For those living in apartment complexes, condos, and in areas of the country where there are heavy fire restrictions, getting a good summertime barbecue can seem like more of a hassle than it is worth. However, there is hope in the form of electric smokers which use a heating element rather than a flame to cook your meat. In our article below, we give you our picks for the best electric smokers for barbecuing.
One of the biggest reasons that people convert to electric smokers is that these appliances are much cheaper to fuel than traditional grills. In general, gas and charcoal are used as fuels for these grills, and they can be expensive depending on the time of year and the region where you live. On the other hand, electricity is generally cheap, so even if it takes a lot of power to run your smoker, you will likely end up saving money by making the switch to an electric smoker.
Other reasons that people switch to electric smokers is because these models are often designed with flashier "high-tech" features. Because they are electric, the temperature is typically easier to control, and so it is common for these kinds of smokers to be coupled with remote controls, Bluetooth, or wifi-controlled applications.
When considering which smoker you should buy, you will want to focus on two major factors: the size of the smoker and the amount of power it consumes. In most cases, electric smokers are cabinet-style appliances with a few grated shelves that give you your cooking space inside. As such, the biggest changes you will see as you compare different models on the market is the total amount of square inches on these shelves.
The second factor to consider is the power consumption of the smoker. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the smoker, the more power it will need in order to properly function. You will also want to consider the maximum amount of power that is allowed to leave your outdoor outlets. If the appliance demands too much power from the energy source, you will end up tripping your outlets, thus halting your ability barbecue entirely.
Finally, as an added bonus, you can consider if your smoker is capable of cold smoking, a feature that generally requires an external cold-smoke generating source that runs off of electricity. This technique will provide you with some variety in the kinds of foods you can cook as well as the complexity of flavors you can create, but it may be too complicated for beginners.
This cabinet-style, stainless steel smoker is sleek, and it is reliable enough to smoke your food for up to eight hours with little interference on your part. The heating element runs on 500 Watts, and the smoking element runs on 125 Watts.
Huge and running on 1,200 Watts of power, the Masterbuilt 40" Digital Electric Smoker is ideal for cooking for large parties. Check out our full review of the Masterbuilt 40" Digital Electric Smoker.
The Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker is a cabinet-style smoker made of steel with removable, cast-iron grates. Check out our review of the Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker.
Easily the largest cabinet smoker on the market, the Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker runs on 1,000 Watts. Check out our full review of it here.
While Bradley has since expanded the models that they offer, their Original electric smoker remains one of their most popular items. Check out our full review of the Bradley Original Electric Smoker here.
Ultimately, most dedicated barbecuers prefer to have some kind of "true" fuel source like charcoal or propane, and many scoff at electric smokers because they are perceived as being less able to produce an authentic, wood-smoked flavor. However, most electric smokers are equipped to work with wood chips or wood pellets, which means that the smoke generated in these completely authentic. Furthermore, electric smokers often feature auto-regulation for the temperature, and often, you can even find these appliances with Bluetooth or wi-fi connectivity so that you can monitor and control the temperature from afar.
Nonetheless, for a quality electric smoker that is durable but easy to use, your best bet is probably the Bradley Original Smoker. This smoker is more than adequate for cooking for a small crowd, and unlike larger smokers like the Masterbuilt 40" Smoker, it does not require as much time to pre-heat, and it is more capable of maintaining this temperature without your help thanks to its automatic briquette feeder. Additionally, the relatively small power requirement of 500 Watts is manageable for most outlet sources, so you shouldn't have to worry so much about tripping your power outlets. And, of course, this smoker can also be updated with a cold smoke generator, making it an interesting and multifaceted tool.
We hope you enjoyed our review of the best electric smokers for barbecuing and feel free to leave feedback below!