Looking to invest in an electric smoker for your next big barbecue or RV camping trip? Not only are electric smokers cleaner and easier to operate than their propane and charcoal counterparts, but they impart the same mouth-watering flavor and aroma to smoked meats, chicken, fish, and even vegetables.
Electric meat smokers vary wildly in price, features, and quality and finding the best electric smoker for your needs whether at home or in the RV can be difficult if you are just starting out.
This comprehensive guide will cover the very best electric smokers on the market, the best electric portable smokers, and the best electric smokers under $200 and $300, so you can base your decision on your unique needs as well as your budget.
If you just want to buy the best electric smoker on the market without reading the fine print, simply skip the detailed guide and go straight to our choice for the best electric meat smoker available.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dive deep into the world of electric smokers.
What Exactly is an Electric Smoker?
One of the reasons that so few people smoke their own meats is because it’s time consuming and involves a lot of trial and error. Why go to all that trouble for sub-par results? An electric smoker is one of the easiest types of smokers to use because in most cases, you basically set it and forget it.
Electric smokers make use of either electric rheostats or thermostats to control the temperature inside the smoking chamber. With rheostat-controlled electric smokers, you usually choose a setting – low, medium, or high.
A thermostat allows you to choose a temperature for more accurate results. Unlike gas, charcoal, or pellet smokers, where the heat comes from combustion, an electric smoker uses a superheated metal coil and very little oxygen. You add wet or dry wood chips and water to help achieve a juicy, smoke-infused flavor.
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While you can certainly add wood to your electric smoker (and we do this every time by the way) to impart a particular flavor, there is a distinct taste difference from smokers that use gas, wood, or charcoal. Electric smokers produce delicious results, and because they are so easy and inexpensive to use, they are worth every penny you spend on them.
Why Choose an Electric Smoker over a Propane or Charcoal Smoker?
There are three primary reasons why you would choose an electric smoker over a propone, charcoal, or wood smoker. The first is that electric smokers are incredibly easy to use. There’s not much trial and error — you basically put your meat in the smoking box, set your thermostat and timer, and forget about it. You can add wood chips to your heating element for a more authentic flavor, but honestly, smoking your food in an electric smoker is as easy as sticking a roast in the oven.
Electric smokers are also fairly portable. They even make indoor electric smokers that are smaller than their outdoor counterparts, though we’ve yet to test them out. Electric smokers are particularly useful for apartment living or places where you aren’t allowed to use combustible materials for grilling.
Lastly, electric smokers are comparable in price to other types of smokers, but they are much cheaper to operate. Buying charcoal or propane tanks for six to eight hours of smoking will set you back more than five times what you’ll pay in electricity.
What Electric Smoker Features Should I Look for Before Buying?
- Size and capacity – The electric smokers in this buying guide range in size from a portable 24” patio smoker with two racks, to 30” models with more than 730 square inches of cooking space across four racks. The larger-capacity smokers are great if your into outdoor parties or have a large family, but definitely go smaller if you have limited space or a small family. Even the smallest size can cook full chicken and a rack of ribs at the same time.
- Thermostat vs. rheostat – Models with a thermostat cost a bit more, but they produce much more accurate results than models with a rheostat.
- Warranty – We hope that your new electric smoker lasts a long time, but if it doesn’t and something goes wrong, you want to be protected. Check the warranty information for the electric smokers you are considering before making a purchase. Most products included in this buying guide have a warrant against manufacturer defects for one year.
- Portability – Electric smokers should be used outside, but stored in a covered area or a garage. That means that should be easy to move around. Some smokers are small and easy to carry. Others have wheels to make moving them easier. Keep size, weight, and portability in mind when choosing your electric smoker.
Can I Use My Electric Smoker for Camping?
Yes! Absolutely! This is precisely why we prefer an electric smoker over other types of smokers. The portability and ease of use makes an electric smoker perfect for camping. We easily transport ours in our RV camper to the campground. The smell of a pork butt or a few racks of ribs smoking all day at the campground is enchanting to say the least. You won’t have any trouble calling the kids to the campsite for dinner. You might, however, have difficulty keeping other people’s kids away. 🙂 In fact, having a smoker is great for camping get togethers and family reunions as you can cook enough food for the entire campground if you like without slaving all day over the oven or fire.
We personally use the Masterbuilt Electric Smoker during our camping trips and have had great results. It’s small enough to be portable, but large enough to smoke enough ribs or pork butts to easily feed our family of 5 for days (and a few of our closest camping friends!)
Electric Smoker Reviews: Find the Best Electric Smoker for You
Ready to dig deep into the world of electric smokers? We spent hours researching the best electric smokers based on price, features, ease of use, and independent consumer reviews. The following electric smokers are our top picks.
Best Electric Smoker Under $300: Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker, Top Controller
Masterbuilt consistently receives top marks for its outdoor barbecue products, from grills and fryers to smokers and grill accessories. Our favorite electric smoker features 730 square inches of interior space for smoking your favorite foods over four racks. That’s enough space to cook mouth-watering barbecue for a large gathering, and perfect for a budding grill master who is ready to take their barbecues to the next level.
