Technology

GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker review: an easy way to barbecue indoors

My love affair with barbecue has been a slow burn. I’m from England, where BBQ means grilling burgers and steak in the garden on a gas grill. So, when I moved to South Carolina over a decade ago, I had no clue what pulled pork was or that brisket was even a thing. I learned quickly. Smoking meat is akin to religion around these parts, and I suspect many pitmasters would view the latest gadget I’ve been testing as something akin to heresy. 

Today, barbecue is one of my favorite dishes — brisket from Lewis Barbecue in Charleston is what I would request for a last meal. However, while I fancy myself as something of an accomplished home chef, I have never had much luck smoking my own meats. So, I was intrigued to test the $999.95 GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker.

A smart indoor smoker, GE Profile’s gadget promises an easier, quicker way to get that smokey flavor; plus, it’s literally the only option if you don’t have the space or an accommodating climate for using an outdoor smoker. I do have an outdoor smoker, but it rarely gets used. It’s huge, requires a lot of prep, and I feel compelled to smoke a lot of meat to justify using it — plus, as mentioned, I’ve not been very successful making my own barbecue.

The GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker is an excellent gadget for smoking meats, veggies, and more from the comfort of your kitchen. While it didn’t handle the more classic BBQ cuts as well as I’d hoped, if you love that smokey flavor and don’t have room for an outdoor machine, it’s a great — if expensive — option.

Its main tricks are being small enough to fit on your countertop (although it’s not small) and smoking food without smoking up your kitchen. Something called Active Smoke Filtration technology and an airflow system combined with tight gaskets and seals keeps the smoke in the appliance. This worked very well. No smoke escaped the oven at all during cooking, but I still got the lovely aromas. The one thing that did come out of the gadget was heat. My kitchen got very warm while using it. 

The Smart Indoor Smoker promises an easier, quicker way to get that smokey flavor

This is because it’s essentially an oven that adds smoke flavor. Unlike a true outdoor wood-pellet smoker, the Smart Indoor Smoker doesn’t cook your food with smoke. It uses a separate heating element that does most of the hard work while the smoke infuses it with flavor. This significantly cuts down on cooking time and means you use way fewer wood pellets. But I did find meats didn’t always achieve that tenderness you get from smoking alone.

The smart smoker is nicely designed — looking like a fancy toaster oven set on its side. The single door has a glass front and a cavity light, so I could watch the meat smoking.

If you want to smoke meat indoors, though, this is a very good way to do it. Purists might scoff, but it’s more efficient than an outdoor smoker. And while I found it hard to fit into my everyday cooking routine — it still can’t cook anything in under an hour — in the two months I tested it, I used it at least twice a week, far more often than I use my outdoor smoker. It’s super simple to use and easy to clean, and its neat Keep Warm feature meant I could put a piece of meat or some sweet potatoes in the smoker in the morning, and it would be ready for dinner time.

Two downsides are the price — $1,000 is a lot for a single-purpose gadget — and the size. Only consider this if you have a lot of countertop space or somewhere you can store it when it’s not in use. It’s short enough to fit under my cabinets, but not with the four inches of clearance the manual recommends. My husband didn’t want it near anything that might catch fire (he’s a firefighter and was deeply suspicious of this device, but it never caused any issues). 

1/5

The smart smoker has three racks and a removable drip tray.

It needs to be big so it can fit the popular barbeque meats. GE Appliances says its three removable racks allow for enough space to cook three racks of baby back ribs, a brisket, a whole chicken, up to 40 wings, or a 14-pound pork butt. I did not test these capacity limits — there’s only so much meat one family can eat. But it didn’t struggle to handle anything I put in it, from a whole chicken to two racks of ribs to a sizeable brisket (halved). 

The rest of the device is similarly well-designed. It has a nice big digital display that’s easy to read, with a large dial you turn and press to select temperature and smoke level, plus digital buttons for basic functions. There are six presets for brisket, pork ribs, pork butt, chicken wings, chicken breast, and salmon that can be activated from the device or GE Appliance’s Smart HQ app. Then there’s a customize option for setting your own smoke. The app isn’t required, but it offers some tips and tricks and can alert you when the door is left open, when the smoker is preheated, or when the food is almost done, which is handy.

To start a smoke, I selected one of the presets, chose whether to use the built-in temperature probe or a set cook time (annoyingly, you can’t use both), added the pellets, filled the water bucket — where the pellets go to be extinguished — and pressed start on the machine. Once it reached the set temperature, I had to press start again (which I couldn’t do remotely), and the smoking got underway. 

1/6

My first brisket was full of smokey flavor but on the chewy side.

The smoker did a great job infusing everything I cooked with a lovely smokey flavor, ranging from mild for shorter cook times to really rich for meats that were slow-cooked over eight to 10 hours. I liked that I could monitor and control the device from the app and use voice commands with Alexa to adjust the temperature. 

The smoker did a great job infusing everything I cooked with a lovely smokey flavor

But its smarts are limited. As is common with smart kitchen devices, I couldn’t remotely start the appliance. I was also disappointed that the smoker couldn’t automatically adjust the cooking temperatures for me. The Traeger smart smoker I have will adjust the temperatures over a long smoke, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of barbecuing. The GE Profile smart smoker required frequent manual intervention for bigger meats like brisket, including rotating the meat since the compartment doesn’t heat evenly.

Sadly, my manual intervention was not successful. While all the meats I cooked had excellent smokey flavor, my two attempts at pork butt and three tries at briskets all came out chewy. Chicken, salmon, and sweet potatoes were all fine, but those more complicated meats I struggled to get right. 

To be fair, I struggle with those in the Traeger, too, but the GE Profile smart smoker didn’t make me a better pitmaster. That’s still a skill I guess a machine can’t learn. In retrospect (and based on a similar experience this professional griller had with the smart smoker), it’s likely that using the Keep Warm setting overcooked my meats. It takes a while for the internal temperature to get back down, so I probably needed to adjust the cook time to account for that.

What would be great is if this smart smoker was smart enough to do that for me. Or smart enough to adjust the cooking temperature automatically during a smoke so that the meat comes out tender every time. While this innovative gadget brings something new to the kitchen, right now, its smart features are fairly basic. Smart kitchen gadgets that help you cook are great, but what I want most from the smart kitchen are smart devices that help you be a better cook.

Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Related posts

AI language models are running out of human-written text to learn from

Daily

From ChatGPT to Gemini: how AI is rewriting the internet

Daily

The Verge’s 2024 Father’s Day gift guide: headphones, tools, chargers, and more

Daily

Leave a Comment