Food is the centerpiece to many major events in our lives, which makes the tools you use to cook these meals that much more important. We’ve improved upon our cooking techniques in the past few years, and the grill master in your house has many options to choose from to hone his craft. Considering that cavemen used an open flame to cook everything, progressing to an electric smoker is a vast improvement. Sure, you can use a grill in your backyard and hope to get a nice smoke on meat, or you can purchase a device specifically used to create delicious barbecue. Starting in this journey, you might have some knowledge about the type of cooker you would like to purchase, but most people don’t. In fact, there are now so many options in the market that you can lose sight of what you want. Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to ensure that you purchase the right tool to cook your outdoor meals to perfection.
Barbecue is a work of art, and it takes chefs years to create the right process to smoke their meals perfectly. In the past, men and women would sweat over the tops of grills while trying to maintain the appropriate temperature of their chicken, ribs, and brisket. The problem with this approach is that it’s hot, time consuming, and can be inconsistent. With an electric smoker, cooks can place their food inside, set a timer, and go about their daily lives. You no longer have to babysit meals on the grill, and can instead relax and enjoy quality time with family or episodes on the television. Also, similar to that of a crock pot, it is now possible to smoke something safely at home while you are at work. You set everything up in the morning, have your day at the office, and when you get home you’re ready to eat. There are so many things that you can do with these devices you’ll wonder why it took you so long to buy one in the first place.
Top 17 Electric Smokers
We searched the internet and compared price points, customer reviews, and overall specifications. Below, you will find the 17 best electric smokers in 2017.
1. Masterbuilt 20070210 30-inch Electric Analog Smoker
When searching for a smoking device, Masterbuilt is a brand that comes up often. This is well known throughout the industry as being one of the most well-crafted machines with us for your culinary adventures. With 730 square feet of space, you have 4 racks in the chamber that provide you with enough room to smoke anything. These racks are also covered in chrome which makes maintenance a breeze. Those on a budget will enjoy that this Masterbuilt piece is priced at just below 200 dollars. There are also digital controls for both the temperature and timer. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a thermostat if you can afford one, and this machine is the epitome of value. You’re also able to load wood chips from the side, and there’s a removable drip pan from the bottom. No matter what your experience is with smoking meals, you will be satisfied with the performance of this device. This unit is perfect to cook anything from salmon to cheese. This entire machine is controlled from the top, and even has a push button to start the entire process. This product is geared at the beginning smoker, and anybody can be a professional with this unit. Read more…
|Internal temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit||Needs adequate cleaning to avoid rust|
|Requires no assembly, easy to move||Small size limits amount of meat that can be cooked|
|Front loading wood chip tray, water tray, and racks||Does not feature side door for chip loading|
|External thermometer built in|
- Price: $136.25
2. Masterbuilt 20072115 30 inch Bluetooth Digital Electric
Here we have another Masterbuilt device that is 30 inches, which is an ideal size for a solo griller or someone looking to cook for a family. However, there is an option to purchase a 40-inch unit if you want a little bit more room, for a slightly higher price point. You can get the 30-inch model for under 350 dollars. Unlike the previously mentioned device, this machine is a little bit fancier with Bluetooth technology. Yes, the technology that connects your phone to your car will now connect your smartphone to a smoker. This unit also has a probe thermometer built into the side of the wall. One of the complaints about the Bluetooth is that the range is only 10 to 20 feet. However, if you plan on sitting in your living room while something is smoking on the porch you should be alright. Another downside, is that this unit needs to be stored inside. Most consumers say that it should hold up ok to the rain, but it can’t just sit outside. Overall, this 800-watt smoker is the perfect addition to any barbecue and can keep you consistently smoking meat up to 275 degrees for many years to come. Read more…
|Built-in probe for simple monitoring||Bluetooth may cut out at certain distances|
|Keeps heat at a consistent temperature||No option for Wi-Fi|
|Easy usage, cleaning, and assembling||May heat slowly in cool weather|
|Quick to heat to temperature|
|Large capacity is perfect for crowds|
3. Masterbuilt Electric Smoker Portable 20073716
Our third machine on this list is another product from Masterbuilt, so if you were wondering where to go for a smoker, you might have just answered your own question. At just under 150 dollars, this is another machine that is perfect for the smoke master on a budget. A little less room than the previous two, this piece only has 547.8 square feet. However, as with most Masterbuilt products this unit has three chrome racks that are perfect to cook with. A temperature gauge is present in the device with a thermostat as well. There really can’t be enough temperature gauges when you are smoking or cooking anything. It is possible to cook up to 275 degrees with this device, and there is a removable drip and water pan. Wood chips can be easily added to this smoker by the front tray. This is a unit that is meant to be outside, and if you use it inside your rooms will be filled with billowy white smoke. In fact, a complaint of this unit is that smoke gradually leaks out of the hole at the top. Also, this device will show signs of wear and tear as it ages. However, to purchase a device and spend less than 150 dollars, you get good value with this purchase. Read more…
|One of few truly travel worthy meat cookers on the market||Outdoor only model due to design|
|Decent amount of space for size of device||Small size may not appeal to all cooks|
|Drip tray, chip tray, and adjustable racks add value|
|Great options for newcomers to meat smoking|
4. Masterbuilt 20070910 30-inch Electric Digital Smoker
A company that is dominating the industry, we bring you another product from Masterbuilt that is small enough to take on the go. For those that like to take their smoking hobbies on the road, this small Masterbuilt is ideal for that need. Sometimes you want to be able to keep smoking your food whether you are camping, on vacation, or even tailgating. The price point is extremely affordable at under 100 dollars, and the design makes it easy to fold this unit up and pack it into the car. There is a 1400-watt heating element, and you can smoke your food on one of two chrome racks on the interior. There is a temperature gauge in the door, but there is no thermostat for this device. You can select one of three temperature setting: low, medium, or high. Even though there is no thermostat, you still can easily add and remove water and wood chips from trays. One of the downsides to this small unit is that it is easier to burn things over time, so aluminum foil is going to be your new best friend. Considering that you are spending less than 100 dollars for a portable smoker, there are few on the market that can beat this deal. Read more…
|24-hour timer with auto-shutoff for controlled smoking||Sharp edges may require extra care|
|Top air damper allows for smoke level adjustment||Power cable is short, likely needing an outdoor outlet|
|Solid body design with plenty of space||Instructions could be more detailed for beginners|
|Complete with digital thermometer to keep heating consistent|
|Water pan makes flavor infusion easy|
5. Masterbuilt 20078616 Electric Bullet Smoker
It’s a testament to the workmanship of Masterbuilt that the first five smokers we mentioned were all from their company. This device is small, 395 square feet, but is affordable priced at under 90 dollars. Think for a minute, how many things can you buy in your daily life for less than 90 dollars? The heating element is 1650 watts, and this is just enough power to smoke your food efficiently. A benefit of this model are unique drip pans that are porcelain coated, and this is a feature that is not found in many other models. There is a temperature gauge in the lid, but no thermostat. Even though you can get up to 400 degrees, you might have some variances in your cooking temperatures. It is also possible to use this as a grill as well, for those that like to minimize the number of devices they have cluttering their decks. Again, this is a product advertised for any skill level. So, if you are brand new to smoking, you won’t have much of a learning curve using this Masterbuilt model. One of the chief complaints with this device is adding chips to the tray, but as soon as you learn how to layer your chips, you’ll find that smoking is a breeze. Read more…
|Interior can handle meat cuts of many sizes||Exterior is thinner than some other options|
|Temperatures of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit||Chips may be somewhat hard to load|
|Affordable option for beginner||Requires some amount of assembly|
|Small size makes it perfect for any space|
6. Bradley Smokers Original Smoker
Now we come across Bradley, as they make an appearance on our list of 17. The price of this unit is just under 450 dollars, but it is possible to find deals and sales on this smoker if you know where to look. This device has a stainless-steel interior that is a lifesaver when it comes to cleaning up after a long smoking session. There are also 4 racks, which give you room to smoke a large amount of food. The highest temperature this unit will reach is 250 degrees, which is a little under some of the other options on this list. There are cooking controls that are effective in smoking meat thoroughly and evenly. Created for the person that wants to smoke at home, this is a device that is perfect for the chef that wants professionalism in their smoking experience. Many customers swear by this brand, and you see that these machines hold up to the elements and can be stored outside. However, there is a learning curve with this smoker as novices must learn to operate, but once they get their feet wet it is smooth sailing. It is also possible to cold smoke, which makes it possible to smoke cheese. Read more…
