Electric Smokers vs Pellet Smokers: Which is Better?

Smoking is one of the best ways to cook your meat. Smoking meat can take the flavor from being fairly bland and boring to a whole new level.

Smokers have been developed rapidly throughout the recent years with the advance of technology. The two newest types of smokers are the pellets smoker and the electric smoker. Both have a lot of things in common; especially when looking at the ease of use compared to something like a traditional charcoal smoker.

But what’s the difference between electric smokers and pellet smokers, and why should I choose one over another, you may ask. I have wondered the same myself. After having owned and used a lot both pellet smokers and electric smokers I feel confident that I can help you with finding out which one is suitable for you.

What’s the Difference Between Pellet Smokers and Electric Smokers?

Electric smokers use electricity to power on something called heating rods. As the heating rods are running, more heat is generated. For generating smoke of a certain flavor, an electric smoker uses flavored wood chips, which you put an wood tray. As the smoker heats up, the wood chips begin to smoke and adds flavor to the meat.
Pellet smokers uses wood pellets for both heating and for adding smoke. Most pellet smokers have an automatic auger that automatically feeds the right amount wood pellets to an electrically powered “heat rod” to increase the temperature, as well as generating the desired amount of smoke.
Both types of smokers can usually heat a temperature of around 250 degrees within 45 minutes which is fast, and both are often controlled via a digital control panel.

We will now take a more in depth at the two types of smokers, as well as the advantages and disadvantages that comes with each.

A look at Electric Smokers

Electric smokers are vertical in shapes like a mini refrigerator with multiple grilling racks or grates stacks on one and another. They provide enough space for cooking different types of food i.e fish, meat, vegetables and chicken at a time for friends and family.

How Does an Electric Smoker work?

Unlike the conventional gas and charcoal smoker, electricity is used as a power source for the startup of an electric smoker. The heating element or heating rod at the bottom of the smoker provides heat for cooking the food. A fan circulates hot air inside the smoker and evenly cooks the food.

The smoky flavor is imparted from wood chips that smolder in a wood chip rack mostly located at the side of the electric smoker.

In electric smokers, the consistent temperature is controlled by a built-in thermometer or thermostat. In addition, a water tank is also placed at the bottom that provides moisture and prevents the food from drying out. The food cooked in electric smokers is almost always fully cooked, tender, juicy, and flavorful.

How Does an Electric Smoker Generate Smoke

The smoke generated by an electric smoker comes from wood chips, which are bought separately. Wood chips are small chunks of wood that are designed for generating different flavors of smoke. The most common are: hickory, mesquite, apple, cherry, and pecan.

To use wood chips in an electric smoker, simply put the specified amount of wood chips in the ‘wood tray’ of the electric smoker. The amount will depend on how long you’re smoking, the temperature you’re smoking at, and the type of meat you’re smoking.

Wood chips, are also what’s used for for smoking in general, which means it’s also what you’d use if smoking in a gas grill or a charcoal grill.

Downside: Is the Smoke in an Electric Smokers Less Flavorful?

Because there is not a real fire inside an electric smoker, there will naturally be less of flavor in the meat. Even though the smoke is produced from wood chips, the wood chips are never on fire, and there is no “natural” smoke like when you’re smoking on a pellet grill or a charcoal grill. Some thinks takes away from the final product. This is the same sort of problem that occurs with a gas or propane smokers.

Upside: Ease of use and affordability

The general consensus about electric smokers is that; yes, the flavor is not quite the same as on something like a pellet grill, but they are very easy to use and is more or less perfect if you just want to up the level of the your food.

A look at Pellet smokers

If you are a beginner and don’t know bout pellet smokers or grills. It is a type of outdoor grill that is efficient, versatile, and a combination of gas, charcoal, and kitchen oven. The pellet grills provide you with a tasty, deeply cooked, and intense smoky flavor enriched food compared to other grills.

Plus, you can also use the pellet grills for baking depending upon the model you have. The flip side of pellet grills is that they are expensive.

How Does a pellet Smoker work?

