The most problematic part of using a charcoal smoker is that it requires you to be around the smoker all the while and monitor constantly. With electric smokers, you can do all the manual stuff with a couple of button presses and get your meat cooked slowly without having to monitor throughout the process. However, you should know how to properly use an electric smoker to relish the recipes to the fullest and enhance the longevity of the smoker. This article is all about how to use an electric smoker, and we guarantee you will learn all the fundamentals of handling an electric smoker.
How to Use an Electric Smoker?
Before explaining how to operate an electric smoker, let’s kick off by choosing the smoker.
Choose Your Smoker
There are various types of electric smokers, but we can divide all of them into two main categories; vertical water and cabinet. The vertical type works superbly in hot weather conditions but often fails to provide the same quality when weather change from hot to cold.
On the other hand, cabinet smokers are versatile enough to permit quality outputs always regardless of the weather conditions thanks to the temperature control features.
In that sense, you should predetermine when you are going to use the electric smoker. If you intend to cook yearlong, it’s a no-brainer to select an electric cabinet smoker over a vertical water smoker.
Also, have a closer look at the temperature controller features because a good electric smoker should not demand any work once you set the timer and temperature; a comprehensive and sound digital control panel is a must on an electric smoker.
In addition, it’s crucial to check on the drip pan because drip pans are beneficial to catch the juices of the meat and keep the smoker clean after you use it. Finally, the chip bowl of the smoker must be easy to access, and there should not be any barriers between you and the bowl.
Seasoning the Smoker
Each smoker has a unique seasoning method. For example, seasoning a charcoal smoker is different from the seasoning of offset smokers and seasoning propane or pellet smoker seasoning.
If you are thinking about how to use an electric smoker for the first time, you should understand the importance of seasoning an electric smoker; it’s not with salt and pepper, though.
Before you use it, usually, these smokers call for prior preparation, which is called seasoning. Irrespective of the fact that you bought the most sophisticated machine out there, the producing process can still leave substances like oil, dust, or dirt inside the smoker, which must be removed before you cook.
This is how you do it. First, fix all the compartments of your electric smoker, such as racks, hooks, and trays; do not put water. Now plug the smoker into a power source and switch on it. Set the temperature level to 275° and let it be for three hours. Once you complete three hours, insert one cup of wood chips into the chip tray and season for further 45 minutes.
Now turn off the electric smoker and let it cool down completely. That is all you are required to do for the seasoning, and your smoker is now good to go with your first recipe.
Insert Wood Chips
Whether you are searching on how to use an electric smoker or even a traditional smoker for that matter, one of the primary topics that hit the mind is wood chips. If your smoker comes with a wood chip tray, you should know the types of wood suits for the smoker.
Because certain products demand a specific kind of woods to work well and it’s very important you feed suitable wood to the smoker all the time. At the same time, some recipes also request specific wood chips to provide an authentic taste.
Finding appropriate wood chips isn’t the most difficult job in the world as you can buy them online as well as from local shops without much of a problem. The type of wood depends on the brand of the smoker, but most of them work well with wood types like maple, pecan, or hickory, and, for about four hours of burn, you will need around four cups of chips.
Not all electric smokers have this functionality, but you can manually add a wood chip holding tray if your smoker doesn’t have one. But, we feel it’s always good to purchase smokers with this feature.
Prepare the Meat
When it comes to preparing the meat, it’s super important to identify the meat first, especially the composition of the meat. Different cuts of meat need different seasonings and marinating. For that, we recommend using a cleaver knife for better quality cutting. If you treat a chicken breast or thigh as you do with pork butt, the taste will get terrible.
Another basic yet vital fact is that never rub salt on meat as a rub, instead make sure you apply salt at the preparation time. If you are cooking thick cuts, it’s essential to rub salt at least one day before and store it in a fridge. For the thin cuts, make sure you apply salt before three or four hours. Long story short, apply salt well in advance, not just before you cook.
The preparation process is not the same for all types of meats and cuts. Some of the meat types need several hours of marinating before you cook. The marinating time can take even up to a day. So, you should plan smoking properly in advance and consider the time for the preparation process.
Preheat the Smoker and Add Water
Water can be added to the smoker’s water pan. For an added flavor, you can mix cider or beer to the pan; then set the timer and temperature according to the recipe’s levels and turn on the smoker.
Do you know the exact temperature for grilling steak? Worth knowing.
The intention of adding water to an electric smoker is to produce steam when the temperature grows inside the machine. The steam will keep the meat moisturized and tendered and eliminate the risks of meat getting dried out.
You can add various beverages of your choice into the water to inject additional aroma and flavors to the meat that you are cooking. Citrus fruit peels such as lime, apple cider, beer, and wine are a few of the popular ingredients of BBQ enthusiasts. You have to make sure that the water pan is full while the smoker is at work and add water before it gets run out.
