Despite being a fan of traditional smokers, I couldn’t just ignore electric smokers. Over time, the technology keeps improving, which makes it worth checking this type of smoker as well.
The number of manufacturers having an electric smoker in their offer is big, which is why I have decided to write a guide where I will help you choose the right model. I have run across many different models so I know what to pay attention to and what to avoid.
I have prepared a list of 4 best electric smokers, why not more? I focused on quality and diversity which is why I decided to only pick 4 models that differ from one another. I don’t want to make the choice any more complicated for you so I narrowed it down to four actually noteworthy models.
If you haven’t come across this type of smoker so far then it’s all the more reasons to read my guide. In the second part of this post, right after the reviews, you will find plenty of relevant tips and information on the electric smoker.
Kettle grill from Weber is a great tool in hands of experienced cooks, but also an easy and nice way to try your hand in BBQ for the first time at low cost. If you start liking this world then you’ll be sure if it’s worth buying some more expensive smoker.
Masterbuilt Front Controller Smoker 40 inch
Masterbuilt 30 inch Digital Electric Smoker
Smokin-It Model 1
Char-Broil Deluxe Electric Smoker
Best Electric Smoker Reviews ( Updated List )
1. Masterbuilt Front Controller Smoker 40 inch
The most popular electric smoker from the leading manufacturer Masterbuilt, which takes the first place on my list of suggestions. I chose it because it offers a whole lot of space and comes with all the basic features. Personally, I have this model in my collection, I am pleased with it and I most certainly can recommend it to others ( there is also a smaller version available, 30inch ).
The package includes a wood chip tray, which isn’t very capacious so it means it will have to be refilled when smoking. A side wood chip loading system proves itself very helpful here, making it possible to easily refill the wood chips bowl without opening the front door.
The glass transparent door in theory looks very nice but in practice the smoke makes it impossible to see anything through the glass once you start smoking.
I will also mention the digital controller, its features and the attached remote. The controller makes it possible to not only set the temperature or timer, but also has the ability to plug in a probe ( which is included ). That way you can control the temperature inside the meat and you can even do it using a remote. What is interesting – if the main controller breaks, you can still use the remote before you fix the main controller.
What I like:
What I don't like:
When it comes to maintaining stable temperature, there aren’t any problems with that during normal weather. If the conditions are pretty difficult, though ( wind and low temperature ) get ready for temperature fluctuations due to the smoker’s insulation being far from perfect for such conditions.
An upside of electric smokers from Masterbuilt is their popularity, which translates to easy access to spare parts and huge offer of different modifications and gadgets, such as the cold smoking kit for example. The downside to electric smokers is huge risk of malfunctions of certain elements, which makes the access to spare parts very important.
2. Best Budget Electric Smoker Masterbuilt 30 inch
This time it’s a much smaller model with simpler structure and price adequate for beginners or those with a limited budget. It might be slightly too small to many people, but that’s the main reason behind much lower price.
I’ll start with the most important things, it has no problems maintaining a fixed temperature (in good weather conditions) and warms up very fast. The structure is incredibly simple, but it contains all the essentials required for smoking.
Masterbuilt 30inch comes with a digital controller that is used to start, set the temperature and time. Sadly, it doesn’t make it possible to plug in a meat probe which at this kind of price is rather understandable.
On top of that, it is also worth mentioning the side wood chip loading system that is certainly a useful feature.
Just like nearly every electric smoker, this model also has a problem with small amount of smoke at lower temperatures, which makes it the best solution to buy a dedicated cold smoking kit. Such gadget doesn’t cost much, and it will especially be very useful during wintertime smoking.
What I like:
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As we can see, it’s a very simple, but inexpensive and efficient electric smoker that is great for beginners. For this kind of money you will most certainly be satisfied, and let me just mention one pretty common flaw.
I’m talking about the problem with paint bubbling which is pretty common in this price range. The best thing to do in such situation is clean the place where something is wrong with the paint and repaint it with high-quality paint that is resistant to high temperatures. The problem that everyone would like to avoid, though, is pretty common in electric smokers for this kind on money.
3. Best Quality Electric Smoker Smokin-It Model 1
Time for something solid but also expensive compared to most competitive models. It was mostly designed with quality, efficiency, ease of use and mobility in mind. At the first glance it may look poor, but you need to know that it’s a high quality, great electric smoker.
It doesn’t come with a digital controller which actually breaks down pretty often. Instead, you get a button to start it and a simple knob that is there to set the temperature and that’s it.
The whole structure is well thought-out and built enough that in the event of any element breaking down, it is very easy to replace it with a new one. Although to be honest, judging by the quality of elements and workmanship, I wouldn’t expect any problems soon.
The lack of a thermometer is kind of a problem, although on the other hand everyone who takes BBQ seriously has a good smoker thermometer with a probe at home, which is a much better solution than a standard built-in thermometer.
You won’t find much space inside, it’s a small but also very mobile model ( solid wheels ). However, if you expect much more space and the same high quality, check out the slightly bigger Smokin-It Model #2.
What I like:
What I don't like:
It lacks a digital controller or some interesting gadgets, but all the most important things are here, which is very high quality of workmanship ( heavy gauge stainless steel ) and all the essentials ( wood chips bowl, retractable grease drawer and 3 retractable shelves included ( place for up to 4 shelves ).
Do you value high quality, precision and mobility? You don’t have to look any further, just think about the size.
4. Char-Broil Deluxe Electric Smoker
An alternative to one of the Masterbuilt models, something different at a similar price. It stands out with the number of additional features compared to other models and modern look, complete with a front glass.
It comes with an advanced multi-functional digital controller with a remote that allows to monitor or change the temperature while away from the smoker. It is also possible to remotely turn the smoker on or off.
The package also includes a probe that makes it possible to monitor the temperature inside the meat. What is interesting is that you can remove the thermometer any moment if that’s more convenient to you.
It offers nearly as much space as Masterbuilt version inch 30 ( about 700 square inches ).
The double-wall structure allows for better insulation, reliability of stable temperature and better efficiency of wood chips.
What I like:
What I don't like:
When it comes to cleaning, there’s a retractable grease drawer on the side.
Char-Broil Deluxe Electric Smoker is a model rich in useful features that is meant to bring even more convenience to your smoking so that you have more time for yourself or your guests.
The results of smoking are very good, but I have my doubts about the quality and durability of the thermometer and the remote. The features included are useful, but I miss what Masterbuilt has to offer, which is a cold smoking kit or a side wood chips loading system.
First of all, what is an electric smoker ?
It’s a smoker where the source of power is electricity, and heat is provided by the heating element. It earned its popularity mostly thanks to convenience, speed and ease of use ( set & forget style ).
From the moment of starting it, you just have to pick the temperature, refill the wood chips container and that’s it, you can start smoking. Electricity doesn’t produce smoke, so is it even a good smoker? Smoke production is handled by wood chips, which have a very huge influence on the end result of smoking.
Which makes it definitely a good smoker, I especially recommend it to beginners or those who don’t like charcoal smokers. In an electric smoker you don’t have to worry about temperature control, just program the smoker using the controller ( most models come with a digital controller ).
Tips for Buying an Electric Smoker
Budget – Right at the start define what budget you can spend on a new electric smoker. The starting price for decent smaller models isn’t that expensive, but ask yourself if you don’t actually expect something more. The truth is that the price range is pretty big, it mostly depends on the quality of workmanship.
Size – Think about how much you smoke and whether a 30inch model ( about 700 square inches ) for example will meet your expectations. If you’re thinking about smoking whole spare ribs without cuts then it will only be possible with a bigger smoker, like the 40inch size. Also take into account that the bigger the smoker the bigger the price.
Mobility – There are models designed with mobility in mind. If you want a compact electric smoker then do analyze that of course. My list includes one great suggestion, a little expensive but of high quality.
Features – There is no arguing that different types of features and gadgets are very helpful during time-consuming smoking. For example, a digital controller that makes it possible to plug in a meat probe or set the alarm. Another very valuable gadget is a cold smoking kit for example, which I have to mention if you expect the best results during cold smoking.
Upsides of Electric Smoker
Convenience and speed – From the moment of starting it, it only takes about 15-20 minutes for the smoker to reach about 200 degrees F. The convenience comes from the fact that once you start it and set the temperature, you don’t have to do anything else besides refilling the wood chips bowl once in a while.
Cold smoking – Electric smokers make it possible to set a low temperature ( 100 degrees F ) which is perfect for cold smoking. The problem is that at low temperatures a smoker generates small amounts of smoke which is why it’s recommended to buy a separately sold cold smoking kit.
Ease of use and safety – As I already mentioned before, all you have to do is plug in the smoker to the source of electricity, start it and set the temperature – isn’t that simple? An electric smoker is not only convenient but also perfect for beginners. Electricity makes safe enough fuel to easily smoke meat over many hours without you around.
Features – A digital controller comes with several useful features such as setting the time, turning the light on or the ability to plug in a probe. Some models also come with a remote that has all the features of a regular controller. Another interesting solution is a side wood chips loading system or a cold smoking kit.
Downsides of Electric Smoker
Vulnerable to water – Sadly, one has to avoid rain or snow and any direct contact with water. It causes very high risk of serious damages, causing crucial elements to break down completely. In simplest words, electricity doesn’t like water, and electric smokers are not among very well insulated ones.
Higher risk of malfunctions – Electric elements always come with higher risk of malfunction than regular mechanical elements, the biggest enemy of which is rust. It’s a good idea to make sure earlier whether the manufacturer you’re planning to buy an electric smoker from provides easy access to spare parts. The heating element, the thermostat, the digital controller etc. will all sooner or later break down and will be expensive to repair.
Short warranty period – It is related to what I said above which is that the risk of malfunctions in electric smokers is pretty high compared to a regular charcoal smoker for example. The result of it is in most cases a very short warranty period that usually covers few months to 2-3 years.
Problem with a Smoke ring in an electric smoker?
Making a smoke ring requires perfect conditions, plenty of people don’t realize what exactly is needed. I have prepared a comprehensive guide in which you will learn everything on how to get a better smoke ring even when smoking in an electric smoker.
I encourage you to check out my guide in which you will learn everything on making a smoke ring and discover the mistakes you make.
Is an electric smoker the best for smoking ?
“The best” is relative, so I try to avoid it and prefer to replace it with something like “the best in your situation”. It’s not possible to give a clear answer to that question without learning your expectations, your budget, skills and other important information.
Just for those like yourself, trying to choose a type of smoker, I have created a guide in which I prepared a list of best smokers depending on the type. That way you will learn my favorite models of each type and discover the upsides and downsides of the most popular types of smokers ( electric, propane, charcoal, wood, wood pellets )
I highly recommend to read this guide, especially the “buyers guide” section, in which you will learn the upsides and downsides of each type, which will allow you to make your own decision on what is best for you.