Top 5 Best Electric Smokers 2017 – How to Choose the Right One for You?
I love eating smoked meat, but I don’t like the idea of laboring over a hot charcoal grill that much. Fortunately, electric smokers were invented to save busybodies like me a lot of preparation and monitoring time that cooking with a charcoal grill requires.
There are many electric smoker brands out in the market today. Sometimes it is hard to figure out which one works best for you, because there are just way too many choices.
Lucky for you, today I’ll be listing down what I think are the best electric smokers currently available, and which ones are worth investing in.
Top 5 Best Electric Smokers 2017
**Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.
The Smokin-It Model #1 Electric Smoker is a thing of beauty not just because of its high meat capacity, but also because it’s very simple to use. I also love its stainless steel exterior, and the side handles that make it easy to move the unit from one spot to another.
- This smoker is very easy to use. All you need to do is plug it in, add the wood chips and water, preheat to desired temperature, and place the meat. Then you can leave it to cook while you relax or do other things.
- This model has no complicated digital controls or settings. There’s just a simple plug and a knob, so even technologically challenged people like me can use it with ease.
- Although it has a stainless steel exterior, I’m happy to report that this smoker is insulated very well. So you don’t need to worry about getting burned during a smoking session.
- This smoker has two drain holes that catch any meat drippings. These drippings go straight to the drip tray which slides easily under the unit.
- The Smokin-It electric smoker is very durable and has a sturdy design. My unit is almost three years old and I’ve had no major issues with it so far.
- This Smokin-It product comes with limited accessories so you need to buy any add-ons you want directly from the manufacturer. Accessories, like the wood chip liner and seafood tray, are not available on Amazon.
- There is no built-in temperature gauge so you need to buy one.
- While this doesn’t happen often, the temperature may fluctuate once in a while, which results in a longer cooking time.
I love the Masterbuilt 30-inch Black Electric Smoker for many reasons. I often use my unit to smoke big cuts of pork and brisket.
- This Masterbuilt product has a built-in digital thermometer, so you don’t have to guess the temperature of your smoker before you put your meat in.
- I find that this unit has very good insulation. It works well, no matter what the outside temperature is.
- I love the large capacity of this unit. Its four racks can hold more than 30 pounds of meat at a time.
- I have always been a fan of Masterbuilt’s customer support. They are very accommodating to client inquiries and concerns, and will easily send in part replacements as needed.
- Each unit comes with a remote control, so you don’t have to be physically in front of the smoker if you want to change the temperature or settings.
- The wheels and brackets make it easy to transport the smoker from one place to another.
- Temperature only goes up to 275 degree F. While it works great with red meat and fish, it becomes a bit problematic when you want to cook big poultry, like turkey, or other meats that require a temperature of more than 300 degree F.
- The heat unit isn’t that powerful. You may want to add your own heating element if you want to generate more heat.
- The unit does not come with a generator so you need to have it constantly plugged in.
The Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker is a good and affordable electric smoker for entry level smoking. Not many smokers at this price come with double walls and proper insulation, so I think this is actually one of the better-priced smokers out there.
- Preheating time is very quick, and the temperature remains constant throughout the cooking period.
- The unit comes with a built-in temperature gauge.
- This smoker is very easy to assemble. It will take you only about 30 to 40 minutes to finish assembling it.
- This unit is very easy to clean. Just wipe the interior with a cloth or sponge soaked in warm bubbly water. The racks and other accessories are also detachable so you can wash them easily in the sink.
- One of my main issues with this brand is that the door doesn’t close completely at the bottom. To solve this problem, I had to buy a small magnetic strip and stick it to the bottom part of the door. As an alternative, you can also buy a window lock for it. Or two.
- While the unit comes with an instructions manual for assembly, it does not have an operations manual, so you have to kind of wing it when you need to start smoking. It’s relatively easy to use, though.
- The water pan and smoker box are too small, so sometimes the burner doesn’t burn the wood chips as much as I want.
The Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker has a good and sturdy design that beginner and veteran smokers will love. My main beef with this smoker is that it’s a bit small, so I can’t fit in as much meat as I want.
- The unit has two side handles for easier transport. It is also very easy to assemble, and comes with an assembly and operations manual.
- I found that the smoker maintained a constant temperature throughout the cooking period, which is very important for this type of applicance.
- I also like how professional and helpful Smoke Hollow’s customer service is. They are quick to send a replacement for the part that broke during shipment.
- This unit is smaller compared to other brands. It also has only two racks. I can’t cook a large amount of meat in one go.
- There is no side door for the wood tray, so you need to open the smoker’s door to add more wood chips. I dislike doing this because it lets some of the smoke escape and the interior temperature drops, and cooking time takes longer.
- There is a temperature gauge, but it’s not digital, so you might make mistakes when setting the temperature if you’re not careful.
- This brand is not as well insulated as other brands, so the exterior becomes a bit hot to the touch during the cooking process.
I find that the Old Smokey Electric Smoker works best for quick smokes that require a high temperature. I don’t really recommend it for extended periods of smoking, because it’s hard to replenish the wood chips when they burn out.
- This smoker is super easy to use. It does not even need a water pan, and you don’t need to constantly monitor the heat. Just place your meat in the smoker, and let the unit do its job.
- This electric smoker has a unique cylindrical design that is very easy to set up. The steps in the instructions manual are very easy to follow.
- This is one of the cheaper electric smokers out in the market today.
- Because of the smoker’s design, you can’t add more wood without removing the food first. Therefore, it is not advisable to cook meats that require long hours of smoking time, like huge cuts of pork or beef.
- I found that some parts are not that durable and tends to break easily, so you have to be very careful when handling the unit.
- Because of its unique design, I found that this unit is harder to clean than box-type smokers. I also noticed rusting in some parts just after a year.
- The unit does not come with a built-in thermometer, so you still have to buy one.
Types of Smokers
Ray Carnes and Ron Cundy of RecTecGrills talk about the differences among wood grills, gas grills, and charcoal grills in this video:
While the video focuses on grills, you will find that their pros and cons are similar to the pros and cons of wood smokers, gas smokers, and charcoal smokers.
A charcoal smoker is a purist smoker’s best friend. Veteran cooks and those who participate in BBQ competitions prefer using charcoal smokers because the meat comes out tasting better than when it is cooked using other types of smokers.
The downside is that it is harder to maintain a consistent temperature in a charcoal smoker. Clean-up can also be tedious because of the ash and other residue that the burnt charcoal leaves behind.
A gas smoker uses propane gas to cook food. It is ideal for outdoor and camping cooking because it’s very portable.
However, gas smokers can quickly run out of fuel, especially if you’re smoking a huge chunk of pork or brisket. Best to check your gas levels before you start cooking, so you don’t accidentally end up with half-cooked meat in the end.
Also called the pellet smoker, this equipment uses compressed wood pellets to smoke food. It is easy to maintain temperature because it has an auger system. Your meat also comes out smoky and fragrant because you’re using 100% hardwood.
However, pellet smokers are pricier compared to other types of smokers, and can fetch a price of more than $600 per unit.
Electric smokers rely on electricity to operate. While this makes it difficult to use in places without a power outlet, investing in one has its advantages.
Advantages of an Electric Smoker over Other Smokers
Perfect for Beginners
Electric smokers are very easy to use, so even people with little to no smoking experience can use it with no problems.
All you need to do is set the smoker to your desired temperature, place your meat inside the smoker, and leave it to cook for as long as it needs. Just make sure you study the instructions manual before you start cooking, in case there are specific instructions you need to know.
Requires Minimum Supervision
Unlike charcoal smokers, where you have to constantly monitor the level of fire so your meat doesn’t come out raw or charred, you don’t have to worry about this when you’re using an electric smoker.
This type of smoker has a built-in thermostat that automatically regulates the internal temperature. You’re assured that your meat will be cooked just right as long as you follow the correct cooking time and temperature.
Uses Clean Energy
Electric smokers use electricity, so your meat gets little to no contaminants that may affect its flavor. This guarantees that your food will taste exactly as it’s supposed to taste, without the funny aftertaste of fuel or ash.
The thick steel of the electric smoker is a great heat conductor, so it can easily redistribute the heat in the interior of the unit. This efficient use of energy also cooks your meat evenly, so you don’t have to worry about gummy or flaky portions.
Strong and Sturdy
Electric smokers are made of durable material that could last for a very long time. As long as you place your unit on a flat surface, you can rest assured that it will not fall over to its side while cooking that precious piece of pork shoulder you need for dinner.
Easy to Clean
Because electric smokers produce very little residue, you don’t have to waste time scrubbing the insides of your smoker after every smoking session. And since the equipment is made of stainless steel, it is very easy to clean using a cloth soaked in warm bubbly water.
How to Choose the Right Electric Smoker for You
Amount of Smoking Room
One of the first things to consider when buying an electric smoker is the amount of food you plan to smoke in it.
If you only need the smoker to cook enough meat for a light dinner, then you can buy a small or regular-sized unit. But if you’re planning to use it regularly for parties or use it for a catering business or restaurant, then it’s better to invest in a large, heavy-duty smoker instead.
Controls and Monitoring
Do you prefer push button controls, or are you okay with turning the temperature knob manually? The location of the controls is also important. Many smokers have the control pad at the top, while some have it on the side.
Also, do you want to see the food while smoking? If that’s the case, you should consider buying a smoker with a glass window, so that you can easily monitor the color and appearance of your food.
What accessories come with the smoker? A good smoker must have at least four wire racks, a wood loading tray, a drip tray, a water pan, and an internal thermometer and timer.
Additional accessories can include a biscuit pan, a remote control, wheels, and a removable generator as backup when power gets cut off during smoking.
Clearly the winner for me is the Smokin-It Electric Smoker. I love that it is so easy to use, so even beginners can operate it easily. There are no complicated buttons or controls you need to know about, and you don’t have to regularly check on your meat either. I also love how easy to clean it is, compared to the other smokers, like the Old Smokey smoker.
My second favorite is the Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, because I can cook as much meat as I want in one go. Compared to the Smokey Hollow smoker, it has two more racks where I can place additional chicken breasts, pork loin, or any other meat I want to smoke.