SMOKING FOR THE FIRST TIME #masterbuilt
How to Use an Electric Smoker
If you’re interested in smoking your own meat at home, an electric smoker is definitely the way to go. Unlike traditional charcoal smokers, which have to be monitored constantly, electric smokers make it possible to slow-cook meats without checking on them constantly. Just season the item you’re smoking, choose your preferred time and temperature settings, and let the smoker take care of the rest. Your meat will be smoked to perfection within a few hours.
Setting up Your Smoker
Season your electric smoker if it’s your first time using it.“Seasoning” an electric smoker involves running it while it’s empty to eliminate dust, odors, and solvent residue left over from the manufacturing process. First, rub each of the smoker’s interior surfaces, including the racks, with cooking oil (any variety will do). Then, turn it on and let it run for 2-3 hours at 250–275 °F (121–135 °C).
- After seasoning your electric smoker, turn it off, open the door or hood, and allow it to cool off completely before using it or handling any of its components.
- Different smokers will have slightly different seasoning procedures. Some newer models don’t need to be seasoned at all. Be sure to follow the specific instructions outlined in your smoker’s user manual.
Turn on the smoker.Hit the power button on the front side of the smoker to activate it. This will put your smoker into standby mode—it won’t actually begin preheating until you’ve programmed it to your desired time and temperature settings.
- Don’t forget to make sure that your smoker is plugged in, and that there’s nothing obstructing the power cord. If it comes unplugged while in operation, you’ll have wasted not only hours but pounds of good meat.
Add the recommended amount of wood chips to the built-in chip tray.On most models, the chip tray is located on the lower right side of the machine. Pull out the tray and pack it with your chips of choice. Once it’s full, slide it back in and turn the handle counterclockwise to dump the chips onto the internal heating element.
- A good rule of thumb is to use about 4 cups (600 g) of chips for every 3-5 hours of smoking you plan on doing. This means you may have to replenish the chip tray at regular intervals.
- Always use hardwood chips in your smoker, such as mesquite, apple, pecan, birch, or hickory. Soft woods like fir and pine burn fast and tend to produce unappetizing flavors.
Preheat the smoker to 200–225 °F (93–107 °C).If your smoker features a digital control panel, press the up and down arrows to increase or decrease the temperature as needed. For smokers with manual temperature knobs, turn the knob until the indicator points to your preferred temperature setting. Allow up to 30-45 minutes for your smoker to finish preheating.
- For most meats, 200–225 °F (93–107 °C) is considered the ideal smoking temperature. However, the type of meat you’re smoking can influence your temperature settings.
- Read the guidelines provided with your smoker to learn more about suggested smoking temperatures.
Place a full container of water at the bottom of the smoking chamber.Once your smoker has finished preheating, fill the small metal cup included with your machine with hot water and slide it into its designated slot at the bottom of the smoker. If your smoker doesn’t have a separate slot for the water cup, simply set it on the floor of the chamber. The steam created as the water evaporates will keep your meat moist.
- Using hot instead of cold or room temperature water helps to ensure that the smoker remains at the optimal temperature.
- Be careful putting the water cup inside your smoker, as it will be extremely hot.
- If you like, you can add apple juice, wine, or beer, or another flavorful liquid to your smoker’s water cup to infuse your meats with complex aromatic notes.
Smoking Your Meat to Perfection
Season your meat with a dry rub or marinade to add flavor.Now that your smoker is ready to go, it’s time to prepare the items you’ll be cooking. Coat heavier cuts like ribs, brisket, and pork shoulders with an even layer of dry rub spices for maximum flavor. Soak more delicate meats such as chicken, fish, and chops overnight in your favorite acid-based marinade.
- You can find dozens of tantalizing homemade dry rub and marinade recipes with a quick Internet search.
- While seasoning isn’t an essential step, it’s a simple way to enhance the natural flavor of your meat.
Place your meat directly on the racks inside the smoking chamber.Use a long-handled meat spatula or tongs to transfer the meat to the smoking racks safely. Arrange the meat according to how the racks are set up—situate the biggest items on the wide lower racks and save smaller ones for the upper racks.
- You may need to insert heavy cuts of meat like pork butts or racks of ribs by hand. Be sure to pull on a thick pair of barbecuing gloves before doing so to protect yourself from burns.
- To prevent the smoke from escaping, try to only leave the door open for as short a time as possible.
Close and lock the door of the smoker.Swing the door shut, then flip the latch beside the handle to secure it. Locking the door will prevent it from swinging open accidentally and letting out heat or smoke.
Smoke your items for the length of time called for by the recipe.This could be 2-8 hours, depending on the type of meat you’re working with. Refer to the recipe you’re following for a more accurate sense of how long your items will need to smoke. In the meantime, avoid opening your smoker unless it’s to top off the water bowl.
- Unlike other cooking methods, smoking is all about patience.
Add more wood chips or water as needed while your meat smokes.A good way to know whether you need more wood or water is to watch the smoke. As soon as it stops, open the smoking chamber and refill the water cup to the top. Then, load another 1-4 cups (150-600 g) of wood chips into the chip tray, slide it back into place, and resume smoking.
- Keep in mind that just because the chip tray is empty doesn’t necessarily mean you should replenish it. In fact, many barbecue aficionados insist that most meats can be smoked satisfactorily using a single tray.
- Over-smoking your meat can cause it to come out tasting burnt and unpleasant.
Allow your meat to rest for 15-20 minutes before eating.When your items are fully cooked, turn off the smoker, unlock the door, and carefully remove them from the racks. Set them aside on a separate surface to cool. Once the meat has reached a safe temperature, serve it up and watch it disappear!
- Use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of your items and see if they’re ready to come out.
- If your meat isn’t quite done, it may need to go back on the smoker for 1-2 hours, depending on the recommended internal temperature.
QuestionOur smoker heats up, but there's no smoke. The chips just get hot. The food comes out cooked, but with no smoky flavor. Help!wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerThere could be an issue preventing the heating element from getting as hot as it needs to be to incinerate the wood chips. Have it checked out by a technician. If you've got a faulty smoker that's under warranty, you might even be able to get it replaced at no charge.Thanks!
QuestionCan I put my meat on a cookie sheet instead of directly on the racks in my smoker?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerIt's not recommended. Electric smokers are designed in such as way as to allow you to cook the meat directly on the racks. Hours and hours in intense, direct heat and thick smoke could cause cookie sheets or other pieces of cookware to warp or become permanently discolored.Thanks!
QuestionIs the smoker supposed to shut off when it reaches the desired temperature?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerNo--it needs to stay at a constant temperature the entire time you're smoking. Otherwise, the wood chips would eventually cool down and stop producing smoke.Thanks!
QuestionCan you cook pre-smoked meat in a smoker?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerI suppose you could, but I'm not sure why you'd want to, unless it's only briefly to add extra smokey notes.Thanks!
QuestionHow often do you have to preseason a Masterbuilt electric smoker?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerYou should only have to preseason a smoker once. After that, it will simply be a matter of using and cleaning it regularly.Thanks!
QuestionAfter adding the meat, how long will it take to reach 225 degrees?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerMost smokers heat up in 30-45 minutes. However, you should only add your meat after the smoker has finished preheating. Otherwise, you'll throw off your cooking time.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use liquid smoke in an electric smoker?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerIt's not recommended. And there's no need to when you've got the real deal!Thanks!
QuestionDoes the wood need to be wet if the unit has a separate water dish?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerNo. The water dish is there to provide moisture, while the smoke is generated straight from the dry hardwood chips.Thanks!
QuestionCan I put my water and chips in when I preheat?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis is not recommended. You're going to open it to put the meat in, and get "smoked" in the face.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use beer in the water receptacle?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
Can you cook hamburgers on an electric smoker or other meat
Can you cook chicken with a pork roast? Does it add time to cooking when you do multiple items at once?
- Before you take your smoker on its maiden voyage, take a minute to familiarize yourself with its basic design and operation.
- If you’ve never attempted to smoke your own meats before, consider purchasing an inexpensive smoke to gain a little experience before investing in a top-of-the-line model.
- Browse various culinary websites and cookbooks for mouthwatering home-smoked meat recipes.
- Always operate your smoker outdoors or in a well-ventilated area, such as an open garage. Never use your smoker inside, as this can result in an accumulation of highly poisonous carbon monoxide.
- Make sure you set up your smoker in a safe spot away from any flammable objects to minimize the risk of fire and other mishaps.
Things You'll Need
Dry rub, marinade, or other seasonings of choice
Sources and Citations
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