In today’s modern society, meat smoking is a popular cooking method. It brings us back to the old days and connects us to our roots – but it can also be a hassle if you don’t have a good smoker.
While you can use traditional, gas and charcoal smokers, the new and improved electric smokers prove time and time again to be more efficient and convenient.
So, if you’re looking into buying a new electric smoker, where do you start? We have a few ideas! Here are our recommendations.
Best Electric Smokers for 2020 – Quick Look
(Click on the name of any smoker to read its in-depth review)
|Smoker||Size||Heating Element Power||Price|
|40 inches||800 watts|
|30 inches||800 watts|
|Masterbuilt MB20070210||30 inches||1500 watts|
|Cuisinart COS-330||30 inches||1500 watts|
|Char-Broil Vertical||30 inches||1500 watts|
|Smokin-It Model #1||13.5 inches||400 watts|
|Old Smokey Electric Smoker||30 inches||1250 watts|
|LANDMANN MCO 32954||26 inches||1500 watts|
|Smoke Hollow 26142E||26 inches||1500 watts|
|Bradley Smoker||31 inches||625 Watts|
1. Masterbuilt MB20074719 Mes 140g
Boasting all the best modern smoker technologies, the Mes 140 has been a popular smoker since it was first released.
Using this Mes 140, you can create mouthwatering smoky-flavor with no hassle and zero mess.
You can even monitor your food to ensure that it reaches perfection thanks to the various visual monitoring technologies that the smoker offers its users.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Mes 140 has been designed to appeal to the barbecue enthusiast. Its innovative technologies appeal to enthusiasts of all experience levels from beginner to master barbecuer. When cooking on the Mes 140, you can monitor your creations using Bluetooth SMART technology, using the built-in meat thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature.
This handy Bluetooth feature is easy to use and simple instructions are provided with the purchase of each smoker. The side-loading system of the barbecue makes it easy to load with a variety of wood chips, while the grill & finish element allows you to apply a tasty finish to fish, ribs, or homemade burgers.
The barbecue comes complete with 4 smoking racks, providing enough room to cook two full turkeys, up to 16 chickens, and 8 racks of ribs at one time. Enough for the annual family reunion? We think so! To enable you to better monitor your food, the device emits a gentle light when the door is opened and to make cleaning easy, its wood chip tray slides in and out.
It also features a front-located drip tray that catches drippings and grease and a removable water bowl. These features are excellent for improving the ease of cleaning, as each tray can be thoroughly washed and dried and then put back inside of the smoker.
- Large enough to smoke multiple foods at once.
- Cleaning made easy by a removable drip tray and wood chip tray.
- Interior lighting for monitoring your food.
- 4 smoking racks that can hold a large volume of food.
- May not produce much smoke in certain temperatures.
Despite its uncertainty in cold temperatures, this Masterbuilt model is a solid option if you’re looking for affordability and durability in one compact unit. With its modern features and handy grill & finish element, there’s virtually nothing you can’t create with this smoker. Again, just be mindful of what happens when the temperature outside the smoker drops too low.
2. Masterbuilt 20078715
The Masterbuilt smoker is chalked full of useful features and boasts plenty of cooking space.
In fact, it’s one of the most spacious smokers on our list today.
In addition, though, the Masterbuilt is easy to use and even easier to clean, containing removable parts and front-loading trays.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Masterbuilt 30-inch Digital Electric Smoker delivers traditional smokehouse flavor in a manner that is as easy – if not easier- as grilling but without the time commitment. The smoker comes equipped with an LED blue-light display that makes it easy to see the smoker settings and details in direct sunlight.
It also makes it super easy to see the display in low-light conditions such as after dark. The smoker boasts over 700 square inches of cooking space and four high-quality chrome smoking racks that can be adjusted to best suit whatever you’re trying to smoke.
The chrome coating of the racks helps to ensure that the meat doesn’t stick to the various smoking racks, saving you from wasting both time and money. Its drip deflector and drip pan are located on the front of the device for easy access. The smoker has a tightly-locking door that seals in smoke and heat, as well as a wood chip pan that slides in and out for easy refilling and cleaning.
You can refill the wood chip tray without opening the smoker and change the internal temperature with the flick of a knob, taking the temperature from 100 to 275 degrees within just a few seconds. The smoker can hold up to 80 pounds of food at any given time and is great for smoking fish, pork, beef, and chicken for every occasion.
- Supports up to 80 pounds of food.
- Easy to read LED screen with blue backlight.
- Versatile in use.
- Removable wood chip tray.
- Internal insulation lacks.
Say goodbye to grilling and hello to smoking, using this version of the Masterbuilt smoker. It holds an impressive amount of food, reaches high heat, and is super easy to clean. What’s not to love? We’d recommend it to anyone and everyone who wants a budget smoker that boasts high-quality mechanics and generally positive reviews. We can also guarantee that anyone with a need for a large-volume smoker will fall in love with this one upon their first use.
3. Masterbuilt MB20070210 MES 35B
The third Masterbuilt on our list, the Mes 35B, is used by professionals all around the country.
Despite its great reputation and modern appearance, it’s designed is fairly simple, with analog controls and a modest heating element.
The basic design is ideal for those just starting to test out smokers and who want to learn to truly master this model.
