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Best Electric Smokers in 2021 – Buying Guide And Product Reviews

By Luna Regina | Updated
Our recommendations are made independently through research and testing following our review procedure. We may receive commissions from purchases made via our links at no additional costs to you.

Electricity is the future of smoking. Compared to traditional smokers such as propane or charcoal smokers, an electric smoker is more affordable in the long term and easier to use. Since they often come with an automated cooking system, they’re far more convenient, too.

Best Electric Smokers 2021

As such, no matter your skill level (professional or amateur), an electric smoker is going to be an appealing investment. In this extensive review, you will find the best electric smokers on the market this year.

Why You Should Get an Electric Smoker

The electric smoker’s main selling point is its ease of use.

Traditional smokers (propane, natural gas, and charcoal) are often very unforgiving. The temperature inside these smokers can fluctuate wildly. As a result, you have to check and adjust the temperature once every couple of minutes. Fail to do so and you may very well end up with either undercooked or charred food.

This is why using a smoker feels like such a big challenge for a lot of people. But it can be especially discouraging for new users who aren’t used to the ins and outs of smoking.

That’s where electric smokers come in.

Electric Smoker Differences

Electric smokers often come with automated cooking systems. Using temperature probes and sensors, the microprocessor can handle the heavy lifting for you. All you really need to do is press a few buttons, sit back, relax, and wait until the smoker beeps its finishing tune.

Furthermore, although electric smokers are more expensive than traditional smokers initially, they can save you more money in the long term.

A charcoal smoker, for example, can use around 15 pounds of briquettes for every 12 to 15 hours of smoking. You can get a 15-pound bag of Kingsford briquettes for around $25 - $27.

On the other hand, an atypical electric smoker uses around 800 watts per hour. On average, the price per kilowatt-hour around the country is 13.29 cents. So, you only have to spend between $1.5 to $2 for every smoking session lasting 12 to 15 hours.

How Does an Electric Smoker Work?

An electric smoker uses an electric heating element to generate heat.

It doesn’t produce a lot of heat compared to a charcoal smoker’s briquettes or a gas/propane smoker’s burner. Thus, you should expect a longer cook time compared to traditional smokers. In return, an electric heating element is highly efficient. That’s why the per-hour cost is so low in the first place.

Additionally, an electric heating element doesn’t produce noxious smoke like either charcoal or gas/propane smokers. It is significantly friendlier to the environment and healthier for you and your neighbors, as well.

That doesn’t mean electric smokers have no emissions, however.

Because an electric smoker doesn’t burn wood, it cannot create the inviting wood-like taste and smells that a charcoal smoker does. Thus, to replicate wood smoke, it burns aromatic wood chips and pellets. These wood chips and pellets, when burnt, can release carbon monoxide. Therefore, you should only smoke in a wide-open space (preferably outdoors).

Electric Smoker Emissions

A wood tray is hung right above the heating element to store your wood chips and pellets. When burnt by the heating element, they will release the fragrant smoke that wafts up to the cooking chamber. The food in the chamber is going to absorb the woody smoke, giving you that authentic BBQ taste and smell.

And as mentioned earlier, most electric smokers on the market have automated cooking systems built-in. They use probes and sensors to keep track of the food’s temperature. The microprocessor reads this data and adjusts temperature accordingly. 

Thanks to this feature, you can let your guards down and enjoy your time outdoors with your family. You only need to check the smoker every once in a while to make sure that everything is running as it should.

What Food Can You Cook With an Electric Smoker?

You can cook all the same food with an electric smoker that you can with a traditional smoker. You can use it to smoke brisket, pork, and beef ribs. Smoked sausage, cured ham, seafood, and chicken can also be on the menu.

Electric Smoker Recipe

In order to enhance the flavor, you can also add extra seasoning. Because the heat of the electric smoker is fairly mild, the seasoning will soak into the food rather than getting burnt.

