Yes, you can spend thousands on a fancy new smoker and it’ll be the real deal. But, you don’t need to spend a small fortune to simply get a ‘cue that’ll turn out some impressive smoked meat in your own backyard. If you want to save some pennies and still get a good unit, check out these smokers. Here, we’ve listed the best budget smokers by each type of smoker.
These barbecues aren’t necessarily the cheapest in each category. Instead, they’ve been carefully selected based on quality, features, personal experience and user reviews.
One thing’s for sure though, they’re all great value options for smoking enthusiasts who want to keep the cost low.
If you want more info on which type of smoker you should buy, click the link to take you to our guide.
We’ve also done a write up on the best value smokers if you don’t mind spending a bit more to get a ‘cue that’s even better quality, includes a range of accessories or will simply last a lifetime.
The Best Budget Smokers for 2020
Z Grills ZPG-450A - Best Pellet
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker - Best Kamado
Weber Smokey Mountain 14" Cooker - Best Vertical Charcoal
Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker - Best Electric
Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Smoker - Best Propane
Smoke Hollow Gas Charcoal Combination - Best Combo
Best Budget Offset Smoker:
Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker
If you can’t go past an old-school charcoal and wood smoker but don’t want to spend your paycheck on an expensive but basic seeming model, the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker is the answer to your prayers!
This best-selling smoker is yours for a budget price. But, that doesn’t mean you’re getting a totally substandard product. Yes, the metal is a bit thinner than something in the Oklahoma Joe range. But, it’s still heavy-duty and thick enough to maintain a steady temperature as long as you’re not smoking in really cold conditions. There’s also an adjustable flue to make temperature control easy while the dual door design means you won’t let the heat and smoke out every time you need to add more fuel.
The Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker is also big enough to give your whole crew the meat sweats. Boasting 784 square inches of cooking space spread across six grates, it’s perfect to cook anything from fresh fish to multiple racks of ribs and larger cuts of meat.
In a nutshell, the Dyna-Glo Vertical has all the basics you need to smoke great meat in your backyard without having to fork out a small fortune.
Specs for the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker
Fuel type: Charcoal
Barbecue material: Heavy-gauge steel
Grate material: Chrome-plated steel
Cooking capacity: 1,176 sq. in.
Dimensions: 50.2(H) x 35(W) x 21(D)
Warranty: 1 year
Pros of the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker:
- Great price for a really decent, top rated smoker
- Offset design turns out legit tasting barbecue
- Large cooking capacity with a small footprint
- Suitable for smoking any cut of meat
- Heavy-duty steel construction that’s adequate enough to maintain good heat in most weather conditions
- Price includes a charcoal burner box to improve burning efficiency
- Adjustable flue gives better temperature control
- Built-in thermometer has ‘smoke zone’ markings making it easy for beginners
- Large removable ash pan makes clean-up easy
Cons of the Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Smoker:
Best Budget Pellet Smoker:
Z Grills ZPG-450A
Buying a pellet smoker on a budget used to be near impossible until Z-Grills entered the arena! And this right here, the ZPG-450A, is their entry-level model that makes pellet smoking affordable without skimping on what’s important.
In this 450 square inch, stainless steel body, you’re looked after with digital auto-temperature control to keep within about 10°F of your target at all times. There’s a simple LED panel that gives you real-time temperature updates while the generous 15-pound hopper lets you smoke for about 15 hours, uninterrupted.
If you want to grill, you can do it on this unit too. With the heat maxing out at 450°F, just be mindful that you can only use the bottom rack for grilling which gives you a reduced 324 square inches. But, that’s more than enough to throw on a couple of pizzas or a lot of burger patties.
Overall, we’re totally impressed with how solid the Z Grills ZPG-450A is! It’s a true set and forget smoker that doesn’t feel like you’ve gone budget. And, there’s a generous 3 year warranty for peace of mind too.
Specs for the Z Grills ZPG-450A Pellet Smoker
Barbecue material: Stainless steel
Grate material: Porcelain-coated iron
Cooking capacity: 450 sq. in.
Pellet hopper capacity: 15 lbs
Heat Range: 180-450°F
Fuel type: Wood pellets
Assembled size (in): 49”H x 45”W x 28”D
Weight: 84 lbs
Warranty: 3 years
Pros of the Z Grills ZPG-450A
- Quality stainless steel construction
- Set and forget smoking with auto-start ignition, automatic pellet feeding system and precise temperature control
- Decent cooking capacity for a budget-range smoker
- Large pellet hopper gives about 15 hours of completely hands-off smoking
- Porcelain-coated cooking racks are durable and easy to clean
- Wide temperature range so you can smoke, bake, roast, braise and grill
- Waste oil collector for easy clean-up
- Sturdy cart with locking castors
- Comes with free cover
Best Budget Kamado Grill and Smoker:
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker
Kamado grills are another type of smoker that’s not exactly budget friendly. But, Char-Griller have an excellent option for the price-conscious buyer who still want to be able to tap into this versatile and efficient type of ‘cue.
Introducing, the Akorn Kamado Kooker! It’s one of the cheapest kamados on the market. But, don’t expect a heat and smoke leaking box. This barbecue is made from a triple-walled steel design. And, while the outside layer is powder coated to protect it against scratches and rust, the inside is a smooth, porcelain-coated surface that makes cleaning easy.
Now, for a kamado with this price tag, don’t expect it to be as well insulated as more heavy-duty ceramic or stainless steel designs. But, the Akorn Kamado Kooker does do a good job of grilling, braising, smoking and baking while offering a wide heat range from 400°F – 700°F.
Complete with a tubular steel cart with locking casters and side-tables, the Akorn Kooker is great value for money if you want an inexpensive yet versatile barbecue that’s also lightweight enough to take on the go.
Specs for the Cha-Griller Akorn Kamado
Barbecue material: Triple wall steel with a porcelain-coated interior and powder-coated exterior
Grate material: Cast-iron
Cooking capacity: 314 sq. in.
Heat Range: 400°F – 700°F
Fuel type: Charcoal
Assembled size (in): 47(H) x 31(W) x 45(D)
Warranty: 5 years
Pros of the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker:
- Well-rated by the masses
- Triple layered steel design that does a decent job of holding heat in normal weather conditions
- Good cooking capacity for a kamado grill
- Lightweight to make it easy to move
- Steel shell won’t crack like ceramic models can
- Cast-iron cooking grates are strong and durable with a bit of TLC
- Dampers have simple numbered guide on them making it easy for beginners to use
- Features a built-in thermometer for easy temperature monitoring
- Complete with cart with locking casters
Cons of the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker:
- Won’t efficiently hold the heat if cooking in cooler climates
- Not stainless steel so it might rust over time
- Cast iron grates require a bit of maintenance to prevent them from rusting but are always fixable if they do rust
- Cart isn’t super strong but does the job
Best Budget Vertical Charcoal Smoker:
Weber Smokey Mountain 14" Cooker
Now, the Weber Smokey Mountain 14″ isn’t the cheapest vertical charcoal smoker out there. But, the price on these top rated, long-lasting smokers is so good that we simply can’t go past recommending it as the best budget smoker of it’s type.
Solid, reliable and portable, this smoker is covered by an unbeatable in this price bracket, 10 year warranty. And, because it’s Weber, everything from the durable porcelain-coated shell to the easily adjustable dampers, large, removable fuel door and accurate temperature gauge screams quality.
Taking up just 14″ by 14″ of ground space, this Weber Smokey Mountain gives you 286 square inches of cooking space spread over two racks. That’s enough for two pretty large cuts of meat at a time which is usually more than enough for the average family or having a group of friends over. But, if you like smoking in bigger batches, simply one up it to the 18 or 22 inch model for even more space.
To prove that the Weber Smokey Mountain really is exceptional value for money, this model is known as a long-time competition winning barbecue. Suitable for everyone from the most inexperienced novice to long-time meat smoking addicts, this ‘cue will see you through years and years of incredible meals at home and on the go.
Specs for the Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Cooker 14"
Fuel type: Charocal
Barbecue material: Porcelain-enameled steel
Grate material: Plated steel
Cooking capacity: 286 sq. in.
Dimensions: 31.4(H) x 14.7(W) x 14.7(D)
Warranty: 10 years on bowl and lid, 5 years on plastics and cleaning system, 2 years on remaining parts
Pros of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 14″:
- Unbeatable quality smoker for this price bracket
- Porcelain-enameled steel body is durable, rust-resistant and easy to clean
- One of the top rated smokers on Amazon
- Small footprint gives a decent amount of cooking space
- Also doubles as a portable smoker
- Large, removable fuel door makes it easy to add wood and charcoal without having to move the meat and racks
- Quality dampers make temperature control easy
- Compatible with Weber’s iGrill 2 meat probe system which gives you accurate, up-to-date readings of your meat temperature for competition-worthy results
- 10 year warranty
Cons of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 14″:
- Although the rest of the Weber charcoal range has a handy hook to hang the hot lid on, this model doesn’t. But, being a smoker, you shouldn’t need the lid off too much
- Some smoke will leak around the door but this won’t reduce the awesomeness of your results
Best Budget Electric Smoker:
Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker
As a basic electric smoker the Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker is a budget-friendly find that’s strong enough to deliver. With all the usual features including a double walled, insulating design with dual exhaust ports and a fairly accurate temperature gauge, this unit delivers all the necessities to smoke in your backyard or on your apartment balcony.
What we do really like about this Char-Broil design is that they’ve included dual door latches which offer a superior seal so that heat and smoke loss is minimal. There’s also a separate water tray and wood chip tray to prevent the common battle with wet wood chips not smoking. Both of these trays are also protected by a drip tray that sits above. This has even got perforated holes on the wood chip side so that the smoke is let through easily while meat juices don’t ruin the smoke creation.
In terms of capacity, the Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker is big enough to cook for a small crowd. But, it’s also small enough and light enough that you could throw it in the trunk to take for an impromptu cookout.
For this budget price, don’t expect this electric ‘cue to last and last. But, it’s a decent option for anyone who wants a cheap unit to get started with that’s still good enough to turn out some very tasty food!
Specs for the Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker
Barbecue material: Double walled steel
Grate material: Chrome-plated wire
Cooking capacity: 544 square inches
Fuel Type: Electric
Wattage: 1,000 watts
Dimensions: 20.17″ W x 33.46″ H x 14.96″ D
Warranty: 1 year
Pros of the Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker:
- Inexpensive electric smoker that’s great for beginners or anyone on a budget
- Has all the basic features including double walled design, grease cup, latches, temperature gauge and water pan
- Dual exhaust ports create good airflow which distributes the heat nicely around this electric smoker
- Dual door latches mean that the unit seals easily and well to effectively keep the heat and smoke where you want it
- Medium capacity electric smoker means you’re not overheating a larger unit when cooking a smaller feast
- Small enough and light enough to fit in the trunk to take to a friends house
- Side handles for easy moving
Cons of the Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker:
- The smaller wood chip box means that you’ll probably have to open it up and add more every hour or so
- Mixed reports on how accurately the thermometer reads
- The budget design means that the insulation can’t handle smoking in colder climates very well
- Some reports of the paint peeling on the base next to the heating element
Best Budget Propane Smoker:
Char Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker
If you’re shopping for a smoker on a budget, propane is a good fuel option because it’s inexpensive, easy and still gives great results. And, when it comes to which budget gas smoker to buy, the Char Broil Propane Smoker offers features that are vastly above that of most gas smokers of a similar price.
