Category Archives: FAQs

Eight Resolutions your Electric Smoker will Appreciate!

Need ideas for New Year’s resolutions?  Let us help you with these suggestions for maintaining your Cookshack electric emoker.  Keep your Cookshack electric smoker running like new by following these simple steps!

  1. Oil hinge and latch pins twice a year. Use lightweight oil on the pins to prevent binding.
  2. Clean door switch.
  3. Check electrical plug and wire for any wear or damage.
  4. Clean grills and racks. Scrape and wash them with soap and water.  Or better yet, run them through the dishwasher.
  5. Scrape loose grease and scale from walls with a plastic flat edge scraper.
  6. Line the bottom of your smoker with heavy duty aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Make sure the drain hole is open at all times! Remove all grease from the interior of the smoker using paper towels or cloths. Ensure that you do not use caustic cleaners!
  7. Clean drain hole, plug and pan after each use.
  8. Always clean the wood box of wood and ash remnants before restarting the oven! Douse with water before discarding!
SM160, SM260, SM360

SmartSmoker® Electric Smoker Line

Do you need a visual of these maintenance tips?  Check out our How-To Videos on our Cookshack YouTube Channel or on our website on the Video Cooking Classroom.  We believe in Smokin’ Made Simple which also includes maintaining your equipment!

Cookshack Residential Electric Smoker Line

The residential smoker line

Of course, the professionals in our Sales and Customer Service departments are available to chat with you for other tips and suggestions!  Give them a call at 1.800.423.0698.  You can also get great ideas and tips on the Cookshack uncensored forum.

Update or expand your commercial smoker!

2014 is almost over, but it is not too late to update your commercial kitchen equipment with a new smoker.  Maybe you need to add capacity to grow your business, then adding an another unit makes sense.  Cookshack has smoker models to fit your business needs with fixed shelf and rotissiere units available.

SM160, SM260, SM360

SmartSmoker® Electric Smoker Line

Cookshack has three models in the SmartSmoker® electric smoker line.  The SM160, SM260, and SM360 use wood chunks to add delicious smoke flavor. They feature digital controllers with time, temperature and holding features, 24-hour-a-day operating capability, are solidly built from stainless steel and are surrounded by 850°F Spin-Glass® insulation.  The units have a capacity of 120 to 550 pounds.  Need an easy to use unit that is dependable, then you should consider a Cookshack SmartSmoker® electric smoker.

FEC Smokers

Fast Eddy’s™ by Cookshack Pellet Fired Smokers

Are you looking for a deeper smoke flavor?  Then the Fast Eddy’s™ by Cookshack line of commercial smokers might be what you are looking for.  Cookshack is the only manufacturer of 100% wood-burning pellet-fired commercial smokers!  They do not require gas or logs!  These units are easy to install and operate, just plug into a standard 120 VAC to run the controller and augers and let the wood pellets do the rest of the work.  These units are NSF and USDA approved and Warnock Hersey and ETL Listed Commercial Cooking Equipment in USA and Canada.  They auto-start with a fifteen minute heat recovery, are available in fixed shelf or rotisserie versions.  These units can be used outside or inside with adequate ventilation required of commercial cooking equipment.   Contact the Cookshack sales or customer service teams for more information on venting requirements.

Cookshack smokers are used in restaurants,  country clubs, delis, food trucks, meat markets, convenience stores and concessionaires all across the USA, Canada, Europe, and Australia.  Cookshack is here to solve your problems and help you grow your business.  Cookshack wants to be your source for making great barbecue and smoked foods. We want your business to be a success because we view business as a relationship that benefits both parties.  We hope you will decide to do business with us!

Charbroiler in Action

How is a Cookshack Charbroiler Different than Commercial Kitchen Grills?

How is a Cookshack Charbroiler different from most commercial kitchen grills?

Commercial grills are designed to cook foods at high temperatures using a griddle surface or cast iron grills.  Grills or charbroilers are common to most commercial kitchen operations.  To take your commercial kitchen from common or ordinary to flavorful and extraordinary, use a patented Cookshack Charbroiler.  The stainless steel Cookshack Charbroiler has unique features that will give your food the smoky wood-grilled flavor that your customers will love.

One difference is the Cookshack Charbroiler requires no gas lines or propane tanks.   The heavy-duty Cookshack Charbroiler is 100% wood-fired using food grade pellets.

Cookshack Commercial Charbroilers

Available in 24″, 36″ and 48″ sizes


48" Charbroiler under a hood at TS Fork Restaurant

48″ Charbroiler under a hood at TS Fork Restaurant

Chicken, ribs and steaks on the Cookshack Charbroiler

The Charbroiler uses wood pellets to add wood flavor to chicken, ribs, steaks and much more.




The pellets are introduced into the firepot by an auger that requires a small amount of electricity to operate.  The electronically controlled system knows exactly when to add pellets to keep the temperature consistent.  The front, middle and back of the heavy duty cast iron grates distribute heat evenly for consistent grill marks each time.

With three temperature settings that range from 250°F on low to 700°F on high, the Cookshack Charbroiler is easy to operate and control.  No special training is needed for the kitchen staff so your cooks and chefs can concentrate on the quality of the food and not controlling the fire or heat.he pellets waft wood smoke over your steaks, burgers, and seafood cooked on the Cookshack Charbroiler that is not possible when using a gas or electric grill.  Using pellets not only adds flavor to the food you prepare but pellets also burn down cleanly.  Typically, the pellets leave less than 3% ash content in a convenient pull out drawer that is easily accessible.  Cleaning the heavy duty cast iron grates is easy when you use the included specially designed tool to remove the grates.

Another great feature of the Cookshack Charbroiler is the convenience of being able to plug it into a standard receptacle to use at an outside patio.  No need for gas lines or propane tanks.  Just roll it into place, inside or outside, and it is ready to go.  Many customers build it into an outdoor kitchen so their customers can experience the food being prepared alfresco.  Caterers use the Cookshack Charbroiler at off-premise jobs, so the food is hot and fresh.

Available in 24”, 36” or 48” models, consider adding a Cookshack Charbroiler to your commercial kitchen to turn your operation into a smoking success!

Do you test commercial smokers before shipping?

For over 52 years Cookshack has placed quality as a high priority in manufacturing all of our smokers, pellet grills and charbroilers.  Each unit undergoes testing before packaging for shipment.  The Final Assembly Teams in each of the production lines conducts the tests.  Documentation of these tests is on an inspection sheet that is unique to each unit.  The employees involved sign off on their craftsmanship.

Tests that are common to all of our units are the Hipot test, a Ground Continuity Test, and electronic controller test.  Hipot is an abbreviation for high potential and is a term given to a class of electrical safety testing instruments used to verify electrical insulation.  Ground Continuity Monitor is used to measure the electrical continuity of the circuit’s path to ground.  Testing of the electronic controller is done by making sure each button functions properly and lights up on the digital display.

Hipot test

Final Assembly worker is doing the Hipot test

Electronic Controller Test

Testing the electronic controller to make sure it functions properly

Each electric smoker in our SmartSmoker Line (SM160/260/360) and each smoker in our Fast Eddy’s™ by Cookshack Line (FEC100/120) are tested by a process we call “running out.”  Power is supplied by plugging in and testing the unit to make sure that is can reach temperature and go into the hold cycle.  All units, except for the SM160, have wood added to them to make sure they smoke properly.  The electric smokers are testing for approximately 20 minutes at 190°F and then a hold temperature of 255°F.  The pellet-fired smokers are tested up to 340°F for approximately three hours and then put into a hold cycle.  Cookshack has a separate room in the production area to run out the units.

Run Out Smoker Testing

Running out a unit before packaging

The Charbroiler line (CB024/036/048) is tested by powering the unit and setting the factory settings on the controller.  It is run for 30 minutes to ensure that the ignitor, draft fan, and auger is running properly.

The Fast Eddy’s™ by Cookshack Rotisserie models (FEC300/500/750) undergo additional tests.  The first test is a weld test.  The bottom of the smoker is filled with water to make sure it does not leak.  Then the wiring is checked by plugging the unit in to check the switches, foot pedal, motors, ignitors, and smoke evacuator.  Testing is completed to make sure that it can get up to the proper temperatures and the rotissiere is working properly.  The unit is set to 424°F, and when the unit reaches over 400°F, it is shut down.  This process takes a little over an hour.

The trailer (FETR) for the Fast Eddy’s™ by Cookshack Rotisserie models is tested by plugging it in to make sure all the wiring and lights are working properly.




What is a commercial meat smoker?

A commercial meat smoker is a smoker oven that prepares a large quantity of meat or vegetables for a restaurant, catering business, deli, meat market or other commercial kitchen application. It is commercial barbecue smoker that you would put inside of your business to a smoke large quantities of meat. It would allow you to feed a large number of consumers. Cookshack has different sizes of commercial meat smokers, the smallest commercial meat smoker we have is the SM160. The SM160 will hold one hundred pounds of meat. The largest unit that we manufacture is the FEC750, which holds up to 750 pounds of meat. Cookshack has a size to fit any need that you might have. These units vent smoke, and the smoke must be evacuated from your building.

A smoker to cook meat can be varied; one style is designed more for cold-smoking that is combined with a refrigerator. These are typically used for cold-smoking salmon. A traditional meat smoker is a hot-smoker that cooks and smokes at the same time. It is important for traditional barbecue that you use a smoker that can put the flavor of smoke from wood in the meat. You will find in some smokehouses that they spray liquid smoke on the meat that does give you the traditional flavor. You need something that will burn wood, produces smoke, with a consistent good flavor.
It should be able to handle pork, poultry, sausage, beef, duck, fish and shellfish, game meats and lamb equally well. Whether you use a fixed shelf or rotisserie style unit depends on what type and quantities of meat it will be smoking.
A commercial meat smoker should have a large capacity and be approved and certified from the USDA, NSF, and ETL. Wiring has to be at a commercial standard or code and be able to handle a larger amp load.

What is a Commercial Indoor Smoker?

Traditional barbecue smokers in the old days were made to be used outdoors, and so you would find the smoker sitting outside next to the building. It would typically have a large stack of wood logs or charcoal next to it. It required constant supervision and maintenance. Cleaning was also an issue. Modern smokers have been modified to be used safely indoors. They need to be easy to clean and easy to remove the ash. Cookshack smokers work efficiently and safely in an indoor environment. They are designed for indoor use. They use small wood chunks or pellets that are easy to store and use. A Cookshack smoker generates very little ash so the danger of fire from removing hot ash and embers are eliminated unlike log burners that require removal of live coals. A smoker needs to be able to burn wood without a fire risk.

It needs to be properly vented. Cookshack manufactures a smokehood for our electric SmartSmoker line, or the smoker can be put under a traditional hood. It can be complicated trying figure out how to get the smoke and flue gases out of your kitchen. You also want a unit that is well-insulated so that you are not putting additional heat into the kitchen. Commercial kitchens are over eighty degrees even with the air conditioner running. Adding more heat from a smoker is not going to make your staff happy. Cookshack commercial smokers are constructed with double-walled insulation surrounded by 850°F Spin-Glas® insulation.

Other issues to be concerned with if considering adding a commercial indoor smoker is the footprint that will be necessary. Make sure it will fit through the door into the space, and you will have adequate spacing around the unit for cleaning and maintenance.

What is a commercial electric smoker?

A commercial electric smoker is one that the fuel source is electricity using a heating element. Wood chunks or chips introduce smoke and are for flavoring only. It uses a standard wall outlet found in commercial kitchen applications. An electric unit uses soft heat which creates a moist environment. Commonly found in mom and pop diners, food trucks, catering, barbecue restaurants, fine dining restaurants, delis, meat markets, commissaries and cafeterias.

Commercial units should have listings with ETL, USDA and NSF. Check to make sure the smoker is rated for commercial use in a processing plant and a restaurant setting. It needs to a higher quality than a consumer grade smoker, and it needs to be able to run 24/7. For example, heavy cuts like brisket and pork shoulder need to be started in an electric smoker in the evening and cook overnight so it will be ready for service the next day. This will allow you room to smoke the smaller cuts, like ribs and chicken, during the day.
Cookshack commercial electric smoker models are the SmartSmoker Series. There are three models available to meet any need. The smallest unit the SM160 holds up to 120 pounds and the largest unit the SM360 holds up to 550 pounds of product. These models are electronically controlled with cook and hold capabilities, double walled stainless steel interior and exterior construction, and 850°F Spin-Glas® insulation for superior heat retention, fuel savings and maximum cooking performance. They are workhorses that can run 24 hours a day. They use about 1 pound of wood for every 60 pounds of product smoke cooked for a low-cost barbecue solution.

