Top Pick: Masterbuilt DigitalCheck Latest Price →
WHY We Chose It:
- Digital panel controls.
- Easy to clean.
- Patented side wood chip loading system.
- 20.47″ W x 19.88″ L x 33.26″ H.
- Max temperature setting of 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Big interior capacity.
There are few things in life more appetizing than a perfectly-smoked cut of meat that nearly melts in your mouth as it bursts with juicy, delicious flavor. Many home chefs have turned to electric smokers over traditional technologies in response to the ease of use and versatility that electric models have to offer.
Electric smokers use similar technology to traditional smokers to cook food. The largest difference is in the heating mechanism – rather than burning wood, pellets, or gas, these modern alternatives use an electric heating element to get things cooking in no time. This allows for precise temperature control, and in many cases can even be set using a digital control panel. While electric smokers are predominantly outdoor appliances, another advantage they offer is that they can be used indoors as long as they are set up properly – more on that later.
For now, let’s dive right into the meat of this article. What makes an electric smoker great? Which features are must-haves and which can you simply do without? A great way to answer these questions is by taking a look at the best electric smokers you can find today. and get you on your way to picking the perfect model for your home.
- Top Electric Smokers of 2021
- Top Pick: Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker, 30-inch
- Runner Up: Dyna-Glo Digital Electric Smoker
- Best Analog Electric Smoker: Char-Broil
- Also Great: Cuisinart COS-330
- Not Bad: Pit Boss Digital Vertical Electric Smoker
- Bradley Digital 4 Rack Electric Smoker
- Old Smokey Electric Smoker
- Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
- Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker
- LANDMANN Smoky Mountain 26-Inch Electric Smoker
- Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker
- Electric Smoker Buying Guide
- How Electric Smokers Work
- Components of an Electric Smoker
- Tips for Cooking in Your Electric Smoker
- Pros & Cons of Electric Smokers
- Is Electric Or Propane Better For Smoking?
- What About Other Types of Smokers?
- Parting Thoughts
Top Electric Smokers of 2021
Top Pick: Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker, 30-inch
- Digital control panel
- Easy to clean
- User friendly
- Tray customization feature
- High performance compared to other units
- Narrow width
My top choice for today’s best electric smoker is the 30-inch Masterbuilt digital. This electric smoker is very easy to use and it is an ideal choice for beginners. It is consistently is ranked as one of the best digital electric smokers in the market by satisfied buyers. Besides being easy to operate, the Masterbuilt Digital smoker is also easy to clean and manage. You’ll be able to whip up a scrumptious meal in a breeze, even if it’s your first time using a smoker.
This digital electric smoker’s cabinet is made from steel with plastic trim, making this a truly durable design. The interior of the smoker is made from aluminum. It features a digital control panel that allows you to set the smoking temperature anywhere between 100-275 degrees Fahrenheit.
The performance of this particular unit is remarkable. It has excellent insulation, which helps to keep the internal temperature well-controlled for precise and consistent cooking operations. It also features a convenient wood chip tray system that allows you to add your favorite blend and impart a sweet, smoky flavor on your food throughout the cooking process.
The interior of the Masterbuilt Digital has a large capacity and offers plenty of cooking space. It is outfitted with four trays so that you can smoke quite a bit of food in a single smoking session. My best guess is that you’ll be able to cook for up to ten people at once – depending, of course, on the food you serve and the appetites of your guests. If you are preparing a whole chicken or other items that require a larger space you can change the tray positions as needed to accommodate – though keep in mind that this will likely impact how much food you can make in a single go.
When it comes to quality, the Masterbuilt Digital smoker makes no compromise. Constructed with high-quality materials throughout, it’s an ideal unit to purchase if you want to get started with smoking your own foods at home.
Runner Up: Dyna-Glo Digital Electric Smoker
- Durable smoker
- Precision control buttons
- Internal meat thermometer
- Ample cooking space
- 800-watt heating element
- 732 square inches for cooking
- Small chip tray
- Potential to leak smoke
The Dyna-Glo digital electric smoker is an ideal unit for beginners and professionals alike. It comes equipped with a variety of features that are designed to simplify the cooking process. This particular unit also has an attractive appearance, which does help to set it apart from many of the other smokers reviewed here.
This particular smoker has a digital control panel that brings a particular level of ease to the cooking process. The control panel allows you to set both the cooking temperature set point and the cooking time. As an added convenience, this model is equipped with an integrated thermometer that allows you to measure the internal temperature of your food throughout the cooking process – the internal temperature is displayed on the digital control panel with the touch of a button.