|Spacious racks offer plenty of space for meats||Requires purchase of bisquettes separately|
|Capable of both hot and cold smoking of nearly anything||Seems to require frequent maintenance|
|Automatic wood bisquette feeder can run for up to eight hours||Requires some amount of assembly|
|Easy to assemble and use|
7. Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker
Here is our second Bradley product on the list, and the design is very like the first smoker. The price point is slightly lower, at around 350 dollars, which is a significant difference. When you hear the name Bradley you think quality, and the all stainless-steel interior is a testament to detail. There is also a digital smoke generator, and the cook can separate the oven burners from the smoke. This is great for the person that pays attention to detail, because it is now possible to have heat without any smoke. This Digital is an updated version of the Original, but you have the added element of advanced technology. You can also smoke items up to 320 degrees, which is a significant improvement over the original. Although this model is a bit smaller than the original, those that are looking for an amazing deal will be hard pressed to find a better purchase with this craftsmanship on the market. A lot of other options are more affordable, but they also don’t have fully decked out stainless-steel interiors. Even if you’ve never smoked anything before, with a few trial-runs you will be able to handle this device like a professional. Read more…
|Wood bisquettes automatically added over time||Some experience with temperature deviation found|
|Digital controls offer information about temp, time, smoke, and more||Not weather proof, not ideal for rainy seasons|
|Fully insulated for long-lasting heat and smoke production|
|Known for above average performance while cooking|
|Easy to use and clean|
8. Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
We welcome a new brand to our list, and this Char-Broil Deluxe is an amazing option for those in the market for a smoking device. This 725-square inch model is a nice size for those that want to smoke for a family, or even for parties and events. There are several other options, you can purchase the 1000 square inch design for a little bit more, or you can purchase either of these options with a cover. This is the first smoker on the list that has the option of purchasing a cover, and depending on the weather around your house it might be a good investment. If you are in a location that is constantly battling the elements, a cover can protect your investment. You can purchase this Char-Broil Deluxe for just under 300 dollars, which makes this device rest in the middle of the pack. Another benefit of this design, is the blue LED display that is easy to read, especially in the dark. There is also a glass door, so you can witness what is happening to your food. There is an advanced control panel that makes it possible to cook anything effectively, so you remove all the guesswork with smoking anything. This is an ideal solution for someone that wants some features, but isn’t willing to spend an obscene amount of money. Read more…
|Modern design with sleek aesthetic likely to appeal||Smoke production is milder than other options|
|Temperature range from 100 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit||Temperature calibration can be off at times|
|Built in meat thermometer for temperature control|
|Easy to use, even for beginners|
- Price: $208.37Was: $299.00
9. Char-Broil 14201677 Vertical Electric Smoker
We are introducing our second Char-Broil device on this list, and this unit has a price point that is hard to beat. AT just under 150 dollars you get a 504-square inch chamber that can fit a full meal inside of it. Here is another company that prides themselves on quality and the chrome-plated grills show they are attentive to even the smallest detail. As with most other models, there are porcelain lined drip and water plates, ideal to place chips and remove messes. At around 50 pounds it is one of the light options on this list, and still has many features of other units. There is no thermostat, but there is a temp gauge on the door so you can monitor what is going on inside the unit. There was a complaint that the bottom of this device can get a little messy, but by purchasing an aluminum foil pad you can prevent this and make clean up easy. Another downside to this machine is not being able to set the unit to a specific temperature, instead you must rely on a knob that goes from low to high. However, with a few smoking sessions, you should be able to figure out how to navigate the controls. Read more…
|Price is right if looking for a bargain||Door quality is not as good as the rest of smoker|
|Vertical design makes managing meats easier||Limited means for choosing perfect temperature|
