Electric vs Charcoal Smoker – Buy the Best Choice for YOU (2020)

It is several years down the line and foodies still cannot come to a conclusion regarding the types of smokers that are best: electric vs charcoal smoker, electric vs propane smoker, or gas vs electric smoker? You cannot blame them since as much as each one has its benefits; the person’s preference is the decision-maker. Some people may choose health over the taste while others may do vice versa. A charcoal smoker represents the traditional grill and it can offer that smoky flavor. However, an electric smoker is the best when it comes to versatility and convenience in cooking food.

One disadvantage of the electric vs charcoal smoker is it needs more babysitting with the user adjusting the vents and adding fuel occasionally. While this might be fun for some, it can be an exhausting and boring process for others. That is why in the battle of electric vs charcoal, they opt for electric smokers, which require little or no babysitting at all. Other than that, this review will look in detail at which smoker is the best in terms of features, strengths, and weaknesses.

Charcoal Smokers

This is the most popular smoker, which for many years, has won the hearts of many grillers and foodies. It is strongly related to the traditional smoker perhaps that is why most amateurs and experts love it. Most food enthusiasts admit that smoked meat from a charcoal grill tastes better than in any other type of grill. It is something you will only find in this smoker since it uses charcoal as its main supply of fuel for smoking.

Unfortunately, the electric vs charcoal smoker question may be challenging for novices. It is not just a matter of placing charcoal and cooking but checking if the conditions are perfect. You will also need to check regularly if the temperature is constant and this is so hard to maintain. Ignoring it may cost you. For instance, low heat may lead to uncooked parts or extremely high heat may lead to overcooked or burnt food.

Pros of a Charcoal Smoker


No electric smoker can produce the intense and unique smoky flavor as this one does. You surely cannot compare it to another especially when its source of heat is wood or charcoal.

The soft and succulent texture

Charcoal smokers provide the best meat texture, thanks to its general structure. The apparatus is constructed in an exceptional way that allows heat to reach every part of the food while smoking. Additionally, since you are cooking with low temperature, its tenderness remains intact. And the moisture produced makes the meat extra soft and juicy.

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Power to get rid of excess fat

If you are on a diet or you simply like low calories, then you will love what the charcoal smoker can do. It cooks food slowly and on low heat, which allows more exposure to all parts. This melts any excess fat leaving only a small amount. So you can go ahead and enjoy your pork ribs, steak, or brisket without worrying about excess fat.


When it comes to the question of whether to buy charcoal vs electric smoker, some people may hate the idea of babysitting a smoker using charcoal, but others may love it. Just the idea of preparing the charcoal smoker, continuously adding coals, adjusting the air vents during smoking, and checking the temperature among many other things can be a fun experience for some people. All of these will steal your time, especially if you are at a party but at least you will have one of your own attending to the grill.

Nutritious Food

The charcoal smoker also has the power of leaving all the nutrients in place. Such healthy nutrients like protein, vitamins, and some minerals will be retained. So you cannot only enjoy the delectable taste, but your body will receive the best nutrients to keep you healthy and energetic.


You can rely on a charcoal smoker at any time or in any weather conditions apart from windy situations. Moreover, if any part of the apparatus gets spoiled, it is not a big deal and you can continue with your smoking. Besides, spare parts are locally available and are also cheap.

Cons of a Charcoal Smoker


While the smoker itself is inexpensive, it is not the same case for the charcoal. This might be the best explanation for “cheap is expensive”. You will spend more on purchasing charcoal bearing in mind that this fuel tends to get burned quickly unless you get top-quality coals.

Temperature control

This is another big disadvantage since smoking depends highly on the temperature. It is not easy to maintain the temperature in this grill. If you add excess coals, the heat will be too much and you will have trouble lowering it.

Weather dependant

Not every day will be a calm and sunny day. And this is the perfect condition for charcoal smokers. You will be doomed if it is windy as this can mess up the temperature of your smoking.

Electric Smokers

An electric smoker is an upgraded or a modern smoker. When it comes to buying charcoal or propane vs electric smoker, an electric one is best for beginners and anyone else who does not like the tasks of a traditional smoker. It has a digital controller, so you do not have to worry about temperature control. Moreover, it uses electricity as its main heat source. And even though it is electric, there is a container inside, which you can add wood chips to have that smoky flavor in your food.

Advantages of an Electric Smoker

Easy to use and learn

The digital controller simplifies everything during smoking. It comes with all aspects like time, temperature control, and all necessary settings for the perfect smoking process. These parameters are programmed in the electric smoker. The ones you set will remain constant from start to finish unless you alter them.

Speed and convenience

It will take you only a few minutes to have your meal ready using an electric smoker. With an electric smoker, you will save time and you won’t have to do other tasks like with other smokers. Just set the desired settings and that is it. No pre preparations and no babysitting!

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An electric smoker is safe, as it does not need traditional fuel or wood. You also do not have to check on the temperature, thus the chances of accidents reduce.


No deep flavor

An electric smoker does not bring out the strong smoky flavor or charred texture in steaks or briskets.

