Planning to buy a new smoker? Overwhelmed with all the options before you? Looking for something new and hassle-free, or something that is an upgrade to what you’re using?
We’ve all got a fair idea of how we plan to use our smokers, but deciding which is the best electric smoker can be a bit of a challenge. This is true, especially if you are new to the BBQ game and are not sure where to begin.
Why an Electric Smoker?
Even though electric smokers aren’t taken as seriously as their contemporaries owing to their casual and an easy-to-manage air about them, they do have a lot going for them. With an electric smoker, you don’t have to toil away endlessly on stoking the fire, or checking the fuel, etc.
A smoker that does not take itself too seriously, and yet gets the job done just right. That’s an electric smoker for you.
In a Hurry? Here Are Our Top Picks:
|Masterbuilt 40"||CHECK PRICE|
|Bradley 6-rack||CHECK PRICE|
|Masterbuilt 30"||CHECK PRICE|
|Royal Gourmet||CHECK PRICE|
|Dyna-Glo 30"||CHECK PRICE|
|Cuisinart 30"||CHECK PRICE|
Okay, So How Do Electric Smokers Work?
Electric smokers work on the same lines of electric stoves or hotplates as they use the same principles. These come in 3 modes (low, medium and high), and make use of a rheostat or thermostat that runs electricity to the coil that is connected to the cooking chamber where all the action happens.
Electric smokers with a thermostat are more expensive than those with a rheostat- admittedly, thermostat smokers give you a greater sense of control over the temperature and time, so you can cook your food exactly to your taste.
And I Should Own an Electric Smoker Because…
Easy to Use
I would choose an electric smoker because it’s user friendly and doesn’t need too much experience to navigate. It is a great choice for a smoker because it comes in a compact frame that can seem a welcome change from the bulky, gigantic alternatives.
If you’re worried about your smoker releasing crud into the atmosphere, and your food, then the electric smoker could be your best bet.
Even high-end electric smokers cost comparatively less than their charcoal and pellet counterparts; making them a pocket friendly option too. Keep in mind, that they do a decent job against any other cheap smoker out there. Most importantly, electric smokers only need electricity and use wood chips and pellets, which are quite affordable when compared to wood chunks and charcoal.
So with a reliable electric connection and some beginners’ knowledge, you can use your electric smoker to prepare a wide range of food– from dried meat, fish, sausages, to even cold smoking bacon and cheese.
Easy to Maintain
Cleaning is a breeze with these machines. Just wipe down the exterior and interior, and you’re good to go.
Great for Smaller Places
Their compact size fits perfectly into a well-ventilated patio of an apartment or condo, and is also great for places that have a fire ban on using grills.
What Is The Downside To An Electric Smoker….
It wouldn’t be right to talk only about the possibilities with this kind of smoker. There are a few limitations to an electric smoker that you’d want to consider if you’re planning to put your money down on a new smoker.
Low Temperature Range
Electric smokers come with a limited max temperature range (about 275 degrees Fahrenheit). While this temperature works perfectly well for smoking, it isn’t nearly good enough for roasting or baking. Gas, charcoal, or wood counterparts blast away at temperatures over 400 degrees, giving them the edge in outdoor cooking.
Dependent on Electricity
Barbequing is not just about the food, it’s also about a lot of other things that make up the experience. Like the location. With electric heaters tied down by electric supply (quite literally), you sense a certain lack of portability. Let’s face it – you may not find an electrical outlet to plug in your electric smoker everywhere you go.
Tech Wear and Tear
Electric smokers come with a lot of tech that can break, and in just a matter of time, it will. After all, it’s much more than just wood on fire. There’s the thermostat, the heaters, the LCD display, and the entire computer that keeps it running. Repair costs can be a bummer if you were hoping to own an affordably efficient machine.
No Smoke Ring
The absence of a smoke ring. You would find BBQ enthusiasts fussing over the presence of a smoke ring. What’s so hot about it? Well, the ring does add a certain visual appeal (and authenticity) to your meat, but doesn’t really affect taste or texture. Electric smokers do not produce smoke rings because they do not create any NO (Nitric Oxide) or CO (Carbon Monoxide). Burning Wood or Charcoal creates NO and CO which interacts with the myoglobin of the meat crating that pink smoke ring. Amazingribs.com has great research on the science of a smoke ring.
Not Recognized as an Authentic Smoker
If you’re a seasoned barbeque enthusiast and are hoping to fire away in competitions, you may want to know- Most BBQ competitions don’t permit the use of electric smokers.
So a few extra hours of rest and lesser cleaning, in exchange for the above. What do you think? (Stealing side glances, are we?)
Having cleared that up for you, let’s talk about the 2 top electric smoker styles.
Electric Element With Wood Chip Compartment
Have you ever just used your electric smoker and not felt very satisfied with the smoked taste? Like something was missing. I’ve been there too.
Not many people understand that you can use wood chips to create that intense smokiness in your food. Even if your smoker doesn’t come with a built-in system for it.
Adding wooden chips to an electric smoker not only gets you that much loved BBQ flavor, you can also change the taste of almost anything you cook by using different types of smoker wood chips.
Flavors like applewood, hickory, alder, and mesquite, to name a few.
Wooden chips can be added to electric smokers in quite a few ways:
- Through a wood chip tray or loading cartridge
- Wrapping up the wood chips in an aluminum foil, and poking holes at the top for an even release of smoke
- Through a smoker box which is of stainless steel, cast iron or tin
So technically, this solves one problem that owning an electric smoker poses- the lack of smoke, and a smokey taste in food.
Bradley Electric Element with Wood Bisquette System
So, what’s great about the Bradley electric element with wood bisquette system? This sure seems like one of the top smokers of the electric game, with its elegant technology that does best what electric smokers are known for.
The Bradley Electric Element offers versatile smoking options, accentuated by accurate temperature control that is sure to create a consistently brilliant smoky flavor. Equipped with automatic fuel feed and a smoking capacity of up to 8 hours without refueling, this is every electric smoker’s dream.
This smoker performs in both hot and cool smoke. Simple to use temperature controls, an automatic smoke generator, and an automatic wood feeder bisquette system (1 bisquette every 20 minutes) are some of the best features of this electric smoker.
With Bradley’s electric smoker, smoking pork, beef, ribs, even smoking fish and salmon works like a charm. Cold smoking means that it works wonderfully with slow, low temp roasting too.
This smoker also doubles up as a food dehydrator, so if you’re planning to make dried fruit or great jerky…. You know where I’m getting with this.
To make choosing the best electric meat smoker easier for you, we reviewed an insane number of options out there at this point, and have rounded up 6 of the finest electric smokers in use today.
Our Top Picks:
Masterbuilt 40” Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker
Suited for beginners and seasoned grillers alike, the Masterbuilt digital electric smoker comes with power packed features that takes your grilling game to a whole new level. This electric smoker is powered by Bluetooth Smart Technology supported by a 40 inch digital electric smoker monitor and built-in meat probe thermometer.
Masterbuilt products often carry some very useful features in an innovative design that makes cooking very enjoyable. They have a wide range of smoking options to choose from depending on your expertise, the size of cooking you usually do, if you plan to set your smoker indoors or outdoors, and so on.
|What We Like…||What Makes Us Angry…|
|Digital convenience in controlling temperature||Warranty is lesser than other brands (comes in a 1 year warranty)|
|Tight sealing door||Grates scruff easily making them sticky|
|Wood chip tray slide out easily||Could have a more customized use of space|
|Easy to assemble|
|Is portable and weighs light|
|Easy to Clean|
|Can be monitored by wireless Bluetooth|
Design and Features
The Bluetooth Electric Smoker is fitted with a wood chip loading system at the side that gives you the freedom to create your own distinct BBQ flavor with a combination of chips, without having to open the smoker door.
Designed in an elegant stainless steel body, this electric smoker accommodates 4 chrome-plated smoking racks with an impressive cooking capacity to hold up to 16 chickens, 4 turkeys 8 pork butts or 8 racks of ribs.
The built-in meat probe thermometer accurately reads the temperature and also helps control it for even, consistent smoking.
Wheels and handles mounted on the rear end helps moving this smoker along smooth.
Additionally, an air damper is fitted for moisture and smoke control.
Works through Bluetooth, helping you control every aspect of the cooking experience- from cooking temperature and time, to operating the lights and power and monitoring your food from you smart device.
Bradley 6-rack Digital Smoker
This luxuriously designed electric smoker is sleekly designed but does not compromise with either the functions or quality of food it smokes. Intuitively laid out, it is equipped with excellent digital control over your cooking, comes with an automatic wood feeder and ash catcher for an easy clean-up.
Bradley’s smokers come with some of the best features you can get in their price range, and their huge sizes are totally worth it. I would suggest you consider this if you regularly cater to a large group. “The more, the merrier” is the whole point of BBQ parties and Bradley’s design and ideals run along the same lines.
|What We Like…||What Makes Us Angry…|
|Easy set up and use||Bisquettes are expensive and not easily available|
|Easy temperature control||Temperature reading is not always accurate|
|Heavy duty magnetic door||Heating Element is Slow|
|Glass Door allows interior visibility||Poor Cold Weather Performance|
|Automatic wood feeder|
|Can cater to large gatherings|
|Ash catcher helps in easier cleaning|
Design and Features
Despite a spacious interior, the overall size of this smoker is functional to most working spaces. It does a great job holding all the 6 adjustable cooking racks that come with it, complete with food.
Bradley Digital Smoker comes with a large cooking space of about 781 sq. in. that caters to larger gatherings.
In a versatile design, this smoker comes in both convection heat and smoking heat modes. This means that you can choose to cook with or without heat and smoke. It also doubles up as a slow cooker, a dehydrator, cold smoker and an oven.
With hot and cold smoking, a wide variety of dishes are possible. For instance, hot smoking works perfectly for beef and pork, while cold smoking is a longer process used in salt-curing dishes like bacon, ham and some kinds of fish.
The stainless steel interiors are enclosed with a heavy duty magnetic door that seals the heat inside. With this, even heating is possible and the smoker is efficient in all weathers.
Bradley offers 9 iconic bisquette flavors that help you achieve a phenomenal smoky variation in your meat. These utilize very little energy and don’t burn to ash. However, these bisquettes don’t come cheap and are not included in your purchase.
The Bradley Digital Smoker comes with an automatic wood feeding system that adds a bisquette every 20 minutes or so.
Masterbuilt 30” Digital Electric Smoker
A vertical electric smoker that is easy to set up and control, the Masterbuilt 30 inch Digital Electric Smoker offers top notch features that promise good performance for the price.
There is something for everyone when it comes to Masterbuilt smokers, and if you are willing to go the extra mile in the grilling journey, these beauties are great to have around. You may find a few of their models pricey, and you may find yourself asking the question, ‘Why?’. Well, if you intend to use the features, the question may as well be, ‘Why not?’.
|What We Like…||What Makes Us Angry…|
|Easy to use||Accessories are a little flimsy|
|Wide range of cooking temperatures||Limited warranty|
|Add-on options like a cold smoking attachment||Not enough rack settings|
|Temperature and time are easy to set||Sits low on the ground- no wheels|
|Convenient chips loading system|
|Handy display on top|
|Large cooking capacity|
Design and Features
The electrical heating element of this smoker ensures easy handling and hassle-free maintenance which makes it a wonderful choice for beginners.
The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker uses a whopping 700 sq. in. of primary cooking space. It is equipped with 4 chrome plated cooking racks that can hold food for a large group of people.
The body comes fully insulated, which means that there is minimal heat loss, more consistent cooking temperature, and better control over the process. This is especially for those of us who see the weather constantly interfering with our grilling plans.
An integrated thermostat reads the temperature inside accurately, and helps you set the temperature according to what you’re cooking.
A top-mounted digital panel is the most convenient part of the unit where all the information you need is right on top of the smoker. This helps ensure your hands are out of harm’s way, and make it very easy to keep a check on what’s happening.
A convenient side wood chip loading system avoids using the door frequently, which may cause heat and smoke time, prolonging your cooking time.
A door latch is a simple, yet effective mechanism that pulls the door shut and locks it tightly in place. This brings a tight seal which is very important to smoking.
Royal Gourmet Electric Smoker
The Royal Gourmet Electric Smoker is something to consider if you’re working by a tight budget, but are still looking for something that will get you to prepare a lot of food. This electric smoker comes with a spacious cooking surface, easily adjustable racks, excellent heat retention and versatile cooking options.
Royal Gourmet smokers are a nice choice if you go by the idea, less is more. If you are a beginner or are just looking for something that does a decent job, without too many frills, you could consider a Royal Gourmet. While it may have its advantages, like all other smokers, it has its limitations too.
|What We Like…||What Makes Us Angry…|
|Simple to use||Doesn’t work consistently in higher temperatures|
|Removable cooking racks make it easy to clean||Flimsy accessories|
|Good insulation system||Doesn’t get hot enough|
|Tight heat seal door||No smoke box|
|Effective grease management system|
Design and Features
In a light weight design with 457.86 sq. in. of cooking surface, this smoker can hold a massive amount of food, even turkeys. 3 adjustable chrome plated racks can help you adjust the height, to fit in foods of different sizes.
The Royal Gourmet electric smoker is designed with a double-wall construction that helps retain maximum heat and smoke retention. This automatically translates to evenly cooked meat in good cooking time.
