Review of the Char-Broil® SmartChef™ Digital Electric Smoker

January 19, 2016

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I’ve always considered myself a “serious cook,” and most people who know me would probably say the same thing. But lately, I’ve been less sure about that. In my mind, “serious” cooks are meticulous. They insist on perfection and they will put in dramatically more effort for the smallest boost in flavor. They cling to the “right” way of doing things, and chuckle to themselves at the thought of taking shortcuts, even if doing so saves time and has hardly any distinguishable impact on quality.

I feel like most people assume I am that way, and it’s an understandable assumption. I talk a lot about cooking technique and why you do certain things in cooking, but honestly the only reason I do that is because I think it genuinely makes life easier for the cook. I’ll just say it – I’m a total convenience cook. Sure, there are times where I test my skills and really try to do something special, but day-to-day, I take shortcuts. I use microwaves. I don’t skim all the fat from my braises. I eat fast food, my daughters eat more than their share of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and I don’t always buy organic produce. Between Jules’ and my careers, home projects, this blog, and trying to make sure our two little sweethearts get the best parts of their parents and not just whatever is left, we find ourselves making the same compromises most parents do.

So let’s balance that with the importance of family dinner. Jules and I both grew up always having family dinner, and I’m staunchly convinced of the value of that. Since I’m the cook and I don’t get home from work until 5, I have to lean on meals that are either quick 30-minute fixes, or slow-cooked dishes I can put together on my lunch break so they cook through the afternoon. Any cooking apparatus that allows me to create genuinely good food, conveniently, is a welcome piece of equipment in my home. Enter, Char-Broil’s SmartChef™ digital electric smoker.

You’ll recall I wrote a review of Char-Broil’s electric smokers last summer. I love them. Loooooove them. So why am I writing about it again? Well, because Char-Broil recently released a connected version of these smokers – connected as in, hooks up to wifi and is operable via an app on my phone! The future is now, folks, and man it’s awesome.

Char-Broil SmartChef Digital Electric Smoker

As far as the quality of food it puts out, it’s right up there with the previous smoker I reviewed. Fantastic food. Like I said with the other one, if you’re one of those people who freaks out because it’s electric and “that’s not how the pros do it,” chill. I’m not a pro. I just want good food, and I want it to be as easy as possible. And this is super easy.

Char-Broil SmartChef Digital Electric Smoker

To get started, simply plug in the smoker and download the Char-Broil SmartChef™ app on your phone. It walks you through connecting the device to wifi, as well as syncing up with your smartphone. There are preset recipes already on the app for things like ribs, or if you have your own temp/time you like to cook at, you can set up custom cooking cycles. Tap the desired program on your phone, push the green button on the smoker and go do whatever you gotta do. I’ve monitored ribs from church (I also paid attention to the speakers, yeesh) and pulled pork from work.

Char-Broil SmartChef Digital Electric Smoker

Char-Broil is the game-changin’est outdoor cooking company in the world, I’m tellin’ ya. They are always innovating and looking for ways to help home cooks like me and you make outstanding food, without having to ignore our children or guests in the process. For my recipe on these ribs, check out the other Char-Broil smoker post (mayo-rubbed is the way to go), and if you’re looking to get into smoking food but don’t want to sit up all night, Char-Broil SmartChef is your thing. The full unit is the one pictured, but they also have a smaller, simple smoker for $100 less that lowers even more barriers to entering the smoking world.

Char-Broil SmartChef Digital Electric Smoker


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What do you think?

  1. Kevin says:

    I have this model and I’m loving it too. Thanks for the great cooking advice. One issue I’ve had is cleaning the glass front. The best advice I found was to use vinegar and dish soap with water in a spray bottle. Every 2-3 time I cook I clean the glass with this mix and a sponge. It takes some work but gets the glass nice and clean.

  2. Danielle M says:

    My husband got a smoker for Christmas but we have yet to use it, I think we’re both intimidated! I was wondering though, my son has an egg allergy and since eggs are the main ingredient in mayo- that’s a no go for us. Any suggestions for a good substitute? I would think an oil of some sort but I wasn’t sure which one.


    • ErinY says:

      There’s a brand called Just Mayo that is vegan mayonnaise and doesn’t contain any egg, and tastes great. There are also quite a few recipes out there to make vegan mayo as well.

    • Chris says:

      Mayo is actually kind of an “odd” thing to use – most people use plain yellow mustard if they use anything at all. You could also use a little cooking oil – very light layer – or go without and only add the rub.

  3. Missy says:

    So, do you leave your raw meat in the smoker until you want it to kick on (or you turn it on from your phone)? That seems fine for cold winters, but harder to keep food safety in mind in hot summers. How do you handle that? Thanks!

    • Chris says:

      Hi Missy, great question. For safety reasons, at least at this point, the smoker requires someone physically present to start the smoker, so you will put the meat in when you start it, and you can monitor it/receive alerts on your phone as you go about your day.

  4. Leah Prevost says:

    This is so awesome! I LOVE cooking. But your right, real life hits and your looking for something to whip together at the end of the day. This is genius. Definitely going to try this bad boy out :)

  5. Wow. Super cool. Thanks for the intro to this. I had no idea something like this existed. Have sent it along to the chef (hubby) in my life.

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