The 3 Best Charcoal Smokers and Grills Under $500 – Review

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Finding a good grill under $500 can be challenging at times. That is why I reviewed three grills that can give you a great experience when grilling or smoking.

You need a new grill but you don’t want to spend a fortune on one. I will give you a selection of three that I have reviewed and done the hard work for you.

Since I have looked at how durable the grill is for the price this should save you time. When I looked at how reliable it is when in use based on the money.

In this review, I will give you my unbiased opinion as to which grill/smoker gives you the best product for your money. Reviews will be done on size, cost, reliability and durability. I will go in-depth with my analysis of each grill and the reason for its rating.

ImageNamePriceCheck Price
Gravity Series® 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker$$$Check Price
B06WGZ9X26Dyna-glo Signature Series DGSS962-CBO-D Barrel Charcoal Grill & Side Firebox$$Check Price
B08NCDN8T8Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker$Check Price
Best Better Good
Masterbuilt Gravity Grill

The Masterbuilt Gravity Series® 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker

Model NameGravity Series 560
Power SourceCorded Electric
Item Weight146.98 Pounds
Item Dimensions LxWxH24.65 x 54.13 x 51.97 inches
Fuel TypeCharcoal

The Masterbuilt Gravity Series® 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker takes charcoal grilling and smoking to the next level. You can actually set the timer for a specific grill time and leave the grill to spend time with family and friends.

Having the ability to set the timer is wonderful. Now, you have the ability to spend time with family and friends without the guilt. The charcoal or lump charcoal is dumped into a hopper and is gravity fed to keep the temperature at the a stable heat.

The hopper will hold enough charcoal to last around 12 hours. If you are smoking a brisket this saves you having to constantly look at your bricquets to see if you need to add more. A saying among most pit masters is “if you’re lookin’ you ain’t cooking”. This saying is very true. The more you open the lid the more heat you lose therefore taking longer for your pork butt or brisket to cook properly.

There are not many if any that can get to smoking temperatures(225F) in 7 minutes or high searing(700F) in 13 minutes but the Masterbuilt does. It can even maintain these temperatures with the lid open. That makes grilling and smoking just that much better. You don’t have to wait for the temperature to catchup.


  • Gravity automatically feeds the charcoal or lump charcoal into the fire. The fan keeps the temperature where is should be after it has been set.
  • Once you have set the temperature you are off to the races. You don’t have to worry about the heat on the grill once you have preset the temperature, it keeps feeding and cooking at the right temperature.
  • Even in cold weather the temperature stays in the right zone with no trouble. The settings on the temperature controller keeps a good steady flow of heat to the grill for an amazing experience.


  • The controller keeps turning itself off.
  • Bluetooth is hard to pair with phone.
  • The firebox chamber needs to be redesigned since the grease keeps flowing into the fire chamber.
Dyna-glo Signature Series

The Dyna-glo Signature Series DGSS962-CBO-D Barrel Charcoal Grill & Side Firebox

MaterialPorcelain enameled steel
ColorBlack powder coat
Item Dimensions LxWxH67 x 34.5 x 60 inches
Item Weight169.4 Pounds
Dyna-glo Signature Series

Grilling with the Dyna-glo Signature Series gives you the option of the type of grilling you want to do. You can just grill steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs and other similar items for a quick family meal or smoke larger cuts of meat as well.

The porcelain-enameled grill grates make for an even grill on whatever is on the grill. You have a wide range of options available for grilling. The ease of access for removing ash and adding fuel is a definite plus to be considered.


  • Evenly distributes heat for grilling and smoking.
  • Can handle large amounts for grilling.
  • Great for smoking ribs.


  • Hard to assemble.
  • Ash is hard to remove since there is no ash catcher.
  • May give inaccurate temperatures requiring the need to find a replacement.

The Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker

Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker

The Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker is not a bad grill for the money. You can use either charcoal or wood to grill with. I would use wood in the firebox, it helps to give that smoky flavor associated with slow cooked meats(low and slow).

The method of grilling or smoking that you use will determine which type of fuel to use. Wood or charcoal. Either way, you are on your way to a great experience.

Having the ability to add fuel while cooking is a plus that should not be discounted. Adding more fuel at the right time can make the difference between a great grilling and smoking experience to one where you either have to cook longer or go out to eat.

Model NameCC1830R
Power SourceCharcoal
Item Weight48.1 Pounds
Item Dimensions LxWxH53.15 x 19.49 x 48.62 inches
Fuel TypeCharcoal


  • Easy for one person to put together.
  • You can either grill or smoke, it just depends upon what you are cooking.
  • Smoker gives added value.


  • Metal is thin and dents easily.
  • It is hard to line up during assembly.
  • Missing some hardware for assembly.

My Thoughts and Decision on the Best of the Three

The Masterbuilt Gravity Series® 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker in my opinion is the best of the three charcoal grills for a variety of reasons.

Having the ability to set the time and temperature for grilling not only allows you the option of what you grill but that you will have the required amount of fuel for the job. This video by Masterbuilt shows how easy it is to get your grill started:

You have the size available to cook almost anything the required length of time for maximum flavor and tenderness. The control is yours completely. You now have the time to spend with family and friends while grilling at the same time.

Based on size, functionality, durability and cost the Masterbuilt Gravity Series® 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoke is the best grill for the money. It fits all the criteria with the added bonus of letting you take control of the grilling experience.

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20 thoughts on “The 3 Best Charcoal Smokers and Grills Under $500 – Review”

  1. Thanks for this comprehensive review of these 3 BBQ systems. I must say that in the UK, where it rains quite a lot in the summer, we probably don’t get to use our BBQs as much as we’d like! However, I like the idea of some of the add ons although I think they may be a bit tricky to set up and they look quite bulky and large for a small garden. Are there other ones which would fit on a smaller patio that you’d recommend? 

