Do you like smoked food? I love them, and I also love using my electric smoker to cook them. It’s an easier and more convenient way of smoking meats, compared to a charcoal grill. The results are the same, as long as you know how to properly use your smoker.
If you’re worried about not knowing how to properly use your brand new smoker, then you can stop worrying now. I will share with you 5 easy steps on how to use an electric smoker, plus 3 tips that will make your cooking experience easier and more enjoyable.
Things You Need
- Wood chips
- Oven thermometer
Your choice of wood chips will depend on what type of meat you’re planning to cook. I find that hickory and maple work best with chicken, while pork tastes great with apple or oak. I love using alder or peach wood for fish, and I recently discovered that persimmon wood is great with beef.
Feel free to try out different wood chips and discover what works best with your taste buds.
- Mild dish detergent
- Clean cloth or sponge
Step 1: Plug in the electric smoker in a safe and well-ventilated area
Whether you choose to place your smoker in the kitchen or in the backyard, make sure that you set it up on a flat, firm surface. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of smoking a big piece of pork butt and then have your smoker wobble and topple on its side.
Place the electric smoker near a power outlet if possible. If you can’t, have a heavy-duty extension cord at hand. Just make sure the wire does not end up tripping anyone, or becoming the source of fire in your kitchen or porch.
Step 2: Add water to the water pan
Some people don’t bother adding water to the pan because it doesn’t really add any flavor to your meat. However, I recommend using it because it helps keep the temperature in the smoker more stable.
Adding water to the pan also prevents grease drippings from starting a fire when they come into contact with the super-hot drip tray.
Step 3: Add wood chips to the smoker
While wood chips are not essential to smoking meat, I highly advise you to use them because they give a smoky, earthy flavor to your food.
Most electric smokers already have a built-in wood tray in them. All you need to do is place your favorite chips in the tray, and put the tray back in position, usually beneath the heat source.
I like the Masterbuilt Smokehouse Electric Smoker because it has a separate side loading door for the wood tray, making it easy to add new chips in the middle of the smoking period.
Step 4: Turn on the smoker to your preferred cooking temperature
Preheating the smoker into your desired temperature is a necessary step in smoking any type of meat. This makes your meat cook faster and more evenly, and prevents it from having random undercooked parts.
To preheat your smoker, simply turn it on and set it according your desired temperature. Place an oven thermometer inside the smoker so you can monitor its temperature, and wait for a few minutes for the smoker to warm up.
A good indication that your smoker is ready for cooking is when it starts to give off a trail of clear smoke. You can also check your wood chips—once they start to glow ember, then you know it’s okay to start placing your meat inside.
Step 5: Place the meat in the smoker and cook away
Now that your electric smoker is prepped up and ready to go, you can place your meat in it and start smoking. Then you can leave it to cook for a couple of hours while you prepare other dishes or just relax and do other things.
Don’t forget to take note of the cooking time of your meat. Chicken and pork loin usually take two to three hours to cook, while a 7 to 8-pound pork butt takes roughly 8 hours. Fish, like salmon and sea bass, takes about 2 to 3 hours to cook completely.
3 Secret Tips
Tip 1: Read the instruction manual carefully
Many people start cooking food with their brand new smoker without knowing its basic parts yet. This can spell trouble for you in the middle of your cooking time.
Before you attempt to cook anything in your smoker, make sure you read the manufacturer’s manual first, and understand how to operate the smoker properly. Don’t forget to study the safety instructions. Believe me, it’s no fun getting injured while cooking a delicious set of chicken wings.
Tip 2: Cure the smoker before cooking food in it
You need to cure your smoker to get rid of the chemicals and unpleasant smell it got from the factory. To do this, simply coat the insides of the smoker with vegetable oil (no need to break the expensive olive oil for this one, save that for your meat).
Switch on the smoker and let it run for 3 to 4 hours. If you want, you can add a few wood chips to pre-smoke the appliance and get it ready for your first cooking session.
Tip 3: Clean well after each use
Don’t forget to clean your electric smoker after use to avoid the growth of bacteria. This also prevents your smoker from rusting.
First, empty the wood tray and wipe it with a damp cloth. Then take out the cooking racks, drip tray, and water pan, and wash them with warm soapy water. Rinse and wipe dry. Next, wipe the meat probe with a cloth soaked in soapy water, and then wipe dry. Lastly, wipe the door with a damp cloth to remove the excess smoke and grease that has built up during cooking.
You also have to clean the insides of the smoker. To do this, let the smoker cool completely, and then brush away any particle buildup. Sweep them out of the smoker, and then wipe the insides with a sponge or cloth soaked in warm soapy water. Wipe dry.
I like to use a mild dish detergent for cleaning the smoker. Make sure you don’t use any harsh chemicals because this may react against the surface of the smoker and its parts.
An electric smoker is a great appliance that you can use to cook many dishes. Maintain it properly and it can last for years, and be your loyal companion to making the most delicious smoked turkey, salmon, or pork tenderloins you can serve your family and friends.
Is this article helpful? Do you have other tips on how to use an electric smoker? Write them down in the comments’ section. I’d love to hear from you! Also, please take the time to share this article with your friends. Who knows? They might find it helpful, too.