The best electric smokers could take your food and meat prep up a few notches in 2020.
Even though using this kind of smoker is considered cheating by many purists in the smoker world to be inauthentic (due to their ease of controlling heat), it is still the most widespread smoker used today due in part, to some major advantages it has going for it, particularly how easy it is to use
For starters, an electric digital smoker has the easiest temperature control box, which in meat smoking is one of the best features a smoker can have. Furthermore, you won’t have to keep adding fuel into it to keep the fire burning, as you have to for heavy-duty charcoal or pellet smoker; it’s electric, just plug it in and prepare your meats, and in a few hours you can have smoked greatness for you and your family!
Oh, on that note, yeah… You will need an electric supply.
This is the Achilles’ heel of these smokers, highlighted in many electric smoker reviews. With the rest of the smokers, especially charcoal ones, you can literally go anywhere and fire them up (except maybe some propane and pellet smokers), but here you have to have a power supply. Sure, you can bring an external battery, but it still isn’t as convenient. An electric smoker also tends to also be a bit heavier and has more serviceable stainless steel parts that can eventually break and need replacing.
Our top electric smoker picks are easy to use, clean, digital, durable, affordably priced, and good at maintaining their desired temperature and time control.
How, then, will you know which model is best for you and your family? This in-depth review is a great place to start!
Here is a complete list of the best electric smokers in 2020, that we have included in our buying guide to help you find the right one for you to try out your many recipes and meet all your smoking needs. All of these units have excellent reviews and will provide you a delicious smoking experience.
10 HIGHEST RATED ELECTRIC SMOKERS
|Product||Capacity||Weight||Our Smoking Score|
|780 sq in||60lbs.||5/5|
|725 sq in||50lbs.||4.9/5|
|720 sq in||50lbs.||4.8/5|
|300 sq in||75lbs.||4.8/5|
|400 sq in||47lbs.||4.6/5|
|450 sq in||33lbs.||4.5/5|
|721 sq in||54lbs.||4.3/5|
|280 sq in||23lbs.||4.2/5|
|595 sq in||76lbs.||4.4/5|
|730 sq in||46lbs.||4.5/5|
1. Bradley BTDS108P – Editor’s Choice
This Bradley smoker is the ideal combination of quality materials, the right dimensions, and brilliant digital technology, and these smoker features have made it one of the best electric smokers on the market.
This durable construction electric digital smoker can smoke on its own for a full 8 hours straight, making it an excellent choice, and one of the top-rated electric smoker units available.
It requires no previous knowledge of meat smoking, making it a very good electric smoker for beginners.
The Bradley digital electric smoker has tons of customizable features and, with its digital LED display box, is the only quality smoker Bradley has invented this quality electric smoker that is capable of both hot and cold smoking with minimum control without the need for a meat probe. It has good dimensions, numerous racks, and grates, a drip tray to catch grease, is built exceptionally well and maintains a steady internal temperature, giving the meat products a nice smoke flavor.
The Bradley is a quality electric smoker will ensure you’re always on top of your meat smoking game. We do recommend that they fix wheels to the construction so that, with its dimensions, it was easier to move. We also recommend that you use this Bradley smoker in a more sheltered area on the porch or patio rather than outdoors.
The digital controls and LED display make for simple smoking without all the guesswork of analog smokers. There is even an easy to remove wood chip tray and grease drip tray with ample capacity that makes the clean-up of this Bradley unit a breeze.
The Bradley digital electric smoker clocks in at right around 60 pounds but their units don’t have any wheels or rollers in the construction that can be used to position them properly. This electric smoker is an outdoor model, but heavy wind does affect the overall performance, making this appliance a poor choice for outdoor use.
- Affordable price
- The stainless steel is easy to clean
- One of the highest-rated electric smokers for beginners
- 780 inches of cooking space for producing large amounts of barbecue
- Great for cooking large barbecue and for trying our multiple smoked meat recipes
- This electric smoker has a unique and pre-set feeder system for consistent smoke
- Excellent, fully controllable electric digital time and desired temperature settings with a complete digital control panel
- We recommend the set-it-and-forget-it option on this unit
- Easy to get the replacement 500+ watt heating element
- Digital LED
- A downside to this electric smoker, is that it has no wheels, so not highly portable
- Heavy wind can affect the performance of the unit outdoors, so a meat probe will be necessary to keep an eye on the internal temperature.
