Holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics, loves traveling and learning new languages. Fluent in Spanish, is learning French and Czech at the moment. Enjoys exploring national cuisines every time he visits new countries.
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous online and offline grilling masterclasses runs his own BBQ accessories shop.
Last updated: April 16, 2021
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There are a lot of reasons people add a smoker to their outdoor cooking process. The main one is that the best smoker can create some truly mouthwatering dishes that you can’t get any other way. There is a wide range of smoker types to choose from, each with their benefits that can enhance your cooking. Though they can be a bit pricey, it is also very easy to find the best smoker under $1000.
If you’ve already added a smoker to your summer shopping list, there are a few features you should watch out for. One is the type of smoker since there are a few to choose from, each of which works in a specific way with a specific fuel type. You should check the cooking area, so you know just how much meat you can throw on there. The number of grates also tells you your cooking area, plus there may be a grate for barbecuing thrown in for good measure. The dimensions and the weight tell you how much room it will take up in your yard and how heavy it is to move around, which is especially important if you plan to take your smoker on the road.
To help you choose the best smoker under $1000, we spent numerous hours checking out manufacturer’s information, reviewing product features, and reading hundreds of customer reviews. Then we chose the top six models, created a comparison table with in-depth reviews, and added a buying guide in at the end.
The Traeger TFB57PZBO may be the best-rated pellet smoker under $1000 because it is easy to use, even for beginners, and is one of the most versatile models on the market. Though the assembly manual leaves a bit to be desired, once you have it put together, you’ll be making the most sumptuous meals possible.
This unit has a large hopper on the side, which holds up to 18 pounds of wood pellets. When you start it up using the auto-start ignition, the auger pushes the perfect amount of pellets into the firepot and ignites them. Then a draft induction fan pushes the heat and smoke up into the grill, where it cooks your food and gives it that tasty smoky flavor at the same time.
The temperature is controlled using a dial on the hopper, with a digital display so you can see exactly how hot it is at all times. This lets you smoke your meat on the lower setting or crank up the heat if needed. This way, you can smoke, grill, barbecue, braise, roast, or even bake, all with this 1 unit.
The Traeger TFB57PZBO is made of durable steel, with a powder-coated finish, so it will last for years without rusting away. The inner grills are non-stick porcelain and give you 418 square inches of cooking space for multiple burgers, steaks, chickens, or racks of ribs.
This smoker from Masterbuilt uses electricity for the 800-watt heating element, so you don’t need to worry about gas hookups or empty propane tanks. It also allows you to choose the smoke method you prefer, with a basket for wood chips or charcoal. This basket is a bit small, so you can’t overload it, but there is a smooth-operating loading system to make it easier to add more wood when needed.
The 4 internal racks give you a full 721 square feet of cooking space inside, so you can customize your meal with any meat or vegetables that you like. These racks are chrome-coated and hold up to 80 pounds of food altogether. The drip deflector and front-access drip pan keep the mess to a minimum.
You can control the temperature using the front display, which is lit with a blue LED light that keeps it visible in full sunlight or after it starts to go down. The temperature ranges from 100 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can cook pretty much anything inside this smoker. There is also a top air damper to give you full control over the smoke inside.
The whole unit is solid and durable, sitting flat on the ground without causing damage to the surface underneath it. The front door locks, so you won’t need to worry about it coming open when you’re back is turned. This also keeps little ones from pulling it open.
If you’re looking for the best outdoor pellet smoker under 1000 dollars, you can’t go wrong with the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker. It is a reverse-flow smoker, which uses 4 baffles that perfectly guide the smoke and the heat from the firebox to the main chamber. This gives you consistent heating, no matter where the meat is placed on the grates.
This model has 1060 square inches of cooking area over four grates, so you can cook enough to feed a small army every time you load it up. The grates are all porcelain-coated as well, to reduce rust and keep your meals from sticking.