Also, it’s ideal to add hot water when you replenish because adding cold water will halt the flow of steam producing process, which is something you want to avoid at all costs. Smoking is an operation that should happen with little to no interruption, and the level of temperature must be consistent inside the smoker all the time.
Check Your Smoker’s Temperature
Temperature handling gauges are a luxury you get with an electric smoker; still, you should precisely know the exact time that it will take to preheat to get the best results with your recipe. Look for a temperature level of 225°, and it would be best if you utilize a smoker thermometer for accurate readings.
Most of these thermometers are built to show the temperature of the meat, but for this purpose, you will have to grab a device that is capable of reading the inside air temperature of the smoker. Some smokers come with this feature to alert you when it is ready to cook, and if you pick such a machine, you hit the jackpot.
Either way, you must wait until the smoker is fully heated up before you put meat inside it, and most of the electric smokers take around 30 to 40 minutes to become ready to cook. This is utterly important to receive the best BBQ results. Waiting for a half-hour for the smoker to reach the temperature at 225° should not be seen as a waste of time; patience is an indispensable characteristic to become a good pitmaster!
After your smoker reaches the above-mentioned temperature level, you can transfer the meat to the machine. Do not open the smoker regularly to check the condition or temperature because opening the door of the smoker will cause the hard-earned temperature to vanish quickly, and inconsistent heat won’t provide the intended results.
Also, don’t get tempted to flip the meat; simply because you don’t have to. Smoking is a slow cooking process, and it happens through indirect flames; both sides will get cooked evenly without requiring anything from your end.
Typically, electric smokers take 2 to 8 hours for a proper cook and the time varies depending on the meat you cook. If you want to become a pro in BBQ, do not fight with the clock; use a thermometer instead. Because the inside of the meat has to reach the ideal temperature level, and the cooking time varies for numerous reasons.
It doesn’t matter you cooked for 7 or 8 hours; if the meat demands more cooking, you must put it back in the smoker for the betterment of you and your guests. Further, invest in a good thermometer if your smoker is not equipped with an inner temperature measuring gauge.
That ends our elaboration on how to use an electric smoker, let us answer some frequently asked questions about electric smokers.
How to Use a Smoker Box on an Electric Grill?
You can place the smoker box on the center part of the smoker once it reaches the perfect temperature level. Opening the vent will help you monitor the state of cooking, and you should wait until wood chips start smoking before you insert the smoker box.
How to Use Wood Chips in an Electric Smoker?
It depends on the brand you use. However, the process is more or less the same. You can insert about one cup of wood chips into the tray, and you should load ¾ of the size of the tray at a time. As mentioned earlier, it would take about one cup of chips per hour, and make sure to use manufacturer-advised wood chips as much as possible.
How to Use a Water Pan in an Electric Smoker?
You can add water before and while cooking with an electric smoker to generate steam for the meat to retain moisture. You can add beer, wine, or apple cider to blend flavors into the dish. Also, adding water has to happen frequently, and make sure you use hot water for a consistent steam flow.
How to Use an Air Vent on an Electric Smoker?
Handling a vent of an electric smoker is relatively easy compared to charcoal smokers. Keeping the vent open is important for oxygen production. However, you should not keep the vent open to the fullest, as it will hamper smoke retention.
How to Use Pellets in an Electric Smoker?
The pellets or wood chips must be chosen according to the brand of the smoker and the recipe that you are cooking. Pellets work magnificently on certain smokers, and there is a definite debate over wood or pellets suit best for electric smokers. The answer to this question is not crystal clear but, yes, pellets can be used on electric smokers, but it depends on the brand.
How to Use an Electric Smoker in Rain?
You can use an electric smoker in the rain in two methods. One is buying a quality water-proof cover for it and the second option is a bit costly; it’s making a BBQ canopy. Still, you should understand that it is between water and electricity. Things can go wrong in a jiffy.
How to Use an Electric Smoker in Winter?
The first and most important thing is that you have to pick a correct day for your cooking and provide adequate shelter for the smoker. Always keep the vents uncovered and use a heavy-duty code for the machine. The rest happens irrespective of the weather conditions.
How to Use an Indoor Electric Smoker?
Before we answer the question, note that all the electric smokers are not designed to work indoors. Yes, electric smokers don’t produce smoke as charcoal smokers; still, they use a small amount of wood and produce carbon monoxide, and at the same time, there is a hazard of fire. Anyway, the good news is that there are specifically designed electric smokers similar to the smokeless indoor grills that to use indoors, and you can use them as you do with regular smokers.
Tip: Most of the time, we have to face some rats’ treats if we don’t clean the smoker properly. Therefore learn how to mice stay away from the grill.
Right, we hope now you know the answers for how to use an electric water smoker, how to use vents on a smoker, seasoning an electric smoker, and most of the FAQ. Becoming a pitmaster is not rocket science anymore, thanks to electric smokers, and we wouldn’t mind answering a couple more questions on how to use an electric smoker in the comment section below. Cheers!