Top 5 Best Electric Smokers Under $1000 Reviewed for Feb. 2017
Let’s get the “bad news” out of the way first, so we can move forward with our list of the top 5 best electric smokers.
The Best Electric Smokers Can Almost Replicate Wood-Fed Smokers
Chances are slim that any electric smoker is going to produce meat with the exquisite flavor profile, amazing crust and perfect “smoke ring” that you’ll get with the very best charcoal or wood-fed smokers. The reason is simple: the combustion gases created by burning large amounts of wood or charcoal aren’t present when an electric element is responsible for generating cooking heat. Those gases are what create the distinctive smoked flavor in meat, as well as the telltale pink ring on the outside of the meat which shows it’s been smoked.
Don’t despair, though! The best electric smokers can come pretty close to the taste of barbequed meat slow-cooked over wood or charcoal. Most electric smokers will do a terrific job on other types of food, including fish, cheese and bacon. Almost every electric smoker will produce delicious food, so whether you’ve decided on electric for reasons of convenience (the “set it and forget it” approach) or because of logistics (you can’t have charcoal, gas or wood where you live), there are lots of great smokers to choose from.
The Best Electric Smoker Review for Under $1000
Price is usually a good indicator of cooking quality when looking at electric smokers, and the best models can come with eye-popping price tags. There are lots of simpler and cheaper electric smokers to choose from, though, and since they’re relatively novice-proof to operate you can get good results from them. Since we’ve given you the bad news already, here’s the good news: once you’ve made your purchase, electric units are much cheaper to operate than wood or charcoal burning models.
Temperature Probes for Electric Smokers
One of the best features of many higher-end smokers is that they offer great heat control by using a temperature probe to maintain constant heat inside the unit. The ones that simply let you set a desired temperature with an external dial, but don’t regulate it once set, won’t produce the best food. A remote meat thermometer which can be read via WiFi can be a smart additional investment, particularly for smokers that don’t have great temperature control.
Ability to Add Wood Chips or Coals to Produce Smoke
Other considerations when choosing an electric smoker include how easy it is to add the small amount of wood chips or coals that actually produce the smoke, whether there’s a water pan to help keep the food moist (the best smokers won’t need it), and perhaps most importantly, the size of the unit. Many inexpensive electric smokers will only hold two or three racks of meat. Larger ones which accommodate four to six racks could be worth the extra price, especially if you have a large family.
One more note: you can get near-professional home models for well over $1000. To keep things reasonable, the Groom+Style Team are sticking with the ones that come in under that magic price.
That’s plenty of preliminary information. Let’s get this baby fired up.
1. Cookshack Smokette Elite Electric BBQ Smoker
When you get your first look at the 750-watt Smokette Elite, you might think it’s a home safe. This small but powerful smoker is made in America from welded, double-walled, heavy-gauge stainless steel with heavy-duty hardware (including caster wheels), and may very well live longer than you do. The interior is just as impressive, with Spin-Glass insulation (tested up to 850 degrees) to keep the heat where it’s supposed to be. The shelves are nickel-plated for durability, and even though there are only two of them they can hold a total of 20-25 pounds of meat, including briskets or full slabs of ribs. At the bottom of the cook box there’s a stainless steel tray which holds the wood chips and is easily accessible.
This Cookshack model can smoke at temperatures between 100 and 300 degrees, and it comes with an LED control panel which not only shows the cooking temperature inside the box, but also displays the actual temperature of the meat thanks to a commercial-quality probe that’s simply inserted into whatever you’re cooking. That’s the best way to ensure superior results when using an electric smoker.
The fish and bacon that comes from the Smokette Elite is terrific, and you can purchase optional hooks to make really good jerky. But the real measure of a smoker is meat. You’ll find that the ribs, brisket, pulled pork and other traditional meats made in this unit are almost as good as the ones you’ll get from babysitting a charcoal smoker all day (or all night) monitoring the fuel and temperature. With the Smokette Elite you don’t have to be an expert to turn out great food, thanks to the convenience of electricity and the temperature monitoring provided.
This company is very well-known for its commercial smokers and it offers a number of models for home use, with several costing more than double the price of the Smokette Elite. Those might be worth exploring if you can afford them and need a bigger unit. If 20-25 pounds of meat is more than enough for your family and guests, though, you’ll find the Elite a terrific purchase.
Facts and figures for the Cookshack Smokette Elite Electric BBQ Smoker:
2. Smokin Tex Pro Series 1400
As with Cookshack, Smokin Tex makes higher priced models with extra features and greater capacity. For about $400 less than the Cookshack Smokette, though, this quality electric smoker should meet the needs of most families with room to spare. It’s also manufactured from double-walled stainless steel (although it’s made in China, not America), and while it isn’t seemingly earthquake-proof like the Smokette it’s more than sturdy enough to last for quite a while.
