Smoking fish and other types of meat have been a means of survival throughout history. The process was initially used for food preservation and to avoid spoilage rather than to create great flavors.
However, now that food is easily and readily preserved through refrigeration and freezing, fish smoking is primarily done for its unique flavor.
When smoking fish, there are certain things that you need to consider. The type of fish you decide to smoke, for example, plays an important role in how good the outcome will be.
The other important factor is the fish smoker you use. As we all know, fish can be a little tricky to handle and can burn easily with too much heat.
So, what are the best fish smokers? The best fish smokers have consistent heat output, are easy to use and control, are made of durable and long-lasting materials, and leave your fish evenly cooked with a perfect smokey flavor.
As a bonus, some fish smokers nowadays are even bluetooth controlled or digital so you can have perfect fish at the touch of a button!
Read on to find out our picks for the 7 best fish smokers and a detailed buying guide about what to look for when getting one for yourself.
Buying Guide for the Best Fish Smokers
When buying a fish smoker, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to ensure you pick the right one for your needs.
Following are some of the considerations you need to take into account to gauge if the fish smoker is suitable and worth the investment:
Material, Quality, and Durability
Wear and tear are normal. What matters is that the fish smoker is made of quality materials and construction to withstand wear and tear.
You need to make sure that your fish smoker is durable and won’t fail you after just the first season. A few features to look out for are rust resistance, the ability to withstand high temperatures, and heat loss prevention.
Temperature Control and Heat
Contrary to grilling, fish smoking requires low temperatures that are consistent and properly controlled. The smoke, on the other hand, needs to be at a higher level.
The two – heat and smoke – need to be properly controlled for the smokiness to be properly infused in the fish and for it to be cooked through evenly.
Therefore, you must pick a model that allows you to control and manage these two aspects easily, preferably something with an analog or digital control panel.
Ease of Use
Smoking fish at home may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, it should be a breeze. You shouldn’t be needing help, nor should you be required to do a crash course before attempting to smoke a fish.
Getting the right fish smoker that is of high quality and is easy to use will help you achieve great results with minimal effort on your part.
No matter how premium your fish smoker is and regardless of how good its quality is, every fish smoker requires regular upkeep and maintenance.
Regularly cleaning your fish smoker, oiling it when the need arises and protecting it from harsh weather elements by not leaving it out in the sun and rain will help prolong its life and see your fish smoker last for years without issue.
When picking the best fish smoker for yourself, make sure you choose one that does not require much maintenance or else, instead of becoming something you and your family can enjoy, it may become a hassle to maintain.
7 Best Fish Smokers
|1.||Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker||Electric, side wood chip loading system, 2 trays|
|2.||Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker||Lightweight, charcoal smoker, rust-resistant|
|3.||Camp Chef Digital Electric Smoker||Large capacity, digital controls, ash cleaning system|
|4.||Cuisinart Electric Smoker||Compact design, easy to use|
|5.||Char-Broil Standard Digital Electric Smoker||Steel, double insulated, digital controls, grease tray|
|6.||Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill and Smoker||Wifi controls, ash and grease cleaning system|
|7.||Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker||Bluetooth, digital controls, wood chip smoker|
1. Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker
If you’re looking for the best electric fish smoker on the market, look no further!
A great option for both beginners and pros, the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker has the capability of maintaining a steady temperature, which is a vital characteristic for top fish smokers on the market.
It requires minimal supervision and comes with excellent insulation and temperature control. It weighs around 46 lbs and has a large cooking area that can accommodate up to 4 trays at a time.
It is very easy to clean and has two different trays inside – one that collects the oil and grease drippings, and another one for the wood chip ash.
It has a patented side wood chip loading system that allows you to add wood chips without having to open the door. With a reliable build quality, this smoker is sure to last you several family lunches and dinners, and even more years of problem-free usage.
2. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
Weighing at just 23 lbs., the Weber Smokey is a charcoal smoker that is made to withstand a full day of smoking in the backyard.
Its compact capsule-shaped design is lightweight and extremely portable with a cooking space allowing 2 grills to be used simultaneously.
It has a durable design and stands on top of rust-resistant metal legs allowing for a strong foundation and adaptability to moist surfaces such as wet grass.
It offers good temperature control and is ideal for smoking fish at lower temperatures. The added flavor of the charcoal smoke is a bonus point and one major reason why the Weber Smokey made it to our top list!
3. Camp Chef Digital Electric Smoker
With this Champ grill and smoker, you can smoke fish not just for yourself and your family but for your entire neighborhood!
With a large cooking capacity of up to 301 square inches, which includes 4 smoking racks, 3 jerky racks, 1 hanging rack, and 12 sausage hooks, it allows you to enjoy both high-temperature grilling and low-temperature smoking.
It boasts digital temperature controls with 2 gauges that sense the temperature with high precision. The digital controllers help regulate heat and have a wide range of 150-350°F.
Some more of its most prominent features include smart smoke technology, an ash cleanout system, and a grease management system.
4. Cuisinart Electric Smoker
The Cuisinart Electric Smoker is super easy to use and an ideal choice for beginners.
You do not need any special training or prior experience to get the perfect smoked fish using this hassle-free electric fish smoker.
It offers you complete control over the heat levels and does not require constant attention and supervision.
You can load the fish smoker with your favorite fish, add water and wood chips into their dedicated trays, set the temperature, and relax with your family and friends.
It has a spacious interior that allows you to smoke more than one item at a time, and its vertical design makes it perfect for small patios and kitchens. Weighing at around 51.5 lbs., it also has handles on each side to make it easier to move.
5. Char-Broil Standard Digital Electric Smoker
If you are looking for a fish smoker that is both easy to use and easy on the pocket, the Char-Broil standard digital electric smoker is your best bet!
It offers all the basic requirements of a good fish smoker, which includes low-temperature smoking, consistent heat supply, and accurate temperature indication, without burning a huge hole in your wallet.
Constructed using the finest steel, it has double-wall insulation making it one of the most efficient and consistent fish smokers for people on a budget.
With a spacious cooking space of around 725 square inches and 4 adjustable cooking racks, it allows you to set it according to your requirements. It also has wheels and side handles for added mobility.
6. Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill and Smoker
Fully equipped with PID and Wi-Fi enabled controllers, Camp Chef’s new Woodwind line is a feature-rich smoker that allows you to stay connected to it via the Camp Chef app.
You no longer have to be near the smoker to adjust its settings. You can control the temperature and smoke levels from your phone from absolutely anywhere with an internet connection.
With added features such as smart smoke technology, ash cleanout system, cord management system, and a grease management system, it strikes a perfect balance between quality and value for money.
Doubling as a grill, it allows you to cook multiple things at one time and allows you to set the smoke level between 1 to 10, depending on your preference for smokiness.
7. Masterbuilt Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker
This is a great fish smoker with simple digital controls and Bluetooth connectivity to allow you to step away from the smoker and monitor your delicious smoked fish from the comfort of your sofa using just your smartphone.
This model not only checks the internal temperature of the smoker but also lets you monitor the food’s temperature via a meat probe thermometer so that you can know when the fish is done.
In addition to a smoker, it also has a grilling or finishing rod to allow you to smoke your fish, slather on some delicious sauce, and broil it. You can load the wood chips from the side without having to open the smoker door during cooking.
It weighs around 66 lbs. and has 4 chrome-coated smoking racks to accommodate food for the entire family and more.
How Long Does It Take To Smoke A Fish?
Fish smoking is a lengthy process and takes around 3-6 hours at a very controlled temperature. Before that, you need to prepare your fish and soak it in brine for at least 6 hours.
To determine if the fish is done, you may use your eyes and a trusted thermometer to do the trick. Smoked fish must have a nice glaze to it and be dry to the touch.
The temperature should be at a constant 160°F for at least 30 minutes, also called the “hot smoke” process, after which it will be ready.
What Is The Difference Between Hot And Cold Smoking?
Cold and hot smoking are both methods of preserving food. However, there are a couple of differences between them.
Cold smoking involves keeping the fish at a lower temperature, below 90°F, for around 6 hours to achieve a light smoky taste. Hot smoking involves the fish being smoked at a higher temperature for a stronger smoked flavor and is a relatively faster way to cook meat.
Although cold smoking is also an age-old method of preservation, it requires special attention, otherwise, it could lead to bacterial growth and cause a variety of illnesses.
Cold smoked salmon is a popular food in the US where people enjoy it on a bagel with cream cheese and capers.
How Long Does Smoked Fish Last In The Fridge?
Smoked fish has a short shelf life and must be refrigerated if you have leftovers. Once it has cooled down, it must be tightly wrapped in aluminum or plastic wrap and kept in the fridge where it can last for around 10 days.
Can You Freeze Smoked Fish?
Even though you can eat smoked fish without cooking it further, it does not stay fresh for much longer than fresh fish and needs to be stored properly.
It can last around 10 days in the freezer, after which it’ll run the risk of going bad and will need to be kept in the freezer instead.
Freezing smoked fish extends its life to up to 3 months, however, you must try to consume it within 2 months and not stretch it to its limits.
The first step involves lightly brushing olive oil over all the exposed surfaces of the fish since that will help delay the dehydration process.
Next, tightly wrap individual portions of the fish into plastic wrap, eliminating any air bubbles, and repeat the process with a second layer of plastic wrap.
If you really want to keep your fish safe from air, bacteria, and freezer burn, we suggest using a vacuum sealer.
Now place the plastic-wrapped smoked fish into freezer-safe bags and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How To Thaw Frozen Smoked Fish?
When you decide to thaw the frozen smoked fish, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it defrost for a few hours, or place it under cold running water.
Make sure to thaw only as much as you will be using. In most cases, this should usually be one, or more than one, plastic-wrapped fillets inside the freezer bag instead of the entire bag.
Can You Refreeze Smoked Fish?
Once frozen smoked fish has been thawed, it is best to consume it rather than leaving it in the fridge or re-freezing it.
Re-freezing previously thawed smoked fish will make it lose its flavor and texture and even pose health risks, which is why you must thaw only as much as you need.
To ensure the right quantities are thawed, you must freeze it in small packages, just enough for one person or one meal.
How To Tell If Smoked Fish Has Gone Bad?
Smoked fish can go bad due to several reasons. It may be due to bad hygiene while smoking it or improper storage conditions.
Regardless of the reason, there are ways you can tell if it has gone bad. If you have store-bought smoked fish, the best way is to check for the expiration date. If it is past its best-before date, it is always best to discard it. Better safe than sorry.
For both packaged and smoked fish made at home, some obvious signs include a slimy film developing over the fish, the color becoming dull, or a sour smell emanating from the fish. If any of these signs are there, it’s time to toss it out!
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