Our In-Depth Review:
Using the Mes 35B, you can create award-winning smoked dishes from the comfort of your own backyard – without the hassle of using charcoal or propane for fuel, which is something we particularly enjoyed. The smoker operates by way of electricity and boasts analog controls that allow you to micro-manage your smoker’s settings.
Using this simple control system, you’re able to adjust the temperature settings without having to set a timer or hit any extra buttons. It has three chrome-coated smoking racks that can hold up to 3 whole chickens or 3 racks of ribs without the risk of your food sticking, as the chrome plating works like a non-stick barrier.
It also has a built-in temperature gauge that has been tested and verified as accurate. Its water bowl is removable, making it easy to add flavor and moisture at any time, and its wood tray chip glides effortlessly in and out of the smoker for easy cleaning and even easier refilling.
The smoker also comes with a grease tray to catch drippings. Its 1,500-watt heating element provides even smoking every time, improving both the taste and appearance of your carefully smoked foods.
- Removable water bowl and wood chip tray.
- 1,500-watt heating element.
- Smoking racks coated with chrome.
- Large size.
- Reports that temperature is inaccurate.
The Mes 35B is a breeze to use. You can manage every aspect of your Mes 35 smoker and fine-tune the temperature using simple analog controls. It comes with all the trays that you’d expect to have included with a smoker, and its element gets hot enough to smoke even the toughest foods to perfection. While there have been reports of temperature inaccuracies, we didn’t seem to have any issues with temperature regulation and, when we double-checked using a meat thermometer, our smoked foods read correctly.
4. Cuisinart COS-330
The Cuisinart COS is perfect for the home chefs who like to cook with high heat, as it reaches a temperature of over 300 degrees and smokes each piece of food evenly at any temperature setting.
Its high heat capability is balanced by its classic, manual controls, and modest cooking space, while its lightweight body makes it great for camping or family cookouts on the front porch.
Our In-Depth Review:
This handy smoker boasts an incredibly high-temperature range, capping at 400 degrees. This alone makes it stand out from the other smokers on the market. In addition, it utilizes manual temperature controls, as well as an analog thermometer that is conveniently placed on the front of the smoker.
It has 548 square inches of interior cooking space and has a removable water tray. The wood chip tray, which can be easily loaded with a variety of wood chip types, is also removable so that ash and debris can be removed without a fuss. The smoker, compared to its rivals, is relatively lightweight and easy to move, which makes it great for family gatherings and backyard get-togethers.
The smoker is simple to assemble and sturdy once fully constructed, with a chrome spring door handle that prevents burns. We found the high temperature of the smoker to be one of its best features, as we were able to cook a variety of meats and vegetables in record time and in a ton of different ways, resulting in foods with a variety of textures but a wonderful smoky flavor.
- Easy to assemble and use.
- Features a chrome spring handle that helps prevent injuries.
- Removable water tray.
- Reaches up to 400 degrees in temperature.
- The door latch is sensitive and can break.
Simple assembly, a high-temperature range, and a lightweight body are only a few of the benefits that this smoker offers its users. We’d recommend it to anyone and everyone who needs their smoker to reach a high temperature, or who is tasked with relocating their smoker frequently, as its wheels make it stand out from many of its competitors.
You will need to be careful with the door handle, however, as it is relatively sensitive when compared with the other parts of the smoker. If you can manage to be delicate with your door handle, it will prove to be another awesome benefit as you evade being burnt time and time again.
5. Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
This vertical smoker uses an average temperature range and adjustable shelving units, giving it a modest appearance and lending it high-functionality.
Its various trays and internal parts are removable, its temperature range-wide, and its cooking space very flexible, despite its small size.
Our In-Depth Review:
Don’t let the basic, bank-box appearance of this vertical smoker put you off – it has more to offer than just a basic, unassuming appearance. It’s actually extremely useful and known for its many benefits. The unit uses an electric heating system that banishes the need for charcoal or gas, and uses 1,500 watts to heat and cook food.
Inside of the smoker is 505 square inches of cooking space and adjustable shelves that can be moved and rearranged at different heights to accommodate a variety of foods. We used it to cook whole chickens, racks of ribs, and homemade hamburgers. It has an internal and external drip tray, as well as an electric thermostat that can range from 150 to 400 degrees.
The smoker is lightweight, weighing only 5 pounds. Really, the only thing we weren’t too excited about was the door of the unit and the way that it does not feature a standard lock, but instead simply a velcro strip. When we tried the smoker out, we were sure to firmly press on the strip just to avoid any potential issues with the door popping open.
- Lightweight and easy to move and transport to different locations.
- Features adjustable shelves.
- Includes an external drip tray to catch excess liquid.
- Versatile temperature range.
- The door closes using a velcro strip instead of a locking mechanism.
In our opinion, a smoker whose only downfall is the door locking system is a pretty solid cooking gadget. Aside from the velcro locking system, we can’t find any faults with this smoker. It includes all the features that a high-class smoker should: versatile temperature, drip trays, and shelves that can be adjusted. Therefore, we’d be silly not to give it a general recommendation. However, we can’t stress enough that it is necessary to keep an eye on the door of your smoker to make sure that it is closed properly as it will not lock on its own.
6. Smokin-It Model #1
NSF certified and promoting mess-free cleanup, the Smokin-It smoker is one for the books.
