The best electric smoker can be a great alternative to gas-powered, wood, or charcoal smokers. But why? They’re definitely more beginner-friendly, they take human error out of the equation for the most part, and many feature a space-saving design that makes them perfect for apartment dwellers or homes that are short on space.
Yes, wood and gas-powered smokers offer a higher cooking temperature, but with smoking, you’ll usually use a low temperature in order to slow cook your meat to improve the flavor and texture.
With traditional smokers, you must stick close by in order to closely monitor the temperature and keep an eye on any flying embers.
With an electric smoker, you can precisely control the cooking temperature using the digital control panel or even a mobile app. This allows you to work around the home, run errands, and multitask, as your food slowly cooks to perfection.
These smokers are efficient, provide users with more control over the smoking process, and are incredibly versatile.
But we know how hard it can be to pick out the right model, considering there are dozens of popular smokers to choose from.
Fortunately for you, we’ve done all the legwork and narrowed down our choices to the top five models on the market.
How an Electric Smoker can Totally Change How You Barbeque Forever
We looked at several models, and unfortunately, many of them just didn’t make the cut.
We focused on models that are highly adjustable, allowing users to precisely control the temperature. Convenience, ease of use, and durability were also important factors.
People often choose electric smokers because they’re very beginner-friendly, low-maintenance, and come loaded with great features that ensure your food will be tender, moist, and packed with flavor.
Now, you can use your favorite electric smoker recipes to enjoy flavor-packed meat, veggies, and cheese, whenever you want.
Even beginners who don’t know how to use an electric smoker can easily handle preparing a wide range of dishes. We looked for smokers that had a high rating for ease of use and a fully automated cooking process. All you’ll have to do is set the temperature and keep an eye on the wood chip supply.
If you’ve ever used a traditional smoker before then you know how much cleanup is involved. With an electric smoker, cleaning and maintenance are similar to that of an oven. This is a huge selling point for any cook.
Many of the fully automated models are on the pricey side, especially if they come equipped with a dual wall construction for improved heating efficiency. Prices can range from one hundred and fifty dollars, into the thousands. It will all depend on the size of the smoker and the amount of cooking space it offers.
We’ve included compact and full-sized smokers, so you can pick out the perfect model for you and your family based on your cooking needs, and whether you want a smoker you can use for your next family barbeque.
We’ve included the five top electric smokers on the market, which is why we’re confident you’ll find the perfect electric smoker for you and your family in our top five.
Now, let’s begin with a look at our best electric smoker by Cookshack, the SM205.
|Cookshack SM025||300 degrees||750||$$$$$$$$$$||5|
|Bradley BTIS1||280 degrees||500||$$$$$||4.5|
|Smoke Hollow D4015RS||275 degrees||800||$$$$||4.5|
|Smokintex 1100||225 degrees||300||$$$||4|
Best Electric Smoker-Cookshack SM025 Smokette Elite Electric Smoker
The SM205 by Cookshack is a feature loaded model with a cooking capacity of twenty-five pounds. This is a high-powered smoker that will allow you to precisely control the cooking temperature. Offering a higher than average top temperature, this smoker can handle any job you throw at it. The smoker’s easy access wood chip box will allow you to add more fuel during the smoking process, without opening the main door, so you won’t affect the interior temperature. Low maintenance, beginner-friendly, and efficient, the SM205 is perfect for the cook in search of a more versatile smoker.
Feature-Packed-Smoke Hollow D4015RS 40-Inch Digital Electric Smoker
This Smoke Hollow electric smoker features a larger interior, a bright digital control panel, and three smoking modes that will give you more control over the smoking process. The manufacturer also offers a mobile app that allows you to keep a close eye on the smoking process without having to babysit. This smoker comes with some great extras, all of which are designed to make the smoker very user-friendly.
Heat Efficient- Bradley BTIS1 Original Fully Automatic Food Smoker
This Bradley electric smoker has a reputation for efficiency, ease of use, and a fully automated smoking process. This smoker uses wood flavored discs that are slow burning and automatically released. Low maintenance, with two smoking modes to choose from, this versatile smoker can handle meat, veggies, fish, cheese, and more.
Packing Serious Power-Masterbuilt 20077615 Digital Electric Smoker with Window and Bonus Pack
This smoker by Masterbuilt comes loaded with some great extras. The smoker itself is powerful, efficient, easy to use and an all-around solid performer. It’s very versatile and will allow you to cook a wide range of food efficiently, and in a fraction of the time, compared to a traditional wood-burning smoker. All in all, this model is a true workhorse and a must-have if you find yourself barbequing year-round.
Beginner-Friendly-Smokintex 1100 Pro Series Electric Smoker
Beginners usually find the smoking process intimidating, but this innovative model by Smokintex will allow users to take a more hands-off approach.
The 1100 Pro electric smoker by Smokintex is very efficient thanks to the well-insulated design. This smoker can handle both hot and cold smoking and can accommodate up to twenty-three pounds of food at a time. The smoker’s compact design makes it a great choice for buyer’s in need of an energy efficient model. This set it and forget it smoker offers a hands-off smoking process that’s perfect for beginners and the multitasker.
Electric Smoker Buyer’s Guide
Most people decide to buy the best electric smoker because unlike pellet or wood smokers you can set it and go about your other chores around the home as opposed to constantly monitoring the smoker’s temperature. This means no checking the fuel supply each hour or lighting charcoal. There’s also no ash to clean up. Simply switch the smoker on, hit the right temperature and relax.
Many electric smokers can handle a wider range of meats such as bacon, sausage, fish and even nuts and peppers or cheese. There’s a major debate in the barbeque community whether or not meat smoked in an electric model can compare to the taste of meat smoked in a charcoal powered smoker.
Most diehard barbeque fans prefer to stick to their old school smokers, but if you’re ready to enjoy slow smoked ribs or chicken breast in a fraction of the time that it takes a traditional smoker, then keep reading to learn more about the features you need to look for, the different styles available, and how an electric smoker will totally change how you smoke your meat for good.
Precise Temperature Control
If you love the taste and smell of smoked meat, why not invest in the best electric smoker? Electric smokers are fast, easy to use and more convenient, compared to a traditional wood smoker. Some models will come equipped with an extra-long power cord which will make it much easier to use outdoors.
With an electric smoker, you won’t have to worry about refilling the gas cylinder or restocking it with charcoal. Most models of electric smokers come equipped with built-in vents, which allows steam and smoke to escape from the unit’s smoking chamber.
The art of smoking meat is all about maintaining the proper temperature in the smoking chamber. With an electric smoker, controlling the temperature is pretty easy. All you need to do is keep an eye on the thermostat and adjust the temperature accordingly. Some models even feature a digital touchscreen that allows you to easily set the desired temperature.
Electric Smoker Types
A vertical water electric smoker is priced more affordable compared to other types of electric smokers. To use, you’ll place a water tray or bowl between the smoking chamber where the food is cooking and the burning wood chips. The water evaporates along with the smoke, which is what helps to maintain a consistent temperature. The vapor is absorbed by the cooking meat and adds a richer, fuller flavor.
An electric cabinet smoker looks a lot like a fridge. This type of unit is heated by an electric element that is placed at the base of the smoker. The design is very similar to a stove or electric hotplate. Some models feature a selection of heat settings which is a great feature to have because some types of meat must be cooked at different temperatures, such as chicken which has to be cooked at a higher temperature than beef or pork.
Why You’ll Love an Electric Smoker
Simply put, an electric smoker is much safer to use compared to charcoal smokers. When you use a charcoal or wood burning smoker there’s always a chance that burning embers can set something on fire. With an electric smoker, you don’t have to worry about stray embers flying out.
Precise temperature control is another reason why many people turn to electric models. With a gas or charcoal smoker, you won’t have much control over the temperature. With an electric smoker you can easily regulate the heat settings, which means whatever temperature you set it at, the smoker will maintain that temperature the entire time.
Timing is Everything
Many electric models also come equipped with a timer. Once you set the timer the smoker will automatically shut off once the time is up, giving you more freedom to get things done around the home or run errands while your meat is smoked to perfection. Some models will have a twenty-four-hour timer while others will have a digital timer.
Smoking and Cooking
In terms of speed, the electric smoker is by far the fastest option compared to other types of smokers. They’re also able to evenly disperse heat from the heating coils throughout the entire interior of the smoker, which means the food will be evenly cooked to perfection.
These smokers can cook a wider range of food including beef, chicken, turkey, bacon, pork, sausage, and cheese. If you’re a vegetarian you’ll love making your own smoked veggies, yams, and cheeses.
Inside Use is Possible
Some models have to be used outside, while other models of electric smokers can be used indoors. These smokers don’t actually generate much smoke at all, just enough to flavor the food.
Electric Smoker Cooking Tips
- Before you get started smoking all the meat in the house, make sure you read the included user’s manual from cover to cover.
- Much like you would with a barbecue, make sure you prepare the smoker before use. This means season the racks using cooking oil before you begin cooking. Keep in mind that every smoker is different. If you’re using a smoker with a water tray, make sure you add water to the tray before you fire it up. Some smoker experts even recommend adding wine or beer to the water tray for a fuller flavor.