2. Char-Broil Deluxe
This Char-Broil Deluxe digital electric smoker is part of the electric smoker char broil series, offers you a great user friendly experience that will take all the hard work or trying out smoking recipes away.
The unit has a gorgeous design and great capacity that makes it incredibly easy to use and is made out of best top-quality materials that customers tend to look for.
The Char-Broil Analog is also another option that is a great smoker and is in the same price range
The heat, smoke, and time control with which it operates ensure that the meat product coming out of it will be nothing but professional-kitchen-quality. It’s affordably priced and comes with features like Wi-Fi that customers would usually expect to pay more for. In fact, it’s one of the better digital smokers with Wi-Fi that we’ve come across.
The Char-Broil Deluxe digital electric smoker is a great electric smoker for beginners, this electric smoker definitely won’t break the bank. Bear in mind if you’re into high-temperature cooking, the electric smoker char broil is not the greatest choice.
It reaches a cooking temperature of 275 degrees F at the max heat setting, so it is an option that is well worth considering if you prefer a longer cooking time, even though most tend to cook at around 250 degrees or less. Throw in some pork into the racks and get the wood chip loading started into the wood tray, and you are all set for the weekend.
- Easy to clean
- Electric digital smoker
- Up to 730 square inches of cooking space for producing large amounts of barbecue
- Well-insulated appliance with a convenient glass window
- Compact unit with lots of adjustable racks and cooking grates for cooking and grease drip trays for easy cleaning
- Digital controls with adjustable temperature
- Complete digital control panel
- Many people find that there’s not a lot of interior volume in this electric smoker if you want to make a bigger barbecue
- We encountered some Wi-Fi reception issues
- You will have to clear and clean the front glass window often
- Not particularly portable, giving it a poor rating from many users
- Limited to smoking between a cooking temperature of 100 degrees F – 275 degrees Fahrenheit
3. Masterbuilt 20078715
It is rare to see a product as good as the Masterbuilt electric smokers, which do almost everything right, but Masterbuilt is one of those brands that has seemingly “mastered” this process.
The 30 inch electric smoker Masterbuilt series have built-in digital thermometers so you can pick the right temperature every time.
It typically ranges in temperature from 100 degrees F – 275 degrees Fahrenheit of heat. The 800-watt heating element gives you precise control over your smoking.
The simple controls for this Masterbuilt smoker are on a digital electric panel at the top of the unit, making them accessible to read both the temperature gauge and the cooking time. There are four stainless steel racks in total giving you plenty of cooking space and a glass opening on the door to check in on the progress of the smoke.
If you don’t feel as though that’s enough, upgrade to one of the 40 inch Masterbuilt digital units with more square inches of cooking instead. You do need to be careful when using the wood chip trays on Masterbuilt electric smokers because it’s not as strong as we’d like. That’s also, according to our experience and considered review, is where a good capacity wood tray could come handy to allow you to add chips or briquettes easily to the appliance.
The Masterbuilt 20078715 30 inch electric smoker has all the bells and whistles an electric smoker can have, but for a much lower price than its competitors.
- Masterbuilt has ensured that this unit has a leak-proof cabinet construction
- Powerful 800-watt heating element
- Produces top-quality smoked meat
- Can be fairly customizable by adding/removing the stainless steel adjustable racks and trays
- Great interior digital temperature and smoke control with a complete digital control panel
- You can add wood chips into the wood chip tray without opening the surface door
- Long service life due to ease of maintenance
- Friendly customer service with telephone and email contacts
- It requires some maintenance and cleaning, especially on the glass window. However, cleaning the interior is still easy needing only a wipe down of all removable and static parts in warm soapy water
- People have complained that it is not a highly portable electric smoker
- It doesn’t have sufficient internal square inches of cooking for big productions
4. Smokin-it Model 2
(Square inches cooking area: 300, Weight: 75 lbs. , Dimensions: 24 x 30 x 22 inches)
The Smokin-It Model 2 electric smoker is a very well-built and sturdy piece of equipment that is sure to provide you with a solid at home smoking cook for which to try out numerous recipes.