It has a durable body and ample internal cooking space, with easy-to-clean trays and cooking grates that are resistant to rust.
Each smoker also comes with an unexpected surprise in its box.
Our In-Depth Review:
This electric smoker is made of 18 gauge, 201 stainless steel and is designed with ease of use and portability in mind. Each model comes with 3, heavy-duty casters, three stainless steel racks for grilling, and their own smoke box.
They also come with a slide-out drip pan that makes cleaning the smoker a simple, mess-free process. The drip pans are lightweight and can safely be washed in hot water and dish soap, which means that any lingering smell or grease can be thoroughly removed between uses. The smoker comes fully assembled and includes a wood sample for your personal use.
We were particularly pleased with the included wood sample, considering it a generous gift, as it helped us put together our review. In addition, the smoker boasts the ability to hold 21 pounds of food and can go up to 250 degrees in temperature. It has also been NSF certified and is trusted by professionals.
- Cooks up to 21 pounds of food at a time.
- Removable drip pan.
- Includes a wood sample for immediate smoker use.
- It requires frequent cleaning.
Would we recommend? Sure! We’d give this a solid recommendation to anyone who doesn’t mind doing a bit of maintenance (cleaning, mostly). It reaches a moderate temperature that can easily smoke most varieties of meat and can hold over 20 pounds of food. This being said, the smoker’s max temperature is 200 degrees, which might not be hot enough for some users. Because of this, we stress the fact that you should always read the details of the smoker before purchase to decide if it’s a good fit for you.
7. Old Smokey Electric Smoker
If you’re looking for a smoker that is hardy and reliable, behold the Old Smokey.
This drum-shaped smoker is classic in appearance but is adorned with all the modern bells and whistles including removable trays and high-quality internal regulation systems.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Old Smokey electric smoker is drum-shaped and made from aluminized steel. It comes with two grilling racks and a removable water pan, both of which are made with high-quality materials. Its thermostat control is simple to use and excellent at regulating temperature. The smoker is fully electric and insulated to ensure that your food is cooked to perfection and to prevent the loss of heat and smoke.
It comes with a tight-fitting lid and removable chip tray that creates smoky flavor and adds to the unit’s convenience. The lid is flat so that juices drip back down onto the food inside of the smoker should they arise and try to escape. It is a top-loading product, which makes loading and unloading food easy.
One major benefit of the Old Smokey is that its temperature regulation system prevents the inside temperature from being affected by colder, external temperatures. The overall simplicity of the smoker lends to its affordable price but does not reflect its durability or usefulness.
- Simple, easy-to-use design.
- Made from durable, aluminized steel.
- Boasts an affordable price tag.
- Does not include extras such as probes.
Overall, the Old Smokey smoker is a device that can be trusted. Users all over the world love it for its accurate temperature regulation and general ease of use, while serious smoking enthusiasts appreciate its delicious smoky flavor and top-loading design.
8. LANDMANN MCO 32954 Electric Smoker
The MCO 32954 is ideal for both the experienced and inexperienced smoking enthusiasts.
It boasts incredible ease of use and reliability that is unmatched by similar smokers. It allows users to visually monitor their food and can be easily transported.
It has its minor downfalls, as every smoker does, but for the most part, it is a great smoker.
Our In-Depth Review:
The LANDMANN MCO 32954 electric smoker has a classic appearance and modern technological design, combining the best of both old and new technology in one compact unit. Inside, it features 3 chrome-plated cooking grates that provide adequate support for floppy cuts of meat and prevents food from sticking.
These grates are adjustable. It also has a separate heating element and uses a modern 3-in-1 tray that holds the chip, water, and drip pans in one secure location. This ensures stability, as well as makes it easy to locate all three of these important trays when they need to be filled or emptied. The temperature controls are located on the front-opening door, making them easy to access.
The featured front window makes it possible to visually monitor your food without having to open the smoker frequently and risk losing smoky flavor or heat. For easy transportation, it features sturdy side handles that are perfect for carrying and burn-free transportation.
The smoker features a set of well-built feet on the bottom; these feet can be adjusted to account for uneven grounds and surfaces, guaranteeing that the smoker is level on any terrain.
- 3-in-1 combination chip, water, and drip tray.
- Front-located temperature controls and viewing window.
- Side handles for simple transportation.
- Outdoor temperatures can affect the inner temperature.
We’d recommend this unit to those who live in areas with relatively warm, stable weather, as there have been reports of the smoker’s internal temperature fluctuating with cooler outside temperatures. However, if you’re willing to take the risk, we’d say go for it! This smoker is a high-class, easy to use the unit.
9. Smoke Hollow 26142E
Designed to prevent heat-related injuries, this smoker is a favorite among those who are prone to accidents.
In addition to this factor, the smoker is also made attractive by its easy to clean parts and the durable cooking surface.
Sales of this smoker have been consistent since its launch, with many buyers repurchasing it.
Our In-Depth Review:
From Smoke Hollow, the 26142E boasts a 1,500-watt heating element and incredible power for an affordable price. To cook your food, the smoker is fitted with two cooking racks that can be adjusted to different heights based on the food you’re cooking.
