pellet or electric smoker

Electric Smoker vs. Pellet Smoker: 2020 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.  This sight and taste is what you stand to miss if you lack a proper grill at home. If you have been confused as to what to grill to buy, worry no further. Take a look at this electric smoker vs pellet smoker guide. You’ll be buying a grill in no time.

What is a Pellet Smoker?

Pellet smoker is a fast trending outdoor grill designed to give the meat a distinct tenderness. It can smoke, roast, bake, and cook even the toughest of meat. It is usually fueled by pellet fuel and flavored wood pellet options that enhance the meat flavor. They are durable, long-lasting, and easy to operate.

How Does a Pellet Smoker Work?

This food grill combines the features of gas charcoal and electric smokers. It comes with an electric cable which ignites the hot rod when plugged to 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.

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. Unlike the charcoal and propane grills, it requires neither charcoal nor gas. It is also easy to clean and it’s built to large quantities of food. So if you have been asking the question ‘are electric smokers good?’ you finally have your answer; they are.

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, it requires very little wood. The meat is cooked directly from the heat the wood produces. The wood also adds its unique flavor to the meat being cooked.

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 v. 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

The electric smoker vs. pellet smoker discussions show that both products are not entirely different. They still share certain similarities like:

  • They can smoke meat till it is tender.
  • Both grills are 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, pellet and electric grills are safer. They hardly produce any smoke. You can set your meat at a specified temperature and leave it till it is done.

Efficiency

Pellet grill vs. Electronic smokers is durable and made-to-last. Their life-span do not outweigh each other. 

They also cook food to a super tender state without losing the necessary smoky flavor. If you want to enhance the food’s flavor, both cookers come with flavor-enhancing options. They guarantee you durability, flavor, and tasty meals.

To however sustain and maintain 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 indirect cooking method, both these smoker types are more healthy than gas or charcoal analogues. There are few chances that meat will absorb harmful chemicals due to the combustion process. In general, smokers keep you safe from hazards like skin, lung and liver issues (while grills are not). But you still need to remember that The World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research recommends to limit the consumption of smoked meats.

Differences

Don’t let the name “smoker” confuse you. Like their other counterparts, electric and pellet grills  are different from each other in the following sense:

  • While the electric smoker runs on 95% electricity and 5% wood, the pellet smoker runs on 95% wood pellets and 5%.
  • 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 smoker 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 watch it 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. Wood grills, on the other hand, have a simple dial temperature control. You may, however, not be able to achieve a precise temperature with 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. While the operating and purchase cost for an electric smoker is very cheap, pellet cookers are quite expensive.

Wrapping Up

Both food smokers are durable, authentic, compact, and easy-to-use. They cook food within the required minimum temperature of 145oF and never exceed 170oF required maximum temperature.  While they may share certain similarities, they are different in their respects. An electric smoker under 300 is an ideal smoker for beginners. If you are already used to grilling, you can try out any of both grills. 

By now, you should be well over your “electric smoker vs pellet smoker” dilemma. If you have further questions or you would like to share your reviews, please do so in our comment section. Remember, when next you’re going to shop for a food grill, take our guide with you.

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