BBQ party for a big group, make sure that your smoker will have plenty of space to cook.
Smoke Flavor and Final Meat Results
After all, what we care most about is what the final results will be like or how the meat will taste, right? It’s no use spending hundreds of dollars on a smoker and then what you get is just burned, dry and tough meat.
Therefore, the recommended smokers below can surely provide you with some smoked dishes that can kick your taste buds!
Best Smoker Under $500- Top 5 Favorites
#1. Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker- Best For Size
This version of the Masterbuilt smoker is right for you if you often hold a backyard grill party for a big group of people. With its 30-inch size, no one will be hungry because of waiting for the meat!
Furthermore, this is also very easy to use as it’s an electric smoker. Gone are the days of dealing with charcoal, gas, or flame .With just some adjustments with the digital control panel on its top, you are ready to cook without any difficulties!
One interesting thing in this Masterbuilt smoker is its side wood chip loading system. This allows you to add wood chips without opening the smoker’s door.
This feature is specifically helpful as it can prevent heat or smoke loss, and thus help to keep the inside temperature and smoke level always in a stable condition.
Besides, one disadvantage that must be concerned about before buying this smoker is its durability. This MB20071117 model from Masterbuilt seems not to last long as other smokers at the same price range.
- Easy to set and control time and temperature
- Easy to reload wood chips
- Don’t have to worry about charcoal or gas running out during smoking
- Big size and cooking area
- Not as durable as the other four smokers on this list
- Can’t be used under the rain
Verdict: In short, besides those cons, this is still a worth-trying smoker in this price range. Moreover, this brand has a warranty of 90 days with free repair and replacement to support its customers. Still, in our opinion, it is pretty short, so remember to make use of this smoker capacity during that period!
#2. Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker- Best For Build Quality
This smoker has an impressive construction quality, as expected from the product of Weber with the warranty for the main body, grates, and lid up to 5 years.
In addition, the outside body is covered with enamel paint, which makes it long-lasting and able to work under the rain. And, its grates are chrome plated, which you can only find in some high-end smokers.
This a charcoal smoker, so if you are a big fan of the traditional smoky smell from charcoal, this will not let you down. A plus point for this Weber smoker is there is a water pan that is used for not only collecting the excess drippings but also moisturizing and smoothing meat, giving it a juicy texture.
Among the five smokers in this list, this is the smallest one with a size of 14 inches so that you can easily bring it with you when traveling. Still, if you want a bigger size smoker to place it at home and serve some big backyard grilling parties, the 18-inch and 22-inch will fit the bills.
A small hindrance to this smoker is when you use the water pan, you should always ensure that there are around 2 inches of water in it, and when you refill it, the water must be warm or else it will lower the inside temperature.
- High quality
- Long warranty
- Side access door available to refill charcoal or wood
- Various sizes
- Easy to control the inside heat with the silicone temperature grommet
- Need checking frequently when smoking
Verdict: If you are looking for a long-lasting smoker, congratulate, this is it! With the quality guaranteed by Weber, it’s needless to doubt!
#3. Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker- Best For Taste
The best thing that we love about this smoker is its six height-adjustable cooking grates. With this, you can cook various kinds of meat and vegetables at the same time. For example, upper grates that are further from heat and smoke are better for vegetables or fish, while the lower ones can be used to grill whole chickens or big slices of pork and beef.
One unique thing about the offset smoker is its design, which can optimize the indirect heat flow. This is the ideal feature for slow cooking and infusing smoke.
The biggest con of this Dyna-Glo smoker is its built material. It’s made from thin steel, which makes it difficult for it to maintain the heat level accurately when being used on a cold or rainy day. However, if that is not a big matter to you, it’s still a great choice when it comes to an affordable big-size smoker.
- Adjustable grates
- Give authentic grilling flavor
- Easy cleaning
- Large cooking room
- Easy to use
- Able to handle a wide range of meat at the same time
- Thin steel
- Unable to work under cold weather
Verdict: A fully-loaded smoker for beginners is what we can say to describe this. What’s more, thanks to its removable pan and tray, cleaning a smoker will never be a pain in the neck!
#4. Camp Chef Smoke Vault- Best For Temperature Control
Camp Chef Smoke Vault is the only one gas-powered smoker in this list. One thing that makes it different when compared to other gas smokers is that it can easily convert into natural gas. Well, you might think that this feature is too obvious, but actually, only the Camp Chef brand can provide it for you at this time.
The reason why we vote this as the best smoker for temperature control is that it has three adjustable damper valves on its two sides and the top. This allows you to control the inside heat and smoke fully.
Still, one con here is that you need additional assembly when you first receive the smoker as it’s still not in a ready-to-use condition. This may annoy you at first hand, but we believe that it’s grilling quality will live up to your expectations.
- Able to convert into natural gas
- Three adjustable damper valves help control smoke and heat precisely
- Easy to clean
- Cool design
- Tips, ideas and recipes are attached
- Require additional assembly
Verdict: This smoker is more pricey when you purchase it on the official website of Camp Chef. We’re not sure why it is but if you want to save up an amount of money, get it on Amazon. And, undoubtedly, this can provide you with delicious grilling parties.
#5. Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker- Best For Price
This is the second electric smoker on this list. To be honest, it’s so difficult for us to decide which one is better; however, we give this a plus point because of its price.
Can you believe it? Only $142.96 for a good smoker. This one is an optimal choice for those who are on a serious budget.
Another selling point is that it has a big tray to hold wood chips. You no longer have to keep checking and refilling wood chips to maintain the heat when using this smoker.
Still, just like the Camp Chef Smoke Vault, this smoker comes with separate parts, and it might disturb you if it’s your first time using a smoker.
- Best price
- Big tray
- Easy to use
- Don’t have to worry about charcoal or gas running out during smoking
- Shipped in separate parts
Verdict: Just infuse your meat with some seasoning, set up time and heat, and this smoker will ensure that your meat will have an umami flavor!
It’s so hard for us to choose the best smoker under $500 in this list as all of them can deliver you fantastic smoked meat dishes.
However, we cannot resist the traditional smoky flavor from charcoal. Just imagine that wonderful aroma sinking into every soft and juicy slice of beef, and we’re mouth-watering!
That’s why we choose the Weber smoker as the winner. Besides, its built quality, as well as the warranty from Weber brand, is really impressive.
However, we believe that each kind of smoker above has its own strength, so it’s up to you!
Well, smoking meat has never been such an easy task that it requires time and effort during the process, but enjoying its unique flavor and tender texture, after all, it feels like you’re on cloud nine!
Last but not least, we hope that this article could give you a hand in choosing a suitable smoker. Good luck and have great meals with it!
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