How to use an Electric Smoker – In 6 Easy Steps
Electric smokers are a relatively new and brilliantly easy way to start smoking meat. They don’t have the same problems as charcoal or gas smokers which can require a lot of attention. Electric smokers give you a good balance between ease of use and flavor and make great beginner smokers. Most electric smokers have temperature controls that allow true ‘set it and forget it’ capability, making it easy for anyone to have that authentic smoked BBQ flavor without the hassle of tending to coals for hours. All you do is put your food into the electric smoker, turn it on and you’re cooking. But is it really that simple?
In this guide we’ll take you through everything you need to know on how to use an electric smoker – step by step.
Step 1: Choose an Electric Smoker
There are a rang of smokers out there, all of them have pros and cons, but it can be difficult to choose the best one for you. We’ve written a guide that is perfect to helping you choose the best electric smoker for you.
We recommend a few, the Masterbuilt 30 Inch and the Smokin It Model #1 are a couple of our favorites and we’d recommend you reading our in-depth reviews to get a better idea of what to expect from each.
Step 2: Read the manual!
A lot of people simply see the manual and instantly throw it away. The instructions that are inside the electric smoker manual should provide specific details to help you get the most out of your electric smoker. All models of smoker will differ so this is vital to you understanding how your specific model works. Give them a thorough read through and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an electric smoker pro.
Step 3: Season your Electric Smoker
Seasoning, or curing, a smoker is when you take a brand new smoker that has never been used before and turning it on with no food inside. This gives the smoker chance to remove solvents, dust and other odors that can be left by the manufacturing process. With an electric smoker we recommend setting the temperature to high and leaving it for a minimum of an hour. If you pick a good smoker like the a Masterbuilt electric smoker then there should be a set of instructions in the manual to help you with this. Let the smoker cool down afterwards so next time you’re ready for the real thing.
We have a complete guide on seasoning a new smoker if you’re looking for more in-depth information.
Step 4: Preparing the meat
This step will depend on what you’re cooking. An easy cut of meat to start with is a Pork Butt. Another relatively easy beginner smoke is a turkey. To smoke a turkey on an electric smoker will require a larger smoker that can reach high temperature, but if your can then this is a simple and impressive first meal. Check out our recipe section for more ideas on your first smoke.
Whatever you do, you’ll need to prepare the meat by trimming any fat or brining it to ensure maximum moisture is contained.
Then you should go about seasoning the meat and applying a BBQ rub.
Finally, find out how long you’ll need to smoke it for. Our times and temperatures guide will help with this.
Step 5: Preparing the Smoker
Again, this step will depend a lot on which smoker you own. But we’ll take you through all the possible steps so you know what to do.
Add water – If your smoker has a water tray then now is the time to top it up. This will help keep the meat nice and moist during the long duration of the cook.
Add wood chips – The wood chips are what produce the smoke. They will be placed on some sort of electrical heating element which heats the wood up and they will start to smoulder and produce the smoker needed to cook and flavor your meat.
Different types of wood can produce drastically different flavors. Lighter, fruit wood, such as apple and cherry generally work well with everything, especially white meats. Heavier woods such as mesquite and oak will transform your briskets or ribs into something incredible. We have a complete guide to wood and different wood flavor pairing on our Ultimate Meat Smoking Cheat Sheet.
The final step will be to set the temperature and turn it on. The temperature you’re aiming to cook at should be specified in the recipe.
Leave your smoker for a while to reach the temperature and move on. Check the temperature with a digital thermometer for additional accuracy.
Note: Adding the wood chips can be done after you’ve reached the ideal temperature, this can be made easier by certain smokers having a wood chute to allows you to add wood in at any time without opening the door.
Step 6: Put the meat in get smoking!
Once the temperature is correct you’re ready to put the meat in. At this point it is recommended that you add a digital thermometer probe into the meat so you can check the internal temperature continually throughout the cook.
We recommend the ThermoPro TP-20 as it’s cheap and works great.
Quickly open the door and smoothly add the meat to the racks, trying to keep the door open for as little time as possible. Add more wood chips if you need to and then wait.
Cooks can be anywhere from 2-12 hours, so you do have to be patient.
After the meat reaches the ideal internal temperature you’re ready to pull it off. A lot of meats benefit from being left to rest for 20 minutes or so after cook, but check your recipe.
Then get eating!
That’s it, if you follow these instructions and a few of the links then you’ll be smoking on your new electric smoker in no time. If you’re still stuck, then comment your problems below or connect with us on Facebook and we’ll get right back to you.
For a look at how to use a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, like we mentioned in the post check out the video below: