Smoking food is a very tedious process that requires concentration and a certain level of expertise; that is if you’re not using an electric smoker.
There are different types of smokers, but none which presents fantastic opportunities like electric smokers. If you are thinking of getting a smoker or replacing your old one today, you should definitely consider an electric smoker.
This aim of this article is to equip you with enough information about electric smokers so you can find it easy to choose, buy, and operate your electric smoker. Firstly, here are some of the best electric smokers on the market today.
Top 8 Best Electric Smoker by Consumer Reports
1. Masterbuilt 20078715 Electric Digital Smoker
If what you are looking for in a smoker is ease of use, functionality, and durability, this smoker has everything you have been looking for. It has a very generous cooking area of 721 square inches, which is spread across four different racks. The multiple adjustable shelves allow you to cook more than one food at a time.
It is imperative that an electric smoker be easy to control. The control panel on the Masterbuilt 20078715 is digital, and it has an LED display unit that will let you know the temperature at which the smoker is operating at any point in time.
Additionally, the smoker comes with chrome-coated cooking racks, a wood chip loading system that produces the smoke, and a front access drip pan for easy cleaning. The only problems with this smoker are that it doesn’t come with wheels for mobility and it has no meat probe.
Front-access drip pan
Sufficient cooking area
The smoker is durable
No wheels for mobility
No meat probe
2. Masterbuilt 20071117 30” Digital Electric Smoker
This Masterbuilt smoker is great for experts and people who don’t have much experience smoking. It is straightforward to use, and it comes with a simple yet functional design.
With a temperature range of 100-275 degrees, a built-in thermometer, four chrome-coated smoking racks, and wood chip loading door, this is one of the most user-friendly electric smokers out there.
The insulated body minimizes heat loss and makes sure that the temperature level is consistent. On top is a digital control panel by which you control the grill and the side wood loading system eliminates the need to open the door before loading wood into the system.
Digital control panel
Side wood loading system
The body of the smoker is insulated
No wheels for mobility
3. Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
When it comes to outdoor cooking, Char-Broil is a well-known company, and even though they have made a lot of smokers, this one is among the best. This electric smoker comes with 725 square inches of space that is spread across four racks and a temperature range of 100-250 degrees.
It is a highly advanced smoker that produces smoke from the action of a heating element on a pan that holds wood chips. The smoker also includes a meat probe that will help you monitor the temperature of your food as it cooks. The controls could be more user-friendly, but if you pay proper attention, you will be able to understand how it functions.
Comes with meat probe
Large cooking area
Easy to clean grates
Low smoke production
Temperature calibration is a little off
4. Smokehouse Products Little Chief Front Load Smoker
This Lightweight smoker is perfect for your fish, brisket, and ribs. It smokes very well, but it is lightweight, and it has a flimsy look that may cast some doubt about the durability; this may be due to the very low price it comes at.
The smoking grates are chrome-plated and easy to clean without destroying them. For easy, cleaning, the smoker has a drip pan that is easy to remove.
The heating element of this smoker can only heat up to about 165 degrees, and when you compare this to most electric smokers, it is very low.
It is affordable
Easy to clean grates
The smoker is a little flimsy
The maximum temperature is quite low
5. Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
This is another interesting Char-Broil Smoker. With a 1,500-watt heating element, this smoker has a very modest smoking area of 504 square inches; this is not so large, but it will still smoke your 20-pound turkey and other similarly sized food. It comes with a built-in temperature gauge that will help you monitor the temperature effortlessly as your food cooks.
Furthermore, the smoker is insulated to prevent heat loss or temperature fluctuations when the smoker is in use. It is perfect for people who don’t have much experience using smokers as it doesn’t come with the sophisticated controls and screen that are included in some electric smokers.
Aesthetically pleasing design
Smoker is insulated
Built-in temperature gauge
It is quite small
It doesn’t have wheels for mobility
6. Smoke Hollow 30162E 30-Inch Electric Smoker
This is another electric smoker that is perfect for people with little or no experience smoking. The smoker is made from steel, and it features three adjustable temperature settings. The 504 square inches of cooking space is not so large, but it is perfect for your home cooks.
Some customers have complained that this smoker doesn’t produce enough smoke, however, with enough wood chips and the heat set high, it will generate sufficient smoke, and after this, you can set it to the right temperature to cooks your food.
A lot of electric smokers don’t come with wheels or any other mobility feature; this smoker does have two handles even though it doesn’t have any wheel.
Handles make the smoker easy to move around
Suitable for beginners
It may not produce sufficient smoke
It has only three temperature settings
7. Old Smokey Electric Smoker
As hard as it is to believe, this brand has been making smokers since the 1950s, and this smoker is one of their favorite products. It has a simple design that resembles a big can; however, on the interior, it features two racks and a drip pan.
The Old Smokey Electric Smoker comes with a thermostat that helps to regulate the temperature depending on the food being smoked. It is a very durable smoker with a tight-fitting lid that ensures that heat and smoke don’t escape easily.
The heating element has a rating of 1250 watt, and when it combines with the thermostat, it offers the perfect temperature you need to cook your food while giving you control over the temperature. Included beneath the second grate is a drip pan that will collect all the droppings.
It is durable
Comes with thermostat for temperature control
It gets very hot
8. Smokin-It Model #1 Electric Smoker
This is one of the smokers with the highest ratings from customers. Firstly, it comes with a feature that is rarely seen on electric smokers- wheels. The wheels make the smoker very mobile and easy to move around. It has three stainless steel racks that combine to provide a very large smoking area.
It may not look as sleek as some electric smokers, but when it comes to functionality and durability, this smoker is up there with the best. Made from 100% 18 gauge, 201 stainless steel, the smoker will serve you for many years.
You can easily set the temperature and thermostat using a control knob, so you have got temperature control covered. The smoke box has space to hold sufficient wood chips required to cook whatever it is you want to cook, and a drip pan is also included for easy cleaning.
Stainless steel racks are easy to clean
Has wheels for mobility
No remote control feature
Design is not so attractive
What is an Electric Smoker, and How Does It Work?
You have surely heard about electric smokers, maybe you have even seen one, but you don’t own one. You should know everything there is to know about electric smokers and how they work before you also consider buying one.
Simply put, an electric smoker is just like conventional smokers, but it is powered by electricity. The major advantages it has over other types of smoker are ease of use and cleanliness. When compared to other types of smokers, they can be used by everyone, even people who don’t have much experience smoking food.
An electric smoker is very easy to start, all you have to do is make sure that you have wood chips in the smoke box, set the smoker to your preferred temperature, put water in the tank if the smoker has one, and then turn the smoker on.
There are different models of electric smokers, and there are little differences in their features, on some, you can choose the temperature you want within a given range, while some electric smokers only have low, medium, and high-temperature settings.
Some of the essential parts of an electric smoker and how they function are discussed below.
It is usual for the moisture in the smoker to decrease rapidly while you use it; when this happens, your food will be left dry; this is why a water bowl is essential. About one or two cups of water are usually sufficient, depending on what you are cooking. Always use hot water because cold water will bring down the temperature of the smoker.
Wood Chip Bowl
What’s smoked food without the smoky flavor? The wood chip bowl is where you put the wood chips that give your food that smoky flavor. This gets direct heat from the element and produces smoke when there are wood chips. Some electric smokers allow for the refilling of the wood chip bowl without having to open the smoker itself as the temperature will be reduced whenever you open the smoker.
This is a popular feature that is also present in grills. It has the primary function of catching the juice and small foods that drip from the food been cooked. In the absence of a drip tray, the drippings will come in contact with the heat source and burn, producing unwanted smoke and aroma.
Electric smokers come with a start button, and other buttons or knobs to control the different features. It is on the control panel you get to set the desired temperature at which you want to smoke your food depending on the temperature range of the electric smoker.
Electric smokers generally have more than one smoking rack, and they are usually adjustable. It is these racks that will hold your food as it smokes. The type of food you want to cook often determines the rack you will use. They are usually chrome-coated for durability and easy cleaning.
Top 5 Electric Smoker Brands
Masterbuilt Manufacturing INC. has been operating since 1973 and ever since they have developed a good reputation for themselves in the world of outdoor cooking. They have several models of electric smokers on the market today, and these smokers get positive reviews from customers in general.
Apart from electric smokers, the brand produces grills and fryers, all of which are designed to include the technological advances of this period.
Old Smokey Company
It will be hard to come across any brand that is older than Old Smokey in the world of outdoor cooking. The company started in 1923 and has developed a particularly solid reputation. They make one of the oldest and most popular electric grills you can get out there- Old Smokey Electric Smoker.
Smokin-it has been dominating the world of electric smokers in the United States of America for some time now. Their designs usually feature a locker concept that looks and feels very compact.
They are also popular because their electric smokers are affordable, even though they are of high quality.
Smoke Hollow is another company that makes good electric smokers that have great designs and functionality. They have a very wide range of electric smokers, and it will be impossible for you not to find one that will satisfy you.
Their electric smoker is also known for their wide temperature range; some electric smokers cannot cook certain foods because of the low heat they produce, with Smoke Hollow products, you can cook anything you want to.
