Barbecue cooking is an excellent experience, providing you the ability to create great tasting meals without having to go to a grill or specialized cooking restaurant in order to get it. The availability of various barbecue grills, stoves and sets is perfect for anyone wanting to make themselves a hearty delicious meal and is not too expensive at all.
But there is an additional piece of equipment that can turn your regular grilled meats and vegetables into something extraordinary in the form of a smoker. If you’re not sure of what a Smoker is, it is not a Tabaco smoking citizen, but rather another form of grill that that will produce abundant amounts of smoke that is used in the cooking process of meats to give it and new texture and flavor.
If you’ve had any form of grilled meats then you’ve almost certainly heard of smoked meats. In some situations, a smoker provides an even better taste and texture to a meal that is already excellent on its own. If you want to find the best smoker for you, you may need to do some searching as you can tailor them to suit your needs.
Your Ultimate Electric Smoker Guide
Reviews of the Best Electric Smokers
Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
- 730 sq. inches of cooking space with 4 chrome-coated racks and 800 watt heating element
- Digital temperature and timer controls
- Thermostat temperature control for even cooking from 100 to 275 degrees F
This electric smoker is one of the best-rated smokers in Amazon, with reviews over 1,000. It comes in many styles, the most expensive being the one that comes with windows and front/top controller. There are two sizes to choose from, 30-inch and 40-inch. If you want to see what you’re cooking and how it’s doing inside this big black box, get the windowed one at an additional $150. In this review we will be tackling the 30-inch non-window type.
PROS: This smoker comes with four interior smoking racks that offer more than 730 square inches of combined cooking surface. This is enough for cooking slabs of meat, whole turkey or chicken, and a few pieces of ribs and small meat. You might find that this black box will just be everything you’ll need for your backyard barbeque party as it can feed a crowd of 15. This is the best one to use to showcase your grilling/smoking skills to your guests without actually doing anything.
It is very simple to use; just plug in the electric smoker, set the temperature and timer, place all the food you can fit inside, sit back, and wait. It comes with a pushbutton digital control panel, which includes temperature settings that range from 100 to 275 degrees F. To add more flavor and aroma, and infuse moisture to your food, you can add juice, vinegar, or your favorite beverage to the removable water pan.
CONS: Owners encountered a lot of problems with the heating element, as it is prone to breaking easily. The worst part is that MasterBuilt has no heating element replacement for those who bought the older model because the ones they have requires owners to buy the box as well. To avoid this, make sure that the model you will buy is the newest one, so there will be no problem when it comes for requesting replacements. The best thing to solve this however is for MasterBuilt to upgrade their heating element so there will be no frequent failures.
Brinkmann Gourmet Smoker and Grill
- 1,382 total sq in cooking space
- 284 sq in offset grill cooking space
- 5 x chrome-plated Steel cooking grates (17" dia. Ea.)
This smoker has 2 chrome-plated steel cooking grills can hold up to 50 pounds of food. It doubles as a waist high grill if you wish to do something different that smoking just by removing the top lid. It has a front-hinged door for easy access to the water pan and for adding small pieces of charcoal and wood chips for a good smoke. It’s very lightweight and can be easily transported through the use of the wooden handles that stay cool to the touch.
PROS: This is a good entry-level smoker that is very easy to use. If you consider yourself a newbie in smoking, you shouldn’t splurge in something that you really don’t know how to properly use yet. This smoker is pretty cheap and it is electric, which is a breeze to use, as all you have to do is plug and leave it. If you can get the heating system to fire up to its maximum, then this is a pretty good smoker, as the temperature can remain constant. Otherwise, see cons
CONS: This smoker has no thermostat or anything else to regulate your heat. It doesn’t come with a built-in temperature either so you’ll keep guessing if your meat is really cooking, unless you have a digital thermometer you can use. Some owners hate that they can’t control the temperature; you’re lucky if it heats up as advertised, between 250F – 275F. Users noted however that it seems to hover at 225F, which is good enough.
This little machine also isn’t insulated and has thin metal sheets for the body. Considering the fixed temperature you have no way of controlling, you can’t expect to cook properly in cold areas. Some users recommend adding a few dollars to purchase a smoker with an adjustable thermostat and a built-in thermometer. This smoker also doesn’t come with a vent.
Old Smokey Electric Smoker
- Color: Grey
- Size: 15.5"w x 15.5"d x 29"h
- This smoker has a flat top, so juices drip right back onto the food.
