Now, that your electric smoker has finally arrived, I am sure you can’t stop thinking about all the good food that you going to cook on it. But wait, all good things take time so you can’t just plug in a new smoker, turn it on, and start smoking your favorite meat. You need to season it well before trying the first recipe.
Many beginners wonder ‘how to season an electric smoker?’ Well, the curing or seasoning part is the first thing you will do before smoking meat. You will need to empty the water can and add a few wood chips in the tray, turn on the smoker, open vents, and preheat for 3 hours at 275 degrees.
This pre-heating of the smoker will help you get rid of any industrial oil residue, dust, or harmful material leftover from the manufacturing process. Adding or not adding wood chips to the tray may optional, so follow the instructions of the manufacturer closely.
Read on to find the detailed steps on how to clean, cure, and season an electric smoker first time before starting it. We will also discuss the reasons for seasoning, their benefits, and whether or not you need to season the smoker every time before using it.
3 Reasons To Season Your New Electric Smoker
It’s common for people to think ‘I am just going to smoke a brisket, so why do I need to spend 3 hours seasoning the unit’. Well, there are some solid reasons behind seasoning and curing the smoker. If you are a beginner, you must know the following so that you do the job diligently.
1. Removes what manufacturer has left behind
Don’t forget that smokers are not grown on farms. They are prepared in factories where they are exposed to hazardous things such as industrial oil, paint, cleaners, solvents, adhesives, dirt, and so on. It’s enviable for even the most high-end superior quality units to have residues of unpleasant chemicals that can spoil the flavor of your ribs or pork butt.
2. Adds more years to your smoker’s life
Seasoning well helps in curing the paint or coating inside the smoker. This prevents rust from forming in the inner chamber, especially in wet climates. This can help in extending the life of the unit. However, you must always follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely before doing anything.
3. Gives you a good starting base
Cleaning the inner chamber and seasoning it well not only ensures that your food cooks in a safe environment, but the flavors also remain un-impacted.
Steps For Seasoning An Electric Smoker
Step 1: Prepare and assemble the unit
When the unit arrives, it will not be ready to use out of the box. You will need to assemble the parts together according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you receive an almost pre-assembled smoker, you must make sure that the screws are tight and the unit is properly secured.
Wipe the exterior and inner chamber of the smoker using a damp sponge and a mild detergent. Also, clean the trays and racks separately. Follow the instructions to double-check the instructions for cleaning. Be careful to not scratch the surface. Wash away the soapy residue with water and let air dry.
Step 2: Apply a thin coat of oil
Coat the inside walls using cooking oil, but again this is an optional step not recommended by all manufacturers. For those who allow, take a cooking oil spray or dab some oil on a soft cloth and wipe down the inner walls of the chamber.
Make sure the surfaces don’t drip with oil and avoid coating the grease tray, water tray, wood tray, or heating rod. If there’s a pool of oil of streaks on the inner walls, they will bake in high temperature causing stubborn stains.
After cleaning the racks and trays, keep them back inside the smoker. While seasoning, make sure the water tray is empty. The wood chips are usually added in the last hour of the seasoning process and some manufacturers may not recommend adding wood chips at all, so read instructions carefully.
Step 3: Start the smoker for the first time
As this is an electric device, you will need to place the unit close to a power outlet. Avoid using an extension cord and always use a direct connection. If at all, it’s a necessity to use an extension cord, make sure it’s heavy-duty with an earth pin.
Open the top vent on the smoker and make sure it stays open throughout the seasoning processes. Next, adjust the temperature to the highest setting (275°F) and set the timer for 3 hours. A few models such as the Bradley electric smoker can be seasoned at 250°F.
Step 4: Add wood chips while seasoning
We suggest that you add wood chips or chunks to the tray when the timer has one hour remaining to complete the pre-heat seasoning. However, make sure you don’t fully load the wood tray and follow these tips to get it right:
Add only 10 to 12 wood chunks to the tray and while some people prefer to soak the chips, this is not a necessity as there are no compelling reasons to do so.
Wait for 20 minutes and again add 10-12 chips to the tray. You will see ashes building up in the tray. The ashes will keep producing more smoke and seasoning the smoker.
After another 20 minutes, again add 12-115 chips to the loader or tray. Make sure you do not overload the tray. This is the final load after which the ashes that have built up will do the remaining job. Let the empty smoker smoke up completely until the set time of 3 hours complete.
Step 5: Finish off the seasoning
After the stipulated 3 hours have passed and all the wood chips on the loader have turned into ashes, turn off the electric smoker, turn off the electric smoker. The inner chamber will be filled with smoke so be very careful when opening the door.
Take a clean and soft cloth (preferably microfiber) and wipe the inner walls. You electric smoker is ready to use and the best part is that you will not need to do this again anytime soon. You may feel the need to repeat the seasoning process is you have smoked one type of meat and do not want its strong flavor to impact when you smoke another.
Tips To Maintain An Electric Smoker
- Once the initial seasoning process for a smoker is complete, you do not need to scrub the inner walls anymore. After each smoking session, you may simply want to wipe down the interiors with a damp cloth to remove loose ashes.
- If there’s a viewing window, clean it while the unit is still warm. Take a few paper towels and crumple them to form balls. Dab the paper towel into ashes and wipe down the viewing window. Again take some clean paper towels and wipe again to remove the ash residue.
- In some models, the manufacturer may advise you to fill the water bowl for seasoning, so make sure you refer to the specific instructions in the manual.
- You should never load up wood chips in the tray while seasoning. We know it’s your first time and you may be excited but make sure you follow the above steps properly.
Tips To Help You With Your First Smoking Experience
- Once the seasoning part of your new electric smoker is over, you have successfully handled the elephant in the room. Now, it’s time to get the meat of your choice, rub it with spices or marinade with your favorite sauces, and start smoking. Here are some tips to help you:
- Avoid the delicate or fatty meat when starting off as they can be tough to handle. Choose the cheaper cuts of meat instead. A whole chicken and pork butt are good choices for your first smoke.
- Remember that it will take you a few sessions of smoking meat to become really good at it, so it always a learning curve for everyone. Fortunately, electric smokers are quite forgiving.
- If you have got a cold smoking attachment, you may try smoking cheese but keeping the temperature too low may make the cheese fiddly. Remember that cheese smokes pretty quickly, and it is relatively delicious and inexpensive.
- If your electric smoker has a water compartment then it’s there for a purpose. If you place a pan of water inside the smoker, this ensures that the moisture level is maintained and meat does not dry out. Even if your model does not come with a water pan, consider keeping a small baking tin filled with water.
Why is seasoning important
Just like other products made of metal, electric smokers are also mass-produced in factories. As a result, the manufacturing process leaves uncured paint, industrial oils, dust, and solvents behind. They may also contain other hazardous industrial contaminants that need to be killed through the process of seasoning. In other words, it helps you sanitize a new unit and make it safe to cook food.
What happens if you don’t season
Failing or forgetting to season a new electric smoker before using it can have dire consequences. The food you cook in it will take terrible and you may fall sick due to food contamination. So, don’t hurry into cooking your meal after your product arrives. Give it the time it needs to get ready to start smoking great and healthy food for you.
Which wood chips are best for seasoning
Whether you use maple wood chips or Mesquite wood chips for seasoning, the results will remain the same. We suggest that you choose your favorite wood chips type and brand, and place them into the unit exactly two hours after you set it on pre-heat.
How can you tell that the electric smoker is seasoned
As the seasoning process begins, you will smell the dust and industrial oils burning away in the first two hours. The odor emitting from the unit can be quite unbearable for you. When you add wood chips in the final hour, you start getting a more pleasant smell.
Why is there a carbon coating
When the seasoning is complete and the unit has cooled, open the door and you can see a carbon coating on the interior walls. Make sure you do not wipe off this coating as this will protect the inner walls of your smoker.