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Pellet Smokers vs Electric Smokers: Which is Right for You?

Electric vs Pellet Smokers

Pellet Smokers vs Electric Smokers: Which is Right for You?

If you’ve thinking about buying your first smoker then you might be wondering what the differences are between electric smokers vs. pellet smokers.

Although both serve the same function, they vary a bit in terms of results and how they work.

Electric vs Pellet Smokers

What Is a Smoker?

A smoker is an indirect cooking device that cooks and flavors food, usually meat, using wood smoke. It’s ideal for “low and slow” recipes, such as ribs or brisket. Smokers are fueled using wood, propane, electricity, charcoal, or natural gas.

Pellet and electric smokers are the most accessible type of smokers to use. They don’t require a lot of effort, are compact, and are perfect for smaller living spaces.

What Is a Pellet Smoker?

A pellet smoker, sometimes called a pellet grill, is a multi-purpose smoker that operates similar to an oven.

These smokers include a pellet hopper that you fill with hardwood pellets. Once ignited, an auger takes the pellets from the hopper into the fire pot. From there, a fan system blows heat and smoke throughout the grill, cooking and smoking your food.

As far as brands are concerned, Traeger is considered the top dog in the pellet grill arena but there are a lot of alternatives to choose from.

What Is an Electric Smoker?

An electric smoker performs the same function as a pellet smoker in that it provides a simple way to smoke your foods. However, unlike the pellet smoker, an electric smoker uses an electric element to cook the food. A water pan helps keep the meat moist, and a wood chip pan provides a delicious, smoky flavor.

As far as brands are concerned, Masterbuilt is the top dog in the electric smoker game but Pit Boss is starting to make some nice alternatives.

Why Do I Need One?

Smoked meats are delicious, which is why these tiny smokers are so popular. They take the smoking process and make it simple.
If you enjoy the taste of smoked food but aren’t quite ready to fork over the time and money to purchase a traditional smoker, then an electric or pellet smoker is a perfect choice. They’re compact, which is ideal if you don’t have a lot of space, and they make the smoking process pretty painless.

You also won’t have to take on the fueling commitment with a small smoker. Larger smokers require more fuel, so if you’re only preparing food for yourself or a small group, you could end up using a lot of fuel when you don’t actually need to.

What Are the Main Differences Between Electric and Pellet Smokers?

There are a few differences between an electric smokers vs. pellet smokers.

Flavor

The flavor that a pellet smoker delivers tends to be much stronger than what an electric smoker is capable of. It’s closer to what you might expect from an offset smoker. This is because the heat source is ignited wood as opposed to an electric element that’s indirectly creating wood smoke.

Cost

Electric smokers are a far more economical choice if you’re shopping on a budget. On average, an electric smoker will start at about $150, while a pellet smoker will run you a minimum of $300.

Fuel is also more costly with pellet grills. You’ll need to replenish your wood pellets more often in a pellet smoker than an electric smoker. If a decrease in flavor isn’t a significant concern for you, an electric grill will be a better choice in terms of up-front and fuel costs.

Usability

If you live in an apartment complex, condo, or another area where open flames aren’t permitted, an electric smoker can still give you the quality and taste of smoked and grilled meats. A pellet smoker may not be allowed because it requires ignition, while an electric grill simply uses electricity. An electric grill will be the better choice in an instance such as this.

Cleanup

Pellet smokers burn wood, which ultimately produces a fair amount of ash. Once you’re done cooking, you’ll have to empty the ash and dispose of it.

Conversely, electric smokers have almost no cleanup. Since an electric smoker isn’t actually burning the wood pellets, there’s no messy ash left at the end to clean up.

Grilling

Many pellet smokers can also grill food, which makes them incredibly versatile. On the other hand, electric smokers can’t be used to grill foods. So if you want to be able to grill a meal on your smoker, a pellet smoker will be your best bet.

The Verdict

Ultimately, when choosing between electric smokers vs. pellet smokers, a pellet smoker is the better choice. This is because a pellet smoker cooks food and really brings the flavor out of them. Food cooked on an electric smoker will taste dull in comparison.

Additionally, pellet smokers also allow you to grill food, while the same can’t be said for electric smokers. While electric smokers might be easier to clean up and cheaper, you get what you pay for, as the saying goes. Electric smokers suffer from a lack of versatility and subpar food flavor when compared to pellet smokers.

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