The best smokers under $400 for making true, low and slow barbecue. These smokers offer a wide variety of options from electric to charcoal with many great features. If you are in the market for a smoker these are the units you should be looking at. This list includes smokers that run off of a variety of fuels and offer everything from true pit master smoking to the best "lazy-Q" smokers around.
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It would seem almost insane to change a smoker as popular at Weber's Smokey Mountain (WSM) Smoker, but Weber has listened to the fans and made only slight (requested) changes to this unit. The addition of a lid mounted thermometer and a bottom mounted heat shield doesn't affect how this unit works but gives you a better smoker. In the past, you either had to drill a hole and put in your own thermometer or set one inside and lift the lid to check the temperature. Now you can see the... cooking temperature easily. The heat shield will protect whatever surface you put your smoker on. Altogether, a better WSM.
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The Napoleon Apollo 3 in 1 takes the simple, vertical water smoker to a whole new level. Also known as the ProQ, this three section smoker can be reduced to a simple charcoal grill, or assembled to a large capacity charcoal smoker. Loaded with features, this unit is capable or smoking up a large amount of food, or small load without wasting lots of extra charcoal. Standard with a bar in the lid for hooks to hang racks of ribs or sausages, eyelets for meat probes, and a good airflow system. All... of the body connection points can cause it to leak smoke, but that is typical of this kind of smoker.
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The Pit Barrel Cooker is a simple, easy to use charcoal unit that can cook up to eight racks of ribs at once. Designed to operate consistently at around 300 degrees F., this cooker needs very little attention and can be relied upon to turn out some great food in a relatively short period of time. While there are those that might argue that it isn't a real smoker, it does create smokey flavors and great food.
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Simple, basic, but a great smoker for around $140. This electric one will give you authentic barbecue without lots of work and without worrying about maintaining temperatures like you do with many of the vertical water smokers. This is a great smoker if you're not sure how serious you are about barbecue, or if you just want a little "Q" once in a while.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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For smoking large cuts of great barbecue buy a different smoker. For nearly 55 years the Big Chief, and its little brother, the Little Chief, have been designed for smoking all those things that don't traditionally fall into the strict category of barbecue. For smoking fish, jerky, sausage, cheese, this is the perfect smoker. The lower cooking temperatures, that can't be adjusted, and decent smoke production is great for preserving foods and adding smoke flavor to things you might not... cook, or might finish off someplace else.
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Of all the electric smoker appliances, this is one of the best. This refrigerator style smoker is thermostatically controlled and can hot and cold smoke. You truly get a wide range of smoking abilities out of this unit. Smoke is created by burning wood disks that are added to the unit by a controlled mechanism. You get as much or as little smoke as you want and you don't have to tend to any fire. In fact, once it's set you can leave it until you are ready to eat.
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The biggest limitation of gas smokers is the range of temperatures they can hit and the fact that most of them leak smoke and heat through the doors. The Smoke Hollow 44-inch smoker doesn't have these problems. The doors latch closed tightly and the dual burner design gives it a much wider range of temperatures. It is also a very large smoker, standing 5 feet high with five racks and seven cubic feet of capacity. If there is a problem with this smoker you probably won't see it for a few... years. The lightweight burners and thinner metals shorten the life expectancy of this smoker. Care should be taken to keep it in good working order.
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One of the problems with gas smokers is that the heat output can be limited by a factory who thinks they know best. While smoking is done in a specific temperature range, it should be up to the user if they want to "flash" smoke or do a low-temperature smoke. This Camp Chef smoker has a temperature range from 160 to 400 degrees F so it is much more versatile than many gas smokers on the market. However, like many most box style gas smokers, the body isn't insulated and though the... door on this one fits better, you still get smoke leakage.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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The Char-Griller is another classic offset firebox smoker. This design is so popular because it works. The Char-Griller is easy to use and you can even get a rotisserie kit for it. Like all units of this type, it also doubles as a charcoal grill. It is also one of the least expensive of this type of smoker.
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Char-Broil is, of course, one of the leading names in outdoor cooking and while they have been able to produce some innovative products, they tend to have difficulty in the follow-through. This model, part of a large line of electric refrigerator style smokers, h as digital controls and an insulated construction that promises to make it easy to use and efficient, and generally it is. For under $400USD this little smoker has good capacity and a great line of features and if yours works well, it... can be a pretty good investment. The biggest caveat with all electric smokers of this type is that smoke production can be limited so if you are looking for a heavy smoke flavor, looks somewhere else.