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ou made it! You’ve reached the zenith, the crest, the top of the mountain. You’ve been on a search, a quest, a veritable crusade to find not only the best electric smokers but as much info as you can about them. One might say you’ve been Indiana Jones-ing for this information (good pun, eh?), and now you have found it. Yes, electric smokers have nearly become your white whale, but now the journey is over. And what a journey it’s been, eh?

All those articles you had to read. All that driving from store to store you had to do. All that talking to salespeople who just wanted the commission when they actually knew goose egg about electric smokers. But now you’ve reached the summit, my friend. Yes, your journey has brought you here, to our ultimate data mother-load regarding the best electric smokers available on the market today.

In the savory and aromatic world of smoked meats there exist quite a few different types of smokers. This list includes charcoal smokers, propane smokers, pellet, gas, and electric smokers, and even smoker ovens. But today we are going to discuss electric smokers to help you decide which electric smoker is the right one for you and your family. We’re also going to review the five best electric smokers available to help guide you to your best choice.

Meat Smokers -A Smokin' History

There was a time when humans dreamed of eating smoked meats without having to go through all the fuss of smoking it. Yes, how the cave dweller did fantasize of savoring his succulent woolly mammoth’s fare in a smoky, preserved manner bereft of the need of hanging it out to dry for days, nay weeks, at a time. What a mess! All those entrails suspended from the ceiling of his craggy condo? Well, let’s just say, it didn’t go over well with his cave wife. And then there was all that smoldering debris lingering in cave dude’s digs that he and his poor family had to inhale just to get the delicious smoky flavor they craved. Indeed, it’s one of the saddest stories in the annals of history.

Enter the Electric Smoker!

Okay, well, there was a little time in between, and a few things happened here in there, but no one cares about all that. The caveman had his smoky mess; now we have the convenience of electric smokers. End of story.

History class dismissed.

The Science of Meat Smokers

You need a smoker. Why? Because smoked foods are amazing, and we all know it! But there really are so many more reasons to smoke your food than just the exquisite flavor. In fact, it would almost take less time to talk about reasons not to buy one. But we won’t do that, mostly because it sounds like a pretty dumb thing to do.

Here are the many reasons smoked foods are the way to go:

Prolonged Shelf Life

First, smoking foods preserves them. It keeps them fresh longer than just having them hang around your cave, which, naturally, can spoil them awfully quickly. Prehistoric humans discovered, possibly by sheer happy accident, that smoking their meats and other foods helped to keep them fresh and disease-free much longer than simply having them sit out with no proper methods used to preserve them.

Healthy

Quite naturally, preserved foods are healthier than those that are not preserved. Yes, today we have food preservation methods such as refrigeration, canning, pasteurization, irradiation, chemical additives, and fermentation. Add to these, of course, smoking.

Smoking meats used to be a hugely popular means of preserving them and enhancing their flavors, but this practice diminished in the mid-20th century, largely due to the new practice of adding chemicals to prolong shelf life. However, in our contemporary world, more people are looking to decrease or even eliminate their consumption of chemical additives, and so smoking foods is on the rise again.

Smoking foods is a type of drying process that reduces their water content. Why is this important to note? Because moisture is where harmful microorganisms live, causing foods to spoil and become dangerous, even deadly, to eat. Drying various foods such as meats, vegetables, and cheeses by smoking them gets rid of a lot of that moisture, thereby greatly decreasing the incidence of spoiling that can result in toxic food contamination. Additionally, the process of smoking food not only diminishes these harmful bacteria; it also slows the growth of more, making the smoker one of the best food preservation methods around.

Tenderizer

Ironically, though the process of smoking meats takes a lot of their moisture out, it also helps to tenderize them. This happens for a few reasons. First, slow roasting meats break down their collagen content and melt it. This process forms gelatin that keeps the meat tender and juicy.

Another reason smoking meat helps to tenderize them is because the process forms a thick, brown crust over the food that actually helps to seal in juices.

Finally, the process of smoking keeps meats more tender than some other cooking methods, such as pan-frying or grilling, because meats easily can dry out when using these methods, particularly if cooks don’t know how to use these methods properly.

Smoky rich flavor

Now to the most important reason people love smoked foods—because they’re just simply delicious. So why do we love smoked meats so much? Ever heard of the Maillard Reaction? This is what happens to foods when amino acids and ‘reducing sugars,’ or agents that react to change the taste or color of food, work together—they create a distinctive and sumptuous flavor that’s like no other.

Sensory scientists maintain that the bulk of taste is in the sense of smell. (Don’t worry—we’re not going to launch into a boring science class.) The brief explanation is this—smoke is composed of water vapor and gaseous and combustive elements. The chemicals contained within the smoke, and thereby smoked foods, create a very distinguishable, highly intense olfactory reaction, thereby generating brain activity that works to stimulate the salivary glands.

Translation? Smoked meats are hella good!

Science class dismissed.

Electric Smokers - Burnin' up the Competition

So now that you know a little about why these smokin’ hot babies came to be, you probably have a lot of questions about why you should purchase one, especially when there are so many other types of smokers on the market. The reasons are clear.

Electric smokers, hands-down, are the simplest type of meat-smoking gadget to use. First, compared to the other types, such as charcoal and pellet, smokers that run on electricity are more convenient to use. Second, they’re often more cost-effective. Third, they’re safer. Fourth, they’re cleaner. Fifth, they’re much more user-friendly than other smoked-meat appliances available on the market today. Lastly, and most importantly, electric smokers can sure pack a punch when it comes to flavor.

Convenience

Remember the old infomercials of the ‘90s—‘set it and forget it’? That’s just what you do with these puppies. Electric smokers are the most convenient smoker on the market today because you don’t have to constantly supervise them. You just set them to the temp required, and pretty soon you’re ready to start cooking. Other smokers, such as charcoal, require you to constantly supervise their heat source.

Additionally, they can be messy and unsafe due to the fumes they create, so you can’t leave them alone for a second. You have to hover over them like some helicopter parent. But wait—didn’t you want to buy a meat smoker? You’re not looking to have more kids, right?!

Cost-Effective

Electric smokers often come with less expensive price-tags than other types of smokers. But that’s not their only reason for being more cost-effective. Electric smokers typically are cheaper to operate than other types, too. Most electric smokers run on about 800 watts of electricity per hour, and when you calculate that in terms of your electric bill, you’ll see the cost savings.

When compared to pellet and charcoal smokers, their cost comes out far cheaper, at around a quarter per use. The cost of a pellet smoker is about three times that, while the usage cost of a charcoal smoker is more than 10 times higher!

Additionally, electric smokers lose very little energy. They’re made of thick steel that is able to efficiently absorb heat and then effectively redirect it through a cooking chamber. This action also works to cook food more evenly.

Safety

Electric smokers don’t come with a lot of the dangers that other types of smokers, such as propane and charcoal, do. Other types of smokers cause flames and can even result in spontaneous fires from their heat sources getting out of control, particularly since users must constantly supervise them. Electric smokers are temperature-controlled, so the heating mechanism inside never becomes too hot for conditions.

In fact, electric smokers are so much safer than other types that you can even use them at times when, or in areas where, fire bans are instituted. We all know that some climates can get so hot and dry that local governments may actually institute fire bans from time to time. In these situations, using other types of smokers such as charcoal is out of the question. But you’ll generally be able to use your electric smoker to your heart’s—and your mouth’s—content!

Clean

Electric smokers don’t create a whole lot of waste or mess as other smokers do. For instance, you can end up with a serious mess from the charcoal or pellet smokers due to the charcoal or pellets you have to use as their heat sources. But cleaning up after using an electric smoker is minimal.

Additionally, because they’re mostly made of stainless steel, foods don’t stick to the sides of an electric smoker as easily as it does with other types of smokers.

Plus, electric smokers are cleaner because they use clean-energy electricity as their heat source. They create fewer fumes and contaminants that are breathed in by you, your family, and your guests.

User-Friendly

Electric smokers are so easy to operate that even beginners can do it. In fact, this is the number one reason folks who are new to using meat smokers are more apt to purchase an electric smoker than any other—by nearly two to one. Using a meat smoker can be a daunting concept if you don’t know how to do it, which makes electric smokers the most ideal and user-friendly option for newbies.

Charcoal, propane, pellet, and gas smokers have a big margin for error. That means they come with an even bigger learning curve. You almost have to take an eight-week course to learn how to use some of these gadgets, especially since they can be dangerous to operate due to their rather volatile heat sources. Ironically, it’s that heat-source factor that makes electric smokers so simple and safe to use. In fact, these beauties are so easy to use, you can have a super-low ‘barbe-I.Q.’ to use them.

'Barbe-I.Q.'

What is it? It’s your knowledge of, and ability to, barbecue. What’s yours? Do you have so many years of barbecuing under your belt that you can immediately size up the best way to grill or smoke up meats, veggies, or seafood? Do you know so much about barbecuing and smoking foods that you can make mincemeat of the work involved in operating a charcoal or propane or gas grill in just minutes?

Well, if this isn’t you if you’re new to smoking meats, your best bet is to start out with an electric smoker. Electric smokers typically have temperature controls that make them a near no-brainer to use, making an electric smoker the hands-down choice and best option for rookie barbecuers.

Also, as we already mentioned above, you don’t have to constantly hover over your electric smoker to use it. Once you ‘set it’ you can just about ‘forget it’—unlike other types of smokers that require constant surveillance. And it’s that temp control mechanism inside electric smokers that maintains its temperature, keeping it from getting so hot that the smoker becomes a danger to you and your family. In fact, unlike other messy and time-consuming smokers, there are only a few simple steps to follow to get an electric smoker operating after you plug it in.

But, hey, don’t feel bad if your ‘barbe-I.Q.’ is on the low side. The good news about this kind of I.Q. is that great smokers and barbecuers aren’t born—they’re made!

Flavor

Most importantly, electric smokers can smoke up some awesome-tasting food! When it comes to smoking meats, electric smokers do a great job making all types of briskets, chickens, burgers, and more taste sumptuous, juicy, and flavorful. But where these easy-to-operate, user-friendly gadgets excel most is in smoking up seafood, nuts, veggies, cheese, and even bacon. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a meat-smoking device that can beat the flavor created by an electric smoker, particularly when you add in all its other advantages over other smokers.

The Best Electric Smoker

Now you that know just about all you need to know about why electric smokers are the smokin’ choice of millions, let’s get down to it. In this section, we’re reviewing the five best electric smokers available in the industry today. These electric smokers were chosen because of their top-rated customer satisfaction, their ease-of-use, their top-tier construction, and their ability to make some of the best-darned-tasting smoked foods you ever did taste.

We may as well say it now, we’ve included a few Masterbuilt electric smoker on our list. It’s true when we say there are more than a few excellent manufacturers of these babies on the market today, and Masterbuilt comes in around the best of the best. This well-built electric smoker is a honey of a cooker for a number of reasons. First, its quality construction gives it its sturdiness. In fact, we like it for the fact that the body comes all the way down almost to the floor, meaning it doesn’t have any real legs to speak of. This design makes it super-sturdy and stable. Also, it comes with four smoking racks with ample room in between, giving you enough space to slow cook a ton of food at once. Its push-button digital control panel affords you precision management over all your smoking foods. Plus, it has a super-convenient side-loader for wood chips. Price on this one is right around average for electric smokers of its kind.

What consumers are saying about this electric smoker:

  • Well-insulated
  • Top-notch packaging
  • Best and easiest smoker ever
  • Just got into smoking and this Masterbuilt is helping me smoke look like a pro
  • Since charcoal and gas smokers seemed like more of a hassle than electric, I gave this one a shot and have no regrets
  • Highly recommend this smoker, especially to beginners or to people who don’t want to babysit their smoker
  • Held temperature well and shut down on cue
  • Never smoked anything in my life, but this smoker made it easy
  • Constantly turns out a perfect brisket, ribs, and pulled pork.

Pros:

  • High performance
  • Super-easy for beginners
  • Holds temperature well
  • Sturdy body
  • High-quality construction
  • Excellent for brisket and ribs
  • Thermostat control
  • Convenient side loading
  • Large, 730-square-inch cooking space
  • Digital temperature controls
  • Digital timer
  • Removable drip pan
  • Average price
  • Food comes out tasting delicious and juicy

Cons:

  • Cleaning can be a pain
  • Wood chips sometimes won’t burn from one season to the next
  • A few customers report rusted bolts and screws within

This Masterbuilt is a beautiful thing to behold, seriously. This is a big guy that’s a bit on the hefty side compared to others, but if you don’t mind that, you should be pleased with this smoker. The sturdy stainless steel construction is impressive and well-made. Additionally, it has a nice big front window that gives you the ability to check out your food in its different stages of cooking. The built-in handle makes it easy to move around, and the integrated meat thermometer eliminates guesswork. Plus, Masterbuilt calls it the ‘first-ever patented remote-control electric smoker.’ It comes with a radio frequency remote control that’s got time setting, internal light, temp control, and you can turn this thing on and off remotely. Now that’s a nice feature! This one’s priced a little higher than other smokers including those on our top-rated list, but it’s still a good price considering its features and capabilities.

What consumers are saying about this electric smoker:

  • Food comes out delicious
  • Keeps a very accurate temperature
  • Needs very minor assembly out of the box
  • Built-in thermometer works very well
  • Holds up nicely even after a lot of use
  • Using it can become addictive
  • Best smoker out there, hands-down
  • Turn this thing on, plug in a wireless thermometer and get busy doing something else
  • Only have to add wood chips about once an hour
  • Smoked pork shoulder, lamb shoulder, brisket, salmon, sausage, and fish all come out tasting incredible

Pros:

  • Easy for beginners to experts
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Front window to see food in various stages of cooking
  • Patented remote control for remote on/off, temperature, and internal lighting access
  • Meats, as well as seafood, come out tasting delicious and juicy
  • Very sturdy and well-built

Cons:

  • Some users reported the heating element giving out after a few uses
  • Temperature probe doesn’t always work properly

Yes, Masterbuilt is the ‘master of their domain,’ aren’t they? We really didn’t plan it this way—that many of our top-rated electric smokers were made by them. We only chose the highest-rated smokers, and this just happens to be another. This is a nice little smoker that’ll definitely get the job done if you’re looking for something a bit more compact. The 1400-watt heating element packs a punch, considering its size, and the simple controls and easy-to-read temp gauge make it convenient for even beginners to use. There’s a removable water pan as well as a removable wood chip tray; these only add to the ease-of-use of this little guy. Plus, the legs fold underneath for great portability, which makes this smoker ideal for tailgating parties and camping trips. Price is average for electric smokers of its kind.

