Simple enough that you can set the temperature and not worry until your food is done. Built-in meat probe monitors internal temperature for you.
Heating element may need to be replaced with time.
Holds a steady temperature and easily adjusts after smoking has started. 3 racks give plenty of room.
Sometimes grease gets stuck at the bottom rather than draining.
Holds temps so smoking time is kept to a minimum. Easy assembly lets you get started right away. Window lets you see progress.
Can take a while to get the smoke going.
Made of lightweight aluminum, it's easy to move and clean. Performs best at 160 to 165 degrees where it smokes to perfection.
Lack of temperature range limits the cut and size of meat that can be smoked.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Many people enjoy the rich flavor that smoking imparts to meat, but few people smoke their own food. One big drawback of the process is the amount of hands-on time it requires. If you’ve hesitated to purchase a smoker because you don’t want to babysit it, an electric smoker could be your answer. You don’t have to miss out on delicious smoked foods because an electric smoker can deliver the same results as those produced by gas or charcoal models, and with much less work.
If you want the best-tasting meat, choosing the right electric smoker is key. That means figuring out what capacity, temperature range, components, and other features to look for to find a model that effectively suits your needs. But with so many electric smokers on the market, wading through the options can quickly get frustrating.
At BestReviews, we can help make it a little easier to sort through your shopping choices. Our recommendations are unbiased because we don’t accept free products from manufacturers. We use both experts and field research to gain deeper insight into the product categories we’re considering. This allows us to point out key features to look for when you’re comparing items and to remove some of the stress from shopping for home.
If you’re in the market for an electric smoker, our top recommendations can be found in the product list above. If you’re seeking general tips on how to select an electric smoker for your home, our shopping guide has got you covered.
You can use an electric smoker to prepare any of the foods that you would cook in a gas or charcoal smoker. Meat is the most common item, and you can smoke any type that you like, including beef, chicken, pork, and sausages. If you like fish, particularly good options include salmon, trout, haddock, and mackerel.
In addition to meat and fish, you can also try smoking vegetables. In general, any veggie that you can toss on the grill can be cooked in an electric smoker, including mushrooms, squash, eggplant, zucchini, and artichokes. You can even smoke cheese and nuts in your electric smoker.
There are plenty of reasons to opt for an electric smoker rather than a gas or charcoal model.
Safe Operation: Compared to other types of smokers, an electric smoker poses very few safety risks.
Low Maintenance: Unlike a gas or charcoal smoker, an electric smoker doesn’t need to be monitored during cooking because there’s no chance of running out of fuel and ruining your final results. You simply turn the smoker on, set it, and walk away until your food is ready.
Good for Beginners: Because it doesn’t require as much hands-on work as other types of smokers, you don’t need to be an expert to use an electric smoker. It’s an ideal option if you’re new to smoking your own food.
Efficient Energy Use: Most electric smokers are designed to maintain temperature effectively, which results in very little energy loss.
Cleaner Energy: Electricity is a much cleaner form of energy than gas or charcoal, so your food isn’t subject to as many contaminants.
Stable Design: Electric smokers are typically constructed with thick, sturdy legs that help stabilize it, so they’re unlikely to tip or be knocked over.
To avoid damage, don’t expose your electric smoker to snow and other harsh weather conditions. Store it in a garage or shed.
To make sure that an electric smoker has the proper capacity to make enough food for your household, it’s important to consider the size of the cooking chamber before you buy. Most models are fairly generous – 500 to 700 square inches – which is sufficient to feed a large group. If you often throw large parties, you might prefer a smoker with an interior space of 700 to 1,000 square inches.
Electric smokers are usually lighter in weight than gas and charcoal smokers, making them much easier to move around your yard or put away for storage.
The weight of an electric smoker is important if you want to move it around your yard or travel with it. Most models are designed with lightweight materials, making them much easier to move than gas or charcoal smokers. Look for an electric smoker that weighs no more than 60 pounds if you think you’ll need to move it often.
Electric smokers usually offer a digital control panel mounted to the top of the machine. This makes it extremely easy to set the proper temperature and time for perfectly smoked foods every time. Some control panels also allow you to turn the interior light on and off and monitor the internal temperature during smoking.
If you want to try cold smoking, buy an electric smoker that can dip as low as 70°F to 90°F.
