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While there's nothing like the flavor of brisket, chicken, or ribs that have been slow-smoked all day, keeping up with a wood or charcoal fire can be a hassle as well as a hazard. Electric smokers are a relatively new innovation for outdoor cooking, but many beginner and seasoned pit masters are making the switch. An electric smoker gives you precise control over cooking temperatures, and electric heating elements produce consistent heat for more even cooking. This means you'll be less likely to over or undercook your food.
Many models use electricity as the main heat source, but some also give you the option to use wood chips or charcoal for more opportunities to add more flavor. Other models are designed to be multi-purpose cooking appliances that can quickly switch from low-and-slow smoking briskets to searing burgers and brats with the touch of a dial.
To help you decide which electric smoker is the best for your backyard, I've put together a list of the best electric smokers you can buy right now. I've broken down their features, dimensions, and price points to help you find the best fit for your budget and your needs.
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Tech specs: Cooking surface: 711 square inches | Max temperature: 275 F | Dimensions: 20 x 22 x 47 inches
The Masterbuilt 30-inch digital electric smoker is an excellent option for both beginner and experienced pit masters. The precise and consistent temperature controls and heating elements make it easier to keep the unit at optimal temperatures so you don't over or undercook your cuts of meat.
With over 700 square inches of cooking surface area, you'll be able to smoke all kinds of things, like whole turkeys or chickens, ribs, brisket, roasts, and more. The back of the unit features a durable wood chip drawer, which allows you to add hardwood chips like cherry, oak, or hickory for signature flavor profiles to compliment your spice blends and secret sauces.
Tech specs: Cooking surface: 180/237 square inches | Max temperature: 600 F | Dimensions: 23.5 x 19.5 x 12.5 inches
Technically, the Weber Lumin is an electric grill, but it makes a great electric smoker. It's the perfect option if you're looking for a compact, multi-purpose cooking appliance. With precision temperature controls, you can smoke chicken, pork, beef, or veggies without fear of things drying out or overcooking. It even has a "keep warm" feature, letting you cook batches ahead of time for gatherings with family and friends.
With a maximum temperature of 600 F, you can quickly switch from smoking a rack of ribs or some chicken wings to searing steaks or quick-cooking burgers and hot dogs. The cooking grate is open like what you would find on a traditional charcoal or gas grill, so you can get closer to that iconic barbecue flavor as fat and juices vaporize while getting more of a smoky flavor.
The included steam tray not only allows you to use hardwood smoking chips, but it also lets you take meat directly from freezer to grill, gently thawing your food while the grill pre-heats so you don't end up with tough, chewy meat.
The Lumin only has either 180 or 237 square inches of cooking surface area, depending on the model, so it's not ideal for large family gatherings, but it's perfect for apartments, condos, or the hobbyist pitmaster who doesn't want to invest in multiple cooking appliances.
Tech specs: Cooking surface: 1,000 square inches | Max temperature: 275 F | Dimensions: 16.5 x 23.4 x 40 inches
The Char-Broil Deluxe XL is the perfect choice for experienced pit masters who want to smoke either a lot of meat or even different cuts at once. It provides a truly impressive 1,000 square inches of cooking surface area, which is enough space to smoke up to "8 racks of ribs, 4 briskets, or 9 whole chickens," or "enough for a party of 10 people," according to the Char-Broil website.
The door of the unit has a smoke-tight seal to keep great flavor inside where it should be, and it features a glass panel so you can keep an eye on your food without opening the smoker.
The unit also has an integrated thermometer/meat probe, which allows you to take the guesswork out of smoking meats by reading precise internal temperatures for food safety. The front temperature gauge of the Deluxe XL is also removable, turning it into a remote control for the smoker. This means that you can spend less time babysitting the food and more time socializing.
Tech specs: Cooking surface: 351 square inches | Max temperature: Varies by fuel source | Dimensions: 27 x 21.5 x 37 inches
The Americana 4-in-1 electric and charcoal smoker is a flexible option for your outdoor cooking space. It gives you the choice between using electric elements and charcoal to cook, and it can transform into 4 different cooking appliances. You can use it fully assembled to smoke large briskets and whole poultry, or as smaller units for direct grilling, baking, or steaming.
