Electric Smoker Frequently Asked Questions – Learn more with our Electric Smoker FAQ Q&A

The Ultimate Electric Smoker FAQ - The Grilling Life

If you’re new to the world of smokers, you might be imagining the work it takes to get your charcoal lit and keep the fire maintained. For some people, that concept is exciting. For others? Not so much.

If you fall into that latter camp, let us introduce you to what will soon be your new best friend: the electric smoker.

These popular smokers offer convenient features that standard wood and charcoal smokers don’t and are perfect for outdoor chefs who want to kick back and relax while their food cooks.

If you don’t know much about electric smokers but are in the market for one of these convenient cookers, we’ve got you covered!

In this electric smoker FAQ guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying, using, and maintaining an electric smoker of your own.

At the end, we’ll give you a list of some helpful accessories to invest in, plus a few parting thoughts so you can get to smoking.

Be sure to check back on this guide, as we often add questions and update the answers with new articles!

Let’s dive into these electric smoker FAQs!

In This Article, We’ll Explore:

Click a topic below to be taken directly to that section.

Why Choose An Electric Smoker?

An electric smoker offers convenience and worry-free cooking that other smokers don’t. Most models allow you to set a temperature and simply let it cook without worrying about maintaining the fire or adding more fuel. If you’re not interested in the high-maintenance parts of smoking, an electric smoker is for you!

What Is An Electric Smoker?

An Electric Smoker uses an electric heating rod as its heat source instead of charcoal and wood like other models. While each model’s exact features will vary, they’re almost all made from cast iron or stainless steel.

How Does An Electric Smoker Work?

Electric smokers include one or more electric heating rods to heat their cooking chambers and the air within them, which then cooks food via convection.

They also typically consist of grill racks or trays, a water pan for moisture, and could include an option for wood or charcoal to burn alongside the heating rods for added smokey flavor.

Electric Smokers vs Propane Smokers

Both electric and propane smokers are easy to “set and forget” without the need to maintain a fire or light charcoal. They also both rely on wood chips placed in a wood chip tray to create that smoky flavor we’re after.

One big difference is that it is a lot easier to use an electric smoker for low-temperature smoking (thing 160°F to 225°F) than it is using a gas smoker.

What Is The Difference Between An Electric And A Standard Smoker?

A traditional smoker uses charcoal to create combustion or heat within the cooking chamber and wood chips or chunks to create flavorful smoke. With an electric smoker, you can add wood chips for flavor, but the heat is created by that electric heating rod.

How Do Electric Smokers Compare To Charcoal Smokers?

Charcoal smokers will deliver more of that signature smoky flavor, so if that’s what you’re after, it’s worth it to invest in and learn how to use a traditional smoker. On the other hand, electric smokers are lightyears more convenient — if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of flavor, the time you save will be worth it.

Do Electric Smokers Cook Faster?

Yes. Electric smokers are better at heat retention since there’s no combustion happening that would require more airflow. Without the need for a lot of airflow, the smoker can hold on to that heat and cook and maintain temperatures better.

Where Is The Best Spot To Use My Smoker?

Look for somewhere to set up your smoker where it’s shielded from elements like wind and rain and where there’s nothing flammable nearby. That means at least 10 feet from any flammable structures.

Do I Need To Pre-Season A New Electric Smoker?

You should pre-season your electric smoker before the first time you use it. Seasoning ensures that any debris or residue left over from manufacturing gets burned away before you start cooking (burning residue + food is not a fun combo), and it helps to seal the inside of the smoker.

How Do I Pre-Season My Electric Smoker?

First, read your user manual since the seasoning process varies by manufacturer. If the manual calls for it, coat the inside of your smoker with a thin layer of cooking oil using a spray bottle or cloth.

Then heat the smoker up to around 275°F and let it run for three hours. During the last hour or 45 minutes of seasoning, add some wood chips to the wood tray to create smoke and finish up the process.

Can I Use An Extension Cord With My Electric Smoker?

Using an extension cord with your smoker isn’t ideal, but if you need to, there are a few factors to keep in mind. First, use a shorter cord with as high a gauge as possible to avoid annoying (and potentially dangerous) voltage drops. Be sure to look for cords that are marked “W-A” and that are suitable for use with outdoor appliances.

What Voltage Does An Electric Smoker Require?

