How does an electric smoker work and how to use an electric smoker? Find the answers below.
If you’re an apartment dweller or you recently moved to a place with a strict no grills/smokers policy, you may have stumbled onto electric smokers.
Electric smokers are becoming more and more popular, both in professional kitchens and regular homes, thanks to how practical and efficient they are.
They offer a tremendous amount of cooking space and require nothing but electricity to run, meaning you can place your food in there and forget about it until it’s ready to eat. Think crockpot, but perfect for barbeques.
If you’ve encountered this appliance while looking for a substitute for a grill, you may be wondering how they work.
If that’s the case, don’t worry. We’re here to tell you how!
3 Things To Consider When Finding An Electric Smoker
There are 3 main characteristics that allow electric smokers to work like they do:
1. Roomy Built
All electric smokers, even the smallest ones, are built to be as spacious as possible. This is achieved by standing vertically, rather than horizontally as regular smokers.
This allows you to use several racks, one on top of the other, to maximize the amount of food you can place in them.
Since you’re not using charcoal, the heat sources can be located all over the smoker, rather than just at the bottom.
This not only allows you to cook more things but also to do it more efficiently.
2. Wood Chip Options
Most electric smokers come with a wood chip panel for you to add the wood chips of your choice. This simulates the taste you’d get on an average smoker without having to use charcoal or check on the temperatures.
You can also come up with your unique mix of chips if you feel like experimenting, as the smoker will do the rest of the work!
The best thing about electric smokers is that having to replace the chips halfway through a smoking is a rare occurrence. Usually the chip trays are large enough to hold 4-5 cups of woodchips, which is all you need to leave your smoker running for several hours.
3. Pre-Adjusted Settings
The most remarkable thing about electric smokers is just how easy it is to use them.
The number of settings varies from model to model, but for the most part, you can be sure that any electric smoker you purchase will come with a variety of settings that will let you cook different cuts of meat, different vegetables and even cook in different ways.
Do you want to barbeque? There’s a button for that!
Do you want to smoke a cut? There’s a button for that!
Do you want to slow smoke a meat cut over the course of a day? You guessed it, there’s also a button for that.
With the large amount of space available and the wide variety of settings, electric smokers can do a lot without just a push of your finger. All you need to do is find the electric smoker that comes with the functions you need and buy it.
Okay, but how does an electric smoker work?
How Does An Electric Smoker Work?
Despite the wide number of things they can achieve, electric smokers actually work in a very simple way:
In the simplest of terms, electric smokers work similarly to a toaster oven.
The interior of the electric smoker is surrounded by heating elements. These blast heat at everything that’s inside the smoker, raising the temperature and cooking whatever you place inside.
The “smoking” element comes from a wood chip container, which when heated up start creating heated smoke, which also cooks the food inside the smoker, with the extra benefit of adding some special flavors.
The electric smoker is also completely sealed on the inside, ensuring no smoke or heat escapes without your prompting.
Combining both elements allows you to smoke meat, poultry, fish and even vegetables without charcoal and with minimal attention on your part.
The later can be achieved by the digital aspect of electric smokers.
Read more: Masterbuilt 30-inch Electric Smoker Review
How To Set Up an Electric Smoker?
Most electric smokers come with a digital panel, which can be used to set-up all the variables you need to ensure a through smoking.
Most models will come with options to personalize the temperature, the type of meat you’re cooking, the time you want it to cook and even set the timer so that it starts even if you’re not around the house.
Other models come with pre-set options that minimize the amount of thinking you have to do. Simply select the type of meat you’re planning on cooking, when you want it to be ready and you’re done! The smoker will do the rest of the work.
How To Use An Electric Smoker?
One of the reason some people shy away from electric smokers is because they feel like they don’t have enough control over what happens to the food inside.
Since the electric smoker tends to regulate everything about the smoking process to ensure everything goes along properly, even without supervision, they may be right.
However, there are certain things you can do to make sure your food tastes exactly like you want it:
Buy the right wood chips: Buying the right wood chips is the first step to ensuring a beautiful smoking. Since you won’t be using charcoal or any other fuels, wood chips should be selected specifically because of the flavor they’ll give your meat, so choose wisely.
Get Familiar with the Air Damper: Most electric smokers will come with an adjustable air damper that helps you control the smoke levels inside your smoker. This, in turn, helps you decide how flavorful you want your smoked cuts to be: Leaving the damper open will result in a mild and delicate flavor, while leaving it closed will result in a strong flavor that’s hard to ignore.
Follow Instructions: Following instructions may be the contrary to “personalizing” the results, but trust us when we say it’s for the best. Most electric smokers come with a detailed manual that will show you exactly how to cook different types of meats. Try following those instructions before you decide to experiment. As the saying goes, you need to learn the rules before you can break them.
Don’t Abandon the Drippings: Electric smokers often come with a drip tray that you can remove once the smoking process is done. While many people simply discard the drippings, know that you can use them for sauces and the like!
Learn Your Cuts: Different cuts of meat have different requirements, even if they come from the same animal. Make sure to do your research on what each cut needs, and if you can find information specifically about electric smokers, make sure to check on that.
All of this may sound a little too complicated but, trust us, the hard part is planning.
Using the electric smoker itself is a piece of cake and with just a few pushes of a button you’ll find yourself well on your way to BBQ stardom.