Love the taste and texture of slowly smoked food, but don’t love babysitting your charcoal or propane smoker all day? One of these best digital electric smokers of 2018 could very well make you an addict to smoking – smoking food, that is. They are pretty fantastic.
There are different options and brands of digital electric smokers – choosing the right one can help you enjoy the process and results all the more. I’ll show you what you need to consider when making your choice – after you’ll see my top picks for the year.
I’m sure by the time you’re done reading you’ll see a digital electric smoker that’s just right for you.
How To Choose A Digital Electric Smoker
Digital electric smokers options are perfect choices for the beginner or the pro. A digital control panel gives you compete control of the temperature, timing, and smoke. This is great as you can decide how much smoke you want, how long your food is going to be smoked for and at what temperature. No hassles of charcoal or propane, no babysitting the heat source. Digital electric smokers truly are smoking made easy. Set and forget.
But are all digital smokers made the same? What sets apart one from the other?
To be honest with you, it’s mainly the “bells and whistles” – the fancy extras, as well as the quality of the build (seal around the door, insulation of the walls to keep the heat out) that makes one more impressive than the other.
All of the entries on this list can be considered good quality options with heavy duty construction. What follows is a list of optional features, the “fancy extras”: You’ll need to decide what features are important for you, but here is my take.
- Wheels: Wheels are really important… you’ll miss them if you chose a unit without them (unless you purchase a stand that comes with them, of course). If the smoker has wheels and a handle for gripping, it can be moved without too much trouble using the attached handle. You’ll love being able to position your smoker in convenient place depending on the wind and elements, and tucking it away again into storage when you’re finished. These units are really heavy and awkward to carry, so again, wheels are pretty important.
- Built In Temperature Probe: a temperature probe connected to your device is important as part of the beauty of a digital control panel is that it takes the guesswork out of your smoking job. Having a probe tell you exactly where your food is at all times is very handy. That being said, if your unit doesn’t have a built in thermometer, it’s not the end of the world – you can use your own meat thermometers quite easily.
- A glass door: a matter of preference. If you enjoy seeing your food cooking, you’ll like it. But some people find them difficult to clean, and don’t enjoy looking at a messy window.
- Bluetooth capabilities or remote control: If you like hands-off cooking yet still have control and knowledge of exactly what’s going on, you’ll love this!
- Internal lights: See your food better when light is poor.
- Blue LED control panel lighting: Blue LED lighting is easy to view even in bright sunlight – no need to shade the control panel to read the numbers.
- Exterior or interior access to the drip pan, wood chip pan, and water tray: Every time you open the door during a cook, you lose temperature and smoke. To refill wood chips or water during a long smoke, an exterior access is great.
- Repositionable cooking grates: The ability to move the grates up and down based on the height of your meat is important.
- Cold smoking: Very few models can cold smoke at official temperatures, but many can with a cold smoke adaptor (purchased separately). If you hope to cold smoke with your new unit, be sure to purchase one that can do so, or get an adapter.
- Fast Smoke: A fast smoke option means that your smoker can create smoke from the wood chips faster… not smoke meat faster.
- An included stand: Many smokers are heavy 30″ or 40″ boxes that basically sit on the ground. Several come with a heavy-duty stand (wheels included on the stand), which is great if you don’t like bending over to access the smoker.
See more information about using digital electric smokers at the end of this article: Electric Smokers FAQs
Now let’s take a look at my top picks for 2018:
Best Digital Electric Smokers 2018
When it comes to outdoor smokers for your backyard, this particular unit by Masterbuilt (20077515) is pretty much at the top of the game – it’s currently Amazon’s best seller for ANY outdoor smoker, digital or not (and that includes propane, charcoal or other fuel sources)!
There’s a lot to love with this easy-to-use smoker:
- There are 4 chrome coated adjustable racks with a total of 730 sq inches of cooking space – you can cook an amazing amount of food all at once. 12 chickens, anyone? 4 racks of ribs all at once, why not? And that’s just the 30″ model… there’s a 40″ option as well that can handle even more.
- The digital control panel is displayed in blue LED – it’s a small difference from other models, but it really helps with being able to read temperatures and time in full sunlight
- It comes with a handy RF remote control that lets you easily monitor time, thermostat, and meat temperature, and control the internal lights and overall power of the machine (on/off).
- The unit has built in rear wheels and a handle – so you can easily move this unit around.
- The high output LED internal lights let you get a view of your food cooking anytime you want, and there’s a handy built-in meat probe that lets you know exactly how the food is doing.
- The 800 watt heating element, the full foam insulation, the locking door, and the full liner all work together to keep the heat and smoke inside, consistently, just how you want it.
- The drip pan is accessed easily from the front (a new design).
- The patented wood loading system lets you add chips without even opening the smoker door (doing so causes temperature change and smoke loss), and lets you control just how much or little smoke you’d like.
This is a fairly priced digital electric smoker – and definitely the top recommendation on my list. There are literally thousands of positive reviews on this product at Amazon – click through to see for yourself what others are saying about this Masterbuilt
Company: Masterbuilt | Rating: 4.1 / 5 stars | Price: $$
We’ve already seen one smoker by Masterbuilt, but there are others of the same brand that are also fantastic – this model here, for example. No glass door is the first obvious difference, and black steel instead of stainless steel.
Here are some of the top features:
- You can set and maintain a temperature between 100 and 275 degrees inside and know it’ll be consistent heat and consistent smoke.
- It has 721 sq inches of cooking space, divided by 4 chrome-coated racks – click through to the product page (link via image) to see suggested food capacity.
- You can set your desired temperature and timing on the digital control panel (which has the blue LED display that’s so great in direct sunlight).
- The door locks and the inner liner seals to keep the heat and smoke nicely inside while cooking (with a top air damper for smoke control).
- There’s a handy redesigned drip deflector and front access drip pan that will allow you an easier job cleaning it out after use
- Like other new Masterbuilt models, there is a side wood chip loading system included so that you don’t have to open the door during cooking to add wood chips.
This is your more basic model in the Masterbuilt line – compared to the one above, it has no wheels, no remote control, and no internal lights. But the important parts that make it a fabulous digital electric smoker, one that makes it easy to cook up food like a pro, are still all there. If you’re looking for something simple and straightforward, something with plenty of positive reviews, this one is worth looking at.
Company: Masterbuilt | Rating: 4.1 / 5 stars | Price: $
For the 3rd top digital electric smoker, we have yet another Masterbuilt option. This is what I’d consider their low budget entry – it’s a basic model and a very affordable price point. No bells and whistles, just a good quality machine.
If that’s what you’re looking for, here are more details about this option:
- The unit is fully insulated with a really good locking seal around the door, keeping the smoke where you want it (yes, it has an adjustable air damper for smoke control too).
- There’s a top mounted digital control panel so you can set the smoker to exactly the temperature you want and see exactly the temperature that’s currently inside!
- You get still get the patented side wood chip loading system that has been so well received by reviewers – it’s great to be able to leave the heat and smoke nicely inside when you reload the wood chips.
- There are 4 chrome coated smoking racks (it’s a 30″ model), so you can cook up a LOT of food!
Although this unit does not come with wheels, blue LED lights on the control panel, internal lights, or a remote control, if the lack of those isn’t such a big deal to you, this model will create food JUST as fantastic as our top recommendation above. Masterbuilt is known for it’s great quality smokers, and this model is a good choice if you’re looking to save some money.
Company: Smoke Hollow | Rating: 4 / 5 stars | Price: $$
Smoke Hollow enters this best of list with a digital electric smoker that looks a bit different from the first 3 options – it’s on legs! Having the unit lifted off of the ground is actually a really nice feature as you don’t have to bend down carrying a heavy piece of meat or manoeuvre a rack in and out of the smoker.
If that appeals to you, here’s more about this unit:
- You can select this model in black steel or stainless steel per your preference, and both options come with the tempered glass viewing window that lets you catch an easy glimpse of your feast-in-progress.
- The LED display panel lets you set cooking time and temperature with just a push of the buttons, and turn it off and on easily.
- You load wood chips externally on a tray, which is really easy to do while keeping the heat and smoke inside the smoker.
- You can adjust the 3 chrome plated cooking grids to whatever heights you want – this is a great feature if you like to cook up a variety of foods.
- The heating element is 1500 watts – nearly double that of the Masterbuilt options above which are mostly 800 watt. It’ll keep the 3 cubic ft cooking area at perfect temperature no problem, even in a range of outdoor weather conditions.
This is a fairly priced smoker too. I wouldn’t say it’s ultra affordable or anything like that but it’s definitely not overly expensive. Also, there are nearly a hundreds of reviews on Amazon and if you want to see what other customers are saying about the Smoke Hollow 3016DEW, click below:
Company: Masterbuilt | Rating: 3.9 / 5 stars | Price: $$$
Masterbuilt has yet another of the “best digital electric smokers of 2018” – this particular entry is their “top of the line” model. It’s a “smart” smoker, equipped with Bluetooth technology that will let you control your smoker with your phone or tablet. How easy can it get??
If you’re looking a smoker with the bells and whistles, this one also comes with:
- Everything that the other Masterbuilt digital smokers have too (including an 800 watt heating element for even temperature cooking up to 275 degrees, 4 chrome coated smoking racks, their patented side wood chip loading system, high output interior LED lights)
- It has a built in meat probe thermometer so you can see the current the temperature of your meat (on your smart phone and on the digital display)
- You can move the smoker around fairly easily as it DOES come with wheels (back wheels) and a handle
- The blue LED digital control panel display even has a removable sun shade
- You can smoke a TON of food… ok, 80lbs is their suggested max. You can certainly feed a crowd with 80lbs.
- The control panel is designed to take up as little room on TOP of the smoker as possible to give you the max prep space.
- The water pan, wood chip tray, drip pan/grease pan… they are all easily removed for simple clean up.
Because this is a higher end model, it’s going to cost a bit more than the other entries on this list. If you’re looking for something with the bells and whistles, and you’re ok spending a bit more to get exactly what you want, then I think you’ll be really happy with the Masterbuilt 20072115 smoker.
Company: Bradley Smoker | Rating: 3.7 / 5 stars | Price: $$$$
The next smoker here is by Bradley Smoker. The Jim Beam includes all of the features of the original, well-loved Bradley electric smoker, with the additional bonus of a digital control panel.
It is a product a lot of people will love, especially those of you who like long smoke jobs. The Jim Beam smoker has an automated feeder for wood briquettes that can keep the smoke generating for up to 8 or 9 hours without your touching it! Truly “set and forget”.
If that has your attention, here’s more about it:
- It has the fun Jim Beam endorsement and logo on the front (if you don’t like it, but do like the smoker, apparently the logo is removable).
- It comes with a 500 watt stainless steel heating bar and a 125 watt burner, able to keep a controlled temperature up to 280 degrees F.
- With the digital control panel, you can control the timing and amount of the smoke – apart from the heat/temperature of the unit – this is a feature that those of you who are smoker enthusiasts will definitely appreciate.
- Reviewers find that the smoke that comes from the wood briquettes seems to be more pure and consistent than that which comes from wood chips or chunks. Although the briquettes are admittedly a more expensive fuel than chips, you may find it worth the extra cost on taste alone.
- The unit stays surprisingly cool on the outside, even after hours of smoking, so you don’t have to worry about your family members accidently burning themselves should they touch it.
Nearly 70% of reviewers scored the Jim Beam digital electric smoker 5 full stars – meaning that the majority of people are thoroughly happy with this unit. And knowing that it comes with a 1 year warranty makes a purchase of this smoker a bit more comfortable. It’s not a cheap unit, but if you’re looking for something truly “set and forget”, this is a quality choice.
Company: Dyna Glo | Rating: 3.7 / 5 stars | Price: $
This next product by Dyna-Glo is a decent entry-level model that may catch your attention due to the lower price. It’s similar in cooking size to the other 30″ models in our list, and will produce some great smoked food, it just doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of the more expensive models.
Here’s what you do get with the Dyna-Glo Digital Electric Smoker:
- 4 cooking grates for food and an extra for the water pan
- A digital thermostat with push button controls – you can adjust the temperature up to 300 degrees (that’s hotter than the majority of the other options), and a meat probe thermometer built into right into the unit.
- A pipe through the back of the smoker that can be used to allow excess smoke to escape (it’s not a controllable vent, however)
- A manufacturer’s warranty (the burner element for 3 years, and all other parts for 1 year – except the water bowl and wood chip box – warranted to be free of defects for 90 days).
- A very sturdy unit – and heavy at over 60lbs. It’s made with cold rolled steel on the exterior and stainless steel on the interior, and an insulated double-walled firebox.
Because this is a fairly basic model, you will find it fairly affordable as well. If you are looking to save a few dollars on a smoker but still want the ease of a digital unit over an analog or unit you need to control manually, this is a good choice.
Company: Char-Broil | Rating: 3.8 / 5 stars | Price: $$
This next entry is the best one that Char-Broil has to offer. Char-Broil is a well known brand (especially if you’re looking for charcoal or gas grills), and this digital smoker has a lot going for it too.
Here are some of its features:
- It is designed for longer cooks – the smoke box is a bigger than normal size, able to feed smoke for 4-7 hours, and it has a large water tray that’s easy to refill… just slide it in and out (without your needing to open the door, letting smoke and heat out).
- The Char-Broil Deluxe has several of the nice little extras that make any digital smoker stand out from the others, such as blue LED control panel display, adjustable smoking racks (it has 4), wheels and a handle for easy moving, and a remote control.
- You get a removable (and therefore easily washable) integrated food thermometer so you can have a reliable read of your cooking meal – as well as a glass door to be able to physically see what’s going on at all times. When your meat gets up to your desired temperature, you get alerted, and the machine switches itself into warming mode – how great is that?
- The door has a smoke-tight seal and a locking latch, keeping the smoke and heat nicely inside the unit and your food on track.
For the price you pay on this unit, you definitely get a lot. Everything is automated and you can sit back and thoroughly enjoy the food “worked all day” to cook. It’s a good model – not ALL of the reviews are completely favorable, but more than half of the hundreds of reviews give it a full 5 stars. Check it out for yourself.
Company: Smoke Hollow | Rating: 3.7 / 5 stars | Price: $$$
Smoke Hollow has already been featured on this best digital electric smokers list, but this final entry here is a higher end model, with Bluetooth technology (meaning you can operate the controls on your smart device after downloading the app). It’s a slick looking model, available in red or stainless, and it’ll be a fun feature item on your patio.
The Smoke Tronix is the only model in this list that that gives you 3 smoke options: cold smoke, hot smoke, and fast smoke. Other models require a special cold smoke adapter, but this one is built right in. And you’ll love the fast smoke setting as your wood chips will be smoking away in just 15 minutes!
Here are some other features you’ll like:
- It’s one of the larger models in this list, 40″ high with 1,035 square inches of cooking space (30″ models give approx. 730 square inches)
- It comes with many of the special features we’ve seen above in various models: an integrated meat probe, LED interior lights, a large digital control panel, an automatic “off” when the timer runs out, and adjustable grate heights.
- The smoker comes with a heavy duty stand that lets your food be more at your height. The stand also has wheels so you can move it around easily.
- There are dual heat elements to give a more even, faster cooking.
- The design of the unit includes water and drip trays that you can access from outside, so that temperature and smoke loss are minimal, and a large capacity wood chip drawer.
- The door latch is adjustable so you can tighten it if necessary.
Another positive going for the Smoke Tronix is that it comes with a really great manual, and a 1 year warranty. Should anything go wrong, Smoke Hollow apparently has great customer service (local operators). It’s not a cheap model, but you certainly get a LOT with this high end digital smoker. Click through to see what others are saying about it:
Company: Z Grills | Rating: 4.7 / 5 stars | Price: $$$$
This entry is a bit of a different option for you. It may not be quite what you’re looking for, but perhaps some of you will find it an interesting solution – a grill and smoker in one.
A pellet grill has an automated feeder and burns wood pellets (food grade) for fuel. You place your meat on the grates and the smoke and heat is contained in the grill. You can set your desired temperature and the feeder releases wood pellets at the rate needed to maintain the heat. Read more here: How pellet grill smokers work.
Pellet grills are the up and comers in fabulous backyard cooking options – this particular model by Z Grills is highly rated, and comes with digital controls that let you use it much like a traditional digital electric smoker. There are many other pellet grills with digital control panels as well as this one — see my post on “The Best Pellet Grill Smokers of 2018” for my top recommendations.
Digital Electric Smokers FAQs
In this section I’m going to go over many of the commonly asked questions about digital electric smokers. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below!
1. I’ve never used a digital electric smoker before. Do you have any tips?
Besides those in the Q&As below, here is a video with 10 excellent tips for smokers, done by a pro smoker. Enjoy!
2. Could I use a smoker indoors?
You can technically use a smoker indoors as there’s not combustion of fuels for heating – it is much like an electric stove in that sense, not like a gas grill. HOWEVER, you will get a HUGE amount of smoke in your house or garage, so if you aren’t extremely well ventilated, the smell of smoke will completely take over. These units give off a lot of smoke.
3. Can I use a smoker outdoors in the cold winter?
Many people do use their electric smokers throughout the year. If you do so, you’ll want to add time to compensate for heat loss (so for example, a pork butt during winter will take 12-13 hrs, summer 9-10 hrs). Any temperature lower than say, 40 degrees, you may want to wrap it with a thick moving blanket to get it to stay at temperature (don’t cover the vent).
4. Can I cold smoke with an electric smoker?
Some models include a cold smoke option, but most require the additional purchase of a cold smoke adaptor.
5. Are digital smokers challenging to use?
Honestly, they are incredibly easy to use. The learning factor is recipes and length of time to smoke your food, rather than how to operate it. There are thousands of recipes and tips online (youtube as well).
6. Why should I get a digital model?
Punching in a desired temperature and time of cook takes a lot of the guesswork out of smoking meat.
7. What kind of wood chips should I use, if I want flavor?
Hickory chips are mild and pair well with most meats. Apple wood pairs well with chicken and pork. If you are pairing with beef, mesquite has a bit of a stronger smoke flavor and is the perfect. When smoking fish, a good choice would be alder.
8. Do I need to do anything during the cook?
You’ll need to make sure your wood chips and water pan remain adequately filled. (Having an exterior access to these is a great feature as you don’t have to open the doors to check on them. Opening doors = heat and smoke loss.)
9. How do I keep it clean?
Smoking especially meats can be rather messy. To minimize, if possible put your items in a disposable aluminium pan or place a foil sheet over the drip deflector, water pan, and grease pan to catch the mess – WAY easier to just toss the foil than to scrub the interior.
The pan contains all the drippings and makes clean up a breeze. Also, wrap the drip deflector, water pan, and grease pan in foil! This is a huge help. Then instead of scrubbing after use, just toss the foil. I do not clean the walls of the smoker, as you want them seasoned. To easily clean the glass, use Weber’s grill cleaner and rinse after with water. It makes clean up easy!
10. How do you clean the glass in the smoker door?
The easiest way is to wipe it down during a cook when the condensation has built up on the glass. A quick wipe or two will not spoil your cook. Others have suggested using a cleaning product like Weber’s grill cleaner and then rinsing with water (both after the unit cools).
11. Is there a “burn in process” that I need to do before my first cook?
The Burn In Process is basically “seasoning” your smoker. It can make a lot of rather foul smelling, chemically smoke, smoke that you don’t want in your food. So don’t skip this! The instructions for each individual model will be in your manual.
12. What are benefits of Digital Electric Smokers over Charcoal or Propane Smokers?
It’s much more of a “set and forget” smoking experience, and less of a “babysitting” experience. The food is just as delicious and the whole process is so much easier.
13. I want a LOT of smoke… do you have any tips? Should I soak the chips?
Wrapping the chips perforated aluminum foil has helped some people. I don’t recommend soaking the chips. Dry wood makes much nicer, drier smoke – remember, water produces steam, not smoke. It’ll also make your wood chip box rust quicker.
14. What foods can you smoke?
You can smoke a huge variety of foods including meats, pork, poultry, wild game, fish, cheeses… even vegetables!
Enjoy smoking your food in your new smoker!
I hope this overview of the best digital electric smokers 2018 has to offer has been helpful for you! There was a range of options and prices, and likely within the selection there was one that was perfect for you and your needs. Enjoy the smoking process, and of course, eat well!
Feel free to drop me feedback, comments, or questions below and I’ll do my best to answer them.