You’ve recently purchased an electric smoker. Get the most out of this fantastic appliance by using these electric smoker tips and tricks. They will help you bring your smoking skills to the next level!
A user’s manual will always show you how to use an appliance. But it’s knowing some additional tips and tricks that result in ultimate smoked foods.
First things first – and the best tip here is picking the right electric smoker. Once you’ve done that, the other tips and tricks will get you on track to using your smoker optimally.
Table of Contents
- 0.1 1. Analyze the Materials Used to Construct the Smoker
- 0.2 2. Check Out the Cooking Space
- 0.3 3. Heating Element Wattages for the Best Temperature
- 0.4 4. Look for a Smoker with Wheels for Portability
- 0.5 5. Prepare Your Smoker Before Using for the First Time
- 0.6 6. Find Wood Chip Blends to Suit Your Cooking Style
- 0.7 7. Buy Your Own Thermometer
- 0.8 8. Use the Right Temperature for Smoking Different Foods
- 0.9 9. Heat Up the Smoker Before Smoking the Meat
- 0.10 10. Keep the Vents Open When Smoking Meat
- 0.11 11. Find Recipe Books That Focus on Smoking Meat
- 0.12 12. Prepare The Meat with a Brine Solution Before Smoking
- 0.13 13. Smoking is Not a Rushed Process – Time and Patience is a Necessity
- 0.14 14. Maintaining Moisture Inside the Smoker
- 0.15 15. Use Aluminium Foil to Keep the Cooking Chamber Clean
- 0.16 16. Do Regular Deep Cleans
- 0.17 17.Cleaning the Exterior and Door Window
- 0.18 18. Use Your Electric Smoker Often
- 0.19 19. Watch Videos About Using Electric Smokers
- 0.20 20. When All Else Fails Use the Instruction Manual
- 1 A Final Word
1. Analyze the Materials Used to Construct the Smoker
Once you’ve decided which electric smoker you would like to purchase, analyze the materials used to construct it. This is important – they will determine the performance and durability of the smoker.
High-quality electric smokers are constructed from stainless steel and aluminum. Stay away from plastic! If you see this material being used ANYWHERE in the smoker, walk away from it.
Are the walls of the cooking chamber fully insulated? A double-wall construction will keep smoke and temperature in allowing for steady smoking. Here is how to insulate your smoker if you are not sure how to do it.
2. Check Out the Cooking Space
This is part of the evaluation process when deciding which smoker to get. Will you be smoking for large groups of friends or just for the family? Smokers come in a wide range of sizes.
For a group of up to 4 people, a smaller smoker will do the job nicely. With more people, a medium-sized or large-sized smoker may be the better option. Be careful of going too large and it doesn’t fit in your outdoor entertainment area!
Another tip linked to cooking space – check out how many racks come with the smoker. Having 2 or more adjustable racks give you more scope when smoking different types of meat.
3. Heating Element Wattages for the Best Temperature
The heating element powers the heat for the smoker. If it’s insufficient, you’ll battle to smoke certain quantities. So, once you’ve decided on the size of your cooking space, turn your attention to the heating element.
While you can control the internal temperature, if your heating element is not strong enough you won’t reach your ideal temperatures.
So, if it’s smaller quantities you’re aiming for then anything between 250 and 800 watts will do the trick. But if you’re planning to smoke for large groups and will be smoking large pieces of meat, your heating element’s wattage should be between 1000 and 1500 watts. Here are additional tips on how to increase the temperature of your smoker.
4. Look for a Smoker with Wheels for Portability
Some smokers can be moved around without wheels. But if your choice of a smoker is large, make sure it’s got wheels. This makes it easier to move from one space to another if necessary.
Every now and then you want to give the area around the smoker a good clean. Being able to move the smoker with ease will make the cleaning job so much easier.
5. Prepare Your Smoker Before Using for the First Time
To avoid any manufacturing residues, it’s a good idea to prepare your smoker. This is commonly known as “seasoning“.
Coat all interior parts with cooking oil (canola or sunflower oil is perfect). This includes your racks and chip tray. Switch the appliance on to 270 F and leave to run for 2 to 3 hours.
In the last hour, bring in the wood chips. Have fun with the flavor – applewood, maple or cherry are great starters. Add them to the chip tray. The smoke will eliminate any “new” smells and season your smoker for future use.
When the time is up, turn off and leave the door open to air the smoker.
6. Find Wood Chip Blends to Suit Your Cooking Style
Every cook has their own unique smoking style. As a smoker, you can customize your wood chip blend. But knowing which blend for which food is a good place to start.
Most blends work well for beef although you should avoid apple. The maple and oak blend doesn’t do chicken any favor but all the other blends do. Vegetables taste good when smoked with a combination of maple, hickory, and pecan. Try oak and alder for fish & avoid mesquite with pork.
If your smoker does not include a chip tray, make your own. Use an aluminum foil container. Drill some holes into it, put some wood chips in and place above the heating element.
Do not use wood scraps or any other type of wood not designed for smokers. You could run the risk of releasing toxic fumes in your smoker.
7. Buy Your Own Thermometer
Most smokers come with a built-in thermostat. But if you’re serious about smoking food get a top-quality meat thermometer.
A long-probe design is ideal and helps you to gauge internal meat temperature.
Internal meat temperature is important for safe consumption. But also getting the optimum texture of your meat.
All poultry should be served at between 165F and 175F. Fish and pork are best served at 145F. Rare lamb is ideal at 135F while well-done is 165F. Well-done smoked beef should be at 170F.
8. Use the Right Temperature for Smoking Different Foods
As with any oven or smoker, using the right temperature for different foods is key.
Electric smokers include controllers to manage the smoker temperature. Watch out for the “swing” in temperature especially at the beginning. Electric smokers are prone to going above or below the set temperature.
To manage this, set your thermostat slightly below the required temperature. Reset to correct temperature when it has risen above the pre-setting.
- Chicken and turkey do well at higher temperatures. Smoke them at 275F.
- Beef, pork, and ribs smoke best at a temperature of 225F.
- Start at a low temperature of 150F for fish. Maintain this for the first 2 hours and in the last hour take the temperature up to 200F.
9. Heat Up the Smoker Before Smoking the Meat
Your electric smoker needs to be pre-heated before you put in the meat. I’ve already mentioned the “swing” in temperatures and this normally happens at the beginning. You need to reach the desired temperature before putting in the meat.
If meat is put in before the right temperature is reached you run the risk of ruining your meal.
Use the thermostat or your thermometer to monitor the temperature as it rises.
Two other signs will indicate when your smoker is ready. The smoke must turn to a bluish tint (if it’s white it’s not ready). And your wood chips should be turning into ash.
10. Keep the Vents Open When Smoking Meat
Here’s a useful tip! Avoid the build-up of creosote in your smoker by leaving the vents fully open.
You may be asking what is creosote. Smoke produces creosote and this causes a residue layer inside the smoker. While this may enhance the flavor of smoked meat, too much will leave you with meat tasting rancid or bitter.
When the smoking process is complete, close the vents.
11. Find Recipe Books That Focus on Smoking Meat
Using conventional recipes will not show you how to smoke meat. The hours, temperatures, and methods are completely different from using a conventional oven.
I’ve shared some tips for preparing your meat for smoking. And which temperatures to focus on. But electric smoker recipes are geared towards smoking meat and getting great results.
If you’re a beginner to smoking foods, follow recipes for an electric smoker. The more you practice the more you’ll be able to experiment and bring in your own style.
12. Prepare The Meat with a Brine Solution Before Smoking
Placing meats in a brine solution before smoking improves the texture and flavor. Use this tip and you’ll be a master smoker chef!
Make up a brine solution using salt and water. Bring to the boil on the stovetop. Stir until all the salt is dissolved. And then start to experiment with seasoning – this is your secret recipe!
- Use garlic or onion powder,
- Whole peppercorns and cloves work well
- Onions, carrots, and bay leaves are some other options
- Some cooks like to use slices of orange or lemon in the solution.
Poultry and pork benefit from sitting in a brine solution for 24 hours before smoking. Wild fish such as carp should also be brined for up to 24 hours. Keep the brine and meat in the refrigerator during this time.
13. Smoking is Not a Rushed Process – Time and Patience is a Necessity
Smoking meat is not something done in a flash. The art of premium smoked meat comes from time – plenty of it – and patience. You simply can’t rush the smoking process. So make sure you’re relaxed, and you’ve got the time.
Exactly how much time you may be asking.
Connoisseurs of bbq ribs done in smoker estimate anything between 6 to 8 hours. Smoked carp needs up to 8 hours. And that doesn’t include the brining time!
The trick here is simple – put aside a day for smoking meat. You won’t have to stand next to your smoker all the time but you need to be on hand until the meat is smoked.
14. Maintaining Moisture Inside the Smoker
Here’s another tip that will set you apart from amateur smokers! As the temperature rises in the smoker, moisture starts to dissipate. The outcome? Meat with a dry and chewy texture.
If your electric smoker doesn’t come with a water pan, improvise.
Use a container lined with porcelain (this allows for easy clean up). It must be big enough to hold up to 2 cups of water.
15. Use Aluminium Foil to Keep the Cooking Chamber Clean
Here’s a cleaning trick used by many cooks. Line the cooking racks with aluminum foil before smoking. By doing this, you’ll save time (and money on cleaning materials) when cleaning the racks.
Simply remove the foil, toss away and wipe down the racks.
You’ll also be protecting the water pan and drip tray using this trick. And your flavors won’t be affected by greasy build-up on the racks.
16. Do Regular Deep Cleans
Regular deep cleaning of your smoker will keep in good nick. And prevents the build-up of grease, creosote, and other grime. If left for too long in this state, the performance of your smoker will be hampered.
Use detergents that aren’t abrasive. Apply with a soft, cleaning cloth. If the grime is stubborn use a soft brush with plastic bristles.
Remove the water pan and drip tray/. These can be soaked in warm, soapy water. When ready, scrub them with a sponge and rinse off.
17.Cleaning the Exterior and Door Window
Wipe down the outside of the smoker with warm, soapy water and a cloth.
Remember to wipe around the rubber seal. Grease often builds up in this area.
If your smoker has a door with a glass window, use the right window cleaning agent.
As with cleaning the interior of your smoker, don’t be tempted to use abrasive detergents.
18. Use Your Electric Smoker Often
The more you use your electric smoker, the better you’ll get at using it. It’s like any relationship – get to know what the electric smoker can do for you. And build on it. As you go along, you’ll come up with your own tips and tricks too.
Practice makes perfect! And this also means reading as many electric smoking recipes. The more you experiment with these recipes, the better your smoked meat will be.
19. Watch Videos About Using Electric Smokers
The internet is awash with videos by both professional and amateur cooks. By watching these videos you’ll pick up tips and tricks not mentioned here.
You’ll also discover which tools and accessories these guys (and ladies) are using to improve their smoking skills.
Practical demonstrations will show you various techniques and application of the appliance. And if you watch foodie videos geared to smoking food you’ll pick up some cool ideas.
20. When All Else Fails Use the Instruction Manual
If you haven’t been using your instruction manual, this may be the time to do so!
Most electric smokers come with comprehensive guidelines. Some even include recipes.
Reading your instruction manual will give you more tips for using your smoker efficiently.
A Final Word
An electric smoker is a wonderful asset for any cook. Smoking meat can be done easily and efficiently. These smoker tips and tricks I’ve shared with you will set you apart from other cooks. Use them to turn your smoked meal into a gastronomic experience!