With the plethora of options available today, selecting the best smokers for beginners may be a bit challenging. When you hear about smoking meats, you automatically think of a Traeger or a Weber, however, you might not want to jump straight to those brands. They are great, but they come with hefty prices and are for the more experienced.
It may even be more difficult if you are not very experienced in this area. As a beginner, you need to balance cost and performance with ease of operation. As well as what type of heating element you are looking for; gas smokers, pellet smokers, offset smoker, electric smoker and gas smokers to name a few. But that shouldn’t be a problem, because we have you covered. Below is a comprehensive guide on the best beginner smokers for under $200 to suit your grilling needs. So if your pick was to go the electric smoker route then read on to find out everything you need to know about our picks on electric smokers.
Electric Smokers for Beginners
After hours of extensive and honest attempt to find the best meat smoker for the beginners, we have sorted 5 of the best and easiest to use the electric smoker for beginners below:
Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker
Our Rating: [star rating=”4″ numeric=”yes”]
Wouldn’t it be nice to still enjoy your smoked flavor without all the hassles involved in a charcoal smoker? Char-broil combines the flavor of a charcoal smoker with the efficiency and convenience of using an electric smoker all in one package. This cooker was designed to provide answers to those looking to give their meal that smoked flavor while having an easy time during preparation and smoking. It’s equally very durable and well constructed. You may also love the large cooking chamber that comes with the smoker, as it allows you the opportunity to smoke a variety of meals at a go. And when it comes to convenience, reliability, and efficiency, Char-broil is up there as one of the best in the market.
In fact, if you are looking for an insulated stainless steel smoker with easy-to-use features, great portability and solid construction, they don’t come any better than the Char-broil Digital Electric Smoker.
What people like about the smoker
- Durable firebox and rust-free construction
- Removable food thermometer
- Dual tone finish
- Large smoking/ cooking space
- Maintains smoke flavor
- Less intuitive controls
- Remote’s connection is irregular
Smoke Hollow 26-Inch Electric Smoker
Our Rating: [star rating=”4″ numeric=”yes”]
Smoke hollow is one of those electric smokers you will fall in love with at the first sight. It oozes beauty and precise construction in all areas. But its outward appearance is not the only reason why it’s so popular among smoking enthusiasts. It’s just as beautiful in usage as it is in appearance. This vertical smoker comes with cool-touch spring and side handles to give you full control.
It’s also designed with dual chrome plated cooking grates. However, one of its other likable qualities is the fact that it’s fully adjustable to meet your cooking needs. The only problem with the electric smoker is the low heat retaining capacity. Once you open the door, the heat does not stay in for too long.
The smoking machine is still very affordable despite all its alluring features. With the smoker’s full-range heat indicator, you will know exactly when your meal is ready to be served.
Smoke Hollow’s welded steel comes with lock latch system and side handles for more convenient usage. If you are looking for a very convenient electric smoker for you and your household, this brand is certainly worthy of your investment.
Things people like about the smoker
- Chrome-plated grill grates
- Comes with adjustable controls
- Build quality is very durable
- Less expensive
- Porcelain coated wood chip tray
- The thermometer is sometimes inaccurate
- Low heat retaining capacity
Bradley 4 Rack Digital Electric Smoker
Our Rating: [star rating=”3.9″ numeric=”yes”]
Bradley is not a new face in the smoking machine industry. This model has all it takes to give you the best smoking experience. With the state-of-the-art technology, a newbie can easily get along with the temperature and cooking time of their meal. One good thing about Bradley is the bbq smoke flavor it retains. With the briquettes, you don’t have to worry about the natural taste of your meat or meal. It also gives you the freedom to determine the level of smoke you want. With this feature, you can determine how much smoke you need for a particular meal. Bradley also provides a wide temperature range, it gives you the option of cold or hot smoking. However, you may not like its slow heat cooking process if you want a quickly smoked meat. But this won’t be a problem if you are making the meal for personal consumption.
Things people like about the smoker
- Easy to use
- Retains good smoky flavor
- Solidly made and durable
- Automated cooking temperature controls for ease of use
- A bit too large
- Potentially unreliable digital controller
Masterbuilt 30 Inches Digital Electric Smoker
Our Rating: [star rating=”3.4″ numeric=”yes”]
Masterbuilt’s story is one that everybody wants to associate with. The brand has been in the business of providing high quality outdoor and indoor cooking products for more than 3 decades. But they really nailed it with this Masterbuilt smoker, their latest model in their line of collections. It comes with completely insulated smoker body with integrated thermostat control. These features give an inexperienced person the right tools to effectively prepare a smoked meal with all the right flavors.