They can be spread apart to fit a whole turkey or chicken or put more closely together to accommodate trays of ribs. These cooking racks are coated with a non-stick finish. Both the water pan and chip tray of the smoker are porcelain-coated, which makes them easy to clean and very durable, with porcelain being one of the most highly sought after bowl materials.
The front of the product features a basic temperature gauge that allows you to monitor and change your heat settings, nearly micromanaging the settings to half a degree.
The smoker also has two side handles that are made of cool-touch metal coils that prevent burns and injuries, and to improve the ease of moving the smoker should it be necessary. This factor, in particular, is also great if you have curious children who like to grab things – no handle burns!
- Side handles for easy transportation.
- Two full-size cooking racks that are adjustable.
- 1,500-watt heating element to cook food thoroughly and quickly.
- Prone to rusting.
There are no major downfalls of this smoker, which makes it one of our easiest recommendations. Although it has been reported to rust, its quality and affordable price make it worth the risk. The rusting, we think, is mostly due to poor care and, in our opinion, if you care for your smoker, you shouldn’t have any rust problems.
10. Bradley Smoker BTDS76P 990216
With more racks than most people need, the Bradley Smoker is great for those who like to cook in bulk.
Its control systems are digital and modern, while its design is somewhat simpler and more modest, lending to its long-standing durability.
Our In-Depth Review:
This four rack smoker is a great choice for those who love the taste of smoked food. It’s made of high-quality stainless steel and is bolstered by its sturdy, rectangular shape. As we said, it has 4 racks, which means that it can fit an impressive amount of food inside of it.
Each rack is coated in a non-stick material that resists rust and prevents food from being left behind on the grate. Its controls are fully digital and easy to use, with no complicated buttons or settings and a simple instruction pamphlet that is written in basic English and without any complicated sayings or technical jargon.
The smoker can provide up to 8 hours of continuous smoke with the ability to go as high as 320 degrees. This range will cover almost every type of meat and smoke need you may have. It poses a low risk of fire and can withstand rainy weather, maintaining is internal temperature even when the external temperatures begin to drop.
- Maximum temperature of 320 degrees.
- The fully electric control system.
- It could be smoked for 8 hours at a time.
- Great for use in cold weather.
- Sensitive wood puck mechanism.
Most smokers would enjoy this smoker. While it doesn’t have an overly impressive maximum run time, it does have redeeming qualities like its fully digital controls and its ability to stand up to bad weather conditions. Overall, it’s a pretty good smoker and should be able to adequately cater to just about anyone. We’d especially recommend it for those unfortunate enough to do a lot of outdoor fall/cold-weather smoking.
Electric Smokers – Buyer’s Guide
Benefits of Owning An Electric Smoker
Adequate temperature is required for the proper cooking of everything – especially when it’s meat. This is why your smoker needs to have a wide range of temperature settings and the ability to run at those settings for long periods of time. In charcoal smokers, it is hard to maintain a steady temperature; it is easier in a pellet smoker; but in the electric smoker, it’s fairly easy to reach and maintain a fixed temperature. Electric smokers are given this ability by their thermostat and mechanisms, which are similar to those found in any regular cooker.
Speed and convenience
Another great advantage of electric smokers is the speed at which the smoker reaches its desired cooking temperature. There is no need to fuss around with lighting the smoker or getting just the right setting on a dial – all you have to do is, using a continuous source of electricity, turn on the heating element. Since smokers are made for low-temperature cooking, the long cooking time is made up for by the quick heating time. Not only does the speed factor make the smoker ideal for cooking, but it also means that the electric smoker is a convenient way to cook large meals.
No control required.
After you’ve programmed the cooking process using the control panel, you can sit back and relax knowing that you don’t have to do anything else. One the process has started, the internal system will take control of the entire thing, maintaining temperature and ensuring adequate cooking. There’s no need to worry about temperature fluctuations, and, in more high-tech models, there is even a feature that is triggered when the meat’s internal temperature has been reached, which is possible thanks to the built-in probe.
Opportunity to use wood chips.
When you’re buying an electric smoker, you’re probably wanting to purchase it with the hopes that you won’t need to use wood chips of charcoal. But, in actuality, most electric smokers do have a dedicated space for the addition of smoking material, should you choose to use them. This handy feature allows you to increase the smoke inside of your smoker, improving the taste and texture of your food and giving you a traditional BBQ flavor without the hassle of depending solely on wood chips.
With electricity as the primary power source, electric smokers have earned the reputation of being easy to clean. If you opt to use charcoal or wood chips in your electric smoker, you’ll have to do the traditional cleaning, but if you skip the chips there’s no messy ash to be cleaned up or disposed of. The grease goes into a dedicated grease tray, and there’s no hassle associated with changing propane tanks, as your smoker doesn’t have one.
A large cooking space.
One thing that all-electric smokers have is a decent sized cooking area. Generally, they all have two or three racks, with some models boasting up to 4. Most also offer over 700 square inches of space, while other smokers of this price point only offer approximately half the space. This is mostly because they have to have enough space inside to accommodate a large volume of wood chips or charcoal, as well as water trays – both of which take up space.
Good for beginners.