The construction is top notch with all the components being quite sturdy and reliable. The form factor of this smoker also makes it great for storing in tighter spaces, and it’s really easy to move the whole smoker around thanks to the wheels and stainless steel handles on the sides.
This thing easily weighs quite a few pounds though, so using the wheels is a must, and due to its large size, if you need to pick it up, you should probably have a buddy help you out to save you the trouble.
The temperature gauge is really close to the heating source which can result in temperatures in the majority of the smoker being lower than what is read by the gauge. The entire unit is a little on the small side and only has four racks on which to add your meats, which means you won’t be able to use this for big productions.
- Compact and durable
- Portable smoker thanks to the wheels and side handles
- Full stainless steel construction for extra durability.
- 300 inches of cooking space
- 800-watt replaceable heating element with superb insulation.
- Easy to use
- High price due to stainless steel construction.
- Temperature control isn’t the most accurate thing in the world.
- Many users have made negative comments on the few cooking racks and the low square inches cooking space.
5. Smoke Hollow 30162E
(Square inches cooking area: 400, Weight: 47 lbs. , Dimensions: 19 x 22.5 x 37.8 inches)
This electric smoker isn’t as fancy as all the rest on our list, but the guys over at Smoke Hollow didn’t want it to be. All it has to do is give you the pleasure of producing tasty smoky meat, without having a steep learning curve, making it easy to use.
If you want to get a cheap electric smoker, which will guide you deeper into the world of meat smoking, opt for the Smoke Hollow. This is a smaller size than the Masterbuilt, so if you need an appliance with more space, it’s best to go for the 30-inch model.
It does have the best adjustable chrome-plated cooking racks, but there are only two of these, which means its size is not the greatest if you’re smoking large amounts of barbecue, for instance, multiple large pork butts at once.
You get a reasonable analog smoker that’s easy to control, reviewed quite favorably in many guides, and you’ll save a few bucks.
If you’re short on space, though, this smoker model is the best alternative. It’s compact, works well, and is easy to use. Like the Masterbuilt smoker, though, it only has a 90-day warranty which was disappointing.
- Easy to maintain
- One of the best for BBQ beginners
- Made out of quality materials
- Has a long service life due to ease of maintenance
- Analog controls for those who like to watch over the barbecue
- Great temperature control
- Has handles that make it highly portable and easy to use in any space
- Doesn’t have a big enough volume to sustain larger barbecues
- Lacks advanced digital panel controls
- Lacks glass to allow you to check on the progress of the char on the meat
6. Landmann USA Smoky Mountain
(Square inches of cooking space: 450, Weight: 33 lbs. , Dimensions: 26 x 21 x 47.25 inches)
Landmann has always been known to produce some of the best electric smokers. The Smoky Mountain is no exception to this rule, as it covers everything a basic good capacity meat smoker unit should do to allow you to cook low and slow for hours on end.
This electric smoker has relatively good heat insulation and internal temperature control and doesn’t mix up different flavors when cooking fish and chicken products together, for example. If you don’t want to rip a hole through your pocket, but also want to enjoy meat full of flavor, go with the one of the best – pick the Smoky Mountain.
This electric smoker is a budget-priced powerhouse of a smoker that handles heat temperatures between 100 and 260 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has four separately adjustable feet and good dimensions that allow you to ensure the unit is easy to move around and maintains its upright position at all times even on uneven ground.
The 3-in-1 water pan, multiple cooking racks, wood chip tray, and grease drip tray ensure operating the Landmann Smoky Mountain unit simple. Clean-up is also easy thanks to the 3-in-1 compartment setup. The glass window in the door is also of an excellent quality; you can keep an eye on your meat cooking on the rack smoker without opening the door and letting out all the accumulated smoke flavor on your products over the hours.
This smoker also allows the use of a meat probe to keep an eye on temperature changes. This also avoids you interfering with the cooking time and dropping the internal temperature.
