What is an Electric Smoker and How Does it Work ?

If you’re considering buying a new electric smoker and would like to learn a little more about it then I invite you to read this article in which you will learn what the electric smoker is and what are its upsides and downsides.

I hope that the following text helps you make the decision of whether the electric smoker is a type of grill that is right for you, if you decide that it is then I invite you to also check out the list of the best electric smokers based on practical tests and discussions with people who have a lot of experience.

What is an Electric Smoker?

interior of electric smoker

It’s a device that was built for those who love smoked food. The electric smoker, compared to other types of smokers, stands out in many ways, but its main advantage is that it is very easy to use even for beginners.

Thanks to the digital control panel, the electric smoker is a very convenient device. All you have to do is start the smoker, set the desired temperature, time, refill the wood chips container and the water tank and you can start smoking food. Once you set the smoker, you don’t have to do anything else, the smoker will do everything for you. Other types of smokers, on the other hand, require constant control of temperature, fuel and many other things.

The electric smoker has many useful features depending on which model you buy, however, as I mentioned, the greatest advantage of this smoker is convenience and simplicity of use.

Inside a smoker we won’t find many elements but most of them are required for it to function properly. The brain of this device is a digital control panel with which you can program the entire cooking process. Among other parts that we can find in this device are the main heating element, the water bowl, the wood chips container, the drip tray, the food racks, the air vent and other additional ones depending on the model.

 You can read about how all those elements work in the how to use an electric smoker guide.

Upsides and Downsides of the Electric Smoker

electric smoker upside and downsides

It’s hard to find a perfect thing, and the electric smoker is certainly not among them. Despite having more upsides, you can always find few smaller or bigger downsides. Let’s start with the positives that we can find in every electric smoker.


  • Temperature Control – I believe it’s one of the key topics in any grill and smoker. The right temperature is required for proper cooking, especially when smoking meat. In a charcoal smoker it is hard to maintain a fixed temperature, it is much better in a pellet smoker but the electric smoker is one of the best when it comes to maintaining and controlling temperature. It’s all thanks to each electric smoker having a thermostat and mechanisms similar to those in a regular cooker. All you have to do is set the temperature using the digital control panel, and the rest is not your problem.
  • Speed – That’s another important advantage of the electric smoker, all you have to do is start it and then set the right temperature, and soon after that you can start cooking. You don’t have to take care of lighting the smoker as is the case with the charcoal smoker. All you need is a continuous source of electricity to start the heating element, which is responsible for heating up the smoker. The electric smoker was made for smoking meat at low temperatures which is why, after starting the smoker, you don’t need much time for it to reach the right temperature for meat smoking.
  • It doesn’t require control – Once you program the whole cooking process on the digital control panel, you don’t have to do anything else. The system will take control over temperature and will keep it for as long as you need it. You don’t have to worry about the temperature suddenly rising or dropping. Your only concern might be having to refill the wood chips container from time to time, which is what creates the smoke that enriches the flavor of food. More expensive models have alarm features triggered when the temperature inside meat is reached, it is possible thanks to the built-in meat probe.
  • Cleaning – The electric power source is inexpensive and clean compared to any other type of fuel ( charcoal or pellets ). You don’t have to clean up any ash, all you have to do is cleaning the inside which is an easy task. All of the grease generated when smoking meat goes to a special drip tray that is easy to clean. You also don’t have to go through replacing a propane tank, all you have to do is plug the smoker to a socket.
  • Plenty of space – Electric smokers always provide a large cooking area, you usually have 700 to over a thousand square inches available. Other types of smokers for this price can only offer half that much.
  • Very good for beginners – That’s right, if you are someone who isn’t much involved with BBQ and struggles with all the activities that have to be performed in a charcoal smoker for example in order to maintain a fixed temperature then the electric smoker is for you. With this smoker you don’t have to be a genius in the kitchen in order to prepare delicious food.
  • Safety – The electric smoker is made for homelike conditions, there is no hot charcoal here that causes flames. On the bottom of the smoker, there’s a heating element that is responsible for heating the entire smoker. There is no way for the temperature to be too hot as there are electrical mechanisms in charge of it that constantly control the temperature.


  • Prone to malfunction – This is sadly the biggest problem in electric smokers, probably no other smoker or grill is as likely to malfunction as the electric smoker. It’s all because there’s plenty of electronics in it, which will break down sooner or later. It might be a consolation that there’s plenty of spare parts available and that most of them are relatively cheap.
  • It requires more attention – The electronic smoker has plenty of crucial elements without which it couldn’t exist. Most of those elements hate humidity which is why one has to make sure that the smoker is never left out in the rain or kept in humid conditions. After each cooking, on the other hand, you have to clean the inside so that it isn’t too wet.
  • Mobility – Unfortunately, it cannot be said that electric smokers are mobile. First of all, they rely on electricity, secondly, most models don’t even have the basic elements that influence mobility. I’m talking about strategically placed handles and wheels. If you want your electric smoker to be at least a little mobile, make sure if it has wheels so that you can freely move it around the backyard.

Who is the Electric Smoker for ?

Mostly for those who want convenient meat smoking without having to control it all the time and for those who have problems with smoking meat on other types of smokers ( charcoal or pellets ). And also for those who simply don’t feel like constantly controlling temperature and would much rather spend the time with their guests or doing something else while leaving temperature control to systems that the electric smoker is equipped with.

Does electric smoker food differ in flavor from the charcoal one for example? In many cases the difference is barely noticeable, the electric smoker is equipped with a wood chips container which is what generates smoke. One upside of such solution is also the ability to choose different kinds of wood chips which influences the final flavor of the food. If the basic version of the electric smoker doesn’t generate enough smoke, you can always buy special extra accessories that provide large smoke production. I especially recommend such accessories when you’re considering cold smoking.

I hope that the above advice will help you understand what the electric smoker is and if it’s a device for you. If you have any questions or want to share your experience about this smoker then I invite you to leave a comment. You like everything related to BBQ ? You should definitely stay on my website and check out my other posts, you will definitely find something interesting for yourself.

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