This smoker contains two shelves, each can hold 8-10 pounds of meat. It’s a good size for cooking for a small gathering. It’s also very easy to use; all you need to do is plug it in, place the meat, and walk away. You don’t have to worry about the propane gas running out during look cooks and loading up charcoal whenever. Once plugged, this smoker heats up very quickly.
PROS: This unit runs pretty hot though so even in extremely cold temperature. Despite the thin metal used on the body, the outside temperature doesn’t affect the inside, as this smoker is capable of heating up effectively. It’s an airtight, hot unit that can cook well and fast. It comes with a heat thermostat that allows a wide variety of cooking times and styles.
It’s also very easy to assemble and is accompanied by clear instructions. This isn’t considered as a very durable material due to the thin metals used but it can last you good years of use. This is good for entry-level smokers who want something good to practice on, especially considering the affordable price.
CONS: The unit is not insulated but it can heat up a great deal, depending on the temperature you use. The downside is that the lack of vents and the tight flat cover disable any oxygen from coming in resulting to the chips and charcoal not to produce smoke. This minimizes the chance of your meat to have a smoky flavor and aroma. Many reviewers also complained about their units arriving damaged or with incomplete parts. Read reviews to know where to buy best.
Smokin-It Model #1 Electric Smoker
- Up to 22 lbs. of meat capacity per load
- 400 watt heating element, 8 amps 120 volt single phase
- 3" Diameter rubber casters and 3 removable shelves included with space for 4 shelves total.
This is one of the best electric smokers that has great material and insulation. It is made of 100%, 18 gauge stainless steel that was designed for ease of use and portability. You can easily move it around because of its four built-in wheels, and the body is only warm to touch, making it safe to be moved while in use.
It has four 3″ diameter rubber heavy-duty casters, two stainless steel grilling racks, smoke box, and drip pan that slide under smoker. The thermostat can be easily adjusted for your chosen temperature ranging from 100 to 250 degrees. A sample of hickory wood is also included in the package so you can smoke with your Smokin-It right away. The 350-watt heating element is capable of smoking up to 22 lbs. of meat capacity per load
PROS: This smoker is insulated with fiberglass to reduce heat loss and the result is meat and fish that is juicy, oozing with delicate smoky flavor, and scent. The all stainless steel construction looks and feels superb. For the price, it’s definitely worth it as this one’s a keeper that will last you years and produce you tons of food grilled and smoked to perfection.
CONS: Only con would be the size; if you plan on setting up huge barbeque parties, it might not produce enough food for your guests.
Bradley Smokers Original Smoker
- Stainless steel interior
- Rack supports keep racks from tipping over when pulled out
- Heat control moved to smoke generator which will eliminate moisture damage to switch
This smoker has a stainless steel interior with four removable racks and simple to use temperature controls, which provide a consistent and controlled smoke and temperature, the maximum at 250F. Built on the left side of the unit is a cylindrical tube of sorts where you place your bisquettes. These are round pucks of wood that are used to create the smoky flavor for your food. Each bisquette burns for about 20 minutes.
PROS: There are a number of different flavors of bisquettes you can try such as hickory mesquite and apple wood. It comes with a standard thermometer built-in the front of the box. It’s pretty accurate but if you want to know if it’s the right temperature you can use a digital oven thermometer. It’s not considered light at 53 pounds but can nevertheless be transported. The smoker also features a wide smoking space enough to fit large pieces of meat and whole chicken or turkey.
CONS: Many owners complained about the cheaply made parts that easily break. In a span of a year or two, they said they have done many repairs in doors and walls of the smoker. Also, it’s quite expensive for something that’s not built to last. Users also don’t like the fact that after paying for an expensive smoker, they have to constantly buy expensive bisquettes to keep it running.
There are a variety of different types of smokers available and whilst this guide will mainly focus on electric smokers and which is the best electric smoker for you, it doesn’t hurt to know the other options available should you want to make another purchase or refer a friend.
First and foremost are the electric smokers, utilizing smoke cooking without the necessity of wood, charcoal or even gas. Accompanied by a thermostat to set the optimum cooking temperature, they require none of these previously mentioned materials in order to cook. What does that end up providing you with? More free time to do as you wish whilst your cooked meets get some intense flavors and textures added to them.
Charcoal smokers are another, which maintain easy temperature control, which also has thermostats as a third part add-on if you want to get into specifics in your cooking. The main different to electric smokers are that they require a fuel source that needs to be checked and maintained, therefore requiring you to keep it under constant attention to ensure that it is still burning and smoking the meat or other edible item in the piece of equipment.
Wood, pellets and propane are also varieties of smokers that all maintain relatively the same characteristics aside from the viable fuel source used in their operation. In some cases, people will attest to one type of smoker giving a much better flavor or result to the creation of smoked meas. This is all entirely by preference, indicating that amongst all of them there is hardly a “best of the bunch” to choose. If you’re interested in trying this out for yourself, you’ll easily be able to find a list of quality smokers to get yourself off on a culinary adventure.
Smokers have an extremely large price range but that does not mean you should immediately discount the cheaper ones as less efficient and not worthy of your time. They accommodate all income earners, purchasable at prices from $50 to $10,000. The price is a gauge at determining the best for you. Do not fret, as you aren’t being short-changed if you can only afford a $50 electric smoker; you’ll still be able to produce top quality smoked foods and have fun whilst creating delicious meats and other foods.
So when it comes to purchasing the best electric smoker for you, you would want to know what the defining features are among them and what exactly do they mean? Do they mean a cheaper and more efficient way of smoking the food or does it mean that you’ll be able to lock in the juices and get a more rich and smoky flavor from your production?
Size is important, as this will determine what you can get done and how much. Think about the different occasions that you might use your new and wonderful smoker. Will you be using it to smoke a large ham? Could you see yourself smoking small pieces of meat? Is it possible that you might smoke multiple items at the same time?
Size is an important factor as well as the shape available inside the actual smoker. Will it be big enough to fit the items you intend on cooking? If you’re not sure, try to imagine some meals that you like to eat and what it would take to fit them in there (ones that require smoking).
To give yourself a bit of legroom, perhaps go for one that is a little bit bigger than you need, that way you won’t be left with any unwanted surprises when you go to use your smoker. You should not have any trouble finding a variety of sizes, as they are all available. Just do not expect to find ones that will only accommodate a single steak.
There are some cases where an electric smoker can only obtain a certain temperature, usually in the medium to high heat range. Whilst this is inherent in the design, it can sometimes be a major hindrance. Depending on the types of food that you intend to smoke in your electric smoker, you may need varying degrees in heat or even extremely high temperatures in order to achieve the affect you are looking for.
It’s best to investigate an individual model further and see what levels it offers, contrasting that with the recommended temperatures for cooking and smoking certain items. You may also be able to find smokers that allow you to adjust the smoker’s heat quickly and efficiently. This would be excellent if you’re looking to change things around during the cooking process, so that makes those types of electric smokers the best for that style of smoking.
Higher durability will ensure that the process of smoking the meat is as hassle free as possible. You want to select a smoker that is corrosion resistant and not prone to leakages. This somewhat ties into the weight of the smoker. If you’re not planning on moving the smoker around too much, you might see it taking up space in an open area for a long period, where it can get affected by the elements such as rain, wind, and dirt.
This would ultimately require you to pick the most durable electric smoker to ensure that it is the best electric smoker for you. Additionally, leakages from within would be a major problem, as they can cause overall damage to the smoker.
Other features that you can expect that whilst simple may also prove to be very useful are if the instructions for use are clean and concise, maintenance is easy and accessible or if there are multiple shelves. A simple and easy to understand instruction booklet can mean the difference between hassle free electric smoker goodness and a frustrating time trying to cook some delicious food.
If you’re not well informed about the variety of electric smokers available then you will want clear instructions, which you will most likely refer to every time you use your device. Maintenance is another factor that you must take into account because sadly not all items will remain in perfect condition.
If you research the electric smoker you’re thinking of getting, you can get a better understanding of it through other people’s reviews. The fewer the maintenance problems, the better the electric smoker will produce for you in the long run. Multiple shelves are an optional bonus depending on what you plan to do with your electric smoker. Once again, if you intend to smoke multiple items then that can be a challenge with only one shelf.
Finally there are a select few that can handle both cold smoking and hot smoking. Some preps of food may require the smoker to be set on a cold temperature in order to maximize the smoky-ness as well as to prevent any change in the intended flavor of the smoked food. This feature is higher end, so you can expect to find it in a more expensive electric smoker as opposed to one of the cheaper kinds.
As with almost all pieces of tools and equipment, there is never a definitive best choice. In this case, the best electric smoker is one that fits your preference. As has been mentioned throughout this guide, there are a lot of choices and a lot of benefits and disadvantages to the possible electric smokers that you can purchase.
Be prepared to pay extra if you want a whole bunch of additional features and a lot of space for all the meat and food that you intend to smoke. Regardless, you should not feel as though there are no bargains, as even a lower to mid-price ranged electric smoker can still produce delicious smoked foods that will be sure to satisfy stomachs and have guests begging for seconds.