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When it comes to cooking delicious meat or amazing veggies, it’s hard to find a better cooking method than the smoker. It locks in juices and tenderizes food in a way that few other cooking methods can compare to. Although traditional smokers run on charcoal, propane, or even wood pellets, electric smokers add a level of convenience that makes it easy and fast to smoke food. Even better, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality smoker – this article will help you find the best electric smoker under $200.
In deciding which of the many electric smokers under $200 that are currently on the market are worth a closer look, we considered several features. The first was power and temperature, which determines what types of products and how fast you can cook. We also looked for units with electronic temperature controls, which can drastically improve the ease of use of an electric smoker. Finally, we compared the amount of cooking space that different electric smokers offer, since this is one of the main limiting factors in how much food you can smoke at one time.
We spent 50 hours poring over technical specifications and customer reviews for many of the most popular electric smokers under $200 and trying out the best choices. The result is our roundup of the five best reasonably priced electric smokers listed in the table below. Continue reading for detailed reviews of each smoker with their pros and cons. Our buying guide and FAQ section cover everything you need to know about choosing the electric smoker that is right for your cooking needs. Finally, we highlight our three favorite electric smokers under $200 on the market today
Users can’t say enough good things about this modestly priced electric smoker from renowned cooking company Cuisinart. Compared to all other smokers under $200 we reviewed, this smoker has the widest temperature range with a maximum temperature of up to 400 degrees. It also features the longest warranty out of any smoker in this price range – three years – and customers note that Cuisinart provides excellent customer service.
The smoker itself does not have electronic temperature controls but has an easy to use knob on the side to turn the temperature up and down and an analog thermometer on the front to monitor the temperature. Users noted that the unit holds temperature extremely well once it is up and running, although the wood chips typically need to be replaced after about 8 hours. The 548 square inches of internal cooking space is roomy enough for a large family, although it will not provide enough space for a moderate-sized barbeque.
One complaint that users had was that the unit feels excessively lightweight and the ash tray and vents on the interior feel cheaply built. However, there are no reported instances of these components failing. The chrome spring door handle is ergonomic to prevent you from burning your hand, and there are four removable chrome-coated racks on the interior of the smoker to allow you to arrange the space as needed. Users also liked that the smoker is easy to assemble when it is first purchased.
Although this electric smoker from Masterbuilt features a burner that is only half as powerful as that found on the Cuisinart and Char-Broil smokers, it packs in several other features normally found on more expensive smokers.
The smoker features an electric temperature control panel on the top of the unit, which enables you to quickly and easily specify your desired cooking temperature as well as to set a cooking time, so you can set and forget your smoker once it is started. Another major upgrade to this smoker is the wood chip loading system integrated into the side of the smoker frame, which allows you to check on your wood chips or add more without opening the door of the smoker and altering the internal temperature. Finally, the smoker includes four removable chrome-plated cooking racks that allow you to move your food around the inside of the smoker easily.
What the smoker loses along with power is maximum temperature – it can only be turned up to 275 degrees, which can be significantly limiting for users who like to cook their meat fast and hot. However, this is not an issue for those who smoke for many hours at the recommended temperatures of 250 degrees or below for most meats.
In addition, Masterbuilt offers a cold smoking kit after-market for those who wish to use this smoker for cold smoking.
Although Masterbuilt only offers a short 90-day warranty, users note that this smoker is durable enough to last for years – and some users report their smokers still working after more than 10 years.
Let’s face it – nothing beats the excitement that comes with hosting your friends and family to a barbecue cookout. If you’re planning to do that sort of thing, then you need a high-quality smoker like the Smoke Hollow 26142E Electric Smoker. With a myriad of advanced features, it’s easy to see that this unit was specifically made for things like this. Starting from its massive 1.3-cubic foot cooking chamber, which is large enough to prepare meals for a large number of people.
What’s more, the smoker has a sturdy and weather-resistant steel design, which makes it an ideal choice for outdoor purposes. Besides, there is an included stand, along with a drip pan that slides out from the smoker’s underside to aid easy access. The smoker also has temperature control, which allows you to achieve an evenly cooked meal at all times. Not only that, but there is a temperature gauge as well, which helps you to monitor your food.
For convenient transportability, the smoker comes with convenient handles at the sides. The unit is also lightweight in construction, which is quite unexpected, considering it is highly durable at the same time. Overall, the small water pan is the only complaint we have about this smoker.
