Posted: October 16, 2019

Propane Vs. Electric Smokers: What’s The Big Difference?

Propane smoker

Fuel sources are a source of endless debate, pontificating and disagreement in the world of barbecue, grilling and smoking.

In the olden days before refrigeration, meat and other foods were smoked to preserve it. That technique led to delicious results like bacon, malt for whisky, sausages like knackwurst and andouille, smoked ham, smoked fishes like trout and herring (which is commonly known as kippers), jerky of meats like beef and venison, jalapenos for chipotle peppers, salt and paprika for seasoning and smoked salmon.

Today, most of us do smoking for pleasure, whether it’s making your own bacon or having family and friends over for ribs and pulled pork.

Choosing what you use for smoking can be a big investment not just of your time but of money. We’ll help you decide between propane smokers and electric smokers by highlighting some key differences between the two kinds of smokers.


At first glance, the electric smoker looks to be on top when it comes to convenience. After all, they’re easy to use if you know how to push a button, come in both digital and analog versions, have easily adjustable thermostats, and get the food done faster than propane smokers do.

But upon further review…

There’s a big inconvenience when it comes to electric smokers. Electric smokers have to be plugged into an electric outlet to work. If you don’t have easy access to an outdoor electrical outlet in your back yard, you’ll have to shell out to have one installed. Another problem is that if the power goes out, your smoking is done and the meat in the electric smoker could spoil.

Another convenience issue with electric smokers is that they take longer to heat up before you can start smoking, like an electric oven pre-heating.


That need to be plugged into an electrical outlet is limiting when it comes to an electric smoker. You have to keep it close to an outlet, so you are limited as to where you can use your smoker in your own back yard. And if it’s raining? You have to make sure you’re in a covered area because water and electricity are a bad combination.

And forget going places with an electric smoker. You can’t take an electric smoker almost anywhere like you can a propane smoker. Propane smokers do not need an electrical outlet to work. That means you can position anywhere in your back yard you want, like maybe near where you can relax under a shady tree while tending to your smoking. And you can also take a propane smoker on your camping trip, on vacation in your RV, or the big family reunion at a state park.


Both propane and electric smokers come at reasonable prices. You can get a quality smoker of either kind for around $200, and sometimes for even less. But propane smokers do generally cost less than electric smokers.

However, running an electric smoker for a long while can add to higher electricity bills. Propane is affordable. And, since electric smokers often come with digital technology and other technical features, repairs can get much more expensive. As propane smokers are more simple in terms of parts and technology, if you do need to have your propane smoker repaired it will not be nearly as costly as an electric smoker.

Quality of food

Now we’re getting to the most important big question when it comes to propane smokers vs. electric smokers. Which kind of smoker provides the best results?

And the winner is… propane!

One of the big advantages propane smokers have over electric smokers is that you can get smoked food that’s closer to authentic results like you’d get with a traditional charcoal smoker. It makes sense, as the technique used in propane smokers is very close to the technique used when using a charcoal smoker. In fact, it’s so close, some BBQ restaurants use gas smokers!

One telltale sign of propane’s superiority when it comes to smoking is when you serve the meat. Meat smoked in a propane smoker will have a better smoky flavor, and is more likely to have the desired smoke ring.

Find out more about the advantages of propane all around your upper Hudson Valley home. Contact Bottini Fuel today!