pellet or electric smoker

Electric Smoker vs. Pellet Smoker: 2021 Buyer’s Guide

In your mind’s eye, envision waking up to the sight of pork or lamb chops dipped in a bowl of spiced cider or maple marinade cooking on a grill. The aroma alone is enough to awaken your sleeping taste buds.  However, no matter how good your cooking skills are, no good meal can be done without a proper device.

And when we’re talking about what grill is the best for making some delicious dishes, people are often divided – some say that electric smokers are the best choice, while others claim it’s pellet smokers. So what is it about these grills that people love so much? What can they offer and, most importantly, which of them is actually better?

To answer that, we’ve decided to do some research on what these grills offer and test them in action. Now we wish to bring all this collected data to you, in the form of this electric smoker vs pellet smoker guide, where we share with you all our findings AND helps you find only the best smoker.

What is a Pellet Smoker?

A pellet smoker is an outdoor grill designed to give the meat a distinct tenderness. Combining the elements of a gas grill, kitchen oven, and charcoal grill, these devices can smoke, roast, bake, and cook even the toughest of meat. Moreover, they are usually fueled by pellets that give a distinctive taste and aroma that enhance the meat flavor. All the best pellet smokers are durable, long-lasting, and easy to operate.

How Does a Pellet Smoker Work?

This food grill comes with an electric cable that ignites the hot rod when plugged into a nearby power outlet. In turn, the hot rod ignites the pellet wood and fuel, causing the pellets to burn. They often come with two fans; a combustion fan keeps the wood burning, and another fan is placed specifically to regulate pressure within the auger tube.

Pellet Smoker Pros and Cons

ProsCons
• Capable of cooking meat to a distinct tenderness
• Adds a rich smoky flavor to your cooking
Energy efficient and clean burning
• Can sometimes serve as a grill
• Low electricity consumption
• Consumes a lot of wood
• More expensive than other food grills
• Requires electricity to operate
• Produces excessive smoke capable of constituting a nuisance

What is an Electric Smoker?

This is an outdoor grill that is designed to cook meat at a low and slow temperature using electricity and heat rods. A lot of people wonder – “Are electric smokers good? What is their benefit?” We would say they are really good because of convenience. Because unlike the charcoal and propane grills, electric smokers require neither charcoal nor gas. They are also easy to clean and built for large quantities of food, so it’s a perfect option for those that mostly cook for more people.

How Does an Electric Smoker Work?

The electric smoker runs mainly on electricity. When plugged into a nearby power outlet, the electricity ignites the heating rods, which heats the wood supply. Note that unlike wood grills, all the best electric smokers require very little wood, which adds a unique flavor to the meat that you cook. Moreover, the meat is cooked directly from the heat the wood produces.

Electric Smoker Pros and Cons

ProsCons
• Durable, light and portable
• Easier to clean
• Cheap and very affordable when compared to wood grills
• Requires little electricity to operate
• Tends to dry out food
• Consumes a lot of electricity
• Does not give the meat an authentic smoky flavor unlike pellet grills
• Requires electricity to operate

Electric Smoker vs Pellet Smoker: How are They Different?

A Brief Comparison

Pellet smokerElectric smoker
Type of cookingSmoking, grilling, bakingSmoking
Fuel type95% wood, 5% electricity95% electricity, 5% wood
Running costModerateLow
Cooking capacitySmall to largeSmall to very large
After use cleaningRelatively easy to cleanVery easy to clean
PortabilitySome areYes
Cooking timeNo specific time range45 minutes – 2 hours (depending on the meat type)

Similarities

Let’s start our electric smoker vs. pellet smoker comparison by taking a look at certain similarities between these two grills:

  • Can smoke meat till it is tender.
  • Powered by electricity.
  • Their advanced models come with rheostats and thermostats.
  • Though of different quantities, both food grills require wood to operate.
  • Unlike other BBQ grills that are known to produce smoke that could be harmful to the lungs and skin. Meanwhile, pellet and electric grills are safer since they hardly produce any smoke

Efficiency

When we’re talking about the Pellet grill vs. Electronic smokers comparison, it’s also important to point out that they cook food to a super tender state without losing the smoky flavor. And if you want to enhance the food’s flavor, both cookers come with flavor-enhancing options. They’ll guarantee great durability and amazing flavor. 

However, to maintain and get the best out of these grills, they should be set in a well-lit and well-ventilated area away from trees, shrubbery, and buildings. You should also clean them thoroughly before and after use.

Health Effects

Due to the indirect cooking method, both these smoker types are more healthy than charcoal analogs. Moreover, there are few chances that meat will absorb harmful chemicals due to the combustion process. Still even with that said,  you still need to remember that The World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research recommends limiting the consumption of smoked meats, to avoid health dangers.

Differences

With that said, electric and pellet also have some major differences, like:

  • While the electric smoker runs on 95% electricity and 5% wood, the pellet smoker runs on 95% wood pellets and 5% electricity
  • Electric smokers come with a timer; wood grills don’t.
  • Wood grills produce a lot more smoke than electric smokers and should only be used in a properly ventilated area with the grill chimney open.
  • Electric food grills are cheaper and more affordable.

Setup

Pellet smokers and electric smokers have similar setups. All you need do is plug it into a nearby power outlet, place your meat in the cooker, push a button, and wait for it to cook to your desired temperature. But it important to understand that pellet smokers do not cook meals primarily through electricity: they work similarly to grills and need pellet fuel to operate.

Controls

Electric smokers have multiple easy-to-use controls that could either be digital or analog based on the device interface. Meanwhile, pellet wood grills, have a simple dial temperature control. So you may have trouble getting the right temperature on wood grills.

Flavor

Since it produces dry heat, electric grills tend to dry out food. However, placing a water pan at the smoker base can help retain the moisture in the meat. The water pan can sometimes be substituted with fruit-flavored water. On the other hand, wood cookers keep the food moisturized and add a rich smoky flavor to it.

Operating Cost

A big defining factor between both cookers is cost. And the biggest difference between electric smoker vs pellet smoker is that the former is usually a lot cheaper, and you can easily find an electric smoker under 300.

Wrapping Up

So overall, what can be said about the pellet smoker vs electric smoker dilemma? 

Well, both food smokers are durable, authentic, compact, and easy-to-use. They cook food within the required minimum temperature of 145°F and never exceed 170°F required maximum temperature.  While they may share certain differences, both these devices still have their similarities and each of them will be an ideal smoker for beginners. Thus, keep in mind the biggest differences between these cooking appliances, and choose the one that works the best for you.

Thus, we sincerely hope that our Electric smoker vs Pellet smoker guide will help you choose the perfect device so that your every BBQ session will be worthwhile and fun! So best of luck, and feel free to let us know which smoker type you would recommend, perhaps you have experience with some of them?

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