You can customize the setup in this smoker using the removable baffles and smokestack, setting them up however you like to control the heat and smoke. The temperature gauge is mounted on the lid, so you can always keep track of it without opening it up.
The firebox includes a stainless steel basket to hold your pellets, or you can throw some charcoal in as well. There is a clean-out door as well for easy ash removal as you cook or after the meal is over.
Other great features include the front and bottom shelves on the outside, the cool-touch handles on the lid and firebox, and the heavy gauge steel construction over the entire unit. It is quite heavy, and the heat may peel the paint off the firebox over time, but neither of these will affect how well it works.
If you want a lightweight smoker that can still handle a lot of meat at once, the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 22 Inch Smoker is a great option. This model includes two cooking grates that allow you to cook a couple of chickens or roasts, or anything else you like, at the same time. Those grates are made of plated steel to help resist rust.
The lid, bowl, and center section of this smoker are porcelain-enameled, which also resists rust, plus won’t peel while maintaining the temperature you’ve set. There are dampers at the top and bottom to help raise or lower the temperature, or you can close them both to cut off the airflow and put out the coals.
There is a large fuel door on the front that can come right off to make it easier to add some more wood or charcoal. This door may fit a bit loosely, letting some of the smoke out, but a gasket kit can remedy this situation, keeping the smoke inside where it belongs.
The Weber smoker also includes an extra-large water pan, a built-in thermometer, and a silicone grommet. The metal legs resist rust, so they’ll keep the smoker standing for years. There is also a cover included with this model that keeps the whole thing clean and ready to go whenever you need it.
If you like grilling and smoking, but don’t want to spend money on two separate units, the Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D is a great alternative. It gives you the ability to do both at the same time or use each side separately.
On the side is the offset firebox, which has the tray for the charcoal or wood pellets and a grate over these that you can use to grill some burgers, steaks, or chicken breasts. There is a removable ash pan that pulls out, so you can quickly add some extra fuel. It is a bit tricky to clean out the ashes when you’re cooking, but you can easily dump it out when it’s cooled off.
The main area is for smoking. It includes five chrome-plated cooking grates that give you a total of 1,382 square inches of cooking space. These grates can be removed, though they need to turn sideways to do so. This means you need to start at the bottom and take them out one at a time, so it can’t be done when you’ve already loaded them up with food.
There are a few other great features included with this unit. There are sausage hooks at the top of the smoker area, a cool-touch spring handle, an analog temperature gauge with Grill Zone and Smoke Zone indicators, and it is made of heavy-gauge steel to add to its durability.
If you’re looking for a smoker but can’t afford to get a high-end model, the Pit Boss Grills 77425 may be the best smoker for under $1000 for you. This unit is a vertical LP gas smoker, with a dual valve burner system. One burner is a 3,500 BTU stainless steel piece for the wood chips, while the other gives you 10,000 BTUs for heating the cabinet and cooking your tasty meals.
Both of the valves for the burners are controlled by one control knob, which lets you adjust the temperature as needed between 100 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To light it, there is a push-button piezo ignition, so you don’t need to fool around with lighters or matches.
Inside this smoker are three porcelain-coated cooking racks, giving you a total of 676 square inches of space to make ribs, chicken, and a roast, all at the same time. You can even hang some sausages between the racks of other delicious meats. The porcelain coating reduces sticking and rust, plus are easy to clean.
The grease tray and the wood chip drawer can be accessed from the outside, though the chip drawer may expand a bit with the heat. The water pan is a bit small for all-day smoking but fine for shorter times. The large viewing window lets you keep an eye on things without opening the door
The best smoker can add a delicious flavor to any of the meals you cook. These units can be a bit expensive, though, putting them out of reach for those on a budget. Of course, if you want to get your hands on one, there are a variety to choose from that cost less than $1000, making it a bit more manageable. These cheaper units still do a similar job as the more expensive models, too, so you aren’t missing out by spending a bit less.
