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
Char-Broil 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
Landmann USA Electric Smoker
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.
- Viewing window
- Adjustable leg levelers
- Chrome-coated cooking racks
- Double walled door
- Built-in temperature gauge
- Lack of digital controls
- No side loading function
Smoke Hollow 26142E Electric Smoker
The Smoke Hollow 26143E is a smaller smoker that comes with a wide range of features. Some of these features include adjustable cooking trays, 1500-watt heating element, porcelain-coated chip tray, etc. This is a smoker that is built for use at home as it can cook large cuts of poultry, fish, meat, and turkey. It’s however, not recommended for big batches of jerky.
Made from fully welded steel, the Smoke hollow features a black housing that incorporates a sure-lock latch system. It also has four-angled bases that ensure the smoker is stable. The interior features a dual rack system that can be adjusted to provide enough capacity to smoke a full turkey.
It doesn’t have the best insulation and will have a hard time achieving optimal temperature, especially if the surrounding temperature is very low. It’s advisable that you get a temperature probe to help you detect temperature variations.
Ease of use
Weighing 34.3 pounds, the smoker hollow comes with an adjustable grid system that’s adjusted using the heat control indicator. The front interface features a temperature gauge that helps monitor any change in temperature.
Adjustable temperature control
The temperature controls come in handy during the smoking process as it eliminates guesswork. In addition to the adjustable temperature control, it has a 1500-watt heating element with a 150° F variance. This makes it ideal for foods with temperature requirements ranging from 175° F to 325° F.
For under $200, the smoke hollow is quite sturdy. It’s made of steel and features the typical safe design. Although its insulation is not impressive, the design is quite efficient and tends to hold up well even after years of use.
- Easy to move around as it weighs about 35 pounds
- Easy to assemble and use
- Reasonably priced
- Adjustable temperature controls
- Thin insulation
- You’ll need additional trays for smoking jerky
Masterbuilt MES 130B Electric Smoker
The MES 130B is an affordable smoker that offers a memorable smoking experience for both amateurs and professionals. It’s arguably one of the best electric smokers under $200 as it features a wide array of digital controls. In addition to this, it has the following:
To get the price this low, most manufacturers will opt to compromise on build quality. Although you will not get a premium body and build with the MES 130B, the build quality doesn’t disappoint. Masterbuilt has made a few enhancements to the MES 130B that have greatly improved the insulation and airtightness.
Ease of use
Simply prepare your meat and place it on the grill. Select the temperature, and you are done. It takes less than 30 minutes to set up. There is no need to learn special skills, but you might experience some difficulty when lining all the screws. Once set up, you simply load the meat and adjust the settings. The digital controls are located at the top of the electric smoker. Using these controls, you can set time and temperature.
- Fully insulated body
- Easy to use
- Digital controls
- Side wood chip loader
- No window
Cuisinart COS-330 Electric Smoker
Compared to other models on this list, the Cuisinart COS-330 has the widest temp range. The manufacturer also boasts of one of the longest warranties which spans for 3 years. If you are in search for the best electric smoker under $200, then this is it.
Ease of use
It’s one of the easiest to assemble and once fully assembled. You simply follow the instructions, and you are good to go. Even without the instructions or experience, the Cuisinart 330 is easy to use. Simply load the food, add water to the water trays, add wood chips, and set the temperature. Once the set time has elapsed, the smoker will deliver a sumptuous meal that’s evenly cooked. For easy portability, it has handles on the sides.
Unlike charcoal grills, there is no need to keep tending the fire to maintain a constant temperature.
It comes with adjustable racks that can be rearranged or removed to accommodate larger meats such as whole birds. It might look small, but it has about 548 square inches of cooking space. There is plenty of room for your meats and vegetables.
Like earlier mentioned, the Cuisinart 330 has a wide temperature range that span from 100° F to 400° F. The smoker is heated by a 1500 watt heating element. The internal temperature is then regulated using the temperature control.
- Comes with a wide array of essential tools
- Simple yet durable design
- Easy to use
- Even heat distribution
- Removable chrome racks
- Does not have electronic temperature control
Although the price range is low we were still able to get quality electric smokers. Our favorites were the Cuisinart 330, the Smoke Hollow and the Masterbuilt. All three were easy to set up and use. They didn’t require constant monitoring. The Landmann USA was also impressive due to the addition of the viewing window. The Char-Broil was outstanding due to its insulation and variable thermostat. Hopefully one of these will be good enough for you.