The door of this smoker is further fitted with a latch that offers a superb seal performance. Additionally, a cool-touch spring door handle helps prevent scalding yourself. I think this is a smart feature because operating the door when the smoker is in use (or just after) can be tricky.
Royal Gourmet electric smokers use an effective grease management system, by means of a stainless steel water pan and lidded wood chip box. What’s more, an independent grease cup helps collect residue in an oil pan, making cleaning more convenient.
A built-in thermometer helps accurately read the inside temperature, giving you an idea of how to manage your cooking temps.
The Royal Gourmet electric smoker performs on a 1,500 watt heating power with a fully adjustable (and removable) digital controller.
Dyna Glo 30” Digital Electric Smoker
Of the many electric smokers and the features that we reviewed, we feel that Dyna Glo Digital Electronic Smoker is one of the best deals for its price. An impressive cooking space, reliably consistent heating mechanism and digital controls are some features that make this smoker a delight to own.
Dyna Glo might not be one of the bigger brands you hear of, but they definitely have a beautiful style and comfort to their products, and this is not just limited to their smokers. They also offer a wide range of electrical appliances that are of top quality and work just as smoothly, and are known for great customer service.
|What We Like…||What Makes Us Angry…|
|Easy to operate||Complaints of Wood not Smoking Properly|
|Easy to maintain||Thermostat is not accurate always|
|Powerful heating element|
|Is reasonably priced|
|Evenly distributes heat|
|Side wood chip tray|
|Good temperature control|
|Insulated firebox traps in heat and smoke|
Design and Feature
Dyna Glo Digital electric smoker is designed with a generous 732 sq. in. cooking space that is packed with many features that makes grilling an enjoyable process for both beginners and experienced grilling enthusiasts.
5 easily adjustable grids help you cook food for about 4 to 5 people, and 2 temperature sensors. An integrated thermometer helps you keep a check on the temperature of your meat, while the internal thermometer measures the temperature inside. The display helps you set the precise temperature and cooking time for your food.
A double insulated cabinet and 2 locks on the doors ensures maximum heat and smoke retention.
Another neat feature of the Dyna Glo is the wood chip loader that is designed at the side of the smoker. This is good because you can add the chips during the smoking process without having to constantly open the main door.
Cleaning is a breeze with this smoker since the cooking racks are chrome plated and are easily maintained. Other accessories, like the trays that gather drippings and ash can be easily removed and cleaned regularly.
When it comes to smoking performance, we found that Dyna Glo heats up quite quickly (with a powerful 1,650 watt heating element) and maintains this heating consistently. This is the secret to evenly smoked, great tasting BBQ, and is an invaluable asset to a griller.
Cuisinart 30” Electric Smoker
The Cuisinart electronic smoker cannot possibly be omitted if we are speaking about the best electric smokers of the time. This beautifully designed machine is all about roomy interiors, easy manoeuvre, a built-in water pan and internal chip box; This model packs a punch for its lightweight design.
Cuisinart is one of the more popular brands, and offers many other cooking appliances that makes your job easy. They are great value for their money, and make it their business that you use only the finest materials.
|What We Like…||What Makes Us Angry…|
|Easy to use||Smoke can develop slowly sometimes|
|Lightweight and simple design||Small wood chip box|
|Good value for money||Door must be opened to add wood|
|Sturdy racks and cooking accessories|
|Easy to clean|
Design and Features
A great option for first time grillers, Cuisinart’s electric smoker comes with a properly insulated box that encloses a cooking surface of about 548 sq. in. spread out over 3 adjustable, chrome plated racks.
It works on a powerful 1500 watt heating power that can be used for cooking, or smoking all types of meats and vegetables.
A temperature dial on the side of the smoker easily monitors the temperature of the inside by regulating the output of the heating element. The internal temperature ranges from about 100 degrees to 400 degrees.
I loved this electric smoker because it is very user friendly and can get a lot done despite being petite. It is very versatile in its functions and works perfectly for family dinners.
The Cuisinart electronic smoker has a space for wood chips that help get that smoky BBQ flavor. These chips are pre-inserted into a metal box that is then secured in place above the heating element.
Yes, you would need to open the door to refill the chips but the box is big enough that when filled fully, it lasts for about an hour without having to replenish. Pre-soaking your chips can help it last even longer.
A removable drip tray that collects all the grease and other liquids is fitted to the bottom of the unit. This residue gets collected into a water bowl and can be cleaned out quite easily.
With Things Heating Up….
Choosing the best electric smoker isn’t really rocket science, but with a little smart thinking you could make this one of the coolest things you own.
