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Last Updated on October 12, 2021
Using an electric smoker is as easy as operating an electric oven, making them an excellent choice for those new to smoking foods. However, the equipment’s convenience also makes these devices attractive to experienced outdoor cooking enthusiasts who don’t enjoy cleaning up the mess after using a charcoal smoker.
Electric smokers tend to be cheaper than models that use alternative fuels, and you can even use them in areas where there is a fire ban. Cooking your meals on an electric smoker should be an enjoyable, straightforward process. However, these helpful hints and tricks can enhance the experience and help you learn how to use an electric smoker like a professional.
1. Season Your Electric Smoker
When your electric smoker arrives, you could take it out of the box, plug it in and begin smoking straight away. However, you don’t know what residues may still be on the surfaces. The manufacturers may have wiped the equipment with cleaning fluids and solvents that may be unsuitable for human consumption.
It’s essential to season your smoker by coating the internal surfaces with a thin layer of cooking oil, turning on your device, and setting the heat level to maximum. Open the vents to allow the vapors to escape, and leave the smoker to run for approximately 3 hours. This process should remove any unwanted contaminants so you can safely smoke food.
2. Don’t Add Too Much Smoke
Photo Credit: Char-Broil
This step may seem counterintuitive. After all, you purchased a smoker so you could infuse your meats with that authentic smoky barbecue flavor. But one of the best electric smoker tips and tricksis to add precisely the right amount of smoke. You’ve bought poultry or red meats that have their own delicious flavors, and you don’t want to lose those tastes by allowing too much smoke to enter your food.
A practical idea is to use a single tray of pellets or wood chips and see if the meats taste smoky enough for your preferences when they are ready to serve. If not, next time you use your electric smoker, you can add another tray of wood chips. Part of the fun of learning to use a smoker is experimenting with the number of wood pellets you use and the different woody flavors.
When using mesquite, you’ll find the flavors are much stronger than apple-infused wood chips. Numerous flavors are available, so you can keep your dinner menu fresh by adding different wood pellet flavors each time. Over time, you’ll find the combinations you love the most.
3. Watch Out for Temperature Swings
Electric smokers are well-known for having temperature swings before they settle on a steady heat level. These swings generally only happen at the start and eventually even out to a consistent smoking warmth. However, you can reduce the amount of temperature swing by following a couple of tips.
If you intend to smoke your meats at a heat level of 225°F, turn the built-in dial to set the target temperature at 205°F. When the thermometer indicates the electric smoker has exceeded your target heat level and is at 225°F, set a new objective of 225°F. This process will not prevent the swing, but it can reduce the amount of time you have to wait before your smoker is ready for cooking.
4. Open Your Vent Completely
When using a charcoal smoker, the vent is essential for temperature control. However, the duct is present purely to let smoke escape from the cooking chamber on an electric smoker. While you want a smoky flavor on your meats, too many fumes can make your food inedible.
If you leave your vent fully open, plenty of smoke will still make contact with your meats before it escapes into the open air.
5. Cover Your Racks With Tinfoil
One of the greatest benefits of preparing meals on an electric smoker is that there is no charcoal ash to clean up, and you don’t need to take up space with gas canisters. However, when you place the meat on the cooking grates, some food pieces inevitably stick to the surface.
One of the most helpful electric smoker tips and tricks for preventing messes is to wrap your cooking racks in tin foil before smoking. Because there is efficient air circulation in the cooking chamber, smoke can still infuse your foods with delicious aromas.
You’ll need to turn your meats to ensure good smoke coverage over the entire food surface, but it’s worth it not to scrub your grill grates after use. It’s good practice to change your tinfoil covering after each use to avoid the risk of bacteria and other contaminants attaching to the next batch of food you are smoking.
6. Learn How to Smoke Different Meats
Photo Credit: Masterbuilt
Smoking at a temperature of 225°F is ideal for preparing thicker cuts of meat. If you’re cooking a brisket, you should allow approximately 90 minutes of smoking time per pound. The lengthy preparation time allows smoke to penetrate more substantial-sized meats, tenderizing the texture for superior results.
If you are smoking a boston butt and other poultry, you may find these meat-type benefits from a faster smoking time at a higher temperature of approximately 275°F. In contrast, smoked fish gains the best flavors when you smoke it at as low a heat level as 150°F for 2 hours before completing the cooking process with a quick blast of 200°F heat.
While you learn to gauge the most suitable cooking times and temperatures for different meat types, it’s a good idea to use a cooking chart. You should also become familiar with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) safety guidelines. Eating undercooked meat can cause severe illness, but by adhering to the internal meat temperature guidelines, you can reduce the risk of suffering food poisoning.
Investing in a digital meat thermometer means you always know the precise internal meat temperature, so you can keep your food in the smoker until it is ready to serve.
You can experiment with different meats and wood chips to produce incredible results every time. Don’t be surprised if your friends and family purchase an high quality electric smoker after attending your next cookout!