A great debate (electric smoker vs. charcoal smoker) starts when BBQ lovers compare charcoal and electric smokers. Of course, an electric smoker has its own benefits while a charcoal smoker comes with its own merits. But in most cases, it all boils down to personal preferences.
There are people who love the brilliant tasting food and there are people who prefer health over anything else. In this post, we will see who comes out on top in this comparison of electric vs. charcoal smokers.
So let’s get on the way then!
Comparison: Electric Smoker vs. Charcoal Smoker
|Ease of use
|No attention required, just start the electric smoker, select the desired temperature and you’re good to go.
|Requires a lot of attention throughout the cooking process.
|Everything is controlled automatically.
|Charcoal burning, temperature control and fine-tuning the air vents.
|Smoke generated through wood chips. Taste good, but not even close to that of a natural charcoal flavor.
|Classic smoky charcoal flavor.
|Nothing simpler you could have asked for. Just set the temperature with the help of a controller and you’ll get your meal ready.
|Continuous tuning of air vents and fuel.
|Recommended for beginners.
|Recommended for pros.
|Convenience and fun
|Enjoy the set and forget style.
|Hectic work including the responsibilities, like maintaining a constant temperature and charcoal burning.
|Difficult to use in outdoors especially when there is no power source available.
|You can enjoy charcoal smoker outdoors practically in any weather condition.
|Depends on the model.
|Possible yet difficult.
|Only expect limited warranty with 1-3 years due to the use of complicated and sophisticated peripherals.
|Expect a good warranty period (5 years or more) with almost every manufacturer.
|Forget about mobility. Only works where electricity is available.
|It includes different mobility options depending upon the models. Big ones are slightly difficult to move.
Electric vs. charcoal smoker – The main difference
If you are a true fan of the real barbeque flavor then there is nothing better than a charcoal smoker, hands down. There will be a significant amount of difference between the results when you use and compare both types of smokers. Anybody, with some experience in barbeque, will immediately identify the characteristic flavor that a charcoal smoker is able to produce.
The flavor is the best when you use a charcoal smoker, but convenience is everything when you are using an electric smoker. The ability of it to allow you to “set it, and forget it” is above everything for a number of people. It will allow you to focus on other activities or chores that are going around during your BBQ. No doubt, both these types of smokers have their pros and cons.
So, which one has what to offer?
So, the question that comes to mind is what is more important to you: the speed of cooking and ease or the top quality flavor of the food? A charcoal smoker symbolizes tradition because it has the ability to provide your food with an intense smoky flavor.
No one can ignore the great tasting BBQ that comes from a charcoal smoker. However, you need to get your charcoal to burn in time, and also adjust the vents of the smoker during the preparation. Additionally, consistent fuel and temperature controlling is part of life in such a scenario as well.
This can be a source of fun for some while others might consider it to be nothing but hassle. On the other hand, an electric smoker symbolizes speed and convenience. It keeps things simple because you don’t have to worry about manually controlling anything.
All the controls are accurate and you don’t have to maintain while working on your recipe. Just plug in your smoker, place your meat and leave it. You can either do other chores till the cooking time is over or can also attend your guests. But the thing where an electric smoker fails is the intense smoky flavor.
It is not going to produce that intense smoky flavor that most BBQ lovers crave for and a charcoal smoker is famous for. The reason behind that is the electric unit is not able to produce smoke like its charcoal counterpart. In this model, there is a wood chip bowl used to produce some flavor, but if you are used to that intense smoky flavor then you won’t find an electric smoker very useful.
Electric smoker vs. charcoal smoker – Health effects
When we talk about the health aspects and differentiate between the two types of smokers then we have a clear winner here as well. Charcoal smokers use some from the charcoal that is placed directly under the meat.
The fat from the meat that drips on the coals produces this smoke and it then flavors the meat. This flavor is everything for a traditional BBQ lover. However, the fat dripping on the coal and creating smoke is unhealthy and it does the same with the meat that it flavors.
It can develop or buildup the carcinogenic particles within the food and then these unhealthy particles are consumed. But still, smoking your food is not the best option to choose when we talk about the health aspects but it is still better than frying or grilling.
