Electric smokers are an excellent option for outdoor cooking adventures for so many exciting reasons, and their user-friendly nature and outstanding smoking results are the most prominent ones.
Like the other types of smokers, there are numerous electric-powered smokers available out there in the market, and if you’re finding the best one with a lower price tag, it can be a bit challenging procedure.
But fear not, as I have brought you a fresh list of the best electric smokers under $500 that reign supreme in significant aspects, including affordability, cooking performance, lifespan, and ease of use.
So, let’s begin!
Before I take you toward the detailed review of each product, allow me to quickly showcase our top picks for the best electric smokers under $500 with their prominent features.
4 Best Electric Smokers Under 500
Let’s set everything aside and move toward our product reviews so that we can find a suitable electric smoker for you.
1. Best Overall – Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker
It is an outstanding electric smoker with plenty of key features that make it an excellent choice for beginners as well as offer you extraordinary smoking results.
There are two major modules of this product: the 30-inch one and the 40-inch one so that you can bring one to your home that fits your smoking requirements.
I found it an excellent outdoor cooking appliance in the long run because its outer parts are made of solid aluminum, while the inner parts obtain that sturdy stainless-steel material.
It has 730 square inches of cooking area, which has been divided into multiple racks and can hold two turkeys, four pork butts, four racks of ribs, or six chickens.
No doubt, it is a vast area, but I doubt that you can easily fit a thick meat like brisket or turkey because it is in a vertical shape. To overcome this problem, I would rather split the meat into two pieces or remove one rack.
Among the several exciting features of this smoker, I like its temperature range, which starts from 100 °F and ends at 275 °F, making it a top-notch appliance for smoking different kinds of food.
That being said, it can also be a suitable option for cold smoking because it can reach as low a temperature as 100 °F.
Furthermore, it has a fully insulated body that retains the heat very well, making it highly efficient in maintaining a stable cooking temperature throughout the smoking process.
Most importantly, this smoker comes up with a patented side wood chip loading system that allows you to add your desired wood chips without opening the door. As a result, you get to penetrate your food items with a unique smoky aroma.
What I like the most about this appliance is its digital control panel, which makes the smoking process much easier, allowing you to effortlessly set and monitor the cooking temperature and time precisely.
Last but not least, it weighs only 46 pounds, which helps me move this thing around quickly when required. Well, it might or might not be a good option for picnic and camping use because it depends on electricity.
What I Like The Most About This Electric Smoker?
- Perfect For Beginners: It is an excellent choice for beginners because its digital control panel has made major cooking tasks a breeze. For example, the ignition process and setting and adjusting the smoking temperature.
- Ample Cooking Space: It offers 730 square inches of area where you can smoke various food items to perfection at once.
- Side Wood Chip Loading System: This smoker’s patented wood chip loading system ensures that you don’t need to open the door while replacing or adding chips, preventing heat and smoke loss.
- Preheats Quickly: I noticed that this Masterbuilt electric smoker has the ability to reach the set temperature within no time and keep it stable throughout the cooking session.
What Do I Dislike About This Smoker?
- Unsuitable For Thick Meats: Due to the vertical shape of its cooking area, it may not easily fit brisket and turkey, and you need to remove one rack. But that’s not always the case, and it depends on how thick your meat is.
- Smoking Specified Only: The temperature range that this smoker offers, you can only use it to accomplish your smoking tasks and can’t use it for grilling and other cooking methods.
- Time Setting Feature: You’ll always have to set the time before you start using this smoker, and if the time has been completed before your food is thoroughly cooked, the smoker will turn off. So, it can be annoying sometimes.
Who’s The Ideal Buyer Of This Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker?
Anyone who’s new to the smoking game will find it an excellent outdoor cooking appliance to start with. It can also be an ideal product for you if you’re on a budget or looking for a smoker that is only suitable for smoking purposes.
Where is the water pan located in this smoker?
In this electric smoker, the water pan is located in the bottom section, just above the heating element. It helps in keeping the cooking environment moist and prevents your meat from drying out during the smoking procedure.
Can you use pellets rather than wood chips?
No, the Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker is designed to use wood chips, not pellets. Using pellets can potentially cause issues with the smoker’s heating element and its smoke generation system.
2. Runner Up – Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker
It is another excellent option for those looking for an electric smoker that costs less than $500 and offers plenty of notable features.
