There is a whole world of tasty food you can make with an electric smoker, whether that’s a rack of ribs, brisket, a smoked turkey, or even cold-smoked fish and cheese. Though electric smokers impart a subtler flavor than other types of smokers, BBQGuys Chef and Product Expert Tony Matassa says it’s a difference that shouldn’t hold grillers back.
“Electric smokers definitely hold their own amongst charcoal, gas, and pellet smokers,” Matassa says. “They are easy to set up and use, easy to clean, and can get up to temperature faster than most other methods. Electric smokers do lack a more robust smoke flavor profile, but most people won't notice this subtle difference. To make up for that, they are consistent and are as close to ‘set it and forget it’ as we currently have in the cooking world.”
Experts, like Matassa, gave us their recommendations and insights on electric smokers, and coupled with our own research, we determined the best electric smokers to invest in right now.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Cookshack SM045 Supersmoker
Weight: 103 pounds | Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 19.5 x 35 inches | Material: stainless steel | Maximum Temperature: 300°F
- Maintains consistent temperatures
- Grill racks are dishwasher-safe
- Over $1,000
Why we chose it: One of Matassa’s favorites, this smoker is heavy duty, reliable, and easy to clean.
“Cookshack has been my go-to electric smoker since I began working at BBQGuys 14 years ago,” Matassa says. “They have consistently and reliably helped me smoke food for tens of thousands of people.”
One of the reasons Matassa loves Cookshack so much is because of how well it maintains temperatures. But he also considers this one of the best electric smokers for home use because of its construction. “[Cookshack smokers] are very well-built, stainless-steel, double walled, and fully insulated,” he says.
As an added bonus, the three racks and the grills are dishwasher safe, making clean-up that much easier.
The downside: this smoker is pricey, coming in at $1,417.50.
Best Budget: Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker
Weight: 45.9 pounds | Product Dimensions: 19.88 x 20.47 x 33.26 inches | Material: stainless steel | Maximum Temperature: 275°F
- Easy to use
- Less than $200
- Produces good amount of smoke and utilizes wood chips
- Digital panel controls can be hard to read in sunlight
- Temperature fluctuates by about 20 degrees
- You will more than likely need an extension cord
Why we chose it: Going for less than $200, this Masterbuilt model is a great electric smoker for beginners and seasoned smokers alike.
There’s lots to love about this electric smoker. For one, it’s easy to assemble and use, with four racks for smoking and the ability to utilize wood chips to impart that nice smoky flavor. And perhaps best of all, you can purchase this unit for just $157.
Keep in mind, though, that this smoker has a tendency to fluctuate within a 20-degree range and that you probably will need to get an extension cord, as the main cord is less than 5 feet long. Also worth mentioning is that some reviews of this electric smoker note that the digital controls on the unit can be challenging to read when it’s sunny out.
Best Bluetooth: Traeger Pro 780
Weight: 173 pounds | Product Dimensions: 48.7 x 26.7 x 54.4 inches | Material: stainless steel | Maximum temperature: 500°F
- WiFi-compatible, complete with an app for your phone
- Allows for searing and grilling, in addition to smoking
- Good customer service
- Nearly $1,000
- Temperature control can be wonky
Why we chose it: One of the best grill brands on the market, this Traeger makes for a top-notch, Bluetooth-compatible smoker, which can connect to the brand’s app to help you keep track of both time and temperature while you’re cooking.
While Traegers are widely known and loved pellet grills, Daniel Castillo, owner and pitmaster of Heritage Barbecue, recommended it as a great electric smoker, especially for its Bluetooth capabilities.
“It's definitely for people that are on the go,” he says. “They have programs where you can download an app on your phone and turn [the smoker] on when you want to turn it on, so that way when you get home, [you can] take something out of the refrigerator, throw some rub on it, and then just pop it in there…You don't have to sit around and babysit it.”
Castillo also likes Traegers for their reliability and the quality of their customer service. This particular model from the Pro Series has 780 square inches of cooking space, and unlike with vertical smokers, will allow you to sear and grill food as well as smoke.
However, this Traeger costs a pretty penny at $999.99. Plus, some buyers have mentioned that their temperatures are off, with some units smoking too hot and others not getting hot enough.
Best Analog: Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker
Weight: 49.5 pounds | Product Dimensions: 15 x 20.7 x 33.5 inches | Material: stainless steel | Maximum Temperature: 275°F
- Heavy duty, even down to the two door latches
- Relatively affordable
- Easy assembly
- Great customer service
- Have to open door to refill wood chips
Why we chose it: Although analog might not be everyone’s preference, this is one of the best electric smokers for home use due to its quality door latches, its approachable price point, and how easy it is to assemble.
There are many aspects to this smoker that make it particularly intriguing for home cooks. For one, it is well-constructed with two sturdy door latches. For another, it’s pretty inexpensive for a smoker, coming in at a little over $200. And lastly, it is both easy to assemble and easy to work with the customer service team, if the need arises.
One downside: Adding more wood chips requires opening the door to the smoker, allowing heat (and smoke) to escape in the process.
Best Professional Grade: Smokin Tex Pro Series 1500 Smoker
Best Professional Grade
Weight: 150 pounds | Product Dimensions: 21 x 23 x 41 inches | Material: stainless steel | Maximum Temperature: 250°F
- Heavy duty
- Holds temperature consistently
- Produces bold, smoky flavor
- Cook can be uneven
- Almost $2,000
Why we chose it: Smokin Tex’s electric smoker was recommended by two experts for its durability and how tasty the food turns out.