What is the difference between a commercial and a consumer smoker?

There are various things that can come into play in order to answer this question. If you are looking at a residential style smoker that is being built for a strictly residential application you are going to find that is contains smaller wire and lighter relays than a commercial unit. Consumer models have a standard grading on wiring, which is similar to the wiring in your house. It is not considered a commercial product so if you use it in a commercial setting you are going to be putting yourself at risk because of liability issues. Another difference is that some consumer smokers are not eligible for use in barbecue competitions.

Commercial grade smokers must pass rigorous tests and standards in order to get the certifications necessary to pass inspections. In a commercial grade smoker for commercial use, you should see certifications. A listing with NSF, National Sanitation Foundation, is concerned with whether or not the equipment can cook food in a manner that is going to be safe for the people eating it. Another certitication is the ETL, according to the ETL website “Certification marks – like the ETL Listed Mark – demonstrate compliance to the requirements of widely accepted product safety standards, as determined through independent testing and periodic follow-up inspections by an NRTL. It is the quality of customer service and of the capabilities provided by the testing laboratory issuing each certification mark that sets them apart.” A final certification that you will see in a commercial smoker is from the USDA. Commercial units are designed to work 24/7 so they have heavier relays and wiring to hold up to the heavy use environment. They also feature optional equipment such as smokehoods and smoke evacuators that make them compliant in certain commercial applications. Cookshack pellet fired smokers and charbroilers are certified for use in barbecue competitions.

All Cookshack commericial units are NSF, ETL, UL and USDA certified and approved. The Fast Eddy’s by Cookshack smokers are also certified Warnonck-Hershey listed in USA and Canada. At Cookshack, the consumer and commercial smokers feature many of the exact same components. They both have Spin-Glas® insulation rated for 850°F. They use the same stainless steel and welded construction. They both feature controllers but the commercial units have more options. We do not go to the expense in our consumer smokers to have them listed by the NSF because the requirements for that listing are not necessary for a consumer unit.

What are the differences between cooking with wood, gas electric and charcoal?

It is difficult to discuss the differences between the fuel sources for cooking barbecue without discussing the different types of smokers. We have broken it down to six areas that we believe are necessary without going into the various types of smokers.

The first area to consider is cost:

Cookshack electric smokers use small amounts of wood chunks or pellets to produce the flavor you desire in the finished product. The units are designed to move only the smallest amount of air through them while maintaining the temperature with electronic controls and keeping the heat inside the unit with 850° Spin-Glass® insulation. Due to this design Cookshack electric smokers are economical to use costing just a few cents a day to operate.

Fast Eddy™ by Cookshack pellet smokers use compressed sawdust pellets for both the heat and the smoke flavor for your product. The units are designed with 850° Spin-Glas® insulation and electronic controls to be as energy efficient as possible. Fast Eddy™by Cookshack pellet fired smokers use forced air draft and pellet feed technology to maintain tight temperatures. Because of this design it costs around $15 per day to run a our pellet fired smokers.

Gas smokers have a variety of designs, because of the air required to maintain the fire in them, they typically move large amounts of air through them causing the burner to work harder to maintain the temperature. Along with needing fireplace sized logs to produce smoke to flavor the product, gas smokers cost more to operate than one would assume. The gas to operate a gas smoker will cost around $6 per day; wood costs vary greatly across the country; the average gas smoker is going to use eight fireplace logs per day. Making the average cost to operate around $12 per day.

Wood pits were the traditional way to cook barbeque for years. However, the high cost of wood and labor has caused most restaurants to move away from the traditional wood fired pits.

wood-and-boxCharcoal smokers are much like wood fired pits, the high cost of charcoal and the labor to maintain the temperature in charcoal smokers has caused most restaurants to move away from charcoal style pits.

The second area to consider is shrinkage:

Shrinkage is caused mostly by inconsistent temperatures. Cookshack smokers use state of the art electronic controllers to maintain a consistent temperature.

Gas fired smokers generally have rotisseries in them to help the meat to cook evenly; however if you look at the actual temperatures in the units they are typically not consistent. Also, gas tends to dry the air in the smoker causing higher shrinkage rates.

Wood and charcoal fired smokers typically have the worse shrinkage rate due to the difficulties of maintaining consistent temperatures.