You will also benefit greatly from the computer-controlled heating element. The ability to set a precise temperature range gives you the ability to “cold smoke”. This technique is especially good for temperature-sensitive ingredients such as cheese, bacon, fruits and vegetables. They won’t burn as easily as when they’re smoked on a temperamental charcoal or gas/propane smoker.

What Should I Look For in an Electric Smoker?

Features

All electric smokers have roughly the same components as one another. They have a hi-powered electric heating element, a wood tray, water pan, food racks, grease traps, and air vents.

As such, it is more important to focus on the special features that one model offers over another.

For example, one model may have a more precise automated cooking system. Meanwhile, the other may have a more responsive heating element with a wider temperature range. Another may offer a larger cooking chamber, allowing you to prepare more food at once.

Electric Smoker Features

You can take your pick depending on what your priorities are and what you really want to have in an ideal smoker.

Construction and Build Quality

This is a big concern for a lot of consumers out there. Electric smokers don’t usually come cheap, so after shelling out for one, you would want it to last for years.

Carefully check what material that the smoker is made of. The interior of electric smokers can be made from stainless steel, aluminum, or riveted steel sheets. There are pros and cons to each material.

Electric Smoker Interior Materials

If you have an electric smoker with a stainless-steel interior, you don’t need to season it like you would a normal steel smoker. Stainless steel is expensive and quite heavy. It also doesn’t conduct heat very well.

Aluminum is lighter and cheaper compared to stainless steel. It is also one of the best heat conductors. Nonetheless, aluminum is less durable and can react strongly with acidic foods. If you cook with tomatoes, vinegar, or lemon and lime in an aluminum-lined smoker, the metallic interior can develop corrosion spots.

Steel sheets must be seasoned, but it is similar to stainless steel in terms of durability. It is better than stainless steel when it comes to thermal conductivity (but not as good as aluminum in this department).

Size

Electric smokers come in various sizes. Nonetheless, you will only need to focus on its height.

The racks in electric smokers are stacked vertically. So, the taller it is, the more smoking racks it can contain and the more food it can cook at once. Height, therefore, is the most important specification when it comes to an electric smoker.

Electric Smoker Height

You can find portable ones that are around 20 inches high. But it’s not difficult to find family-size smokers that are as tall as 50 inches.

However, before you buy, keep in mind that tall, bulky smokers can be very challenging to store and transport.

Reviews of the Best Electric Smokers to Buy in 2021

Objectively, there is really no “best” electric smoker on the market. But everyone has a personal favorite depending on preference, needs, and budget.

The following electric smokers are currently among the most notable models on the market. See for yourself if any of them suit your needs.

NameMaterialHeight > Smoking RacksControlPower Output
Char-Broil 17202004Stainless Steel32 in./4 smoking racksDigital750W
Masterbuilt 30” Digital Electric SmokerSteel30 in./4 smoking racksDigital800W
Masterbuilt MB20074719Stainless Steel40 in./8 smoking racksBluetooth/Digital800W
Smokin-It Model #1Stainless Steel13 in./3 smoking racksAnalog400W
Smokehouse Little Chief SmokerAluminum24.5 in./4 smoking racksAnalog250W

1. Char-Broil 17202004 Deluxe Digital Smoker — Best to Buy Electric Smoker 

From the first look, there is little doubt that the Char-Broil 17202004 is a premium product. Its expensive-looking stainless steel construction is unmissable. But the good looks aren’t all that you get for the price. This electric smoker also offers very decent smoking performance as well as some additional features.

Char-Broil 17202004 Digital Electric Smoker
  • Premium construction

  • Insulated

  • Decent capacity

  • Excellent smoking performance

  • Accurate Meat Probe mode

  • Easy-to-use digital control system

  • Costly

  • Difficult to read the screen under the sun

  • Cannot be used to cold smoke

Capacity and Construction

Char Broil Smoker Insulation

The Char-Broil 17202004 measures 32 inches tall and has enough internal capacity to hold four smoking racks simultaneously. It will be able to produce enough food to satisfy an entire party.

The door is held in place by a stainless steel locking latch. Sealing around the door also insulates the interior of the smoker, preventing the heat from escaping. Additionally, the smoker has a double-walled construction for better thermal insulation. As a result, you shouldn’t have any problem cooking outside if it’s cold.

You can attach wheels to the bottom of the smoker for easier transportation. There is also a handle on the side of the unit to aid with mobility.

Powerful Heating Element

The Char-Broil smoker comes with a 750-watt electric heating element. Thanks to its insulation, the smoker can get away with having a rather mediocre heating element. Even in colder weather, the smoker can reach an internal temperature of 275°F with relative ease.

Unfortunately, this smoker is not suitable for cold smoking. You will only be able to use the Char-Broil smoker at higher temperatures. At low temperatures, the smoker produces little to no smoke at all.

Meat Probe Mode

The smoker also comes with a meat probe. When it is inserted into a slab of meat, the probe can monitor its internal temperature. Working in conjunction with the meat probe, the smoker can cook the meat until its internal temperature is just right (around 160°F). This effectively prevents the smoker from overcooking your food.

All you have to do is connect the meat probe and press the “Meat Probe” button on the control panel.

Digital Control

The digital control panel sits on top of the smoker unit. With it, you can adjust the temperature and set or change the cooking time with relative ease. The digital interface is simple enough that even beginners would have few issues familiarizing themselves with it.

Char Broil Digital Panel

All of the buttons on the panel are labeled clearly. The screen also does a great job of displaying information in an easy-to-read manner. However, a notable issue with the screen is that it can be rather difficult to read under direct sunlight.

Verdict

This Char Broil smoker, as one of the largest smokers that the company has to offer, is best suited for large gatherings. If you expect to cook for parties of more than 6, it will be a great choice.

Additionally, with its premium price tag, it is the model for those whose money isn’t an issue.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

2. Masterbuilt 30” Digital Electric Smoker — Best Value Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt is among the most recognizable and reputable names in the smoker business. The Masterbuilt 30” Digital Electric Smoker stands as a strong testament to their ability to design and build a good smoker. Though it has been on the market for a while, the smoker remains as popular as ever.

Masterbuilt MB20071117 Digital Electric Smoker
  • Decent construction quality

  • Insulated

  • Great capacity

  • High-performance heating element

  • Able to cold smoke

  • Side wood chip loading system

  • Digital control system

  • Difficult to read the screen under the sun

Capacity and Construction

Fitted into the 30-inch metal frame are four chrome-plated smoking racks. This is enough space for you to fit a whole turkey or several racks of ribs.

Masterbuilt Internal Capacity

From the outside, the Masterbuilt 30” electric smoker resembles a solid block of metal without a viewing port. Though this may sound like a loss, in reality, it doesn’t make much difference. Windows on smokers are mostly there for aesthetic purposes. Moisture wafting from the bottom of the unit would often fog up the glass and impede visibility, anyway.

Plus, now that the glass is out of the way, the entire smoker is totally insulated. You will get far better thermal performance, especially in cold weather.

Side Wood Chip Loading System

A highly appreciated feature of this Masterbuilt smoker is the side wood chip loading system. In most smokers, when the wood chips run out, you have to open the door and manually add more into the wood tray. This can result in heat loss in the cooking chamber. With this system, you can just pour wood chips into the side loader, which will deliver them straight to the wood tray. Heat loss is effectively eliminated.

Masterbuilt Side Loading Wood Tray

High-Performance Heating Element

In terms of performance, the Masterbuilt electric smoker can be cranked as high as 275°F (135°C). Granted, there are other electric smokers out there that can drive the temperature even higher. Regardless, this is more than enough for most recipes. The recommended temperature for smoking is around 240°F, which is the temperature at which most types of wood chips begin to smoke.

As we mentioned earlier, electric smokers can also be used for cold smoking. With the Masterbuilt smoker, you can bring the temperature down to around 100°F. But be aware that in order to cold smoke effectively, you will need the optional cold smoking kit.

Customer reviews of the Masterbuilt 30” Digital Electric Smoker are mostly positive. Though we noted that some users have reported difficulties with getting the wood chips to burn at temperatures below 240°F. If this happens to you, crank the smoker to 275°F to set the wood chips alight. Once you have a consistent smoke going, lower the temperature back down to 240°F.

Digital Control

The user controls the smoker via a small “console” at the top of the smoker. All the buttons are clearly labeled and rather easy to use. But one complaint we hear is about the screen’s brightness. The small screen can be difficult to read under direct sunlight. There’s no solution to that other than shading the screen with your hand if you ever have to read it under the sun.

Masterbuilt Digital Control Panel

All in all, the Masterbuilt is undoubtedly a great smoker that manages to fulfill the most important criteria. It has good performance, a nice design, and is affordable to boot. So, it’s not surprising that it has attracted not just beginners but also veteran smokers alike.

Verdict

The Masterbuilt 30” electric smoker is the one to buy if you want an electric smoker with maximum value. While it is by no mean affordable, it will definitely give you the best bangs for your bucks.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

3. Masterbuilt MB20074719 — Best Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker

Bluetooth electric smokers like the Masterbuilt MB20074719 are a new product category on the market. They come equipped with a Bluetooth module that can connect to your smartphone through a special app. From there, you can control every facet of the smoker’s operation right from the comfort of your phone.

Masterbuilt MB20074719 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker
  • Bluetooth-capable

  • Premium stainless-steel construction

  • High cooking capacity

  • Excellent smoking performance

  • Side wood chip loading system

  • Digital control system

  • Costly

  • Unoptimized mobile app

  • Difficult to read the screen under the sun

Masterbuilt App

The Masterbuilt app gives you the ability to change the smoker’s temperature and smoking time entirely remotely. The app also has a recipe section to give you some ideas on what to cook with your new smoker.

But according to many reviews of the Masterbuilt app itself, the app isn’t well-optimized. There aren’t a lot of extra features aside from controlling the temperature and time on your smartphone. Additionally, there have been quite a few reports of connection issues.

So, the concept of the Masterbuilt MB20074719 is good, but the execution is quite flawed.

Capacity and Construction

Besides the addition of the Bluetooth module, the most notable feature of the MB20074719 is the large cooking capacity. It is the largest in this article, in fact, with a 40-inch frame and the ability to hold 8 smoking racks simultaneously. You can most definitely cook for a large party with this smoker.

As it is one of the more premium models that Masterbuilt has to offer, its construction is very good overall. The smoker is built from sturdy stainless steel and is tightly insulated to prevent thermal leakage.

The MB20074719 has a view port on the front door for you to visually inspect the food as it cooks.

Side Wood Chip Loading System

Similar to the Masterbuilt 30-inch smoker, the MB20074719 has the company’s patented side wood chip loading system. You can replenish the wood tray without having to open the door.

Bluetooth Side Loading Tray

Heating Element

The performance of the MB20074719 is similar to that of the previously mentioned Masterbuilt 30-inch model. It also has an 800-watt electric heating element that, thanks to its insulated design, can still cook food quickly and properly.

Digital Control

Although you can use your smartphone as the smoker’s remote control, there is still a physical panel on the unit itself. The smoker won’t turn into a block of inert metal if you don’t have your phone with you.

Like every other digital smoker’s control panel, this one also comes with a screen. It also suffers from the same flaw that others have: excessive screen glare when under direct sunlight.

Verdict

As one of the few Bluetooth electric smokers out there, the Masterbuilt MB20074719 is ideal for techie users. Its high price can be an issue. Nonetheless, when the novelty and convenience of the Bluetooth module is taken into account, it’s a worthy price.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

4. Smokin-It Model #1 Electric Smoker — Best Small Electric Smoker

If portability is more important to you than capacity, a small electric smoker like the Smokin-It Model #1 will do.

Don’t let its small size fool you, though, it comes with all the features found in full-sized smokers (and more). The build quality and overall performance are both second to none. In fact, this smoker is one of the few models on the market that has a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification for use in restaurants.

Smokin-It Model #1 Electric Smoker
  • NSF-certified

  • Portable and compact

  • Insulated design

  • Flexible heating element

  • No assembly required

  • Costly

  • Heating element is quite weak

  • Analog control may be difficult to use for beginners

Capacity and Construction

The smoker measures around 13 inches tall and there are internal rails to hold up three smoking racks. That said, the total area of usable space is quite limited due to its small dimensions.

The smoker, reflecting its rather high price point, has a premium stainless steel-construction. The walls are insulated using fiberglass and the door is compression-sealed. As a result, very little heat will escape the confinement of the smoker. You can cook outdoors and in cold weather with the Smokin-It Model #1 with no problem.

And as we mentioned earlier, the smoker is certified by the NSF for use in restaurants. That means it is designed to be as hygienic and electrically-safe as possible. You will have less to worry about with this electric smoker than with others on the market.

It seems like Smokin-It was aiming for a basic, no-frills design with the Model #1. Beyond the basics, there are few specials on this smoker. To a lot of people, this can be a plus. It makes the smoker easier to use and less of a hassle to familiarize with.

Still, there are a couple of great things about this smoker that are worth noting.

Flexible Heating Element

Its small size means the smoker doesn’t need a powerful heating element to cook food. The unit has a 400-watt heating element with a temperature range between 100°F and 250°F. You can cold smoke with this electric smoker using Smokin-It’s optional cold smoke plate.

Due to the high heating efficiency and the small size of the smoker, the wood tray typically does not need replenishment. It is capable of lasting through an entire smoking session.

Portable Design and Easy Assembly

Because the smoker was intended to be portable, it comes with four caster wheels. The smoker body is equipped with side handles to make it easier to transport.

Plus, because the smoker is so small, it does not need to be disassembled to fit into the shipping box. The Smokin-It smoker will arrive at your door pre-assembled. All you have to do is put on the caster wheels and you’re in business!

Analog Control

Through a temperature adjustment knob, you can control a rheostat inside the smoker and change the smoking temperature.

Smokin It Analog Control

There is also an LED light to indicate whether the smoker is still working.

All in all, the smoker’s digital control system is fairly rudimentary. It lacks the display screen panel that many other premium smokers have. If you want to check the temperature, you need to have a separate temperature probe. There is a ventilation hole at the top of the unit that you can thread the temperature probe into.

Verdict

The Smokin-It Model #1 is highly recommended if you need a smoker that you can bring with you anywhere. Be it to the park for an outdoors BBQ party, or to a camping site for an overnight outing.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

5. Smokehouse Little Chief Smoker — Best Electric Smoker for Fish

The first Little Chief smoker was designed and produced well over 50 years ago. Though there have been very few changes and revisions since then, the smoker is still highly capable.

Smokehouse Products Little Chief Load Smoker
  • Affordable

  • Tried-and-tested design

  • Easy to use

  • Portable

  • No assembly required

  • Weak heating element

  • Not insulated

Due to its basic design, the smoker cannot produce a lot of heat. This is not necessarily a disadvantage. If you need to cook delicate, heat-sensitive foods such as fish, cheese, or vegetables, the Smokehouse Little Chief will do.

Its electric heating element only goes up to 165°F. The low temperature ensures that your smoked fish is tender and juicy. However, it may not work well for recipes that demand high heat such as beef or ribs. The underpowered heating element may also be an issue if you plan to cook in cold weather, too.

The Little Chief’s affordability is down to its simple design, making it a great option for the budget buyer. Overall construction and build quality are excellent for the price. The unit is made from embossed aluminum. Capacity-wise, the Little Chief can hold four smoking racks and is around 24.5 inches tall. Together, they can hold up to 25 pounds of meat or fish.

No assembly is required. The entire unit is pre-fabricated in the factory. Aside from the smoker itself, you will also find a complimentary bag of hickory wood chips and a recipe book in the shipping box.

Verdict

This is the second alternate electric smoker for people who are outdoorsy. A lot more affordable and no less mobile than the Smokin-It Model #1, it will make for an great camping smoker.

Though quite underpowered, if you only prepare fish or low-temperature recipes, this small smoker will hold up fine.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

How to Use an Electric Smoker: A Few Tips

As we mentioned earlier, electric smokers are very beginner-friendly. As a matter of fact, if you are a beginner, we highly recommend starting out with an electric smoker. It has a far higher error tolerance than other types of smokers such as charcoal or gas.

Electric Smoker’s Basics

Temperature & Timing Controls

Electric smokers differ from each other in terms of design, but they all operate the same way. You have two primary controls: a temperature control and a cooking time control.

If you want to master the smoker, getting a handle of these two controls is a must.

Electric Smoker Temperature Time Control

You can practice by choosing a simple recipe to make with your new smoker. Most smokers will come with a recipe book in the shipping box. It will give you the exact temperature and timing for each dish.

Vents

All smokers — be they charcoal, gas, or electric — have vents to air out the smoke. These can be left closed, half opened or fully open as needed.

Electric Smoker Smoke Vent

The position of the vent can limit the amount of moisture and smoke sitting in the cooking chamber. Thus, it will also drastically affect the consistency and flavor profile of your food.

Avoid keeping the vent closed for too long, as it can lead to over-smoking.

Arranging the Food

Learning how to properly arrange the food in the smoker is also important. If you smoke other foods such as cheese or veggies alongside meat, position the meat at the bottom rack with the other food above.

As meat cooks, it is going to release a lot of dripping. If the dripping isn’t fully cooked, it can be a health concern if it gets absorbed into the other food. So, it’s best to just let the meat sit in the bottom rack. Any dripping will fall into the grease trap at the bottom of the smoker.

Seasoning

Most manufacturers will recommend seasoning the smoker before its first use. Seasoning will ensure that any of the debris left over from the manufacturing process (paint chips, for example) is boiled off.

Most user manuals will give you details about this process, which usually involves running the smoker while it is empty. Then, open up the vent all the way and run the smoker at a high temperature setting for 3 hours.

Prior to the 3-hour heating session, you can coat the inside of the smoker in a layer of oil. The oil will protect the smoker against corrosion and chemical damage. We recommend using oils with high smoke points such as flaxseed or grapeseed oil.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Smoker: Wood Chips and Pellets

For an electric smoker to work, there must be some aromatic wood chips or pellets in the wood tray.

There are a variety of wood chips to choose from. The most popular are oak, cherry, hickory, and alder. Each being suited to a different type of food.

  • Oak is the easiest for beginners to start with due to its mild taste and smell. Lamb and beef pair exceptionally well with oak.
  • Meanwhile, hickory is known for its versatility; its savory, bacon-like taste can be harnessed to make most kinds of meats taste and smell better.
  • Cherrywood, with its fruity taste, pairs well with white meat such as chicken and turkey.
  • Last but not least, if you want to smoke a few cuts of fish, the lightness and subtle sweetness of alder will do nicely.
Smoker Wood Chip

Once you’re used to using these four basic types of wood, you can try and experiment with others. Mesquite, for example, is a very difficult wood to smoke. However, when done properly, its strong, spice-like taste can make your food taste incredible.

How to Clean an Electric Smoker

Each smoker will be different in terms of maintenance. But usually, cleaning consists of giving the smoker a wipe-down to clear off the dust and food drippings. Some parts will have to be cleaned more thoroughly. Depending on the model, these parts can either be cleaned by hand or in the dishwasher.

 You should always store your electric smoker in a place that’s dry and sheltered. At the very least, when it’s not in use, you should cover it up to prevent damage.

Place a layer of aluminum foil atop the grease trap. This makes cleaning significantly easier later on. All you need to do is dispose of the foil instead of having to painstakingly wipe down the grease trap.

Creosote (the dark, inky substance created by burnt wood) must be cleaned off after every cooking session. Avoid letting it build up.

Cleaning Smoker Racks

Conclusion

Though there are still plenty of popular smokers out there, these electric smokers represent the best that the market has to offer. We hope this guide has served you well in your search for a nice smoker.

Luna Regina

A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen. Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it. Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.

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