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Propane Smoker vs. Charcoal Smoker – A Comprehensive Comparison

Propane smoker vs charcoal smoker

This controversy of the best smoker between propane smoker vs. charcoal smoker continues even after so many years. Different people have different preferences and the debate is well justified between these two cooking equipment because of their various merits and demerits.

But the good thing is that you don’t have to build your smokehouse. The BBQ market of today is flooded with different types of smokers and they all have their own unique benefits. Propane and charcoal smokers lead the pack because of their convenience and true flavor.

Now which of them is the best? Let’s find out!

Comparison chart

FeaturesPropane smokerCharcoal smoker
Ease of useStarting the fire is easy but maintaining the temperature is a little bit of work.It needs a lot of your attention. The entire cooking process and starting fire can be time-consuming.
FlavorSmoke is produced via wood chips. The taste will be very good, but it won’t best the charcoal smoker.Classic charcoal flavor, BBQ-lovers’ heaven.
Temperature controlTemperature control is relatively easy.Needs consistent tuning of fuel and air vents.
Best forBeginnersExperts
ConvenienceA lot easier to use as compared to charcoal smokers.A serious load of work is involved. You need to start the fire and maintain the temperature by turning the vents frequently throughout the cooking process.
WeatherNot the best choice for windy conditions.Best for any weather conditions.
Cold smokingPossible.It is possible but requires plenty of skills.
MobilityThey are portable and available in different sizes.They are portable as well but the larger ones don’t offer much mobility.

Propane Smoker vs. Charcoal Smoker – The main difference

Charcoal smokers

These smokers are common in homes. If you are looking for the most authentic BBQ flavor, then nothing beats charcoal smokers. Most of these smokers have a drum made of steel and there is a bowl right at the bottom where you put charcoal. There might be one or two cooking racks right above this setup. Though modern charcoal smokers have more cooking racks as well!

Propane smokers

Propane smokers are more popular and you shouldn’t be surprised about it. As a beginner, propane smokers are easy to control and start the fire. These smokers have a steel chamber and it features a gas burner. There is a box for wood chips at the bottom as well. This box has vents and when you turn the burner on the chips, it produces smoke. They don’t burn for cooking your food.

Which one has what to offer - Merits

Propane smoker vs charcoal smoker

Charcoal smokers

These smokers come with one/two vents and there is a water bowl as well that will add steam to the cooking process. This way your meat will stay tender and moist. When the smoke and water vapor condense together you will be 100% sure that your meat will have perfect taste.

The good thing is that you don’t have to do much once you have achieved the desired temperature. These smokers are temperature stable. The charcoal smoked food will be exquisite in terms of that smoky flavor. No other smoker can produce this kind of taste hands down.

Propane smokers

These models are great if you love cooking in the outdoors because they offer you portability. They are way more convenient than charcoal smokers and share the advantages of a gas grill.

These smokers also have a water bowl that will add steam to the cooking process of meat and this way it will keep the meat soft and juicy. Furthermore, it is effortless to start. You just have to push a button to begin the process.

Propane smoker vs charcoal smoker

There is an inbuilt temperature gauge that you can use to set the desired temperature. These flexible smokers can easily reach high temperatures. If they break, the repair costs are not that much either.

Propane Smoker vs. Charcoal Smoker – Health benefits

Charcoal smokers

These charcoal smokers are great for flavors but not that great when we talk about health benefits. The smoke coming from the charcoal gets in-contact with the food and it adds some harmful enzymes especially when fat drips onto the charcoal. If you prepare and eat BBQ frequently, then this is not a recommendable food for your health.

Propane smokers

Propane smokers, on the other hand, have wood chips. They use the smoke that comes out of the chips to flavor the food. Though this is not the healthiest option to consider it is still better than charcoal smokers.

Propane Smoker vs. Charcoal Smoker – The demerits

Charcoal smokers

Despite some of the top-notch advantages of a charcoal smoker, it also comes with some demerits. Therefore, these smokers lose their ground against other smokers.

A charcoal smoker needs more attention to the cooking process. Furthermore, if you are not an outdoor person and don’t know how to start a fire, then this process will be a hassle for you.

You will have to keep an eye on the cooking process all the time because for maintaining the temperature and smoke you will have to stoke the charcoal. You will definitely need a meat thermometer for managing the temperature. This is something that you will have to master for the best results. You will end up burning your meat on a few occasions if you are new at this.

Propane smoker vs charcoal smoker

Apart from that, charcoal is very dirty to handle and it will also cost you money. Reaching a certain temperature is a tough task and you cannot reduce the temperature all of a sudden either. And then there is the issue of ash as well that piles up at the bottom in abundance.

Propane smokers

Despite all the benefits they have to offer, propane smokers are not the ideal ones to use. You still have to monitor the cooking process because the gas can run out pretty quickly.

Maintaining fuel is critical because you don’t want your meat to come out half-done. This is one area where propane smokers lose their ground because they do tend to consume fuel pretty fast even if you compare them with charcoal smokers.

Additionally, these units are not going to perform well in the windy conditions as they don’t have any insulation. Propane smokers are not large enough to accommodate large amounts of food. You cannot place a full rack of ribs on it because it won’t fit.

Storing a propane tank is also dangerous, especially if you have children around. Moreover, the flavor is good but not great if you compare it with charcoal smokers.

Final word

So what we found from this comparison of propane smoker vs. charcoal smoker is that charcoal smokers are great for flavor but you will need plenty of experience to get the right flavor. Maintenance and running costs can be high but if you don’t do BBQs frequently, then this will work out for you.

If you are not flavor-savvy, then propane smoker is a great option in most departments. But propane smokers do a good job of creating those flavors that you crave for. Starting the fire is not a problem and you don’t have to be an expert to run it.

Maintenance and running costs are not that big of an issue either but you must know how to cook because you still need to maintain the right temperature during the cooking process.

So which one will you prefer for your next outdoor gathering? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Enjoy your BBQ!

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