Electric smokers are becoming popular with each passing day in regular homes and professional kitchens due to their efficiency and effectiveness. They provide a tremendous amount of cooking area by consuming only electricity and give you the ease of placing food and forgetting about it until your food has been cooked.
They create less smoke, mess, and fuss. They also take less time, are more reliable and convenient.
Essential Parts Of An Electric Smoker
A typical electric smoker has a quite simple construction that consists of the cooking chamber having a heating element and grill racks. They also include a water pan to maintain the internal temperature that prevents the unit from getting too hot. Another essential component is a wood chip tray or firebox where wood chunks are placed.
When a question like how electric smokers work rises to mind, then the heating element is the heart of the answer. At the bottom side of a smoker, there is one or more heating rods or elements that help in raising the temperature to heat the smoker and cook food inside the chamber.
Digital Control Panel
Not all typical electric smokers have digital control panels, but most of the advanced units include a digital control and monitor system to ensure easy temperature control. They aid in controlling temperature as well as have timers to adjust accurate temperature ranges.
Some units also have a thermostat or rheostat to maintain a steady internal temperature to cook food evenly. There are some units that either have analog controls or no controls at all. They have knobs to control temperature.
The body and design of a smoker should be easy to handle and also well-insulated. A well-insulated body stores heat and smoky flavor inside the smoker that comes from wood chips. It helps in cooking each part of the meat without leaving any part uncooked.
A vertically designed smoker has around 3 or 4 stainless steel racks inside it that can fit chicken, ribs, turkey, and whatever you want to accommodate inside of it. Not only these, but you can also place large-sized pizza on its racks. When smoke starts rising, it adds flavor and heat to the food placed on racks to slow cook.
Wood Chip Tray
The smoky flavor is the real thing that caught our attention to get one unit. A wood chip tray is present in the smoker where wood chunks from selected hardwood varieties burn slowly and produce flavorful smoke.
During the whole smoking process, a chef can add cups of wood chips or pellets to the heating area. A wide variety of woods can be used such as oak, mesquite, hickory, maple, alder, and cherry.
Water Pan/Drip Tray
A water pan is usually present just right above the wood chip tray that is initially filled with cold water to prevent the internal temperature of the device to rise too quickly. When water starts heating up, it emits heat and steam that facilitate convection cooking.
These are not the only things a smoker has, some products even have a drip tray at the bottom of the chamber. The purpose of the drip tray is to collect all drippings and juices coming from meat. It also helps in enhancing smoky flavor.
Vents And Dampers
For proper ventilation, an electric smoker has two sets of vents, one acting as an exhaust and one for intake of oxygen.
As oxygen provides feed to flames, there is a need to control airflow. For this purpose heavy-duty dampers at the bottom of the smoker open up to allow more air to enter into it. So, flames are fed by oxygen, and temperature increases gradually.
How Does An Electric Smoker Work
If you’re planning to barbecue but gas grills or charcoal smokers aren’t being helpful then an electric smoker can fulfill the coveted desire of in-house barbecue. With a clear idea of the basic components of the smoker, it becomes easier to find out the working mechanism of an electric smoker.
An electric smoker works like a toaster oven, by first heating its element or rods by passing electricity. After turning on the device, you only have to wait for wood chips to start smoking.
It will take almost 15 minutes and then the cooking process will start. The heat produced by the heating element will reach up to the wood chip tray and those chips will burn to create smoke.
The water tray containing water will vaporize it and add steam to give distinct flavor by combining it with smoke. If the smoker is fully insulated, then there’ll be no chance for heat and smoke to escape.
How Does An Electric Smoker Cook?
The cooking process starts when electricity passes through a heating element that is present underneath the drip tray to provide heat. Current passes through high resistance materials by making up the element heat faster.
When the heat reaches to wood chips, smoke produces to add flavor. Some solid fuel smokers create a concentrated flow of smoke, heat, and moisture but electric smokers work differently. They are compact and that’s why heat, smoke, and moisture condensed and are utilized in a small area.
