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Best Offset Smoker Under 500? Cheapies Get the Job Done


Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical Offset Smoker
Dyna-Glo Wide Body


Dyna-Glo DGSS1382VCS-D
Dyna-Glo Signature Vertical


Dyna-Glo Signature Series Barrel and Firebox Smoker
Dyna-Glo Barrel & Firebox

You’re not alone if you don’t want to or can’t afford to drop a couple of grand on a top of the line offset smoker. And, although cheap offset smokers are notoriously nasty, hard to regulate, smoke leaking all over the place things, they’re not all poor performers.

Here you’ll find our top choices for the best offset smoker under 500 category.

These basic options aren’t award-winning, and they’re not problem-free. But, you should be able to smoke up some really great food on them, and have fun doing it.

If you can stretch the budget a little, or just want to see what that much more cash gets you, check out our best offset smokers under $1000 round-up as well. Most of the options are closer to the $500 mark than the $1000 so you might find the one there as well.

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How We Tested the Best Offset Smoker Under 500

This isn’t meant to be a Dyna-Glo review. In fact, we went out of our way to try to include some other brands in this round up of the best offset smoker under 500. But, every time we kept going back to Dyna-Glo models because they were offering easier temperature control, better quality, and better durability overall at this price point.

In putting together this list of recommendations, we used and tested eight different cheap offset smokers under this budget.

Steaks waiting to be reverse seared on the Dyna-Glo Signature Barrel Offset

Each smoker was assessed based on the following factors:

Cheap offset smokers like the one’s under the $500 mark are notorious for being thin, poorly put together pieces of junk that leak smoke and lose heat like nobody’s business.

That being said, it’s our job to find you the best and we love finding a good, cheap option that’s as good as it gets for someone who doesn’t want to spend thousands.

We looked at which options had the thickest steel for durability and heat retention, checked the welds to see how well put together it was, assessed them all to see which one’s lost the least smoke, and added a Lavalock gasket to see how low you can get the smoke leakage.

You rarely hear about cheap offset smokers lasting 10 or 15 years but we don’t want you to have to buy a new one in a year or two.

Although we havent kept these models and used them all over multiple years, we do a quick assessment of the likely durability of each. This includes looking at the quality, but also seeing how badly the paint flakes off (because it just will on an uninsulated firebox where the heat is just that high), and how decent the grates are, after all, they do get a fair bit of abuse.

Any offset smoker requires frequent tending to, they’re not set and forget (it’s a pellet smoker you want if you’re after the easiest way to wood smoked perfection). But, that being said, a leaky, poorly insulated offset will require a lot more work than others to regulate the temperature, some we’ve used are virtually impossible to get reasonably steady.

We made sure that it was possible to maintain a fairly steady temperature on the offsets we’ve recommended here without needing to be attached to them. Depending on the weather and what fuel you’re burning, you should be able to maintain a fairly steady low and slow smoking temperature by checking on these every hour or so.

How can it be one of the best if you can’t make good food on it?!?

Before we recommend it here we want to be making good food on it.

To keep our assessment consistent, we test out smoking the same basic cuts of meat including brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder (we usually try some extras as well and are more flexible on those). We follow the same basic technique, use our favorite Hardcore Carnivore dry rubs, wrap with bbq paper, and cook to temperature using the MEATER thermometers or one of the other top wireless models we’ve reviewed and recommended.

Table of Contents

Best Offset Smokers Under 500: Our Top Choices

Go cheap but don’t sacrifice too much in terms of usability and performance with one of these decent and budget-friendly options.


Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical


BBQ type: Offset

Material: Painted steel

Grates: Chrome-coated

Capacity: 1,890 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke

Dimensions: 21″D x 43.3″W x 50.2″H

Price guide: $$

Model: DGO1890BDC-D

Warranty: 1 year, paint 90 days

It’s not a traditional barrel-style offset smoker. But, the Dyna-Glo Wide Body Vertical is our top pick for an offset smoker under the $500 mark. And, you’ll have change to buy some charcoal, wood chunks, and meat for your first smoke session too.

