Propane vs electric smokers are a common debate among barbecue enthusiasts. Although both have their advantages and disadvantages, one definitely comes out on top when it comes to the best smoker for you. This article will compare these two types of smokers in depth and help you decide which is right for your needs and budget.

This blog post will provide information about propane vs electric smoker that can help consumers make an informed decision when buying one of these products.

Smoked Foods Taste Better Than Grilled Ones

Grilling has become wildly popular over the last decade or so because many people believe that smoked foods taste bad or aren’t considered “real dishes” in most people’s minds.

However, a lot of new studies show that this isn’t true at all when using a propane smoker. In fact, smoked meats are considered some of the most delicious and savory in the world due to centuries of trial and error in food smoking.

One reason smoked foods taste better than grilled ones is they’re usually cooked over lower temperatures if you want a more tender piece of meat, causing it to retain more moisture while cooking.

As we all know, water is the main source of flavor when it comes to eating so this is one major benefit that can affect your meal’s overall quality greatly.

This also prevents burnt edges from forming on your steak or burger since they won’t be exposed for too long at high temperatures. The result will be a juicy texture with an open-flame grilled appearance that really impresses most people who try.

Propane vs Electric Smoker in a Nutshell

Since propane and electricity are both fuels that can be used to cook food, many people wonder which one is better for a smoker. Propane smokers often produce a more consistent heat output than electric ones, but the latter have their benefits too.

Both propane and electric smokers have been around since before World War II, so there’s definitely no shortage of information about them on the internet or in your local library.

The great thing about this debate is that you’ll find thousands of forums posts from both sides of this argument debating the best method to use while cooking meat. In this article we’re going to compare these two types of smokers according to a few specific criteria including: convenience, cost to operate, and cooking consistency.

If you’re looking for a way to cook food that is both convenient and affordable, propane may be the best option for you. Propane smokers are simple to set up and they don’t require much work once they’re fired up. If you enjoy grilling year-round, this type of smoker will likely fit your lifestyle better than an electric one would.

Electric smokers give off a lower amount of smoke flavor during the process, which can make it difficult for some people to stick with this method long-term. Their cost is also a bit higher since electricity isn’t free like natural gas or propane is. However, many people love their electric smokers because they are easier to use than propane ones due to their digital control panels.

Electric Smoker Benefits

The main benefit that electric smokers have over propane is their ease of use. While setting up an electric smoker takes a bit more time than getting a propane one ready, you’ll save time and effort when cooking your food.

These smokers also require less attention while they’re in use, which is great if you need to be away from the grill for an extended period of time or run some errands during the day.

Many people like how easy it is to set temperature controls on these smokers by pushing a few buttons.  Propane smokers only allow the user to control the heat output by turning a knob, which can be confusing for some people (especially novices).

Electric Smoker Drawbacks

Although electric smokers are great for beginners and people who like simplicity, they don’t offer many features that advanced users want. Most of these grills come with only three or four cooking settings you can choose from, making them difficult to use if you prefer to set your own temperature controls.

Electric smokers also produce less smoke than propane ones do but this varies based on the specific model.

Propane is typically favored by people who cook in areas with longer winters due to its lack of fuel restrictions. Although propane is generally more expensive than electricity, it doesn’t fluctuate in price like natural gas does. This is another factor that makes propane more attractive to people who live in rural areas or don’t want to monitor their smoker’s use every few hours.

Propane Smoker Benefits:

The benefit of Propane smoker is that the Propane smoker can be used in any weather. They don’t need to be plugged into an outlet, and they will work fine in colder climates where Electric smokers would not function well.

The heat output of propane smokers varies among models but it’s typically higher than electric ones are. This gives you more control over the temperature inside your grill, which is one reason why advanced users love these grills so much.

On average, propane smokers also produce more smoke than electric ones do, which allows you to add more flavorful sauces and marinades to your dishes before cooking them.

