Though it might not seem necessary, you can add charcoal to an electric smoker if you choose to. It is typically used in a traditional smoker to heat up the wood chips that provide the smoke used to cook the food on the grill.
Electric smokers are different, but they still come with an internal tray that can be used to hold wood pellets and other things that improve the smoking process. This addition will give the food some extra flavor as it smokes.
A lot of people choose to buy electric smokers over other types because the cooking process tends to be cleaner and easier.
However, they end up missing that extra flavoring from the smoke emitted after charcoal is burned to heat the wood chips. Utilizing the internal tray in an electric smoker to hold charcoal as well as wood pellets is a great way to flavor the food even more.
It will also help out with the cooking process, particularly when it comes to heating the food even more quickly than an electric appliance usually would.
The Basics Of An Electric Smoker
What Is An Electric Smoker?
It is a type of outdoor cooker that primarily uses electric rods to heat the food. Because they don’t burn charcoal to produce smoke, electric appliances are left much cleaner after they finish cooking your food.
They can be a bit inconvenient if you don’t have somewhere to plug them in because, as is in the name, they are powered by electricity. The heat from the electricity cooks food to perfection.
Electric smoking appliances are also durable investments because they’re made of strong materials like stainless steel or cast iron.
This means that you don’t need to worry about leaving your electric smoker outdoors when you’re not using it. As long as it is properly secured and cared for, you’ll get years and years of use out of a high-quality smoker.
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Working An Electric Smoker
An electric smoker is very easy to work because you don’t need to light it at all. You’ll need to position it somewhere close to an electrical socket so that the appliance can be plugged in and powered.
This is what allows the electric rods inside the smoker to heat up. An internal pan can be filled with wood chips. This pan sits above the electric rods and they heat up to cook the food on the grill.
An electric smoker is very different from a pellet smoker that also use electricity for the cooking process.
In pellet smoker the wood pellets that are heated by the electric rods are more than enough to cook food all the way through. This produces a lot of smoke, which gives the food on the grill an extra smoky flavor.
Electric smokers are unique in that they also give the food some additional flavor, just not in the same way.
A bit of smoke is produced by the heated wood pellets, but electric smoker do not emit combustion gases, so the smoky flavor is absent from the food, leaving it with a different yet still delicious taste.
As electric smokers works on convection principle by heating the cooking chamber in which air circulates. While this makes them easy to clean you need to add wood chips or charcoal to add smoky flavor.
Can You Put Charcoal In An Electric Smoker?
You can put charcoal in an electric smoker if you would like to create an additional smoky flavoring on the food that you can’t get by cooking with just electricity.
The tray that holds the wood pellets inside the appliance is the place to put it if you would like your food to have more of a traditional barbecued taste.
It has a very distinctive taste, so a lot of people do miss that flavor when they grill on an electric instead.
Keep in mind that the tray inside an electric smoker isn’t very big, so you won’t be able to fit a lot into it.
However, that small amount will be enough to infuse your food with a smoky barbecue flavoring, so long as you aren’t cooking an overwhelming amount of food.
If you need to, you can refill the tray multiple times during the barbecue, giving your smoker enough of a chance to grill all your food and give it the same taste.
Why Add Charcoal To An Electric Smoker?
As previously stated, cooking on a lit smoker gives your food a unique, additional flavor that can’t be matched by cooking with electricity alone.
Even a little smoke ring on your food is enough to flavor it though, so you don’t need to pile a lot into your electric appliance. That smoke ring also gives food, meat in particular, a distinctive barbecued look.
The pairing of charcoal and wood chips creates the smoke ring because they are able to hold a high temperature for a long period of time.
This ensures that your food is thoroughly cooked and given an injection of strong flavor. Electric smokers don’t go as hot as pellet smokers do because those are actually lit and produce extreme heat that way.
Electrics cook perfectly well and add their own flavoring to the food, but adding charcoal allows you to experience the best of both worlds: food that tastes smoky without the hassle that comes with cooking on a pellet smoker.
That is one of the biggest reasons why people have been turning more towards electric appliances over smokers that need to be lit in recent years.
Of course, this will mean that your electric appliance requires extra cleaning afterwards, but the work will still be less than with a pellet smoker.
Does Adding Charcoal Make Any Changes?
Adding charcoal to an electric cooker changes the taste of the food. An electric grill will provide a marginally smoky flavor, but making this addition is the way to really bring it out and give your food an authentic barbecued taste.
Your food will be even smokier because of the smoke produced by the pairing of wood chips & charcoal.
If you like food cooked at a very high temperature, you will also benefit from bringing these two things together. An electric smoker goes hot, but it is limited to a temperature that a pellet smoker would be able to exceed.
Accelerating this process will give you food that has been grilled to a higher degree and can be served to your guests quicker. It will change your whole experience on the day.
Both electric and pellet smokers work just as well for grilling all sorts of food, so whether or not you add charcoal is a matter of preference.
An electric cooker will work well to cook your food, but there is a unique flavor that you only tend to experience when cooking with a smoker that needs to be lit.
By making this specific addition to your electric smoker, you can achieve that same level of grilled food with an appliance that is more efficient and less complicated to use.
You can serve food of the same standard without needing to pay as much attention to the smoker, giving you more time to spend actually enjoying your outdoor gathering.
Charcoal vs Wood Chips For Smoking
There is a difference in the taste of the food when you choose to use charcoal or wood chips individually. Both can be used in an electric cooker, but they don’t need to be used together.
The taste of charcoal is what you’ll typically think of when you think about barbecued food, especially grilled meat. Wood chips also produce smoke, but the smell is not quite as rich as the alternative.
Still, using the two together is a traditional barbecue pairing and enjoyed overwhelmingly by many, so you can’t go wrong by following tradition.
If you prefer your food to taste marginally but not overwhelmingly smoky, you should smoke with wood chips. You cannot get that smoky, barbecued flavor without wood of some sort, so you might benefit from using both charcoal and wood chips together if you want the ultimate grilled flavor.
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Adding Charcoal To An Electric Smoker
Adding charcoal to an electric cooker is fairly easy to do and will pay off when you start to grill your food.
The majority of electrics contain the internal tray that holds the wood chips/pellets or even charcoal, ready for them to be heated and cook the food on the grill.
This tray is where you can place the charcoal, either alongside the wood chips or on their own, ready for heat to encourage even more flavor into the food.
With the correct temperature control while the electric cooker is switched on, you’ll be able to make your food richer and tastier.
After you’ve finished filling the tray, you can proceed as usual with the typical electric cooking process.
The heat produced by the cooker will be accelerated, grilling your food even more thoroughly and infusing it with a perfect smoky flavor.
The wood chips add their own flavor too, so pairing the two together just enhances the smoking process. When you’re done cooking, clean out the tray inside the cooker to rid it of the excess smoke and smells.
You may have thought that choosing an electric smoker for its efficiency and hygiene meant choosing those things over a smoky flavor in your food, but you’ll be able to hold a barbecue and serve up perfectly grilled meat, vegetables, and fish by using charcoal without using one of those smokers.
As soon as you perfect the cooking process, you’ll be able to grill your food to the highest standard every time you plug the smoker in.