Let’s start with capacity. The Pro Series 1400 is larger than the Smokette, with three steel racks plus a fish rack (and five positions inside the cook box to choose from) and is able to accommodate a total of 35 pounds of meat. It’s not the biggest electric smoker on the market, but it should be more than sufficient for home use. The construction of the box keeps the meat moist and the smoke inside, particularly with small vents and insulation that has been tested to 1000 degrees. That also means a much greater chance of a satisfying smoke ring and nice bark on the meat.
The one quarrel the review team have with the Pro 1400 is that it only has a standard internal temperature gauge which isn’t 100% accurate, so you have to supply your own meat probe if you want to keep full track of your meat’s cooking temperature. For the price, however, we really shouldn’t object. A more reasonable objection might be that the smoker’s temperature range is smaller than the Cookshack’s, 100-250 degrees.
Those who want impeccable construction and great features but don’t need the extra capacity should choose the Smokette Elite. For everyone else, the Pro Series 1400 is a great buy.
More info on the Smokin Tex Pro Series 1400:
3. Bradley Digital 6-Rack Smoker
Planning on throwing a huge party, and will need to feed a throng? Bradley is another well-known manufacturer with a large product line; their Jim Beam smoker may be their best-known offering. This six-rack steel electric smoker (powder epoxy on the outside, stainless on the inside) has the largest capacity of their models, along with some very cool features.
There’s a full 780 inches of cooking space in this Bradley, enough to let you easily smoke 50 pounds of meat at one time. There’s also full digital control of the smoker, allowing you to set the temperature, time – and the amount of smoke you want produced in the smoke box. The amount of smoke produced is determined by a separate “smoke generator” which automatically feeds a “bisquette” into a separate burner (and ejects the old one) as required. The bisquettes are what Bradley uses instead of charcoal or wood, and they work well. You won’t find these features on other manufacturers’ smokers. To be honest, though, the temperature regulation isn’t as accurate as the Cookshack or Smokin Tex, so you may want to use a meat probe when cooking.
The one potential issue with the Digital 6-Rack is that it could really use more power than what’s produced by its 500-watt element, the same one the company uses in its four-rack model. That’s an oversight Groom+Style hope they’ll correct, as this is a relatively new product.
Just allow some extra time for heating up and cooking and you’ll have enough nicely-cooked meats, fish and other foods for the entire neighborhood. This Bradley Digital is cheaper than the Smokin Tex Prod, which comes in at #3 on our list of the top 5 best electric smokers.
Diving deeper on the Bradley Digital 6-Rack Smoker:
4. Masterbuilt 20070411 30-Inch Top Controller Electric Smoker
Masterbuilt is one of the most-popular companies in the lower-end electric smoker market, and the 2007041 is their best model in the sub-$300 range. It’s not underpowered, boasting a full 800-watts of cooking power along with four chrome-coated racks and 730 square inches of cooking space.
There are some features on this Masterbuilt you wouldn’t expect in a lower-priced electric smoker. There are RF remote controls (the small remote can be attached to your belt) along with an included meat temperature probe, allowing you better control over the cooking process even though the highest temperature the unit can reach is 275°. That probably won’t give you a good smoke ring or crust, but will do the job in producing nicely-smoked meat.
Wood chips are loaded from the side and there’s a full-sized front window so you watch cooking progress (although it does allow a little heat to escape), making this one of the more convenient units we’ve looked at. There’s also a water pan, which means additional moisture is needed for best results but also allows you to add flavoring elements in addition to the wood chips. A separate cold smoking attachment is available at an extra cost.
The power of the 2007041 means the smoker heats up quickly and the remote let you maintain cooking temperatures well. You’re given a full range of customization options in different price ranges, so you can cut $100 from the price by eliminating the front window or save $30 by moving the control panel from the top to the side. For the price, however, this is still a lot of smoker for the money.
Specifications for the Masterbuilt 20070411 30-Inch Top Controller Electric Smoker:
5. Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
Groom+Style finish up with a model that will cost you just over $100, but will do a decent job of smoking meat (albeit without smoke ring and great crust).
The construction of the Char-Broil isn’t anything to write home about, as you’d probably expect from its price. It’s made from double-walled steel that isn’t as durable as the top-rated units on our list of the top 5 best electric smokers, but it should hold up for at least a few years. A bigger problem is that the door on our moadel didn’t latch well; so you may need to install a magnetic strip or something else to hold it firmly shut.
There are three cast-iron racks giving you about 500 square inches of cooking space, and perhaps the best feature of this smoker is its powerful 1500 watt heating element producing temperatures up to 350°. There’s a water pan and a front-mounted temperature gauge, but like most models in this price range we wouldn’t recommend relying exclusively on the readout.
An outstanding electric smoker? Not really, but the food comes out very tasty and the price is certainly right.
Specifications for the Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker:
Those smoked ribs will go perfectly with some fries – and of course those fries will be cooked in an air fryer. Follow the link to check out Groom+Style’s review of the Top 5 Best air fryers.