So, what’s the deal with this one?

Well, the Dyna-Glo Vertical gives you a huge 1,890 square inches of cooking space to play with without taking up much of your backyard. Plus, a lot of people find the vertical design easier to use because heat naturally rises, creating a really even cook with a good amount of smokiness and moisture retained in that meat.

The racks are removable and adjustable so you’ve got lots of flexibility in terms of usability and height. We love how easy they are to slide out. And, they’ve also thrown in a rib rack and sausage hanger in this wide body version (which gives you the width you need for ribs and whole brisket) which is a nice added bonus.

Rib rack and sausage hanger in Dyna-Glo Wide Body Offset

To adjust the temperature you’ve got a vent on the firebox plus the adjustable flue stack or chimney. Together, they’re not bad to use. But, there are little indents on the firebox vent which sometimes make the metal pop out of place and not hold exactly where you want it. It’s a bit annoying but not always an issue depending on where you need that vent to sit.

At this price point, you do have much thinner metal on this smoker. You’ll notice quite a difference in terms of fuel usage when you’re cooking in cold, wet, or windy conditions. And, you will need to be very hands on in managing it to achieve a nice stable temperature.

Using the Dyna-Glo Vertical in really cold weather

As is normal for any budget smoker, the temperature gauge isn’t reliable. Instead of bothering to replace the built-in one, we’d recommend just buying a wireless smoker thermometer that can measure the ambient temperature of your smoker as well so you’ve got that accurate feedback on how your fire is going.

In other not so good news, the paint will flake off the firebox on the Dyna-Glo Vertical. Probably within the first couple of cooks. Yes, this happens with cheap offset smoker but also happens with some expensive models and it’s not the end of the world. You can respray it with some quality bbq paint if you want to. Otherwise, keep it dry, use it frequently, and treat any rust spots before they develop further.

We do like that this smoker comes with a pretty solid charcoal basket to hold the coals tighter for a more efficient cook. But, we do find that it sometimes needs a bit of a shake mid-cook so that the ash doesn’t clog and stop the air from flowing nicely for a clean burning fire.

Food smoked in the Dyna-Glo Vertical Wide Body Offset

If you’re bothered by the smoke leakage and want a tightly sealing offset, grab yourself a Lavalock gasket that you can run around the doors and firebox to cooking chamber doors. This will keep the smoke in and help to focus the heat where you need it too.

As you can see, this smoker’s not perfect. But, compared to other offsets at this price point, it’s darn good. You can definitely make some good food in the Dyna-Glo Vertical, and a lot of it.


Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical


BBQ type: Offset

Material: Painted steel

Grates: Chrome-coated

Capacity: 1,382 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke

Dimensions: 45.5″D x 24.9″W x 58.8″H

Price guide: $$

Model: DGSS1382VCS-D

Warranty: 1 year, paint 90 days

This smoker could equally take the title of the best overall smoker under $500. The only reason we haven’t put it up there is that most of the people we’ve talked to about it prefer the squared-off version than this rounded one.

But, compared against each other, this Signature Series vertical has a little thicker steel for slightly better heat retention than their regular vertical offset.

Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Smoker in backyard

You’re still going to want to seal the doors and joins with a gasket so it doesn’t leak heat and smoke all over the place. But, with some Lavalock, and clamps if you want to go that far, it holds the temperature impressively well for an offset smoker at this price point.

Like all offsets, it’s not set and forget. You will need to watch the temperature quite frequently, making adjustments to the fire and gaskets to keep a steady temperature. But, it’s perfectly doable on this model.

Inside you’ve got five chrome-plated racks. The rounded rack shape actually suprised me and was easier to utilize than I expected it to be. If you do want to do a lot of ribs or whole briskets though, you’d be better off with the Wide Body Dyna-Glo Vertical because they won’t fit on this one unless you cut them.

