Why a Backyard Meat Smoker Just Might Change Your Life

Editor's note: From time to time, we like to feature the voices of ManMade readers on the site. We love hearing what you're up to, what you're making, and how you stay creative. When ManMade reader Scott Huntington wrote in to share how he hadn't fired up his grill once for the entire summer and it revolutionized his cooking, I asked him to share his experience. 

My life changed forever this summer. It was the summer I didn’t grill a single time. It was also the summer I made the best meats I’ve ever had, all because of a simple backyard ssmoker. It took my cooking level from “yeah I’ll eat that” to “I need to share this with the world.” And it couldn’t be easier.       

Why I Fell in Love with an Electric Smoker

Electric smokers are ideal when cooking outdoors. With a digital timer and temperature controls, as well as a separate area to add your wood for flavoring, the electric smoker has about the difficulty level of a crockpot. You simply turn on it let it work, adding extra woodchips occasionally. 
While most cooks view grilling as an art form to master over time, the smoker lets you get creative in the preparation, and leaves less to worry about when doing the actual cooking. There are also fewer inherent dangers when cooking with electricity when compared to propane, charcoal or wood. 

Here are a few reasons why I’ve ditched the grill and gone straight to the smoker: 

  • Cooking on a traditional grill takes a lot of your time and attention. Burgers, steaks, chops, vegetables, and sausages all need to be checked and moved about flipped to ensure consistency.  Smokers, on the other hand, do not require constant monitoring. In some cases, you can even prepare your dinner the night before and let it smoke overnight. Just add woodchips every so often, or even better, get the slow-smoker attachment that can last 6 hours without you touching a thing. 
  • Grills are messy. Not only does the metal grill itself require cleaning, but the process of grilling leaves residue in its immediate area. Although electric smokers still produce a little residue —  depending on how much wood you use to flavor the meat — the device itself is easier to clean than the typical grill. 
  • It’s so easy to look like an expert chef. Due to the low temperature of smoking food, it’s impossible to burn your food. So far everything I’ve made has been fall-off-the-bone tender, with incredible flavor. All of a sudden, I’m the “chef” of the family, despite having no experience with this just six months ago. 

The options are endless. I started with the basics: wings, pulled pork, chops, whole chickens, ribs, and salmon. Then I got into non-meats, like corn-on-the-cob, mac-and-cheese, potatoes, and even pizza. And now I’m started to work on cold-smoking, which means I can do cheeses, nuts, olives, and spices. And I still haven’t even hit some of the big ones, like brisket, whole turkeys, and jerky. I can’t stress enough just how phenomenal each thing has turned out, too. 
The grill does beat the smoker for classic burgers and dogs, I’ll give it that. And it’s a lot quicker, too. But I can honestly say that this summer I haven’t missed the grill one bit. 

Making the Switch to Electric

If you want to embrace a simpler way of cooking without sacrificing flavor, taste or variety, it’s hard to beat a modern electric smoker. With so many affordable options on the market today — some of which include numerous bells and whistles that make your cooking life a little bit easier — your taste buds will thank you. 

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger from Harrisburg, PA. He is also quite obviously obsessed with his new hobby of smoking meats and other food. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington