Electric smokers are growing in popularity with apartment dwellers, in professional kitchens, and in traditional homes alike. It’s all thanks to the efficient smoking process that creates less smoke and mess while smoking food. Besides, they offer lots of cooking space and run only on electricity. So you can safely smoke your food without worrying much about it.
But how does an electric smoker work exactly? We have you covered there.
Here’s a detailed explanation of how an electric smoker works to let you understand it and use it better. Once you understand the way it works, you can smoke meat, poultry, fish, and even vegetables without burning charcoal. It doesn’t even need your attention!
How Does An Electric Smoker Work?
Electric smokers work like a toaster oven. It’s heated through heating elements. Electricity passes through the element sitting at its bottom, usually under the drip tray.
Once you’ve switched the device on, you only have to wait for the wood chips to start smoking. This generally takes about fifteen minutes. You can add your food and tada! You’ve started cooking once the smoke starts!
The element’s high-resistance material starts generating heat which passes upwards through the pan of wood chips. The wood chips get heated and start burning to create smoke, which moves upward.
Some electric smokers have an additional water tray where the heat produces vaporized water or steam. The heat cooks the food, as the smoke and steam give it its distinct flavor while keeping the food moist. Besides, the steam makes cleaning the inside so much easier once you’re done cooking.
As the electric smoker is completely sealed on the inside, there’s no chance of smoke or heat escaping unless necessary.
Differences Between Solid-Fuel And Electric Smokers
While electric smokers cook like a solid-fuel smoker, it’s more practical, consistent, easier to operate, and less powerful. There are a few additional differences between these two types of smokers. We will explain the differences below.
- Solid-fuel smokers create a concentrated flow of moisture, heat, and smoke. Electric variants are compact in structure, so heat, smoke, and steam are condensed and used in a small area.
- Solid fuel smokers are versatile, letting you experiment with the way you cook your food. Electric models offer temperature control thanks to an adjustable digital or analog thermostat. Some may even run at a set temperature because of their element wattage draw.
- There’s no need to add wood chips every time because electric smokers automatically adjust their temperature. You, however, may have to add fuel as required in solid-fuel variants.
- There’s the risk of overcooking food, making it dry and smoky in solid-fuel units. However, electric variants let you set the internal conditions to cook optimal quality food.
- Solid-fuel smokers give a more robust flavor with a deep range of textures and tastes to food. Electric devices may not get the depth of flavor, but they do assure consistently cooked meals.
- Electric models are only efficiently designed but are not economical or energy efficient. You need to leave it on for about two to three hours to get a genuinely smoky flavor.
- Unlike solid-fuel smokers, you can safely open the electric smoker without disrupting the cooking process. As long as you work quickly, you can open the door, fiddle with your food, and close the door without losing much heat.
How To Set Up An Electric Smoker
Many people hesitate from using electric devices because they feel they don’t have much control over the food cooked inside. But it’s not always true because there are some things to do to ensure your food tastes the way you like it.
- Electric smoker units have a digital panel to set-up the variables for thorough smoking. They usually let you personalize the temperature, the meat types you cook, and the time. They even let you set a timer to start the cooking process in your absence. Most importantly, the temperature monitor in the panel ensures you don’t overcook or undercook your fish or meat.
- Some models have pre-set options to help make more accessible choices. You just have to select the meat type when you want it ready, and the smoker does the rest of the work.
- Make sure you buy the proper wood chips because you won’t be using charcoal or fuel. Whatever flavor your food gets, comes from the wood chips. Fruit tree chips give your food a sweeter smoke flavor, while oak chips give a classic and more robust smoke flavor.
- You’ll find using the unit easier once you know how to use its air damper. Most units come with an adjustable air damper for controlling smoke levels inside them. You can thus decide how well-flavored you want your food to be. You get a mild and delicate flavor if the damper is left open and an intense flavor if it’s left closed.
- Last but not least, just follow instructions. You won’t make mistakes if you follow the detailed manual instructions accompanying all devices.
Tips For Using Electric Smokers
Season The Grill Before Using It
It’s better to season the grill before you first use it to eliminate any debris accumulated during production in the factory. It’s easy. Just give the interior surfaces a light coating of cooking oil and run the unit for about three hours at 275°F. Adding some wood chips to the tray at the final hour creates smoke that eliminates debris and renders the unit safe to use.
Once done, open the door, air it out and take a sniff. Start using it if there’s no strange smell. However, run it for another half an hour if there’s an acidic, ammonia-like, or chemical-like smell, and check again.
Keep Another Temperature Probe Standby
While most electric smokers come with an inbuilt thermostat, it may be of low quality. Having a temperature probe standby lets you check and ensure the proper temperatures for cooking.
Keep The Smoker Clean
Electric smokers do burn cleanly, but only if you don’t leave charred food waste in it. Clean all the cooking surfaces after each usage, from the cast-iron panels to the kitchen grates. A drip pan helps keep the smoker clean by collecting the meat drippings. But don’t forget to clean the drip pan once you are done.
Useful Side Compartment
Electric smokers generally have a side compartment to pull out for adding more wood chips. Just pull it out, add wood chips, close the compartment and twist it.
Wood chips get deposited into the burning tray. It lets you safely and conveniently replace burned-out chips without touching the hot burning tray.
You should now have your answer to your question: ‘how does an electric smoker work.’ You will agree that while electric cookers don’t create the same depth of flavor, they are less of a hassle, more consistent in cooking, and give reliable results in comparison to other smokers. Are you really excited to start smoking your food and experiment with your meals? Check out all the available models on Amazon!