|Space saving size can fit nearly anywhere||Harder to clean than some options|
|Easy to use, even for a beginner|
|Cooks large portions of meat with ease|
10. Char-Broil Simple Smoker with SmartChef Technology
Just like the previously mentioned Bluetooth machine, this Char-Broil Simple Smoker has special technology to assist you in your smoking goals. At just under 300 dollars, this machine has several features that make this price one of the best values on this list of seventeen. You can use your smartphone to monitor what is going on inside the chamber with the SmartChef technology. This app will send you alerts to let you know that the chamber is preheated or to signify that the smoking session is complete. There are also meat probes on the inside of the chamber that are responsible for monitoring the meat temp in real time. You will always be aware of the things going on inside this Char-Broil Simple Smoker with your phone in your hand. The app even gives you suggestions and guided cook times to make the process that much easier. Although, there are similar issues with this device as the previous Bluetooth unit, and if you get too far away from the router it will disconnect. It is possible to use this machine without a smartphone, but the selling point is really the SmartChef technology. If you’re looking for another machine that has a technological aspect, but you don’t want a Masterbuilt, this could be the device for you. Read more…
|Inexpensive compared to other brands||Capacity is fairly small|
|Side loading bin for wood chips||No trays, meat cooks in a basket|
|Wi-Fi capability for easy monitoring||Harder to clean than some options|
|Streamlined design is classic|
|Perfect for beginners and intermediate cooks|
- Price: $129.91Was: $299.00
11. Smoke Hollow 30162ew 30-inch with Window
There is something beautiful about having a window in the front of these units, and the Smoke Hollow is a smoker that shows you everything that’s going on. Priced at just under 200 dollars, this is one of the most affordable options on the list that has a window. There is also a 1500-watt heating element, which is one of the most powerful heating sources that we found through our research. This unit will not cold smoke anything, but it is an effective jerky maker, so you can throw out your dehydrator. Many consumers rave about the performance of this smoker, with a removable temperature panel that is easy to control. The Smoke Hollow is easy to set up, and is designed to be pleasing to the eye. One of the downsides to this device, is that it is hard to clean. Many people will not use a machine if it takes an hour to break it down and clean it, but everything is a learning process. Also, there is no smoke vent, which a lot of chefs has a problem with. All in all, you’re purchasing a beautiful chamber you can consider for less than 200 dollars, which is a win-win for most. Read more…
|Durable materials used in construction to last longer||Assembling smoker can take time and effort|
|Easy to use and operate once assembled||After time, may leak some amount of smoke|
|Accurate temperature readings for perfect cooking|
|Includes premium wood chip box and water pan|
- Price: $134.98Was: $199.99
12. Smoke Hollow 30-inch Electric Smoker with Adjustable Temperature Control
Our second Smoke Hollow device looks quite different from the first, but is very similar to previous models we have mentioned on this list. With only 2 cooking grills in this chamber, it is smaller than some of the other options. This is not going to be the machine that you use to grill out for an entire family reunion, but it’s perfect for home use. There are three different temperature settings, but again this isn’t as accurate as having an actual thermostat. With these smokers, it will take a few tests to determine how well it really cooks, and the best way to smoke your meat. This might not be worth the time and effort for some, but it is something that you should consider while you’re making this purchase. Weight in at 46 pounds this is one of the most portable smokers, other than the model specifically designed to take on road trips. It is also possible to buy a digital thermostat that can help you accurately monitor the inner chamber temperature. The biggest complaint about this model is that the unit does not drain properly, and many consumers had to make modifications. However, it seems like any tweak is easy to do, so you have a powerful smoker that can weather most situations. Read more…
|Reasonable price for outstanding performance||Can be some smoke leakage at times|
|Compact and simple to store||Grease trap can leak grease for some|
|High-quality accessories, like temperature gauge and chip box|
|Solid construction and pleasing design|
|Quick, easy cleanup|
- Price: $144.11Was: $219.99
13. Smoke Hollow 40-inch Digital Smoker with Smoke-Tonix Bluetooth Technology
Those tech hounds will enjoy this beautiful smoker that has the look and features to enhance your smoking adventures. First, we all love to be able to see what is going on inside the chamber, and with a glass front door it is possible to see everything. At under 400 dollars, this isn’t the most expensive item on this list, and still provides you with more features than many models we’ve reviewed. At 40-inches, this is the biggest product we have talked about, and this is the perfect size to host either large or small gatherings. There are four chrome-plated grill racks that are the perfect size to roast, smoke, and grill your food with an easy clean up. There is also a port on the side of the smoker where you can easily add water. Finally, this product can hot or cold smoke food, and that is ideal for cheeses and fish. A downside to this machine is its size, at around 90 pounds. Once you place this device somewhere, that is where it’s going to live, because it is going to be difficult to move it. Some consumers did complain about a hardware issue where the smoker would show an error message, so that is something to consider before purchasing. However, this company has good customer service that should be able to direct you toward a solution. Read more…
|Cabinet is 40 inches, with 4.5 cubic feet of space for cooking||Some problems with Bluetooth over long distances|
|Remote and mobile app make checking up easy|
|Dual elements for even and fast cooking|
|Large wood ship drawer and easy to fill water port|
|Comes with four chrome-plated removable racks|
14. Southern Country Smokers 2 in 1 Electric Water Smoker
This is the first machine on our list that is a convertible device, and that means you get more bang for your buck. In general, our lives are cluttered, and we have way too many tools and things around us daily. So, when you can reduce the number of items you have in your house, or you are limited for room, why not try to invest in some convertible devices. This 351-square inch chamber is not the biggest option we have on this list, but the ability for this smoker to turn into a grill is awesome. There is a vented lid at the top, which creates a flow of air allowing for maximum smoking. Another feature of this grill, which is great for safety, are the heat resistant sides. If you have ever been around a heated grill and seen someone burn their hand, it is not a pretty sight. So, it’s nice that there is an added safety element with this device. Priced at just over 100 dollars, is this a deal that you can’t miss out on. Also, at 23 pounds, it is easy for you to carry this around with you to wherever there is a party. Read more…
|Affordable device that works as two appliances||Cannot maintain high temperatures in cold weather|
|Swift and easy cleanup after cooking||Seems to take up a lot of power|
|Easy travel and assembly for travel needs||Walls are thinner than most want|
|Chimney design keeps smoke flowing well|
|Reasonable amount of space for family|
15. Southern Country Smokers Stainless Steel Electric Water Smoker
Here’s our second Southern Country product on this list, and the stainless-steel aesthetic is enough to be a selling point for most consumers. Having an item made from stainless-steel is generally easier to clean and more sanitary. At just under 250 dollars, this is a machine that is riding in the middle of the pack as far as price point is concerned. With a 351-square inch chamber, this is an ideal size for a family or a single person. There probably isn’t enough room in the chamber to cook for huge parties. An element that this machine features, is a 5.5-quart water pan, and this pan ensures that the meat you slow-roast will always be succulent and juicy. With 1500 watts of power, this is one of the most powerful devices on our list. Again, a downfall of this cooker is that there is no thermostat, but buying an electronic thermostat will fix this issue. Read more…
|Puts out excellent heat||Too small for cooking large cuts of meat|
|Two air vents on top of unit||Construction seems inadequate compared to others|
|Comes with two cooking grates||Removing drip pan is hard when smoking|
|Full stainless steel construction|
- Price: $179.96Was: $184.99
16. Landmann USA Smoky Mountain Electric Smoker
Landmann officially makes an appearance on our list, and they couldn’t enter with a more beautiful design. Having a see-through viewing window elevates the cooking process, and involves everyone that is eating the meal. Although people are not helping you in the smoking process, they can peer into the window to see exactly how everything works. This design features a 3-in-1 tray that also holds a wood chip box and the water pan. There are adjustable feet, so you can make sure that you are even on whatever surface you decide to use this Landmann product. At just under 150 dollars, this is one of the most affordable options on the list, and is one of the lightest models to transport. One of the chief complaints with this device, is that is does need a significant amount of electricity, so pay attention to which outlets you use. However, this smoker does have the power to smoke wood chips that have been soaked, which makes it one of the more powerful on this list. Read more…
|Double walls with sufficient insulation||Magnetic door doesn’t close well|
|Affordable price for what is offered||No digital controls are available|
|Glass window allows easy checking||Does not come with a temperature probe|
|Temperatures are reliable throughout smoking|
|Large wattage heating allows for many types of meat|
- Price: $126.34Was: $133.94
17. Smokin-It Model #2 Electric Smoker
Smokin-it comes into our list at one of the most expensive price points, at around 500 dollars. The entire unit is stainless steel, which we’ve previously listed as being a selling point in any grill. This machine is promoted as being insulated in such a way that the heat loss is minimal, which means that it doesn’t take forever to cook something. Again, since this unit is made from stainless steel it is heavier than most, at 100 pounds. So, whenever you decide on a location for this machine, it is probably going to stay there. The box design is unlike anything else on this list, and has an interesting aesthetic for those that collect “different” looking items. Even though this is the most expensive smoker, this is one of the best smokers on the market, you’re paying for quality and you get it. Read more…
|Handles and wheels make transport easier than with similar models||Price may be steep for some|
|Heavily insulated for hot temperatures and faster smoking||No remote control or app control|
|All stainless-steel construction for durability|
|LED indicator light for easy control|
|Can hold up to 35 pounds of meat at once|
How does a smoker work?
Everything centers on the amount of money that you are willing to spend, and as with most products the more you spend the higher-end piece of machinery you will own. If you are interested in budget machines, you will have a rheostat that powers your device. The rheostat is similar to the heating element that you use on your stove, and its responsible for facilitating the current of electricity to the coil. Many devices will have several different temperature settings, and some even have thermostats so you can set the exact temperature that you want your meal prepared. This are very easy to operate and with a few pushes of a button, or a turn of a dial, you can select your temperature. Cookers without a thermostat do not smoke as effectively as those with one because they aren’t as precise. So, when shopping it is important that you choose a device that has a thermostat, otherwise you have no idea what temperature you will be pulling the meat out of your electric smoker.
Also, many people need an extension cord to operate their machine, as there are generally a limited number of outlets outside and nobody wants to have a wall blocked off by a huge grill or device. However, you need to select a cord that is able to handle up to 20 amps effectively. A lot of owners do report issues with their machines because they are constantly tripping circuit breakers. Overall, the amount of money you will spend to operate your device is only a dime an hour, and this is cheaper than any of your other utilities. So, when turning on this cooker, you need to make sure that you have the right amount of electricity, teamed with the right thermostat, and the rheostat will cook your meal to perfection. The slow heat will continue at a constant rate throughout the day, which makes this an ideal solution for people that do not want to stand outside and monitor a fire. However, most people enjoy barbecuing because they get this nice amount of flavor in the meat and a bark on the skin. Bark is where most of the smoke and flavors lies in anything that has been barbequed, and you want to have a crisp skin. However, an electric smoker holds in a lot of moisture, so it might be hard for you to get your desired effect, especially if you’re trying to get crispy chicken skin. This can be disappointing for some home cooks, but the bark that you are sacrificing is the peace of mind and safety you have while cooking your meals.
Why can’t I get good bark on my electric smoker?
When cooking anything over an open flame you are going to end up getting a better smoke flavor, because you can determine what materials go on the fire, and you have open ventilation. Think about it, when you eat a burger that has been cooked over charcoal, versus being cooked in a pan in the kitchen, there is a huge taste element that is missing. The smoke from the flame is what is responsible for all the flavor that you taste in your food. When you burn wood, you get a lot of gases that are put off the flame, along with liquids and solids. You’ll have water vapor, ash, carbon monoxide, and many more facets. Yes, carbon monoxide doesn’t sound delicious, but it is this smoke that makes your food taste like it has been at a camp fire. Then, you have charcoal, and you get much of the same elements you get from wood, but different types of gasses are released from this material. Then, you can also grill or smoke on a gas stove, but this only has one gas in the form of carbon dioxide. What happens, is as you move from wood to electric, you’re losing complexities in the smoking process and that affects flavor. Finally, with an electric device the only gas that is present in the chamber is air, and this makes a lot of sense when talking about the difference in taste. Without that extra heating element, it is a bit sterile when cooking and you don’t get the nuances of flavor. However, there are ways to combat this, but it is something that should be expected.