The design team at Dyna-Glo clearly made an effort to ensure that this smoker exhibits high performance during operation. It has an 800-watt heating element that is thermostatically-controlled, and it offers a generous 732 square inches of cooking space – more than enough to get the job done.
When it comes time to add wood chips, simply load the tray at the side of the smoker. This model also features a double-walled firebox, which minimizes heat loss during cooking and this allows the food to stay warm even after the food is ready. Rest assured that this smoker will give you a dynamic and authentic cooking experience each and every time you fire it up. The Dyna-Glo is a close second for today’s best electric smoker, and if it sounds like a fit for your needs then you really can’t go wrong.
Best Analog Electric Smoker: Char-Broil
- Temperature gauge on door
- Double-wall insulation
- Dual latches
- 1200 watt heating element
- 544 square inches of cooking space
- Doesn’t have wheels
- No digital display or control
The Char-Broil analog is quite easy to use and features a mounted temperature gauge on the door for quick and easy monitoring of the cooking temperature. It comes with three cooking trays and 544 square inches of cooking space, which is plenty if you’re using it for daily meals around the house. However, it might be a little tight if you’re planning on cooking a meal for a large gathering, so that’s something worth taking into account.
This analog electric smoker from Char-Broil smoker features double-wall insulation. Proper insulation is important to ensure that your smoker delivers a consistent temperature through the entirety of the cooking process, and avoids uneven cooking and dry, overcooked meat.
The cabinet of the Char-Broil is made of quality metal, which makes it quite durable. It also features dual-latches on the door, making for an excellent seal during cooking. With a high heating power of the 1200-watt heating element, you won’t have to worry about overloading the interior of the smoker, which would otherwise lead to longer cooking times and uneven temperatures.
Other features of this Char-Broil smoker include a drip tray to easily catch and clean meat juices, a wood chip tray, and, of course, a water tray. All of the trays are accessible from the front of the smoker. While this unit doesn’t come equipped with wheels it does have handles built in to make it easy to move around as needed.
How about an electric smoker with a bit of history? Fun fact: this Char-Broil unit was first manufactured in 1945. As you might imagine, the Char-Broil team has implemented advancements over the years to keep the unit up-to-date. Nevertheless, it’s nice to know you’re buying a product that has stood the test of time. If that’s not enough for you though, Char-Broil analog electric smoker is backed by a one-year warranty from the manufacturer. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and for that reason it’s made it to my list of today’s best electric smokers.
Also Great: Cuisinart COS-330
- Simple operation
- High-temperature 1500 watt heating element
- Two handles for ease of mobility
- Lightweight design
- 548 square inches for cooking
- Small chip tray
- No digital display
Want to get that smoky flavor without using a traditional charcoal smoker? Don’t worry, you’re in the right place. This analog electric smoker from Cuisinart is a great way to bring delicious, smokey character and melt-in-your-mouth texture to your favorite cuts of meat. While it’s not loaded with bells and whistles, it’s quite easy to use and operate, making it an ideal choice for those that are just getting started with the art of meat smoking.
Forget the complex digital systems – with the Cuisinart COS-330 electric smoker all you need to do is set the temperature and get smoking. While the process is a bit more manual with this smoker than some of the alternatives on this list, there’s something to be said for the overwhelming level of simplicity.
A few quick words about what’s inside. The interior of the Cuisinart COS-330 offers up 548 square inches of cooking space. It comes equipped with three chrome-plated cooking cracks, which you can adjust to fit the size of your soon-to-be-smoked meats. This model boasts a large 1500-watt heating element, and allows you to control the temperatures from 100-400 degrees Fahrenheit. While it doesn’t offer a digital display or control, it is outfitted with an easy-to-read thermometer on the front door that allows you to monitor the internal cooking temperature.
While it may not appear so at first glance, this unit is relatively lightweight. It also features two handles on either side of the smoker so that you can pick it up and move it around your yard as needed. While it doesn’t have wheels, which would have been a nice addition, it’s portable enough that it’s not a show-stopper. All in all, it’s a great fit for some of our readers, and I’m happy to include it on my list of today’s best electric smokers.
Not Bad: Pit Boss Digital Vertical Electric Smoker
- Fully programmable temperature control
- Glass door for easy visibility
- Porcelain-coated cooking racks
- Rides on wheels to enhance portability
- Temperature control could be more precise
The Pit Boss Digital Vertical smoker looks great from the first impression – and in reality, there’s a lot to like with this smoker. I’ll start with the good, and then I’ll address why this visually-appealing electric smoker, unfortunately, doesn’t stack up to its competitors when it comes to its primary function.
When it comes to cooking space, the Pit Boss doesn’t fall short. With a massive interior cabinet, you’ll have plenty of room for even larger smoking endeavors. It includes a total of five porcelain-coated cooking racks and a porcelain-coated water pan sized at 1,008 square inches. It also features a nice, large viewing window so that you can see what’s going on inside the entire time you’re cooking.
The Pit Boss also features a digital panel, so you have complete control over the temperature set point. The operating temperatures allowed by this unit are from 100˙F to 400˙F. Thanks to the inclusion of a meat probe you can also keep an eye on the temperature of your food as it cooks without the need to open the door and subsequently lose all of that precious smoke. It even rolls on wheels so that you can easily move the smoker wherever you need it in your yard.
As alluded to earlier in the review, this model from Pit Boss does indeed have one major shortcoming. Despite the double-walled construction and blanket insulation, this unit simply does not hold its temperature all that well. This is likely caused by the large viewing window on the door that allows the heat inside to bypass the insulation and make its way out of the smoker. All in all though, it’s a decent smoker that’s worth considering, it’s just that you’re likely better off choosing one of the more properly insulated models on this list of today’s best electric smokers.
Bradley Digital 4 Rack Electric Smoker
- Polished stainless steel interior surface
- Digital temperature, smoke, and time controls
- Up to 8 hours of controlled smoke
- High-quality build
If you make this digital smoker your smoking companion, you’ll surely get addicted to its amazing features. It’s super simple to use. You only need to stack your meat or vegetables inside and close the unit.
You can’t see how the cooking is progressing without opening the door as there is no glass window. However, this helps the Bradley electric smoker to hold the cooking temperature more precisely. The polished stainless steel cooking cabinet is spacious and will provide plenty of cooking space to prepare meals for the entire family and still deliver perfectly smoked food. Those who love partying with friends will surely love the Bradley.
Everything about this smoker is straightforward, starting with the assembly. It is easy to set up, and you can start smoking your food in less than an hour. The four included cooking racks allow you to cook different components of meals at the same time.
The external dimensions of this smoker are 17″ x 14″ x 31″ in height, but keep in mind that these dimensions are prior to attaching the generator – at which point the width increases to 24″. This smoker will serve you for many years to come, thanks to its high-quality steel construction.
Temperature controls are straightforward and easy to set using the digital panel. You can set the cooking temperature that you want, and it can operate as high as 320 degrees. The digital control panel also allows you to set your desired amount of smoke and cooking time. With this capability, you can smoke your food with a consistent amount of heat and smoke for the best results.
Old Smokey Electric Smoker
- Flat top that completely seals the system
- Strong and durable
- Aluminum construction
- Heat control thermostat
- Wood chip tray for better smoke flavors
This electric smoker is designed with a distinctive shape, and you will quickly notice that it stands out a bit from the rest. It’s more of an old-fashioned appearance. If this turns out to be the electric smoker of your choice, you’ll never mistake it for another. The body is a round metal barrel standing vertically, accommodating multiple racks inside.
The unit measures 15.5 by 15.5 by 29 inches. The racks are large and robust enough to hold enough food to satisfy even the appetites of a reasonably-sized party. The chip tray is located above the heating element so that you can add wood chips and get your signature smokey taste.
The multiple racks allow you to smoke different foods at the same time. All you need to do is stack the components of your meal on the shelves and start smoking. The smoke produced at the bottom rises with the heat to cook and smoke the food on each rack. The grills have handles and are removable.
The heat is easy to control using the thermostat – you can set the temperatures to the level you want to cook at, but the rest of the smoking process is somewhat manual. The top of the unit is flat to seal the entire system and keep the rich smoke inside while cooking. Droplets formed at the top condense and drip back to the meat, ensuring it remains juicy and with succulent flavors.
With this smoker, you can cook a wide range of foods, including hot dogs, steaks, burgers, chicken, and pork, among other things. With its durable aluminum construction, it will be sure to provide you many years of meat-smoking pleasure.
Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
- It has an amazing 1000 square inches cooking space
- Durable design
- It is made of stainless steel with dual-tone finish
- Remote control operation
- The smoker’s door is smoke-tight and has a locking latch
The Char-Broil Deluxe is a perfect smoker for anyone interested in meat smoking, including beginners. This electric smoker is built by one of the most prominent manufacturers in the home barbecue industry. It is equipped with a slew of features that make their products superior to their competitors.
