Best Budget Smoker To Ease Your Pocket

It is that time of the year! Most of us are a big fan of smoked food. That tasty, mouthwatering brisket, that smoky, tender salmon. If you are looking to get one smoker yourself to be able to make those dishes at home but not wanting to break the piggy bank, then in this guide, we share with you how and what are the best budget smokers that you can carry away.

The Models That We Introduced In This Guide

What Is A BBQ Smoker?

There are many types of smokers in the market, ranging from charcoal to propane to electric to pellet smokers. And depending on your needs, the size can vary from feeding a couple of people to hosting a dinner for 20 guests.

Regardless of whichever types of smoker that you use, the purpose of a smoker is to facilitate the unique food preparation method which involves burning fuel and producing smoke and, at the same time, maintaining a stable smoking temperature at around 250 Fahrenheit for hours at end. And, to be absolutely sure here, the fuel or wood chips are the main determinant of smoke and not the smoker itself.  This brings us to the next point.

How To Use A Smoker?

There is no doubt that a BBQ smoker produces awesome and tasty food, but only if you use it right. Here are some tips on how we suggest that you use it. Note that you might need to give it a few runs before you get the hang of it.

Tip #1. If You Are Using A Charcoal Smoker, Always Use A Chimney Starter

In smoking, never ever use lighter fluid as it will spoil the taste of your food. And to be able to light up your charcoals easily without using them – use a chimney starter. These starters are the most effective method to get started – you will need that as you might need to top up those red hot charcoals more than once in the smoking process, depending on the recipe you use.

Tip #2. Always Use A Smoker Thermometer              

You would have known this already. To get a good smoke, you have to have your eyes on the temperature like constantly. And chances are, you will not be able to do that by yourself without looking like a walking zombie after 10 hours or so. You can, however, make use of smoker thermometers to make that job easier. A smoker thermometer helps to monitor your smoker and the food temperature without the need to catch a break – well, except to change batteries. If this is new to you, you can read more about it here.

Tip #3. Consider Using Large Wood Chunks

Wood, not charcoal, is the main proponent for smoke. Hence, if you are looking to enhance the taste of the food that you smoke, you would need to add wood chunks to it. Additionally, use larger wood chunks as they smolder longer, and you can avoid shuttering to and from the smoker often. Usually, in a smoke cycle, you would only need one more two large chunk of wood – again, this depends on your recipe.

What Are The Factors To Consider Before Getting A Budget Smoker?

Factor #1. Consider The Tradeoff Between Quality And Cost

True story – all of us wants more for less and this is what we strive to provide you with. While you can get decently made budget smoker that can do the job well, it cannot be expected to come with many flairs and features such as an inbuilt temperature controller or a smoker that can serve multiple purposes, such as being a smoker and grill at the same time.

While most manufacturers attempt to work within a small budget to bring you the most affordable options, there is only so much one can do. Therefore, expect to get a smaller unit or one that has lower temperatures such as lower BTU – for propane units. The manufacturers could not stretch the material to make a bigger unit as it might compromise the smoker’s quality and possibly breakdown after a couple of uses.

Factor #2. Consider The Power Source Of The Smoker

Have you considered how are you going to power the smoker to cook the food? If you have not, then this is the best time to think about this. There are generally 3 types of budget smokers in the market. They are the gas budget smoker, charcoal budget smoker, and the electric budget smoker.

Charcoal smokers are the most common type you can find in your neighbor’s backyard. They are often the cheapest option and can smoke food really well. Moreover, they are lightweight and can be easily moved around. The downside to the charcoal smoker is that it has costly fuel cost. Over the long run, the fuel cost adds up and may even cost more than the other types.

Electric smokers are considered the most convenient of the three options. They are easy to set up, easy to start, and easy to use. Moreover, electricity charges are cheaper than charcoal or propane – last I checked. The downside to the electric option is that it might not heat up as fast or as much as the other options. Also, you will need to connect it to a grid to be able to use it, which you might not have in the backyard.

Propane smokers are considered to be the middle ground. They can be easily started up and it uses clean energy. Moreover, propane smokers are also relatively portable and can be moved around easily and you do not need to hook it up to a grid. The downside, however, stems from the high initial cost. A propane smoker can cost twice as much a charcoal grill and may not be the best option for those that are looking for a cheap option.

Best Budget Smoker To Save Money And Still Get Great Food

#1. Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker

 

The first model that we are going to introduce comes from Cuisinart. This model features four 14 by 14 inches removable stainless racks which translates into a total of 784 square inches of smoking space. This amount of cooking space can smoke food for up to 19 people.

Naturally, there are times where you are going to smoke a whole turkey or large slabs of meat. To do that, you can remove these shelves and what will appear instead is a spacious 5.45 square foot of smoking space. Worried about the smoker not powerful enough to smoke all that food? Worry not, powering the smoker is a 15,400 BTU burner which is adequate enough to do the job.

