Little Chief has been a key player in the world of smokers since 1968 since the first ever Little Chief smoker was invented.
They became popularized in the Pacific Northwest in communities where fishing for sport was rife, as the fishermen would use the smokers to get that delicious, distinctive smoky taste on all their catches.
Smoked salmon, trout, and steelhead soon became a favorite among them, and in turn, Little Chief smokers became essential.
To begin with, the only Little Chief model was a top load one, but in 1979, the front load model came onto the market.
As time went on, the popularity of these smokers grew from the Pacific Northwest to the rest of America, with people using them for all sorts of foods, not just fish.
They soon brought out a variety of different models that were suitable for all sorts of produce. They were being used for jerky, sausage, cheese, nuts, and other meats.
Over 40 years later and the Little Chief front load smoker is still one of their most popular models to date.
In this article, we are going to be providing you with an in-depth review of the smoker telling you what we liked, what we didn’t like, and telling you all you need to know about it.
So, what exactly is a Little Chief Front Load Smoker?
The Little Chief Front Load Smoker is an electric smoker suitable for fish, jerky, cheese, nuts, and more.
It works by smoking your produce at consistent, low temperatures, ensuring that it never exceeds 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This is to avoid cooking the food and ruining your produce.
It is important that you take note of this, because if you are looking for a smoker that will cook briskets and ribs then you will be disappointed.
This is a cold smoker, and so it is not suitable for cooking meats. That being said, it is the perfect choice for getting that delicious smoked taste on your catch of the day, your favorite cheeses, jerky, and nuts.
The Little Chief Front Loading Smoker can be plugged into your household electrical outlets, making it a very convenient way to get smoked goods fast.
It uses a 120V/250W heating element to reach those 165 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures, and it comes complete with a bag of flavored wood fuel.
The bags of wood fuel are also available to buy separately in a variety of flavors such as applewood, hickory wood, and cherry wood.
The wood chips or chunks go below the food and can be accessed without opening the door of the food area. This means you can add more wood and check on it without ever opening the door of the food and risking temperature fluctuations.
Above the wood pan is the food area. It is a front loading food area for the easiest access, and you can load it up to a maximum of 25 lbs, whether that be with fish, sausage, or cheese.
You load your produce onto chrome-plated grills that can easily be removed when the time for washing comes around.
Talking about washing, the drip pan that is included is dishwasher safe to make your job as easy as possible.
Simply load up the dishwasher and sit back with a beer and your freshly smoked jerky while the machine does all the hard work.
Little Chief Front Load Smoker Review
So, now that you know a little more about what a Little Chief Front Load Smoker is, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
In this section, we will be letting you know those all-important product specifications and important features.
Dimensions of the smoker: The smoker measures 11.50 x 11.50 x 24.50 inches and the package altogether weighs 12.16 pounds.
Electrical information: The smoker runs on an AC/DC power source and the heating element inside is 120V/250W. It can plug into a standard outlet but must be run outside only.
Is there a warranty?: The smoker comes with a two year warranty and is guaranteed to be free of manufacturer faults for this period of time.
Capacity: The smoker can hold a total of 25lbs of produce inside.
Contents of the package: The package includes the smoker (of course) and all of the equipment, the leads needed to use it, a bag of Chips ‘n’ Chunks wood fuel in the ‘hickory wood smoke’ flavor, and a recipe/instruction manual.
Maximum heat: The smoker can reach a maximum heat of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This is around 73-74 degrees Celsius.
Construction materials: The smoker is made out of very durable material to ensure longevity. The embossed aluminum ensures it is lightweight and sturdy.
Set-up: There is no assembly required. It comes ready to use with an instruction manual to tell you how to set it up for the first time.
Safety certificates: the smoker comes with safety certificates from UL and CUL.
What We Liked
- We loved the ‘no frills’ approach to smoking that the product gives you. It was very simple to set up and use, and we loved the fact that we didn’t have to constantly keep checking the temperature. Once it was all loaded up we could kick back and relax, letting the Front Load smoker do its thing. Sometimes simplicity pays off, and this is truly one of those times.
- We liked the materials used. Aluminum is both durable and lightweight, giving you the best of both worlds with this product. It can be easily transported but the material is sturdy enough to last for many years
- We liked the inclusion of recipes in the instructions manual. They give a good starting point and some inspiration for beginners and smoking pros alike.
- The capacity is huge, you can really load it up with your product and it will not reduce the quality in any way.
- The package also comes with Hickory Wood Chips ‘n’ Chunks which we loved. You can buy extra separately when needed. We also liked the fact that the wood pan was separate from the food area, meaning you can load it up with more flavored wood without ever needing to open the door to the food. This ensures all that important smoke is kept inside!
What We Didn’t Like
- There is no temperature control on the device, meaning you cannot make it colder for things such as cheese. This may not cause a huge issue, and indeed, cheese can still be smoked at the temperature of the smoker, but it is worth bearing in mind if you are looking for a variable temperature.
- It is not hot enough to cook your produce. It is a cold smoker. For this reason, you will not be able to cook ribs, briskets, and butts in the same way as you would in say a BBQ grill smoker. The temperatures reach just 165 degrees Fahrenheit which may disappoint some customers looking for a hotter smoker.
- In colder weather or high winds, this product struggled to reach the temperature needed. This can be fixed by using the thermal covering that is sold by Little Chief, but not everyone will want to purchase this extra piece of equipment. This may be worth bearing in mind if you live in a palace that is often cold and windy.
Our Final Verdict
To conclude, we are happy to inform you that we are very impressed with the Little Chief Front Load Smoker. Provided you bear in mind from the beginning that it is a cold smoker you will not be disappointed.
It was not designed for the purpose of cooking meats at high heats, but rather, smoking your favorite fish, cheese, nuts, sausages, and more.
It can also smoke jerky to absolute deliciousness. We loved the lightweight but durable material used, and certainly, other reviewers felt the same.
For some people, they may find that the aluminum is a little too flimsy, and certainly, it is not as solid as some of the more traditional, non-electrical smokers out there. However, the whole point of the m=smoker is that it is easy to transport, and it certainly meets that criteria.
Some people who were reviewing the product online had been users of the Little Chief Front Loading Smoker since it was first released in 1979! Something that endures the test of time like that is certainly worth trying out.
We found it to be very good value for money, for what it does. The amount of produce you can smoke at once is wonderful, and it does that without affecting the quality of the food in any way.
We thought it was very easy to use, with no assembly needed. indeed, as far as cold smokers go, this is one of the best out there. Don’t just take our word for it though, try it for yourself!