Other features of the Masterbuilt Electric Digital Smoker include an accurate thermostat control for even cooking from 100 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, digital temperature and timing controls, a removable drip pan for easy cleanup, and a side-loading wood tray. A powder-coated steel outer body, fully insulated interior, and auto shut off make this 30” Masterbuilt an energy-efficient, easy-to-use smoker for meats, veggies, fish, and cheese.
- No glass door means less heat loss during smoking.
- Thermostat controlled for accurate cooking.
- Removable drip pan.
- Large capacity.
- Easy to clean.
- Side-loading wood tray means less heat loss if you have to add wood chips during cooking.
- One-year warranty for manufacturer defects. Consumer must pay shipping for new parts.
- Not very portable.
- Some reviewers have had trouble with the control panel malfunctioning after the warranty is up. We definitely suggest purchasing an extended warranty.
Best Portable Electric Smoker for Camping or Small Families: Masterbuilt MB20073716 Patio-2-Portable Electric Smoker
Why heat up a huge smoker if you’re just cooking for a small family? The Masterbuilt MB20073716 Portable Electric Smoker makes use of two smoking racks, which is still suitable for cooking a full chicken and several ears of corn.
This portable model stands just under two-feet tall, has portable legs for easy storage, and comes in at just under 22 pounds. This is a great little model for RV camping or apartment dwellers, and one of the best portable electric smokers on the market today. It’s also incredibly affordable, and one of the best electric smokers under $200 that you can buy.
Unlike many of the more sophisticated electric smokers, this one limits the temperature settings to low, medium, and high. While not as accurate as thermostat-controlled units, it is fairly easy to calibrate with an external thermometer. Because of its size and vague temperature controls, this is not a set-it and forget-it model. You don’t necessarily have to babysit it, but you probably shouldn’t fill it up, turn it on, and go to work.
- Decent capacity for its small size.
- Fully portable and lightweight.
- Comes fully assembled.
- Easy to use and to clean.
- One year warranty does not include paint blistering or rust. Consumer pays for parts shipping.
- Unit is not thermostat controlled so cooking is not as accurate as some models.
- Should not be left unattended for long periods as temperatures are not accurate which may lead to overcooking.
Best Large-Capacity Electric Smoker: Char-Broil 1,000-Square Inch Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
Cooking for a crowd of barbecue lovers? With this 1,000 square inch digital electric smoker, there is enough space for all your goodies and four adjustable smoking trays, making the Char-Broil 1,000-Square Inch Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker the best large-capacity electric smoker suitable for residential use. With such a large capacity smoke box, you can fill it with wood chips and then leave it for four to seven hours before coming back to check on it and add more chips.
Features include insulated double-wall construction, a remote control, wheels for great portability, and a digital thermostat for accurate cooking. An integrated meat probe will alert you when your food has been cooked to whatever predetermined temperature you set it to, and a high-capacity drip tray makes for easy cleanup.
Some reviewers have reported that the door doesn’t seal well, but they also note that Char-broil customer service is top notch as far as dealing with any issues that arise.
- Large capacity for big gatherings.
- Remote control.
- Temperature probe for accurate cooking.
- Thermostat controlled.
- Wheels make it more portable.
- The large capacity makes it easier to set it and forget it.
- Large window is great for viewing, but also promotes heat loss.
- Some reviewers complain that the door doesn’t seal properly.
- One-year warranty.
Most Affordable Electric Smoker: Smoke Hollow ES230B Digital Electric Smoker
The Smoke Hollow ES230B Digital Electric Smoker the cheapest model on our list. This model includes three smoke racks and 548 square inches of interior cooking space. An 800 watt heating element for even heating and a digital panel for controlling the on/off, temperature, and time. Removable drip pan and water trays allow for easy fill up and cleanup.
- Very affordable model with similar features to other more expensive models
- Easy to use and clean up.
- Positive reviews for customer service
- Some reviewers complain that the smoke chips burn too quickly requiring frequent replacement
- Some complaints that the digital panel broke after only a few uses
Best Bluetooth Smoker: Dyna-Glo DGU732SDE-D 30″ Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker
The Dyna-Glo Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker brings the art of classic barbecue into the digital age. With this unit, you can easily set and monitor your smoker’s cook time and temperature with your smartphone or tablet. A digitally-controlled meat thermometer allows you to monitor the cooking process without opening the door.
The Dyna-Glo features 732-square inches of cooking space and four adjustable smoke racks. A bottom access drawer allows you to access the water and wood chip trays without opening the door and letting out heat. While the burner element is warrantied for three years from purchase, all other parts have a one-year warranty.
- Bluetooth enabled.
- Large capacity.
- Easy to access water and wood chip compartments.
- Integrated digital meat thermometer for accurate cooking.
- Heavy for its size.
- Glass door doesn’t insulate as well.
Using an electric smoker is such a great way to up your barbecue game, and they are definitely the best and easiest choice for beginners. If you have a favorite electric smoker that isn’t on our list, please share your suggestions in the comments below.