What are the benefits of an electric smoker over a wood or charcoal smoker?
An electric smoker is a great alternative to wood and charcoal smokers for a variety of reasons. For one thing, they’re extremely easy to use: just turn it on and walk away. You don’t have to worry about trying to light charcoal or check the fuel. You don’t need to clean up ashes, either. They use far less wood than any other sort of smoker and can be used all year long. If you live in a condo or an apartment that has restrictions on grills that use flammables like pellets and gas, an electric smoker is a great way to make delicious, flavorful food.
How do electric smokers work?
Electric smokers generally work similarly to a hotplate, where a coil is heated by electricity. There is a wood box where you insert woodchips or logs to create the smoke that will flavor your food.
Should I get a rheostat or a thermostat?
A rheostat is a low-tech, and low-priced, alternative to a thermostat. Smokers that use a rheostat generally have settings from low to high, so you can’t set it for an exact temperature. Rheostats are a good, affordable option for casual users. Thermostats are usually more expensive but give you more control over the smoking process because you can set them for a specific temperature, so experienced smokers will want to spend a little bit more for the control abilities.
How big of an electric smoker should I buy?
Electric smokers can come in a wide range of sizes. Obviously, the more food you want to smoke, the bigger smoker you want to buy. Even if it’s not in terms of quantity, some foods simply require more room than others. For example, ribs or whole turkeys take up more room than bacon and cheese. Take this into account when considering how big of a smoker you should buy. Also, consider whether the racks in the model you are considering can be removed. If so, you may not need to buy as big of a smoker because you can always remove racks to make more room.
What materials are electric smokers made of?
Electric smokers are usually made of stainless steel; some electric smokers have porcelain enameling, because porcelain is a great heat conductor.
Do I need dampers in an electric smoker?
Not really, but some electric smokers do include dampers and if you’re used to smoking on a charcoal or wood grill, you might want to buy a smoker that has dampers since you are used to using them already.
What features should I look for in an electric smoker?
Some good features to have in an electric smoker include automatic wood feeders, insulation, quality seals, water pans, grease pans, and a timer.
What is an automatic wood feeder and why is it beneficial?
Automatic wood feeders, available on many Bradley models, automatically refuels the electric smoker when it runs low on wood. This saves you the trouble of having to check the wood supply again and again, which also preserves the smoke within the smoker because you won’t ever have to break the seal and release the smoke.
Why is insulation important?
Insulation is one of the most important features on an electric smoker, so be sure to buy a model with good insulation. Insulation is how your electric smoker will contain and hold onto its heat; especially during winter months, this is vital to the smoking process.
What does it mean to have quality seals?
If an electric smoker has quality seals, it means there are no cracks in the door or wood box that can let air in or smoke out. Since electric smokers produce less smoke in general than other types of smokers, being able to preserve all of the smoke that you can is important to creating delicious smoked dishes.
What is a water pan?
A water pan will hold any sort of liquid that you want to infuse your meat with; for example, you can put wine in if you are creating duck or cheese, or beer for bacon or chicken, or any sort of oils or fragrant liquids. A water pan will also add steam to the cooking process, so your food doesn’t dry out or get tough.
What is a grease pan?
A grease pan will collect any drippings or mess that comes off of your food as it cooks, making clean up much easier. Just dump and wash the grease pan and replace it.
What are the benefits of having an electric smoker with a timer?
If your electric smoker has a timer and, even better, automatic shut-off, it can take a lot of the guesswork out of smoking. Since it can be a long process, it’s hard to always remind yourself of when you need to take the food out. A timer can alert you and automatic shut-off will ensure that nothing gets over-cooked or over-smoked.
How about clean-up?
Clean-up can be very easy with an electric smoker, especially if it has a grease pan. Many electric smokers are made of stainless steel, so stains and grease come off easily. You’ll want to dump the wood box once the wood has burned through, but beyond that, maintenance and clean-up for an electric smoker is very easy.
Are there any safety issues I should be aware of?
As with any large machine or heating device, you’ll want to keep your children away from an electric smoker. The handles on the door can sometimes get very hot unless they are insulated, so wear oven mitts or heat protectant gloves unless you know you can touch the handles without burning yourself. Make sure to keep any electrical cords away from water, as you would with a toaster or any other electrical appliance.
How much will an electric smoker cost me?
An electric smoker can cost under $100 or over $500. While it’s safe to say that price can make a difference in quality, it’s not necessarily a hard-and-fast rule. Also, more expensive smokers are often more expensive because they have a lot of features that will really only interest competition or very serious smokers, so a casual user can probably stay on the cheaper end without sacrificing a lot of quality.
What can I make in an electric smoker?
There’s almost no limit to what you can make with an electric smoker. You can smoke peppers, almonds, bacon, cheese, and meat. You can put a brisket in an electric smoker in the morning and it’ll be ready for when you come home. You can smoke Gouda or cheddar cheese, or make smoked nuts. You can smoke just about any type of meat, including fish. You can make pastrami, bacon, or smoked turkey.
What sort of wood should I use in an electric smoker?
Most electric smokers will take any sort of wood that you could use on a regular smoke. Chicory, Applewood, Hickory, Maple, or other types of wood can all be used in an electric smoker to create a variety of tastes and dishes. There are a few Bradley smokers which require you to use only the flavored pellets produced by the manufacturer.