Are you “this close” to buying an electric smoker? But there is just that little voice in your head that makes you unsure?
Traditional pitmasters may have their opinions about the “inferiority” of electric smokers.
Common objections include “they don’t produce a smoke ring” or that they don’t produce an “authentic barbecue” taste.
That’s highly subjective and mostly due to good old-fashioned barbecue prejudice. There are lots of good reasons to consider buying an electric smoker. Especially if you are new to smoking, then an electric smoker could be the right choice for you.
We have put together five reasons we think buying an electric smoker is a great choice.
Why buying an electric smoker is a good chioce
1) Electric smokers are perfect for beginners
If this is the first smoker you are buying, then ease of use is an important factor.
Let’s be honest, if a task seems so complicated that you start to feel you need a science degree to succeed, then you may just give up.
The truth is, if you can use an electric oven, you can use an electric smoker. There’s a reason we included an electric smoker in our guide the best smokers for beginners.
Electric smokers can be set to the desired temperature, and the desired length of time you wish to smoke.
And the results are hugely satisfying.
After you have become more familiar with the smoking process, you may decide to move on to a more authentic type of smoker. Or, you may decide that electric smokers are just right for you, and stick with them (perhaps upgrading to a bigger or more expensive unit).
Whatever you decide to do, the fact remains purchasing an electric smoker is a great way to start smoking, and learn some basic techniques before deciding what direction you wish to take.
2) Electric smokers are one of the cheapest types of smoker
Electric smokers are more affordable than most other types of smokers. And I’m not talking in terms of initial price tag alone, I’m talking about long-term value for money.
Both electric smokers and pellet grills offer “set and forget” convenience, but for a good pellet grill, you can expend to pay between $500-1200.
Compare that to this cheap Cusinart electric smoker. I’ve bought pieces of meat that cost more than this smoker!
You do get a few extra bells and whistles with a pellet grill, and it’s nice not to have to reload chips as often.
It really comes down to your needs and budget, and if you think spending extra on a pellet grill is worth it to you, there’s nothing wrong with that decision. Our pellet grill vs electric smoker guide has all the pros and cons.
I’m no financial advisor, but let’s imagine you saved roughly $500 on the purchase price of your cooker. Just think about the accessories, rubs, sauces, and juicy cuts of meat you could buy with that money.
For instance, a useful and inexpensive accessory for electric smokers is a pellet smoking tray, like the Buzzlett Pellet Smoker. For those that claim you can’t create an authentic smoked flavor from an electric smoker, I challenge them to taste something that has been smoked using an electric smoker in conjunction with this handy accessory.
3) They are easy to smoke on
This is similar to our first point, but being easy to smoke on isn’t only useful for beginners.
When you take out the need to light the charcoal, control airflow, and understand the nuances of temperature spikes, you are left with plenty of time and ‘brain space’ to focus on rubs, brines, sauces, and sides.
Generally speaking, to run your electric smoker, all that is required is to fill the water tray, throw in your chips, plug in the unit, adjust your settings, allow it time to reach temperature, and then add the food.
Of course, you may decide to use an accessory such as the Buzzlett Pellet Smoker to create thin blue smoke, and take the flavor of your food to the next level. But lighting up the pellets in the pellet smoker tray and placing them in the electric smoker hardly turns using an electric smoker into an arduous task.
4) You may be able to smoke in areas with a fire ban
Imagine sitting out on your deck with your friends. It is a balmy summer evening, and you are all chowing down on some saucy ribs you just pulled out of the smoker while knocking back a few beers.
The only issue is, summer is the most likely time in the year that a fire ban will be imposed.
Unfortunately in some states, if you have a charcoal burner, you can forget about smoking in a fire ban. Laws differ from state to state, so it is worth a quick check, but there is usually never a problem if you use an electric smoker.
Fire bans aside, if you live in an apartment or unit, smoking with a charcoal burner may not be allowed. Knowing this, you may have counted out barbecuing at your place. Up until now. An electric smoker may be the perfect solution. In fact, it might be your only option.
5) It’s easy to cold smoke on an electric smoker
If you are interested in smoking different types of food, then electric smokers offer great versatility.
For instance, you can easily cold smoke bacon or cheese using an electric smoker. It is also possible to prepare dried meats, meat logs and loaves, fish, sausages, and even desserts in an electric smoker.
It is true, other types of smokers can also be modified for cold smoking, but it often will include a fair bit of DIY and dedication. However, you can easily purchase cold smoker attachments which are compatible with your brand of electric smoker, and they usually won’t set you back a great deal.
Reasons an electric smoker might not be right for you
We always strive to be upfront with our readers, so we couldn’t end this post without mentioning a couple of points that might be deal-breakers for you.
1. Lack of a smoke ring
The smoke ring is the pink coloration just below the surface of the meat. It is a distinctive marker of a southern barbecue, and as such, many pitmasters take much pride in slicing open their brisket to find one.
Without going into a lot of detail, there are two things you need to know about the smoke ring which may weigh in on your decision regarding buying an electric smoker.
- Smoke rings appear when the chemical released during the combustion process react with chemicals in the meat. Even if you place chips, pellets or chunks in your electric smoker, the temperature at which the wood smolders is not high enough to release the chemicals required to create the smoke ring.
- A smoke ring looks impressive, yes, but it does not actually impact the taste of the meat. So if taste, and not looks, is of paramount importance to you, the lack of a smoke ring may not be so much of an issue.
By using accessories such as the Buzzlett Pellet Smoker tray when you smoke in your electric smoker, you can be sure that taste will not be compromised.
2. Not as versatile as other smokers
You’ll never be able to sear a steak or grill burgers on an electric smoker. While other types of smokers can struggle with grilling too, electric smokers just don’t cut it.
Some people say you can’t grill on a pellet smoker either, but that’s ignoring the fact that many manufacturers include a slide and sear grilling option which gives you access to direct flame searing.
3. Parts can break down
I’m afraid a backyard repair job will not cut it if your electric smoker breaks down.
Electric smokers are inherently more complicated and technical than more “old school” smokers. This complexity is part of the reason why they are convenient and easy to use.
This means that there are more parts that could break down. Unfortunately, repairing or replacing these specialist parts can be expensive, and they may need to be installed by a professional.
4. Limited portability
As their very name indicates, electric smokers require power to work. So chucking your electric smoker in the trunk of your car and taking off into the woods for a weekend of whiskey and brisket isn’t really an option.
You will also need to consider where to place your electric smoker. If you had a spot on your deck in mind, for example, remember that if there isn’t already a power outlet in place, you may need to call out an electrician to install one.
Having said that, pellet grills also come with this limitation as they also need to be plugged in. The convenience these newer types of smokers offer is bound to come with some kind of compromise.
Have we convinced you to pull the trigger on an electric smoker?
We hope you have found our list of reasons why you should buy an electric smoker helpful.
At times, much is made of electric smokers not being “authentic”, but we think they are particularly well suited for beginners, for those who are short on time, or for those who want to feed an army but don’t want to compromise on taste. And if you can live without smoke rings, the truth is that electric smokers can produce results that will not disappoint.
We have reviews of all the most popular electric smokers which you can check out if you want help narrowing down to a specific model.