While the idea of the ‘best’ electric smoker is illusional (every type has it’s uses and limitations), there are a few factors to consider which electric smoker is most suited for your requirement and use.
Probably the first question you need to ask yourself- For how many people do you intend to cook for with this electric smoker?
Usually these work great on a meal of 2 to 4 people, but anything beyond that would need you to get a medium smoker. Needless to say, if you are into hosting for larger groups, a commercial-grade electric smoker is your best bet.
It would be quite silly buying something like a smoker and coming home to the question- ‘Oh, where do we keep this now?’
Electric smokers need to be set outdoors, since most kitchens lack the ventilation needed for smoking. Placing it in an airy space of its own, protected from wind and rain is best. Well-ventilated patios are a salient place to set up your new electric smoker. Remember it needs to be near an electrical outlet.
If this is your first smoker (here we covered the best smokers for beginners), try to get something that has a window on the doors. This helps you see what’s going on in there, and is especially useful if you don’t know how long it takes for the wood chips or chunks to burn out. So, having no windows would mean you have to keep opening the door to check if your food is done. You end up losing smoke and heat, and this can delay the process substantially.
Electric smokers come in analog and digital versions. While the analog reads the temperature inside the smoker, these gauges are notorious for not being accurate. If your only way to measure the smoker temp, I would recommend getting a good digital grill/smoker thermometer that you can constantly monitor the smoker and meat temps at the same time. Digital, on the other hand, gives you some interesting controls on time and temperature, so that you can smoke your food to your taste.
It’s not that lesser known brands don’t produce reliable products, it’s just that buying under a reputed manufacturer covers your warrantee for your smoker and in some cases, replacement of parts too. Manufacturers that have been in business for a long time, will probably be here tomorrow to support you with any product problems. Something to consider.
Value for Money
When it comes to price, I feel that electric smokers are a great value for your money irrespective of what price range your smoker belongs in. Though they are not the most inexpensive when compared to other kinds of smokers, they cater to your basic smoking needs.
These are definitely a good place to start whether you are a rookie, or just planning to up your smoking game. We feel all of these smokers bring good value for the price.
A Note For Newbies
If you are new to the smoking game, you’ll probably need all the help you can get when it comes to picking the right smoker. You wouldn’t want to bring home a smoker that is too difficult to navigate, winding up with a bad aftertaste, both with the meat and the experience cooking it.
Electric smokers seem to be a good bargain for newbie smokers on many levels. No matter how informed you may be, let’s just assume that you don’t have any hands on experience while picking out your first smoker. The second time around, you are in a better place to decide what feature is important to you and what you can let go.
On your first buy, consider not spending too much money on your smoker. Only until you use it can you decide whether it’s any good to you. This is one reason electric smokers are perfect, they are reasonably priced compared to other medium and commercial grade pellet smokers.
When it comes to smoking meat, getting the right temperature is pivotal. This is also a challenge for most beginners. Electric smokers come with an easy to control temperature system that really takes away the guessing from smoking.
Cooking on a smoker that looks intimidatingly huge can be quite daunting. However, you wouldn’t want to buy something too small that it can’t handle even a small party. Electric smokers are a neat option as they are easy to manage, and yet, enough for you to don that grillers hat and smoke away!
So, What Is the Best Meat for Beginners to Smoke?
Among the best things to smoke in an electric smoker, especially if you’re a beginner, are pork ribs, and salmon.
Pork ribs are rather forgiving if I may say, they stay juicy for longer and take in smoke and seasoning very well. We’ve perfected our baby back ribs and provide a guide on how to master them.
Fish usually smokes slowly. Salmon is a great fish because they carry enormous fat content that keeps it moist throughout the smoking process. Also, you can choose if you want to season it or not, as salmon comes with a naturally good flavor.
For Seasoned Grillers…
If you’re slightly more experienced but wondering what kind of meat is best suited for electric smokers, well, here it is. Electric smokers do a great job on a wide variety of meat and sometimes vegetables too. Wood chips add a distinct flavor that can help you tweak the taste of your food.
Bacon, pork, smoked mac and cheese, applewood smoked chicken, smoked ham, lobster tails, turkey, buttery smoked corn on a cob, salmon, chicken wings, BBQ brisket and BBQ ribs are just a few mouth-watering options you can smoke in your electric smoker.
Now a lot of you must be wondering…
What Are The Alternatives To Electric Smokers?
Well, there’s a wide array of options out there to choose from, depending on your expertise, comfort, budget, and other factors. Of these, let’s talk about 3 of them that are most suited to electric smoker users and when do you know you need to make that shift.
The mighty popular pellet smokers are more like an interesting combination of an oven and a smoker. They are extremely easy to use and utilize digital controllers to allow a set it and forget it cook.
Similar to electric smokers, pellet smokers use wood pellets that burn down completely, so they can be easily cleaned and maintained.
One of my favorite things about the pellet smoker is its versatility- They’re essentially an oven, grill, and smoker rolled into one!
If you are looking for something more than an electric smoker sans the babysitting of a charcoal smoker; and if you have the space for only one cooking apparatus but don’t want to cramp your cooking style, the pellet smoker is the way to go.
Tried and true charcoal smokers come in an assortment of shapes and sizes, and typically use wood chunks to create that smoky whiff. The downside to this one is that it tends to be slightly more tedious than gas or electric smokers, and requires more setting up, tending to and cleaning. This could be a drag sometimes, when all you want to do is sit with your feet up while your dinner takes care of itself. However, some of the new charcoal smokers on the market are making life easy for the average BBQ fan.
Admittedly, charcoal smokers are known to produce the best smoked flavors. It also helps get the smoke ring that is so loved among BBQ lovers.
If you are serious about grilling and are willing to make the effort, charcoal smokers are entirely worth it. It might take some time and effort to get consistent results, but hey, who doesn’t like to learn something new?
Pitmasters utilize offset smokers which are typically big and bulky, and have enough space to feed an entire village. They are designed in such a way that some offset smokers come with a grill plate that can be attached, doubling it into a griller too. Since the fire box is separate from the cooking chamber, you can fuel the fire without having to worry about letting out the heat and smoke.
Setting up an offset smoker can take a while, sometimes even around an hour. Unlike the electric smoker, it’s not ‘set it and forget it’ here. With a little knowledge and a lot of patience, you can cook some amazingly delicious food in an offset smoker. Oh, and lots of it.
Since smoking is mostly about getting that characteristic smokey BBQ flavor, the better your smoker does it the more authentic your food is going to taste. Let’s now move back to our earlier discussion about electric smokers for a bit.
What Kind of Smoke Can I Expect With an Electric Smoker?
Truth be told, electric smokers produce a milder smoke flavor and less bark than wood smokers produce. However, the good news is, with a little know-how on the use of wood chips, this roadblock is easily cleared.
So, what causes the distinct difference in the quality of smoke? The answer is quite simple.
Most wood smokers cater to a variety of combustion gases. When combined, these gases bring with them a rich, intense flavor. The more intense the flavor, the better the barbeque you are tasting.
When it comes to smoking, less is more. While using an electric smoker, it’s always astute to regulate the smoke flow – ideally, a trail of thin, blue smoke rising from your vent throughout the cooking process is what we’re talking about. You wouldn’t want to go crazy with the smoke, because too much can cause your food to taste downright terrible – especially foods like chicken and turkey that tend to soak in more smoke.
How Much Wood Does My Electric Smoker Need?
As we’ve mentioned before, wood chips can be added in an electric smoker, either through an inbuilt system within the smoker itself or through other means. As a beginner, I always found it tough to decide just how much wood is too much wood, while using a smoker.
Ideally, around 4 cups of wood chips work well for about 5 hours of smoking. A few people prefer adding a couple of cups of chips to the previously used ones. Ultimately, it’s all about the kind of smoke it produces. As the smoke becomes thinner, you know that it’s time to change your wood chips.
Safety and My Electric Smoker
One of the sweetest things about owning an electric smoker is that it practically takes care of itself. Having said that, you will still need to be mindful of a few things, so that you and your smoker make some great food together – for the longest period of time.
As you work on your electric smoker, here are some electrical safety precautions to consider:
- Like most smokers, electric smokers are meant for outdoor use. Be sure to position it in a well-ventilated space, close to an electrical outlet.
- It being an electrical appliance, try to avoid exposing it to wet weather.
- NEVER turn a wet smoker on. If you find your smoker exposed to water, make sure it’s completely dry before you turn it on.
- If you’re planning to place your electric smoker in a place that sees a generous amount of all weathers, consider buying a cover to protect your investment.
- If you require an extension cord to plug your smoker in, ensure its one that is suitable for use with outdoor appliances. Usually, a grounding-type-3-wire-cord works perfectly.
- Though they don’t need tending to as much as other smokers do, stay in the vicinity when smoking. Remember to unplug it when not in use.
- To protect you from fire hazards, ensure your smoker is placed at a safe distance of about 10 feet away from any structure.
- Ensure your smoker is placed firmly on a level surface and not mounted on anything
- Avoid using plastic, glass, or ceramic cookware in your smoker.
