How to Season an Electric Smoker

Seasoning your electric smoker is the best way to protect your backyard barbecue cooker from rust, bacteria, and grime. Learn the best way to do it with our electric smoker care guide.

how to season electric smoker

Electric smokers are an underrated way to enjoy barbecue meat cooking. If you’re new to them they can have a little bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never look back.

Like with most barbecue cookers, new electric smokers need to be seasoned to clean them and also to protect them from the effects of long-term use. The good news is that it’s easy to do.

In this guide, I’ll show you the best way to take care of your new electric smoker so that it can last for years to come.

What is seasoning an electric smoker?

Despite its name, ‘seasoning’ does not mean adding salt or pepper to help flavor your smoker. Instead, it means to clean the inner mechanisms of your cooker and apply a thin coat of protective oil to its surfaces before using your electric smoker. The combination of these two steps will help protect it against ongoing rust and contaminants.

The thin layer of cooking oil is especially important. We apply this layer and then cook it on to help it set. This creates a film across the entire inside surface of your smoker, guarding it against the negative effects of smoke moisture. We do this to everything inside the smoker, from its inside walls to its wood chip tray, and heat element to the bottom plate. Everything is protected, improving the life cycle of the entire unit.

Do I need to season my electric smoker?

Just like you would wash any new kitchenware before using it, you need to season your electric smoker. This will prepare it for high-temperature cooking by burning off leftover dirt from the manufacturing process. If not properly seasoned, the cooking surface can become exposed to potentially hazardous levels of carbon dioxide.

The good news is that seasoning your electric smoker will not affect the quality of the food you cook. It’s also extremely easy and only needs to be done once or twice a year.

What oil should I use?

You should always be sure to use cooking oil with a high smoke point. Cooking oils with low smoke points will burn up quickly, and not create the layer of protective film that we want to develop.

Canola oil has been shown to handle up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, making them perfect for smoker seasoning. For this reason, it’s also great for lubricating grill grates and applying to meat before grilling or smoking. Canola oil also has a neutral flavor, making it undetectable on your final plate of smoked food.

How to season an electric smoker

Take out all removable parts from inside the smoker, such as the cooking grates, wood chip tray, and water pan insert.

Using a soft sponge and soapy warm water, wipe down the inside of the smoker walls. Wipe and clean the cooking grates, wood chip tray, and water pan too. Wipe down with a non-abrasive cloth and leave to dry.

water pan insert drying after being cleaned with sponge and warm soapy water
All removable inserts, like the water tray, will need to be taken out and cleaned

Add canola oil to a paper towel, and apply to all surfaces and inserts. Be careful to avoid the heating element. You only need to apply a thin layer, so don’t worry about slathering it all over.

Put all parts back inside the smoker. Before inserting the water pan, fill it with cold water up to its fill line.

Shut the smoker door and close the latch into place. Plug in the smoker, open the vents wide and set the temperature to 225°F (107°C). Leave to heat for two hours before use.

Electric smoker maintenance tips

electric smoker wood chip tray with lit embers glowing
Wood chip trays can fill up quickly, so make sure you empty them regularly

Electric smokers are great because they don’t generate a lot of fire, making them easy to maintain. But it’s important not to get lazy about cleaning out the following traps.

  • Clean out ash buildup on the bottom tray after every use. More often than not, there will be ash in your wood chip tray. This needs to be cleaned out regularly if you want it to work properly and keep going with no issues.
  • Lightly scrub and wipe the inside of the unit to stop the buildup of oil and rust
  • Check the power cord regularly for signs of wear and tear

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