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Best Electric Smoker Under 500? Pick One of These

Best Electric Smoker Under 500

There are so many different electric smokers out there, it’s probably one of the hardest types of smokers to pick.

And, if you’re on a budget of about $500, the good news is, you’ve got choice.

Electric smokers are generally a cheaper option (you can even grab something decent for under $200). But, spending that little bit extra is going to land you better quality, better performance and a longer lasting unit.

So, when it comes to the best electric smoker under 500, what would we pick?

Here’s our top 5.

We’ve also thrown one pellet smoker that’s within your budget in as an electric alternative that’s going to give you even better results.

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Table of Contents

Smokin-It Model #2 - Top Quality

If you want unbeatable quality in an electric smoker, this is it!

The Smokin-It Model #1 doesn’t exactly look pretty. But, it’s a solid, commercial-style box with so many more features packed into it than any other electric smoker under $500.

So, what are you looking at?

You’ve got 100% 18-gauge, 201 grade stainless steel construction. It’s insulated with fibreglass for superior heat retention. There’s a double latch on the door to seal everything in nicely. And, a decently sized 400-watt heating element to power it.

You can set the temperature anywhere between 100 and 250°F and the rheostat will hold it within about 30 degrees of your target.

The downside? The Smokin-It #1 is one of the smallest options on this list.

It comes with 3 stainless steel racks giving you 468 square inches of cooking space. At 12″ x 13″, it’s not quite deep enough to fit a whole rack of ribs.

So, it’s either cut them, cook something else or upgrade to the more expensive Model #2.

Certified for commerical use but a smaller size for smoking at home, the food that you can make it here is restaurant-quality.

Complete with heavy-duty castors and an extra long, 12-foot power cord, you won’t get this sort of quality from any other electric smoker in this price range.

Specs for the Smokin-It Model #1 Electric Smoker

Barbecue material: Double walled 18 gauge, 201 stainless steel with fiberglass insulation

Grate material: Stainless steel

Cooking capacity: 468 sq. in.

Fuel type: Electric

Wattage: 400 watts

Model: Model #1

Price range: $

Assembled size (in): 12.5 W x 19”D x 25 H

Weight: 58 lbs

Warranty: 3 years

Pros of the Smokin-It Model #1:

  • Full stainless steel build, including the grates, give rust-resistant and durable
  • Insulated body improves heat retention
  • Reliable analog temperature control
  • Double latch seals door tight
  • External drip pan is easy to clean up
  • Extra long power cord

Cons of the Smokin-It Model #1:

  • Smaller capacity than the other electric smokers on this list
  • The temperature does swing about 30 degrees either side of where you set it. It’s still going to give you great results but if you like tight control, realise this unit will fluctuate
  • You need to open the door to add wood chips, letting the heat out

Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker - Most Popular

From the most expensive electric smoker on this list to the cheapest…

The Masterbuilt MB20071117, otherwise known as the MES 130B is simply incredible value.

Holding 711 square inches of smoking space, the MES 130B is powered by a decent 800 watt heating element with digital controls. Plus, get this, it’s fully insulated for improved heat retention and efficiency!

For this price, that’s incredible and is what’s made this smoker so unbeatably popular.

Being a newer Masterbuilt model, there’s a side loading port so you can add more wood chips without letting the heat out when you open the main door.

And, if you don’t even want to do that, you can buy a Slow Smoker Attachment that automatically feeds the wood chips in for set and forget smoking for up to 6 hours. It’ll also do cold smoking.

With such great features and performance, even if you’ve got a higher budget, the MB20071117 is a top choice.

Specs for the Masterbuilt MES 130B

Fuel type: Digital electric

Wattage: 800 watts

Barbecue material: Insulated steel

Grate material: Chrome-coated wire

Cooking capacity: 711 sq. in.

Price guide: $

Model: MB20071117

Dimensions: 20″ W x 33″ H x 19″ D

Weight: 46lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker:

  • Digital control panel 
  • Insulated body improves efficiency, particularly in colder weather
  • Moderate capacity suits most users
  • Side loading wood chip port lets you add chips mid-cook without open the door
  • Well-sized 800 watt heating element
  • Can be used as a set and forget smoker or cold smoker with the Slow Smoker attachment
  • You can buy a leg extension kit if you want it to sit higher
  • Unbeatable price

Cons of the Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker:

  • Hard to read the control panel in bright light
  • There have been reports of paint peeling over time

Bradley BS611 Digital Electric Smoker - Best Set and Forget

Electric smokers can be… well, not the best to use. Creating even smoke throughout your cook does take a bit of practice.

If you want to shorten the learning curve, the Bradley BS611 does just that.

This smoker works a bit differently from other electric models. Instead of relying on wood chips sitting over a heating element to smoke it out, the BS611 has a separate smoke box that’s got it’s own heating element.

Having an independent way to control the smoke gives you more control. And, more consistent, cleaner smoke means better flavor and more reliable performance.

With the Bradley though, it burns their Natural Wood Smoking Bisquettes. You can’t just put any old wood chips in there so it is a little more expensive to run. But, a full load will smoke for up to 9 hours and it’s completely set and forget once you’ve loaded up.

