How to Use an Electric Smoker

Electric smokers have become increasingly popular for cooking a wide variety of meats. They offer convenience, and ease of use, and allow for consistent temperature control throughout the smoking process.

In this article on how to use an electric smoker, we will cover everything from preparing your meat and smoker to selecting the right wood chips and achieving the perfect internal temperature for your cuts of meat.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a beginner to smoking meat, read on to learn some useful tips and tricks to help enhance the smoky flavor of your meat and take your cooking to the next level.

How to Use an Electric Smoker

Different Components of an Electric Smoker

When it comes to electric smokers, understanding the functions of different components is essential for optimal performance and delectable smoked meats. Let’s take a closer look at the critical parts of an electric smoker.

Firstly, the heating rods located at the bottom of the smoker play a crucial role in gradually cooking the meat with a smoky flavor. Powered by electricity, these rods are an essential component of the smoking process.

The wood chip tray found inside the electric smoker is designed to hold a variety of hardwood species like hickory, oak, cherry, and more. The wood chips release smoke during the smoking process, creating a richer, smokier flavor.

Additionally, the water pan helps add moisture to the meat while producing steam, aiding the convection cooking process, and regulating the temperature. It’s placed right above the wood chip tray, initially filled with cold water.

Grill racks aid in roasting the meat or placing it directly on the rods. These racks are made of stainless steel and can also hold cast iron skillets.

Lastly, dampers and vents are present to regulate the temperature by controlling the airflow. The damper on the bottom can be adjusted to control the temperature, and upper dampers can be opened to let heat escape when necessary. The door to the front should be opened as little as possible to prevent heat loss.

By having a clear understanding of how each component works, you can get the best out of your electric smoker and enjoy mouth-watering, smoky-flavored meats.

How Does An Electric Smoker Work

An electric smoker operates differently from traditional smokers as it uses a metal rod located at the bottom of the unit to generate heat and cook the meat. Instead of combustion mixed with wood, the electric smoker’s wood chip tray produces smoke for flavor.

To regulate the temperature, the electric smoker also has vents or dampers. Despite misconceptions, electric smokers can produce food of comparable quality to charcoal, gas, or wood pellet cookers.

How To Use An Electric Smoker

An electric smoker is a device that uses electricity to heat and cook meat while adding a smoky flavor. Using an electric smoker is a great way to experiment with a wide variety of smoky flavors without the hassle and time required of traditional smoking methods.

Whether you’re new to smoking or experienced with other types of smokers, electric smokers offer an easy and efficient way to cook delicious meats. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of using an electric smoker and provide tips for getting the most out of your smoking experience.

1. Choose your smoker

Selecting an electric smoker is a crucial step in smoking your meat to perfection. There are two types of electric smokers for you to choose from, the vertical water smoker and the electric cabinet smoker. The latter is a great option if you want to smoke year-round since it offers better core temperature controls. On the other hand, if you only plan on using it during the summer, then a vertical water smoker should suffice.

When selecting a smoker, take note of the type of smoker you choose and its specific features. A digital controller is an essential feature that can assist you in managing timers, setting temperatures, and controlling cooking times. Opt for a smoker with a drip pan, which can capture all the juice that drips from your meat during cooking and maintain the internal temperature of the smoker.

Lastly, the placement of your smoker’s wood chip bowl is also a critical consideration. You must ensure that the container is within reach and has no obstructions between it and yourself. Accessible wood chip placement eliminates the need to open the smoker too frequently and jeopardizes the quality of your cooked meat.

Ultimately, choosing the right electric smoker based on your requirements and its key features, such as the digital controller, drip pan, and wood chip placement, will guarantee that you achieve optimal temperatures and a delicious smoky flavor for your meat.

2. Season your smoker

Seasoning your electric smoker before using it is an important step that many people tend to skip. This crucial initial step helps to remove any dust or odors from the interior and grates, thus preparing it for its first smoke.

To season your electric smoker, start by coating the racks and any other interior surfaces with a thin layer of cooking oil. A non-stick cooking spray works well for this purpose. Once coated, preheat your smoker to a moderate temperature, usually for 1-2 hours.

After the preheating period, turn off the smoker and let it cool. This cooling process allows the oil to set on the surfaces. Once cool to the touch, use soap and warm water to wash down the interior and grates, removing any excess oil.

Lastly, use salt to season the grates and interior surfaces. This step will help to create a non-stick barrier on the smoker’s surface, providing easy cleaning in the future and a better taste for the food you smoke.

3. Insert wood chips

Inserting wood chips into your electric smoker can be done easily by first filling the wood chip tray or inserting it with your chosen flavor chips such as hickory, pecan, or oak. It’s essential to ensure that the specific type of wood chips you choose is compatible with your smoker since some types work better with certain smokers and recipes.

Wood chips can be purchased easily from online stores, grocery, or hardware stores. The standard amount of chips required for every four hours of smoking is about four cups, although this may vary according to the brand of the smoker.

If your smoker doesn’t come with a rack to hold the wood chips, you can quickly adapt it to use them. Get a tin pot or can, fill it three-quarters full with the chips, and fold the upper section almost to cover them. This technique helps the chips smolder, preventing too much airflow that can cause a flare-up.

Using tongs, place the can or pot upright at the foot of the grill on the lava plate. Once the smoker reaches its target temperature, the heating element’s internal heat will be enough for the chips to start smoldering, and you’ll begin to get the aromas of your chosen wood chips.

4. Prepare the meat

Before smoking your meat, it’s crucial to prepare it adequately. To begin, coat your meat in a BBQ rub, ensuring every inch is covered, then place it in the refrigerator to marinate while you heat up your smoker.

Depending on the cut of meat, you may wish to brine or marinate it beforehand. Brining can take several hours up to a full day, so factor this into your preparation time. Alternatively, a dry seasoning mix works well, and all it needs is enough time for the flavor to soak in. Be sure to store it overnight in the fridge to thoroughly imbue your meat with flavor.

Once your smoker is ready to go, insert your temperature probe into the thickest part of the meat to ensure it is cooked to perfection. With correctly prepared meat, you’ll be on your way to a delicious smoky flavor that’s hard to resist.

5. Preheat the smoker and add water

To ensure optimal cooking temperature, preheating your electric smoker is essential. Once preheated, add water to the smoker’s water pan insert to create steam that will tenderize and moisturize your cuts of meat.

An added benefit to using a water pan insert is that you can infuse your meats with different flavors by adding ingredients such as cider or beer. As your smoker heats up, the steam will rise and help to maintain a consistent temperature while adding delicious aromas and flavors to your food.

It is important to keep an eye on your water vessel during the smoking process as it will likely run out. Be sure to fill it up whenever it’s looking low to avoid interruptions to your steam flow.

When replenishing your water vessel, use hot water to maintain consistency in temperature and steam flow. Adding water to your electric smoker is a crucial step in the smoking process that will leave your cuts of meat moist, tender, and infused with delicious flavors.

6. Check your smoker’s temperature

To ensure your meat is cooked to perfection when using an electric smoker, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the temperature. Most electric smokers come equipped with a built-in temperature gauge, which is your first indicator of the smoker’s temperature. Aim for an optimal temperature of 225°F (107°C) for the best smoking results.

However, it’s important to note that not all built-in temperature gauges are accurate, and the temperature of different electric smokers can vary. To get a precise reading, it’s recommended to use a purpose-made smoker thermometer, such as an air probe. These thermometers are designed to measure the internal temperature of the smoker and will provide more accurate results.

Before placing your meat in the smoker, ensure that the smoker has been preheated to your target temperature. On average, it takes between 30-45 minutes for an electric smoker to fully heat up. Be patient and wait for the smoker to reach the desired temperature, as starting the smoking process before the smoker has fully heated can produce subpar results.

If your electric smoker comes with an electronic control panel, this can make it easier to monitor the temperature. However, it’s still important to double-check with a smoker thermometer as built-in temperature gauges can be unreliable. By keeping a close eye on the smoker’s temperature and using a reliable thermometer, you can ensure that your smoking process is precise and consistent every time.

7. Start cooking

When you’ve hit a consistent temperature of 225°F (107°C) on your electric smoker, it’s time to transfer your prepped meat onto the smoker racks. It’s crucial to handle the meat with care, making sure not to damage it in the process.

As the smoking process progresses, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on your meat’s internal temperature. Investing in a reliable meat thermometer is key, as it will give you an exact reading of how your protein is cooking.

When cooking with an electric smoker, it’s important to keep the lid or door of the smoker closed throughout the cooking process. Doing so will ensure that the smoke and heat stay inside, optimizing the cooking environment.

Wood chips are an essential part of the smoking process, as they infuse your meat with tasty, smoky flavors. Be sure to add enough wood chips to your smoker’s wood tray, and top up if necessary, to maintain consistent smokiness.

Smoking times differ depending on the cut of meat, ranging from 2-8 hours. Keep a watchful eye on your food, using your meat thermometer to check its internal temperature regularly. Being vigilant will ensure your meat is cooked to perfection.


How Do I Prepare Woodchips In Order To Prepare For An Electric Smoke

To prepare for an electric smoker, it’s important to properly prepare your woodchips. Soak them in water for at least 1-2 hours, then drain them thoroughly. Place the wet woodchips in the wood chip tray and insert it into the smoking chamber. This will ensure that the woodchips smolder, producing white smoke that infuses your meat with delicious flavors.

How Often Do I Add Wood Chips To The Electric Smokers?

Adding wood chips to your electric smoker is a crucial step in achieving that smoky flavor you desire. (You may be wondering how often you should add wood chips to your electric smoker.) Typically, you’ll need to add them every 1-2 hours throughout the smoking process. However, this can vary depending on the type of meat you’re cooking and the desired smoke flavor. It’s important not to overload your wood chip tray, as too many wood chips can create white smoke which can give your meat a bitter taste.

Can I Use Pellets To Fuel My Smoker That Is Electric?

Yes, you can use pellets to fuel your electric smoker. Pellets are a popular choice for smokers because they give consistent smoke over a prolonged period. An electric smoker is designed to use electricity to power the heating element which heats the wood chips to create smoke. While using pellets to fuel your electric smoker may not be the most common method, it is viable and can produce some great results.


In conclusion, this article provides a comprehensive guide on how to use an electric smoker. By following the tips and instructions provided in this article, you can achieve the perfect smoky flavor of your meat without the hassle and mess of charcoal smokers.

From choosing the right type of meat to understanding the smoking process and controlling the temperature, this article covers all the essential aspects of using an electric smoker. By using the digital control panel, wood chip tray, water tray, and meat thermometer, you can ensure consistent and optimal cooking temperatures for hours of smoking.

With the wide variety of smoke flavors and cuts of meat available, you can experiment with different recipes and techniques to achieve your desired flavor and texture. So, if you’re looking to master the art of smoking meat using an electric smoker, follow the tips and instructions provided in this article and get ready to impress your family and friends with delicious and perfectly smoked meat.