Smoking foods has developed into not only a method, but an art of cooking and food preservation. Ancient cultures and indigenous peoples have used a primitive form of smoking to preserve fish and meats since the beginning of time, hundreds of years before home refrigeration became common. Smokers have developed from a simple fire to efficient, electronic appliances some with the capability of bluetooth enabled remote controls and/or push button operation and temperature controls. Foods including meats, fish, cheeses, vegetables, and nuts that are smoked in an outdoor smoking appliance have a flavor that is deep, rich and earthy that can not be replicated authentically with other cooking options like grilling or baking. Purchasing commercially prepared smoked foods are costly and limited when it comes to individual taste preferences. Home smoker appliances are a great investment that can help you save money and add an unmatchable flavor experience to your favorite foods. And, when you are looking at investing in a smoker, a smoker with digital controls is something that is definitely worth seeking out for convenience, ease of use and function.
There are two different types of smoker appliances. One is a dry smoker. These cook food by using two chambers, one large one, where the food is placed and a smaller, offset chamber where the fuel source (this could be charcoal, wood pellets, gas, or electric) is combusted and heats the food indirectly. Wet smokers are another type. This type typically has shelves and you can cook more food types at one time. Each of these types of smokers have models with a wide variety of variations, ranging from manual to digital controls, capacity and efficiency.
Smoker appliances with digital controls are popular for a variety of reasons. They are perfect for both the beginner and the master. Digital smokers are both easy to use and easy to understand. Many offer superior function in terms of control settings and automated features and monitoring capabilities.
When you start shopping for a digital smoker, you will notice there are different options available on the market that have differences in design, capabilities, function capacity, style and price. With all of the options available, it can be hard to decide which digital smoker would be the right selection. You could spend a lot of time and energy searching through all of the information available on the internet to make a good decision on which digital smoker to purchase. But, you don’t have to! Our experts have sifted through the product information and details on top selling, reputable digital smokers and have highlighted notable product features along with pros and cons that will help you make comparisons between different models. This article also includes additional resources, such as, frequently asked questions and important things to consider that will help you get the information you need to make a smart choice when purchasing the digital smoker that will meet your needs and preferences. Keep reading to get the information you need to pick which digital smoker will work best for you.
Best Overall: Char-Broil 19202101 Deluxe Black Digital Electric Smoker
The Char-Broil 19202101 Deluxe Electric Smoker is a good pick for a large capacity smoker. This model has four adjustable smoking racks with a 725 square inch capacity. This smoker features a large, insulated glass viewing window, a four cup capacity wood chip box, porcelain lined water pan, a removable food thermometer, and push-button digital controls. This smoker is easy to use, highly functional, and reasonably priced.
- Efficient, constructed with a large steel locking latch for a smoke tight seal
- Easy to read digital display
- Push button temperature control
- High capacity
- Reasonable price
- Controls show set temperature, not actual temperature.
- Does not have a remote control
Best Bluetooth Compatible – Masterbuilt MB20074719 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker
The Masterbuilt Model MB20074719 is a great choice for function and ease of use. You can monitor and control your meat and smoker from your smartphone or via the digital control panel making which allows for both convenience and accuracy. This digital smoker has four chrome-coated smoking racks, a patented wood chip loader that allows you to add wood chips without opening the door, and integrated thermostat temperature control and a meat probe thermometer. This model has room enough to smoke up to six chickens, four turkeys, eight racks of ribs or eight pork roasts. It is a great pick that is easy to use, economically priced and highly functional.
- Can be controlled and monitored remotely with Bluetooth Smart technology
- Good capacity
- Unique wood chip loading feature, eliminates the need to open the door during smoking
- Has an interior light that can be controlled via your smartphone
- Reasonable price
- Display can be hard to read in sunlight areas outdoors
- Must have a compatible device to use Bluetooth Smart technology, some connectivity issues reported
Best for Consistency – Bradley Smoker BS611 Electric Smoker
The unique conveyor design of the Bradley Smoker provides for a constant, reliable smoking experience with every use. This model uses Bradley’s CleanSmoke Technology burning uniquely-designed 100% natural wood smoking bisquettes. The bisquettes can be loaded to provide up to nine hours of reliable smoking time and eliminates the need for constant monitoring. This model has digital controls that can be set for temperature and smoking time.
- Very convenient, easy to use and reliable
- Unique bisquettes are 100% natural
- Fully automated design
- High capacity
- Creates a great flavor
- Cannot control intensity of smoke
Best Pellet Fueled: Camp Chef PG24STX SmokePro Pellet & Smoker with Digital Controls & Stainless Temp Probe
The Camp Chef PG24STX Smoker is a cast-iron, patio-style, pellet fueled smoker that has a digital control temperature control system and also includes a stainless steel meat probe. This unit offers the functionality of baking, braising, smoking and grilling in one versatile unit. This model has a convenient ash clean out system, large grilling/smoking surface and a wide temperature range.
- Easy to set up
- 429 square inches of cooking area
- Solid construction
- Wide range for heating: 160°F up to 500°F.
- Versatile cooker
- Takes some experimentation to yield consistent results
Best Elevated Model- PIT BOSS PBV3D1 3 Series Digital Vertical Electric Wood Smoker
The PIT BOSS 3 Series Digital Smoker is a great choice that includes features, such as: an elevated stand for easy loading and unloading, multi-position racks and a programmable, easy to read LED digital control and display. This model is easy to use and produces great tasting food.
- Ergonomic, elevated stand makes loading and unloading easy
- Locking caster wheels makes it easy to move
- Temperature range of 100 degrees to 400 degrees.
- Large viewing window and secure locking seal
- Includes 5 removable porcelain lined racks
- It has been reported that exact temperatures can be hard to achieve consistently
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some good meats for a beginner to start smoking?
Once you purchase a smoker, the experimentation begins. Sausage and brats are quick starters that you may want to start with when you get a new smoker. Pork shoulders, pork ribs, chicken or turkey are great meats to work with. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions on your new appliance and follow recipes and recommendations so that your smoked meats are processed and cooked safely and to best get the intended results.
Can you use a smoker inside?
Typically, electric smokers are designed to be used indoors. If your smoker uses propane gas, charcoal, or any type of wood for fuel you need to use it outdoors.
Can you smoke other foods besides meat in a smoker?
Smokers can be used not only for meats, but also for fish, cheeses, vegetables and nuts. If you are looking for even more ideas, seek out specialty smoker cookbooks or websites with recipes.
Are smokers safe?
As long as the smoker is used according to the manufacturer directions there should be no significant risks to using smokers.
How should I store my smoker when not in use?
Outdoor smokers should be stored covered, although indoors (like in a garage) is ideal. Electric smokers should be stored indoors. All types of smokers should be cleaned before storing.
What to look for when purchasing a pellet wood stove.
Different models of digital smokers have different capacities, in terms of how much food can be fit in the smoking chamber at one time. A higher capacity smoker will require more fuel/energy to run and the fuller your smoking chamber the longer it will take for the food to process. It is important to consider the capacity of the smoker you are purchasing, especially if you are considering smoking larger meats, like turkeys or high quantities.
Digital smokers come in different sizes, so it is important to think about where you will be using it and storing it when not in use.
Many digital smokers are electric, but some are fueled with wood, wood pellets, charcoal or propane. Each different fuel source offers different pros and cons. For example electric smokers are very easy to operate and can be used indoors, but repairs can be more complicated. Wood fueled smokers are more authentic, but require more time for cleaning than electric models. Propane smokers heat up quickly and set up outside without the need for power outlets, but they typically do not have as many features as electric smokers.
Especially when seeking out a digital smoker, pay close attention to the features of the controls to see if they meet your preferences. Some digital smokers have remote controls and some even have Bluetooth capabilities that can be controlled, monitored and operated with a smartphone. Some digital models are more basic, but offer ease and function. Digital smokers differ in how they regulate temperature as well as how the controls operate. Another important thing to consider is the look and function of the digital display.
What is included with the smoker in terms of internal components is an important thing to consider when making your purchase. The size and quality of materials of the tray(s) will affect the quantity you can cook, cleaning and the longevity. Other components can add function and ease, such as fire boxes or water trays. Make sure the internal components of the smoker that you purchase is constructed from high quality materials.
Just like with any purchase, some digital smokers cost more than others. Larger, higher capacity digital smokers a lot of features typically are more expensive than smaller, lower capacity models. Some higher price points correlate with the quality and durability of materials as well as function and design. When you are considering your purchase of a high quality digital smoker the price point will also often correlate with its durability, efficiency, performance and function. You can also look at offerings, such as warranties, to help you be confident in your purchase as well.
A smoker is a home appliance that can cook and add flavor to a wide variety of foods including meats, fish, cheeses, and vegetables. Home smoking is safe and can save you a lot of money compared if you were to purchase commercially smoked foods. The process of smoking foods can be easy to do, especially when using a home smoking appliance with digital controls. You should now have the information you need to make a smart, educated choice to purchase your own digital smoker so you can start making and enjoying your very own delectable home smoked foods.