Best Electric Smokers: Electric Smoker Reviews 2017

Looking for the best electric smokers? Read on, my tailgate partying friends and argue among yourselves!

I have a few mates who are smokers.  Some hide and do it hidden away in a shed in their yards but most are quite open about it.  Yeah.  They’re the ones with the home cured bacon and pork bellies hanging in their cool-rooms, with racks of baby back ribs and poultry as juicy as the good lord meant it to be.  Ohhh yeahhhh!

Best smokers for tailgate parties - bacon kit

Bacon curing kit – bacon at a tailgate party_ Yes please

Their tailgate parties make awesome the understatement of the century. This got me thinking: it’s about time I started smoking meats for my tailgate parties too! For tailgate parties, gas or electric are the best ways to go. So I’ve done the research, tested and tried the best electric smokers so I can now put together this article for you: the best electric smokers reviewed – 2016.

Meat, fish, nuts, pineapple, eggs – almost anything – can be sublime when smoked. Some might say the anchor of a tailgate party menu.  For a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea of buying my own full sized smoker.  I want one for tailgate parties before the end of this season.  My friend Craig wants me to buy one too, so that I can return his.

To do the research, first I consulted my buddy André, a professional pit-master and smoker, a BBQ genius.  His own rig is enormous, so I was surprised that his ultimate advice was that it is far easier, in a tailgate party situation, to go electric.  You can run with a generator or a battery large enough for your smoker.  Electricity makes it very stable and there are ways to compensate for the scaled down taste.  But we will get to that.  Remember that many parking lots, André pointed out, do not allow charcoal or wood burning fires, so gas or electric are the only choices in those situations.  At home, on the man-cave patio, wood or charcoal are the go but I’m going for lack of effort here.  And André’s ideas for making the smoked food taste great are essential too so check those out. It can be as simple as a different kind of injected flavor or added wood chips and these can be purchased.  You can have a whole repertoire of tastes (I’ve been watching too many pitmaster shows) on hand.  Don’t bother with rubs as the moisture in the air make them just melt off and drip away.

So here’s the big list of the best electric smokers for tailgating.  I hope that you will make some great smoked dishes and learn some new techniques to try for your winter tailgate parties.  Then you can put those smokers to good use to stockpile bacon and other goodies for the rest of the year.

Masterbuilt Black Electric Digital Smoker


The Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse - on best tailgate party smoker list 2016

The Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse – on best tailgate party smoker list 2017

Masterbuilt’s cooking products are not just a manageable size but high quality with a long reputation in manufacturing. We are looking at the 30” top controlled but there is a 40” model and the only difference is size and price.  If you are cooking for a tribe, then go for the larger one but for most tailgate party cooking, a 30” is adequate.

Having said that, you can start a nice little smoked garlic business on the side with the 40” … hmm, there’s an idea that my pal Randall has already put into action.

Powder-coated steel exterior makes it smart to look at and easy to clean.  That surface is durable. It can chip, but take care (don’t clean with abrasives) and it will last for eons.  The Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse has four smoking racks that are scaled for turkey, sausage, chicken, ham, pork, fish, jerky, vegetables, fruit, desserts and wow, anything that can benefit from that smoky flavor. People even smoke beer now.  Oh, please don’t.

It is 100° to 275°F thermostatically controlled for a perfect temperature every time.  I would also recommend the purchase of a temperature probe to check the inside of meats as you cook them.  Do monitor that aspect as it is important.  The CDN is a good one, being easy to read.  Most measure around 8” which is OK, but wear gloves when you put your hand in the smoker.

But back to that smoking beast.  It features a push-button precision digital control panel and an 0-24 hour digital timer with auto shut-off. A wood tray (for flavor chips) opens from the side which adds to convenience and you can set that up easily at the tailgate party.   Its neat side door allows you to leave the front shut and retain all the juicy smokiness.

Best smoker for tailgate parties - Masterbuilt smokehouse

Best smoker for tailgate parties – Masterbuilt smokehouse

You can run these smokers off a generator or a well-charged battery pack so they are, in effect, portable to some degree.

Insulation is always crucial and this one has 100% insulation on all sides.

730 sq. inches of cooking space are arranged as 4 dishwasher-OK chrome-coated racks and an 800 watt heating element with a range of 100 to 275 degrees F.