As a newbie, one thing you will love about this smoker is the simplistic features like adjustable smoke control damper, wood loading system, and 4 chrome coated smoke racks that give you a lot of square inches. The smoker is a high-quality smoking machine in every sense. But you may have to cough out a few more dollars to afford it. Even at that, its price is far less than what you will be getting in return. Overall, the Mastebuilt digital smoker has the right features to help you achieve competition ready results for the most flavored smoked meal.
What people like about the smoker
- Fully insulated smoker body
- 4 chrome-coated smoking racks
- Reliable digital controller
- Easy access and removable porcelain coated drip pan, water bowl and wood chip tray
- Scores high on griller usability
- Good heat insulation
- A bit more expensive
Pit Boss Grills Digital Smoker
If you are looking for an electric smoker with the best user-friendly design for your needs, you may never find a better model than Pit Boss Grill. It’s rightly designed for the newbie who is still learning the ropes of making a smoked meal. The smoking machine provides a push button panel you can use to control the level of smoke you need. It also comes with 3 cooking racks, an adjustable meat probe for the best smoking experience. With smoking temperature of 170 F degrees to 400 F degrees, you have the freedom to set the required temperature for the specific meal you want to prepare. You can use it to bake all kinds of meat and meals with this feature. Electric smokers have really made meat smoking more convenient and stress-free. Interestingly, Pit Boss digital smoker is leading the pack in this regard. You will be a fan favorite at your next tailgating party with this guy.
Things people like about the smoker
- Spacious and great for family cooking due to its large square inches of cooking space
- High performing digital controller
- The digital temperature control unit
- Adjustable temperature gauge
- Versatility of a low temperature up to high temperatures
- The desired temperature takes time
- A bit heavier
Important Features beginners should look in an electric smoker
An electric smoker is something you need to give some thoughts before making your most preferred choice in the market. There are different types and models, which can get confusing if you really don’t have an idea of the features you want. If you are looking to buy the most ideal electric smoker for your indoor and outdoor food smoking needs, these features will guide you in making the right decision.
Size of smoker
I’ve seen a lot of users who have complained about the size of their smoker. Some may want something more compact but ended up buying a bulky electric smoker. This is not actually the fault of the manufacturer. A larger sized smoker is designed for family and commercial use. If you are going to need the smoking machine for small size meals, there is no need of getting a 30 to 40 inches smoker. Just go for something portable, unless you plan on smoking larger meals with the machine in future.
Yes, we know we are talking about electrical smokers here, so fuel has got nothing to do with these machines right? Well, that is not entirely true. Electricity is the main power source of electrical smokers but, hey, there are others with a dual source of power too. If you are looking for more smoke flavor from your meat, you’ve got to get an electric smoker that requires charcoal or wood as a secondary fuel. That’s when you’ll get to enjoy the full smoke flavor. But try to get a model that consumes a little amount of charcoal or wood. This will minimize the cleanup and give you more convenience.
The temperature control of an electric smoker is one of the most important features you need to look at, especially if you don’t have a lot of smoking experience. Some older models of electric smokers rely on rheostats, but this is unstable. These models fluctuate a lot and it results to an unreliable temperature in the machine. These days, most high-quality electric smokers are designed with the thermostat. It’s a new technology that helps you automate the temperature controls. With the thermostat, you can effectively adjust the temperature to the required level, based on the type of food you are smoking.
Type of construction
The durability of the smoker is also something you need to consider before making your buying decision. Electric smokers are always exposed to different smoking temperatures. A machine without a solid design will give up easily. So, it’s important to select a very durable design. But how do you know which electric smoker is durable? That part is easy. Just look at the trays and see if they are strong enough to hold the type of meat you which to smoke in them.
Secondly, a solid electric smoker usually has thick insulated walls that withstand heavy and continuous use. You also need to look at the security patch and hinges, while the body of a good electric smoker is made of stainless steel to prevent rust. And of course, a machine with manufacturer warranty is a confidence booster that you are getting something solid from them. But warranty may not always be a reliable way of knowing the durability of a smoking machine. It’s still a good way of finding out the authenticity of the manufacturer. These are some of the areas you need to look at when selecting a durable electric smoker. I recommend reading customer smoker reviews before purchasing in case they can answer any questions that we did not cover, since this is a big purchase.
Tray and Racks
These may not be as important as the thermostat or the control system. But you will need to consider this feature if you are looking to secure your meat as you smoke them. There are different options to consider here, such as hooks, trays, as well as racks. Trays and racks are more secure than the traditional hooking system. Trays are easier to handle and secure. You may place your eat there even before you begin anything else, as they will stay properly secured. However, they may not provide the desired smoke flavor as they reduce air flow. You may find grill racks fancier than other options because they allow for better flavor transfer and optimum air flow. Whichever option you prefer, one feature should always be included. And that is a tin barrier or a foil between racks and the fuel source. Without this barrier, the juice flowing from the meat may quench the charcoal or wood as they burn. So, take these into consideration whenever you want to buy the desired electric smoker for your needs.
Things you should avoid at any cost
As a newbie, there are some things you need to avoid when preparing and smoking your meat for the best flavor. We all agree that the experience of smoking meat can actually be a great fun. But if not done properly, it can quickly turn into a real nightmare. If you are new to all these, here are some things you need to avoid to make sure you get the best result when smoking your meat.
Avoid smokers with no warranty
A product with at least a year warranty shows that the manufacturers have confidence in the quality of the product. Even if the smoker is well designed, damage may occur during packaging or transportation. Always look for the warranty label before buying an electric smoker. That way, you won’t lose out completely in case there’s an issue with the smoker.
Do not buy electric smokers only based on external attributes
Some products can be very attractive. However, when it comes to their real job, they tend to fail. Yes, the design of the electric smoker may be important to you, but you shouldn’t prioritize it over quality. Look at other features, such as the cooking area and usability before deciding which type of smoker to purchase.
Avoid an electric smoker with less than 500 wattage
The watt of the electric smoker is linked to performance. The higher the wattage the faster it heats up. Generally, you should settle for smokers with wattage level of 500 to 1200. That range will be okay for most types of meat smoking tasks. Having an under-powered smoker will always be a frustrating experience.
Why using an electric smoker is better than using propane smoker?
There are differences between an electric smoker and a propane smoker. And one of the major advantages an electric smoker has over its propane counterpart is the convenience it has. Let’s find out why you should prefer an electric smoker over propane smoker.
It’s obvious that electric smokers are far easy to use than a propane smoker. Most of the smoking processes are automated and you don’t have to do constant monitoring of the machine to complete the smoking process, which makes them great for your first smoker. There are digital displays that allow you to operate the electric smoker with the click of a button. Others come with remote controls and special apps you can connect with your phone. In essence, it’s overwhelmingly clear that electric smokers are far more convenient than even the best propane smokers. That’s why the former is more ideal for beginner smokers than the latter.
An electric smoker is safer
There are lots of hazards involved when using a propane smoker. Your constant monitoring of the propane smoker leaves you with more exposure to fire and heat. But for the electric smoker, the heating process is properly contained in the machine. The safety measures have already been taken by the manufacturer. All you need to do is read the simple safety instructions provided in the manual. Since you are not going to do much of monitoring, you will avoid a lot of mishaps and accidents when using the electric smoker.
With an electric smoker, you don’t have to run around to make sure your meat receives the right internal temperature. That is easy. Just select the required temperature setting for the type of meat you are smoking and you are done. The machine will do the rest and adjust automatically. This luxury is what you won’t get from a propane smoker.
They are lightweight
Propane smokers are usually more heavy-duty than their electric counterparts because of the propane tank. These days, companies are now designing lightweight electric smokers that are very portable. Their construction materials are not so heavy as well. While an average size propane smoker weighs about 45 pounds, a familiar electric smoker has about 35 to 40 pound in weight. The propane smoker would have been lighter, save for their propane tanks which usually bear the majority of the weight.
It’s cheaper to operate an electric smoker
Electric smokers are less expensive to run. On average, you will spend about $4 on propane to keep an average size machine running for 8 hours. On the other hand, an electric smoker will only take up about $2 in electricity bills when the machine runs for the same number of hours.
Although a propane smoker may give more smoke flavor, the above benefits of having an electric smoker make your choice easier, especially if you are just learning how to use the machine.
Common issues beginners would face in preparing and using an electric smoker
The following are tips to deal with some issues you may face when preparing and using an electric smoker for the first time:
If the smoker does not start
This may be linked to the power plug. Check to see if the smoker’s plug is fixed accurately in the wall socket. Also, ensure that the machine’s entire connections are tightly placed where they need to be. Check the fuse and power breaker to make sure no connection has been bridged.
Smoker is damaged or jammed
If your smoker does not burn properly, of loose wood chips in the smoker. Proper check and regular maintenance routine will take care of this problem. But if the smoker is damaged, it could be due to the texture of the wood you are using. Avoid using softwoods. Instead, settle for stronger woods like cherry, hickory, plum, cedar, or alder.
But the major culprit to a damaged electric smoker is rust formation. This can easily destabilize your electric smoker and render is useless in a little time. To avoid this, clean your smoker and always check for rust formation and get rid of them with a wire brush and sandpaper. This is the best way to prolong the lifespan of your electric smoker.
These are some of the challenges you may face while using the electric smoker. Overall, proper maintenance and regular cleanup can take care of some of these issues before they become problems to your smoking machine.
Electric smoker FAQs:
Here are some common questions most newbie users ask when using and maintaining the electric smoker.