For precise temperature control, this model offers a temperature gauge on the outside of the door and a controllable knob to control the burner. In addition, there is a rear vent which you can open or close to control the heat. With that said, we recommend that you keep that vent close unless you are cleaning it after the smoke. To prevent smoke and heat leakage, twist-lock handles will seal the door tightly.

Stability-wise, this vertical smoker stays up and should not wobble with four sturdy steel legs propping it up. However, there are no wheels with this model so you might need to spend some effort to lift it around the yard. For easy clean up, there is a porcelain enamel steel tray that holds the wood chips and water which you can use to dump the waste away.

At the point of writing, you can purchase a 3-year aftermarket warranty on this product to give yourself a peace of mind.

Specifications And Features Of The Model At A Glance

  • BTU Of The Burner: 15,400 BTU
  • Cooking Area: 784 square inches or 5.45 square foot
  • Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 46 inches
  • Weight: 40 pounds
  • Warranty: Limited warranty

#2. Camp Chef Smoke Vault

This model looks like a vault alright. The Camp Chef Smoke vault comes with 2 smoking racks of 210 square inches each. In total, it can provide up to 420 square inches of space to smoke for up to 10 people. To make more space, the racks themselves can be adjusted to accommodate the food that you are going to place in it.

The wood chip tray is made with heavy gauge steel, ensuring that you will be able to use it for a long time. Likewise, the water pan is also made with steel to endure the high temperature. This model temperature can vary from 160 Fahrenheit to 400 Fahrenheit depending on what you are smoking. Though, this temperature range is adequate for most recipes.

To control the temperature of the smoker, this model comes with an external thermometer that reads a range of temperature from 50F to 400F. Use this with the three vents that come with it – one at the top and two at the bottom and you should have no problem with precise heat control. At the point of writing, they are also giving away a free recipe book with the purchase.

Specifications And Features Of The Model At A Glance

  • BTU Of The Burner: 18,000 BTU
  • Cooking Area: 1,200 Square Inches
  • Dimensions: 18 W x 16 D x 30 H inches (without legs). 18 W x 16 D x 44 H inches (with legs).
  • Weight: 65 pounds
  • Warranty: Not Stated. Check With The Manufacturer Before Purchase.

#3. Cuisinart COS-116 Vertical Charcoal Smoker

 

The Cuisinart vertical charcoal smoker features a smoking area of 402 square inches. This is enough to accommodate up to 10 people at your dining table. If you need more space to smoke a whole turkey, for instance. Then you can remove the stainless steel racks. However, bear in mind that there is no top hook so you would need to hang the slab from the top rack. Also, since this is a vertical design, you would need to remove the top rack first before you can place any food to smoke at the bottom tier.

During the smoke, you would need to replenish the fuel and water occasionally. So, to do that, there is a side door on the smoker. However, the downside on a side door is that there might be leakage of smoke and moisture in the short window when you are adding more charcoal or water.

Important to any kind of cooking, you will need to control the heat. In this model, there are two vents – on at the bottom and one at the top. Used them in conjunction with the in-built thermostat at the top and it should be adequate to help you reach and maintain the optimal temperature.

At the point of writing, Cuisinart offers a 3-years limited warranty on this product to set your mind at ease.

Product Specifications And Features At A Glance

  • Material: Steel
  • Racks Material: Stainless Steel
  • Cooking Area: 402 Square Inches
  • In-Built Thermostat: Yes
  • How Many Racks: 2
  • Removable Racks: Yes
  • Dimensions: 21 x 21 x 32 inches
  • Weight: 22.8 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 Years Limited Warranty

#4. Kinger Home 18 Inch Vertical BBQ Smoker Wood Charcoal Pellets

 

The next model comes from Kinger Home. You may not have heard of this manufacturer before but the budget charcoal smoker that they made checks all the boxes of a quality smoker. For starters, this model features a 510 square inches of cooking space divvy up into 2 removable racks.

The body, lid, and bowl of this smoker are made with porcelain-enameled metal. And what this will do is to make the smoker better with heat retention and heat distribution – ultimately, it makes your food taste better.

To control the temperature, there are at least 2 vents at the bottom and at the top. A thermostat is also built in and is positioned at the top of the lid. To replenish charcoal during the smoker, there is a front loading door that allows for easier access while minimizing the smoke and heat leakage.

