People fear smoking meat. They love eating a delicious piece of smoked meat, but they just don’t think that they can achieve the same results themselves. When you look at smokers’ reviews, you see people are overwhelmed by the types of wood that are available, the rubs used on the meat, and how to keep everything at a low and constant temperature.
Smoking meat is easier than people think. For the best results, you need the best meat smoker.
I have compiled these comprehensive BBQ smoker reviews to provide you with enough information to make a conscientious decision on what’s the best smoker to buy.
I want you to purchase the best meat smoker on the market, the best smoker for the money, and not some low-quality mediocre brand.
In this detailed review, I’m going to talk about a lot of different smokers. But if you’re short on time and want the gist of it, here is a snapshot of the top-rated meat smokers in each category.
The Cuisinart COS-244 is the best natural gas smoker because there are four shelves measuring 14 by 14 inches. This provides sufficient space for cooking.
The smoker’s vent is on the back of the unit so that you are not sacrificing any tabletop space. The temperature is easy to adjust and control. You determine how much gas the smoker receives so that you get the right amount of heat for what you are cooking.
This smoker has enough space for large meat cuts or whole birds. However, its overall size is compact so that you can fit it into small outdoor spaces.
Top Meat Smokers Reviews:
Cuisinart COS-244 Vertical Propane Smoker
This smoker was easy to put together. Customers say that it was also easy to modify when they wanted to make some quick changes unique to their needs.
It is easy to cook multiple food types at the same time. The smoke is sufficient to provide juicy meats and crisp vegetables. The foods also adopt a smoky flavor.
This smoker has all of the features needed for experienced and beginner smoker users. There is plenty of space to cook a variety of foods evenly at the same time.
- It has 5.45 square feet of space for cooking
- You can cook vegetables and meats simultaneously
- Clean-up is easy
- Some smoke may escape through the door
Tips on Choosing Propane Smoker
To make sure that you are getting the best propane smoker for the money, the first consideration is the size.
Look at multiple propane smokers and compare those of the same size.
To ensure you pick the right size, you have to think about how often you will use it and how much you need to cook.
If you only do light cooking for a small family, a smaller one is ideal.
However, if you host cookouts regularly, the best vertical smoker will have a large surface space so that you can prepare multiple foods at one time.
It would help if you also considered cleaning. If the surface is smooth, you can wipe it down after use. If your smoker has racks, they should be easily removable. Make sure that you can also easily replace the propane tanks as necessary so that you do not run out of fuel.
Pellet Smoker: Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
Is the best budget pellet smoker because it offers a temperature range of 160 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The BTUs per hour is 25,000.
The hopper can hold a large number of pellets so that you do not have to refill frequently when you are smoking. The internal meat temperature probe makes it simple to ensure that you can cook to exact temperatures.
This smoker also has an ash cleanout system for easy maintenance. The grease management system prevents grease from prematurely extinguishing a fire.
This smoker eliminates cold and hot zones so that your food cooks evenly. This smoker also allows for the true slow cooking of meats and vegetables.
The smoke remains contained in the smoker. You can easily control the temperature during the cooking process for consistency. This smoker is very efficient on pellets. If the power goes out, you can still cook thanks to the power outage bypass.
This pellet smoker has a large hopper and it is easy to use. The large smoking area and easy cleanup make it simple to use and maintain for this smoker often.
- This smoker has an electric auto ignition
- The side table provides additional prep space
- Shutdown mode makes it easier to stop the smoker after cooking
- It can accommodate a whole chicken
- You have to monitor the temperature often
Tips on Choosing Pellet Smoker
Choosing the best pellet smoker for the money starts with looking at the construction. A heavier lid means that it can trap the smoke better and that it will last longer.
The lid should not feel flimsy. You should also look at the welding and joints. These should be strong and smooth. When you are looking for the best affordable pellet smoker, you have to consider the temperature range.
For example, if you want to sear meats, it needs to get to at least 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider the cooking you do to find the best maximum temperature.
To maintain a constant temperature, a pellet grill needs a constant supply of pellets. Make sure that the controller on the grill can feed the pellets into the system at a constant and even pace.
You can also pick one that has a meat probe built into it. This allows you to easily assess the temperature of your meats while you cook for optimal safety.
Electric Smoker: Masterbuilt 20070910 Digital Smoker
This is the best smoker for beginners who want a savory piece of meat. Masterbuilt has a reputation for producing the best smoker grill on the market. This model is roomy and has four smoking racks.
Beginners will like the fact that the smoker is thermostatically controlled for a perfect temperature every time. Digital control panels, a digital timer, and an automatic shut-off are some of the features that make this device intuitive to use.
With 100 percent insulation and an easy side-loading wood tray, this device will have you smoking in no time.
Tips on Choosing Electric Smoker
The best electric smokers from consumer reports let you see what real customers have to say about their smokers.
The information that you derive from these reports can also simplify the process of finding the best electric smoker for the money.
Consider the fuel type you will use. Most electric smokers use a little wood to create smoke when they are operating them.
Ideally, you want one that uses as little wood as possible.
Make sure that the smoker has a thermostat instead of a Rheostat. The thermostat provides a more accurate reading of the temperature so that you can ensure cooking consistency.
Look at the racks to see how much space is between each bar. The more space, the more foil you need to use to prevent the meat fat from extinguishing your smoke when you are cooking.
Charcoal Smoker: Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker
I’m going to be talking about a lot of smokers in the subsequent meat smoker reviews. However, this is for me the hands-down best BBQ smoker.
The Smokey Mountain cooker 18-inch charcoal smoker produces some of the juiciest cuts of meat you will ever try. This smoker is the epitome of low and slow. It has two nickel-plated 18 ½ inch wide cooking grates, giving you 481 in.² of cooking space.
The unit is made from porcelain enamel steel. Its unique features include a built-in thermometer, individual vents, and a heat-resistant nylon handle that makes smoking your meat to perfection a joy.
The smokers produced by Weber are the best meat smokers you can buy because of the company’s commitment to excellence. Couple this with the company’s excellent customer service, and you got a product that can’t be beaten.
- Compact Portable Design
- High-Quality Construction
- Ample Cooking Space
- Completely Insulated Interior
- Side Handles Should Be Added to Make It Easier to Move the Device from One Place to Another
Tips on Choosing Charcoal Smoker
Finding the best-rated charcoal smoker grill helps to ensure that you get enough surface area and the flavor that you are looking for.
This type of grill is ideal for times when you need high cooking temperatures. Compared to electric and gas grills, electric ones get hotter.
The best charcoal grill for beginners has plenty of space and at least one rack.
However, two racks can be better if you cook meat and vegetables at the same time. Make sure that you can remove the racks so that the grill is easier to keep clean. Look at the space where you put the charcoal. Can it accommodate the amount of charcoal you wish to use?
It is important to have enough space between the charcoal and the lowest rack when you are cooking to reduce the risk of burned spots on your food.
Other Good Smokers Worth Considering
1. Char-Broil Vertical Electric Smoker
The Char-Broil model is the most affordable smoker not because it’s the cheapest model out there, but instead because it’s the best cheap smoker that will leave you with savory-tasting meat.
With 504 in.² of space and insulated double-wall construction, this is a durable model that can smoke some big chunks of meat.
Because it is constructed with steel, it is sturdy and promises to provide your family with delicious meats and vegetables for years to come.
- Sturdy Steel Design
- Uses Electricity as a Fuel
- Not a Combination Grill and Smoker
Types of Smokers: By Fuel Source
Electric Smokers Overview
Electric smokers are modern gadgets that allow you to cook following an age-old tradition. Smokers come in two styles:
- Vertical electric smokers are less expensive but can only be used during warm months.
- Electric cabinets have better core temperature control and a unique refrigerator-like shape.
Electric smokers allow you to control the temperature and smoke inside the chamber. Any BBQ smoker review will confirm this is key in how your meat will turn out.
They take some of the art out of smoking. You don’t need to check the fire or tend it. Just throw your meat on the rack, put the wood into the chip box, set the temperature, turn it on, and walk away.
A disadvantage of some of the best electric smokers is they don’t generate the same amount of smoke as wood smokers do. This is offset by the level of control you have over the temperature.
An electric smoker is the best backyard smoker. You can’t take it with you to the beach or to the park unless there is an electrical source.
Gas Smokers Overview
Cabinet-style gas smokers are shaped like a gym locker or a safe. On the bottom, there is a propane fuel gas burner. Most models do not work with natural gas. A tray sits above the burner for smoke chips, wood chunks, or sawdust.
On top of the unit, there are either chimneys or dampers that vent smoke. Gas smokers can be the best smoker for beginners. They are simple to use, yet provide delicious flavor and moist meat.
Gas smokers make great meat. They run off propane similar to a gas grill. Like an electric smoker, you set the temperature and walk away.