- Depending on whether you have an indoor or outdoor model, you may need to use an extension cord or two. But you can’t use just any type of extension cord. The cord you choose should be suitable for powering up an electric smoker.
- There are many different types of wood chips you can use in your smoker that will add some distinct flavor to your food. Plum, hickory, maple, cedar, cherry, and applewood are all popular choices. You’ll need to use about two to four cups of wood chips for every two to four hours of smoking when you’re using an electric model.
- Choose your meat carefully. If you don’t know how to pick out the right type of meat for your smoker speak with a local butcher who can suggest the best cut and type for smoking. They can even suggest some great smoker tips that will really bring out the flavor.
- The meat should be seasoned with a dry rub such as herbs, sugar, or salt. The meat can also be soaked in a marinade.
More Control Over the Flavor of Your Meat
With a basic wood smoker, you don’t have as much control over the taste of the meat. In fact, most produce a flavor that’s too bold and overwhelming. An electric smoker will provide a controlled environment complete with a timer and fixed temperatures. This allows the smoker to slowly smoke the meat to perfection, so the meat will have a subtle, rich flavor. While they work using electricity instead of charcoal to power the smoking process, some models will allow you to add wood chips for extra flavor.
Many electric smokers come with an automatic bisquette which feeds the bisquette into the smoker’s burner every ten to twenty minutes or so.
An internal smoke box will use pellets and wood chips complete with water pans or dampers. Many of the smokers that come with a water pan will allow you to add other types of liquids such as vinegar or juice. This works to infuse the food with more flavor and moisture. A smoker with a flat top will allow juices to run back into the meat, which is a great way to infuse your meats and veggies with more flavor.
The biggest benefit that comes with an electric smoker is the steady, even temperatures. Unlike a wood or gas smoker, both of which rarely stay at one temperature throughout the duration of the smoking process, the electric smoker will hold firm. These smokers feature temperatures that range from one hundred to three hundred degrees, which allows for low-heat slow cooking.
On an electric smoker, the power is measured in watts. Most models will start with a very low wattage of five hundred up to seven hundred watts. Higher powered models combine wattage power with lava rocks, which can significantly boost the smoker’s heating power.
Because these smokers mainly utilize low heat, power isn’t a priority for most buyers.
If you’re concerned about the wattage capacity, take a look at models that offer infrared technology. This type of technology provides incredibly high temperatures via radiant heat. Infrared heat won’t dry out the meat. Essentially, infrared smokers will totally eliminate hot spots, cold spots, and flare-ups.
When you smoke a lot of veggies and meat, you need a model that offers plenty of rack space. A smoker with four racks can provide around five hundred square inches of space. You’ll also be able to find models with just two or three racks, which is perfect for smaller families.
An electric smoker usually measures rack space by how much food it can cook at once. A large model is able to cook approximately twenty to twenty-five pounds of meat or around fifty pounds of fish at a time. This size is perfect for large family gatherings.
Compared to other styles of smokers, maintaining a smoker is easy, fast, and convenient. With an electric smoker, you’ll spend more time smoking than cleaning. Included drip trays are designed to catch juices from the meat, so you can dump it or choose to add it back to the meat. The drip tray can also help to cut down on cleanup time.
Maintaining your electric smoker will ensure that it stays in perfect working order for many years to come. Cleaning up after each use will also reduce the amount of work needed if you decide to winterize your smoker.
Most types of smokers are huge, although not exactly heavy. A compact model can weigh as little as ten pounds, which is what makes them so convenient for use at parks or on a camping trip. A heavier model can weigh around sixty pounds, however, even these big models will take up less space than a standard barbeque because the racks in a smoker are stacked on top of each other.
In terms of quality, we recommend a stainless-steel model. Stainless-steel works well in extreme temperatures and a fully insulated smoker will ensure even and steady heating. These smokers are also much easier to clean and maintain. On the outside of the smoker, corrosion resistant aluminized steel or embossed aluminum are both common, popular choices. Since most models of smokers must be used outside, a smoker with a durable exterior is a must so that it’s able to easily handle harsh weather conditions. However, you can also purchase a smoker cover straight from the manufacturer for improved protection against the elements.
Commercial Quality Electric Smokers
If you’re buying a commercial grade electric smoker, make sure you look for the following features:
Top models will come with a remote control, so you’ll have total control over the cooking process. This includes an internal light, temperature adjustments, and more. This type of control over the entire cooking process is a huge change over smoking with a charcoal powered smoker, which requires you to stay in the same room in order to closely monitor your meats and veggies.