Propane Smoker Drawbacks:

Unfortunately for some people, they have a limited availability of the fuel use for their smoker since many areas don’t have a direct access to propane gas. Electric smokers can be used anywhere in the world because they’re plugged into an outlet and come with a standard power cord.

Another downside is that propane tanks need to be refilled every few hours, which means you’ll have to monitor your smoker’s use more frequently. This also takes extra effort on your end after a long day at work or when you’re too busy to stay in the kitchen for several hours at a time.

Electric smokers are significantly cheaper than propane ones but this isn’t always worth it if you don’t plan on using it very often.

In most cases, these grills aren’t powerful enough for cooking large cuts of meat so they’re generally best-suited for fish and vegetables. Electric smokers also won’t work as well as propane ones do in colder weather since their heat output is lower.

Propane vs Electric Smoker Comparison:

Old barbecue grill in backyard

Heating Method

Both propane and electric smokers have heating elements that generate heat inside their grills; however, these two appliances’ heating methods differ significantly from one another through radiation versus convection.

Convection ovens, which are generally found in electric smokers, use fans to distribute heat evenly throughout the grills’ chambers then circulate hot air throughout the cooking area.

Electric smokers are slower to heat up compared to propane because of how they’re designed with insulated walls that conserve residual heat until the moment it’s needed.

Propane units, on the other hand, have heating units that directly contact your food so you’ll need to monitor their surface temperature closely because you will be placing food on it instead of inside an enclosure. These types of grills can go up to 700 degrees F easily while some models even have adjustable decks so you can cook different sizes of meats without having them touch each other during cooking.

Propane vs Electric Smoker Costs

If you’re looking for an affordable way to cook food, both propane and electric smokers are great options. While the exact cost of these items varies based on size, brand, and other factors, they typically range between $50 and $1500.

However, electric smokers usually cost a bit more than propane ones do because electricity isn’t free like natural gas or propane is. At first glance it seems as if electric models are always more expensive but this isn’t always the case since some large ones can cost the same or less than smaller propane ones.

Electric smokers require a bit more electricity to operate than propane ones do, which means you’ll end up paying more for your monthly bill if you use this type of smoker frequently. Propane is generally cheaper because it requires fewer variables to be considered when calculating the price.

You also won’t have to worry about using an electric smoker in different regions unless you plan on traveling with one. Your average users will likely only need one model of either style no matter where they are currently living or visiting for extended periods of time.

If you are looking for a way to cook food that isn’t restricted by natural gas availability or fluctuations in propane prices, electric may be better suited you. Propane grills are also more common than electric ones, meaning it will be easier for you to find replacement parts if something goes wrong with your smoker.

Fuel Types And Costs

Both propane and electric smokers utilize gases as their fuel source; however, some models come with adapters so you can use liquid fuels like vegetable oil or butter instead for certain recipes. Propane grills are generally cheaper to operate because of how their tanks will last a long time before you need to refuel them.

Even still, propane may not be the cheapest fuel source depending on your location so it might be better to use electricity instead if possible.

Maintenance Costs

Both propane and electric smokers are easy to maintain; however, electric models require minimal upkeep for their frames while cleaning grills is usually done by scraping off buildups using scouring pads or brushes.

Propane units’ burners should also be cleaned regularly to prevent food from getting stuck inside these openings then causing the fire below to ignite unexpectedly. This type of smoker is generally more difficult to clean compared with its electric counterpart because you’ll have to light up a fire manually to burn off oils and residues.

Temperature Control And Precision

All but the cheapest units generally allow for easy temperature adjustments during operation; however, electric units tend to perform better than their budget counterparts given how they’re designed with accurate thermostats. Most highbred electric smokers even have control panels that will monitor your cooking progress in real-time, which means you’ll always know when food is ready to eat.

Propane smokers on the other hand are usually designed with adjustable heat units so you can cook different types of meat within a single smoking session without worrying about not being able to adjust its burners later on. If you want to smoke fish and vegetables along with large cuts of beef or pork though, make sure that you buy a smoker with at least 2 burners if possible.

Temperature control on electric smokers is generally more precise because you can easily monitor their heating elements from lid openings. Electric units also have more cooking modes compared with propane grills so you’ll be able to cook different types of meat without worrying about adjusting its heat source accordingly.

In most cases, electric smokers are designed with dials that let you set the heat levels then wait for your food to finish cooking while some newer models will even display its progress in real-time.

Propane vs Electric Smoker temperature control works just like ovens which means that they are usually controlled by timers or thermostats so you can theoretically leave them unattended as long as the controls are set properly. One problem with this type of smoker is that you won’t be able to tell if your food is cooking too quickly or too slowly without opening up their lids which can expose their interiors to excess smoke.

Since these grills are powered by different sources, they come with slightly different control panels. Propane smokers typically aren’t fully digital like electric ones are; instead, their control systems resemble that of old ovens. This may be more intuitive for some users because both gas and electric versions usually include a timer your can set to cook food at specific times.

Almost all propane models use the same controller system to operate their burners, which is a nice feature if you plan on switching from one model to another in the future.

Electric smokers use a variety of control boards with LCD screens that allow you to change their settings depending on how much smoke flavor you want in your food. The most modern of these appliances also include Bluetooth capabilities so you can connect them to your smartphone.

Propane vs Electric Smoker Safety Features

If you’re someone who wants peace of mind while using their smoker, electric ones are probably more appealing to you than propane models. While both types of smokers mostly use similar components like burners and vents, propane canisters are somewhat less safe than the controls featured on electric grills.

These gas cylinders can sometimes leak because they aren’t completely airtight; although this is rare, it does happen occasionally enough for people to be concerned about it. Leakage usually happens when a container is dropped or accidentally tipped over by an animal, either of which could easily occur in the wild if you’re camping with one. Propane tanks also produce heat that harm animals, which means you should keep it stored at least 20 feet away from them.

Finally, propane is flammable enough to warrant a safety device that can shut off the flow of gas in case your smoker catches fire. The good news is that these mechanisms are completely automatic and easy for anyone to use.

Both propane and electric smokers are relatively safe to use given how their parts are designed with ventilation holes that prevent sealed spaces from developing inside these appliances. Even still, make sure that the air vents of your smoker are clear at all times to avoid overheating if any burning particles get trapped within these openings.

If you’re using an electric unit though, always unplug it before cleaning its frames or moving it around so you don’t accidentally electrocute yourself with the power cord.


If you plan on using your smoker regularly or you know someone who wants one but doesn’t live by a propane tank, you should choose the electric model. This is because propane grills can become less convenient if they are used regularly.

As discussed earlier in this article, natural gas lines and propane tanks aren’t available everywhere. Furthermore, many regions don’t allow people to install these types of systems on their own property and require a certified professional to do it.

Propane smokers need a constant supply of fuel nearby that cannot be moved from one place to another easily – something that isn’t practical for most people who travel frequently due to their jobs or personal lives.

Electric smokers don’t need as much room as propane ones do since they simply plug into an outlet instead of requiring an entire extra system installed on your property.

Most models only weigh one or two pounds more than propane models and they still use an electric heating element. As a result, electric smokers can be moved to different locations you frequent often like the beach, backyard, balcony, and patio without much difficulty.

Grill Types And Materials

Both propane and electric smokers have grill surfaces so you can directly cook meats using high temperatures; however, only certain models have grills made out of porcelain materials for better heat conductivity while others will have stainless steel frames instead which are also durable but require regular cleaning to avoid discoloration.

Electric type may not get hot enough to sear foods effectively or even touch their surface during cooking so cooking times may vary between cuts.

