The Best budget smoker – 7 affordable smokers and Buyer’s Guide 2021

best budget smoker

BBQ Grill Academy is supported by its readers. We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you if you buy through a link on this page. Learn more

Smoked meat is delicious and everyone wants to try their best pulled pork recipe at home. The good news is that if you want to try to smoke your own meats at home you can do it without spending a fortune.

In this BBQGrillACademy.com article, we will show you the best budget smoker and where to purchase them, what to look for in a budget pick, and a list of the top 7.

Our Top Picks on This List – Full Reviews below

  1. The Pit Barrel Cooker Junior
  2. The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
  3. The Z Grills 450B
  4. The Dyna Glo Vertical Offset Smoker
  5. The Realcook Vertical 17 Inch
  6. The Royal Gourmet
  7. The Camp Chef Smoker

Buyer’s Guide: What Should You Look For in a Budget Smoker.

Price – Cost – Dinero!

This article talks about budget smokers, and price is at the top of our buying list. We usually do not give price too much importance because we aim at quality. But since we went looking for an affordable smoker, we know cost is a major factor. I mean, a thousand-dollar smoker is not an affordable smoker.

The good news is that you can find, and we did, great smokers at great prices.

The trend you will see is that charcoal smokers tend to be less expensive, and understandably so, charcoal smokers are simple cookers with fewer parts.

On the other hand, pellet smokers tend to be more expensive since these smokers have many components, electronic and even high tech features like WIFI enable controllers and temperature monitoring systems.

Inches of cooking space/capacity

Smaller smokers tend to be cheaper than larger offset smokers and high-end smokers. However, unless you are looking for a portable smoker, you need to pay attention to the inches of cooking space offered in budget smokers.

The primary reason for this is because you can come across a fantastic deal on a smoker at an extremely low price, only to discover it is far too small.

Smaller smokers require less metal to build, which is why they are less expensive. However, be sure that the smoker you choose is not only within your budget but also large enough to accommodate a rack of ribs, a complete brisket, or at the very least a small pork shoulder. In other words, useful!

Quality – Oh Quality!

Whether you are buying a propane smoker, a pellet smoker, or an offset smoker, you need to pay attention to the quality of these smokers.

There is a lot of poor-quality grills on the market, and all it takes is a search of consumer reviews and feedback to find the bad ones. This is why, in addition to our own testing, we value user feedback.

Cheap smokers can never match the quality of a Kamado grill or a Meadow Creek smoker, but that does not rule out the possibility of finding a decent deal among the options available.

Sure, cheap smokers will leak, are built of thinner metal, and might not last a lifetime, but if you are looking for a budget pick, then you know there will be compromises.

However, with appropriate care and maintenance, you can still get budget smokes that will perform and do the job well plus last a few years.

Warranty

A good manufacturer will stand behind its product. Grills and smokers with a good warranty are a plus and needed when buying a cheap smoker. If you come across a good deal but has. A poor warranty, run!

Material Thickness

Even the best budget smokers will be built using lesser quality materials and thinner metals. However, if the walls of the smoker are too thin, it will have a hard time retaining heat, and can wall can even war during preheating or accidental flare-ups.

We look for a fine balance between price and quality materials.

Necessary Features

It is ok to watch your dollar and look for a good bargain but to smoke good food and get good results, you will need at minimum a few features to help you during the cook.

A temperature gauge is one of those features that you want to have at least included in your smoker. Smoking meats is all about low and slow and cooking at constant temperatures to get the best results.

Type of fuel

Consider what fuel type you are most comfortable with, and then go from there. Why? not everyone likes to use charcoal, and some dislike propane. There are pros and cons to everything, and that includes smokers and the different fuel types.

For example, charcoal yields great flavor, and with some experience, you can have absolute control over your smoker. On the other hand, propane smokers are easy to use but do not yield flavor. To get the smokey flavor, you need to use wood chips, but propane alone will not yield a great authentic BBQ flavor.

Then you have the pellet smokers, which combine the convenience of propane smokers with the flavor of cooking with wood and coal. Since pellet smokers burn wood pellets, you get a good BBQ flavor.

Here out Lis of the Top Budget Smokers we researched and liked.

The Pit Barrel Cooker Junior – Best Affordable Smoker

pit barrel cooker junior

The Pit Barrel Cooker is our top pick for many reasons, including quality, good warranty, efficiency, and the company behind it. This company is here in the USA and has built an amazing brand. The Pit Barrel Cooker was a family idea that turned into an amazing company and a great product.