Food smoking on the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Offset smoker

Hidden away up the top of the Signature Series Vertical you’ll find fixed sausage hooks. They’re a handy way to maximize the cooking space and they work well for smoking ribs in the narrow smoker body.

Down the bottom there’s a water and drip tray you can use if you want to. I prefer to smoke without adding much in the way of liquid and still get nice tender and moist meat in this Dyna-Glo.

The biggest thing I don’t like about the Signature Series Vertical is the split firebox design. They’ve done it to make it easier to clean. But, there’s more space for heat and smoke to leak out before it even makes it to the cooking chamber.

To work with it, I’d recommend sealing any joins in the firebox with gasket too. Then, leave the grilling grate out while you’re smoking so that you can fit more fuel in there. A lot of people are adding a charcoal basket to hold the coals together better and make it easier to clear out any ash that clogs the fire up. I haven’t personally used this smoker with a charcoal basket but like them on other smokers so if you’re having problems with airflow and too much ash in this one, it seems like a good addition.

Because there’s not that much space in the firebox, make sure you’re using good quality fuel in it as well. A natural charcoal briquette or lump charcoal will produce less ash than your typical mainstream brands for better performance and efficiency, even though they do cost a little more to buy.

Dyna-Glo do give you a grate to grill inside the firebox as well. It sits very low to the ground though. So, while it’s the perfect height for my young kids to get involved, a grown man isn’t going to have a lot of fun grilling up a steak on his knees.

Grilling on the Dyna Glo Signature Series Vertical Offset Smoker

Overall though, looking at the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Vertical Smoker, with proper sealing, this smoker’s not bad at all, especially for the price. You can make some great food and hold a decently steady temperature. Like all the smokers on here, grab your own wireless thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. The built-in one’s not accurate, and you will use a lot more fuel during the winter months. But, it’s cheap and can do the job.


Dyna-Glo Signature Barrel


BBQ type: Offset

Material: Painted steel

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Capacity: 443 sq in

Heat range: Smoke & grill

Dimensions: 52″D x 33.86″W x 59.84″H

Price guide: $$

Model: DGSS730CBO-D

Warranty: 1 year

This one’s often sold out but, is our favorite choice when it comes to a traditional looking, horizontal offset smoker. It’s a lot smaller than the first two options reviewed here, however, gives you a really easy to work with layout. Sometimes simple really is the best.

Like all the other offsets under $500, you’re not getting thick, great quality steel. It doesn’t retain the heat very well which makes it harder to maintain a steady temperature, and uses quite a bit of fuel, especially in winter. But, when you look at the price, and compare it to the competition, the Dyna Glo Signature Barrel Offset is not at all bad.

I like that it gives good airflow through the firebox to the cooking chamber. This means that it can produce good quality smoke which not only gives you great flavor and smoke rings, but is healthier for you as well.

I grabbed a roll of Lavalock gasket to install from the get-go and it was a safe assumption to make that it would need it. I did run it once just to see how much smoke leaked out but with any really cheap offset smoker, they’re all going to leak. A cheap gasket fixes most, if not all of the issue, and gives you something easy to do that boosts performance and fuel efficiency.

Compared to the models recommended above, the horizontal design gives you a much smaller cooking capacity. In it you’ve got 443 square inches of cooking space.

Meat ready to throw on the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Barrel and Firebox Offset Smoker

One pro here is that it’s all single level. So, there’s no height issues that you can have with the vertically stacked racks which, once you remove racks to fit that tall Boston butt or whole chicken, reduce the cooking space anyway.

Another plus of the smaller space is that it uses less fuel than the larger offsets. We were surprisingly impressed at how little fuel this smoker uses in good weather conditions. It’s no 1/4 inch thick, professional quality offset. But, compared to the others, it’s not bad.

Expect the paint to peel off the firebox because it will, sooner rather than later. You can respray it with some quality high-heat Rust Oleum if you want to. Otherwise, just keep your smoker dry and treat any rust spots when they come up to keep it in decent condition.