Why you do need a smoker
Smoking meat is similar to barbecuing, though you cook the food much slower over lower heat. This process adds the deep flavor of the wood you’re using, too, not only to the meat you’re cooking but also to the sauces and the vegetables. You can smoke almost anything, including sausages, chicken, roasts, brisket, or ribs. When they’re finished, you’ll have a tender, juicy meal that falls right off the bone.
Features to consider while choosing a smoker
If you’re looking for the best smoker under $1000, there are a few options you can choose. Check out the following features to help you decide which ones are right for you.
When it comes to smokers, there are a few different types to choose from. Electric smokers, like the Masterbuilt 30″ Electric Digital Smoker, have a heating element to create smoke from the wood used. They use a temperature dial to control the heat. These models don’t create as much smoky flavor as some other models, though, and tend to be pricey.
Propane smokers are similar to electric models, only they replace the heating element with a gas burner. They are easy to use and can be used pretty much anywhere.
Charcoal smokers are quite common and a favorite of many barbecue experts. The charcoal adds a bit more flavor than propane and electric smokers. They are also cheaper models, though you do need to buy charcoal now and then. You also need to keep a closer eye on them to maintain the fire and smoke.
When it comes to pure flavor, wood smokers are the best. They also need the most attention when cooking as they don’t maintain a consistent temperature. These are best for those with a bit more experience smoking their food.
The Traeger TFB57PZBO unit and other pellet smokers are similar to the wood ones, except the wood has been condensed into little pellets instead of using larger chunks. They are easier to use, too since you only need to load the pellets into the hopper and light them up. They are pricey, though, so be prepared to pay a bit extra for one.
Total cooking area
The total cooking area on any smoker tells you how much actual space there is for you to cook on. This can vary from smoker to smoker. For instance, the Traeger TFB57PZBO has a total of 418 square inches of cooking space for you to add burgers, ribs, chicken, or anything else you want to cook. The Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D, on the other hand, has a total of 1,382 square inches. Sometimes this cooking area is one large space to cook on, while other models have it spread over multiple grates stacked on top of each other.
Hopper capacity (for charcoal/pellet models)
The hopper capacity is only an issue when you’re using pellets or charcoal. You fill up the hopper with whichever one of these you’re using and then start the fire inside it. The heat and smoke are then pushed out into the smoker.
The size of the hopper matters because the smaller it is, the less fuel you can add at once. If you pack it too full, it won’t burn properly, which will affect the cooking process. One that is too small will also require you to stay close by, adding in fuel frequently. A bigger hopper is better since you can add a bit more charcoal or pellets for a longer burning fire.
Number of grates
As we discussed above, the number of grates is related to the cooking area. Some models have a couple of grates side by side. Other units, like the Dyna-Glo Signature Series DGSS1382VCS-D, have multiple grates stacked above each other. Though the first option gives you a wide-open area to spread out your food while you cook, the second type gives you a bit more versatility. It allows you to spread out the meat or veggies, giving each item its own grate. There is no best option, though, it all depends on the style you prefer.
Dimensions and weight
Even the smallest smoker available can make a meal large enough to feed a small army, so the size of the smoker likely won’t be an issue when it comes to how much food you need to cook. Where the dimensions come into play is when you’re trying to fit a smoker into your yard. If you only have limited space, a huge model like the Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker may take up too much room, leaving little space for your other backyard items or your guests. If you are lacking the backyard area, a vertical model may be a better choice since these tend to be thinner than other models.
The weight can be an issue as well for a few reasons. Many smokers don’t come fully assembled, so you need to be able to lift certain pieces to put it all together. If you don’t assemble it exactly where you want it, you might not be able to move it around. Another reason weight could be an issue is if you plan to take your smoker out of your yard for some reason. The lighter it is, the easier this will be to do.
