If you’ve ever had authentic smoked meat, you know how completely delicious it is; flavorful and spicy, with a hint of earthiness to it. Perhaps it’s the appeal of the long history of smoking meat to preserve it – a centuries-old method of keeping meat from spoiling.
However, smoking meat used to involve a long process of drying it out and using embers to smoke it in a shed, which is not exactly quick, easy or practical, and it’s certainly not as easy as putting a turkey in the oven or grilling some kielbasa.
Fortunately, electric smokers have hit the market and have changed the meat smoking game, upping the ante. They’re easy to use, convenient, affordable, and allow you to cook delicious smoked meats that will please even the pickiest of gastrophiles. In this article, 13 popular electric meat smokers are reviewed for your consideration. Delicious, flavorful, smoked meat awaits!
Top 13 Electric Smokers on the market
The 13 smokers are listed as follows:
Bradley Smoker BTDS76P 990216 Bradley Digital 4 Rack Smoker
The Bradley Smoker features a unique, unusual design. There is no viewing window, and there are three distinctive components: the smoker, the digital panel and the wood puck holder.
The flavor is undeniably authentic after eight hours of slow smoking.
- Completely digitally controlled; time, smoke and temperature can all be programmed with the touch of a button
- Smokes for up to eight hours at a time for delicious meat that falls off the bone
- Interior is fully stainless steel; exterior is coated with a powdered epoxy, the smoker is easy to clean and maintain
- Requires wood pucks instead of wood chips, a special order product
- Issues with wood puck feeder reported (frequent jamming)
Masterbuilt Digital Electric BBQ Smoker Grill
The Masterbuilt Digital Electric BBQ smoker grill has a vault-like appearance, almost resembling a safe. Its construction is similar; insulated, safe and sturdy, and its precious contents (in this case, some very delicious meats) are protected.
This highly-rated smoker offers superior performance in terms of consistent, even cooking.
- Includes four cooking racks; each coated with chrome; accommodating up to 80 lbs. of food to be smoked at once
- Enough room for: two turkeys, four racks of ribs, four pork butts or six chickens
- The reviews are excellent and the price is very affordable; all in all, a great value
- Thermal gloves should be worn when using the smoker
- No viewing window
Masterbuilt 20077515 Front Controller Electric Smoker with Window and RF Controller
The Masterbuilt 20070411 is perfect if you plan on smoking a large quantity of meat at once; specifically, it fits up to 100 lbs. of meat at a time. Your next backyard barbecue will definitely be a hit. It’s spacious and easy to operate; it even comes with a remote control.
This smoker is ideal if you’re serious about smoking meat.
- Smokes up to a massive 100 lbs. of meat at a time; enough to feed a small army
- Spacious interior and viewing window so you can see your food as it smokes
- Convenient and simple to operate; includes a remote control, built-in thermometer and multiple sophisticated safety features
- Wood chips can be easily loaded into the smoker through the side; the smoker itself does not need to be opened for added safety and convenience
- Some difficulty with built-in thermometer reported; wiring issues and inaccuracy
- Several customer reviews noted that the smoker stopped working after approximately one year of regular use
Smoke Hollow 26142E 26-Inch Electric Smoker with Adjustable Temperature Control
The Smoke Hollow 26142E is designed with safety in mind. The interior temperature, which is fully adjustable, is powered through a 1500-watt heating element. The side handles remain cool to the touch, thus reducing the risk of an accidental burn.
The exterior features a spring-loaded, touch-free opening latch, another added convenience.
- Includes a porcelain-coated water pan and drip tray, both of which are easy to clean once the unit has sufficiently cooled
- Features two separate cooking grids which can be adjusted to different temperatures while simultaneously in use (variable temperatures)
- Built with spring-loaded, hands-free latch and heat-resistant handles that are cool to the touch
- Some issues with variable temperature function reported
- The cooking grids can be a bit cramped
Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker, 30 inch
The Masterbuilt Outdoor Digital BBQ smoker is an ideal choice if you like high-tech gadgets along with delicious smoked meats. Fully digital, the unit is operated with a panel that controls the power, timer, temperature and so forth.
The smoker can be used year-round since it is fully insulated, regardless of the weather.
- Fits up to 80 lbs. of food on four cooking racks, allowing you to smoke a huge quantity of meat at once; ideal for entertaining
- Includes a loading system that allows you to safely add wood chips without opening the door to the smoker
- Compact; uses space efficiently, measuring at just 30” in height and weighs less than 40 lbs.
- Some complaints about the amount of smoke generated (inadequate levels)
- The paint can flake off during cleaning if done too vigorously
Dyna-Glo DGU732BDE-D 30″ Digital Electric Smoker
The Dyna-Glo is a completely self-contained unit that is fully digital. It’s easy to use; the time, temperature, power and so forth are all controlled using a digital panel, which technophiles will appreciate.
The smoker is insulated with a double wall, keeping the heat inside and reducing fire hazards.
- Grease tray is easily removed for quick cleaning; very little maintenance is required
- With the push of a button, the food’s temperature is displayed on the digital panel via a meat thermometer
- Generous, 732 square inch interior accommodates a large amount of food at once; the interior can be rearranged various ways to fit whatever you’re preparing
- Wood chip holder is small, thus requiring frequent refills and more attention than the majority of other smokers reviewed here
- Difficulty reaching temperatures above 200 degrees reported
Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker
The Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker is relatively small and compact. Operating it is simple thanks to a blue LED display that controls the unit. It’s great for novice food smokers.
Its overall design is sleek, featuring stainless steel and a large window.
- Easy to read, blue LED digital display allowing for hassle-free operation
- Sleek, stainless steel construction paired with a large viewing window for an overall sharp appearance
- Interior is insulated with a double wall, which efficiently keeps the heat and smoke safely sealed inside the unit
- Electrical issues reported (specifically, it can trip the GFCI unit)
- Build-up of corrosion throughout interior; difficult to clean
Smoke Hollow 30162EW
The Smoke Hollow is the perfect option if you like the aesthetic look of an old-fashioned, classic appliance paired with the benefits of modern technology; it’s the best of both worlds.
It includes three cooking grids and the temperature is fully adjustable, allowing you to smoke a wide variety of meats with ease. The variable temperature function is perfect if you want to cook red meat, pork, poultry and fish all at once.
- Old-fashioned appearance with modern technology and digital innovation
- Careful design including a glass viewing door and a latch that is cool to the touch
- Heats up quickly thanks to 1500-watt heating element
- Problems with heating element reported after a few weeks of use
- Several customers reported receiving damaged parts upon unboxing the smoker
Masterbuilt Electric Bullet
The Masterbuilt Electric Bullet has an interesting design, resembling a cross between a charcoal grill and R2-D2. That said, it is quite possible the simplest, most user-friendly smoker reviewed in this article.
It is quite small and compact, weighing in at just 23 lbs. It’s portable and lightweight.
- Lightweight, compact and portable; easy to bring to an outdoor get-together
- Perfect for a novice food smoker; operation is a breeze
- Heats quickly and does not dry out the meat; leaving it flavorful and delicious
- Some complaints about the unit not producing adequate smoke
- It does not fit a large quantity of food at once
Americana 2 in 1 Electric Water Smoker that converts into a Lock ‘N Go Grill
Southern Country has offered a barrel-shaped two-in-one smoker that converts to a grill. The smoke is provided by a combination of wood chips and water.
The smoker boasts 351 square inches of cooking space; quite a generous amount.
- Converts from a smoker to a portable, lock and go grill
- The legs are reinforced steel to make the unit extremely stable when in use
- A constant, consistent, strong current of smoke is provided through a chimney-like design
- Assembly instructions are confusing to follow
- Several reports of smoker being slow or failing altogether to reach adequate temperatures
Camp Chef Smoke Vault, 18″ Vertical Smoker
The Camp Chef Smoker takes you directly to the Old West with its nostalgic, vault design and flavorful smoked meats. It is quite literally a vault, made with stainless steel and without a viewing window.
The smoker reaches from 50 to an impressive 550 degrees, offering great versatility.
- Reaches temperatures from 50 to 550 degrees, allowing you to either smoke meat quickly or allow it to slow cook all day
- Fast, convenient, match-free ignition
- Includes helpful cooking tips, popular recipes and complete meal ideas and suggestions
- Requires the use of a propane tank
- Difficult to assemble; instructions are vague; several complaints of missing hardware
Smokin-It Electric Smoker
The Smokin’-It is small but mighty. It is cube-shaped, constructed of 18 gauge stainless steel, and the legs have wheels. It is certified for restaurant use.
22 lbs. of meat can be smoked at once in this compact, durable, impressive smoker.
- Constructed with restaurant-grade stainless steel; strong, durable and safe
- Portable; can be wheeled; can be lifted using side handles which remain cool to the touch
- Offers superbly smoked food; customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic, easy to impress your dinner guests with delicious, smoked meat
- Relatively small; cooks 22 lbs. of meat at once
- Requires frequent cleaning and maintenance
Smokehouse Products Little Chief
The Little Chief is constructed in a way to facilitate easy operation and maintenance. It can be front loaded and is fueled by Chips n’ Chunks wood fuel, included with purchase.
The Little Chief is intended for slow smoking at low temperatures.
- Purchase includes helpful recipe booklet and wood fuel, hickory flavored
- Engineered smoke ventilation for safety and proper dehydration of food
- Smokes up to 25 lbs. of food at once
- Does not work in all weather conditions
- Temperature capacity is limited to the low range
Quick Buying Tips
Here are a few things to keep in mind when comparing smokers:
Do the Math
- Calculate how much meat your family typically consumes in a week
- Consider how often you have barbecues or other outdoor events
- View smoking as an alternative to grilling in terms of frequency
- Some smokers are safe to use indoors; but others are intended strictly for outdoor use
- Be sure to check if the smoker uses propane
- Do not use in close proximity to anything flammable
- Do not use in a garage
- Some smokers can be used outside year-round, regardless of weather conditions
Check the Fuel Type
- Most electric smokers do not require propane, but some do
- Check how much wood, wood chips or wood pucks are needed to fuel the smoker
- Check to see if charcoal is required
Consider the Size
- Larger smokers typically take much longer to heat
- Food cooks slowly and takes more time in large smokers
- Smaller smokers typically heat up faster and cook food quicker, but only fit so much food at a time
Check the Trays and Foiling
- Choose a smoker with grill-like racks
- These racks allow the smoke to be distributed evenly
- Make sure there is adequate foiling at the top of the smoker, or the smoke will escape
Frequently Asked Questions
Some commonly asked questions are answered here:
Q. How do you season meat with an electric smoker?
A. You simply season the meat as you normally would; aim for a dry rub. Conveniently, many smokers come with recipe booklets. However, it is okay to use a traditional marinade; just be conservative with the amount of oil you use.
Additionally, consider the wood chips you are using (if applicable). For a classic, authentic flavor, you may want to try hickory wood chips, for that unmistakable Western taste. There are also apple wood chips and a variety of others for you to try. Some flavors work better with different types of meat than others; this can be determined by simply reading the label on the bag of chips.
The smoker itself needs to be seasoned if it is new; do not unbox it, assemble it and try to use it without taking this important step. Seasoning your smoker is accomplished by removing any residue from inside the smoker by thoroughly wiping it down.
Do this process outside or in an extremely well-ventilated area. Place the racks inside. Use a small amount of cooking spray to coat the interior. Heat the smoker up to between 200 and 275 degrees for two hours, and then let it cool completely. The smoker will generate a lot of smoke during this process; this is normal, so don’t be alarmed.
Also, when you use your electric smoker in the future, there are some useful tips and tricks you can try. In addition to applying a thin layer of olive oil or cooking spray to the cooking racks, you can cut an onion or clove of garlic in half (in some cases, even a lemon would work) and use it to coat the racks. The flavor will be absorbed by the food within the smoker, for a delicious, zesty taste.
Q. How exactly does an electric smoker work?
A. Electric smokers, as the name suggests, are plugged into an outlet. They use electric heating units which are typically a minimum of 1000 watts. The heat that is generated causes a supply of wood chips to smolder, thus generating smoke. The smoke rises into the interior via a chimney-like mechanism.
The interior is contained within an insulated unit, which typically has double walls. Smokers are equipped with a safe ventilation system, slowly heating the meat using a process of dehydration. Some models also use water to generate a “wet heat” as discussed in further detail below.
Q. How do you use an electric smoker with wood chips?
A. The wood chips are usually loaded into the smoker via a side door, so that the door to the smoker itself does not need to be opened. The wood chips are exposed to heat from an electric unit as discussed above, causing them to smolder and generate smoke as embers would.
Some smokers also require the use of water or propane, depending on the design. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. In some cases, it is recommended that you soak the wood chips before loading them into the smoker, though this varies from model to model.
Q. How often do wood chips need to be added to the smoker?
A. Usually, the wood chip supply needs to be replenished every hour or so. It depends on how large the holder is. You will be able to tell whether wood chips are needed based on the amount of smoke that is generated, or simply periodically checking the holder.
Q. Where can I find wood chips?
A. Most grocery stores sell them, or they can be bought online.
Q. Can you use an electric smoker in a garage?
A. In the vast majority of cases, it is best not to due to the risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Use the same caution you would exercise with a grill. Between the risk of accidental combustion, carbon monoxide and proximity to flammable materials and liquids, it’s simply not worth the risk. Aim for a patio or deck area that is not in direct contact with anything else.
Q. Can you use an electric smoker in the winter?
A. In some cases, yes. Some smokers are suitable for year-round use; some aren’t. Check the manufacturer’s specifications. If a smoker is suitable for year-round use, it is usually advertised as a selling point.
Q. Are electric smokers any good?
A. Yes, though they are not all equal; some are better than others, as with any cooking appliance. Check the ratings and reviews before purchasing a smoker. The smokers reviewed in this article are all considered to be good options; it just depends on what you are looking for. The bottom line is that it is quite easy to make delicious, flavorful smoked meat using an electric smoker.
Q. Do I need to use thermal gloves while operating a smoker?
A. Yes. Even though smokers are outfitted with safety features and handles that are cool to the touch, thermal gloves should always be worn. Choose a pair that reach the length of your elbow so that you do not accidentally burn your arm while reaching toward the back of the smoker. Thermal gloves can be found at most hardware stores or easily purchased online.
Q. Can I cook vegetables in an electric smoker?
A. Yes, vegetables cooked in an electric smoker are absolutely delicious. Corn is a popular favorite, along with squash, zucchini and more. By no means are electric smokers limited to just meat. This is an area in which electric smokers with variable temperatures really excel.
Q. If I use an electric smoker, won’t my food come out dried out?
A. Most electric smokers include a water pan, which supplies a constant supply of moisture or “wet heat” to the food being prepared inside.
This may sound paradoxical since electric smokers operate using a type of dehydration, but they are carefully engineered to cook savory, juicy meat that is not at all dehydrated. That said, there are methods of using an electric smoker to intentionally cook dried foods such as beef jerky (see below).
Q. Can I make beef jerky using an electric smoker?
A. Yes! As previously mentioned, electric smokers can operate using dry heat or wet heat, depending on the absence or presence of water. Electric smokers can make delicious beef jerky, and it’s one of the easiest, most efficient ways of doing so. Gone are the days of waiting several days for your beef jerky to be sufficiently dried out.
Q. Should I get an electric smoker with a viewing window?
A. It depends. Some people prefer smokers with viewing windows so they can view their food as it cooks, like watching a chicken slowly rotate on a rotisserie. However, there is something to be said for the more vault-like smokers made entirely of stainless steel.
Typically, they heat up a little faster and offer stronger insulation. For example, restaurant-grade smokers typically are made entirely of steel and do not include viewing windows, allowing for maximum efficiency. So, for aesthetic purposes, viewing windows are quite nice. In terms of function, they are not necessary.
Q. How do I know how long to smoke a certain type of meat, and at what temperature?
A. If you are following a recipe, the temperature and time should be listed first in the instructions.
If you are interested in using an electric smoker, you are in luck – there are many affordable, high-quality options on the market. The majority are digital and can be programmed and controlled easily, allowing you to carefully monitor the temperature, smoke level, and time that your food is smoked. This is important if you are just learning how to make smoked meat.
Manufacturers and their engineering and design teams go above and beyond to make the operation of an electric meat smoker understandable, safe and simple. You may be a novice, but you will serve food like an expert. No one will know how easy it was to prepare such delicious, savory food.
Additionally, electric smokers are built with advanced features that make them safe to use, easy to maintain, hassle-free to clean, and deliver delicious, savory smoked meat. Gone are the days of slowly dehydrating meat in a smokehouse. With electric smokers, you get the authentic flavor without the old-fashioned inconveniences.
Electric smokers vary greatly in price, but there are many options that are high-quality and budget-friendly. An electric smoker would make a great gift for the foodie in your life; especially if he or she is also a fan of high-tech gadgets. The sheer ingenuity of digital electric smokers is extremely impressive.
Some include blue LED displays and remote controls. At the touch of a button, you can see the temperature via the internal meat thermometer. With the remote control, you can change the temperature, operate the timer and so forth. The guesswork is completely taken out of the equation; you have the confidence of knowing that your meat has been cooked thoroughly and evenly.
Therefore, electric smokers are amazing; they take your meats and vegetables to a whole new level of deliciousness. Bon appetit.