Choose the perfect electric smoker to add to your kitchen

Don’t you wish there was at least one article that answers your questions about electric smokers as well as helping you decide how to go about your research? Luckily for you this is it! We know it’s a unique topic and want to help you find the best electric smoker for whatever your needs may be.

This article presents all the important information you need to understand on an electric smoker. In addition, after reading through our information you will find more supporting material on the rest of our website.

Hence, we hope with this you can make a proper assessment on which electric smoker will work well for your lifestyle. Therefore, learn everything there is to know about electric smokers.

Whether you are new to electric smokers, or are simply looking for more information, we guarantee you that this post will help. We often preach the importance of knowing everything you need to know before making any purchase. And, buying an electric smoker is no different. 

Electrical smoker

What is an electric smoker?

An electric smoker is a chamber like device that houses a heating element. Namely, this element burns up the wood chips, chunks, pellets or charcoal to create smoke. The wood and charcoal are placed in a tray. Which then goes on top of the heating element.

The more affordable electric smokers have a rheostat. This allows them to minimize the flow of electricity to to the coil. Whereas a high end electric smoker can have a thermostat with a temperature gauge on the inside.

The smoking method

There are two smoking methods regarding electric smokers. 

  • Dry smoking: Dry smoking which depends on indirect heat from a low wood fire. The point of this method is obviously the slow cooking of foods, while adding the smoky flavor you want.
  • Wet smoking: With this method you use a water pan to keep moisture at a steady rate and also tenderness during the smoking process.

The Benefits of an Electric Smoker

The list below serves to illustrate the benefits of owning an electric smoker:

  • It doesn’t use a lot of electricity.
  • You don’t need to constantly monitor the electric smoker while making food
  • It runs on clean energy electricity. This is beneficial because your food has fewer contaminants.
  • Some electric smokers have built in rheostats and thermostats. Namely, to help you to monitor the temperature.
  • You don’t need to be a professional to operate an electric smoker.
  • The electric smoker is easy to clean up. Hence, after the smoking session there is hardly any smoke residue or waste for you to clean.
  • Electric smokers are mostly made of stainless steel. This material has an anti-stick property to it. This also helps for an easy cleanup.
  • The electric smoker is energy efficient because the thick steel used to build the product absorbs the heat and redistributes it in the cooking chamber. 
  • It won't topple easily when you leave it alone for long periods.

History of meat smoking

Meat smoking has been practiced for ages. Mainly, the purpose is to preserve foods that are high in protein. And, that would otherwise go bad very quickly. It is said that indigenous people used smoking way back in their day for practicality. 

Moreover, it is said that western civilization used to build smokehouses where they could store their meats. These smokehouses were usually made away from their regular houses in order to avoid any dangerous situation.

They had several ways to smoke these meats:

They had a cold smoking method in which the food was placed on large hooks and smoked at temperatures ranging from 70 to 100 degrees.  It takes a considerable amount of more time compared to hot smoking, but the food remains moist. 

On the other hand, you had what was known as hot smoking, in which the meat was treated to a lot of heat and smoke. Namely, you would hang the meat and then smoke it.  In order to get food really moist and with lots of flavor, you would ideally smoke it somewhere in the mid 120's to 170's in terms of temperature. 

Finally, you had baking, or barbecuing as it is also known.  It has to be done in an area with lots of ventilation and over a barbecue pit. It is of course quite popular.

Types of Electric Smokers

There are three types of electric smokers. Nevertheless, your preferences will determine which one you find most practical.

Vertical Electric Smokers

This type of electric smoker is specially inexpensive. In addition, at times you need to place a water bowl or tray next to the burning wood. The water is evaporates along with the smoke. More importantly, the purpose of the water tray is to help maintain temperatures.

The meat absorbs the vapor during the process which makes it moist and adds flavor & taste. These generally require a bit more time and attention. Thus, a lot of experts use these types rather than beginners.

Electric Cabinet Smokers

These are known for being shaped like small refrigerators. For instance, the heating element lies at the bottom of the smoker. These models generally have three settings which are low, medium or high.

Furthermore, these settings make it more practical to smoke more than one type of meat that require different temperatures. Hence, you will find that a lot of chefs love using these type of electric smokers in order to cook multiple things at once.

Horizontal Electric Smokers

This type of smoker is shaped in the form of a barrel(or a normal barbecue grill). Also, this type of electric smoker normally has the same components as a vertical electric smoker. What is more, it has wheels attached to its legs for easier portability.

More importantly, we think the vertical electric smoker is the best type to have. The space inside makes it possible for you to add many types of food. Additionally, this type is not as wide as the horizontal electric smoker which saves on floor space.

electrical smoker

Electric smoker components

Simple parts make up electric smokers, contrary to popular beliefs. Nonetheless, the following parts are what you can expect to find with any type of electric smoker.

  • Heating element: This component—as the name suggests—is what causes the electric smoker to heat up and cook the food. Additionally, the heating element also contributes to the smoke effect you need.
  • Wood chip tray: This tray sits on top of the heating element. Therefore, when you put a handful of any type of wood inside, the heating element starts to burn it up. 
  • The cooking grids: This is where you place your food on. More importantly, they’re usually chrome plated or made of stainless steel. The grids must be made with a strong material to support the weight of food.
  • Drip pan: During the smoking process the meat juices will drip. Therefore, an electric smoker needs a drip pan to capture all of it. This helps with clean up. You can also make a gravy with the juices collected to pour over the food and enhance its flavor.
  • Water tray: The water tray keeps the meat moist and also prevents it from drying out.
  • Thermostat: The thermostat monitors the temperature. While also having some models that can set and control temperatures. An electric smoker can have an analog or a digital thermostat.
  • Air vents: The air vents allow you to control the smoke’s density throughout the smoking phase.

How to properly use an electric smoker

Firstly, you have to decide what type of electric smoker you will be using. As we mentioned previously, there are quite a few types even within the electric smoker frame.  Moreover, you also have to consider when exactly you will be smoking during the year, as this can affect the type of smoker you should get.

Additionally, you need to be able to control the temperature with the type of electric smoker you will be using. Hence, you might want to take a look at our buying guide in order to help you select the proper electric smoker. 

Secondly, you always want to make sure you read the instruction manual. Basically, even if you are a pro using electric smokers, you should still read the manual. Why? Namely because there are many types of models and each one is operated differently. The more you understand how your particular model works, the better. 

Similarly, you also want to make sure you follow the manual's instructions in order to season a new electric smoker. What exactly is seasoning? You've probably heard the term when speaking about Asian Woks. Yet, it also applies to electric smokers. 

Mainly, it is done to remove bad smells, and dust, in order to prepare the smoker for cooking. Hence, you should definitely season your electric smoker before using it. 

You can do this with some cooking oil, by coating the racks and the interior of your electric smoker with the oil. Afterwards, leave the smoker on for 2 hours, then turn it off open the hood and let it cool off.

Prepare your meat and begin your cooking

Although it may be quite obvious, make sure to definitely prepare your meat well in advance of when you actually start cooking.  Furthermore, make sure you season it with your preferred seasoning recipe. Nevertheless, you want to make sure you season the meat overnight when making it using an electric smoker.  It will help the meat absorb the flavor and give you a much better taste.

With that out of the way, when you are ready to cook simply turn your electric smoker on. And, add water if it gives you the option through some sort water receptor. 

More importantly, make sure you get your wood chips! Whether you make them yourself(if you are looking to make them yourself, then here is a quick way to do so if you have the right tools) or buy them at a local store, make sure you stock up. 

Generally speaking, you will need about 4 cups of wood chips to smoke somewhere between 4 to 5 hours. This is specifically when using an electric smoker.

On the other hand, make sure to always check the temperature of your smoker. Particularly the internal temperature, which should be easy considering most electric smokers come with an internal gauge.

Thus, adjust  the temperature to the desired degree and begin cooking. It is important to note to never start smoking your meat until you get your desired temperature. 

Additional tips

While you are smoking your meat, make sure to remember to not constantly check the meat by removing the cover. Consequently, if you do this, you will allow the the heat and smoke to get out. Which, of course is crucial for smoking, the only thing you will accomplish by doing that, is to prolong the time it will take for your meat to be ready.

On the other hand, if you are doing a wet smoke, and need to refill the water tray then definitely do so. Also, remember that smoking can take quite a few hours. Therefore, plan your time accordingly.

