How Does an Electric Smoker Work

Updated on March 6, 2023

Do you want to add extra taste to your taste and own an electric smoker? Here the most common question you will ask as a newbie is how does an electric smoker work because of new and complex technology? It will be easy once you learn it properly. In this article, I will share all details about the working of an electric smoker. However, before getting into the working process directly, you should know what it is and its parts for better understanding.

What is An Electric Smoker?

An electric smoker is a device that gives your meat, vegetables, and fish a smoky taste. This outdoor device has a complex yet easy-to-do process, as you don’t have to burn wood, coal, or propane with an electric smoker. Instead, it uses electric rods to heat food with a smokey taste. Owning an electric smoker can be a wise decision if you love food.

Components of An Electric Smoker

The construction of an electric smoker is quite simple. Here are some major parts and their working for better understanding.

  • Heating Element

This is the answer to how does an electric smoker work as it uses a heating element to cook your food. The heating rods placed at the bottom of the smoker are responsible for heating up the space and giving you tasty food. The box is like an oven, and the heating element is the heat source.

  • Firebox/ Woodchip Tray

A firebox is compulsory to get a smokey taste. The chip box carries wood, and burning them adds flavor to the food. Without this part, an electric smoker is nothing. However, due to this part, you cannot use this product indoors, and it requires an open space for convenience.

  • Food Racks

A grill covers the top of the electric smoker. Here you have to place your food directly as this is the proper palace to get the best heat. These things can not cross the grill and stay on top, so you have to use a skillet for small vegetables.

  • Water Pan

This is a crucial component to control heat and keep the device at the right temperature for a long time. You can locate it under the chip box. Also, the water turns into steam because of the high temperature, which ultimately assists in cooking food quickly. However, an electric smoker and water is a lethal combination and requires extra care while handling.

  • Thermostat/ Rheostat

A smoker possesses a rheostat and thermostat to ensure controlled temperature and keep heat in balance. This is also an essential component because you cannot cook food evenly without this. To cook a specific food type, you need the particular heat range you set. Once the smoker reaches that level, the thermostat turns the heat off to maintain the temperature. These parts keep heat inside, and insulated walls also assist here.

  • Control Panel

This is the most important feature to give you complete control and precision while cooking. With an electric smoker, you get a digital control panel that lets you predefine the temperature according to food requirements. Also, you can adjust the timer to turn it off and keep the food away from burning incidents.

How does an electric smoker work?

The working mechanism of an electric smoker is quite similar to an oven and a toaster. It uses heated rods to create a hot environment to cook food. Also, the air circulates within the chamber to provide even cooking. You have to put the food over the tray and then let the created heat cook it for you. Moreover, with the help of the control panel, you can set the temperature, which gives you complete control.

Furthermore, this product should give a smokey taste to your food; you have to burn wooden chips in the given tray. The tray is located under the grill to provide the best smoke. However, this wood is here just to give a smokey aroma to your food and not for heating purposes. Also, a water tray keeps the temperature at its best and saves you from burning incidents.

How Does an Electric Smoker Work to Cook?

An electric smoker has a heating element at the bottom to generate heat to cook food. You can notice it under the drip tray. The electricity makes these metal rods hot, and this heat moves to the top to cook food. These upward-moving heat waves carry the aroma of wood chips and give your food that classic taste. Moreover, the water pan under the wood chips tray ensures meat cooking without drying it. This is an ideal option for domestic use because of its easy handling.

How to Control the Level of Smoke?

No doubt, smoke makes your food delicious, but it still has some limits, as extra smoke can ruin your food. Therefore, you must control your smoke level according to food taste requirements. If your smoker has an adjustable vent, you can use it directly to get good results. This is the best way to keep the smoke level on point.

However, if you don’t have this feature in your electric smoker, try to control it through a temperature panel. For this, try to keep the heat at the lowest, ultimately reducing smoke penetration. Don’t ignore this point, as extra smoke can make your food non-edible. Also, try to buy a smoker with a vent to reduce extra smoke and moisture.

Is an Electric Smoker Economical or Energy Energy-Efficient?

Unfortunately, an electric smoker is not an economical option because of its power source. If you want to cook your food in this smoker, you have to leave it inside for fair 2-3 hours with a power source on. The consumption of electricity for this time is an expensive option. The regular smoker is suitable for people who want something economical. However, suppose you can bear this load and want convenience. In that case, electric smokers are ideal for getting tasty food without doing much.

Does an Electric Smoker Need Seasoning?

If you do this, it will make the cleaning process easier later. This method is not for every time. You just have to do this after purchasing it and before the first use. For this, apply cooking oil all over the smoker and add wood chips to the tray. Lastly, turn on the smoker for an hour without any food. The seasoning removes the chemicals coated over the metal and makes it safe for cooking.

Most people prefer to do this for 2-3 hours, which is downright waste of time and electricity. A fair one hour is enough to get rid of harmful chemicals. During the process, you will experience a foul smell which is completely normal. If you can smell the same scent even after an hour, keep it on for more than 30 minutes or till you stop smelling that ammonia smell.


Do you put the meat directly on the rack in an electric smoker?

The answer changes with the size of the meat. If it can sit perfectly on the grill without falling in the wood tray, you can put it directly on it. However, for small-sized meat pieces, you can use a skillet as it cooks the food without any falling and burning incidents.

Can I use aluminum foil in my electric smoker?

Yes, you can use aluminum to wrap food or the grill. By using this, you can get more tender meat. It also reduces cooking time. Moreover, it keeps your smoker from cleaning because it covers the grill perfectly. However, it is still not an ideal option because it gives your food a metallic taste, and nutrition soaks it that ultimately dangerous for the human body.

Which is better: an electric smoker or a regular smoker?

Yes, an electric smoker is more convenient than a regular smoker. You don’t have to burn fuel, coal, or wood with an electric one. Also, it gives you control over temperature and cooking time. Due to all these reasons, an electric smoker is a good option.

Do you need wood chips for an electric smoker?

The answer is yes, but the use of wood chips is entirely different in an electric smoker. The regular smoker uses wood as a fuel source to generate heat and cook food. In contrast, an electric smoker uses wood chips to give the food a smoky flavor.

Do you use water in an electric smoker?

An electric smoker has a water pan to maintain the temperature. Also, it boosts the cooking process because it converts into steam. However, it still needs extra care because mishandling can put things at risk.

The Bottom Line

Now you know how does an electric smoker work and everything that you should know to use an electric smoker effectively. Having an electric smoker can be a perk because you can get tasty food without the hassle of burning wood or coal. However, due to an electric appliance, handle it with great care to avoid any mishap. Buy one for yourself and enjoy smokey food at home.

Leave a Comment