Electric smokers may be the most convenient ones to have as a smoker out there. All you need to do to make them work is to plug them in. No need to worry about making sure if the temperature is okay throughout the cooking process, which is a common issue when using charcoal smokers.
Maybe you are one of those people who would like to try their hand at smoking meat. In this case, let this guide help you in understanding what an electric smoker is and aid you in choosing the best electric smoker you can buy out there.
What are electric smokers?
Electric smokers have the same purpose and build like that of a typical charcoal smoker. Like the latter, you would need water and wood chips in smoking the food inside. And depending on the model you buy, you may also have to do specific measures, such as coating the insides with oil, and preheating so that the remaining residues from the previous smoking escapade goes away, among others.
One advantage of the best electric smoker out there, however, is the fact that you do not need to hover and watch it all the time. Smokers relish slow cooking times and temperatures. The shortest time required to produce good-quality smoked meat is at least eight hours. Heavier meats may need to be smoked overnight.
With the best electric smoker, all you need to do is prep the food, set the temperature, and voila! You can leave and let it do the job on its own thanks to a digital temperature panel installed inside. All you need to worry about is refilling the wood chips for the smoke and the water for the moisture.
You can buy a horizontal and vertical version of the best electric smoker in the market today. The latter requires very little space and it can already do the job for first-time smoker owners. The downside of vertical electric smokers is that they might be challenging to use during winter season. This type of electric smokers is sensitive to outside temperatures because the coating of their mainframe is thin. It would take a while to preheat it.
If you want a higher yield and you have space and money for it, check out horizontal electric smokers. They can primarily handle the heavy-duty work. But for this article, we will focus on vertical electric smokers.
Ups and Downs of Electric Smokers
No device of any kind is perfect. Each one has its set of advantages and disadvantages. Here is for the electric smoker.
Smoker beginners can start with this.
Because it is comfortable and convenient to use, first-time smoker owners can use this as their springboard in delving more into the smoked food world. They can experiment on their preferred combination of temperatures, cooking time, and the likes without sacrificing the quality of the food being smoked inside. It also gives them first-hand experience in knowing what wood chips to use and how to tend to them.
Electric smokers can teach beginners the fundamentals of smoking food without damaging too many resources (I.e., wasted food and wood chips).
It is safe and convenient.
In an electric smoker, you do not need to deal with the fact that you have to tend the fire to keep the smoking process going. This means that there is less chance of you causing fire hazards in the neighborhood. It also makes electric smokers convenient to use even indoors since they do not require much attention as much as charcoal smokers. Just be careful with the smoke when using it inside the home. It can cause asthma attacks to some kids. Also, if you have a vertical electric smoker, you may have to keep the room temperature warm enough since humidity can easily affect its performance.
Electric smokers are safe and convenient to use not just outdoors but indoors as well. Feel free to enjoy smoked food even during winter and rainy seasons!
Controlling the temperature is easy.
As mentioned before, the primary advantage of electric smokers over charcoal smokers is the fact that you do not have to be around and tend the flames all the time. Thanks to the digital control panel you can find in ALL electric smokers, you only need to set the temperature and cooking time to keep the smoking process going. Some models even have an alarm feature that reminds you to replace the wood chips or tell you that you can now consume the meat.
Temperature control gives electric smokers the most significant advantage over other types of smokers in the market. This is the reason why they are highly recommended even to the most inexperienced smoker people.
It is easy to clean.
If you have tried camping and tending a fire using charcoal or wood, then you know how inconvenient cleaning the ashes are after the flame goes out. This is the most annoying part of smoking food since it requires tons of wood and charcoal to keep the whole smoking process going. Of course, that equates to tons of ashes as well.
With electric smokers, all you need to worry about is cleaning the wood chips tray which is something you can conveniently pull out and clean. Most models already have a special plate that would catch the drippings from the meat, so you might have to pull it out and clean it as well. Compared to cleaning charcoal smokers, this one is a walk in the park.
With electric smokers, you do not have to worry about cleaning thoroughly because of the remaining soot and ashes which is a common problem when using charcoal smokers.
It easily experiences malfunctioning.
Because it is made from electronic stuff, electric smokers tend to break down quickly. They are highly prone to damage brought by a power surge or blackouts. That is why most, if not all of them, do not tend to last a long time, unlike other types of smokers. The good thing is that there are a lot of spare parts available out there. And if you give it to the right repairman, you might just end up saving your precious electric smoker.
Electric smokers have a high chance of malfunctioning because it relies on electricity to work correctly. Thankfully, you can easily find someone who can repair them.
Weather conditions can affect their performance.
As previously mentioned, vertical electric smokers are highly sensitive on the temperatures around them. They can be difficult to light up during the winter season, especially if you keep them outdoors throughout the year.
Humidity is also something you have to control and avoid at all costs. Electronic devices hate humidity, so you might have to clean the insides often－Yes, even when not in use－to prevent it from happening.
Rain, snow, and humidity are the electric smoker’s worst enemies. Protect it from these elements at all costs.
Transport can be next to impossible.
Unlike grills, smokers are heavy, bulky, and therefore awkward to transport from one place to another. Even the most straightforward electric smoker you can find requires effort of three or so people to be able to move around. As of the moment, there are no portable electric smokers in the market that can provide the same quality of smoked food as that of heavy-duty charcoal or electric smoker. This means that no smoked food for camping trips unless you prepare it beforehand.
