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Electric smoker

I can already hear the howls from the purists (I did my share of howling about these over 20+ years ago) but I am giving very serious thought on getting a Cookshack electric smoker. The biggest reason is convenience. For their size, they are pricey. But they are USA made and have a 2 year warranty. Any Chowhounds have one? What do you think about it and my decision to go electric. Criticism is always welcome. Many thanks in advance.

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  1. Have had a Cookshack Smokette for 8 years. I live in MT and can smoke year round because of the excellent insulation. It is truly set and forget. I throw a butt in the oven early, go fish all day, then come home to a Manhattan then onto pulled pork sammies washed down with a couple beers. Excellent

    Pulled pork, excellent
    Whole chickens, horrible doesn't get hot enough and skin turns to rubber.
    Smoking chicken breast for pasta with smoked chicken, mushrooms, peas and cream sauce excellent.
    Smoke salmon excellent
    Ribs, B+ if you smoke in cooker then finish on BBQ grill.
    Brisket, I can't cook brisket to save my life...
    Cookshack doesn't produce a smoke ring, although some say if you put a briquette in with the wood it will produce one. Tried it, no smoke ring for me.

    All in all it has been a great smoker, they also have a good forum and excellent customer service.

    9 Replies
    1. re: rcspott

      rcspott, Thanks. I watched a couple of videos last week regarding brisket from electric smokers and it looked to me at though the cook was struggling to shred them. I understand about the smoke ring and get one with my wood smoker. Don't know if the ring adds flavor or not but if I pull the trigger I will miss it. Thanks for the input.

      I have just finished reading smoker posts from years gone by as below. Plenty of good info to digest.

      1. re: dcrb

        I have had a Bradley electric smoker for 5 years (actually on my second one now). Smoing fish is effortless (mostly salmon and tuna). Smoked turkey legs and poultry come out great. Brisket is consistently excellent, but I always finish it in the oven (smoke for about 1hour/lb, then in the oven tightly wrapped in foil to finish).

        1. re: ferret

          ferret, I have gone the oven route a couple of times myself just to keep things warm until serving. Actually it is a warming drawer. It works well and no moisture is lost nor the flavor. But I have not yet smoked and finished off in the oven. Is this your preference or has it become a necessity?

          1. re: dcrb

            It's a preference. I can do it in the smoker overnight for a fully cooked brisket but we get a solid result finishing in the oven.

          2. re: ferret

            I have a Bradley as well and my experience is virtually identical. I now always smoke for about four hours and finish large pieces in the oven. For briskets and shoulders, I let the Bradley go overnight. No fiddling or maintenance necessary.

            I also have two WSMs and a Summit gas grill with a smoker box (which actually works quite well) but I now use the Bradley almost exclusively because it is so easy and foolproof.

        2. re: rcspott

          I don't understand how it's possible that any kind of smoker could NOT produce a smoke ring. Isn't it just a function of exposure to woodsmoke over time? If you're using the same wood that you would in a non-electric smoker, why would one produce a ring and not the other?

          1. re: monopod

            The ring is also caused by the combustion of fuel, charcoal is the best , gas not so much.
            Edit-I was wrong about propane, but hasn't been my experience

            I cut and pasted this from amazingribs.com

            Smoke ring. A bright pink ribbon of meat just below the surface that is usually about 1/8 inch thick. It turns pink when myoglobin in the meat contacts nitrogen dioxide formed during combustion when nitrogen, oxygen, and moisture combine. Using green wood is believed to enhance the smoke ring because it has more moisture and it produces more nitrogen dioxide. Propane cookers with wood chips/chunks/pellets and a water pan are especially good at producing a smoke ring, shown at right.

            1. re: monopod

              The reason is that you use a very small amount of wood for smoke... its heat is delivered by an electric element. Enough wood in a cook for smoke flavor (a couple golf-ball-size chunks), but not enough for a ring.

            2. re: rcspott

              I agree fully with rcspott. I used a smokette for about 5 years. made like a tank. Reliable. Easy. But... for me not really enough smoke flavor, and I like a ring. Also, can't get a dry bark very well. Its great for pulled pork, ok for ribs, not so good but OK for brisket. I did end up getting rid of mine, and now I smoke on three Webers: a 22", a 27", and a 22" that I fitted with an aftermarket ring that turns it into a big bullet. I like the results better. But if you cant go with the charcoal, wood, and tending the units, do it.

            3. Do It - the Cookshack is a nice unit, worth the money. My "other" smoker is an electric based claypot (Alton Brown), and I can always achieve the smoke ring. There's still some fiddling with an electric (mop, chips/pellets, flip), though nowhere near as intense as a fire-based unit

              1. I had the same problem late last year, getting fed up with the constant fiddling with the heat on my off-set charcoal unit. I decided to go electric but after crossing most units off the list because of the price/size(high/small) the units that were left had bad reviews from a reliability stand point. I ended up getting a propane unit that is HUGE . I had heard gassers always run hot, but after getting on the units user forums there where lots of tips on how to get them run run low, the advice all worked and I can get it to run 150f to 375f. I get my smoke ring and it takes about 15min to get the temp steady but then it holds it forever.

                http://www.basspro.com/Masterbuilt-Ex...

