PDA

View Full Version : Electric smoker questions


rwalters
09-13-2019, 10:35 AM
I have the opportunity to buy a Cookshack SM160 for 60+% off retail. Was used for one year in a restaurant and has sat idle for the last few years. The smoker works like new. Being that I have been doing more and more large cooks, I have been toying with the idea of adding a larger smoker to my arsenal. I have done a lot of cooking over the years with charcoal/sticks/pellets but have never used an electric smoker. For those of you that have/use an electric smoker, can you help me understand the differences when comparing to the other fuel sources I mentioned above? How would you describe the flavor profile from an electric smoker? Do they produce a good bark? I understand I wonít see a smoke ring, but I am ok with that. I am more curious about flavor profile and good bark formation.

Any and all help is much appreciated! :)

luv2smoke
09-13-2019, 12:47 PM
I have the opportunity to buy a Cookshack SM160 for 60+% off retail. Was used for one year in a restaurant and has sat idle for the last few years. The smoker works like new. Being that I have been doing more and more large cooks, I have been toying with the idea of adding a larger smoker to my arsenal. I have done a lot of cooking over the years with charcoal/sticks/pellets but have never used an electric smoker. For those of you that have/use an electric smoker, can you help me understand the differences when comparing to the other fuel sources I mentioned above? How would you describe the flavor profile from an electric smoker? Do they produce a good bark? I understand I wonít see a smoke ring, but I am ok with that. I am more curious about flavor profile and good bark formation.

Any and all help is much appreciated! :)

I've never owned a cookshack but have had food produced from one. I found the food to be acceptable (good) but still lacked a full BBQ flavor profile that I like. At 60% off retail it would be hard to pass. Personally I would look at some charcoal and wood burning cabinets as you could probably buy a new charcoal and wood burning cabinet with roughly the same capacity for the same price as the used cookshack?

sudsandswine
09-13-2019, 12:54 PM
Due to a lower amount of airflow the bark isnt the same, fairly high humidity environment. I would say an electric smoker produces the least favorite meat for me out of all the different kinds of cookers. Mine wasnt as fancy as a Cookshack but they generally all operate the same way. A "smokey" oven if you will. Eating food from a Mak to food on that may be a little disappointing.

rwalters
09-13-2019, 01:20 PM
Thanks guys... your answers confirmed my suspicions. Think Iíll pass.

SonnyE
09-13-2019, 01:31 PM
Well, that saves me a lot of time. :tape:

rwalters
09-13-2019, 01:39 PM
Well, that saves me a lot of time. :tape:



Would love to hear your thoughts/opinions if youíve used an electric smoker or had food from one... :)

sudsandswine
09-13-2019, 01:43 PM
Thanks guys... your answers confirmed my suspicions. Think Iíll pass.

Thats just my opinion and its worth what ya paid for it :laugh:

rwalters
09-13-2019, 01:55 PM
Thats just my opinion and its worth what ya paid for it :laugh:



Your opinion was hugely appreciated... and the check coming in the mail will be clear evidence of that...[emoji857][emoji857][emoji857]

Bacchus2b
09-13-2019, 02:37 PM
Thanks guys... your answers confirmed my suspicions. Think Iíll pass.

You might want to see if you can cook on it before you make a decision. I had a Cookshack Amerique for seven years, and while I like the food off of my current FEC-100 better, I ate a lot of great Q off of the electric. Ribs and Pork Butts were my favorite things to cook. No smoke ring but great bark on the Pork Butts and you can cook 12 plus butts overnight while sleeping without burning your house down. No comparison between Cookshack and cheap Chinese electric smokers.

- Cookshack's are built like tanks and will last forever if taken care of.
- It's an Insulated cooker with a very moist environment. No need to wrap.
- Made in USA out of stainless steel with spare parts readily available.
- Uses about 2 ounces of wood chunks per cook.