Propane vs Electric Smoker Cooking Styles

Most electric smokers are better suited for low-temperature grilling because they usually feature an adjustable thermostat. This means that their burner controls don’t require you to open the grill to change its settings during operation, unlike propane models do.

However, many people prefer this type of cooking because it produces meat with a juicier texture without adding lots of smoky flavor to it. The downside to this is that electric smokers sometimes take a while to reach their ideal cooking temperature; however, the trade-off is worth it for most people because of how juicy and tender their food ends up tasting like.

Propane grills are better suited for high-temperature roasting because they don’t care about maintaining an exact temperature between 200 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit; instead, they usually come with adjustable burners that allow you to move them closer or further from where your meat will be sitting.

This means that propane grills offer more freedom in selecting a cooking style than electric ones do because you can cook at a lower temperature for a shorter period of time if you want.

Cooking Space

Propane grills are usually larger than electric ones because their heating elements take up quite a bit of room underneath their grilling surfaces. Electric smokers don’t need as much space as propane ones do but they need plenty of it in order to accommodate the racks that hold your food while cooking on them.

For instance, some of the most popular choices on Amazon have between 6-20 square inches of space above the grate for placing meat or vegetables . If you don’t plan on cooking for large groups of people often, you might be better off with an electric smoker that can hold smaller amounts of food since you usually get more flavor from cooking in small batches.

The only downside to this rule is it’s harder to get your food cooked fast if you don’t have a lot of space to work with. This is why propane models are typically the best option for busy professionals or avid outdoorsmen who enjoy spending time cooking while camping or hunting.

Propane vs Electric Smoker Flavors

Electric smokers are generally better equipped for adding tons of wood flavor to your food because of the way they function. Smoke particles that enter this type of smoker first pass through a heating element before their aroma is absorbed by meat, which means you can achieve a stronger smoky taste than what a propane grill can provide.

A downside to this method of flavoring though is that it results in drier meat compared to low-temperature grilling. Propane grills on the other hand allow you to precisely control how much smoke flavor will be imparted into your food, even if some gas models don’t include as many flavor controls as electric ones do.

Cooking Potentials

In order to select the best smoker for your needs, it would be helpful to know how much food you’ll be cooking at one time. Electric smokers are usually better suited for low-quantity cooking because they don’t require as much heat to cook meat thoroughly.

On the other hand, propane grills are better equipped for high-quantity cooking because of their adjustable burners and ability to retain heat long after they’ve been turned off.

Both propane and electric smokers are ideal for cooking large cuts of meat or smaller pieces that include fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. However, only electric smokers allow you to cook different types of foods without interrupting their smoking process because they offer fewer heat sources compared with most propane models.

For instance, if you’re using a pellet smoker , making any changes in temperatures will make its motor run continuously until the pellet tray is refilled which might take up to 30 minutes after turning off its heating elements.


The speed at which these two types of appliances cook is mostly determined by how often you’ll be opening its lid during operation; this is not only true within each type of appliance but across all smoking products in general.

Every time that you open a smoker’s grill, the temperature inside it goes down significantly, which means that you’ll have to set your cooker at a higher temperature the next time you want to cook meat.

Electric smokers are better suited for cooking smaller cuts of meat because they’re ideal for smoking vegetables and fish as well as the occasional beef brisket or pork shoulder . Propane grills on the other hand can be used even by people who aren’t looking to smoke meats because of how quickly they can cook them without making them too tough.

Propane vs Electric Smoker General Maintenance

Electric smokers come with water pans along with racks for storing different types of meat during operation; however, their parts tend to rust over time due to exposure from smoke particles. They’re usually less expensive than propane models but this is because you can never use them for high-volume cooking.

Propane smokers, on the other hand, do not rust over time largely due to how their parts are designed and constructed. Some models even have a temperature booster that boosts its surface temperature significantly, which means they’re better suited for commercial or industrial use.

