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Electric Smoker: How to Smoke Meat, with Video Reviews and Instructions

Updated on May 19, 2011

BBQ cooking - smoking meat on an electric smoker

Want to learn how to smoke meat on an electric smoker? Electric smokers are wonderful inventions for bbq cooking. You get that smoky taste and aroma without all the bother and trouble of more traditional methods of smoking meat. You also get consistent temperatures and don't have to constantly check the coals or the logs. You can pretty much start the meat and forget it, other than maybe checking the water pan after several hours. You'll find that an electric smoker is super convenient and easy to use, and they produce excellent results!

To get the smoke taste into the meat, you'll need wood or wood chips. You can buy mesquite or hickory chips at most any grocery store, or you can use twigs from peach trees, apple trees, oak trees, or pecan trees. Just soak the twigs or chips for at least an hour. We usually smoke our twigs overnight in water before using them. Before you start the electric smoker, just place the chips or the twigs on the burner at the bottom of the smoker.

If you're smoking two pieces of meat, put the one with the most fat on the top rack, and the leaner cut on the bottom rack. For example, if you're smoking a ham and a turkey at the same time, place the ham on top. That way, as the fat drips out of the pork, it will constantly baste the turkey. Why waste all those wonderful juices when they can help add flavor and moisture to another piece of meat or poultry?

The water pan is key in keeping the meat moist, too, so be sure to fill it. Water works fine, but for extra taste, try apple juice or half water and half juice. The apple juice also helps flavor the meat and is especially good with pork, chicken, and turkey. Some cooks also like to add wine, beer, vinegar, or other fruit juices in with the water in the pan. You might also want to toss in some spices or fresh herbs.

Okay. After the water pan is filled, the wood is on the burner, and the meat is on the racks, start the smoker. Don't worry about careful timing - as long as the water pan has liquid in it, the meat is very forgiving and won't easily dry out. Cook large pieces of meat for about twelve hours, checking the water pan about halfway through cooking. Add more liquid to the pan at that time.

Many people like their meats to be very brown and crispy, with a layer of "bark" on the outside. If want your Boston butt or pork roast to have this crunchy layer, just remove the water pan for the last hour or so of cooking.

Smoking meat on electric smokers is a real time saver for large gatherings like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many electric smokers can handle fifty pounds of meat or more at the time, and that will feed a pretty large crowd. Smoking meat on an electric smoker also frees up your inside oven for all those yummy casseroles and pies. Smokers also make wonderful gifts that will be used year round. Check out the electric smokers listed below!

A cured ham is delicious cooked on a smoker!
A cured ham is delicious cooked on a smoker!

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