Now that we have discussed heating elements, we should get into the problem with bark in an electric smoker. When you are cooking on a grill, or even in a smoke house, there is a lot of openness and room for ventilation. If you didn’t have room to let the smoke escape it would make the entire device wet. Think about it, smoke is nothing more than condensation when it is captured. So, even though there are some vents in an electric it is not enough to keep the moisture level down. This moisture is bad for bark, but it does keep the food supple and there is a low risk of every drying meat out. However, it takes the drying out to make sure that the skin is super crispy and that the bark is developed. With an electric you don’t have the airflow that you need to receive a ring, but you can throw wood into the wood box to add an element of smoke. Like we said previously, it is the subtle differences in kindling that create amazing flavors in your smoker. Those that are looking to barbecue professionally will be disappointed with their electrics because they are generally banned from competitions. You will have to smoke things in an “old school” way to compete.
How do I select my smoker?
There are many different things that you should consider before you sit down and start shopping for a way to smoke your food. Thankfully, we have created a clear path that you can use to begin your shopping expedition.
Budget: Here is it, the part of your life that rules everything. There isn’t one person that doesn’t pay attention to the money that they have in their wallet. So, it makes sense that before you buy a new device for your house that you should sit down and decide how much you are willing to spend. We suggest that you do a little bit of research to decide what models fit your needs. Once you have a few brands in mind, you can research their price points. If you have fallen in love with a smoker that costs well over one thousand dollars, you might need to save up a little bit before you begin shopping. Or, you can adjust your sights to find something that fits better into your budget. Many people have no clue what their money could purchase, but by looking around the market you ensure that you are in the loop. If you do choose to go outside of your budget, make sure that it is for a good reason, not just because you like the look of something.
Fuel: As we have mentioned previously, many cooks are moving away from traditional smokers for the convenience of electric. With this in mind, you must decide which type of fuel fits the best in your lifestyle. Most electrics need only a little bit of wood in their box to flavor whatever food you decide to smoke. There are many devices that are a great deal, but if they run off a type of food that you don’t use then they’re worthless. If you find a box that calls for more wood or charcoal than others, you are going to end up spending extra money every time you cook something. So, just because a device seems like it is a good deal, this isn’t always the case.
Size: The next aspect of your smoking device is the size that you want to purchase. Before buying, most people have in mind exactly where they are going to set their product up. Maybe you want to keep it in storage until you use it, or there might be a place reserved on your back deck or patio. Whatever the case may be, size is a determining factor in your purchase. One of the chief complaints from anyone purchasing their new machine is that they didn’t plan well, and they got the wrong size. When a smoker is too small it doesn’t have enough room in the chamber to fit all the food that you want to cook. When it is too big, you must use a lot of material to cook items and are left with a lot of space. Ask yourself how large the meals will be that you prepare, are you a single person household? Are you planning on having large barbecues every weekend, or is this device only going to be used on special occasions? Once you figure out how much you will be using your smoking tool for, and how much you’ll be cooking, you can pick the best product for your needs.
Specifications: You know that you want to get a device that is electric, but each one of these products comes with their own bells and whistles. People that are seeking to budget smoke their food may think that it is a good idea to buy a device that doesn’t have a thermostat. However, there is no way to regulate the temperature, so you won’t get a consistent cook throughout the meat. The most budget friendly smokers will use rheostats in comparison to the thermostats of higher quality devices. You also have decisions to make like the brand, size, and features. The more features a cooker has the more expensive it will be, but there are still many deals to be found both in stores and online. You will come across many different models, but there is going to be one that fits your needs and budget perfectly.
Racks: Another thing to consider, before you buy your new device, is the type of racks and trays that are inside the chamber. There are two main choices for trays, either they are shaped like grills or hollow. Most consumers opt to go with the trays similar to grills because they are more versatile and can be used for almost anything. Aesthetically, many people also enjoy the marks that a grill tray will leave on the food that is being smoked. Another feature of these smokers is the foil that goes above the grill. Many of these chambers are completely sealed off, but some have an open top. The problem with a tray being open is that the drippings from the food, while being cooked, can land on the heating element. So, you need to pay attention to all the materials you will need, depending on the type of racks that come with the unit. Not to worry, it is easy to adjust your device to work effortlessly in smoking your food.
What should I expect to spend?
We did touch on the issue of budget above, but really this is a sensitive subject for most buyers. Also, this is a question that only you can answer, and all the sales in the world might not bring a particular product into your price range. There are machines on the market for as low as 50 dollars or as much as 10,000 dollars. When you have such a wide range of options it can be overwhelming, and how do you know what direction to go in? The first thing that we recommend is to get comfortable with the various brands that make these devices. Unlike other electronics, most buyers are not overly familiar with the branding of smokers. If you Google e-smokers you will find a plethora of brand names that will take you to individual websites. Sometimes you can find the best deals on the company website, but generally you find bargains in other places.
Also, another way to save money while you are shopping is to look out for specific deals. One, you can think about the times of year that are most popular for barbecues, and avoid buying anything during this time. Sure, it might seem like a great idea to buy a smoker for Father’s Day, but this is in the middle of summer which is peak season to purchase these tools. Now, there could be some great deals, but you’re better off to buy when it is cold outside. Smoking food is popular all year round, but there is something about the summer that goes hand in hand with ribs, smoked pork, and tender smoked chicken. Another way to save yourself money is to buy a unit without a thermostat, but this could cost you money in the long run. If you can’t figure out how to operate a smoker without a thermostat, then you could ruin most of the food that you decide to smoke. So, what seems like a little bit of savings in the beginning, may cost you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure that you are comfortable with your purchase, and that you will be able to fully operate whichever device you choose.
How do I smoke something?
Now, you’ve decided the specific model you would like to use, but you’re wondering where you begin? Initially, according to the instructions in your manual, you should coat the inside of the chamber with oil or whatever coating it suggests you use. Experts suggest that you should turn on your unit and let it run for 2 hours to get it fully functional. During this two hours, you are curing your machine, and burning off any solvents or residues. Now, that we know the machine is working appropriately, we can focus on what we need to do to prepare our meal. Food prep is one of the most important aspects of any type of cooking, but especially in any form of barbecue. The marinades and rubs that you choose to put on your meat is what gives it a lot of the flavor. So, if you choose to have a marinade you will let the meat sit in that mixture overnight, but if you choose to use a rub you can coat the meat with these spices right before you place it in the chamber. There are many different versions of marinades and rubs that you can use, and you can research recipes online until you find one that you like.
Many chefs choose to use wood chips in their e-smokers, and a lot of people don’t realize how easy it is to complete this task. Many of these chambers come equipped with a separate wood box you can use to burn wood. You develop flavors in your meat through the smoke and the seasoning you decide to apply. Some of the smokers that don’t have a wood box recommend placing wood chips directly under the heating element. Generally, you are going to use one cup of wood chips for every hour that you are going to be smoking your food. There are a ton of different choices for wood chips, and some of them are even seasoned. Like, you can purchase wood chips that come from barrels that alcohol soaks in, giving this an added element to your flavoring and mixture. Most meat will smoke anywhere from a few to 8 hours, it depends on the weight and type of animal. Plus, the longer something smokes the more flavors that will develop. For added assurance, you should always use a meat thermometer to check to make sure that whatever you’re cooking is done. If you feed yourself or someone you know raw food you’re sure to get sick. The best part about smoking meat is the experience, so enjoy the benefits that this unit brings to your meal time.
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