The Best Beginner Smokers Under $500 For 2021

Jason Webster
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NameCategoryProduct
Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain CookerBest OverallWeber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker
Weber Wood Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17138 Apple ChipsBudget PickWeber Wood Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17138 Apple Chips
Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet GrillUpgrade PickGreen Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill

1. Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker

Our rating: 9 / 10

Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker

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Pros:

  • Large enough to grill a decent amount of food
  • Easy to operate
  • Takes up very little space
  • Heavy duty
  • Comes with a very good build quality
  • High quality inner charcoal basket

Cons:

  • Not suitable for larger families and outdoor parties
  • Some buyers reported that the paint comes off the steel body parts after few uses.
  • Limited capacity: It can comfortably hold 6 to 8 burgers.

The Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker lets you practice the art of smoking with minimal effort. It comes with a lot of features, which make the whole smoking process a success.

It takes up a small space maximizing the available space in your home. The wood and smoker box is extremely easy to assemble, so you can be smoking in just a few minutes.

The product has a limited capacity to hold 6 to 8 burgers, so if you’re looking for a large smoker, this is not the one for you. However, it is more than enough for a small family.

2. Weber 7429 Rapidfire Chimney Starter

Our rating: 9 / 10

Weber 7429 Rapidfire Chimney Starter

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Pros:

  • Grill-ready in minutes
  • Holds up to two standard-size charcoal bags
  • Fast startup
  • Dries out coals after being used

Cons:

  • Its a bit difficult to light coals properly
  • Smoke can transfer to the food

The Weber 7429 Rapidfire chimney starter is a must-have for every charcoal user, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. It can be used with any standard-size charcoal bag. It’s also extremely simple to use and clean.

You don’t have to worry about it taking hours to light up your charcoal, thanks to the design. The Weber Rapidfire system requires only about 15 minutes to have a fully lit charcoal bowl.

The insert on top of the chimney allows the hot air to flow through the coals. Drying out the coals eliminates smoke during the cooking process. The base of the chimney starter holds up to two charcoal bags for maximum efficiency.

3. Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

Our rating: 9 / 10

Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

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Pros:

  • The Dyna-Glo technology in the premium charcoal briquettes gives you a more consistent heat across the entire grill.
  • Weber uses a 1-piece design with an aluminum lid and a stainless steel bowl to give you a more consistent cooking environment.
  • This grill has grill marks built-in so you can showcase your talent to the world.
  • This grill was made in the USA, so you know it will be built to last.
  • This grill has four adjustable chrome plated cooking grates so you can get your food to the exact temperature you want.
  • Since this grill is so easy to take care of you can use it even when you're breaking in a new barbecue chef.
  • This grill is easy to store, and it's easy to transport, so it's perfect for tailgating parties.
  • Thanks to the sturdy construction you don't have to worry about rust.

Cons:

  • It's not quite big enough for you to hold a Thanksgiving roast.
  • You need to remove the accessories before you clean this grill.
  • The slots on the grate are too small to hold a spatula.
  • It's a little too big for your dorm room.
  • This grill will just look at you when you try to clean it with a toothbrush.

4. Char-Griller Box Charcoal Grill

Our rating: 9 / 10

Char-Griller Box Charcoal Grill

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If you’re looking for a smoker with a really low price tag then the Box Charcoal Grill might be the best option for you. It may not look like a well-designed grill but it is actually. You have 500 square inches of surface area available for grilling.

The internal temperature can be regulated via an adjustable thermostat and the box is made out of good quality materials. You can control the internal temperature via the adjustable temperature control knob on the front of the box.

The outer lining of the box is made out of high quality steel and so is the interior. The box is very light in weight and easy to move around as it only weighs about 50 pounds.