Fully insulated and housing 572 square inches of smoking real estate, the BS611 takes the convenience of electric smoking and simplifies it even further.

Specs for the Bradley BS611 Digital Smoker

Barbecue material: Stainless steel interior

Grate material: Stainless steel

Cooking capacity: 572 sq. in.

Fuel type: Digital electric

Temperature range: Up to 250°F

Wattage: 500 watt cooking element + 125 watt smoking element

Model: BS611

Price guide: $$

Assembled size (in): 18(W) x 20(D) x 34(H)

Weight: 45 lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the Bradley Digital Smoker:

  • Generates very consistently clean smoke with great flavor
  • Set and forget smoking for up to 9 hours
  • Stainless steel racks and interior are durable and rust-resistant
  • Insulated body for improved heat retention and efficiency
  • Can be used as a cold smoker

Cons of the Bradley Digital Smoker:

  • Bradley Bisquettes are more expensive than using regular wood chips. If you want to save money, you can run the smoking element for the first couple of hours only. This is when the most smoke is absorbed by the meat and after that you can just run the cooking element
  • Lower maximum temperature than most other electric smokers

Masterbuilt MB20073519 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker - Best Bluetooth

If you want to be able to control your smoker from your phone, the Masterbuilt MB20073519 (also known as the MES 130P) gives you just that with it’s Bluetooth connectivity.

Now, Bluetooth smokers generally have a not so good reputation for having a lot of issues. But, the MB20073519 is our choice for reliability.

Turn the unit on, off, select a temperature, change the temperature mid-cook and monitor the progress of what’s inside with the included meat probe that sends the reading direct to your phone.

The only thing you need to go outside for is to add more woodchips to your cook.

There’s a side-loading port so that you can do this without opening the door and letting all the heat out.

Or, grab a Slow Smoker attachment and it’ll automatically feed wood chips in for up to 9 hours without you having to do a thing.

The links here are for the 30″ model. But, there’s a larger 40″ if you need more space.

Both models are insulated to minimize heat loss.

The 30″ also has a grill and finishing element for top-down cooking.

Specs for the Masterbuilt MES 130P 30" Bluetooth Electric Smoker

Barbecue material: Double-walled steel

Grate material: Chrome-coated wire

Cooking capacity: 711 sq in

Fuel type: Digital electric

Wattage: 1,200 watts

Model: MB20073519

Price guide: $$

Assembled size (in): 20.67 W x 20 D x 33.66 H

Weight: 62.5 lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker:

  • Full wireless control from your smartphone
  • Side-loading wood chip port lets you add more wood without opening the lid, disturbing the heat and smoke inside
  • Insulated body minimizes heat loss for more effective use, especially in colder weather
  • Grill and finishing element gives you more options for cooking
  • Includes 1 meat probe so you can see exactly when your meat is cooked to temperature

Cons of the Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker:

  • You’ll still need to add wood chips regularly. Grab the Slow Smoker Attachment if you want to automate this as well
  • Not the best quality. But, adequate for most home users

Z Grills 450B - An Alternative

Electric smokers are really convenient and pretty simple to use. But, the flavor just doesn’t compare to something that’s been smoked with a real wood fire.

If you’ve got a budget of under $500, you might not have considered a pellet smoker.

But, you should.

The Z Grills 450B is within your budget, is even easier to use than electric, and, will give you food that tastes noticeably better too.

So, what is it?

The Z Grills 450B is a pellet smoker. That means you still plug it into a regular power outlet. But, instead of an electric element with wood chips, you use 100% natural wood smoking pellets that are automatically fed and burnt in a firepot that’s under the main cooking chamber.

The real fire releases the right sort of compounds to create a better smoke ring and crispy bark than you’d be able to get in an electric smoker.

The Z Grills 450B is simply amazing value for money!

It performs very impressively, is very well built and has a lot of extras that make it easier to use.

With 459 square inches of cooking space on 2 racks, you can smoke up to 3 whole chickens, 4 racks of ribs or 18 burgers at a time.

The 15 pound pellet hopper will give you around about 15 hours of low and slow smoking without having to add more fuel. And, thanks to the upgraded PID temperature controller, the heat will stay very even throughout your cook, regardless of the weather.

It’s completely set and forget, comes with a cover and a 30 day returns policy. Not that you’ll have to use it.

Specs for the Z Grills ZPG-450B Pellet Smoker

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel

Grate material:  Porcelain-coated steel

Cooking capacity: 459 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 15 lbs

Heat Range: 180-450°F

WiFi: No

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Model: 450B (Pioneer)

Assembled size (in): 43 L × 24 W × 47 H

Weight: 75 lbs

Warranty: 3 years

Pros of the Z Grills 450B

  • PID temperature controller automatically sticks within a few degrees of your target temperature
  • Generous 15 pound pellet hopper gives long unassisted smoke time
  • Moderate cooking capacity suits most families while still being able to handle entertaining
  • Manual feed button speeds up heating on startup or after opening the lid
  • Hopper window shows when you need to refill
  • Easy cleanout door on the hopper
  • Comes with a cover

Cons of the Z Grills 450B

  • Doesn’t hold as much as an averagely sized electric smoker
  • Costs more to run than electric because pellets are most expensive than wood chips