After years of using a gas smoker, I was finally ready to transition to an electric smoker. It’s more practical, easy to use, and has authentic BBQ flavors.
The only problem is that I was short of cash, and I needed to choose an electric smoker that was within my budget range.
It took several days of research to compile a list of the best electric smokers under $200. After much deliberation, I was finally able to select the top five electric smokers under $200. Below is how I did it.
Best electric smoker buyer’s guide
Smoking meat is an age-old tradition, but in today’s world, it’s becoming impractical to smoke food the traditional way. Using wood or charcoal smokers is not a feasible option for many, which is why you need an electric smoker.
While it’s impossible to pick out a single smoker as the best electric smoker since we all have different preferences, there are few smokers that have it all. These are smokers that have all the critical parts, impeccable designs, and performance.
Below are the key features you should look for:
Since your budget is $200, it’s important you every model remains below $200. A hefty price tag doesn’t always guarantee better quality and performance. Sometimes all you need is a functioning electric smoker without the fancy features that come at an extra cost.
When buying a smoker you want one that is large enough to prepare a meal for your family. A small smoker should have sufficient capacity for a meal for about 3-4 people. A medium to large smoker is better if you have a larger family.
Ease of use
Electric smokers are undoubtedly the easiest to use, however be sure to confirm that it has all the features you want. Ensure that the smoker comes with recipes and instructions that are easy to understand.
Ideally, the smoker should be made of a thick steel outer body with anti-corrosive properties. Since your smoker will often be used in the backyard, it’s advisable that you choose a smoker that can handle the elements. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the smoker should be all metal. You see, metallic smokers are durable, but they are also quite costly and hard to move. For less than $200, you will get a very good smoker with both metal and plastic. It should work fine provided the manufacturer didn’t cut corners.
Another feature that is often neglected is the legs, be sure to confirm the electric smoker has sturdy legs. Shake the smoker when it’s delivered and confirm whether it is stable. A tilt to the side will not make much of a difference during the smoking process. However, if it’s unstable, ensure that the product is changed. Otherwise, your pet or kid may topple it which lead to serious damage, especially if anyone or anything is trapped under.
Glass vs. metal door
While the unobstructed view of your food as it cooks is important is a welcome addition, it comes at an extra cost. Typically, glass doors are only available on premium models. Low to mid-range electric smokers tend to have metal glass doors. This means you have to open the door to check the progress.
Top 5 Picks
1. Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
There is nothing that comes close to nicely smoked meat, especially if you did it with no help. The feeling of accomplishment is unmatched. While this feeling is amazing and the taste even better, it doesn’t negate the fact that all this is influenced by the type of smoker you use. Among the best electric smokers, you can choose is the Char-Broil Electric Smoker.
Ideally, an electric smoker is more efficient at achieving and maintaining temperature than charcoal or gas-powered smoker, which is exactly what the Char-Broil smoker does. It’s a product of a company that has been around since 1948. So, what how does the smoker work?
With its old bank safe design, the Char-Broil smoker isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing smoker. From afar you would easily mistake it for bank safe; the only difference is that it has four legs. In place of the combination lock is a thermometer and a simple handle.
The four legs seem to be well-positioned to maintain stability even when you aggressively open the door. The old safe design comprises of double walls, and it’s insulated. For under $200, it looks good but nothing compared to the high-end models.
Ease of use
Electric smokers are known for their simplicity. With the Char-Broil, you won’t have to worry about airflow or fiddling with charcoal. You also don’t have to worry about heat loss as the walls are well insulated. In fact, the design of the smoker is built such that there is no heat loss. The only way you will lose heat is when you open the door.
It also reaches the optimal temperature very easily and maintains it until your meat is cooked. This is an important component of every smoker. If the smoker doesn’t provide consistent temperature, it will mess up the doneness of your meat.
The Char-Broil comes with adjustable shelves that make it possible to adjust the height such that it can fit a turkey without taking out any of the shelves. It also comes with an external drip pan that is easy to clean.