But here is why we love the Pit Barrel Cooker. First, these cookers are inexpensive. You get a lot of quality and a lot of cooking space for your dollar.

Second, these cookers are easy to use. There is only one air vent to worry about for temperature control, and Pit Barrel gives you specific instructions on how to set the air vent to achieve the desired temperature.

Lastly, these smokers are designed specifically to cook at low temperatures but can also be used as a charcoal grill. You get a meat hook hanging system and a grill grate to use this smoker in whichever configuration you want.

Read the Full Review of the Pit Barrel Cooker

What we like:

  • Easy to use – comes ready with everythig you need to cook except charcoal.
  • Inexpensive but great quality. You get a lot of smoker for your money.
  • SIMPLE to use. Only one air vent to worry about to control temperature.
  • Amazing cooking capacity and square inches of cooking for its size.
  • Use it as a charcoal grill too.
  • Easy to keep a steady temperature and operate at a steady temperature range.
  • Good quality components.
  • Suitable for cold smoking.

What we don’t like:

  • It would be nice if it had an internal temperature gauge, but that is an easy and inexpensive fix. Besides, you already get a lot of smoker for your money.

The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

The Weber Smokey Mountain cooker is an all-time favorite and a best seller. This bullet smoker has been around for years, and its design has stayed the same throughout the years. You can say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and this is the case with this bullet smoker.

Not only is this smoker inexpensive, but it is also easy to use and can be mastered in a few hours. There aren’t any complex components, high-tech gadgets, or electrical parts, just a charcoal basket, a water pan, and cooking grates. Everything you need for smoking meat!

Due to its size and lightweight, this smoker is considered a portable smoker and is ranked by many as one of the best smokers on the market.

What we like:

  • Easy to use and assemble.
  • More of a traditional smoker. ( water smoker )
  • Two smoking ( cooking ) racks offer good cooking capacity.
  • Available in different sizes.
  • Built in Thermometer.

What we don’t like:

  • There isn’t much negative to say about this smoker, and we are not going to write something vague just to fill a gap. This is a good smoker, great for those starting or new to BBQ smoking, but it is a budget pick.

The Z Grills 450B – best budget pellet smoker

z grills 450b

If you like the concept of a pellet smoker, and many people do, then The Z Grills 450 will catch your attention. Finding an affordable pellet smoker is not easy. Why? Because all the parts and components needed to make these smokers work add to the price of the pellet smoker.

However, what you get is a super easy-to-use smoker with a digital temperature control system, but unlike an electric smoker, you get a lot of flavor. Pellet grills and smoker burn wood pellets that produce authentic wood smoke flavor.

The Z Pellet Grill features an easy-to-use digital controller; all you have to do is add your favorite wood pellets, set the desired temperature, and enjoy a beer.

What we like:

  • Easy to use.- Set the desired tempture and let the controller feed pellets and manage the tempture.
  • Z Grills are good quality and offer great features often found in more expensive grills.
  • You get great flavor from wood pellets.
  • Very little monitoring is needed.
  • Many bundles and accesories available.

What we don’t like:

  • Pellet grills tend to be more expensive, but you get more tech and something as easy to use as an electric smoker.

The Dyna Glo Vertical Offset Smoker – best budget offset smoker

Talk about getting a lot for your buck. Well, the Dyna Glo vertical smoker does just that. If you are looking for a large smoker without spending a fortune, this is a good choice. The Dyna Glo is perfect for outdoor cooking and parties and can fit a lot of food in its smoking chamber.

This is one of the best smokers in the market and has made it to many of our articles for a few reasons but mainly because it is affordable and you get a lot of space for your money. This is an offset smoker, meaning it cooks with indirect heat, cooking meat only with heat, smoke, and steam during the smoking process.

What we like:

  • Amazing cooking capacity.
  • Easy to refill the charcoal box using the pull out tray.
  • Large charcoal smoker.
  • Offset smoker means indirect heat cooking.
  • Easy to add charcoal or wood for smoke flavor.

What we don’t like:

This is a big boy, so it is heavy.

The Realcook Vertical 17 Inch Charcoal Smoker

The Real Cook Vertical smoker is another simple cooker and inexpensive. Don’t expect the highest levels of quality, but you do get a bargain. For your money, you get more than a dedicated smoker. You get a smoker and a grill. This little guy can be used as a grill but be careful when cooking at high temperatures.

