Barbecuing and grilling are fine methods of food preparation, but if you want really want to get maximum flavor from meat, poultry and fish, you should try preparing them in a meat smoker. Be warned, though, that the flavor is quite addictive. The best electric smokers will help you get that flavor with maximum convenience.
Smokers are available for various kinds of fuel: charcoal, gas and wood; however, the electric versions are becoming more popular for those who want to enjoy foods prepared in this fashion and yet not have to tend to them often while cooking. It is much easier to control the temperature in them because they have a thermostat that keeps temperature fluctuations to a minimum. Enthusiasts also enjoy them because they are a cleaner burn and make less mess.
Keep in mind that these cookers are not for purists, but for those who want the best of both worlds. Purists would argue that it is impossible to get the true smoke taste without using a charcoal or wood smoker. On the other hand, many who use those as well as electrics claim there is little or no difference in flavor. In that case, convenience wins.
When you are ready to choose the best electric smoker for you, the first thing to consider is the price range. They start at around $100 and can cost over $1000. The difference depends upon the durability, features, size, quality and the name brand. If you are planning on really getting into smoking meats, it might not be best to purchase the least expensive unit.
Less expensive units require that the user feed the wood or charcoal into them periodically. Consider a unit that has a place on the side to feed the wood. The more expensive units will automatically feed the fuel into the smoker every 20 minutes or so. This makes operation almost hands free once everything is set up, and it eliminates forgetting to check the fuel.
After you determine a price range, decide how big the smoker should be. A single person or a couple might only need one large enough to cook a couple of pieces of meat, a small chicken or a small rack of ribs. Keep in mind, though, that an occasion may occur in which company is coming for dinner.
If storage is not an issue, a little more money can buy a medium-sized unit that can hold much more food. These are around 18 inches tall. The largest units generally have multiple cooking racks. Many of them are only 30 inches tall and less than 20 inches in length and width. This gives them a reasonably small footprint, yet they are large enough to cook for a crowd.
Other things to check when shopping for the best electric smokers include:
* Sturdiness. If any parts of the unit feel flimsy, they will probably break, dent or wear out soon.
* Durability. A unit that will be exposed to the weather may rust. It might pay off to get a stainless steel model or one that guarantees against rust.
* Craftsmanship. Confirm how well made the unit is. Move parts around and check how sturdy they are. Check connections, hinges and seals to see how well put together they are and if they are made of quality parts.
Knowing how to choose the best electric smokers will help you make the right decision when it comes time to buy one. If you are new to this, also do some research on smoking meats before making a purchase. That will help you determine which features you want.