One of the main benefits of using an electric smoker is that the heating process produces less residue that traditional methods and so the smoker requires less frequent cleaning.

However, if you’re using your smoker on a regular basis, it is highly likely that, eventually, a layer of gunk will form on the walls and the various components of the electric smoker.

In most cases this ‘gunk’ is simply made of food particles that, for whatever reason, got splashed on the walls or rack, or fat and oils that dripped from the food into the water pan, drip pan or floor of the smoker.

While its true that continual use of an electric smoker without cleaning will not usually create any health hazards, dirt and grease will reduce the efficacy of the smoking process and can on occasion lead to old pieces of food falling onto the fresh food, making it unpalatable. Furthermore, while any mold that may form on the old food will be burned off by the heat, you really wouldn’t want to find yourself eating pieces of meat with burned mold on them – would you?

To avoid such unpleasant things happening, it is therefore advisable to follow some basic advice for cleaning an electric smoker.

I normally carry these out at intervals of 2 weeks to a month depending on how often the smoker is used, and more frequently during the cooking season.

So lets take a look at what you shoudl do to keep your smoker in perfect working order (and to avoid nasty food poisoning!)

Preparing The Machine For Cleaning

  1. Unplug the power cable from both the power point and the electric smoker. If the smoker is still hot, let it cool to room temperature.
  2. Once cool, open the lid/front door and allow any remaining hot air to pass out. Wearing mittens, carefully remove the racks from the electric smoker one by one. Place them in a large pan or tub filled with lukewarm water. If the racks are especially dirty, using soapy water may be a good option. Take care not to place them in ice-cold water as the rapid transition from a hot to a cold environment may weaken the integrity of the racks.
  3. Remove the water pan and drip pan if your electric smoker has them.

Cleaning the Interior of the Electric Smoker

Once all parts have been removed, you can:

Cleaning the Racks:

Cleaning the Water and Drip Pan:

While cleaning the drip and water pans is one of the cleaning tasks that we really should do after every cooking session, our busy schedules often prevent us from carrying this step out. Unfortunately, this leads to the accumulation of grease (fats and oils) and residual particles. Now, while the grease in the drip pan can be used for making sauces, etc. its worth noting that the contents of the water pan should never be used for cooking. Therefore, the cleaning procedures for the two are different. Lets examine them each in turn.

Water Pan:

Drip Pan:

Other components


While it is true that the best smokers produce less residue, it would be daft to suggest that even if you have followed the manual your smoker would never need to be cleaned. So, the tips shared above are generic and can apply for virtually any electric smoker. That said, it is also true that the amount of residue produced varies directly with the frequency of cooking done. Furthermore, some foodstuffs tend to produce more residue compared to others.

However, following these tips should help keep your electric smoker in good shape for a long time.

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