The Char-Broil Deluxe Digital is double-wall insulated, meaning you’ll never have to worry about heat retention or drastic swings in temperature while cooking. The insulation covers the smoker entirely (excluding the glass door, of course), and the steel used to construct the cabinet is the best material you can have for heat retention.
It features a door that is sealed tight, and a steel latch that ensures the door remains firmly and securely shut when cooking. The glass window in the door allows you to keep an eye on your meat as it cooks in the smoker.
The wood tray is located inside the cooking cabinet and an air damper ensures there is enough air for efficient burning and smoke generation. Everything about the construction of this Char-Broil smoker is smooth and secure, and it’s one of the few smokers that has at least partially stainless steel construction. You can even move the smoker around while cooking since it stands on wheels.
Operating this smoker is also straightforward. Using its remote control features and an on-board control panel, you can set the cooking temperature and cook time. All you have to do is insert your meat and set the unit to the heat level that you’re looking to cook at, then sit back and wait until your meal is complete.
After the set cook time has elapsed, the digital electric unit will automatically shut off and keep your food warm. This Char-Broil serves up to 7 hours of cooking time and provides enough cooking space to make sufficient food for the family. The cooking cabinet comes with It has four racks, offering you plenty of space to plan out your meals.
The device features 1000 square inches cooking space, enough to serve all your smoking needs. The racks are removable, which makes cleaning the unit a breeze.
Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker
- Bluetooth smart control features
- Built-in meat thermometer
- Includes 4 Chrome-coated smoking racks
- It has a patented wood chip loading system
If you’re searching for an electric smoker with advanced features such as Bluetooth connectivity, this is the product for you. The Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital comes with plenty of cabinet space for all your cooking needs.
This electric smoker has exterior dimensions of 19.88 inches by 20.66 inches by 33.46 inches. To give you an idea of the cooking space, it can accommodate four pork butts, four racks of ribs, two turkeys, or up to 6 chickens.
It comes with a built-in meat thermometer and Bluetooth technology. The Bluetooth control and thermostat allow you to effortlessly set the temperatures from the digital display or from your smart device.
You can also turn the device on or off from the comfort of your seat thanks to Bluetooth connectivity. The thorough insulation of the unit ensures that temperatures remain consistent at the level you have set with the thermostat control feature.
If you want more smoke, you simply add some wood chips on the wood chip tray without needing to open the door. It features a side wood loading feature that allows you to add wood chips without losing heat or valuable, luscious smoke.
With the Masterbuilt Digital electric smoker, you are all but guaranteed perfect results with your meals – whether you’re a beginner or a pro.
This smoker will be with you for a long service life enough due to its durable and robust build. The main cabinet is made from steel and plastic trim, while the interior is comprised of aluminum. The chrome-coated steel smoking racks allow for easy cleanup of the smoker.
LANDMANN Smoky Mountain 26-Inch Electric Smoker
- 3-in-1 combination tray
- Temperature control gauge with a separate removable variable controller
- Viewing window in the smoker door
- Wrought iron handles and adjustable feet
The Landmann Smokey Mountain smoker is a product that is sure to impress you. Whether you’re a barbecue smoking expert or a beginner, you’ll enjoy the straightforward cooking features that this product brings to the table. This 26-inch smoker will whip up your delicious and smoky food with surprising ease.
While it’s a perfect smoker for anyone, it works particularly well for those who are tight on space. The compact unit measures 26.7″ x 16.6″ x 13.2″ inches and features a 3-in-1 combination tray, a water pan, wood chip tray, and grease drip pan. The door is outfitted with a viewing window so that you can keep an eye on your meat as it smokes, and the door closes securely with an adjustable latch. The temperature gauge on the door allows you to monitor the internal cooking temperature throughout the entire smoking process.
Between the glass viewing window and the door-mounted temperature gauge, you simply do not have to open the door and risk losing precious smoke or heat while keeping an eye on your food’s cooking progress.
This smoker also features a separate heating element and a removable variable temperature controller. The steel cooking grates are chrome plated, making them easy to clean and durable. The unit also has a rear damper port to help aid with even and efficient burning of the wood chips, resulting in a richer smoke.
This smoker also has adjustable feet so that you can efficiently work with it even on uneven surfaces. The iron side handles are also a nice convenience, and in combination with the lightweight design, they make this smoker easy to lift and move around as needed.
Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker
- Adjustable chrome-plated cooking grids
- Water pan and wood chip tray are porcelain-coated
- ool-touch spring wire door handles with sure-lock latch system and side handles
- 1.3 cubic feet cooking capacity
This 26-inch compact smoker may seem simple, but make no mistakes – you can undeniably make perfectly smoked meats with the Smoke Hollow. This smoker is available in a 30-inch model as well if you need more space – both come with similar cabinet designs and both units are fully welded using steel as the predominant material of construction.
The 26-inch model smoker provides 1.3 cubic feet of cooking space and has an external size of 36.5″ x 19 ” x 16.5″. The heating element draws 1500-watts of power and features an adjustable and removable temperature controller at the side of the unit. Cooking temperatures can be set anywhere from 175˚F to 325˚F. The door is outfitted with a temperature gauge so that you can monitor the internal temperature of the cabinet throughout your smoking session, and the door is nicely secured with a lock latch system. The handle of the door is a spring wire cool-touch design, so you can open and close it during operation without getting burnt.
Like in many other electric smokers, the heating element is situated at the bottom of the cooking cabinet with a wood chip box and water pan above it. The water pan and wood chip are both porcelain-coated, which prevents them from rusting and eroding at a rapid rate due to the high-temperature exposure.
The smoker has two cooking grids, both of which are chrome plated. You can adjust the cooking grids to different heights to accommodate larger items in the smoking chamber as needed. If you don’t mind working with an analog electric smoker, you will love smoking your beef, chicken, fish, or pork with this 26-inch model from Smoke Hollow.
1. What is the best electric smoker in the market?
Our vote for today’s best electric smoker is the Masterbuilt Digital, and you can read our full review at the beginning of this article. That said, there are quite a few worthwhile electric smokers on the market, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. While the Masterbuilt Digital is the best choice for the bulk of our readers, there are often special circumstances to consider that might make other models more suitable for your household. Make sure to read the entirety of this article – we’ve made it quite easy to pick the best electric smoker for your home.
2. Are electric smokers any good?
Just like all types of smokers, there are pros and cons of every design. The biggest advantage that electric smokers have to offer over other types of smokers is ease of use. That said, here are some of the other top benefits of electric smokers:
Easy to maintain
Electric smokers are easy to maintain compared to their counterparts the gas or charcoal smokers. You don’t have to worry about running out of fuel or even disposing of the ashes. All you need is an electrical outlet and you are good to go.
Safe to use
Compared to charcoal, pellet, and gas smokers, electric smokers are very safe since they have fewer risks of fire or explosion. Even if you leave an electric smoker on for several hours unattended, it’s unlikely to cause any serious issues (though of course this is not recommended). All other types of smokers can certainly catch fire if they are not tended to carefully, and gas smokers have the added risk of gas leaks and explosions.
Electric smokers are user friendly since and don’t require to have much expertise to operate. Gas smokers are almost as easy to use, but you have a higher risk of running at an excessive temperature throughout your smoking session. Charcol and pellet smokers can be more tricky – you need to be in tune with the fuel source and the airflow to make sure you are delivering a constant and sufficient cooking temperature throughout the whole process.
3. What is the Best Masterbuilt smoker?
We feel that the Masterbuilt Digitial electric smoker is the best bet for more people looking to up their smoked meat game at home. Make sure to read our full thoughts on this smoker at the beginning of this article.
If you prefer a more high-tech smoking experience, you could also check out the Bluetooth enabled model, and of course, the company has a whole line of non-electric smokers that are worth checking out if you’re more interested in an alternative heating source to electricity.
4. What is the best electric smoker under 400?
There are quite a few electric smokers under $400 – actually almost all of them are. Once again, we highly recommend you check out our full review of the Masterbuilt Digital electric smoker at the beginning of this article.
The Smoke Hollow is another famous smoker that is ideal for beginners. This smoker is very affordable, and if you don’t require prior knowledge of smokers to use it. What you are needed to do is plug in the smoker and add wood chips.
Electric Smoker Buying Guide
Here are few things you might want to give some though before you pull the trigger on your brand new electric smoker:
The price is a significant factor to contemplate when buying a smoker, and you should look for a smoker that suits your budget. Cheaper smokers are meant to are going to have a tendency toward lower food capacity, analog controls, and less integration of technology. Higher-end smokers are going to offer more cooking capacity, and digital push-button control panels that make it quite easy to set cooking temperatures, cook times, and smoke rates.
Depending on where you plan to use your smoker, it may make sense to opt for a portable model – or at least one that rides on wheels and easy to move around when needed. Most electric smokers are lightweight, thus easily portable by nature. That said, a little extra held in this regard can be useful in some circumstances.
If you’re planning to cook for a lot of people most of the time then it probably makes sense to buy an electric smoker with a high-capacity cooking cabinet. Conversley, if you’re mostly cooking for just you and your spouse there are certainly advantages to a smaller smoker. Primarily, smaller smokers will be better at holding a consistent cooking temperature and heat up faster. Of course, they’ll also take up less space on your property. Pay attention both to the volume of the cabinet (usually measured in cubic feet) and the size of the surfaces that hold your food (usually measured in square inches).
It’s not a bad idea to be a bit picky about the construction of your smoker. You probably want a smoker that’s going to last for a while, so you may be better off choosing a model that’s constructed primarily from steel. Chrome-plated cooking racks are also a nice bonus, and of course stainless steel is even better – though hard to come by. Porcelain-coated components, particularly those closest to the heating elements, are another good bet as they’ll be more likely to last over years of extended smoking sesions.
How Electric Smokers Work
You can think of an electric smoker as a kitchen oven with smoking capabilities. Unlike wood-burning or charcoal smokers that burn solid fuel, electric smokers feature a digitally controlled electric heating element.
As such, to use an electric smoker, simply set the desired temperature, and the smoker will maintain that temperature for the set duration. This means that you will not have to worry about controlling vents or managing fires.
Nonetheless, electric smokers still come with vents. However, unlike in traditional smokers, the vents in electric smokers are not for temperature control; rather, they are for allowing smoke to escape.
Electric smokers also come with a wood chip tray that sits above the heating element. The heat from the element smolders the wood chips to produce smoke, which adds flavor to your meat.
Components of an Electric Smoker
The typical electric smoker comes with the following components:
This type of smoker features one or more electric rods whose purpose is to heat the space inside the smoker.
This tray is where you place chips of wood from your preferred hardwood tree. The heat from the element smolders them slowly to produce smoke. You can add more chips as the meat cooks.
Electric smokers cook the meat through a process known as convection, which typically requires the presence of steam. The water pan holds water for that purpose.
Once temperatures are high enough, the water turns into vapor, which helps in convection cooking. Additionally, since it is usually poured into the pan while still cold, it prevents temperatures inside the smoker from rising too fast.
These racks hold the food that you intend on smoking and are typically made from stainless steel.
Vents and Dampers
Since the smoldering wood chips require oxygen to smolder, the vents and dampers facilitate the process. Dampers at the bottom of the smoker allow oxygen into the unit, while vents at the top of the unit allow smoke to escape.
Tips for Cooking in Your Electric Smoker
While you do not have to be a barbeque maestro to use an electric smoker, this does not mean that you should go about it like an amateur. Consider employing the following pro tips when using your smoker.
Just as with any other cooking appliance, you need to season or cure an electric smoker. This allows you to get the best performance out of the appliance.
Seasoning your electric smoker before its first use also allows you to eliminate any dust, residues, or odors that the manufacturer might have left behind. Running your smoker on empty, therefore, allows it to burn off any unwanted substances, thereby making it safe for use.
Moreover, the seasoning oil creates a protective layer that will come in handy in the following smokes.
To season your grill, rub the smoker’s interior with non-stick spray or cooking oil, giving special attention to the cooking racks. Experts recommend using a neutral oil, such as peanut or canola oil. Once you are done applying the oil, turn on the smoker and run it for two hours at temperatures of between 270 and 275 Fahrenheit. Add wood chips at least 30 minutes before the seasoning duration is over.
Once the two hours are over, turn the smoker off and open the door to allow it to cool before you can use it.
Electric smokers usually come with seasoning instructions. Ensure to follow those instructions to the letter if you want to get the best performance out of your unit.
While using the electric smoker is a straightforward process, familiarizing yourself with the controls and various settings allow you to find the optimal conditions that give you the best smoke.
Fortunately, that should not be difficult, as digital smokers come with control panels that allow you to customize settings.
These cookers also come with thermostats and thermometers. These devices can be either built-in or separate from the smoker. Thermostats allow you to monitor the smoker’s internal temperature, while the thermometer allows you to measure the meat’s temperature.
Unfortunately, most thermostats and thermometers that come with the appliance are not usually of the best quality. This is why experts recommend investing in separate high-quality thermometers so you can manage your cooking more effectively.
A temperature swing refers to the phenomenon whereby temperatures inside a smoker jump all over the place before stabilizing. Out of all smokers, electrical smokers seem to be the most notorious for temperature swings.
Here is an example of a swing: You want to smoke your food at 200F. Once you set that in the digital electric smoker, the unit’s thermostat will shut off the heating element once the temperature reaches 200F, nonetheless, as a result of residual heat, the temperatures inside will keep rising, getting as high as 225F.
Since the heating element is off, the temperatures will drop eventually, with the thermostat turning the element back on when they fall back to 200F. However, the rate at which they are dropping will be faster than the rate at which the element gets to 200F, meaning that they will drop below your target.
The good news is that after a while, the thermostat will eventually stabilize and maintain an even temperature within the unit. However, for a properly smoked meal, it is best to manage temperature swings
Here is a tip to help you avoid swing: set the smoker’s temperature 10F below your target. This will ensure that the temperatures inside will not rise far beyond the target. Once they get past your target, reset the smoker’s temperature to your ideal.
Smoke adds delicious flavor to the meat. As a result, most beginners think that there cannot possibly be something such as too much smoke.
Nonetheless, too much smoke can result in creosote build-up. Creosote is the component in smoke that is responsible for the tantalizing barbeque flavor. In large amounts, however, creosote can make your meat bitter.
Therefore, when learning the ropes, be gentle with the smoke. Consider using a plate or less of chips, as it usually enough to infuse a decent amount of creosote into your food. As you gain smoking experience, you will eventually figure out the sweet spot.
The first rule of using wood chips for smoking meat is to only use chips that have been specifically manufactured for smoking. Do not be tempted to use treated or scrap wood in case you do not have proper wood chips. This is because their smokes contain components that are hazardous to your health.
Wood chips are of different kinds, which means that they impart different flavors to your food. The kind of meat that you are smoking is what typically determines the type of wood chips to use, as different meats require different flavors.
Experts recommend matching your meats and wood chips in the following ways:
- Use oak or pecan chips to smoke brisket, beef, sausages, and lamb for that moderate, nutty flavor
- Use mesquite chips to smoke red meats for an intense, hardy flavor
- Use applewood chips to smoke pork and poultry for a mild, sweet flavor
- Use hickory chips to smoke pork, poultry, and red meat for a sweet-savory flavor
- Use maple chips when looking to add a light and mild smokiness to your pork and poultry
- Use alder chips to smoke fish
When it comes to wet vs dry wood chips, you will have to experiment with both to determine what is ideal for you. This is because opinions are divided right down the middle, even among experts.
Consider soaking poultry or pork in a brine solution and leaving it overnight before smoking it. Brining not only adds tons of flavor to the meat but also moisturizes and tenderizes the meat.
A brine solution consists of a mixture of sugar and salt in cold water, with seasonings such as bay leaves, celery salt, clove-studded onions, carrots, citrus fruit slices, and bay leaves.
Inwood or charcoal smokers, vents help you control the unit’s internal temperature by adjusting airflow. However, since electrical smokers have built-in temperature control, their vents are there for the simple purpose of letting the smoke out.
Therefore, ensure that your vents are fully open at all times to avoid creosote build-up. The only time you should close your vents is when your wood chips are spent, and you want to hold in the smoke for that extra flavor.
By design, electric smokers take far longer to cook than charcoal or gas smokers. Cooking meat using an electric smoker can take anywhere between several hours and a full day. Therefore, prepare yourself for a long cook, and plan your day around it.
By lining your racks with foil before you start smoking, you will reduce the amount of cleaning up that you will have to do once cooking is done. Additionally, the foil also helps to protect your deflector and drip pans.
You will also notice that racks that are free of grease and residual oil tend to yield better tasting foods.
As a general rule, consider giving your electric smoker a thorough cleaning after every 3 to 5 uses.
Remember, the longer that you take in between cleans, the more difficult it will be to maintain the smoker. This is because the build-up of burned bits and grease affects the unit’s performance. Additionally, they can spoil the taste of subsequent smokes.
Experts recommend cleaning the smoker while it is still warm, as it is much easier then. Therefore, consider cleaning the unit after every use. Give it a few minutes to cool, so that you can touch the interior without burning yourself.
Using a mild detergent or any other non-abrasive cleaning agent and warm water, wipe, brush, and wash the unit’s interior. Use a cloth, soap sponge, or bristle brush to scrub the interior gently.
Remove the cooking racks, as well as the wood chip and water pans, and then soak them in the soapy water and allow them some time before washing them.
The smoker’s exterior should be easy to maintain, as all you need to do is simply wipe it with a damp cloth that has been soaked in warm, soapy water.
However, regardless of how thorough you are at cleaning, the smoker will darken with every smoke. Therefore, aim to keep the unit clean, not gleaming.
Pros & Cons of Electric Smokers
Having an electric smoker is convenient. Apart from smoking, the device also comes with a couple of other benefits.
Here is an outline of the top benefits of electric smokers:
Easy of Use
An electric smoker doesn’t require you to be a pro to operate. The device is beginner-friendly. If it’s your first time using it, you will still deliver the best-smoked meat.
Electric smokers come with adjustable temperature controls, which allow you to achieve hot and cold temperatures. That way, the device can support other smoking needs, such as cheese and bacon.
With an electric smoker, you can place your meat in the chamber and go about other businesses. You only set the temperature, and you are free to leave.
Compared to other types of smokers, electric options are safer. The device runs on clean energy, and there are no risks of contaminants in your food.
Most electric smokers are stainless steel built. Foods do not stick on the surfaces as you smoke. This makes electric smokers cleaner friendly.
Electric smokers consume an average of 800 watts in an hour. Therefore, users can smoke foods without worrying about incurring heavy electricity bills.
While the benefits of using electric smokers are extensive and attractive, they also come with a set of shortcomings. Some of their disadvantages include:
- Electric smokers do not achieve high temperatures as it is the case with propane smokers, and thus cannot serve some needs i.e., grilling or roasting
- The devices use high technology featuring temperature control knobs and automatic switch-off. Such aspects make their repair more difficult in case of a breakdown.
- It is not easy to get a smoke ring with an electric smoker. Wood chips can be used to increase flavor, but the heat is not enough to form a smoke ring.
- You need to have a power plug to work with an electric smoker.
- It is almost impossible to use the smoker in adverse weather such as in the rain.
Is Electric Or Propane Better For Smoking?
Choosing between propane and electric smokers depends on what sounds valuable to you. The smokers have different features and capabilities, so the choice narrows down to what you want since individual preferences differ. However, there are a couple of characteristics you can compare and determine which type to pick.
Electric smokers are easy to use and beginner-friendly. You only need to set the right temperature, and you are good to go.
A propane gas smoker, on the other hand, is more demanding. The temperatures can quickly fluctuate, so you need to keep a watch. With a propane smoker, you need to be a pro to get the best-smoked foods.
Buying a gas smoker will cost you less compared to electric smokers. Cheaper electric models are also available, although if you want to get the latest models, propane gas will be more affordable.
The taste you get from both types of smokers has been a subjective topic, although you will feel different tastes for each kind. Electric smokers deliver mild flavors since they do not have a high level of smoke.
On the other hand, propane gas smokers deliver higher levels of smoke and a smokier flavor. Generally, they provide meat with tastes that fall in between what electric smokers and charcoal smokers offer.
For electric smokers, it can be risky to smoke in the rain. However, you can go for options such as getting a cover or smoking in an enclosed area like your garage.
Propane smokers may be a bit more comfortable to handle in the rains, but not a heavy downpour as well. However, they do not have the best insulation, so cold and wet conditions can also be problematic.
If you have a power source, electric smokers are reliable, and you can smoke your foods with little worries of getting cut midway. You enjoy the best controls that allow you to work on other duties while your meat smokes. Each electric smoker comes with a digital temperature controlling knob, and additional features such as timers.
Gas smokers, on the other hand, are less reliable when compared to their electric counterparts. The smokers come with a controlling switch that simply switches the gas on and off. Also, there can be a burner controlling knob that can be adjusted to achieve the desired temperature.
However, the controls are not as accurate as it is with electric smokers. The gas could also run low without warning, and inconvenience your smoking. However, the technology used is not that complex and can be easier to fix if there are issues.
What About Other Types of Smokers?
There are three types of smokers, which include electric, gas, and charcoal. Charcoal is the most ancient form of smoking and one that achieves the highest amount of smoke. However, the heat is not that much. Its flavors can only be compared to those of gas smokers since gas smokers deliver more smoke than electric types.
With a charcoal smoker, you can also prepare other foods such as cheese due to the low temperatures. However, be sure you are ready to take the hassle associated with handling charcoal.
Electric smokers enhance your cooking experience by smoking your food. Most of the smokers are easy to use, and they are affordable. They also add the smoky flavor in food such as meat. The majority of the electric heaters are portable since they are made of lightweight material. Consider purchasing an efficient electric heater to experience cooking with a difference. If you are more of a person who likes doing the cooking inside as much as possible, you can also try out cooking techniques on an electric skillet which our site also covers. The same with with grilling with the best indoor grills then looking for best electric fireplaces for ambience.