First of all, the Char-Broil brand has built it with heavy-duty stainless-steel material that ensures its longevity. Also, it weighs 50 pounds only, which means moving this around is pretty simple.
Like the previous Masterbuilt smoker, it also has a similar 725 square inches of cooking area, divided into four smoking racks.
Though the cooking area is pretty huge, the difference between the racks is less, which can limit you from smoking thick meats like brisket. In this case, I recommend removing the rack or cutting the meat into two parts.
Again, 275 °F is the maximum temperature range of this smoker, starting from somewhere around 100 °F.
Ultimately, you can understand that it is suitable for those who are looking for a smoking-specified product while alarming for those looking for a versatile cooking appliance that allows you to grill, smoke, and roast on the same device.
My favorite feature of this outdoor cooking appliance is its digital control panel, which is mounted on top of the smoker.
Using this panel, you can turn on or off your smoker, set the cooking time and temperature, regulate the heat per your cooking requirements, etc.
It also includes a remote, which helps in monitoring and controlling your cooking session while staying away from the smoker. In short, it is one of the best smokers for beginners.
While inspecting this smoker, I was amazed that the chances of heat and smoke loss are almost none because of the features like insulated double-wall construction and glass door in front.
Now, the double-wall construction assures exceptional heat retention and temperature stability, whereas the glass door lets you check your food’s condition without opening the door.
Moreover, you get the other essential tools with the smoker as well, such as the smoker box and water pan.
By filling the smoker box with your favorite wood chips, you can confidently cook for up to 8 hours and ensure that your food items are penetrated with the smoky aroma everyone looks after.
So, I’d say it is a great product to invest in if you’re a beginner looking for an easy-to-use product with all the required features for offering great smoking results.
What I Like The Most About This Smoker?
- Side Access Grease Tray: Interestingly, this electric smoker comes up with a side access grease tray that makes the cleaning and maintenance of the smoker a breeze.
- Digital Control Panel: It is an ideal choice for newbies because it follows the “set and forget” cooking style, thanks to its digital control panel.
- Excellent Heat Retention: The smoking process continues at a stable temperature because this smoker has excellent heat retention features, such as double-wall construction and a glass door to monitor your food.
What Do I Dislike About This Smoker?
- Struggles To Fit Thick Meats: This smoker can struggle to fit brisket and turkey because it has a vertical shape, and the gap between the racks is relatively tiny.
- Fog Build-Up On Window: No doubt, the glass door window is a great addition, but the fog can build up during extended smoking sessions, making it difficult to see the progress of your food without frequent wiping.
Who Should Consider Buying This Char-Broil Smoker?
Those who prioritize convenience, easy maintenance, simple cleaning, ample cooking space (especially for more minor cuts of meat), and extraordinary smoking results should consider buying the Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker.
Can you put the food on while it is preheating?
No, I recommend you wait until the smoker has preheated to your desired cooking temperature and then add your food to the cooking racks. Doing it early can result in sticking your food to the racks, and it might cook unevenly.
How long does it take to heat to the maximum temperature?
If you want to cook with its highest temperature setting of 275 degrees Fahrenheit, you may need to wait around 30 to 40 minutes before it reaches the maximum temperature.
3. Best Premier – Original Bradley Smoker BS611 4 Vertical Electric Smoker
The next electric smoker on my list is a famous product manufactured by the Bradley brand. It also has a vertical shape, but the rest of its design is entirely different from the previous two electric smokers.
For example, its control panel is mounted on the side of the smoker, through which you can quickly turn on or off the smoker and set and regulate the desired smoking temperature. So, I must say it is an excellent option for beginner BBQ lovers.
Furthermore, right above its control panel is a smoke box where you can load wood chip bisquettes. On average, it offers me clean smoke for my food items for up to 9 hours, which is an admirable feature.
Speaking of the smoker, it also has vents on the smoker’s head, which lets you adjust the amount of smoke you want to keep in the cooking chamber.
A notable difference between Bradley and the previous two electric smokers is their cooking area. Though it also has four cooking racks, its total cooking space is around 572 square inches.
The difference between the racks is small, and you might need to remove one or two when going to cook thick meats like brisket and turkey.
Like many other electric smokers, it also has a temperature range of 100 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, to monitor the cooking temperature, use the built-in temp gauge in front of the unit.
Cleaning this product is pretty straightforward, as its stainless-steel interior does not get rusty. Also, the bisquettes go into the drip pan (without creating a mess) after they’ve completely burnt.
