Upcoming in this article we’ll be reviewing our picks for best charcoal smoker under $200. Smokers are without a doubt one of the best ways to cook your meat. And if you’re on a bit of a budget, you’ll still be able to get a great inexpensive meat smoker.

We’ll go over information on what exactly a smoker is, the differences between the different types of smokers and why smoking is more worth it than traditional barbecuing. At the end there will also be recommendations for our favorite charcoal smokers to help you select the perfect charcoal smoker for you.

Best Uses for Your Charcoal Smoker

A charcoal smoker uses charcoal and wood together to create smoke which indirectly heats up and cooks the meat inside. The meat is cooked all the way through and the low temperature makes it so that the meat does not dry out.

A charcoal smoker is like your regular barbecue grill that you will see in your own or any of your neighbor’s backyards. But with a smoker the difference is in quality of the output. The two main differences you will find between the two are:

  1. How it’s prepared
  2. The amazing, succulent taste of the smoked meat.

In a traditional grill, the meat is cooked at much higher temperatures and for less time. Because of this, your meats will not have the time to cook properly and the quality of the resulting product will suffer. When you are using a charcoal smoker your goal is to cook the meat at lower temperatures and for longer periods of time. This gives you amazingly tender and delicious tasting meat. The trade-off? It will take more of your time.

Vegan and Vegetarian Uses for a Charcoal Smoker

Meat will most likely be any person’s most popular choice for what to cook in their smoker. But vegetarians and vegans shouldn’t overlook the wonderful food that can come from a smoker. Here are some other very exciting options for food items you may prepare for any big family gatherings or even for a quiet night at home.

When you think about a smoker, you typically think of beef, chicken, and pork. However fish is another great and popular choice for cooking on a charcoal smoker. Some of the most popular options for smoking fish are smoked tuna, smoked trout, and of course smoked salmon.

You can also smoke side dishes or other smaller things on the side while your main course is cooking or just for a smaller meal. Vegetables are always a great option to add to any meal. You can smoke corn, potatoes, peppers, beans, brussel sprouts, and more. You can also add in some fruits such as pineapple and you may even want to try smoked eggs!

Charcoal Smoker Versus Other Options?

Now that you know the benefits a charcoal smoker offers, it is important to address why a charcoal smoker is your best choice for types of smokers. To properly understand the reasoning behind each smoker we need to break them down one by one.

Charcoal Smoker vs Electric Smoker

With an electric smoker, the biggest con is in the name. When using a charcoal smoker you can cook all day and all night until you run out of fuel. But with an electric smoker once the power goes out or even has an issue, your food is at risk of becoming spoiled. You also need to make sure you have an outlet handy for the smoker so you can’t necessarily put it anywhere you want. 

Charcoal Smoker vs Propane Smoker

The next smoker is a propane smoker. If we take the quality of the food aside, fuel is going to be an issue. Unless you always keep a spare tank you will be constantly running for refills. It is a lot more manageable to carry a bag of charcoal rather than a big tank of gas.

Charcoal Smoker vs Pellet Smoker

The biggest issue when using a pellet smoker is fuel storage. A large amount of pellet smokers will either be built too thick or just in general not have enough storage space for a large amount of fuel. This becomes a big issue when you need to cook overnight. I’m sure you would like to sleep instead of watching all night. This could result in waking up the next day to find your fuel all burned through and your future meal possibly ruined.

The Charcoal Smoker: It’s All About Taste

Lastly, the thing that sets charcoal smokers apart from the rest is the taste and outcome of the food. If you choose to smoke something like ribs in a charcoal smoker you will notice immediately how juicy and preserved all the flavors are. All while still being incredibly tender and essentially falling off the bone. Choosing something such as electric, propane, or wood pellets may be more convenient for the short term, but will not garner the end results that you and your dinner guests crave for.

What To Look For in a Charcoal Smoker

When searching for the perfect charcoal smoker, there are multiple factors that come into play that a new smoker user may make the mistake of not considering.

Your Smoking Needs

Something that is significantly important about the charcoal smoker is you. Consider how much space you have to put the smoker in and any other needs you may have for your smoker. Other things to consider are how often you plan to use the smoker, how many people it will be feeding, and if you require the unit to be mobile or not.

Vertical or Horizontal

This is an important choice as choosing the wrong one could have you running back to the store for an exchange. Vertical smokers tend to be more efficient and hands-free. Horizontal have a cleaner burn but they need to be maintained and watched frequently.


This loops back once again to you. Carefully consider how much space you have and how many people it will need to feed. Smokers can come as small and compact as you’d like, be large enough to feed a family, or some of them can be large enough to feed an entire army! Plan carefully.


Depending where you choose to have your charcoal smoker setup it may be convenient for you to select a model that comes with wheels. If you need to pack up or move in a pinch,getting a charcoal smoker with wheels is a necessity and very convenient.


Charcoal smokers come in a wide range of variety of designs and colors as well as tabletop and free-standing models. It should be no problem to find a fantastic product that suits all your needs.

Best Charcoal Smoker Under $200

Now that you have a much better understanding of charcoal smokers, the pros and cons of different smokers, and what to look for, here are some of our favorite choices:

Char-Griller AKORN Jr Charcoal Kamado Smoker and Grill

Read customer reviews on Amazon.com

The Char-Griller option has the look of a traditional barbecue it also doubles as a smoker and a grill. It’s perfect for camping, rving, or tailgating as it has convenient handles allowing you to pick it up easily.

There is a 153 square inch cooking space. You can use the rack to sear your meat as well as cook it slowly. Temperatures are easy to control on this smoker as well. There are dampers at the top and bottom of the grill to do thi.

Cuisinart Vertical 18 Inch Charcoal Smoker

Read customer reviews on Amazon.com

The Cuisinart smoker offers 510 square inches of cooking space at an affordable price. It has a forward facing vertical door that swings forward on bottom hinges. The entire unit is 43 inches high.

There are two smoking racks within the smoker. This allows you to cook multiple things at the same time. It also features two air vents, one on either end of the smoker. You can get the desired smokiness to your meats by opening and closing these to your liking.

Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

Read customer reviews on Amazon.com

This compact vertical charcoal smoker only takes up 1176 square inches and is still able to smoke up to 150 lbs. worth of food at once. It is a great option for anybody who does not have a lot of space but also needs to be able to smoke a large amount of food at once.

Masterbuilt Charcoal Bullet Smoker

Read customer reviews on Amazon.com

If you are looking for a vertical unit with a lower price point then this is the one for you. It contains two porcelain coated smoking racks and also comes with a built-in lid thermometer which is something that may be uncommon for this price range.

Char-Griller Table Top Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box

Read customer reviews on Amazon.com

A great choice for someone who isn’t planning on spending a ton on a charcoal smoker. This option doubles as a grill and a smoker and can be converted into a side fire box if you choose.

featured image from flickr