- Affordably priced
- A durable unit with one of the best construction
- A relatively lightweight and portable unit
- Allows use of a meat probe to monitor internal temperature
- Has a window for checking in on the progress of the smoke
- Multiple stainless steel smoking racks
- Good heat insulation
- Many people find that the power cord is short
- Lack of advanced digital and electric controls can give this model a poor rating
- The unit door can sometimes leak smoke as it doesn’t seal well
7. Masterbuilt Bluetooth Smoker Model
(Square inches of cooking space: 721, Weight: 54 lbs. , Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 31 inches)
The Masterbuilt Bluetooth Smoker is a great little piece of equipment for making homemade smoked meat. It offers the ability to monitor and control the temperature from afar using the smart device app, making Masterbuilt one of the best digital electric smoker brands online.
The app is a bit finicky, but the functionality is very handy to control when you can get it to work, and it will save you a lot of fuss. This electric smoker model also packs a punch with its 800 watts heating element and multiple cooking racks that help keep the temperature gauge constant during long cooking sessions.
However, it does have a max heat temperature of 275°F so that might be a deal-breaker for some customers who like to smoke meat at high temperatures. Even though it is recommended to finish with a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit Also with a glass door there can be heat loss. We prefer to smoke our meats at low temperatures over a long duration, so any type of heat loss wasn’t a problem at all for us.
Personally, I could do without the elite Bluetooth functionality after spending some time with the rather frustrating app Masterbuilt made for it. If the app worked better and was more reliable, it would be a much easier recommendation. If you’re into Bluetooth, however, this electric smoker Masterbuilt model comes with the choice of using Bluetooth and it was one of the best on the market. Overall, I’d say this digital Masterbuilt unit is worth the price and will certainly get the job done with ease in good time.
- Masterbuilt easily has the best Bluetooth technology that lets you control and monitor the unit from your smart device.
- Quality 800-watt electric heating element for consistent temperatures.
- 721 inches of cooking space for tackling large quantities of barbecue
- Has a front-facing glass opening to allow you to check on the progress of your meat products
- Excellent digital blue led display and temperature control settings with a full digital control panel
- Friendly and accessible customer service with telephone and email contacts
- This Masterbuilt electric smoker has a maximum internal temperature of 250 degrees – 275°F, not good for high-temperature smoking
- Many people report that it is pricier than other similar-sized and capable digital smokers
- Sometimes glass door can cause heat loss
8. Old Smokey Electric Smoker
(Square inches cooking area: 280, Weight: 23 lbs. , Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 29 inches)
The Old Smokey electric smoker isn’t the prettiest thing ever, but it gets the job done. This model is a reliable piece of equipment that is easy to control and should help make it easy for you to smoke meat products with a delicious flavor for years to come.
It is made with a very utilitarian and heavy design without any unnecessary frills or features. The Old Smokey was perfect for me as a novice to the world of smoking, thanks to its simple design and no fuss operation, and ample inch cooking space.
While it can also be a bit of a chore to clean and get the char off the interior, compared to the units with easy cleaning features like drip drawers and a wood chip tray. However, the lack of features keeps the price down, and this baby works great all the time.
It is a bit on the smaller side so the square inches of cooking will be rather small and you won’t have much space for your cooking process. For huge crowds it will definitely get the job done as it is easy for you to cook whole turkeys or a couple of racks of ribs at the same time.
- Low-cost thanks to the no-frills design of the unit.
- Does its job all the time without fail and is sure to provide delicious food
- 280 inches of cooking space
- Perfect starter smoker for those just getting into the hobby.
- Easy to use with a convenient number of removable cooking racks and removable wood chip tray
- Small size and lack of features means you’ll want to cook one thing at a time in it.
- Cleaning this piece of equipment is a bit of a chore due to the design.
- No window to check on the progress of your meat products as they smoke
ELECTRIC SMOKERS FOR BUYERS ON A BUDGET
9. Best Electric Smoker Brand Under $200 – Char-Broil Vertical
(Square inches of cooking space: 595, Weight: 76 lbs. , Dimensions: 19 x 21 x 45 inches)
Finding the best electric smokers that come in at under a $200 budget on many guides is not all that easy. Buying this simple, budget-friendly digital model will enhance your smoking experience. Naturally, the trade-off for the great price is a very simple device. You’ll also need to factor in that it’s a little smaller than some of the more expensive options you may find as a participant in the Amazon platform or elsewhere.
That said, it’s an excellent choice for a beginner who just wants to test the waters, itching to try their hand at new recipes without wanting to spend way out of budget. You can read below to find out why this brand is one of the top electric smokers for under $200.
- Simple to operate the temperature and time controls and easy enough to clean
- Comes in at an excellent price
- Capable of handling a reasonable quantity of food, but will frustrate you if you have a lot of people to cater for
- Performs tolerably well, especially when you consider the price
- Powerful heating element for the price
The downside is that the door can be difficult to shut correctly at first. Once you get the hang of it, though, it becomes simpler to operate.
It’s also not the best digital model if you’re looking for heat and smoke insulation and so would not be ideal if you’re in an area that gets very cold in winter.
There is some insulation, but this does not stand up too well to extremes of cold. Also, the lack of insulation does mean that it can cost a little more to operate regarding power.
It’s not a huge difference, though, and certainly not a deal-breaker. We do think that if you enjoy smoking your food, you’ll want to swap it out for a more advanced model at a later stage. If you’re only going to use it occasionally, this model is perfect.
- Affordable and budget-friendly
- Easy to use, set, and forget
- Lightweight (coming in at around 50 pounds)
- Cooks great food with a delicious flavor
- Short power cord
- Lack of fine-tuned temperature control
- Lack of heat and smoke insulation
- Door doesn’t seal well and requires some modification to get a tight fit
10. Top Smoker Brand Under $300 – Masterbuilt 20070910
(Square inches of cooking space: 730, Weight: 46 lbs. , Dimensions: 20 x 17 x 33 inches)
If you’re a more experienced smoker or are going to use the smoker often, it makes sense to up the ante a bit when it comes to price and quality within budget. This digital smoker part of the Masterbuilt brands model performs well and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
It has some handy features that make it easy to use.
- Complete with a built-in temperature thermometer for focused temperature control. This heating element on this electric smoker ranges in temperature from 100°F – 275°F, and you can set the temperature that’s easy to control to what suits you
- A set-it-and-forget-it option – it will maintain the desired temperature automatically.
- Well-built. The exterior is made of stainless steel, and the interior is aluminum for maximum heat control properties
- A pretty good-looking digital model and reasonably compact, coming in at just 46 pounds
- Capable of handling a smaller rack of ribs and pieces of meat. You could, for example, fit in six whole chickens on the removable cooking racks.
- Not capable of handling a full rack of ribs or a more substantial cut of meat unless you can roll them up
We don’t particularly like the tray that you put the wood chips in. We do feel that this wood chip tray could have been made a little stronger. Still, as long as you’re careful when using it, it should be fine.
Another issue is the temperature range that this Masterbuilt model is capable of. It only goes up to 275°F in temperature, so it won’t work if you want to set the temperature to handle high heat cooking.
All the same, for the price the manufacturers are advertising, you’re getting a pretty good deal.
It’s more than enough for someone who is just starting, and it can handle a reasonable amount of food in one go. However, if you don’t feel as though that’s enough cooking space, upgrade to one of the 40 inch Masterbuilt digital units with more square inches of space to make your cooking process a bit easier.
We would also have preferred both and 40 inch the 30 inch Masterbuilt digital units to have at least a one-year-long warranty instead of a 90-day guarantee.
- Side-load opening, in which to add wood chips
- Removable grease drip tray and removable racks for easy cleaning
- This digital Masterbuilt model has a digital timer control for a set-and-forget functionality with a full digital control panel
- 730 square inches of cooking space for tackling large amounts of barbecue
- Smokes great and maintains temp well
- Responsive customer service with telephone and email contacts
- Has a limited temperature range from 100°F – 275°F
- Many users have complained about the lack of a viewing window to keep an eye on the food
- The warranty lasts only 90 days
Electric Smokers Buyer’s Guide
Before we lay out the criteria you have to follow when buying an electric smoker for you, let’s introduce you to the four major types available in the market. They are categorized by the type of energy or fuel they use to generate heat and are the following:
– Electric with a pellet/bisquettes auger system
– Propane or Gas Grills
– Charcoal Grills
Obviously this guide will be concentrated on electric smokers but if you should be looking for a different kind of smoker be sure to check out our guide. There is a reason that today the most commonly used is the electric smoker, and you will see why in a second.
