The Bradley Electric smoker is great for a beginner

The Bradley electric smokerUsing an electric barbecue smoker is the cleanest, most efficient way to barbecue. Although purists may say that using an electric barbecue smoker isn't real barbecue, I disagree. An electric barbecue smoker uses wood just like a gas or charcoal smoker, it only burns it differently. There are several steps you need to go through to determine which electric barbecue smoker is right for you.

How large should the electric barbecue smoker be?

Brinkman electric smokerFirst you need to decide how large the electric barbecue smoker needs to be. How much food will you need to barbecue at one time. The Bradley electric smoker pictured above comes in 4 or 6 rack models and can cook an amazing amount of food.

If you'll be having lots of parties the large Bradley electric smoker is in order, for smaller amounts of food a Brinkman would be a good bet.

Don't automatically go out and get the biggest electric barbecue smoker you can find, remember a larger smoker will take longer to come to temperature and use more power and wood.

What quality factors should I be aware of when purchasing an electric barbecue smoker?

There's a few things to look for..

  • Make sure the smoker has thick, insulated walls. This will allow it to maintain the proper cooking temperature no matter what's happening outside
  • The smoker should have no 'leaks' A smoker with lots of holes will lose heat quickly and the smoke won't stay inside where it belongs.
  • The racks should be of good quality and easily hold a 15 pound pork butt without bending
  • There should be a quality thermometer included
  • The heating element should be strong enough to get the smoker up to temperature quickly.  Keep in mind though the electric smokers aren't designed to grill and wont reach higher temperatures than about 300 degrees.

I would suggest also reading electric smoker reviews, they'll have unbiased opinions written by real users.

What type of smoke wood does the electric smoker use?

Smokehouse electric smokerSome electric barbecue smoker units use proprietary wood disks or pellets while others may use run of the mill wood shavings that are placed into a small pan over the heating element.

While the proprietary pellets or disks may cost more often times the electric barbecue smoker that uses them will have an auto feed mechanism, while the wood shavings in other electric smokers will need to replenished by hand on a regular basis.

Although this may seem trivial, this will have a real impact during an especially long cook, for briskett or pulled pork for example, whos cook time can exceed 12 hours or more.

How much does a good electric barbecue smoker cost?

Here's an example of, in my opinion, the best electric barbecue smoker out there. It has all the right features and is a great value, available on Amazon.

If you're still unsure what to get here's a great multi-part article detailing everything about smokers you'll ever need to know.  Read 'How to find the Best first Barbecue Smoker'

Well, that'll depend on the features, quality and even if it's on sale or not. I recommend reading electric smoker reviews on sites like Consumer Reports. Those reviews are written by unbiased users and often times have the lowest prices listed right there in the electric smoker review. You will, of course, find many useful links on this page too.