Indoor use

An electric smoker is not designed for portability. Besides, you cannot use it outdoors since they depend on electricity.

Comparison between Electric vs. Charcoal Smokers

You do not have to be an expert to understand the basics of both electric and charcoal smokers. Besides, they both have one job, and that is to smoke the food. However, you need to understand a few things about the two. For instance, what makes them so special and how do they differ from one another. Here are the common differences between these two types of smokers.

Electric vs charcoal smokers – Ease of Use

Smoking should be all about fun and a time to connect with friends and family, that is if you are hosting a party. But what fun will you have if all you are doing is paying more attention to the smoker, adding fuel, and checking if the temperature is okay? That is what a charcoal smoker entails. It will require your attention throughout the smoking process since you will have to adjust the air vents, check if the fuel is enough, and the temperature too.

However, with a meat smoker electric powered, it’s the opposite. It certainly wins when it comes to the ease of use since it is user-friendly and requires little attention. All you have to do is to select the right temperature through the dials and other essential settings and you are good to go. It will then stop smoking when the time set is complete.

Electric smoker vs charcoal smoker – Flavor

Charcoal smokers have the capability of bringing out the deep and intense smoky flavor of the meat since you will be using charcoal. The texture will also be well done. This is in reverse in an electric smoker. They are unable to bring out this smoky flavor and fail to create the well-cooked texture of brisket or steak.

Electric or charcoal smoker – Cleanup

Charcoal creates a mess when cooking, leaving ashes, and giving you extra clean-up work. But you can always save yourself by going for a charcoal smoker with an ashtray. Electric smokers, on the other hand, are easy to clean and maybe require a bit of cleaning of the excess oil.

Electric smoker vs charcoal – Preparation

Charcoal smokers need charcoal for steady heat flow and smoke for the meat. This is the most vital step since the smoke gives the meal that tastiness we all love. To some setting up the coals may be a fun experience but to others, especially newbies, it can be a tiring and hard task.

Electric smokers rely on electricity. They are built with heat rods, which require the power to heat the wood chips. With electric smokers, there is no preparation necessary. Just find a power source, connect it, and set the right settings.

Charcoal vs electric smoker – Temperature Control

There is something about grilling and outdoors that remains unexplainable. So when cooking in your backyard on a windy day, you will have to regularly check on the temperature of the traditional types of smokers. Remember that the coals determine the temperature of the charcoal smoker. So, even if the weather is just fine, you will need to make sure that the amount of coals is enough for your cooking. In short, charcoal smokers are a handful when it comes to temperature control.

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However, in an electric smoker, the temperature remains constant to what you set. And while you may need wood chips in the smoker for that exceptional flavor, you won’t need to frequently adjust the temperature. As long as you have the required amount of wood chips, the electric grill will do the rest for you. And this is why they shine in temperature control.

Gas vs electric vs charcoal smoker – Cost

Electric smokers are a little bit more expensive than charcoal smokers. This is due to the many features and control units. They are also made with expensive and durable materials. Charcoal grills are not that expensive and the cheapest one can cost about $200 to $300.

Electric charcoal smoker – Weather

Unfortunately, you cannot use electric smokers outside when it is raining or snowing. But you can use charcoal smokers in nearly all weather conditions except in windy areas. However, ensure there is good insulation.

Charcoal smoker vs electric smoker – Features

Electric grills are equipped with features and accessories for the user’s convenience. This is different from the charcoal smokers, which only comes with a few of them. However, when it comes to features, it will depend on the model.

Charcoal or electric smoker – Mobility

Depending on the size of the grill, charcoal smokers can be easy to move around. Unfortunately, due to the nature of electric smokers, you can forget about portability unless you have a power source near.

Smokers electric vs charcoal – Warranty

Charcoal smokers do not have any complicated elements but this does not mean you won’t get any warranty. They are also not easily prone to malfunctions or damage. Some brands can offer a year or up to 10 years for their products. Electric smokers, conversely, have complicated features, which can break down faster. Additionally, because of its structure, it might require a shorter warranty of a few months or a year or two. This is the reason why some developers have to manufacture high-quality apparatus to avoid repairs.

Electric vs charcoal smoker – FAQs

Are electric vs charcoal smokers better?

Both smokers are the best in their way. Charcoal smokers are ideal for a heavenly taste and meat texture but it requires more attention. Electric smokers are easy to use, clean, good for cold smoking, and do not need any attention.

What is the difference between electric and charcoal smokers?

Electric smokers depend on electricity as their major supply of heat and are not built for mobility. Charcoal smokers use charcoal for cooking, are inexpensive, and are easily portable.

What is the best smoker to buy?

It depends on your preference, but electric smokers are the best choice for cold smoking since they are not only user friendly, but you can easily attend to other things while your meal is cooking.

Are pellet smokers as good as charcoal?

Pellet smokers are better than charcoal. They offer strong flavor as charcoal smokers, but instead of coals, they use wood pellets. The user can purchase pellets of any type to enhance the taste.