Your neighbours are doing it. Your friends are doing it; even work acquaintances are doing it! You know you should be doing it too, but which is the right electric smoker for you? Well, my fellow meat eaters, you’ve come to the right place. If you’ve heard of the Bradley electric smoker and you want to know whether its worth the money this review will tell you.
Before I get down to the nitty-gristle let me say that I love the Bradley way of life, but the smoker is by no means perfect. It has some minor flaws, but compared to other products, within the same price range, this is one of the best. Stay with me and you’ll see why.
- Stand out features of the Bradley Electric Smoker
- What I would change about the Bradley Electric Smoker
- What are the key features of the smoker?
- How does a Bradley Electric Smoker work?
- Can you use it in cold weather outside?
- Are there any differences between the 4 rack and 6 rack versions?
- What is the temperature range of the smoker?
- What kind of chips can you put in the Bradley smoker?
- How long do Bradley bisquettes last?
- What kind of wood goes well with the food I’m smoking?
- How do you cold smoke with the Bradley smoker?
- What kind of food can you cold smoke?
- Can I hang meat in my smoker?
- How do you clean a Bradley Electric Smoker?
- Are there any negatives you need to know about?
- What do other people say about the smoker?
- Bradley versus Masterbuilt: which is better?
- Are Bradley smokers worth the money?
The Bradley Electric Smoker
Available with a 4 and 6 rack option, the Bradley Digital Smoker offers an easy cooking experience, whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned (ahem) BBQ master. The racks on both models are removable, allowing you to cook anything from ribs to a turkey or an upright beer-chicken. Size-wise, it’s perfect for impromptu family get-togethers or large neighbourhood gatherings.
What I really enjoy about the smoker is the ease of use. Pretty much everything is controllable, from the temperature, time, and the smoke so you can decide how much smoke you want, how long you want your food to be smoked for, and at what temperature. I’m going to put this out here now, if you like micro-managing and checking up on things every 10 minutes or so, then you’re probably not going to enjoy using the BES, because this is possibly the only smoker that really lets you ‘set and forget’, allowing you to get on with other things.
Let’s get into a bit more detail and look at the features that make it a great smoker.
Stand out features of the Bradley Electric Smoker
- Size and ease of use – I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again, the Bradley Electric Smoker is a ‘set and forget’ smoker, making sure every single BBQ is a success, with meat perfectly smoked, even if you’ve never used a smoker before. Size-wise, both the 4 and 6 rack hold a lot of meat, and because the racks are removable you can smoke all sorts of cuts of meats, as well as turkey and beer-chicken. You can also hang any meat you might be cold-smoking
- The (automatic) wood loader – this handy feature is what makes the Bradley so easy to use. The generator automatically loads a bisquette onto the heating element, which heats up the bisquette releasing the smoke that flows into the main smoking chamber. Each bisquette burns for about 20 minutes before another bisquette is loaded into place. Without you doing a thing. The bisquette magazine holds enough bisquettes for eight consecutive hours of smoking, while other smokers need wood chips to be added to maintain the flow of smoke.
- Hot and cold smoker – the stand-alone smoke generator allows for hot and cold smoking, and as I mentioned before, the Bradley is the only smoker on the market that can do both. Hot smoking needs temperatures between 180 – 250 °F, whereas cold smoking is at about 60 -80 °F. For genuine cold smoking, you can buy an adapter, which is a flexible hose that connects the generator to the smoking cabinet. The extra ‘distance’ the smoke has to travel results in it cooling down even more Bradley sells a cold smoke adapter which is basically a flexible hose that connects the generator to the smoking cabinet. The extra length that the smoke has to travel allows it to cool down even more before it hits the smoke chamber.
- Insulated interior – the insulation makes this ideal for outdoor BBQing, even in when it’s cold. And the temperature stays consistent. The stainless steel interior also makes cleaning up really easy. The racks are dishwasher safe and the inside just needs a wipe down.
In summary – here’s the smoker’s best bits:
- Easy setup, ease of use, easy to clean
- Even temperatures throughout and constant smoke
- Easy, set it and forget it technology
- Large capacity
- Hot and cold smoker
Check out this video of a Pit master using his Bradley Smoker:
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What I would change about the Bradley Electric Smoker
- There can be a fairly significant temperature deviation between what the thermometer is telling you and what the actual internal temperature is. This can obviously affect your cooking but once you’re aware of it and know how to accommodate it, it’s not a deal breaker. This is also common amongst electric smokers and it just takes a bit of getting used too.
- I’ve also mentioned that there are two sizes available; a 4 rack and a 6 rack. The heating element works well for the smaller smoker, but it seems it’s the same element, heating wise, in the 6 rack, which means it’s underpowered and it takes a while to heat up. Again, it’s by no means a deal breaker and once you know about it you can start preparing two hours earlier.
