If you love the idea of smoking your own meats, but want a low-maintenance, "set it and forget it" option, then an electric smoker is definitely the way to go. But high-end electric smokers tend to come with hefty price tags that can be a dealbreaker, especially for novices or those on a budget. The good news is that best cheap electric smokers are well-made and still infuse meats and seafood with loads of delicious flavor — they just don't have quite all the bells and whistles that deluxe electrics smokers do.
When looking for an effective but affordable electric smoker, there are several things to consider. Whether you're a newbie or a smokin' pro, the most important feature to look for is solid temperature control. Smokers that come with a thermostat or digital temperature controller let you closely monitor the current temperature and make adjustments as needed. What's more, appliances with good insulation will ensure that the internal temperature remains constant, even if it's freezing outside.
You'll also want to consider the total cooking area. Generally, the more racks the better, so you have the freedom to smoke multiple cuts of meat at once, and have the room to smoke an entire turkey, or turkeys, if so desired. However, if you're short on space, a more compact option might actually be preferable.
Lastly, you'll want to factor in a unit's portability. Electric smokers need to be operated outside (unless you want to risk your entire home or apartment forever smelling like smoked meats). That being said, you want an appliance that can easily be moved within striking distance of an outlet.
Keeping that in mind, read on to find the best affordable electric smokers currently on Amazon. All of the options are $200 or less, and all have positive Amazon ratings and rave customer reviews.
1. The Overall Best Electric Smoker
Pros: For an all-around smoking superstar, that's still under $200, you can't go wrong with the Masterbuilt 30-inch Digital Electric Smoker. Its smart design makes smoking simple, so it's great for anyone just starting out. It comes with a digital temperature control panel that lets you easily set the time and temperature, and from there the internal thermostat takes over (talk about 'set it and forget it'). The appliance also has a fully insulated body so it maintains heat, no matter how cold it is outside.
Featuring four chrome-coated racks, it offers a whopping 730 square inches of cooking space. It's roomy enough to allow for six whole chickens, two whole turkeys, eight racks of ribs, 64 sausages, 24 burgers, or for pork butts at a time. It also has a side-loading wood chip system, which means that you don't have to open the door and risk losing valuable smoke and heat when you need to reload.
Cons: While this is a great overall electric smoker, it doesn't score points for portability. This sucker is heavy, weighing in at 39.3 pounds, and it doesn't come with wheels or handles.
2. The Best Bang For Your Buck
Pros: If you're looking for a reliable, affordable electric smoker, this one from Smoke Hollow is a fantastic choice. You don't have to babysit it and you still get consistently great, fall-off-the-bone results, thanks to its intuitive digital control panel and integrated thermostat temperature control. The air-tight, insulated cabinet also keeps the heat where it needs to be inside.
With three chrome-coated racks, it has the capacity to smoke nine chickens, two turkeys, three racks of ribs, three pork butts, 36 sausages, or 24 burgers. The appliance also comes with a removable drip pan and water bowl for easy clean-up. You'll also benefit from an adjustable air damper for smoke control (ideal if you're smoking on a small deck or patio).
Cons: Due to the central tray location, when you need to reload the wood chips, you must open the main door and that means you lose smoke and heat. Additionally, the unit weighs 46.5 pounds and lacks wheels, so it's not the most portable.
3. The Best Option For Getting Up & Running Quickly
Pros: The Old Smokey Electric Smoker may look old-fashioned compared to some of the more modern options on the market, but it's a tried-and-true, no-fuss model that gets the job done. It has 4.5 star rating on Amazon, with more than 150 reviews.
It's made by a Texas-based manufacturer that has been around since 1923, so there's some heritage to the product. It's easy to assemble (you simply pull it out of the box and put in some screws), and since it already comes with smoking chips, you have everything you need to get started quickly.
The unit is lightweight (only 23 pounds) and comes with convenient handles for easy carrying. And there's no water tray to mess around with since the sealed top traps in all the juices that then drip back down onto the meat.
There's a removable drip pan and two cooking racks: the upper one is 14.5 inches in diameter and the lower one is about 12.5 inches, so there's room for decent-sized slabs of meat.
Cons: While it does come with a knob thermostat — with low, medium, and high settings — the company does recommend investing in an add-on thermometer to show the exact internal cooking temperature. Also a word of caution: the exterior gets really hot, so it's not advisable to use around children.
4. The Best Budget Option
Pros: This compact, under-$100 Masterbuilt Electric Smoker definitely ticks the boxes in terms of must-have basics. It has an easy-to-read temperature gauge in the lid, and can achieve consistent smoking temps up to 400 degrees. It comes with two porcelain-coated racks and has 395 square inches of cooking space — plenty of room for a 10-pound+ turkey or a fair amount of ribs. If you're looking to cook meat for 20 people, this little unit isn't for you, but for small cuts and frequent use, it's a great choice.
It comes with a removable wood chip tray, drip pan, and water bowl, so clean up is easy. Weighing in at just over 17.5 pounds, it's light, portable, and perfect for small outdoor spaces.
Cons: The wood chip tray is located in the central cabinet which makes it somewhat difficult to reload the wood chip tray. It also lacks insulation so for year-round use in colder climates, some Amazon reviewers recommended using wind shields or providing extra insulation.
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