This smoker is very similar to the Smokey Mountain and works with both charcoal and wood chips.

What we like:

  • Inexpensive.
  • Easy to use.
  • Works as a grill or a smoker.

What we don’t like:

  • Lower quality smokers and grills tend to leak heat and smoke.

The Royal Gourmet Offset Smoker

The Royal Gourmet is another bargain and a good smoker. Is not the highest in quality but neither in price. You can expect a simple smoker with good square inches of cooking and simple to use.

This smoker is great for those wanting to get started but do not want to spend too much money on their first smoker.

What we like:

  • Inexpensive.
  • Enough space for pork butts.
  • Light and easy to move around.

What we don’t like:

  • Users report smoke and heal leaks, but this is common in cheaper smokers. You can buy gaskets to reduce the leaks.

The Camp Chef Smoker

The Camp Chef stands out among many gas and pellet grills due to its simplicity and quality build. Sure nothing beats a wood smoker, but if you want to enjoy the cooking process and have a beer while cooking, you will appreciate this grill’s simplicity.

Make sure you use a wood chip tray, and the smoker will produce smoke to add flavor.

What we like:

  • Simple to use, as easy as an electric smoker or kitchen oven.
  • Includes a a grease bucket and ash cup
  • Pellet grills offer that set it and forget convenience.

What we don’t like:

  • Is hard to find something we don’t like about this Camp Chef, however, several users agree with our findings, indicating that the shape of the pellet hopper bottom metal plate might be improved to allow the pellets to flow more freely to the auger.

Here are a few pros and cons of each smoker fuel type

Here is a quick comparison of the main pros and cons between all smoker fuel types. You can find affordable smokers in all fuel types.

Gas Smokers and Propane Smokers

Gas or LP smokers are known for their ease of use, short learning curve, and simple temperature control. To enhance flavor, a propane smoker will require the help of wood chips. Without them, there is no flavor. We are talking about smoking meat here!

Pros
  • Easy to use and great for beginners.
  • Easy to control temperature. Temperature control is handled but a dial that controls the propane burner.
  • Propane is easy to find.
Cons
  • Not the same flavor you get with other smokers.
  • More parts than a charcoal smoker meaning more things that can go bad.
Pellet Smokers
Pros
  • Easy to use and love the automation.
  • Pellets are available in many flavors.
Cons
  • These smokers have a lot of components, including electrical components.
  • It can be more expensive because of all the tech.
  • Need electricity to operate.
Charcoal Smokers
Pros
  • Charcoal is an inexpensive fuel.
  • You get the most authentic BBQ flavor.
  • Charcoal grills can work anywhere and in most conditions, no electricity is needed.
Cons
  • You will need to learn how to handle charcoal.
  • You will need to learn how to use your smoker air vents to manage temperature control. No temperature dials or buttons here amigo!
Electric smokers

Electric smokers can be compared to your kitchen oven. An electric smoker uses a heating element to generate heat and cook.

Pros
  • Easy to use.
Cons
  • Least amount of flavor of any smoker.
  • Need a reliable power source.

Which is the best budget smoker?

The goal of this article is to help you find a good quality smoker without breaking the bank. All the smokers on this list are excellent options and will do the job.

However, the best budget quality smoker is the Pit Barrel Cooker, followed by the Weber Smokey Mountain. The Pit Barrel is the easiest to use, and you get a LOT smoker for your money.

The only downside to this smoker is also what makes it so efficient, it is a steel drum, so if you need to add charcoal, you will need to do it through the top opening. You might even need to move the food out of the way.

The Smokey Mountain is more of a traditional smoker and a good choice. It is our runner-up since its quality is not as high as the Pit Barrel’s, but it will perform the job well. In fact, some people use the Smokey in competitions.

You shouldn’t be paying thousands of dollars for the new smoke. However, if you are hesitant to buy a cheap smoker that can break down one day, this list will help you find the diamonds in the rough.

To help you distinguish between quality and junk, we have compiled an exhaustive report of the best smoker at the lowest possible budget.

One Last Word

If you are looking for the best budget smokers smoker without spending thousands of dollars, welcome. The goal is to find a smoker that can cook food well and last a few years.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

RELATED ARTICLES