You can turn out some pretty tasty food if you have a charcoal grill, not to mention gas grills. However, nothing compares to the real thing – a specialized electric smoker. With the modern smoker and a little experience, your food is about to take on a brand new taste. No matter what type of recipe you rely on, you can easily raise the quality standards from a restaurant. Forget to turn on the grill for four hours and monitor the temperature around the clock. Forget about shoveling coal and adding new wood all the time. Instead, the smoker will put the perfect tasting food on your table in no time, without feeling that it is over or under cooked.
Buying the right electric smoker can be a bit of a challenge though. These things do not come for free. If you take a look at their specifications, they seem to do the exact same job, but there are a wide plethora of differences from product to product. This explains the price discrepancies. Size is among the most obvious. In general, you need to identify your needs in advance, then compare them with the product specifications. A little insider advice can go a long way too.
Temperature control is required
Temperature control is often expected to be a default feature, but it is not. In fact, you should look for it. Most electric smokers come with thermostats, so they maintain the desired temperature themselves. Some others also have rheostats, which keep the temperature under control in the cooking chamber. You probably already know that temperature and time are critical to good taste and healthy standards, hence the impressive popularity of thermostatic smokers. Under cooked meat is unhealthy, while over cooked meat will taste awful.
Caveats can make your life easier
The warnings belong to a simplistic ventilation system, just to ensure that the smoke can easily escape safely. This is what makes the difference between electric and charcoal smokers. Most charcoal smokers do not have this characteristic, so the meat also has a smoky taste. The electric alternative ensures that you no longer feel like eating wood and coal. Also forget the unwanted and random burn points on your meat. Even if you love the taste of charcoal, safely disposing of the smoke is still a major need.
Be sure to properly inspect the construction
Construction is usually one of the things that influence the costs of electric smokers. Thick steel is very useful because it tends to absorb heat evenly, then distributes it inside the cooking chamber. Small variations associated with this operation will not influence your cooking session. You should also know that thick steel adds weight. If your smoker is suspiciously light, you’re probably looking at a cheap model. Consider dampers and doors as well. Do they close properly? The leaks allow the smoke to escape, while stabilizing the temperature becomes impossible. While leaky smokers can still provide good results, it is difficult to predict the results. In conclusion, take a look at the thickness of the metal, welds, seals and insulation.
Inspect the inner layers and trays
Each electric smoker has its own unique structure of trays and layers on the inside. Most of them are made of steel. The material is irrelevant, while the structure must match your personal needs and favorite recipes. It is highly recommended to choose thick trays. The thicker they are, the better. They should be perfectly straight too. Hollow grids ensure better smoke distribution. On the other hand, no matter how popular they are, box-shaped layers represent the so-called negative innovation. Recently they have gained a lot of popularity, but everyone fails to understand that the shape of the box prevents the food from being smoked properly. Every chef in the world will blame these things and recommend empty grills instead.
The heat structure is often overrated
The heat structure is all about the direction of heat flow. Professional chefs use electric smokers that direct the heat down and to the side. They say this is the best way to cook the meal faster. On the other hand, many other smokers direct the heat upwards. They are said to be less professional. The interesting part is that the result is pretty much the same. Obviously, the more directions the heat comes from, the faster your meals will cook. But the quality standards are similar though. The heat structure is, indeed, worth a little attention, but it should never influence your decision.
Safety standards are ignored
Everyone pays attention to the quality of the food, as well as the speed of cooking. However, no one actually thinks about how safe the electric smoker is. This factor becomes critical if you have children or pets around. If this is a portable unit, the wheels must be lockable. On the other hand, the handles should never heat up with the smoker, just to prevent accidents. Remember that wooden handles may look good, but they tend to disintegrate overtime. Instead, stainless steel becomes a better choice. It can dissipate heat without problems, but it is also durable. In addition, the electrical parts must be hidden and properly protected against snow and rain.
Look for easy access
Hunt an electric smoker that can provide very simple access without endangering yourself. Whether it comes to accessing food, placing it or moving it, a front-loading style is usually the ideal solution. It should look like a cabinet, regardless of the shape. It also offers access to every shelf. On a different note, top loading smokers come with some limitations. Also, leaning on it can be a little risky at times.
In conclusion, buying the best electric smoker depends on nothing but your personal needs. But on a different note, it’s good to heed some insider tips that everyone can benefit from. Education is extremely important before spending your money, while these tricks are meant to help less experienced shoppers.
Steven Larson is a kitchen enthusiast, who occasionally blogs about various kitchen gadgets that he reviews. Kitchen Gadgets Wars.