- Variable thermostat
- 1500W heating element
- Double-walled for better heat insulation
- Doesn’t require constant monitoring
- Heavy power consumption
- To add wood chips, you have to open the entire smoke box
2. LANDMANN MCO 32954 Landmann Smoky Mountain
This is a product of Landmann USA which is part of the Gebrüder Thiele Group, a company that was founded in 1848. Landmann USA prides itself in producing quality grills and smokers. This is evident in the Landmann 32948, which is part of the smoker brand. It comes with large cooking space, temperature controller, and several other features.
Ease of use
It’s a basic smoker that comes with all the features you need to cook your meat. It has a temperature controller and a temperature gauge that is quite accurate. This is one of the smokers that you can use even without prior experience.
Unlike most mid-range models, the Landmann USA comes with a glass door. This makes it an ideal choice for advanced users. Beginners will also have an easy time using this smoker, especially if they are not conversant with the smoking process.
As for the interior, it has three adjustable cooking grids, and below the grids, there is a 3-in-1 tray. This tray can be used for water, chips, and grease. The tray is located just above the heating element.
Unlike similar models, it doesn’t have wheels; instead it has leg levelers. This means you can’t push it from one place to the other, but it’s easy to carry. It has handles on both sides, making it easier to carry.
The Landmann USA has a large cooking space and 3 cooking grids. To smoke your food at the right temperature, it uses the 1500 watt heating element. It will typically cook almost any type of food, especially those with a temperature requirement of about 100°F to 260°F.
- No flare-ups
- Fast cooking at high temperature
- Solidly built
- Not much temperature control options
- Grate needs special cleaning to prevent blocking the airflow
- Food may get burned
Cook-Air Wood Fired Grill Black
The most distinguishable quality of the Cook-Air is the fan underneath the fire chamber.
It needs to be plugged into power the fan to keep the flame going. It is portable, and it sears your meat and brings out the flavor.
And this will cost you less than $150.
This grill requires natural wood pucks. The company sells this kind of wood specially made for this unit, but you can always saw your own. This grill is very close to the performance of full-sized grills. It runs on batteries, so it is safe from explosive fuel or propane.
- 5-speed settings fan
- Smokes and sears food
- Wood pucks may not always be available
- Prone to flare-ups
- Manual and frequent adding of wood
This one is really heavy because it is made entirely of cast iron. This little hibachi style grill brings out the feel of old times.
It has a front door where you can tend to the fire. This can get hot so be careful not to touch with your bare hands.
This costs less than $150.
A grill made of cast iron needs special care and cleaning. It is prone to rusting so this is not for lazy persons. Do not pour water while it is hot because it may crack. If you take proper care of it, it can last for a long time.
- Cast iron construction
- Can last a long time
- Has no lid
- Bare cast iron tends to rust
- Exterior gets very hot
Cuisinart Every Day Portable CGG220 Gas Grill
This portable grill has 15,000 BTU and has a 240 sq. in. of grilling space. You can use it out in your backyard, or you can carry it wherever because it weighs less than 40 lbs.
It has a cast iron grate that is made of porcelain enamel. The grilling space will heat evenly.
This unit costs less than $180.
The grill has two removable trays on the side. You can put your prep tools or beverages on it. A temperature gauge allows for precise temperature for better grilling. This is powered by liquid propane gas canisters that are pretty standard.
- Heats up fast
- Easy to clean
- Rust-free cast iron grate
- Poorly designed drip pan
- Side tables cannot be folded
- Needs time to spread heat evenly
Weber Q 1000
With an innovative design, the Weber Q 1000 has a simple design that is easy to use. It has a push-button ignition and can produce 8,500 BTU per hour.
The grill’s body and lid are made of cast aluminum. The actual cooking grates are porcelain enameled cast iron.
This one will cost you less than $170.
The grill also allows it to be used as a griddle because of its split-grate. It is very easy to clean too. With 27.5 lbs. of weight and 189 sq. in. of grilling space, it is enough to cook for a small family. The two carrying handles make the unit easy to carry.
- Easy to clean removable split-grate
- Easy to carry
- Fully assemble and ready to use
- May not get hot enough
- Not very light at 27.5 lbs.
- Not ideal for larger crowds