Bradley electric smokers are known for their aesthetically superior designs and ease of use. Also, their smokers come with advanced technological features, they are easy to use and very durable. The most attractive features about Bradley electric smokers are the aesthetics and durability.
Tips on How to Use an Electric Smoker
Season your smoker before using it for the first time
People don’t know this, but it is an essential thing to do. Even when most people hear or read this tip, they still don’t know what it means. Simply put, it is the process of cleaning your smoker before the first use.
Electric smokers are manufactured in bulk, and when you consider all the steps a smoker went through before getting to you, then you will realize that you need to clean it thoroughly before you use it.
Turn the smoker on, raise it to a temperature around 275 degrees, set the timer or leave it on for three hours, during this time you should refill the wood chips as it goes down, let the smoker cool down when the time is up. It’s as simple as that.
Preheat smoker before cooking
It takes around 30-45 minutes for an electric smoker to fully heat up, to avoid time wasting you should preheat the smoker beforehand. To do this, add wood chips into the chip tray and turn the smoker on and let it heat up while you do other things.
Make sure you add water into the water bowl
When there is no water in the water bowl, and you proceed to use the smoker, your food will likely dry up and turn out juiceless. To avoid this, add some water into the water bowl after preheating the smoker, the water will serve as a moisturizer.
Cleaning the smoker
A good thing about this about electric smokers is that they are generally easier to clean than conventional smokers. After you might have smoked and probably enjoyed your meal, it is vital that you clean the smoker.
After your grill might have cooled off, start by removing the greased pan and cleaning it. Occasionally, you should clean the interior of the smoker to prevent wear and tear.
What to Consider When Buying an Electric Smoker
The truth is that buying an electric smoker is pretty straightforward when you compare the process to the process of purchasing some other outdoor cooking appliances. There are different models to choose from, and the whole process can get confusing.
While there are personal preferences when it comes to buying things like this, here are some of the essential things you should look out for.
Smoking any food involves you monitoring the temperature closely, and this has been made accessible in electric smokers. While conventional smokers will have you standing over the smoker and checking your food constantly, all you have to do in an electric smoker is select the right temperature and let your food smoke.
The temperature control in electric smokers is made possible by thermostats. While some smokers have only a low, medium, and high heat setting, others allow you to choose any temperature within a particular range.
Just like in grills, the grates in the electric smoker should be considered as well. Electrics smokers generally come with multi-level grates, probably two or three, and the one you will use will be determined by what you are cooking.
However, the most important thing to consider is the material used to make the grates. A large percentage of the electric smoker out there have chrome-coated grates which are durable and easy to clean.
This is a significant factor to consider before you buy anything. While the best smokers come at a high price, you can still get a smoker that will serve you well at a reasonable price. What you should never do is spend more than you can afford on an electric smoker. If it takes you some time to save for it, then save. Also, you should be careful not to buy an overpriced smoker; make sure you check all the features.
Electric Smokers FAQs
Where should I use my smoker?
Smokers should be used outdoors, as they are designed for outdoor spaces, and the smoke they produce isn’t ideal for indoor environments. However, if there is a suitable extraction fan, you can use your electric smoker indoor. However, the best place to use the smoker is still outside.
How do I clean my electric smoker?
The very first step in cleaning an electric smoker is to clean out the drip pan. Then, you should occasionally clean the interior of the electric smoker to prevent wear and tear.
Always keep the inside of the smoker dry and never use an active cleaning agent on your electric smoker. If your smoker has a glass window, clean the window with sugar soap, and wipe it clean afterward.
What is the water pan used for, and must I use it?
A water pan is essential for an electric smoker if you want your food to be cooked well. Without water in the water pan, the inside of the smoker will dry up, and in the process of dry up, your food will become crisp and juiceless.
However, with water in the water pan, moisture will be retained in the smoker, and your food will remain juicy.
What does the drip pan do?
The drip pan is a common feature in electric grills and smokers. What it does is to collect the juice and small bits of food and prevent them from coming in contact with the heat source or wood chip tray, if the drippings fall into the wood chip tray or the heat source, then unwanted smoke is produced, and this may affect the flavor of your food.
Can an electric smoker be used without smoke?
Yes, it is possible, but it not always advisable. If you want to use your smoker as a slow cooker for homebrews, then you can use it without smoke. All you have to do is not put any wood chip in the smoker.
Electric smokers are very easy to use when compared to other types of smokers, and as for people who have little or no experience smoking, electric smokers are a great way to start.
Some of the things you should look out for before going ahead to buy an electric smoker have been discussed in this article and also some tips for beginners have been discussed.
For people who already have experience smoking, you probably have a list of things you want in your electric smoker, at the end of the day, it will come down to preference because many grills have the features you are looking for.