When it comes to smoking meat, there are plenty of ways to get the job done.
We’re not talking about methods (though there are plenty) but rather the tools of the trade themselves: Smokers
There are three main types of smokers out there: Charcoal, gas and electric.
They all offer some clear benefits over the others while also having some drawbacks, so in this article, we’ll explore the differences between gas vs electric smokers to know which one will suit you better.
Let’s get started!
Gas vs Electric Smoker: Introduction
Electric smokers have a small compartment where you can insert wood chips, which infuse your meat with different flavors.
However, the lack of charcoal or even fire does mean the wood chips are the only thing that will give flavor to your protein, which can be a problem.
The electric heating elements, while practical, also gives you a very small degree of control over the temperature and heats things indirectly, which results in a slightly dryer texture to your smoked meat.
It’s not jerky like or anything like that (unless you want it to) but it’s obvious if you know what you’re looking for.
Just like electric smokers, gas smokers have a little tray where you can put in wood chips, which will infuse your meat with different flavors.
Unlike the electric smoker, however, you’re actually cooking with fire, which causes a completely different reaction to meat than electric power, which directly impacts the texture of the meat.
Not only that, but gas smokers grant you a bigger degree of control over temperatures and cooking times, which reflects on the texture and flavor of the meat itself.
That isn’t all.
We’ve talked plenty about gas smokers’ need to be supervised, but this isn’t always a negative. The constant supervision allows you to have a higher degree of control over smoke concentration, which has a huge impact on the flavor of your meat.
This can’t really be achieved by electric smokers, as they tend to have pre-set settings that the user can’t override.
You should also keep in mind the fact that electric smokers can be used indoors and outdoors, while gas smokers are better reserved for outdoor use only.
Note: You could use a gas smoker indoors if the room is well ventilated enough, but you should keep any possible fire hazards as far away from the smoker as possible, as it does operate with actual fire.
Gas vs Electric Smoker: Detailed Comparison
Ease of Use
Because neither electric or gas charcoal, both are relatively easy to use. However, gas smokers do have their drawbacks.
With electric smokers, all you need to do is put everything in place, press a couple of buttons and voilà, the smoker will do the rest of the work.
Gas smokers are very easy to turn on and set up, but you’ll need to check back every now and then, as well as control the flow of the smoke and make sure the temperature is right.
This is, by no means, a bad thing, as some people prefer to control everything about the smoking process, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
In this category, gas smokers beat electric smokers by a landslide.
Not only are electric smokers heavier, thanks to the heating elements built in and all the accessories, but they’re also unable to work without electricity.
Sure, you could take a generator with you and use it to power your smoker, but most portable generators don’t pack enough juice for that.
Gas smokers are lightweight, easier to move around and easy to fuel on the run. All you need is a gas tank or two and you’re good to go!
If you’re tempted to award this area to electric smokers without even reading further… you’re right. Electric smokers do have gas smokers beat.
Electric smokers are mostly automatic, which means you can activate them and leave them working for hours on end without worrying about fire hazards or your meat burning.
Gas smokers are also very safe, but you should never leave them unattended and you should check the gas line frequently just to make sure it’s working properly.
There’s always the matter of gas tanks and possible leaks, which is something you don’t need to worry about when it comes to electric smokers.
Both types of smoker come in various sizes, meant to adjust to every person’s need.
In this area, both smokers are very similar, so we’re calling a draw.
Electric smokers have flat heat sources and so do gas smokers, which means the cooking space is maximized in all models.
The biggest drawback of electric smokers is that they operate at very low temperatures and there’s little to nothing you can do about that.
Most electric smokers operate at no more than 350 degrees, which can be deal breaker to some.
Gas smokers, on the other side, take a much more hands-on approach to smoking meat and can reach much higher temperatures. Not only that, but you can choose from a wider range of temperatures, which shows in the finished product.
This round goes to gas smokers!
Practicality doesn’t refer only to how easy it is to use your smoker, or how easy it is to carry it with you, but also how much it simplifies your life and in this category, electric smokers are the clear winners.
After all, electric smokers are usually accepted in apartment settings and they can be left unattended for long periods of time, making them a more practical choice for busy individuals who live their lives on-the-go.
While the final price depends on the size, model and brand, electric smokers are often more expensive than gas smokers, with most having a starting price of at least $200.
Gas smokers, on the other hand, can go for as little as $150, and we’d be surprised if you can’t find something cheaper.
That said, you will have to consider the price of gas and accessories, though the price still favors gas smokers.
Gas vs Electric Smoker: Which Is Better?
It all boils down to personal preference and your needs.
There is no doubt that electric smokers are better for apartment living or for people who want to smoke meat without spending hours keeping an eye on the process.
They’re also an excellent option for beginner cooks who want to smoke meat but aren’t skilled enough to do it all from scratch.
Gas smokers, on the other hand, require more supervision but can lead to better overall results, which makes them a great choice for people who want to experiment with smoking and want to have absolute control over what’s going on inside the smoker.
Both are perfectly respectable options that can deliver promising results, so choose whichever suits you best and enjoy!