The third area to consider is flavor:

Cookshack smokers make it easy to produce the same flavor each time you cook in the unit.

Gas smokers tend to be very inconsistent in their flavor profile as the amount of wood and how dry it is changes with virtually every cook. This along with the taste of the mercaptan that is used in gas to make it smell like rotten eggs makes most barbecue experts stay away from gas smokers.

Charcoal smokers has a milder smoke flavor than wood fired smokers, and the flavor can vary from cook to cook.

Wood fired pits for years were the standard for barbecue restaurants; however the flavor out of wood fired pits varies considerably depending on the logs you are burning and the weather.

The fourth area to consider is safety:

Electric smokers use small amounts of wood, so ash disposal is simple. The drippings exit out the bottom of the smoker making the risk of fire virtually none existent. Cookshack electric smokers are tested under the UL 197 standard for electric safety and NSF standard for food safety.

Pellet fired smokers make disposal ash disposal easy as ash can be taken directly out of the smoker and into the trash. Fast Eddy™ by Cookshack pellet smokers are tested to UL subject 263, and Warnock-Hershey standards for safety along with NSF for food safety.

Most gas smokers on the market are only tested for the safety of using gas in the units and are not approved for using wood. The high amount of live embers in the ash makes disposing of the ash difficult and a fire hazard.

Most wood and charcoal smokers are custom designed and have no safety listings. Like the gas fired smokers live embers in the ash makes disposing of the ash difficult and a fire hazard. Also, wood and charcoal smokers flues must be maintained properly, or the risk of fire is probable.

The fifth area to consider is cleanup:

Any smoker listed by NSF will be easy to clean. Cookshack smokers also make disposing of ash easy.

Most custom design smokers are not NSF listed and can be difficult to clean.

The sixth area to consider is consistency:

Electric and pellet fired smokers offer the best consistency on the market. The Cookshack IQ control system allows you to control the time and temperature you cook at while maintaining accurate temperatures.

Gas smokers tend to be easy to control the temperature, however most do not have the controls necessary to keep even temperatures throughout the cooking chamber.

Wood and Charcoal smokers have little automatic controls, which means that the operator has to be there to keep the temperature steady.

What is barbecue?

What does Cookshack mean when they say barbecue?

The meaning of the word barbecue is as varied as the different ways to spell it. Some standard spellings include “barbeque”, “BBQ”, “Bar-b-Que” and “bar-b-q”. The meaning of barbecue here at Cookshack is the traditional meaning common in the southern United States. To us, it is the art of cooking meat at a low temperature over an indirect fire which adds smoked flavor to food. In Australia, for example, if you asked someone what it was, they would say grilling foods at high temps over direct heat. If you consulted the USDA, they would tell you barbecue “shall be cooked by direct action of dry heating resulting from the burning of hard wood or the hot coals for a sufficient period to assume the usual characteristics, which include the formation of a brown crust on the surface and the rendering of surface fat”.

brisketLow and Slow

What do we mean by low temperature? Typically, cooking at 250°F or lower is low heat. This is what we call the “low and slow” style of cooking. Grilling is, usually, done at higher temperatures up to 800°F. This is sometimes called “hot and fast” style of cooking.

Barbecue started by using fatty cuts of meats that others did not want because they were tough like beef brisket, pork shoulders or butts, ribs and chicken. Now, we call many other types of meats bbq. In some parts of the United States if you put sauce on the item then it is ‘cue. Salmon preparation is not traditional, but if you smoke and apply sauce, it becomes barbecue salmon. Cookshack smokers are ideal for cooking authentic barbecue dishes and non-authentic smoked foods.  A benefit of low and slow smoking is that the smoker’s temperature is high enough to cook the meat in a safe time, but low enough that moisture does not evaporate, creating a delicious product.

Myths and Health Concerns

There are many myths about barbecue when it comes to health issues. Barbecue meats have the same shelf life as traditional cooked foods. It is not cured meat or going to last longer so beware of this when storing the uneaten portions. Another misconception is that barbecue is unhealthy because of possible carcinogens. In studies, grilled foods had the potential for carcinogens due to the high-temperature cooking from the grease dripping into the fire and burning. This causes the carcinogens to come back up and into the fire.

For more information on this topic, refer to the findings from this report from the government.