In the mood for a real American cookout? No matter what season it is outside you can have a true barbecue for dinner or lunch—with its smoked meats, cooked low and slow. Anything worthwhile takes time, right? Well, smokers and slow-cookers can go through its tender process for up to 24 hours! Although an old-fashioned barbecue seems difficult to truly master, it is pretty easy to understand. All you need is charcoal, gas, wood pellets or electricity—any of these fuel sources are suitable. From there, you can add to that flavor through the use of wood chips or chunks—to really get that smoke going.
In our guide today, we’re going to not only go through the comparison process of the best smokers you can get for under $500, we’ll take you through each individual feature, type, dimension, maximum temperature, capacity, and warranty information—and why each of these features are important in the smoker. You can smoke veggies, cheese, and meats on these handy and versatile tools—until it’s time to eat! When talking about quality-control—even the cheaper, budget-smokers can produce that high-quality taste.
For everything you need to know about how it’s done—using indirect heat and smoke—these comprehensive product reviews can help you pick out the best smoker under $500 to help make your barbecue tender, juicy, and full of flavor. We’ll leave you with a buying guide to help you choose the best one.
More features: rust resistant aluminum dampers and door, glass-reinforced nylon handles, plated steel cooking grates, built-in lid thermometer, cover included
The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is one of the best slow cookers on the market. Backed by a warranty of an entire decade, you can rest assured that it will last you a long time—especially since slow and steady wins with meat.
With a few iconic features, you can easily cook up the pulled pork and ribs that you always dreamed about, smoked to perfection under the lid of the Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker. This smoker is pretty big—capable of holding multiple roasts to feed the entire neighborhood. Another great feature of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is the fact that it has an extra large water pan to help maintain the heat for all day smoking.
You can even enjoy the convenience of the iGrill 2 app-connected thermometer that it comes with—monitoring food and reaching the perfect degree. That way, you can depend on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker to serve your guests the perfect piece of meat, every time. Designed efficiently, adaptable, and built to last, the rust-resistant aluminum dampers and door, as well as the plated steel cooking grates are sturdy features of its design.
With maintenance-free, hands-on possibilities, you no longer have to tend to your meat and miss out on the rest of the fun. The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker also comes with a built-in lid thermometer and cover included.
All these features at an affordable price? That’s why we’ve placed it up front as our number one pick.
More features: 12,500 BTUs, large viewing window with high temperature door seal
This Pit Boss electric smokers lines up as our favorite pick under $500 mostly because it’s a high-quality smoker and it’s in a great, affordable price range. But that’s not all we like about it. It’s a gorgeous smoker with fire engine red outlining that really just gives it a sleek look you can’t take your eyes off of. You would never know the real price range of this smoker by looking at it. It’s a gas smoker that’s easy to connect and use. The door is even sealed with a viewing window so you can always keep a close eye on what’s cooking.
This smoker has a great feature that separates the wood tray from the smoking chamber. This allows you to make adjustments without having to open up the main compartment. In addition, you have a wide temperature range and a thermometer that you can easily read to monitor. The stainless steel burners operate at 12,500 BTUs on this smoker that offers 800 square inches of cooking space. It looks great, works great, and fits the budget.
There are a lot of great smokers in this price range and they are all budget picks. But our designated budget pick from Dyna Glo simply doesn’t hold a candle to this option from Pit Boss. You can see a clear difference in the details when you compare how they look for your operation. The Pit Boss stands out for sleek visual attraction but it’s also very user-friendly.
More features: porcelain coated wire grates, firebox door, cool-touch handles, large wheels
The Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker, designed with porcelain-coated wire grates and a firebox door is one of the best reverse flow offset smokers on the market. With its enhanced performance and versatility, the Offset Smoker has features that set it apart from others in its class.
For example, its cool-touch handles and large wheels are just a couple of the features that allow for optimal cooking and practical functionally. Also, reverse flow smoking and traditional offset smoking are great for the quality outcome of the meat, as well as the four removable baffles—which ensure even heat and smoke throughout the cooking chamber.
The Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker is built with high-temperature and heavy-gauge steel. It is equipped with a rather large charcoal basket, which makes it convenient while cooking. This more efficient burn can make clean-up quick and tending to your meet a cinch. The convenient firebox door also makes clean-up quick and easy.
The Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker boasts 619-square-inches of primary cooking space so you can feed and cook for the entire family. However, it also comes with an additional amount of space of 281-square-inches of secondary cooking space—so if you even have that first space full, you can always head to the second. While you‘re waiting for the other food to cook, you can also activate and place your food on the warming area, located on the firebox for added cooking versatility.
More features: 15 lb hopper capacity, digital controller, automatic electric feed system, auto-start ignition, locking caster wheels
The Z GRILLS ZPG-450A is rated as one of our best pellet smokers. Using an offset pellet, this barbecue smoker is backed by a 3-year warranty. With Digital Temperature Controls, this company has truly introduced barbecuing into the 21st-century.
