The Best Electric Smokers Buying Guide of 2015 & 2016

What makes an electric smoker a good one?

1. A good smoking system

For everyday barbecuers electric smokers produce way too big, bold flavors. Using fixed temperatures and timers, your electric smoker is able to give you consistent, slow smoking for perfect meats and veggies every time. They work by using electrical heat instead of charcoal, though many allow you to use charcoal or wood chips to add extra flavor. Many smoke generators take all the work and come with automatic bisquette technologies that feed bisquettes into the burner every twenty minutes or so, for 8 hours of smoke. Other technologies, like an internal smoker box, uses wood chips and pellets with air dampers or water pans. Many of the smokers that do have water pans allow you to add other liquids like juice and vinegar, so the food is infused with flavorful moisture. Smokers with flat tops allow juice to run back into the food, which is another great way to add flavor.

2. Even, steady temperatures

The main benefit of electric smokers is their even, steady temperature. Unlike charcoal smokers which rarely stay at one temperature for long, the electric smoker holds firm. Many smokers have adjustable temperatures, so you can cook a wide variety of foods. A range of 100-275 degrees Fahrenheit allows for slower, low-heat cooking as well as hotter, faster smoking. For totally consistent heat, some smokers don’t have adjustable heat, and instead operate at a steady 165-degrees. Some smokers measure their temperature control in BTU, which stands for British thermal unit. The higher the BTU, the higher the power and heat. 9,000-18,000 BTU represents a great range, especially for electric smokers, which are often criticized for not getting hot enough.

3. Enough power

The power on electric smokers is measured in watts. Electric smokers can start with pretty low wattage, around 500-800 watts. The more powerful ones that combine their wattage power with something like lava rocks can be as much as 1500 watts. If you’re concerned about a smoker having too few watts, consider infrared technology. Infrared tech provides extremely even temperatures using radiant heat, which does not dry out food. Flare ups and cold or hot spots are essentially eliminated.

4. Lots of rack space

When you smoke meat and veggies, you want a good amount of rack space. Four racks can provide up to 500 or even 700 square-inches of space. You can also find smokers with two or three racks, which are ideal if you plan to smoke for smaller groups and don’t need a huge amount of cooking space. Smokers also frequently measure their rack space by how much food it can cook. Larger smokers can cook 25 pounds of meat or 50 pounds of fish at one time, which is perfect for big gatherings like weddings, reunions, and so on.

5. Easy maintenance

Maintaining a smoker should be convenient so you spend more time smoking than cleaning. Removable racks make clean-up a lot easier, as do side panels where you can access the smoke generator. Drip trays catch food juices, so you can choose to either add it back to the meal you’re making, or easily discard. Maintaining your smoker ensures that is stays in good working order for many years, and reduces the amount of work you need to do if you winterize the smoker.

6. A convenient smoker size

Most smokers are relatively large, though not necessarily extremely heavy. Smaller ones can weigh as little as 12 pounds, which makes them convenient for taking on camping trips or to parks for larger barbeques. Heavier ones can weigh between 40-60 pounds, though they usually take up less patio space than a grill because smokers are designed with the racks stacked on top of one another.

7. Durable construction

Stainless steel is a favorite material for smokers, especially for the interior. Stainless steel handles extremely well when exposed to heat, and fully-insulated smokers ensure even, steady heat. Stainless steel is also easy to clean. For the outside, embossed aluminum or corrosion-resistant aluminized steel are both common. Since smokers need to stay outside, having a durable exterior is important so the smoker is able to withstand harsh weather. For further protection, buy a cover for the smoker like you would with a grill.

What are the top electric smoker brands?

1. Bradley

The beginning of Bradley Smoker is found in a story dating back the 1970’s, where the founder agreed to teach a master smoker how to fish in exchange for a lesson about smoking salmon. This lead to the creation of electric smokers with superior temperature control and easy-to-use digital controls where you set the precise time and temperature you want for all your smoked foods.

2. Char-Broil

Char-Broil is owned by W.C. Bradley Company, which was founded in 1885 as a cotton business. Since then, they have branched out into textiles, farm equipment, fishing and outdoor gear, and barbeque grills. In 1949, they released their first Char-Broil grill. They are most famous for their Tru-Infrared technology, which is used in all their grills and smokers. This technology uses radiant heat to cook food, so all the juices are sealed in tight.

3. Brinkmann

Brinkmann Corporation has been around for 30 years and is based in Dallas, Texas. They manufacture all kinds of leisure equipment like cookers, smokers, camping equipment, and outdoor lighting.

4. Masterbuilt

Masterbuilt is one of the premium smoker brands. It began when the future CEO began part-owners with the company with his father and brother at the young age of 19. They developed the brand nationally and by 1998, they took over from their father and expanded globally. Masterbuilt manufactures all kinds of cooking products, including their famous smokers and cookbooks that share family recipes.

Are you buying a commercial smoker? Look for these features:

1. Remote controls

With remote controls, you have total power over the smoker. This includes the temperature of the smoker, the internal light, the meat temperature, and more. This is a huge contrast to charcoal smokers where you have to closely monitor everything yourself and worry about inconsistencies.

2. Versatile cooking

Many smokers can do a lot more than smoke. Many smokers also include separate cooking areas for grills, roasters, oven heat burners. You can use the smoker like a roasting oven for whole turkeys and other meats, or like a grill for quick sears. Having such a multipurpose piece of cooking equipment eliminates the need to buy a bunch of separate grills or roasters.

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