                By all means go with the electric just make sure you read the reviews first, and paying more for a unit like the cookshak or bradley is well spent

                4 Replies
                1. re: Dave5440

                  Dave5440, I have been reading reviews, forums and calling the companies to talk to folks. All have been useful. Cookshack right now has a couple of refurb units that were used and returned, parts replaced and carry a full warranty. They have two of the Amerique units, one at $1100 and the other at $1200+. They refer to them as scratch n dent. But I passed on the used, preferring to go new. I looked into the gas fired smokers and since I want to let it run even while at work, decided on the electric. I'm pretty sure I am going with the Amerique from either the Charcoal store or BBQ Fans. Of all the dealers, they have been most helpful. Just waiting for a couple of replies and the tax refund.

                  1. re: dcrb

                    Fully understand wanting electric, but like I said I can't spend that kind of money on a smoker. My first smoker was a cheap electric and I did get a smoke ring with it with just wet wood chips but it was a cheap one with no insulation and the element stayed on the entire time with the chip pan resting on the element so the chips would more than smolder. The gasser that I have now I leave it running in garage for the day and overnight and I really never worried about it.

                    I checked Cookshacks web-site and they are fine looking units and look very well built, I'm sure you will be very happy with it. I found this site to be very informative, loaded with how too's and recipes and the members very friendly.

                    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/

                    1. re: Dave5440

                      Dave5440, Thanks. I will check it out. It is a lot of money. I can spend a lot less and get one with a 90 day warranty, or a similar amount for a clone from China that gets good reviews. Basically it has come down to buying American when possible and this is possible. I am re-evaluating my needs versus my wants, so the cash outlay may come down drastically.
                      I appreciate all the input and comments I have received and thank you all.

                      1. re: Dave5440

                        Well, I ordered a refurbished, scratch and dent from Cookshack, the Amerique, yesterday. Should arrive next week. CS doesn't advertise scratch and dent but they do occasionally get a return and sell it off for a lot less money and with a new machine warranty. I did find another US manufacturer, PS Seasonings that makes a residential unit called the PK 100 in addition to their commercial smokers. Cabella's sells it in black and PS has it in stainless. Just as pricey, but a nice looking unit.

                  2. I have a Cookshack Americue and love it , Ive had it for a number of years and it only takes a little wood 3 to 5 oz to smoke. Some people might not mind getting up 3 times in the middle of the night to add wood to a wood smoker for something like a packer cut brisket that can take 24 hours to smoke but not me. This smoker will make brisket, pulled pork, etc like you were a master smoker, ive even made cold smoked lox , far better than store bought lox. Yes it is expensive but there is a saying, " Long after you've forgotton the price you paid you'll remember the quality"

                    1 Reply
                    1. Many years ago I had a cheap charcoal smoker, it was a PIA. A few years ago I bought a Weber Smokey Mountain. I can put two 8 lb pork butts on it and let them smoke overnight and I never have to get up in the middle of the night to mess with them. If you start late evening you can add more wood just before you go to bed and you have all the smoke you need. I use a method where the hot coals start out in the middle and work their way to the outside, the heat is extremely consistant. I usually have to add a bit more water to the pan in the morning and a few more lumps of coal, but it's really hastle proof.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: mikie

                        Hi mikie, I hear what you are saying. I still use the weber (have to replace the wooden handles) for grilling and some smoking of small quantities. The larger was used for well, larger quantities. I may sell it if the electric work out well or keep it as a back up.

                        1. re: dcrb

                          Good luck with the electric. I attended an all day, bring your own equipment smoking class at the Culinary Institute of Kansas City that was put on by the Midwest BBQ Association, the chefs teaching the class had an electric, along with a very nice charcoal smoker. I don't recall the brands of either but they were both in the price range you were talking about up thread. The chef said for the money the Weber Smokey Mountain was a great way to get into BBQ. As we cooked on our units, they used both the electric and charcoal to demonstrate and then at the end we got to taste what they cooked as well as what we cooked. Since time was a factor, we only did ribs, chicken and a fattie. We made our own rubs for the ribs and chicken from scratch. My son-in-law and I got the award for best ribs. Anyway, the electric they had worked quite well, there was another electric pellet style next to us and it wasn't working really well. Good luck!

                          1. re: mikie

                            Congratulations on your win for best ribs.

                            1. re: dcrb

                              I should also mention that the Chef, who was trained at the Cullinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, and a champion at the American Royal BBQ contest, served up ribs that were absolutely out of this world, the very best I have ever tasted by quite a margin. My ribs pale by comparison The class included lunch and they served pulled pork and briskit that they had smoked the night before the class. Again, this was some of, if not the best I've ever had.