“This smoker is built like a heavy-duty, stainless-steel tank,” Matassa says. It has double-wall insulation, which not only helps it maintain the temperature, but also allows it to come back up to the temperature fast, Matassa says. Sturdy construction ensures a long-lasting product, when properly cared for.
Being a commercial-grade smoker, it comes with a hefty price tag of nearly $2,000. And while Bryce Shuman, executive chef of Sweetbriar, uses this smoker at his restaurant in New York City, he’s found that you have to know how to work with it to get the cook right. “The cook can sometimes be a little uneven, but you just rotate [the food] halfway through the cook,” he says.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Electric Smoker
Wood-fired vs. Electric
If you’re debating between a wood-fired smoker or an electric one, you’ll want to keep in mind that electric smokers generally have more racks in them and allow for greater control over the temperature than wood-fired smokers. That being said, wood-fired smokers generally impart a bolder smoky flavor to foods, whereas electric smokers will impart a more subtle flavor. Plus, it can be tricky to achieve a bark on your smoked meats with an electric smoker, Matassa says. “If this is important to you, you can smoke your food in an electric smoker, then finish the food in a 425°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, to get the prized ‘bark’,” he says.
Before investing in an electric smoker, make sure there’s an outlet than be solely devoted to the smoker, with no other appliances plugged into it. “This is important because if a user plugs their smoker into a non-dedicated circuit, the smoker might work, as far as turning on and such, but the outcome will vary,” Matassa says. “Here is a real world example from two weeks ago: I plugged an electric smoker into a loaded circuit and ran temperature tests. Then, I plugged the same smoker into a dedicated 15-amp circuit and ran the same tests. The smoker worked on both circuits, except there was a 100°F temperature difference in the output.”
You’ll also want to consider the quality of the insulation in any electric smoker you’re eyeing. This could make a big difference in the outcome of your food if the smoker can’t hold the proper temperature for the necessary length of time. “From the outside most smokers look similar, but to maintain consistent temperatures inside of the smoker, you need proper insulation,” Matassa says. “Proper insulation is like 304- or 316-grade stainless steel. It costs the manufacturer considerably more to include the material, so they won't forget to mention it in their marketing and product materials.”
Do I have to soak wood chips before using them?
Only if you want to delay the smoke, Matassa says. “There is no need to soak wood chips unless you want them to smoke at a later point in time,” he says. “Soaked wood chips have to dehydrate (get back to their non-soaked state) before they can begin to smoke.”
Can I use an electric smoker in the house?
“No, you should never use an electric smoker inside because the smoke contains dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and other chemicals that don’t belong inside your house,” Matassa says.
How do I clean an electric smoker?
While it can differ for different types of smokers, Matassa suggests making an even soak of hot water and white vinegar. “If you have heavily baked-on debris, soak some paper towels in the mixture and place them over these areas,” he says. “Allow the paper towels to sit for 10-15 minutes, then remove and clean. For stubborn areas, I remove the paper towels and scrape the area with a polycarbonate scraper; never use a metal scraper or anything else abrasive inside your smoker. Using abrasives will only make the smoker harder to clean the next time you use it and for all future cleanings.”
Shuman also suggests not cleaning the entirety of your smoker, just the racks themselves. “I would leave the sides of your smoker alone and let it get a patina (or cure) on it—sort of like seasoning your smoker,” he says.
Accessories to Consider Purchasing Alongside Your Electric Smoker
Many top electric smokers come with water pans, but if yours doesn’t, it might be worth getting. Erica Blaire Roby, season 2 winner of BBQ Brawl on Food Network, says you can really use any disposable aluminum casserole pan (like these from Amazon) as your water pan if you don’t have one. And what’s cool about having a water pan in your smoker is that you can use it to impart more flavor into your food.
“You can actually put your marinade into that water pan, so when that steam is created, it's also bringing even more flavor up,” Roby says. “I know a lot of people, if they're doing fish in a vertical smoker or a vertical grill, what they'll do is they'll add citrus—lemon peels, orange peels, stuff like that—into the water, so that they're getting those kinds of flavors into their food as well.”
If you’re looking to get into smoking, you’ll want to grab an internal thermometer. We recommend this wireless one from MEATER, which you can leave in your food while cooking. Through their app, you can monitor the temperature the entire time, and it can even estimate how long your food needs to cook and rest before you can enjoy it.
This waterproof and non-slip mat from Amazon is perfect to slide under your smoker and keep your driveway, deck, or backyard patio free from splatter or spills.
The best home electric smokers are well-insulated, heavy duty, and maintain heat consistently. Though some of them like the Cookshack and the Traeger can be a bit pricey, it’s ultimately worth the heftier price tag if you’re someone who truly enjoys smoking all sorts of different foods and will use it regularly.
We spoke with four barbecue experts to get their recommendations for the best electric smokers and their tips for what to look out for and how to use them. With their advice in mind, we scoured the internet for electric smokers that were easy to use, held heat well, and were highly rated. We also looked out for whether the smokers are digital or analog, WiFi-enabled, and how well-constructed the smoker is. Together, all of this led us to our top selections.