Cleaning My Electric Smoker
Along with using a smoker safely, a great deal of importance is given to its upkeep. Maintaining a clean smoker can be an uphill task, but the good news is electric smokers are much easier to clean that other smokers. If you’re hoping to enjoy delicious food all year round, you must also be ready to do what it takes to maintain your smoker – especially if you use it regularly. Leaving it uncared for, is going to eventually affect its performance (and your stomach too).
Regular cleaning also helps avoid mold growth and rust formation on your smoker.
So, if you’ve just reached out to use your smoker and think, ‘Ugh! I really need to clean this thing’, or just realize that your smoker doesn’t seem to cook like it used to, you know that you need to grab those cleaning gloves more often.
How often do I need to clean my electric smoker? The general rule of thumb is that your smoker needs a thorough clean up after every 3 to 5 uses.
If you haven’t gotten to that part of owning a smoker yet, let’s talk about how it’s done.
Cleaning the Components
- Allow your smoker to cool down completely when you’re done using it. Cleaning a smoker that has just been used is a great deal easier since all the debris and buildup will clean off easier.
- If you haven’t used your smoker in a while, you may want to warm it up for about an hour and then let it cool down.
- Once cooled, remove all the components in your smoker – everything, from the water pan to drip tray, to cooking trays and ash boxes. You can soak this in a sink filled with warm soapy water. This loosens the grease and debris, making cleaning easier.
- Run these soaked components under hot water and remove any stubborn debris with a sponge or scraper.
- If you have a smaller smoker, consider washing the independent components in your dishwasher.
Cleaning the Interior
- You can start with the ash box that collects all the wood residue used in the process. Clear the box of trash and wipe it clean with a damp cloth.
- Using a plastic scraper and soft bristle brush, scrape the debris from the walls and floor of your smoker. Aim for the corners, a lot gets collected here and is often overlooked.
- Once the bigger chunks of debris are removed, wipe the surfaces inside your smoker with a sponge. This gets off most of the grease accumulated over time.
- You may notice that the walls of your smoker get darker with each use. This is perfectly natural and in fact, it is a sign of seasoning where it prevents rust and helps your smoker work better.
Cleaning the Exterior
- Whether you use your smoker outdoors or indoors, frequently or rarely, it is always likely to attract dust. Wipe the top and sides of the smoker, including its glass windows (if any). Make sure to avoid any grease buildup at the doors.
- Once wiped clean, be sure to dry the interior, exterior, and components of your smoker with paper towels to remove any residual moisture. Be patient – leaving parts moist from cleaning will make your smoker rust faster and develop mold.
- When its air dried completely, Voila! You can’t stop grinning at the shiny machine that does some really badass cooking.
Tip: While soapy water works like a charm, using apple cider vinegar or baking soda is also a pretty neat way to get dust and grime off. Oven cleaners are also a thing when it comes to wiping smoker surfaces.
Also, mold growth is quite common in unused smokers. Especially in colder and wet weather, if not in use for a while, don’t be surprised (or grossed out) to find mold growing inside your smoker.
In case of mold growth, remember that mold is averse to heat. Heat your smoker up at its highest temperature for about 40 minutes and you’ll see it bring down the mold. Oh, and remember to wipe down the smoker with a clean cloth after disinfecting.
To maintain your electric smoker between uses, rub the shelves with vegetable oils before grilling to stop food from sticking to them. After use, a quick scrub down of the shelves with a wire brush while it is still warm, makes cleaning less tedious.
Whether we are a rookie or novice, we do everything in our might to make our smoker last as long as possible. So, what is the average life expectancy to a well-tended for electric smoker like?
How Long Can I Expect My Electric Smoker To Last?
Like most electronic appliances, electric smokers can serve you for a good 5 to 10 years which is about enough for the NBA to help the Lakers win a championship like they did in 2000 and 2002 or the NFL to help the Patriots win a couple rings as well. This time has decreased over the years, earlier smokers used to last up to 20 years too. Well, the logic is, your smoker will last for as long as the components in it work properly.
Some brands like Masterbuilt guarantees a 1 year warranty, with a limited life time warranty on ceramic parts. A 5 year warranty on metal parts, 3 year warranty on the heat deflector, and 1 year on thermometer and gaskets are what you can expect on investing in an electric smoker. Certain other brands like Pit Boss offers a 5 year warranty on parts and product.
Where Can I Get an Electric Smoker For The Best Price?
A smoker is not the kind of thing you buy every other day, so it is kind of a big deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear some of you say you’re not sure where you might get the best deal for your electric smoker.
