Best Offset Smoker Under $500

Offset smokers are considered a classic tool for smoking. Even though their setup is simple, they’re extremely effective. But the best smokers have more to them than just one spot for charcoal and one spot for food.

Quick Comparison

Item NameCooking SpaceFeaturesDimensionsWeight
#1. Highland Offset Smoker (Oklahoma Joe's)
Our Best Pick

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619 square inchesConvenient access door, multiple dampers, organizing shelves39 x 20.9 x 23 inches176 pounds
#2. Charcoal Offset Smoker (Dyna-Glo)
Budget-friendly

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784 square inches15,000 BTU burner, electronic pulse ignition system, optional premium cover20.2 x 34.5 x 47 inches57 pounds
#3. 1224 Smokin Pro Charcoal Grill (Char-Griller)

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830 square inchesRemovable charcoal drawers, side firebox, double bottom, storage rack, easy transport wheels, temperature gauge, optional expert assembly62 x 29 x 50 inches146 pounds
#4. Longhorn Offset Smoker (Oklahoma Joe's)

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1,060 square inches2 cooking surfaces, 3-inch temperature gauge, separate firebox, optional expert assembly64.25 x 36.5 x 55.5 inches237.7 pounds
#5. Signature Series Vertical Offset Smoker (Dyna-Glo)

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1,382 square inches5 chrome-plated steel cooking grates, vertical construction, optional expert assembly45.5 x 24.9 x 58.8 inches124.3 pounds

Choosing the Best Offset Smoker

A few different configurations are available for offset smokers. Some models use vertical construction to maximize cooking space, while others use reverse flow to maximize energy efficiency. From the materials used in construction to the total amount of cooking space, there are a number of features you should consider when making the choice for the best smoker.

Sizing Concerns

The first thing you should determine is the amount of space you need to do your cooking. If your goal is just to prepare for a typical barbecue and for your family, a smaller smoker will probably suit your needs. But if your intention is to cook for large crowds, a larger cooking surface is necessary.

Another concern is the amount of storage space necessary. The majority of offset smokers, especially ones with a horizontal construction, tend to be rather long. This means you’ll need a good amount of storage space for them. If you don’t have a great deal of storage space, make sure you pick a smoker with dimensions that suit the space necessary.

Overall Construction

The construction of a smoker should be another big concern.

When you’re looking for inexpensive smokers, they’ll often be made with thin metal that doesn’t transfer or hold heat properly. When you smoke or grill meat, you need to keep the heat low and even. This means it’s important to invest in a smoker capable of doing the job. High-quality smokers include metal construction thick enough to keep heat efficiently inside the mechanism.

Good smoking also needs to be done with proper ventilation. Double check the amount of vents that the smoker has so you know that the smoke will be flowing properly.

Portability

The importance of portability will vary depending on your needs. A number of users need the smoker to have high portability. You want to be able to move your smoker in and out of its storage space with ease. Some people with non-portable smokers compensate by using a cover that can shield the smoker from the elements.

The majority of small smokers will come with at least 2 wheels to allow both easy portability and strong anchoring when not being moved. However, large smokers don’t always come with wheels. If you need your unit to be portable, make sure it has wheels before you do anything else.

Maintenance Ease

There aren’t very many downsides to using a charcoal grill, but cleaning can definitely be a pain. When you shop for your smoker, you’ll want to give consideration to the ease of maintenance. How much time and energy will it take to maintain and clean?

Many smokers are designed with a catch pan underneath that allows for easy removal and ash disposal. Some will also have removable charcoal containers that make both adding and disposing of charcoal easier. If you intend to use the smoker on a regular basis, you’ll want to invest in one that makes maintenance easy.

What You’re Smoking

Another of the biggest factors to consider is the type of meat you’ll be cooking.

Meats like brisket and ribs can be easily smoked using an upright smoker. But for people who plan to sear steaks, cook burgers, or make more complex types of meats, it’s a better idea to go with a more traditional offset smoker that provides places to sear meat. When you shop for your smoker, just make sure that it’s designed to handle the type of meat you want to cook. You definitely don’t want to pick out a smoker that seems perfect… only to find out it won’t do the job you need it to do.

Our Top 5 Best Offset Smokers Under $500

#1. Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Offset Smoker

This Highland-style smoker has a whopping 619 square inches of cooking space in its main cooking chamber.

The access door conveniently located on the firebox makes it easy to add wood or stoke the fire. T

he multiple included dampers make smoke and heat control simple. Also included are shelves that help you keep your accessories organized. The firebox is an included part of the package.

Pros
  • Convenient access door
  • Organizing shelves for easier sorting
  • Multiple dampers provide good ventilation
  • Small and portable
Cons
  • Smallest amount of cooking space on the list
  • Somewhat heavy, which may make moving difficult
  • Fairly expensive

#2. Dyna-Glo D Charcoal Offset Smoker

The standard size for this smoker includes a heavy-gauge steel wood chip box with porcelain enameling. The heavy-duty cast-iron burner has 15,000 BTU capacity.

You can use the electronic pulse ignition system to make sure that there’s reliable and fast ignition every time. With a total smoking area of 784 square inches, you can smoke up to 100 pounds of food at one time.

This smoker also includes a dual-door design that helps minimize the heat loss while adding more wood chips periodically through the smoking process. The heavy-duty steel construction of the body has a powder coat finish that can withstand high temperatures, ensuring a long life and maximum durability. A separately-sold cover can offer additional protection.

Pros
  • Can cook up to 100 pounds of food at once
  • Electronic pulse ignition system makes cooking easy
  • Optional premium cover protects against the elements
  • Lightweight and very portable
Cons
  • Metal may be on the thin side
  • Not as much cooking surface as some other options
  • Doesn’t feature removable drawers for easy maintenance

#3. Char-Griller 1224 Smokin Pro Charcoal Grill

This traditional charcoal grill includes a side firebox to allow Texas-style barbecuing.

The non-stick cast-iron cooking grates allow even heating, while both the firebox and grill barrel are made with powder-coated heavy-duty steel construction. Since the charcoal drawers are removable, you can easily dump ashes and add charcoal. The double bottom provides long-term durability.

The grill comes with some additional features, including a temperature gauge, storage rack, and two wheels allowing easy transportation.

There’s a total of 580 square inches of cooking surface, while the firebox has 250 square inches for charcoal cooking and smoking. The total cooking area including the firebox is 830 square inches.

Pros
  • Removable charcoal drawers for easy maintenance
  • Wheels to make transport easy
  • Storage rack
  • Optional expert assembly
Cons
  • Rather large; not suited to small areas
  • Heavy enough to potentially hinder transport
  • Not as many vents as some other options

#4. Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Offset Smoker

This grill is on the more expensive side of things, but for good reason. In its two cooking chambers, there’s a total of 1,060 square inches of cooking space.

The porcelain-coated cooking grate has wire construction, with 751 inches of cooking space plus the 309 square inches on the second surface.

A three-inch professional temperature gauge helps to easily control the heat through the raising and lowering of the charcoal grate found in the firebox.

In total, this smoker weighs about 240 pounds and has wheels to allow maximum maneuverability. For an additional price, you can have this smoker expertly assembled.

Pros
  • 2 cooking surfaces allow more than 1,000 square inches of space
  • 3-inch temperature gauge makes cooking easier
  • Optional expert assembly
Cons
  • Very large and heavy
  • Not designed for portability
  • On the expensive side

#5. Dyna-Glo Signature Series Heavy-Duty Vertical Smoker and Grill

This vertical smoker has the most space of any item on the list, clocking in at a whopping 1,382 square inches. 284 of those square inches are in an offset grill cooking space. The smoker includes 5 chrome-plated steel cooking grates, each of which are 17 inches in diameter. The heavy-duty steel construction allows for greater durability and a longer lifespan.

Pros
  • More than 1300 square inches of cooking space
  • 5 chrome-plated steel cooking grates
  • Optional expert assembly
  • Vertical construction takes up little horizontal space
Cons
  • Not ideal for searing meat
  • Not as many vents as other options
  • No removable drawers included

Final Thoughts

For the best smoker for convenience features, your best investment will be the Highland Offset Smoker. The multiple dampers and organizational shelves give you the easiest time with convenient smoking.

For the best smoker for a budget, your best bet is the Charcoal Offset Smoker from Dyna-Glo. The 784 square inches of cooking space will allow you to smoke up to 100 pounds of food at a time, but the low weight and small size make it highly portable. The electronic pulse ignition system is also a plus for convenience.

For the most additional features, you’ll want to invest in the 1224 Smokin Pro Charcoal Grill. The removable charcoal drawers make adding charcoal and cleaning the system easy. The double bottom increases durability. The temperature gauge, easy transport wheels, and storage rack all combine to provide more features than you’ll find in almost any other smoker.

For the most horizontal cooking surfaces, the two surfaces in the Longhorn Offset Smoker from Oklahoma Joe’s will serve you best. With a total cooking space of 1,060 square inches, this smoker will suit the majority of your needs. The optional expert assembly is also convenient if you’re a first-time smoker owner.

For the most total cooking space, the Signature Series Vertical Offset Smoker is the winner for the list. Its vertical setup includes 5 cooking grates with a total cooking area of 1,382 square inches. This one is a little heavier than some others on the list, but optional expert assembly can help you out.

Breana
 

Chief editor here at Sky-Liners, Breana is a former expat and outdoor enthusiast who grew up on camping, hunting, and hiking. If she could live anywhere, it would be a tree fort in the woods. For now, she's surviving on weekly hiking trips and monthly mountain breaks. You can read more about Breana's adventures on her blog at 3rdCultureWife.

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