Best Electric Smokers 2018 – Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the best electric smoker is always a time-consuming and boring task, which is why I have prepared this guide for you, which will help you make the final decision when choosing a new electric smoker. The most important thing is for you to find the right model so that later you don’t regret your decision, let alone the money you lost.

For that purpose, I have prepared several different suggestions so that everyone can find something for themselves, regardless of their expectations and budget.  There’s plenty of different competitive models on the market which makes finding a new electric smoker difficult, it really requires a lot of time to visit stores and compare products with your own eyes, which still won’t make you sure if you’ve found the right model.

The only option to make sure of that is practical tests, which only few can afford, or talking with those who have a lot of experience with this type of smoker. It is the best way to compare competitive electric smokers. Based on such tests and discussions with others, this article was made, in which you can read my objective reviews for the smokers I tested.

First of all, think about what you expect, or take into account the price, the size of the smoker and its features. Then you can move on to the initial analysis of my suggestions, which I chose based on plenty of factors such as the quality of workmanship, price, features and size.

My goal is to make it easier to choose a good electric smoker at the right price that is adequate to the actual value of the product.

You don’t know much about electric smokers? That’s not a problem, below the review you will also find a longer guide in which you will find the answers to the most common questions.

Best Electric Smokers 2018 - Comparison Table

MODEL

Cooking

Space

PRICE

TOP 3 Pick 

Masterbuilt Front Controller

Best Overall

Masterbuilt Front Controller

730 sq. in.

Masterbuilt Digital No Window

Budget Pick

Masterbuilt Digital/No Window

721 sq. in.

Masterbuilt Top Controller Window

Runner-Up

Masterbuilt Top Controller with Window

730 sq. in.

Also Great 

Masterbuilt Bluetooth Smart Digital

Upgrade Pick

Masterbuilt Bluetooth Smart Digital

975 sq. in.

Char-Broil Deluxe Electric Smoker

Char-Broil Deluxe Digital

725 sq. in.

How did I pick the best ones?

pick the best one

I started by analyzing the offers of online stores, then I visited brick and mortar stores so that I could see with my own eyes a particular model of the electric smoker. It takes a lot of time, but that way I can create a potential list of the top rated electric smokers.

At first I always check out the price despite most electric smokers being available in a similar price range, in most cases they cost from about $200 to as much as $500. Still, I try to pick the best models at different price ranges in order to provide a selection for those with a lower budget as well as those with a big one.

Of course, when selecting, I take many other aspects into account such as the size of the smoker, additional features, efficiency, durability, quality of workmanship and price to all of the above ratio – all of that allows me to make the initial rating, which gets verified after the practical tests.

The most important aspect is the price to quality ratio of a smoker. I try to avoid a situation where a product is simply not worth its price, which is why I analyze competitive models in every regard in order to make a decision whether this particular smoker is worth your money in order to avoid disappointment.

Having a full list, I purchased all the smokers, which allowed me to fulfill the final plan which was the practical tests, but more on that below.  

How did I test?

smoking food in electric smoker

Before writing a review on the best rated electric smokers by me, I make sure to test all the models so that I have as much experience with them as possible, which later results in objective reviews.

After ordering and picking up all the electric smokers, I moved on to what each of us faces at the beginning, which is the assembly of each smoker. That way I found out how much time it takes to assemble each of the smokers and if the assembly manual is clear and easy enough for everyone to handle it, including beginners.

The assembled and ready electric smokers were prepared for another test, the purpose of which is to verify how each of the smokers functions in practice. For that purpose, I decided to prepare different kinds of food in order to see the results and tell the differences between the competitive electric smokers ( if there were any ).

For slow food smoking, I chose chicken, breastbone, turkey, ribs and bacon which are very popular meats. The tests consisted of smoking the same type of food on all the smokers at the same time, which means that following the above order, I started with chicken.

I set the same temperature on all the electric smokers and started them. In the meantime, I measured how fast each of the models reached the selected temperature. After each of the smokers reached the selected temperature, I put food on the grates and started smoking. When I was done cooking, I analyzed the results and moved on to cleaning up. This is where I could see how the additional features worked in some models.

After all of that, I spent many hours analyzing my experience related to cooking on electric smokers and analyzed all of my notes related to tests and that’s how this guide was made.

1. Best Overall Masterbuilt Front Controller

I have to start by admitting that Masterbuilt is a king among electric smokers. Most of suggestions you’ll see here will be from this particular manufacturer. Let me start by discussing Masterbuilt Front Controller, which is number one considering all of its aspects, such as the construction with the front glass and the ability to turn on the light, a digital control panel, RF Remote, large food area and many others.

It is a very pleasant and easy to use electric smoker that was equipped with all the features necessary for high quality food smoking. Great for beginners and for those much more advanced alike. When it comes to the price, it makes a perfect middle ground between a cheap and expensive electric smoker which I think is the most popular price range.

