Bradley Electric Smoker Comprehensive Review
Smoke, and more specifically hardwood smoke, is a key flavoring element in some of the best barbecue. However, flavoring food with this smoldering wood smoke is a time-consuming, sometimes labor-intensive aspect of barbecue. To keep the smoke flowing over the food with some traditional smokers, the barbecue pit master had to monitor the smoker constantly and add more wood when needed as the food slowly cooked and gained the wonderfully smoky flavor. In contrast, a Bradley electric smoker or another such modern unit offers an easy, convenient smoking solution for the home cook.
Owning a Bradley electric smoker can make smoking food as easy as cooking it in the oven. Using electricity to fuel the heating elements and offering fully digital controls, the smoker maintains the temperature you set without constant monitoring of correct heat and air circulation, for example. The Bradley Electric Smoker also features an automatic wood-chip feeder that can keep the smoke at a steady level for up to 9 hours of use.
What Is a Bradley Electric Smoker?
A Bradley electric smoker (or a competitive model from another brand like those reviewed below) is a smoker that uses electricity instead of gas, charcoal, or burning wood to heat the food and the wood chips that provide the smoke. The use of electricity to provide heat allows the Bradley digital smokers to be controlled with precision from a panel on top of the automatic wood-chip feeder.
One difference between the Bradley electric smokers we evaluated and other smokers, both traditional and electric, is that the Bradley Electric Smoker uses a proprietary disk made with compressed sawdust to provide the smoke. Bradley calls these disks "bisquettes," and the company offers several varieties of bisquettes made from the most common types of hardwood used to smoke food. These include apple, cherry, mesquite, and pecan wood varieties.
Bradley is a market-leading name in electric smokers, and we evaluated two models below, featuring the larger, more versatile model. We also checked out two smokers for comparison, both in the also highly respected Masterbuilt product line.
Our featured Bradley electric smoker has a 6-rack smoking compartment with a volume of 3,432 cubic inches (just under 2 cubic feet). It can be used for both hot and cold smoking, allowing for the creation of a great variety of different smoked foods including meats, seafood, cheese (which can be cold-smoked only), vegetables, and even fruit. This smoker uses two heating elements, one for heating the wood to create the smoke and another to maintain the temperature in the smoking compartment. The hopper where the bisquettes are added can accommodate enough bisquettes for a full 9 hours of cooking.
Compared to other electric smokers on the market, the 6-rack, fully digital Bradley electric smoker is more expensive. Users must also purchase bisquettes for smoking, and these can be found in packs of 120 disks.
How It Compares
To get a better picture of the Bradley Electric Smoker, we picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
Bradley Smoker BTDS76P
This compact electric fireplace allows you to set the perfect heat level while using it in a smaller space. It has a realistic flame and stays cool to the exterior touch, making it ideal for a room with children and pets.
Ease of Use
This 6-rack Bradley smoker features digital controls and an automatic feeding system for the sawdust bisquettes. This automatic feeding system allows the user to set the smoker and let it work instead of monitoring the smoking process closely and frequently. Unfortunately, the digital controls and display are positioned at knee level, which can make setting the smoker and monitoring the screen uncomfortable.
Features & Performance
The 6-rack Bradley electric smoker comes with full digital controls that enable programming the unit for up to 9 hours of smoking at a time. The automatic bisquette feeder adds a new puck of sawdust to the smoker approximately every 20 minutes to keep the level of smoke constant, and the hopper can hold a supply of bisquettes good for that same 9 hours. The bisquettes themselves come in 9 different flavors of hardwood, including the most common woods used in smoked foods. The cooking racks are small at only 11x13 inches, though, so creativity is required for larger foods like full racks of ribs.
This smoker is designed for outdoor use, but some users have had issues with constant temperatures when the smoker is used in colder temperatures and in areas with higher winds. Keeping the smoker out of the wind can help with this problem. The Bradley electric smoker design uses two different heating elements with one for the bisquette pucks and another to heat the food simultaneously. This complexity means there are more things that can go wrong than with a more straightforward unit.
The warranty for all Bradley Electric Smokers is one year, and coverage is limited to manufacturing defects.
