The Definitive Guide To Buying Your First Electric Smoker

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Hey there smokers!

If you are reading this post, then it’s safe to assume that you are looking to dive into the culinary art of smoking. After all, why wouldn’t you as it’s probably the oldest and most popular cooking method ever developed.

However, there is one small problem: smoking food isn’t easy and it can be very time consuming, especially if you are using a traditional smoker. Now, if you are like me then you probably can’t afford to spend hours of your day babysitting the machine. Right?

Well, if that’s the case, then electric is the way to go.

However, with so many choices available, selecting the best electric smoker might be a tough challenge. So, to help you with your decision, I have put together this buying guide. This guide will contain a brief set of reviews and a guide on how to select the best smoker for you.

The Top Smokers At A Glance

Advantages of Using an Electric Smoker

While the purists will probably be running screaming for the hills when I mention electric and smokers in the same sentence, the fact is, they do offer some big advantages that simply cannot be ignored:

Convenience: Forget checking your meat every hour to ensure the heat is just right, with an electric unit now you can just load the food, set the temperature and time and then go to the gym while letting the machine do all the work. 

It is clean and inexpensive to run, and buy: An electric smoker runs on erhh… electricity, which is a clean energy source! So, rest assure that your conscience won’t keep you up at night. Whats more, electricity is generally very cheap (unless you live in some places like Hawaii) which will keep the cost of running your unit very low compared to other types of smoker. As an example, let’s say the heating element is 1500 Watt (most use less than that). So, for a 12 hour cook your machine would consume a total of 18 KWh. With the average retail price of electricity to be 12.49 cents/KWh for residential sector, that would translate to a staggering of $2.25 for a 12 hour smoke.

No other types of smoker can match this cost efficiency so you can save a lot of money in the long run, which in turn can be invested in an even better unit.

Easy temperature control: The reason you have to monitor a traditional smoker is to ensure the right temperature because the energy source is often unstable. However, most electric units nowadays come with temperature gauges that can help you maintain the desired temperature automatically, freeing up your time to do other things.

They can be used anywhere: Unlike other types of smoker, electric smokers don’t generate flames when smoking, and so can be used in places where open flames are not allowed. To use your smoker, just find an open space with a suitable power source nearby and you are all set.

It can be used in the cold and wind: As other types of smoker use flames to generate heat, you can expect it to be very difficult to use them on a cold or windy day. However, using electricity, will help you avoid this problem.

They are safe: As I’ve said, electric smokers don’t use fire to heat the food, which makes them generally safer than traditional smokers. Moreover, this type of smoker allows you to have far greater control over the entire smoking process, so greatly reducing the chance of something going wrong.

Ok, so hopefully, you can see the benefit of owning an electric smoker so lets take a look at some of the best models on the market.

Top 5 Electric Smoker Reviews

#1 Old Smokey Smoker

The Old Smokey smoker is the first one that I have ever had, and it is excellent value for money. This is a machine that has longevity and will be a regular feature of your cook-outs for years. It is made of aluminized steel and I found it to be solidly constructed.

Weighing in at only 24 lbs, it’s very easy to move around and store. The electric cord that comes with it is heavy duty, but it could be longer to facilitate better movement.

My Old Smokey was incredibly easy to set up and use.

It does not have a water pan, but I found the meat came out juicy anyway. Thanks to it being electric, the temperature is relatively simple to control and the racks inside are durable and held up to the brisket I cooked in it.

This is a very versatile unit and you can use any kind of wood you would like to achieve a range of flavors. I was worried that the wire stand would wobble, but it remained sturdy through the entire process.

The brisket came out perfectly! The Old Smokey did its job and I will be using it often. It was easy to clean too, but watch out for the screws on the inside!

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#2 Smokin It No 3

The second contender for the title of the best electric smoker is the Smokin-It #3. Weighting 115 pounds, this is a heavy duty unit. Constructed of 18 gauge stainless steel, it rests on four caster wheels for ease of movement. This machine is insulated with fiberglass for superior heat retention. The #3 comes with four grill pans, a smoke box, and drip tray. It also came with a sample of hickory wood to get smoking right away, which I thought was a special extra touch. It helped to alleviate my immediate desire to get cooking.

Smokin-It Model #3 allows you to create stellar meals in the comfort of your own space. I found it to be super easy to operate. The thermostat was useful, and the machine has a range of 100 to 250 degrees. My favorite feature of this machine was its size. If you need to smoke a lot of meat for a family gathering or big meal, this is the one to get the job done. It has a total capacity of 45 lbs, which is plenty.

A friend of mine owns a Smokin-It #3 so I have had an opportunity to cook with this one. The ribs I cooked in the Smokin-It #3 were delicious. I found them to be on par with some barbeque I’ve paid for. I liked the stainless steel for its visual appeal, and the heavy duty castors really made this unit a dream to use.