A removable drip tray and a top air damper gives the user additional control.

Cleaning is simple but don’t use detergents as these can damage the powder coating and also can impart off flavors to your dishes.  A 2 to one vinegar and water solution is recommended for wiping down anything that is not able to go in the dishwasher but the racks and all chrome parts are fine.

It reviews really well but as with all gadgetry, read the instructions before assembling and using.  There is assembly required so allow enough time for that.  Don’t just pick up the box from your delivery, load it onto your truck and expect to cook onsite immediately.  I recommend a couple of trial runs to get the feel for it and to experiment with the intensity of flavors.

A hint from my mate the pit-master: as soon as you get to the site, shove some garlic in your smoker.  Eh, you might not want to eat it, but it will drive your neighbors crazy with envy when they smell it smoking.

Also, cover with the custom Masterbuilt Electric Smoke cover it to ensure it has a long life. The cover is available for 30” or 40” so make sure you buy the right one for your preferred model.

And you might like to get a rib rack. Rib racks are inexpensive and nice as gifts though not essential.  But if you’re like most people and ribs are going to be cooked a lot, then these help you turn out the juiciest.

Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker

Electric Smoker Review: Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker

Smoke Hollow Electric Smoker

The Smoke Hollow electric smoker is a step down from the Masterbuit both in price and quality as it is not powder coated but just painted steel.  That to me is a disadvantage if your plan is to transport this model as they can scratch easily.  But if you are just installing in the man cave, that may be OK.  The major disadvantage is that you have to open the front door to add your flavor chips.  The temperature lowers fast each time you open the door.  It is, of course, for outdoor use only.

It is a 30 inch smoker. Assembly required and actual size is 22W x 19D x 37.5H” making it wider than the Masterbuilt.  Factor that into your cooking.

There are two cooking racks and 2 temperature settings.  The door closes magnetically and that takes a little getting used to but it is a firm seal which is a good thing.

Fundamentally, it is the similar size as the Masterbuilt but on little splayed legs that use some of the smoking area.  It is more transportable with two side handles making this a breeze though it weighs the same.

All instructions are included.  The actual measurements are 16 x 14 x 30 inches so factor this in when planning thanksgiving turkey smoking.  You can remove shelves. The exterior handle is one of those coiled designs which is quite good for protecting users from burns.

I’m not rapt in the temperature gauge on this model as it is not really explicit with degrees marked but opts for the fuzzy logic of ‘low-med-high’ and you can’t set it on a specific temperature.  Recommendations are that you can do a bit of refitting to improve the interior, firstly replacing the smoke box with a larger stainless steel box and drip pan.  I would also place a couple of high walled cookie sheets under as a drip pan.  This thing leaks grease which is particularly noticeable when cooking duck.  Catch that duck fat and can it for frying chips.  Here’s a hack from one kind user: Apply Permatex #81158 automotive black silicone (good to 450 degrees F) to both the outside bottom seam and also the 4 inside bottom sides to avoid this leakage.  Cure the silicone well before cooking and it is then food safe.  Read and follow the instructions on the tube!

With all these faults, it is cheaper than the Masterbuilt but you really can’t fault the cits constant power.  The low setting is around 240-250 degrees.  You may want to check its settings out with an oven thermometer before using it and get to know which part of the knob you require. If you have any problems with power, contact the manufacturer and they are quick to respond, no questions asked.

Char-Broil Electric Vertical Smoker

Char-Broil Vertical Electric smoker

Char-Broil Vertical Electric smoker


This vertical smoker (30”) is almost the same as the Smoke Hollow in all respects but is a little narrower.  There is some super simple assembly required (eg. Screwing on the legs and thermometer)

Here are the dimensions and description:

It has a 504 square inch total of cooking surfaces made up of 3 chrome plates racks which can be put in the dishwasher. 16 by 14 by 30 inches. The heating element is 1,500 watt which means it can be run easily off the Honda 2000 watt generator.

The element is a variable temperature heater which heats your wood chips and water (to make your smoke) and there is a handy front mounted temperature gauge.