Electric Smoker

"Masterbuilt Remote-Controlled Electric S" (CC BY 2.0) by Wicker Paradise

How to properly clean your electric smoker

It may seem redundant to say, but it is imperative that you take good care of your smoker. Namely, while it may be easy to clean, you still want to make sure you stay on top of it. If you take good care of your smoker, then you'll potentially have no need to buy another for years. 

Moreover, electric smokers can be quite a monetary investment. Therefore, you want to make sure it lasts. As we mentioned earlier, it is quite easy to clean one, as long as you stay on top of it.

The main culprits of preventing your smoker from lasting a long time is the oil, grease, and any excess fluids that drip all over the interior. Why? As is the case with most cooking utilities, the residual remains or fluids thicken and become increasingly hard to remove. 

Therefore, the firs thing to keep in mind is to always clean it right after use. We often have found consumers complaining about the durability of certain models. And, quite frankly the culprits is really the consumer themselves for not cleaning the smoker right after use. 

The main issue is that you can mess with the interior parts of the unit, particularly the heating feature. If your electric smoker is not heating properly, then you basically have a useless tool. 

Therefore, make sure to always take the grates off after use and wash them thoroughly with soap and warm water. Thus, preventing any grease or residue from sticking to the grates. Moreover, you can also put the grades in your regular oven. Why? It will help melt the residue away from your grates.

Don't forget about the rust

Namely, you have to remember that iron objects will always rust. Particularly, because you are constantly exposing the material to extremely hot temperatures. More importantly, while it may be hard to believe, rust can cause technical issues to your smoker. Therefore, it is important to always be on top of it. 

However, you can remove rust fairly easily. With sand paper and some form of wire rush. Using these 2 tools to rub down extensively the grates and the interior of the electric smoker will make sure you don't let rust become a nagging problem.

Once you scrub it down extensively, make sure you get rid of the excess rust. Also, it is important to note that there are things you can do to prevent rust from spreading(or appearing) faster than usual. An example would be to buy some heat resistant ointment or paint in order to create some protection for your smoker. 

On the other hand, as we mentioned earlier, making sure to season your smoker properly is also very important. But, it is good to mention that there are some smokers now a days that don't require seasoning.

Nevertheless, you have to make sure yours is indeed the case. And, even if you do have one that does not require seasoning, we recommend you do it if it won't affect the smoker in any negative way. 

Other parts to clean

Another crucial part to maintain clean is the ventilation system of your electric smoker. This part is particularly important since having a malfunctioning ventilation system basically guarantees your smoker won't last long. 

Finally, the rest of the smaller pieces can easily be cleaned with some warm water and soap. Of course, as long as they are not electric parts. Hence, for electric parts simply use some form of dry towel. Similarly, you always to unplug your electric smoker after use. This is specially true for cleaning. 

Here is a good video showing how to clean one of the more popular Masterbuilt electric smoker models for reference:

Final thoughts on electric smokers

In conclusion, it’s always best to learn as much as possible before you begin smoking with an electric smoker. With these additional pointers you’re sure to make your first smoking session a success:

1. Keep the water pan full. Adding hot tap water helps the electric smoker reach a high temperature quicker. Also, the water helps maintain the heat and adds moisture to the meat to keep it tender.

2. The only time you should open the door is to fill the water and wood tray. Because, every time you open the door or lid you release smoke. This may result in a longer cooking time and a reduction of the flavors.

3. Start with a little wood so the flavor isn’t overpowering.

4. You can make wood chips last longer by placing them inside a ball of foil with holes and, soaking the wood in water for at least an hour before placing it on the tray.

5. Smoke only those foods that pair well with a smoky flavor. The best foods are beef, lamb, pork, poultry, oily fish, and game.

Are you ready to take on the challenge of making the best smoked dishes? Armed with this information you can pick the best electric smoker for your lifestyle and start enjoying a new kind of menu.

Since these units operate much easier than most people’s expectations you’ll be the best cook in the neighborhood in no time!  We bet you’re already hungry only thinking of the food coming out of the smoker. Make it a reality and get your smoker today. Make sure to also look at our buying guide for even more info.

We hope you enjoyed this guide, please remember that selecting the correct electric smoker not only involves knowing as much as you can about them. But, also be aware of your particular necessities and specifications. Feel free to leave us any questions or comments in the section below. 

Also make sure you take a look at thecookingsmokers for more interesting products.