Close-up of grilled sweetcorn, horizontal shot

When it’s simply too hot to turn on the oven for dinner, especially with 100-plus-degree temperatures outside, it’s a great time to fire up the smoker. That was our Sunday afternoon, in fact. My husband smoked some incredible ribs that were delicious as always.

He also decided to try something new and tossed in some corn on the cob in our electric smoker, too. Probably some of the best corn on the cob I’ve ever had.

While I’d heard of fun, unusual things to smoke, we’ve typically stuck with either fish or meat. With the corn being such a success, I thought I’d explore some more recipe ideas for our smoker. Time to get creative!

Here are some recipes for other great entrees, side dishes and even desserts that all work great in the smoker. For more ideas, visit our Money-Saving Recipes board on Pinterest.

Entrees

There is nothing quite as delicious as smoked slices of brisket or tri-tip. And melt-in-your-mouth barbecue ribs, too, are so delicious when cooked over a maplewood smoke. And don’t forget the perfection of smoked salmon. But there are other great entrees that also can be cooked in the smoker. Pizza and casseroles you might normally pop in the oven also would be great in the smoker. Try a Papa Murphy’s pizza or Tater Tot Casserole.

Try meatloaf in the smoker. Make the loaf using 1 pound each of ground beef and ground pork, 2 whisked eggs, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon seasoned salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese. Wrap the loaf in 8 strips of bacon. Place on smoker and cook at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Sides

As I’ve recently discovered, there are countless recipe ideas for side dishes you can cook in the smoker. Corn and other vegetables like carrots, zucchini, squash, asparagus and even potatoes can all be cooked in the smoker — producing a deeper, rich, smoky flavor. Other unique side dish options include jalapeño poppers, baked beans, mac & cheese and even dinner rolls.

Try these smoked sweet potatoes with maple cinnamon butter. Wash, dry and pierce 6 whole sweet potatoes. Rub all over with olive oil and salt. Place potatoes in a 250-degree preheated smoker and smoke for 2 hours. In a bowl whisk together 8 tablespoons softened, salted butter with 4 tablespoons maple syrup and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Once potatoes are cooked, split open, fluff the insides and top with the butter.

Desserts

Believe it or not, but you can cook up an entire meal in a smoker — from appetizers to entrees to sides and even to desserts. So, let’s round out our meal with a perfectly cooked dessert enhanced with the smokiness of maplewood or applewood chips. Instead of heating up the kitchen to enjoy your favorite apple pie for your family barbecue, pop that pie into the smoker. You can even top it with smoked whipped cream for smoked brie.

For an easy summer treat try Smoked S’mores Nachos. Break up graham crackers into pieces and spread on a smoker-safe pan. Break chocolate bar into pieces and spread atop crackers. Place marshmallows on top of the chocolate bars. Place in a 225-degree smoker for about 10 minutes. Then turn up the heat to 375 and cook for another five minutes. Spread marshmallows with a spatula and enjoy.

— Jennifer Durrant