Learning to smoke meat can be a daunting prospect.
With long cooking times, the need for precise temperature control, and so many philosophies for how to get the best cook, you may feel completely overwhelmed as a beginner.
On top of all that, the cuts of meat that are typically smoked are usually enormous, and so it seems as though smoking is something that should be left for huge parties of people, not for a small family gathering.
Of course, where there is a will, there is a way.
For the casual barbecuer, the Old Smokey Electric Smoker is an appealing, entry-level option.
This no-frills model can be used in just about any residential setting, and it features roughly 225 square inches of cooking space — just enough for a family of four.
Better yet, this option is uncomplicated, and so most beginners should have no trouble getting the hang of barbecuing with this smoker.
Old Smokey Electric Smoker Key Features
This Smoker is Electric: This means that you can cook in just about any residential setting, including those that have strict fire regulations.
Electricity and wood chips are less expensive than charcoal or gas, which means that running this smoker can cost much less than its non-electric counterparts.
Smoker has a Simple Design: In fact, simplicity is one of the major benefits of this smoker, as the lack of gadgets and whistles makes this model easy to use.
In this way, most beginners will be able to get the hang of using this smoker, especially if they follow the extensive guides available from Old Smokey’s website.
It is a completely closed system for a “set it and forget it” barbecue: The principle of this unique system is that you should have absolutely no reason to open the smoker once you get started.
Unlike other smokers, the design of this smoker is such that all of the smoke that is generated by the wood chips remains inside the cylinder. Since none of this smoke escapes, there is no reason to add more wood chips.
More importantly, this closed lid traps in all of the heat, helping you to maintain the best temperature range for your cook. Not only that, it traps in all of the moisture, thereby giving you an extremely moist product.
All in all, this system is supposed to maintain itself for the duration of the cook so that all you have to do is set it once.
- Incredibly lightweight – Can take along on trips.
- Meat stays equally moist.
- Can be used in areas with strict fire restrictions.
- May have to experiment to control the amount of smoke.
- Will need to buy a thermometer to properly gauge internal temperature.
- Finish may start to bubble and peel relatively early on
Old Smokey Electric Smoker Detailed Review
Let’s take a more detailed look at this quality smoker, to see how we feel about some key features.
Design and Build Quality
In spite of being made almost entirely from steel, the Old Smokey Electric Smoker is incredibly lightweight, coming in at only 23 pounds. It has an extremely classic, no frills design that can be appealing for a lot of barbecuers.
Essentially, the smoker is just a barrel with a 1,250 watt heating element at the bottom and two racks for putting your food. The unique closure, an entirely flat lid, is meant to not only trap in smoke but to evenly distribute the condensation across both of the racks as it builds up.
Unfortunately, there are several flaws with the design of this smoker. Like its competitors, the smoker can be prone to rust because it is made from steel. However, the system to lock moisture inside means that the metal body is exposed to much more moisture than its competitors, and so it will likely rust much more quickly than another model in a different brand.
Furthermore, the thin metal offers little protection for you as you are cooking, so you must be extra careful to not burn yourself with this smoker. You may also find that it is easy to dent the body if you move it around frequently, but as this option is better for living at-home, you probably won’t have too many issues with denting the sides.
Finally, there are several screws for holding the two cooking racks on the interior of the smoker that will most likely get in your way when you need to reach down into the smoker to add more wood chips or to clean out ash after the cook. You will want to pay attention when you are pulling your arm out of the smoker’s body, as it is very easy to snag your shirt sleeve (or worse, your arm!) on these pieces.
Ease of Assembly
This Old Smokey Electric Smoker has an uncomplicated assembly procedure. It comes with only ten parts and some hardware to screw these parts together, so it is possible to put everything together if you are alone.
The instruction guide is rather basic, however, and it does not include a picture guide.
Ease of Use
To make up for all its design flaws, this Old Smokey smoker is incredibly painless to use. You will simply plug the smoker in and set the temperature on the dial to start.
However, there are only three heat settings (low, medium and high), and no thermometer is included. This means that you will need to set up your own internal thermometer from a third party so that you can guarantee that you are cooking at the right temperature.
Quality of the Cook
For a moist barbecue without a crust, this smoker does a great job. The closed system of the appliance allows for thorough, indirectly cooked barbecue with a distinct smokey flavor. This is especially useful for cooking at high temperatures to make things like chicken.
However, you will not be able to get a nice crust on your barbecue if you use this smoker. This is because the crust comes from direct heating in a somewhat dry chamber – both of which this closed-system smoker cannot provide.
You will probably also want to watch out for cooking things that need a very particular temperature like brisket, as you cannot easily control the internal temperature with the closed system.
Ease of Cleanup
Cleanup can be somewhat difficult for this smoker, especially compared to other smokers that have doors to access the ash or trays to gather the debris.
There are two ways to thoroughly clean the interior of this model: spray the interior with a pressurized water hose, or heat vinegar and lemon in the wood chip box with the lid closed for a couple of hours and then scrape out the grease with a wire brush.
In any case, cleanup is especially important with this smoker because of its tendency to rust.
Again, you’ll want to watch out for the screws holding up the racks on the interior. They tend to get in the way when you are cleaning, and you can scrape your arm very badly if you aren’t paying close enough of attention.
Coming in at the lower end of the price range and having a very oversimplified design, this smoker does not have a lot to offer as far as the price per value is concerned.
In this case, paying the low price means paying for a product that has several key flaws. These flaws include the thin metal body that can be easily dented and the safety hazard presented by several screws on the interior of the metal chamber.
Nonetheless, as long as you pay attention to how you use it, the Old Smokey Electric Smoker can be a good option for people who do not want to become experts and just need a smoker that will get the job done at a reasonable price.
Despite its flaws, it is easy to use, and it can be used in just about any residential setting because it is electric.
What are The Alternatives?
If after reading this Old Smokey electric smoker review you feel it’s not for you, here are a few top alternatives you might want to take a look at instead:
Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker
A simple design that cranks out awesome barbecue, the Smokey Mountain has the quality and warranty you expect from Weber in an affordable package.
An all time favorite among beginners and pros alike.
Check out our review here.
Bradley Smokers Original Smoker
The Bradley Original Smoker is a great option for those living in an apartment or condo with fire restrictions, or those that want a simple and automated smoking process.
Can also do both hot and cold smoking!
Check out our review here.
Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker
For those on a smaller budget looking for a very simple smoker, the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker may be right for you.
Check out our review here.
Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
An alternative to the Masterbuilt 40 Digital Electric Smoker, the Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker also offers a ton of cooking space along with a remote control for simple hands-off smoking.
Check out our review here.