LYU370
09-14-2019, 10:49 AM
Yep, ditto what Bacchus says above. I had a Cookshack SM020, the small cabinet smoker. Put out some great food, no one ever complained. Moist environment, so no need to wrap. That's probably what got me into the habit of never wrapping. Still haven't wrapped even using the FEC or the Big Joe. Also, want to smoke but it's -20 out? No big deal. I gave it to my daughter when I got the FEC.

rwalters
09-14-2019, 12:58 PM
Yep, ditto what Bacchus says above. I had a Cookshack SM020, the small cabinet smoker. Put out some great food, no one ever complained. Moist environment, so no need to wrap. That's probably what got me into the habit of never wrapping. Still haven't wrapped even using the FEC or the Big Joe. Also, want to smoke but it's -20 out? No big deal. I gave it to my daughter when I got the FEC.

Would love you hear your thoughts when comparing your previous SM020 to your FEC. What specifically do you like better about the FEC over the SM?

Bacchus2b
09-14-2019, 01:55 PM
I pulled an old photo to show you what brisket bark off of a Cookshack Electric looks like. I like the red color and smoke ring I get on my FEC, but that's purely a visual thing. I sold my old electric to get into the FEC which has twice as much capacity, but part of me wishes I would have held on to the old electric. It excelled at smoking salmon, making sausages, and cold smoking which all benefit from precise temperature control.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/48732551343_e0a4fecafc_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2hfk4Gt)188 (https://flic.kr/p/2hfk4Gt) by David Miller (https://www.flickr.com/photos/157553636@N06/), on Flickr

https://live.staticflickr.com/4708/39491595485_3ce8b63851_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23aJKtk)Cookshack Smoking (https://flic.kr/p/23aJKtk) by David Miller (https://www.flickr.com/photos/157553636@N06/), on Flickr

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/48732572923_42880fdc70_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2hfkb7x)211 (https://flic.kr/p/2hfkb7x) by David Miller (https://www.flickr.com/photos/157553636@N06/), on Flickr

LYU370
09-14-2019, 03:37 PM
Would love you hear your thoughts when comparing your previous SM020 to your FEC. What specifically do you like better about the FEC over the SM?

The FEC more often than not runs thin blue smoke. Every now and then it falls behind and you get a big pellet dump and a lot of white smoke, but only for a few minutes. The electric the wood smolders more so you have to be careful how many chunks you add. Takes some practice to figure out the sweet spot to get the thin blue.

Since getting the FEC, I think the smoke permeates the meat more. The electric seemed to be more on the surface. Just like any cooker, you have to learn the quirks. If you can get a 160 for a good price, go for it. I'll try to find some old pics to post.

As an FYI, the original Cookshack electrics were built 55-60 years ago to be brisket cookers.

rwalters
09-14-2019, 04:02 PM
The FEC more often than not runs thin blue smoke. Every now and then it falls behind and you get a big pellet dump and a lot of white smoke, but only for a few minutes. The electric the wood smolders more so you have to be careful how many chunks you add. Takes some practice to figure out the sweet spot to get the thin blue.



Since getting the FEC, I think the smoke permeates the meat more. The electric seemed to be more on the surface. Just like any cooker, you have to learn the quirks. If you can get a 160 for a good price, go for it. I'll try to find some old pics to post.



As an FYI, the original Cookshack electrics were built 55-60 years ago to be brisket cookers.



Your comment about the smoke penetrating deeper into the meat on a pellet smoker vs electric surprised me. Iíd have guessed the opposite. Iíd have guessed a heavier/deeper profile... but that would obviously depend on amount of wood used. And from what I have gathered is that even a little to much wood on an electric is icky. Sounds like itís a fine line on an electric whereas thatís never a concern on a pellet.

LYU370
09-14-2019, 04:34 PM
Unless you load up the wood basket, you'll be fine. I tried that once. :shock: Only once, I mean there is this giant wood basket, why wouldn't I fill it up? It's a trap, don't fall for it.

rwalters
09-14-2019, 04:45 PM
Unless you load up the wood basket, you'll be fine. I tried that once. :shock: Only once, I mean there is this giant wood basket, why wouldn't I fill it up? It's a trap, don't fall for it.



But you stick by your statement that the flavor profile is lighter than pellets? That would be a deal breaker as I donít want lighter than pellets. Sorry for questions ad-nauseum... just would hate to regret a purchase like this.

