How To Use An Electric Smoker, and How Do They Work

Smoking is a traditional method of cooking that has been around for a long time and is used for many different kinds of foods, but especially meats. The outside of the smoked meat is often perfectly crispy, while the interior remains juicy. Don’t discount the wood’s smokey aftertaste.

Traditionally, charcoal smokers did the smoking job. Presently, with technology on our side, we have electric smokers. They are more efficient than charcoal smokers, promising you well-tended meats.

The slight hurdle you may encounter with the electric smoker is using it, more so if you are a beginner. Worry not, as we will show you how to use an electric smoker and be a pro while at it.

Understanding the Electric Smoker

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The first part of knowing how to use an electric smoker is understanding how it works. The electric smoker relies on the convection concept. Here, heated air circulates in the cooking chamber and heats your food.

Parts of the Electric Smoker

This cooking appliance has many parts that work in tandem to ensure you have smoked beef, fish, or pork cuts. The following are some of its features.

  • Heating Rods

The smoker has heating rods located at its bottom part. The number of heating rods varies according to the model. Some models have one, while some may have up to four or more. These rods are responsible for heating the chamber. In turn, it warms up the circulating air, which cooks your food.

  • Grill Racks

In the heating chamber, there are grill racks where you place your food. The standard electric smoker will have two to three stainless steel grill racks. Larger models may have more or widely spaced racks to accommodate more food.

  • Wood Chip Chamber

Among the purposes of smoking, food is to enhance its flavor. You can achieve this by using wood chips from various trees. Most electric smokers have a chamber where you can put wood chips, shavings, or pellets.

The wood chip loader is the part where you put the wood to introduce it to the chamber.

  • Water Pan

The water pan is the component of the smoker that you fill with water. You can use hot or cold water, depending on the setting. When the temperature rises, the water evaporates and contributes to cooking. The water also helps retain your meal’s moisture content.

The water pan is usually above the wood chip chamber.

  • Vents

The smoker has inlet and outlet vents that bring in oxygen and release excess steam and hot air. They allow for the smooth process of convection in the cooking chamber, seeing a balance of circulating air.

Learning the Controls

Once you know the parts of the smoker, you should now understand the controls. This is an easy part, considering that most smokers do not have complex control panels. On/off temperature and time keys are some of the controls you will encounter in the control panel.

Additionally, this cooking appliance will feature a thermostat or thermometer. They show you the temperature ratings. To understand more about the controls and how they function, you can refer to the smoker’s user manual.

Step by Step Guide on Using the Electric Smoker

Here are the steps to follow to bring the best out of your electric smoker.

Step 1: Season the Electric Smoker

If the electric smoker is new, you will notice an odd smell and some residue from the manufacturing process. The smell may affect the aroma and taste of your food. To deal with this situation, you have to season the smoker. Seasoning will also help get rid of dust in it.

Here, you will need cooking oil, which you should rub into this cooking appliance’s interior. After attending to every spot, you now turn it on. Let it run for around three hours at approximately 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can introduce some wood chips in the last hour of seasoning, regulating the smoker’s scent. After seasoning the smoker, turn it off and open its door for cooling.

You do not have to perform this practice regularly. Do it when the appliance is new or if it has been long since you used it.

Step 2: Turn On and Preheat the Smoker

After seasoning, you can now use the smoker for cooking and adding flavor to your food. Start by turning it on. Set the time and temperature to get it out of standby mode. Preheating is essential as it prepares the smoker for the meat or other dish you want to smoke.

Preheat it to around 225 degrees Fahrenheit and introduce your wood chippings. Wood chippings are critical in smoking as they enhance your food’s flavor. You need the right wood chips or pellets for a fulfilling experience. Jack Daniel’s smoking oak wood chips are some of the best you can use.

The barrel-aged chippings work with electric and charcoal smokers. They are ideal for various foods, like pork, beef, fish, and poultry.

Step 3: Put Water in the Water Pan

After the preheating stage, you can pour some water into the water pan. It should not always be water, as you can go with anything that can improve your food taste. Wine, vinegar, and fruit juice can go in the pan, depending on your preference.

Step 4: Putting Food in the Racks

With everything set, you can now put your food in the racks. Due to preheating, the internal temperature will be high. It calls for the use of items like tongs and mittens to prevent burns.

Place the larger food portions in the large racks, while small servings can go to the small racks. In most models, the large racks are at the bottom, with the small ones at the top. Close the door and let the smoker run.

Pay attention to the time and temperature for your food to come out ideally. You can refer to smoking recipes to know the right times and temperatures for various foods.

As the food smokes, you can add more wood shavings and water. Once the food is ready, you should carefully remove it from the racks and let it cool. Be careful not to leave your food for a long time in the smoker. It may have a burnt taste or a thick crust. In some situations, you will find it excessively dehydrated.

Smoking Meat in an Electric Smoker

Let’s specifically talk about meat as it is the most common food that goes into a smoker. Smoking meat adds a distinct flavor and also preserves it. For the best outcome when smoking meat, you can rub it with spices. Make some superficial incisions on the surface and rub in your preferred seasonings.

Optionally, you can marinate it using the marinade in the water pan. Pick the right wood chippings, which will complement the spice rub for a diverse taste.

Smoking meat needs patience as it takes a lot of time to be ready. You can check its internal temperature using a thermometer to check on its progress. For preservation, it is advisable to slice the meat and then put them on the racks.

Sliced meat will take a short time to get ready.

Your Choice of Wood Chips

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Back to the subject of wood chips, you should know which one goes with the food you are smoking. Hardwood chips work excellently in bringing out a distinct flavor. You should know which chippings to go for if you want the best outcome.

This will depend on the food you are smoking. For instance, if you are smoking meat, you can combine oak, hickory, and cedarwood shavings. For poultry or fish dishes, mesquite and alder chippings are an ideal choice.

If you are smoking vegetables, you can use hickory and pecan chippings. Maple shavings can also work. Pork is very diverse when it comes to smoking wood chips. It will work with any, doing well with wood chip combinations.

Maintaining Your Electric Smoker

If you want the electric smoker to serve you well, you have to maintain it regularly. Below are some of the ways to go about it.


A standard maintenance practice is cleaning it after every use. While it may seem to be draining, it will improve its life.

When cleaning this appliance, you should disassemble parts like the racks, water pan, and wood chip compartment. Use mild soap and water to clean the parts, followed by a rinse, then dry them. Drying prevents rust.

In case of tar stains, you can use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. You will require a cup of baking soda, where you will add vinegar until it forms a consistent paste. Apply this paste generously to the affected areas and let it rest for around 30 minutes, then rinse it off.

Do not use water in some parts, considering that a smoker is an electric appliance. Moisture may cause short-circuiting.


The electric smoker, like many electronics, is prone to electrical faults. Some of them include cut wires and burnt fuses. If you notice any of these issues, promptly make the necessary repairs. It prevents the problems from going overboard, which can be pretty expensive and hard to sort.

If there is a need for replacements, go to a legitimate source that will sell you genuine parts.

When Not in Use

After use, you should open the smoker’s doors to let it cool. Once it cools, store it in a safe place away from moisture.


If you are a cooking enthusiast, you understand the essence of smoking food. It is ideal with meat dishes, though you may also smoke fruits and vegetables. It brings another taste dimension and preserves them.

This article focuses on using the electric smoker. As you can see, it is easy to use and more efficient in smoking your food. With extensive use of the electric smoker, you will be a pro.

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