The Americana 4-in-1 smoker has an integrated water pan, capable of holding up to 5.5 quarts of liquid. This means that you can layer flavors like apple cider vinegar, beef or chicken stock, or bourbon with traditional cherry, oak, or hickory smoke to create truly unique flavor profiles. You can also use it to steam vegetables for side dishes, thaw frozen meats for grilling or smoking, or steaming desserts like custards or cheesecakes.
Tech specs: Cooking surface: 901 square inches | Max temperature: 450 F | Dimensions: 20 x 22 x 47 inches
The Pit Boss Copperhead 3 is an electric smoker that is as stylish as it is functional. The door features a hammered-copper look to add style to your backyard. With over 900 square inches of cooking area, you'll be able to smoke multiple cuts of meat at once, making it perfect for large gatherings or batch cooking. The interior and the cooking racks are porcelain-coated, which gives everything a cleaner look (and it's also easier to wipe clean).
The Copperhead 3 uses wood pellets as fuel and an electric unit for ignition, giving you the best of both electric and traditional smoking methods. The pellet hopper can hold up to 40 pounds of fuel, which lets you smoke food for up to 18 hours. And with a temperature range of 150 to 450 F, you can quickly set and adjust target temperatures for cooking everything from chicken and fish to beef and pork.
My pick for the best electric smoker is the Masterbuilt digital electric 30-inch model. It provides over 700 square inches of cooking surface area, which is enough to smoke "6 whole chickens, 2 whole turkeys, 4 racks of ribs, or 4 pork butts" according to Masterbuilt's own website.
The digital temperature controls and LCD display make setting and maintaining optimal cooking temperatures fast and simple. The smoking unit itself also features a durable wood chip tray, which allows you to add your own hardwood chips like cherry, hickory, or oak to create signature flavor profiles.
Cooking surface area
Masterbuilt digital electric 30-inch
711 sq. inches
237 sq. inches
Char-Broil deluxe digital electric smoker
1,000 sq. inches
Americana 4-in-1 electric and charcoal smoker
351 sq. inches
Varies by fuel type
Pit Boss Copperhead 3
901 sq. inches
Aside from budget, the first thing you'll want to consider is how much food you'll want to cook at once. If you're just starting out with smoking techniques, you should opt for a model with a smaller cooking surface area. That way if a batch of brisket or rack of ribs doesn't quite turn out, you won't have wasted a ton of food or energy heating unused cooking space.
If you're an experienced pitmaster, you'll want a larger cooking area with more premium features like precision temperature controls, integrated temperature probes, and dual-fuel options for more flexible cooking.
Choose this electric smoker…
If you need…
Masterbuilt digital electric 30-inch smoker
An easy-to-use electric smoker with plenty of cooking space
An electric smoker with a compact design
Char-Broil deluxe digital electric smoker
A large-capacity electric smoker
Americana 4-in-1 electric and charcoal smoker
A dual-fuel smoker for flexible cooking options
Pit Boss Copperhead 3
An electric smoker that's as stylish as it is practical
Since electric smokers are great options for aspiring and experienced pitmasters alike, I did my best to include a variety of sizes to accommodate everything from a few racks of ribs to almost commercial-level amounts of brisket. I've also included electric smokers at various price points to help you find the best value for your budget.
"Better" is a subjective term. An electric smoker allows you to have more control over temperatures and cooking times, but it won't impart as much of that distinctive flavor that comes from smoking over hardwood. However, you can get quite close by using cherry, hickory, or other hardwood chips to add flavor.
Electric smokers are best for beginners or anyone who doesn't want to deal with the mess of cleaning up ashes or keeping split wood on-hand.
An electric smoker is an excellent choice for aspiring pit masters! Since they don't require messy and dangerous fuel like charcoal, wood, or propane, they're safer to use regularly. An electric smoker also gives you more precise control over temperatures, so you won't end up with overdone ribs and leathery brisket.
Soaking wood chips isn't necessary if you're using an electric smoker. This is because you can precisely control temperatures to ensure that wood chips smolder and smoke rather than actually burn. Charcoal, wood, and gas smokers require you to soak your hardwood chips for at least an hour before use so they smolder instead of flame. If you want your chips to last longer in an electric smoker, you can soak them for up to an hour beforehand.
As electric grills and smokers become more popular choices for outdoor cooking, it's getting easier to find a variety of electric smokers on the market. Here's a short list of alternative choices that I thought were great: