Smoking meat, seafood, veggies, and more is an amazing way to enjoy deliciousness and tenderness. However, you don’t need to break the bank to get a good quality smoker. In this guide today, we would be looking at our seven top choices of best smoker under 500. Cooking food low and slow as in a smoker gives the food an unreplaceable and unique taste and texture. So, we completely understand when anyone desires to buy a smoker. Even if your budget is not ranging in thousands, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a smoker that would last you years and perform amazingly well. For everything you need to know, and how to find a good smoker to suit your needs, keep reading.
Contents of This Guide
- Top 7 Best Smokers Under 500 Review
- #1. Masterbuilt MB20040220 Gravity Series Charcoal Smoke – Editor Choice
- #2. Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker – Best Value
- #3. Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D – Best Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoke
- #4. Masterbuilt MB20073519 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker
- #5. Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro Charcoal Grill and Smoker – Best for Side Fire Box
- #6. Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker – Best Smoker Grill Combo Under $500
- #7. Z GRILLS ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Smoker – Best Pellet Smoker Under $500
- Best Smoker Under $500 Buyer’s Guide
- How to Use a Smoker?
- How to Clean a Smoker?
Top 7 Best Smokers Under 500 Review
Title & Features
1. Masterbuilt MB20040220
The innovative design of this Masterbuilt charcoal smoker with a Gravityfed charcoal hopper and digital controller is one of a kind. This smoker/grill can reach temperature as high as 700 degrees Fahrenheit in 13 minutes making it a perfect unit for searing, grilling or at a reduced temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit for smoking.
2. Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D
Open your world to a whole new experience of culinary on this Dyna-Glo multifunctional offset smoker that optimizes indirect heat flow which is ideal for cooking low and slow with infused smoke flavor. Dyna-Glo further designed this smoker with a charcoal chamber that tightly stacks the charcoal to increase burning efficiency, and an adjustable flue for easy temperature and smoke control.
3. Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D
When you desires a massive smoker go for this Dyna-Glo Signature Series designed with up to five chrome plated cooking racks. Also, the heavy-gauge steel body is perfect for retaining the heat of this smoker and making it quite durable. Other features include the likes of offset design, easy access door to the charcoal chamber, and oversized wheels.
4. Masterbuilt MB20073519
With this 30-inch Masterbuilt electric smoker with the smart Bluetooth functionality, you get all you need to make smoking a lot easier. Masterbuilt also designed this smoker with a meat probe, digital controller, and a tempered glass front door to view the smoking progress.
5. Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro
This Smokin Pro grill from Char-Griller is a professional grade charcoal grill with a side fire box that comes with more features that other smokers twice its price. Char-Griller designed this Texas-style BBQ smoker with a cast iron cooking grate for even cooking, heavy steel construction, powder coat finishing, adjustable fire grate, easy dump ash, temperature gauge, and more.
6. Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker
Char-Broil designed this grill with the ultimate versatility to smoke, roast, and grill all in one. As a gas grill, Char-Broil designed it with the TRU-Infrared technology that ensures even cooking, and less flare-ups.
7. Z GRILLS ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Smoker
This 2020 upgraded version of the ZPG-6002E Pellet grill is built with the latest technology for high performance. You get more precise temperature settings and pellet feed control with this newer model as well. And as a stainless steel built grill, it is durable and resistant to corrosion, meaning it is a long lasting grill with a polished and sleek look.
#1. Masterbuilt MB20040220 Gravity Series Charcoal Smoke – Editor Choice
- Type: Charcoal
- Cooking space: 560 square inches
- Dimension: 24.65 x 54.13 x 51.97 inches
- Warranty: 1-year warranty
Masterbuilt MB20040220 Review:
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 is one of the best charcoal smokers. Firstly, it is a versatile smoker as it allows you to smoke and grill in the same unit. Secondly, Masterbuilt designed it in such a way that it makes ignition and maintaining a constant temperature so easy. The digital control panel lets you set the temperature of this charcoal smoker or you can monitor the temperature with your smart device through the Masterbuilt app via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Masterbuilt designed a Digital fan in place to allow for precise temperature control. As such, in less than 7 minutes this grill/smoker can reach a temperature as high as 225 degrees Fahrenheit, and 700 degrees Fahrenheit in about 13 minutes.
Other innovative features put in place by Masterbuilt to make using this grill/smoker easy include the GravityFed charcoal hopper. The hopper is large enough to hold up to 16 pounds of briquettes or 10 pounds of lump charcoal for 12-15 hours of smoking. And when you move to the cooking chamber, this is where you’d find the real joy of this smoker/grill. With a total cooking space of up to 560 square inches, you can cook up to 37 hot dogs, 21 burgers, 4 racks of ribs, and 8 chicken. The cooking chamber is designed with two removable porcelain-coated smoking racks and a cast-iron grilling rack.
This Masterbuilt charcoal smoker is great as it is durably built and revolutionizes how to use charcoal with the inclusion of a digital control and a DigitalFan. The large hopper is also a plus as it lets you smoke for an extended period without worrying about running out of fuel. Masterbuilt also designed this smoker with a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capacity for monitoring the cooking temperature for more convenience. In summary, this Masterbuilt charcoal smoker/grill offers you more value than what you paid for.
- Large charcoal hopper capacity
- Digital control panel
- Smoke and sear versatility
- Lighting takes practice
#2. Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker – Best Value
- Type: Charcoal
- Cooking space: 1,890 square inches
- Dimension: 21 x 43.3 x 50.2 inches
- Warranty: 3-year warranty
Dyna-Glo DGO1890BDC-D Smoker Review:
If you are a hardcore Dyna-Glo fan, well here is one budget-friendly Dyna-Glo charcoal smoker you should consider buying, the DGO-1890BDC-D. This offset smoker offers you durability, performance, and quality. One of the functionalities of the smoker that makes using it fun is the indirect heat flow thanks to the offset design. The offset design directs heat away from your food to create an even distribution of smoke and heat. As a vertical smoker heat naturally rises, which leads to improved smoke flavor and greater efficiency. And with Dyna-Glo rigor in designing, they pre-installed seals on the doors to help retain heat and minimize heat and smoke loss, and to improve smoke efficiency.
Additionally, to improve burning efficiency, Dyna-Glo designed the charcoal chamber to stack the briquette tightly. Also, the smoke stack features an adjustable flue, which allows you to take the temperature control of this grill a step further. Furthermore, the stainless steel temperature gauge comes with a smoke zone indicator, which allows you to easily find the ideal smoking temperature. Dyna-Glo designed the cooking chamber of this smoker with six height-adjustable cooking grates each having a 25-pound capacity. Dyna-Glo also included sausage hooks on the hood of the cooking chamber.
Although the charcoal chamber of this grill is pretty small which can be a pain in a smoker because you need to constantly refuel, the combination of the effects of an offset smoker with a vertical smoker in this Dyna-Glo smoker is amazing. While the offset smoker keeps direct heat away from the food, the vertical design lets the heat naturally rise into the cooking chamber for even, low and slow cooking. Also, the enameled charcoal chamber, removable ashtray, and grease cup, all contribute to making cleaning this smoker a breeze.
- Affordable smoker
- Great heat control
- Easy to load charcoal
- Small charcoal chamber
#3. Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D – Best Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoke
- Type: Charcoal
- Cooking space: 1,382 square inches
- Dimension: 58 x 45.5 x 24.5 inches
- Warranty: 1-year warranty on all parts, and a 90-day warranty on paint
Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D Smoker Review:
Another Dyna-Glo you should consider buying in this review is this DGSS1382VCS-D charcoal smoker. This Dyna-Glo smoker is a lot more versatile than it seems at first glance. While the design of this smoker is also a combination of a vertical smoker and offset smoker, the twist is that you can use the smokebox as a mini grill. The offset grilling cooking space measures 284 square inches, which you can remove and take to the beach, or for camping. In the cooking chamber, Dyna-Glo designed it with 5 chrome-plated steel measuring 17 inches each in diameter. With this much cooking space, it is only logical for this smoker to be massive. While this smoker weighs 124.3 pounds, the two heavy-duty wheels make mobility easier.
One downside of this Dyna-Glo smoker is the thickness of the metal used for the smoke chamber. It is a bit on the thin side, which is probably why the unit is in such a reasonable price range. At the same time, you will most likely have problems with heat retention. Nevertheless, you can work your way around the heat retention problem by using fire-rated bricks over the grate and boiling water in the drip pan or water pan. To keep a close eye on the cooking temperature, Dyna-Glo built-in a stainless steel temperature gauge with a smoke zone indicator.
Being able to smoke your meat from the comfort of your backyard is nice, and with this Dyna-Glo vertical offset smoker, you can certainly smoke a large amount of competition level meals. However, with the thin metal construction, you will likely have some issues with heat retention. But we can’t complain much since the smoker is this affordable.
- Easy to clean
- Preinstalled sausage hooks
- Removable ash pan
- Heat retention problem
#4. Masterbuilt MB20073519 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker
- Type: Electric
- Cooking space: 711.14 square inches
- Dimension: 22.756 x 42.323 x 23.228 inches
- Warranty: 1-year warranty
Masterbuilt MB20073519 Smoker Review:
The first electric smoker we’d look into in this review is from the renowned manufacturer, Masterbuilt. An electric smoker is by far one of the most convenient types of smokers to use, as you don’t have to go through the trouble of refueling. To make this 30-inch electric smoker more convenient to use, Masterbuilt designed it with a digital control panel. A digital control panel gives you the flexibility to easily set a desired temperature and timer. This smoker also features a built-in meat probe you can use to manage the temperature of your meat for perfect results every time. To make smoking a notch higher, Masterbuilt designed the door with tempered glass, providing you with a viewing window.
This Masterbuilt smoker also comes with Bluetooth smart control, which you can use to operate the light, power on/off, and monitor the meat temperature all from the comfort of your smartphone. The two air dampers at the top of this smoker also help for smoke control. The 800-watt heating element in this smoker is powerful enough to even heat over the four smoking racks. Masterbuilt included 4 chrome-coated smoking racks, 3 traditional racks, and 1 notched rack, which you can switch depending on what you want to cook. With the ample cooking space in this smoker, you can smoke up to 4 pork butts, 4 rib racks, 2 turkeys, and 6 chicken. To ensure this smoker adds real genuine smoke flavor to your meals, Masterbuilt added a wood chip tray at the side
One thing that is consistent with this Masterbuilt electric smoker is that it offers you the convenience to control. Most of its features like the digital control panel, the Smart Bluetooth control, built-in meat probe all work together to provide you with more convenient control. All in all, this 30-inch Masterbuilt smoker is easy to use, offers you plentiful cooking space, and is affordably priced.
- Tempered glass viewing window
- Built-in meat probe
- Digital control panel
- Smart Bluetooth control compatible
- LED display lit is too dull, hard to see during the daytime
#5. Char-Griller E1224 Smokin Pro Charcoal Grill and Smoker – Best for Side Fire Box
- Type: Charcoal
- Cooking space: 830 square inches
- Dimension: 62 x 29 x 50 inches
- Warranty: 1-year warranty
Char-Griller E1224 Smoker Review:
Char-Griller is another excellent manufacturer of smokers that meets the high demands of Texas-style BBQ. For enhanced performance and versatile smoker + grill, go for the Char-Griller E1224 charcoal smoker. As a charcoal smoker, we understand if you feel skeptical because of the difficulty of controlling charcoal, but the genuine smoke aroma it adds to food is irreplaceable. Additionally, as an offset smoker that uses indirect heat, your food cooks slowly and evenly. Moreover, the cooking chamber comes with an ample grilling space and an airtight flanged hood. Cook all you can in the main grilling area measuring up to 580 square inches, and 250 square inches in the side firebox.
For longevity, Char-Grill built this smoker with heavy-duty steel with powder coating. The grates are designed with durable cast iron to last long. Also, the adjustable fire grate gives you great heat control letting you choose between hot, medium, and warm temperatures. On the hood, Char-Griller installed a temperature gauge you can use to monitor the temperature of the cooking chamber. The wooden handle on the firebox, and the cooking chamber, allow you to open the lid without hurting your hand. For extra storage space, the wooden front and side table, as well as the bottom wire gauge, allows you to store tools, ingredients, and plates while grilling. Since this Char-Griller smoker weighs 118 pounds, the inclusion of the two durable wheels is great to make mobility easier.
Apart from being affordable, this Char-Griller smoker is also versatile as it allows you to grill as well. And despite it being a charcoal smoker, it offers you easy temperature control thanks to the adjustable charcoal grates and dampers. The solid construction and cast iron grates also come into the picture in making this charcoal smoker an amazing choice. And most importantly, it offers you plentiful cooking space to cook all you desire.
- Excellent grease management system
- Convenient side, front, and bottom shelves
- Two wheels for easy transport
- Durable construction can withstand high heat and long term use
- Not easy to assemble
#6. Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker – Best Smoker Grill Combo Under $500
- Type: Gas
- Cooking space: 1200 square inches
- Dimension: 23.1 x 23.4 x 36.2 inches
- Warranty: 1-year warranty
Char-Broil Smoker Review:
Char-Broil is American’s favorite grill brand founded in 1948. And somehow, it feels as though they are only getting started as the Char-Broil 14101550 grill is a versatile gas grill smoker combo. Char-Broil also refers to it as The Big Easy 3-in-1, as you can use it as a smoker, roaster, or grill. The ultimate versatility of this smoker is one of its key features as it comes with a roasting and smoking basket and a grilling grate. The roasting and smoking basket can fit up to 25 pounds of meat, while the grilling grate measures 180 square inches.
Char-Broil designed this smoker with the TRU-Infrared technology, which ensures even cooking and no flare-ups. The burner in this gas smoker combo can produce between 9,000 and 18,000 BTUs of heat. To light, turn the adjustable control knob on and the other knob to light the grill. Features like the removable grease tray make clean-up easy. Other features like the side-mounted stainless steel smoker can be accessed from outside, allowing you to add any flavor of word chip without having to open the lid. Additionally, two side-mounted carrying handles make it easy to carry this 50-pound unit.
This Char-Broil gas grill smoker combo is quite versatile and easy to use. Maintaining a constant temperature with a gas smoker is easy, and you wouldn’t have to worry about refueling like in a pellet or charcoal smoker. The side-mounted stainless steel is an important feature to have in a smoker and is present in this Char-Broil smoker despite it being cheap.
- Can be used for smoking, grilling, and roasting
- No flare-ups
- Easy to clean
- Durable and sturdy
- No temperature gauge
#7. Z GRILLS ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Smoker – Best Pellet Smoker Under $500
- Type: Pellet
- Cooking space: 450 square inches
- Dimension: 45 x 28 x 49 inches
- Warranty: 3-year warranty
Z GRILLS ZPG-450A Smoker Review:
One thing you’d love about this Z Grills pellet grill is that it offers you all you need for grilling in one grill. It is an ultimate 6-in-1 grill that lets you grill, bake, braise, roast, BBQ, and smoke. This grill comes with features that make it convenient to use right from the large hopper capacity, which can hold up to 15 pounds of pellets. Also, thanks to the shutdown recycle mode, you can use 20 pounds of pellet for 20 hours, making this grill very cost-effective. Additionally, the auger, hot rod, and induction fan all work together to make lighting this grill effortless to produce up to 25,000 BTUs of heat. And with the digital controller with an LED screen, you can regulate the temperature between 180 and 4500 degrees Fahrenheit as well as set a timer.
Moving on to the cooking chamber, this ZPG-450A comes with a 324 square inches main cooking area, and 128 square inches warming rack area. Its grates are made with durable cast iron and coated with porcelain to make it nonstick and rust-resistant. At the side of the grill is a grease cup that collects drippings from the cooking chamber. Because the cup is outside, when full, you can easily dispose of it without opening the lid, which is perfect for a smoker. There is also a foldable working shelf at the side of the grill for preparing food and storing tools and ingredients. And finally, with the two durable wheels, you can move this 84 pounds pellet grill in and out of your backyard with ease.
Some of the great features of this wood pellet smoker are affordability, great value for money, digital control, and large hopper and grilling space. However, some users have complained about this grill having some temperature fluctuation, and that it is not perfect for searing because of its low maximum temperature range. Nevertheless, having one of these bad boys gives you the ultimate versatility to do more.
- Grill cover included
- Foldable working shelf
- Digital control
- Excellent grease management system
- Temperature fluctuation
Best Smoker Under $500 Buyer’s Guide
The size of the smoker equals the capacity of the smoker. If you have a large family or want to smoke meat for a large crowd, it is only reasonable to go for a large smoker. The size of the smoker you buy should be determined by what you need it for. Massive smokers can hold a lot of food. However, smaller sized smokers are equally perfect, but they take a lot longer if you want to cook more food. Some smokers even come with sausage hooks at the top of the cooking chamber, which means more room for other food.
Since most of the smokers we talked about in this review are budgeted at a lower price, don’t expect the highest grade of material. While the construction material is durable to an extent, you may likely face problems with temperature fluctuation. Smokers under $500 are often designed with steel coated with paint, and on some smokers, stainless steel. The type of steel you find on each smoker is different from manufacturer to manufacturer. But with good quality material, you can be sure the smoker would be able to withstand high temperature and long term use.
Not all smokers come with a thermometer. Smoker with thermometers is more efficient in the sense that they allow you to easily monitor the temperature of the cooking chamber. If the smoker you buy does not have a thermometer that means you have to open the lid to check the temperature of the food. Any time you open the lid of a smoker, lots of smoke and heat will be lost to the environment, which will affect the result. You should try to get a smoker with a thermometer. Some manufacturers even design their thermometer to have a grilling zone and smoking zone, to allow you to know when you’ve gotten to the ideal temperature.
Safety is not a feature you should take likely when buying an appliance that can potentially lead to a fire hazard. To avoid any hazard, always follow the instructions as stated in the user manual that comes with your smoker. If you are using a gas smoker, ensure the propane tank is well connected to the smoker with no leakage before igniting the smoker. For those using an electric smoker, ensure you unplug the smoker when you are done smoking. Charcoal smokers are the ones that require the most safety precaution, as it only takes a little ember to cause a fire. Always ensure the ember is completely off before disposing of the ashes.
Portability is also another feature that comes in handy in a smoker. Most smokers are massive, leaving little or no room for portability. Nevertheless, some manufacturers have designed their smokers with durable wheels which makes it easy to move around. Apart from that, when buying a smoker, go for one that is easy to assemble and disassemble to contribute to the portability.
How to Use a Smoker?
Smoking is a long process, as such, if not done properly, it can be a total waste of time. Different smokers require a slightly different approach to using it. But below, we would be looking at a step by step guide on how to use a charcoal smoker.
- Firstly, you need to light up the charcoal smoker. To do so, use a chimney starter. Add some charcoal to the chimney starter with some paper dipped in oil. It will take about 15 minutes for the charcoal in the chimney to fully ignite.
- Secondly, arrange some charcoal in the smoker, then transfer the lit charcoal in the chimney starter into the smoker. Close the smoker’s lid and open the intake chimney to allow oxygen in. Let the smoker preheat for about 15-20 minutes.
- Thirdly, prepare your meat and place it on the racks in the smoker. Insert some meat probe on the meat to monitor the temperature of the meat while smoking.
- Add some water into the water bowl in the smoker to make the smoker moist which helps your meat absorb that delicious smoky flavor.
- Ensure there is enough charcoal in the firebox, and give the smoker time to smoke the food. From time to time, check on the smoking temperature to ensure it is within the required range.
- Lastly, after smoking for several hours, remove the meat. Turn off the smoker by closing all the dampers as well as the lid to cut off the oxygen supply. It will take about 24-48 hours for the ember to die down completely.
How to Clean a Smoker?
Cleaning a smoker can be a bit of a hassle because the long hours of smoking can cause some serious stains in the smoker. Below are the steps to take to easily clean a smoker.
- Importantly, ensure the smoker is turned off and cooled. Unplug an electric smoker from the wall, and ensure the propane tank is unplugged from a gas smoker.
- Remove the ashtray if you use a charcoal smoker, as well as the grates, and the grease tray from the smoker. Dispose of the ash and wash the trays, and racks with warm soapy water and brush.
- Use limited water while washing the cooking chamber of an electric smoker. Limit the amount of water that touches the heating element, but ensure you scrub the interior. After washing the interior of your smoker, use a damped cloth in clean water to wipe the cooking chamber clean.
- Allow to dry, then assemble the grill before storage.
To wrap things up, with a smoker you can enjoy the deliciousness of the low and slow-cooked meal. Remember, the key to buying the best smoker for under 500 is taking note of its versatility and cooking space. You don’t need an expensive smoker or the latest gadget to have an amazing time with friends and family. If you have a special request or would like to share your experience with any of this smoker in this review, feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks!