Little Chief Electric Smoker Review
Electric smokers are one of the easiest and most forgiving ways of smoking food. They’re ideal for beginners due to their simplistic design and simple cooking process. All you have to do is set the temperature (using our handy temperature guide) you want, choose the wood flavor (using our handy wood flavor guide), put the food in and then wait for it to smoke.
Not only do they have the advantage of being one of the easiest ways for you to get smoking food, but they are also one of the cheapest. In our list of the best electric smokers currently on the market we’ve reviewed several electric smokers that will cost you less than $200. Today, though we’ll review one of the cheapest smokers that money can buy, the Little Chief Electric Smoker, and see if it’s got what it takes to be worth your money.
The Little Chief, or “Lil Chief” is one of many in a range of products by Smokehouse Products. They have been around for a while, initially bringing the Little Chief smoker to the market in 1968 when it was aimed directly at fishermen that used to smoke their catch of salmon, trout and steelhead. Now they’ve developed into a much larger operation that caters to many more customers and offers many more products, including meat grinders, jerky equipment and other accessories. Take a look at their range of products on Amazon or directly on their website.
- 1 Little Chief Electric Smoker Review
- 1.1 Quick Look
- 1.2 What’s Included with the Little Chief Electric Smoker?
- 1.3 Build Quality and Design
- 1.4 Ease of Use
- 1.5 What’s Good about the Little Chief Electric Smoker
- 1.6 What’s Bad about the Little Chief Electric Smoker
- 1.7 Overall Thoughts
- 1.8 Additional Resources, Tips and Tricks
- 1.9 Little Chief Electric Smoker
- 1.10 Pros
- 1.11 Cons
- The Little Chief Electric Smoker is a smoker designed to work at lower temperatures for food such as fish and jerky – it is NOT a cooker and is not appropriate for cooking brisket, ribs etc.
- It’s lightweight, fairly well built despite sometimes feeling a bit flimsy but does a good job smoking food.
- It’s one of the best value for money smokers on the market and comes with some little extras to get you started.
- It’s made in the USA and comes with a 2 year warranty.
- Some Little Chiefs have been in use for over 25 years and are still going strong.
- If you’re looking for a smoker that can cook the food as well, such as something that will cook a brisket or pork shoulder, then we’d recommend the Masterbuilt 30” Model or anything from the Smokin-It range of smokers.
Check the latest price of on Amazon.
What’s Included with the Little Chief Electric Smoker?
- The electric smoker body
- Removable front door
- Four easy-slide chrome-plated grills
- Removable drip pan
- Wood chip pan
- Power cord
- A 1.75 lbs bag of Chips n’ Chunks hickory flavored wood
- Recipe and instruction booklet
Dimensions – 24.5” H x 11.5” W x 11.5” D (62cm H x 29cm W x 29cm D)
Shipping Weight – 15.8 lbs
Build Quality and Design
Due to the very low price of the Little Chief (you can easily find it for less than $100) you can’t realistically expect the highest quality of build. However, despite the low price Smokehouse Products have done a good job at creating a well built electric smoker. The main body is made from an embossed aluminum that can feel a little flimsy but generally does a good job at retaining heat. However, there will be some limitations on maximum temperature if you use it in a very cold ambient temperature. The grills are all chrome plated and have an “easy-slide” functionality. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these and work exactly as you’d want them to. The drip pan and wood pan both can feel a little cheap but do their jobs well. The drip pan is completely dishwasher safe and is relatively easy to remove.
The heating element of the Lil Chief is rated at 250W. This is generally quite a lot lower than other electric smokers and brings us to their first important point – the Little Chief smoker will reach a maximum temperature of around 165°F. You should NOT consider the Little Chief a cooker, it’s simply a smoker. This means that it isn’t appropriate for smoking and cooking bigger cuts of meat that require higher heat.
For example, we would not recommend smoking any chicken, pork butt or brisket. Check out our Meat Smoking Cheat Sheet for more information on which foods wouldn’t work in the Little Chief. However, this lower temperature does mean that it makes an ideal smoker for smoked sausage, jerky, cheese, nuts, vegetables and fish (as this is what it was designed for in the first place).
The design of the smoker is generally quite standard. It’s front loaded, using a removable door, uses a bottom mounted heating element that heats the wood in the wood pan which produces smoke. The four racks provide ample room for up to 25lbs of fish or jerky despite the small size of the smoker. There isn’t a thermometer or any kind of controls which would have made life easier and we would’ve liked to have seen some kind of control.
Ease of Use
One of the best things about electric smokers is that they provide one of the simplest ways to start smoking food as almost everything is controlled by the smoker itself.
The Little Chief is one of the easiest electric smokers you can buy. It comes basically fully assembled and requires you to only fill the wood pan and turn it on. Having a recipe book included makes things even easier that just about anyone could do it. The clean up process is also quite simple as all the racks and the drip pan are removable. The drip pan has the added benefit of being completely dishwasher safe.
What’s Good about the Little Chief Electric Smoker
- Great value for money – You won’t find a better smoker for such a small cost. Despite not being a cooker, this is still a great deal.
- Lightweight – At only 12lbs this smoker can be easily transported and moved around when in storage.
- Simplest Smoker on the market – The Little Chief is incredibly easy to set up, use and clean.
What’s Bad about the Little Chief Electric Smoker
- Not a cooker – This isn’t really a bad point as it is designed to be just a smoker, but we wanted to reemphasise that this isn’t a cooker. Having a heating element that could get to a higher temperature would have been nice but there are other smokers for that.
- Slightly flimsy – The build quality could be a little sturdier as the thin walls can dent easily.
- No controls or thermometer – These would have been nice to have but without them the Little Chief is about as simple as they come.
When you realize what the Little Chief smoker is actually intended for then everything starts to make sense. It isn’t going to cook you a brisket but it will produce some of the best fish, jerky, cheese and veg. It’s very basic, which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you see it. But it’s very simple to use and is incredibly affordable. If you’re looking for a smoker that does this then this is one of the best electric smokers on the market and has been one of the best for the last 50 years.
Check the latest price on Amazon.
Additional Resources, Tips and Tricks
If you’re browsing the web and see some lower rated reviews for the Little Chief, especially on places like Amazon that aggregate their reviews, we’d recommend taking these numbers with a pinch of salt. For our research we get as much information about the products we review as possible and read many reviews and get information from other people all over the world. Many of the negative reviews for the Little Chief have been from people who have not done their research and have expected a cooker, only to be severely disappointed and then have given the product a bad review. Other’s have carelessly left their Lil Chief outside and then wonder why it stops working after a year. This isn’t a Weber Smokey Mountain that will work despite being left in the rain, it requires electricity and is not weather proofed. Use the following tips to make sure you get the most out of your Lil Chief Electric Smoker and don’t make the same mistakes as other have done.
- Store your smoker well. At the very least use a cover to keep the electrical elements out of the weather. Ideally keep it inside a shed with a cover over it. With a little care and attention you’ll get many, many years worth of use out of it.
- If you’re looking for more information check out our How to use an Electric Smoker – In 6 Easy Steps guide.
- It’s best to season your new smoker, whatever it is. Check out our guide on how to season your new smoker to make sure you don’t contaminate your food.
- As the Little Chief doesn’t have a built in thermometer it could well be beneficial to invest in a quality digital thermometer. Here at KotC, we’ve done all the hard work and have compiled a thorough breakdown of the best digital thermometers available today.
- Allow your electric smoker to get up to temperature before adding any food.
- Below is an introductory video and operation guide from Smokehouse Products themselves to help you with your new smoker.
If there’s anything we’ve missed or if you’d like to ask us some questions write to us in the comments or head over to our Facebook page.