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

Smoked food is the most fascinating and delicious dish for outdoor parties. Whether it is a pool party or a camping trip, smoked food is always on your mind, and for that purpose, you need a food smoker. There are different types of food smokers available in the market for you to buy. The common types are listed below

  • Propane Smoker
  • Electric Smoker
  • Charcoal Smoker
  • Wood Pellet smoker

In this article, we are going to compare electric smoker and propane smoker along with their pros and cons, ease of use, temperature settings and other features. We hope that after reading this informative piece of writing, you will be able to decide which smoker you need.

Let’s get the perfect smoked meat!

Propane Smoker

A propane smoker uses propane gas as an energy source to cook your meat. You have to make sure that you have enough propane in the tank to cook your food before you begin smoking. A propane smoker is also portable if you can manage to carry a propane cylinder with you on your trips. Most of the people who travel on RVs or trailers have enough space to adjust a propane cylinder in their vehicle. This cylinder can also be used for portable water heaters. Propane smokers provide almost the same aroma and taste to your meat as compared to charcoal or wood pellet smokers.

Electric Smoker

An electric smoker uses electricity to smoke your food. To use an electric smoker, you need to make sure that you have an electrical supply near the using site or you can provide it electricity with the help of an extension. An electric smoker cooks food faster as compared to a propane smoker, but it does not give that traditional smoked aroma to your food as compared to a propane smoker.

Now we will discuss and compare the different features of propane and electric smokers.

Ease of Use

Ease of use means user-friendliness and how easy it is to prepare meat on them.

Propane Smoker: A propane smoker is not difficult to control and operate. You need to adjust the temperature as per the requirement of the meat you are cooking. The temperature is controlled with the help of a knob. The controller is an on/off switch. One small hassle is the accompanying propane cylinder, once the cylinder is full, you won’t need to refill it in a long time, or it depends on the frequency of your use. 

Electric Smoker: Once electric smoker reaches its optimum heat or the good-to-go temperature, you can start smoking your meal. You can control the temperature with the help of buttons, either analogue or digital. Some latest models come with a digital screen and different cooking settings. They also come with a timer feature and auto turn off after the prescribed time. There is no need to refill any cylinder; all you have to do is to plug in the smoker and start grilling.


Smokers don’t play a part in the taste of the food. However, they do add a certain aroma to the food. The flavour of the food will depend on the spices and ingredients.

Propane Smoker: Propane smoker gives the food the conventional smoke aroma, which is very close to the charcoal smoker. Cooking skills are the main reason behind the difference in food flavour. If you are perfect at smoking meat, the type of smoker used will not impact the flavour.

Electric Smoker: Many people are of the concern that electric smokers do not give the traditional flavour to the food. The flavour is the same; the cooked food lacks the charcoal aroma. For this purpose, some models come with a bowl for burning wood or charcoal along with the electric flame. It gives the charcoal aroma to the food.

Cold Smoking

Cold smoking means smoking your meat at a lower temperature. Cold smoking helps in cooking food thoroughly and from inside out.

Propane Smoker: Cold smoking is tough on propane smokers. Either you have to be very careful with the regulator, or you have to install a separate kit to achieve low temperature for cold smoking.

Electric Smoker: Electric smokers come with different temperature settings and precise temperature controls. Cold smoking is not difficult for electric smokers. Separate cold smoking kits are also available for electric smokers as well.

Grilling Area

The grilling area is one of the most crucial features of smokers.

Propane Smokers: Propane smokers come in different shapes and sizes. You can buy a large propane smoker as well to prepare meat in large quantities. The average size of a propane smoker is around 1200 square inches.

Electric Smokers: Electric smokers are ideal for small families or small events. The majority of the models have a small size because large grills consume a lot of electricity, and it increases the electric bill manifold.

Temperature Range

Temperature variations are a key factor behind the proper cooking of the food.

Propane Smokers: When using propane smokers, maintaining a low temperature is difficult. Propane smokers burn at a higher temperature range and can prepare meat quickly.

Electric Smokers: When it comes to temperature range, electric smokers are versatile and offer much more temperature settings as compared to propane smokers. You can cold smoke your meat as well.


Safety is a crucial consideration while buying smokers

Propane Smokers: Propane smokers are generally safe if all the precautions are taken and the connections are secured. There is a certain risk involved in dealing with propane tanks, but when you take all the safety measures, propane smokers are safe to use.

Electric Smokers: An electric smoker is safe and hassle-free to use. The maximum risk an electric smoker can pose is to itself. It won’t hurt you or the people nearby but can malfunction itself.


Portability of the smokers is important for people who want to take their smokers with them on trips ad tours.

Propane Smokers: Propane smokers are very portable as they do not need an electric connection. It is easy to carry a propane tank along with you in RVs or trailers. Most of the people who travel in RVs usually take a propane cylinder with them for heating water.

Electric Smokers: Electric smokers are not very portable. You can move it around in your backyard or garden with the help of an electrical extension.

Pros and Cons

The following section will highlight the pros and cons of both smokers

Electric Smoker

  • Large temperature range
  • Easy to control temperature settings
  • Auto shutdown and fix temperature settings
  • Safe to use
  • Cold smoking
  • Portability issues
  • No high temperature as compared to propane smokers
  • Expensive and complicated repairing
  • Water sensitive

Propane Smoker

  • Easy to use
  • High temperature
  • Portability and freedom of movement
  • Easy to repair
  • Cheap as compared to an electric smoker
  • Can prepare a large amount of meat at one single time
  • Proximal results to a charcoal smoker
  • Regular attention needed to adjust temperature settings
  • Hassle of refilling propane tanks
  • No cold smoking option

James F. Core

I love fishing, that's all.

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