Smoked foods are an old nationwide favourite – and synonymous with American culture, long summer days and real home cooking. But in today’s world few of us have time to set up, maintain and watch a smoker between working full time, running a home and taking care of the children. However, like with most things nowadays, technology is to the rescue – with the introduction of electric smokers. Gone are the days of spending an entire Saturday huddled around the smoker, pleading with kindle – now you can have that great authentic barbeque taste, without the hassle. If you want to know how to use an electric smoker, just scroll down for our simple tips!
Unlike with traditional smokers, electric smokers don’t require the same attention of using charcoal or wood – meaning you can still cook your favourite smoked foods around your busy, modern lifestyle. It’s as simple as preparing the meat, plugging it in and leaving it to slowly cook your meat (or vegetables or cheese!) to perfection, recreating that same smoky flavor without the hard work.
Another huge benefit of having an electric smoker is having complete control over the temperature and smoke – this means you can get perfectly cooked meat– every time – unlike with traditional methods. And they’re perfect for barbeques and get togethers as they can be alone to tend to the meat for hours, allowing the whole family to relax and enjoy the party.
How to use an Electric Smoker:
Once you have purchased your electric smoker it’s time to put it to work. Setting it up is easy, hassle-free and if you follow these steps you’ll have the perfect smoked produce to enjoy with all the family.
Before setting up your smoker it is important to consider you have the correct smoker for the correct season. Horizontal style smokers can be used all year-round, however vertical heaters are a lot more difficult to use in the winter months as they lose a lot of heat making it difficult to regulate the inside temperature. If you have a vertical smoker that you wish to use in the winter, ensure it is insulated before use.
Preparing the Meat
Everyone has their favourite way to season smoked meats – some are even lucky enough to have an old family recipe – so when it comes to seasoning your meat for an electric smoker, you don’t need to prepare it any differently from usual. Whether you opt for a dry rub, a marinade, some maple syrup or some simple salt and pepper – the electric smoker will bring out the same flavors a traditional smoker would.
Setting up the Smoker
When in use, your smoker needs to be outside in a well-ventilated space – not in a garage or under cover. If you are going to use your smoker all year around it is recommended to install it on a flat layer of concrete or paving as well as investing in a cover to protect the smoker from the elements. Ensure the smoker is on a flat surface and away from anything that may cause a trip hazard or be flammable. Like with any kind of barbeque or hot surface, keep children away from the smoker when it is in use and for the hours afterwards as it cools down.
Read your Manufacturer’s Manual
All electric smokers have different user instructions, even if the end product is the same and the majority of them work in the same way. It is best to become familiar with your smoker’s individual user manual in order to make the best use of your smoker.
Seasoning or Curing a Smoker
This step is only important if you have a brand-new smoker – to ensure you get the best flavor possible, even from the first use, you will need to cure or season your smoker before you smoke anything. It is a simple process that ensures your smoker has no dust or chemicals left over from the manufacturing process. Coat the inside surfaces and racks with cooking oil and let the smoker run for around two hours before opening the door or lid and allowing it to cool – once you’ve done this once, your smoker is ready to use. Your user manual will have more detailed instructions on how to do this simple process.
Preparing the Smoker
If your smoker has a compartment for water fill it up before turning it on – otherwise plug in and switch on your smoker. Take your favourite woodchips – Applewood, cedar, cherry, oak – and fill the tray at the bottom of the smoker with a thick layer (four cups of woodchips should provide enough smoke for around three to five hours depending on the wood used and the temperature smoked). Once your smoker is set up it is time to set it to your desired temperature.
Adding the Meat
It is important not to add your meat to the smoker until it has reached the desired temperature to ensure your meat isn’t over or undercooked. Once your smoker has reached the correct temperature, take the meat (or fish) and place it on the rack before carefully returning it to the smoker. Try to do this process as quickly as possible in order to keep the inside temperature from losing heat.
The smoking process can take anything from three hours to eight hours depending on your cut of meat or fish and your desired smoking temperature. If you’re smoking something that takes longer than three hours to smoke be sure to check and top up your smoke chips every three hours or so. Other than replacing wood chips every three hours or so, your smoker can be pretty much left alone to work its magic, freeing you to get on with other things whilst the meat cooks.
Removing the Meat
Removing the meat from your smoker should be as easy as sliding the rack back out – but before you turn off your smoker it is best to check your meat is cooked. Insert a thermometer into the meat to ensure the inside is fully cooked – if it is at the desired temperature, turn off your smoker and leave the door or lid open to allow it to cool down. If your meat could do with a little more time, place it back into the smoker and check every 20 minutes until you’re happy. Once the meat is cooked serve and enjoy immediately with traditional barbeque accompaniments like slaw and corn on the cob – or leave to cool for a tasty snack for the whole family to enjoy later.
With electric smokers, there is no such thing as a bad batch and by being able to control everything from the amount of smoke to the temperature of the smoker means you can get the texture and taste you want every time!
Want to watch a video?
Here’s a video from Armadillo Pepper showing how to use an electric smoker in 6 easy steps: