Electric Smoker Vs Pellet Smoker Reviews, Tips, and Guides
When it comes to smokers, there are a few different types to choose from. Electric smokers and pellet smokers are two of the most popular options. So, which one should you choose? Well, that depends on your needs and preferences. Here’s a closer look at the differences between electric smokers and pellet smokers so you can decide which is right for you.
What is an electric smoker?
-An electric smoker is an electric appliance that uses electricity to produce heat for cooking. Some of the most popular types include Electric water smokers, Electric pellet smokers, Digital electric smokers, and even propane / natural gas smokers!
Today’s buying guide will break down some of the best products in each category; helping you make an informed decision before purchasing one for yourself. If you’re still on the fence about whether this type of product is right for your needs, check out my comprehensive buyer’s guide at the end of this article.
Features of an electric smoker:
– Electric smokers vary in size, ranging anywhere from small 30″ or less units to large, four-foot-plus behemoths.
– Electric smokers also vary in price range. The more accessories and features you want on your unit, the higher the price will be. You can find some very basic models for under $100 but don’t expect them to last very long with heavy use. A high-quality smoker is going to cost between $200 – $500 dollars. Keep in mind that many popular name brands offer discounts for big box retailers like Amazon or Walmart so look around! A brand-new smoker may go on sale at either place every now and then for a fraction of the original cost.
– Electric smokers come in many different styles.
– Some models are very basic and only allow you to add wood chips during the cooking process. Others offer additional features such as front-loading water trays, multiple shelves and even integrated digital controls that display internal meat temperatures.
– There’s a smoker for every style and taste preference! You can find them in either black or stainless steel with all sorts of chrome accents and window panels for easy viewing of your food and heat settings throughout the cooking process.
– Electric smokers typically come with anywhere from one year to five years warranty depending on the manufacturer and product line. Also, Amazon offers its own 30-day guarantee on most electric smokers sold through its site.
– Before you purchase, check out the product’s warranty and return policy as some manufacturers require that you ship your smoker back to them for service. Also, some brands such as Masterbuilt only offer support through customer service numbers and do not have email or even live chat options.
– Most electric smokers are made of either porcelain enameled steel or stainless steel. The latter material is obviously more expensive but also offers much better corrosion resistance than its cheaper cousin, so I highly recommend it if you want your smoker to last!
Ease of use:
-You can’t beat an electric smoker when it comes to ease of use! They’re very easy to load up with wood pellets, pile on the meat and set to cooking. Just remember that most models don’t offer an auto shutoff in case you forget about your food or run out of pellets so make sure to factor this in when deciding if they’re right for you.
-Just like any other smoker, electric units can really benefit from some accessories! Even though you may not need them straight out of the box, there are a few products I recommend investing in after purchasing your new machine. Let’s check them out!
– It’s a common misconception that all you need to do to make great tasting smoked food is to plug in your machine, pile on the meat and set it to cooking. The easiest way to ruin perfectly good meats is by over smoking them.
– It takes a lot of heat to get through thick cuts of meat like butts and briskets so unless you’re willing to crank up your electric unit’s full blast for hours on end, you may need these. They essentially act as large heat shields to protect your food from getting too hot on the direct coil elements.
– With an electric smoker, you won’t get the same amount of smoke flavor that you would with a standard charcoal or propane model. A great way to compensate for this is by adding any number of commercially available wood pellet flavors like hickory, cherry, apple and even wild game flavors like elk or duck! You can even use small amounts of mesquite chips in your machines water tray if you like things very smoky.
– Electric smokers are all about convenience and ease of use so they tend to offer smaller cooking capacities than their charcoal and gas cousins. The good news is that most units usually feature a warming rack above the primary cooking area that can come in handy!
– Temperature control is one of the biggest benefits of using an electric smoker. It’s very easy to dial in and hold a specific temperature for hours at a time which makes things like cold smoking cheese or other items super simple! This feature makes electric smokers almost as effective (and even better in some cases) than standard charcoal or gas-powered models.
-Although most electric smokers are designed to cook between 100 and 275 degrees, you can get them up to 500 degrees if need be. This makes it easy to smoke foods like turkeys or maybe even your Thanksgiving dinner!
– Some units include a separate smoke box that you fill with wood chips or pellets. These can be placed anywhere in the smoker without having to worry about being directly over an element. This feature allows your machine to have true convection style cooking which makes for even heat distribution and great results!
– Due to their simple design, electric smokers are very easy to maintain. You’ll need to restock your wood pellets supply occasionally but other than that they’re low maintenance machines.
What is a pellet smoker?
-A pellet smoker is a unit that looks like an electric oven, gas grill, or propane smoker. Many have wood chips in metal pans on the cooking racks to add flavor. The fact that many people refer to them as smokers says something about how the food tastes when it’s done, since one of the main purposes of smoking food is to infuse it with smoke flavor.
All three types of pellet smokers work similarly; they cook, smoke and/or bake according to the same basic principles. Electric smokers are popular for making smoked salmon and other foods where moistness or long cooking times are key factors in the outcome. Pellet smokers may be able to impart smokier flavor than gas grills can; however, they are harder to maintain than gas grills.
Features of a pellet smoker:
– Small: Less than 40 inches wide, 24 inches deep and 17 inches high
– Medium: Between 40 and 50 inches wide, 28 inches deep and 22 inches high
– Large: More than 50 inches wide, more than 28 inches deep and more than 23 inches high. There’s no standard height or diameter for the cooking chamber of a pellet smoker. Some are 18-inches in diameter by 32 to 36-inches tall; others are 30 x 19 x 48.33-inches tall
– Small: Between $200 and $400. Prices will go up if the unit has a side burner or other add-ons.
– Medium: Between $400 and $750. The more add-ons, the higher the price.
– Large: More than $750. You can expect to pay more if you have lots of bells and whistles on your model, such as a side burner, top mounted thermometer and a built-in meat probe that lets you monitor cooking temperature from inside the smoker without having to open the lid every time it’s checked on a conventional smoker.
– Cabinets are typically made of heavy gauge steel or aluminum.
– The cooking chamber is made of either lightweight metal, stainless steel, or painted sheet metal.
– A variety of vents throughout the cabinet let you control how much smoke is used to flavor the food being smoked, and whether it enters the cooking chamber through convection or contact with a hot surface beneath an overhead smoke generator.
– Cabinet style smokers are usually free-standing units with wheels for mobility.
– Gourmet style smokers have more of a sleek European design that may be better suited for your patio furniture than your kitchen table.
-A one year warranty on parts and labor is standard; but some companies offer double and triple warranties for an increased price.
– You can often find contact info on the product website or by calling the company you purchased it from. Read any warranty information to see if you need to be transferred directly to a customer service representative at one of the manufacturer’s locations, as opposed to getting voice mail after hours or having your call returned during business hours.
– If there aren’t phone numbers listed on the site, look for email addresses you can contact if necessary.
– Sheet metal is common because it’s lightweight, durable, and easy to mold into different shapes for vents and handles; but other materials are making their way into pellet smokers. Keep in mind that stainless steel won’t rust, aluminum won’t burn and high-quality paint on sheet metal can be just as durable.
Ease of Use:
– Temperature controls should allow you to choose a precise cooking temperature and maintain it throughout the entire cooking process – from the time you start preheating until the food is done.
– A meat probe lets you monitor internal temps of roasts and other large cuts without lifting the lid; some even have an alarm that goes off when temps hit your programmed threshold.
– Side tables fold down for easy access to storage space under the smoker or for holding smaller items like plates or recipe books while you’re grilling or smoking.
– Pellets made from hardwood sawdust mixed with flavoring agents like cherry, hickory, and mesquite (and others) create a more “smokey” flavor.
