Electric Smoker vs Charcoal
Most of the time we find discussions on electric smoker vs charcoal smoker on the web. And obviously, the competition between these types of smokers has spread across the culinary world, that even experts have been struggling which smoker deserves to be called the better smoker. Incidentally, the art of smoking has been upgraded since the early century that we now have different kinds of smokers with special features. And while the variety of high-quality smokers can be overwhelming, this makes it hard for us to pick which of these can be more versatile and useful. So with the talk about the electric smoker vs charcoal , how can we ever tell which smoker is right for us?
When picking the right smoker, this may depend on how you prepare your food and how you want your food to taste. And when it comes to smoking convenience, we can say that the electric smoker can be more convenient to use than a charcoal smoker. However, if you want to surprise your taste buds, you may need to experiment with other smokers like charcoal smokers. There’s basically no difference if you choose an electric smoker or charcoal smoker because both of these can offer you more flavorful smoked meat. But if you are into electric smoking, trying the charcoal smoker can also let you discover other distinct flavors that the electric smokers can’t provide.
Now if you’re a meat-lover and plan to start smoking at home but can’t decide which is the best electric smokers or charcoal, then this article will help you decide.
Overview of Smoker Electric vs Charcoal
The main reason why people struggle to choose among the electric smoker vs charcoal smoker is because of their lack of knowledge of their features. Probably, some people may think that choosing the wrong type of smoker may not bring out the smoky taste in their food. So to dissipate some people’s doubts about the electric and the charcoal smokers and to provide better information, we have to give some overviews of these cooking tools –
Charcoal smoking is one of the best traditional ways of preserving and cooking food through slow cooking thus the use of charcoal in smoking meat is not new to us. Charcoal smoking is not only the most natural process of smoking food as there is no gas or electricity involved but it can also add an intense flavor to food through its slow cooking process. However, take the word “slow” in cooking and some people may not like it. On the other hand, other people won’t mind the long smoking time with charcoal as they are more concerned about infusing that Smokey flavor from the wood in their meat.
The only problem with the customary method of charcoal smoking is that this requires constant monitoring of the temperature inside the smoker which may require regularly adjusting the “damper” to control the generation of smoke. Charcoal also burns fast so you’ll need to constantly replenish these to keep your smoker going.
Electric smokers are some of the most modern smokers that some people are crazy about. Despite that they do not produce that smoke ring on meat that indicates smoke absorption, these smokers can provide the necessary heat to smolder the wood to produce smoke.
Electric smokers have heating elements that enable you to control the temperature inside the apparatus using thermostat control. On top of that, you can also manage the smoke inside and set the timer on. Also, electric smokers do not create a mess and are easier to use. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like cleaning too much after smoking your food, choosing electric vs Charcoal can be easy for you.
Electric Smoker Vs Charcoal: How Does It Work?
Concerning the use of electric smoker vs charcoal, the electric smoker is much easier to use than the charcoal smoker. But before we give the pros and cons of each smoker, we must first define the physical features of these smokers. Smokers, regardless of their heat source and design, have the basic construction of the fuel container (firebox) being at the bottom of the smoker. With charcoal smokers, the bottom of the chamber contains the charcoal briquettes and the first rack is for the flavored wood chips followed by the next rack for the water pan.
The construction of electric smokers is also almost the same as charcoal smokers. The heating element is at the bottom of the chamber, next is the rack that contains a metal box with flavored wood chunks or chips and the following rack has the water pan. The next racks are then for the meat.
Charcoal smokers are designed as vertical smokers with four chambers: the lowest chamber for flavored wood, next is the water pan chamber and above it are the racks for the meat. The firebox is not considered a chamber as it only contains the fuel source. The lids only purpose is to keep the smoke from escaping. The bigger models have at least 3 chambers or racks for larger meat storage and these racks are removable. Both can also have dampers and exhausts for controlling the oxygen intake and smoke exhaust. .
Electric Smoker vs Charcoal - Pros and Cons
If you are to choose between an electric smoker or charcoal and want to do smoking food as a hobby, then you might prefer the charcoal smoker. The benefit you’d get for this smoker is it can offer a new flavor to your meat that you cannot achieve with an electric smoker. Because charcoal can produce that intense smokiness, the flavor of its smoke can permeate better inside the meat depending on the type of wood you use.
Also, the meats that are smoked with charcoal smokers don’t develop a chemical taste so what you get is meat with a natural flavor. Charcoal smokers are generally inexpensive and can be easily bought from many hardware stores. However, charcoal smokers need extra care in maintaining their heat during the smoking process so you must ensure that when they reach the smoking temperature between 225F to 250F, you must keep an eye on it. As charcoal can suddenly get very hot, you need to use its damper or exhaust to control the heat. Closing the exhaust or damper can reduce the heat as the amount of oxygen inside gets lower.
When it comes to aesthetic appeal with the electric smoker vs charcoal, we can’t deny that electric smokers have more features than charcoal smokers. This is because their features are built with high-tech specs to make smoking meat very simple and easy. Electric smokers also produce much mess unlike with charcoal that leaves out lots of ashes at the bottom and inside the chambers.
