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Summertime and the livin’ is… well, hot. It’s too hot that turning on the kitchen stove is not an option. You can’t even bear the thought of standing nearby a charcoal-fueled grill; that’s how hot it is! But, the thing is, you gotta eat at some point, don’t you? No worries, the electric smoker has you covered.
This easy-to-use appliance is a dream come true for every grill-obsessed meathead who is just sick of sweating like a pig waiting for the steaks (or patties) to be cooked through on those hot summer days. Instead, this smoking device is a proud representative of the “set-it-and-forget-it” approach of which we are big fans.
So, if you’re ready to say goodbye to those long and sweaty grilling sessions under the sun, electric smokers are second to none. And since food is only as good as the appliance you use to cook it, we’ve smoked out (pun intended!) the 5 best electric smokers out there to help you out in this quest. Let the smoking begin!
What Is An Electric Smoker?
As the name suggests, an electric smoker is an insulated device that is used to smoke meat using the power of electricity. So, in a way, they are similar to an electric hotplate or stove. Most of them are even shaped like small refrigerators, sticking to the kitchen theme.
Electric smokers are -without a doubt- the most convenient type of smokers to date as they house a built-in temperature system which basically does all the work for you. In fact, this system is designed to reach the set smoking temperature with little to no intervention from the user merely by turning the electricity flow up and down.
Note, though, that in the name of convenience, electric smokers lack certain qualities which are common ground among the rest of the smokers clan. That said, electric smokers rely mostly on glowing metal rods for heat while charcoal, gas and pellet smokers take advantage of the fuel’s combustion by combining it with burning wood’s gases to produce a distinct flavor. As a result, foods cooked in electric smokers usually lack the traditional sharp-cut smoked flavor.
However, most of them are equipped with individual chambers in which you can store pellets, wood chips, etc. to generate some smoke. That is, of course, if you want to get a taste of the original smoking experience and ditch the convenience of the electric smoker for a while. To be honest, we totally recommend you add the wood chips in the mix every time you use the smoker.
Why Use An Electric Smoker?
Even though charcoal and gas smokers are the two most popular options today, it doesn’t mean that they would be a great fit for you as well. In fact, your habits and lifestyle may scream “electric smoker” but since you got carried away by the hype you never even knew you had it in you.
To get a clear view of where your allegiance lies, check out these five conditions. If you hit home with all or the majority of them, then you need to switch to an electric smoker ASAP.
Nothing says smoking quite like a spacious yard with a big table nearby to exhibit your decadent creations. However, not everyone is lucky enough to own a private yard, let along grill in it. That’s where electric smokers step in.
These apartment-friendly appliances are not just petite in size, but they are also the most efficient way to replicate your favorite backyard smoked foods without taking a step outside your kitchen. Plus, they don’t produce all the ash and dirt that comes with a traditional charcoal smoker. So, it’s a win-win situation.
Considering there’s no wood or pellets involved, electric smokers are not what you’d call messy. In fact, these indoor-friendly devices are super easy to clean as the only thing they get in touch with is the food’s grease, and that’s the case only if you cook meat. In other words, there’s nothing here that a cookware brush and a bunch of wet towels can’t clean.
Given their ergonomic/straightforward design and low-budget fuel source (electricity), electric smokers don’t usually cost an arm and a leg. So, if you are looking for a cost-efficient way to get access to your favorite smoked cuts of meat, going electric is a one-way street.
Ideal for Small Families or Bachelors
As mentioned above, electric smokers are cut-and-dried for small spaces. As a result, they usually come with a limited cooking area. While that may sound seem inconvenient at first, don’t be quick to judge. A small cooking chamber is perfect for those who need to turn on the appliance just for a couple of portions of veggies or meat; ergo small families, couples or solo cookers.
If you want your foods to taste their best, then maintaining a steady temperature throughout a smoking sesh is of paramount importance. As simple as it sounds, hitting that sweet (temperature) spot can be a daunting task when dealing with a charcoal or gas smoker.
But, electric smokers are here to change all that. Thanks to their steady flow of power, this type of smokers are as accurate as possible, making temperature management a breeze. Smoking foods was never easier!
What to Check When Shopping For An Electric Smoker
Despite their relatively low prices, electric smokers don’t discount on quality; at least, not the ones that are worthy of your kitchen space. However, to avoid getting scammed, you should always keep an eye out for the five elements every high-quality electric smoker should own. But, let’s take a closer look.
Love it or hate it, most electric smokers are small in size. So, by default, they are equipped with a limited cooking area which can smoke just a few portions at a time. So, when you shop for an electric smoker, you always need to keep in mind its innate limited capacity.
