Because they are so easy to use, and so very convenient, electric smokers are among the most beginner-friendly smokers available. However, there are so many competing brands and models that picking one out can feel overwhelming.
To address this problem, we launched our own personal crusade to find the best electric smokers on the market. We scoured model after model, keeping in mind ease of use and overall smoking performance.
In the end, the very best of the best was the Dyna-Glo DGU732BDE-D for its ease of use at a very affordable price. You also get fantastic heat retention and a fully digital display, giving complete control over the process.
Nonetheless, there are a lot of other high-quality smokers available. For a quick overview of our top 7, and how to select the smoker that’s right for you, keep reading.
How to Pick the Best Electric Smoker For Your Needs
Electric smokers have the same goal as other types of smokers: to apply low heat over long periods. This is required to achieve tender juiciness in tougher cuts of meat like briskets.
Unlike other smokers, however, electric smokers don’t involve burning wood or fuel to create smoke. Instead, they use a heating element to generate the heat necessary for cooking. To prevent the meat from drying out, a pan of water is located above the heating element. This turns the water to steam over time,
Because there’s no wood or charcoal being burned, electric smokers produce the least flavorful results. This is undoubtedly their biggest drawback. Some electric smokers allow you to optionally put in a tray of wood chips to emulate some smoke, but the results aren’t as convincing as a real wood-fire smoker.
You also don’t get the “smoke ring” – the pink ring around your meat that adds another layer of visual complexity. So, if you’re after authenticity, you just won’t get it with an electric smoker.
So why even use electric smokers? For one, they’re easier to use. Like using an oven, all that’s needed is to set the smoker to the desired temperature, and it does the rest. No more messing around with starting (and maintaining) a smoke.
Also, if you want to smoke meats but live in a cramped space (like an apartment), electric smokers are convenient. It’s quite dangerous and impractical to operate a wood-fired smoker in an apartment building. Hence, an electric smoker still allows you to smoke your own meats inside your living quarters.
Not all electric smokers are created equal, however. Some will be better for you, depending on your needs. To help you out, here are the biggest factors you need to take into consideration:
Temperature Control and Range
Temperature control is arguably one of the most crucial factors when buying an electric smoker. Since it will maintain the temperature based on its settings, the thermostat must be spot on. Otherwise, you’ll get inconsistent results.
You should also consider the lower end of the temperature range, which is easy to overlook. More moderate temperatures allow you to smoke more delicate food like cold-smoked salmon.
For the best in flexibility, go for an electric smoker that can go as low as 100 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This gives you the most variety in the range of meats and food you can smoke.
The majority of electric smokers in the market utilize a front-loading design, and for a good reason – they’re much easier and safer to use.
Front-loading smokers are built like a refrigerator. The front door opens, and you get access to shelves, typically around four. This is where you place all the food that you want to cook. Usually, it also allows you to set a tray of water and wood chips on the lowest shelf.
This design is excellent because you can quickly check and rearrange your food by merely opening the door. In the older top-loading models, you have to take out the upper shelves before you could reach the lower ones. Not only is this time consuming, but it’s also dangerous.
For the ultimate in monitoring, you can opt for clear glass windows on your smoker doors. This allows you to check on the progress of your meat without having to open the door.
Two Door Design
The front-loading design mentioned above is fantastic, except for one flaw. When you open the front door to refill the water pan or wood chip tray (which you’ll often do over the course of longer cooks), you let heat escape, lowering the temperature of the internal chamber.
The solution to this is the two-door design. This separates the door of the food chamber from that of the water and wood chip chamber. That way, you can open the lower door to adjust the water and wood chips, without exposing the food chamber to the air.
Some units also have one door but allow you to refill the water and wood tray via an easy-access drawer. This is also quite convenient.
The front-loading design of most electric smokers has a vertical setup. The cooking area is usually divided into multiple shelves. This means that a 500 square inch cooking area in a vertical electric smoker and is not the same as a 500 square inch cooking area in an offset smoker.
This doesn’t sound problematic until you try cooking a large piece of meat in one. You’d think a full slab of ribs should be no problem with 500 square inches of space. But with multiple shelves, that 500 square inch now becomes a little over 100 square inches in an electric smoker.
Suddenly, your full slab doesn’t quite fit inside your smoker.
That’s why for vertical designs (like many electric smokers), it’s much better to consider the width of the cooking area as well. Ask for the actual dimensions of the smoker, and try getting the widest you can.
You might not need to smoke a large brisket now, but you may want to in the future. It’s always good to have options.
