You'd love to have smoked grub but the thought of the gases that come out of a typical charcoal, gas or pellet smoker puts you off? Fortunately, there's a solution for you. While it may not give you the exact same taste of a traditional smoker, with all its gaseous aromas, an electric smoker is the next best thing. The flavor of the smoked food is only slightly different (not really any worse because of the different source of smoke) in an electric smoker. But the advantage you get from using an electric cooker weighs out that slight difference too. So buying a small electric smoker does make sense if you're looking for a good piece of cooking equipment to prepare smoked dishes without having to suffer the negatives of using a traditional smoker. Check out our buying guide below to learn more
The key difference
To understand better the functioning of an electric smoker, you need to understand the science behind the absence of a smoke ring in its operation. That's because an electric smoker doesn't produce the combustion gases that the traditional smokers emanate. Now what you need to grasp is that the ring adds no flavor to the food; it merely gives a visual sense of authenticity. As to why there's no smoke ring in an electric smoker, the reason is simple - it doesn't need one for combustion. But if you feel strongly about seeing a smoke ring to convince yourself that there's actually some smoking taking place, then add one or two briquettes to the wood box of the electric smoker, which can produce gases to create the expected smoke ring (though that may not necessarily happen always!).
Types of electric smokers
There are quite an interesting and exciting variety of electric smokers you can use for satiating your desire for smoked food with the right amount of wood chips in it. The small ones are naturally the best on account of their compactness and portability - you can use them at home or outside as required and they are made of stainless steel.
If you're looking for a somewhat inexpensive type of smoker, which works well in warm weather in particular, it's the vertical water electric smoker you need to go for. Then there's the cabinet smoker which is shaped like a small refrigerator and which usually comes equipped with a temperature gauge for temperature control.
Best Small Electric Smokers For The Money
Masterbuilt 20070910 30- Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker
This Masterbuilt 30inch smoking beauty is all you need to try delicious smoked brisket meat in your home and it is also great for outdoor cooking. Once your friends and family find out you have it, you will have more people coming over than you can handle. The smoker comes with a digital control panel that allows you to see the exact temperature inside of the smoker so you know when it the meat is properly smoked. Although smaller than the other smokers, it is pretty roomy inside and can handle a variety of meat simultaneously. The key is all about setting the temperature inside appropriately.
What I love about this smoker is the removable water pan. It allows you to add apple cider vinegar, juice, or any type of liquid you believe will add to the flavor of your meat. The sky is the limit when this smoker is your home and clean up is easier than ever with a few easy wipes.
Smokey Hollow 30162E Electric Smoker
This Smoke Hollow model is considered to be one of the best on the market based on consumer reviews and the cooking process is simple. We actually own this one ourselves and love the heck out of it because it takes up very little space and is easy to clean when you are done with it. On occasion, my family and I go camping and take it with us. You will not believe what a god send it is and how many people are impressed by it when we use it on our camping site. As far as measurements go, it is 17"x31"x15, which makes it one of the smaller smoker son our list.
A few other features include side handles which come in handy when moving it around without getting yourself burned. Also, if you have any issues with the controller and heating element, Smoke Hollow has great customer service and will help you get a replacement immediately. This is a very affordable yet compact electric smoker to buy that I highly recommend if you need something small and it is easy to move around.
Smokehouse Little Chief Front Load Electric Smoker
The Smokehouse Little Chief is the outlier of the small electric smokers being sold right now. Interestingly enough, it is made up of aluminum instead of the usual thicker medal bodies that the other smokers have. This portable electric smoker weighs close to 15 pounds and is easy to travel with if you are the type of person that likes to smoke everywhere they go.
If you have never purchased the perfect smoker before, this is the one you should go with. It is fairly easy to use and affordable when compared to the others is this category. The only thing you should keep in mind is that the heating element is not adjustable and is set at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. A person who lives in very cold environments should not choose this smoker because the drip pan is not very good.
Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
I have read a few articles about the Char-Broil Electric Smoker being a favorite for people who love camping. You will be able to smoke every type of food with this smoker that you could possibly imagine. The smoking surface is spacious for a smoker on the smaller end and comes with a smoking chamber that rivals the size of larger smokers on the market. If you are looking for a smoker to keep the heat even in every single nook and cranny, this is the one to go with. All of your meat is guaranteed to be evenly cooked so you will not waste any time waiting around for that one piece of meat that hasn't fully cooked itself yet.
This smoker is reasonably priced and is made by a company with a solid reputation in the industry. We are pretty sure you will not regret pulling the trigger on this awesome smoker.
Old Smokey Electric Smoker
The Old Smokey is a uniquely designed smoker that it isn't for everyone. They think outside of the box a bit and create a smoker that defies tradition with its pit barrel style design. If you have children around while you are using it, there are some facts you have to consider before buying it. Because it is made of metal, the exterior will be super hot when you are smoking meat so you have to make sure to keep your adventurous children far away.
Other then that, this product is easy to use in and super portable for the person who travels a lot. It has a heating element that is at the bottom of the barrel so you can place your favorite flavor of wood over it to give your meat that extra stick that makes smoking worthwhile. This one is last on our small electric smoker list but it definitely should be respected.
Using a small electric smoker
A small electric smoker is quite easy to use, as long as you go with the instructions properly. Remember to remove the odors, dust etc. with the preparation instructions when using such a smoker for the first time. You should season the smoker, coat the indoor surface and rackets with cooking oil, and keep it on for a couple of hours before starting to use a new electric cooker.
How it works
It may work on a rheostat to turn down the current flow, just as a stove does. You may also find the option of low, medium and high settings, depending on the model you've opted for. Some high-end ones, however, use thermostats, which help maintain the desired temperature inside the smoker at the press of a button or two. Though better than rheostat, a thermostat smoker is definitely on the expensive side in comparison. So your budget will play an important role in deciding which one you eventually opt for.
Monitoring temperature is vital
This may seem obvious but many of us don't fully understand the implications of maintaining a proper internal temperature while using a portable electric smoker. You need to monitor the temperature, which isn't too difficult since most electric cookers come with an in-built gauge for this purpose. You may also find a temperature adjustment dial, which you can use to adjust the temperature as per your requirement. Also make sure you have enough cooking space.
The best part of a small electric cooker, apart from its compact size, is that it doesn't need to be tended constantly, as against a traditional smoker, which will leave your food burnt out or under cooked if you don't continuously tend to it. And also, it's not messy, so you can set it for your cooking needs, go out for work or a walk, or just go to bed for a snooze, and come back to see your meat nicely done, without a whole lot of mess to be cleared up afterwards. If at all you need to use wood for the typical smoky flavor, it's just about 2-4 ounces of wood you need.
Perfect for small apartment or condo
While you may want a live fire or traditional smoker to whip up your typical smoke-flavored dishes, it's not really an option if you're staying in a small apartment or condo. That's where a small electric smoker is a big (forgive the pun) help.
On the flip side
On the negative side, you may find an electric smoker, which generally draws 10-20 amps of power, flipping off and breaking the circuit to plunge your home into darkness. But that's an exception rather than the rule, as long as you ensure that your house has the kind of electric flow required to run an electric smoker. So the chances of a circuit-breakage due to your electric smoker are low, especially if it's a small-sized one.
To sum up our buyers guide, it's more than evident that an electric smoker on our list, especially a small one, is your answer if you want a smoker but don't really have the kind of space it needs to work in. Minor issues apart, you'll find an electric smoker a great substitute for a regular, traditional smoker. It works out to be cheaper in the long run, requiring no charcoal, pellets etc., nor requiring any extensive maintenance or upkeep. And with a little bit of ingenuity, you can actually ensure that the food from an electric smoker, which is really the best option for a small house, carries the same kind of flavor as that from a conventional smoker does.
Make sure to gather the proper grill tools when you buy a small smoker.
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