Even though most (if not all) electric smokers are easy to clean by nature, you can make your life easier by opting for models with a few extra feats. So, ideally, choose a smoker with dishwasher-safe, removable racks or trays and coated surfaces which can be easily cleaned with wet towels. Talk about convenience!
What are caveats, you ask? Well, this term refers to the ventilation system of an electric smoker which is located near the combustion area. Caveats are designed to gradually release some of the heat and smoke from the cooking chamber and, thus, avoid burning or charring the foods to the point of no return. Letting go part of the smoke and heat also plays a considerable role in temperature management.
Wood or Charcoal Chamber
One of the most significant drawbacks of using an electric smoker is the lack of smokey flavor. Trying to make up for this shortcoming, more and more manufacturers equip their newest models with a wood or charcoal chamber.
While many argue that this feature is a bit counterintuitive, no one can deny that adding some smoke to the mix does improve the foods’ flavor, giving it a more authentic, smoker-worthy flavor. So, instead of sticking to the traditional version, why not look for a smoker with an add-on wood chamber to get a smokey flavor on demand? After all, you never know when you or your guests will crave for a juicy, smoked steak.
Temperature Control Features (Rheostat)
While certain built-in features may not favor the smoker’s flavor, others set new records by making temperature control a cinch. In fact, electric smokers are perhaps the only type of smokers that takes the guesswork out of the process and allows you to focus solely on the food.
So, if you don’t want to deal with the annoying stuff such as struggling to maintain a steady temperature, opt for a smoker with a rheostat. This feature includes a gadget in the form of a digital display and grants you full access to the smoker’s temperature with the push of a few buttons.
5 Best Electric Smokers, Reviewed
Being equipped with the niftiest smoking gear is an excellent way to show everyone, from family to guests, that you’re at the top of your grilling game. But, which is this premium gear we keep referring to? Check out the following list of the top 5 electric smokers to buy in December 2017, and you’ll get our drift.
If you are ready to roast/grill your meat and veggies to perfection without worrying about maintaining the ideal temperature, then this electric smoker is a no-brainer. Equipped with unique temperature control features, the Front Controller Smoker is excellent for every beginner who is just getting the hang of electric smokers but wants the most out of every cookout. So, here’s everything you need to know (both good and bad) about this high-tech appliance.
- Sufficient Cooking Space
Unlike most electric smokers, this one features a relatively big cooking chamber. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, it’s equipped with 975 square inches of cooking space which is the equivalent of twelve chickens. Not bad for a biggish family now, is it?
- Side Wood Chip System
This smoker is equipped with an easy-to-use charcoal or wood-feeding chute on the side. That means that you can add a touch of smoke to the mix whenever you feel like it without opening the front door and releasing some of the chamber’s heat.
- Drip Pan
It also has a unique drip tray layout which is designed to capture most (if not all) of the grease that drips from the foods, making their disposal much more manageable.
- Easy to Clean
Besides the drip tray, this appliance is also equipped with another easy-to-clean feature which allows you to remove the entire inside of the smoker. In fact, you can remove the brackets mounted to the smoker’s walls merely by unclipping them. This way you get to clean even the hard-to-reach corners of the smoker quite easily.
- Curved Backends
It has a specially designed rack system which features curved backends. That means that you can slide the racks out halfway, at which point they “sink” in the specially designed sockets and stop from tipping over. That’s especially handy for when you want to check whether the foods are cooked through but don’t care to take the rack all the way out of the smoker.
- Remote Controller
The most outstanding asset of this electric smoker is the remote controller. With the push of a button, you can turn the smoker on and off, adjust the temperature and even set the timer. It couldn’t get better than this!
- Futuristic Design
Sporting a futuristic viewing window, this smoker allows you to watch as your food is being cooked. That way you don’t have to open the front door every once in a while and lower the temperature in the process.
- Electronic Failure
Like all electronic devices, this one is also prone to failure. The smoker’s heating elements, rods, etc. tend to break down after a while, forcing you to replace the broken parts which can be costly at times.
If you are a newbie and need an electric smoker that is super simple to use, then this one is a definite thumb-stopper. Consisting of just four elements – a tin can that serves as the smoker’s body, a heating mechanism, a couple of racks and a drip pan-, this smoker is designed to cook food both at low and high temperatures. But, enough talk, here are the best and could-be-better qualities of this minimalistic smoker.
- Wide Temperature Variety
Since it features an adjustable heat thermostat, this electric device allows you to turn the heat up and down whenever you want. As a result, it comes with a broad temperature variety which means you can go as low as 200oF to as high as 400oF.
- Even Heat Distribution
Thanks to the conducting nature of its materials, this smoker distributes the heat throughout the cabins evenly. That ensures a stable temperature for hours and hours.
