Some smoking enthusiasts love the idea of closely monitoring the entire process for hours on end, adjusting the heat and fussing with the smoke levels. Other enthusiasts want delicious smoky food without that sort of devotion.
Electric smokers take a lot of the work out of the process since they monitor and regulate the temperature during the long smoking process. Sure, you can lurk and watch if that’s what you want, but you don’t have to. Some smokers can handle cold smoking, while others are designed for hot smoking. For smoke creation, some use chips while others use chunks or biscuits. But no matter which you choose, electric smokers free you up for other important tasks, like making your soon-to-be-famous barbecue sauce.
Here, the best electric smokers for your cooking needs.
Masterbuilt MB20070421 30-Inch Digital Electric Smoker
Heats up quickly
Side loader for wood chips
Display hard to read in sunlight
This Masterbuilt powerhouse deserves the top place for many a good reason. It features a digital panel that is intuitive to use, spacious interior capacity, and a glass window you can look through to accurately determine when your meal is perfectly cooked. The simple digital panel is beginner-friendly and makes it hard to mess up the smoking process — adjust the temperature to your preference as specifically as desired.
You can fill up the wood chips through a convenient side loader, which allows you to experiment with and max out the smoky flavor without compromising performance by opening the front door. With four spacious racks, this smoker has plenty of room for all your BBQ party needs. It can handle up to four racks of ribs or seven chickens at a time, not to mention an abundance of grilled veggies. You could also try smoking cheeses and nuts for a unique twist on those conventional flavors.
Price at time of publish: $280
Dimensions: 19.9 x 20.5 x 33.3 inches | Weight: 50.3 pounds | Racks: Four | Temperature Range: 275 degrees
"Wipe down the outside of the smoker using a soft cloth and warm soapy water. If the smoker has a glass door, use a window cleaning spray." — Paula Stachyra, Grilling Expert and author of Wing Crush
Best for Beginners
Cuisinart 30-Inch Electric Smoker
Easy to use
No glass door
Poor grease pan design
This smoker comes with three chrome-coated racks that will never rust or corrode, providing 548 square inches of smoking space. The heat can be adjusted from 100 to 400 degrees, so you’ll have plenty of options for slow cooking or quicker roasting. The water pan and wood chip tray are designed for easy removal, making cleanup a breeze.
Meanwhile, the two side handles make this smoker simple to move to the perfect spot in your yard. To get started, turn the dial to select your cooking temperature and let it run. A front thermometer lets you monitor the temperature at a glance to make sure everything is cooking as it should.
Price at time of publish: $237
Dimensions: 22 x 19 x 37.5 inches | Weight: 51.5 pounds | Racks: Three | Temperature Range: 100–400 degrees | Watts: 1,500
Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker
Lots of cooking space
Dual door latches and carry handles
Large-capacity wood chip box
Trouble reaching high temperatures
Have to open door to add wood chips
The Char-Broil name might be familiar because of their popular gas and charcoal grills, but their smokers are also worth a look. This model has three chrome-plated cooking grates that offer a total of 544 square inches of cooking space. An insulated cook chamber keeps the heat and smoke in, while the dual door latches give you even more control and flexibility.
There's a temperature gauge mounted on the front door for easy monitoring of the internal temperature, and the smoker has carry handles for easy transport. The aluminized steel water tray, grease cup, and wood chip tray are easily accessed from the front when it’s time to add more wood or water and when it’s time to clean up after cooking.
Price at time of publish: $220
Dimensions: 14.96 x 20.71 x 33.46 inches | Weight: 49.5 pounds | Racks: Three | Temperature Range: Not listed | Watts: 1,200
"Tips for using one: Keep it clean, season it before the first use, control your vent position, use foil on racks for easy clean up, don’t soak your wood chips, cook different types of meats at the right temperature, use your own meat thermometer." — Paula Stachyra, Grilling Expert and author of Wing Crush
Best Bisquette Smoker
Bradley Smoker Original 4 Rack Stainless Smoker
Automatic feed system for briquettes
Supports give racks stability when removing
Smoke for up to nine hours without refilling wood
Briquettes are expensive
Issues operating in cold weather
Bradley smokers are known for their unique briquettes that feed neatly into the smoker during cooking, with less mess than chips or pellets. It’s easy to see how many are left, so you can feed more if you want more smoke for your favorite smoked fish or a particularly long smoking session.
This model has four racks that are designed to be stable, even when partially pulled out, so you can check on or remove food without worrying about it dropping. In addition, there's no need to nurse your food; the Bradley electric smoker produces smoke for up to nine hours without refilling wood. The interior is all stainless steel, so it won’t rust and is easy to clean. If you smoke for large parties, Bradley also makes a similar smoker with six racks.
Price at time of publish: $450
Dimensions: 19 x 22 x 35 inches | Weight: 58 pounds | Racks: Four | Temperature Range: Up to 280 degrees | Watts: 125
Smokehouse Big Chief Electric Smoker
Simple and easy to use
Front- or top-load options
Holds up to 50 pounds of meat or fish
Only operates at one temperature
Somewhat flimsy construction
The Smokehouse Big Chief Electric Smoker has a no-frills design. It features embossed aluminum construction and a non-adjustable heating element that operates solely at 165 degrees, but it can hold up to 50 pounds of meat or fish on its chrome-plated racks. Plus, you can choose between top-load or front-load options—top loading is often more convenient if you're cooking large pieces of meat, as you can load it up in advance and then lower it into the smoker. Despite its simple construction, the smoker is engineered for premium smoke ventilation, giving food a rich, smoky flavor and superior texture.
Price at time of publish: $200
Dimensions: 12 x 18 x 24.5 inches | Weight: Not listed | Racks: Five | Temperature Range: 165 degrees | Watts: 450
"It is great for smoking all meat (pork shoulder/butt, pork belly, bacon, ribs, tri-tip, whole chicken, chicken wings, ham, pork loin, brisket), fish, cheese, potatoes, vegetables, and nuts." — Paula Stachyra, Grilling Expert and author of Wing Crush
Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
Compact enough for small spaces
Lightweight and portable
No high-heat option
Uses up smoking fuel quickly
For hands-off smoking, you need a product like the Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker. This model is operated via an easy-to-use digital control panel that allows you to monitor your cooking temperature and makes adjustments as you go. It even includes an integrated meat probe that will help ensure you don't overcook your food!
The Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker offers 725 square inches of cooking space across four adjustable racks, and you'll get between four to seven hours of smoke after you fill up its large-capacity wood chip box. However, our tester found that the unit often struggles to reach its max temperature: "We found that the Char-Broil sometimes struggled to reach its advertised maximum temperature of 275; it’s at its best closer to 225."
Price at time of publish: $400
Dimensions: 16.54 x 32.52 x 18.11 inches | Weight: 50.2 pounds | Racks: Four | Temperature Range: Up to 275 degrees | Watts: 750
"The ability to run the smoker for a set amount of time (plus the relative reliability of the temperature control) meant we could actually 'set it and forget it,' unlike with most pellet-fed smokers." — Justin Park, Product Tester
The Masterbuilt MB20070421 30-inch Digital Electric Smoker offers a host of convenient features, from its digital control display to the side-loading wood chip drawer, and it's a solid choice for anyone who wants to smoke large amounts of food. For those just delving into the world of smoking, the Cuisinart 30-Inch Electric Smoker is more affordable and easy to operate.
What to Look for in an Electric Smoker
How much food do you plan on smoking at one time? If you expect to smoke a few slabs of ribs or an occasional turkey breast, you don’t need a giant smoker, but if you’re planning on larger quantities of food that take a long time to smoke, you’ll appreciate the space that a bigger model offers.
An electric smoker needs to be near an outlet when it’s in use, but is that where you’ll always keep it? If you’re going to be moving your smoker from storage to the cooking spot and back again, it’s wise to look at portable units with wheels and a sturdy handle. If you have a permanent spot for the smoker, portability is much less important.
Just like many of today’s appliances, you can find smokers with a wide variety of control options, from simple dials and buttons to digital controls. There are even some that include Wi-Fi connectivity so you can work remotely. Think about what you prefer and choose accordingly.
How are smokers different than standard grills?
According to grilling expert Paula Stachyra, “a smoker cooks your meat using a combination of smoke and heat at low temperatures” whereas standard grilling is “done over direct high heat and requires shorter cooking times.” You have more control over the smoking and cooking process because smokers have “a chamber that is placed alongside the heat source to regulate the temperature, so no smoke or heat is lost except through the smokestack.” This slow cooking method gives your meat those characteristic “smoky flavors that are tender, juicy, and fall off the bone.” If you prefer more depth of taste and crispy bark results, we recommend choosing a smoker over a standard grill.
What's the difference between a pellet smoker and an electric smoker?
Pellet and electric smokers are both great options for a set-and-forget smoking technique. Paula Stachyra explains that the former "allows for different cooking options such as baking, smoking, charring, grilling, roasting, and more, while providing wood smoke flavor." And an electric smoker "is suitable for smoking, usually vertical in design, and relies on heat from an electric element, just like an oven, that sits at the bottom of a vertical box. There is a water pan that sits just above that to keep meat moist and a wood chip pan that releases smoke throughout the cooking chamber. The results will be a lighter smoke flavor without a smoke ring, and a softer bark."
How do you clean an electric smoker?
Paula Stachyra suggests using "a non-abrasive detergent that is food safe and apply with a soft cloth or a brush with plastic bristles for stubborn grime. Make sure to clean the water/drip pans by removing them and soaking in warm soapy water. Scrub and rinse."
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author, as well as a writer and product tester. She stays up to date on all the latest grills and accessories and has personally tested grills for The Spruce Eats.
This article was updated by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. She conducted firsthand testing of our top pick, the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker, and she's tested several other grills with smoking abilities, as well.