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Best Smoker Under 300: There’s Big Brands on this List!

BEST PELLET

Z Grills Cruiser 200A Portable Pellet Smoker
Z Grills Cruiser
4.5/5

BEST CHARCOAL

Weber Smokey Mountain 18 Inch
Weber Smokey Mountain 14"
4.8/5

BEST SET & FORGET

Pit Barrel Cooker Junior
Pit Barrel Cooker Jr
4.6/5

BEST ELECTRIC

Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker
Masterbuilt Digital
4.6/5

BEST KAMADO

Char-Griller Akorn Jr
Char-Griller Akorn Jr
4.5/5

BEST PROPANE

Dyna-Glo Vertical LP Smoker
Dyna-Glo Vertical LP
4.2/5

So, you’re looking for a cheaper smoker, under $300… Expecting to get a ‘might last a season or two if you’re lucky’ piece of junk? Think again! Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of smoking, there’s more great budget smoker options on the market all the time.

But, because sorting the worthwhile from the worthless takes a bit of time, we’ve done the work for you. We’ve searched high and low for the best smoker under 300.

Yes, there is a Weber on this list in your budget along with some of our other bestselling smokers. You’ve got choices and the choices are good. So, let’s get started.

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How We Tested the Best Smoker Under $300

As great as expensive barbecues are, we get quite a kick out of finding good, great value for money models that let you cook delicious food without spending a heap of money.

So, we got quite a kick out of finding and testing these inexpensive performers.

Each of these smokers, plus the one’s that didn’t make it, were assessed for the following factors:

Cheap smokers are usually cheap becaues they’re really poor quality. And, poor quality usually mean poor performance and poor durability, not what you want if all you’re after is some good food on a low budget.

In selecting the best smokers under $300, we looked for barbecues that were still a reasonably good quality. Sometimes this meant we had to sacrifice size, going for a smaller or even portable cooking capacity. But, we feel that it’s a worthwhile trade-off to get something that’s going to work well and last for more than a season or two.

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a competition-quality smoker to make great food.

We have successfully made A LOT of great smoked meats on all of the smokers recommended below. And, while we aren’t out there trying to win any competitions, the meals we made on these were hits with ourselves, our family, and friends which are our most important judges.

Charcoal smokers are naturally more hands on, requiring you to check on the temperature, make adjustments and add fuel when required. But, doing so should be easy, even on a cheap smoker.

So, all of the smokers recommended here have been done so on the basis that they’re relatively easy to use. The design is good enough to work well, the dampers are easy to adjust, and you don’t need to be an expert to use them.

They say the poor man buy’s twice but we don’t want you to have to.

The smokers recommended here should last at least a few seasons. Yes, you’ll need to season them properly, make sure they’re stored out of the rain, and you clean them as per the manufacturers instructions. But, they are all durable enough to see you through a number of years of regular cooking.

Some even have impressively long warranties to boot.

Please also note that, we have made every effort to make sure that the smokers recommended on this list are in fact under the $300 mark (or very very close to it) when they’re NOT on sale!

We don’t want you to have to wait until a once a year sale event to be able to buy a new barbecue. But, you might also be able to snag any one of these smokers for even less if it is on sale… Nice bonus!

Table of Contents

The Best Smoker Under 300: Our Top Picks

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a decent barbecue. These are our favorite smokers under $300. Most of them are on the smaller size but work like a charm.

BEST PELLET UNDER $300

Z Grills Cruiser

4.5/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Grilling: Indirect heat

Capacity: 202 sq in

Hopper capacity: 8 lbs

Heat range: 160 – 450°F

Dimensions: 20″D x 25″W x 13″H

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: 200A

Warranty: 3 years

I really like this little smoker. Yes, it’s quite small. But, if you’re looking for a pellet smoker that’s CHEAP and don’t want to compromise on performance, the Z Grills Cruiser is awesome.

I actually used this smoker to regularly cook for my family for a few months. Like, not as a portable barbecue but just set it up on an outside table and used it as a regular pellet smoker. I’ve smoked and grilled a lot of food on it, and it’s pretty darn good.

Because you’re only heating a smaller space, it’s very efficient in terms of pellet usage too. It’s quick to heat up. And, by being careful with what you cook, think a large pork shoulder or other heavy roast-type cut, you can actually have enough food to cook for some guests too.

Pulled Pork and Pork Ribs Smoking on the Z Grills Cruiser 200A

Because the cooking grate is quite close to the heat source in this compact space, I do like to turn the meat at about the half way point when I’m smoking. Otherwise, I find that the bottom side chars and dries out a little. But, turn and wrap and the meat is all good even on long smokes.

The temperature controller in the Cruiser does a good job of keeping the heat steady throughout a low and slow cook. Peaks and dips of about 10°F can be expected and aren’t anything to worry about in terms of performance.

When it comes to grilling, you’re looking at indirect heat. But, cranked up to maximum it grills well with nice marks and a light, woody flavor.

Measuring Temperature on the Z Grills Cruiser 200A

With sturdy handles and latches to lock the lid and hopper shut, the Cruiser is easy to set up and pack away. It’s a solid and versatile barbecue that can do a lot on a very small budget.

Pros
Cons
BEST CHARCOAL UNDER $300

Weber Smokey Mountain 14"

4.5/5

BBQ type: Charcoal bullet

Material: Enameled steel

Grates: Plated steel

Capacity: 286 sq inch

Heat range: Low to high

Dimensions: 31.4(H) x 14.7(W) x 14.7(D)

Price guide: $$

Model: 731001

Warranty: 10 yrs bowl, 5 yrs plastics, 2 yrs other

High-quality, easy to use, and long-lasting, as long as you can get a Weber smoker for under $300, it’s definitely going to be featured on this list!

Measuring 14 inches across the grate to give you 286 square inches, this is the smallest of the three sizes of the Weber Smokey Mountains. But, while it’s not huge, it’s big enough to smoke two largish cuts of meat at a time. It’s also small enough that you can easily throw it in the back of the car to take it camping, to the beach or a friends house. Just one bonus.

Inside the Weber Smokey Mountain

But, in terms of the smoker itself, the WSM is great quality for this price. It’s made from porcelain-enameled steel, has easy to adjust dampers, and is covered by an impressive 10 year warranty.

When you’re using the Weber Smokey Mountain, you will need to check on it frequently, adding fuel and adjusting the dampers to keep the temperature steady. It’s not meant to be a set and forget smoker but gives you that hands on barbecuing experience.

A separate fuel door makes it easy to add more charcoal and wood, and just as you’d expect from industry leader Weber, the temperature gauge is reliable so it’s pretty easy to get good results consistently.

Charcoal and wood fire inside the Weber Smokey Mountain 14

If the 14″ feels a bit small to you, the 18″ Weber Smokey Mountain is considered full-sized and gives you a decent amount more space. It’s just over the $300 mark so isn’t stretching the budget too much.

Either way, the Weber Smokey Mountain is a solid buy that doesn’t in any way feel like you’ve gone budget.

Pros
Cons
BEST SET & FORGET CHARCOAL

Pit Barrel Cooker Jr

4.6/5

BBQ type: Drum smoker

Material: Enameled steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Capacity: 4 hangers

Heat range: Approx 275°F

Dimensions: 21.5″ W x 33″ H x 21.5″ D

Price guide: $

Model: Pit Barrel Junior

Warranty: 1 year

Smaller brother of the ever-popular Pit Barrel Cooker, the Pit Barrel Cooker Junior fits everything that’s great about the larger one into a smaller, more affordable package.

With it you’ll get everything you need to smoke a good amount of food with 4 hooks to hang your food, really maximizing that cooking space on a small budget.

Like the Weber Smokey Mountain reviewed above, the Pit Barrel Cooker Jr is a really good quality, well-built charcoal smoker. But, instead of being quite hands on to use, the Pit Barrel is a set and forget, fixed temperature smoker.

Thanks to the vertical design and 360° heat from below, you set the bottom vent based on your altitude above sea level, pop lit charcoal in the included charcoal grate, load your meat inside, replace the lid and leave it to do it’s thing.

Pit Barrel Cooker Junior In Use

Just like when you place your hand vertically instead of horizontally over a fire, the heat isn’t hot enough to burn although we do find that the very bottom rib does char a little.

If you prefer to use a regular grate, that’s included with the Pit Barrel Jr too and is ideal for something like a medium-sized turkey.

Either way, it’s good quality and very easy to use. There’s nothing electronic about it to break. It’s easy to clean, and lightweight enough to pick up and take on the move.

Read our full review of the Pit Barrel Cooker.

