You can come up with some pretty tasty foods if you own a charcoal grill, not to mention about gas grills. However, nothing compares to the real thing – a specialized electric smoker. With the modern smoker and a little experience, your food is about to adopt a brand new taste. No matter what type of recipe you rely on, you can easily raise to the quality standards from a restaurant. Forget about hovering over the grill for four hours and monitoring the temperature round the clock. Forget about shoveling coals and adding new wood all the time. Instead, the smoker will put the perfectly tasting food on your table in no time, without feeling like it is over or under cooked.
Purchasing the right electric smoker might be a bit challenging though. These things do not come for free. If you take a look at their specifications, they seem to do the exact same job, yet there are a wide plethora of differences from one product to another. This explains the price tag discrepancies. Sizing is among the most obvious ones. Generally speaking, you have to identify your needs upfront, then match them to the product specifications. A few insider tips can work a very long way too.
Temperature control is a must
Temperature control is often expected to be a default feature, yet it is not. In fact, you have to look for it. A lot of electric smokers come with thermostats, so they maintain the desired temperature themselves. Some others also have rheostats, which keep the temperature under control in the cooking chamber. You probably know already that temperature and time are critical for good tastes and healthy standards, hence the impressive popularity of smokers with thermostats. Under cooked meat is unhealthy, while excessively cooked meat will taste awful.
Caveats can make your life easier
Caveats belong to a simplistic ventilation system, only to ensure that smoke can easily escape in a safe manner. This is what makes the difference between electric and charcoal smokers. Most charcoal smokers do not have this feature, so the meat also has a smoking flavor. The electric alternative ensures that you no longer feel like eating wood and charcoal. Forget about the unwanted and random burning spots on your meat too. Even if you do like the charcoal flavor, disposing smoke in a safe way is still a main necessity.
Ensure that you properly inspect the construction
The construction is usually one of the things that influence the costs of electric smokers. Thick steel is very helpful because it tends to absorb heat evenly, then it distributes it inside the cooking chamber. Small fluctuations associated with this operation will not influence your cooking session. You should also know that thick steel adds to the weight. If your smoker is suspiciously lightweight, you are probably looking at a cheap model. Consider the dampers and doors too. Do they close tightly? Leaks will let smoke escape, while stabilizing the temperature becomes impossible. While leaky smokers can still provide good results, it is hard to predict the results. In conclusion, take a peek at the metal thickness, welds, seals and insulation.
Inspect the internal layers and trays
Every electric smoker has its unique structure of trays and layers on the inside. Most of them are made of steel. The material is irrelevant, while the structure must match your personal necessities and favorite recipes. It is highly indicated to opt for thick trays. The thicker they are, the better. They must be perfectly straight too. Hollow grids ensure an even better smoke distribution. On the other hand, no matter how popular they are, box shaped layers represent a so called negative innovation. They have gained a lot of popularity lately, yet everyone fails to understand that the box shape will prevent the food from getting properly smoked. Every chef in the world will blame these things and recommend hollow grids instead.
Heat structure is often overrated
The heat structure is all about the heat flow direction. Professional chefs use electric smokers that direct the heat down and sideways. They say that this is the best way to cook the meal faster. On the other hand, many other smokers direct the heat upward. They are said to be less professional. The interesting part is that the result is pretty much the same. Of course, the more directions heat comes from, the faster your meals will cook. But the quality standards are alike though. The heat structure is, indeed, worth a little attention, but it should never influence your decision.
Safety standards are overlooked
Everyone pays attention to the food quality, as well as the cooking speed. However, no one actually thinks about how safe the electric smoker is. This factor becomes critical if you have kids or pets around. If this is a portable unit, wheels should be lockable. On the other hand, handles should never heat up with the smoker, only to prevent accidents. Remember that wood handles might look good, but they tend to disintegrate overtime. Instead, stainless steel becomes a better option. It can disperse heat with no problems at all, but it is also durable. Moreover, electrical parts must be hidden and properly protected against snow and rain.
Look for easy access
Hunt an electric smoker that can provide a very simple access without endangering yourself. Whether it comes to accessing the food, putting it in or moving it, a front loading style is usually the ideal solution. It should look like a cabinet, regardless of the shape. It also offers access to every shelf. On a different note, top loading smokers bring in some limitations. Besides, leaning over it can be a little risky sometimes.
In conclusion, purchasing the best electric smoker depends on nothing but your personal needs. But on a different note, it does pay off to respect some insider tips that everyone can benefit from. Education is extremely important before spending your money, while these tricks are meant to help the less experienced buyers.
Steven Larson is a kitchen enthusiast, who occasionally blogs about various kitchen gadgets he reviews on Kitchen Gadgets Wars.