Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker Instructions

Bradley Smoker Review 037

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The Bradley Digital 4-rack Smoker is a unique electric smoker that uses wood bisquettes fed automatically onto a small hot plate to create constant smoke. A new bisquette moves onto the hot plate every 20 minutes and the old one is pushes off into a bowl of water to be extinguished.

This smoker allows you to set the desired smoke time, oven temperature and cook time and it will maintain these parameters for you.

For instance, if I am smoking chicken, I might set the smoke time to 2 hours, the cook time to 4 hours and the oven temperature to 240 degrees. The Bradley will then feed the bisquettes for 2 hours and then stop. The oven will maintain about 240 degrees and will turn off automatically once 4 hours have expired.

You can change any of these parameters very easily, on the fly which makes this unit extremely nice when you want to smoke cook something for a while but you have other things to do or you need some sleep.

Setup and Cooking Instructions

The Bradley has 4 racks on which to place food, a small bowl to catch the spent bisquettes, a controller to control the temperature, smoke and cook times and a feed mechanism to generate smoke.

I recommend ordering an extra set of Bradley racks to use in your other smokers. They are great for carrying food to and from the smoker without having to ever remove it from the rack.. you see my use them a lot for this reason.

The insides

4 racks

The controller allows you to set the smoke and cook times and the oven temperature.

Bradley controller

You have to determine how long you want to to cook, how long you want the smoke to keep going and what temperature you want to maintain. You then just dial in the numbers using the super easy buttons.

The bisquette holder

The bisquit holder

Here's the bisquettes lined up.. one is on the hot plate at the end. Every 20 minutes a new one is pushed into place which pushes the spent one off into the water bowl.

When you get ready to cook something, you figure up how many hours you want to keep the smoke going, divide that by 20 minute segments and that's how many bisquettes you load plus a couple of extra ones to push the last bisquette into place.

Bisquits lined up

The Bradley allows air in throught the side of the controller and is not adjustable. There is (1) vent at the top of the unit which is adjustable. I normally keep it at about 1/2 open.

Top vent ½ open

Note: I placed the unit up on blocks to get it to a better working level. One of these days, I might just build a special table for it complete with storage for bisquettes and other supplies.

Bradley up on blocks

All in all, I really like the Bradley digital 4-rack smoker and it is a true joy to use. You will discover with use that like most electric smoker, you may not see a smoke ring in your meats due to the lower level of nitrites and nitrates present such as when burning wood, charcoal or gas. The bisquettes are designed to smolder and create smoke and it does not always create a beautiful smoke ring.

This does not bother me and definitely does not affect the flavor but some folks really love their smoke rings so that could be a deal breaker.

The bisquettes come in all different flavors and are readily available from Amazon. Here are a few examples of what is available:

Apple bisquits

Whiskey oak bisquits

Hickory bisquits

I will add more to this page as I think of things that need to be included.

Read reviews for the Bradley Digital 4-rack Smoker at Amazon


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  1. Just got a used 1st gen bradley manual smoker. My water is evaporating less then 30-50 mins and the bowl is dry? Why is this happening? The books says change every 2-3 hrs.

    1. The rate of evaporation depends on the heat level you are running. The pucks are also soaking up some of the water. It seems to vary on mine but 30-50 minutes seems pretty quick to me. I have heard of folk using a foil cake pan instead of the water bowl so the water will last longer.

  2. Jeff
    On the display of the digital smoke generator what is the flame icon mean and the lines above the flame?
    Input would be appreciated
    Thank you

    1. Patrick, The flame icon indicates the oven (heating element) is in operation, the lines are indicators that the smoke generator is in operation. Both can work independently or together depending on how you you have it set.

      1. Thanks Jeff
        Above the icon flame there is /// slashes then / / slashes, then / slash. What setting does each hash mean and if they mean something how do I change the setting if it needs to be changed it always hi lites /// slashes.
        Thank you

        1. Patrick, On mine, when the smoke is on, the three sets of lines alternate over and over to symbolize smoke flowing upwards. This is Bradley’s version of an animated graphic.

          First the bottom set of lines, then the set of lines above that, then the top set of lines.

          Is yours doing something different than this?

          In this video at about 00:57, you can see what it’s supposed to do.

    1. Ray,

      The Bradley smoker does a great job of smoking but it just doesn’t have the power or the design to get to the higher temperatures required to grill food. It is an amazing smoker but just isn’t designed for grilling.

      I recommend the Camp Chef Woodwind pellet smoker for this sort of thing. It does a great job of smoking and will also go up to around 450 or a little higher to do some grilling. There are slots in the drip tray that allow heat through if you want it to, that do some pretty nice grilling on steaks, chicken, etc.

      It also has a side burner that accepts attachments such a the barbecue grill, griddle, and even a pizza oven if you are so inclined. It’s more versatile albeit more expensive than the Bradley smoker.

  3. Sharon make sure the little round cord is plugged into the cabinet and the smoke unit I think it’s a sensor cord? But mine read like that till I plugged it in it’s the short small cord with round ends on both sides

    1. Sharon, this has happened to me before too. Before you purchase a new sensor cable, try switching the ends of where they plug in to. If this does not work on the metal ends of the cables, take something like steel wool or a wire brush and lightly clean the metal ends. This has in my case helped with the connection. I have also slowly plugged and unplugged the cable until it worked. This will get you by until you can find out the true problem, which would easily be solved by purchasing a new cable. But if the meat all rubbed there is nothing worse than loading the smoker and not have it work. GoodLuck.

  4. I solved my problem wit my 4 rack Bradley Smoker. Check out Pull My Pork.com and check the video.
    I changed my heat element with a 900 watt and what a difference I can finally get away from the under 175 degree temperature Check out the video and he gives a full instruction how to change the element.
    I found my 900 watt element on the internet for $79.00. Worth every penny. Why would Bradley not change these?

  5. A few years ago I bought a Bradley with digital display and only started using it recently. The digital worked for only about an hour and now only beeps whenever I turn it on and shows an error code E-1. Called Bradley and only got a few suggestions to try to make it work. I replaced the sensor cable, the heat bar and cleaned the sensor on the back of the cabinet. The heat element works if I plug directly into it and the beeping smoke generator heats up the wood biscuits, but does not advance the biscuits in manual or automatically. Very disappointed with it, but at $500, I will keep trying to make it work for awhile. Was thinking about just replacing the digital smoke generator with one of the less tech versions I see advertised on eBay. Any suggests will be helpful.

    1. John, I really like the Bradley smoker as far as ease of use and flavor but it does have an undersized heating element and struggles when it’s cool outside. To help it out, I recommend preheating to a higher temperature (275-300) for a while to heat up the grates, and internal parts of the smoker before you insert the food. Once it’s ready, quickly place the food in the smoker and close the door. You may be able to turn down the heat to 225 to maintain once it returns to normal.

      If it’s really cold outside, the best you can do is add smoke for an hour or two with it as hot as it will manage and then move it to the oven to finish.

      This is one of my main complaints about the Bradley smoker and I have voiced my concern about this to the owner of Bradley.

  6. I’ve had my Bradley Original smoker for 3 years and have had great success with ribs, whole turkey, various chicken parts, salmon, pork loin….I’m planning on trying a brisket and I’m sure it’ll work out well.
    The question of a stand keeps coming up, I built one with left over 2”x4”s and plywood for the top. Nothing fancy but functional.
    I do love the set it and forget it with the automatic bisquette system.
    If and when it needs replacing I will stick with Bradley but will opt for the digital model for better temperature control.

  7. I have a Bradley and a master built I prefer the Bradley over my master built, it puts out way more smoke. But both of them work great in my mind. Just depends on what I am cooking on which one I use.

  8. Don-Don’t know why you are so negative about the Bradley. I’ve used the same Bradley since 2008 and never have had a problem. Smoked everything from whole muscle meats to beef sticks to sausage to seafood. It’s just as dependable as my 2000 Camry and my wife of 31 years. Would’t give up any of them.

  9. Jeff,
    You are a genius. Thanks for all the tips and recipes but the real reward are the rubs and sauce mixes you have. Just tried the original rub last week for some pulled pork. My family and I were amazed at the taste and tenderness. Using the rub again for some Memorial Day ribs (your fall apart recipe). Can’t wait to eat em. Thanks again for all you do. By the way, I use a Masterbuilt. Works great for me.

  10. Jeff I have a four rack Bradley Jim Beam smoker, started having problem with the pucks they do not eject when done but will if you hit the manual advance. The slide tray is clean what tell it a puck is bunt and it to advance. I don’t have a manual.

    1. Richard,

      The puck advance is on a timer should advance automatically every 20 minutes. A new puck slides in and pushes the spent one off into the water bowl.

      To figure out why it’s having this problem, your best bet is to call Bradley customer service at 1-866-508-7514.

    2. If your picks are not advancing, check to see if the puck tube holder is not pressed tight to the bottom of where it meets the burner unit. Make sure the loader tube is pulled up about 1/2” inch from the bottom of the advance mechanism.
      Hope this helps

  11. Using my new 4 rack for first time today. I’m experimenting with a whole boneless chicken breast – very large. Which rack would you put it on in the four rack smoker?

    1. If you haven’t yet used it, I recommend you pack it up and return it first thing in morning for a refund. Get something different. These are worthless. Won’t hold heat.

      1. Mine holds heat good and I have used it in cold weather. I have had mine for over two years, I don’t use it everyday, but, it still works.

    2. I would put two to a rack and put them in the middle of the smoker. If they are skinless be careful because the outside can become a bit dry. Have a squirt bottle ready, quickly open the door and squirt each breast twice, then close the door, you should have the door open only about 30 seconds, that way you don’t lose too much heat. Also a tip I have posted before is to remove the water bowl and replace it with a tin foil cake pan, one of those 9 x 12 ones 1 and a 1/2 inches tall. That way you are not opening the door every two hours losing heat.

  12. I have a couple of tips for the Bradley smoker, first tip is replaced the water bowl with a tin foil cake pan. I did this so I wouldn’t have to open the door as much to refill the water bowl, instead of opening the door every 2 hours to refill pan I now can go 4 to 5 hours before I have to refill the pan again. Second tip is find yourself bisquette saver ( I used bing to find them), they will save you pucks in the end and the last one will not burn to ash

  13. Hi Jeff, We smoked a turkey in my Bradley unit. It was fantastic, I finished it off in the oven for about 10 min to crisp up the skin a bit. Let it rest for an hour wrapped in foil and blankets. It was magnificent, very juicy and the flavor was over the top. Thanks for the recipe it was amazing. Christmas turkey next.

  14. I have and use a Bradley Digital, a Weber Smokey Mountain, a regular Weber, and a big gas grill. All are good for different things. I did have to replace the digital unit on my Bradley after 5+ years. It is great for salmon, bacon, pork butts, turkey, etc. where you do not want to baste or add sauce. I like the Smokey Mountain for ribs, beef roasts, and pork butts. You have to keep the Smokey Mountain clear of ashes in the bottom to retain circulation, and add wood and charcoal as needed. It has a good capacity. I make great ribs on the regular Weber by using indirect heat and skewers or the rack. So it is really a question of learning the qualities of each and how to handle the wood and charcoal. So the Bradley is great because you load it and leave it. Do keep the bisquet area clean of chips as the one gentleman noted.

  15. I own a 6 rack bradley and love it. The door was warped and bradley replaced it immediately. I have about $300.00 in brisquettes right now many flavors. Smoking 4 hams last weekend and 5 more this one for thanksgiving family and friends. I just wish the bradley programmed in 5 degree increments as if I want 225 I gave to go 230 or 220. Smoked bratwurst hams sirloins and came out great. I bought a utility cart from harbor freight roll it around on. Yours in righteous smoking. Chuck B.

  16. Hi, I am considering buying a Bradley digital but the fact that it uses a puck every 20 mins seems uneconomical if slow cooking a brisket or pork butt for 10 hours. Does something like that need to be smoked the whole time, or is it more correct to smoke only for 2 or 3 hours during the long cooking period? Thanks

    1. It’s more about what you like rather than what is correct. Real wood smokers smoke the food the entire time by default unless you wrap it in foil and I like to replicate that process even in electric smokers such as the Bradley but there are no actual rules about this.

      If you like a lot of smoke flavor, then you will want to smoke longer. If you like the smoke flavor to be more subtle, then you can smoke for shorter periods of time and it will be fine.

      My usual recommendation is to apply smoke for at least half of the total estimated cook time. If you are cooking a pork butt and you only expect it to take about 10 hours, you would smoke it for about 5 hours or 15 pucks.

      1. I went to harbor freight and bought a cheap tool roll around cart that my Bradley Smoker would fit in. Works great and put the smoker about 30 inches off the ground. I store it in my garage and roll it outside when using the smoker.

    1. I have a metal 2 drawer filing cabinet, using the two drawers to hold the brisquettes as well as other smoking supplies. You can pick them up for pennies on the dollar at thrift stores. It works perfect for my 4 rack Original Bradley smoker!

  17. Having an extremely difficult time getting my Bradley electric to regain heat when I put the meat in the smoker. It takes at least a hour to regain heat to 225 degrees.

    It works pretty good on the ABTs and chicken but ribs and other meats drag it down.