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#3 The Masterbuilt 20070910 (New model)

The Masterbuilt 20070910 is included in the list of best electric smokers because it is easy to use and accessible for newcomers and experts alike. It sports ample smoking room, and four grill trays.

I like this one because it has a lot of useful extras, like an air damper and water tray. The air damper allows to adjust the amount of smoke, giving you a range of mild to smokier flavors.

The water tray is also perfect for adding additional vinegar and brine seasonings. Not only does this help add flavor to your meat, but helps keep it moist too.

You’ll love that this machine has a push button control. It makes it super simple to manage and maintain the temperature. It also comes with a 24 hour timer and an automatic shut off. It is impossible to mess up your meal with this machine. The ribs I cooked in it came out tasty in just a few hours. The unit comes with a light, which is another perk.

An additional thermometer is always handy, but the Masterbuilt also comes with a remote control, to really make your next time smoking convenient. This is the one if you’re looking for something that’s as technically savvy as you are, or if you are just starting out and looking for the easiest operation.

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#4 Bradley Smoker

The coolest feature on the Jim Beam Bradley is the autofeeder for your wood briquettes. No need to constantly be adding wood while smoking, you can just walk away and this machine does it for you. The downside to that convenience is that you need to buy certain briquettes to use, which is an additional cost and possible obstacle. However, they come in a ton of hardwood flavors so you aren’t limited in your options.This is an affordable unit, and  it can get the job done.

Four racks gives you a lot of room to cook chickens, ribs, pork butt, or whatever your heart desires. However, like many reviews pointed out, I didn’t like that the briquettes drop into the drip tray when done. If only this product came with a better removal system then surely it could compete for the title of the best electric smoker.

The brisket I cooked in the Jim Beam Bradley came out perfectly. There was a definite smoke ring visible, and a crispy bark that developed on the outside of the meat. The flavor was rich and satisfying. Not only does it deliver a tasty product, but it effectively cold smokes too. This machine will meet all of your needs at home, and make you popular at parties.

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#5 – The Smokehouse Products Big Chief Smoker

The Smokehouse Products Big Chief Smoker is a simple little machine. It comes with a non-adjustable heating element that maintains a constant temperature of 165 degrees. This is not the machine to buy if you’re looking to cold smoke. There is no room for adjustment on this machine, which can be a drawback. It definitely cooks low and slow though. The biggest benefit to this model is that it is easy to use as an entry level smoker.The size of this machine most easily holds meat like chicken, fish or jerky. Larger cuts and roasts were awkward to use in this machine. It is also great for smoking cheese! The flavor that the Big Chef produced in the pork I cooked was solid, and I had seconds. It comes with a bag of apple flavored chips, which is a nice bonus with your purchase.

Constructed out of aluminum, it’s a snazzy looking machine. The doors and hinges can be a little awkward in usage, but you get used to it. The flavor tray allows you to add liquids to flavor your meat. After your smoking is done, this machine is really easy to clean out. The drip tray is dishwasher safe, so you’ll be ready to get cooking again in no time.

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Bob, Your Choices Suck! I Want to Select the Best Smoker Myself

Ouch that hurts. But it’s okay. Different people will have different priorities when it comes to selecting the best smoker for themselves. In this section I will list some of the most important factors you need to consider before buying.

Price: Of course the most important factor when buying anything is its price. The best electric smoker does not automatically mean the most expensive one. Ideally you want to select one that offers the best performance/price ratio in your price range. Also take into account that electricity is generally very cheap, so if you are going to smoke a lot, you can comfortable adding a few hundred bucks to your budget, knowing that your machine can save you quite some money in the long run.

Temperature range: Different foods must be smoked at different temperature. An unit with a wider temperature range will be a lot more versatile and can produce different smoked food for your home. However, if you are going to smoke only some types of food only, then you can probably get away without using a wide temperature range unit.

Capacity: Generally smokers can handle a lot of food at the same time. However, if you frequently host parties and need to smoke large batches of food, always make sure that yours is large enough to load all of these food at once.

Materials: A good machine must be sturdily built with good materials. Don’t ever buy one made from cheap materials as they can break down very easily after a short period of time. It’s just does not worth the investment.

Safety: Most electric smoker reviews do not cover this point, but a good machine must also be child and pet safe. All electrical parts must be covered properly. Wheels should lock firmly. The handle should be heat-resistant so you would not accidentally burn your hand. 

Easy cleaning: Cleaning the interior after smoking is a must, hence a good product should not make the cleaning job too much of a challenge. Stainless is generally very easy to clean while chrome plated grates will rust over time. Before you spend your hard-earned money, be sure to have an idea of how you are going to clean it.

Analog or digital: Digital temperature gauge allows you greater control over the temperature and smoking process as a whole. However, if you enjoy tending to your food regularly then definitely go for an analog one.Warranty and support: Unless you have too much money to care, it is always a good idea to check what kind of warranty and support are provided.

Check dealer’s reputation before making your purchase. Also make sure they can easily be reached through email or phone in case you need some support.

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