Smokers can give you the most tender and flavorful meat. Nothing really compares to a good smoked Boston butt or pork shoulder. They make awesome ribs too. Many people shy away from getting their own smoker because of the price. But you don’t have to spend almost $1,000 to get a great smoker. We’ve looked at all of the affordable smokers on the market today, and now we present to you the best smokers under 300.
There’s something for everyone here, so check out our picks and decide which one will be yours.
Factors To Consider When Buying a Smoker under 300
Food injectors for BBQ are not created equal, so you want to know what to look for when it comes to buying a good one. Knowing how to choose the best stainless steel meat thermometer will make the process go easier. There are several factors to consider.
First, decide on the fuel type. If you get an electric one, you’ll never have to run out and buy charcoal or propane.
But they use a lot of electricity. That can add up to a big electric bill.
Propane provides more even heat than electricity. It’s best for bigger chunks of meat. Wood pellets and charcoal will give you the most authentic smoke flavor, but it takes some practice to keep the temperature at the right level.
Size is also an important factor. You don’t want to get a smoker that’s too small. But if it’s too big, it will burn too much fuel and may be hard to regulate.
That’s we list the smoker’s sizes here mostly by the number of common meats that they’ll hold. It’s best to get a smoker that’s just a little bit bigger than you figure you need. That way you still have a little extra room if you need it.
Check out the temperature range. Meat smoker reviews online are full of gripes by people who wish they could bake in their smoker. They see that other people can, and they wonder why they can’t.
Well, they should have made sure that the smoker can get hot enough to bake before they bought it. A temperature of 250 degrees is good enough to smoke. If you want to grill or bake, get one that can get up to 350 or 400 degrees.
Make sure it comes with quality grates. You want either chrome-plated steel or porcelain-coated steel. Both of these materials are durable and easy to clean. Anything else, other than cast iron, can be a problem. Cast iron grates are good, but they have to be seasoned pretty often so the meat doesn’t stick to them.
Even an inexpensive smoker grill should come with a warranty. Almost all smoker warranties from all manufacturers are one year long. If you can find a longer one, that’s great, but don’t settle for a smoker that comes with no warranty. That’s just unacceptable these days.
Smokers under 300 - FAQs
Why Are These Smokers So Cheap?Trusty smokers under $300 often lack the porcelain coating on the exterior that high-end ones tend to have. That saves a lot of costs. The steel that makes up the firebox is often thinner as well. But all of the smokers we recommend have good insulation properties.
Is It Hard To Use A Budget Smoker?It takes some practice. Check out some online tutorials or YouTube videos for tips and instructions. Keep in mind that temperature and humidity are important. The temperature is what actually cooks the meat and gets the smoke going, but the humidity from the water bowl is what keeps the meat from drying out during the long cooking process.
What Kind Of Wood Should I Use?The price of a smoker has nothing to do with the wood or the fuel that it uses. Use any kind of hardwood. Applewood gives a nice fruity flavor. Hickory offers a traditional smokey nuance. Mesquite is what gives barbeque that authentic southwestern savory smokiness. Have fun experimenting to find your favorite.
How Many Racks Do I Need?Cheaper smokers tend to come with fewer racks, and they often lack sausage hooks. But what do you really need? It depends on the size of your smoker and what you want to cook. Add up the total cooking space. That’s what really matters. Most smokers can fit a whole chicken or about 10 burgers on each rack. If you want to smoke big pieces of meat, like large pork shoulders or turkeys, be sure that all but one of the racks are totally removable. You’ll need a lot of room.
Are Budget Smokers Portable?Size doesn’t really have much to do with price. Check the size and weight. Anything smaller than about 20”x20” is pretty portable. As far as weight goes, it depends on how much you can lift. Look for something less than 80 pounds. Even at that weight, you should still get help lifting and carrying it. You don’t want to hurt yourself.
Examine all of the features to find the one that fills all of your needs. Then look at the pros and cons to see where they shine and where they fall short. Finally, look at what we and others think about each smoker. Making the choice will be easy.
Best Smokers under 300:
1. Masterbuilt MB20070210 MES 35B Electric SmokerView at Amazon
This is one of the best electric smokers under 300 for people who need a lot of cooking space. The three removable racks let you configure the smoker for a couple of big turkeys or a couple of dozen filets.
Although this is generally a dependable smoker, it does have an electric element. That makes things a bit easier because you don’t have to mess with propane, but the element will eventually need to be replaced.
The grease tray is right in front for easy emptying, and the bowl where you put your water and wood chips is easy to get to as well. This is probably one of the easiest-to-use models out there today.
People who smoke a lot of meat at once are the size of this cool smoker. Some people like to cook a few meals at a time so they can have that nice smokey flavor waiting for them in their fridge.
- Plenty of room inside
- The efficient design takes up less room than round or oval smokers
- Three removable racks let you smoke big and small cuts of meat
- Electric element never needs fuel
- There have been complaints about the electric element not working
2. Masterbuilt Smoke Hollow Digital Electric SmokerView at Amazon
This is the brother of the other Masterbuilt smoker we like. It’s just as easy to use, especially with those digital controls, but it’s a little smaller. If you know how to make the most of the available room, you can just about fit as much inside.
The big difference is the price. You can save a good chunk of money if you don’t mind losing a little cooking area.
Everyone likes the size, just as with the other Masterbuilt smoker above. But people really love the price here. That’s why it’s our pick for the best budget smoker.
- Great price and value
- Lots of space with the two racks
- Digital controls
- Space-saving design
- Placement of the control box can cause the box to get too hot during extended operation
3. Char-Broil Analog Electric SmokerView at Amazon
This one is a hit in electric smoker reviews. It is easy to use and it has enough room to smoke enough meat for a picnic or barbeque.
You can configure the three racks, removing any as necessary, to cook anything from a big turkey to a few dozen burgers or sausages. The removable drip tray and wood box make getting everything set up and going pretty quick and easy.
All in all, everyone was pleased with their purchase. However, people have complained that the temp gauge is not accurate in colder outside temperatures. This is a common problem with temperature gauges. The outside environment does affect them.
- Not many problems regarding the electric heating element
- The smaller size makes it easier to move around
- Decent amount of cooking space
- The temperature gauge is not 100 percent accurate
- Paint may peel after a few years of use
4. Masterbuilt SH19260319 WG600B Pellet Grill, BlackView at Amazon
Once the digital thermometer tells you that you’ve reached your cooking temperature, you just set the dial to match that temp. And it’ll hold that temp for a long time, thanks to its superior insulation and the fact that you can load it with over 11 pounds of wood pellets.
Keep looking if you don’t plan on smoking or grilling a lot of food at once. This thing is so big that it can be hard to hold the temperature precisely unless there’s a lot of meat in it.
It’s a great smoker and grill, but we wish it was capable of holding an extra rack or two. That would really help when cooking many smaller cuts of meat.
People who’ve bragged about this smoker online have unwittingly named it the best pellet smoker under $300. Those who wanted a really big one love it. But customers who bought theirs online without paying much attention to the size often wish they’d gotten a smaller one.
At the end of the day, there aren’t many complaints from people who use this one often. It’s a great cooker.
- It’s big enough for cooking for large events
- Big wheels make it pretty easy to move
- Holds over 11 pounds of pellets
- Should be able to hold more than one cooking rack
- Lengthy assembly required
5. Pit Boss Vertical LP Gas SmokerView at Amazon
This is one of the best propane smokers under $300. It’s a perfect size for all but commercial cooking.
The firebox burner offers 10,000 BTUs to cook the meat evenly. There’s a separate 3,500-BTU burner to get the wood going. That feature makes it easy enough for a novice to use. And you can keep an eye on the food, thanks to the glass window.
Really, the only drawback is the wood tray. It holds only enough wood for a 90-minute burn, tops. You’ll have to keep replenishing the wood tray to smoke large butts and shoulders.
The biggest complaint is about the wood tray not being big enough. Another complaint comes from people who’ve had to contact customer service for any reason. Apparently, the staff is slow to answer questions and they are not very knowledgeable about the product.
But people like the way this smoker works, and they are happy with the results they get on their plate. There is very little buyer’s remorse for this product.
- Incorporated viewing window
- Easy access to the wood trays and drip pans
- Good insulation
- Easy to use
- A good amount of cooking area
- Bad customer service
- The wood tray is on the small side
6. Dyna-Glo DGW1235BDP-D Wide Body LP Gas SmokerView at Amazon
This one gets really hot for baking, but you can set it down as low as 150 for slow cooking and smoking.
And it’s really easy to use. You set the dial for the temp you need and make sure the water bowl and wood trays are full. That’s it. When your meat is up to the right internal temperature, it’s done.
It’s a solid and dependable smoker that will last for years. And the removable rack along with extra hooks and a rib holder assures you’ll want to use it often.
The sausage hooks and rib racks are a big hit. Those extras, along with the four grates, help people to make the most of the 50” height.
Everyone loves the heat. They like that they can not only smoke but bake and grill with it. It makes for a great value. According to most. this is the best vertical smoker for the money.
- Gets hot enough for all baking needs
- Includes sausage hooks and a rib rack
- Retains heat well
- Great customer service
- Not very efficient on the gas due to the 20,000-BTU burners
- the price is a bit higher than 300 bucks, so you need to wait till sales to get this one for less than three hundred dollars.
7. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 14-Inch Charcoal SmokerView at Amazon
We think this is the best charcoal smoker under $300 because of its simplicity and durability. It is rather small, so keep that in mind. It’s just the right size for grilling or smoking enough meat for a family meal or a small picnic.
People who have no experience with charcoal smokers find this one to be hard to use. It does take some practice to get the right amount of charcoal and to control the damper.
Those who stick with it and learn the finer points of charcoal smoking say that this is one of the easiest ones to use. Everyone seems happy with the quality, and those who were needing a smaller smoker are most pleased.
- Simple design
- Easy to add more charcoal
- Pretty easy to clean
- A little on the small side
8. Char-Broil 12201570-A1 American Gourmet Offset SmokerView at Amazon
Because the firebox is off to the side, it’s easy to replenish the wood chips. That also means that this unit doubles as a regular charcoal grill. You get the best of both worlds.
The steel construction and pro-quality build, combined with the versatility and ease of use, make this the best offset smoker under $300. It is so well-designed that a beginner can use it just as easily as a charcoal grill.
There’s only a small learning curve, so you can be smoking like a pro almost right away. That built-in thermometer on the lid really makes it easy for everyone.
Just take a look at reviews written by people who’ve had one of these for a while. They sometimes use it as a grill, and they sometimes use it as a smoker. This double duty makes for a great value, and people respond to that.
- Can be used as a grill or smoker
- Powered by either charcoal, wood, or both at the same time
- Wheels make it easy to scoot around
- Durable, heavy-duty steel construction
- It’s long and takes up more space than similar smokers that produce heat from the bottom of the firebox
9. Dyna-Glo DGU732BDE-D Digital Electric SmokerView at Amazon
Now here’s a quality smoker that’s good for anyone who wants professional results.
Its insulation will retain even heat even when used outside in freezing temperatures. That great insulation can save you some money too. Once you get it up to the desired temperature according to the digital thermometer, you can turn the temp control way down to maintain the temperature.
It’s built to last. The firebox’s steel is thick and the hinges are designed to go on forever. There is a one-year warranty, just in case, but you are unlikely to ever need it.
Those with experience smoking talk about how well-insulated this one is. They say that once it’s up to temp, they can turn it down low to complete the cooking process. Overall, people are pleased.
- Great insulation
- Enough cooking area for even large events
- Easy access to drip trays and wood box
- Digital temperature display and controls
- Heavy-duty hinges
- The wood chip box is rather small
- Difficult assembly
10. Country Smokers Tabletop Wood Pellet Grill And SmokerView at Amazon
Load up to five pounds of wood pellets at once, and you can smoke or grill pieces of meat up to the size of a small pork butt. Use the rack to add some sausages or weenies to the party.
The digital readout makes it easy to see the temperature, but you have to adjust it by opening or closing one small vent. That makes temp control a bit hard, but you’ll be OK with a little practice.
You can take it with you as well. It’s small and weighs about 55 pounds, so it’s great for camping trips. We think this is the best tabletop wood smoker for under $300.
Campers really like this one. They can use it at home and store it away easily, and they can take it with them to smoke, grill, or even bake their favorite stuff at the campsite.
- Small, portable, and easy to transport
- Uses cheap wood pellets
- Wide temperature range for all kinds of cooking
- Somewhat hard to control the temperature, especially in the upper range
- Too small to cook large meals
So, are you confident that you’re going to get the best backyard smoker for the money now? You’ve got all the info you need to make a great choice. If you want plug-and-play convenience, maybe you should go for Masterbuilt MES 35B. It’s a good size and easy to use.
For an electric smoker that can also handle high-temp baking, the Char-Broil Analog Smoker may be your best bet. It’ll hold temps of 400 degrees. You can cook just about anything in it.
Country Smokers makes the best portable smoker. You can take it camping, tailgating, or use it right in your yard.
If you enjoy grilling as much as you do smoking, the Char-Broil Offset Smoker is right up your alley. Load it up with charcoal and grill as usual, or toss some hardwood in the wood box for that awesome smokey flavor you love.
Take what you’ve learned and then make your choice. You’ll be making your neighborhood smell like summer in no time.