A great beginner smoker

The Bradley electric smoker interiorThe amazing Bradley electric smoker. What makes it so amazing? Well, in general I believe that the electric smoker is a far superior smoker for the backyard pit master, and the Bradley electric smoker is the best of that category. First I'll go through the advantages of the electric smoker, then I'll show you why the Bradley electric smoker is simply the finest backyard smoker money can buy.

What are the advantages of an electric smoker?

There are three main types of backyard smoker available; charcoal, gas and electric. Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Note: Wood smokers are available but generally they aren't for casual backyard use.


  • A gas smoker starts quickly and burns evenly.
  • If you already own a gas grill, you can use a splitter on the fuel tank
  • Clean burning fuel that adds no off flavor to the meat.
  • A disadvantage to this is running out of fuel in the middle of a long smoke session, there is no recovery for this, you'll have to throw the meat into the oven
  • Generally uses wood chips which need to be replaced at regular intervals
  • Possibility of flare ups


  • A charcoal smoker, to the purist, has the best flavor. This may be true to a point, but keep in mind that the smoke flavor that you get comes from the wood that you add, not from the coal.
  • For smokes longer than a few hours you'll need to constantly add more coals
  • A charcoal fire requires the most hands on maintenance to keep the proper cooking temperature. All in all, very difficult to maintain cooking temps
  • Again, like gas, no recovery if you run out of coal
  • The most cleanup to contend with
  • Generally uses wood chips or chunks
  • Takes at least 1/2 hour to get pit up to cooking temperature
  • Coals can go out if not watched and tended to
  • Difficult to maintain steady temperature in a windy environment


  • Instant on, and easy temperature maintenance.
  • Never run out of fuel
  • 'fire' can never go out, or flare up
  • Can't impart off flavors to the food
  • Easiest cleanup, just turn off the power
  • No bulky fuel tanks or bags of charcoal
  • Wood chips or proprietary wood discs are used
  • Virtually immune to problems caused by wind

Just for your information the general smoke time for meat is as follows..

  • Ribs: 6 hours
  • Brisket: 12 hours
  • Pork Butt: 14 hours

For brisket and port butt you most certainly will have to replace the charcoal at least 6 times to properly complete the cook session. If you have a gas smoker you better hope you have that much fuel left. With an electric smoker this isn't an issue.

How is the Bradley electric smoker the best electric smoker there is?

Here's just a few of the reasons the Bradley electric smoker is the best

  • If you look at the photo at the top of this article you can see that, because of the small heating unit there is a huge amount of space for food
  • The smoke generator, which we'll talk about later, is external to the cooking area.
  • The door opens like a refridgerator making for easy loading and unloading and forming a tight seal
  • The Bradley electric smoker has a very good seal, meaning there is no smoke or heat loss so it maintains a rock solid cooking temperature.
  • The unit feeds wood discs every 20 minutes automatically, so there is practically no hands on requirements, and you can mix and match different flavor wood discs
  • The Bradley electric smoker is well insulated and holds temperature ridiculously well. I've smoked ribs in the dead of winter in NY with no problems at all

How does the Bradley electric smoker smoke generator work?

Smoke unit from a Bradley electric smokerThe Bradley electric smoker uses two heat generators, one in the interior that controls the actual cooking temperature and another one that is used to 'cook' the wood discs, thus producing smoke. The beauty of this is the smoke generator heat plate does not produce a flame, only heat, so it gently produces smoke. Other smokers generally have the wood chips or chunks directly on the fire, so they burn quickly and need to be replaced often.

The Bradley electric smoker smoke generator assembly consists of a long tube that you load up with wood discs, you can mix and match here, some Maple, some Apple wood and so on. Every 20 minutes the mechanism feeds a new disc onto the hot plate, and discards the old one into a water bowl. The picture at left shows the hopper full of discs.

What kind of wood does a Bradley electric smoker use?

Bradley electric smoker bisquettesThe Bradley electric smoker uses proprietary wood discs, called bisquettes, about the size of a hockey puck. The advantage of this is they burn evenly, it allows you to create your own flavor profile by using different combinations of discs and there is no requirement to constantly replenish the wood supply in the Bradley electric smoker. You just load the hopper and that's it.

How much does a Bradley electric smoker cost?

There are a few different models of Bradley electric smoker available. There is the original Bradley electric smoker, which is the one pictured at the top of this article. There's a 6 rack model, which is the same as the original but with two additional racks.

The Bradley digital smoker is available now which also allows you to accurately control the amount of smoke your food is exposed to. This is a great feature if you plan on smoking fish or cheese.

Want to learn more about the different types of smokers for a beginner?  Read this huge 2 part article that answers every question you can possibly have about buying a great barbecue smoker for a beginner

Here's a look at some of the Bradley electric smoker units available on Amazon, they seem to consistently have the best prices on all of the Bradley electric smoker models.