If you’ve never ventured into the world of smokers before, the electric smoker is a great place to start. Electric smokers are smokers, undoubtedly, but they are also a lot simpler and less time consuming than traditional smokers. Of course, this isn’t to say that other types of smokers are no good, but it is to say that perhaps if you’re just starting out, you may want to start with an electric and move your way up in terms of smoker difficulty. With everything taken care of by an internal system, you can focus on mastering your smoking skills and not on maintaining temperatures.
Electric smokers are made to be safe for use in conditions that resemble those of the home. The electric smoker is heated by a bottom-located heating element and will always have a mechanism that prevents it from getting too hot. It also works to prevent random temperature fluctuations that could become unsafe, as we mentioned before. Due to this fancy mechanism, electric smokers are a great way to reduce the risk of fire and ensure your family’s safety and well being.
Tips for Buying An Electric Smoker
When buying an electric smoker, you shouldn’t simply buy the first one you see. You should always research and look into different brands, as well as types of smokers. When buying, keeping the following factors in mind will improve your shopping experience and ensure your overall satisfaction.
For most people, price is the deciding factor for every purchase. When you’re in the market for a new smoker it’s no different. Before cruising the aisles of your local hardware or outdoor supply store, decide on a reasonable budget. What’s your ideal price? Your maximum price?
There are smokers available in a range of prices, so you should be able to find one that fits your decided budget.
It’s important to remember that the bigger and fancier a smoker is, the more it will cost. Understand that on a limited budget you might not be able to afford the newest smoker technology, but also keep in mind that cheaper smokers, despite lacking certain bells and whistles, can be just as good.
Cooking space is an important factor to consider. When buying, keep a mental note of how much food you usually make in your smoker on any one occasion. While most smokers offer 700 square inches of cooking space, others can offer up to 1000. If you cook a lot of food at once or use your smoker frequently, you could opt for a larger model with a bigger cooking space. The key to this decision is accurately gauging how much space you need.
In smoker terms “basic features” mean the general features that make your smoker operate. These are important to consider because basic features can vary from brand to brand and model to model. You’ll need to decide which basic features you need in a smoker and search for one that checks all the boxes. Basic features include a number of racks and maximum temperature, as well as water, drip, and chip trays.
Higher priced models tend to offer a plethora of extras. Some offer the opportunity for users to refill wood chips without opening the smoker, which prevents heat loss. Others may offer a specialized app that allows you to monitor the cooking process form your smartphone, or come with a remote control that can control the system’s heat and cooking settings. Some manufacturers may also include add-ons that are sold separately, which could include a cold smoking kit. When looking at extras, remember that extras and add-ons add to the overall price of the smoker and, although they are luxurious, they might not be necessary.
The power of your prospective smoker is crucial. There are certain guidelines that various sizes of smokers should meet in terms of power: 800 watts for 700-800 square inches, 1200 watts or higher for 1000 square inches of cooking space. Element power is what plays into whether or not your food is cooked and heated evenly, so lacking power could cause problems.
If you’re looking for a portable smoker, look for one that has wheels and is lightweight. Not every smoker is designed to be portable, so it’s a good idea to read the specs carefully if you wish to purchase a smoker that you can easily move from place to place. Another handy portability feature handles, which makes it easier to transport your smoker.
What is an electric smoker?
If you are here, it’s because you, just like me, love smoked meat (apologies to veggies that stumbled across this page), and scarcely will you find a home that doesn’t have a means of preparing this special delicacy these days. However, if you seek a more efficient means of preparing great-tasting smoked dishes, then an electric smoker is the right choice for you.
An electric smoker is a device that employs the use of heat generated from electricity to smoke food substances, meat in particular. The use of an electric smoker typically eradicates the problem of excessive heat production associated with the traditional method of charcoal and wood in smoking meat.
Also, with an electric smoker, you can exercise greater control over the cooking temperature, and you don’t have to spend as much time watching over food, as you would with a charcoal grill.
Choosing an electric smoker to buy can prove to be a stressful experience, with the sheer volume of models available on the market today.
Hence, I have created this buying guide to assist you in choosing the right kind of electric grill to meet all your smoking needs.
How does an electric smoker work?
Before we can delve into the workings of an electric smoker, we first need to familiarise ourselves with its components. A typical electric smoker comprises of the following parts:
- The smoking chamber.
- The heating element.
- A tray for holding wood chips
- A drip pan.
- Water pan.
- Metal racks for holding food.
- Temperature control system.
- Power cable
- The start button.
- Air vents
The smoker works by converting electric current from a power source into heat energy required to cook food substances.
For an electric smoker to work, the first thing you need to do is plug it into a dedicated power source. However, the grill will not start operation until you activate the start button. Once you push this button, current flows into the smoker from the power outlet through the cable.
The first obstacle the current encounters as it enters the smoker is the thermostat. This thermostat helps to step down the current entering the smoker into heat suitable for cooking. The thermostat works on instructions received from the rheostat/control center of the electric grill.
Once the optimal temperature is achieved, the thermostats distribute heat into the metal racks to cook the food contained on them. The walls of an electric smoker are completely insulated; hence, you can be sure of little to no heat loss, resulting in an efficient cooking experience.
Who needs an electric smoker?
An electric smoker is a more efficient and effective way of grilling food products, particularly meat of all types. If you are new to the smoking world, I’d advise you to start with an electric smoker as they are easier to use for newbies, compared to the traditional smokers. Electric smokers allow you to automatically adjust the temperature, something that can prove to be quite technical in charcoal grills.