However, you also need to consider the impact the width has on portability as well. If you plan to move your smoker around, or if you have limited space in your apartment or porch, then you need to factor this into your decision.
Keeping all the heat in is the mark of a true smoker, and it’s the same with an electric one. Any leaks or holes will make it harder for the unit to maintain constant temperatures. This leads to the heating element overworking, raising electricity costs.
The primary source of leaks is, as expected, the door. Check the hinges and the edges of the door itself. Fortunately, fixing them isn’t a problem. A high-temperature gasket is all you need to repair any leaks you might find.
There are three primary ways you control an electric smoker, with lots of variation in between. All of these options affect the price and the precision of control you have over your smoker’s temperature.
The most common you’ll find is the multi-position controller. This involves a rotary dial that you can turn to set your smoker to the desired temperature. There’s a limit to the number of temperature settings you can use, which depends on the number of increments available to you.
The most basic among these is the three-position controller, which allows you to set the smoker’s temperature to low, medium, or high. While cheap, it offers the least precision for temperature control.
Going up a tad bit in precision is the One Touch Controller. It features a digital display and up/down buttons, allowing you to set the temperature in smaller (usually 5 – 10F) increments.
While this is easier to use, the accuracy still isn’t 100% spot on. There’s typically a margin of error (around 15 – 20F) in the set vs. actual temperature.
For the most accurate temperature control, PID Controllers are the absolute best. They allow finer increments and maintain internal smoker temperatures more accurately. They can even be used in conjunction with a meat probe.
Ease of Cleaning
Electric smokers don’t have the same cleaning problems as wood-fired smokers do. So no need to dabble with ash removal trays and the like. This makes them vastly easier to clean than traditional smokers.
However, that doesn’t mean electric smokers don’t need cleaning features.
While they don’t produce ash, electric smokers do produce quite a lot of grease dripping from the meat. Some models feature a grease tray, which you can quickly empty and clean in between cooking sessions.
Electric smokers are exposed to constant heat over long periods, so it’s crucial that they’re built to withstand high temperatures.
This is primarily dependent on the material used to manufacture the smoker. Stainless steel is the most common and acceptable material since it’s resistant to rust. Alternative materials include porcelain and cast iron. All of them have fantastic heat retention and decent durability.
The thickness of the walls is also something that needs to be looked into. The right thickness will contain the heat better, which makes maintaining temperatures easier with less fuel. A quarter inch is a standard thickness to aim for.
For most electric smokers (that are built vertically), stability is an added consideration. Remember, you’re putting pounds of meat into it over long periods. It has to withstand all of that and remain stable.
Look for electric smokers with wide legs, as they are a good foundation for really tall units. If your smoker has wheels or casters, make sure they’re durable as well and can support all the added weight.
Electric smokers have their perks. Because they are electric, advanced features are much more straightforward than with wood-fired smokers.
One of the better features of some smokers is wireless connectivity. This allows you to monitor and even control your electric smoker anywhere in your house via Bluetooth. For the ultimate in convenience, some also enable WiFi connectivity for control anywhere on Earth!
More than for “lazy” pitmasters, this allows you to manage long cooking sessions while still being able to go about your day. Go to the office or run errands, check on your smoke, and come home to a perfectly smoked dinner.
Relatively speaking, electric smokers are less expensive than the traditional offset smoker or even pellet smoker. One can argue that they’re also cheaper to use compared to buying wood and pellets (although this highly depends on how much you pay for electricity in your area).
When the price is an issue (isn’t it always?), you need to carefully consider the value you get and the features you need. The most significant influence on price is the size, so if you plan to only cook for your family, buying an appropriately-sized smoker can save you hundreds.
The cheapest electric smoker costs around $100 and the best of the best will set you back around $600 or more. For a good balance of costs vs. value, expect to shell out about $200 – $300.
Top 7 Electric Smoker Reviews
The Masterbuilt 20072115 is one of the more advanced electric smokers you’ll find on the market today. At the center of its innovation is the use of Bluetooth technology. With it, you can turn your smartphone into a powerful remote controller for your smoker.
With the included app, you can monitor key metrics like the internal temperature of the meat and the chamber. More than checking, however, you get full control of the 20072115 right from your mobile phone. You can set the temperature, cooking time, light, and even turn the whole thing on or off.
The electric smoker features 721 square inches of cooking space. The width is also wide enough to accommodate large meats, up to two whole turkeys, or four full racks of ribs. The racks used are chrome coated, giving them excellent heat retention.
The Masterbuilt 20072115 is powered by an 800-watt heating element, easily maintaining smoke temperatures of up to 275 degrees. There are air dampers on the top to help regulate air and smoke flow throughout the unit.
The door has a clear window, giving you a view of your smoke’s progress. An internal light helps you see your food even at night.
For those who want to delve into smoking meats but don’t have any experience, the Char-Broil Deluxe Digital is a good starting point. It has plenty of features and specs that make it a must-have for any beginner.
For starters, the Char-Broil gives a generous space of 725 square inches. It might be a bit large for beginners, but the investment will pay off later when you upgrade your skills.
The electric smoker features a thick double wall with insulation built in. This makes it rather easy to maintain the temperature in the Char-Broil Deluxe Digital, allowing complete newbies to achieve great results.
You can easily see the progress of your smoke, thanks to the glass window on the door. In addition, we found the stainless-steel latch to close nice and snug, giving a very tight fit.
The Char-Broil Deluxe Digital includes an advanced, digital temperature control system. The screen indicator tells you the internal temperature of the meat (thanks to the included probe). Adjustments can be made via the intuitive control panel. All of this makes for very accurate results.
The wood chip tray of this unit can be accessed via a convenient side drawer, enabling you to refill it as needed without opening the main door. It has a capacity of 4 cups of wood chips, which is pretty generous! It will give you up to 7 hours of smoke without having to be replaced.
For cleanup, the 8.5 cup grease tray is a godsend. You can easily remove, empty, and clean it in between smoking sessions.
The best thing about this smoker, however, is the competitive price. At less than $200, it includes a lot of features you usually only see in more advanced models.
Overall, the Char-Broil Deluxe Digital is a fantastic entry into the world of smoked meats. It’s easy to use and maintain, giving you the confidence to produce consistent results on your first few batches.
From seeing the small size of the Little Chef, you’d be surprised that it’s actually a pretty capable electric smoker. For one, it’s the smallest smoker we encountered. It’s only a minuscule 24 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
This is great for small spaces. But does it do the job?
The Little Chef is equipped with a 250-watt heating element, allowing it to achieve stable temperatures of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. And that’s one of the plusses of this smoker. Its ability to hold that temperature is remarkable given its size.
Temperature, however, is one of its limitations. The Little Chef lacks any temperature control of any kind! Instead, it operates at just a single temp of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the plus side, this makes the Little Chef extremely easy to use. Since 165F is an ideal temperature for smoked meats, you’ll get good results just by pushing a button. No mucking around with controls or any other variable.
However, most veteran pitmasters will find this lack of control a big turn-off. You’ll be limited by the amount of experimentation you can do with the Little Chef.
Hence, this is a unit that’s made specifically for beginners who want consistent results at the expense of control or higher temperatures.
With that out of the way, let’s look at some other positives of the Little Chef.
Its body is made of aluminum, giving it durability and a light weight at the same time. The Little Chef is very portable. With a weight of 12 lbs., it’s easy to lug this thing around for campfire barbecues or to a friend’s house.
It also has a pretty good capacity, able to smoke up to 25 pounds of meat at a time. You can even use wood chips with the Little Chef (it includes some hickory chips when you buy it). Compared to other electric smokers, the smoke flavor you get from it is actually fantastic.
Throw in an affordable price and a 2-year warranty, and you got yourself a winning electric smoker. If you’re a beginner or a casual smoker who just wants excellent smoked meat for a minimum of fuss, the Little Chef delivers.
The Dyna-Glo DGU732BDE-D is one of the best electric smokers out there. To begin with, it has excellent heat retention. This means maintaining temperatures with this unit is an absolute breeze, thanks to its double-wall insulation. Indeed, consistency is the main advantage of this smoker.
The thick wall also keeps the maximum amount of smoke in, helping you to achieve above-average smoke flavor (better than your typical electric smoker).
The smoker has an 800-watt heating element that provides ample cooking power to cover the entire temperature range of smoking. You can even operate this in the winter without any noticeable loss in performance.
The cooking space is generous as well. It has a total cooking area of 732 square inches, which is more than enough to cook for a family. Despite this, the DGU732BDE-D is surprisingly compact. Using it, we got the impression that space is completely maximized with this smoker.
This unit also uses a digital control panel to adjust the temperature. The temperature is clearly indicated in the display, and up/down buttons allow incremental adjustments on the internal temperature for even finer precision.
Another good thing about the Dyna-Glo is that it includes a meat thermometer built into the smoker. This is, in fact, the readout that’s displayed in the control panel. This is much more accurate than just reading the temperature of the internal chamber.
The durability also extends to the exterior as well. Overall, it’s a very sturdy piece of equipment. Everything is stable and well-built, and you can just feel the craftsmanship that went into building this smoker.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a tough smoker that can easily hold in the temperature, the Dyna-Glo DGU732BDE-D is your star. You’ll be assured of a more even temperature to achieve fantastic results every time.
The Bradley Smoker BTDS108P is what we whip out when we want professional, fantastic results feeding a huge crowd.
The heavy-duty smoker has a capacity of 858 square inches distributed among its six racks – one of the largest capacity smokers available to consumers. That’s more than enough space to cook up a feast for small parties or events in your backyard.
Unlike other electric smokers, however, the Bradley Smoker uses an automated bisquette feeding system. These are compact discs of wood that burn at a slow pace, infusing your food with that amazing smoke flavor you’d typically get from more traditional smokers.
In a way, the Bradley Smoker BTDS108P is the best of two worlds, combining the convenience of electric with the flavor of wood-fired smokers.
The fully digital control panel is also a joy to use. The clear digital displays give you accurate information on cooking times and temperature. You also have individual control over the cooking and smoking process, giving fantastic flexibility.
The heat output of the BTDS108P combines three 500-watt heating elements with a 125-watt smoking element to cook your food. This is about average for most smokers.
One drawback, however, is the fact that this smoker has some trouble retaining heat inside the chamber. On chilly days, this is going to be a problem.
However, this would be fine if it weren’t for the high price tag of the BTDS108P. This is a smoker that’s nearing the $500 mark, which firmly places it on the expensive side.
Despite the flaws and price, the Bradley Smoker BTDS108P is nevertheless a powerhouse smoker. If you’re smoking a large amount of meat, then that’s where this smoker shines the most.
The Smoke Hollow is Masterbuilt’s version of a budget electric smoker. Indeed, it combines some of the best features found in other high-quality models and fits them into an affordable product of less than $200.
This electric smoker is actually quite compact. Inside, you have three separate racks you can use to cook a wide variety of large meats. It’s even spacious enough to accommodate two whole turkeys.
The body of the Smoke Hollow is made of thick, insulated walls that do a fantastic job of keeping all the heat in. This is combined with the built-in thermostat control, which automatically maintains the temperature you have set. In our experience, this worked really well and gave us nice even cooking, a fantastic result.
All of this is easily adjustable via the digital control panel conveniently located at the top of the unit.
Powering the Smoke Hollow is an 800-watt heating element, which is quite powerful for a smoker this size. In our tests, our desired temperature was reached rather quickly, even in colder weather.
However, our main issue with the Smoke Hollow is that it only has one door. If you wanted to replace the wood chips, you had to open it up and expose the main chamber. This can lower the temperature and compromise your cooking.
But overall, the Smoke Hollow is a joy to use. While it’s not the most powerful nor the most insulated, it still does fairly well at its price range.
If you’re like us, it would be hard to trust a smoker that looks like a trash can. We had serious doubts when we saw it. However, the Old Smokey name does have a stellar reputation among Texans, so we decided to give it a try.
And by golly, it works like a charm!
The Old Smokey is a no-frills smoker with a very straightforward layout. The cylindrical body houses the heating element at the bottom, with a wood chip tray on top of that. Then comes the racks for the meat itself.
There’s no water tray, but it does have a tray to catch juices and drippings. This worked pretty well to keep the meat from drying out.
Being very basic, this unit doesn’t have any temperature probe. You have to buy that separately. The thinner walls also have below-average heat retention, so it has to heat up more to maintain proper smoking temps.
Overall, the simple design of the Old Smokey belies its ability to produce great tasting smoked products. If you love simplicity in form and function, you might appreciate this smoker.
Final Verdict: Best Electric Smoker For Your Money
In our roundup of the best electric smoker in the market, we’ve covered a lot of features and specs. While many of them are fantastic in their own right, we picked one out that we feel can be appreciated by both beginners and veterans alike.
That smoker is the Dyna-Glo DGU732BDE-D. This is a piece of durable equipment that has the fantastic ability to hold heat in and maintain temperature levels. That means it can lead to consistent results every time.
Its fantastic heat retention, coupled with a generous cooking space and digital controls, make this a winning smoker. Oh, and did we also mention that it’s affordable?