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Electric Vs. Propane Smoker: Which Will Win The Race?

Electric Smoker Vs. Propane Smoker

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Electric and propane smokers may be the best choices if you’re considering smoking food conveniently without the hassle of wood fire and charcoal.

Both electric and propane smokers have their own advantages, but both do have disadvantages as well.

By understanding how each smoker works, you can make the best decision for your situation.

This article will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each type of smoker, so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for your needs and better understand how different fuels affect your smoking experience.

Propane Vs Electric Smoker: A Full Overview

Electric Smoker


Ease of Use

Easy to control, perfect for beginner-friendly

Temperature range

100°F~ 275°F

Pricing

More Expensive

Main feature

Can smoke only

On-going cost

$0,06/hr

Food taste

Produce a milder smoky flavor

Portability

Can’t go far from the power outlet

Cleaning

Easy to clean compared to a traditional charcoal smoker

Propane Smoker


Ease of Use

Temperatures tend to change from time to time.

Temperature range

150°F~ 500°F

Pricing

Less Expensive

Main feature

Smoke and grill

On-going cost

$0,5/hr

Food taste

Produce a more intense smoky flavor

Portability

Easy to move around

Cleaning

Easy to clean compared to a traditional charcoal smoker

Gas and electric smokers are both popular ways to cook meat without having to control the live wood flame. They are also affordable, easy to use, and don’t need much maintenance.

Out of all smokers, propane and electric ones look the most alike. They both are verticle smokers with multiple cooking racks inside for smoking several racks of meat at the same time.

Propane and electric smokers are less expensive than their charcoal and wood-fired counterparts. In contrast, a good charcoal smoker will cost between $500 and $600, and a propane or electric smoker will likely cost around $300.

They’re easier to use and clean up afterward because they don’t require charcoal or wood-fired smoke. But this is also the main drawback of propane and electric smokers because they don’t impart as much flavor as charcoal or wood-fired models do. 

Although they have similarities in function and design, there are some key differences between propane and electric smokers that you should know before purchasing one.

Electric Smoker

our top pick

Electric smokers are a great way to cook food without having to do the work yourself. They function like traditional ovens and can be used for smoking foods such as beef ribs and turkey drumsticks at low temperatures.

Unlike gas smokers, electric smokers take a while to heat up and be ready to cook food, so you will need to plan and preheat them before use. The good news is that electric smokers are very easy to use once they’re heated up and don’t require any attention while cooking.

Most electric smokers feature a wood chip tray to add your favorite flavor of wood chips, like applewood or mesquite. This process replicates the old-fashioned method of smoking meat, where you can achieve smoky flavors from charcoal and hardwood.

electric heating element

The best part of an electric smoker is that you don’t have to constantly replace the wood chips while smoking meat. A wood chips tray is large enough to handle 4~5 cups of wood chips, so you can leave it in the tray and keep smoking meat all day.

Some high-end models even include a water pan that helps you add extra moisture to your meat.

Since electric smokers run on a low-temperature range (100°F~ 275°F), so they are perfect for cold smoking. Another benefit of electric smokers is they are also very easy to clean since they have removable racks that can be cleaned quickly after use.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use smoker that doesn’t require high maintenance or cleaning, then an electric smoker is the best choice.

Pros & Cons Of Electric Smokers

Electric Smoker Pros
  • No need to light charcoal or hardwood
  • Easier to clean than open-flame smokers because they don’t leave behind ash and burnt food.
  • Electric smokers also have a built-in temperature control system that makes it easy to get the right temperature every time. Thanks to this feature, they are perfect for beginners.
  • You can also use an electric smoker indoors, which is perfect for those who live in an apartment or condo.
  • The ongoing cost of running an electric smoker is cheap.
  • Cost-effective compared to other traditional smokers like offset smokers or charcoal smokers.
Electric Smoker Cons
  • It requires power outlets to work properly. This means that it won’t be very portable, which can make it difficult or impossible to use when it’s raining outside or if there isn’t electricity where you live!
  • It doesn’t cook food at high temperatures. While this is fine for most meats and fish because you only need to reach 225 degrees to start the smoking process, it is not ideal if you want to create a nice smoke ring on your meat.
  • It takes longer than gas smokers to heat up
  • Due to some technical parts on the electric smokers, they are expensive to be repaired
  • Designed for ease of use but not designed for large-capacity cooks.

Propane Smoker

our top pick

Masterbuilt Propane Smoker with Thermostat Control

The advantages of using a propane smoker are obvious: you don’t have to worry about lighting a fire, keeping it going, or paying attention while cooking—just set the temperature and walk away.

Most models only run on propane gas, but some high-end models can also run on natural gas. It’s also portable, easy to use, and can be used in any climate.

Propane smokers are great for cooking food quickly and efficiently—and they’re also ideal for beginners because they’re so simple to use.