Besides, if you want to have greater control over the flavor of your meat, you might want to consider going for an electric smoker. They also offer a high degree of versatility, and you can prepare various types of meals on one – from roasted bacon to cheese, fish, and beef.
An electric smoker is a suitable alternative for the charcoal models in places where there is a prohibition on making fires.
Also, if you don’t want to spend much on a smoker, an electric one is the perfect choice for you. They are typically cheaper, compared to other smoking equipment out there, and are easy to maintain as well.
Pros and cons of using an electric smoker
Highlighted below are a few advantages and disadvantages of preparing food with an electric smoker:
- An electric smoker is safer to use than a traditional smoker because you don’t have to depend on fire flames to smoke meat.
- They are easy to use for those who are relatively new in the smoking business.
- You don’t have to check your smoker while grilling meat always. Just place the meat in the smoking compartment, set the temperature, and leave the equipment to do its thing.
- Also, electric smokers are generally pocket-friendly, and you don’t have to break the bank to get one.
- Electric smokers give you greater control over heating temperatures when smoking meat. With electric smokers, you can cook meat at lower temperatures compared to what is obtainable with traditional smokers.
- The maintenance of electric smokers is quite easy.
- The design of electric smokers causes heat to be evenly distributed to parts of the meat while in use, thereby ensuring proper cooking.
- Electric smokers are easy to start.
- You have greater control over the flavor of the food being smoked.
- You can’t use an electric smoker where a power outlet isn’t available.
- Smoke can be an issue at times.
- Cleaning is more complicated than traditional smokers, and this has to be done regularly as well.
- Most electric smoker models can’t handle large cooking projects.
Types of electric smokers
When looking for an electric smoker to buy, you have the option to choose between a vast range of models, each built to suit different grilling needs. The most common types of electric smokers on the market today include:
Vertical water smokers
A vertical water smoker is essentially an upright drum with three main components:
- The heat source which is usually located at the base of the container,
- A water pan situated just above the heat source which helps to keep food humid while smoking, and
- The smoking racks.
The design of vertical water smokers ensures they don’t take up much space, while at the same time, they provide a highly efficient means of smoking meat. Also, smoke fumes from the wood chips and steam from the water in the pan combine to enhance the flavor of the meat grilling. Alternatively, you can place any other sweet-smelling liquid in the pan – it’s all a matter of preference.
Vertical water smokers are typically cheaper than other models, and you will find that they are quite easy to operate as well.
Offset electric smokers are characterized by the presence of two major compartments:
- A long, grated metal box which is typically cylindrical that serves as the cooking chamber, and
- Smaller circular boxes with air vents and access doors attached to the cooking chamber.
The small boxes serve as the fire chamber, and heat and smoke from there enter the cooking chamber via the vents for use in cooking food. A significant drawback of using these offset smokers is the fact that you have to carry out a series of modifications and tweaks before you can comfortably prepare food with them.
You might have guessed it correctly from the name, but Kamado grills are a type of smokers that originated in Japan. The design of a
Kamado grill is a modern alteration of the round, kettle-shaped charcoal grill we are all familiar with.
One thing Kamado grills are renowned for is their ability to hit excessively high temperatures. Consequently, they prepare food faster, but your meat is also more liable to burning. However, Kamado grills are quite expensive, and there’s also limited space available for smoking meat.
Upright drum smokers
Just like the name infers, an upright drum smoker comprises a standing steel container with a cooking rack on top and the fire source at the bottom. There are air vents at the bottom and in the lid, which allow you to regulate temperature and provide a means for the smoke to escape while cooking.
They have grown in popularity over the past few years due to the ease with which you can use them, and the fact that you can even build one at home as a DIY project. Also, they are quite lightweight, and you can quickly move them from place to place.
Upright drum smokers make an excellent choice for grilling chicken, although you can equally prepare pork roasts and briskets with some degree of difficulty.
This is one smoker for those who would love to employ a more traditional means of grilling meat. A pellet smoker is a device that works by burning wood chips as fuel to smoke food. Pellet smokers serve a combined function of being able to smoke and grill meat.
Pellet smokers are an ideal choice for smoking meat due to the burning of wood pieces, which tends to generate a lot of fumes. They also give you the power to determine the flavor of the grilled meat, as you can easily put in wood chips with the desired scent.
However, as pellet smokers comprise a lot of moving parts, they are quite prone to developing mechanical faults. Still, this can be avoided if you go for a high-end pellet smoker.
A box smoker is more or less the heating chamber and a smoking grill all in one compartment. They are similar to a burner which you just place your meat on, and roast – no added features, and frivolities.
One major problem with these box smokers is that they are typically built of thin materials that do not offer enough insulation, thereby causing rapid heat loss.
How to use an electric smoker?
Cooking with your electric smoker is as easy as placing food inside, setting an auto-timer, and then leaving it to do its thing. However, to get your smoker ready to prepare tantalizing meals, there are some things you need to put in place. Follow the steps listed below to cook great tasting meals with your electric cooker.
Season your smoker
First time using your electric smoker? If yes, then you need to season the smoker. The process of seasoning a smoker involves coating the interior with sweet-smelling oil. This oil serves to protect the interior of the grill from rust caused by exposure to fluid from various food materials.
