When you think of smokers, you probably think about delicious BBQ meats that have a thick ring of smoke around the edges. Professionals and experts call that the bark, and some people love the bark so much that they fight over those pieces. As a home chef interested in trying out some smoke recipes, you can find smokers that come with features similar to professional models that won’t break the bank.
As we searched for budget-friendly wood pellet smokers, we knew that our listed couldn’t include just one smoker because everyone has a different idea as to what budget-friendly means. Some people have no problem dropping $3,000 on a wood smoker, while others blanch at the idea of spending so much.
Our list actually includes the best pellet smoker under 1000, 500 and 200, which ensures that you find one you can afford. The only thing these smokers have in common is that each one uses wood pellets and delivers delicious food. We also added an honorable mention category to highlight the most affordable model that uses a new form of technology for smoking meats.
Best Pellet Smoker Under 1000: REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill
There is no doubt that when you spend $1,000 on a smoker that you’ll assume it performs better than one that costs half as much or less. Our choice for the best wood pellet smoker under 1000 is the REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill, which is the type of smoker that will make your guests drool when they come over for a backyard BBQ. This smoker comes in right under the $1,000 price point but comes with so many features that you’ll think it cost twice that price.
This is an impressive and solid feat of engineering that has the type of lean and mean design you usually associate with cars. Instead of just using black cast iron, the brains behind this smoker used a brighter and bolder shade of red on the lid that won’t crack, chip or singe when you crank it all the way up to high. The handles on that lid look like the horns of a fierce bull and have a polished stainless-steel finish that makes this smoker stand out on any patio or in any yard.
With its Smart Grill Technology, which is unique to this brand, you now have better control over the temperature, which lets you make more dishes without burning or drying out your meat. You can drop the temperature down to as low as 180 degrees Fahrenheit for cooking all day or overnight, or you can crank the temperature up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit to sear meats and char vegetables.
The wood pellet grill offers precise temperature controls that you can adjust by just five degrees with a click of the temperature buttons.
A hopper, which can hold an impressive 40 pounds of wood pellets, has a divided design that lets you pour equal amounts of pellets in both sides for using all areas of the grill. Its automatic auger keeps the grill from running out of pellets and ensures that there is always a nice amount of smoke inside. The REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill comes with a power-coated cast-iron grate on the bottom for storage and four locking wheels for easy transportation of the grill.
Best Pellet Smoker Under 500: Traeger Pellet Grills BBQ155.01 19.5K BTU Pellet Grill
It’s almost impossible to list the best wood pellet smokers and grills without the name Traeger making the list. While the company makes some models priced well over $1,000 and a few more affordable models, the best wood pellet smoker under 500 is the Traeger Pellet Grills BBQ155.01 19.5K BTU Pellet Grill. Between its compact design and BTU output, it’s a solid wood smoker for use on an apartment patio or on your front lawn.
This grill and smoker combo lets you make standard BBQ dishes like chicken breasts, hamburgers and hot dogs, but its lid also snaps shut and keeps heat and smoke from escaping, which lets you use the grill as a more traditional smoker.
The bronze finish on the lid adds a little touch of class while also making the smoker look more expensive than its actual selling price. That lid features both a temperature dial that indicates the temperature inside the smoker and a metal handle that won’t retain heat, giving you the chance to open the lid and check on the inside without burning yourself.
Off to one side is a firebox that also acts like the hopper. A built-in automatic auger keeps the wood pellets moving and helps those pellets burn and turn to smoke, which is what flavors and cooks your meats. The hopper accommodates up to 10 pounds of pellets, but you can use fewer pellets when smoking smaller items that require less cooking time.
The firebox also features a digital screen and a temperature knob with markings for different temperature settings around the edges to help you easily select the setting that you need. The digital screen will then show you that temperature and automatically update when the temperature inside increases or decreases.
This wood pellet smoker and grill combo features 292 square inches of grates inside for cooking and an electronic start that lets you start smoking in minutes.
Best Pellet Smoker Under 200: Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker
Finding a good and dependable smoker under 200 can seem like trying to find a steak for under $1 a pound. Though some will tell that this is an impossible task and that you should just give up, we want you to know that you can still buy a solid little smoker without going over budget. Our choice for the best wood smoker under 200 is the Dyna-Glo DGO1176BDC-D Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker.
Before you throw up your hands and demand a recount because this smoker has charcoal in its name, take a look at how you can use it. This smoker actually relies on wood chips to produce a rich smoke and to force the flavor of that smoke through any ingredients inside the smoker. The charcoal that you use will not interfere with that flavor and simply produces the heat that those wood chips need.
As a vertical offset smoker, it features a smaller firebox on the side of the larger vertical smoker. That smoker has a cooking area that totals more than 1,100 square inches and six larger metal racks inside. Those racks easily come out for checking on the temperature or smoke on your ingredients and when you need to rearrange or move the racks for a full rack of ribs, a large turkey at Thanksgiving or any other larger dish.
The base of the smoker has enough space leftover for storing the wood chip box, which has a porcelain enamel coating that can withstand the high temperature inside the smoker. You can also add your own water pan to ensure that those foods retain their natural juices or a drip pan for catching any liquids that drip down from the upper racks. A simple handle on the smoker locks in place to keep the door closed.
Capable of smoking up to 150 pounds of food, this smoker has a power-coated steel finish on its steel body that gives you years of smoking fun.
Honorable Mention: Best Indoor Infrared Smoker
Though you may not think of Infrared technology when you think of smoker, you might change your mind after getting a look at the Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker, Roaster & Grill. Designed by Char-Broil, the same company that made the grills so many people use today, this smoker functions as both a grill and a roaster and has a design that you can use anywhere outside. Whether you want to grill up some burgers, roast a turkey for the holidays or smoke sausages, you can do it all with this smoker.
It comes with a grill grate that snaps onto the top when you raise the lid to give you 180 square inches of grilling space. Depending on what you want to roast, you can make up two birds inside. The roasting basket included with the grill can hold up to 20 pounds and lets you make beef roasts and other dishes.
The Big Easy is one of the most unique smokers that you’ll find on the marketplace today because it uses real infrared technology to cut down on cooking times. This technology allows heat to slowly move up from the base to the top of the smoker while also running along the sides of the smoker and between the grates to reach every square inch of your meats. The radiant heat produced won’t dry out you meat but still gives those meats a nicely browned crust.
With The Big Easy, you can also make all your favorite smoked meats. It comes with a smoker box that lets you add in your favorite wood pellets or chips to impart the flavor of hickory and other foods into those ingredients. With that smoker box, The Big Easy has a BTU output of between 9,000 and 18,000, which is higher than the BTU output of some more expensive traditional wood smokers.