Electric or Propane Smokers - Which is Better?

Electric or Propane Smokers

Choosing the right smoker for you sometimes can be difficult. People have been using propane and electric smokers for many years. These cooking methods have many similarities, but they also have one major difference - the process of generating heat.

So, which one should you use?

Preparing food with electric or propane smoker will offer great texture and flavor to the meal being prepared. Because of their technological developments, these forms of cooking have become widely accepted. While electric smoker uses electricity, the propane one uses charcoal or wood.


The key to successful smoking is maintaining the adequate temperature. In this article, we will explain these popular types of smokers, their benefits, features, pros, and cons.

Want to know which one is our favorite?

Keep reading to find out.

Features of an Electric Smoker:

Smoked food is one of the best ways to bring out that rich flavor of different types of meat such as ribs and brisket. People love that tender, moist result that comes from this cooking method. With the right electric smoker, you will enjoy your meals with comfort and ease.

It is similar to the propane smoker, but there are some differences. The main feature of this unit is that you can place your food, set it to the proper temperature and forget about it until your meal is done. It monitors the heat throughout the smoking process and doesn’t require your constant supervision.

You just need to follow the instructions and learn to use its components such as programmable timers, heating elements, and thermostats. Also, unlike the propane smoker makes use of fuel gas, the electric one uses electricity. Some versions of it allow for smoking in your kitchen.

The downside to these appliances is that you cannot use them in a place where electricity is not available.

Benefits of an Electric Smoker:

1. Space: These units are spacious enough to cook meat for a large group of people. Their chambers sizes are between 530 to 730 square inches.

2. Chrome-coated racks: Some electric smokers are divided into 3-4 compartments with the chrome-coated racks. You can easily remove them to clean the unit or to cook the larger piece of meat.

3. Ease of use: With their technological developments, they are getting easier to use. Many of them come with the wireless connectivity to apps or remote controls. Don’t be scared to try out this new technology.

4. Lightweight: These modern units are light which will give you the ease of mobility. The inner walls are made from lightweight materials. Also, they have frictionless making it easy for you to relocate them.

Depending on the size of the electric smoker, their weight varies from 45 to 65 pounds.

electric smoker construction

5. Construction: The materials and design used in this smoker are durable. The walls of the chamber are built from stainless steel which is rust resistant and sturdy. Never compromise its quality just because you have to pay a few extra bucks.

6. Safe: As for the safety, we must say that electric smoker wins. The unit includes the temperature element that is placed within the body of this appliance. It has the safety modules which monitor the heat.

This way it prevents any accidents which may happen, making it safe for your family and you. Use it correctly, and you will avoid any risk to accidental burns or electric shock from smoke discharge.

Features of a Propane Smoker:

The propane or gas smoker is constructed to allow the smoking of heat in a controlled surrounding. The gas burner that is placed directly below a steered or iron box generates the heat. This chamber contains charcoal or wood which is responsible for providing the smoke.

Above the gas burner is a pan or a tray for the smoking chips, wood chunks or sawdust. Between it and the box is a liquid pan to keep the air moist during long cooks. The few vent holes are placed at the top of the box. This cooking method requires a small amount of wood.

The downside to this units is that they do not perform well in the windy or cold weather conditions due to a lack of insulation. Some of them are not large enough to accommodate a large brisket or a full rack of ribs. It means that you will need to trim the meat to fit.

Also, you may need to switch the gas tanks during a long cook. Having one in reserve would be wise.

Benefits of a Propane Smoker:

1. Easy to use: The gas smoker is also very easy to use. With the instruction that goes with the unit, you will quickly learn how to handle it. Because they are not complicated, you will understand every procedure.

2. Portable: The fantastic benefit that this unit offer is the ability to be used anywhere you want. You can move and rearrange your outdoor space with ease. Or, if you are going on an outdoor adventure like camping, a gas smoker will be a great addition.

3. Cooking time: Unlike the electric smoker, this appliance doesn’t need to warm up before cooking. So, it will take less time to prepare your meal.  You can adjust the heat at every moment with the temperature regulation mechanism.

cooking in propane smoker

TIP: Because of its possibility to get up to a higher temperature than most smokers would need, you could also use it as an oven.

4. Flexibility: You can choose between the single/dual door designs. It can get upwards 450 degrees, which makes it very flexible.

5. Don’t need electricity: These smokers can be used in places where there is no electricity. In some areas, where the power is interrupted due to some weather conditions, the gas smoker has a significant advantage.


  • Both of these units share some similarities such as:
  • Convenience and simplicity to set up the smoker to the right temperature and let it do the job for you. In other words: set-it and forget-it.
  • They are constructed with the temperature controls and push button ignitions.
  • If you compare it to some other smokers like charcoal or wood, they are faster and easier to use.
  • Both propane and electric smoker are easy to clean and maintain after you finish using them.

As for the differences between these two appliances:

  • Heat source – While one use propane the other one uses electricity.
  • The electric one can smoke a large amount of food.


It is hard to choose the winner between these two smokers because they are both great with the different feature, benefits, pros, and cons. The electric smoker can achieve low heat which is used for smoking salmon or dehydrating tomatoes. It is tough to reach this temperature, that is used to cure or smoke the proteins, on a propane one.

Also, the electric smoker is cheaper. They don’t require charcoal or wood to function, just plug them into electricity. You shouldn’t worry because they don’t consume a lot of power.

One thing is also worth mentioning – you don’t need to keep a stable temperature, flame or flow unlike on gas smokers. On the other hand, you can use a propane one wherever you want. They don’t need electricity to work.

So, choosing the right smoker for you depends on your personal preference. These are both very popular methods of cooking. But, you need to check all their disadvantages and advantages.

The Conclusion

In this article, we have covered most of the bases, but the decision comes down to what is better for you and more convenient to your cooking style. If you are a busy person, then you need to reconsider buying an electric smoker. This way you can place your food in it and let the smoker do the job for you.

On the other hand, if you love to cook and prefer having something to tend to, then you need a propane route.

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