Electric smokers are kind of high-tech smokers that you only need to push a few buttons for the temperature and timer and leave it. The machine will maintain its temperature and if your electric smoker has a thermometer probe, this will also give you the reading when your meat is cooked. Because electric smokers generate very little smoke, you can also use them outdoors if its not raining. However, the drawbacks with electric smokers are their electronic parts if they break down, these are quite costly to repair or replace.
Which To Buy - Electric Smoker or Charcoal?
If you are now close to deciding electric smoker or charcoal, let us give you more advice that you should also consider.
When it comes to infusing smoke flavor into the food, the charcoal smoker is better. The charcoal being wood itself can create enough smokiness in meat to enhance its natural meaty flavor which the electric smoker could not easily provide. The same reason why people prefer to use charcoal smokers for grilling and roasting meat. This cannot be done by electric smokers because these are designed for smoking food only. But with regards to their smoking capacities, whether it’s electric smoker or charcoal, both smokers are capable of smoking food efficient
The price is always a consideration because people will always be looking for smokers that are affordable and yet very useful. But if we talk about which is more expensive, the electric smoker or charcoal, the electric smokers are more costly. Nowadays, the latest model of electric smoker can be worth up to $400 or more but expect that at this price, this unit will be packed with more advanced features. Some even have remote controls to monitor your meat’s temperature and the temperature can be set up away from the smoker. But if you are fond of charcoal smokers as they can smoke food faster, these are more affordable and as we have said, can give your meat that Smokey flavor a bit better.
This is where the electric and charcoal varies in terms of their temperature. How do you want to use your smoker? If you want to use a smoker at a high heat level, you should go with a charcoal smoker. The charcoal smoker can reach the temperature from 125F up to 350F or even more so this is perfect for roasting meat and can have that crispy meat when grilling a steak. However, if you prefer cold smoking, which the ideal temperature ranges from 100F to 275F, better choose the electric smoker. All you need is a smoking attachment and you can set the timer and heat level and just leave the smoker to do its stuff.
Best Smoker Product Reviews
Weber 18- inches Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal
If you want to impress your guest without babysitting the smoker but need to achieve that meaty flavor on your meat, this smoker model can handle the smoking for you. Labeled as the best charcoal smoker on Amazon, this user-friendly smoker is available at a very reasonable price. It has vents on both the bowl and lid to regulate the airflow and also has a built-in thermometer to check the temperature inside the smoker. This is the perfect smoker if you don’t want to open your smoker’s lid when checking the internal heat.
Why we considered this unit to be the best smoker useing charcoal among the rest is because of its unique features. This smoking device measures 41 x 19 x 19 inches, and it has two 18 ½ inches in diameter cooking grates. This is good if you want to feed many people at the same time with your pork ribs, or brisket or turkey. Designed like a huge black egg and weighs 39.1 pounds, you can move this around the yard easily and can also be carried conveniently in your car.
The Weber charcoal smoker is made of porcelain-enameled steel, with rust-resistant aluminum vents and an aluminum door to make the parts durable and easy to clean after use. This charcoal smoker is designed for versatile cooking for any type of meat regardless of size. This is made in the USA, which means that every dime you’ll spend when buying this charcoal smoker will serve as a long term investment.
Easy to use and easy to assemble
Temperature can be controlled easily through its vents
Does not take too much space
Can be used either for smoking or grilling
With a built-in thermometer
Individual vents on both bowl and lid to regulate the airflow
Some people see its door to be rather flimsy
For fast and easy smoking with an electric smoker you can’t go wrong with the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker. With this unit, you just set its thermostat and timer and go. This steel-built smoker is designed for both amateurs and professional smokers who love high-quality smoking and it only needs a few presses of its buttons. And what’s more, you don’t have to open its door to check your meat as the digital display will tell you the temperature inside it.
Masterbuilt smokers are designed to be user-friendly with smart technology and this digital electric smoker has the control panel to let you adjust the smoking temperature, timer and has an easy switch off/on button. Its thermostat-temperature control can range from 100F to 275F so you can also use this for cold smoking. With 730 square inches of cooking space and comes with four chrome-coated racks, this unit can accommodate up to 6 chickens or equivalent to 2 turkeys or 4 racks of ribs.
This brand is also well-known for its durability with an excellent insulation system. But what makes this smoker distinct from other brands is its loading trays that are positioned on the side of the smoker so you can add more wood chips into the firebox without opening the door.
Pro and Features:
800-watt heating system
Fully insulated to prevent smoke leaks and for retaining heat
Ideal smoker for beginners and experienced individuals
Digital panel for manual on/off, cooking temperature setting and cooking timer
Easy access to tray when replenishing wood chips
With Air damper to control the smokiness
730 square meters of cooking space
No viewing window
Note: Some people set the unit at a high temperature which the product is not designed for. We recommend maintaining the temperature between 200F to 250F.
Choosing the best smoker electric or charcoal depends on your preference and convenience for smoking meat. If you plan to use more flavors with your meat you can go for a charcoal smoker. Such a smoker is budget-friendly and easy to smoke. But if you prefer not to babysit your smoker, we advise you to get a electric smoker.
Electric smokers are noted for being user-friendly even for those who are new to smoking meat. However, the electric smokers have more components including their control panels that may require maintenance from time to time.
In our next blog, we will give you helpful points on how to choose the best vertical pellet smoker. This will help you understand further how these smokers work and help you decide with your buying options.