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Are you looking for a fun new hobby? What about one that literally puts yummy food on the table? No, we’re not talking about hunting or fishing. Although, if you’re a keen hunter or angler, you may want to take notes here.
We’re talking about cooking with an electric smoker. There’s nothing like a well-prepared piece of smoked meat fresh out of the smoker. Store-bought meats with all the preservatives they have in them don’t even come close.
Are you concerned about how messy a charcoal or wood smoker is? You don’t have to worry – an electric smoker accomplishes the same task with less mess and more consistent results. And, if you’re wondering which electric smoker to get, we’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at the top electric smokers on the market and crown one the best electric smoker under $300.
How to Pick the Perfect Electric Smoker Under $300 For Your Needs?
Electric smokers are far removed from the more traditional charcoal or wood-based smokers. They operate on a similar principle, though. The meat is cooked for an extended period. Wood chips are then added. They ignite, and you get the smoky flavor with a fraction of the mess.
Can you get a good smoker for under $300? Quite easily, as you’ll see in our reviews below. Keep the following considerations in mind, and you’re bound to pick a winner.
Our first reaction was to look for a smoker with a big capacity, but how often do you really need to smoke 300 pounds of meat? Ask yourself, “Will I need that much space once the novelty has worn off?”
Unless you’re catering for large events, such as church picnics, or are a hunter, probably not. A smoker with a capacity of thirty pounds doesn’t sound as impressive, but it’s a lot more practical for most people.
There’s also another way to look at it. You might think it’s better to get the bigger model, in case you want to smoke a feast fit for a crowd. That’s not necessarily true, though. You’ll see why when you cook one turkey in a 100-pound capacity smoker.
First off, whether there’s one turkey or five in there, the smoker needs the same amount of time to heat up. You’ll have to use more wood chips and electricity to warm the larger space. If you’re only cooking one turkey, that’s a waste of resources—and money.
That’s why you’ll often find that serious smokers have two machines with different capacities.
Have an idea what you’d like to spend ahead of time—like under $300, for instance—and stick to it. Don’t overspend for what you need but be wary of price tags that are too good to be true. Nobody wants a machine that won’t stand the test of time.
Buying the cheapest smoker you can find could bite you in the butt down the line. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s better to scale down on features and buy a better-quality model. The simpler the model, the less that can go wrong later.
Hands up if you’ve ever bought a gadget because of the cool features it had. Be honest now, how many of those features did you actually use in the long run? A smoker doesn’t need to be complicated. Setting the timer and temperature are all that you have to have. Carefully consider any other extras as they might not be offering anything but a higher price.
Dealing with a reputable manufacturer will save you a lot of grief. When considering a particular model, look at what the manufacturer’s guarantee states. If they’re not offering a good warranty, ask yourself why not. The answer is that their product is a bad one.
Getting the placement right is essential. Even with double-walled insulation, the outside is going to get hot. With electric models, you don’t have the inherent risks associated with charcoal or wood-fired smokers.
That said, if the smoker is too near combustible material, that material could ignite. The smoker should also be out of the way of small kids and pets.
Consider the more practical elements such as care and clean up as well, such as:
- Is there a tray to catch the meat drippings? This will make life a lot easier when you need to clean up later.
- Are the racks in the smoker removable? Removable trays can be soaked in hot water to get rid of every trace of grease. They can also be rearranged or removed if you need more space. Fixed racks are more limited.
- How easy is it to top up the wood chips while you’re cooking? Do you have to open the main door to do so? A side door is a better option because it won’t allow all the heat and smoke to dissipate.
The Climate in Your Area
This mainly pertains to colder climates. If the temperatures drop below freezing in winter, and you want to use your smoker, you must choose carefully. In these cases, the external temperature has a significant effect on how hot the smoker can get.
The lower the temperature outside, the more power you need from your smoker. Some models just aren’t equipped to operate under these conditions.
The Top 5 Electric Smoker Reviews Under $300 Reviewed
- A simple, compact unit
- Digital panel that’s easy to read – check the temperature, time, and switch on or off
- Bluetooth feature allows you to control the settings from your phone using the Masterbuilt app
- Four repositionable racks coated with chrome – three are standard, the fourth is notched so that you can use a Masterbuilt Pan with it
- Sideloading facility for the wood chips
- Integrated thermometer included
- The body is completely insulated to retain heat
- Built-in meat thermometer allows you to check that the meat is properly cooked through
- Features a grill and finish element allowing you to broil food as well as smoke it
At first glance, this model is quite simple. The digital panel allows you to switch the smoker on or off, set the timer, and the temperature. What sets this model apart, though, is that it has Bluetooth.
We’ll be the first to admit that the Bluetooth feature is more of a nice-to-have than essential, but it is fun playing with it, and it does make things a lot more convenient. You can check the amount of time remaining and the internal temperature. You can also adjust these as you like.
This model is slightly smaller than the others we’ve reviewed, but it can hold two turkeys at once. That is plenty of space for the average user.
Why did the Masterbuild MB20073519 MES130P earn our top spot? The grill and finish element. Turn it on toward the end of the cooking time to ensure a crispy coating on the meat or use it on its own to broil rather than smoke.
Thanks to its versatility, this model is well worth the money. We recommend changing the thermometer, though. It’s around about 20°F off. Knowing that in advance, you can find workarounds quickly enough, though.