They are more efficient, practical, and consistent to cook food properly with ease.
How Does An Electric Smoker Work With Wood Chips?
In an electric smoker wood chips burn without bursting into flames. Without touching the heating element or fire, wood slowly burns just like your bread that doesn’t touch the element in the toaster but still burns with plumes of smoke.
Consider the wood chip compartment as a flavor compartment and add different types of wood or burning materials to create delicious smoky flavors. If you’re going to use fruit tree chips then the flavor of the food will become sweeter and in the case of using oak wood chips, the flavor will be classically smoked.
A healthy amount of wood chips will be required to maintain a reasonable smoky flavor. There’s limited space for placing wood chips in an electric smoker which is quite more in the case of solid fuel or propane smokers.
Important Tips To Make The Most Out Of Your Electric Smoker
There are the following important tips for your shiny electric smoker to use for preparing scrumptious barbecue.
Season Your Smoker:
It’d be better to season the grill or smoker before its first use to eliminate accumulated debris if any present during factory production. It’s an easy process and you can do it with a light coating of cooking oil on the inner surface. Then keep your unit running for about 3 hours at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. When done, start using it if there’s no chemical-like smell.
You Should Know The Difference Between Wood Chips & Wood Pellets:
If you’re a beginner, then you might be thinking that you can use both wood chips and wood pellets in your unit to get the required flavor. That’s not true.
Wood pellets are substantially smaller in size and combust when put in a wood chip smoker. But there’s a downside of using such pellets because they produce an unnecessary amount of smoke and can even start a fire.
Professionals recommend using wood chips encased in aluminum foil and you can use a suitable fuel source for this purpose.
Aluminum Foil Benefits:
Using Aluminum foil will change the whole way of your smoker. It can be hard to do its cleaning for hours if you’re one to handle the whole thing. But the aluminum foil can reduce your stress and make the cleaning process easier and simpler.
Check out our detailed guide about the cleaning of an electric smoker
Put aluminum foil in a drip pan if you want to place the meat directly in the smoker. It will aid in collecting fats and reduce the time you’ll have to spend washing them out.
Why You Should Own An Electric Smoker?
An electric smoker is a great choice to go for if you’re a beginner at barbecuing. You can also use an electric smoker if you’ve ever used an electric oven before.
- Electric smokers are highly affordable and cost-effective smokers that can save great value for money.
- The unit is easy to operate and you can have plenty of time to focus on sauces, salads, and brines to go as sides.
- You can use these smokers at places where the fire is banned. If you have an apartment then using a charcoal grill won’t be allowed but you can use an electric smoker there.
What are the downsides of an electric smoker?
- Electric smokers are not portable as they need a power outlet to run if you’re planning to camp in the woods.
- They’re bulky in size and you will always need a power source for installing them on the patio or deck.
- The repairing and handling breakdown of an electric smoker will be expensive because these products are more technical and intricate as compared to traditional smokers.
- They usually lack smoke rings. A smoke ring is a kind of pink coloration that forms under the meat when certain chemicals are released during the combustion process. This happens because wood smolders won’t rise high enough to cause rings.
How To Get The Smoke Ring On Food Items?
If you want to have a smoke ring on your cooked food in electric smokers, then one of the best ways to get rings is using traditional smokers that are already available in the market. There is also a technique by which smoke rings can be produced by adding charcoal briquettes and wood chunks to fire while smoking the food. These units operate for longer hours and are easily manageable.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Does lack of smoke rings affect the taste of food?
Not at all. The smoke rings form in case of released nitrogen oxide by wood combustion. They look pretty impressive but do not impact the flavor or taste of meat in any way.
Does an electric smoker actually smoke?
By burning the wood chips, smoke produces that is of different flavors due to different kinds of wood chips used. When the burning process starts, smoke produces and mixes with food to enhance the flavor of food.