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temperature little chief smoker

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

i have a luhr jensen little chief top load electric smoker, in most of the recipes is see for meat ant chicken it say to put the heat at 230 degrees . my question is i cant set the temp. its just plug it in, in the manual it says it will raise the internal temp. to 165 degrees is this enough to be safe ? what do you reccomend im new to smoking, thanks

post #2 of 9

The little and big chief smokers aren't very good . Some people do seem to think they do a good job of smoking fish and / or jerky but other than that they just don't get hot enough . I bought one years ago and everything I did in it I had to finish in the oven . With that big chief I was trying to sell it and never got a buyer even when I got down to $10 so at that point I put it on my street corner with a free sign and it still sat out there for a couple days , where normally anything I put out there is gone in about 15 minutes . I almost have doubts it will raise the temp of whatever is in there to 165 internal , I would think the interior of the smoker probably gets 165 . I know some people build an insulated box for them or do this and that so they reach a higher temp. When I replaced my big chief I got a propane cabinet type smoker , don't remember the brand , it worked pretty good but I did have a few times when the flame would go out , which is frustrating . Then my dad saw I was using it just inside the overhead door of my pole barn ( I had the door open ) and he thought it was a fire hazard . So I then bought an electric 30" masterbuilt smoker and then found this forum . I would suggest chalk the big chief up as a loss unless you just want to do jerky or fish . If you want to stick with electric a lot of people on here use the masterbuilt 30" or the newer 40" , I'm not real sure what folks are using for propane or charcoal . Hopefully someone else will post some suggestions .

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

thanks for the input, it just confirms my gut feelings on these issues , i think i will be out looking for a new smoker this weekend,

post #4 of 9

I had the little chief many years ago and I wouldn't trust a chicken or large cuts of meat in them. To be safe you must get the meat up to a safe internal temperature within 4 hours. That just isn't going to happen in a smoker that only gets to 165. I have a vertical propane smoker and a Masterbuilt 40" electric. The propane will get hotter than the electric but I think the electric is safer and much less hassle to operate. If your not into doing large quantities the 30" Masterbuilt is a good choice and it will hold a lot more than the little chief. The Masterbuilt will get up to 275 degrees and will still go down low enough to do fish and jerky. As far as the less expensive electrics go I would get a Brinkman bullet type smoker over the Little Chief. 

post #5 of 9

chiefsmoke, evening....  I have the Totem smoker which is similar to yours....  They are a great smoker for fish, bacon, sausage....  anything that has cure #1 in it for long smokes that do not meet the  40-140 in 4 hour rule......   You can take a pork butt and put it in cure, salt and spices (after splitting in half at the blade), cure in the refer for 8-10 days, and hang it in the smoke for 8 hours to make Buck Board Bacon....    Do not have to worry about final temp as you will be frying it anyway....  If the temp gets too warm, open the top a little for a draft....  I think they have smoked more food than any other smoker on the market today....   And it was good smoked food too.... I ate a lot of fish out of mine....  Dave  

post #6 of 9

This is off topic but does anyone know the element watts?


I need one for the vertical side of my pit to augment the pellet system.

post #7 of 9

I believe the little chief's element is 250 watts and the big chief is 450.


Speaking of.....I have a big chief and I'm really not that excited with it, thus I foresee replacing it with something else.  The suggestions of going Brinkman or Masterbuilt might be the way to go.

post #8 of 9

I cooked s lot of fish and jerky on mine but thats about the extent of what I could smoke on this smoker. Id still like to get another one but saving up for a mes 40.

post #9 of 9

I had a couple of the Little Chief models back in the 70's  - they changed some of the instruction booklets over the years but the basic function of this smoker was to slow smoke fish and small game like Quail,  Grouse , jerky , and other foods that did not require a higher heat source . It was not designed to handle larger cuts of meat , and full sized poultry like turkeys or ducks .  They lasted forever by the way . Comparing it to a modern smoker / cooker with temp control , cooking timer , bluetooth, and temp probes - there is no challenge.  With  no internet in those days to learn the correct techniques for smoking any type of fish or fowl one had to go with a trial and error method . With that said - if you learned how to properly brine , smoke , and prepare  wild and domestic game and fish on these very simple units  you would be way, way , ahead of anyone plopping down a few hundred bucks at lowes and starting from scratch . 


  The heat source on all the "Chief" models could be modified using a marine hot plate with a propane source but the thin alum walls did not hold the heat very well . They came with either the lightbulb shaped heat element or the u-shaped paper clip looking element .  The heat source easily burned the "flavor" dust and refilling the pans every hour or so would complete the smoking process.   They were sold in tackle shops as part of Jensen's tackle line - and the retail was around 49.95 .  I saw in this thread where someone mentioned they rec. using the smoker in the cardboard box it came in .  Don't remember that but they did have an instruction for using the little chief (top loader) as a cold smoker .  The big Chief was a front loader and i don't recall back then they offered the larger model with top loading option . All the "Chief" models were prone to wind and temperature variations . They did recommend using it in a open but sheltered area.   Taking the racks out of the top placing 2  2x4 on the top opening placing the smoking racks on top of the wood strips and cold smoking things like cheese , nuts , etc. the cover was of course the cardboard box it came in and fit nicely over the smoking racks  . I used mine for years in Maine for smoked brook trout , striped bass,  landlocked salmon , and partridge along with cold smoking cheese .  These days in Florida I have used and owned the bradleys, MES, custom smokers , electric and wood, they all have their pluses and minuses .  Not quite sure I could handle hooking my smoker up to my cell phone yet 

but might be something to look into ....DK

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