Propane vs Electric Smoker- What's Better?

Propane vs electric smoker

So, you have decided to invest in a smoker for the first time. Just like every beginner, choosing the best smoker for your needs can be quite an irritating task. With so many options available on the market, buying the smoker with all essential features and easy smoking is a challenge for every new user. Well, it depends on your needs and budget but having proper knowledge about smokers can help you to make the right decision.

From propane to gas to electric, there are different smokers available with distinctive features and costs. This in-depth article about electric vs propane smoke will help to select the best smoker between these two. 

Electric vs Propane Smoker- Similarities and Differences

As compared to other types of smokers on the market, electric and propane smokers are similar in many ways. The first shared feature between the two is both have a similar appearance.

Propane and electric smokers feature a vertical body design with smoking racks aligned on one another to place your food. Both smokers have the ability to smoke a generous amount of food at once with a relatively small footprint.

When it comes to differences, there are many which make them different from one another. For instance, the best electric smoker is easy to use, thanks to the electric connection to generate necessary heat through the heating element. Remember, an electric smoker can’t operate at a very high temperature which is not a bad thing as most smoking cooks are done at 200-275 degrees Fahrenheit. This feature is useful for cold smoking.

Electric smokers need an electric connection which means they are not particularly portable and are not made for wet weather conditions. 

On the other hand, a propane smoker comes with a portable design. The best about this smoker is that you can use it in different weather conditions. It operates by igniting propane gas and creating flames through burners inside the smoker.

Another great feature of the best propane smoker is that it can reach a high temperature as compared to an electric smoker. However, it may not be good for you if you are a beginner.

Electric Smokers- A Brief Working Guide

As the name suggests an electric smoker need electricity to smoke food at low temperature. There is a heating element that is powered up by an electrical connection. It helps to warm up and emit necessary heat throughout the cooking chamber.

The heating element of the smoker is just like your oven tube. Just like an electrical oven, the heating element takes some time to warm up properly. Remember, an electric smoker needs more time to get to the desired temperature as compared to a gas smoker.

The basic difference from the oven is that a smoker has a door or tray which is used to add wood chips for adding smoked flavor. This is the only way to get desired smoked flavor from your foods.

There is also a water pan placed inside the smoking chamber. It helps to keep the cooking environment moist and maintain proper moisture levels for the ends results of your food.

Benefits of an Electric Smoker

Drawbacks of an Electric Smoker

Propane Smoker- A Brief Working Guide

A propane smoker uses natural gas as a source of fuel to gain control over the temperature levels. There are no fancy features and is easy to use. However, it may get extremely hot due to not auto temperature control; therefore you need some sort of smoking skills to deal with propane smokers. 

Just like an electric smoker, a propane smoker comes with a vertical design and large cooking capacity. It is equipped with stainless steel grill racks that allow placing food on them. There is a propane tank which is the only source of cooking fuel. The heating capacity of a gas smoker is measure in BTU (British Thermal Units). 

There is a propane-fueled gas burner located at the bottom of the smoker. This stainless steel burner can produce a live flame which is the heat source of the propane smoker. 

This burner is surrounded by a wood chip tray where you can add your favorite wood chunks to add smoked flavor to your food.

There is a water pan above the wood chip tray which is filled with cold water to prevent the internal temperature of the water from rising too quickly. As the water heats, it begins to emit heat which in turn helps in convection cooking.

Flames are fed by oxygen; therefore the temperature setting on a gas smoker is controlled by airflow. You can open the heavy-duty damper at the bottom to allow more air allow to enter the smoking chamber. The oxygen helps to feed the flame and the temperature enhances. 

There are vents or dampers located at the top of the smoker which can be opened to allow the heat escape. Also, the heat rushed when you open the front door of the unit.

Benefits of Propane Smoker

Drawbacks of a Propane Smoker

Electric and Propane Smokers – Head to Head Comparison

Category Electric Smoker Propane Smoker
Smoking only
Smoking, grilling & Roasting
Cooking capacity
Slightly fewer capacity options
Large capacity options
Easy to use, best for beginners
Need proper monitoring
Heat range
Around 100-275 degree Fahrenheit
Around 150-400 degree Fahrenheit
Food Quality
Less smoky flavor
Rich, smoky taste
Electronic parts may fail
Fewer parts, more reliable
Ongoing running Price
About $0.06/hr
About $0.40/hr
Easy to maintain and convenient to clean
Easy to maintain and clean
Weather considerations
Not recommended for wet or damp weather conditions
Good for all weathers but not for wind and cold due to weak insulation
Smart Features
Bluetooth, Smartphone app and built thermometer for easy food monitoring
Not smart features
Average price
Less Expensive

Propane Smoker Pros

Propane Smoker Cons

Electric Smoker Pros

Electric Smoker Cons

Types of Food you can Smoke in Electric and Propane Smoke

When it comes to food smoking, both smokers allow preparing a variety of food with perfectly smoked flavor.

A pellet smoker is three in one smoking smoker with a smoking, grilling, and oven feature. You can prepare a variety of food using a propane smoker including smoked pepper brisket, ribs, chicken, and many other foods. You can add a variety of smoked flavors by adding wood woods to the smoking chamber.

On the other hand, an electric smoker is a special gift for beginners to prepare their favorite foods. They are plenty of food options with electric smoker including BBQ smoked ham, bacon, smoked turkey, burger, chicken, lobster tails and many more.

Best Electric and Propane Smoker Brands

There are many brands available on the market but all of them are not producing high-quality smokers. Therefore, when investing in a smoker make sure to consider the top brand. 

When it comes to the electric smoker, the following brands are recommended.

  • Masterbuilt
  • Char-Broil
  • Smoke Hollow
  • Dyna- Glo

Here are the top five propane smoker brands you should consider while buying.

  • Masterbuilt
  • Camp Chef
  • Dyna-Glo
  • Char-Broil

Our Verdict on the Propane vs Electric Smoker Comparison

When it comes to choosing the best smoker between electric and propane smokers, it depends on your needs, skill level, and budget. If you are a beginner, looking for smart features and easy control, an electric smoker is the best option for you. However, it is expensive as compared to propane smokers. On the other hand, a propane smoker is known for producing authentic smoked flavor, portable design, easy usage, and cheap price. However, you have to compromise on frequent propane tank refilling.