If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best electric smoker is, then we recommend the Cuisinart COS-330 Electric Smoker.
For those of you who would like a more in-depth review of the top models in the current market, you’ve come to the right place. Our Product Review Guide will tell you everything you need to know about these offerings, and we’ll provide our unvarnished opinion on whether or not they’re worth your hard-earned dollars.
Best Electric Smokers: A Quick Reference Guide
In this article, we’re going to review the following food dehydrators that are great for beef jerky:
- Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
- Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker
- Smoke Hollow 3616DEWS 36-Inch Digital Electric Smoker
- Cuisinart COS-330 Electric Smoker
- LANDMANN MCO 32954 “Smokey” Electric Smoker
- Char-Broil Analog Electric Smoker
Benefits of Using an Electric Smoker
When you’re through, you’ll have gained a better understanding of electric smokers in general, as well as the key features that set the more desirable models apart from the rest.
If you think you’d like to try your hand at making your own smoked meat products but are nervous about getting the technique just right, an electric smoker could be the ideal place to start. You simply set the temperature, add the meat of your choice, and allow the machine to do its work. Unlike with traditional wood smokers, you won’t need to monitor the process—these units work continuously, with minimum outside involvement.
Additionally, electric units are capable of operating at consistently lower temperatures than their wood-burning counterparts. If you prefer to smoke the beef for your jerky at a temperature of 150 degrees, these models will be able to maintain that temperature for that “low and slow” sweet spot you’re looking for.
Finally, an electric smoker can be installed just about anywhere. While a traditional wood smoker requires a sizable swath of outdoor space in order to function properly, some electric dehydrator units can be set up right in the kitchen, garage, or wherever you prefer to work. Be aware, however, that outdoor conditions can affect the unit’s performance—you’ll want to take special care to keep the smoker out of the rain, for example, and it’s difficult to maintain a consistent temperature when it’s especially cold out.
Electric Smoker Review Guide
In order to make the buying process easier, we’ve put together a list of six highly-rated electric smokers. Included in each review is a list of pros and cons, so you can easily see how the different models stack up against one another.
- Large Capacity: Equipped with 9 Excalibur dehydrator trays, this large food dehydrator boasts 15 square feet of drying space
- Versatile Uses: Features a 26-hour dehydrator timer and an adjustable thermostat with a range of 105 to 165 degrees F – low enough for fruits and vegetables but high enough for dehydrating meat
- Low & Slow for Immune Boost: Cooking foods at no higher than 115-118 degrees in a dehydrator preserves nutrients; it's the perfect dehydrator for food and jerky, as well as dried fruit leather, fruit roll-up puree, all-natural pet treats, homemade yogurt, veggies, nuts or to even raise bread
- Faster & Easier to Use: This meat and fruit dehydrator features exclusive Excalibur Parallex Horizontal Airflow technology, which dehydrates food faster, retains more nutrients, and helps food look and taste better without requiring tray rotation
- Includes: Guide to Dehydration and 9 flexible non-stick polyscreen tray inserts; Made in the USA with USA and globally sourced materials
The temperature settings on the Excalibur range from 105 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit—the ideal comfort zone for the production of beef jerky. Included are nine sturdy trays for 15 square feet of cooking space—enough to make large batches at a single stroke. There’s also a poly-screen insert you can use to keep your meat from sticking to the trays during the dehydrating process.
The Excalibur features a 7-inch fan for increased air circulation, meaning that the trays don’t need to be rotated while the machine is in use. The 26-hour timer makes the process that much more carefree. In addition to smoked meat products, the unit can also be used to dehydrate fruit, proof yeast-raised bread products, and even make homemade yogurt.
This model is on the higher end for this type of product, but the quality helps to justify the cost. It’s compact enough to fit under most standard kitchen cabinets, and the trays are BPA-free, so you won’t have to worry about your jerky picking up any harmful chemicals.
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- Generous capacity
- 26-hour timer
- Versatile product
- Convenient design
- High price point
- Some complaints about poor customer service when problems arise
- 730 sq. inches of cooking space with 4 chrome-coated racks and 800 watt heating element
- Digital temperature and timer controls
- Thermostat temperature control for even cooking from 100 to 275 degrees F
- Convenient side loading wood chips, removable drip pan and top air damper
- Ideal smoker for all experience levels
If you’re looking for a high-end smoker, the Masterbuilt has plenty to recommend it. Offering 4 chrome-coated racks for 730 square inches of cooking space, this unit is ideal for those who like to whip up large batches of jerky at once. The digital temperature and timer controls are exceptionally user-friendly, with a range of 100 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit—ideal for producing well-textured beef jerky.
To help you maintain a consistent and accurate temperature, the wood chips on the Masterbuilt unit are side-loading. As is customary with units of this type, some assembly is required for the accessories (such as the handle and wheels), but the directions are easy enough for beginners to follow.
While Masterbuilt does offer a customer warranty, it’s only for 90 days. Some customers report that the unit doesn’t function well enough to justify the higher price point; however, these seem to be minor and isolated complaints. Note that this model is designed exclusively for outdoor use.
- Generous capacity
- Side-loading wood chip tray
- Digital controls
- Maintains a consistent and accurate temperature
- High price point
- Brief customer warranty
- New digital display and controls make this electric smoker easy to operate
- Tempered glass viewing window makes it easy to see the results without opening the door
- Large-capacity 3.0 cubic ft. or 720 sq. in. Cooking capacity, external-loading wood chip tray allows you to easily add wood chips
- 4 chrome-plated cooking grids with multiple adjustment levels
Smoke Hollow’s digitally controlled unit offers a tempered glass viewing window, so you can check the progress of your jerky as it smokes. While this is convenient for the user, excess light can sometimes harm the finished product, so it’s important to find a spot for the smoker that’s well out of the sun. The wood tray is loaded externally, which helps keep the temperature consistent during use.