There are a few extra features you may want to look for in a good smoker. The first is a decent warranty, just in case the model delivered to you isn’t working as it’s supposed to. Faulty parts, manufacturing errors, or even shipping damage are not your fault, so you shouldn’t have to pay for them.
Drip pans catch all the grease falling off of the meat you’re smoking. As well as keeping the inside of the smoker clean, these pans also make it easier to dump the grease out during or after the cooking process.
Baskets for ashes are another handy addition. Ashes can clog up your fire, reducing airflow and heat. A basket helps you get rid of these while the fire is still burning, plus makes the whole thing easier to clean up afterward.
A good smoker also needs to be made of durable materials, like steel. This will ensure that it will last a long time. Steel grates are also a plus, especially if they have some sort of coating on them to reduce sticking and rust. Temperature control panels let you adjust the heat as needed while you’re cooking.
Cool-touch handles keep your hands safe when opening the doors to remove the meat or add some extra fuel. A built-in thermometer lets you stay on top of the internal temperature without having to open the door. Wheels on the bottom of the unit make it easier to move around if necessary.
How to clean your smoker
Excess grease and dirt buildup can alter the taste of your food negatively. That’s why it’s so important to clean your smoker regularly, using the following tips:
Remove the interior pieces, including the racks, drip tray, water pan, and smoker box. Disconnect the gas if using a gas smoker.
Brush any particles that have built up towards the bottom of the smoker, then sweep them out.
Gently scrub the inner surfaces of the smoker using a sponge or plastic bristle brush and some warm soapy water, then wipe it dry.
Wash the racks, drip tray, and water pan with warm soapy water. Rinse and dry them as well.
Wipe down the outer surface, including any control panels, with warm soapy water and a damp cloth, then wipe dry.
Wipe the door seal with a damp cloth to remove any built-up smoke residue after every use.
Wipe the thermostat and meat probes with soapy water and a damp cloth, then wipe dry.
When all areas are cleaned, put it back together and cover the whole unit.
The best way to tell if your smoked meat is ready is to check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. This is important to do because different thicknesses, whether or not it has a bone, or even how cold it is outside can affect the cooking time, so even if the recipe you’re following says the meat should be ready in 3 hours, you can’t know for sure until you check the inner temperature of the piece of meat you’re cooking. When you reach the right internal temperature, the meat is ready to come out.
Smokers are built to be able to handle all types of weather conditions, though they do work better in some types than others. Cold weather requires more heat and longer cooking times. The same goes for windy days. The only weather your smoker can’t contend with is rain. A good cover can protect your smoker from all types of inclement weather when you’re not using it. You can also build some sort of insulated shelter for it if you plan to use it in cold weather.
On average it should take about 45 minutes for any smoker to warm up before adding any meat to it. You can do a few things to help it maintain that temperature when opening the door to add the meat, too. This includes adding a brick or two next to the water bowl to help with heat recovery. You can also pre-heat the water in the water pan. This way, it will take less time to get back to the optimal temperature for smoking the meat, reducing your overall cooking time.
A good smoker doesn’t need to cost you thousands of dollars, as the models we’ve reviewed here have shown. They have similar features and do the same job of creating delicious meals as the more expensive models.
The Traeger TFB57PZBO is the best of the bunch, with its durable steel construction, powder-coated finish, and the digital display. It also includes a huge hopper, with that unique pellet auger system and the auto-start ignition. This is the only model that can be used for multiple cooking techniques as well.
The Masterbuilt 30″ Electric Digital Smoker is an electric model and can be used with wood chips or charcoal. It has four racks capable of cooking 80 pounds of meat, a drip deflector, a front-access drip pan, and a locking front door. The blue LED display is also a handy feature.
The Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Smoker has a huge 1,060 square inches of cooking space. It includes great features like the adjustable baffles and smokestack, the outer shelves, the lid thermometer, and a clean-out door for ashes. This one has heavy gauge steel construction with cool-touch handles for added safety.