Grills & Smokers: Your Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
We have done a bit of research and come up with our top 16 Combination Grill-Smokers under 500$ so you can roast, grill, smoke and burn things to your hearts content.
1) Traeger TFB29PLB Bronson 20 Grill | 2) Traeger Tailgater TFB30LZB Pellet Grill | 3) Traeger Pellet Grills Blue Tailgater | 4) Portable Dual Fuel Combination Charcoal/Gas Grill | 5) PK Grills The Original PK Grill & Smoker | 6) Pit Boss 71820FB Pellet Grill | 7) Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill | 8) Old Smokey Charcoal Grill | 9) Nextstep Portable Folding Pellet Grill | 10) Meco 5031 Charcoal Combo Water Smoker | 11) Masterbuilt Compact Outdoor BBQ Smoker Grill | 12) Jim Beam BTDS76JB Bradley Smoker | 13) Dyna-Glo DGSS1382VCS-D Charcoal Smoker & Grill | 14) Dyna-Glo DGSS962CBO-D Charcoal Grill & Side Firebox | 15) Cadac 8910-50 Carri Chef 2 Outdoor Grill | 16) River Grille Oil Less Fryer and Roaster |
8 Factors to Consider Before Buying
To ensure that you buy the best grill or smoker for your home, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
There are grills you can’t fit much more than a hamburger on and grills you can easily cook enough on for a big party. You can save money on a smaller grill, but it will cut down on your ability to host and mean that cooking for multiple people takes longer.
Consider how many people you’ll want to be cooking for during your typical backyard BBQs and compare that to the cooking surface available in the different models you consider.
Naturally, price has to be a consideration for most shoppers and grills and smokers come in a huge range of prices. You want to be sure to consider not only the sticker price of the grill itself, but all the more long-term factors that relate to overall costs, like:
- The type of fuel the grill or smoker uses.
- The accessories you’ll need.
- How much maintenance is required.
- How long it’s likely to last.
- If it’s the type of grill you’ll want in the long term, or if you may find yourself wanting to trade up down the line.
As with most things, going with one of the cheaper grills can be tempting, but may end up costing you more in the long term based on its quality and what you want out of it.
Do you want something that will just suffice for now? Or do you want a grill you can count on for years to come? If the latter, take some time to research the durability and reputation of different brands and their grills. If you get one of a high enough quality now, you can save yourself the trouble of doing any grill shopping again for many years.
With charcoal grills, you have to worry about dumping ashes after each use and cleaning them carefully so they won’t rust. Smokers and gas electronic grills require less work to maintain, but do still need basic cleaning after each use and a more thorough cleaning each season.
You know your habits better than anyone – how much maintenance are you likely to keep up with, and how likely are you to begrudge the work if you go with charcoal?
Heat has everything to do with how your food will taste. Some types of food taste great when cooked on high heat for short periods of time and some do best on low heat for hours.
How hot your grill gets, how long it takes to heat up, and how easy it is to keep the temperature consistent are all factors that vary with different types of grills and have an influence on how your favorite types of meat will come out. Which choice is right for you will depend on your preferences in terms of meat, flavor, and convenience.
6. Flavor and Texture
Flavor is directly related to temperature, but deserves its own entry. I mean, we’re talking about food here – flavor’s got to be a priority. Well-cooked meat is one thing, but if you want that smoky flavor BBQ lovers really crave, a smoker or charcoal grill are probably the best options to consider.
The biggest safety concern to keep in mind when grilling comes with gas grills. Propane is extremely flammable and if you’re not careful you can cause an explosion that hurts anyone standing close to the grill.
For any type of grill or smoker, anyone using it should be careful about burns and anyone with respiratory illnesses should be cautious about how much smoke they’re exposed to. Recent research also suggests that smoked meats could be linked to cancer, with gas grills faring slightly better on this point, but the risks seem to be minimal all around.
If you’re looking for the best grill or smoker for backyard BBQs then portability shouldn’t be much of a concern, but if you want something you can take camping or tailgating then it’s worth considering some of your smaller and lighter options. All four of the main types of grills we described can be found in portable versions, and smaller grills will typically be some of your most affordable choices.