What consumers are saying about this electric smoker:

  • Excellent performer
  • Contains a surprising amount of room inside considering its size
  • Chicken, sausage, pork, ribs, and kielbasa all come out tasting delicious and tender
  • Great unit for a two-person household
  • Easy to store
  • Easy to clean
  • Works well even in cold temperatures
  • Holds temperature very well
  • Full-sized drip pan works great
  • Great alternative to a full-sized smoker
  • Average price

Pros:

  • Performs very well
  • Sturdy, well-made construction
  • Nice size for smaller families
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to store
  • All meats come out tasting delicious

Cons:

  • Too small for turkey or large chicken
  • Must add chips often

Char-Broil is another company that knows its stuff when it comes to manufacturing the finest smokers around. This is one sleekly-designed, smokin’ smoker that rises above the competition in a number of ways. First, it’s a long cool woman in a black suit with a cooking surface of a neat 505 square inches. The double-walled, insulated construction makes it ideal for distributing and sustaining even heat throughout. There’s a lid-mounted temperature gauge with a bezel that also helps with much-needed temperature maintenance. It has three cast-iron cooking grates that are adjustable for easy cooking management. It also has a convenient grease cup and an ash pan for easy clean-up. The price on this unit is average for electric smokers of its kind.

What consumers are saying about this electric smoker:

  • Good, quality smoker
  • Gives meat a great smoky flavor
  • Makes all meats extremely tender
  • Very well-built and sturdy
  • Holds heat well
  • Honey-brined turkeys, brisket, whole chickens, and seafood all come out perfect
  • This smoker fills the yard with a wonderful aroma
  • This smoker rocks

Pros:

  • Quality construction
  • Great smoky flavor
  • Gives off wonderful aroma
  • Holds heat very well
  • All meats, including whole chickens and small turkeys, can be cooked and taste great
  • Makes meat very tender
  • Average price

Cons:

  • Poor latch system on the door
  • Chip holder on some units gets saturated

All we can say is—this is one hardworking compact little smoker! This guy is perfect for folks who live in condos or apartments and can’t own larger units. But don’t let that fool you because it’s got a 1400-watt heating element that sure knows how to smoke some seriously flavorful foods. It cooks up succulent, juicy, and flavorful meats, veggies, and sides. It’s got various temperature levels that are easily controlled. And remember, it’s a Masterbuilt, so you know it’s a quality smoker. The legs on this one fold up for easy storage and portability. Plus, it comes with a really nice price-tag that can fit into most smoker-buyers’ budgets.

What consumers are saying about this electric smoker:

  • This little smoker is a champ
  • Excellent portability
  • Very easy especially for beginners
  • Can cook anything in it and it comes out perfect
  • The smoke ring wasn’t there, but the smoky taste was
  • Whole family loves it
  • Easy to use and compact
  • All foods come out amazing, including veggies, brisket, steak, pork butts, and even mac-and-cheese

Pros:

  • Super-easy for first-time smokers
  • Nice compact size for apartment- and condo-dwellers
  • Foods come out tasting delicious and juicy
  • Excellent portability
  • Easy storage
  • Easy for beginners

Cons:

  • Wood chips have to be replenished often
  • Some users report that it doesn’t hold its heating element long enough

Making a Choice

So who’s the winner? Well, it was a white-knuckled, edge-of-your-seat competition for sure, but we’ve come up with our champion.

The best electric smoker we found in our travels is …

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker with Window!

We chose this one because it’s a high-quality, high-performing electric smoker that’s pretty much got everything you need. Even if you’re a beginner, you almost can’t go wrong with this baby, especially with its patented remote-controller. Meats, seafood, cheeses, and sides all come out tasty, succulent, and evenly cooked, and the front window makes it super-convenient to keep a watch over foods at every stage of cooking. Sure, the price is a little higher than the others on our list, but if you’re looking for a great smoker at a great price, you’d be hard-pressed to find better.

But don’t forget that all the electric smokers on our five-best list are top-rated, high-performing machines that are easy to use and popular with customers.

So here you are, at the end of your pilgrimage, the finale, the epilogue, finito. You need to look no further, for you have found the best electric smokers.

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