Best Electric Smokers Buying Guide
Electric meat smokers are some of the most user-friendly smokers for people who are just learning the art of smoking meats. One of most difficult aspects about smoking is fuel and heat management. While you do have to add wood chips to create smoke and water to the water tray to keep food moist, the problem of maintaining an even distribution of heat is nearly eliminated with electric smokers. Instead of manually adding fuel and changing airflow, electric smokers regulate themselves. You can plug the smoker into an outlet, set it to the internal temperature you want to cook, and relax! Electric smokers really are that easy to use.
Electric BBQ smokers hold wood chips at the temperature you need them at to smoke and create a distinct flavor, making it much easier to cold smoke than other types of smokers. You don’t have to worry about a heating element going out from the flame being too low, like you would have to worry about on other smokers.
When cooking with an electric smoker, your meat won’t get a smoke ring like you see with other types of smokers (charcoal, wood, etc.). However, the smoke ring on a brisket has visual appeal, but it doesn’t influence the taste. So even though you won’t get a smoke ring on your smoked meats, rest assured that you are still going to get that smoke flavor you’re after!
Electric Water Smokers
While most electric smokers will have a small, removable water tray to help keep the meat moist while cooking, water smokers will have a much larger water tray. With a large water tray, you’ll never have to worry about refilling it during the cook. This opens the possibilities for what you can put in the water tray. Filling it with different liquids like juice or beer will introduce a much different flavor profile instead of adding moisture to the meat.
Digital vs. Analog Controls
Electric smokers are available with either digital and analog smoker options. While they both control the cooking temperature, digital controls require much less interaction than analog does. With a digital temperature controller, you simply press up or down on the controller until your desired temperature appears on the digital screen. An analog controller has a dial that controls the temperature of the smoker. A temperature gauge confirms that you’re dialed in.
If you are looking for tips on smoking, check out our guide to smoking. Our experts have put together a list of the top-ranked Best Electric Smokers. If you're still unsure which electric bbq smoker is right for you, then check out our electric smoker comparison chart for a detailed comparison of our top models.
Do you need wood chips for an electric smoker?
Wood chips aren’t required for an electric smoker, but many electric smoker models accommodate them with a wood chip tray. They not only act as a source of fuel, but they can enhance the flavor of your meat.
How often do I add chips to an electric smoker?
There’s no rule of thumb for how often to change wood chips, but we recommend changing them approximately every 5-6 hours. You can also add 1-2 cups of chips on top of the already-used chips. Just be sure to pay attention to the quality of your smoke levels.
Does an electric smoker use a lot of electricity?
One huge advantage of electric smokers is that they do not use very much electricity at all, the vast majority only using 800 watts per hour.