This is the smaller, 4-rack version of the Bradley digital smoker we discussed directly above. It offers nearly all the same features as the 6-rack Bradley digital smoker in a more compact size. Due to its smaller cooking chamber, many users find that the 4-rack version can provide even more smokiness in an efficient manner.
Ease of Use
The 4-rack version of the digital Bradley electric smoker has the same digital interface and automatic bisquette feeder as the 6-rack version. It also shares the same minor inconvenience of having the controls and screen at the average person's knee level.
Features & Performance
Again, the features of the 4-rack Bradley Electric Smoker are similar to those offered in the 6-rack version, but the smaller size alters the performance slightly. The amount of smoke flavor infused into food in a smoker is relative to the amount of smoke the food is exposed to. As such, the 4-rack version of the Bradley electric smoker has a smaller smoking chamber and may produce smokier foods in less time than a larger smoker using the same smoking method.
The 4-rack version of the Bradley electric smoker comes with the same downsides as the larger 6-rack version. When external conditions are cold or windy, it can be difficult for this smoker to reach and maintain the desired temperature. Both these Bradley electric smokers use two heating elements, and this complexity means that there are more parts that can malfunction.
As with the larger 6-rack version, the 4-rack Bradley electric smoker comes with a 1-year warranty limited to coverage of manufacturing defects.
Masterbuilt has been manufacturing both indoor and outdoor cooking appliances since 1973, so it is no surprise they have a strong presence in the electric smoker market. The Masterbuilt 20078715 model is a compact, 4-rack digital smoker that comes in either a 30-inch or 40-inch version. This model also includes a remote control.
Ease of Use
Masterbuilt electric smokers have their digital controls and LED display positioned at the top of the smoker, or near waist level, as opposed to the Bradley electric smokers' knee-level controls. They also use conventional wood smoke, from ordinary chips, in place of the proprietary bisquette-style disks. This allows for a much greater variety of smoke because any hardwood variety with non-toxic smoke can be used in a Masterbuilt smoker.
There is no automatic wood chip feeder, so the Masterbuilt electric smokers need to be monitored and fed with wood periodically. In order to prevent food from cooling when additional wood chips are added, the Masterbuilt smokers are equipped with a patented wood-chip loading system on the side. This Masterbuilt smoker also comes with a remote control
Features & Performance
This electric smoker from Masterbuilt comes with 4 chrome-coated racks that can fit as much as 8 racks of ribs, 6 whole chickens, or 4 pork butts at a time. It is fully digital and has a remote control in addition to the control panel nicely positioned at the top of the smoker. Masterbuilt smokers use wood chips that can be purchased online or wherever barbecue and grilling supplies are sold.
This electric smoker is built using sturdy heat-resistant materials and well insulated, allowing for it to retain heat and be used successfully even when the temperatures outside drop. It is also easy to clean with its front-access drip pan to catch grease.
Masterbuilt only offers a 90-day warranty, limited to manufacturing defects on the smoker.
The Masterbuilt 20071117 is a lower-end electric smoker that can deliver solid performance at a more affordable price. It offers most of the same features as the larger unit evaluated above, except that it is fabricated with less sturdy materials and does not have a remote control. It weighs about one-third less than the 20078715 model, so it is considerably more maneuverable.
Ease of Use
This Masterbuilt smoker has the same ease-of-use-enhancing features as the 20078715, except for the remote control. For most, this is a minor issue, but if you had your heart set on controlling your smoker from the comfort of your den, it may matter plenty to you. The digital controls and LED display are on the top of this smoker, positioned at the back.
Features & Performance
This electric smoker includes an excellent array of features, but it does not have remote control capabilities.
This Masterbuilt smoker is made of heat resistant, well-insulated material. It used the patented Masterbuilt side wood-chip loading system to allow for the addition of more wood chips without exposing the smoking food to cooling temperatures.
Masterbuilt offers only a 90-day warranty limited to manufacturing defects.
Either of the Bradley electric smoker models we evaluated is a good choice for those who would like to add smoking to their cooking repertoire and prefer the ease and convenience of an electric smoker. Theses smokers' automatic feeder systems use their proprietary bisquettes, which may be convenient for most, but it does limit the type of wood you can use to this form. In contrast, for those who would prefer the freedom to choose their own blend of wood chips, a Masterbuilt electric smoker might be a better option at a somewhat lower price.