- 544 square inches to smoke on overall
- Three chrome-plated racks
- Double walls improve the insulation
- Features two exhaust ports
- Built-in temperature gauge on the door
- Two latches ensure that the door seals properly
- Comes with a grease cup, wood chip tray, and grease cup
- 1,000 watts heating power
- Compact unit
- One-year limited manufacturer’s warranty
What we love about this unit is that the wood chip tray is larger than those in the other models we’ve reviewed here. What we don’t like is that you have to open the main door to replace the chips. It’s an annoyance, but not a dealbreaker, thanks to the efficient operation of this model.
The door seal is high-quality. The double latch system ensures that it’s properly engaged when the door is closed. The unit reaches temperature fast, and thanks to the double-walls throughout, it also retains heat well.
Food comes out well done and juicy thanks to the water tray at the bottom. The grease cup makes it a lot easier to clean up after you’re done cooking, too.
It’s compact and weighs just 49.5 pounds. This and the side handles incorporated on the body make it simple to move when you need it shifted.
Will this work in freezing temperatures? It will work, but you’ll battle to get the heat up. If you’re in a colder climate, consider getting an insulation blanket for winter use. If you don’t want to smoke meat in winter, this won’t be much of an issue.
This model is easy to use and to clean. There are no specialist features to worry about. Simply plug it in, get the wood, meat, and water ready, and then hit the start button.
- 3-in-1 tray holds the water and grease pans and the wood chip box
- 1,500 watts of heating power
- Built-in temperature gauge on the door
- Removable variable thermostat
- Three chrome-plated racks
- Door window
- Adjustable door latch
- Rear damper
- Adjustable feet to help the unit stay level across all surfaces
- Easy-carry side handles
Again, we’re looking at a smaller model here. That’s to be expected at this lower price point. The Landmann Smokey Mountain Electric Smoker is ready to take on a range of different projects, though, and it some unique features that we’ve never come across before.
They’ve created a compact model that’s highly efficient and shaved off every extraneous inch to help you maximize your space.
The first of the unique features is that the legs are adjustable. You can raise or lower the height of each leg to ensure that the unit remains level on uneven ground. The second feature that impressed us is the 3-in-1 combo tray.
When we first started looking into the model, that tray confused us. We were trying to work out how the grease, wood, and water could all be put into one tray. They’re not – the containers for each, however, are neatly fitted into a custom-built tray. You just need to pull it out to refill.
On the downside, you might want to replace the door seal. It works fine as it is, but it’s not the best. Still, considering the price that you’re paying, this is a minor inconvenience. Landmann created a model that performs at a far higher level than the price suggests.
- 732 square inches of cooking space overall
- 800-watt of heating power
- Digital thermostat
- Meat thermometer
- Side door to load wood chips to minimize the disruption of the heat and smoke
- Double-walled firebox to retain heat better
- High-quality, high-temperature door seal
- Removable grease tray for easy cleanup
The Dyna-Glo DGU732BDE-D is simple to use and produces excellent results. There are no complicated features to get your head around. Just program in the cooking time and temperature, and you’re done.
That said, you may need to experiment a little in the beginning. The temperatures can run a little hotter or colder than what they’re set at.
What we like about this model is that it’s highly efficient. Because it’s well-insulated, it doesn’t take too long to reach its optimal temperature. Changing out the wood chips while its operating is simple enough, too. The side door ensures that only a minimal amount of heat and smoke escape.
It’s also efficient in the way it uses chips. We were pleasantly surprised to see that we got a great smoky flavor with fewer chips than the other models.
The removable grease tray does make it a lot easier to clean after you’re done as well. However, we were disappointed that there was no water tray. Of course, that’s easily rectified—just place a steel or aluminum container with water in it before cooking starts.
Would professional smokers like this model? Maybe not. Those more experienced in the meat smoking realm might find this model a little too simple. There is not a lot of room for adjusting the settings. For someone who likes to keep things simple or is just getting started, this model is a great option, though.
The Masterbuilt 20073716 Portable Electric Smoker is ideal for those who love the outdoors. Take it with on a fishing trip and smoke your fish while you’re out and about. It’s also an excellent option if you like going tailgating.
To be honest, we didn’t expect much from this model. It only has two racks, after all, so how good can it be?
That said, it delivers in spades. It’s not the biggest smoker out there, but it can accommodate one turkey. It’s an efficient smoker that’s been well-sealed. Your neighbors won’t be tempted to call the fire department with this one.
It cooks the food evenly, produces a consistent stream of smoke, is easy to use, and highly efficient. It’s a great model for a beginner. There’s more than enough space for you to get a taste of what a professional smoker can do.
Cleaning this Masterbuilt model is simple enough. The racks are removable and take little more than a good wash in hot, soapy water. When the inside of the smoker is cool, just wipe it down.
The one thing that we don’t like here is that there’s no grease tray. That’s easy to solve, though. Just place an aluminum tray at the bottom or forge a tray out of aluminum foil.
At a later stage, if you decide to upgrade, this model can be a standby option for when you have smaller smoking projects.
Final Verdict: Best Electric Smoker Under 300 For Your Money
Any of the models that we’ve reviewed here will serve you well, and your needs in a smoker should definitely be factored in, but for the very best, stick to the Masterbuild MB2007519 MES130P. The Bluetooth feature makes controlling the smoker from the comfort of your patio simple.
It’s big enough for the average-sized family and does its job efficiently. What pushed it over the top for us, though, was the grill and finish element. There’s nothing better than biting through that crusty coating of goodness on a nice smoked hunk of meat.
And you certainly can’t fault the price. Even though we’ve recommended changing out the thermometer, it’s still a great deal. If you think the Masterbuild might be the smoker for you, don’t delay–these babies sell out quickly.