I know there’s complaints here. At this price point, it’s just not going to be top of the line and you will have ‘issues’ to deal with. But, if you want an offset and you don’t want to spend a lot, you can make really good food on this offset.

Smoking chicken on the Dyna-Glo Signature Series Offset smoker

It’s smaller, thinner, and needs proper maintenance to keep it in good shape. But, compared to the alternatives, it’s one of our favorites and not a bad buy as far as really cheap stick burners go.

Oh, and this one’s actually got porcelain-coated grates instead of those cheap and nasty chrome-coated ones that are even on the other Dyna-Glo’s reviewed here.


Other Smokers You Might Want to Consider

At the under $500 price point for an offset smoker, the options aren’t perfect. If you’re not happy with any of the smokers reviewed above, take a look at our best offsets under $1000, there’s a few options that aren’t much over the $500 mark and could even be on sale.

Or, if you can’t or don’t want to budge on the budget, consider going a charcoal smoker to keep the manual involvement in the smoking process, or go pellet for the wood-fire results.

These are some of our favorites that fit in this price range…

Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch

Weber Smokey Mountain

Z Grills 450B Pioneer

Z Grills Pioneer 450B

FAQs About the Best Offset Smokers Under $500

Cheap offset smokers can be awful! Thin steel that simply loses all your heat and non-existent seals that leak smoke from what seems like everywhere don’t make for a good time or a good brisket.

But, the budget-friendly offset smokers reviewed and recommended above can do a good job and aren’t too difficult to use.

Regardless of which cheap offset smoker you buy, I would recommend grabbing a Lavalock gasket to stick along the firebox and cooking chamber doors. Cheap offset smokers have no seal along any of the doors which is one of the reasons they leak so much smoke but the fix is simple, easy to install, and cheap.

Once a cheap offset smoker is sealed properly, or better at least, they are able to perform quite well even though they will use more fuel and won’t last as long as a top offset smoker.

We have also rounded up the best offset smokers under $1000, some of which come closer to the $500 mark instead of the higher end. You might find something that can work for your budget there, or is on sale.

When it comes to cheap offset smokers, we prefer Dyna Glo. We have tried and tested other brands but haven’t found any that compare in terms of quality, performance, and price. You’ll see our favorites reviewed above.

For the same price, you can buy a better quality charcoal smoker than you can an offset smoker. Offsets are just more expensive.

So, with a $500 budget, we’d personally go a charcoal smoker made with better materials that works better straight out of the box without modifications. But, that’s because for us personally, manually tending to the fire isn’t the number one thing we’re looking for. We just want good meat and don’t care so much how we get it.

If you do want a stick burner for the experience, or enjoy modifying smokers to really get it working the way you want, a cheap offset smoker can be a lot of fun.

For the Dyna-Glo’s reviewed and recommended above, at a minimum, I’d grab a Lavalock gasket to pop along the firebox and cooking chamber doors. This is the single cheapest and easiest thing you can do to improve the seal of a cheap offset smoker to keep heat and smoke where you want it.

But, you can also use clamps like these Lavalock ones that will hold the firebox and cooking chamber doors closed for an even better seal. Depending on the model, adding a charcoal basket to hold the coals closer for a more efficient burn can be worthwhile. And, if you’ve got a welder and know how to use it, some people even weld any leak points for a better solution than just slapping a gasket on it.

Check out this thorough video talking mods on cheaper offset smokers and how they actually affect performance for a more in-depth discussion.

Jared Brown, an avid lover of all things meat has a fearless enthusiasm for experimenting with anything that's grilling, smoking or outdoor cooking. With a wealth of experience across a range different barbecue types, Jared's got a real knack for helping others make a decision they're happy with, ensuring they find the perfect fit regardless of conventional notions of the 'right' choice. This unique approach has made Jared a trusted guide in the world of barbecue.

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Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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