Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Electric Smoker

History proves as the best evidence of people’s extreme curiosity. This curiosity can be found in the field of electric smokers too. This curiosity is fueled by a universal passion to understand the world and its many inner workings, as well as to have a good smoker so they have good food!

Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker, 30 inch, Black

See the Masterbuilt 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker at Amazon.

A pioneer in the field, Benjamin Franklin, carried out the risky experiment that discovered lightning was electricity. Nearly a century after, Thomas Edison was acclaimed for discovering the means needed to provide light. This discovery opened society to a much brighter world and better-smoked meats and vegetables, lit by Edison’s incandescent bulb. Electric smokers were not one of the initial goals or Mr. Edison or Franklin but I’m glad they helped out.

Similar to electricity, smoking meat has existed in some form since before the Stone Age. The cooking elements needed to smoke meat have been in existence since the first use of fire. Any primitive home with a chimney or fire pit for cooking would have experienced some level of smoke flavor in their meat. These primitive people popularized smoking as a means of preservation. Modern application of smoking meat was made possible by curious minds to follow.

Primitive Smoking Methods to Today

Although smoking meat is considered a serious craft or hobby of many modern Americans, this historically primitive practice began out of necessity. Normally, people would cook in simple huts, which featured little ventilation. When the people realized the smoky atmosphere affected the flavor of their drying meats, they began to intentionally practice the art of smoking meat.

After people discovered the usefulness of smoke, they began implementing a combination of smoking and brining in order to cure meats for preservation. Not until modern times did we see smoking of meat for the purpose other than preservation. An early device of Scotland, known as the Kiln, is the blueprint responsible for contemporary barbecue units.

Electric Smoker: Start to Finish

If you are new to smoking meat, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions foremost, then take a look at the best way to season or cure you new unit. There are many options. Some popular methods include: coating the racks of it with cooking oil or leaving the heating element on for an extended period of time. It is your choice.

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Make sure the meat has come up to room temperature. Letting the meat rise to room temperature before hitting the heat allows even cooking. This is important.

Properly trim and season the meat to your liking, with your seasoning of preference. Make sure to include an acidic (citrus components are always good) element in your marinade when cooking in an electric smoker. The acid will help assure you the tenderest meat possible. If you are able, let this marinade sit overnight (8 hours minimum) for the fullest flavor.

Today is cookout day! Make sure to power on your electric unit and fill its water pan fully. Place about four cups of wood chips in their designated receptacle. Wood chips should be replenished every four hours while smoking for optimum taste.

Monitor the temperature of your barbecue box and meat with the temperature gauge. Your meat can smoke anywhere from just a couple of hours to all day, depending upon what you plan to smoke. Regardless, a properly smoked meal is always well worth the wait.

Remove your meat and let it rest again. Then get ready for a tasty treat.

Tasty Smoked Treats

Meat: Stop by your favorite butcher shop or local grocer and select the winning beef brisket of the evening. A meat with a little fat is just fine and actually better than a cut without fat. The fat adds flavor and makes the meat tender. Once you get your brisket home, it is best to leave it out to warm a bit (room temperature) until suppertime. Cold meat on a hot surface tends to lose all of its tenderness and moisture before even properly cooking. We recommend rubbing your room temp brisket down with Texas-style seasoning, packing flavor with chili powder, garlic, paprika and many other spices. Top this off with your favorite BBQ and you will certainly have a smoky and successful evening. See a great brisket rub recipe.

Poultry: Did somebody say beer-can chicken? Pick up your favorite seasonal pale ale and a whole chicken—you have all the makings for a delicious chicken smoked to perfection. Trim and prepare your chicken for the barbecue box, and crack open one of your brews, 12 ounces. Go ahead and add seasonings of your choice to the beer (garlic, onion, hot sauce…), we especially recommend garlic, onion and vinegar as good additions. Once your beer-can concoction is complete and totally prepared, the tricky part is balancing the chicken in your barbecue box. Go slow, be careful, and be steady! After about 3 to 4 hours of smoking time, you will have a succulently smoked chicken. Yum, yum. You can even smoke a turkey!

Pork: Unsure of what to do with your rack of ribs? A jerk rub accompanied with a pineapple barbecue sauce can bring the fresh taste of the tropics to your smoked meats. Rub those ribs down with seasoning similar to the brisket we discussed earlier. Using paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and any other spices of your choosing will relish delicious ribs tailored to your palette. These ribs are already loaded with flavor after the dry rub, but bump it up a notch with a zesty pineapple barbecue sauce. You will love it.

Fish: Pick up the catch of the day or pull some fillets out of the freezer for deliciously smoked fish. The night before smoking fish, you must brine it, letting the fish lay in a shallow pan of salt water overnight, refrigerated. The next day, allow the fish to dry for about half an hour before placing the fish in the smoker. Make sure the surface of the smoker is well greased so the delicate fish does not fall apart. Our favorite thing to do with smoked fish? Fish dip! We especially love tilapia and snapper as a fish choice. Simply perfection. See my best recipe for smoked salmon.

Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker

See the Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker at Amazon

Expert Advice

  • Below you can find five helpful tips to produce the best-smoked eats:
  • Be precautious not to use an excessive amount of hardwood chips. Using more than the recommended amount can result in overly smoky or even abnormally colored smoked goods. That is bad.
  • Thick smoke in the barbecuer should always be in movement, producing the fullest flavor for you smoked meat. Make sure it moves.
  • Don’t trim away the fat! Leaving fat on the meat will guarantee great smoked flavor and the fat burns off in the process anyway. Fat is good.
  • Try changing up your flavor palette by experimenting with juices or produce in the water pan of the smoke unit. This water will be heated in the chamber, infusing the meat. Orange juice is an excellent and unusual choice.
  • Letting your meat rise to room temperature and rest after smoking are equally important elements to the actual smoking of the meat. Think of it as allowing your meat to breath. The resting period is dependent upon the type of meat smoked and how much liquid was lost in smoking. Poultry need not rest, but cuts like prime rib and pork butt benefit from a 15-30 minute resting time. This time allows the meat to finish cooking and cool properly. During this time it is good to cover the meat loosely in foil, to facilitate final cooking.
  • Try to open the lid of the smoke unit as little as possible. Often heat and smoke are lost and the cooking process is interrupted. Smokemasters can use an external thermometer to monitor activity inside the smoker. No peeking allowed.

How do Electric Smokers measure up?

The key difference between an electric version versus others is the smoker’s source of heat. Electrical barbecue units utilize power as an appropriate source of heat for many reasons. The major reason electrical smoking is so suitable is there is no fretting over goods like gas, wood, or charcoal. In order to smoke your meat with controlled temperature and minimal monitoring, all you need is a power source for your unit.

The electrical smoker differs from other barbecue units powered by wood or gas, not only in its heat source but also in the quality and flavor of meat produced. Meat cooked in a wood-burning unit, or stick burner will have a much stronger smoke flavor, which requires continual attention to the flame and fire throughout cooking.

Alternative Heat Sources

-Gas/Propane: Gas and propane’s major characteristics are the element of convenience. Smoking with gas is preferred because of accessibility and ease. An effective method of smoking that is also very mobile; gas as your heat sources allows travel with ease. Gas produces a clean heat, less characteristic of the sometimes-overpowering smoky flavor found with other heat sources.

-Wood/Charcoal: For an authentic smoked barbecue flavor cooking with wood or charcoal proves to be essential. Smoking connoisseurs rely upon these more traditional heating sources faithfully, guaranteeing the boldest smoked flavor possible. With these heating methods you have traditional smoked barbecue with no chemical taste. Some people choose other heat resources than wood or charcoal because these barbecue units require more space and greater aeration when in use.

Bradley 4 Rack Digital Smoker

This state of the art electrical unit not only has impressive features, but a striking appearance too. Standing just over 33 inches tall, the premium electrical Bradley has a streamlined design suitable for any backyard. The powder epoxy steel with a polished stainless-steel interior looks attractive and proves to be quality manufacturing.

Bradley Smoker BS611 Electric Smoker, One Size, Black

See the Bradley Smokers Original Smoker at Amazon.

Taking a look inside the smoke chamber, there are 1.7 cubic feet of space for your smoking needs. This space is divided among 4 smoking racks, 11 by 13 inches each. This spacious smoke chamber is clearly crafted with quality in mind, but also convenience too.

Intended to appeal to outdoor chefs of all levels, the Bradley 4 Rack Digital is incredibly user-friendly. With all the amenities of a regular unit, this digital version is incredibly easy to operate. With the digital controls you easily can control the temperature, time and amount of smoke in the chamber. Using it is a snap.

In the wood chip pan of the smoke unit you will place Bradley’s flavor bisquettes. These wood chips are perfected and specifically for use in Bradley units. The technologies behind the bisquettes allows the wood chips to burn slowly, but not produce ash—so your guests can enjoy the true taste of smoked meat without any kind of chemical aftertaste.

Weighing in at 42 pounds, with a 500-watt cooking element this electrical version is the perfect addition to any patio or summer shindig. Your smoked creations will be sure to impress. Luxury and tradition come together in the Bradley 4-rack Digital Unit.

Smokin-It Model #1 Electric

Built of 18-gauge stainless steel, the Model #1 is very sturdy. It is just under 14 inches tall and just over 17 inches wide; the Smokin-It Model #1 Electric smoker is a very portable model. It can be easily transported with its wheels to a friend’s backyard bash or enjoyed from the comfort of your veranda.

See the Smokin-It Model #1 Electric Smoker at Amazon.

Taking a peak inside the Smokin’-It, we find two stainless steal racks capable of housing up to 22 pounds of meat. Additional interior features of the Model #1 are the smoke box, drip pan and external temperature control. The temperature gauge allows control of the Model #1 from 100 to 250 degrees.

One major benefit of the Smokin-It Model #1 Electric Smoker is it arrives fully assembled. You will not have to fuss with the assembly of the Smokin-It smoker. Convenient detachable wheels also attribute to the portability of this electric smoker. The smoker also comes with a sample of hickory wood so you can fire up your new Model #1 today for a delicious dinner.

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt’s quality smoker product delivers upscale rewards and exceeds consumer expectations. The lightweight smoker, only two pounds, stands about 34 inches tall and features four smoking racks for all of your poultry, meat and fish smoking needs. The body of the Masterbuilt unit constructed of powder-coated steel, promises quality with modern amenities.

With a temperature range from 100 degrees to 275 degrees, the digital control panel maintains the optimum temperature. Featuring a pushbutton start, you are able to set a digital timer anywhere between 0-24 hours with convenient auto-shutoff. In addition to the auto-shutoff, this Masterbuilt unit also features full insulation making it energy efficient.

The smoker’s wood tray offers easy and useful side loading. Fill the tray with your favorite hardwood chips and enjoy the smoky flavor infused throughout. If you wish to even further intensify your barbecue you can introduce an element of acidity, for example, a vinegar-based barbecue sauce would work perfectly. After loading up the wood tray, adding a little acidity, and adjusting the air dampener this electric grill is promised to deliver smoky savory success.

For a quality barbecue unit, look to these products before purchasing —all of them, the Bradley 4 Rack, Smokin’-It, and Masterbuilt, are top of the line, quality products guaranteed to please and to make good smoked foods.