Electric smokers are safe, easy-to-use appliances designed for smoking meats. Electric smokers are intrinsically safer than open flame or charcoal-style smokers, and are manufactured with a wide variety of features. Some purists, however, argue that the meat smoked in electric smokers is not adequately browned and does not impart the same degree of smokiness as traditional BBQ-style charcoal or wood smokers. Trying to find the best electric smoker at the best price can be a challenge given all the models on the market today, but it can be done if you undertake some careful comparison shopping.
Consider What Foods You Plan to Smoke
The first step in buying the right smoker for you is thinking about what foods you plan to smoke. If you are planning to smoke whole briskets or full racks of ribs, you obviously need a larger smoker. If you are planning to to cold smoke food like fish or make jerky, you need to buy a smoker designed for cold smoking.
Features You Want in Your Electric Smoker
One of the most popular features of electric smokers is that you can just "set and go." That is, you can just put the meat in the smoker, set the temperature and timer, and come back to get it hours later when the meat is smoked. However, the thermostats and timing cycles are significantly less reliable in some of the more inexpensive models of smokers, so if you plan to smoke expensive seafood or prime cuts of beef on a regular basis, you should consider investing in a higher-end electric smoker. Also keep in mind that certain foods such as fish, cheese and jerky need to be cold-smoked as low as 50 to 60 degrees F, and only the top-of-the-line models can do that.
The only way to really be sure that you are getting the best electric smoker at the best price is to thoroughly comparison shop. Electric smokers range in price from as little as $40 to $50 for basic models to $600 or more for high-end smokers. The first thing to do is to get a feel for the range of models and styles available by comparison-shopping online. Make a list of the lowest prices you find for specific models you are interested in.Then you are ready to go take a look at the models at your local home and garden store.
Buying Your Smoker
Take your list of the lowest prices for electric smokers on the Web and use it to compare to the prices at your local home and garden retailer. Make sure you are comparing the exact same models with the same features. Don't be shy about pointing out significant price differences to the salesperson. Some larger retail operations might be willing to match the lower price you found on the Internet. If you do order your smoker from a Web-based retailer, expect to wait at least a week for delivery.
Tips & Warnings
- If you don't plan on owning a grill choose a multi-tasking electric smoker such as the Brinkman
- Photo Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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