Best Smokers Under $500
A List Of The Best BBQ Smokers On A Budget
It doesn’t matter what level you’re at when it comes to smoking barbecue. Most of us given the chance, would love to drop everything and pick up the biggest rig we could find, travel the country delivering that sweet smokey goodness to lineups around the block, snacking on as much “pitmaster privilege” as we possibly could until we dropped. Sauce-stained fingers and BBQ filled bellies is what life’s all about. (Or maybe that’s just me?) But then reality kicks in, and we have to face the fact that we don’t all have money (or space) for the big fancy pit, so it’s time to look for something a little more realistic. Welcome to our list of the best smokers under $500.
Just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean it isn’t well made.
Just because we’re looking for BBQ on a budget, doesn’t mean we have to buy something cheaply made. If you saw our best smokers list, you’ll know that there are certain qualities and standard we look for when making picks. This is list no different. In fact, some of these smokers made multiple lists, whether it’s based on price or functionality, because “the best” doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Here are a few great smokers to look at, charcoal, propane, pellet and electric, all under $500.
Propane & Gas Smokers Under $500
The Camp Chef Smoke Vault is the first propane smoker on the list, but what sets it apart from other gassers, is that it has it’s own natural gas conversion kit, should you want to hook it up to a direct line rather than a propane tank.
- Comes with three cooking racks, allows 5 total
- Smoke as low as 150f for cold smoking
- Reaches temperatures of 400f for hot and fast
- Optional conversion kit allows the smoker to be used with natural gas
- Stainless steel pan for wood chunks or chips
- Sizeable water pan for keeping moisture in
- Includes a handy guide full of tips and recipes to get you started
Masterbuilt Pro Two-Door Propane Smoker
The Masterbuilt Pro vertical cabinet smoker is a popular unit in many backyards. It’s low cost, easy to use and get the job done. If you check out any of the better BBQ forums on the net, you’ll see plenty of barbecue chefs standing behind these versatile units.
They can be used with either wood or gas, and many Masterbuilt owners have found cheap ways to mod them (without having to do anything permanent) to make for an even better, more controlled smoking process. These smokers come in two different sizes and are a great way to get started in barbecue.
- Dual-fuel smoker. Use propane or wood/charcoal
- Easily moddable to enhance smoking process
- Takes up little room in the backyard
- Four levels of cooking racks for multi-level smoking
- 30″ model: Separate door for loading fuel keeps heat in the cooking chamber
- 40″ model: Wider cooking space for smoking larger cuts of meat
Charcoal Smokers Under $500
Pit Barrel Cooker
As simple as it gets. The Pit Barrel Cooker might be one of the most basic on our smokers under $500 list, but don’t let that fool you. It also makes an appearance on best charcoal smokers and many other places on this site, that’s because this smoker is one of the best on any list.
If you’ve heard of ugly drum smokers, the design might look familiar. This is a pre-built UDS-style smoker with a few tweaks to better control the smoking process, enhancing the finished product (your food) every time.
- 30 gallon, porcelain-coated steel drum, built to last
- One vent system for “set it and forget it” smoking
- Low oxygen environment prevents flare-ups
- Shorter cooking times
- Multi-level horizontal grate cooking, removable
- Optional hanging racks for extra ribs, whole turkeys, sausage links etc.
Weber Smokey Mountain
When browsing the site, you’ll see Webers on just about every page, and you’ll also see this smoker a few times too. That’s because the brand is one of the most tried, tested, and true innovators of backyard barbecue. Weber Smokey Mountains are one of the most popular units on the market. With their top-quality build and multi-purpose functionality, they should be on anyone’s radar when looking at the best smokers under $500.
- Porcelain-coated steel chamber for durability
- One of the best warranties in the industry
- Can be used for smoking or grilling
- Divided into three sections
- Large fuel section allows hours of cooking time without refilling
- Water section deflects heat from flare-ups, adds moisture to the chamber
- Cooking-section has two grate-levels with a large dome on top for ample cooking space
- Remove the middle cylinder and it becomes a kettle grill!
Electric Smokers Under $500
Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
Electric smokers are a polarizing topic in the barbecue community. Some prefer “old school” BBQ while others prefer convenience, and don’t care as long as the job gets done. While the big set-ups certainly are impressive, some barbecue-lovers don’t have the luxury of space for a huge pit, but still need that smokey goodness in their lives. Here’s where the electric smoker comes in.
This 40″ Masterbuilt smoker is spacious and can smoke a variety of foods. From full slabs of ribs to whole chicken and whatever else you want to add to the mix. If you’re going electric, this is one of the better smokers under $500. Here’s what’s going on inside.
- 975 square-inches of cooking space with four cooking racks
- Easy-load system for your favorite smoking woods
- Remote control panel
- Built in meat probes for monitoring meat temperature
- Front window with internal light for lat-night smoking
- Front access drip pan
- Dishwasher safe, removable cooking racks, and components
Smokin-It Electric Smokers
This next electric smoker may be smaller than the previously featured unit, but don’t let the size fool you, this is a commercial-grade smoker for a backyard price. And, not to worry, this is only the entry model. If it’s too small, they have more size options to suit your smoking needs.
The “Smokin-It model 1” has an overwhelming amount of positive reviews due to its ease of use, portability and of course, build quality. The stainless steel is easy to clean and will last for years to come without worries of rusting out.
- 18-gauge, 201 stainless-steel construction
- Smokes up to 21 lbs of meat
- Temp controls from 100f-250f
- 3 removable shelves, option for 4
- Shelves and racks are dishwasher safe
- Insulated to reduce heat loss
- Comes fully assembled
Pellet Smokers Under $500
GMG Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker & Grill
This portable pellet smoker from Green Mountain Grills is a really neat deal and works great for tailgating. With stainless steel parts inside, you’ve got the quality you would expect from any full-sized unit. And, since this is a multi-purpose cooker, you can Grill, Smoke, BBQ with the best of them while staying well under our $500 mark. Check out some of these features.
- Stainless steel parts
- Ready out of the box (just attach the smoke stack and lid handle)
- Digital main control (wi-fi enabled) for the pellet hopper
- Sense-mate technology to regulate grill temperatures
- Meat probe for monitoring meat temperatures
- Grease tray positions for either open-sear grilling or smoking
- Can be powered by regular household electrical outlet
- For tailgating: use car cell-phone adapter or hook it directly to a battery!
- Spring feet for resting on table or tailgate, also comes with leg extensions
Rec-Tec Mini Pellet Smoker & Grill
Don’t be fooled by the word “mini!” This pellet smoker from Rec-Tec is much larger than it looks, it’s just that the full-sized version is larger in comparison. We’ve featured Rec-Tec smokers before because they’re built like tanks, they’re multi-purpose, and they’re pretty sweet to look at.
Now, this one cuts it close to our set budget on this page, but they should definitely be on your radar when looking at smokers in general.
- Marine-grade stainless steel
- Heavy-duty construction all around
- Smokes from 180f-500f
- Hopper holds 15 lbs of pellets
- Great customer service
- The founders actually give you their direct contact info