Smoking is an old technique that gives the meat flavor, texture and tenderness, so it’s no wonder that so many people are passionate about this. Thanks to the advances in technology, smokers are now equipped with various features that make the smoking process very simple. So even though you are just starting and don’t know all the tips and tricks, you can still make some delicious meals with a smoker. If you are overwhelmed with all the possible options and also on a tight budget, in this article we will analyze the best smokers under $200.
1. The Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
- 2. The Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker
- Best Smokers Under $200 Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
As the name implies, this smoker works with charcoal, thus it captures the maximum smoke flavor. The vertical design allows the heat to rise, while the offset design prevents the food from burning and allows for slow cooking. The total cooking space is very generous (1175 sq. in. out of which 784 of smoking area), and includes six grates that can be adjusted to your preferences.
It is built to handle a lot of ash so that you can cook for hours without having to remove it, and comes with a built-in thermometer for more accuracy. It has thousands of positive ratings and reviews, and you can buy it at this link for an affordable price.
2. The Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker
This unit offers 5.45 sq. ft. of cooking area with plenty of room to cook different types of meats. It includes four racks that can be removed so you can place and prepare the meat before putting it inside. But you can also remove all the racks at once for smoking whole birds or other large pieces of meat.
It includes a built-in thermometer and an adjustable gas supply for precision and control. It also has 2 doors and a rear vent so that you can control the heat and the smoke. The tray that holds the wood chips and water is made of porcelain enameled steel, so it’s easy to clean. As the name implies, it works by being connected to a propane tank.
Most people were very pleased of this model, especially for the great price that it comes at. The hundreds of positive ratings and reviews speak for themselves, and you can buy it here.
3. The Smokehouse Products Little Chief Front Load Smoker
This is a cheap yet reliable vertical front loading smoker made by the Smokehouse company. It works with a heating element that creates a low and constant temperature of 165 F. It includes 4 chrome grills and a drip pan that is dishwasher safe.
While it’s a small and compact device that can fit in any kitchen, it’s only designed for outdoor use. You will be able to cook up to 25 lbs. of meat which is quite enough for a small group of guests. Fish, beef, chicken, pork…no matter the type of meat you like, this smoker will do the job. It comes with a small bag of chips so you can get started right away, and considering the small price, the value it offers is great. The hundreds of 5-star ratings and good reviews speak for themselves, and you can buy it at this link.
4. The Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker
The Masterbuilt company is well known for the high quality smokers that it makes, and this one is no exception (even though it’s a budget unit). All the controls and displays are digital, which makes it very easy to use by people of all ages. It includes four racks coated with chrome that are easy to remove and to clean.
Most of the Masterbuilt products have a patented side loading system that allows you to add wood chips without having to open the door and reduce the temperature inside. The smoker is quite small, yet very solid and the body is fully insulated in order to retain the heat. You can cook plenty of meat at a time, enough for the whole family. This model has thousands of positive reviews and it’s one of the best smokers under $200. You can buy it now at this link.
5. The Cuisinart COS-118 Vertical Charcoal Smoker
We’ve seen a good propane smoker from Cuisinart earlier, now let’s have a look at a charcoal one from the same company. It’s a solid and reliable smoker that can smoke a wide variety of foods, yet comes at a great price that is within our budget of $200.
The two available racks are made of stainless steel and offer a total cooking space of 510 sq. in. But the smoker itself is not that large or heavy, which makes it easy to transport. It features two air vents that can be opened or closed in order to manage the amount of heat and smoke. Hundreds of customers were very satisfied by this model, and you can buy it at this link. Not to mention that the producer offers an extended warranty of 3 years.
The Sougem Charcoal Vertical Smoker
You can get this model if you are on a very tight budget, as it costs less than $100. Sure, it’s not the most complex or versatile, yet it’s still capable of handling your desire for smoked meat. It has 2 grates that can handle various types of foods for a small family and it includes a steel coated bowl and lid. The overall construction is good and solid, just the legs aren’t that stable.
It comes with all the needed accessories, such as a thermometer, a cover hanging hook, a smoking rack, a cooking grill, a water pan, a charcoal tray and a dust cover to protect it when not in use. Overall it offers a great value for this price and you can buy it here.
Best Smokers Under $200 Buying Guide
There is a wide variety of smokers on the market, and choosing the right model may be quite challenging. Here are a few things to consider:
Cooking Surface – this depends on what you are planning to do with the smoker and for how many people you will be cooking. A compact smoker may do a great job for a small family, but if you are planning to organize large parties with plenty of guests, then it’s better to get a larger smoker with a big cooking surface
Type of Smoker – there is no definitive answer which type is better (charcoal, pellet, electric or propane), as each type has its pros and cons. For example, electric smokers are very easy to use, as you just input the settings for time and temperature, but they don’t have that unique flavor of wood or charcoal smokers.
They are great for beginners, but a more experienced and passionate user will want to do more manual labor instead of just setting some buttons and forgetting about it. Electric smokers are more expensive, but also more cost-efficient on the long term as they don’t require any gas or wood. They are also safer for kids or pets.
With wood or charcoal devices you have less control over the temperature, but superior taste. Still, there are some external thermostats that you can use in order to make things easier. Pellet smokers provide taste and flavor, are quite easy to use and efficient, and the fuel is relatively easy to find in stores or online. But they do require regular maintenance and cleaning and usually have a ventilator and a motor that make a lot of noise. Pellet smokers are also usually more expensive than other types.
Charcoal smokers probably offer the best taste and the best BBQ experience. You can also experiment with different types of woods, in order to get different flavors each time. These smokers are easy to clean and to maintain, and you can control the temperature by adding more coal or removing some. However, they make cooking on cold weather more difficult or impossible, and it’s much easier to burn or undercook the meat when using this type of smoker. You will need to check the smoker more frequently in order to make sure that the flame and the oxygen level are ok.
Gas smokers are also easy to use, they are more portable and can reach very high temperatures. But they constantly require fuel, frequent repairs and maintenance. So choose the type of smoker that best suits YOU.
Warranty – most smokers come with a warranty of 2 years. So if the model that you want to buy offers less than that, you need to be extra careful. But if a certain model comes with a warranty of 3 years, that’s even better.
Price – even though we are talking about budget smokers here, it’s recommended to go for a model that is close to the $200 limit and get a solid and reliable unit that will last for years. Otherwise, even though you initially spent a small amount, you will have to buy a new one in a year or two.
Accessories – the important pieces that you definitely will need are: a thermometer, temperature control knobs, two or more grates, a smoking rack, a cooking grill, a water pan and a drip tray. Other accessories are welcomed, and some manufacturers offer quite a bunch in order to stand out from the crowd.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does it come with a water pan and drip tray?
Yes! Any decent model out there should automatically come with a pan for water and a tray where the fat is dripping. Make sure to get one with a removable drip tray for easy cleaning.
How often do you add wood chips?
This highly depends on the model you are using. Some devices can hold more wood chips thus they can work for hours with no refill, while others can only go for about 30 minutes. Make sure to read the description and the reviews on the model you are planning to buy in order to know what to expect.
Where is it made?
This depends on the model you are choosing, but most of them are made in China. However, most of the brands are American and they can guarantee the quality of their products.
For how long will the smoker last?
While this depends on many factors, most smokers are guaranteed to work for at least 2 years. However, if you’re only using it occasionally and you are taking good care of it, it can work well for many years to come. Thus, it is worth it to invest a bit more money into a smoker that will last for years, instead of buying a very cheap one now and then having to get a new one the next year.
Can you grill with a smoker?
The main idea of offset smokers is to have the fire in one chamber and the food in the other, and to cook the food through indirect heat. So a smoker is not made for grilling. If it’s absolutely necessary, you can place the charcoal tray in the cooking chamber, but we don’t recommend that.
Should you get a smoker with a transparent front door?
The main focus when smoking and slow-cooking food is to rely on the temperature inside the chamber and the temperature inside the meat. So if until now you were only cooking based on sight, you will now need to change your style a bit. When using a smoker and cooking something for multiple hours, it’s definitely not ok to open the door too often in order to inspect the food. Even if the smoker would have a window, the smoke inside will not allow you to see anything. So a transparent door is not necessary for a smoker, and you should learn how to cook based on temperature and time.
Should you soak the wood chips?
This depends on the type you are using, but most probably you will have to soak them for at least 30 minutes so that they produce smoke instead of catching fire. Just make sure to read the instructions manual of the smoker and the directions on the wood chips package.