10 Best BBQ Smokers Under $500

Outdoor Cooking June 4, 2020
Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
Tyler

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10 Best BBQ Smokers Under $500

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Best BBQ Smokers Under $500

A BBQ smoker allows you to cook food at a low temperature, in a controlled and smoky environment giving food a distinct flavor that is rich and tasty. BBQ smokers run on a variety of fuel types and can vary greatly in price, so it really comes down to personal preference when deciding which one is best for you.

In this article we have rounded up the top 10 best BBQ smokers under $500, as well as their pros and cons.

Why You Should Trust Us

We spent more than 48 hours analyzing BBQ Smokers and customer reviews on the Amazon, Home Depot and Walmart websites as well as in person at Home Depot and Lowes. In addition to conducting this in depth research, we related information learned from conversations with several BBQ experts, from the World BBQ Festival.

I recently purchased a BBQ smoker and compared over 20 models side by side. In doing so I learned about the different types of BBQ smokers available and determined which one fit my needs. I will share this information with you so that you can make the best decision when buying your own smoker.

How We Researched

  • We spent several days researching BBQ smokers under $500
  • We considered over 20 BBQ smokers and fine tuned it down to the 10 reviewed in this article
  • We did this by reading hundreds of reviews, speaking with experts and comparing the features of each

Comparison Chart

PICTURENAMERATINGSHOPS
Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
1
Masterbuilt MB20070210 Analog Electric Smoker
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2
Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker
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3
Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker
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Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
4
PIT BOSS 77435 Vertical Lp Gas Smoker
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Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
5
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
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Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
6
Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker 
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7
Char-Griller E6520 AKORN Kamado Cart Charcoal Grill
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Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
8
Barrel House Cooker Smoker BHC 18C
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9
Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker
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Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
10
Masterbuilt MB20074719 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker
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Types of BBQ Smokers

The first step into the world of BBQ smokers is learning about the most common types available. Picking the right smoker starts with your needs as well as your budget.

Gas Smokers – Gas smokers usually have a burner and vents at the bottom and the chimney and dampers at the top in a cabinet. The gas travels through a manifold and down to the cooking section and is then ignited as it flows out of the burner valves.

Gas smokers do not produce that smokey flavor which requires the use of wood chips.

Pellet Smokers – Pellet smokers use sawdust compressed into what looks like small wood balls. These pellets sit in a hopper on the side of the smoker and are fed into a firebox by an auger drill. Then while inside the firebox the pellets combust, creating both smoke and heat in the cooking chamber above.

Pellet smokers use built-in thermometers to keep the temperature stable by changing the airflow and amount of pellets being fed into the firebox to create a consistent heat.

Charcoal Smokers – Charcoal provides the heat for a charcoal smoker, and the chemicals produced, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide, add to the flavor of the food. The amount of heat created is regulated by air intakes near the coals and the more air allowed into the firebox, the hotter the charcoal will burn.

Most charcoal smokers hold the food above the coals, drawing the heat and smoke across the food using a chimney and air dampers at the top.

Electric Smokers – Most electric smokers are built vertically, with a heating element at the bottom and wood and water pans in the middle of the food racks. Electric smokers are perfect if you don’t want to to worry about burning wood, charcoal, gas, or having much mess to clean up after use. Electric smokers use a heating element, rather than fuel, to create heat.

Smoke comes from wood chips, which are suspended above the heating element.

Komado Smokers – Komado smokers have been around for nearly 3000 years now. The egg shape of the Kamado grill is based on ancient clay ovens, the shape and the thickness of the ceramic walls aids in heat and moisture retention. Fire produces heat at the bottom of the cooking chamber, and the food is placed on a grill grate above it.

Heat is controlled by vents at the top and bottom of the grill.

The Top 10 Best BBQ Smokers Under $500

Masterbuilt MB20070210 Analog Electric Smoker
Product
Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
Overall Score
Pros
  • Built in temperature gauge
  • Front access grease tray
  • 3 chrome coated racks
Cons
  • Smoke leaks out the front
  • Temperature control inconsistent
Pros
  • Built in temperature gauge
  • Front access grease tray
  • 3 chrome coated racks
Cons
  • Smoke leaks out the front
  • Temperature control inconsistent
Durability
Grill Space
Assembly
Price

Masterbuilt MB20070210 Analog Electric Smoker does not require the hassle of charcoal or propane. This smoker plugs in and is temperature controlled with an analog dial. The three chrome-coated racks provide plenty of room to smoke up to 3 chickens, 2 turkeys, 3 racks or ribs, or 3 pork butts. The 1,500-watt heating element provides even, consistent smoking. There is a wood chip tray that slides out for easy ash removal and a front access grease tray.


Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker
Product
Overall Score
Pros
  • Rust resistant metal legs
  • Built in thermometer
  • Plated steel cooking grates
Cons
  • Lid does not attach
  • Hard to add water once smoking
  • Smoke escapes out of the door
Pros
  • Rust resistant metal legs
  • Built in thermometer
  • Plated steel cooking grates
Cons
  • Lid does not attach
  • Hard to add water once smoking
  • Smoke escapes out of the door
Durability
Grill Space
Assembly
Price

Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker has two cooking grates for smoking multiple items at once, and easily adjustable dampers for precision heat control. This little smoker reaches approximately 190°F temperature inside and has a built in lid thermometer. It has plated steel cooking grates and rust resistant metal legs. This cooker comes in 3 sizes making it a great option for travel and portability.


Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker
Product
Overall Score
Pros
  • Porcelain enameled steel wood chip box
  • Stainless steel temperature gauge
  • 6 height-adjustable cooking grates
Cons
  • Gaps between firebox and smokebox
  • Grease drip pan too small
Pros
  • Porcelain enameled steel wood chip box
  • Stainless steel temperature gauge
  • 6 height-adjustable cooking grates
Cons
  • Gaps between firebox and smokebox
  • Grease drip pan too small
Durability
Grill Space
Assembly
Price

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker includes 6 height-adjustable cooking grates, with a total of 1, 176 square inches of cooking space, to accommodate different sizes and types of food. Since indirect heat is ideal for slow cooking, the offset functionality of this smoker is designed to keep direct heat away from the food. The porcelain enameled charcoal chamber is designed to keep briquettes stacked tightly for improved burn efficiency. The removable, steel ash pan is designed to handle large amounts of ash for hours of maintenance free cooking. Temperature is controlled by utilizing the steel smoke stack’s adjustable flue.


PIT BOSS 77435 Vertical Lp Gas Smoker
Product
Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
Overall Score
Pros
  • Three porcelain coated cooking grid
  • Stainless Steel burners
  • Over-sized front load wood chip tray
Cons
  • Difficult to get wood chips in box when smoking
  • Thermometer fogs up when using
Pros
  • Three porcelain coated cooking grid
  • Stainless Steel burners
  • Over-sized front load wood chip tray
Cons
  • Difficult to get wood chips in box when smoking
  • Thermometer fogs up when using
Durability
Grill Space
Assembly
Price

PIT BOSS 77435 Vertical Lp Gas Smoker has a dual valve burner system and one 3, 500 BTU stainless steel burner dedicated to the wood chips. Both valves are controlled by a single control knob and allow for temperature control. The push-button piezo ignition means quick and easy lighting. This vertical smoker offers four porcelain coated cooking racks, 884 sq in cooking area, and a large high temp glass viewing window. It also has rear wheels and handle to increase mobility.


Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
Product
Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
Overall Score
Pros
  • Dual LED temperature readout
  • Automatic auger dispenses pellets
  • Electronic auto-start ignition
Cons
  • Warming rack gets in the way
  • Pellets are not easy to get from hopper
  • Ash clean out still needs vacuuming
Pros
  • Dual LED temperature readout
  • Automatic auger dispenses pellets
  • Electronic auto-start ignition
Cons
  • Warming rack gets in the way
  • Pellets are not easy to get from hopper
  • Ash clean out still needs vacuuming
Durability
Grill Space
Assembly
Price

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill has a digital LED temperature readout and simple temperature setting system. This pellet smoker also has an ash clean-out system allowing you to pull a lever to empty the ash from the fire box. The automatic auger dispenses pellets as needed for improved smoker efficiency while cooking. This grill offers a total cooking space of 570 square inches and a warming rack.


Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker 
Product
Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
Overall Score
Pros
  • Thermostat-temperature control
  • 4 chrome-coated smoking racks
  • Wood chip side loader
Cons
  • Not enough smoke at low temperatures
  • Digital controls hard to read
  • Complaints of paint peeling off
Pros
  • Thermostat-temperature control
  • 4 chrome-coated smoking racks
  • Wood chip side loader
Cons
  • Not enough smoke at low temperatures
  • Digital controls hard to read
  • Complaints of paint peeling off
Durability
Grill Space
Assembly
Price

Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker comes with four chrome-coated smoking racks and thermostat temperature control for even, consistent smoking. The side wood chip loading system is great for adding wood chips without opening the smoker door. There is also a rear-access grease tray that catches food drippings and a wood chip tray for easy ash removal. The body of this smoker is fully insulated with adjustable screw legs.


Char-Griller E6520 AKORN Kamado Cart Charcoal Grill
Product
Overall Score
Pros
  • Dual adjustable dampers
  • Cast iron cooking grates
  • Powder coated exterior finish
Cons
  • Heavy and hard to roll
  • Some parts will rust if not covered
Pros
  • Dual adjustable dampers
  • Cast iron cooking grates
  • Powder coated exterior finish
Cons
  • Heavy and hard to roll
  • Some parts will rust if not covered
Durability
Grill Space
Assembly
Price

Char-Griller E6520 AKORN Kamado Cart Charcoal Grill offers a style of cooking from ancient cooking methods that used large clay ovens for insulation. Kamados of recent years are made of heavy ceramics but this one is made with a lighter weight ceramic. This Kamado smoker offers 314 square inches of primary cooking space with cast iron cooking grates to heat evenly. This smoker comes with a tubular steel cart  that includes 26″ X 26″ of preparation and cooking space.