The chip pan and ash pan are both porcelain and there is a grease cup which could be better but you can easily add some aluminum foil to the mix.  No oven seems to be perfectly sealed against fat drips and splashes but see above for hacks on prevention.  Of course, some airflow is required for the process so don’t be tempted to caulk it up too much. But do avoid the fat dripping into the chip box.

The handle is a long, chrome-plated design, a little close to the heat for my preference but it looks smart.  The temperature gauge is also nicely designed with a bezel and easy to read.

The adjustable shelves will allow you to cook a turkey and other side dishes.  Yes, you CAN smoke mac’n’cheese.

Unfortunately the cover is not included but is sold separately (like most of the electric smokers reviewed here). But you’ll need one as they are kind of important to have if you want to extend the life of your electric smoker.

Brinkmann Gourmet Electric Smoker and Grill

Brinkmann Electric Gourmet Smoker

Brinkmann Electric Gourmet Smoker

Generally, electric smokers run to about 40% more expensive than the charcoal models.  But then you don’t have any ongoing expense of charcoal and electricity use is minimal. Like the others in the range, this has a 1500-watt element that fits in the base with lavarocks.  There’s a smart domed lid which is kind of a Brinkmann look. They say it holds up to 50 pounds of food.  Heck, that’s a whole party right there! There are only two shelves (steel-chrome-plated) but I think that is OK.

The electric model does not include the cover so you need to order one.  If you write to the sellers when you’re negotiating your order, maybe they will cut you a deal on that and occasionally they are an add-on special on!

The water pan is porcelain-coated steel and the door has front-hinges for accessing the pan easily.  Always access it fast to avoid heat loss while the door is open. Ie. Don’t leave the door wide open while you are filling the chip pan etc. etc.  Pure logic, really.

Dimensions: 17 x 17 x 35 inches making it taller than others in the ballpark but the others weigh around 52 pounds shipped and this is only around 30 pounds shipped.  The handles on this one are also a selling point as they are cool to the touch, simple designed with wood.

The Gourmet Electric is Brinkmann’s top-of-the-line double grill electric smoker & grill. Here’s why: it converts easily to a waist high grill. It also has a separate base pan design for easy set up and clean up. It comes in shiny easily cleaned colors of red, black and green.  UL Listed.  (FYI ‘UL listed’ means that Underwriters Laboratories have tested and approved either it or its components in one of its national recognized testing labs in the USA and relates to its safety in the electric appliances market.)

The heating element is not adjustable but is set to 220-240 range which is ideal for smoking.  Some leakage through the lid and thin sides may be an issue affecting cooking times.  Use your probe thermometer to be sure that your meat is cooked.  You can add a non OE thermometer gauge to the smoker after and I think that would be worth the few bucks expense. Remember that the stability of the temperature is related to the water bath.  Keep that pan full of water as directed as this creates a barrier between the element (heat source) and the meat.  Thus it is stable and sloooooow smoking which makes for juicy, melt in your mouth meat.  It can be tricky to fill though so consider using a silicon funnel and a bit of silicon tubing and always fill with HOT water.

It is very easy to clean as it comes apart in all the cleanable places.  Some users have mentioned peeling paint.  In that event, write to the manufacturer or seller.  That’s kind of why I like to buy a lot through big re-sellers as they will replace, no questions asked and that service is worth it.
It is great value for money and I guess could be seen as the entry level smoker.

Keep reading to get the skinny on a smaller but great looking appliance by Brinkmann and this one is hard to find. 

The Brinkmann Smoke’n’Grill Model 810-5290-c

Brinkmann Electric Smoker

Brinkmann Electric Smoker

This is a smallish dual level water smoker but surprisingly portable and roomy all at the same time.  I’m thinking, ‘start with the small one and upgrade when you are an expert’. The Brinkmann range of electric smokers are some of the best electric smokers around.

Note with all smokers, a bit of breeze in there is required for proper smoking.  Don’t seal up things like a wobbly lid as it may be intentional.

Then there is this. It turns your grill into a smoker and comes highly reviewed and praised.