This electric smoker from Masterbuilt is similar in many ways to the 20071117 model from the same manufacturer – it is a 30-inch tall smoker and features the same 800-watt heating element. However, this smoker is reconfigured to provide a huge amount of internal cooking space – the 730 square inch interior can fit up to 12 whole chickens on the four chrome-plated racks.
Like on the smaller model, the low-power heating element on this unit limits it to a maximum temperature of 275 degrees, although this is still not an issue for cooking most meats at the recommended temperatures. The smoker also has a similar electronic temperature and cooking timer control, as well as Masterbuilt’s side-loading wood chip system for easy access to check on your wood chips.
Where this smoker falls short is in manufacturing consistency. Many users found that the heating element burns out within a couple years of use, which is particularly problematic given that Masterbuilt offers only a short 90-day warranty on this unit. While not all units had this issue, it is common enough to beware when purchasing this smoker and potentially reason to opt for a smoker over $200 if you need the amount of cooking space this smoker provides.
What are our favorite features?
Large 730 square inch cooking space
Electronic temperature control
Side-loading wood chip tray
What could be better?
Short 90-day warranty
Issues with a heating element burning out within several years of use
This extremely inexpensive electric smoker from Char-Broil is perfect for those making their first foray into the world of smokers, both because of its price point and relatively modest size.
The 1500-watt burner reaches a maximum temperature of up to 350 degrees, which is far beyond what most smoking recipes call for. In addition, the one-year warranty is long relative to many other smokers in this price range.
The smoker is controlled by an analog dial on the side of the unit and the temperature is viewed by a large dial on the front of the door. Despite the double-walled construction of the smoker, users found that maintaining a temperature between 225 and 250 degrees – the temperatures that most recipes call for – can be extremely difficult. Part of the reason for this is that the door does not secure firmly to the frame at the base of the smoker. In addition, users noted that it is not possible to check the wood chip container without opening the door, which also drops the internal temperature of the smoker.
Temperature issues aside, users were happy with the three removable and adjustable chrome-plated cooking racks that allow you to customize the layout of the 548 square inch cooking space. In addition, users reported that Char-Broil’s customer service was very helpful in resolving any temperature issues related to the burner and in honoring the one-year warranty.
All in all, we found that this smoker offers quite a bunch of great features for the price and is worth noticing.
What makes it special?
Three removable chrome-plated racks
Wide temperature range
What cons did we find?
Analog temperature control
Issues maintaining steady temperature
Things to Consider
Now that you’ve read more about each of our five favorite electric smokers under $200, how do you choose among them to pick the electric smoker that is right for your cooking needs and your home? This section will cover everything you need to know about electric smokers, including their advantages over other types of smokers, specific features that you need to carefully consider when choosing a smoker, and tips for how to use your new electric smoker.
Advantages of having an electric smoker
Most traditional smokers operate using propane or charcoal or, most traditional of all, wood pellets – so why opt for an electric smoker? The number one reason for most people is convenience. Electric smokers can be hooked up to a standard wall outlet on the outside of your house, which eliminates the need to stockpile propane, charcoal, or wood pellets in order to operate your smoker.
Using electricity also drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to get your smoker running, since it can heat up evenly and faster than if you were using charcoal or wood pellets.
Electricity is also considered one of the safest methods of powering a smoker, since there are no gas lines or open flames. Finally, electric smokers are practical and easy to use – many include an electric thermostat that lets you set a specific temperature for cooking your meat.
For all these advantages to electric smokers, there are also very few disadvantages. While some people feel that electric smokers cannot provide the same smoky taste as traditional smokers, this varies highly based on personal preference and many people love the taste of meats cooked in electric smokers.
What to expect from electric smokers under $200?
At their heart, electric smokers under the $200 price point don’t differ much from their more expensive cousins – they operate using the same principles and, in most cases, cook your meat to very similar tastes. The main difference between inexpensive and expensive electric smokers is the cooking space of the smokers. Large smokers that are able to hold enough meat for an entire barbeque, rather than for just a single family, are typically significantly pricier. The other major difference is in whether the electric smoker also includes an electric thermostat or settings that let you automate the cooking time. While these electronic features are standard on many expensive electric smokers, only a few less expensive models like those from Masterbuilt and Smoke Hollow have these controls.
Features to consider before buying an electric smoker
Now that you know more about the advantages of electric smokers and what to expect under the $200 price point, we’ll cover some of the most important features that you need to consider when choosing the electric smoker that is right for you.
Power and temperature
Power and temperature range are two of the fundamental technical specifications of any electric smoker. The power describes the wattage of the electric heater, which in turn controls how fast a smoker can heat up and how hot it can get.
