Have you been thinking about getting into the smoking game? Have you been put off by the amount of work involved in using a charcoal or wood-fired smoker? Then an electric smoker offers you a cost-effective alternative. They’re easy to use, a lot less messy, and give you a comparable taste.
Charcoal and wood smokers are a more traditional option. They’re also more difficult for the beginner to master. With these conventional smokers, you have to do a fair amount of experimentation to find the right temperature. Maintaining that temperature can also be challenging.
With an electric smoker, you just set the temperature that you want. The smoker does the rest. The question then becomes, how do you find the best electric smoker? And that’s the issue we’re here to address!
We’ve done the research so that you don’t have to. We’ve scoured the market to find you the best Electric Smoker Under $200.
How to Pick the Perfect Electric Smoker Under $200 For Your Needs
Electric smokers are a relatively new addition to the smoking industry. They’re prized because they take a lot of the guesswork out of the process of smoking. You simply plug it in, set the temperature, and switch it on. Unlike a charcoal or wood-based smoker, it’s easy to get consistent results every time—that is, if you buy a good model.
A cheap electric smoker can be extremely frustrating. Here are some things to consider before you shop.
Ask yourself, “How much meat do I want to smoke in one sitting?” and “How often will I use this smoker?” It’s tempting to go for a bigger smoker that looks impressive. Some of the larger ones will allow you to smoke 100 pounds of meat at a time or more.
Compared to that, some of the options that we’ve spoken about below might seem minuscule, but let’s break this down some more. How often will you want to smoke 100 pounds of meat at once? The options we’ve listed below will take at least two turkeys.
That’s more than enough space for your average weekend get-together. It’s also plenty for the average-sized family. Now, you don’t have to load up a larger smoker completely. It’s not going to damage the smoker to put in a smaller load, but it is going to mean that it’s less efficient to run.
Even though you’re only putting in a small amount of meat, the smoker must still heat the whole interior. That’s why we recommend carefully considering how much meat you’ll want to smoke at any one time.
We made the mistake of choosing a maximum capacity smoker early on. It wasn’t long before we bought a smaller one because it was more efficient to run for our needs.
We always recommend choosing the best smoker you can afford. You don’t need the fanciest one with all the bells and whistles. The novelty of those additional features wears off quite quickly. A solidly designed simpler model will cost less and should last you longer.
Look for a smoker from a reputable company to get the best value for your money.
We’ve all fallen into this trap–we want the gadget with the most features. Here again, consider which of those features you’ll need. Do you need a range of sensors inside the smoker? What features make sense to you?
It’s essential to look for a company that offers a guarantee against manufacturer’s defects at the very least. A reputable firm will be happy to stand behind their products. We also recommend checking reviews online from people who have bought from that firm.
How easy is it to get your money back? Does the company honor their warranty? You need to be covered in case something goes wrong.
Where will you place the smoker? They get very hot and so shouldn’t be placed close to combustible materials. Electric smokers are safer because there are no open flames. That said, though, you wouldn’t want kids or pets playing in the area when it’s in operation.
Also, consider how easy it is to use and clean the smoker. You’ll want to have:
- A drip tray to catch grease and oil. This makes cleanup a lot simpler because you just need to remove the tray and wash it.
- Easy to clean racks. In a more conventional setting, cast iron racks are pretty standard. They’re also tricky to clean. Stick to high-quality racks, preferably coated in porcelain or chrome for easier cleanup.
- How easy is it to add more chips during the smoking process? A good design makes this much easier. A side door or smaller door that opens to give you access to the tray is best. That way, you don’t have to open up the main cavity every time.
The Climate in Your Area
This seems like a strange thing to add here, but it’s essential. A smoker is only effective if it can maintain the heat across various weather conditions. If you want to use it in freezing winter temperatures, you’ll need a model with more power.
The Top 5 Electric Smoker Under $200 Reviewed
Cuisinart has worked hard to produce a highly efficient smoker for beginners and more advanced smokers alike. With this model, they nailed it, and that’s why it comes up as our top pick.
It’s one of the simplest smokers that we’ve come across. Just load it up, set the temperature, and then walk away. The Cuisinart COS-330 will do the rest for you.
Now, granted, there are bigger smokers out there, but 33 pounds of meat is more than enough for the average user. The compact design makes the smoker easy to store out of the way. The electric function means that it’s simple to get consistent results.
You have three repositionable chrome racks. Want to smoke a bigger piece of meat? Simply remove one or two racks to open up more space.
The smoker has a tray for wood chips and water. You can easily access both if they need to be refilled during the process. The water tray is another reason that the Cuisinart COS-330 smoker gets our top vote.
When we started on our smoking journey, we had some very disappointing results, particularly with chicken breasts. They had that smoky flavor but were too dry. With the Cuisinart’s water tray, chicken breasts come out tender and flavorsome.
You get a decent-sized smoker with smart features for under $200. That’s why the Cuisinart gets both the best overall winner and the best value for money awards.
- 732 square inches of space for meat
- Four repositionable, chrome-plated racks
- 800 watts of power
- Digital thermostat
- Built-in meat thermometer makes it easy to assess the internal temperature of the meat
- Side set wood chip loader to ensure minimal disruption when loading meat
- Double-wall firebox and insulation to ensure optimal heating every time
- High-temperature door seal to lock in smoke
- A drip tray collects liquid and grease efficiently
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that Dyna-Glo produces some impressive products. We’ve found them coming up tops in a few other reviews. In this case, the race between the Cuisinart and the Dyna-Glo was a close one.
The Cuisinart won because it has more power and a water tray, but that doesn’t mean that this model is a slouch. The opposite is true.
With 800 watts of power, this smoker will work year-round, even in colder climates. It’s something of a set and forget option. You load up the meat and wood chips, set your temperature, and go. You’ll need to replenish the wood chips every now and again, but that’s a minor issue.
How easy is it to change out the wood chips? The side-loader for the chips makes it easy to remove the tray without losing too much heat and smoke from the main chamber.
The meat thermometer also makes it simple to check the internal temperature of the meat to assess if it’s done or not. You can set the temperature accurately with the built-in thermostat.
Overall, this is a compact smoker that delivers excellent performance. It’s simple to operate and easy to clean. It’s a reasonably sized smoker that has more than enough space for the average user. Once again, Dyna-Glo delivers.
- 457.86 square inches of cooking space
- Three chrome-plated, repositionable racks
- 1,500 watts of power
- Digital controller can be adjusted or removed if necessary
- Integrated internal thermometer
- Includes a grease cup to make cleanup simpler
- Water pan
- Chip box with a lid
- Can be used as a steamer and dehydrator as well
- Tight-sealing latch for added security
- Cool-touch handle
- Side handles to make transport easier
- Firebox has double walls to ensure better heat retention
Purists may consider using an electric smoker cheating. They may have a point, but for this convenience, we’re willing to cheat a little.
With the Royal Gourmet model, there’s no need to fuss around with propane tanks, or messy fires. You just plug it in, load up the trays and racks, and get started. It’s that simple to get that great smokey flavor without all the fuss.
Why did the Royal Gourmet SE2801 make it onto this list? Despite its smaller size, it can hold a fair amount of meat. The lidded chip box is easily removed and cleaned out, too. Thanks to the lid, you don’t have to worry about ash flying about when you remove it.
The water tray helps to keep the meat moist during the cooking period, and the grease cup catches all the drippings. All you need to do is to remove it after smoking and clean it off. Is a grease cup really important? It’s not essential, but it does make cleaning the smoker a good deal easier.
Overall, this is a fair-sized smoker. It’s not going to blow away advanced smokers, but for beginners or the casual smoker, it’s more than adequate. Are you looking for a quick way to smoke meat for an average-sized family? The Royal Gourmet might just fit the bill perfectly.
- Space for two turkeys, three chickens, or three racks of ribs
- Three repositionable chrome-plated racks
- Temperature gauge built into the front makes it easy to monitor the internal temperature
- Several temperature settings available – just dial in your preferred setting
- Comes with a water bowl to help the meat stay moist
- Removable wood chip tray makes loading and reloading the chips simple
- Removable grease tray makes cleanup a breeze
- 1,500 watts of power
- Has an air damper that you can adjust to control airflow and smoke
The Masterbuild MB20070210 MES 35B Smoker makes it simple to smoke meat. Like the others on this list, it’s relatively compact. Is this good for a family? You have ample space to smoke two turkeys at once, so yes, it’s an excellent family-sized model.
Just remove two of the racks, leaving the lowermost one in place. Then load up your turkey, chips, and water and get started.
How well does it work in colder climates? With 1,500 watts of power, you can even use this in the dead of winter.
Is this competition-ready? Yes. You’ll notice that this is the only model reviewed that has an air damper feature. This allows you more control over the final flavor and texture. Opt for delicately flavored smoked salmon or robustly smoked beef.
With this model, we like the cool-touch handle. The water bowl is also a nice-to-have feature that keeps the meat from drying out too much.
Is it easy to clean? Yes, the chrome-plated racks just need to be rinsed off in hot, soapy water. The grease tray is simple to clean, too. Aside from that, you just let the smoker cool down and then wipe the sides with a cloth and warm, soapy water.
The primary advantage of this smoker is that it uses about as much electricity as a slow cooker. It’s considered a cold smoker, so it’s better for smaller cuts of meat. The low temperature also makes it an excellent choice for those in warmer climates.
It won’t be hot enough to smoke food in icy temperatures unless you use an insulator blanket.
The Smokehouse Little Chief is the only top-loading model on our list. It’s also the simplest model to operate. You don’t need to fiddle with a range of settings. Just load up the racks, add the chips, and switch it on. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Is it easy to clean? That’s another advantage of this model. There are no internal rack holders for grease to get caught on. The racks are securely attached to the frame. This makes it easy to load up and remove your meat.
Unfortunately, though, the racks are not adjustable, so you’re limited in terms of the size of cuts that you buy. Given that, this isn’t the perfect smoker for everyone. That said, it’s ideal for projects that need a more delicate touch. Smoked fish and cheese, for example, require more careful handling. The Little Chief smokes these items perfectly.
Is this the last smoker you’ll ever buy? Probably not—once the smoking bug bites, you’ll want to upgrade to a larger or more versatile option, but it is an excellent option to start with. It’s travels well too—if you have yourself a hunting cabin and need a smoker that can go where you do.
Final Verdict: The Best Electric Smoker Under $200 For Your Money
While any of the models we’ve covered here would make an excellent choice, if we had to crown one winner, it would be the Cuisinart COS-330 Smoker. It comes in the first place because of its compact design and useful features. With 548 square inches of cooking space, it’s not the biggest smoker out there. That said, it’s got more than enough space for the casual smoker.
With 1,500 watts of heating power, you’ll be able to use the Cuisinart even in colder climates. The water tray, drip tray, and wood chip tray are all handy additions that make this a pleasure to use. The Cuisinart is also easy to clean. Order yours today – this low price might not last long.