how to use an electric smoker

How to Use an Electric Smoker the Right Way

So, you want to know how to use an electric smoker, and you want to do it right the first time around? Good news! With a few easy steps, you'll be cooking up the greatest meals anybody in your family has ever had.

Is it possible to use an electric smoker the right way the first time around? Of course, it is! While you can wing it and hope for the best, a little education and some prep before you start cooking will go a long way towards a delicious smoked meal the first time out of the gate.

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And because you're already researching this topic, you've got the education part covered. Let's get to it.

How to Use an Electric Smoker (the Right Way)

grilled meat

Image Source: Pixabay

Before you turn on your electric smoker and slap some pork chops down on the grill, you need to understand a couple of key elements about electric smokers.


First off, electric smokers are simple to use. That's thanks to the digital control panel on the front of the smoker. Unlike gas and charcoal smokers, which require constant monitoring and fidgeting with temperatures, the electric smoker will self-regulate.


Next, you'll notice that there's a heating element, a water pan, a container for wood chips, a bunch of racks, and a drip pan. That's simple. The electric element heats up the wood chips which produce heat and smoke.


The water pan sits above the wood chips and blocks direct heat from scorching the food on the racks above. The water also adds moisture to the food and helps that delicious smoke absorb deep into it.


The wood chips


Here's where it gets interesting. Those who know how to use an electric smoker always source the best wood chips. That's because the wood determines the flavor of the food you're cooking, especially meats.


You'll never go wrong with an apple-flavored wood, but cherry, alder, and even oak add some awesome flavors to your food. We recommend FireStar Wood Chips for smokers, which offer a great assortment of wood chips that you can't go wrong with.


The seasoning


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If you really want to know how to use an electric smoker and create great food right away, then look away from the smoker for a moment. Instead, look at the seasoning you're adding to your meat.


You want a beautiful, subtle yet flavorful seasoning that will complement the smoke flavors. You don't want to overpower the meat, nor do you want to waste money on flavorless garbage.

If you go with something like High Plains Spice Company Smokehouse Favorites, you'll hit all the right spots. These are made to compliment your smoker and create beautiful food.


Rub seasoning all over your meat and let it sit for a few hours in the fridge. Now you're ready to start cooking.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use an Electric Smoker

Person grilling sausage and meat

Image Source: Pexels

Are you ready? Because now you're going to learn how to use an electric smoker the right way. Once you do it, you'll never forget. T

hat makes you the maestro of family meals.

There are six very simple steps. Know these, and you'll know how to use an electric smoker. They are:

  1. 1
    Set up the smoker
  2. 2
    Add wood chips and water
  3. 3
    Preheat the smoker
  4. 4
    Add food
  5. 5
    Monitor
  6. 6
    Remove food

How simple is that? Well, let's take a look and see.


1. Set up the smoker

Want to really know how to use an electric smoker? The secret is in how, and where, you set up your smoker.


You see, the great thing about electric smokers is that you can put them almost anywhere. Unlike gas or pellet smokers, they don't use an open flame, so fire risk is diminished. That's great if you live in an apartment or condo.


But even if you live in a house, you can still benefit from an electric smoker. Either way, you want to make sure that you use your smoker outdoors. Never use it indoors.


That can cause some problems during the colder months in the winter. Electric smokers are not as good at retaining heat as gas and pellet smokers, which means that in cold weather, your smoker will lose more heat. So if you use it during cold weather, keep it under some type of cover and out of the wind and snow.


The next thing you'll want to do is to "season" the smoker before you cook anything it. Do this by turning on the heat to regular (or medium) and let it sit like that for two hours. This will get rid of any fresh-from-the-factory smells that might interfere with your food.


Now you're ready for the next part.


2. Add wood chips and water


Those who know how to use an electric smoker usually add about four cups of wood chips to the wood chip pan. This will give you five to six hours of smoking.


One thing to remember is that whenever you add new woodchips to the smoker, it will bring down the internal temperature and prolong the cooking process, so make sure you fill it right the first time around.


Two gallons of water will be best if the pan is big enough to hold that much. If it's smaller than two gallons, try to fill it as much as possible, leaving an inch of space from the lip of the pan.


Don't use anything but warm water. Ignore all those blog posts about using apple juice or wine or beer. Only the water from those liquids evaporates anyway, so you're better off drinking that and using plain tap water in the water pan.


3. Preheat the smoker


This step is important.


You want to preheat your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. We don't recommend going much higher than that. Some smokers excel at 180 degrees, but those are limited to unique models like the Weber Kettle.


Don't put anything in the smoker until it has preheated. The great thing about knowing how to use an electric smoker is not having to wait long for it to preheat.


4. Add food


Now for the best part -- the food.


You're finally going to take all that meat you seasoned out of the fridge and place it on the racks in the smoker. Depending on what you're cooking, you'll need to place the food strategically.


A good rule of thumb is that the bigger, or the greasier, the food, the lower it should go in the smoker. Veggies and fish will generally do fine on the upper racks. However, you'll also have to remember that all these different foods have different cooking times. Plan your placement carefully.


For instance, if you're cooking ribs and veggie skewers, leave at least one rack empty at the top of the smoker so you can place the veggies later on.


5. Monitor


Once you know how to use an electric smoker, you won't need to monitor your food so much. In fact, much like a slow cooker, you can practically start cooking in the morning, go to work, and come home to delicious supper waiting for you.


But the first time you use it, you'll want to monitor how it's going.


You can do this simply by looking at the control panel to see what the current internal temperature is, and by looking through the glass window to see the food inside. Remember that every time you open the door, you let heat and smoke escape and prolong the cooking process.

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Many people buy a wireless cooking thermometer and stick it in the piece of meat. This way you can see what the internal temperature of the meat is. Just remember to stick it in the thickest, juiciest cut of meat you have.


6. Remove the food


Ah, finally! Your mouth is watering, and your neighborhood is filled with savory scents. Your food is ready!


Before you open the door, turn off the smoker. Then, open it up, and carefully remove the food. Let any meat sit in the open air for a good 10 to 15 minutes before eating. This will allow the internal temperature of the meat to stabilize. Now you're ready to eat!


Remember that you'll also want to clean your smoker once it has cooled down. It will take an hour or two to release all the heat. Once it's cool, remove the racks and the pans. Wash those in soapy water in the sink.


Take a damp cloth and wipe out any large chunks of food, then use a cloth and warm soapy water to wipe down the insides of the smoker. You can also use a bit of apple cider vinegar for cleaning, but we don't recommend using chemical cleaners.

Eat and Enjoy!

Congrats! You now know how to use an electric smoker, and you nailed it the first time around!


We're proud of you, and your family can now enjoy the most delicious meats they've ever had.


There's nothing quite like smoking meats, and an electric smoker is one surefire way to get it right every time.


Do you have any original tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author Electric Smoker Center Team

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