Smoke Chief Cold Smoke Generator

Smoke Chief cold smoker from Smokehouse

Smoke Chief cold smoker from Smokehouse

For starters, it’s electric and you just add it to your existing grill. And you get around three hours of smoking from just a cup of pellets. It is a small unit – only weighs 7 pounds at most – and can operate on 110VAC or 12V and has the appropriate leads for either. So in a sense, it is portable – ore so than many others.  The aroma and flavor imparted are terrific and of course, you get to choose from a wide range of pellets and Smokehouse (the parent company) makes these to suit this particular smoker.   Everything you need is included, even a cleaning tool.  It just fits on the side of your grill and is 12 x 4 x 9 inches.  I think it is a winner.  Only use this smoker outside.  It’s not for table use. There’s a considerable discount here at the moment.  I am keeping my eye out for these seasonal price drops as why pay a heap when you can get something this great for cheaper?

Gourmia Multifunction Electric Smoker – SmoCooker Turb0

Gourmia Electric Smoker, Pressure Cooker, Steamer. Slow & Rice Cooker

Gourmia Electric Smoker, Pressure Cooker, Steamer. Slow & Rice Cooker

I am including this as it is the only indoor pressure smoker on the market.  It is a small-batch cooker and only deals with up to 4 pounds at one cook.  It is a cold and hot smoker and was originally sold for cheese smoking and it pressure cooks, steams and cooks rice as well.  As it smokes under pressure, the cooking time is reduced by half – 1 hour is enough.

The Gourmia is  distributed in the USA and really hasn’t caught on yet but would be awesome for doing smoked dishes on site.  Make sure you retain all guarantees and the address and contacts of the distributor and manufacturer in case of any need for replacement.

This is a very unusual cooking tool and is around the same size as a rice cooker.  It is designed for table-top cooking which is an interesting idea.  As well, the small size and portability means you could easily use this model at a tailgate party, especially given the shorter cooking times.

The smoke is made by a few small wood chips (flavor of your choice)  inserted into a small container mounted on the heating electrode. The chips burn and fill the pot with smoke which is pressure cooked into the food. When you remove the lid, the previously sealed in smoke all gushes out.  Not great in a condo with sensitive alarms.  OK on the balcony and quite fine in a parking lot and the smokiness is really delicious smelling.

There are three metal racks where your food should be placed for the process.

Unlike the larger units, you need very few smoking chips, in fact only one may suffice.  Cooking time for poultry for instance is way down to around a half an hour.  And that’s why I think it is a tailgate party option.   You can smoke garlic, eggs, cheese, small briskets and so on.  Very handy.

It is a bit tricky to clean though so any covering of racks  with foil for instance would be advised.

It is amazingly inexpensive for such a versatile appliance.

Bradley Smokers Original Smoker

Electric Smoker Review: Bradley Smokers Original Electric Smoker

Bradley Smokers Original Electric Smoker

Slightly bigger than the Masterbuilt, the Bradley is one of the biggest and best electric smokers in the range. It’s super slick featuring an easily cleaned highly polished stainless steel interior with four racks (dishwasher OK) and a simple, stable temperature control (around 250 degrees maximum).  It doubles as a slow roaster as well as a smoker, but be aware that once you have smoked, the rest of your food will also have that smoky taste.  It is hard to budge.

The internal racks have a stopper which prevents them falling when you slide them out. The Bradley electric smoker has large front feet for extra stability and there’s a removable side panel to assist with cleaning and maintenance. At 500 watts, the smoking element is not as strong as other electric smokers.

The Bradley Smoker uses a unique system of bisquettes (manufactured wood impregnated with many flavors which gives the chef an amazing smoke flavor repertoire).  Note that you have to order those separately according to your taste or requirement in the recipe and happily, this unit comes with a recipe book.

It is well designed and seems more ‘solid-state’ than other smokers, yes, even the pretty Brinkmann.  It is easy to set up (once you figure out how the auto biscuit thingie works which in itself is an easy matter) and you can get smoking right away.  There is an aluminum biscuit sold and these just fill the space as the final two bisquettes in the cook don’t get spat out at the end onto the burner. These act as decoys in a way!

There’s a fair bit of reading to do before use.

Bradleys are a great company to deal with and you can get on the phone and bend their ear and they will give you great hints, advice and make sure you are getting the most out of the smoker.  My mate makes his own jerky and bacon and that is always the highlight of his tailgate parties.

The bisquette system is an automated one whereby the bit with the flavor on it   feeds through a magazine.  Every 20 minutes the burnt bisquette drops into a small pan of water before the wood’s ashes can start emitting rancid/toxic chemicals.   That may also be less carcinogenic.  You never get to that yucky taste that some amateur smokers delight in.  Or bad grillers!

Parts are always available through Bradley.

Finally, a few reviewers have written about cheap parts being used in this smoker.   For the most part, they are around the same standard as other smokers on the market.  The difference is that the Bradley company will always pick up your call.

Bradley Technologies offer a great range of Electric Smoker Bisquettes so you can pick the flavor (or flavors you love). They’re great!


Bradley Bisquettes comein many flavors

Bradley Bisquettes come in many flavors


Jim Beam Bradley Smoker 4-Rack Digital Outdoor Electric Smoker

Jim Beam Bradley 4 rack digital Smoker

Jim Beam Bradley 4 rack digital Smoker

This Jim Beam smoker is just the Bradley with a logo, but it’s a cool idea for the tailgate party set up.  Very appropriate.  Everything I have said about the Bradley applies to this great-looking unit so read the above!  It runs on bisquettes the same, has the same customer service but it made me think that you could quite easily apply your own team logo to your smoker.  Ahhhh, branding and licensing – there is a mine-field!

Landmann USA  Smoky Mountain Vertical Gas Smoker

The Landman Smoky Mountain Gas smoker

The Landmann Smoky Mountain Gas smoker

If my list of the best electric smokers hasn’t convinced you that these are the best option for the tailgate party, then you might be more interested in a gas smoker.  While the electric is by far the better deal, perhaps your parking lot does not offer the chance to plug in?  Or maybe you don’t have a generator?  Gas is your answer.

The Landmann Smoky Mountain 3495GLA 34-inch powerful Vertical Gas Smoker has a great feature – it has two heat saving, easy access drawers to get to the wood chip box and water pan without opening the main chamber door.  This keeps the temperature even. And capability is 13,500 BTU.  Dimensions are: 18 x 21 x 43.2 inches including the legs.

The door has been well designed with the same thing in mind and is a combo of sturdy hinges and magnetic closures with a large nylon plastic door handle for coolness, 4 adjustable chrome plated cooking grates and a meat hanger. It also features square, splayed legs for stability, porcelain coated steel water pan and heavy duty steel wood chip box with lid. Rotary igniter. The burner is made of cast brass for long life and the unit will not rust. This part has a 10-year warranty. Kudos to them for that but it doesn’t mean that the whole smoker has the same guarantee.  The meat hanger is suited to smoking large cuts of bacon and ribs as the unit is quite tall at 34 inches. Users say that a large tank of propane will last for months, even for heavy smokers.

The nice aspect of this being a propane run smoker is also that you are completely stand-alone.  In any emergency, such as a hurricane, flood, other natural disaster or losing team riots in the parking lot, you can still smoke some ribs. And that’s important.

The Smoking Gun Handheld Food Smoker

The Smoking Gun electric smoker

The Smoking Gun electric smoker

Smoking Gun Electric Smoker

Check out this cute little tool that will impart a smokiness to anything quickly and easily.  Yeah, they have these on cooking shows and even on Junior Master Chef the kids wield them with ease. You can even smoke a Jell-o shot!  Simply fill the Smoking Gun chamber with your choice of combustible, turn it on, light with a match or lighter and apply cool smoke where you’d like it, whether that’s on a freshly made casserole, a mess of beans, some mac’n’cheese or an ice cream.  You get: The Smoking Gun, acrylic stand, 18-inch nozzle extender hose, four AA batteries and two.5-ounce wood chip samples and it can infuse anything with that flavor or the taste of teas, herbs, spices and even hay and dried flowers. It is super portable, you can even put food into a Tupperware basin and give it a blast.

Excellent gift for that tailgate party nut who has everything.

Finally, a hint from my pro smoker mate: ‘Less is more’.  Don’t overdo the chips or bisquettes.  You just need a hint of smokiness to bring that flavor.  After all, you still need your taste-buds to be completely operational for beer.

BONUS: Electric Smoker Recipe

Here is a recipe for ABTs – the professional smokers’ secret food porn!

What?  You haven’t tried the famous (or infamous)  ‘Atomic Buffalo Turds’? Check out their recipe here.

Happy tailgating!