Afterward, set the temperature to between 250 to 275°F and allow the smoker to run for the next two to three hours. This enables the oil to melt properly and reach all the corners of the grill.
However, not all smoker models require seasoning, and you should consult the instruction manual to know the appropriate action to carry out.
Preheat the electric smoker
Now that you’ve seasoned the smoker, the next thing to do is heat it to a specific temperature – before putting in any food at all. Preheating ensures food enters the smoker at the optimal temperature required for cooking and generally leads to faster smoking.
To preheat the grill, set the temperature anywhere between 200 to 225°F and allow it to run for some minutes. Once you’re done preheating, place a metal cup filled with hot water at the bottom of the smoker.
Steam from this cup ensures meat, or food in general, retains moisture while cooking, and it also helps maintain the temperature in the smoker. Alternatively, you can use a flavored drink instead of water to enhance the smell of your food.
Also, add in wood chips for smoking into the electric grill. Burning these wood chips while cooking produces a lovely scent, which improves the flavor of your food.
Smoke the meat
Before cooking meat in an electric cooker, you need to smoke it to ensure you get the desired aroma after grilling. To smoke meat, coat it with suitable spices and then ignite the wooden chips located in the grill. Monitor the smoke level in the grill, and add in more chips if it is diminishing.
Do this till you are satisfied with the smell of the meat, but take care not to over-smoke as you might burn the meat in the process.
Place meat on the metal racks
Now, this is the part we’ve all been looking forward to – the main cooking action. Once you have satisfactorily smoked meat, place them on the metal racks using tongs and spatula. Arrange the meat accordingly with the larger pieces below, and the smaller ones on top.
Shut tight the door of the smoker and set it to the desired cooking temperature. Most electric smoker models feature an internal thermostat, which helps maintain constant cooking temperature.
All you have to do now is wait for the meat to get done. Some electric smokers feature an automatic timer, which turns off the heating element after a specified duration.
Enjoy your meal
Once the food has been cooked to a satisfactory level, turn off the electric speaker and allow it to cool down before removing the meat from the racks. If you enjoy hot meals, proceed to dig into the meat immediately, but if your preference is warm food, allow it cool down a bit before eating.
Factors to consider when looking for an electric smoker
To choose an electric smoker that will continuously deliver great-tasting, roasted meat products, there are several features you need to examine. Some of the qualities that differentiate a bang-average smoker from the best of the best include:
One crucial quality every electric smoker should have is the ability for users to control the heating temperature while cooking. The capacity to regulate cooking temperature means the chances of you burning food reduces drastically. Consequently, you’ll get great-tasting and nice smelling food from your smoker.
Most electric smokers come fitted with a rheostat for observing internal temperature changes and making the necessary adjustments. Also, different models have varying heat ranges, and if you prefer to cook at higher temperatures, ensure the smoker model you are going for is capable of handling your demands.
Holes on the body of an electric smoker provide an outlet for smoke and heat to escape from the smoker before the system becomes too hot. Excess smoke in the grill causes food to lose its appeal and also increases the rate at which it burns. Before buying an electric smoker, observe its body for openings, and ensure these holes are enough to allow free passage of fumes.
Also, if you’d like to try out the traditional method of cooking in the open, you should go for a product with enough vents. These vents balance the natural in-flow of air with the escape of smoke, thereby resulting in better tasting food.
Power requirements and fuel type
All-electric smoker models work by converting current from a power outlet into heat, which is then distributed within the main compartment to cook food. Before making a purchase, check the power specifications of the product to ensure it is something the electrical wiring in your home can comfortably handle.
Also, pay attention to the power of the heating element and ensure it is sufficient to heat the electric smoker evenly.
Certain wood materials, when burnt, give out an enticing aroma, and some electric smoker models make provisions for you to add in wood chips while cooking to enhance the flavor of food. Alternatively, some models give you the option to burn coal instead, to produce a natural smoky flavor.
Ease of cleaning and maintenance
Before purchasing an electric smoker, you need to take into consideration the ease with which you can disassemble its components for cleaning, and subsequently reassemble it. The easier it is for you to clean an electric smoker, the more likely it is to last for many years. Dirt build-up in an electric grill can affect its functionality, consequently causing damage to some parts.
The path and manner of heat flow in an electric smoker determine the rate at which food gets cooked. A quality electric smoker should be able to generate a significant amount of heat, which gets food ready at a faster pace.
Also, heat flow in an electric smoker is in two primary forms: from the top to bottom of the grill or from down to up. If you’re considering opening a restaurant, you might want to get an electric grill that employs the top to the down heating method in preparing food. These models of smokers get the cooking done much quicker, which helps to conserve time and effort, and ensures you don’t have to deal with customer revolt.
For preparing food for your family, an electric smoker with the down to up heating system is the ideal choice for you. This type of smoker typically cooks diet much slower than the up-down models, but at the same helps retain flavor and taste initially present in the food.
However, your choice of an electric smoker boils down to preference and taste, and you might as well purchase a down-up model for professional use and an up-down model for use at home.
Food tray design
How the food tray lies in the smoker plays a significant role in the ease with which you can access and monitor food while smoking.
Generally, food trays in electric smokers can be wholly horizontal or slightly inclined.
