The Bottom Line
In 2007, Char-Broil introduced their The Big Easy Oil-less Infrared Turkey Fryer and came up with something almost as unique as they think it is. The Electric Smoker & Roaster is their latest effort in this product line. While this electric version gains features like a smoker box and a meat temperature probe it also gains a lot in price. When first introduced the original cooker came in around $100USD.
This version tips the scales at $250USD, taking away the best feature this product had. The Electric Big Easy is not a replacement for your backyard grill, but it is priced like one.
- Good temperature control with 15 preset temperature settings
- Safe Alternative to Deep Frying Turkey
- Wide temperature range
- Meat probe for accurate cooking
- Some foods require creative solutions
- Limited construction quality
- Smoking ability at low temperatures is limited
- 1,500-watt electric heating element between two layers of steel
- 15 setting electric temperature control
- Temperature probe connects to the control panel to tell you food temperature
- Front mounted smoker box
- Rear mounted drip pan (takes disposable aluminum pans)
- Comes with two cooking baskets and two adjustable cooking racks
- 16-pound food capacity
- Made in China
Guide Review - Char-Broil The Big Easy 2 in 1 Electric Smoker & Roaster
When asked to explain what Char-Broil's Big Easy cookers are, I have struggled for an explanation.
Ultimately I decided to describe it as an infrared cooking bucket. In its original version, it is a double layer metal bucket on legs with a gas burner between the layers that produces infrared heat in the center. Since then, Char-Broil has added a lid and made the unit larger. Now they had made an electric version of the same technology.
Since food is never exposed to the actual heat source, it really doesn't matter how the heat is produced. I have to admit that I was skeptical that a 1,500 Watt electric heating element would produce the same heat as an 18,000 BTU gas burner, but this little cooker heats up fairly quickly, reaching cooking temperatures in 15 to 20 minutes. This Big Easy can hold temperatures between 125 to 525 degrees F, has a smoker box in the front, and a meat probe so you can check the temperature without lifting the lid.
To operate all you need to do is plug the cooker in, load food into the cooking basket, lower the basket inside, and select one of the 15 preset cooking temperatures. If you want to produce smoke you need to preheat the grill to its highest temperature, load wood chips (about a cup's worth) into the front smoker box. Once the unit is producing smoke, reset the temperature to your desired preset number and add the food. Smoke production is a weakness of this unit, but with virtually no air flow and an electrically heated smoker box you cannot expect too much.
This is a Char-Broil and that means a certain awkwardness to how it's manufactured. Pieces don't line up quite right and the handles that you have to put on are designed for a flat surface but mount to a round surface.
However, there is very little assembly required so this isn't a big issue. You can take this out of the box and be ready to start seasoning the stainless steel (low grade) in minutes.
I have two issues this cooker. First of al,l it started with a product designed to cook a turkey, and this one can still do that, holding a turkey of up to 16 pounds. Foods that are not turkey shaped, or small can require you to get pretty creative with how you fit them into the unit. On Char-Broil's customer forums, I have seen people suspending roasts with long metal skewers and just generally coming up with some unique ways to get food cooked. This is something of a hobbyist cooker but does have a big fan base to draw ideas from when you want to figure out how you are going to cook a rack of ribs.
The second issue I have with this is that it is simply too much.
Great for cooking a turkey or a couple of chickens, Char-Broil has listened to the fans of this product who have figured out how to jury rig it to do so many more things and have added and added to the idea. The original unit cost about $100USD when it hit the market and can still be found in that price range. This electric version has dropped at $250USD making it one of Char-Broil's more expensive products. This cooker, which won't grill a burger or a steak is simply not a replacement for a grill but is priced like it is. If you don't have a traditional grill, this won't do many of the things you might want it to, and if you do have a traditional grill, do you want to spend this much on a product you might only use a few times a year.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.