So, the cleaning process is quick and straightforward if you pay regular attention to it.
What I Like The Most About This Bradley Smoker?
- Easy-To-Use: Using this device is very simple. You just need to plug in the smoker, press the turn-on button, push the briquettes advance button, set the smoking temperature, and you are good to go.
- Clean Smoke Production: It produces very clean smoke (for 9 hours) for your food items via its efficient smoke generation system situated on the side of the smoker.
- Double Wall Construction: For the optimal smoking outcome, it comes up with an insulated double-wall carbon steel construction so that the heat and smoke stay inside for a long time.
What Do I Dislike About This Smoker?
- Smaller Distance Between Racks: I don’t like the small distance between the racks because it can limit me from smoking turkey or brisket with ease, not unless I remove one or two racks from their place.
- Briquettes Sold Separately: The brand sells briquettes separately, and they cost you more than the regular wood chips that you use in electric smokers.
Who Should Buy This Bradley Electric Smoker?
If you prefer convenience, have a small family, are looking for an outdoor cooking appliance that requires less maintenance and cleaning, and want to serve perfectly cooked meals penetrated with clean smoke, I highly recommend investing in this Bradley product.
Is there any cooking timer option available on the control panel?
No, unlike the Masterbuilt and Char-Broil electric smokers, this one does not have a timer feature. You simply keep regulating the heat till your food has cooked thoroughly.
Can You Cook Your Meat With A Smoke Ring On This Smoker?
Yes, you can achieve that pink smoke ring while cooking on this smoker, but you’ll also have to follow some other tips to get a perfect smoke ring on your meat.
4. Best Budget Friendly – Cuisinart COS-330 Vertical Electric Smoker
It might be the last product on my list, but it has several great features that can help you prepare deliciously smoked dishes with ease and convenience.
First of all, I admire this electric smoker because of its price tag. It costs you relatively less than the other products on the list without compromising on the quality or performance.
It has a unique design in which you get the main cooking chamber with four big sturdy legs. Other than that, there is a handle and a temp gauge on the smoker door, which helps me know the cooking temp inside the smoker.
I advise considering this smoker if you have a smaller family or you often cook for fewer people, as its limited cooking area of 548 square inches and three chrome-plated cooking racks may be better suited for your needs.
The good thing is that the racks are moveable, so if you struggle to fit big meat cuts, you can adjust the racks accordingly to accommodate larger items easily.
My favorite feature about this electric smoker is its temperature range, which starts from 100 °F and goes up to 400 °F, which is outstanding compared to the previous three electric smokers.
Now, it all happens because of its 1500-watt heating element that can help the unit reach temperatures as high as 400°F. Ultimately, you can try to roast, smoke, or grill on the same product.
What I dislike about this product is that its thermostat isn’t digital, and the heat regulation system on this smoker is quite different from the others. However, using it is evenly easy.
You simply plug the smoker into an electric socket to get started. To control the heat, use the temperature controller on the smoker’s side.
Furthermore, there are two stainless-steel trays inside the smoking chamber: one for holding water (which acts as a water pan) and the other for wood chips (which produces and adds a unique smoky flavor to your meal).
Lastly, cleaning this unit is easy and similar to other electric smokers. Just clean the racks and inside with soapy water after each use to keep it clean and prevent any hassles.
What I Like The Most About This Electric Smoker?
- Inexpensive: It is an ideal choice for you if you’re currently on a budget but don’t want to miss out on the smoking adventures.
- Built-In Temp Gauge: A built-in temp gauge on the smoker’s door keeps you updated with the cooking temperature inside the cooking chamber.
- Broad Temperature Range: Unlike the other electric smokers, this one can reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which means you can also use this appliance for grilling or roasting rather than smoking.
- Easy To Accommodate: Due to the vertical shape of this smoker, it won’t require much space in your backyard to fit comfortably.
What Do I Dislike About This Smoker?
- Heat And Smoke Loss: When reloading water in the pan or chips in the tray, you will always need to open the door, resulting in smoke and heat loss, prolonging the smoking session unnecessarily.
- Closed Window: The window of this smoker is closed and has no external glass, which limits your ability to see the cooking process without opening the smoker.
- Unsuitable For Larger Gatherings: It has only three cooking racks with relatively less cooking space, making it more suitable for smaller families and less suitable for those who often cook for larger gatherings.
Who’s The Ideal Buyer Of This Smoker?
It is an optimal outdoor cooking appliance for all those who are currently on a budget, have a smaller family, and are looking for an electric smoker that can be helpful in achieving both smoking and grilling tasks.
How can you make this smoker smoke better?
It is better to start cooking at a higher temperature, like 250 or 275 degrees Fahrenheit, and make sure that the wood chips are completely dry, not wet. This is how you can aim for better smoke production with this smoker.
Can You Use This Smoker Inside?
No doubt, it operates through electricity, but still, it is not recommended to use this smoker inside. The reason is that it produces smoke while cooking, which can release lethal harmful chemicals.
What To Look After When Buying An Electric Smoker Under 500?
When looking to buy an electric smoker under $500, there are several important factors to consider. Here are a few major things to look for;
The cooking area of the smoker you are going to invest in is an essential factor to consider. Therefore, you should see your regular cooking needs and make sure that the smoker you choose has a suitable cooking area.
For example, a smoker with three racks and around 550 square inches of cooking space would be great if you have a smaller family.
In contrast, if you cook for larger gatherings, look after a smoker with four racks and over 700 square inches of cooking area.
Ease of Use
Your outdoor cooking experience plays a vital role when you are looking forward to buying a smoker or grill to cook your food items.
I highly recommend electric smokers to those who are absolute beginners in the food smoking field and are looking for a suitable cooking appliance.
So, assuming that you are a beginner BBQ lover, look for an electric smoker that is user-friendly and suits your level of experience.
It must have features like a digital control panel, through which you can easily set the cooking time and temperature. Also, it should have easy heat regulation buttons on the panel.
Furthermore, make sure that you can access the wood chips tray easily without interrupting the smoking procedure.
In short, look for an electric smoker with user-friendly features.
Lifespan and Build Quality
I pay a lot of attention to the build quality and materials used in the smoker because they directly impact its lifespan.
In this case, smokers and other outdoor cooking appliances made with stainless steel and aluminum materials are often preferred as they are durable and rust-resistant.
So, if you are investing in your first smoker, it should have a longer lifespan and the ability to perform consistently over time.
Lastly, as you’re specifically looking for a smoker under $500, the price tag is a crucial factor that you can’t afford to overlook when buying your smoker.
So, simply look after those necessary features that fit your cooking requirements, and in the end, make sure it costs within your budget of $500 or less.
What Are Some Benefits of Buying an Electric Smoker?
There can be several advantages to having an electric smoker. I’ve highlighted some of the most significant ones below.
- Ease of Use: As mentioned before, electric smokers are incredibly user-friendly. They often come with digital control panels that allow you to set and monitor the cooking temperature precisely.
- Inexpensive: Compared to charcoal and pellet smokers, you will find the electric ones at a relatively lower price tag while having all the abilities to smoke your food items to perfection.
- Exception Smoking Results: Most electric smokers have a limited temperature range of 100 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes them a smoking beast. But at the same time, you can’t use them for grilling or roasting purposes.
- Clean and Convenient: One of my favorite things about electric smokers is that they produce minimal mess compared to traditional wood or charcoal smokers. They are less messy, which means their cleaning and maintenance are much easier.
Winding It Up
It can be challenging to find an electric smoker under $500 with all the necessary features that can enhance your smoking game and bring you the desired results every time.
Luckily, after extensive research, I have enlisted some of the best electric smokers under $500 that cost you less and deliver the optimal performance and convenience you need.
So, go through the review of each smoker and pick one that fits your needs completely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use an electric smoker on a wooden deck?
Yes, you can use an electric smoker on a wooden deck but make sure that embers don’t fall on the wood to avoid any kind of damage.
What is the best place to use an electric smoker?
A patio is the best place to use an electric smoker because it usually has a flatter surface level and can’t be damaged by embers or any other activity performed during an exciting barbecue session.
Can you change or add more wood chips without opening the door of an electric smoker?
In some advanced products, the firebox is separate so you can change or refuel the wood chips tray through side loader without opening the door. While in some conventional ones, you need to open the door to add or change the wood chips.
Caspian James, the Founder and Chief Editor at FaveGrills, is passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise on the latest Smokers and Grilling Products along with mouth-watering barbecue recipes. He constantly researches new gear with a sharp eye for detail, providing the FaveGrills community with in-depth reviews.