anyone use a Big or Little Chief Electric Smoker for smoking sausages??

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by snorkelinggirl, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi folks,

    I have a Smokin-Tex electric smoker (a Cook Shack knock-off) that I have been using with an AMNPS for my smoking needs. However, I've been very frustrated using it to smoke sausage, because the temperature swings are too big and uncontrollable....I end up with rendered fat, or needing to pull the sausage out early and finish it in the oven or a hot water bath. I know that others here have installed a PID controller to get around this problem, but I don't feel comfortable making those mods by myself.

    I am considering getting a Big Chief electric smoker off of Craiglist, and using that for smoking sausages. The heater element supposedly only gets to 165 deg F, which would be about perfect for smoking sausages anyway.

    Does anyone here have experience using either a Big Chief or a Little Chief for smoking sausages, and can offer some input?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. I have one of these Big Chief type units that was originally my grandfathers.  Its branded under a different name but its the same thing.  In my trials with it I was never able to get it very warm at all and ended up finishing in an oven.  The instructions and recipes that came with it even suggest it. It may be fine for sausage but I'm not sure.  I would say if you are going to spend the money to upgrade I'd go with a Masterbuilt Electric.  Like and MES 30.  It will be able to smoke anything you decide to smoke and use your AMNPS for cold smoking as well. 
    snorkelinggirl likes this.
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Clarissa, morning.......  That should be a very good unit for your sausage, salmon needs....     You might need an insulating blanket or a custom made cardboard box to insulate it in cooler weather....  I modded mine to run in zero degree weather with a table top element...   A dimmer switch and an element upgrade "might" be in the future depending on ambient temps but a cardboard box should work fine...  If it get cold, look for that double or triple layer cardboard they pack appliances in.....    If I can be of any further help.....  you know where I am.....

    Those open vent positions are for pellicle formation with lots of air.... 


    ...vent position open.....


    ...vent position top of door open....

    ...insulated with carpeting..... 

    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
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  4. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Dave,

    Thank you so much for the great information. I am getting tired of making this nice looking sausage, only to have it turn mealy and fat out in the smoker. Your advice and pictures are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again,
  5. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi KandL,

    Thanks very much for your reponse and input. I wonder if the wattage on your smoker is the same as the Big Chiefs out on the market today? I've heard those can get to 165 deg F, which should be perfect for sausage, but I've also heard other folks say they have had the same problem as you with not getting the temp that high.

    I'll look at the temp accuracy specs for the MES 30 and see how it compares with the ST that I already have. The temp swing in most of these electric smokers is miserable.

    Thanks again for your response and help!
  6. Thanks SnorkelingGirl, Its very possible that the unit I have has a weaker element in it thus causing the issues.  While I tend to use only Charcoal I have a close friend that uses an MES 30 with no issues so far.  Best of luck in finding something that works well for you! [​IMG]
  7. mark4mn

    mark4mn Fire Starter

    Over the years I have had both the little and big chief. Liked the little chief better for sausage. Wrapped it in a cheap welders blanket on cold days.

    Mine ran right about 165 while the big chief would get up to close to 185F.

    I would lay the sausage on the rack as close to the drip tray as I could. Temp probe cook to 155F, then into cold water bath.

    I now cook sausage in my smokin-it #3 and my son uses the little just passed its 38th birthday!

  8. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you very much for your reply and input. I've heard that the type and amount of insulation make a huge difference in the temps that the Big and Little Chiefs are able to get, and sounds like that is exactly your experience. Thanks for your response, and have a great night!


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