Pros
Cons
BEST ELECTRIC UNDER $300

Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

4.5/5

BBQ type: Electric smoker

Material: Insulated steel

Grates: Chromed wire

Capacity: 711 sq in.

Wattage: 800

Dimensions: 20″ W x 33″ H x 19″ D

Price guide: $

Model: MB20071117

Warranty: 1 year

This smoker isn’t just a top choice if you’re on a smaller budget, it’s an uber popular model that even made the cut as our best electric smoker overall.

Electric smokers are generally a cheaper type of smoker. So, for the same sort of money as the options above, you’re getting a very reasonable 711 square inches of cooking space which is considered a regularly sized smoker.

Racks Loaded Up on the Masterbuilt 40 Inch Digital Electric Smoker

In terms of overall quality, the Masterbuilt Digital Electric smoker isn’t as well built as the pellet and charcoal options reviewed above.

The insulation is very average, the 800 watt heating element does struggle a bit in cold weather, and the kids have dinged us up quite a bit in just helping with the wood chips, checking on the food, and moving it in and out of the garage.

Nevertheless, the digital control panel does a decent job of staying close to your set temperature.

And, although the temperature regulation is taken care for you, you will have to add wood chips every 45 minutes to an hour to keep the smoke pumping through it.

The side loading wood chip port is worth it’s weight in gold for that though. Simply slide it out, fill it with your chips of choice, replace it and turn and you’ve got more wood without letting all of the heat out of the cooking chamber which does take a long time to recover from.

Adding Wood Chips to the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

If you’re interested in cold smoking, there is an extra Slow Smoker Attachment you can get now or down the track. It’s perfect for smoking cheese, nuts, or cold smoking fish too. But, you can also use the Slow Smoker on hot smoke too to automatically feed the wood chips in for up to 6 hours.

If you’re weighing this smoker up against the pellet and charcoal options above, just be aware that electric smoking doesn’t give you the same sort of results as cooking with a live-fire does.

No matter what you do, you won’t be able to get the same sort of smoke ring or bark. But, you will have moist meat and lots of it, so, just think about which trade-off you’d prefer. You can read more about electric smokers vs pellet for more help in making your decision.

Pros
Cons
BEST KAMADO UNDER $300

Char-Griller Akorn Jr

4.5/5

BBQ type: Kamado

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Cast iron

Capacity: 155 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke & grill

Dimensions: 20.5″D x 20″W x 26″H

Price guide: $

Model: E86714

Warranty: 5 years

If the versatility of a kamado is what you’re after, the Char-Griller Akorn Junior make it possible on a smaller budget.

Along with a lower price tag, you’ll also get a smaller kamado. But, it’s not bad quality.

Char-Griller Akorn Jr with lid open

The Akorn Junior is made from triple layered steel making it lightweight, durable, and pretty decent at retaining heat. It’s got heavy-duty cast iron grates, easy to use damper, and an awkward at first but actually pretty great pop-down dump ash pan.

It’s pretty much just a mini version of Char-Griller’s full sized Akorn Kamado that’s of course, portable, but also fine to use if you’re only cooking for one, two, or a few.

On it, you’ve got 155 square inches of grilling or smoking space. That sounds small compared to some of the other smokers on this list, but it’s still decent enough to cook a whole butterflied chicken, a fair few burger patties, or enough sausages to entertain.

Grilling chicken breast on the Char-Griller Akorn Jr

Performance-wise, we like the heavy-duty cast iron grates for their awesome heat retention. We haven’t had a problem keeping a steady temperature, even when the weather starts getting a little colder.

The barbecue itself doesn’t fit together super great. You can clearly see it’s a cheaper kamado. But, overall the build isn’t too bad and the 5 year warranty gives you peace of mind that this thing should last at least that long.

One other thing to note about the Akorn Jr is that the heat deflector isn’t included with the egg’s price, and you will need this to smoke on this barbecue.

Good news is that grab the barbecue itself and the smoking stone and it’s still under that $300 budget. You can even throw in a bag of quality charcoal and have change for the meat.

Pros
Cons
BEST GAS UNDER $300

Dyna-Glo Vertical LP

4.2/5

BBQ type: Propane

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Chrome-plated

Capacity: 784 sq inch

Heat range: Smoke

Dimensions: 46.46(H) x 27(W) x 19.2(D)

Price guide: $

Model: DGY784BDP

Warranty: 1 year

For anyone who wants to use their propane grilling tank to smoke as well, or just likes propane cooking, the Dyna-Glo Vertical LP Smoker provides value, function, and ease of use on a smaller budget.

Powered by a single 15,000 BTU cast iron burner, there’s an electronic push-to-start button with sliding dampers on the top and sides for better control over the heat and smokiness.

Inside, there’s a large slide-in water tray and a wood chip tray that are both porcelain-enameled. Porcelain-enamel is great here because it’s easy to clean and really durable. But, the size of these trays are what’s a big bonus.

Cast iron wood chip box on Dyna-Glo LP Gas Smoker

They’re so large that you won’t need to pop back every 30 minutes or so to check on things. Plus, they’re accessed through the bottom door so you don’t need to disturb the heat and smoke in the cooking chamber when you do need to add more wood and water.

The cooking capacity on the Dyna-Glo Vertical is the largest on this best smoker under 300 list with 784 square inches. You’ve got 4 racks with a choice of 5 positions so you can create the height needed for taller cuts of meat if and when you do those.

Dyna-Glo Vertical LP Gas Smoker in backyard

But, if you can stretch the budget (they’re not much over the $300 mark), this exact smoker is made in a large and extra large version too. Along with more space in general, these smokers are wide enough to lay racks of ribs flat, and also come with rib racks and hanging hooks giving you even more flexibility.

Although you can make good food in here, the quality of the smoker itself is pretty average. Things don’t line up quite perfectly, the door seals aren’t great, and you’ll have to be careful not to dent the thin metal.

Nevertheless, for a big smoker on a small budget, the Dyna-Glo Propane is a decent all-round buy that can keep a steady temperature and is durable enough with the right kind of care.

Pros
Cons

What to Look for in the Best Smoker Under 300

Yes, look at the price tag. Then, look at these important factors to choose the best in the sea of cheap:

A lot of cheap smokers have doors that don’t line up, dampers that don’t move smoothly, and grates that just kind of balance in there but aren’t really that secure.

Have a look to see if all the parts fit together well and then move well as a first indicator of how good that cheap is going to be.

Like we said at the beginning of this review, we would sacrifice a bit of cooking space for a better quality and better functioning smoker.

That being said, you do want to make sure you’re going to have enough space to cook enough to feed the family and cater to guests if you invite anyone over.

But, if you’re not sure if small can work for you, think about doing a pork shoulder for pulled pork, smoke some brisket that can be sliced up with sides, or grill chicken wings or sausages in batches to be able to up the capacity. And, if that’s not enough, check out something like the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker that’s still under the $300 mark but can hold a lot of meat.

Check out the warranty conditions before you buy a smoker to make sure that you’re getting a decent enough coverage to match your expectations on how long you want your smoker to last.

Something like the Weber Smokey Mountain covers you for up to 10 years against rust so you can buy one of those knowing quite confidently that it should last at least this long if you look after it properly.

FAQs About the Best Smokers Under $300

If you stick to one of the models on this list, you can snag yourself a decent smoker for under the $300 mark.

These smokers are generally smaller versions of popular models and are still well made so that you can cook great food on them for years to come.

If you want to see what you can get over the $300 mark, check out our best budget smokers review.

There are a number of really decent cheap smokers. The one that’s best for you will depend on which fuel you’d prefer to use, how much cooking space you need, and how hands on you want to be with the smoking process.

In this review, we have recommended at least one model under the $300 mark for each type of smoker, except for an offset.

The best cheap offset smoker is a little over the $300 mark so instead of reading about it here, check it out in our best budget smokers review.

I’ve seen cheap smokers that haven’t made it through one summer’s worth of smoking and others, that cost a similar amount, that are still going strong 10 years on.

How long a cheap smoker will last really depends on the specific smoker, how often it’s used, and how well it’s looked after.

With proper care, you should be able to get more than 5 years of regular use out of the best smokers under $300 that are recommended here.

Electric, propane, and charcoal smokers are usually the cheapest types of smokers out there.

Electric and propane are inexpensive because they’re usually quite poorly made with minimal insulation and thin steel that does the job but doesn’t hold up that well in the long run.

Charcoal smokers are also one of the most affordable options because there’s not much to them. Without electronic components and lots of complicated parts increasing the cost, you can often pick up a good quality one for quite a low price.

Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is committed to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.

About Burning Brisket

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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