You cannot easily transfer electric smokers from one place to another because of its massive and bulky build.
What to Look for in an Electric Smoker
Now that we know how electric smoker functions and you have already weighed the pros and cons, it is now time to check out the market for some good quality models that can be suitable for use in your current condition.
But first, what should you consider when buying the best electric smoker?
Of course, you want the best electric smoker made from good quality materials. Some manufacturers go for cheap stuff to build their smokers to cut operating costs and maximize profits.
When looking for the best electric smoker, inspect the outside surface thoroughly. Check for any dents, holes, and cavities that could let even a small amount of air out. Even a needle-like hole can already affect the temperature control inside the electric smoker.
Also, check for the durability of the wood chip and dripping trays plus the water basin. They should not have holes that could cause leakage and affect the quality of your meat.
Finally, look for warranties and the rules the manufacturer imposed with it. Excellent and honest manufacturers ensure their customers that any glitch or factory faults receive replacements and other compensations accordingly.
While it is debatable if electric smokers are safe to use for apartment dwellers, it does not hurt to consider if your limited space can accommodate even the smallest unit available in the market. As previously mentioned, horizontal electric smokers and perhaps the heavy-duty vertical electric smokers as well would require tons of space to set them up and work.
To ensure that you get the right size, measure the dimensions of the space you want to put your electric smoker and compare it to the unit you are eyeing on.
Aside from the dimensions, one thing you need to consider is the amount of meat you want to smoke in one session. If you frequently hold outdoor parties, then you may need more storage and smoking space.
Ease of Cleaning
Yes, electric smokers are easy to clean compared to other types of smokers. But if the model you want to buy has features that make the task quicker, then go ahead and take that opportunity. The less time you need to clean the electric smoker before and after use, the more time you have to prepare the food, smoke it and do something else while waiting.
I honestly believe that this should be the focal point of every purchasing process. We all know that price is the most important consideration when it comes to buying stuff. It affects how extensive and limited our choices are.
For this one, have a price range you are willing to spend before going out and checking some models. That way, you can avoid paying too much. Do remember that cheap does not always equate to low quality and expensive does not mean the best. That is why we recommend you research some features and reviews (like this one!) first before finally deciding on a list of potential models you are thinking about purchasing.
Best Electric Smoker Review: Our Top Picks
Based on the criteria we mentioned above, here are the best electric smoker we believe that passed among all of the models.
|Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker||Old Smokey Electric Smoker|
|Ease of Cleaning|
Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker
If you are a fan of smoked and grilled food, then there is a likely chance that you have heard the company Char-Broil. Their brand has been around since 1948, making them an established and famous go-to company when it comes to equipment and devices that you need for any outdoor living.
Their analog electric smoker is one of the most straightforward yet most heavy-duty electric smokers they have. The insides can accommodate 544 square inches of smoked food space, divided using three chrome-plated grates. The massive cooking space can feed at least 7-15 people in one smoking session.
The wood chip box, water pan, and drip tray are made up of aluminum which is an effective heat insulator so you can be sure that even the bottom parts of the electric smoker can store and keep heat, making the overall internal temperatures steady throughout the cooking process. All three are easily detachable so you can clean them thoroughly even outside the equipment.
The wood chip box, in particular, is large enough to fill in a few pounds of chips. This means that you only need to replace the wood minimally throughout the entire smoking session.
The door has an internal temperature gauge that could show how much heat is inside. And for easy transport, Char-Broil installed side handles that you can use to carry the unit around.
As for the exterior, this Char-Broil model has double insulation installed, making it suitable for use even in the harshest weather conditions. The only downside of this feature is that it has very little ventilation. It may be difficult to tend the wood chips as you preheat the insides.
You can buy the Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker on Amazon at only $124.99. That already includes one year of warranty.
Old Smokey Electric Smoker
The Old Smokey Products Company has been around since 1923. From manufacturing steel products, they transitioned to charcoal barbecue grills－the product that made them a household brand. In time, their electric smoker slowly gained popularity as well.
The model may seem like a large tin can. Do not, however, get deceived. Compared to other smokers that have doors and latches, this one uses a lid similar to that of a saucepan. While this may seem inconvenient at first glance, it actually offers an advantage. The heat, water, and moisture that rises up from the meat all the way up to the lid go drips back down to the meat, locking in more moisture. The cover is also tight enough to seal in the heat and steam needed to smoke the food.
The insides can accommodate as much as 15 pounds of meat, which is enough to feed at least ten people. This is surprising, considering that it is small enough to fit in any limited space. You can find two cooking racks that can carry the meat as they cook.
Unlike other electric smokers, this Old Smokey model entirely relies on the electrical heating system to generate smoke. This means that you do not need to worry about ash residues or excessive coughing as you open the lid.
The downside of the unit, however, is the overall material used as a mainframe. Stainless steel easily absorbs heat, so you might end up getting burned if you touch the surface while using this particular electric smoker. Some also said that the budget you need to purchase the unit could be used to buy a better-designed model with the same if not more features than this one.
You can buy this Old Smokey Electric Smoker for $129.95 on Amazon.
Buying the best electric smoker does not mean that you have to spend a lot. The significant advantage of this type is that you can conveniently generate smoked food at a less time needed by a charcoal smoker while not spending too much on purchasing the actual unit itself.
To know which one is the best for you and your family, always conduct research first. Nobody wants to regret their purchase, especially when it comes to kitchen appliances.