You can learn how to smoke kielbasa in electric smokers and serve juicy, flavorsome sausages every time. There’s a slight learning curve for anybody who hasn’t tried smoking before as getting the temperatures and timings right can be tricky.
Kielbasa or Polish sausage is known for its intensely smoky flavor, and one of the easiest ways to produce it is with an electric smoker.
The first step is to dry out the casings by placing the Kielbasa in an electric smoker preheated to 130F. Keep the drafter open and leave the Kielbasa there for 20-30 minutes or until completely dry. Over the course of approximately three hours, gradually smoke your Kielbasa by incrementally turning up the heat until the smoker reads 200F. The sausages are only ready once they’ve reached an internal temperature of 160F, using a meat thermometer. Once thoroughly smoked, plunge them directly into ice cold water so that they stop cooking. Hang them up to dry, ready for your next barbecue.
If you’re a big fan of cooking meats low and slow, smoking is the ideal method for you. From lamb racks to ham hocks, fish fillets, beef briskets and even cheese wheels, there are few meats that can’t be improved with a stint in the electric smoker.
This indulgent cooking process tends to be reserved for larger cuts of meat that need lots of time to tenderize.
However, you can also learn how to smoke kielbasa in an electric smoker and serve great tasting food every time. Once you know when to adjust the heat, it’s as simple as prep, smoke, turn and smoke some more.
This article offers tips on how to smoke kielbasa in electric smoker and serve beautiful Kielbasas at your next backyard cookout.
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Smoke Kielbasa In Electric Smoker
Kielbasa can be thin, fat, white, round, linked or made with blood. These sausages typically contain garlic, juniper and marjoram though you’re encouraged to experiment with different flavor combinations.
Cooking Kielbasa in an electric smoker is, in some ways, very different to smoking a large brisket or rack.
They’re fairly small so they cook quickly and, provided they are all of an even size and fatness, they’ll cook at the same rate throughout. So, you don’t need complex calculations for working out the required cooking time per pound.
The most important thing is that your Kielbasas reach an internal (measured) temperature of 160F. This is a key part of ensuring they’re safe to eat, so you’re strongly encouraged to pick up a thermometer before starting.
Why Use An Electric Smoker For Cooking Kielbasa
Traditionalists claim electric smokers aren’t the real deal and that, without charcoal, it’s not proper barbecue.
There’s something stirring about watching tender meats drip juices onto sizzling coals, however, traditional smoking produces a lot of pollutants.
Pellets and charcoal-based fuels release carcinogens and may cause a slightly increased risk of cancer.
With an electric smoker, a convection system gently cooks the kielbasa by evenly circulating heat and smoke from every direction.
There is no direct flame and no polluting fuels. Plus, electric smokers give cooks more control over temperatures so they can achieve the perfect balance of smokiness and tenderness.
My recommendation for the best electric smoker is the Masterbuilt Digital 30 inch Electric Smoker on Amazon.
Choosing The Right Wood For Your Smoked Kielbasa
Your kielbasa will taste different depending on the variety of wood used for smoking. Experts of the ‘low and slow’ method can talk for hours about their favorite woods and the incredible flavors they pass on to the meats.
If this is your first-time smoking sausages, some quick tips can help you make the right choice.
Firstly, steer clear of softer wood and any wood that produces resins. These varieties don’t produce enough smoke.
There are some exceptions but, generally, any tree that grows tasty fruits or nuts will give a pleasant flavor to your smoked kielbasa.
Applewood is a popular choice for its ability to produce lots of unctuous flavors over an extended smoking period. Shorter cooking times may find it wanting, but it’s ideal for anything over two hours.
If you’re unsure about a wood’s flavor profile, you can always stick some chips on your barbecue and test it by whipping up a quick burger or chops.
That way, you’re not going to waste five hours making kielbasa you don’t like. If you don’t enjoy the way the wood smells as it’s burning, you might not like the flavor.
Step By Step Guide – How To Smoke Kielbasa In Electric Smoker
If you reach the required safe temperature of 160F (internally), your kielbasa should be fully cooked when they leave the smoker.
They are now safe to eat, but we recommend extending your patience further and allowing them time to bloom. Blooming is hanging them at room temperature after their dip in ice water so that they mellow, age and darken.