You can run out of fuel midway through your smoke. If you are not attentive to this fact, you could end up ruining a good piece of meat. Parts can break easily, but just about every hardware store has replacement parts.
A propane smoker can be used wherever you can take your propane tank. And in a crunch, they can be used as a flexible oven.
- Price. Most of the best BBQ smokers are going to be in the $250-$500 price range. The more you pay, the stronger the construction and the larger the capacity.
- They are portable.
- When compared to the size of offset barrel smokers, these things are relatively small.
- Propane burns clean and efficiently, leaving your food without soot deposits.
- It’s easier to keep an even temperature, and these require less work than a wood or charcoal smoker.
- Less expensive models leak smoke and don’t do well in cold or windy conditions because they lack insulation.
- Horizontal models are too narrow to accommodate large cuts of meat
- During a longer cook, you may need to switch out propane tanks.
Wood Smokers Overview
Which is a great smoker type? A wood smoker. They have a steep learning curve, but the results are worth it. One of the biggest challenges of using a wood-burning smoker is building a fire that is too big.
Wood smokers have two compartments. There is the cooking chamber and the offset chamber. The offset chamber is where you will place the wood you will cook with. Some like to use charcoal to get the wood started, and from there, they will heat the rest of their food using the wood.
As the wood produces smoke, the smoke looks for a place to escape. Since the chimney is located over the cooking chamber, the smoke will pass over the food. As it escapes out of the chamber heating the food, it gives the meat a distinct wood flavor.
One of the biggest challenges you will find with a wood smoker is keeping the wood at a temperature that produces smoke but does not allow it to burst into flames. Wood smoker reviews will give you an idea of how well-insulated the smoker is and how well it holds onto heat.
Pellet Smokers Overview
Pellet smokers have revolutionized the way meat is smoked. They offer the rich flavor of wood smoke without the fuss.
These smokers work by using condensed pellets made from sawdust. The pellets are stored in a hopper that is set off from the cooking chamber.
An auger will deliver the pellets into the burn pot. There, they will be ignited to create heat and smoke. A fan will distribute the heat and smoke evenly throughout the cooking department.
A thermostat determines how fast the pellets are driven from the hopper to the burn pot and the amount of oxygen the fan blows over the pellets. This allows the smoker to maintain an even temperature.
The lower the temperature, the more smoke is generated.
Because the heat and smoke created by the smoker are controlled by the thermostat, you can set your meat, walk away, and come back to a perfectly cooked piece of meat.
One of the drawbacks to using one of the best pellet smokers is that they do not produce the blue smoke that professional smokers look for when flavoring their meat. Some argue that the smoke flavor you get from pellets is not as strong as what you get from wood or a charcoal smoker.
Charcoal Smokers Overview
Experienced smokers use charcoal or wood-fueled smokers. They provide a flavor you won’t get with an electric or gas smoker. They are a challenge to use and require constant monitoring.
Popular styles of some of the best charcoal smokers are the vertical water and the offset dry smoker.
The vertical water smoker has a charcoal heat source at the bottom and a water pan above the heat source. The water heats the meat and prevents it from drying out.
The dry offset smoker sits vertically. It has a firebox on one side and a cooking chamber on the other side. The charcoal or wood is burned in the firebox. The vent or chimney sucks the heat and smoke from the firebox, sending it across the meat in the chamber.
Simply reading a smoker grill review will confirm that the main disadvantage of these types of smokers is the amount of time it takes to start the fire and the amount of work it takes to keep the fire going steady for a long period of time.
Types of Smokers: By Construction
Kamado (Egg-shaped and Oval) smokers
Kamado smokers are a modern take on a centuries-old Chinese and Indian design. Their appearance mimics that of a burial urn or a giant egg. Most are made from ceramic, and they are great insulators that radiate heat very efficiently. They are among the best BBQ smokers in the world.
Their superb insulation allows them to radiate heat evenly and maintain an even temperature. They function well in cold climates and are perfect for outdoor winter cooking.
This product features more than 300 in.² of cooking space and a unique insulated design. It has a cast iron cooking surface, with a body made from 22 gauge steel.
It weighs 98 pounds, and its dimensions are 21.6 x 28.7 by 24.8 inches.
If you are looking for a Kamado grill we recommend you check out the Kamado Joe brand. We have compared their two most popular kamado smokers – Classic II and Classic III.
Vertical smokers commonly have a bullet shape, stubby legs, and stand right on the ground. The heat source is on the bottom.