– They’re made from heat-resistant clay, and they absorb smoke to give grilled or smoked food a more intense flavor. Some are water-activated, while others require no extra moisture to be effective.
– Pellets made from hardwood sawdust mixed with flavor agents like apple, alder, hickory, and mesquite (and others) create a more intense smokey flavor.
– Generally, a medium cabinet model will hold a 12-to-18-pound turkey.
– A large unit can give you up to 30 pounds of space for smoking larger cuts of meat along with vegetables and other foods that go well with the smoky taste.
– Depending on the manufacturer, you can control heat by adjusting a dial or pressing buttons that light up to indicate different settings.
– A remote control lets you start and stop smoking from inside your house, so you don’t have to go out in bad weather to tend the smoker.
– The top end of the temperature range should be high enough to get a good sear on steaks, or low enough for smoking turkeys.
– 100 degrees F is usually about the lowest you’ll want to go to cook fish without drying it out.
– The smoke box holds wood pellets that are burned to produce the smoke necessary for cooking and flavoring.
– Check the drip pan (or tray) under the cooking grate. You should be able to lift it out easily to empty ashes before they have a chance to catch fire at higher temps.
– Cleaning after every use is best for maintaining good flavor, but your smoker will still work if you clean it less often.
The similarities of electric smoker and pellet smoker:
– The temperature controls on both devices allow you to adjust heat up or down to reach the desired cooking temperature. Depending on the model, you may be able to set it and forget it for hours at a time without having to check until you’re ready to prepare your food.
– Both electric smokers and pellet smokers make it possible to cook low and slow in an efficient way without having to tend the fire regularly, minimizing exposure to smoke while maximizing flavor.
The differences of electric smoker and pellet smoker:
– While electric smokers use electricity to generate heat, pellet smokers operate by compressing sawdust (or other hardwood scraps) into little “pellets” which are loaded in a container at the top of the smoker.
– When lit, these pellets burn slowly and steadily in much the same way that charcoal or logs would in a traditional wood or coal smoker.
– The best choice is an electric smoker if you want to smoke foods more than once a month and your main priority is convenience.
– If you enjoy the flavor of smoked food and want to spend as little time as possible tending your heat source, go for a pellet smoker.
What is the primary difference between an electric smoker and a pellet smoker?
– The main difference between an electric smoker and a pellet smoker is how they generate heat.
– An electric smoker uses electricity to generate heat, while pellet smokers use compressed wood chips (pellets) that are ignited like charcoal or logs would be in traditional smokers.
Which smoker is right for me?
– If you only want to smoke food occasionally and your priority is convenience, an electric smoker is probably the way to go.
– Pellet smokers offer a more traditional wood smoking experience with less hassle, but they can cost significantly more than electric due to their durability and ability to run continuously without fail.
Pros and Cons of an electric smoker and pellet smoker?
Electric smoker pros:
– Electric smokers are generally more affordable than pellet smokers.
– If liquid propane is used as the heat source, an electric smoker can be set up almost anywhere since it doesn’t require a connection to a power grid.
Electric smoker cons:
– They don’t produce as much smoke flavor as other types of smokers because they rely on electricity rather than wood pellets or sawdust for producing smoke.
Pellet smoker pros:
– Pellet smokers give you more control over temperature and cooking time (and thus flavor) than electric smokers do.
– Since they’re fueled by compressed hardwood pellets, there’s no need to worry about running out of fuel or having to purchase expensive charcoal or logs.
Pellet smoker cons:
– Pellets are more expensive than wood chunks, lump charcoal, or other types of fuel for smokers.
– To use a pellet smoker, you must buy pellets by the bag and feed them into the top hopper every time you want to smoke something.
So, which smoker is right for you? If you are looking for a smoker that is easy to use and doesn’t require a lot of babysitting, then the electric smoker is your best bet. However, if you want more flavor in your food, the pellet smoker is the way to go. No matter which smoker you choose, make sure to do your research and read the reviews before purchasing so you can be sure you are getting a quality product.