- Built-In Wood Chip Tray
The appliance has some extra space at the bottom which serves as a smoking area. So, before you place the food on the racks, you can optionally lay a bunch of wood chips at the bottom and let the smoke take it from there.
- Heat-Resistant Handles
Considering the smoker’s vertical shape, the only way to get access to the food is by removing the top cover. So, the heat-resistant make access much safer as they protect you from getting burned every time you open the smoker’s lid.
- Tricky Top Load Design
This smoker sports a barrel-like design which calls for the various trays to be placed on top of one another. Many users believe that this layout can be confusing and time-consuming at times.
If you want an electric smoker that delivers every time, then Masterbuilt has the perfect choice for you. The Digital Electric Smoker with Window and its integrated thermostat work in harmony to maintain a steady temperature throughout every cooking session. But, this is just the beginning. Check out the rest of this smoker’s pros and cons, and sink deeper into the magic of smoking food.
- Adequate Cooking Space
With a total of 721 square inches of cooking area, this smoker can cook up to 80 lbs of food at once. That’s more than enough for a small family, a couple or a smoked meat-loving bachelor.
- Built-In Thermometer
Equipped with a built-in thermostat, this smoker is designed to reach and maintain optimal temperature for smoking meat and veggies. As a result, you get to enjoy perfectly cooked foods every time without spending long hours.
- Easy to Move Around
It also has a rear-mounted handle and wheels. That means that you can move it around the house or backyard quite easily.
- Side Wood Chip Tray
Like most Mastebuilt electric smokers, this one features a side wood chip tray which allows you to add the wood without opening the front door and releasing some of the heat.
- Air Damper
The top air damper on this smoker prevents moisture loss and enables a smoother heat and smoke circulation. Just remember to keep it slightly open.
- Low-Quality Remote Controller
Over the years, many customers have reported that the smoker’s remote controller doesn’t as function as efficiently as it should or dies out way too quickly.
If you are on the market for a durable electric smoker that doesn’t break down easily, then we have the perfect candidate for you. This Smokin-It model is made from stainless steel, earning the title as one of the most reliable electric smokers out there. But, this is just one of the reasons you should consider buying this smoker instead of another one. To get the full scoop, check out all its benefits and cons, as experienced in real life.
- Easy to Move
Weighing about 60 pounds and featuring anti-friction wheels and side handles, this smoker is very easy to move around.
- High-Quality Insulation
This smoker is made of stainless steel, a material that prevents the heat and smoke from “escaping” the chamber. That said, this type of insulation also contributes to the smoker’s efficient temperature management system.
- Easy Temperature Management
This device also has a built-in rheostat which makes sure the temperature remains stable. So, you just plug the appliance, set the temp and let it do its job.
- Small Cooking Capacity
Due to its relatively small size, this smoker is not equipped with as much of a cooking space as other models on this list. If your goal is to cook for a crowd, then this device is not for you.
- No Digital Temperature Display
Unlike others, this electric smoker doesn’t have a built-in digital temperature display. So, it’s practically impossible for the cooker to find out the exact temperature of the food cooked inside the smoker.
If you keep an eye out for an electric smoker with a sleek design that can still smoke your foods to perfection, then look no further. This device by Char-Broil features a large wood chip box, guaranteeing a more genuine smoking experience than the other models on this list. But, let’s see why this smoker is so unique and what you should watch out for.
- Insulated Construction
This product features a double-wall, insulated construction which prevents heat and smoke from leaking. So, it’s easier to maintain a steady temperature for hours and cook foods as finely as possible.
- Wide Temperature Range
Ranging from 100oF to 250oF, this smoker operates at a wide range of temperatures. As a result, you can use it on many occasions, from slow-cooking jerky to grilling veggies as fast as possible.
- Built-In Wood Chip Box
Despite its average size, this smoking appliance comes with a hefty wood chip box which allows you to smoke your food as it cooks. This way you get a more authentic taste of what smoked food tastes like, even though you actually use an electric smoker.
- Removable Grease Tray
It has a removable tray which is used to capture melted fat. That feature makes cleaning way easier.
- Easy-to-Use Control Panel
The smoker is equipped with a high-quality control panel which allows you to adjust the device’s settings based on your liking.
- Breaks Down Easily
According to some customers, the electrical circuits inside the device are either too fragile or poorly installed, causing the smoker to break down and requiring constant fixing.
Electric smokers are all about convenience. However, despite their noble goal, not all of them are created equal. That’s why you need to get past the flashy add-ons and pricey tags and focus on the features that value the most.
In an attempt to save you the chaotic and mind-gobbling research, we’ve rounded up the 5 best electric smokers on the market today. We are 100% positive that your winner is somewhere between these five smoking gems. So, which one is it going to be?