These Expert-Recommended Electric Smokers Will Simplify Your Barbecues This Summer

best electric smokers
The 10 Best Electric SmokersTrevor Raab

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Electric smokers, which monitor and regulate temperature, take the guesswork out of the long process of smoking veggies or fish, and break the stereotype that smoking meat requires you to spend many solitary hours with a watchful eye.

Smoking is different than grilling in a few distinct ways. You’re cooking at a lower temperature and for a longer period of time to add the flavor of smoke. You're also using indirect heat—food is next to the heat instead of directly over the flame. To get it right may take some practice. You’re likely to overpower delicate cheese or fresh fruit with smoke in the same way you might singe a few burgers before you get the hang of your charcoal grill.

Grills and smokers each have their benefits, so lots of barbecue fans end up owning both types, with the former getting the most work during backyard get-togethers and the latter offering smoked salmon for a late Sunday brunch or heaps of pulled pork for a taco bar.

A smoker is powered by charcoal, wood, wood pellets, or propane, similar to grills, but an electric smoker has an automatic igniter. Smoke is created by heating wood chips or chunks. You’ll want to match the wood with what you want to cook. Oak, for instance, provides more robust smoke—and a stronger flavor that enhance a generous dry rub on brisket. Lighter fruit woods—peach, apple, or cherry—can add a delicate bit of smoke to chicken thighs and pork loins. Thick cut bacon smoked over apple wood is the kind of showstopper that’s talked about long after breakfast.

Smokers vary in design; some are squat, square chambers, while others are sleek upright rectangles. Smoker doors, which can either be solid or include a viewing window, swing outwards to make it easy to load slabs of gouda and cheddar. Electric smokers get their smoke from wood chips, and some models have side loaders which allow you to add more chips without opening the primary door and losing heat. A set of removable racks, usually two or four, are slotted above the heating element. At the bottom of the smoker, there’s usually a water pan that provides moisture, along with a grease pan to catch drippings.

A number of electric smokers, at different price points, come with digital control panels and temperature probes to monitor the internal temperature of your pork shoulder. If you’re going to be moving it around your patio or placing it in storage between uses, you may want to look for a smoker with wheels or a handle.

Note: Before you cook your first meal, you should season/perform an initial burn-in—the process of cleaning and curing—your smoker. Clean the grates and inside with mild dish soap before rinsing and air drying. Rub down the interior or spray on a neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil. Then, run a full cooking cycle at a high temperature for several hours (your smoker’s manual should have some recommendations on temperature and time).

So what will it cost to get started? A number of electric smokers are between $200 and $400, but you can easily spend over $1,000. I’ve recommended electric smokers that offer convenient features like built-in meat probes or digital temperature displays, as well as viewing windows and decent temperature control. I also factored in the temperature range, materials used to insulate the smoke box, and the overall amount of cooking surface. These are the best electric smokers to buy now.

Best Electric Smokers

  • Best Overall: Cuisinart Vertical Electric Smoker

  • Best Value: Masterbuilt 30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker

  • Easy-to-Access Design: Pit Boss 3-Series Digital Electric Smoker

  • Large Smoke Box: Masterbuilt 30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker With Window and Legs

  • Works With Bluetooth: Masterbuilt Bluetooth 40-Inch Digital Electric Smoker

The Expert: I’m a cookbook author (Cookies & Beer, Stock, Broth & Bowl), food writer, and I frequently review appliances for national publications. I’m a Kansas Citian too, which means I grill, eat barbecue, and interview pitmasters at a rate that may concern my cardiologist. I have been a certified judge at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue and co-created a barbecue documentary. I’ve also owned a series of smokers and grills over the past two decades.

What to Consider in an Electric Smoker

Electric smokers are simple to start—if you can turn on an electric blanket, you’ve got it down. These smokers are effective at holding temperatures, which is important for producing consistently tasty barbecue. There are a number of things to look for when purchasing an electric smoker. The criteria below will help you find the right model for you.

Cooking Surface

The smallest electric smoker featured here (the Old Smokey Products Electric Smoker at just over 200 square inches) is ideal if you’re cooking for yourself or you and a guest. If you’re feeding five or six people, you likely want to look at the models with at least 500 square inches (the Cuisinart Vertical Electric Smoker and the Pit Boss 3-Series are good places to start). Hosting a larger party? At least 900 square inches allows you cook several large cuts of meat like whole briskets and multiple racks of ribs.

More to Get Fired Up About: Best Grilling AccessoriesBest Portable GrillsBest Charcoal Grills Best Pellet Grills

Heating Element

The strength of the heating element is measured in Watts. You may want a higher wattage if you’re attempting to use an electric smoker for multiple seasons of the year. The stronger heating element will typically correspond with a higher temperature range and should help when your smoker is warming up.

Temperature Range

Electric smokers don’t get as hot as charcoal or pellet grills. Most electric smokers top out under 300 F. So, we’re talking about the low and slow technique where you’re cooking a rack of ribs at a low temperature for a long time – something to keep in mind if you’ve got a hungry crowd waiting.

Temperature Controllers

Analog controllers mean you’re in charge of adjusting the temperature (by adjusting the power to the heat element) versus digital controllers which use sensors to adjust the temperature inside of your smoker. Electric smokers with digital controllers are usually more expensive but require less babysitting.

How We Selected These Electric Smokers

To determine the best electric smokers here, I relied on my years of experience as an avid cook who enjoys grilling and barbecuing regularly, and with a variety of different kinds of foods including meat, cheese, and fruit. Smoking is somewhat of an art, a different technique than grilling, so these options reflect a broad scope suitable for those who are new to smoking and those who are more experienced.

My familiarity with the top brands helped me narrow my choices to the most reputable and reliable smokers. Some of the top considerations with each grill came down to the amount of cooking surface, the temperature range, and any special features like built-in meat probes or unique design elements. I also factored in budget to ensure a range of options at different price points. To further complement my experience, research, and analysis, I tapped into the groundwork established by Brad Ford, test editor for Popular Mechanics. Read on to discover the best electric smokers to get you set for summer and beyond.

Vertical Electric Smoker

The Cuisinart Vertical Electric Smoker is like a genie—you can work a lot of magic with the cooking space in this compact box. You can cook an entire meal—from starches to veggies to meats—all at once. The vertical design makes this smoker an easy fit with most patios, decks, and outdoor kitchens.

With a wide temperature range, and a maximum temperature of 400 F (important because you’ll lose some heat when you have to open the door to add wood chips), you’ve got plenty of options whether you’re smoking chicken breasts or gouda. When it’s time to clean your smoker, you’ll appreciate the three easy-to-remove shelves.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Vertical Electric Smoker </p><p></p><p>$209.00</p>

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Vertical Electric Smoker


30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker

This electric smoker from Masterbuilt gets high marks in user reviews—and it’s easy to see why. At just under $250, it has the primary features you want without breaking the bank.

The temperature range of the Digital Electric Smoker is 100 to 275 F. Heat in the smoker should remain stable with double-wall, insulated construction, a digital temperature controller, and a seal on the door. Inside, there are four slide-out racks to put food on, a water pan, a wood chip pan, and a separate wood chip loading drawer. While it doesn’t come with an integrated meat probe, it’s still a solid value.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker </p><p></p><p>$249.00</p>

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30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker


3-Series Digital Electric Smoker

Pit Boss didn’t cut any corners on its 3-Series Digital Electric Smoker. Starting with a powerful 1,650-watt heating element, this smoker heats up from 100 to 350 F with the dial-in digital control board.

Like others in this price range, construction is double-walled and insulated with glass in the door. The unit, in an attractive gray finish, sits atop four legs with caster wheels, making this smoker easy to move around. Grease management is handled with a convenient front access drawer for quick clean out.

Four porcelain-coated steel grill racks combine to provide 756 square inches of cooking surface. The higher smoking temps and wheeled legs give this an edge over other models of similar size, but all of that comes with a higher price tag.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>3-Series Digital Electric Smoker</p><p></p><p>$349.00</p>

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3-Series Digital Electric Smoker


30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker With Window and Legs

If you need to feed a crowd, this Masterbuilt smoker is a solid option. An alternate version of our Best Value pick, this one has a spacious vertical design that fits six whole chickens or two turkeys on its four chrome-coated racks.

A glass window gives you access to view what’s happening inside, and you can add wood chips via the side loader without having to open the door or lose any heat. A removable water bowl to catch food drippings and a rear grease tray speed clean-up.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker With Window and Legs </p><p></p><p>$279.99</p>

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30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker With Window and Legs


Bluetooth 40-Inch Digital Electric Smoker

The Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker is a sleek stainless cooker with a large glass window so you can take a peek at your ribs without disturbing the peace. You can also check the temperature on your tablet or smartphone via Bluetooth, which means you can be inside prepping drinks and appetizers without having to be outside keeping a constant eye on your main course.

Another convenience: the ability to add wood chips through a side loader without the need to open the smoker door. An interior light is useful to see what’s happening on all four chrome-coated racks, but the LED display to be difficult to read during the day.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Bluetooth 40-Inch Digital Electric Smoker</p><p></p><p>$309.99</p>

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Bluetooth 40-Inch Digital Electric Smoker


Electric Smoker

The Old Smokey is a basic, vertical smoker with an analog temperature controller. The 15-inch diameter body houses a 1,250-watt heating element, a wood chip tray, a drip try, and two grill racks—an upper and a lower one.

The smoker can reach temperatures from 200 to 250 F, although given its single-wall construction expect that to drop if you venture to cook when its below 50 F outside.

Note: Everything, including wood chips and the drip tray, loads into the unit from the top which closes with a flat lid. With few variables to control, this smoker is relatively simple to use.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Electric Smoker</p><p></p><p>$209.00</p>

Smokin Tex 1400 Pro Deluxe

Go all in on electric smoking with the Smokin Tex 1400 Pro Deluxe. Smoking temperatures range from 100 to 250 F, and although it has an analog temperature controller, the insulated double walls help it hold a steady temp. The 100-percent stainless-steel construction makes cleaning easy and helps to ensure the 1400 Pro Deluxe will last for years.

The smoker comes with five 14.5-inch by 14.5-inch racks—one of which is designed specifically for seafood to lock in moisture. Four caster wheels (two locking, two standard) facilitate moving this smoker around. Try out the sample pack of five species of wood that is included.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Smokin Tex 1400 Pro Deluxe</p><p></p><p>$874.00</p>

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Smokin Tex 1400 Pro Deluxe


Big Chief

We tested the Big Chief and found it works great for fish and beef jerky. It has a non-adjustable heating element—meaning it is either on or off—that’s set to work at 165 F. This temperature is suited for small, thin cuts, and dehydrating (hence its proficiency with fish and jerky). You’ll want to finish big cuts of meat in or on another appliance after smoking.

Smokehouse makes the body with single-wall aluminum, which means the temperature inside will drop as the temperature outside does. The brand offers an optional wraparound insulating blanket ($35) for use in colder temperatures.

The Big Chief comes with five racks which can hold up to 50 pounds of food. Wood chips load in a pan that slips in a small door on the front so heat isn’t lost opening the unit up every time you add more. The Big Chief is a simple, inexpensive way to get started with an electric smoker.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Big Chief</p><p></p><p>$169.95</p><span class="copyright">Courtesy</span>

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Big Chief



30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker

The East Oak smoker is a marvel of modern convenience. Add or remove any of the four racks to fit a pair of briskets, fire it up using the digital control panel, and then wheel it back (think rolling suitcase) into storage once it has cooled.

A window and included temperature probe show you what’s happening in the smoke box, while the side wood chip loader means the smoker can run for several hours (two to three hours depending on the temp) without needing more wood chips. It’s available in dark blue or black.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker</p><p></p><p>$299.99</p>

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30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker


Smokette Elite Electric BBQ Smoker

Cold smoking is a technique that uses smoke to infuse foods with flavor but without using heat—you are not actually cooking meats, cheeses, or other foods. With two adjustable shelves and uncommon depth (it’s roughly a square box at 19.5 inches wide and 20.5 inches deep), you can pack in lots of salmon filets or hunks of cheddar.

This stainless steel smoker has a solid interface with digital displays of the oven temperature and included probe temperature. Cookshack sells a cold smoke baffle, which replaces the lowest grate to hold a pan of ice (for keeping the temperature down) and block heat, separately.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Smokette Elite Electric BBQ Smoker </p><p></p><p>$1285.20</p>

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Smokette Elite Electric BBQ Smoker


Get Ready for Summer Entertaining With an Electric Smoker. Expert Jonathan Bender Shares Cleaning and Storage Tips, and a Bit on Cold Smoking…Perfect for Bacon, Salmon, or Cheese.

How do I store my smoker when not in use?

Water has the potential to mess with electrical equipment and metal on your electric smoker. If you’ve got a garage or enclosed space like a shed that’s dry, that’s optimal. If not, a cover for your grill and a covered patio are your best bets. Store your electric grill inside during the winter is possible.

How often do I need to clean my smoker?

Clean out the ash after each use and save a more thorough cleaning for every two to three uses. While the smoker is still warm (but not so hot that you can’t touch it), use a scraper to remove grease off the top and sides of the interior, working your way down as you go. Use a grill brush and warm, soapy water to wipe down your shelves, water pan, and drip pan.

What is cold smoking?

Cold smoking is when you add smoke flavor to food—commonly ham or salmon—at a very low temperature (typically under 100 F). It’s a finishing step for many foods, not a style of cooking, to add smokiness to mozzarella in a few minutes or to a whole ham over the course of many days.

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