Smoking meat and fish is a time-tested way to lock in flavor in culinary traditions around the world. Traditional smokers are usually filled with charcoal or wood chippings to gain that smoked flavor, as the food is cooked slowly over long periods to ensure that the taste is packed with smoky juiciness.

In this article, we decided to look at electric smokers to see how they stood up to scrutiny, and ultimately crowning the Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker our HowToHome pick. Join us as we take a look at three of the most popular electric smokers.

  • 725 sq inches of cooking space
  • Insulated double-wall construction
  • Glass door to see cooking action
  • 4 racks for multiple cooking
  • 1-year warranty

  • 1.3 cu ft of cooking space
  • 1500-watt heating element
  • Porcelain coated water and wood chip pan
  • Fully adjustable temperature control
  • 1-year limited warranty

  • 1500-watt heating element
  • Complete temperature control
  • 548 sq inches of cooking space
  • 3 cooking racks for multiple cooking
  • 1-year warranty


This Char-Broil digital smoker has an enormous 725 sq inches of cooking space over four adjustable racks. That’s over 11 cu ft of capacity, dwarfing the Cuisinart Electric Smoker capacity by more than 3.5 cu ft. This model also benefits from its unique double-wall construction, which means there is less heat loss and better insulation. That should equate to a reduction in the amount of power used to cook your food, so it is better for the environment and your energy bills.

Another great thing about this smoker is that it has a glass door, which can save you money because you aren’t constantly dropping the temperature in the smoker every time you open the door to check on your food. It also comes with a large control panel and an easy to read blue LED display.

On the downside, many have reported problems with the thermostatic controller, with some saying it has failed entirely and others complaining that it is inaccurate. Plus, this model only has 750 watts of power, meaning that it has the largest capacity and the weakest motor. Given its pedigree and popularity, though, we still believe this smoker is the best around.

Pros

  • Hold the heat better than the competition
  • Huge oven capacity
  • Removable thermometer
  • Great for large family gatherings

Cons

  • Issues with the thermostat controller either failing or inaccurate
  • Only 750 watts of power


If you are on a budget, this Smoke Hollow is a great option. It has an internal cookbox height of 26 inches, which equates to 1.3 cu ft of cooking space, so you may have to get used to smoking in smaller batches, but it does have two chrome-plated cooking racks that are fully adjustable, which means that you can cook medium to small cuts of meat. The water and wood chip pans are coated in porcelain to protect them from the punishing heat, which means that they stay in excellent working condition. It also means you get greater heat transference, so you get a better smoky result.

The best thing about this electric smoker is that you can set it and forget it. With fully adjustable heating controls that put you in the driving seat, and with a maximum temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit, the Smoke Hollow should handle almost any smoking task. It also means that you get the juiciest food with the minimum amount of fuss.

On the downside, some have reported that the paint on the inside of the door peels under the heat pressure, and the heating element has the tendency to overheat or fail since the fat that drips from the food lands directly on it. Despite this design flaw, we think the Smoke Hollow electric smoker would be an excellent entry-level model for beginners because it is practical and offers value as it retails for significantly less than the others featured.

Pros

  • Great entry level electric smoker
  • Fully adjustable cooking racks
  • 175-degree to 375-degree Fahrenheit temperature range
  • Internal heatbox measures 26 inches in height
  • Lightweight at just 34.7 lbs

Cons

  • Issues over the element failing
  • Reports of paint peeling off inside door
  • Less capacity than more expensive models

Cuisinart is synonymous with great products in our kitchens, so it comes as no surprise that they should also produce reliable electric smokers for outdoor cooking as well. Like the Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker, this model also has a 1500-watt heating element and complete temperature control. Furthermore, Cuisinart claims that this model is the ideal smoker for beginners because of its set-and-forget capabilities and simplistic design.

This Cuisinart electric smoker has seven and a half cubic feet of internal space, making it ideal for smaller family gatherings and special occasions, as it gives you the capacity smoke medium batches of food. While it is heavier than the Smoke Hollow, the Cuisinart still  only weighs 51.5 lbs (compared to 34.7 lbs). As you would expect, this Cuisinart also has water and wood chip pans to give your food that lovely smoky flavor, and with a built-in thermometer on the front door you can easily keep an eye on the temperature.

Unfortunately, many have reported that the temperature settings can be inaccurate, and because the heating element is  located at the base of the smoker along with the water and wood chip pans, the water boils dry very quickly, removing any moisture content from the inside of the smoker. Given its large capacity and no-fuss operation, though, we still recommend this product for beginners who want a smoker that’s easy to use and can handle a lot of food.

Pros

  • Ideal for beginners
  • Weighs 51.5 lbs
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Ideal for medium gatherings

Cons

  • Inaccurate temperature settings
  • Water pan is too close to the heating element

Comparison Chart

Char-Broil Digital Electric SmokerSmoke Hollow Electric SmokerCuisinart Electric Smoker
Wattage75015001500
Capacity11.2 cu ft1.3 cu ft7.5 cu ft
Racks423
Thermometer
Price$$$$$$
Dimensions32.5 x 18.1 x 16.517.4 x 19.2 x 35.122 x 19 x 37.5
Weight58.5 lbs34.7 lbs51.5 lbs
Warrant1-year1-year1-year

Buyer’s Guide:

Electric Smokers

Electric smokers are the ultimate convenience outdoor cooking device. They are clean, require no advance prep work, and are simple to use; just plug in and start cooking. They are perfect for introducing you to the concept of smoking without all the extra mess and fuss that comes with a charcoal variety. This means that once you’ve mastered the techniques, you can, if you choose, graduate to a charcoal smoker.

If you are always on the go, an electric smoker should appeal to you because there is virtually no prep work to get the smoker ready. Unlike a barbecue, which needs constant attention, an electric smoker allows you to set it and then go enjoy a drink with your guests. If you are a veteran of traditional smoking, but find that with advancing years the whole process is becoming a strain (lifting heavy bags of charcoal for example) and you simply don’t feel up to it, an electric smoker could be the answer.

Electric Smokers

Electric smokers work by heating an element at the base of the smoker, which, in turn, heats the water pan and the wood chip pan to create a lovely smoky aroma. You save money on not having to buy charcoal, you don’t need to get your hands dirty, and above all, once you plug it in and switch it on, you are ready to go.

When you start the cooking process, you are in complete control of the heat with the thermostatic control unit. Given that the food tastes moist and tender, we doubt that your guests would ever guess that they were eating food from an electric smoker.

Charcoal Smokers

There is no denying that the taste of meat slow cooked on a charcoal smoker is hard to beat, but remember the effort that you have to go through to get those results. You need charcoal; you need matches; you need to wait while it reaches optimum temperature;  and lastly, you have to keep an eye on the charcoal in case the smoker needs fresh fuel. If all of the above is something you are prepared to do, then a charcoal smoker is the right choice. If, though, you want convenience and a cleaner way to smoke your food, then electric smokers are the best option.

Electric Smoker and Charcoal Smokers Pros and Cons

PROSCONS
Electric smoker
  • More control over the cooking
  • Cleaner to use
  • Faster to reach temperature
  • Less authentic smoky flavor
  • More chance of malfunctions
  • Typically cost more
Charcoal smoker
  • Typically lower purchase price
  • Maximum flavor
  • Less working parts
  • Take longer to reach temperature
  • Messier to use
  • Ongoing charcoal costs

  • Is it easy to clean an electric smoker?
  • Cleaning an electric smoker is a lot simpler than the charcoal variety. Remove the water and wood chip pans and wipe them down. Then wash the racks and the grease pan in soapy water, as you would any other BBQ, and give the inside of the smoker a wipe with a soapy cloth. Make sure that the element is clear of grease and food debris, then with the smoker empty, switch it on and allow the heatbox to dry out.

  • Can I place my electric smoker on a wooden deck?
  • No. Always make sure you place your electric smoker on a fireproof surface like paving slabs or concrete. The heat generated from the smoker comes from an element at the base of the device, so placing it on a wooden surface poses a serious risk of fire.

  • How long is the cord on an electric smoker?
  • Most electric smokers come with a power cord that measures somewhere between six and eight feet long. If you don’t have any external sockets in your garden, you can either get some installed as part of a garden project or run an extension cable from the house. The only downside with this is the potential trip hazard, and if the rain starts to fall and you have it plugged into an extension cable, you will have to unplug it to avoid an electrical short.

Final Thoughts

Electric smokers might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they can be ideal for those that want the experience of smoking their food without the hassle.

If money is no object and you want the best quality, then look no further than the Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker. This model, which is featured as our HowToHome Pick, has the highest cooking capacity and four cooking racks to give you that option to cater for large groups of people.

The more cost-conscious among you might like that the Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker retails at far less, making it our HowToHome Budget Pick. It may not have the capacity of the Char-Broil, but it is a lightweight and portable entry-level smoker for beginners.

It would be worth checking out the Cuisinart Electric Smoker if you are looking for a more basic design that is perfect for beginners. It is a capable smoker with three cooking racks and a powerful 1500-watt motor.

Whichever electric smoker you choose, we are sure that you will be delighted with your purchase and hope that we’ve made that choice easier to make.

Further Reading

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