On top of the heat source, wood pellets or wood chunks sit to create the smoke. Above this, there is a water pan to create steam. While it is called the water pan, vertical smoker reviews show that users use other fluids like juice, wine, or beer to add flavor. Above the water pan, there are racks where the meat sits. Covering everything is a dome-shaped lid.
With vertical smokers, as with all other products, you get what you pay for. An example of a vertical smoker is the Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker. This model boasts more than 590 ft.² of cooking surface divided into three chrome-plated cooking grates.
Since gas is used, it allows for consistent heat and better smoke. Its wood chip pan and water pan are both made of porcelain. Weighing in at 76 pounds, the smoker has dimensions of 45.5″ x 21.5″ x 19.5″.
These ingenious devices are made from steel drums and have racks or hooks where meat is held for smoking. They’re made from a retrofitted steel drum.
The style of a drum smoker has been around for decades, with most being handmade. No two handmade designs are exactly alike.
Over the past few years, these devices became available commercially. They have meat hooks, charcoal baskets, and cooking racks. They have an amazing ability to hold a steady temperature and are great for long cooking times.
A good commercially available barrel smoker, according to barbecue smoker’s reviews, is the Pit Barrel Cooker Package. Perfect for outdoor barbecue or tailgating, it is a fun, portable charcoal meat smoker.
It is designed to provide a unique vertical cooking experience that leaves you with perfectly cooked meat all the time. Barrel smoker reviews about this product made by professionals or amateurs attest to the quality of the product.
When you look at offset smoker reviews, you will notice that this classic design is the most popular out there. Food sits in a horizontal chamber, and the charcoal and smoke wood is burning in a firebox attached to the side.
Inside you’ll see multiple shelves to handle racks of ribs, briskets, and other cuts of meat. To maintain their heat, a good offset smoker is made from thick steel. They are heavy, so when reading offset smoker grills reviews, look for those with large wheels or casters to make moving them easier.
A good example of an offset smoker is the Smoke Hollow 4-in-1 LP Gas Charcoal Smoker Searing BBQ Grill Model PS9900. This grill smoker combo can use propane or charcoal. The firebox is used for smoking to inject an authentic barbecue flavor. This is the best smoker grill of its type.
Check out the list of the 9 best offset smokers if you think that this is the best type of smoker for you.
This is the top-rated smoker grill if you want to enjoy multiple styles of barbecue cooking. It weighs 218 pounds and has dimensions 54″ x 23″ x 82″.
It has porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grids, an adjustable charcoal grate, and dampers that allow you to control the heat. It’s two lower shelves and condiment racks serve as extra storage for your cooking implements.
In a kettle smoker, the meat cooks directly over the heat source but at a distance. Its shape is reminiscent of a conventional charcoal grill. A water pan is used to separate the charcoal from the food. The water helps the meat to stay moist during the hours of smoking. It also helps the meat maintain its low constant temperature.
During the smoking process, chips of wood are added directly to the coals. Some people add tea leaves or other smoke sources to tweak the flavor. An example of a kettle smoker is the Nordic Ware 365 Indoor/Outdoor Kettle Smoker.
This indoor-outdoor kettle smoker is designed to be used 365 days a year. It has a high dome cover and a base pan. The water pan, smoking rack, and thermometer work hand-in-hand to create a unique smoking flavor. It is designed to work on gas or electric burners or on outdoor grills.
Handheld smokers are not smokers in the traditional sense. Smoking meat can take up to 13 hours. A handheld device is more of a smoke infuser or a smoke flavoring device. It allows the cook to add a smoky flavor to their meat without grilling outdoors.
A handheld smoker has a bowl-like hash pipe where you can put sawdust, hay, spices, and herbs. Light these on fire, and a little motor that is powered by AA batteries pulls air through the bowl and pushes smoke out of a flexible hole.
The NIA Hand-held Cold Smoking Gun is a great example of a handheld smoker. It works indoors or outdoors and can function with a variety of wood-smoking chips, teas, and spices.
Competition & Commercial Smokers
As the name implies, these are the best BBQ smokers for competitive and restaurant use. They are large-capacity commercial smokers that range from a big box for use at a restaurant to a mobile unit that can be custom-designed to reflect a person’s needs and taste.
They use a range of fuels from gas to wood to charcoal. These large smokers are built using heavy-grade steel, which allows them to maintain even heat throughout.
Check-list for Choosing the Meat Smoker
As you’ve seen in this review, there are a lot of smokers and smoker styles available. So how do you decide which one is right for you? Here are a few factors to consider:
You can buy a smoker for 50 bucks, or you can get one for more than 10 grand. It all depends on how much you want to smoke and how much you’re willing to invest.
