The Benefits of Electric Smokers
Why Electric Smokers are better than Grills
Grilling isn’t a modern innovation. Some two million years ago, people started cooking food over open fires. The practice of grilling persisted since then. From being a practical means of food preparation, it became a science and an art as we know it.
Food was grilled rather simply back then. The primitive man must have sharpened branches with his tools and used them to skewer and cook meats over a burning fire. Throughout various points in history across the globe, tribal cultures and developed societies created their own methods of grilling. Some of these are still being practiced today.
Amidst continued use of traditional grilling methods, man never stopped finding new ways to grill food. The electric smoker is a product of such innovation. Charcoal and wood have passed the test of time as effective methods of grilling food. But an electric smoker has yet to prove itself – or does it? Despite being a modern invention, electric smokers can stand toe-to-toe with other types of smokers.
What is an Electric Smoker?
The electric smoker is a cooking equipment used for grilling food. There’s nothing it couldn’t grill. Whether it’s meat, fish, poultry, or whatever food you can put on a smoker – like cheese or bread – an electric smoker does what it’s supposed to. As its name suggests, it runs on electricity. There are two main types of electric smokers – those that use rheostat, and those that use thermostat.
Rheostat VS Thermostat Electric Smokers
The cheapest models use a rheostat, similar to an electric stove or hotplate. A rheostat allows electricity to flow to a coil, which then heats up and cooks the food. You get to choose from different temperature presets such as low, medium, and high heat. But you won’t be able to control temperatures any further than the presets found in a smoker. The more presets it has, the better the model. However, full temperature control is still out of reach with a rheostat electric smoker.
Higher end models use thermostats with an attached temperature probe that extends towards the cooking chamber. This is the same technology found in ovens. The temperature at which the probe cooks food depends on the settings you selected. All you need to do is turn the dial or press some buttons to choose from the available range of temperatures – starting at 100 degrees Fahrenheit going upwards. Aside from better temperature controls, thermostat electric smokers provide time precision which rheostat models can’t.
A thermostat electric smoker is the best choice for BBQ lovers who want superior grilling equipment. It easily stands out against other types of smokers.
Electric Smokers VS Other Types of Smokers
Electric smokers are the latest addition to grilling equipment. Before its invention, there were charcoal, wood, pellet, gas, ceramic, and stovetop smokers. Some of them share the best qualities of electric smokers. Others fall short in one way or another due to their lack of features, difficult usage, expensive price tags, and risks of overcooking and undercooking.
Let’s take a closer look at other types of smokers so you can better understand the benefits of using electric smokers:
Are preferred by most, mainly because they’re affordable. But for BBQ purists and serious grillers who want flavor, it’s one of the best choices. A charcoal smoker enhances food in a way that an electric smoker simply can’t surpass or even match. It provides food with a delicious smoky flavor. Unfortunately, starting a fire (and keeping it burning) can be troublesome for beginners. You also wouldn’t be able to control the temperatures and will have to check the food frequently. Unless you really know what you’re doing, you might burn the food.
Wood Burning Smokers
Give food a wider variety of flavors, depending on the firewood being used. This gives you plenty of choices besides the usual smokiness of charcoal. It’s unfortunate that grilling food with a wood burner takes longer than a charcoal smoker. Firewood can also be expensive and doesn’t stay hot, so you may end up with undercooked food unless you burn some more.
Have more consistent temperatures than wood burners. Equipped with thermostat, you get to control the heat and grill food under ideal conditions. These grillers still impart firewood flavors to food, but with the use of compressed wood pellets. But they can be ridiculously expensive and have a reputation of jamming while being used – yikes!
Propane or Gas Smokers
Are some of the easiest to use. Like electric smokers, you simply have to set the temperature and wait for food to finish cooking. With temperatures going beyond the 450-degree setting found in most smokers, they could be used as ovens. Gas smokers are portable and can be taken for an outdoor adventure. But they do run out of fuel. Unless you like rare or medium-done meat, you’ll have to keep close watch of the fuel levels. Another major problem is that gas smokers have parts that break and are difficult to replace.
Aren’t that popular, though they do have a few advantages. Since they use charcoal, you still get that smoky flavor. But they perform with better efficiency by sealing heat in so that food cooks faster and charcoals burn longer. Ceramic smokers have a wide range of temperature settings for precise control and greater versatility for cooking. Sadly, they’re the most expensive grilling equipment. With prices ranging from $700 to $1000, it’s hard to imagine you have to pay more for the stand and accessories. Poor handling and extensive use will cause ceramic smokers to crack. They’re also quite heavy and nearly impossible to move around.
Are grills placed on top of stoves. Unlike most grilling equipment, they can be used indoors. They cook food evenly and leave nice grill marks, though you won’t get any extra flavor other than what the food could offer. Some meats can also be difficult to cook – burning on the outside before thoroughly cooking. Stovetop smokers, including those designed for double burners, simply don’t have enough space for grilling large quantities of food at the same time. Moreover, cleaning and storing them can be problematic.
The Benefits of Using Electric Smokers
- Easy to Use
Electric smokers are easier to use than most types of grilling equipment. There’s no need to keep watch and make sure that the charcoal or firewood is still burning, or if there’s still enough fuel or pellets in the burner. All you have to do is plug the smoker to a stable source of electricity and it should stay running for as long as you like.
- Full Control
- Cook Like a Professional
- Impart Flavor to Grilled Food
- Keep Grilled Food Moist and Tender
- No-fuss Cleanup
The dials, buttons, or switches found in thermostat electric smokers give you full control over the essential components of grilling – time and temperature. Any BBQ enthusiast will appreciate these features, especially since they have very limited control with traditional grillers. Cook too long and you may get dry or charred food. Cook too short and you get food that’s undercooked. Exposing meat to inconsistent heat will cause uneven cooking. Electric smokers minimize these risks by letting you set the cooking time and temperatures beforehand.
Even if you have little experience in grilling, you can still cook like a pro with this equipment. However, you may need to grab BBQ recipes for electric smokers. Installed presets means you simply have to set the time and temperature based on the recipe. After some waiting, you get to have perfectly-smoked food that will impress family and friends.
Contrary to popular belief, electric smokers can lend flavor to food like a charcoal grill or a wood burner. Some models are equipped with a pan where you can place wood chips. For these, you need 1 less cup of wood chips for every hour of grilling (i.e. 4 cups for a 5-hour grill). Other models come with water pans where you can add ingredients for flavor. You can mix water with herbs or use any flavorful liquid such as beer or wine to place in the pan. Once the smoker starts to steam, it will tenderize your meat and give it that much-needed flavor. If you have a standard electric smoker, get an empty tin can with a lid. Fill it with wood chips three quarters of the way and partially close the lid – this prevents the wood from catching fire. Then, place a lava rock over the smoker’s coils and set the tin can on top of it. Replace the tin can for every hour of grilling. Remember to use tongs to avoid injury
Electric smokers have small vents that release smoke without messing up the grill’s temperatures. Apart from maintaining consistent temperature, this prevents food from losing moisture and leaves them tender. Charcoal and wood burning smokers tend to dry up meats and decrease the flavor of certain foods. Electric smokers will spare you from this mishap. They are excellent for grilling fish, cured meats like sausages, bacon, and ham, and tender meats like brisket. You can also use them to grill fruits, vegetables, and cheese
Since you don’t need charcoal or firewood to grill food on electric smokers, you can clean them just as easily as you set them up. Remember to use non-stick spray and you will have much less to clean after grilling.