5. Weber Wood Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17138 Apple Chips

Our rating: 9 / 10

Weber Wood Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17138 Apple Chips

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Pros:

  • Great for small spaces
  • Heats up quickly
  • Can be used as a smoker and grill

Cons:

  • Cooking surface is very small
  • No cooking grates on the bottom

It’ll be a no-brainer when you see how big a cooking area you can catch with just a few, super-efficient wood chips. This unit provides a little more than 45 square inches cooking space which is enough for grilling a couple of burgers or a couple of sausages, or even some smaller cuts of meat.

It’s even large enough to smoke a small portion of some meat. This is because it uses real charcoal to deliver an even heat and low-to-no flare-ups. What’s more? It’s available at an affordable price. This smoker is a fairly powerful, no-brainer addition to your outdoor kitchen.

6. Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

Our rating: 8 / 10

Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill

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Pros:

  • Durable construction
  • Inexpensive compared to other ceramic grills
  • Integrated temperature gauge
  • Heavy duty casters
  • Excellent cooking space and portability

Cons:

  • Construction could be better. The grill is a bit flimsy.
  • Inefficient temperature control in cold weather

The Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill comes in three colors: red, black, and graphite black. It has a 440 square inch grilling capacity and heavy duty wheels so you can haul it from place to place easily.

The construction of this grill is a bit flimsy, but the Akorn is very inexpensive compared to other Kamado style ceramic grills. Its cooking space and low cost makes it a great budget-friendly option for beginner charcoal grillers.

You can easily adjust the temperature inside the grill with the handy integrated thermometer, and the charcoal grate is easy to remove for cleanup.

7. Weber 17139 Apple Wood Chunks

Our rating: 8 / 10

Weber 17139 Apple Wood Chunks

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Pros:

  • We recommend using apple wood chunks as they provide a sweeter, milder taste and a good smoking experience
  • Ingredients: uncompromising ingredients
  • 100% all-natural hardwood smoke
  • Small and easy to carry

Cons:

  • Some do not relish the taste of apple flavoring
  • Some complain of excessive smoke and residue

Just as there are wood pellets that provide versatility for the smoker and trailer; there are also wood chunks that provide versatility for both. We recommend purchasing both types and practicing with each. This is a high quality hardwood that is perfect for smoking meats. 105 pieces weigh 0.006 cubic meter.

The most important thing is that the wood chunks are 100% natural, meaning there has been no adulteration of these wood chunks. They are also purely hardwood, not softwood, so they are harder and can withstand the heat, smoke, and moisture that is produced by the smoker during use.

The wood chunks come in an easy to hold, convenient plastic bucket. You can use a couple of handfuls of wood to maintain a good level of smoke and see what the result will be. There is a video that we recommend you watch on how to use wood chunks.

8. Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker

Our rating: 8 / 10

Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker

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Pros:

  • Available in a variety of sizes
  • Comes with 4 racks
  • Very affordable
  • Easy to set up and use
  • No assembly required
  • Has LED temperature control
  • Comes with a temperature gauge and a meat thermometer to keep track of your cooking
  • It has a see-through door
  • Compact and easy to store
  • It comes with a 3-year warranty

Propane smokers are something every griller should have in his/her toolkit. It offers a sweet and smoky flavor to your meat that charcoal smokers just cannot compete with. And, a propane smoker is just so much easier to use.

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker arrived on the market about a year ago and has been a consistent best-seller every since. In fact, it set the record for the most popular smoker in the history of Amazon. So, this is definitely one you should check out.

9. Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill

Our rating: 8 / 10

Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill

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Pros:

  • WiFi connectivity
  • Large and foldable
  • Simple digital control
  • Consistent performance

Cons:

  • Requires electricity
  • Can be difficult to assemble

The Davy Crockett Wi-Fi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill from Green Mountain Grills is an instant favorite among beginners and experts alike. It has a simple setup and consistent performance.

The Green Mountain Davy Crockett has WiFi connectivity which gives you the ability to control pretty much everything you want about the grill, including the temperature, the time, and how long you want it to run for. If you don’t like the default setup, you can switch it to your liking.

