Confused about whether to buy an electric smoker or a propane smoker? We weighed out the pros and cons of each smoker to help make the choice easier.
Smoking food is an ancient practice that has only finessed with time and advanced technology. With newer smoking techniques and modern technology, people have started practicing safe smoking in their houses as well. A lot of people often hold parties in their backyard now and smoke meat and vegetables for an entertaining fun time.
However, as the smoking techniques have improved and new technologies have been introduced, we come across several types of smokers which provides users with multiple options to choose from.
We have electric smokers, charcoal smokers, propane smokers, and so on. Each of these smoker types has its own benefits and disadvantages and it is up to us to choose the one that suits our needs and purposes the most.
So, in this article, we will discuss electric and propane smokers and which one is a better option for smoking food at home.
Table of Contents
What is a Smoker?
Now, the first thing that we need to understand is the meaning and use of a smoker.
A smoker is an outdoor kitchen appliance that is used to cook food at a low temperature in a smoke-filled controlled environment and is often used to prepare BBQ foods. A smoker comes in different sizes and designs and can be found using a variety of fuels like charcoal, propane, electricity, natural gas, and so on.
The main job of a smoker is to maintain a constant smoking temperature around 110 degrees Celsius so that your food can be slowly and efficiently be cooked using the smoke produced by your appliance.
Earlier, wood was burnt to produce smoke to heat and cook your food but now we have several different ways to produce smoke to add flavor to your cooked food. In electric smokers, wood pellets are added to the heating chamber to produce the desired smoke flavor so that your food can absorb this smokey flavor for an enhanced experience.
As we mentioned above, there are several types of smokers based on the fuel type, out of which electric and gas smokers are one of the most popular smokers at home as they are easy to use and clean.
What is an Electric Smoker?
An electric smoker is a new type of smoker which uses thermal energy to be powered up and contains an internal heating element to produce heat and smoke which requires electrical power to operate. This heat produced by the heating element heats up the wood chips placed inside the smoker to produce smoke which helps in cooking food and adding smoke flavor to it.
An Electric Smoker differs from other types of smokers in numerous features and functions which includes a digital panel control that allows the user to set the desired temperature for smoking.
The user can input the meat type that is being smoked and the required temperature for smoking and the electric smoker will ensure a constant smoking temperature for your meat without you having to check up on it multiple times.
Using an electric smoker is super easy as you just need to push a button to turn it on and it’s heating element will automatically start heating up. Then, all you need to do is add a few cups of your desired wood type and the smoker will work for the next couple of hours to cook and smoke your food.
An electric smoker is a convenient option for those who cannot stay near their smoker all the time to monitor the progress and is extremely easy to clean as well. However, despite its many features, it has its own set of advantages and disadvantages so make sure you read through both of them before making any decision about purchasing an electric smoker.
- The digital control panel of the electric smoker automates the smoking process and performs most of the tasks itself once the desired smoke setting has been set.
- It is easy and simple to use and anyone can learn how to use it in just a single day.
- It includes an internal thermometer so you can keep a track of the smoke temperature and ensure that it is perfect for your food.
- An electric smoker is a better option for slow smoking than a gas smoker.
- It can be placed in your kitchen or anywhere that you seem to fit.
- It saves a lot of time and allows users to multitask which is why it is an ideal choice for students and office professionals.
- It is usually properly insulated so it is safe and secure to use.
- It has enough space to let you cook different food items at the same time.
- An Electric Smoker is quite expensive in comparison to a gas smoker.
- It is not as effective at smoking food as a gas smoker and often produces low quality smoked food.
- It is large in size so it occupies more space than a gas smoker.
- This smoker needs a constant supply of electricity to operate so if you are facing electricity failure then you cannot use this smoker.
- It cooks the food at a slower rate than gas smokers.
- An Electric Smoker doesn’t provide you with a wide range of temperatures and can only cook up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit which greatly limits your food options.
What is a Gas Smoker?
A propane smoker as the name suggests uses propane or natural gas as its primary source of fuel and helps in heating up the heating element inside the smoker which is then used to produce smoke for smoking your food items.
With this smoker, you need to keep an eye on the smoker and check your food regularly to ensure that it is not burnt and that the smoker is maintaining an adequate smoking temperature to cook your food properly.
You cannot leave your gas smoker to perform other tasks and need to monitor and regulate the heat produced by this smoker to maintain a constant smoking temperature. With the help of a gas smoker, you can achieve a higher smoking temperature up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit which offers you versatility and allows you to sear, grill, etc. food items that you desire.
