Are you a beginner who’s looking to take your smoking game to the next level? If yes then get yourself an electric smoker. Electric smokers are a convenient and user-friendly alternative to traditional charcoal or wood smokers. Moreover, they offer a hassle-free smoking experience, making it easier for you to cook delicious smoked meats, fish, and vegetables from the comfort of your own backyard.
Whether you’re new to electric smokers or just looking for some guidance on how to make the most of your smoking sessions, this step-by-step guide will help you navigate the world of electric smokers and ensure a successful smoking experience.
An electric smoker is an ideal option for beginners who don’t want to go through the learning curve. They are more convenient, safer, and cost-effective as compared to other traditional smokers. In this blog, we will discuss how to use an electric smoker in a step-by-step guide. So, let’s begin:
What Is Meant by an Electric Smoker?
An electric smoker is a type of smoker that uses electricity to produce a smoker to cook food. It is built vertically and looks similar to a fridge. Digital electric smokers come with an advanced temperature control system which makes them more convenient than traditional charcoal smokers. Moreover, an electric smoker is much easier to clean and comes in a variety of designs.
5 Parts of an Electric Smoker
Unlike traditional charcoal smokers, an electric smoker is designed vertically with the cooking area at the top while the heating source is located at the bottom. Some of the features of an electric smoker are as follows;
- Heating Rods: On the lower side of an electric smoker are the heating rods that use electricity to produce heat and cook the meat gradually.
- Wood Chip Tray: In most electric smokers, the electric heater is enclosed by a wood chip tray in which wood chips burn slowly and produce smoke. Halfway through the smoking process, you can add chunks of wood or pellets into the firebox. For smoking purposes, you can use a wide range of woods such as hickory, oak, maple, and alder as well as cherry and mesquite.
- Water Pan: There is a water pan above the wood chip tray that is filled with cold water initially to prevent the internal temperature of the smoker from rising too quickly. But soon as the water heats up, it produces a smoker which helps in convection cooking.
- Grill Racks: Most electric smokers come with grill racks that are made up of stainless steel and you can directly place meat on these grill racks or you can use cast iron skillets to roast your meat.
- Dampers and air vents: Since oxygen is required to feed the flames, the temperature-controlling option helps in adjusting the airflow. Moreover, dampers that are located at the bottom of the smoker can be opened to ensure airflow and oxygen to feed the flames which raises the temperature. On the other hand, the vents situated at the top of the unit can be opened to let the heat escape. The heat also escapes when you open the front door of your smoker.
How to Use an Electric Smoker in 7 Steps?
As compared to other smokers, electric smokers are significantly convenient to use. An electric smoker is designed using cutting-edge technologies so that you can make the most out of your smoking experience with the help of this smoker. This smoker is made up of high-quality stainless steel that is durable and functional. By following these simple steps, you can level up your smoking game.
Season Your Smoker:
Before using an electric smoker for the first time, make sure you have seasoned it. The main goal of the seasoning is to remove any dust, odor, or residue on the cooking racks, stainless steel housing, or wood chip tray that has accumulated during manufacturing.
For the seasoning, you need to rub the interior surface of your electric smoker with a thin layer of cooking oil and then turn on the smoker at 250-275°F for 2-3 hours. After that, you can turn off your device and allow it to cool before touching the internal components.
The seasoning process greatly depends on the model you are working on and all-electric smokers come with an instruction manual. So, read the instructions carefully before operating your electric smoker.
When the seasoning is about to come to an end, you can add some wood chunks to your chip tray. This will help in producing smoke that will optimize your smoker for future use.
2. Use Your Own Digital Meat Thermometer:
Most electric smokers come with an integrated thermostat but this might not give you precise results. While top brands might have a better quality thermometer than your standard gas smoker. Still, most pit masters prefer digital meat thermometers to check the temperature of meat inside the smoker.
3. Always Cook At An Accurate Temperature
Cooking meat at the perfect temperature is key to achieving a smoky, delicious flavor. But not all meats require the same temperature range. For instance, brisket, pork butt, pork shoulder, and ribs smoke best at around 225°F.
Meanwhile, chicken and turkey can withstand higher temperatures, often around 275°F throughout a multi-hour smoke. So make sure to adjust your smoker accordingly for the best results!
4. Try Different Types Of Hardwoods
If you’ve recently got a new electric smoker, you may be interested in experimenting with different types of hardwoods to infuse your meats with rich, smoky flavors. While not all electric smoker models include this feature, the best ones often do.
To up the ante on your outdoor culinary prowess, you can craft your own wood blend to compliment the signature dry rub or marinade. Most traditionalists may prefer a purist approach, but who says you can’t mix hickory, alder, or mesquite with a fruity apple or cherry wood?
For optimal results, keep these general tips in mind: avoid apple wood when smoking beef, and stick to non-oak and non-maple blends with chicken. Try using alder, oak, or mesquite when smoking fish, opt for hickory, pecan, or maple when smoking veggies, and avoid mesquite and oak when smoking pork shoulder and pork butt.
5. Make Sure You Have Enough Time
Unlike a regular grill, electric smokers need long cook times to get that melt-in-your-mouth texture and smoky flavor that we all love. A rack of ribs might take several hours, while a whole turkey or ham can take an entire day.
For brisket, the king of smoked meats, the optimal cooking temperature is 225°F, and on average, plan for about 75 minutes per pound of meat.
6. Cooking Space Must Be Large
When it comes to smokers, size does matter. While you don’t want your patio to feel overcrowded, it’s important to choose a smoker with a spacious cooking area that will allow you to achieve the most precise results.
A tall, vertical smoker offers up to triple the square inches of cooking space, and a wider smoker with a dual-door design is ideal for smoking larger pieces of meat without having to hack them up. Remember, it’s always better to have more space than you need, even if it means going a little bit overboard. Just keep in mind that certain situations, like tailgating, call for a more compact cooker.
7. Clean Your Smoker
Last but not least, always make sure to clean your electric smoker after each cooking session. Otherwise, all the leftover food particles will accumulate on your grilling racks and damage them. When you are done with your smoking, take out some time to clean your smoker including cooking surfaces from grilling grates to cast iron.
You can use a damp cloth and dustpan but make sure to turn it off before cleaning. Besides this, you can also use a drip tray during the smoking season to keep your smoker clean. So, whenever you clean the whole unit, also make sure to clean this drip tray.
The Final Verdict
Whether you are a newbie or an experienced pit master, you can make the most out of your smoking sessions using an electric smoker because it is more convenient to use. In this blog, we have discussed in detail how to use an electric smoker.
When it comes to buying an electric smoker, you need to consider a lot of factors such as size, temperature control options, and additional features such as build meat probes. Always choose the right electric smoker depending on your specific needs.