    • Hi Gail,

      Thanks for reading my review. I understand the rain situation in the UK but you may want to read my post about the Roadtrip 285 Standup Propane Grill. It is on the website. It may have some of the features. It is also portable. If you wanted you could just fold it up until you needed it. Great grill. My younger brother had one for 7 years before he decided to upgrade.


  2. Hi Jerry

    Thank you for the review. I have been looking for a smoker for a while now( after a delicious meal with friends) these all look like good models. I believe he had the Dyna-Glo Signature Series. He said you can’t rely on the temp gauges for perfect cooking, and to get a separate temp gauge. Would you agree?

    • HI Tony, 

      There are times when the temperature gauge may not work properly. I always have an extra on hand. I have gone through that with other grills and found having a spare is a good thing to have. However, in the event you do have one that is not working properly, contact them and have a new one sent to you. The research I have done shows that to be something that does not happen often.

      I am sure that you will be watching the Super Bowl. I hope you enjoy the game.

  3. Hi Jerry

    I have followed the links to check the price of the three models and found out the top 2 have gone. The last one, the Royal Gourmet, is reasonably priced and honestly, the Cons do not sound too bad for me, so I will check that one out! Besides, we only have BBQ a few times during summer so no need to invest too much anyway hehe. I think it is a good choice for us!

    Thanks for your detailed review,


    • I am sorry to hear that the other two grills in the review had sold out. At the time of my review there were several of each ready to be purchased.

      The Royal Gourmet is a good grill and should meet your needs with no problems. I hope that you and your family enjoy grilling this summer.


  4. As an Argentinean, I am a total fan of barbacues (we call them asados)! Looking at your article, what I can say is that when it refers to grills, one must spend a good amount of money, cause chep grills usually get rusty and that will affect your barbacues. I am crazy about the Gravity Series 500!!!

    • The Asado is King in Argentina. I understand that the traditions of the Adado are quite strong and are a great time. Cheap grills not only don’t last long but they don’t always grill the way they should. I would rather have a grill that costs more but I get a better grilling experience from it.


  5. Sometimes I prefer a Charcoal grill over a gas grill, that is why am here looking for a good Charcoal grill that will last longer than the one I had before. Think am going to go with Dyna-glo Signature as was going to choose Masterbuilt Gravity Series but the cons made me change my mind due to the timer turning off and not completing the cooking time. 

    • Janette,

      The flavor of the charcoal grill cannot be duplicated. There is that distinct flavor from grilling on a charcoal grill that keeps you wanting to repeat the process. You could ask Masterbuilt for some tips that would help with the problem of losing signal to Bluetooth. They may have found an easy fix.


  6. I have been on the hunt for a great charcoal smoker for a while (gift idea for sweetie), but I definitely have a hard budget that I’m not ready to surpass. I love that in addition to the basic smoking system, that there are also some smart technological features available to those who want to understand more about the workings of their smoker. Thanks for sharing these options to consider and help narrow down my choices to 3 good options.

    • Aly,

      I am glad you found the review helpful. Having a budget for a good grill is an exceptionally smart thing to do. This will allow you to weigh all the options you are looking for. I feel that you are on the right track.


  7. hello , thanks a lot for the review , i have been looking for some good smoker grills .. i saw there is a lot of function of smoker grills that you reviewed , i am very new on this , what do you think i should be aware when purchasing a smoker grills ????? 

    • Kuro,

      One of the first things to look at is how much space you have. If you only have a balcony or patio area then you may want one that is smaller but can handle the type of meat you are grilling. Another thing to look at is are grills allowed if you live in an apartment.

      You will want to look at the size of the grill. You don’t want one that is too large for your space. You will have to decide whether to use charcoal or gas. Buy one that fits your budget.


  8. Wow, I never knew there were so many barbecues to choose from! It definitely brings the kitchen cooking outdoors and these look amazing ! I love barbecued food and it really does make a huge difference to the taste when a decent one is used for cooking. They can be a headache to clean too so it’s good to know the pros and cons of each to help with your readers purchase. Thanks for sharing !

    • Louise,

      This is but a small sampling of the grills available on today’s market. Yes, today you can have an outdoor kitchen for use whenever your want. The grill is an important feature and choosing the right one for your needs is very important. If you don’t have all the information you may not make the right choice.


  9. I have the Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker, It is absolutely perfect. It is an ingenious utilization of space and Room. It is sturdy. It is light weight. And it is also Great value for the money. My husband and I couldn’t be any more thrilled!                                                                                                                     

    • The Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker is a great grill. It can cook almost anything and will last for many years. The offset smoker makes it a great choice for ribs or brisket. The price is just right for many people and is long lasting. Enjoy the Grill.


  10. Hi there, As a South African who has a husband that will light the BBQ (or we call it a braai) at every possible opportunity, I am always on the lookout for for outdoor grill that are available. We do have a gas BBQ that needs to be replaced, and like to smoky taste that some one can get with some grills, so that is a factor. 

    I do like to look and pros of the Masterbuilt Gravity Series, but am worried about the fat or grease that runs into the fire chamber. Is that a big problem, or can one position the grill at a slight angel to prevent it happening? Thanks

    • Hi Line,

      You should not have to worry about grease running into the fire chamber since the grease probably won’t reach it. It is offset so the likelihood is very small of that happening.

      Your husband will be very proud of this grill. He will be able to set the temperature and Bluetooth it to his phone to monitor. Another great feature, once the grilling is done replace the slide vent covers to cause the fire to go out. This will save you money on the charcoal. You won’t have to buy as much.



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