Any recommendations for a first electric smoker?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by sharkman1021, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. Hello,

    I'm looking into buying my first electric smoker; have used hardwood/charcoal forever.  Any recommendations, or has anyone ever used one of these brands; Bradley, Cajun Injector, or MES 40?  Looked at an MES Pro 30 today, but it felt flimsy, and the door seemed cheap.  Any comments are appreciated.

    Keep on smoking,

  2. troutter

    troutter Fire Starter

    Hey Mike,

    I've been using Masterbuilt Electric smokers for more than 10 years, probably closer to 15 years and I've had good success with them.  Cabela's has the elite on sale through the end of today for $139 which in my opinion is a nice entry level smoker if you just want to get your feet wet with electric smokers.   A buddy of mine bought 2 of these yesterday.  lol

    The smoker you get really will depend on your needs.  What will you be smoking, will you want to cold smoke.  Does it get down below freezing in the winter where you are at, if so I would recommend something that is insulated like the Masterbuilt or Bradly.

    The one thing that has always held me back from purchasing a Brady is the fact that you have to use their wood pucks, so you are always at their mercy, where if you own a Masterbuilt you can just pluck a dead branch from your apple tree if you're in a pinch for chips, plus more retailers carry the basic wood chips, but maybe this isn't a concern for you.

    The final decision is obviously up to you.  My recommendation is pretty simple,  figure out what your needs are and then purchase accordingly.

    Good Luck finding the perfect smoker.

  3. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★


    Besides those you listed above, check out the Smokin-it (SI) line of smokers. Very solid, super insulated, and all stainless steel in/out.  The model 3 sold out a couple of weeks back and should be in stock in a week or two.  You can read about them here at SMF or at the Smokin-it website.  Another line to look at is Cookshack and SmokinTex.  Both are solid, but cost more than the Smokin-it line, which cost more than those you listed.

    The SI Facebook page has a store section which can also save some money.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2014
  4. Thanks for the reply. I saw the Smokin It and liked them. Glad to hear the 3 is still being made.
  5. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

  6. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What I like about these threads where someone has asked for opinions for the best starter electric smoker is how we all have our favorites; the two most popular being the Masterbuilt and the Smokin-It. Each camp swears by the smoker they own and I find it both interesting and educational. I own a MES 30 Gen 1 and I think it's the best ever but then I read how the Smokin-It owners feel the same way about their smokers and that's how I learn more about that brand. I'm sure the guys with charcoal and stick burners out there feel the same way about their rigs.

    And that's what's so cool about being in the smoking community: we all have the same goal of producing great Q but we take different roads to get there. And it's literally all good.
  7. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    daRricksta hit the nail on the head. Most folks know what I own and yet I try to post positive things about several smoker brands, but I will also post the negative. I do endorse the SI line over what I actually own simply because many potential buyers simply cannot afford a CS. I also will endorse the CS line over all others because it is American made and it's digital controller it tight and rock solid; never had a glitch.  But it does come at a high cost.  It is difficult to kick the tires so to speak when the only options to what one can see in person at a retail store is on-line only.  So relating experience is important.  I get many PMs asking for more detail on a brand.  If I have experience, I give it; if not I state I have no hands on knowledge.  Have to be honest, and never malicious whether in a PM or an open post for all to see. We all belong to the same club.  Smoking. 
    daricksta likes this.
  8. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    I have been using a MES 40 gen 1 for going on 4 years. It has worked well for me thus far. It does have it's drawbacks but turns out great Q once you learn it's quirks. I do like the looks of the SMOKIN-IT smokers and their quality. I might consider one if I thought I could live with the 250 degree max temperature. For doing poultry I like a little higher temp then that. Whichever one you decide on get the biggest one you can afford.
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Like Red Dog, I have an MES 40 Gen #1, and I bought mine over 4 years ago.

    It has been working like a champ the whole time!

  10. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    The GEN 1 seems to be the reliable one in the MES stable. And a higher temp is always a plus. For the money spent, I cannot fathom why any company would not put out a smoker that is capable of hitting 350/375, or higher for baking, as well as the crisping of skin, during the holidays an extra 'oven' would be really nice.   250 is indeed the max not only on SI but also SmokinTex. My smoker will hit 300, but since I do not smoke poultry, I rarely stray from 225/235 area.  But,  If CS offered an upgrade element and board for the controller that would take it to375/425, at a reasonable cost, I would jump on it just for that second oven capability. 
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2014
  11. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I often thought about that myself:

    I know very little about electric, but I wonder if one could safely make an affordable electric smoker that could go to 375°/425°, and still be able to plug it into a normal 120V outlet?

    Our kitchen ovens are all 220V, and personally I wouldn't have any use for a 220°V smoker.

    If it could be made as a 120V, how much would it cost to be able to get that hot, safely? As well as the MES 40 is insulated, the top half of the right side of mine, and the right side of the top get pretty hot on the outside with the inside temp only being 275°.

    Just my thoughts.

    Maybe someone with electrical knowledge can comment.

  12. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    Even though my MES has a max of 270 when smoking outdoors in the summer it will go up as high as 285 according to my Mav thermometer. I always run it at max when doing turkey or chicken and although I wouldn't call the skin crispy it is at least bite through and not leathery. It would be nice to get to baking temps.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2014
  13. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    If a company can build a deep fryer, or a skillet that hist 375 or higher and works on 120 V, then there should be no problem with a smoker going that high.  Unless the size of the smoker is prohibitive; they are considerably larger than a fryer or skillet.  Might have to be fully digital to ramp up slowly to temps over 300 to avoid tripping circuits or melting wires.  Even a small smoker has a lot of area to heat.   Still.................
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2014
  14. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    Bear, yes I would be concerned about the foam insulation on the MES at higher temps. Something like the Smokin-it with fiberglass insulation might handle it better.
  15. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    I had thoughts of building a smoker out of one of the larger convection toaster ovens using a external smoke generator like the smoke daddy.
  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I had one of them before I had my AMNS and my AMNPS. I consider it a Creosote Creator, as do most who tried them.

    There is a small handful who think they're great.

  17. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    You may be right Bear, I also use the AMNPS and love it. But, physics is physics and it is a law of physics that matter can not be created or destroyed. Burning Tod's pellets, whether in a smoke daddy or AMNPS both result in creosote. If you are burning the same thing at the same rate it will create the same by products in the smoke.  After just a couple of smokes in my mail box mod I have some deposits inside my box. I'm sure the rest is going into my smoker. If you ran that same smoke through a 1/2 inch tube you would see more deposits giving the impression of more creosote. Don't get me wrong. I am not knocking Tod's products. I use them and love them. But I don't think it would work inside an inclosed convection oven.
  18. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I agree---You would have to have the AMNPS in something like a mailbox to use the smoke in something small & sealed, like a convection oven.

    I only mentioned the above because I don't like to see a lot of others waste their money. The biggest waste of $100 in my almost 66 years of life was buying a Big Kahuna.

  19. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks, Old Sarge. And I agree: when I can afford it I buy American but for the most part those products are financially out of reach for me.
  20. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I got real lucky with a scratch and dent (appeared new to me) and used our tax refund.  Otherwise I would not have been able to swing it. 

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