Charcoal vs Electric Meat Smokers

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​Here are the detailed review and comparison between Electric vs Charcoal smoker. Check ​below to know which one works best.

As all kinds of electric appliances become more and more commonplace and affordable, it’s hard not to draw comparisons between traditional and more modern versions.

This comparison seems to be twice as relevant when it comes to cooking, particularly in the grilling and BBQ circles.

If you’re part of these circles, chances are you’ve heard people arguing about what’s better, electric or charcoal meat smokers.

In this short article, we’ll discuss the differences between charcoal meat smokers and electric meat smokers, as well as their characteristics and our opinion on which one is best for you.

We’ll talk about 7 main things: Size, cooking space, space requirements, heat source, cooking process, flavors and cooking speed.

Electric vs Charcoal smoker: let’s get started!

Electric Meat Smoker

Electric meat smokers are overall more convenient, as they often start working at the push of a button.

They have adjustable thermostat to give you a wider amount of control over the temperature and a little wood chip compartment to let you imitate the flavor of charcoal smokers.

Electric meat smokers can be used indoors and outdoors, which makes them a good option for those who can’t use charcoal meat smokers in their home.

Electric meat smokers come in analogue and completely digital versions, but both work roughly the same, with the only difference being how you select and control the temperature.

​Electric meat smokers are relatively easier to clean than charcoal ones, though that’s mostly because you don’t have any leftover charcoal to dispose of.

Charcoal Meat Smoker

This is the kind of smoker known for giving an authentic flavor to your meat.

Charcoal smokers come in all range of prices, but they all share something in common and that’s the fact that they’re time consuming.

While you can have a superior control over temperature and flavor, you also need to spend more time with the meat smoker, starting the fire, stoking it and generally making sure everything is working as it should.

​The cleaning is no easy task either

Electric vs Charcoal Smoker

1.Overall Size

While it depends on the model, electric meat smokers tend to be a little smaller, as they don’t need an area for charcoal or wood.

Sure, there’s still a heating element involved, but it’s often small enough that electric smokers tend to be almost half as large as charcoal meat smokers.

​Curiously enough, charcoal smokers tend to be more lightweight, as they’re mostly hollow, but the difference is relatively small.

2. Cooking Space

While it may seem counterintuitive, electric smokers tend to have more cooking space than charcoal meat smokers, precisely because the heating element is so small.

Electric smokers are capable of maximizing the inside space in order to give you more room to smoke different cuts of meat.

Yes, even the large ones.

​That said, this really depends on the model. Some charcoal meat smokers are very roomy, while some electric ones are rather small.

3. Space Requirements

Because of their larger size, charcoal meat smokers need more room and can’t be placed just about anywhere.

Not only that, but because charcoal smokers use charcoal for heat, they can only be placed outside and, preferably, away from wooden porches.

Electric smokers, on the other side, can safely be used inside and outside your home and even your kitchen, making them a great option for city and country living alike.

Of course, electric smokers are often stored indoors, so they take up more space from your day to day living.

​Note: It’s worth mentioning that not all electric smokers are indoor friendly, so if you’re thinking about buying one, you should make sure it can be used indoors.

4. Heat Source

This is one of the most widely debated areas when it comes to smokers.

Electric smokers, as their name implies, use electricity for their heat source. This translates to lower temperatures overall, sitting at most at only 350 degrees.

Charcoal smokers, on the other hand, can reach much higher temperatures thanks to the charcoal used as a heating element; Not only that, but the temperatures are more varied, giving you a wider range of control over what happens to the meat you’re smoking.

​That said, learning to control and keep track of temperatures in charcoal smokers is a more difficult task and may take a while to truly understand how it works.

5. Cooking Process

Because both types of smokers use two different types of heating elements, the cooking itself is very different.

Electric smokers never get directly in contact with the heat, which yields less tender results.

Charcoal smokers place your food much closer to the heat, which will lead to tender and delicious meat.

That said, burning or overcooking your food with charcoal smokers is very easy, while it’s almost unheard of when it comes to electric smokers.

​The cooking itself tends to be similar, but charcoal smokers offer a wider degree of control, as you can control the flow of air, the amount of smoke used and the temperature.

6. Flavor

Another huge area of debate, the flavor of your meat changes depending on how you’re smoking it.

Charcoal smokers leave a very distinctive, smoky taste behind that can be improved with wood chips and controlled in intensity by the cook.

 Electric smokers also use wood chips to get some flavor, but they simply lack the ability to come up with a range of flavor as varied as what charcoal smokers can achieve.

​7. ​Cooking Speed

Both electric and charcoal smokers can cook things at approximately the same speeds, though you could make the argument that, because the meat is exposed to direct heat, charcoal smokers are faster.

What electric smokers have working in their advantage is that you can trust them to do the work by themselves. You can put everything in place and just leave for a few hours while the smoker does all the work.

 With charcoal smokers you need to be around so you can check on the progress and keep any fire risks to the minimum.
Cooking Speed

So which one is better?

As you can imagine, the answer truly depends on the reader.

Electric smokers are easier to use and a lot more practical. They’re also safe to use indoors (for the most part) and safe to leave unattended.

This makes electric smokers the perfect option for the beginner cook or for someone who isn’t that picky with their smoked cuts; as well as for those who simply can’t own a charcoal smoker, even if they wanted to.

Charcoal smokers, on the other hand, are overall harder to use and require more supervision but often yield better results when it comes to flavor and texture.

This isn’t to say that the flavor and texture of meats smoked in electric smokers aren’t good (which they are), they’re just not as nuanced as they could be.

It’s also worth mentioning that some models of charcoal smokers can double as a grill, making them a more versatile option overall.

So, which one is better?

​It’s up to you!

Thank you very much for reading, we hoped you enjoyed this article and that it solved all your doubts.

If you have any q​​​​​uestions or doubts, lea​ve a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

Electric vs Charcoal smoker
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