The temperature range is extremely important, since it describes the maximum temperature at which you will be able to cook foods.
Most electric smokers are capable of a maximum of 275 degrees – which is high enough given that most meats are smoked at 225 degrees – but units like the smoker from Cuisinart are capable of up to 400 degrees for accelerated cooking.
The majority of traditional smokers and many inexpensive electric smokers have analog temperature dials that let you see, but not control, the temperature. However, some electric smokers under $200, like those from Masterbuilt and Smoke Hollow, include electronic temperature controls that allow you to specifically set the temperature of your smoker. This can be extremely handy for those who like to set and forget their smoker, or who want to follow a cooking temperature regimen exactly.
Cooking space and overall dimensions
Are you planning to use your smoker to cook small amounts of meat for your family, or to smoke enough meat to feed an entire backyard barbeque? The answer will be a prime consideration when looking at the size of smoker that you need, which is typically measured as the internal cooking space. Electric smokers under $200 are typically limited in the amount of cooking space they offer, but models like the Masterbuilt 20070910 offer an impressive 730 square inches of space. Also, be sure to note the overall dimensions of the smoker, which typically reflect the cooking space, since these are the dimensions that determine how much space the smoker will take up on your patio.
Durability and warranty
Even under the $200 price point, you should expect your electric smoker to last for years to come. The durability of your smoker comes largely from the materials from which it is built. Look for electric smokers that are constructed of heavy-duty materials like stainless steel on the exterior, and which feature chrome-plated cooking grates on the inside that will be resistant to years of cooking meat.
The warranty on your smoker is also important for peace of mind. While many inexpensive electric smokers come with short warranties of only a few months, models like the one from Cuisinart come with warranties of up to three years.
How to use your electric smoker?
While electric smokers are quite convenient, they do require some care and work to operate. First of all, you need to add several components aside from just your meat to the smoker. Nearly every electric smoker comes with a refillable water tray, which must be filled with water to produce the smoke that will fill the chamber. This water tray will need to be refilled every hour or two when smoking, and it is generally best to fill it with hot rather than cold water. Another important component that needs to be filled at the start of smoking is the wooden chips bowl. The wooden chips that you add here are what will give your meat a smoky flavor in the absence of real smoke from a charcoal or pellet burning smoker. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the drip tray, which captures any juices dripping off of your meat, while smoking. While this will rarely overflow, the drip tray can be a great source of marinade when your meat is finished cooking.
Note that electric smokers typically take around 30–45 minutes to heat up, and the cooking time for your particular food depends on what type of food you are cooking, how much you are cooking, and what temperature you are cooking at.
Guides are available for different meat types – plan to use a meat thermometer to gauge the internal temperature of your meat to know when it is finished smoking. On electric smokers with analog thermostats, the temperature is typically controlled by a simple dial, while on smokers with digital thermostats you can easily set the temperature via a small screen display.
People traditionally wrap smoking wood chips in tin foil before putting them in the smoker because on propane, charcoal, and pellet smokers, this prevents the wood chips from being burned up in the flame. However, as there is no open flame in an electric smoker, this step of wrapping the chips becomes unnecessary – although it won’t hurt it you are already in the habit of doing it.
In order to start cooking in your smoker, make sure that your water and wood chip trays are filled and that your drip tray is clean and empty. Plug in and turn on the smoker and allow it to heat up to your desired temperature – which usually takes about 30–45 minutes, before putting your meat into the smoker.
Many electric smokers, and those from Masterbuilt in particular, can be outfitted after-market with a cold smoking kit that will allow you to continuously smoke your meat at around 100-150 degrees for long periods of time.
Our overall favorite electric smokers under $200 on the market today were the COS-330 from Cuisinart, the 20071117 from Masterbuilt, and the 3016DEW from Smoke Hollow. All three of these smokers provided excellent temperature control, while the Masterbuilt and Smoke Hollow smokers came with electronic temperature controls to make it easy to set and walk away from the smoker. The Smoke Hollow smoker stood apart for its simplistic design, while both the Masterbuilt and Smoke Hollow units also featured a side-loading wood chip tray to enable you to check the chips without opening the door. However, the Cuisinart smoker stood out as the best electric smoker under $200 because of the high-powered burner that is capable of producing maximum temperatures of up to 400 degrees, the long three-year warranty and excellent customer service that Cuisinart offers, and the relatively large cooking space that offers enough room to cook meats and veggies for a sizable family.