Thinking Charcoal Smoker or Electric?
Die hard charcoal fans will probably have already told you about the “inferiority” of electric smokers. They don’t make smoke rings. The meat won’t have an authentic barbecue taste. Yada, yada, yada. Well, we’re here to tell you that there is some truth in what they’re saying. But, and it’s a big pork butt there, that doesn’t mean an electric smoker can’t produce delicious barbecue. With an electric smoker, you also get the ultimate convenience. You can truly set it and forget it. No need to check the fuel supply every hour. No need to make sure you have enough fuel stored away in case you run out. No need to clean up ash. There’s even no need to monitor temperature. Plus, an electric smoker can introduce you to the wonderful world of cold smoking. If you’re thinking about getting yourself an electric smoker, we’ve got just the ones you’re looking for:
- Thinking Charcoal Smoker or Electric?
- Masterbuilt MB20070210
- Bradley BTDS76P 990216
- Dyna-Glo DGU732BDE-D
- Masterbuilt MB20073716
- Electric Smoker Buying Guide:
- What size do you need?
- How much power does it need?
- What features are you looking for?
- Let’s talk construction.
- How long is the cord?
- Check the manufacturer’s support and warranty.
- How much is your budget?
- Extra 5 Models Which Deserve to be Considered
Review: The Masterbuilt MB20070210 MES 35B is an electric grill with a no frills design. It’s perfect for a beginner who doesn’t have the first clue about smoking meat. It also performs quite well for an experienced pitmaster. This smoker features three chrome-coated smoking racks that can easily fit up to 3 racks of ribs, 3 whole chickens, 3 pork butts, or 2 turkeys at the same time. With it, you can definitely feed a horde if needed. It also comes with analog temperature control which allows you to dial the temperature setting you desire. There’s a 1,500-watt heating element that can provide even, consistent heat and can reach up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The removable water bowl ensures that your meat stays moist and tender while the wood chips in the tray provide that smokey flavor you’re craving for. The unit also comes with dampers to help with smoke control as well as temperature control. This Masterbuilt smoker also features a front access grease tray which makes it incredibly easy to clean. Plus, it doesn’t require hours of assembly which means you can get ready to start smoking – hot or cold – as soon as you get this baby out of the box.
Bradley BTDS76P 990216
Review: For pitmasters who value control, the Bradley 4-Rack Digital Smoker is a dream come true. It allows you to control the temperature, time, and amount of smoke inside the unit using digital technology. It features two individually controlled heating elements to ensure even heat distribution and prevent fluctuations in temperature within the unit. It also comes with an automatic thermostat that lets you set your desired temperature. The same thermostat will automatically adjust the heat to ensure that temperature is maintained. Not only that, this smoker has an auto-off feature. This means that you won’t have to worry about letting the smoker on when it runs out of fuel. The unit will automatically turn off once the timer is done. But what we really love about this electric smoker is the automatic feed system. This system ensures that a bisquette is fed to the fire every 20 minutes in order to produce the right amount of smoke and heat to get the job done. Like we said, everything is under your control. Of course, there are other benefits to this smoker. This baby comes with 4 stainless steel cooking racks which means you can cook various amounts of meat at the same time in one go. The digital panel is straightforward and quite easy to operate. Plus, it’s very easy to clean. If you’ve got the budget for it, we really recommend you get this one.
Review: The Dyna-Glo 30-inch Digital Electric Smoker is the best bang for your buck option in the market today. Its price is a little higher than the Masterbuilt MES 35B but it’s well worth the added cost. This digital electric smoker is the epitome of convenience. It features a digital thermostat with push-button controls, so you can set time and temperature according to your needs and then come back only when your meat is done. No hovering required. In addition, this unit comes with an integrated meat thermometer that displays the internal temperature of your meats at the push of a button. Unlike the Masterbuilt, this smoker comes with a larger cooking space – 4 chrome plated steel cooking grates that offer 732 square inches of cooking space. Think of all the meat you can eat! The smoker is heated by an 800 watt burner which is powerful enough even during cold winter months. The side access wood chip loader makes it easy to replenish the wood without opening the smoker’s main door. The double-walled insulated firebox and high temperature door seal ensures that all the heat is retained inside as well as the smoke. The only thing we don’t like is the grease tray which is quite small. It also doesn’t feature a slot where the tray will stay secure. Other than that, this digital electric smoker is one for the books.
Review: Smoking meat is often considered a backyard activity. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy freshly smoked meat wherever you go, especially if you have the Masterbuilt MB20073716 Patio-2-Portable Electric Smoker. This electric smoker is very compact, measuring 23.42 by 23.62 by 15.94 inches. It is only 21.6 pounds heavy and features foldable legs that allow you to transport it easily from point A to point B. Take note that you may need to purchase a travel bag from Masterbuilt to make it easier to transport the smoker. Of course, due to its compact size, this smoker doesn’t provide much room for a lot of meats. It comes with two chrome-coated racks that can fit up to 2 racks of ribs or 2 pork butts. However, being small doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. This baby comes with a 1400-watt heating element, more powerful than what we see in several bigger units. It also features analog temperature control and a built-in temperature gauge. There’s also a removable water pan and wooden chip tray. This portable smoker is pretty basic which makes it perfect for a beginner. It’s also perfect for pitmasters who are low on space or aren’t allowed to play with charcoal.
Electric Smoker Buying Guide:
Who wouldn’t want a set-it-and-forget-it cooking appliance? Especially one that would net you deliciously smoked meat. If you’re one of those, then you definitely need to get yourself an electric smoker. Of course, convenience is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of using this type of smoker. These smokers are also perfect for cooking in windy or cold weather conditions. They’re the best option for individuals who live in apartments and condos that are not allowed to use gas or charcoal. Plus, they’re incredibly easy to use, much more so compared to other types of smokers. We haven’t even gotten to the joys of cold smoking. Any pitmaster worth his salt will tell you that these babies are the best when it comes to that. If you’re in the market for an electric smoker, then you’re going to need some help. There are a lot of electric smokers you can choose from but not all of them would suit your needs perfectly. So, how do you figure out which model is best for you?
What size do you need?
Just like with a charcoal smoker, the amount of food you want to be able to cook in your electric smoker at a time will help determine what size your smoker should be. Do you plan on just smoking meat for your own personal pleasure? Or will you be feeding a group? Of course, you’ll also need to consider the amount of space you have available. Obviously, a big smoker will require a large amount of space. But if you can only smoke meat on your balcony or on top of your kitchen counter, then you’re going to need something small and compact. And then there’s storage. An electric smoker is not something that you can leave in your backyard, no matter the weather. You’re going to need to store it when you’re not planning on using it. Which begs the question, what size of storage space do you have available? One last factor we need to add to the mix is portability. While electric smokers tend to be small compared to grills, not all of them are easily transported. If you want to take one to your next tailgate party, camping trip, etc., you’ll need to look for a really compact model that’s also lightweight and easy to store in the trunk of your vehicle.
How much power does it need?
Make sure to check the power of the heating element. Remember, this is your “fuel supply” and will determine how well your smoker will be able to infuse flavor into your meat and how well your meat will be cooked. To ensure even heat distribution AND smoke production, you need to take note of these numbers: a small model with around 700 to 800 square inches of space will need at least 800 watts of power. Bigger models that have around 1000 square inches of space will require 1200 watts of power or thereabouts.
What features are you looking for?
Electric smokers are all pretty easy to use. They won’t require a lot of practice compared to charcoal smokers or even gas smokers. However, they don’t all have the same features. Some are pretty basic. You get the racks, the analog temperature control, heating element, water pan, and wood chip tray. Then there are others that feature a digital panel as well as high-end features like auto-off and a timer. There are also a few models that come with a built-in meat temperature probe to help prevent overcooking or undercooking your meats. Obviously, the question here would be, how much convenience do you want to have with your electric smoker? Take note that the more convenient the smoker is to use, the higher the price of the unit will be.
Let’s talk construction.
We’ve already mentioned that electronics break down. That’s just fact. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of your electric smoker would. At least, it shouldn’t. While electric smokers don’t generally last as long as charcoal smokers, you shouldn’t be replacing your unit after just one year of use. You’ll need to check the quality of materials used to build it as well as the quality of the build itself. Did the manufacturer skimp on the materials? Does it seem flimsy? Are there any dents, gaps, and holes that could prevent the smoker from having a tight seal? Even a teenie-weenie hole can affect the temperature inside your smoker. The same can be said about the thickness of the walls of your smoker which can affect both durability and temperature control.
How long is the cord?
Electricity is what fuels electric smokers (obviously) which means you’re going to need to plug it in to get the smoke going. This means that the length of your cord can limit where you can place your smoker when in use. If you want more flexibility, make sure that the cord of your smoker is long enough to reach the nearest outlet without having to use an extension cord.
Check the manufacturer’s support and warranty.
Electronics break down for a variety of reasons such as a power surge. This means that your smoker can malfunction when you most need it. You’ll need to make sure that the manufacturer of your electric smoker provides excellent customer support if that happens to you. You’ll also need to check the manufacturer’s warranty on defects and repairs. Repairing and/or replacing parts of your electric smoker won’t be cheap.
How much is your budget?
In general, the price of electric smokers range from $100 to around $500. While it is true that you can get what you pay for, it does not automatically translate that a budget-friendly option will mean low quality. What it does mean is that you’re going to be getting something that’s really basic. So, if you’re limited when it comes to your budget, don’t be afraid to get a model in the lower end of the spectrum. Just don’t expect it to have an auto-shut off feature or a digital panel. What matters is that you take a good look at the brand, the build, and the reviews to see if you can get value for your money.