So you’re seriously considering buying an electric smoker, but maybe your feeling just a little bit unsure or you have that diehard charcoal smoker friend insisting that electric smokers are inferior.
Frankly, I hear about “that friend” all the time and honestly, that opinion is incredibly subjective, largely based on the notion that you can’t get an authentic smokey flavour or smoke ring from an electric smoker.
Table of Contents (click to open)
- 1 Reason #1 - Cost and Value
- 2 Reason #2 - The Electric Smoker is ideal for beginners
- 3 Reason #3 - Ease of Use
- 4 Reason #4 - They aren’t affected by fire bans
- 5 Reason #5 - Cold Smoking is easy
- 6 Reason Not To Buy #1 - No Smoke Ring
- 7 Reason Not To Buy #2 - More Parts That Can Break Down
- 8 Reason Not To Buy #3 - Electricity Limits Portability
But the truth is if you are new to the world of smoking, then buying an electric smoker might be the best choice for you. If you already own an electric smoker, here’s my guide to how to get the most out of your electric smoker.
To help you make that choice, here are my top 5 reasons you should seriously consider an electric smoker.
Reason #1 - Cost and Value
Let’s be real here, electric smokers are cheaper to buy both in terms of upfront cost and what it costs to operate. There is also incredibly good value here in terms of how much food you can cook.
My Masterbuilt 30” Digital Electric Smoker is large enough to smoke 4 pork butts. Or 8 full racks of ribs. Or up to 6 chickens spread over all 4 food racks. Overall this means I can cook more food per dollar spent relative to any other smoker on the market.
A comparable pellet grill like the Traeger Lil Tex Elite can cook 4 racks of ribs or 4 chickens at a time, but it costs nearly three times as much as what I paid for my Masterbuilt.
So the way I look at it if you can save a couple of hundred dollars and buy an electric smoker, that equates to a lot of great cuts of meats or bbq accessories, sauces and rubs you can experiment with.
Reason #2 - The Electric Smoker is ideal for beginners
Let’s be honest here, smoking has a bit of a learning curve and when you are just starting out with something if it seems too hard then you’re probably not going to stick with it.
The electric smoker is generally so easy to use, if you’re capable of running an electric oven you already have all the skills needed to use an electric smoker.
I went over this extensively in my guide to the best smokers for beginners but if you have that friend who insists you can’t get an authentic flavour from an electric smoker. I challenge them to taste something you’ve smoked using an A-MAZE-N pellet tray (a simple $30 accessory) and still make that claim.
Once you get comfortable with the smoking process and learn the basic techniques, it makes perfect sense to branch out to more authentic types of smokers.
You can set your electric smoker to a specific temperature and even use a timer that automatically shuts off. Something you just can’t do with other fuel sources.
Whatever you end up buying the results will be great. But I always tell newbies to start with a basic electric smoker to learn on.
Reason #3 - Ease of Use
You’re probably starting to notice a similar theme here. An electric smoker doesn’t require you to control airflow, understand how to manage temperature spikes or even light charcoal. Even the fuel is just an electrical outlet away!
All you need to do is add some wood chips, fill the water tray and plug it in and wait long enough for the interior temperature to rise and you are ready to smoke.
Reason #4 - They aren’t affected by fire bans
Maybe you live in an apartment or condo, or you live in an area prone to wildfires. Well then your out of luck when it comes to other smokers. Be sure to check the rules where you live but generally these don’t apply to electric smokers.
Let’s face it there’s nothing worse than sitting outside on a warm summers evening with a cold beer and thinking about how you would rather be eating smoked ribs.
So an electric smoker may not only be the perfect solution, it might be the only one.
Reason #5 - Cold Smoking is easy
I really enjoy experimenting with different types of food. My electric smoker can easily cold smoke cheese and bacon. I’ve even made fish, sausages and even a dessert or two. You really can’t beat that versatility.
Now, you can modify other smokers for cold smoking, but this generally requires tools, knowledge and a fair bit of effort. Instead with an electric smoker, you can easily find any number of accessories that will be compatible with your electric smoker and run with it.
Why you might not want to buy an electric smoker
To be fair an electric smoker isn’t for everyone and I want to be completely upfront with you so you’re happy with your final decision.
Reason Not To Buy #1 - No Smoke Ring
Not sure what a smoke ring is? Well, it’s the light pink coloration you find just under the surface of the meat when you slice it open. Many smoking aficionados see this as the mark of being an expert and look down on any smoker that can’t create one.
This smoke ring is caused by a chemical reaction inside the meat that occurs inside a smoker at higher temperatures. No matter how hard you try and electric smoker just isn’t going to get hot enough to cause this chemical reaction.
So why isn’t this important in my opinion? Well, a smoke ring certainly looks impressive but it doesn’t actually affect the taste of the meat your smoking. So if you’re not chasing the look of having a smoke ring, it really shouldn’t affect your buying decision.
Reason Not To Buy #2 - More Parts That Can Break Down
An electric smoker is by default more technically complicated than a charcoal smoker. Many of these features are what make the electric smoker so easy to use, but that comes at the cost of more points of failure.
Sadly, when a breakdown occurs odds are you won’t be able to repair it at home. This can be expensive as the parts certainly aren’t cheap and neither is labour.
Reason Not To Buy #3 - Electricity Limits Portability
So you probably already knew this but an electric smoker requires electricity to run. So while your buddy with a charcoal smoker can throw it in the back of the truck and take it with him to the campsite, your electric smoker isn’t nearly as portable.
This may also affect you at home. So take a minute to think about where you plan on using it.
Plan on parking the new electric smoker on the deck? Well if you don’t already have a plug there you may need to call an electrician to install one for you. Modern convenience has its costs, whether that’s a deal-breaker for you really depends on how you plan on using the smoker.