What Defines The Best Electric Smoker to Buy
There are a lot of boxes that have to be checked when buying an electric smoker smoker, which is why we’ve compiled this list for you. There’s a lot to think about when you choose a smoker, so read on to know exactly what’s important.
- Total Capacity
This is one of the most important aspects of an electric smoker. Always check for the capacity of your smoker first. Even if the smoker has tons of other amazing features, if it is not big enough for your needs it just won’t be useful. If you often cook for big crowds or parties, make sure you get a big enough electric smoker to fit all the food inside, as well as one that has an ample wood tray and grease tray.
- Ease Of Use
Be sure the model you decide on comes with a user-friendly design and is a breeze to operate. Also, check the time-temperature control panel and digital thermometer and be sure they give you enough options that are easy to follow and allow you to set and forget the unit. Also, the cooker should have a glass window that lets you monitor the situation inside the smoker, removable racks, and the drip or wood chip tray should be removable. Extra points if there is a Bluetooth design interface or even a remote control. However, there are also analog smokers like the Smoke Hollow, which pass on all the control of the smoking process to you if you prefer, but they aren’t quite as easy to simply set up and forget about.
- Temperature Range
You want to pick an electric smoker that goes from around a temperature range of 100 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll want to check if the unit you select has a powerful heating element, on top of just being easy to control. This temperature range consists of all the right temperatures to make it easy to smoke and grill all sorts of meats. Ideally, your smoker should allow you to just set it and forget it. Most of these electric smokers also have digital temperature settings control panels, making them easy to use.
This seems like a weird thing to point out but trust us, if you want to use your smoker at different places there are three things you need out of it – to be durable yet lightweight and portable, to have a long-enough power cord, and to have wheels.
- Ease of Maintenance
Quick and easy maintenance always does the trick. Go for an electric smoker with easily removable grids, racks, grids, panels, water pans, grease tray and a wood chip tray, and check with the manufacturer to see that replaceable parts are easily available. These convenience features will make your smoker a breeze to use as you prepare for each meal. Ensure that in case of any problems, you can reach the customer service helpline easily via telephone or email.
- Remote Controls
Remote control features give you the freedom to barbecue and grill, without staying near your electric smoker all day. Simply adjust temperature internal light, or check internal meat temperature at a distance. Keep tabs on the progress of your meat as it smokes, by pressing a few buttons on your remote control. Having a remote control can make things easy for you as you prep your meals.
Affordability does not mean cheap. There are plenty of quality electric smokers out there that won’t break the bank with their decent price and have a decent amount of incorporated newer features. Affordable units are constructed to last long, even if they don’t have all of the features that the expensive smokers have.
You’ll want to get a good warranty on your product. Most smokers have a warranty between 1-5 years, but we suggest getting the longest possible one. After all it’s an electric appliance and everything can go wrong within its circuits, as you grill your meats.
Advantages Of Owning An Electric Smoker
- Temperature Control. Charcoal smokers are famous for being hard to maintain at the right temperature. Gas grills are better at controlling temperature ranges, but still not as good as the electric smokers. They simply have tons of heat-regulating mechanisms, which all do the job for you. There is a required temperature for smoking each kind of meat to obtain the desired char, and the electric smokers make it easy for you to ensure that you control the temperature for the best results. Temperature control is definitely one of the best reasons to choose an electric smoker allowing you to able to set it and forget.
- Safety. These smokers are the safest out of all the types, as there is no possibility of burning wood jumping out and setting things on fire (even when you are indoors). If something happens to the thermostat and the temperature goes beyond its set point, there are built-in prevention mechanisms that kick in and shut the unit off. If you are looking for a set and forget option, smokers are the right option for that. This also give you a little more flexibility when it comes to choosing the space you use your smoker.
- Not Having To Supervise the Electric Smoker. If you had to choose, would you babysit your smoker all day, or be able to set the temp on the panel, and forget it? Electric smokers require minimal to no supervision, especially as regards temperature controls because of their inbuilt thermostats and temperature controller. If you can’t have your whole day wasted in maintaining the temperature of the smoker to yield the perfect char on your meat, this is the right choice for you, as these smokers are easy to assemble and use. You just set up the ideal temperature on the temperature controller or time program designed to provide convenience to and go do whatever it is you were doing in the first place. One thing, though – since the temperature in the electric units goes from the bottom of the unit towards the top, smoking might be a bit slower, but even then, as experienced smokers say, “the longer the smoking time is, the better the flavor”.
- Heat Convection. Electric cookers are designed to be the best at heat convection and spreading while maintaining a constant temperature – a unanimous champion in that category. Most units cannot distribute their heat properly (mainly when outdoors), and usually cook only one side of the meat. Electric models have excellent heat convection, sufficient watts, and a temperature controller that has capabilities to produce well-cooked foods with a and smoky flavor. It’s also very easy to control the temperature.
Tips For Using Your Smoker for Cooking
Electric smokers provide you with the ability to smoke delicious, meats, vegetables, and cheeses a lot easier than the guesswork that goes into traditional smoking. Cooking smoked food is a great hobby that your family, friends, and neighbors are sure to love, but getting into it can be pretty much trial and error at first. We’ve put together some helpful pointers that will help you hit the ground running and get you making quality food with your new electric smoker. Once you’ve found the perfect space to set up your smoker, there are a few other important things to remember.
- Season Your Electric Smoker for First Time Use
This is important. Seasoning ensures that any dust or oil left over from the manufacturing floor is completely removed. You don’t want this going onto the food, as these residues will render the meat inedible and unpalatable. Seasoning your electric smoker is easy; first, wipe it down with a damp cloth dipped in warm water, and then coat with a light spray of cooking oil spray. Open the top vent and lid all the way, and set the temperature at 275°F and for 3 hours (180 minutes), adding 8 – 12 wood chips every 20 minutes. Once you’ve done this, you can safely begin to use your electric smoker.
- Invest in a Dual Probe Thermometer
Your smoker will probably come with a dial-in thermostat, but we also recommend investing in a dual probe thermometer setup. Temperatures vary wildly in a lot of places within the smoker and can rise or drop within minutes, so you’ll need to measure the air temperature with an internal thermometer right around where the meat is cooking to get accurate temperature readings and ensure your meat thermometer is tracking the smoking evenly over the hours.
- Less is More
When it comes to smoking food, too much smoke is not a good thing. Ideally, you want to see a thin trail of blue smoke coming out of the vent on your smoker during the entire process. It doesn’t take a whole lot of smoke to imbue your food with the lovely, rich and smoky flavors you want. You don’t want to go too heavy when you add wood chips when you are smoking. This is true for chicken or turkey, as they are more prone to soaking in the smoke and can even become inedible with too much smoke. As to whether you should first soak your wood chips in water before using them, it depends on your cooking style and personal preference.
How To Best Clean Your Smoker
First of all, make sure the smoker has had plenty of time to cool completely because you don’t want to burn yourself! Using a cloth with warm, soapy water is generally the best solution for cleaning out the inside of the smoker.
Different models are designed to have various removable and dishwasher safe compartments like a drip pan drawers or wood chip tray, so make sure you take out all the chrome-plated cooking racks, water tray, and grease tray first, cleaning them separately – this will make things much easier. After wiping everything down with warm, soapy water, it’s generally a good idea to dry everything off for a couple of hours before putting it all back together again.
Prevent meat, turkey, and ribs from burning onto the components by spraying down the racks and grates with vegetable oil before grilling.
Other Types Of Smokers
Other than buying an electric smoker, people are opting for pellet smokers, which are seemingly are on the rise lately. They are, however, nowhere near as popular as their pure electric competition. Even so, they can maintain temperatures rather well, and don’t require all the space of the big, traditional units. The pellet smoker is basically a modified electric smoker. Most of them have a removable and insulated auger system that has a thermostat and control panel attached to it. That way, whenever the temperature drops, the auger system automatically places a few more pellets into the fire hourly or as you set it. If you want the choice of that system in your smoker though, you will still need electricity. Those models are made for people who want their meat to be smoked over true wood (not that there is much difference in the taste).
Pellet smokers don’t have cheap models, so honestly, if you are a beginner, the pure electric smoker is the best way to go.