LYU370
09-14-2019, 04:54 PM
No, pellets have a lighter smoke profile. It just seems that to me with the electrics the smoke is more on the surface rather than penetrating further into the meat. I would have no problem eating Q off of a Cookshack electric. I loved my SM020. The 160 was built for restaurants. If you watch some of the Bar Rescue episodes that feature BBQ, all of them are Cookshack electric smokers.

LYU370
09-14-2019, 05:01 PM
I guess what I'm trying to say is that as with any smoker, you have to find the sweet spot. You'll look at recipes, smoke your ribs at temp X for a certain amount of time. No, you need to find what temp your cooker runs at best. My SM020 liked 250-275, that's where I got the best smoke profile, that's where I ran it.

Also, not sure about the big ones, but the smaller ones only go up to 300. I always finished the chicken on the grill. Not a good chicken cooker.

rwalters
09-14-2019, 05:25 PM
I guess what I'm trying to say is that as with any smoker, you have to find the sweet spot. You'll look at recipes, smoke your ribs at temp X for a certain amount of time. No, you need to find what temp your cooker runs at best. My SM020 liked 250-275, that's where I got the best smoke profile, that's where I ran it.

Also, not sure about the big ones, but the smaller ones only go up to 300. I always finished the chicken on the grill. Not a good chicken cooker.



What about evenness of temps from top grate to bottom grate... was there much of a variance?

SonnyE
09-14-2019, 06:18 PM
Would love to hear your thoughts/opinions if youíve used an electric smoker or had food from one... :)

I have two Masterbuilt's. A MES30, and an older MES40 I was given.
Neither hold a candle to what you were looking at. And it appeared you had come to a conclusion. :thumb:

I bought the MES30, tried smoking some Salmon in it, and set upon modifying the heck out of it. I want my Salmon smoked, not cooked.
Now... it is a proper smoker. But a basic heated box, with a "Mailbox Mod" for a pellet tray and 8 feet of aluminum dryer vent tube to condense out any creosote and tars inherent in the smoke, and to cool it.
When I'm cold smoking Salmon or Cured Bacon, I can observe a 2 degree rise between ambient and my smokers internal temperature with no heat added.
An electric smoker is capable of that close of control. But not with the OEM control. I use an external digital control. I will usually set a temperature I want to target, and my control starts at 1į below set point, off at set point.
The drift allows the smokers internal temperature to continue to drop ~4į, and to coast up ~2į above set point.
This was with an ambient of 68į the times I was graphing it.

I use to always build my own smokers. But never gave a lot of thought to the control of it. Just a hot plate, or an element from an electric range wired to a cord and let her run. A #10 can, or an old cast iron frying pan as a chip holder and let it smolder away.
When it stopped smoking, I'd add more chips.
I used a Bradley puck pusher for about 12 years, grafted to the side of an old Brinkman barrel type cooker. But Bradley decided their pucks were worth way more than I was willing to pay for ashes.
So I went looking for alternatives. And pellets are a very good alternative. Everybody sells pellets around me. Fill an Amazen Tray with pellets and I get 11 hours of blue smoke without touching it.
If I dissolve the pellets into sawdust, dry that, and use sawdust in the same tray, I get 6 hours of cool smoke.
Apple Pellets dissolved down makes some of the best tasting Apple wood Smoked Bacon our families ever tasted. 15 of us ate 3.5 pounds of my Bacon Christmas day. I kept cookin it until they stopped eating it.

But when I do want to cook and smoke at the same time, I set the temperature, and light up 1,2, or 3 tray rows in the tray. (I usually just fill it regardless, it holds 15 ounces of pellets)
I enjoy the ambiance of the smoke smell after the food is done and eaten.
More often, I will cold or warm smoke meat, then finish cooking it on the grill. My Salmon I like to cure, cold smoke, package with a little dill, and vacuum seal. Then I can Sous Vide it, or fast boil it, and serve with some rice. (I suppose you could fry or grill it if you'd like.)

But that is how I smoke food. And I'll smoke anything. Salt, Butter, Nuts, Cheese, Cream Cheese, anything I think might be improved with a smoke flavoring.
For 50 years I used Hickory. Since converting to Pellets I'm liking Apple Wood.
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks... :wink::laugh:

LYU370
09-14-2019, 06:24 PM
What about evenness of temps from top grate to bottom grate... was there much of a variance?