- One of the most awesome things about the Bradley Smoker is also one of the negatives. The automatic wood feeder that makes it the perfect ‘set and forget’ smoker only uses Bradley bisquettes. And you need about three bisquettes for about an hour of smoking. This is still a cost effective way of cooking but the bisquettes cost more than ordinary wood chips. You’ve also got to make sure you’ve got enough bisquettes before you start smoking because, depending on where you live, it might not be a case of just popping to the store to get more. Not all stores stock them and you might have to order them online.
What are the key features of the smoker?
- The full digital control
The digital interface allows you to control everything with the touch of a button, from the time to how much smoke you need and how long you need it for. The automated wood feeder ensures you don’t have to interfere with the cooking process or worry about the amount of smoke
- The capacity and racks
Both the 4 and 6 rack are large and you can smoke a lot of meat, of all shapes and sizes, as well as poultry
- Separate Burners
Bradley electric smokers come with separate burners to generate smoke and oven heat, ensuring perfectly cooked food
- The construction
The insulated interior is what keeps the temperature constant regardless of the weather conditions and also keeps smoke from escaping. The door seals with a gasket to also help keep temperature stable and keep the smoke in. There is a replaceable heating element in the bottom of the smoker that is used to maintain the proper temperature.
How does a Bradley Electric Smoker work?
The Bradley Electric Smoker is one of the easiest smokers to use. It is a in that it uses wood bisquettes that are fed automatically onto a small hot plate to create constant smoke. A new bisquette moves onto the hot plate every 20 minutes and the old one is pushed off into a bowl of water to be extinguished. This is how the temperature and smoke is maintained throughout the smoking process.
Can you use it in cold weather outside?
Absolutely! This is another feature that makes the Bradley Electric Smoker such a popular choice. It has a fully insulated interior, which means it retains its temperature no matter the weather conditions.
Are there any differences between the 4 rack and 6 rack versions?
No there aren’t any other differences between the 4 rack and 6 rack versions apart from the size. I can tell you though that the 4 rack probably works a little better because it seems the heating element suits its size, more than the 6 rack, which takes longer to warm up.
What is the temperature range of the smoker?
The hot smoking temperatures range between 180 – 250 °F, and can be pushed to about 300°F, while the cold smoker ranges between 60 -80 °F.
What kind of chips can you put in the Bradley smoker?
Bradley Smoker bisquettes are used in the smoker. They’re made from a variety of hardwoods, to give you a lot of smoked flavour choices.
How long do Bradley bisquettes last?
A pack of 120 bisquettes should last for 40 hours of smoke as the smoker consumes one bisquette every 20 minutes.
What kind of wood goes well with the food I’m smoking?
There are various different woods available to suit your taste buds and for specific recipes. If you’re a newbie then get sample packs so you can try out a few different woods to get a feel for how it impacts the flavor. There is no right or wrong wood because it comes down to what you prefer. I can suggest using hickory or mesquite with pork, beef or red game meat. All types of seafood are excellent with alder, maple or Bradley’s own special blend. Fruit woods work very well with poultry and fresh water fish.
How do you cold smoke with the Bradley smoker?
The cold smoke adapter fits between the smoke tower and generator using a flexible aluminum tube that lets smoke cool before reaching food, allowing you to do a true cold smoke.
What kind of food can you cold smoke?
You can cold smoke sausages, cheeses, ham and fish.
Can I hang meat in my smoker?
Yes. The removable trays allow you to hang meats and it comes with hanging clips, to make the process even easier.
How do you clean a Bradley Electric Smoker?
Everything about this smoker is based on ease of use and convenience. The stainless steel makes cleaning the interior easy, as in wiping it clean with a damp cloth and the removable trays are dishwasher safe, or can be cleaned with a wire brush.
Are there any negatives you need to know about?
There are one or two things that you need to know about but they’re not major and they’re definitely not deal breakers. The 6 rack version takes longer to heat up because of the element which seems better suited to the 4 rack smoker. There is also a temperature variation, of about 20 °F, which could affect your smoking time. You can work around these negatives once you’re aware of them. Lastly, you can only use the Bradley bisquettes with the smoker, so you need to make sure you have enough before you start smoking.
What do other people say about the smoker?
The Bradley smoker is one of the most popular for a reason, with most users loving it. People agree that the affordable price tag and ‘set and forget’ convenience more than make up for the little niggles.
Bradley versus Masterbuilt: which is better?
Both are excellent electric smokers, with the Masterbuilt being great value for money in terms of what you get. However for a little more, the Bradley offers some extra features, For me, the Masterbuilt saves me money, but the BES saves me time.
Are Bradley smokers worth the money?
Absolutely! For what it offers and what it does the Bradley smoker is excellent value. There are similarly priced smokers available on the market but do not have the added features and of course there are cheaper ones but they could end up costing more in the long run because of the quality.