You also have the ability to increase or decrease the amount of smoke by using the necessary wood chips. However, like every other man-made machine, a gas smoker has its own set of pros and cons which are essential to understanding the effectiveness of a gas smoker.
- You can achieve the highest temperature required for smoking a slice of meat with the help of your gas smoker.
- It is more flexible than an electric smoker in terms of size and weight. This is why it is easily portable and much preferred over an electric smoker.
- It is simple to understand the operation steps of a gas smoker and with a few tips, an amateur user can also use this smoker to smoke meat.
- It cooks and smokes your food quickly and saves a lot of time which is why it is an ideal choice for users who have less time to cook every day.
- It can be used from any location as it doesn’t require electricity to operate and can be placed anywhere inside or outside the house to cook your food.
- It is usually cheaper than an electric smoker and more affordable for most common users.
- It requires your presence throughout the smoking and doesn’t offer any automation benefit to the users. This is why it tends to be slightly less convenient than an electric smoker which maintains and regulates the heat itself and automates the entire smoking process for the users.
- You need to learn a lot about smoking in order to use your gas smoker efficiently and get the most out of it.
- It doesn’t provide users with the latest technological features like an internal thermometer and is low tech in comparison to electric smokers.
- It is small in size so you can cook and smoke a limited amount of food items at a time.
- They are not as well insulated as an electric smoker so users need to be careful when handling it.
Difference between the Electric and Gas Smoker
Now, that we know a little more about electric and gas smokers, it is easy to differentiate between the two and make the right choice for yourself. However, you first need to consider your requirements and then choose the smoker which will be more beneficial for your purpose.
Here is a detailed comparison of both the smokers on the important features and factors that you should consider when making a choice:
The first thing that you need to consider is the safety measures provided for both smokers to prevent any accidents that might hurt you or your family when using the smoker. An Electric Smoker is a safer option between the two smokers because its heating element is designed inside the unit so the user is not directly exposed to it which reduces the chances of accidental burns. Also, the electric smoker is properly insulated which makes it safe to use and handle.
On the other hand, a gas smoker often uses a propane gas pipeline which needs to be monitored properly as propane leaks can cause accidental fires and hurt the users around it. Also, one is in direct contact with the heat and smoke when cooking on a gas smoker so users need to be really careful when using it.
As we have mentioned above, in terms of price, a gas smoker is undoubtedly the better option out of the two. On average, an electric smoker can cost something around $200 to $4000 depending on the features and functions offered by the smoker.
On the other hand, a gas smoker can be bought at a low price of $80 – $150 which makes it a better option for users who are looking for a budget-friendly smoker.
Size and Design
An Electric Smoker comes with four racks that offer users a large area to cook and smoke their food but it tends to be big on the outside too which can cause a serious spacing crunch.
On the other hand, a gas smoker is small so you can easily fit it anywhere in the house but it also offers less tabletop surface to the users to smoke their food which can be a serious drawback.
Ease of Use and Convenience
It is no surprise that an electric smoker is much easier and convenient to use than a gas smoker as it comes with a digital panel and many automated functions which makes it easier for a novice user to learn its operation.
A gas smoker is not as easy to use as you need to have smoking knowledge in order to get the best results out of it and since it requires constant monitoring and regulation, it can be a serious pain in the ass sometimes.
Quality of Smoked Food
Finally, you need to consider the quality offered by both smokers. An Electric smoker smokes the food at a lower temperature and a slower rate which can often take a lot of time and can be cumbersome for users who are in a hurry.
On the other hand, a gas smoker can achieve a higher temperature range and can cook food quickly and efficiently which is a major plus for users who don’t have a lot of time to spend on cooking.
Which one is better: Gas Smoker or Electric Smoker?
Both of the smokers have their own benefits and drawbacks which makes it difficult to choose one as a better option. While an electric smoker will provide you with convenience and enhanced user-utility, a gas smoker will offer you faster and efficient smoking.
However, a gas smoker often tends to slow the process of smoking which is why electric smokers have become such a popular option currently. Although there is a serious drawback with an electric smoker as it requires electricity to operate, in all the other aspects it tends to fare better than a gas smoker.
So, we can easily say that an electric smoker is usually a better choice than a gas smoker but make sure that you consider your requirement and cooking purpose before making any decision.
If you are looking for a small and budget-friendly smoker then gas smoker is your go-to choice but if you are looking for an advanced and modern smoker with proper insulation then an electric smoker is the ideal choice for you.