The surface inside the 30inch version is not exactly enormous, but for this kind of money it’s a lot of space ( 730 square inches on 4 racks ) which allows to really prepare a whole lot of food. If it’s not enough for you, however, you can choose the bigger version ( 40 inch ), which offers whole 975 square inches of food smoking surface.

What features were I talking about with this smoker? Let's start with the simple ones, like the ability to turn on the light inside the chamber, front access to the drip pan and its convenient system of feeding wood chips. It is also possible to add wood chips without opening the front door, by using the side wood chip loading system.

On the top of the electric smoker you will find a regulated air vent, which is there to control the smoke flow. Next to it is a digital control panel and the RF Remote. ( In the event that the digital control panel broke, you can still set the temperature using the RF Remote ). Of course, the digital panel makes it possible to program the whole cooking process. Start the electric smoker, set the temperature and time, and then take a rest until the food is ready.

Using the pilot, you can control the temperature, the cooking time and, which is surprising, the temperature inside meat, thanks to the meat probe, while being away from the smoker.

PROS


  •  

CONS



Masterbuilt Front Controller is a great electric smoker in the most appropriate price range. It is equipped with all the necessary features as well as several useful solutions ( side wood chip loading system, front glass, remote control… ). It gives great results when it comes to food flavor. Large cooking area, precise and easy temperature control thanks to the digital panel and all the other useful features is all that you need for a price that is worth it.

It is undoubtedly a big advantage of the Masterbuilt manufacturer that it comes with plenty of spare parts which allows to replace a broken crucial part fast, cheap and easily.

2. Budget Pick Masterbuilt Digital No Window

Another suggestion from Masterbuilt, this time it’s a simple construction without a window and remote control, which makes the price lower. A great choice for those beginning their adventure with an electric smoker and wanting a good product at the lowest possible price.

It is equipped with all the basic necessary features for the highest quality food smoking. It doesn’t come with extra features such as remote control or meat probes, but it is not something necessary and it has no impact on the quality of food while significantly lowering the final price of this model.

There’s a digital control panel on the top, which is there to start the smoker, set the temperature and time. Next to it is a regulated air vent to control the smoke flow.

Like with every model from Masterbuilt, here you will also find a drip pan for grease, water tank and a wood chips container. If you wish to refill the wood chips container without opening the front door, you can do this by opening the side wood chip loading system. Such solution prevents the door from being opened which gets the heat out fast, and everyone knows how important fixed temperature is when smoking meat.

What about the size? It is only available in the smaller version ( 30 inch ) that offers about 730 square inches of area for 4 racks which I think is a pretty good result. The space may not be huge, but for this kind of money I believe that it’s a lot of space and you shouldn’t run out of it.

It is worth noting that it is much lighter than competitive models which is an upside in many situations, although it lacks wheels at the base of the construction, which is a small downside when it comes to mobility.

A small number of buyers complains about a small amount of smoke at low temperatures of 180-210 degrees F. If you think it’s a huge problem then I simply suggest to buy a Cold Smoking Kit for Digital Smokers separately, which matches all types of electric smokers from Masterbuilt. One big advantage of this accessory is that a full wood chips container can last for about 5-6 hours of smoke making.

PROS




CONS



Masterbuilt  Digital/No Window is a non-expensive electric smoker that comes with all the necessary features for high-quality meat smoking. I especially recommend it for beginners and for those with a limited budget. No extra features and gadgets has no negative impact on the efficiency and end result of meat smoking. A simple, cheap and easy to use electric smoker that is worth this kind of money.

3. Runner-Up Masterbuilt Top Controller Window

This model actually doesn’t differ that much from Masterbuilt  Front Controller. When it comes to the features, they are the same, but the difference is the placement of the main digital control panel, which is located on top of the electric smoker.

The construction’s style is also slightly different, but it still maintains the window and the RF Controller. Another slight difference is a much better and stronger LED lamp that illuminates the inside of the smoker.

A smaller difference that can be noticed is the wheels present in this model, which are not present in other models.

The cooking area is the same and so is the power. You also have 4 racks available, which can hold up to 100lbs of meat.

When it comes to the features, like I said, they are mostly the same as in the Masterbuilt Front Controller version. Inside the smoker you have a wood chips container, a drip pan, a water tank and ability to refill wood chips without opening the front door thanks to the wood chip loading system ( it is present in every model of Masterbuilt ).

The digital control panel makes it possible to set the temperature, the time, turn the light on and monitor the temperature inside meat thanks to the meat probe, the same features are present in the remote control.

PROS




CONS



Based on own experience and other people’s opinions, I suggest buying a Cold Smoke attachment. Most of electric smokers have a problem with small amount of smoke at low temperatures which is why it’s a good idea to invest in this accessory, which solves this problem once and for all.

Therefore, when making the final decision, you should make your own choice of which model is better for you, taking my reviews into account. I’ll just add that both models are great and represent the same high level. The main difference is the appearance and placement of the digital control panel, whereas all the other features are the same except for minor elements such as wheels.

4. Upgrade Pick Masterbuilt Bluetooth Smart

By default, the main construction doesn’t differ much from other Masterbuilt models. However, this one has a slightly different Blue Led digital control panel with a removable sun protection. It has all the basic features of competitive models as well as several less known ones.

The digital control panel comes with the basic features such as setting the temperature, time, starting the built-in meat probe, turning on/off the bluetooth system, the light and the smoker.

Most of all, it’s a very big electric smoker, you need to know that the bigger version ( 40 inch ), offers as much as 975 square inches which is really an impressive result. An area this big allows to prepare food for truly a lot of people.

Of course the bigger area requires more power, the heating element with 1200 watts of power can heat up the interior of the smoker to as much as 275 degrees ( smaller models usually have a power of about 800 watts ).

What is new in this model compared to other, slightly cheaper competitive smokers ? Integrated Bluetooth technology – which is ability to connect your mobile device ( tablet or telephone ) via Bluetooth using a special electric smoker app. The app allows to monitor the cooking process in real time ( the temperature inside the smoker or the temperature inside the meat ) and allows to set the temperature, the time, turn on/off the light and the smoker etc… in simple words, your mobile device can turn into a remote control for the electric smoker.

You won’t find such features in much cheaper smokers, it is undoubtedly an interesting gadget.

The remaining elements, such as the drip pan, the water tank and the wood chips container look just like in all the other electric smokers from masterbuilt. You will also find a side wood chip port system here, which allows to refill the wood chips container without having to open the front door. Opening the front door even for few seconds causes a huge loss of temperature, which is significant when smoking meat, which makes it a very good solution in this smoker.

PROS




CONS



Therefore, this electric smoker from masterbuilt is great, it is not a coincidence that so many products from this manufacturer are on my list. Which model to buy? If you have a little more cash and like such gadgets as Bluetooth Technology, then it will be undoubtedly a great choice for you. One big advantage of this model is also its big cooking area and the side system of refilling wood chips. Much bigger power of the heating element guarantees that the smoker will easily reach the selected temperature within its entire area.

5. Char-Broil Deluxe Electric Smoker

This time something different, so far it’s the only worthy competitor for the electric smokers from Masterbuilt. It is a model that can fit within a mid-tier budget, a good choice for beginners.

The construction contains double insulated walls and its appearance resembles other smokers for this kind of price, inside it you will find 725 square inches of area on 4 racks. It is really a lot of space to prepare large quantities of food.

Char-Broil Deluxe Digital electric smoker comes with all the necessary basic features required to properly smoke meat and includes several extra interesting and useful gadgets.

Among the basic elements is undoubtedly the wood chips container, a retractable grease tray on the side of the grill, a water tank and a digital controller, which makes it possible to set the temperature, time and control the temperature inside the meat thanks to the retractable meat probe.

It also comes with a smartphone app that makes it possible to control the whole process of smoking meat on the display of your phone, away from the smoker.

It might not be very significant, but the manufacturer has installed wheels and handles in order to improve the mobility of this electric smoker.

You won’t find a popular feature here that is present in every Masterbuilt model ( side wood chip loading system ). Such solution isn’t necessary here, though, as Char-Broil Deluxe electric smoker has double walls that make this smoker very air-tight, being great at blocking smoke and heat. Such solution has made the smoker few times more effective when it comes to producing smoke, a full wood chips container can last for as long as about 6 hours.

At lower temperatures, however, electric smokers produce less smoke, which is why it lacks something interesting like a cold smoking kit, which generates a lot of smoke and makes it possible to smoke food much more effectively at very low temperatures.

PROS




CONS



Despite that, I really like the feature that turns off the smoker when the meat reaches the right internal temperature. When it comes to the appearance, it is one of the prettiest smokers in my opinion.

Char-Broil Deluxe is a good alternative to smokers from Masterbuilt, having almost the same features as competitive models while at a much more affordable price. The air-tight construction makes it better at holding heat and smoke, which there is enough of for every type of food. The only downside to me is not being able to buy something similar to the cold smoking kit, but if it’s not a problem for you then I recommend this model because for this kind of price it has a lot of other upsides I mentioned more about above.

Buyers Guide

electric smoker buyers guide

An electric smoker is a great alternative for standard smokers, which require a lot of attention when cooking. A standard smoker requires constant fuel and temperature control, it is hard to maintain one fixed temperature, especially for beginners. An electric smoker, on the other hand, is a very convenient and easy to use device that forgives a lot of mistakes, which makes it a great choice for those who are not very close to real BBQ. Of course it’s also a great option for advanced users who simply don’t feel like constantly monitoring the temperature, the fuel etc in a standard smoker. All you have to do here is set the temperature, time and that’s it, you don’t have to worry about the rest.

