);

Buyers Guide & Information

Best Cheap Smokers For Any Budget

Get a high-quality smoker without breaking the bank with these top rated brands!

by

Soon enough, spring will be back! It may be time to start planning your backyard parties again. A new smoker will be the perfect complement to host a BBQ. They allow you to have perfectly smoked meat. Most people think that smokers are expensive, but with this guide, you will be able to find the perfect smoker on a shoestring budget.

Image

Product

Fuel Type

Temperature Range

Check Price

Country Smokers CSPEL015010497 Wood Pellet Grill...

Country Smokers CSPEL015010497

Wood pellets

180 - 500 Fahrenheit

Char-Broil The Big Easy

Char-Broil The Big Easy

Propane

250 - 450 Fahrenheit

Char-Griller E06614 Akorn JR. Kamado Kooker...

Char-Griller EO6614 AKORN Jr.

Charcoal

200 - 700 Fahrenheit

Royal Gourmet 30' BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset...

Royal Gourmet

Wood or charcoal

180 - 400 Fahrenheit

Masterbuilt 20060416 Charcoal Bullet Smoker

Masterbuilt 20060416

Charcoal

200 - 375 Fahrenheit

Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker | Outdoor,...

Masterbuilt MB20071117

Electric

Up to 275 Fahrenheit

Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal...

Weber 741001 Original Kettle

N/A

225 - 500 Fahrenheit

Benefits of Buying Budget Friendly Smokers

Not everyone wants to spend a fortune on a backyard smoker. Budget smokers can deliver you tender and flavorful meat without breaking the bank. One benefit of using an inexpensive smoker is that you can do all of the same things that you could do with one that costs thousands.

You can smoke, grill, and roast BBQ meats. Another benefit is that budget smokers are usually simple and easier to use than competition grade ones.


How to Purchase a Good Quality Yet Affordable Smoker

Smoking/Grilling Needs

Budget smokers come in many different sizes, so keep in mind how much space you think you will be needing. This may depend on your household size or the number of people you want to feed at a cookout. You should consider what you want to do with the smoker, such as grilling or smoking meats. You may want to look into a combo smoker.

Fuel Type

Smokers use many different methods for producing smoke, such as propane, charcoal, wood, or pellets. You need to consider what fuel source you want to use. If you want to set it and forget it, then an electric or propane smoker might be better for you. Charcoal and wood smokers require that you stoke a fire.

Smoking/Grilling Consistency

One advantage of using a smoker is that the meat is cooked consistently throughout. When shopping, you should search for a budget smoker that carries smoke into the pit evenly. You should also look for ventilation controls to ensure that you can adjust the amount of smoke into the chamber.

Size and Capacity

You should consider where you’re going to place the smoker to ensure that you have enough space for storing when not in use. If you plan to keep it outside, then you need a place to keep it away from the elements. You should keep in mind how much fuel the smoker can hold as well. This capacity will determine how often you need to fill it.

Temperature Adjustment

- A critical part of smoking BBQ meat is being able to get the temperature just right. Some smokers come with a digital temperature controller, where you simply twist the knob to the correct temperature. These are best for people who want to set it and let the smoker do the rest. Other smokers come with ventilation controls that need to be manually adjusted.

Cooking Space

With all the shapes and sizes of bargain smokers on the market, you need to have an idea of how much space you want for cooking. Large offset smokers can feed as many as 20 people, while smaller ones can handle about 6 people. For instance, some smokers have space for a whole turkey or chicken, while others do not.

Durability and Mobility

Your new smoker should be able to handle the heat or stay out of the kitchen. You want to invest in a smoker that is made of top-notch materials so that it can handle the heat from cooking for long periods. Many smokers will come with a set of wheels for portability. If you want to move your smoker, then getting one with wheels is the way to go.

Ease of Use and Cleaning

Budget smokers are generally simple in their design. They are user-friendly, and you can start cooking right away. If you want the most straightforward option, then look into buying an electric or propane smoker. You should also consider the materials used and how difficult they will be to clean. You need to wipe down the grates after every cook.

Extra Features

Everyone loves a bonus. Some budget smokers come with accessories such as BBQ cooking tools, recipe books, or spare parts. It is always nice to have these included as part of your BBQ package. Other great features may include extra cooking grates, hooks, and racks. If you want accessories with your new smoker, then shop around until you find one that is the whole package.

Warranty and Support

Every smoker on our reviewed products list will include a warranty of some kind. Some may be for years, while others only months. You need to activate the warranty immediately in case something goes wrong. You should also consider the customer support system for the product you buy. If you need to return something or buy a new part, you want to have access to trained professionals.


7 Best Budget Smokers Reviewed

1. Country Smokers CSPEL015010497

Best Budget Pellet Smoker

Weight

52.9 lbs

Fuel Type

Wood pellets

Grill Size

24.4 x 17.5 x 13.6 inches

Temperature Range

180 - 500 Fahrenheit

Cooking Space

256 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes, 3 years

Imagine that you are gearing up to go on a camping trip with your family. How awesome would it be if you could bring a pellet smoker with you? You could enjoy smoked meat right under the stars. We named the Country Smokers Traveler the best pellet smoker. It performs amazingly and can also be carried around with ease.

The Frontier Series Traveler comes with a generous 3.5 lb hopper to hold the hardwood pellets. It features 256 square inches of cooking space, which is perfect for portable grilling. It boasts a combination smoker and grill. You can turn down the heat and cook for hours, or crank it up and fire roast your meats. This model has a digital temperature control dial that makes setting and forgetting a breeze. You can basically let this budget smoker do all the work.

One factor that is really innovative about this product was the portability and function. It can be used as a grill or a smoker. I loved that this model held temperature perfectly due to the clasping lid mechanism. I set it at 350 degrees, and it held temperature within a couple of degrees for hours.

Pros

  • Consistent temperature with digital controls
  • Superb portability
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • Does not have enough cooking space for large parties

2. Char-Broil The Big Easy

Char-Broil The Big Easy

Char-Broil The Big Easy

Best Budget Vertical Gas Smoker

Weight

22.7 lbs

Fuel Type

Propane

Grill Size

23.1 x 23.4 x 36.2 inches

Temperature Range

250 - 450 Fahrenheit

Cooking Space

180 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes, 90 days

Who doesn't love a product that can do it all? A jack of all trades is precisely what you get with The Big Easy model from Char-Broil. We named this model the best budget vertical gas smoker. It combines smoking, roasting, and grilling all into one simple package. It comes in a vertical design that is easy to operate and saves space.

The Big Easy comes equipped with TRU Infrared Technology that cooks food evenly and consistently. It provides a 25 lb capacity for smoking and 180 square inches of grilling space. This provides you with plenty of room to smoke a large holiday turkey or grill some burgers. It uses propane, which makes it easy to control the temperature. This model comes with a smoke box so that you can add wood chips for extra flavor.

 I liked that this product was an all in one solution to any of your outdoor cooking needs. You can grill or smoke whatever you want. The digital temperature controls made it super easy for me to set my desired temperature and prepare a great BBQ rub.

'“The Big Easy infrared smoker is the best, hands down.”

Pros

  • Consistent temperature with digital controls
  • Superb portability
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • Does not have enough cooking space for large parties

3. Char-Griller EO6614 AKORN Jr.

Best Budget Kamado Smoker

Weight

37 lbs

Fuel Type

Charcoal

Grill Size

20.5 x 21.5 x 25.3 inches

Temperature Range

200 - 700 Fahrenheit

Cooking Space

153 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

The ceramic style Japanese grills have become quite the hot commodity in the world of smoking BBQ. These models are also called kamado smokers and can often be expensive. The Char-Griller AKORN Jr. is, however, the perfect inexpensive model. We named it the best budget Kamado smoker.

The AKORN model is ideal for taking with you on a camping trip or to the park. It can hold heat at high temperatures and use less charcoal. Kamado style grills are known for their ability to heat evenly. This model features a ceramic lid with a clasping closure system. It can hold heat and smoke for long periods of time. It boasts two airflow dampers and a heat gauge to ensure that you get the perfect temperature every time.

 I loved that this model took all the great features of the famous Big Green Egg smoker and bundled them into an affordable package that will suit most budgets. I also liked that you could carry this with you with ease.

The Chargriller Akorn Jr is nothing short of brilliant. It's a full-on Kamado cooker in a small form factor."

Pros

  • Clasping enclosure system
  • Easy to carry around
  • Ceramic style holds heat well

Cons

  • The handle design is lacking in durability

4. Royal Gourmet

Best Budget Offset Smoker Combo

Weight

54.2 lbs

Fuel Type

Wood or charcoal

Grill Size

55.1 x 27.2 x 48.4 inches

Temperature Range

180 - 400 Fahrenheit

Cooking Space

800 total Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

The best way to become the next best pitmaster is to use the same type of grills that the top-notch competition winners use but on a budget. That's why we have chosen the Royal Gourmet model as the best budget offset smoker combo on the market. It features the classic barrel and wood-burning design. This model can be used as a smoker or as a grill for searing steaks.

The Royal Gourmet comes with an overall cooking surface of 800 square inches. You can cook for a whole party with this amount of space. You can use wood or charcoal in the smoke box for the perfect smokey BBQ flavor. It features porcelain-coated cooking grates that are easy to clean. It comes with customizable smoke stacks for setting up your grill the way that you want. This model also comes with an easy-access side handle for tending to the fuel.

One of the things that I really liked about this budget offset smoker was the professional design in an inexpensive package. The large size is perfect for cooking a lot of food without having to fill the box continuously.

Pros

  • Professional reverse flow design
  • Easy access smokebox to add chips
  • Massive cooking area of 800 square inches

Cons

  • Doesn’t hold heat as well as other models

5. Masterbuilt 20060416

Best Cheap Charcoal Smoker

Weight

15.26 lbs

Fuel Type

Charcoal

Grill Size

19.1 x 21.6 x 31.5 inches

Temperature Range

200 - 375 Fahrenheit

Cooking Space

394 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes, 90 days

When it comes to fuel for your budget smoker, charcoal is among the cheapest, easiest, and most accessible. The Masterbuilt smoker is the best cheap charcoal smoker on the market. You don’t have to find a source for wood since charcoal is available at most stores. You can fire up this little smoker and be on your way to delicious meat. 

This Masterbuilt model features 395 square inches of cooking space, which is enough to grill burgers for the whole family. It comes with two smoking racks so that you can layer up different types of food for smoking. The front access door makes it easy to add more charcoal to maintain the heat. It boasts a lid thermometer that will give you an accurate readout of the current temperature.

 I really enjoyed using this Masterbuilt model during a small tailgate party. It made it easy to smoke and grill some of my BBQ meats. I was also able to heat up baked beans in the bottom rack.

“I love this smoker, easy to assemble, easy to use, easy clean up.” Most customers agreed that assembly and clean up made this smoker perfect for people on a budget.

Pros

  • Two porcelain coated smoking racks
  • Front access door for adding charcoal
  • iousBuilt in lid thermometer

Cons

  • Charcoal pan may be too small for some users

6. Masterbuilt MB20071117

Popular Model

Weight

45.9 lbs

Fuel Type

Electric

Grill Size

30 x 20 x 20 inches

Temperature Range

Up to 275 Fahrenheit

Cooking Space

708 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes, 90 days

One of the best ways for people to get started with smoking is by using an electric smoker. You simply plug it into a standard power outlet, and you're ready to go. This Masterbuilt model stands out in the category of popular electric smokers for people on a budget. You merely set the digital temperature controls, and the smoker does the rest. 

This Masterbuilt model comes with digital readouts for every aspect that you will need to smoke fantastic BBQ meat. You can set the temperature and keep an eye on the internal degrees with the control panel. It features four chrome-coated racks so that you can cook all of your favorite summertime foods. It boasts a side loading wood chip box so that you can add your favorite wood chips for a smokey flavor without opening the smoker door.

I enjoyed using this smoker to cook a full range of BBQ food. It was simple with the four racks. I was able to roast some potatoes and smoke some ribs at the same time. I also liked that side loading wood chip box. I added some hardwood oak chips, and it totally changed the flavor of my BBQ.

Pros

  • Side loading wood chip box
  • Four cooking racks
  • Easy digital temperature controls

Cons

  • Temperature gauge is not always accurate

7. Weber 741001 Original Kettle

Best BBQ Grill Only

Weight

33 lbs

Fuel Type

N/A

Grill Size

25 x 22.5 x 39.5 inches

Temperature Range

225 - 500 Fahrenheit

Cooking Space

363 Sq. In.

Warranty

Yes, 2 years

Some people on a budget may be searching for a simplistic grill. They may not want to go through the trouble of trying to smoke the meat. BBQ grills are best for searing steaks or grilling burgers. We chose the Weber Original Kettle as the best BBQ grill only.

With the Weber Original Kettle, you are getting the authentic charcoal grilling experience. As Weber claims as well, this grill is the original outdoor BBQ kettle. It comes in a classic round and lightweight design. It is incredibly easy to use and maintain. This model comes with 363 square inches of cooking space, which is enough to hold up to 13 burgers. It features an easy clean up system with a tray that will catch all of the charcoal ash.

 I felt like a grilling machine when using this Weber charcoal grill. I was able to churn out burger after burger with this grill. It was simple to add charcoal and continue cooking. I also liked the classic design. It made it easy to wheel around in the backyard or at the park.