This grill from Green Mountain Grills has a removable 10lbs hopper of wood pellets so you can place it inside the house when you don’t need it, or you can place it in a cool garage when working with the grill. Combined with 300 square inches of cooking space and WiFi control.

10. Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes

Our rating: 7 / 10

Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes

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Pros:

  • Convenient packaging
  • High quality

Cons:

  • Delivery times
  • Price tag

When it comes to barbecue accessories, it doesn’t get much better than Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes. The king of the charcoal briquettes is as reliable as it gets. It has been around for decades, and it is still considered the best option in terms of quality and reliability. Kingsford Original charcoal briquettes come in many different sizes with the 700 gr. (1.54 lb) and 707gr (1.56 lb) bag sizes being common.

Kingsford Original charcoal briquettes provide a long burn time, and they are popular among professional grill masters. They are known for delivering a very consistent quality. They are quick lighting, and they don’t leave behind any ash after burning. The briquettes produce very little ash, so you don’t have to deal with the mess after you’re done grilling.

We like the fact that the Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes come in a pair of 7.5 lb bags. It is easier to carry from your car to your backyard, and it reduces the overall price compared to buying them in pairs (14.5 lbs = 6 bags) depending on where you get them from.

11. Smoke Hollow PS4415 Propane Smoker

Our rating: 7 / 10

Smoke Hollow PS4415 Propane Smoker

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Pros:

  • Comes with a one-year warranty by the manufacture
  • Temperature regulated with auto-shut-off and overheat protection
  • Comes with instant-read and digital thermometer with a meat probe
  • Multitude of recipes and tips included by Smoke Hollow
  • Quick connect propane tank adapter

Cons:

  • You might need additional parts like racks, rubs, or cooling pan
  • Lacking in automation like an auto-start timer
  • Size is big but you can fold it away
  • Material of the smoker gets hot

Have you ever wanted to smoke your own meat? Well with just one look at the Smoke Hollow PS4415, you’ll want to smoke everything. This model is a jumbo kitchen workhorse with plenty of space to smoke up to 17 or more large racks of ribs in it. With the adjustable air vents, it’s easy to control the temperature in which you want your meat to smoke in.

Using a propane tank, you can smoke year-round in any kind of weather with this smoker. It has a durable powder coated steel construction and a horizontal layer with 4 chrome plated steel racks to hold your meats. It’s deep smoky flavor comes from its porcelain coated cast iron cooking grates which have been shaped to fit the particular shape of the smoker.

12. Masterbuilt MB20073716 2 Portable Patio Smoker

Our rating: 6 / 10

Masterbuilt MB20073716 2 Portable Patio Smoker

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Pros:

  • The price is quite affordable
  • Fairly lightweight
  • Easy to fill the fuel tank
  • Can cook for 10-12 hours
  • Easy to assemble

Cons:

  • Leaks a bit when the fuel tank is full
  • May be too small for smoking larger quantities of meat

This smoker by Masterbuilt is the best smoker in this price range. The Masterbuilt smoker is built to last with its high grade steel and stainless steel chamber. It has a porcelain-coated cast iron grilling grate and a built-in temperature gauge. This helps to monitor the temperature of the grill accurately during use.

The smoker has an electronic ignition system which is powered by a 12-volt battery. You have the ability to adjust the intake vent if you want to smoke a larger or smaller quantity of meat.

Compared to other smokers, this smoker is slightly more expensive, but that is to be expected because Masterbuilt smokers are highly recommended for use by outdoor chefs and novice smokers.

13. Masterbuilt MB20100112 Slow Smoker Accessory Attachment

Our rating: 6 / 10

Masterbuilt MB20100112 Slow Smoker Accessory Attachment

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Pros:

  • Suitable for pulled pork, chicken, beef, fish, etc.
  • Use wood chips to add great flavor
  • Very easy to clean

Cons:

  • Inexperienced users may need to watch videos online to get comfortable
  • No heat adjustment
  • Cool touch handles leave you vulnerable to burns

This smoker is the Masterbuilt MB2001. It’s a smoker basket made for accessorizing your existing gas or charcoal grill. The smoker will be able to add a ton of flavor to your favorite meats with enough time and patience.

If you want to impress your friends by showing them how you smoke your meats, then this is the smoker for you. The Masterbuilt MB2001 is made of cast aluminum and stainless steel which makes it very durable.

This smoker basket includes a rack and a lid, so it’s easy to transport to gatherings and easy to store in your garage.

14. Masterbuilt 20050116 Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker

Our rating: 6 / 10

Masterbuilt 20050116 Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker

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Pros:

  • Automatic electric starting system
  • Can connect to your gas tank with one screw
  • Easy clean up
  • Makes delicious food
  • Surprisingly warm and decent heat

For grillers and smokers who want to take their hobby to the next level, the Masterbuilt Patio-2-Portable Propane Smoker is perfect. Like its name implies, this smoker/grill is portable.

It comes with a porcelain-coated steel grate, which is large enough to fit 46 pounds of meat at one time.

It also has a drip pan underneath the unit for easy clean-up. There's a built-in temperature gauge on the unit as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best smoker to buy for a beginner?

If you’re a beginner or a hobbyist, the ideal setup for you is a propane-powered smoker. These smokers are easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and the most common type used by hobbyists.

Propane smokers are easy to set up and use. All you have to do is light the propane burner, regulate the temperature, set the temperature and wait until the food is done. What’s best is that you can use them even when it’s raining out and you don’t need to worry about wind direction, unlike charcoal smokers. Propane smokers are also portable, so, you can easily take them to your next patio party with your friends. The fact that they’re also inexpensive is a huge plus.

What is the best smoker for the money?

When choosing the best smoker for the money, you have to ask yourself what type of smoker you want, how much you are willing to spend, and what budget you have to work with. You can buy as simple as a small charcoal basket or go as big as a full-on stainless steel rack. Prices vary, but you usually get what you pay for.

When you start getting into smoking, you’ll be able to see that spending a little more usually means getting better quality and a higher satisfaction rate. But there are always budget smokers that are great for the beginner.

Which smoker gives the best flavor?

The key thing that you could be looking for when buying a smoker is different things than what others are looking for. Everyone has different preferences and different things that they are looking for in a wood smoker. Therefore, there are a few things that we need to consider before we start going into a discussion about different individual smokers.

First, we want to determine why you want a smoker. This can heavily influence the type of smoker that you are looking for. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want a smoker to smoke meats or fish, or to simply cook foods?
  • How many people are you going to be serving?
  • Do you want a smoker that can be used for catering purposes?
  • Where do you plan on putting it, and is there enough space?

What is the best BBQ smoker to buy?

BBQ smokers add a unique dimension to the flavor of your smoked meat. In fact, most high-quality smoked meats are usually smoked for a great deal of time at low temperatures in small smokers such as these. Most people don’t have the space in their backyard to fit big smokers but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to taste the unique smoked flavor that comes from big smokers like the Brinkman (see my smoker reviews here). That’s why small, portable smokers are a popular item on many wish lists on holiday gift guides.

Conclusion

When it comes to quality barbecue, every barbecuer wants to feel like they have their finger on the pulse of the best tools and the best summer grilling techniques. How else can you safely serve healthy food to friends and family? In this guide, we hope we’ll be able to help guide you as you sift through the best pellet smokers for the money this summer.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Weber 18-inch Smokey Mountain CookerBest OverallWeber 18-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker
Weber Wood Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17138 Apple ChipsBudget PickWeber Wood Cubic Meter Stephen Products 17138 Apple Chips
Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet GrillUpgrade PickGreen Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill