How to Use an Electric Smoker – 6 Easy Steps


It’s time for an awesome cookout, so don’t let doubts about how to use an electric smoker get in the way! Take a look at the best tips for setting up yours in this article!

Here’s how to use an electric smoker:

  1. Season the smoker
  2. Preheat the smoker
  3. Fill the water tray
  4. Add wood chips to the pan
  5. Cook your meat
  6. Cool and clean the smoker
electric smoker

Also Read >> What Is the Best Electric Smoker

Now you’ve seen the steps broken down; I’m sure you’d agree that cooking with an electric smoker is simple. Even still, how about we take a closer look at some of these electric smoker setup steps? Make sure you check them out in the following guide!

1. Season the Smoker (for Brand New Smokers)

When considering how to use an electric smoker for the first time, one of the things we often forget to do is to season it.

Now that may seem a little odd. But, don’t worry, as to do so you won’t have to sprinkle your smoker all over with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Seasoning a smoker is vital since it will remove unwanted plastic-y smell (for being brand new) and it also protects from elements – making your electric smoker last longer.

Here’s what you should do to season your smoker.

  1. Rub the interior of the smoker with cooking oil
  2. Run the smoker for 2 to 3 hours
  3. Turn the smoker off, open it, and allow it to cool before using it

Read the detailed guide here: Guide: Seasoning an Electric Smoker

2. Preheat the Smoker

Are you preparing a mouth-watering cookout, electric smoker style? Then make sure you preheat your smoker for the best results.

Hickory Wood Chips

Not sure how to? Here are all the instructions you need.

  1. Place one cup of wood chips into the wood chip tray
  2. Turn the smoker on. Keep it on at 392 to 437 degrees Fahrenheit (200 – 225 degrees Celsius) for 30 to 45 minutes.

3.   Fill the Water Tray

Next, fill the water tray with hot water. Filling it with hot water will ensure that your smoker maintains its toasty temperature ready for the meat.

4.   Add Wood Chips to the Pan

Once the water tray has been filled, you can add wood chips to the pan. You should add one cup of wood chips at this point before putting your meat in the smoker.

5.   Cook Your Meat

I know it feels like a long journey, but you’ve made it!

It’s time to add the meat to the smoker!

BBQ Ribs in Electric Smoker

Keep your meat cooking in the smoker until it is nice and tender. This could take anywhere between 3 and 8 hours.

Keep an eye on the smoker as it runs. If you stop seeing it smoke, this could be an indication that the water tray needs refilling. Add an additional 1 to 4 cups of wood chips to the smoker during the cooking process.

And then you’re done! You can enjoy your juicy smoked meat with your family and friends!

6. Cool and Clean the Smoker

No matter what type of smoker you have, the easiest and best time to clean it is straight after you’ve finished using it. By doing it straight away, you will not allow time for the grease to dry onto the smoker.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Turn the smoker off at the power button
  2. Unplug the smoker and open it. Allow it to cool completely.
  3. Wipe the smoker down with a sudsy, damp cloth
  4. Allow it to dry thoroughly

Read the detailed guide: How to Clean an Electric Smoker With Mold

Do You Need To Soak Wood Chips for an Electric Smoker?

To soak or not to soak, that is the question.

There is a massive debate in the smoker community about whether or not you should soak your wood chips before using them. But no one has really been able to come up with a solid answer.

Some say that soaking them for an hour or two before putting them in the smoker helps it to smoke better. Some don’t think it makes a difference. I’ll leave it up to you to try and decide!

How Often Do You Add Wood Chips to an Electric Smoker?

Adding the right amount of wood chips to your smoker is important. Too many chips and your meat will taste bitter and unpleasant. Too few and it won’t have any taste at all. So what is the general rule of thumb for adding wood chips to a smoker?

  • Add chips according to your taste. If you like a more intense smokey flavor in your meat, add more. If you’re not so keen on that flavor, use less.
  • Consult your manual. Every electric smoker is different and has a different size wood chip tray. Your user manual should tell you how long it will take for your smoker to burn up the wood chips in the tray.
  • It is recommended you smoke only for 4 to 6 hours. After that time has passed, don’t add any more chips to the smoker. Remove the wood tray if the chips in it haven’t burnt up. (Save them for next time!)

Do I Need To Add Water to My Electric Smoker?

Adding water to an electric smoker is a crucial step to tasty meat. The water in the tray keeps your meat moist as it smokes. This stops it from drying out.

If you keep your water tray topped up while smoking, there should be nothing stopping you from achieving succulent, fall-off-the-bone results.

Do You Preheat Electric Smoker With Wood Chips?

Preheating your electric smoker with wood chips is another important step to achieving the best smoking results. Preheating the smoker should take between 30 to 45 minutes.

But before you do so, add a cup of wood chips to the wood chip tray. This will ensure that your meat starts off in the smokey, flavorsome, toasty environment it needs to create a show-stopping taste.


Getting ready for a cookout with the family is not quite so easy if you’re not sure how to use an electric smoker. But with the right steps behind you such as seasoning and preheating the smoker and a fantastic pack of wood chips by your side, you can’t go wrong!

I’m sure this article has shown you ways in which you can prepare your electric smoker ready for use. If it has been helpful, don’t forget to check out some of our other free guides!

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Tyler Lachance is a cookout professional. His expertise on cooking grilled food, creating marinades, formulating sauces and matching his food with the perfect drink is unrivaled.

Born and raised in a family that has a long history of cookout, he has treated this activity as a part of his culture and who he is.