Product Specifications And Features At A Glance

  • Material: Porcelain-enameled metal
  • Racks Material: Plated Steel
  • Cooking Area: 510 Square Inches
  • In-Built Thermostat: Yes
  • How Many Racks: 2
  • Removable Racks: Yes
  • Dimensions: 21.5 x 21.5 x 29.6 inches
  • Weight: 31.6 pounds
  • Warranty: Not Stated

#5. Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker

 

Weber is known to make great grills, so we are not surprised and pleased to see that they are also making smokers. This budget charcoal smoker features a smoking area of 510 square inches divvies up into two plated steel, removable racks. The grates are made with plated steel.

The body of the smoker is made of porcelain enameled metal and is known for its heat retention and heat distribution properties. To monitor the temperature, the in-built silicon thermostat is placed at the top of the lid.

To control the airflow and the temperature, there are two dampers or vents are placed at the top and bottom of the smoker. Most of the time you would be only needing to use the bottom vents and it should be enough. To make sure that the smoker will wobble during the smoke and possibly injuring people, the Weber has 3 prong-like metal legs, so it won’t topple over easily. Also, this model is quite lightweight so moving them around should not be a problem.

There is a fuel door at the front to allow you to be able to add more fuel into the charcoal tray when needed. You should be able to see the grates as well, so you can check on the progress of the food without the need to open the top lid. This model comes with its own smoker cover which is great as you would not need to frustrate yourself over where and who to get a bespoke cover from.

At the time of writing, Weber offers a limited warranty and the option to purchase an extended warranty if you should need it.

Product Specifications And Features At A Glance

  • Material: Porcelain-enameled metal
  • Racks Material: Plated Steel
  • Cooking Area: 510 Square Inches
  • In-Built Thermostat: Yes
  • How Many Racks: 2
  • Removable Racks: Yes
  • Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 41 inches
  • Weight: 39.1 pounds
  • Warranty: Limited Warranty With The Option To Purchase Extended Warranty

#6. Smoke Hollow ES230B Digital Electric Smoker

 

The Smoker Hollow features 3 chrome coated smoking racks that could accommodate up to 9 people worth of food at one point in time. If you need to smoke whole birds or larger cuts of meat, you would be able to take out the trays and it would be more than enough.

The body itself is insulated to prevent heat from leaking – you do not want to prolong the smoking process any longer. Powering the smoker is an 800 watt heating element which is adequate for smoking only. To monitor the temperature, there is an integrated thermostat control which you should use to keep the heat in check. If there is any deviation from which you have envisioned, use the vent at the top of the smoker to adjust it.

A digital panel at the top of the smoker allows you to on or off the smoker, adjust the heating element temperature and set the time.

After the smoke, the headache of cleaning up sets in. This model helps to alleviate some of that headache by making the drip pan and water pan removable. One little nitpick is that this model does not have a side door, which might cause heat and smoke leakage when adding chips or water.

At the time of writing, there is a 1 year limited warranty on this model. However, do check with the manufacturer before purchasing as the terms may have changed from when we wrote it.

Features And Specifications Of The Product At A Glance

  • Cooking Area: Not Stated
  • How Many Cooking Racks: 3
  • Removable Racks: Yes
  • Cooking Temperature: 170F to 275F
  • Grate Material: Chrome Coated
  • Dimensions: 18.5 x 18.2 x 33.4 inches
  • Weight: 46.5 pounds
  • Power Rating: 800 Watts
  • Cord Length: Not Stated
  • Warranty: 1 Year Limited Warranty

#7. Cuisinart COS-330 Electric Smoker

 

Another Cuisinart makes our list and rightfully so. This model checks all the boxes of a good quality, budget electric smoker. For a start, this model features a smoking space of 548 square inches which is enough to smoke enough food for up to 13 people in one batch. The space is made up of 3 removable chrome trays. Of course, the trays can be removed to make more room for larger slabs of meat.

Heating the smoker is a 1,500 watts heating element that can generate heat in the range of 100F to 400F which should be able to accommodate up 99 percent of recipes out there. To monitor the temperature, a large and easy to read thermometer on the front door should make that task intuitive for you.

What’s more is that this smoker has a relatively smaller footprint, so you won’t have to worry where to keep it when it is off season. For cleaning up, the water tray and the chip tray can be removed from the smoker to make that task slightly easier for you.

Features And Specifications Of The Product At A Glance

  • Cooking Area: 548 square inches
  • How Many Cooking Racks: 3
  • Removable Racks: Yes
  • Cooking Temperature: 100F to 400F
  • Grate Material: Chrome Coated
  • Dimensions: 22 x 19 x 37.5 inches
  • Weight: 51.5 pounds
  • Power Rating: 1,500 Watts
  • Cord Length: Not Stated.
  • Warranty: Not Stated.

Budget Smoker To Keep Food Great And Cheap

In this guide, we have gone through all the need to know about budget smokers. And hopefully, we have given you a realistic expectation on what you can get for a relatively low price. Also, we have given our suggestions on the various budget smokers that you can get in the market today. Have a great smoke!

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