Barrel House Cooker Smoker BHC 18C
Product
Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
Overall Score
Pros
  • 40% shorter cook times than other smokers
  • Barrel lifts off base
  • 20 gauge metal barrel, porcelain enameled
Cons
  • Food cooks close to fire
  • May need to buy extra accessories
Pros
  • 40% shorter cook times than other smokers
  • Barrel lifts off base
  • 20 gauge metal barrel, porcelain enameled
Cons
  • Food cooks close to fire
  • May need to buy extra accessories
Durability
Grill Space
Assembly
Price

Barrel House Cooker Smoker BHC 18C features a larger, more traditional barrel smoker that is super easy-to-use and only takes up just 18-inches of space. You can hang up to 8 racks of ribs, 4 chickens, 15 lbs brisket, or a 30 pound turkey in this smoker. The barrel lifts off the base for easy lighting, ash disposal, and for adding wood. The base also converts to a hibachi grill, which is perfect for searing and grilling.


Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker
Product
Overall Score
Pros
  • Airflow control system for temperature regulation
  • Porcelain-coated body
  • Two chamber-lift handles
Cons
  • Smoke leaks from lid
  • Two racks in chamber are tight fit
  • Door handle flimsy
Pros
  • Airflow control system for temperature regulation
  • Porcelain-coated body
  • Two chamber-lift handles
Cons
  • Smoke leaks from lid
  • Two racks in chamber are tight fit
  • Door handle flimsy
Durability
Grill Space
Assembly
Price

Char-Broil Bullet Charcoal Smoker features 584 square inches cooking surface across 2 porcelain-coated cooking grates. The innovative airflow control system simplifies temperature regulation, and features numbered damper settings. The body is porcelain-coated while the exterior features two chamber-lift handles and lid-mounted temperature gauge. The formed fire access door seals the smoke chamber and the steel tube legs offer adjustable height.


Masterbuilt MB20074719 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker
Product
Best BBQ Smokers Under $500
Overall Score
Pros
  • Bluetooth capabilities
  • Side wood chip loading system
  • 4 chrome-coated smoking racks
Cons
  • Hard to read LED screen
  • Temperature is off by several degrees
Pros
  • Bluetooth capabilities
  • Side wood chip loading system
  • 4 chrome-coated smoking racks
Cons
  • Hard to read LED screen
  • Temperature is off by several degrees
Durability
Grill Space
Assembly
Price

Masterbuilt MB20074719 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker has a 40-inch digital electric smoker monitor to use with Bluetooth Smart technology and a built-in meat probe thermometer. The four chrome-coated smoking racks can smoke up to 16 chickens, 4 turkeys, 8 racks of ribs, or 8 pork butts. The patented side wood chip loading system allows you to add wood chips without opening smoker door and there is an interior light that illuminates when the door is open.


What to Consider When Buying a BBQ Smoker

Material – The material your BBQ smoker is constructed with makes a big difference to both how well the smoker works and how long it will last. Stainless steel is good to look for, but also quality paint and enamel prevent rust and look good. Plastic parts probably will not last and some metals are prone to rusting.

Grill Size – The size of your BBQ smoker will affect how much and what type of meat you can smoke. Vertical smokers usually have shelves which allow for more meat but can limit the size of larger items in the chamber. Horizontal style smokers usually have larger grates that can accommodate larger cuts like racks of ribs or larger pork butts and briskets.

Temperature – The temperature you cook something in your smoker affects the flavor hugely, so having control over the temperature is important. A temperature gauge is something you want to have in a smoker. The temperature range is very important when cooking for more extended periods.

Portability – If you need to take your smoker on the road, you want something smaller and lightweight, but that can accommodate the amount of people you plan to feed. Some smokers are heavy and hard to move while other come with wheels and locking lids.

Fuel Type – BBQ smokers have various fuel types. Some use charcoal, propane, gas, pellets and then there are electric. Depending on your outdoor hook-ups and cooking preferences you will want to decided the type of fuel before looking for a smoker.

Price – Depending on the features you want and how much you are willing to spend, there is a BBQ smoker for you. They range in cost depends on size, fuel and features but you may also consider what a gas line may cost if you choose this type of fuel.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between grilling and smoking meat?

Grilling meat is done over a direct flame causing the meat to cook fast and dry out. It also tends to have a crispy outer textures. Smoking is done over an indirect heat source over a long period of time to trap in moisture and give food a smokey flavor.

How does a BBQ smoker work?

A BBQ smoker exposes meats to smoke and heat in a controlled environment such as a smoker oven or smokehouse. BBQ smoking requires the use of a smoker which generates heat either from a charcoal base, heated element within the smoker or wood source. The food is smoked by cooking and flavored with wood smoke simultaneously.

What is the benefit of smoking meats?

Smoking meat not only gives your food a rich and smokey flavor but it also traps in moisture. Because the food is cooked over an indirect flame, slowly, the juices are trapped inside the meat.

Tyler

Tyler is a DIY-er who enjoys working with his hands and building things. His background is mixed with home improvement and all things food related. He is here to share his experience of quality outdoor products, while leaving out the hype.
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