Offset gas smoker

Once you’ve mastered your first few meals in the smoker, you’ll soon be able to create some amazing meals and delicacies that will rival anything you could ever get from a restaurant.

A propane-powered gas burner provides heat to propane smokers. This burner is located beneath a wood box, into which you can place wood chips or chunks to create smoke and flavor your food. There is a water pan below on top of the woodbox where you can put liquids like apple juice to help the meat stay moist if necessary.

The multiple racks allow you to place different foods inside your smoker for cooking—so whether you’re making ribs or bacon or simply just want juicy burgers without all the fuss of flipping them over on their own time with tongs every few minutes—you can do it all with ease!

Pros & Cons Of Propane Smokers

Propane Smoker Pros
  • Propane smokers can produce intense smoky flavors without starting a real wood fire.
  • Propane smokers don’t require power outlets like electric smokers do because they don’t need electricity to operate. This means you can move your smoker from place to place without worrying about an electrical outlet being nearby—which makes them perfect for outdoor cooking on camping trips or picnics with friends!
  • You can get a decent unit for a cheaper price than what you would pay for an electric smoker.
  • Propane smokers have few parts and require minimal maintenance, so you won’t have to worry about replacing them regularly or dealing with complicated repairs if something goes wrong with yours later down the road.
  • Easy to clean
Propane Smoker Cons
  • Propane smokers tend to crank up the temperature over time and get too hot.
  • A propane smoker doesn’t work well in windy conditions, so if you live where it’s windy often, this is not the right choice.
  • A propane smoker tends to be lower quality than electric models because it’s built with cheaper materials and parts.
  • Some cheaper models aren’t compatible with natural gas and can only use propane.
  • Because of the cost of refilling the propane tank, the ongoing cost is much higher than an electric smoker.

Electric Vs. Propane Smoker: Comparison

Electric Vs Propane Smoker

Now that we’ve gone over the main differences between propane gas and electric smokers, along with the pros and cons of each model, let’s compare the features of these two types of smokers.

While both models are great for smoking, a few key differences can help you decide which one is right for your needs.

1. Meat Smoking Performance

Propane smokers allow you to smoke at higher temperatures, resulting in a better smoke ring and a stronger smokey flavor in your meat. On the other hand, electric smoke can’t get hot enough to trigger the chemical reaction that permits the smoke ring to be formed.

On the flip side, electric smokers are great for slow cooking and low smoking. They’re also perfect for cold smoking, which requires under 90°F to happen.

Winner of this round: Propane Smoker

2. Price and ongoing cost

Price is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a smoker, as it can make or break your decision.

Electric smokers are more expensive upfront, but the ongoing costs are much lower. At the time of writing, a full 20-pound propane tank costs $15-20 to refill and can last for 30-35 hours, implying that cooking with a propane smoker costs $0.5/hour.

While the cost of electricity for smoking meat is much cheaper (0.06/hr).

Winner of this round: Electric Smoker

3. Ease Of Use

While both electric and gas smokers are more user-friendly than other smokers, especially regarding temperature control, the electric smoker has several key advantages over its gas-powered counterpart.

With an electric smoker, you can easily adjust the temperature of your smoker so that it stays steady and doesn’t get too hot or too cold.

On the other hand, propane gas smokers tend to fluctuate in temperature over time due to low insulation or getting too hot. This means that a lot of work will be involved with maintaining your gas smoker’s temperature as time passes.

Winner of this round: Electric Smoker

4. Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning, it’s hard to find a clear winner between the two. Both are easy to clean compared to other types of smokers.

Winner of this round: Tie

5. Weather Considerations

An electric smoker might not be your best option if you live in an area where rain is common. Electric smokers rely on electricity to operate, and rain can cause power outages.

Propane smokers aren’t affected by rain or wetness as much because they use propane or natural gas as fuel—but this does not mean that you can use the propane model in a downpour —it will still cause damage. The best way to avoid this is by making sure your smoker has a rain cover that you can put over it when not in use.

Some cheap propane models with low-quality built can be affected by the wind or cold so it’s important to check the manual and make sure it’s okay for use in windy weather.

Winner of this round: Propane Gas Smoker

6. Reliability

Electric smokers are better than propane smokers when it comes to reliability. The first reason is that they’re more well-built, which means they’re less likely to break down.

Another reason is that the electric smoker is easier to control. With a propane smoker, you’ve got to keep an eye on a little valve and make sure the flame isn’t too high. It can be tough!

Propane gas smokers are less reliable because they are usually built with low-quality parts and materials, but when it breaks down it is less complicated to repair.

Winner of this round: Electric Smoker

Final Thoughts – Is it better to cook with propane or electric smoker?

To be fair, there is no such a stronger smoker; it really comes down to your personal preference.

An electric smoker is probably your best bet if you’re a fan of cold smoking. If you’re looking for a smoker that can also be used for high-heat cooking, like roasting and grilling, a propane smoker will do the trick!

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