“This is a versatile grill that anyone from a BBQ beginner to a seasoned pitmaster would truly enjoy and be proud to own.”

Pros

  • Classic, easy to use design
  • Easy clean up
  • Portable with 2 wheels

Cons

  • The handle may not be very durable

Types of Smokers

Pellet Smoker

This type uses wooden pellets that are kept in a firebox. Then, they are fed through an auger and into the main chamber. They are best for small digital temperature settings but are not very suitable for wet climates. 

pellet smoker featured image


Gas Smoker

This type runs on propane or natural gas. They are best for people who want to set the temperature and not worry about stoking a fire while cooking.

gas smoke featured image


Electric Smoker

This type uses an electrical outlet as a power source. You can simply plug them in and set the temperature. They use a heating element along with a water tray to provide smoke.

electric smoker featured image


Charcoal Smoker

This is one of the most popular types of smokers and includes kamado grills, cabinet, and offset smokers. They use charcoal as their primary source of fuel. They also usually have a place to throw in wood chips for flavor.

charcoal smoker featured image



Cheap vs. Expensive Smokers

While everyone loves a bargain, there are some advantages to both cheap and expensive smokers. If you want to use your smoker to enter competitions for BBQ, then you may want to look into a more expensive model. They provide the durability and customization that you need. If you're going to just cook up some BBQ meat in your backyard for parties, then a budget smoker is more of what you need.


Tips When Using Budget Smokers

Now that you have your new budget smoker, it's time to learn how to use it. Many smokers will need to be broken in or seasoned before your first cook. Follow these guidelines for seasoning before use.

  • Step 1:
    Coat the interior of the smoker with canola oil.
  • Step 2:
    Fill one chimney or firebox with charcoal and light it with a firestarter.
  • Step 3:
    While the chimney heats up, add more coals to the firebox.
  • Step 4:
    Make sure the exhaust and valve are fully open for maximum airflow.
  • Step 5:
    Let the smoker reach about 250 degrees and maintain it for about 3 hours.
  • Step 6:
    Let the smoker cool completely before cooking on it.

After seasoning, you can begin to start smoking your BBQ meats. We recommend trying out many different kinds of recipes, sauces, and rubs. The most important thing is that you enjoy cooking and using your new smoker. You should try this BBQ sauce on all your meats for excellent flavor.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Cleaning and Maintenance

After you’ve prepared your first amazing rack of ribs, you’ll need to clean up after yourself. This can be time consuming, but it's crucial to maintain your smoker. The most important thing is to get rid of all the grime on your cooking grates. This can be done by heating up your smoker to a very high heat and cooking it off. Then, using a brush or piece of aluminum foil to scrub off the excess. Make sure you complete this process on both sides.

You should also remember to keep your grill under a cover. You can either purchase a grill cover or move it under your patio. This will protect it from the elements when not in use.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long do these budget smokers take to reach desired temperatures?
Every budget smoker is different. If you crank up the heat, most smokers should reach the optimal 250 degrees within 10 or 15 minutes. The optimal smoking temperature is from 225 to 250 degrees.
What are the best meats to smoke or grill in a budget smoker?
You can smoke any type of meat on a budget smoker, but we recommend starting with a fan favorite pulled pork. It is simple and easy to master. Some smokers are also capable of grilling, which makes them perfect for burgers. 
What else can I do with a budget smoker besides smoking meat?
Some budget smokers are capable of grilling as well. You can sear steaks, burgers, or hot dogs. These models can usually maintain higher temperatures. You can also use your smoker as a roaster for potatoes or baked beans to add sides to your BBQ menu.
How long does it take to smoke meat?
Depending on the type of meat you are smoking, it can take anywhere from 3 to 22 hours. A small whole chicken can take about 4 hours, but a large brisket can take up to 22 hours.
What is cold smoking?
Depending on the type of meat you are smoking, it can take anywhere from 3 to 22 hours. A small whole chicken can take about 4 hours, but a large brisket can take up to 22 hours.
How long do budget smokers last?
Many inexpensive smokers can last up to 5 years without replacing anything. We recommend checking the grates for wear after about 1 to 2 years. All of the products that we have reviewed above come with a warranty in case anything goes wrong.

Conclusion

In this buyer’s guide, we have assisted you in finding the perfect budget smoker to satisfy all of your needs. You are probably wondering, at this point, what the perfect smoker to fit a tight budget is. In this roundup, I can confidently say, the Royal Gourmet Offset Smoker. I liked that this smoker maintains the classic offset style for using wood as fuel, but you can still use charcoal with it as well.

Last Updated on

Top