One of the most important features: temperature controls that are easy to use. Many smokers have a thermostat that automatically regulates the temperature inside the smoker once you set it. Be aware that some cheaper smokers don’t have a thermostat, so you can set the temperature, but it isn’t regulated once the device is in operation. You run the risk of overcooking or undercooking your food if the smoker lacks a thermostat.
Pay attention to an electric smoker’s temperature range, too. Some models allow you to set the temperature as low as 100°F, which is ideal for smoking cheese and other smaller items, and as high as 400°F or 500°F, which works well for smoking large turkeys. Choose a model with a good temperature range so you can prepare as many different types of food as possible.
For most electric smokers, four cups of wood chips is enough to last for three to five hours of operation.
To give your food flavor, an electric smoker uses wood chips, just like other types of smokers. However, electric models are usually designed so you don’t have to open the door to add chips while cooking. Look for a smoker that offers some type of chip loader on the side.
Electric smokers feature racks that hold the food for smoking. In most cases, the number of racks depends on the size of the smoker. Most models have at least three racks, but some offer as many as six.
Adjustable racks allow you to customize the interior to accommodate larger items like turkeys, racks of ribs, and pork butts.
Some electric smokers are equipped with a pan that you can fill with water, beer, or wine, as well as herbs and other flavorings. Not only does the liquid help maintain an even temperature inside the smoker but it also helps keep your food moist. The steam infuses the food with additional flavor for the tastiest smoked meals. A water pan can also collect any meat drippings, which you can use to make sauces.
Opening and closing your electric smoker’s door can cause temperature fluctuations that affect your food. Still, you want to be able to check on your meat to prevent overcooking. Choose a model with a window in the door. You’ll be able to see what’s happening inside without letting the heat escape.
The LED digital display on some electric smokers is much easier to read in bright sunlight than regular digital control panels.
When you’re entertaining guests, you may not want to get up in the middle of a conversation to fuss with your electric smoker. Some models are equipped with a remote control that allows you to turn the smoker on and off and adjust the temperature, even from 50 feet away. It’s not an essential feature, but it can be very convenient if you regularly host barbecues and other outdoor parties.
You don’t necessarily have to use a wet marinade on meat before smoking it. Dry rubs using salt, sugar, herbs, and/or other seasonings will give your food plenty of flavor.
Electric smokers vary in price depending on their cooking capacity, temperature controls and range, and other features, though they usually run from $80 to $500.
Budget Friendly: A small electric smoker that offers approximately 400 to 500 square inches of interior cooking space and a limited temperature range typically costs $80 to $130.
Mid-Range: A medium electric smoker that offers approximately 500 to 800 square inches of interior cooking space, an expanded temperature range, and a thermostat typically costs $130 to $300.
Season your smoker. Before using a new electric smoker for the first time, it should be seasoned. Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual for your particular model, but running it at 275°F for three hours and adding wood chips during the last 45 minutes usually works well.
Marinate the meat. For the tastiest smoked meats, allow them to marinate for at least an hour before cooking. You’ll get the richest flavor if you marinate the meat overnight.
Preheat your smoker. Let your electric smoker preheat for about 45 minutes to an hour before adding your meat or other foods.
Don’t wrap the racks with foil. It will inhibit effective heat circulation inside the smoker.
Add half a cup of wood chips at a time. Only add more chips to the smoker when the chips inside are no longer smoking.
Q. Can I use an electric smoker indoors?
A. For safety reasons, you shouldn’t use an electric smoker indoors. They use wood chips, and when wood is burned, it produces carbon monoxide and other harmful gases. Inside your home, these gases can build up and pose a risk to you and your family. It’s best to set up an electric smoker outdoors where there is plenty of fresh air to counteract the harmful gases. Some smoker manuals also advise against using the smoker too close to structures. Consult the directions to determine the proper safety measures for your model.
Q. Can I use an extension cord with an electric smoker?
A. Most electric smokers can be used with an extension cord as long the cord is approved for outdoor use and is compatible with outdoor appliances. However, you should check your owner’s manual to verify that it’s safe to use your particular model with an extension cord.
Q. What types of wood chips should I use in my electric smoker?
A. You can use any type of wood chips you like in an electric smoker, so it really comes down to a matter of taste. Cedar, hickory, maple, cherry, and plum are common types of wood chips for smoking. Each type imparts a different flavor to the food, which is why you should experiment to discover which type you like best.
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