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. Here is our list of the best electric smokers to buy in 2021.
This comprehensive guide will cover the very best electric smokers to buy, 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 to buy in 2021 without reading the fine print, simply skip the detailed guide and go straight to our choice for the best electric meat smoker available.
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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.
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.
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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!)
What Is The Best Electric Smoker To Buy?
Ready to dig deep into the world of electric smokers? We spent hours researching the best electric smokers to buy based on price, features, ease of use, and independent consumer reviews. The following electric smokers are our top picks.
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.