We will find plenty of electric smokers on the market, they stand out with different features and gadgets. The prices don’t differ too much compared to other types of smokers. Smaller models with a smaller number of features usually cost about $200 and make a great choice for those with a limited budget, you want something better? If the answer is yes then prepare about $300 for a mid-tier electric smoker and a little more for a model with a big cooking area and such gadgets as, for example, a smartphone app, meat probes etc.

An Electric Smoker is a very convenient device that has plenty of upsides, but also has one big downside compared to other types of smokers. It is the most malfunction-prone type of smoker, all because it has plenty of electronics inside. The charcoal smoker is free of electronics which makes you sure that it will work without a problem until the entire construction of the smoker gets eaten away by rust, which may take a whole lot of time. When it comes to the electric smoker, on the other hand, in the event of some malfunction you will most likely not be able to prepare food. Electronics don’t like humidity which is why you should clean the inside of the smoker and keep it in a dry place. Good electric smokers can serve for up to 10 years, but before you make a purchase, it’s a good idea to check out the warranty, as it would be nice to have it for a long time in the event of any malfunction. One upside, on the other hand, is accessibility of spare parts, it should not be a problem to get new parts in the event of a malfunction.

What to pay attention to?

What to pay attention to in electric smoker

Most of all, don’t buy with your eyes, the appearance is the last thing you should pay attention to. The most important thing is to compare several competitive electric smokers at similar prices and determine which offer comes with more interesting features and other important aspects. Buying with eyes very often ends with disappointment, it is better before choosing a new smoker to think about what you really need.

  • The price – For majority of people, the price is likely the deciding factor when shopping. Define your budget and think about how much you can spend on a new electric smoker. In this guide, I included smokers at different prices so that everyone can find something for themselves. You need to know that the price impacts how big your smoker will be and what features it will have. The bigger the smoker and the more features it has, the bigger its price will be. You have to understand that when you have a limited budget, you can’t afford a model with plenty of advanced features, but remember that you can still buy a great product at lower price.
  • The cooking area and burner size – Both those aspects are very closely related to one another, think about how much food you usually prepare and for how many people. Most electric smokers are big and offer about 700 square inches of cooking area but if your expectations are bigger than that and you need more space then it’s a good idea to consider models that offer about one thousand square inches. The key here is actually how much meat you cook and for how many people.
  • Basic features and gadgets – Among the basic features of an electric smoker are certainly a digital control panel with the ability to set temperature, time and turn on/off the light and the burner. Among necessary elements are also the wood chips container, the water tank and the drip tray.
  • Extra accessories – More expensive models offer more interesting solutions, some electric smokers offer the ability to refill wood chips without having to open the front door ( it prevents heat loss ). Others, on the other hand, offer a special app that allows to monitor the entire cooking process directly on your phone’s screen. Another interesting thing is the remote control which offers such features as digital control panel. Some manufacturers also offer accessories sold separately, a great example could be the cold smoking kit, which is only present in some electric smokers. Just remember that such gadgets or accessories significantly increase the final price which means it’s not a good solution for those with a limited budget.
  • Power – Pay attention to the power of the heating element. Smaller models with an area of about 700-800 square inches should have a heating element with about 800 watts of power, whereas bigger models with an area of about 1000 square inches should have about 1200 watts of power. It is important if you want to be sure that the entire surface inside the smoker is evenly heated.
  • Mobility – If you want mobility then pay attention to the weight and whether the smoker has such conveniences as handles and wheels. Not all electric smokers are equipped with these elements which is why, if you plan to change the location of your smoker often, it’s a good idea to check out if the model that interests you comes with wheels and handles.
  • Reviews – If you have doubts regarding my guide or just need some more information about a particular electric smoker model, then I advise you to read reviews. Most of buyers are people like you, who honestly share info on the product they bought. Keep in mind that in many places some people may deliberately post negative reviews which means it is the best to visit several different places and compare all reviews.

Conclusion

As you already know, the market is full of different products and it’s hard to pick the best electric smoker. Each model comes with something that makes it stand out so it’s not an easy task to make the final choice. I hope that my reviews will help you better understand what to actually look for in an electric smoker and let you choose a model that suits your expectations. Keep in mind that the above suggestions are directed towards different kinds of consumers, from models with interesting features to electric smokers for those with a limited budgets. It’s up to you to choose which of the electric smokers suits you best, taking your expectations into account.

You also have to know that there is no single perfect electric smoker, but I hope that I was able to include all the best electric smokers on the market. If you believe, however, that there’s something missing here or you noticed some error then please let us know about that.

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