Pellet Smoker vs Electric Smoker (Read This Before Buying)

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Are you trying to decide between a pellet smoker and an electric smoker? Look no further because we have all the answers to your questions here.

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you will discover:

  • The difference between a pellet smoker and an electric smoker
  • Which smoker is best for your needs
  • Our recommendation
  • And much more!
a smoker with meat in it and smoke billowing out

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Pellet Smoker vs. Electric Smoker Overview

When it comes to making the decision between a pellet smoker and an electric smoker, many things should be considered. Keep in mind that these smokers have both similarities and differences that may make deciding between them much easier.

One thing you should know about these smokers is that they both operate using electricity. This means that you will find that each uses about the same amount of electricity so this should not be a deciding factor.

The biggest difference is in the way they cook, while they both use electricity, pellet grills operate also using wood pellets. Electric smokers only use electricity and on occasion, wood chips to create a smokier flavor.

Whichever smoker you choose, you will enjoy the way they both give you the smoking experience you desire. This means that your food will be perfectly cooked to your preferences every time.

pellet smoker vs electric smoker comparison

Pellet Smokers and Electric Smokers At a Glance

Pellet smokers and electric smokers are both great choices when it comes to choosing the best smoker for you. When you are deciding between the two types of smokers, you must take note of the specific features they both offer.

In most cases, it typically comes down to budgetary considerations when deciding between these two smokers. Keep in mind that pellet smokers are much more expensive than electric smokers, although they both offer great models to choose from.

If you are still not sure which smoker to choose, don’t worry because we are going to break down the various features that set them apart. Once you consider these features, you will have a better idea of which one is best for you.

To learn more about the different features of these smokers, keep reading.

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Pellet Smokers At a Glance

A pellet smoker, otherwise known as a pellet grill, is extremely versatile in the way you can use them to cook your favorite foods. While it is primarily a smoker, you can also use it to grill, bake, roast, and much more.

Much like the electric smoker, the pellet grill uses electricity to operate so they should be located near an electrical outlet. Even though this smoker uses wood pellets for fuel, the fan, auger system, and firepot run off of electricity.

The operation of a pellet smoker is unique in that it uses convection heat that circulates using a fan to spread the heat and smoke throughout the unit. The circulating convection is what causes the wood pellets to ignite causing the smoke and heat to reach your food.

The pellets, made from a variety of different wood, are loaded into the hopper and pulled through the system using the auger motor. Once they reach the firepot, the heating rod causes the pellets to combust thus causing the smoke and heat to distribute.

Related >> The Best Pellet Smokers

Check out these pros and cons of a pellet smoker:

Pros:

  • Perfect for low and slow cooking methods
  • Has the capability to heat to around 600℉ for other types of cooking
  • Versatile
  • Most come equipped with WiFi and other technology
  • Easy cleanup
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Has to be plugged in to operate
  • More expensive than other smokers
  • Wood pellets are not easy to find
  • Wood pellets can be expensive

The bottom line when it comes to pellet smokers is that while they are expensive and have other disadvantages, many people prefer them over other smokers. 

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Electric Smokers At a Glance

Electric smokers are exactly what the name implies, a smoker that operates using electricity that is plugged into an electrical outlet. They come equipped with an electric heating element that is used to provide heat to the overall unit.

An electric smoker operates much like an indoor oven in that it has to preheat before it becomes effective for cooking. The difference between a smoker and an oven is that you can add wood chips to provide the smoking method.

You can cook a wide variety of meats in an electric smoker since it operates much like an indoor oven. Keep in mind that if you want the authentic smoky flavor you will need to add and replenish your chosen wood chips throughout the cooking process.

Most electric smokers come equipped with a wood chip pan for you to load in your chosen wood chips. They also have a water tray that is used to add water to help create the smoking process and spread it throughout the unit.

If you are just starting with your meat-smoking experience, an electric smoker may be the perfect choice for you. This is because there is not a lot that goes into using the unit other than loading in the wood chips, plugging it in, and waiting for it to preheat.

Related >> The Best Electric Smokers

Here are some of the pros and cons of using an electric smoker:

Pros:

  • Easy temperature control with digital readouts
  • Temperature tends to stay constant
  • More convenient for some environments
  • Less expensive than other smokers
  • Easy cleanup

Cons:

  • Not easily portable since it has to be plugged in at all times
  • Cannot reach higher temperatures for other cooking methods
  • Wood chips have to be added throughout the cooking process
  • May not get the authentic smokiness that you are looking for

The bottom line when it comes to electric smokers is that they are convenient for those just starting since they do not require a lot of knowledge and work.

Comparison Between Pellet Smokers and Electric Smokers

Now that you know about how the pellet and electric smokers operate, you need to learn about some of the features that make each type of smoker different. Learning about the different features can help you determine which smoker is right for you.

Keep in mind that while many smokers operate similarly, it is important to dive into the various features of each to learn more about them. This is because depending on the type of smoker you purchase, you may have access to different features.

As you are doing your research to discover which type of smoker is best for you, you should take into consideration the following features.

Cost Comparison

While the cost of a unit may be the last thing people want to talk about, it should be one of the first considerations. This is because most people have a specific budget in mind when it comes to purchasing a smoker for the first time.

Depending on the budget you have set aside for your smoker, you should still be able to get a top-of-the-line smoker that fits your needs. This is because even with the different ranges in cost, there are some great manufacturers out there that produce units that feature many bells and whistles you may be after.

Most people know that a pellet smoker is typically more expensive than other units since they operate differently. In most cases, you will pay anywhere from $500 to upwards of $1,000, depending on the brand and additional features.

Related >> Best Pellet Smokers Under $500

An electric smoker, on the other hand, is much more affordable since they do not typically come equipped with a lot of bells and whistles. You can usually find a great electric grill for between $200-$600, depending on the brand and features they come with.

Related >> Best Electric Smokers Under $200

If cost is important to you, then the clear winner when it comes to cost comparison is the electric smoker, hands down. This is because you can purchase one of these units for hundreds instead of thousands of dollars.

Bells and Whistles

When some people are looking to invest in a smoker, they want to ensure that it has all of the bells and whistles that they can have. This is because, the way many see it, is that if you are going to spend the money for a smoker, you may as well get what you want.

Depending on the features you are looking for, you will find plenty of manufacturers and models that will fit your needs and wants. You must keep in mind that some manufacturers have more bells and whistles than others, so you must do your comparative research.

Pellet smoker manufacturers are well known for their added features that can be added to these units for better performance. This means that when you purchase a pellet smoker, it likely comes with more than just the standard smoker features.

Electric smokers are not infamous for their use of various bells and whistles like the pellet grill. This is because they are created to be a simple solution to all of your smoking needs.

The bottom line when it comes to which type of grill is best for the bells and whistles they feature, the pellet grill wins hands down. This is because they often come with WiFi and other technology that helps the griller have a better experience overall.

Ease of Use

As you are considering both the pellet smoker and electric smoker, you should keep in mind that both units feature easy-to-use qualities. While this can make the decision between the two more difficult, it also helps to know which one is even easier to use.

The great thing about these two types of smokers is that they both feature the ability to set the temperature and go on about your business. This is due to the various features, such as the temperature control of each.

The pellet grill is extremely easy to use since all you have to do is load the wood pellets into the hopper and hit the ignite button. Once this is done, and the unit is heated, you can add your food and sit back and relax without any further maintenance.

With an electric smoker, while it works well on a low and slow cooking method, requires you to load in new wood chips about every 30 minutes. This often requires you to open the door to the smoker throughout the cooking process to add in your chips which can cause some heat to escape.

If you are looking for a clear winner in the category of ease of use, you should look no further than the pellet grill. This is because once you load your wood pellets into the hopper, the unit takes it from there and holds in the heat and smoke to thoroughly smoke your meats.

Versatility

When you are looking to invest in a smoker, for many people buying a versatile unit is the key. This is because most people do not have the budget or space to have multiple units in their backyard for different cooking methods.

Because of this, you will most likely want a smoker that has the versatility to cook using a wide variety of methods. This will not only make your purchase worthwhile but also provide you with the convenience of only having to purchase one unit.

The pellet smoker provides quite a bit of versatility since you can cook using more than just the smoking method. Often called pellet grills, these units give you the opportunity to either smoke, grill, bake, roast, and more to fit your wants and needs.

An electric smoker typically does not have the same versatility as the pellet smoker since they are specifically designed to smoke at low temperatures. Because of this, you will not be able to use an electric smoker as more than just what it was made to do.

When you are considering a smoker based on which one has the most versatility, the pellet smoker is the winner, hands down. This is because it not only can smoke your favorite foods but can also grill at higher temperatures to give you the versatility you may be looking for.

Temperature Range

Another feature you may want to consider when it comes to investing in a smoker is the temperature range. To get the versatility mentioned above, you will need to have a unit that can reach a variety of temperatures.

Pellet smokers typically can reach the lower temperatures that are needed for the low and slow cooking methods. However, most units can reach temperatures of 450℉ or higher for a wide range of temperatures and cooking methods.

The electric smoker, however, was made with one purpose and only one purpose, which is to smoke your favorite foods. Because of this, most electric smokers will not reach the higher temperatures needed if you want to grill burgers or hotdogs.

When you are making your decision based on the difference between pellet smokers and electric smokers based on their temperature ranges, there is a clear winner. The pellet smoker gives you a better range of temperatures which means that you will not need another unit to accomplish the different cooking methods.

Pellet Smoker vs. Electric Smoker: The Winner

When it comes to making your final decision between the pellet smoker and the electric smoker, there is a clear winner. The pellet smoker is the one that will give you the best bang for your buck overall.

Keep in mind that the pellet grill is perfect for those grillers who want versatility when they cook outdoors without having to purchase multiple units. Having just one unit that can do it all, and that comes with all of the bells and whistles, is well worth the higher price tag for many.

The electric smoker, however, is a great unit for those who are just learning how to smoke meats. This is because they are easy to use and extremely easy to learn how to operate for many beginners.

The bottom line when it comes to purchasing a smoker for your backyard is that it needs to be what you want it to be. This is because most people do not have either the space or the budget to have more than one unit, which is why finding the one that fits your needs is important.

No matter which you pick, once you have a smoker you will be able to make some amazing smoked meats! 

Hope Davis

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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