Then, you can eat your smoked kielbasa cold or reheat them by frying, oven baking or barbecuing.
1 – Preheat The Electric Smoker
Preheat the electric smoker to 130F. You don’t need to add your kielbasa at this point, but placing them in a preheated barrel, with the drafter open, is a quick way to dry the casings if they’re recently made.
2 – Add The Wood Chips
Add your choice of wood to the smoker box and place it on the grill. Wait until the wood chips begin lightly smoking. The drier the wood, the cleaner its combustion and smoke. However, some people choose to dampen their chips because moist wood smolders better and smokes for longer.
3 – Set Your Thermostat
Kielbasa are typically smoked for between two and four hours. The slower and longer they smoke for, the more tender and juicier they will be. Ideally, you want to give your sausages as long as possible in the electric smoker, but you may not have four hours to spend.
The important thing to remember is increments. Whether you’re smoking for two or four hours, you need to gradually increase the temperature inside the barrel.
For example, a four-hour smoke might go something like this: hour one starts at 140F, hour two increases to 160F, hour three increases to 180F and the final hour cooks at 200F.
Adjust these increments to fit your cooking time. Don’t forget, electric smokers are great for programming and automating temperature adjustments. Use the tools on your device to guarantee accuracy and precision.
You’ll also need to refresh the wood chips after every ninety minutes or so. This ensures constant, flavor producing smoke.
4 – Smoke The Kielbasa
Some people hang their kielbasa on smoking hooks, but most use standard barbecue style racks. Place the Kielbasas two inches apart to allow for swelling during cooking.
It’s always a good idea to make one or two test sausages that can be poked, and temperature prodded without concerns about lost juices.
Use your test sausages for probing and monitoring. If you poke holes in the others, the juices will run out and the kielbasa turn out dry.
5 – Monitor The Kielbasa
Your lovingly smoked kielbasa should only be removed once their internal temperature has reached 160F. This is very important for safety reasons.
Undercooked pork can transmit parasites and make a person sick. It’s safe to eat when your temperature probe says so.
Provided your electric smoker is working correctly, you shouldn’t need to turn the kielbasa during cooking. It’s more of a visual technique used for creating those barbecue style grate marks.
If you want your Kielbasas to look super authentic, by all means, flip them 2-3 times during cooking. It won’t do anything special for the flavor though.
6 – Enjoy or Store The Kielbasa
Once 160F has been reached – probe the sausages with a thermometer – and the kielbasa is thoroughly cooked and smoked, remove them from the electric smoker. You can let them cool and eat them quickly while they’re still warm.
If you want to store them for later, they must be plunged into an ice bath to stop their outer cases from shriveling up.
Doing this immediately after you remove them from the smoker ensures they don’t continue to cook on the inside and dry out.
7 – Bloom The Kielbasa (optional)
Some people like to enhance the appearance of their kielbasa by leaving it to bloom at room temperature. This simply means hanging the sausages in a space with good ventilation that’s not overly hot or too cold.
The typical blooming time is between two and three hours, but it depends on the look you’re trying to achieve. The longer you bloom, the deeper and darker your Kielbasas will become.
This is only a visual change though, so you can skip this step if you’re not concerned about aging and darkening.
Smoked kielbasa stored in the fridge will last around four days. If you freeze yours, you can keep it for up to three months before it declines in quality.
Smoking Kielbasa In A Masterbuilt Smoker
Authentic smoking in a high quality, temperature-controlled environment requires a very sophisticated smoking device.
These gadgets can be expensive and, generally, smoking is considered more of a culinary hobby than just a method of cooking.
Products like the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker on Amazon are designed for barbecue enthusiasts with the time, patience and outdoor space to dedicate to this art.
Masterbuilt is one of the most popular brands of electric smoker because these machines combine quality construction with satisfyingly simple features.
They look both classic and cool, come with reliable temperature programming and often include accessories like fishhooks, integrated thermometers and gadgets for smoking cheese and other foods.
If you’ve just purchased your first Masterbuilt Electric Smoker and you’re hoping to rustle up some beautiful kielbasa, here’s what you need to do first.
1 – Perform a Dry Run
New smokers need what’s called a ‘dry run.’ This is a preparatory smoking cycle without any meat. Use wood chips but don’t add any food to the grill. Just run the smoker as you would if there were sausages inside. If possible, try to do this for six to eight hours.
2 – Add Your Accessories
Most people place a water tray and/or a grease collector in the bottom of their Masterbuilt smoker. It’s useful to have a water try handy because adding water is a quick way to adjust temperatures inside the device.
Hot or boiling water increases the temperature quickly, while cold water helps to maintain it. Adding a grease tray means less cleaning later.
3 – Preheat the Smoker
Masterbuilt smokers are high performing devices but they can be a little bit sluggish when warming up.
If you’re using a Masterbuilt, it’s best to run the smoker on its highest setting for 40-60 minutes.
Turn the thermostat back down afterward. This is just to help you reach the desired temperature faster.
Add a small handful of wood chips after the smoker has been prepared and is reaching its desired starting temperature (130-140F).
4 – Load the Wood Chips
The Masterbuilt’s wood chip loader is definitely one of its best features. It’s extremely easy to use so you should never find yourself fumbling over dropped chips or making a mess on the patio.
Simply, turn the loading tube, pull it right out, fill it with chips, slide it back, and turn once more to load the smoker’s tray.
Do this twice to completely fill the smoker’s wood tray. If you are filling it up, remember that more chips mean less smoke.
Normally, it’s better to go with a less is more approach. You can add more chips at any time. It’s harder to take them away.
The secret to even temperatures and a consistent level of smoke is adding fresh wood chips every 45-60 minutes.
The smaller the wood chips, the better. We find that the Masterbuilt electric smokers don’t function as efficiently when using larger, chunkier pieces.
5 – Cook Your Meat
Whether you’re smoking kielbasa, a beef brisket or a cheese wheel, positioning your food correctly will help it cook evenly.
With a Masterbuilt smoker, you always want to place the thickest cuts at the top on the highest shelf. This is where the electric smoker gets hottest.
When smoking fillets of fish, cheese or thinner cuts, use the lower or middle shelves.
Masterbuilt smokers come with a fully integrated temperature probe that you can use for checking the internal temperature of your meats.
Some users say Masterbuilt’s probes are slightly inaccurate, so you might want to consider using a separate temperature device or both at the same time.
6 – Complete Your Smoke
It’s good practice to burn a small portion of wood chips in your smoker after the meat has been removed. This helps to ‘reset’ the interior and get rid of any bitter, acrid odors and flavors before you start a new project.
Helpful Tips To Know How To Smoke Kielbasa In Electric Smoker
Here are some useful tips to help you get the most out of your electric smoker and produce incredible tasting kielbasa every time.
- Use Hickory Wood: Hickory wood is known as the king of smoking woods for very good reason. While it’s not the only great choice, it’s particularly complementary with pork. Hickory gives kielbasa some complex and potent flavors. It produces an almost heady flavor profile and it tastes very indulgent but stops short of being too intense.
- Keep The Door Closed: You can reach in and turn your kielbasa during cooking, but it’s generally better to keep the smoker door shut and retain as much heat as possible. You will need to open it up to perform temperature checks. However, if you can, limit exposure to the open air. Every time you open the door, the smoker loses heat and that even, steady temperature needed for a consistent smoke gets lost. Don’t forget, this is a low and slow cooking method. When dealing with relatively low temperatures, heat gets lost quickly.
- Add Cold Water: If you’re struggling to hold your kielbasa at the correct temperature, try placing a tray of cold water at the bottom of the smoker. The water will evaporate so quickly that it won’t cause too much heat to be lost. It’ll just help to stabilize the temperature inside your electric smoker and maintain a steadier, more consistent heat. Adding spices, beer or wine to the water is a clever way to infuse your kielbasa with another level of flavor.
Hopefully, this quick-fire guide has given you some helpful tips on how to smoke kielbasa in electric smokers. Compared with bigger, thicker meats like brisket, sausages are fairly easy to cook skillfully in this style.
Minimal monitoring and temperature control is required. The only essential part is that your kielbasa must reach an internal temperature of 160F before being removed and served.
Total cooking time, variety of wood and the increments in which you turn up the heat are all open to experimentation.
Smoking is not an exact science. It’s a culinary art, so don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know, you might end up cooking a world beating sausage.