For meat like fish that tend to burn quickly, and require constant turning while smoking, an inclined food tray is the ideal fit for you.
However, for other meat and food that doesn’t require much attention while grilling, a horizontal plate is okay.
If possible, buy an electric smoker model that incorporates the two types of tray designs, so you can use it to prepare a broader range of foods. Furthermore, make sure you can easily remove the food tray from the smoker when it is time for you to clean it.
Looking after your electric smoker
To ensure your smoker remains in perfect working condition, there are some safe working practices you should adhere to, and maintenance routines you should carry out regularly. Some of these
Regular and comprehensive cleaning of the electric smoker
Because smokers deal with a lot of meat, oil, and smoke, they tend to get dirty pretty quickly. To ensure you continue to get healthy meals from your grills, take time to clean out your smoker thoroughly. Dismantle the entire smoker setup, and clean each part thoroughly with detergent and a cloth, then rinse with warm water afterward.
Clean electric components of the smoker with a dry cloth. To make the whole cleaning process more comfortable for you, endeavor to wipe down your smoker immediately after use.
An electric grill usually has two thermostats located towards the rear end of the smoking compartment. These thermostats play an essential role in regulating the temperature of the grill; hence, they should not be neglected when cleaning. Use a damp cloth that has been dipped in soapy water to wipe the surface of the thermostats clean of dirt gently.
However, before cleaning the electric smoker, make sure to disconnect it from the power source. Cleaning an electric grill with water while it is plugged in might cause it to short-circuit, leading to fires and electric shocks.
Always preheat the smoker before using
Before you use your smoker for cooking food, it is essential for you first to heat it to an acceptable level. Failure to do this leads to the smoker taking longer to heat up when food is placed in it, which leads to delay in meals.
Regularly season the electric smoker
Seasoning of the electric smoker involves lining the insides with oil – any cooking or organic oil will do. This oil acts as a source of barrier against the water typically contained in food and prevents its direct contact with the metallic parts of the grill, thereby helping to control rust.
It is vital to choose a seasoning oil with a sweet flavor as it has a direct impact on the aroma of food.
To season an electric smoker, heat it to a temperature ranging between 250°F to 270°F. This heat melts the oil and spreads it, ensuring it reaches the nooks and crannies of the electric smoker.
Check the air vents
For an electric grill to work optimally, the air vents need to be free of any obstructions to ensure the smooth passage of air and smoke. Smoke residue tends to gather over the vents with time, consequently clogging the smoker, and this can result in the grill malfunctioning. To prevent this from happening, regularly clean the air vents.
Plugin the smoker to a dedicated power outlet
Ensure you use an electric grill only with a power outlet specifically designed for it. Avoid plugging in your electric drill to extension boxes and regular wall sockets as this might result in a short circuit which destroys the entire wiring system of your house, and causes a fire outbreak.
FAQs related to electric smokers
Can you use an electric smoker indoor?
You can cook with an electric smoker inside your house, but for a better grilling experience, and protection from smoke fumes, I'd advise you do that outside. Make sure you have a power outlet nearby, though.
Do electric smokers cook faster?
Electric smokers generally take more time to cook food, compared to other smoking methods, but you’ll get great-tasting dishes in return. To enhance the cooking time of your smoker, you should preheat it before using it. This helps the smoker achieve an optimal temperature, which gets food done faster.
Do electric smokers produce carbon monoxide?
Electric smokers produce a lot of smoke that contains carbon monoxide. Hence, the reason why it is recommended you use it outdoors only.
Is smoked meat healthy?
Smoked meat can make quite delicious dishes, but there are some health risks attached to excessive consumption. For one, consuming smoked meat can make you more vulnerable to stomach infections and cancer. Also, elevated levels of sodium – which is present in smoked meat – leads to high blood pressure, over-hydration, and cardiovascular conditions. All these can prove fatal to people with underlying heart or kidney conditions; hence, they should steer clear of smoked meat as much as possible.
How do I keep my electric smoker clean?
To keep your electric smoker clean, regularly wipe down its components with a damp cloth and soapy water – use dishwashing soap only. Also, clean the metal racks, and inner walls of the smoker immediately after use, as it might become quite challenging to do so days, even hours after use.
Do electric smokers use a lot of electricity?
No, electric smokers do not use a lot of electricity. The majority of the models out there consume, on average, just about 800 watts of power per hour.
Can an electric smoker catch fire?
An electric smoker works with heat generated from electric current; hence, it is liable to catch fire. This is particularly true for those who use pellet smokers, as the wood chips can fall off the tray and into the heating compartment, with devastating consequences. Also, connecting an electric smoker to an unsuitable power outlet can cause a short-circuit, resulting in shocks and fire.
Are electric smokers waterproof?
Electric smokers are not waterproof, and it is quite dangerous to continue using one after it has been exposed to water as you’d be placing yourself at a high risk of electric shocks.
How often should you clean the smoker?
You should make it a habit to clean your electric smoker frequently, so you'll continue getting healthy meals. I would advise you to clean the smoker immediately after use.
How hot do electric smokers get?
Electric smokers are capable of achieving incredibly high temperatures, with some models able to reach as high as 300°F – which is way above the boiling point of water. However, the maximum temperature a smoker can reach varies from model to model, and you should consult the instruction manual for more info.