There are many different ways to smoke food. While wood and charcoal smokers are the most traditional, electric and propane smokers are also very popular these days. But which one is right for you?
Though they’re different, electric and propane smokers also share lots of similarities. Both types of smokers provide a healthy way to cook. The main difference that separates them is obviously how they generate heat. While propane smokers are fueled by gas, electric smokers use electricity to generate heat and smoke. Compared to wood and charcoal, both electric and propane smokers require much less oversight by the cook since it’s easier to maintain a consistent temperature.
Electric Smokers vs. Propane Smokers
Features of a propane smoker
With a propane smoker, a gas burner is used to generate the heat. The smoker utilizes a propane tank for fuel the same way a gas grill does. This burner is located directly below a metal box where the cook places the necessary fuel — wood or charcoal — that will provide smoke.
Advantages of propane smokers
- Easy to use: Like electric smokers, gas smokers are simple to use. Unlike a wood smoker there are no complex rules to adhere to, so even a novice cook can master using one.
- Very portable: Gas smokers are typically portable and can be carried anywhere, be it camping or to a neighbor’s house.
- Heat up quickly: Compared to electric smokers, a gas smoker heats up much more quickly thanks to the burning propane.
- Can be used anywhere: This is an added advantage over electric one, as it doesn’t need to be connected to a source of electricity in order to function. Some term it to be all weather smoker. When it comes to using a smoker in the rain, propane is definitely preferable to electric due to the lack of damage-prone electric components.
Features of an Electric Smoker
While an electric smoker is similar to a propane smoker, it’s also more complex. The typical electric smoker has electronic components including a heating element, a thermostat and rheostat, and a programmable timer. For a better understanding, read how electric smokers work.
Another difference is that it uses electricity for fuel instead of gas. This means that it cannot be used in places where there is no electricity, meaning an electric smoker won’t be the best choice if you love camping. However, an electric smoker can be super convenient for home use and it definitely produces amazing smoked meat and fish.
Benefits of electric smokers
- Safety: Unlike gas smokers that require fire to generate smoke, electric smokers don’t. Using gas always comes along with a risk of fire and explosions.
- Budget-friendly: Electric smokers are typically cheaper than gas smokers. They also don’t need wood or charcoal to function, which eliminates that expense. Simply plug them into electricity — and bonus, they don’t consume a lot of power.
- Easy to use: Simply plug it in and set the desired temperature and you’re ready to smoke.
- Convenience: Nothing is worse than going to smoke or grill and realizing you’re out of propane. With electric smokers, this will never be an issue.
For an even deeper dive into the benefits of electric smokers, check out ten advantages of using an electric smoker.
Which type of smoker should you buy?
Both propane and electric smokers are will make delicious smoked meats, fish and vegetables — so which one should you choose? When getting ready to make a purchase, decide which characteristics are important to you and then pick your smoker accordingly. Also, when choosing a smoker keep in mind that only certain types of smokers can be used indoors safely.
If you’ve decided an electric smoker is best for you, be sure to read our roundup of the best electric smoker reviews.