Among your other options, two sure shot ways to choose the right model and compare prices, is online and store shopping. I would suggest you first get a birds’ eye view of what’s available either online or in a store, before zeroing in on a certain brand or model. Of course, you would need to have some idea of what you’re looking for. If you’ve been with us so far, you must have something to work on.
Don’t be thrifty with your research, go all in and be practical about your needs. Once you have a clearer idea of what you need, shortlist a couple of brands and see how they are different from each other.
Go for the one that offers the best value for your money, but first compare the price to what’s there in your local store. Online stores or stores that sell different brands might sometimes be less expensive than single brand stores.
Even if the price is higher than your budget, there’s always something that they can add in a local store that makes up for the difference – like an extended warranty, attractive discounts or good return policy. So, it’s likely that stores can also help you strike a pretty decent deal. Do not rule out single brand stores all together, they are more reliable and prompt with value added services like return and maintenance.
Obviously our site helps direct you to some of the top online bbq/grill/smoker retailers today. We know these retailers and trust them with our own money. You can too.
The Best Electric Smoker
After digging up a lot of dirt about the top electric smokers used today, we think we have a winner.
The Masterbuilt 40” Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker has emerged worthy of praise on so many levels. This was of course, closely rivalled by the Dyna Glo Digital Electric Smoker and made it just by a few extra points.
The Masterbuilt Bluetooth smoker is everything that todays average smoker needs. Everything impressed me, starting from its inclusive design to its ease in handling and heavy duty functions. It uses modern day technology to make your cooking easier, and yet uses accessories that can be used in conventional smoking. Irrespective of your expertise, if you are looking to strike a good deal, this smoker is very hard to resist. If you’re wondering if you will really do justice to your smoker and its features, just remember – it’s always better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
We’ve all had days when we plan to use our smoker and something or the other gets in the way- either the weather gets nasty, or we end up spending too much time on our feet. Having a smoker that understands your needs can be a blessing because cooking will just be, well, cooking.
Let’s have a look at some common concerns faced by electric smoker users.
My electric smoker doesn’t make a pink smoke ring. Why?
Pink smoke rings do not really affect the taste of the food, but it is still considered a sign of authentic BBQ. A smoke ring is formed when the smoke combined with fuel gases (Nitric Oxide and Carbon Monoxide) react with the myoglobin in the meat. Electric smokers aren’t known for producing smoke rings because they do not use wood or charcoal (NO and CO producing fuels) for heat.
Are electric smokers any good?
While some may believe that charcoal and wood other smokers produce much better quality food, this is not necessarily true. The limitations that electric smokers have can be easily adjusted, getting us the same result as with any other kind of smoker. Having said that, electric smokers do have their benefits. They are easy to navigate making them suitable for beginners, are pocket friendly, convenient, safer to use, and a healthier option too. These smokers achieve the same versatility that other kinds of smokers do in terms of taste and texture which can be so good your vegetarian friend might come back to meat.
How do electric smokers compare to pellet and charcoal smokers?
When it comes to flavor, you will find that pellet and charcoal smokers are better than electric smokers. However, pellet and charcoal smokers need a lot more tending to than electric smokers and are more expensive too. The cost of running these smokers are also higher than electric smokers. While electric smokers are easy to use they are suited for beginners, charcoal, and pellet smokers are better suited for seasoned smokers who are up to the more tedious parts of the cooking process like temperature management, smoke management, etc.
Can I use my electric smoker indoors?
Electric smokers can should only be used outdoors unless the indoor area has a heavy duty ventilation system. These smokers typically run on electricity and are smaller than outdoor smokers. They work perfectly in condos, and well-ventilated patios.
Where do I get wood for my electric smoker?
Most electric smokers do not require any wood for fueling like other smokers because these work on electricity. The wood (chips or chunks) used in electric smokers is only to add food flavor. These smoking woods can be purchased easily online or local bbq stores.
What are the best foods to make in an Electric Smoker?
Electric smokers can help you smoke just about everything, if the temperature is right. Some meaty delicacies to look forward to from your electric smoker could include smoked ribs, smoked Mac and Cheese, BBQ smoked ham, smoked lobster, smoked turkey, and smoked prime rib. Honestly, it’s about how creative you get with your cooking- you can explore a whole new range of dishes with your electric smoker.
Why do I need pans of water in my electric smoker?
Humidity is the answer. Cooking food for a long time over low temperatures can dry out your food. By keeping a pan with water in the smoking chamber, the humidity levels will be increased which aids in keeping your meat cut moist through the long and slow cook.