Smoking is one of the healthiest and most flavorful ways to cook: think succulent smoked salmon, tender smoked turkey breast and luscious smoked brisket. But mastering a traditional wood-powered smoker has quite the learning curve. For cooks new to smoking, or people who are simply too busy to tend to their food for hours on end, electric smokers are a great option. With the push of a button, they cook meat, fish and vegetables to perfection and require very little babysitting by the cook.
Cooking with an electric smoker is also very healthy since you don’t need to use butter or oil to infuse flavor. If you’re interested in investing in an electric smoker, read on to learn about the important features to look out for, as well as our reviews for the best electric smokers on the market. (And to get a better understanding of these appliances in general, check out our explanation of how electric smokers work).
What to consider when buying an electric smoker
The smoker capacity you need depends on how many people you plan on cooking for on a regular basis. In general, you want to be cooking 1 pound of raw meat per person. Keep in mind that you can’t use every square inch of cooking space because there needs to be enough air circulation for even cooking. Take note of the number of racks included in the smoker. Are they adjustable or removable? Removable shelves are easier to clean as well.
There are two types of temperature control: rheostats and thermostat controllers. Rheostats control the amount of electrical power the heating element gets and has no temperature feedback. This type of control is not very accurate. Thermostat controllers have temperature feedback that allows the smoker to regulate the temperature internally. Vents make it easier to control the cooking temperature.
Generally speaking, the smoking process is a long one using relatively low temperatures. However, to cook poultry well, you will need a smoker that has the capacity to heat up over 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
With any good smoker, you want good insulation around the smoking compartment. Less than ideal insulation results in heat loss, which affects how efficiently your meat cooks. Well-insulated smokers are handy in winter months when cold weather tends to affect temperature control.
Because opening the smoker will result in loss of heat and smoke, you want one that has a small access door where you add wood chips or water to the water pan. This will minimize heat and smoke loss.
Beginner smokers will be tempted to open the machine to look at how your meat is turning out. This will result in significant heat loss so if this sounds like you, try purchasing a smoker with a viewing window.
If you want the ability to check the temperature of the meat internally while it’s smoking without opening the door, you need a model with an included meat probe.
When the smoker is not being used, you need to protect it from the elements; ideally you should avoid getting an electric smoker wet for prolonged periods of time. Does the smoker come with a cover? Or is there an option to buy one? If covering the machine isn’t an option, does the smoker have attached wheels for easy storage? Make sure you can push it easily over your home’s terrain – deck, pavers, or lawn.
Now that you have an understanding of what features to look for in an electric smoker, read on for our roundup of the best electric smoker reviews.
The Best Electric Smoker Reviews
Smokehouse Products Little Chief
The Smokehouse Products Little Chief is a front-loading electric smoker that features a non-adjustable heating element that operates at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, easy-slide chrome-plated grills, a maximum capacity flavor fuel pan and a dishwasher-safe drip pan. The Smokehouse Products Little Chief is made of durable embossed aluminum and, like all electric smokers, should only be used outdoors. It has a convenient front-loading design and can smoke up to 25 pounds of food at a time.
|Budget-friendly price.||Temperature is not adjustable.|
|Easy to clean.||Not for heftier cooking projects like brisket or pork shoulder.|
|Ready to go right out of the box.||Thin aluminum construction won't insulate contents from cold weather.|
|Best Electric Smoker Reviews|
Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
Great size and even comes with a cover.
The Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker features a washable and removable food thermometer, intuitive controls that alerts you when your food is done and keeps it warm until you are ready to eat, a functional interior with easy to adjust cooking grates and an easy to clean grease tray, a lid-mounted temperature gauge to track preheat status and monitor the inside temperature of the grill, and wheels for easy transport and storage. It also has a remote control that can set and change the desired cooking temperature and cook time and can also be used to monitor the temperature. This smoker holds up to four cups of food. It is well-built and airtight, so the temperature is efficiently regulated.
|Convenient remote control.||Higher price tag.|
|Adjustable cooking temperature.||Can't be used for cold-smoking.|
|Wheels for easy transport.||Glass door tends to fog up.|
|Best Electric Smoker Reviews|
Smoke Hollow 26142E 26-Inch Electric Smoker
With four smoking racks, the Smoke Hollow 26142E 26-Inch Electric Smoker has a total cooking area of 730 sq. in. It features a top air damper for better control and a push-button design for easy operation. It is made of powder-coated steel for durability and has an 800-watt heating element and thermostat temperature control so your meat cooks evenly. This smoker also has a digital control panel, a convenient side-loading wood chip tray, and a removable drip pan for easy cleanup. It takes up almost 20x34x21 inches and weighs just over 52 pounds.
This is a solid smoker that is well-insulated with minimal chances of heat loss. This smoker is easy to operate with its electronic control panel, thermometer, top air damper, 24 hour timer function and side-loading wood chip tray. It has enough space to cook just about anything and is quite easy to clean.
|Budget-friendly price.||Some buyers complain of quality control issues.|
|Well-insulated for minimal heat loss.||Requires significant assembly.|
|Fits enough food for 6 people.||Not well-insulated.|
|Best Electric Smoker Reviews|
Benefits Of Electric Smokers Vs Other Types Of Smokers
With propane smokers, you have to carefully watch their propane levels. When you’re running low on fuel, you’ll need to switch out the empty tanks for full ones. With electric, there’s no need to keep vigil over your propane — just plug it in and cook. For more on this, see our detailed comparison of propane and electric smokers.
When it comes to smoking with charcoal, beginners can have a hard time figuring out how to regulate the temperature inside their smoker. Burning charcoal also makes quite a mess and many people believe that inhaling charcoal fumes is dangerous, particularly the easy-lighting ones. Electric smokers do not emit as many harmful fumes and are comparatively easy to clean. (However, keep in mind that even an electric smoker should not be used indoors due to the smoke produced in the cooking process.)
With wood smokers, you need a large amount of wood and it can be challenging to maintain an even temperature. Electric smokers require a relatively little amount of wood and self-regulate their cooking temperature.
The perfect variety of electric smoker pellets made up of 1 pound bag of each flavor Apple, Hickory, Mesquite, Cherry, Pecan and Jack Daniel's.
Ready to buy your first electric smoker?
Electric smokers are great for beginners or those who are too busy to tend to a traditional smoker. They do not require fuel, are easy to clean, don’t emit harmful toxins, and generally have self-regulating temperature controls. Before buying one, you should consider smoker capacity, temperature control, maximum temperature, insulation, door access, viewing window, meat probe and protection from the elements. Now you’re armed with everything you need to know in order to pick the best electric smoker for you! Not yet convinced? Check out ten advantages of using an electric smoker.