For under $200 bucks, the Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Smoker gives you a generous 595 square inches of cooking space to play with. There’s also a warming rack on top that’s handy to pop food on while you’re waiting to serve up, or, to heat sauces or sides like some good old mac and cheese.
With the double door design and 16,500 BTU’s of power, it’s fairly easy to maintain a consistent temperature on this smoker. But, we do suggest fitting a LavaLock gasket around the doors to improve the seal and using the lowest shelf for water instead of the water tray to help you reach hotter temperatures.
Specs for the Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Gas Smoker
Fuel type: Liquid propane
Barbecue material: Painted steel
Grate material: Chrome-plated wire
Cooking capacity: 595 sq. in.
Dimensions: 19.5″ W x 45.5″ H x 21.5″ D
Warranty: 1 year
Pros of the Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Smoker:
- Large cooking capacity
- Small footprint
- Has bonus warming rack on top making it convenient and efficient to heat sides and sauces
- Powerful gas burner that’s strong enough to heat the cooking chamber
- Double door design means that you won’t release heat and smoke just too add more water or wood chips
- Built-in temperature guage
- Porcelain-coated water tray is easy to clean
Cons of the Char-Broil Vertical Liquid Propane Smoker:
- Does leak a reasonable amount of smoke so we recommend installing a LavaLock gasket to improve the seal
- Position of the water tray makes it hard to reach higher temperatures
- Combined wood and water tray doesn’t really work as the wet chips don’t smoke very well. Suggest using your own separate trays to sort this out
Best Budget Combo Smoker:
Smoke Hollow Gas-Charcoal-Smoker Combination with Side Burner
When budget is important but you also want lots of options, a combo smoker and grill can be a good compromise. And, while this unit will cost a bit more than just buying a charcoal smoker or gas grill, it’s not as much as buying multiple units to fit both purposes.
As far as combo grills go, the Smoke Hollow Gas and Charcoal ‘cue gives a great mix of quality and value for money. With a large cooking capacity split between the two fuel types, this barbecue will have you grilling up some burgers for lunch while the brisket is set to low and slow one chamber over. Plus, there’s a gas powered side burner too which is ideal for cooking sauces or sides without having to head inside to the kitchen.
With three, powerful gas burners, the Smoke Hollow Combo doesn’t struggle to sear things over high heat. While on the other side, the charcoal smoker with offset firebox allows you to create that true smoky goodness that only a traditional smoker can achieve.
For the price, don’t expect perfection. The quality and build is so so. But, if you’re looking for a budget barbecue that gives the convenience of gas grilling as well as the deliciousness of real smoking, the Smoke Hollow Gas and Charcoal Combo a solid choice that’ll see you through a lot of enjoyable meals.
Specs for the Smoke Hollow Gas Charcoal Combo Smoker
Fuel type: Propane and charcoal
Barbecue material: Painted steel
Grate material: Porcelain-coated wire
Cooking capacity: 596 sq. in. primary, 262 sq. in. secondary
BTU: 21,000 main burners, 11,000 side burner
Dimensions: 68.3″ W x 46.3″ H x 23.7″ D
Warranty: 1 year
Pros of the Smoke Hollow Combo Gas Grill and Charcoal Smoker:
- Multi-fuel barbecue gives you the convenience of gas cooking plus the authentic taste of charcoal and wood smoked meats
- Exceptional price for an all-in-one combo smoker
- Can be used 4 ways – gas grill, gas side burner, charcoal smoker or a charcoal grill
- Powerful gas burners produce good heat for effective searing
- Decent cooking capacity
- Dual built-in temperature gauges
- Large cart offers ample storage
Cons of the Smoke Hollow Combo Gas Grill and Charcoal Smoker:
- In reality the cooking capacity is smaller than you’d expect as it’s split between the two fuel types
- Quality of build is average but still impressive for a ‘cue with this price tag
- Diffusers in the gas grill tend to burn out reasonably quickly with regular usage