If you are just testing the waters to see if smoking is right for you, then I recommend getting something that small, maybe a vertical water smoker. They’re not expensive, but they will give you a good enough feel for smoking to see if you want to invest more in the future. If you are looking for less expensive or cheap products, check out those best budget smokers.
A lot of the models I’ve talked about offer you the best of both worlds. They allow you to smoke and grill meat. If you are looking for a multi-usage or multipurpose smoker, make sure it’s well-designed. Some units offer the world, but when you really look at them, they don’t live up to the expectations in one department or the other.
While most smokers we reviewed are designed for use outdoors, indoor smokers allow you to get a fork-tender brisket or sausage from the comfort of your kitchen. Some models allow you to work indoors with gas or outdoors with charcoal. Most are suitable for water smoking or dry smoking.
This feature is critical if you ever want to serve your meat on time. Don’t get a smoker that does not have a thermostat. Even if you must budget for an add-on thermostat, do it. It is more than worth it.
Many of the best BBQ smokers come with a built-in thermometer. The downside is they are not always reliable. You may want to budget for a high-quality thermometer that you can put at grate level to give you a better reading. Since maintaining a constant temperature is so important, take the time to learn how to calibrate your meat thermometer.
Look for a device that you can set as low as 160° for smoking but also gives you the option to crank it up, depending on the meat you are preparing.
Build & Construction Quality
The thick metal is going to absorb heat and distribute it evenly around the cooking chamber. The doors and dampers should close tightly to prevent leaks. If your heat and smoke escape, it is going to be difficult to stabilize the temperature. Look at the seals, welds, and thickness of the metal before you purchase a smoker.
Heat Distribution & Control
You may find that the temperature in your smoker varies depending on what area you are checking in. Look for a model that has thick metal. Thick metal absorbs heat and distributes it evenly throughout the chamber. Dampers play a vital role in heat distribution.
You want to choose a model that has dampeners that you can easily reach and control. Check the seals and make sure they are tight to prevent smoke and heat leakages.
Size & Capacity
A small BBQ smoker is going to give you enough food to feed a large family. A commercial or competition smoker will allow you to make enough food to cater a barbecue.
So ask yourself, how much do you want to smoke before you buy? If it’s just for you and your family, get something small. However, if you’re thinking about smoking meat for a lot of people, then you want to look at a commercial-size model.
Tools, Accessories, and Other Features
Certain accessories are standard. These would include drip pans, water pans, and movable shelves. Look for models that include storage space, work surfaces, and tool hooks.
The greatest smoker you can buy is a heavy cooking tool that reaches hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit. You want them to be a child and pet-safe.
What is the best electric smoker? A safe one. If you’re using an electric smoker, keep it safe from the elements. Don’t let it get wet.
Handles should be cool to the touch. The wheels should lock in place to prevent them from moving accidentally. Look for a device that has coiled stainless steel handles. They are durable, and they disperse heat easily, so they stay cool.
Ease of Cleaning
You want your smoker to be as convenient to use and clean as possible. Before you buy it, make sure that it’s easy to access all the parts, check on your meat, and clean the interior. Is it difficult to remove or replace the shelves? Can the wheels be used on any surface? Having a smoker that is convenient and easy to use will make smoking meat so much more fun.
Remember, cleaning the outside of your smoker is an option. Cleaning the inside is not. It can become a breeding ground for bacteria, and old grease can destroy the flavor of your food. Stainless steel is easy to clean, and chrome-plated grates are harder to clean and will eventually rust.
Warranty and Support
When looking at the warranty, check to see if tech support, maintenance, and replacement parts are included. Look at online BBQ smokers’ reviews and research the company. Take the time to read the warranty or guarantee policy and make sure you understand it.
At the end of the day, if it looks cheap and if the parts look like they’re going to fall apart in a few weeks, don’t buy it. Be picky about what you purchase. Your palate will thank you later.
Must-Have BBQ Accessories
A pit master is only as good as his or her tools. The following are a handful of must-have tools for any successful barbecue.
- Long Handled Spatula
You want your spatula to have an offset handle, so you can sneak that spatula under your food easily. The best materials are silicone and metal. The longer the handle, the better in order to keep your hands away from the heat. Spatulas are going to work best if you’re dealing with fish or other delicate foods.
- Chimney Starter for Charcoal
This is the easiest way to light charcoal or a piece of hardwood. You can use lighter fluid or a crumpled-up newspaper to start the fire. Let it burn until it’s white-hot before adding it to your smoker.