The Smoke Hollow unit features three cubic feet of cooking space, four chrome-plated cooking grids with multiple adjustment levels, and easy-to-use digital controls. The display output is also digital, making it simple to read.
This is one of the highest-priced models on our list, so it should be considered only if your budget is on the generous side. Still, it’s versatile enough to be used for other smoked meats—you could even smoke a turkey breast for Thanksgiving dinner, or ham for Easter. The main complaint that users have is that the temperature control can be extremely finicky—when the outdoor temp falls below 65, it’s difficult to maintain enough heat for the smoking process.
- Generous capacity
- Versatile model
- Digital controls and display
- High price point
- Difficult to maintain consistent temperatures in cooler weather
- The glassdoor may allow too much light to penetrate into the cooking zone
- 548 SQUARE INCHES OF INTERIOR: The spacious 548 square inch interior means there is plenty of room to smoke a variety of meats and vegetables. The vertical footprint makes it a perfect size for patios and barbecue kitchens.
- THREE REMOVABLE SMOKING SHELVES: Three chrome plated steel racks can be easily removed for smoking large cuts of meat. Racks are dishwasher safe, making cleanup easy
- BUILT-IN THERMOMETER: Features easy-to-read thermometer on the front door for accessible monitoring of the internal temperature.
- 1500-WATT HEATING ELEMENT: Featuring a heating coil that provides the 1500-watt heating element able to produce a temperature from 100°F to 400°F easily controlled with a dial.
- STAINLESS STEEL TRAYS HOLDS WOOD AND WATER: Stainless steel trays hold the wood chips and water, so clean-up is easy after use. Smoker requires wood chips when grilling.
Novices and experts alike are sure to recognize the name Cuisinart, which has been manufacturing quality culinary aids for generations. Its most recent entry into the electric smoker game doesn’t disappoint. While it’s easy enough for beginners to use, seasoned jerky makers will appreciate its benefits just as well.
The COS-330 is lightweight and portable, with handles to make it easier to maneuver from one spot to the next. The thermometer is easy to read and conveniently located on the door. And on the subject of thermometers, the temperature range is set between 100 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit, so the unit can be used for a variety of cooking techniques aside from smoking.
With 548 square inches of cooking space and three removable chrome racks, this model is large enough to suit the needs of any jerky aficionado. Best of all, it’s a reasonable option for those who don’t have a lot of cash to spare. The only downside is that some of the elements tend to be on the flimsy side as a result of the lower price tag.
- Decent price point
- Generous capacity
- Versatile unit
- Lightweight construction
- Wide temperature range
- Certain parts aren’t as durable as one would expect
- 3-in-1 combination tray
- Non-insulated cooking chamber
- Product is 26 inches
This budget option has the lowest price tag on our list—features chrome-plated cooking racks, wrought iron side handles, and a non-insulated interior. The unit is only 26 inches high, making it one of the smaller and more portable options on the market. On the plus side, it’s very easy to assemble, meaning you could be enjoying your smoked jerky treats within hours of delivery.
With a model that’s priced this low, it’s natural to expect a few caveats, but the complaints thus far have been relatively minimal. The non-insulated interior means that the smoker doesn’t perform as well in cold weather—that is, temperatures below 50 degrees. Considering its small size, it also tends to draw a lot of power, which can be a drawback for those with temperamental wiring systems. On the whole, however, this unit can be recommended for delivering quality results at an affordable price.
- Low price point
- Convenient size
- Easy to assemble
May betoo small to suit your needs
- Doesn’t perform well in cold temperatures
- Drains electricity
- COOKING SPACE: 544 square inches of cooking space
- POWER: 1200 watt heating element and insulated cooking chamber
- GAUGE: Door-mounted temperature gauge
- GRATES: 3 Chrome-plated cooking grates
- CLEANING: Aluminized steel water pan, wood chip tray and grease tray
Char-Broil is another big name in the culinary industry—this one is specifically geared towards outdoor cooking. Unlike the LANDMANN unit, this one features an insulated cooking chamber, along with three chrome-plated cooking racks and a generously sized wood chip box. The parts are of exceptionally high quality, especially considering the unit’s price point.
The large wood-chip box is compatible with many different types of wood, meaning that users can experiment with a variety of flavors. Assembly is a snap, and Char-Broil’s customer service department is exceptional, should you have any questions or concerns upon delivery.
Char-Broil offers a one-year warranty for this product, which is quite generous by industry standards. Customer response is overwhelmingly positive, with finicky temperature control (especially in cool and windy weather) leading the short list of complaints. The analog control is also slightly more problematic than digital, and while there’s room in the unit for four racks, there are only three included in this purchase price—but if you’d like to add another rack, you can make a separate purchase.
- Decent price point
- One-year warranty
- Excellent customer service
- Easy to assemble
- Insulated cooking chamber
- Compatible with many varieties of wood
- Analog controls are less user-friendly than digital
- The fourth rack will cost extra
- Doesn’t perform well in cool or windy temperatures
The bottom line? Every one of these models is worthy of recommendation—the final choice rests solely with the individual. However, if we had to select a clear-cut winner, the Cuisinart electric smoker delivers on just about every level. The benefits of a low-cost, generously sized user-friendly system far outweigh the drawbacks. This smoker is designed to help you turn out delicious batches of beef jerky that will be the envy of everyone in your inner circle.
"You might be a redneck if you think that beef jerky and moon pies are two of the major food groups."
-- Jeff Foxworthy