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Electric Smoker Guide and Tips

There is nothing quite like cooking on an electric smoker. It's easy and whatever we smoke turns out absolutely delicious. Try these recipes and enjoy the smoky flavor that enhances any meat or vegetables.

Smoked Salmon

What we need:

  • Three pounds of salmon fillets
  • A cup of brown sugar (light or dark)
  • One half cup of salt
  • One tablespoon of dill week
  • One tablespoon of black pepper

image of Hot Smoked Salmon RecipeThe fillets should be cut into four inch strips. Rinse the strips off and pat dry. Then coat the fillets with a sugar salt mix. Place the fillets in a dish and let

sit in the refrigerator for about four hours. Remove fillets from refrigerator and rinse off excess salt and sugar. Pat dry. Follow this by coating the salmon fillets with pepper and dill weed and place them on a cooling rack to dry to help hold the moisture in the fish while smoking.

Fill the electric smoker chip box with wood chips (there are a variety of chips on the market but hickory must may be best for this recipe). Make sure the water tray is full. Place the fillets in the smoker and set temperature to 200°F and smoke for two to three hours or until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 155°F. Let dish cool a bit and then enjoy!

Smoked Spare Ribs

We need:

  • Two slabs of baby back ribs
  • About one half cub of rib rub
  • One half cup of sweet apple juice
  • One half cup of water

image of Smokr's Slow Smoked Pork Spare RibsUse the rib rub to coat ribs on both sides (try using a rub that is not loaded with salt). Fill the electric smoker water pan with hot water and fill the wood chip pan with chips. Now place the baby backs on the top rack of the smoker. Set the 225°F

Smoke for approximately two hours before basting every 30 minutes with a mixture of water and apple juice. Smoke for four hours until meat easily pulls away from the bone. Serve and watch the smiles!

Pork is a fantastic meat to smoke and it's best smoked using a fruitwood for woodchips. Try this delicious pork dish.

We need:

  • A whole boneless pork loin, four to six pounds.
  • Two teaspoons sea of salt
  • One tablespoon of five-spice powder
  • One teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • A teaspoon of nutmeg
  • A teaspoon of garlic powder
  • Two tablespoons of grapeseed or safflower or grapeseed oil,
  • Two to three tablespoons of apple juice Apple
  • About one cup of water
  • Wood chips

Rinse the pork in cold water and pat dry. Trim off any silver skin and excess fat, but leave some fat for moisture and flavor. Place the pork loin on a flat sheet pan.

Mix oil, herbs and spices in a bowl then rub it over the loin and let sit at room temperature for about one hour.

Set the smoker to 225°F and place the apple juice and water mix in the water tray. Add the wood chips to the chip container. Place the meat fat side up on the middle smoker rack. Smoke for three hours or until the internal temperature reaches 155°F. When pork is done, remove it and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with scrumptious hazelnut, apple, and cabbage slaw side dish.

We need smoked side dishes to complete our smoking experience, these recipes will team up perfectly with your fish and meat dishes.

Portabella Mushrooms

image of Stuffed portabella mushroomsWe will need between six to 12 portabella mushrooms.

Wipe the mushrooms and remove stems. Scrape the gills out and rinse mushrooms with cold water. Mix two to three tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce with about two tablespoons of melted butter. Coat the mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. .

Set smoker to 250°F and add lightly flavored wood chips (apple or hickory) to the chip box. Place the mushrooms on a smoker tray and brush again with butter after smoking is complete. Serve as a side with smoked meat dish.

Smoked Baked Beans

We need:

  • Four cans of pork and beans
  • A cup of chopped pork brisket
  • One half cup barbeque sauce
  • A half cup of brown sugar
  • One half cut of ketchup
  • A half cut of water
  • A half a cup of molasses
  • One tablespoon of chili powder
  • One teaspoon of black pepper
  • One teaspoon of liquid smoke

Mix all the ingredients in a pan and bring to boil then simmer for about 10 minutes. Put beans in a smoker pan and smoke at 225°F for about 45 minutes, stirring a couple of times while smoking.

Smoked Stuffed Peppers

We need:

  • Four large sweet Bell peppers
  • One pound of ground beef
  • One third cup of chopped yellow onions
  • One teaspoon cooking oil
  • One teaspoon chili powder
  • One half teaspoon black pepper
  • One half teaspoon salt
  • One fourth teaspoon garlic powder
  • One cup of cooked white rice
  • Two medium eggs
  • One fourth cup of ketchup
  • One half cup of dry oats

Start by browning ground beef and draining juice and fat. Lightly brown chopped onions in oil. Mix the seasonings, onions and beef well then stir in oats and rice. Let cool.

Wash the peppers and remove tops and seeds. Take cooled stuffing mix and add ketchup and eggs. Mix well and stuff peppers with mixture. Set smoker temperature to 275°F. Put wood chips in pan and start smoking for approximately 60 minutes or until temperature reaches 160°F. Serve immediately.

And Now For Dessert!

image of chocolate ice cream homemade ice creamOne quart of ice cream. Set ice cream in a flame proof bowl and set that bowl into a large bowel of ice. Set the smoker temperature to 160°F and add wood chips and smoke about three to five minutes until a light patina of smoke is seen on the ice cream. Turn the ice cream over and do the same. What a wonderful, tasty, smoky treat!


How to use an electric smoker

Before using an electric smoker, we have to purchase one, and of course we'd like to find the best smoker possible. So, how do we do that? Although using one is relatively easy, buying one is a bit more complicated because there are so many on the market.

Our first decision is what type of smoker should we use?

There are electric vertical water smokers that are fairly inexpensive and work well when it's warm but not so good when it's cold, because they can't maintain the core temperature very well. If we live in a warm climate or only grill in the summer, the vertical water smoker is a good choice.

The electric cabinet smoker looks like a tiny refrigerator and usually comes with a temperature gauge for controlling the core temperature. Different electric smokers have different operating instructions, so it's important to read the owner's manual.

We need to know the size of the electric smoker we need. If we plan on entertaining the neighborhood, we will obviously need a bigger smoker. If we're just smoking for the family, a smaller version will certainly do. When buying, we should check the quantities the smoker will hold and go with the one that best serves our needs.

Because an electric smoker is equipped with electric heaters and electronics, these are components we need to master by reading about them. The good smokers have thermostats, while those that are of a lower quality use rheostats. Always check the type of electronics and the brand of the smoker being considered to make sure we get the best for the money we have to spend.

Some electric smokers come with trays that are similar to grills. Others have trays that are hollow. Always go with the grill type because they are the best for smoking fish and meats and will leave the wonderful smoke ring that is a signature look for smoking.

Where Do We Put Our Smoker?

Our smoker should be placed in a safe, outdoor space. They can't be inside because of the smoke they produce. The best place is on concrete straight surface. Try to place it under a covered area like a patio with a roof. When not in use, place the smoker in a storage area or garage and keep it dry with a protective covering.

Getting The Smoker Ready To Use

The first step in preparing to use our electric smoker is getting it to operate properly. We begin by taking it out of the box and assembling if necessary (follow manual instructions) and wiping it down with a wet rag and water. Once we dry it with a soft rag, we must season it with oil. Once seasoned, set the smoker at about 275°F (check owner's manual for seasoning grill) and run empty for approximately two hours. This ensures that the grill has been properly cleaned and seasoned and ready to smoke.

Wood chips

There is nothing like bringing out the flavors of what we are cooking in a smoker than adding wood chips. Most electric smokers are designed to hold wood chips in some sort of container. This is generally located right under the heating element. Four cups will last for four to five smoking hours. Once of the nice aspects of an electric smoker is we don't need a ton of chips to get the best flavor. Wood chips can be purchased in many flavors including hickory, apple, peach and cherry.

Drip Pans and Water Tray

Drip pans collect juices from the meat we are smoking that can later be collected and used for stock or gravy. We can also fill the drip pan with water to add a bit of moisture in the cooking chamber. For example, if we are smoking a chicken, we can add water to the drip pan and flavor it with herbs, onions, carrots and celery. The chicken stock will drip into the pan and create a delicious gravy. This also works for beef, lamb and pork and smoked vegetables like corn, mushrooms and potatoes.

Water pans

Some smokers include a water pan that aids in stabilizing the temperature inside the smoker and helps to minimize temperature fluctuations because air temperatures rise and fall quicker than water temperatures. It also neutralizes hot spots, blocks direct flame when cooking with indirect heat, and improves the flavor of what we are cooking. Use hot water in the pan and place it above the hottest spot in the smoker to evaporate more water.

Learning how do you use an electric smoker also includes making sure that the temperature you desire has been reached before putting the meat in. Check the required electric smoker temperature requirements for the recipe being prepared.

The next step is preparing our food for smoking. Meat needs to be marinated in the refrigerator for at least twelve hours for the best flavor. Take the meat out of the refrigerator about two hours before smoking. Make sure to season with spices before placing it into the smoker.

Heat up the smoker but do not set the temperature too high to start. Start at a low temperature and slowly increase it to make sure the meat is cooking slowing and maintaining the flavors inside. It helps to keep track of the temperature by place a thermometer in the meat to check moisture and temperature. When the desired meat temperature is reached, decrease the temperature slowly to enhance the flavor.


Things To Know About Smoking Cooking Times

image of -Inch Electric Smoker with Window, BlackElectric smokers are really an updated version of a very old cooking tradition. Way back when in order to get the tantalizing flavor of smoked meats and to maintain the flavor and tenderness, we had to spend hours by the grill. Electric smokers save you the trouble of constantly watching over the charcoal, or the chips, the fire and the temperature. A quick check here and there will do.

To know how long meat must cock in an electric smoker, we need to know the weight of the meat and what the minimum internal temperature should be for safe consumption.

Electric smokers have differences and variables like wind, ambient temperature and weather conditionscan change the smoker's internal temperature by an hour or more.

Learning to visually tell when something is done and keeping track of the time and temperature will keep us up to speed as smoker chefs.

Temperature charts go by the meat's weight to determine how long the meat should cook. Although that is a factor, diameter, thickness, shape and size of the meat are important as well. In order to properly cook meat, its center has to rise to a certain temperature. For instance, if we have two pieces of meat that weigh the same but one is small in diameter and the other has a large diameter but is thin. The heat from the smoker will reach the thinner piece faster. Knowing the shape of our meat helps us make better estimates on how long it will take to cook rather than depending on cooking charts by themselves.

We also have to look at the amount of connective tissue and fat the meat have. If it contains a lot, the cooking time needs to be longer. Collagen and fat make our meat succulent and moist. To cook it correctly, we have to melt them down by allowing the connective tissue to reach a temperature between 160°F and 205°F and remain there for six or seven hours. If we cook the meat too quickly at a high temperature, the benefits of the connective tissue and fat will disappear, and the meat will be dry and tough.

The following are examples of temperatures settings and times to complete cooking meats:

image of Variable thermostat temperature control

There are many accessories

  • Sliced Brisket should cook at 225°F for approximately 1.5 hours per pound with an internal temperature of 180 degrees.
  • Pulled pork should be set at 225°F and cooked for 1.5 hours per pound with an internal temperature of 195 degrees.
  • Rack of beef ribs set at 225°F, cooked for 3 hours, internal temperature at 175 degrees.
  • Whole chicken set to 250°F, cook for 4 hours, internal temperature at 167 degrees.
  • Chicken legs set at 250°F, cook for 3 hours, internal temperature at 167 degrees.
  • Whole 15 pound turkey set at 240°F, cooked for 6.5 hours, internal temperature at 170 degrees
  • Meat loaf set at 275°F, cooked for 3 hours, internal temperature is 160 degrees.
  • Smoked corn set at 225°F, cooked for approximately 1.5 – 2 hours.
  • Smoked potatoes set at 225°F, cooked for about 2 – 2.5 hours.

As we can tell, low and slow smoking is the key to getting the perfect end result for meats and vegetables. Temperatures normally range between 225° to 275°. Slow and low is the key to good meat. The low temperatures will prevent the meat or vegetables' cell walls from bursting, helping them to retain nutrients and more flavorful. Low temperatures also help to hydrolyze the collagens in meat's connective tissue giving the smoke time to be absorbed.


image of Electric Smoker with Window and RF Controller, 30-Inch with Cuisinart ThermometerThere are many accessories available for electric smokers but the most important accessory, if your smoker doesn't come with one is the thermometer. Whether it be digital or wireless, it has to be accurate. Here are a few quality choices:

1 The Ivation Extended Range Wireless Digital Thermometer has a modern deign and it's accurate. It comes with and LCD wireless receiver that beeps and flashes when the meat's temperature goes higher than what it was set for. It has a probe that can be inserted in meat up to six inches deep.

2 The Maverick Et-732 Remote Smoker Thermometer is a great choice for monitoring at high temperatures. It has LCD beeps and flashes for below or above programmed temperatures. It has a count down and count up time that can be set while smoking. Temperatures are stored after use.

3 The ThermoPto TF20 Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Food Thermometer comes with technology that is dual probe and can monitor the temperature of two meats in a smoker. The temperature setting can be done manually and offers Celsius and Fahrenheit readings. It alerts you when the temperature of timer is done. It has a large LCD display which is backlit.

4 The Maverick ET-733 Long Range Wireless Dual Probe is perfect for cooking large portions. It has a screen that is backlit and displays the temperature and time settings. It has easy controls, preset temperatures and two probes.

5 The Famili OT008 Wireless Remote Digital Kitchen Food Meat Cooking Electronic Thermometer gives out signals when time and temperature is complete. It beeps and flashes when the temperature setting rises above or drops below the programmed setting. It comes with a one year warranty.

Thermometers come in different types including wireless meat probes, digital meat, and infrared. Infrared thermometers are not mentioned above because they are mostly found in industrial businesses and are just now being introduced to homes.

Information Found in an Electric Smoker Manual

image of Digital Electric Smoker with Window and Bonus PackIf we own an electric smoker, we should always read the owner's manual. Though there isn't too much of a difference in the smokers that are out there, and the procedures to work them are pretty much the same, reading the manual will help us know the smoker we purchased.

1 Depending on the brand and model we have purchased, the owner's manual will give specific, diagrammed instructions on how to put together our smoker. It will also list all of the components and where they go on the unit. This includes drip pans, water pans, smoker boxes, cooking grates and meat probes. It will also give instructions on how the remote control should be operated.

2 Safety Precautions including:

  • Reading the instructions thoroughly more than once if necessary.
  • Do not place hands on any hot surfaces on the grill.
  • Handles and knobs should always be used wearing rubber gloves.
  • Do not place any electrical cords in water or liquid.
  • Supervise children is there are nearby while smoking.
  • Unplug smoker when not in use or when cleaning.
  • Allow smoker to cool before adding or removing parts.
  • Do not use smoker if a plug or cord is damaged or if it malfunctions.
  • Any generic accessories not recommended may cause injuries.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher close by.
  • The smoker should not be plugged in until it is fully assembled.
  • Do not use foil to cover trays or racks.
  • Use approved grounded electrical outlet.
  • Do not let rain or lightning come in contact with the smoker
  • Store the smoker in a covered, dry place.
  • Remove any grease. Clean smoker after each use.
  • Do not any kind of appliance cleaner.

3 The manual will also give us some trouble shooting tips like

  • Making sure the power plug is inserted properly if there is no power.
  • Checking the ground fault circuit to make sure it has not been tripped cutting off power.
  • Check all fuses.
  • Make sure that smoker is plugged into a dedicated wall circuit.

Trouble shooting tips may also include how to deal with flare-ups, display panel not working and persistent grease fires.

4 We learn how to prepare and season the smoker for use, which is usually an ongoing process nearly every time we use the smoker. The more a smoker is seasoned the better the meals will taste. The manual will spell out how to season the grill by first cleaning the drip trays, racks, drip bowels and trays. Then how to fill the drip bowl with water and the wood chip tray with chips. It goes on to tell us turn on the smoker and let it run at 150°F for about an hour or two. This is how we season a grill.

5 The owner's manual has an operations guide that basically goes over the proper way to operate your electric smoker including where to put wood chips and water trays. Some even give us a list of the wood chip flavors that are available and what we can add to the water tray to bring out more flavor. It gives extensive information about the controls the smoker comes with and how to use them. For example, it gives details on the temperature, thermometer and heating elements and how to use and clean them.

6 The manual discusses in depth food safety. It explains how to keep food from spoiling and how to prevent food from hosting harmful bacteria. It includes basic steps like making sure we always washing our hands before and after preparing food for the smoker. It encourages us to always wash the surfaces we place food on and the utensils we use with soap and water. We learn to separate meat and poultry from vegetables, etc. in order to prevent cross-contamination. We are also taught that we must cook chicken and meat thoroughly to eliminate any bacteria and to refrigerate leftovers and other foods promptly to prevent spoilage.

7 The owner's manual with give control panel operating instructions for our electric smoker including how to program it. It will explain the start button and control panel options and how to know and recognize proper temperature ranges. Temperature regulation controls on some models guarantee that the meat and poultry we serve is never under or over cooked. There are even some smoker manuals that include time and temperature charts for our review, and some are kind enough to provide a few tempting recipes.

8 The manual gives explicit instructions on using the smoke box we use in our electric smoker. It tells us how it adds flavor to our food simply by adding chips to it. It notes that most smoker boxes are designed for chips and not chunks and tells us to keep the chip box in place even if we not use wood chips. We also read that we must never refill or remove the wood chip box while we are cooking.

9 The owner's manual goes on to discuss how to use the water pan that comes with the electric smoker. it's used to keep meats moist while smoking. It tells us how to fill it with warm water and how to place it in the smoker. It also notes that we don't have to use water, but to always use the water holder in place. When filling the water pan, avoid liquid falling on the heating element. This may damage the heating element by causing a flare-up or electrical outage.

10 Information about the warranty will be discussed in the owner's manual that will detail the scope of coverage, the period of coverage and the type of coverage for failure of product. It will let us know that we will need to show our dated sales receipt if we need the warranty. It will also outline what may not covered under the warranty including shipping fees for returned items, any service calls, damages due to carelessness, food loss because of product failure and pickup and delivery of our smoker. It will also spell out a disclaimer of the implied warranty and limitations.

It is interesting to note that at one time owner's manuals often included how to make certain repairs on electric smokers. Because these instructions are now more complex, many can now be found in more specialized electric smoker service manual. It is also worth noting that the manuals are often multilingual in order to distribute them to many different markets.

How To Clean An Electric Smoker

If we are serious electric grill smokers, we know that it's very important to take care of our smoker by keeping it clean! We not only want to make sure that our smoker lasts for years, but we also want to make sure that we all stay healthy by eliminating possible contaminants every time we clean the grill.

A new smoker needs to be wiped down with a warm soapy cloth (never use harsh detergent) and rinsed off and pat dried. Then we must season our smoker with an oil spray or rub like PAM. This process is called “seasoning” our grill. It is very similar to seasoning a cast iron frying pan. The oil coating helps to prevent rusting. Once we coated the smoker, we want to turn it on to approximately 225°F to create a clean smoke. Don't set higher or the smoker's paint might peel off.

For a grill we have used, to clean the inside chamber we need to make sure the grill is cool before we start. Remove all the trays, racks and smoker box from the inside of the smoker. With a soft brush, remove particle buildup by brushing in a downward motion toward the bottom of the unit and sweep remains out.

Take a warm soapy sponge and wash the interior of the smoker. Wipe dry. Next wash trays, etc. with soapy water and sponge, rise and towel dry. Reapply a coating of oil to the cooking racks. Don't worry if the inside of the smoker looks dark. This happens and helps to prevent rusting and improves the cooking system.

A good way to clean the smoker's grates is to place them in a kitchen oven and set the stove for self-cleaning cycle. The internal oven temperature will rise above 900 degrees and will burn of every speck of soot and grease in just a couple of hours. The grates will look like new! Spray them with cooking oil before using them again to keep meat from sticking.

Now it's time to clean the outside of the grill including the control panel located on top of the smoker. This is done by using a damp cloth with soapy water wiping the area and wiping dry. If the smoker has a window, use a window cleaner made for ceramic glass cook tips. Clean inside and outside of window. The door seal show be wiped with a damp cloth to remove smoke residue. The temperature, thermostat and meat probes must also be cleaned with soapy water and a damp cloth. Do not place the meat probes under water that is running and do not immerse.

To maintain the protective coating on the electric smoker, it should be regularly cleaned. Ashes and food build up can ruin the coating. Clean it out every so often and re-season to keep the succulent flavors flowing.

Get Rid Of Rust

image of a man electric smoker from rust Nothing can ruin an electric grill but not cleaning it properly and letting rust accumulate. If this happens and it's not immediately addressed, the grill will be ruined, and we might as well go out and buy a new one. Here is some helpful advice about how to get rid of rust.

Do not let the wood chip ashes sit for to0 long because they will absorb water and rust will occur in the wood chip fire box. Wood chips that haven't been used for a while need to be removed and replaced with fresh chips. If there is rust that can't be removed in the box, replace the box. Also, if the smoker is not cleaned frequently, grease will accumulate against the smoker's metal and grease deposits will sooner than later cause the walls to rust. If there is any accumulating rust, it needs to be gently scraped off immediately.

As noted, rust can really kill an electric smoker grill and is a big annoyance unless we know how to clean it. To avoid rust taking over our grill, here are some helpful tips to get rid of it:

  • We will need a wrench, wire brush, soft brush, screw driver, sander, cleaning agent, sponge and fire resistant barbeque spray paint.
  • Using the wrench and screw driver, carefully dismantle the smoker to reveal all the rust on the inside and out. It might be wise to jot down the rusted areas on notepad in order not to overlook any spots when the rust removal begins.
  • After taking the smoker apart, brush away loose rust powder using the wire brush, This will get all of the debris dust that still might be lurking in the grill's interior. This will also allow us to thoroughly inspect just how much rust damage there is.
  • Make sure all grease deposits that have accumulated have been gently scrapped off using the wire brush.
  • Take the sander and sand out rust deposits on every corner and on the walls. Sanding is important because it will also smooth out the areas affected and allow for seamless repair.
  • After sanding use the soft brush to sweep out any remaining sanding debris and once again check the unit to make sure all areas that have been sanded are rust free. If any remains, repeat the process.
  • Mix the cleaning agent with water and apply to the surface of the smoker's internal and external parts. If there is any leftover dust or debris, use a sponge to remove it.
  • Rinse off the smoker with clean, cool water and let air dry until all moisture is gone.
  • Now spray the fire resistant paint all over the smoker's surface making sure the entire area is covered.
  • Allow the smoker to completely dry in the open air. Then reassemble the grill.

As a back up, it helps to refer to the owner's manual for a list of parts and how to reassemble the smoker.

In closing, taking good care of our electric smoker is a sure bet that we will have a great return on our investment because the smoker will serve us for many years. We may need to season them periodically, repair them once in a while, give them a pick up with a new paint job but in the end, it will all be well worth it.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.
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