Electric smokers require 120-volt circuits since they usually draw between 10 and 20 amps while running.

Does An Electric Smoker Use A Lot Of Electricity?

Because of their size and how long they run, your electric smoker will require a lot of electricity to work. The exact amount will vary on the size of your smoker. To avoid driving your electric bill higher than necessary, be sure to follow all usage instructions in your user manual.

To put it into perspective, typically, they only use about 800 watts or 0.8 kilowatts per hour.

The price per kilowatt-hour in the United States ranges from 9.37 cents to 32.76 cents, depending on your state. So, using your smoker for one hour only costs 7.49 to 26.2 cents per hour.

Should I Line My Grates And Racks With Foil?

No. While it may seem like a good idea for an easy clean-up, lining your grates and racks with foil can actually impede airflow and lead to a lackluster final product.

Should I Preheat My Electric Smoker?

That depends on how hot of a temperature you’re trying to reach. If you need to cook at a high temperature, it’s a good idea to preheat your smoker to avoid temperature drops when you open it up to add food. However, if you plan on low and slow cooking, preheating isn’t as necessary.

What Temperature Ranges Should I Target In My Smoker?

The range you shoot for with your smoker all depends on what you plan on cooking. For beef or pork, go for a long cook at 180°F-225°F, which helps break down their connective tissues into delicious, juicy goodness.

For leaner cuts like chicken or fish, long cooking times will dry them out — cook these at 300°F or higher for a shorter amount of time to cook them safely but keep them juicy.

Should I Soak My Wood Chips Before Adding Them?

Soaking your wood chips isn’t necessary. Water can’t fully absorb into the wood, so you’re left with wet chips that will cool down your smoker and create steam — not tasty smoke.

How Often Should I Add Wood Chips To An Electric Smoker?

How often you add chips will depend on the size of your smoker and its wood tray. We recommend doing a test run where you put chips into an empty smoker after it’s been running for two hours (the pre-seasoning process is an excellent time to do this).

See how long that batch of chips creates smoke, and then use that as your rule of thumb going forward. For example, if you want to smoke something for four hours but your smoker can only hold enough wood to produce two hours of smoke, you’ll want to fill the wood tray up halfway through the smoking process.

Can I Combine Hardwood Flavors In My Electric Smoker?

Absolutely! If your smoker comes with a wood-burning option, feel free to experiment and create your own delicious wood blend.

Why Is My Electric Smoker Producing So Much Smoke?

It’s normal for your smoker to produce a lot of smoke as it heats up. Once it reaches the temperature you’re aiming for, the smoke should change into a thin, blue smoke that’s perfect for cooking.

How Can I Tell If My Smoker Is Producing The Right Kind Of Smoke?

Don’t start cooking when there’s a lot of thick smoke being produced. Instead, wait until your smoke is wispy, thin, almost blue, and difficult to see.

Should I Use A Water Pan In My Smoker?

Water pans are incredibly handy when it comes to smoking. When placed under the meat or over the fire, a water pan will help absorb excess heat, infuse your food with extra smoke, maintain the temperature, and deliver a juicier result.

If you’re cooking with indirect heat, a water pan can even act as a heat deflector. We recommend using one whenever possible!

How Can I Manage The Moisture In My Smoker?

A water pan will help out with this. You can also spritz your meat with a bit of water or juice every hour to help moisten it and raise the humidity in your smoker. Finally, be sure to keep your smoker closed as much as possible — opening the lid will let all that smoky, moist air escape.

Can You Cold Smoke With An Electric Smoker?

Yes! Electric smokers are great for cold smoking since they’re easy to maintain a steady temperature on. When cold smoking, be sure not to let your smoker come above 90-100°F.

What Does Cold Smoking Mean?

Cold smoking typically requires food first to be cured and then cooked at an incredibly low temperature that is creating little to no heat.

How Do You Cold Smoke Food In An Electric Smoker?

You’ll typically start cold smoke food by curing it in a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices and then letting it dry for one to 12 hours. Once it has a dry, sticky coating, it’s ready to go into a smoker that’s kept below 90-100°F, away from the fire. If you have larger pieces of food, cold smoking can take days.

Can You Use An Electric Smoker In The House?

No, it’s not advised. Without proper ventilation, even an electric smoker can turn your house into a dangerous, smoky environment. Not to mention the smell of whatever you’re cooking will probably be trapped in there forever.

Although you technically can use an electric smoker indoors, be sure that your smoker is rated safe for indoors by the manufacture. Some electric smokers are designed specifically for the outdoors.

Is It Ok To Use My Smoker In A Covered Area Or Garage?

It’s best not to use your smoker in covered areas, even if they’re partially outdoors, like a garage or porch. Be sure to keep your smoker at least 10 feet away from any structure or building while using it.

Can I Use My Electric Smoker In The Winter?

You can use your smoker during the colder months, it’ll just take a bit of work to make sure it stays as warm as possible. Only open the lid when absolutely necessary, use a Wireless Thermometer, and keep your smoker insulated using a specially-designed jacket or blanket.

Can I Use My Electric Smoker In The Rain?

Since your smoker is powered by electricity, using it in the rain isn’t the best idea. While most electric smokers can survive a bit of spilled water or a short, unexpected sprinkle of rain, using your smoker during steady rain can let water into its vents and its crucial electrical components.

How Should I Store My Smoker When I Am Not Using It?

You should keep your smoker covered when not in use. If you don’t have a cover for your smoker, storing it in a garage or shed (once it’s completely cooled) will help keep it safe and shielded from the elements.

What Is The Best Way To Clean My Electric Smoker?

Electric smokers are relatively easy to clean since you don’t have charcoal debris to clean out after cooking! After each time you cook, clean your cooking grates, pans, and drip pan (if you’re using one) with a gentle cleanser like a homemade 50/50 mix of hot water and apple cider vinegar. Avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning your smoker.

How Long Do Electric Smokers Last?

Depending on how often you use it (and how well you clean it), you can expect your electric smoker to last between five and ten years.

Is Smoked Meat Bad For Your Health?

Smoking can introduce carcinogens to your meat, which are substances believed by the American Cancer Society to increase cancer risk. Because of that, it’s a good idea to practice moderation when it comes to eating smoked meats.

Electric Smoking Tools And Accessory Must Haves

The electric smoker itself isn’t the only tool you’ll need for successful, delicious smoked foods. Be sure to pick up these must-have accessories before you get smoking.

Heat-Resistant Gloves  

You’ll be touching hot metal surfaces when operating your smoker, so it’s smart to have heat-resistant gloves to protect your hands.

You check out my recommended Heat-Resistant Glove here: Best Heat Resistant Gloves For Grilling

Grilling Tools  

Those cuts of meat won’t magically maneuver themselves into your smoker – having grilling tools like tongs and a spatula will help you move your food into and out of your smoker.

Check out some awesome Grilling Toolsets here: Grilling Toolsets

Thermometers

Knowing the temperature of your food and smoker is essential to successful smoking.

Check out my recommended Instant Read Thermometers here: 10 Best Instant Read Thermometers

Check out my recommended Digital, Dual-Probe Smoker And Grill Thermometers here: 10 Best Digital Meat Thermometers

A Good Grill Brush  

A solid grill brush will help you keep your grates clean without fear of wire bristles winding up in your food.

You can see our recommendations for the Best Bristle-Free Grill Brushes Here: 10 Best Bristle Free Grill Brushes

A Guide To Smoking Meats On An Electric Smoker  

Whether you’re new to using an electric smoker or an old pro, it never hurts to have tons of tasty recipes in your arsenal. We recommend This Electric Smoker Cookbook to help give you new ideas and techniques to level up your smoking.

Electric Smoker FAQ Final Thoughts

We hope this electric smoker FAQ guide helped answer any questions you have about buying or using your own smoker! If you’re looking for a convenient way to smoke food, an electric smoker should be your tool of choice.

If you have any other questions we didn’t cover in this guide, or just want to know a bit more about buying or using an electric smoker, let us know in the comments section or by sending us an email! We’ll do our best to find an answer, and we may even add your question to this guide!

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Now It’s Your Turn

I want to hear from you. Which outdoor smoker have you used before?

Have you used a charcoal smoker and have any tips to share?

What features do you typically like to see in a charcoal smoker?

Are you going to be purchasing a smoker in the future?  Or do you plan on looking at a Pellet GrillBuilt-In Gas Grill, or Charcoal Model? How about a Pizza Oven?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below.

If you still have questions, please feel free to send me a message.

Cheers,

Patrick

Disclosure At The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs.  If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission.  This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue.  Your support is truly appreciated.



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