[2018] Buyer’s Guide: Best Smokers Under $500

Shopping within the confines of your budget is always a wise decision. In order to help you do so, we're taking a look at the best smokers under $500.

We’ve handpicked these models to ensure you have the cream of the crop to choose from. We pride ourselves on doing intensive research to provide only the best information.

For each of the upcoming models, you can expect to receive the clear and concise version of their main features, then a few of the mutual pros and cons shared by recent buyers. If you’re on the hunt for the best smoker under $500, you certainly won’t want to miss out on this. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Smokers Under $500

How to Choose a Smoker and What to Look For

When it comes to picking out a new (or upgraded) smoker, there are few things to keep in mind. If you’re new to the smoking community, some of these are easy to overlook.

To help combat this delima, let’s review some of the main aspects to consider when shopping.

Size

This may seem pretty straightforward, but if you don’t consider how much you may be smoking per session, or how much you might end up smoking in the long-run, you could find yourself in a tight spot with a smaller than anticipated model.

When it comes to size considerations, one of the main things to look for is the number of racks and how they adjust to fit your needs. Are they removable? Are they strong and sturdy? Thinking about these things ahead of time is a sure way to set yourself up for success.

Fuel

The next main feature you definitely need to consider is the type of fuel required to power the smoker. If you’re looking at a propane smokers, does this fit your lifestyle? What about pellet smokers? Perhaps an electric smoker is best? These are all valid questions that should be on your mind. 

Transportation and Storage

If you plan to keep your smoker outside, we certainly recommend investing in a cover.

But, if not, does the smoker on your mind have to ability to easily be moved when you’re done? By protecting it from the elements, you're ensuring it will last for years down the road.

When thinking about this aspect, it’s best to tie this back to size and evaluate if these two go hand-in-hand.

For example, without a cover, can you pick up and carry the smoker by hand? Or does it have wheels? If it doesn’t have wheels, can you easily make some after a quick trip to your local hardware store?

Warranty

Choosing a model that has an excellent warranty isn’t always a must, but it’s a nice aspect in case problems arise.

It’s often easy to overlook the ‘human error’ variable of life and keep in mind that sometimes-- stuff just happens. Plain and simple. When it does, are you prepared and backed by a manufacturer that offers outstanding customer service?

These are just a few of the main things we’ve identified that many buyers often overlook when buying a new smoker or grill. By keeping this in mind throughout this review, you'll set yourself up for an excellent, healthy purchase.

Review of the Best Smokers Under $500

Now we’re going to transition in the review section of our article and outline the main models on our agenda. We’re excited to explain why these smokers made our list for the best smokers under $500.

Masterbuilt Front Controller Smoker with Viewing Window and RF Remote Control

The first smoker is the Masterbuilt 20075315 Front Controller Smoker, an excellent model for those who are just starting out or consider themselves an avid, seasoned professional.

Right when you see this model for the first time, you have the ability to peek in side via the massive viewing window. This great feature allows any user to keep an eye on the smoking process and watch your meats glaze to perfection.

Inside the smoker are four chromed-coated racks that can accompany a massive variety of cooking styles. Just to give you an idea of how much space there is, you have the option to smoke 12 whole chickens or 24 burgers - or even mix and match.

Additionally, some other key aspects loved by recent buyers are the digital panel located on top of the smoker and the built-in RF remote control. A few other qualities worth mentioned are listed below.

  • 975 square inches of cooking space inside smoker
  • Front access drip pan
  • 1200-Watt heating element
  • LED internal food light
  • Patented side loading system for wood chips - no heat loss!
  • Built-in thermostat temperature control

Pros

  • Comes with 90-day limited warranty
  • Easy to assemble and directions are user-friendly
  • Flexible when cooking a variety of different meats
  • Racks are adjustable which makes for easy cleaning
  • Cleans well with 50/50 mix of hot water and apple cider vinegar

Cons

  • Digital display is difficult to read under direct sunlight
  • Does not include cover, but can be sold separately
  • Does not have wheels, making moving or transporting more challenging
  • Wood chip tray is not very large so you may have to tend to it every so often while smoking

Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, the Masterbuilt 20075315 Front Controller Smoker is a great model for all experience levels. Some of the best aspects are the thermostat control, massive viewing window, and overall size.

Whether you’re smoking a load of meat every now and then, or plan on using this model every weekend, it’s sure to deliver outstanding results.

One of the downsides worth mentioning though is that there are no wheels, so moving it may be difficult. Aside from that, users had great things to say about their experience and the delicious flavors it brings to meals.  

Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker

Rise to any occasion and smoke with ease. The next model on our list of the best smokers under $500 is the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker. As the name states, this model uses charcoal as its primary fuel source, which is great for authentic, genuine flavors.

This smoker is loaded with features and loved by all - no matter the experience level. One of the best aspects is the massive amount of space: 1176 square inches among 6 adjustable racks.

In addition to this, many recent customers love the control they receive when using this model. The built-in smoke stack allows anyone to easily adjust the temperature and smoke output, effortlessly producing those delicious flavors we all crave.

With this, if you are someone who’s just starting out and may be new to smoking, another great benefit of the Dyna-Glo is the stainless steel thermometer that’s built in to the door.

There are a few other key features we want you to know about before making any final decisions; let’s cover those before reviewing the pros and cons.   

  • 6 heavy duty adjustable racks
  • 1500 BTU cast iron burner
  • Dual door design to trap heat while loading wood chips
  • Wood chip box is durable and porcelain enameled steel
  • Elevated vertical design carries smoke and natural rising heat
  • Built-in thermometer

Pros

  • Limited 1-year warranty
  • Affordable and a great beginner model
  • Easy to clean ash and charcoal management system
  • Easy to assemble and holds a ton of meats or vegetables
  • Vertical design provides for even cooking and delivery of smoke during process

Cons

Bottom Line

In the end, the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Charcoal Offset Smoker is an excellent model for those who are just starting out, or consider themselves an avid chef. With its vertical design and smoke control damper, users have great rule over their entire process.

Additionally, recent buyers love this smoker for its size - now you can smoke tons of variations with ease within the 6 adjustable racks. If you’ve been keeping your eye on this, you won’t be disappointed. 

Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch Charcoal Smoker

Another versatile and outstanding model to make out list of one of the best smokers under $500 is the Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker. This charcoal smoker is a crowd favorite among all experience levels and is very straightforward to use.

Its vertical design carries smoke and heat right through your meats and vegetables, delivering succulent results. Among the 2 plated-steel grates are 4 rust-resistant aluminum vents that allow buyers to trap smoke and heat, boosting results.

Due to its size, the Weber Smokey Mountain is easy to transport and move in-between uses. Weighing in at only 68 lbs (without charcoal), recent buyers have reported that this model can easily be stored or tucked away when it’s not being used.

Additionally, with the purchase of this model, you can also utilize its built in thermometer and water pan - a great added feature. Let’s take a look at a few other features, then go over a handful of pros and cons.

  • 10-year limited warranty
  • Features a silicone temperature grommet
  • 726 square inches of cooking space
  • Aluminum rust-resistant heat shield
  • Built-in thermometer and water pan

Pros

  • Perfect model to learn on
  • Very user-friendly and easy to operate
  • Charcoal fuel produces unique, flavorful results
  • Easy to take camping or hunting and smoke-on-the-go

Cons

  • Side door handle is not very strong
  • Thermometer may need to be upgraded for more accurate readings
  • Does not come with wheels so moving it or transporting it may be difficult for some

Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, the Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker is an outstanding model for beginners, and one the entire family can learn on. Its vertical design is perfect for producing tasty flavors while the aluminum vents work to trap heat and smoke. 

One of the downsides we spotted though is that the side door is somewhat weak, so you may want to reinforce it upon delivery. Aside from that, this is an excellent model, backed by a strong 10-year warranty.  

Bradley BTDS108P Digital 6-Rack Smoker

The last model on our last, but certainly not least by any means, is the Bradley BTDS108P Digital 6-Rack Smoker. Perfect for hosting parties, socials, or just smoking a ton of meat - this model is outstanding.

This fully insulated smoker features a stainless steel interior and 6 racks for a variety of different mix-and-match options. One of the biggest perks is the fact that it’s all digital and easy to set.

This user-friendly model is perfect for all experience levels and even considered by some as a ‘set-and-forget’ smoker. Just put in a little extra work upfront, prepare everything ahead of time, and tend to other matters while the Bradley BTDs108P does the rest.

With this, cleaning is super straightforward and doesn’t end up being an extra headache or chore once things are all said and now. The ash catcher is easy to remove and makes for a nearly hassle-free cleanup.

There are several other features worth mentioning though before we discuss the pros and cons shared by recent customers. 

  • 780 square inches of cooking space
  • Electric power source
  • Stainless steel exterior and interior
  • Digital smoker generator - load up to 8 hours at a time
  • Separate burners for generating smoke and oven heat

Pros

  • Very user friendly with digital controls
  • Simple to setup and instructions are easy to follow
  • Interior is insulated for innovative smoking techniques
  • 4 out out of the 6 racks are removable, which makes for easy cleaning

Cons

  • Hard to read digital display under direct sunlight
  • Temperature gauge is sometimes off and customers have resorted to purchasing aftermarket, upgraded thermometers
  • Heating element has gone out for a few customers, but they were sent new ones from Bradley and covered by warranty

Bottom Line

With the Bradley BTDS108P Digital 6-Rack Smoker, the bottom line is that this smoker is a beast. Backed by a 1-year warranty, Bradley definitely leads the competition by delivering a model to buyers that it straightforward, easy to clean, and huge.  

Conclusion

If this review has contributed toward your next purchase, we hope you leave a comment below and let us know what stood out to you. Be sure to tell us which smoker you chose and your experience while using it. We love hearing from readers and look forward to hearing from you. Happy smoking!

Leave a Comment