Speaking of flavor, porcelain-coated charcoal smokers produce quite the unique combination of tastes embedded into your meat, but the whole fuss of starting them up and later on maintaining their internal temperature is a huge deal-breaker for some. The charcoal smoker is a very common go-to as it has been used longer than any other types of smoker and the square inches of cooking it has to offer can be a lot. Even though a charcoal smoker is a great way to cook tender meat ,you will have to sit next to the smoker constantly in order to produce the same result an electric model would do all on its own.
Electric Smokers FAQ
Q: How do electric smokers work?
A: Simply put, electric smokers are an insulated oven with smoke. Heat is supplied through an incorporated electric heating element, which burns the wood chips above it, producing smoke in the insulated smoke chamber. Instead of the heat being controlled by limiting the flow of oxygen using vents, electric smokers have digital controls that change the flow of electricity into the oven of the unit.
Q: What is the water tray for?
A: The removable water pan is used to help prevent food from drying out during smoking. You can add water or fruit juice in the pan for extra flavor, but make sure you clean out the drip tray and run the cooking grates in a dishwasher safe machine between uses. Ensure to only use and add fresh water with every use, to prevent toxic bacteria from building up. For the most part they are pretty easy to clean.
Q: Why don’t electric smokers produce a smoke ring on the barbecue?
A: An insulated electric smoker does not produce as much combustion as a charcoal grill. Wood chips burn at lower temperatures than charcoal, hence the compounds that help in forming the “bark” on the smoked meats, are not produced, which means you don’t get as much of a smoke ring. This doesn’t mean the flavor isn’t there – electric smokers produce professional-quality results that amateurs can be proud of.
Q: Can electric smokers be used indoors?
A: Not without a super-powerful extraction system installed. Using electric smokers in the house will leave a permanent and smoky smell on all your precious furnishings. The heat and smoke it can give off are a few reasons you want to keep your electric smoker outside and if you want to avoid harsh weather while smoking meat, use it on your patio or porch.
Q: What kind of wood chips should I use to smoke with?
A: The type of wood chips you decide to use is based on taste preferences, and different types of foods have some classic pairings. Mesquite is popular for cooking pork, hams or bacon for instance, and oak for cooking brisket. You should use either wood chips or pellets specifically designed for smokers when using your electric smoker. Wood chips may also be used dry or after soaking in water, depending on your personal preference.
Q: Are there other things a smoker can be used for besides smoking meat?
A: Absolutely! You may smoke vegetables or cheese, but you can also use your electric smoker without any wood chips or pellets and just use it as a way for slow cooking or dehydrating to make beef jerky or similar items. The smoker is a versatile piece of equipment great for making all sorts of dishes other than smoked meats.
Some Final Words
Electric smokers are a subjective choice; everybody has different requirements out of their cooker! Every smoker we looked at is efficient, insulated, and reliable, as well as portable if you’ll be moving around with it. We hope that the points included in this review will help you to easily choose the perfect one for you.
Even so, the models we presented are the current market leaders and we fully vouch for them, as they’ve been tested thoroughly in all sorts of conditions, and have passed our every test, necessary to be included in our guides, with flying colors.
And since we now live in a digital world, where everything is connected to the internet of things, an electric smoker has the unique ability to easily give you the freedom and flexibility to control your smoking using smart-phone apps. This cannot be done with a traditional heavy-duty charcoal smoker.
Overall, the right model and picks for you will depend on what included features you’re looking for, how much BBQ you regularly cook and share, as well as what level of pit-master skills you possess.
If you’re into controlling every aspect of smoking yourself, in our opinion the Char-broil analog smoker is easily the best choice. It’s very easy to use and monitor the temperature. You can also look at other smokehouse products like the little chief or big chief.
If you prefer to just set-it-and-forget-it instead and spend more time with family as your food smokes, we recommend looking into the Bradley smokers.
And further still, if you’re looking for something that can handle a lot of barbecue, Masterbuilt models have got you covered.
The most important thing is to make your choice based on the most important features to you that love and with our buying guide, and the great reviews on the smoker units listed.
With any of the options on the buying guide above and reading through our electric smoker reviews, you’ll be a BBQ pitmaster in next to no time.