With 450 sq. in. of space in grilling area, the grill not only covers a lot of space—it also can move through space pretty well, with all-terrain wheels. Don’t worry about leaving it outside, too, since it comes with a rust-proof cover.
You also don’t have to worry about much with the Z GRILLS ZPG-450A, since it has automated features, like an electric feed system. This sort of feature will maintain temperatures anywhere between 180ºF to 450ºF. This laid-back approach can truly allow for setup and then relax.
The Z GRILLS ZPG-450A is also a 7-in-1 Barbecue Smoker Grill. It covers all the basic grilling techniques and so much more—barbecuing, baking, roasting, braising, smoking, grilling, and searing. The Award Winning New Design is your secret weapon. When used with wood pellet flavors like pecan, oak, hickory, and mesquite, you can give your meat those flavors your friends are looking for.
It also has a 15 lb hopper capacity, a digital controller, and an auto-start ignition. These extra features also bring out the best in your meat, grilling, and abilities.
More features: two cast iron burners, 20,000 BTU, 6 cooking grates, electronic ignition with push button, built-in stainless steel thermometer
Even if you find yourself on a budget, the Dyna-Glo DGW1904BDP-D can still help you have access to quality—regardless of how cheap you have to be.
It is not only designed for the beginner who is just trying out a smoker, it is easy-to-use and is the best answer to get year-round, backyard cooking. The LP gas vertical smoker automatically starts with something as simple as a push button, with an electronic ignition that emits a rapid pulse for quick and easy lighting.
This sort of technology makes the Dyna-Glo DGW1904BDP-D high class, regardless of its low price. No matter the weather, the reliable cooking performance can be done outside or inside—because of its pre-installed door seals, the smoker can retain heat and minimize all that smoke—this helps improve the cooking efficiency of your barbecue.
The Dyna-Glo DGW1904BDP-D also features six height adjustable cooking grates, which gives almost 2,000 square inches of cooking space. In basic terms, that means a whole lot of meat!
With every single one of those six grates, you can adjust it to accommodate the size and for the type of food.
The Dyna-Glo DGW1904BDP-D also features pre-installed sausage hooks and removable rib rack, which gives you a whole lot of cooking flexibility.
If you’re a total newbie, you can refer to the grill’s “smoke zone”, which indicates the ideal temperatures for infusing smoke flavor.
If your grill is going to be hanging outside, you can use the Dyna-Glo DG1904GSC Premium Wide Body Vertical Smoker Cover, which is specifically designed for this smoker model.
More features: 800 W heating element, 4 chrome coated racks, RF remote controls, LED display, front access drip pan, side and top air dampers, rear wheels
The Masterbuilt 20077515 is high tech and modern, rated as one of our best electric smokers under $500. With 730 sq inches of cooking space, this smoker has a lot to offer—along with its 4 chrome-coated racks and 800 watt heating element with full foam insulation.
The Masterbuilt 20077515 is truly flashy, with blue LED displays that make reading temperatures easy—regardless of the glare from a sunny summer afternoon. The RF remote controls also give you quality control, with access to monitors displaying temperature, time, internal light, on/off access, and meat temperature.
The Masterbuilt 20077515 also has a redesigned front access drip pan, which also is created by a smoother operating wood chip loading system than any other edition before it. No matter if you need to move inside the patio because of the weather or out in the sun, the handle and rear wheels make moving easy.
The 30” Digital Electric Smoker is a great choice—no matter if you’re a beginner or a pro. The best part? You don’t have to deal with charcoal or propane.
This smoker makes the process so easy.
With all four chrome-coated smoking racks, you can also cook enough to feed the whole family, with a food capacity of being able to fit: 12 whole chickens, 2 whole turkeys, 4 racks of ribs, 48 sausages, and 24 burgers.
A few tips from the maker, if you’re going to be using wood chips, hickory chips work well with most meats. Apple wood goes well with chicken and pork. Mesquite is better for beef and Alder is a great choice for fish.
More features: two 12,000 BTU stainless steel burners, ignition with push button, 7 cooking grids, tempered glass viewing window, “sure-lock” latch system
The Smoke Hollow 44241GW, best run on liquid propane gas, is one of the best gas smokers priced under $500 for your enjoyment. It is equipped with a ton of features and build that make it one of the best choices on the market.
With two 44-inch doors, you can also enjoy and use the BTU stainless steel burners. They both operate simultaneously—but independently—for optimum performance and absolute temperature control.
The Smoke Hollow 44241GW can be used to cook pretty much anything, equipped with seven total cooking grids, four standard grids, two jerky style grids, one rib rack, and one sausage hanger. So, loaded and able to cook with ease, it also features two wood chip pans. These pans—in combination with the porcelain-coated water pan—are responsible for giving the meat that smoke flavor.
