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So you have developed a passion for smoking meat and are thinking of buying a smoker. Right off the bat, there are two options to pick from – gas or electric smokers, but which smoker would produce the best kind of meat? The answer to that depends completely on your taste preference and the kind of meat smoking you want to do.
The main difference between propane and electric smokers is that the former is a traditional charcoal smoker and uses propane as its heat source while the electric element of the latter requires it to be plugged in at all times.
Apart from that, the type of smoker you use benefits meat in particular ways which we shall discuss below. Read on to know more!
Gas Smoker Vs Electric Smoker – What Are They?
If you have a traditional smoker at home, it is very likely that you are using a gas or propane smoker. A gas smoker uses propane to smoke the meat and the source of heat is generally charcoal which heats up the electric rods inside.
Generally, a gas smoker has a temperature range of 175-400 degrees Fahrenheit, but some can go as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually made with stainless steel or cast iron, gas smokers are good for cooking all kinds of meat.
In contrast to a gas smoker, an electric model’s heat source is not an open flame. Electric smokers are usually better for smoking light meat like fish or turkey as they have a temperature range of 200–225 degrees Fahrenheit only.
As you may guess, electric smokers use electricity as the heat source, and unlike gas smokers, they cannot reach very high temperatures. They are also made with stainless steel or cast iron, but the newer ones come with a lot of other features as well.
Difference Between Electric And Gas Smokers
The main job of a smoker is to smoke meat, so it is important you pick one that will best suit your cooking style and how often you use it. Following are some factors that can help tell the difference between the two smokers to help you pick the better option.
- Outcome Of Flavor
Well-cooked meat is usually a result of good, thorough cooking in the smoker for a long time. The more smoke it produces, the tastier your meat was generally considered to be, which is why, compared to electric ones, propane smokers tend to be the more favorable option when it comes to meat.
Not only is the meat smoked well on the inside, but outside, it also produces a lovely smoke ring on the surface of the meat. This is something you can only achieve through gas models, as it requires a high temperature that burns off wood chips, which cannot be reached by electric smokers.
Hence, for the overall presentation without sacrificing a lot of flavors, I personally tend to pick propane smokers. This does not mean you can forget about using an electric smoker if you do not have a traditional one.
An electric smoker requires electricity for its source of heat, so it will never have the same texture results but will be perfect for marinating or a quick and easy smoke. People use it more out of convenience than anything as it produces less smoke and is faster.
It’s not like having a smoke ring essentially is what makes a good brisket. You can always lather up your meat in spices before smoking it to make sure you don’t lose any flavor. Regardless of which smoker is better, you can have a tasty main dish regardless.
- Durability Of The Model
Whether buying an electric smoker or a propane one, it will be going through years of vigorous use due to the amount of heat and water it will be around.
Generally, digital electric smokers tend to be more sensitive due to the electricity and detailed machinery involved. Since they will be cooking with a lot of moisture involved, there is always a risk of short circuits, so if you are scared, you can always get a propane smoker.
However, gas smokers are also not free of cons – they also often melt away the coating or wear the machinery out, which can cause the floor to develop rust.
- Size And Cooking Space
Both electric smokers and propane smokers are designed to fit easily into homes, but with the gas one producing more smoke, it loses points on storage space. Many electric smokers also have a more modern design, so they tend to be designed smaller.
Hence, gas smokers tend to be more spacious, and have more rooms to smoke more meat. Either way, the size does not matter so much as it is more of a matter of which method is faster, in which case an electric smoker is better.
- Usability And Efficiency
Using an electric smoker is the best way to go for beginners to use as they are fairly easy to understand. They come with an in-built controller for setting temperature and just smoking the meat easily. The low temperature is maintained throughout the process and no babysitting is needed.
These are not features you will get if you use a propane smoker instead, which is why using it is much more difficult, but those who are passionate about smoking meat would be happy with the result.
Hence, if you would just like to smoke meat at times, without the need for making meat taste deeply smoked, I would totally recommend going for the electric model.
- Temperature Range
As discussed before, a traditional smoker produces more heat, so it can reach higher temperatures compared to an electric one. The general temperature that a propane smoker can reach is around 150 – 400 Degrees Fahrenheit, which is high enough to cook red meat thoroughly.
On the other hand, electric smokers don’t reach very high temperatures – only about 100 – 275 degrees Fahrenheit. It is high enough to roast or marinate light meats like chicken or fish which will also be quick and easy to make.
The time of purchase is not the only time you will be spending on the machine, you will also have to invest in maintaining the machine. Typically, it will be more expensive to buy an electric smoker in the beginning, but it could be balanced out by the fact that a propane smoker will need to be refilled regularly.
This would also mean that you will have to keep emergency refills at home, which will be an additional expenditure. It will be less expensive to run an electric smoker instead as electricity is cheaper than propane. If you have a slightly big budget, consider getting an offset gas smoker to receive the benefit of both.
Gas Vs Electric Smoker – Pros And Cons
Following are the pros and cons of using a propane smoker to smoke wood.
- Gas smokers are more portable since they can easily be used without an electricity source.
- Propane smokers are much easier to afford and the closest thing to charcoal smokers.
- A gas smoker will also be easier to repair, as there is no complicated mechanism involved.
- The outcome that a gas smoker will get you is closer to the traditional flavor of smoked meat that people want.
- You have to get a new, functioning one if you do not want to babysit your meat in case of temperature problems.
- More smoke is generated, and they can only typically be used outside.
- A longer cooking process compared to just electric cooking something.
Following are the pros and cons of using a good electric smoker to smoke wood.
- Electric smokers are beginner-friendly and supper easy to control – no need for a constant amount of gas flow or babysitting over your food. The temperature can also be adjusted very easily.
- Much safer and faster to use as there is no risk of flame and the process is easy.
- Electric smokers are also used for more purposes like dehydrating light meat like fish.
- Though you can smoke meat easily, the taste will never compare to the traditional flavor of smoked meat that professionals usually want to achieve.
- Electric smokers only need electricity to function, so in the wild, you are sort of on your own.
- They can be the more expensive investment down the road if you might need to fix or repair the machine.
Gas Smoker Vs Electric Smoker – Comparison Table
|175-400 degrees Fahrenheit
|200 – 225 degrees Fahrenheit
|All kinds of meat
|Light meat like fish or turkey
|Very easy, beginner-friendly
|Harder to use
Electric Or Propane Smoker – Which Is Better?
Now that both ways in which electric and propane smokers can be used have been discussed, the question arises – which is better?
If you are like me and want to smoke meat thoroughly with a good presentation as well, then I suggest getting a propane smoker. They run on propane gas and while you have to make sure there is a constant gas supply, as well as babysitting your dish, a lot of professionals choose it over an easy method like electric smoking.
On the other hand, what I like about electric smokers is that they are easy to use, even for those who have never worked on a gas grill. In comparison to their gas variant, which comes with an external propane tank and needs an outer heat source, they also just need electricity to run.
Though both smokers differ in their functioning, gas and electric smokers can be used efficiently to cook tough meat.
In conclusion of the propane and electric smoker debate, compared to electric smokers, propane smokers are typically better at making meat that is close to the traditional taste of smoked meat.
They are also more portable and efficient due to how they do not require any electric heating element, making them the better option overall. An electric smoker is generally more useful if you want your meat cooked quickly and efficiently.
Whether you get an electric or a propane smoker, make sure to go through all steps thoroughly so that you can get the best smoked meat. Happy grilling!