Propane vs. Electric Smoker: An In-depth Guide To Finding Your Next Smoker

When it comes to outdoor cooking, the most common technique used is smoking. People smoke food mostly to enhance flavor and add taste. To smoke correctly you need an appliance specifically designed for that purpose, a smoker.

However, with the wide variety of smokers available in the market making a choice can prove a challenge. Here, I will outline my thoughts on the two most commonly used smokers’ electric vs. propane smoker.

Electric vs. Propane Smoker​

Traditionally, smokers were fuelled with wood, charcoal and pellet. However, with modern technological advancements more and more people are making the switch to cleaner energy cooking appliances such as electric and propane smokers.

These appliances are preferred due to their convenience and flexibility. With either of this two smoking appliances you get the flexibility of taking what was traditionally an outdoors affair indoors.​

Electric Smokers

Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker, Top Controller

Via amazon.com

As the name suggest electric smokers are designed to be powered by electricity. Electric smokers have reduces the smoking process from a tedious process to a much effortless endeavor.

To achieve that desired smoke flavor with an electric cooker, you use either wood chunks, or smoking chips.​

Propane Smokers

Camp Chef Smoker 18-Inch ​Smoke Vault Large with Stainless Door and Adjustable Shelves (SMV18)​

Via amazon.com

Propane smokers are less demanding, you don’t have to keep tending to them like a 2-year toddler. With this smoker you “set-it and forget-it.”​

Common Features

When it comes to effortless smoking, these are some of the features you need to consider before deciding whether to buy that electric or propane smoker.​

  • A thermostat for temperature regulation.
  • Automatic timers.
  • Heat source.
  • Portability: Size and weight.
  • Dampers.
  • Ventilations.
  • Interior space.

Similarities

Both the electric and propane smokers share some similarities

  • Simplicity and convenience “set-it and forget-it”.
  • They are automated with push button ignitions and temperature controls.
  • They are faster compared to wood or charcoal smokers.
  • EASY to clean up afterward.
  • EASY to operate even if you are a complete beginner.

Difference

When it comes to differences, some of the common ones are

  • Heat Source: While one uses electricity the other uses propane.
  • Taste: Gas smokers are known to provide better flavors compared electric smokers.
  • Price: Generally, electric smokers are pricey in comparison.
  • Portability: Propane smokers are more flexible.
  • Durability: Propane smokers are more durable compared to electric smokers.

An In-depth Comparison Between Electric vs. Propane Smokers

Electric Smokers

Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker

Via amazon.com

Key Features

  • Automated controls.
  • Large capacity.
  • Temperatures up to 275-degrees F.
  • Portable.

Pros

  • Compared to other smokers, they smoke large quantities of food.
  • Easy to operate and clean.
  • You don’t have to babysit unlike charcoal smokers; With the inbuilt functionalities and automated controls operating an electric smoker is easy, you just set-it-up and go on with your other activities.
  • Electric smokers are so easy to set up.

Cons

  • With all its glam and glory, electric smokers are way too off most people budget.
  • Their dependence on electricity means that they are not ideal for camping especially to places where electricity is not readily available.
  • Meals smoked by an electricity smoker are not as deliciously tasty compared to a propane smoker.

Ideal Users

If you enjoy the taste of smoked meat, but totally hate spending upwards of 6 hours on Sunday afternoons tending to that charcoal smoker and end up smelling like a chimney, then this electric cooker is exactly what you need.

Especially for those who live in apartment houses with no backyard spaces of their own.

Final Thoughts

I totally love the convenience, flexibility and simplicity that electric smoker affords me.​


Propane Smokers

Masterbuilt 20050211 Black Propane Smoker, 40-Inch

Via amazon.com

Propane smokers are powered by the use of a detached propane tank that is bought separately from the smoker. To achieve that smoke flavor wood chunks or chips are used.

Key Features

  • Set-it and forget-it.
  • In-built temperature gauge.
  • Push button ignition.
  • Adjustable racks.
  • Single/dual door design.
  • Stainless steel.

Pros

Depending on the make-up of different propane smoker brands, the pros and cons will change from one to the other but generally, you want to find one that has as many upsides as possible such as:​

  • Sufficient amount of cooking space.
  • Multiple adjustable racks.
  • Adequate wood chip/chunk trays you don’t want to keep going back and forth adding chunks every two seconds, I know I don’t.
  • Easy to maintain, what adequate space gives you is the ability to clean your smoker well keeping it in a good shape.
  • If you intend to be moving your smoker around from time to time then a propane smoker is ideal as some brands are really lightweight.
  • Flexibility, you get to choose between single/dual door designs.
  • Temperature regulation mechanism.

Cons

As highlighted above, there are no universal downsides when it comes to propane smokers, but as with everything else, there are downsides to some specific brands. Overall, here are some of the crosscutting ones

  • Some cheap brands are made with inferior materials making them less durable.
  • Others have limited cooking space.
  • Small wood chips/water trays, you totally want to avoid such.
  • Compared to wood/charcoal smokers propane smokers are relatively pricey.

Ideal Users

Depending on your needs, there is a wide variety of smokers to choose from single doors and small cooking spaces to the dual door and multiple racks for large families and cooking demands. If you are on the lookout for a super lightweight propane smoker for your summer vacation then you should go for the Master Built Portable Gas Smoker​.

Sportman Elite 40” Vertical Propane Smoker Video

Final Thoughts

If propane smokers are the way you choose to go, then you should consider investing in an extra gas tank, you wouldn’t want the gas to run out in the middle of a cooking session. Nevertheless, some smokers are known for their energy efficiency such as Camp Chef Smoker 18-inch valve.​

Electric Smoker vs. Propane Smoker Final Verdict

Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical 36

Propane Smoker, Black (Via amazon.com)

For the longest time, most barbecue enthusiasts I included have fallen for the long held myth that you cannot get that smoked barbecue flavor using any other means other than wood or charcoal. As much as that believe has some truth, time and convenience is of essence and that’s why more and more people are embracing the use of either electric smoker vs. propane smokers.

However, it isn’t logical to have both when one could do the task adequately. If you feel it’s time to upgrade from that old charcoal burner that has been passed on through generations from your great grandfather then you should seriously consider getting yourself a propane smoker.

Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker, 725 Square Inch

Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker (Via amazon.com)

The reason being, propane smokers are a great improvement and a massive step forward from charcoal or even wood and don’t tell me the flavor is not as great or what do you think that wood chips tray is for?

Propane smokers are affordable compared to electric smokers, which are just excessively expensive. Another thing that makes propane smokers appealing, is their portability, you can easily move them around unlike an electric smoker that you’ll have to consider the electricity source before moving it.

Propane smoked barbecue taste way way much better than electric smoked barbecue, don’t believe me? Get this Camp Chef Smoker from Amazon and try for yourself.​

Megan Ann
 

I’m Megan Ann, mama to 2 and wife to James F. Core. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I try to write useful and informative articles to help you as much as I can with my knowledge. Thank you for reading.

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