- Meat Thermometer
You want your food to be delicious, but you want it to be healthy. In this regard, a meat thermometer is your best friend. Jab that thermometer into the thickest part of the food to make sure that it is done but not overcooked. Having a good wireless meat thermometer is a must! It’s much more comfortable to monitor the temperature of the meat while watching TV than staying near the smoker in your backyard.
- Grill Brush
Keeping the grill rack clean is your first line of defense. After every smoke, take the time to clean off the grates with a grill brush. Clean them vigorously so that they are smooth and free from food. Brass bristles work better than steel bristles because steel can damage the enamel finish of your grates.
- Long-Handled Tongs
Use stainless steel tongs to grip your meat. They offer you power and sturdiness, and they allow you to move the meat around without using a knife or fork, which pierces the meat and causes some of the flavor and juices to be lost.
- Grilling Gloves
Most experts agree that the best gloves for grilling are swayed or split leather welding gloves. These offer superior protection against contact with hot meat or accidental contact with the smoker.
- Meat Injector
If you haven’t enough time to season a turkey or other meals, you can use the best meat injectors to save time and make the perfect Thanksgiving turkey.
- Bear Paws
You can pull pork and transfer large cuts of meat with the best of them using heat-resistant bear paws.
- Burger Press
Juicy Lucy anyone? A stuffed burger press allows you to create mouthwatering stuffed burgers with ease.
- Meat Knife
There are many different knives for different purposes, such as boning knives, chef knives, or fillet knives for salmon.
What effect does wind have on my smoker?The weather will have a large impact on how even the top-notch smoker heats. Wind can draw heat from your smoker and create problems with the airflow. It's possible to successfully smoke meat during the winter, but you may have problems smoking meat during the summer because of the wind. A good rule of thumb is to keep the path of airflow through the smoker in the same direction as the wind. This way, you can better control the airflow vents and dampers.
How can I accurately determine the temperature inside my smoker?The heat in your smoker will never be uniform. It might be 20° on one side and 250° on the other. The best way to get an accurate reading is to put your thermometer near the meat you are smoking. Your built-in thermometer is only going to give you a general idea of the temperature in the smoker.
Does the Size of the Smoker Affect the Flavor of the Meat?When looking for a smoker, size does matter. The smaller the rig, the harder it is going to be for you to smoke meat if you lose actual wood. You could get a decent taste if you want to use flavorings, like liquid smoke. But most people who take the time to read a guide like this want the real thing. You could smoke dainty foods, like a chicken breast, a fish fillet, or a pork loin. That's going to depend on how much time and effort you're going to want to put into babysitting your smoker. A charcoal or wood-powered smoker is going to require you to constantly be checking the temperature and stoking the fire. An electric or gas smoker can hold its temperature without being watched.
Is there a difference in the various types of smoking woods?They are all going to give you a smoky taste. Oak will leave you with a clean, uncomplicated taste. Apple and other fruit woods are going to give you a sweeter taste and are good for chicken or pork. Hickory will give you that taste you find in barbecue sauces, especially in North Carolina. Other woods such as maple, cedar, and pecan all have a distinct taste.
What Type of Smoker is Best: Electric vs Gas Smoker
Smoking meat and vegetables is an excellent way of adding flavor to old favorites. And you can do it right on your smoker of choice. Typically, three standard smoking methods are widely applicable across the globe, Charcoal, electric, and Gas.
If you don’t have enough time to fiddle through charcoals, you are definitely left to decide between an electric or a gas smoker. Now the million-dollar question – electric or gas smoker, which is better?
In this article, we will unfold essential facts, pros, and cons of electric and gas smokers as well as compare and contrast their functional features. Armed with the necessary information, you will be in a better position to decide which of these smokers is best for your needs.
Gas Smoker Overview
Out of many smokers, gas, and electricity share a lot in common. First, they are both easy to use and available at affordable prices. Roughly, you can find a favorable model even below $200.
As the name suggests, gas smokers usually use natural or propane gas to fuel their fires.
As a result, you can have more control over heat, as you can crank up the gas and achieve the heat temperature you want.
Gas smokers are also easily portable, making them a versatile option. However, while using a gas smoker, you need to take great caution as these smokers fluctuate temperature relatively fast.
Gas smokers are designed with a gas burner at the bottom and a shelf above it, which adds food chips that enhance food aroma and taste.
Many people who have prior experience with charcoal and gas smokers will equally complement both to have a similar impact on how they cook and the results they deliver. Gas smoker benefits are overwhelming. They are often found in commercial barbecue restaurants.
Gas Smoker: Advantages and Disadvantages
- It is versatile. Therefore, you can position it anywhere, either outside or inside the building, without worrying about the power source.
- Gas smokers are simply designed. This makes repair possible without much hassle.
- You can easily pick up a gas smoker at a fair price than you could on an electric unit.
- Even if the power is out, you can still use your gas power.
- The results you can get from gas smokers are equally similar to those you can achieve from a traditional charcoal smoker than an electric smoker can produce.
- Some gas smokers will require you to babysit to keep checking temperature changes. Gas smokers tend to gain high temperatures rapidly.
- Gas smokers are usually not well insulated. If you are smoking on a windy or cold day, your smoking is more likely to be affected as well as your cooking time.
- Compared to electric units, these gadgets are low-tech. In most circumstances, you won’t get all the advanced innovation techs, such as Bluetooth connectivity, found on electric smokers.
Electric Smoker Overview
An electric smoker utilizes electric currents to smoke and cook your food. They are easy to use compared to a gas smoker.
An electric smoker contains a vent, which is crucial in regulating the amount of temperature. However, the bulk of heat regulation is controlled by the heating elements.
Considering the essence of this fact, it is, therefore, crucial to allow some time for the element to heat before you start cooking.
Generally, an electric smoker works with the same principle as ovens; cook slow and low.
With the added advantage of being able to add wood chips, an electric smoker benefits you in many ways, including adding a coveted smoke taste to your food. Below are some of the pros and cons of electric smoking:
Electric Smoker: Advantages and Disadvantages
- Controlling temperature is easy. Through a dial, you can easily adjust the temperatures. Some lower models of electric smokers may only allow basic adjustments such as low, medium, and high.
- It is very convenient. You can set the temperature limits and leave to attend to other duties.
- It is the safest unit of the two options. There are no gases to worry about.
- Some environmental settings regulate and discourage the use of charcoal and gas smokers, which is a rare case with an electric smoker.
- An electric smoker can be converted to a cold smoker easily. They are also best suited for smoking delicate foods such as fish, and they can be adjusted low enough to dehydrate some foods with ease.
- You cannot get the same amount of heat from an electric smoker as you can get from a gas smoker. Generally, it has a low heating capacity.
- You will need a power outlet in the smoking venue. This may limit the versatility of an electric smoker unless you have a back generator.
- You will not likely get a smoking ring when you cook with an electric smoker. Even though you can add wood chips to add flavor to your food, the heat produced by this smoker is not enough to burn the wood.
- Maintenance and repair services can be a bit complicated and expensive for electric smokers due to their high-tech nature.
General Features of Electric Smoker vs. Gas Smoker
Several factors impact the purchase of specific smokers. Below, we are going to compare some of these factors and how the electric and gas model stacks up. Remember, every point is important, and any given may be a deciding factor for buying.
Easy to use
They are both easy to use. However, with an electric smoker, it is convenient and much easier to operate. All you need with an electric smoker is just to plug in the socket to the power outlet, then set the temperature you want using adjusters, and within 20 minutes, you are ready to start smoking.
The taste of food smoked through a gas smoker is equally similar to that of food smoked from traditional charcoal.
The flavor of electric smoke food tastes incredibly good. However, the final taste depends more on the skills of the person smoking.
Gas smokers are designed with a simple controller switch that opens and closes the flow of gas. It has a burner controller knob that requires to be appropriately adjusted so as to achieve the required temperature.
With electric smokers, each model is equipped with a digital temperature controller, which often contains additional useful features such as timers or plugins.
Without proper adjustments, it is difficult to achieve low temperatures with the gas smoker. However, with an electric smoker, the temperature ranges, and the precise controller enhances cold smoking.
And if the electric smoker doesn’t give the expected results, you can as well purchase a specialized cold smoking kit.
Most gas smokers have a relatively large warranty ranging from a few months to several years. Unfortunately, electric smokers, in most cases, have a shorter warranty duration that usually lasts for one year.
Gas smokers are easy to clean and maintain compared to electric smokers.
Controlling the temperature when using a gas smoker can be challenging, although a gas smoker can easily result in higher temperatures above 300 degrees.
Electric smokers offer more flexible temperature ranges. Most electric units provide a temperature range of 100 to 300 degrees which is ideal for cooking meat and cold smoking.
Baring the fact that gas smoker uses some sort of highly flammable gases, always means there is a risk if you fail to pay attention to safety precautions. We have electric equipment almost around us, which signifies that electric smokers are safer throughout and can be left for several years unattended.