So, your charcoal smoker is not going to help you when you are looking for a healthy recipe. This is something where an electric smoker takes the lead over its charcoal counterpart. There is no involvement of charcoal in an electric unit and for this reason, there is no fat dripping as well.
The meat will not contain any carcinogenic particles so your flavor lacking food will be a lot healthier too. So, in addition to cooking speed and convenience, you can also enjoy healthy recipes.
Offset smoker vs. electric smoker
The case of an offset smoker is very similar to the charcoal smoker when you compare it with an electric smoker. An offset smoker is not as convenient as compared to an electric smoker but it can certainly reduce the number of carcinogenic particles that the meat can absorb because there is no involvement of charcoal here.
The wood that you use can provide the flavor to the meat and it can be a good alternative of a charcoal unit. But an offset unit that doesn’t come with any temperature controls is going to make barbequing very tough for you.
If you are an expert of barbeque and has done a lot of it in the past then using a charcoal or an offset smoker would be a good choice for you, on the other hand if you prefer fast cooking, are new to BBQ or not be bound by your smoker, then your ideal choice is going for an electric unit.
Charcoal smoker vs. electric smoker: A comparison of benefits
Some outdoor chefs always scoff at the idea of using an electric smoker for barbequing; these units are still gaining immense popularity among the users.
Let’s find out what are the advantages of using an electric smoker over charcoal smoker:
Which one fits your budget?
Probably one of the most important features of an electric smoker is that you can easily find a smoker that fits a variety of budgets. You can either opt for an expensive model or you can always go for a low budget model. With the rise in price, you will also get more features.
But if you’re looking for a cheap smoker then Charcoal smoker should be your obvious choice.
Electric smokers are designed in such a manner to provide you with as much convenience as possible. The theme behind these models allows you to set the temperature according to your cooking recipe and leave it. During this time you can always attend to your guests or do any other chores that you have in your pending lists.
Although we cannot beat the taste of natural smoky flavor produced by charcoal smokers, you have to get involved in the cooking process all the times. You have to keep a check on temperature and need to continuously adjust the air vents.
Precise temperature controls
Another merit of using an electric smoker is that you get to choose the temperature with precise measurements. It allows you to take out the guesswork from your recipes and prepare those wholesome dishes each time you use your smoker. Just set the temperature and your electric smoker will maintain it for you till the cooking process is over. This is a lot easier than any charcoal or offset smokers where you must consistently feed the smoker with charcoal or wood and maintain the temperature.
These models are suitable in terms of safety; even though there have been a few cases of recalls for hazard potential. Most electric units don’t require wood or charcoal for cooking your food and this reduces the risk of any accidents due to the burning ambers.
Some models also come with features that enable you to prevent electric fires or overheating. You get to control all the features of your electric smokers and this makes an electric smoker the safest of all its counterparts.
Additional cooking capacity
As there is an electric smoker that fits all budgets, you also get to choose the cooking capacity of your electric smoker based on your requirements. You can either go for a portable design that will suit you if you are looking to use it while traveling or you can also consider a model that allows you to cook for large groups of people and parties.
There are different numbers of cooking racks that each model features. You can remove these racks and for this reason, you can also cook large-sized foods as well. Even a larger unit allows you to cook food evenly and with ease.
If health aspects are your top priority then you only need to consider an electric smoker and don’t even think about it twice. These units run on electricity and it is a clean source of energy. As there is no involvement of any charcoal or wood, your food also remains free from any harmful particles.
All in all, the winner of this comparison of electric smoker vs. charcoal smoker is an electric smoker. You won’t need any experience to work with it because all you need to do is place your marinated food in it, set the temperature and leave it.
A charcoal smoker is a suitable option for you to consider only if you have plenty of experience with barbequing food. Apart from that, the intense smoky flavor of your food is also going to be best if you use a charcoal smoker.
In the end, it also comes down to your personal choice, if you don’t do much BBQ and prefer a lot of strong chary flavor in your meat then you can also go for a charcoal smoker.
So which one do you think is the best? Have your say by leaving a comment below!