How To Use an Electric Smoker

Using a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Using a Masterbuilt electric smoker is much simpler than using most other types of smokers, and there are a number of reasons why that is besides just the fuel source. However, before looking at the benefits of a Masterbuilt electric smoker let’s first look at how one is used, which will answer one of two of the questions why.

Using a Masterbuilt Electric SmokerHow to Use an Electric Smoker

We are assuming here that we are using a Masterbuilt electric smoker 20070910 30-inch model, and not the bin type smokers that are typically used only for smoking and not cooking.  There are generally two types of electric smokers – the analogue and the digital type. The primary difference between the two are in the controls and displays. In using them there are certain similarities with the non-electrical charcoals and gas smokers, mainly connected with the cooking itself.

Some electric smokers take wood chips and others nuggets. It is not generally needed to soak the wood if using a Masterbuilt electric smoker, but for your first use you should prime the smoker first. This involves running the smoker for  4 hours without adding the food. Follow the instruction book that should come with your particular smoker.

1.  If you have no drip tray on the floor of the smoker, line it with aluminum foil first, cutting a hole to allow drips to drain. All smokers have a drainage hole on the floor to prevent grease build-up and fires. This makes the smoker easier to clean – simply change the foil!

2.  Charge the wood pan with the appropriate form of wood for your burner.  You can also line the wood pan with aluminum foil if you wish. Place the pan as instructed for your smoker.

3.  Line the water pan with aluminum foil for the same reason, and fill and replace as instructed for your smoker.

4. If you are priming the smoker for first use, follow the instructions provided, but as a general rule you should set the temperature to 215F for 4 hours. Now close the door and switch on until it has run its cycle.

5.  If you have already used the smoker, set the temperature and time according to your recipe. This will depend on the type of food you are smoking and also its weight.

6.  Add the food, close the door and switch on. Cooking temperatures and times should be set according the instructions and recipes that come with the smoker.

7.  Each meat must be heated to a specific internal temperature for it to kill off all bacteria and cook it properly. Most meats should be heated to 140 – 160F, and pork and poultry to about 170F. Cooking temperatures will be greater than this, but to be sure you can use a meat thermometer to check internal temperature, though keep the probe away from any bones that will be at a higher temperature.

8.  Once cooking is over and the smoker has cooled down, remove and replace all the aluminum and you are ready to start again. Perhaps also clean off the racks and grids.

Why Use an Electric Smoker?

Many people prefer an electric smoker to the traditional wood and charcoal type. It is easier to use and also simpler to start up.  There is no need to get the charcoal lit, and the temperature is more even. Many charcoal smokers provide varying temperatures as the coals burn and are topped up.

Not only that, but air flow through traditional smokers is not always consistent and you tend to get much wider temperature differences between the bottom and top sections of smokers such as bullet smokers and ovens. An electric smoker offers more even and consistent heat and airflow, and you tend to get the same results consistently each time you cook.  You can set the temperature you want and the thermostat will provide that, and you can also walk away and leave it because there are no coals to burn away and the oven switches itself off after the allotted time.

You can get thermometers or thermocouples that retain the maximum temperature reached in their memory, so you can also check that the proper meat temperature has been reached without having to be there continuously.  In that respect electric smokers are generally safer from a cooking point of view.

Some people believe that electric smokers don’t give the same flavor as the traditional types, but why not? You get the smoke and flavor from the wood not the charcoal, and if you use the right type of wood for the meat, such as hickory with pork and ham, or maple for poultry then you get as good if not better results with the electric smoker because the temperature is more even.

In summary, electric smokers are significantly more convenient, offer more regular results day in day out and the flavor and smoke will also be more regular because it is not tainted by the charcoal. The electric smoker is also easier to keep clean and generally healthier because of its ability to maintain a set temperature throughout the cooking cycle.  Try one if you have already and who knows, you may become one of the coverts from charcoal or gas to electric.

Click here for my detailed review of the Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse Smoker.

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This post was written by

avatarMatt Fay – who has written posts on Back Country Stoves : Grilling, Camping, BBQ.
Matt spends quality hours cooking delicious outdoor meals. Anything from smoking ribs in the back yard to creating a grilled masterpiece for his fire crew, to cooking fresh fish with a backpack stove. You don't need culinary training to be a grill chef. All you need is practice, patience, and an appetite.

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