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How to Use an Electric Smoker

This article is for smoked food lovers who may not be pros in the process yet. One reliable tool for smoking food is an electric smoker.

It’s the perfect utensil for both pros and amateurs alike.

Make good use of your backyard, have fun with your family, and smoke good food by knowing how to use an electric smoker.

How to Use an Electric Smoker

You can spend a lot of time closely supervising a typical charcoal smoker. Otherwise, that rib eye might end up getting burned—or worse, inedible.

With electric smokers, folks can focus on seasoning their meat. Sit back and let the electric smoker do the rest.


Preparing Your Electric Smoker

There are several things to keep in mind when learning how to use an electric smoker properly. You have to ensure you follow these guidelines to preserve the quality of your smoked meat and also to keep your electric smoker from breaking down easily.

A well-maintained appliance can last you for years. For every meal you prepare, safely and adequately operating your unit is one of the most important things to remember.


New Electric Smokers

If this is your first time using your electric smoker, be sure to remove all odors, dust, or solvent remains in your newly purchased unit by letting it run for a while without placing anything in it.

The heating or “seasoning” of a new unit may be dependent on the model that you bought, so be sure to check your manual first. You can season your electric smoker by rubbing your smoker’s interior with any cooking oil and then letting it run for roughly two to three hours at around 265°F.

Be sure to make the necessary preparations with newly purchased electric smokers. Remember, many units have different functions and controls, so always refer to your product manual to be sure when learning how to use an electronic smoker.


Keep Your Meat Moist

Don’t forget to place a container of water at the bottom of your unit’s smoking chamber. Sometimes, some models have a designated hot water slide. If it doesn’t, then simply place the container at the bottom of the smoker.

Cold or room temperature can mess up the electric smoker’s optimal heat. We suggest using hot water as it will constantly evaporate as your meat is smoked, making your meal moist and juicy. We also recommend using other flavored liquids like wine or juice for a more sophisticated aroma.

PRO TIP: Make sure that your unit is properly plugged in, without obstructions if you are about to start smoking. Some folks make the mistake of coiling their electric smoker’s wires along spaces that can be easily kicked or disturbed by anyone.

Since you won’t be monitoring it every five minutes, if someone (or something) accidentally unplugs it, you’ll be left with ruined meat and a good one or two hours of wasted time. Keep this in mind as you study how to use an electric smoker.


Be Mindful of Your Wood Chips

BBQ aficionados treat wood chips as delicately as they would consider ingredients.

The quality and type of wood chips can make a significant impact on the end product of your smoked meat.

wood chips for electric smoker

Some models don’t use smoke chips at all. This is fine as long as your unit provides tremendous flavors on your smoked meat. For those models that do use wood chips, we’d advise using the most appropriate types.

IMPORTANT: Never use scrap wood. Certain kinds of wood scraps may emit harmful gases that can ruin the entire experience and put your friends and family in danger. Instead, always opt for bagged wood chips made explicitly for electric smokers.

There are all kinds of wood chips, and each of them adds different scents and flavors to your smoked product. [1] If you’re able to use the right wood chip for the matching meat, then you’re all set. Here’s a quick guide for you to know which wood chip to use for which meat:

  • Hickory—most suitable for red meats and poultry or pork shoulder and butt.
  • Cherry wood —best for turkey, chicken or ham because of its fruity zest.
  • Maple wood—great for pork and poultry. This infuses a mild smoky flavor for fowl meats, like pheasants.
  • Oak—amazing flavor for beef, brisket, sausages, and lamb roasts. Together with pecan, oak wood has a nutty flavor that gives off a balanced aroma.
  • Orange—adds a mild citrusy accent that goes great with pork and poultry.

You can mix these up according to your preference as you gain more experience as a BBQ pit master, so feel free to experiment and explore as you learn more about how to use an electric smoker.


Setting the Temperature Right

Another thing to keep in mind when exploring how to use an electric smoker is manipulating its temperature settings. Unlike the manual charcoal or propane smokers, electric units automate almost all of the process.

Your focus should be keeping the temperature within the ideal range so that your meat can come off with an aromatic, flavorful, and well-caramelized result.

The ideal smoking temperature for most meats would be around 200°F to 225°F. For tougher meat cuts like chucks and briskets, you may use a low-but-lengthy smoking temperature. This technique helps break down the tough fibers in those kinds of meat to produce a melts-in-your mouth, savory BBQ result.

Some meats cook better at higher temperatures of 275°F within a two-hour mark. These meats include various kinds of poultry. You can also cook other foods at a lower temperature initially (often around 150°F or below).

For most fish products, you can cook them for roughly 140°F to 150°F for two hours, and then kick the heat up to 200°F or so when it’s about to finish.


Setting the Meat Right

Most folks buy their meat and smoke it plain with just a few sprinkles of salt or a handful of random herbs. They might buy pre-marinated cuts, which is not bad, but it largely depends on the skill and expertise of the folks who prepared it.

The best tip here is to brine your meat products in certain mixtures for at least 24 hours before tossing it in the electric smoker. Depending on your taste, you can get creative with your brine solution mix. The usual ingredients would be pepper, parsley, carrots, onions, honey, salt, or even fruit slices.


Cleaning Up

Let’s face it: Smoked meat can be messy. It can be challenging to clean up your unit as you go about studying the best methods on how to use an electronic smoker.

We recommend wrapping your meat racks with aluminum foil to prevent most of the meat grease sticking to the steel. Keep it a habit to regularly deep clean your electronic smoker after every use. The longer you let the gunk stay, the quicker your unit’s performance is suboptimal.

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