Smoking our food has been a long standing tradition but it takes a lot of time, which we don’t always have, and skill, which can only be acquired through years of experience in the BBQ pit.
But with the huge amount of easy to use, electric smokers available, from family to industrial sized, just about anyone can smoke their food. What was once thought to be a fad gadget, is now a staple piece of equipment in most homes.
Purchasing an electric smoker is a fairly daunting task. With the all the types available, what they do, how they do it and what they cost, so we have found you what we consider the top 5 available in 2016.
In order to compile this list, and be able to put our money where our mouth is, we’ve spent over 20 hours reading articles and comparing reviews, we asked those in the know and we asked around on forums. Then, once we had drawn up our shortlist, we hosted and attend loads of barbecues where we tried out a few makes and models. It was a tough job, socializing and taste-testing day in and day out, but someone had to do it!
After much deliberation, and taking into account ease of use, space (how much space it takes up and how much space you’ve got to cook with), price, ease of cleaning, and most importantly, whether it’s able to maintain its temperature and produce consistent smoke we finally settled on our top pick: the 40-Inch Masterbuilt 20075315 (check it out on amazon here)
Masterbuilt has become synonymous affordable smokers, but, and we have to stress this, it doesn’t mean they’ve cut corners in order to keep their costs down.
After reading our review we know you’ll understand why this ‘beast’ of a smoker ticks all 5 of our boxes:
- Consistent temperature and smoke
- Ease of use
- Space and size
- Ease of cleaning
Our Top Pick: The 40 inch Masterbuilt 20075315
Price-wise it’s one of the more affordable smokers on the market, not entry level and not top of the range, just perfectly placed somewhere in between. But it is excellent value for money, offering a
Consistent temperature and smoke
Next up is how well a unit maintains its heat and if it produces consistent smoke. And once again we have to give this little number a big thumbs up. It seals shut tightly, and it’s insulated, meaning it maintains its temperature throughout. Not only does it constantly produce smoke, the double insulation ensures none escapes, resulting in an extra smoky taste.
Ease of use
This, for some folk, is a huge deciding factor. Not everyone wants to be weighed down by doodads and thingamajigs on a smoker. It often means actually having to read the manual and the more knobs and buttons means more chances of something breaking. The Masterbuilt smoker is very easy to use, and it includes a handy remote control. This simple but oh so clever accessory allows you to control the smoker from a distance of up t0 100 feet, which means you can turn it on and off from the comfort of your living room, and change the temperature. It also scores points for its compact size and the fact it has wheels, making it easy to move and store once the barbecue is over.
Space and size
We’ve mentioned that it’s compact and easy to store but what we haven’t mentioned is the 975-square inches of actual cooking space plus the four removable racks. Considering the size and the cost we think that that’s a whole lot of space, which once again makes this model a great buy.
Ease of Cleaning
This smoker was one of the easiest to clean, thanks to the redesigned drip pan and the non-stick racks. We know, from first-hand experience, that the easier it is to clean and maintain an appliance, the higher the chances of it being used more.
Drawbacks but not deal breakers
Okay, so we’ve given you all the reasons to consider adding this particular smoker to your arsenal of appliances, but let’s be honest, amongst all the pros, there has to be a con or two. And the Masterbuilt is no different.
- you have to replace the batteries in the remote every now and then
- if there’s an issue with the remote control you’ll have to get a new one from the manufacturer, which means no sofa-barbecuing until it’s replaced
- for those who aren’t into DIY, there is some assembly required
- not so much a con, but worth a mention; the glass window is really just for aesthetic purposes. There’s so much condensation on it that you really can’t see anything
- the digital thermometer is inaccurate but the temperature controls are incredibly accurate
We have no idea how the ‘master builders’ got it right, but this beauty delivers like a high-end smoker, from ease of use and cleaning, space, maintaining its temperature and smoke, to the taste it delivers and the price. From our own testing and checking out other opinions and reviews, the Masterbuilt 40 is an excellent smoker and it definitely deserves its No.1 spot.
Click here to read our full buyers guide for 40-inch Masterbuilt Smokers to learn which model is right for you
Let’s take a look at our other featured smokers. Remember, we’re rating them all according to:
- Consistent temperature and smoke
- Ease of use
- Ease of cleaning
Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker
The Bradley Digital 4-rack Smoker (or BDS as those in the know like to call it) is a great addition to any BBQ lover’s home.
Price wise, it comes in at what we would consider affordable, so that’s a positive. And like the Masterbuilt 40-inch, it’s well insulated, maintaining the temperature with a steady supply of smoke. As far as ease of use goes, this 4-rack smoker rates well.
According to various reviews, as well as feedback from one of the members on our test panel, whether you’re a beginner or an ol’ pro you’ve got complete control of the temperature, the cooking time and the smoke. It really is a case of ‘ready, set, smoke’. Where it loses a point or two, for us, is its lack of portability. The unit doesn’t have wheels, making it hard to move around. Also it’s marketed as an outdoor smoker but there are a few people who’ve commented on it not being able to withstand strong winds, which affects the temperature stability.
When we looked at the Bradley 4-rack smoker in terms of space, we liked the four adjustable racks and the 520 sqaure inches of cooking space. But the generator, which comes as an accessory, makes this unit look a little cumbersome. Of course, this is just our opinion and because we’re comparing and reviewing smokers, we like the more streamlined models. Cleaning is super easy thanks to the removable wire racks, drip tray and stainless steel interior. We’d happily use this smoker again, which is our way of saying it’s a good choice.
Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker, 725 Square Inch
Okay, we’re just going to put it out there. This is one good looking son of a BBQ smoker. And the price is right too. If you’re starting out and want to test the waters first, then this is the
Let’s get down to the grease and gristle. We can tick all the boxes with this nifty backyard smoker. Char-Broil is one of the biggest BBQ manufacturers, allowing them to be competitive with their pricing. It’s insulated, which means it retains heat well but, and it’s not a deal breaker, it only reaches 275°F, which is great for low and slow cooking.
If you’re wanting hot and fast, with temperatures up at 290-325°F, then this isn’t for you. It gives off a moderate amount of smoke, so once again if you like your chops well and truly smoked then you need to look at another model or be prepared to add extra smoke tubes and / or wood pellets.
We like that everything about the Char-Broil Electric Smoker is easy. It’s easy to assemble, to move around and to use. There’s no fidgeting or fussing. It’s got an integrated meat temperature probe which allows you to cook your meat to your preferred temperature, and if you’re not around when it’s done, it shuts down the cooker AND keeps the food warm.
Even though this unit is big on cooking space, all 725 square inches, with removable trays, it fits beautifully in areas where space might be limited, like patios, balconies or rooftop terraces. When it comes to cleaning, there are a few more components like the glass front door, the water pan and smoker box as well as the bottom tray, however it’s really not a problem keeping it clean. Once again the pros definitely outweigh the cons, and we would recommend this as a serious contender.
Smokin Tex Pro 1400
We’ve heard and read rants and raves about the Smokin’ Tex Pro, which made us all the more determined to use it for a cook-out and review it based on our own experience.
Price wise this is the most expensive of all our featured smokers, which we find a bit odd. There have been no major design changes for 15 years and there are no bells and whistles included, let alone frills. It doesn’t even have a timer. But before we rant too much, let’s mention all the things we do like.
It’s made of stainless steel with a double wall, meaning it’ll last forever (which maybe justifies the higher price) and it has excellent heat retention. So much so that some people have said they’ve used the smoker at temperatures of 30 below zero! Impressive indeed (but who in their right mind is outside barbecuing at 30 below zero?) With regards to the smoke consistency, this is one of heck of a unit, only needing about half a cup of wood chips for a fully packed smoker.
As with our other smokers it’s easy to use, with a very simple operating system. It’s pretty much a case of stack it, rack it and switch it on, leaving you to do whatever you need to, and letting it do its thing. Which, we might add, it does very well. Additional features include a warmer and an optional cold smoke plate which can be bought separately.
The Tex Pro has wheels, which makes it easy to move around (except on grass) and to store but the jury’s out on whether there’s enough cooking space. We had about 25 people around and we were able to feed everyone but some reviews have mentioned that the 1400 doesn’t offer enough space for large groups.
We found this to be a little trickier than the other smokers when it came to cleaning. There’s a drain hole at the bottom of the unit and the drip pan goes under, which means dogs can get in it and it can drip on your deck, leaving it looking a little grubby.
Where this smoker exceeds expectations is its 24-month warranty, which very few of the other models offer.
Masterbuilt 20070910 (30-Inch)
It goes without saying that this Masterbuilt 30-inch electric smoker is affordable and definitely value for money. It’s a great smoker for those watching their budget or just starting
The only negative we really think worth mentioning is that it does take quite a bit of time to heat up but that can be managed by starting the smoking earlier. Once again, as with the other smokers we’ve reviewed, we’d happily recommend the Masterbuilt 30-inch.