Gas smoker receives a thumb for their versatility. You can use this type of smoker anywhere as long as you have a steady supply of gas.
An electric smoker can as well be mobile provided you have a generator, or you can use a power cord to deliver electrical current to the smoking bay.
There is a contradiction of whether it is safe to use gas smokers in any type of weather, but you need to take into account that some weather conditions may cause difficulties in maintaining a constant temperature.
Electric smokers are restricted from being used in rainy weather. Everyone is aware that electricity and water are mortal enemies.
Gas Smoker and Electric Smoker Comparison
When it comes to selecting between gas and electric smokers, many people are guided by their values.
If you desire to have delicate dehydrated proteins or smoked foods, then an electric smoker is the best choice for you. But if your wish is to have tastes that are similar to those produced by the traditional charcoal smoker, then gas smokers should be the right choice for you.
However, if yet you are unsure what you need, below are some critical factors that you might consider, which can help you in finalizing your decision.
Price for the Smoker
Comparing the prices of propane vs. electric smoke, the latter is always cheaper; however, it is vital to consider the quality aspect of the equipment.
There are cheaper electric smokers in the market, but if you need the advanced ones with the latest tech, then you will require to dig deeper into your pocket than you would do when buying a standard propane unit.
The winner is Electric Smoker
While it might be categorically difficult to state which unit is less expensive to run as gas and electricity charges are different in various parts of the world, an electric smoker is likely to be more economical.
The winner is Electric Smoker
Ease of Use:
Both gas and electric smokers do not require much learning to know how to use them. However, some people do not know how to use an electric smoker. Besides, others barely know how to use a gas smoker.
Fortunately, while purchasing either of these smokers, there is a manufacturer manual that you get, which contains step by step using procedures.
By considering both smokers, electric smokers are well recognized, for they are easy to use. A gas smoker needs close attention as the temperatures can fluctuate quickly.
The winner is Electric Smoker
Taste of Food:
A gas smoker is well known for producing delicious foods. Also, electric smoker equally produces tasty meals. However, the perception of food taste may rely on several aspects, such as personal decisions, smoking skills, and the type of food smoked.
Bad Weather Consideration:
If you are using an electric smoker to cook your food, the weather is a crucial factor to consider. The presence of water in an electric smoker may initiate electrical charges, and therefore, you should look for a cover to protect you from the downpour.
A gas smoker is less affected by weather, but some weather conditions such as wind or rain may affect the temperature of the smoker.
The winner is Gas Smoker
A gas smoker may not be reliable, more so the lower quality. However, if damage and repair are required, gas smokers are a bit easy to fix. Electric smokers are well-designed and easy to use, making them more reliable.
Top Propane and Electric Smoker Brands
Now, with the much-discussed, you are in a better position of choosing between a gas or electric smoker. But before you proceed to the next phase, here are some of the top brands you would like to consider while making your purchase.
For an electric smoker, check out for:
These are reputable brands, which are prominent for producing quality smoke.
If you have opted for a propane smoker
- Cuisinart Vertical
- Camp Chef
- Smoke Hollow
They are an excellent choice that will barely disappoint.
And if you are on a tight budget, you might check the Camp Chef, which is an excellent gas smoker and often given out on offers.
Having discussed more than enough facts about gas and electric smokers, you are now in a better position to search, question, and conclude every type of smoker.
Those who would wish to have a quick smoker with similar results as a charcoal smoker should look for a gas smoker, but be ready to make regular temperature adjustments and babysit the smoker.
On the other hand, those who would like to smoke more delicate meat and fish with more convenience, then they should check the goodness with an electric smoker model.
Making The Decision
Throughout this guide, I have presented you with various models of smokers, as well as a few tips for their use.
Smoking meat gives it a flavor and a texture that cannot be found in any other cooking style.
The best pitmaster is only as good as the tools they use. I want you to get the best smoker for your money. That’s why I have only reviewed high-quality models that will leave you with a good end product you will enjoy.
It’s better for you to buy the best cheap smoker available on the market than to waste your money on an expensive smoker and end up with a poor outcome.
Now, the choice is up to you. There are a lot of brick-and-mortar stores where you can purchase a cheap smoker, but you won’t find the same deals that you find purchasing the best smoker online on places like Amazon.com.
Take your time, do your research, and then make the purchase. When you, your family, and your friends are enjoying the delicious smoked meat you produced, you are going to be so happy that you did.