The Smoke Hollow 44241GW also comes with a tempered glass viewing window so you’re able to check on your meat as often as you want without having the smoke come through. The cabinet is made with welded steel, the burner is stainless steel, and the grates are chrome-plated.
You also don’t have to worry about little fingers at the family cookout. The Smoke Hollow 44241GW is designed with a cool-to-touch spring wire door handles that is configured with a “sure-lock” latch system. Plus—it’s easy to use, although powerful, the dual 12,000 BTU stainless steel burners gets kicked-off simply with push-button ignition.
Now that you have your top choices for the best smokers under $500, let’s help with the finer details—because as any griller knows, the details truly matter.
Especially if this is your first smoker, you might be curious about how you could possibly be getting such good quality at such a low price. However, the smokers on this guide normally will cost less simply because they’re much smaller than their more expensive counterparts.
You won’t have to worry about low-quality pieces because not only do these grills on our list have the quality parts, they also have quality-controlled mechanisms.
Of course, the higher the price gets, the higher the quality of the shells, domes, etc., will be, however, this doesn’t mean that it will do a better job.
For the price, you’ll still be receiving a sturdy, insulated, and efficient smoker.
Before you go picking from one on our list, you should first know the various types of smokers and which to consider.
You can either choose from:
Before you go on to smoking up a whole mess—especially in front of friends and family, make sure to read these universal safety tips for your next barbecue party.
7. When you’re finished, clean the grill: No matter if you’re using the grill the next day, you should definitely clean it after the cook-out. A flare-up can be quite dangerous and a quick clean can help prevent it.
Before choosing the perfect smoker for your backyard barbecue, make sure to have a closer look at these individual features.
No matter if you are a newbie in using a smoker or a seasoned (literally) veteran, temperature control is something that you definitely need to pay attention to. Knowing and setting the right temperature will help cook the meat within the time normally allotted for it and not leave your guests hungry.
You should definitely try and get a grill that makes it easy to control the temperature.
If you have a large family or want to be able to cook a lot in a small amount of time, you will need a bigger smoker that has a large capacity.
Some of these bigger smokers, like the Masterbuilt 20077515, can hold a whole lot of food. However, the smaller ones do just as fine—they just take a lot longer if you’re going to want to cook more food.
Some of the other smokers might even come with a hanging rack for sausages, which means more room for other food.
Especially since most of these smokers are budgeted at a lower price (less than $500), they’ll generally be designed with stainless steel—however, the type of steel will differ from grill to grill.
Since you want to be a hands-on griller, you’ll need those vents to control the air going in and out of the smoker. Most of these high-quality smokers will have three vents—however, the least you should have are two—one on the top and one on the bottom.
This water pan will play a huge part in cooking—absorbing the heat when it’s too much—so that you won’t burn your food (not a promise—you still have to pay attention).
When filled with water, it will also help maintain the optimal temperature.
The thermostat on the smoker will help indicate the temperature at which the grill is at that exact moment. Some thermostats on these smokers have ranges as to where it should be according to what type of meat you’re cooking. These are great hints if you’re a newbie at grilling.
The weight can also pose a problem if you’re going to be moving the grill from here to there—or going to be posting it up on your deck. Make sure you have the proper weight according to your situation and preference. Oklahoma joe smoker that has handles or wheels, like the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Reverse Flow Smoker can also help with transportation.
The warranty can also make a difference—especially since this is an investment not only for your friends and family, but also for your home. Having a quality smoker in your backyard can really up your grill out game, making your house a popular summer hang-out spot (which means that you won’t have to do much traveling to other people’s homes).
Finally, before you go and test out your new smoker, here are a few mistakes to avoid:
To top it all off, here are a few frequently asked questions that we see all-too-often about smokers:
Grilling normally is done at a higher temperature (around 350°F). However, it takes a much shorter time. The big difference might be in the taste—it won’t have that smoke-y taste.
A chimney starter can help get the fire going, as well. As any good griller, you’ll definitely need a good set of knives—including carving and slicing ones.
If you’ve skipped everything else in the guide, here are the best smokers under $500:
The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is our Best All-Around Smoker under $500. Backed by a decade-long warranty, this cooker has rust-resistant aluminum dampers and a door to help weather the rain. It also comes equipped with glass-reinforced nylon handles, plated steel cooking grates, a built-in lid thermometer for easy readability, and the cover is actually included.
The Pit Boss Grills 77435 is our runner-up and best gas smoker on the market. Run on liquid propane gas, it has two 12,000 BTU stainless steel burners, an easy-to-use ignition with a push button, 7 cooking grids for full use, a tempered glass viewing window, and a“sure-lock” latch system.
The Dyna-Glo DGW1904BDP-D is the best Budget Pick around. Using propane gas, the stove covers 1,904 sq in and comes equipped with two cast iron burners, six cooking grates, an electronic ignition with a push button, and a built-in stainless steel thermometer—not too bad for a budget pick.
We hope that this guide has helped you pick out the best smoker under $500 fit for your grilling needs!