  18. I had just purchased a Bradley Digital Smoker. I followed the Seasoning procedure, and then did a pair of whole chickens. I used apple wood for smoke, mainly because its mild. Smoked for 2 hours and cooked for another 3 hours. The internal temp was at 168 when I took them off and rested for about 20 min. They were perfectly cooked. I’m looking forward to smoking up the campgrounds this summer.

  19. How does the Bradley compare with the new pellet grills for smoking only. I know the pellet grills can get to a higher temp but I am only interested in smoking.

  20. This Bradley unit was the first i have purchased for myself. I know some people complain about silly 8hrs limit on programmable cooking time, but i never required more than that! … upgraded to cookshack recently.

  21. I have a Bradley smoker, but without the digital controller. (Old school) Years ago I built a large smoker out of an old fridge. Insulated with 2" insulation and completly lined. I used a double hot plate for heat ond smoke. With a family of six to feed, I needed a big smoker. Now that It is only me and my dog, I didn't need a smoker that could handle over a 100lds at a time. I still use the smoker tho, I put my Bradley inside the big smoker and it acts as a double insulated smoker. I vent it thru the big smoker vent. The small smoker doesn't loose any heat at all being inside the big daddy.

  22. I have had my Bradley since June and so far am pleased with it.  I do find that my bisquettes do not burn completely….is that normal?  I have been drying them out and reusing them.

  23. Actually, I would stay away from the Bradley.  The wood feeding mechanism on mine stopped working after about one year.  I bought a new motor and micro switch, but still won’t work.  Calling Bradley again tomorrow.

    1. I've had a Bradley for about 6 years, and never had a single issue with it.  You need to keep the shavings blown out of it-I just use a blast from an air compressor to blow them out.

      1. Bradley smokers are a hit and miss, I have had my Bradley smoker for almost two years now and it works great. I had bought one for a friend and it only lasted 4 months before the heating element and the smoke generator stopped working. It’s he tried calling Bradley directly and it would cost him more to have it fixed that it would be to buy a brand new one. Most of the replacement parts are outsourced.

  24. Hello Jeff,

    I am new at the whole smoking meats things. However, I am very interested in learning. I have a HUGE family that always comes over for my cooking and bbq, mainly baked due to health problems for a few. I am seriously interested in getting a smoker so that I can get away from the same old baking/braising thing and move on to new tender ways of making flavorful food. What smoker would you recommend for a beginner "bbq-ist".

                     Thanks a bunch!

  25. Hello Jeff,

    I am new at the whole smoking meats things. However, I am very interested in learning. I have a HUGE family that always comes over for my cooking and bbq, mainly baked due to health problems for a few. I am seriously interested in getting a smoker so that I can get away from the same old baking/braising thing and move on to new tender ways of making flavorful food. What smoker would you recommend for a beginner "bbq-ist".

                     Thanks a bunch!

  26. Hi Jeff,

    Love the site.  I am thinking of purchasing one of these to replace my Weber "Bullet" charcoal/wood smoker as it seems like this machine is much easier to use and to get consistent results than the Bullet.  Am I right in my thinking on that point?

    Also – if I get this Bradley unit, I will have to put it on my wood deck to have it near enough to an outdoor outlet to plug in.  My main question is – how hot does the outside of the Bradley get while it is smoking?  Do I need to place it off the wooden deck surface?  If so, are there any stands made that would suit this purpose or should I simply use cement blocks as you have done above?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts and – again – love both your web site/emails as well as your book that I have.

  27. Hi to all please dont get me rong.Iv bought over 3.000.00 dollars worth of bradley smokers and genrators and pucks.bottom line I have a complant if you dont mind.I belong to a team that has 9 grands we cook with the fec 100.my bradly smokers have all the good stuff on them.I mean everything.you cant win nothing with them.you try to choke the smoke back on your meat and it spits it right back into the genrator know you have a mess and the genrator stops working becouse its all tackey and sticky and a mess.Im very unhappy with all of bradlys bull crap.they wont get my dollar anymore or the 65 other guys that bought from them that i cook with.sorry if i sound rude there stuff is junk.have a great day.

    1. I don’t know why the smoker has not worked well for you, I have had a Bradley for several years now and it is my go to smoker when I am in a hurry. It does require some extra heat up time when it’s really cold out but that is to be expected in my opinion. I enjoy using it and I just smoked some boudin in it last night. To die for!!

      My smoker also does not get tacky or sticky and seems to produce really clean smoke. I keep the vent at the top open about 1/4 inch all the time.

      Have you spoken to Bradley about these problems?

    2. I have a bradley and it works pretty good, I dont think its a good choice for competition smoking because it does not leave a smoke ring. That being said it is easy to use and still makes some delicous backyard bbq.