Some people just want to be able to enjoy cooking their meat low and slow without having to babysit a fire for hours at a time. Should their wallets be punished for wanting a little bit of convenience with their smoked meats?
I, for one, say no! Luckily Charbroil’s line of Digital Electric Smokers offers those people an electric smoker at a price that won’t break the bank.
Overview and first impressions
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was asked to review this electric smoker.
I had already had my negative impression of electric smokers turned on its head from my positive experiences with Masterbuilt’s 40” Bluetooth Electric Smoker and the small but mighty, Smoking Tex Pro. These smokers both exceeded expectations in terms of flavor and quality, but I had to wonder what Charbroil had to offer the category.
Charbroil has always been a no-frills brand, offering good value-for-the-money grills and smokers.
At first glance, the Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker seemed no different. It was small compared to the 40” Masterbuilt, so smoking a full-size brisket would be out of the question. Other large cuts would have to be cut in order to fit inside its 725 sq in frame.
Some of the standout features of the Char-Broil include:
- Digital Electric Controller: Controls temperature and time. Also included is a meat probe and remote control.
- 4 Stainless Steel Cooking Racks: 15.16″ x 12.44
- Large Capacity Smoke Box – Holds 4 cups of wood chips which is nice because it limits when you have to open the smoker door to refill it.
- Large Capacity Grease Tray – 8.5 cups holds a fair amount of grease. Porcelain Coated Water Pan – Easy to clean. Most of the drippings will drain into the water pan as well which is nice for making gravy and sauces.
The first thing you notice about the Char-Broil is the large glass door. While several brands of electric smoker come with a glass door option, Char-Broil makes it mandatory.
The glass on the front door is a plus for the most part. You can see into the entire smoker without having to let out the heat and smoke by opening the door. The seal on the door is tight, so when it is latched into place the smoke will not escape.
Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker Specifications:
|Dimensions||16.50 x 18.10 x 32.50 Inches|
|Total Cooking Area||725 square inches|
|Temperature Range||275° Max|
|Price||Check Latest Price|
What I like:
- Double-walled insulation – The large locking latch & double-walled installation provide a tight seal.
- Grease Drain System – The drain system concentrates most of the grease and droppings into the water pan, which makes cleaning the smoker pretty seamless.
- Convenient – Starting and using the smoker is as easy as cooking with an oven.
What I don’t like:
- Size – As a brisket man, I don’t like that I can’t fit a whole brisket into this smoker.
- No internal thermometer – If you don’t have your own thermometer to monitor ambient temperatures, you’ll just have to trust that the temp setting is accurate.
- Non-adjustable ventilation – It’s an easy feature to include and it’s rather annoying that I can’t control the amount of smoke leaving the smoker.
Since the cooking parts are dishwasher safe and small enough to fit inside one, cleaning them is as easy as pulling them out of the smoker and into the dishwasher.
My experience cooking with the Char-Broil
I tested the product for 4 months as I wanted to see if any of the quality concerns mentioned in customer reviews surfaced during my time with it.
These concerns include:
- Tripping the GFCI breaker on the electrical outlet
- Wild Temperature Swings
- Probe Failure
- Heating Element Failure
I can testify that I did not experience any of these issues. For perspective, during those four months, I cooked on it at least once a week, but usually 2-3 times a week. I plan on continuing to use the smoker after this review so I will be sure to pass along any updates if I experience any issues.
In order for the electric burner to warm to your desired temperature, you have to set the temperature setting AND set one of 2 other settings: the timer or your meat temperature setting (which is monitored with the included meat probe). Otherwise, the smoker will stay at a warming temperature of 130°F.
It’s a nice feature to have when your timer has concluded or your meat reaches the set temperature and you’re not there to remove what you’re cooking.
While testing, I cooked a variety of BBQ including baby back and St. Louis style ribs, corned beef style point end brisket, chicken leg quarters, pork shoulder and more. Everything turned out flavorfully smoker and tender.
This smoker works optimally for longer cooks as the max temp setting is 275°F. While I did not test it, it will probably not reach temps low enough for cold smoking unless you are in a northern, winter climate.
Should you buy the Char-Broil Deluxe?
As stated earlier, this is a smaller size smoker, so if you’re looking for something bigger, consider either Charbroil’s Deluxe XL Electric Smoker (1,000+ sq. in. of cooking space) or the Masterbuilt 40 inch Digital Electric Smoker (978 sq. in. of smoking space).
If you’re looking for a smoker with a few more features, and a more usable cooking area, I would seriously consider a budget pellet grill like the Z Grills 450B.
While the total cooking surface is only 459 sq. in, the rectangular shape makes it easier to fit large cuts of meat.
I’m not going to lie, the fact that Char-Broil does not monitor internal ambient temperatures is inexcusable. I get that a few other smokers in this category don’t either, but any cook should be able to monitor temps without having to invest in a separate gauge.
Another annoying missing feature is the lack of adjustable vents. This is probably a safety feature but it’s not difficult to put a stop guard and prevent the vents from being fully closed.
Regardless of these quirks, I would still recommend the Charbroil if this is your first foray into smoking.
It’s relatively simple to operate and cook on. If you use the meat temperature feature, it will stop cooking when your meat reaches the set temperature on the controller and convert to a warming temperature setting.
This will keep the meat warm, but won’t overcook it if you’re late checking up on it. The smoker is constructed well to keep enough smoke inside to render your meat to have a deliciously, smoky flavor.