These types of grills have see-through windows so you can easily monitor how your food is cooking, while their lids also seal in smoke flavors during operation. Their biggest downside though is that they require more cleaning than electric smokers since it’s hard to wash all these appliances’ parts using just water alone.

Propane vs Electric Smoker Ease Of Use

Both propane and electric smokers are relatively easy to use, although propane models are more customizable because of their adjustable features. Electric smokers are easier to use, however, as all you need to do is plug them in using an extension cord or power outlet then set your desired temperature and time before closing the lid again.

If you want to smoke different types of meat inside a smoker at once, make sure that its racks will be able to accommodate your food’s sizes without touching each other too much before cooking begins.

Propane Smoker Meats

One thing a lot of people overlook when purchasing propane grills is their ability to cook different types of meats. Most people think all they can do with these grills is grill steaks and other similar protein sources, but this isn’t always the case.

You can definitely use propane smokers for grilling things like hamburgers and hot dogs if you want but you can also smoke meat just as easily as you grilled it on a propane smoker.

Which type of smoker is best for you?

Now that you know the benefits and drawbacks of Propane vs Electric Smoker, it’s time to decide which one is right for you. If you’re a beginner or someone who prefers simplicity, an electric smoker is a great option. They’re easy to set up and use, and don’t require much attention once they’re running.

Electric smokers also produce less smoke than propane ones, making them ideal for people who want low-smoke flavor or don’t want to monitor their grill every few minutes. If you’re an experienced griller who doesn’t mind doing a bit more work and likes to cook with high heat, a propane smoker might be a good choice for you. They produce higher heat output than electric smokers so they can cook your food faster and hotter.

Propane is also preferred by people who live in colder regions since these smokers don’t have fuel restrictions like electric ones do. Electric smokers are usually the best option for people who need something that’s easy to use, less expensive, and will work well in warm climates year-round.

Electric smokers are typically very inexpensive compared to most types of grills but they cost slightly more than propane ones. Electric smokers are also ideal for people who want low-smoke flavor, experience difficulty lighting their smoker, have weaker electrical power in their house or backyard, or just don’t feel comfortable using a propane grill.

To summarize, Electric smokers are best for beginners who don’t want to spend more than $200 on a grill. Electric models are good for people who live in apartments or houses with smaller backyards because they don’t require the use of propane tanks or charcoal briquettes.

On the other hand, Propane Smokers are better at producing strong flavors since they can produce large amounts of smoke if you’re cooking foods like ribs or brisket . This makes them ideal for more experienced users that know how to cook dishes with intense flavor profiles. If you have access to propane gas then these types of smokers are a good investment.

Which smoker is right for you? That really depends on your needs and what you’re looking for in a grill. With so many different models to choose from, it can be tough to decide which one is best for your situation. Hopefully this article has helped you make a more informed decision about which type of smoker you should buy.


As you can see above about Propane vs Electric Smoker, both types of smokers have great benefits yet they’re better at doing different things which means one may be better than the other depending on your needs or preferences.

I personally love using my propane smoker more than my electric model since it’s easier to set up and heats up quickly enough to cook any type of food I want without needing to wait for hours just for its heating elements to stabilize at working temperatures.

However, I still use my electric smoker whenever I want to cook something that doesn’t require long hours of cooking or if I’m planning to smoke foods with delicate flavors that could get overpowered by stronger tasting meats. Electric smokers are also perfect for cold days since they won’t make you go outside just to check your food over open flames.

On the other hand, propane smokers are worth it if you’re smoking large cuts because their heat-up times are much faster compared with their electric counterparts plus they let you set and forget them until your food is already finished cooking. You can also crank up the heat quickly if necessary so there’s less risk of leaving your meats undercooked often.

Both types of smokers have their own pros and cons; however, it’s easier to determine which one is right for you depending on your needs and preferences.

I hope this article helped in making a decision if you’re planning to buy a smoker or upgrade your current model soon. Thank you!

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