Which of the two types of smokers, electric smoker or charcoal smoker, is best for you?
In my perspective, it primarily boils down to personal preference or convenience. That’s not all, though. You should also think about the purchase price, recurring costs, reliability, and other factors. Let’s have a look at which one we think is the finest.
Most of us enjoy the scent and taste of smoked food. It could be a primitive inclination, a holdover from the days when our forefathers lived in caves instead of condos.
Or, for that matter, smoked anything; I have a fantastic hand soap that smells like lavender and smoky, roasted marshmallows. Don’t pass judgment. So, if you’ve had enough of the ancient awesomeness and want it on demand, you’re ready to invest in your own smoker. But how do you know which one to get?
You’ve undoubtedly figured out that there are three types of smokers: electric, gas, and charcoal. What’s the best way to figure out which is best for you? Of course, you look it up on the internet! Your search led you here, and we promise not to let you down.
In this article we’re going to compare two categories of smokers – electric and charcoal. By the end of this article, you’ll know whether an electric or charcoal smoker is the best option for you. Then, to make your final decision, look over our other comparison articles – gas vs electric smoker, gas vs charcoal smoker.
We contemplated squeezing it all into one guide, but it got too long, convoluted, and difficult to follow, so we divided it into three separate debates in three different comparison articles in search of the finest BBQ smokers.
Anyway, enough chit-chat; let’s get down to business. You’re in for some smoky bliss! Overview of Electric Smokers Electric smokers use a heating element near the bottom to keep wood chips (or pellets) smoldering instead of an open flame.
The combination of heat and smoke produced cooks and flavors whatever you put on the racks in the vertical-style smoker’s upper chamber. You can use an electric smoker if you can operate an electric oven or cook plate. Looking for best electric smoker? we have a list you can check.
For plug-and-play smokers, the learning curve is relatively low. Maintaining your temperature is simple, especially if you choose a digital model, which we highly recommend, because you simply choose a setting and it is maintained.
Overview of the Charcoal Smoker Charcoal smokers are the most basic of the three varieties. To generate heat, regular charcoal is burned at the bottom of the smoker (or on the side if it’s an offset smoker), and flavored wood chips or chunks are burned directly on top of it, producing smoke for added taste. Further up, your meal sits and cooks slowly, developing a smokey flavor.
However, just because it’s simple doesn’t imply it’s simple. Charcoal smokers take more attention than other models, with continual temperature monitoring, damper adjustments, and wood chip (and perhaps charcoal) replenishment required for longer smokes.
Electric Smoker or Charcoal Smoker : Contrasts and Comparisons
When it comes to selecting a smoker, there’s a lot to consider. Let’s take a look at some of the most critical variables to consider before making a purchase. Which one is the most crucial to you?
Electric Smoker or Charcoal Smoker: Quality and Consistency of Finished Foods
This has to come first. After all, the most delicious cuisine you can cook should be your ultimate goal. If you’ve never smoked food before, an electric smoker will provide the most consistent results right away. Why? Because a competent electric smoker will maintain a consistent temperature without requiring frequent monitoring, which is necessary for smoking.
You can be just as consistent with a charcoal smoker if you get the hang of it. However, when it comes to quality, there’s no contest: charcoal smokers win hands down. Due to too efficient moisture retention, electric smokers, for example, don’t do a fantastic job crisping skin or developing a killer bark. Charcoal smokers, on the other hand, thrive at it due to their superior ventilation.
Charcoal also produces a different, more complex flavor profile because as it burns, it emits complex molecules that attach to the meal and contribute flavor. It also produces more smoke, which implies more flavor.
Electric Smoker or Charcoal Smoker: Ease of Use and Convenience
The electric smoker is the focus of this category. Really, what’s the difference between a chimney starter and a GFI outlet? For a quick start, nothing beats plugging it in and turning it on. Plus, once the electricity is turned on (barring a power outage), it stays on – no need to replace the charcoal during a long session.
Because of the instant-on element, you’ll be able to smoke faster with an electric. Long before the charcoal is ready to be topped with wood, your chips will be smoking. Plus, with a digital electric, all you have to do is set the temperature and the thermostat will take care of the rest. There are no vents, baffles, or ways to adjust for drafts and wind.
Of course, if you don’t have access to an outlet, electricity becomes less convenient, if it is even possible. Keep in mind that if the outlet isn’t exactly where you need it, you’ll need a heavy-duty extension cord. With charcoal, you can light up your smoker wherever you want, whether you’re camping, cottaging, or RVing.
Electric Smoker or Charcoal Smoker: Versatility
The term “versatile” does not apply to an electric smoker. You can’t efficiently grill or roast on one; you can only smoke. You can simulate cold smoking at low temperatures, but it’s not quite the same as the genuine thing, which necessitates temperatures of roughly 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30C).
Returning to charcoal: While you can smoke on a charcoal barbecue, you can’t do direct heat grilling on one, at least not on a barrel or vertical-style unit.
A grate can be placed over the top of the charcoal in some offset smokers, creating a tiny grilling zone. Also, getting your smoker up to roasting temperatures – around 350F – shouldn’t be too difficult (177C).
So, if you enjoy variety, charcoal is for you.
Electric Smoker or Charcoal Smoker: Temperature Range – High Heat and Low Heat
Electric smokers have a limited temperature range because they’re designed specifically for smoking. The temperature range of a typical model is between 100 and 275 degrees Fahrenheit (38-135C). That’s great for low-and-slow smoking, as well as some low-end cheese, nuts, vegetables, and fruit. What’s the difference between searing and roasting? Put it out of your mind.
A charcoal smoker is more difficult to keep at a low temperature; the thermometer may drop to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but maintaining a charcoal fire at that temperature would be challenging.
Your realistic lower limit is probably around 125 degrees Fahrenheit. The highest limit will be around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, though with a truly raging fire, slightly greater temperatures may be feasible. But why would you desire that in the first place? You’ll be able to sear as an added bonus if your offset has a cooking grate in the firebox — IF you build up the fire.
Hi there! I’m a food enthusiast and journalist, and I have a real passion for food that goes beyond the kitchen. I love my dream job and I’m lucky enough to be able to share my knowledge with readers of several large media outlets. My specialty is writing engaging food-related content, and I take pride in being able to connect with my audience. I’m known for my creativity in the kitchen, and I’m confident that I can be the perfect guide for anyone looking to take their culinary journey to the next level.