The SM020 had two shelves, back left corner of the bottom shelf ran a little hotter. Otherwise, pretty even.

LYU370
09-14-2019, 06:41 PM
You can check the Cookshack forums. Still quite a few people that frequent it, but it's been pretty quiet since the old moderator left. Smokin Okie, he used to be on here as well. And Cookshack changed the forum software for the worse. Looks more like a blog than a forum. But you'll see a very passionate group of people who love their Cookshack's. Awesome fish smoker BTW.

https://forum.cookshack.com/

Bacchus2b
09-14-2019, 09:13 PM
But you stick by your statement that the flavor profile is lighter than pellets? That would be a deal breaker as I donít want lighter than pellets. Sorry for questions ad-nauseum... just would hate to regret a purchase like this.

Smoke flavor on Electric Smokers is much more pronounced than Pellets, once my electric smoker is well seasoned I would not use any wood chunks at all for Poultry, the cooker was enough.

If you want to move up in capacity and not give up on flavor/color that are used to in your MAK, look for a used FEC-100. Cookshack sells "used" units that have been on display at a food show or used once in a class for 20% or more off of retail.

Eight, 16 pound Turkeys here!

https://live.staticflickr.com/1851/43867165334_7636d151fe_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/29QoFWN)IMG_0182 (https://flic.kr/p/29QoFWN) by David Miller (https://www.flickr.com/photos/157553636@N06/), on

Nice Smoke Ring on dry rub ribs here.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/40847957953_3d31199f62_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/25eAsM8)Dry Rub Rib Sliced 5-19 (https://flic.kr/p/25eAsM8) by David Miller (https://www.flickr.com/photos/157553636@N06/), on Flickr

Happy Hapgood
09-15-2019, 02:54 AM
It's a dry heat. Like my electric oven. Just my .02.

SonnyE
09-15-2019, 09:37 AM
It's a dry heat. Like my electric oven. Just my .02.

Like my back yard.... :roll:

BKING!
09-15-2019, 09:47 AM
I would look at the pellet pro insulated cabinet personally. Can fit 16 pork butts on that thing

rwalters
09-15-2019, 09:54 AM
I would look at the pellet pro insulated cabinet personally. Can fit 16 pork butts on that thing



I love what I see in the Pellet Pro with the exception of a large temp variance between bottom/top grate. Yes, I could shuffle around... and perhaps this would be a safer/better move than an electric as I already know how much I love pellet cooking. Still thinking... [emoji848]

SonnyE
09-15-2019, 10:29 AM
I love what I see in the Pellet Pro with the exception of a large temp variance between bottom/top grate. Yes, I could shuffle around... and perhaps this would be a safer/better move than an electric as I already know how much I love pellet cooking. Still thinking... [emoji848]

No matter what, we all have to "learn" our equipment, and how to run it to suit our end result.

Still thinking is a great thing.

Have you looked at what the successful commercial suppliers are doing and using? Most won't divulge certain aspects to their success. But most do use electric (some gas) to get consistent product. And highly accurate temperature control.
I like looking at what the "Big Boys" are doing, then see how I can size it to my little backyard "kitchen."

IMHO, I do not think adding the variables of wood fired (Including pellets) will get you that kind of consistent result.
I turn a critical eye towards the consistency, or inconsistencies, of pellet manufacturing. And solid wood (stick) can be widely variable.

I think I like my results, but I can be variable, too. :laugh:

BKING!
09-15-2019, 02:42 PM
For what it is worth, I did like the flavor of the electric smoker (Masterbuilt electric smoker) over my other charcoal smokers I’ve tried. I may just not be a charcoal fan lol. Electric smokers definitely put more smoke on the meat than pellet but you don’t get a good bark or smoke ring due to the low amount of combustion gases and the high humidity. It definitely puts out good food though. I do think you will prefer the flavor of pellet. If the pellet pro is not an option then Maybe look for a used cook shack pellet. Even used you should still get a decade or longer of use out of them. They are built to the same quality standards as restaurant smokers that pretty much run non stop.

Bacchus2b
09-15-2019, 07:45 PM
Edited