Propane vs Electric Smokers: Pros and Cons of Both

Nov 29, 2017 | Blog

Smoking meat is a long-standing tradition in many cultures. It was one of the best ways to preserve meat for a prolonged period before refrigerators came along. There is no way to duplicate the unique smoky flavors you can get from smoking meat using anything else but a smoker.

Traditionally, the meat would need to be cured in salt, then hung in a smoker and gradually dried and infused with flavor. These smokers were primarily wood burning, and each type of wood used would give the meat a different flavor. The meat would then be hung high to dry in cold weather, and smoked again for several turns.

Nowadays, meat smoking has been made easier and more attainable with the creation of propane and electric smokers. The choices of smokers are too many to go through individually, but we can talk a bit about the benefits and downfalls of either propane/gas vs. electric smoker.

Propane/gas smokers

Though we know propane is not cancerogenic if inhaled or consumed, there are other reasons to look into it as a fuel source. The smoker is only propane/gas fueled, and the propane has no contact with the meat itself. There is a steel box containing charcoal or wood pellets within the smoker from which the flavor/smoke comes. Usually, within the smoker, there are grill shelves on which you place your meat. The box of pellets/charcoal is at the very bottom, is heated by a burner.

Advantages of a propane/gas smoker:

Firstly, you are not using up any electricity to run it, meaning it is a far cheaper alternative to electric smokers. Secondly, there is no plug, only a button to run it. This makes it very simple to use and also very portable, so you can take your smoker with you on a camping trip or wherever the road takes you. Moreover, there is no risk of losing electricity for an extended period and thus spoiling your meat. Most smokers of this kind come with a built-in temperature gauge. This way you can always have the environment under control.

Disadvantages of a propane/gas smoker:

You need to stock up on propane tanks. They could run out quickly depending on the amount of smoking you need to do. You may find yourself constantly having to refill/replace the propane tank. There are also additional concerns around correctly storing a propane tank. Also, making sure it has no defects. Otherwise, it may not be the safest thing to have around the house.

Electric smokers:

Logically, the main difference between propane and electric smokers is that the electric needs to be plugged into a socket. Since it needs to be on for quite a while to produce desired results, you may be worried about the electricity bill. But the different models do come with varying requirements of power, so you’re sure to find an affordable version. Electric smokers come in both analog and digital forms, so you can get whichever you are more comfortable with. Using it is as simple as pushing a few buttons to set up the temperature and timer. The cost of running an electric smoker is relatively cheap in the grand scheme of things.

Advantages of an electric smoker:

It is more convenient in the sense that you don’t need to worry about a fuel source, or pellets or wood. Depending on the model you get, it can be somewhat economical. It is straightforward to use, and the temperature builds up to the desired decree more rapidly than in a propane smoker. Fire hazard–vise it is safer than a propane smoker.

Disadvantages of an electric smoker:

An electric smoker is obviously not as portable as a propane/gas one since it has to be plugged in. Also, the cooking results do not give as much of a satisfying smoky flavor.

Overall, depending on your needs and possibilities, it is ultimately up to you to choose who wins the propane/gas vs. electric smoker battle.

Billy StewartBilly Stewart

Founder of

My dad is a true mans man, and has owned a number of grills. Ranging from gas to charcoal. Growing up with him allowed me to see what different types of rubs, spices, brines, etc went into making the best BBQ. Although my dad was a truck driver, and I had a degree in Information Technology I knew that I wanted to do something about grilling and our recipes.  That’s where Barbeque Smoked comes in.


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