The pellet smoker works simply by using electricity for the ignition of wood or wood pellets for providing heat and a fan circulates the heat all over the cooking surface to provide the required temperature for cooking and searing the food.

The amount of pellet is regulated through an auger machine that automatically placed the pellets from the hooper( pellet storage tray) at the bottom of the heating chamber. The desired temperature is regulated through a digital dial system. The fully automated control system provides hands-on experience over-temperature control according to the high and low-temperature settings and the auger maintains the balance of pellet feed ratio accordingly.

Some pellet smokers also come with wireless connectivity you can simply set the temperature according to the recipe and food and connect it with mobile through an App. The alters are received on mobile once your food is done.

How does a Pellet Smoker Generate Smoke

Pellet smokers use Wood Pellets for generating smoked. Wood pellets are not to be confused with Wood chips. Wood chips are chunks of wood, while pellets are small “bullets” of densely packed saw dust. Generally speaking, pellets shouldn’t be used in other grills than a pellet grill.

Ready To Buy Your First Pellet Smoker?

Pellet smokers gain popularity past few years because they provide you babysit cooking experience with just a push of a button. You can also get a perfect and real smoky taste and flavor by adding your favorite wood pellets or a combination of different pellets. For the shopping of a new pellet smoker, check out our review on best pellet grill for outdoor weather

Electric Smoker vs Pellet Smoker Comparison Chart

  Electric Smoker Pellet Smoker
Heat source Electricity Wood Pellets and Electricity
Smoke source Wood chips Wood pellets
Handling Easy to use with the push of a button Easy to use with the push of a button
Cleaning Easy to clean Easy to clean
Operation/running cos Use electricity & 3-4 ounces of wood chips Use electricity & up to 2 pounds pellets per hour
Price Range Cheap ($150-$600) Expensive ($300-$2000)
Versatility Less versatile Versatile
Smoky flavor Less smoky flavor Intense smoky flavor
Portability Mostly portable Some models are portable
Maintenance Require minimal maintenance Require minimal maintenance
Cooking capacity Ample space Small to large

What is the Difference Between a Pellet Smoker and an Electric Smoker?

The difference is that an electric smoker uses electricity to heat, while a pellet smoker uses wood pellets.

Grilling Performance Comparison Pellet and Electric Smokers

We have seen some differences between the two smokers above. Here we will describe the key differences in terms of their flavor, use (user interference), cleaning, temperature range, running cost, buying cost, cooking time, and versatility. These key points also help you in deciding between two smokers either you buy electric or pellet smoker.


Winner: Pellet Smoker

The meat’s taste and the flavor is the most important factor for those who are still confused between the two types. However, in pellet smokers, heat is produced from wood pellets that produce more smoke than wood chips. Since they burning, they also come with that “natural” smoke. So they infused the more intense and smoked kissed standard flavor.

In electric smokers the steam and burning woods chips produce smoke. The combination of two smoke lacks the traditional smoky flavor as compared to pellet smokers.

A Wood pellet smoker basically has more options for different types of flavor, while an electric smoker will only add a more “normal” Smokey flavor to the meat.

Ease of Use

Winner: Both

If you are a beginner or pro in smoking and grilling Both the smoker are easy to use. just set the temperature and put your favorite meat inside, your smoker will do the rest of the work.


Winner: Electric Smoker

Both are quite easy to clean, but the electric smoker is still the easiest.

On an electric smoker all you really need to do is wipe off the grates and the interior from mainly grease. You will also need to throw out the remainder of the wood in the wood tray.

On a pellet smoker you will also have to clean the grate and the interior. As well as that, you should also use a vacuum cleaner for all the ash from the wood pellets.

Running Cost

Winner: Electric Smoker

For electric smokers, less amount wood chips are required. only 3-4 or some time 6 ounces of wood chips are enough for a session. The cost of electricity is also less so the overall running cost of the electric smoker is cheaper.

For pellet smokers continuous supply of pellets and electricity is needed for grilling. The pellets also burn rapidly which increases the running cost compared to an electric grill. so for low and slow grilling, you need more pellets for the fire.

Cooking Versatility

Winner: Pellet Grill

In terms of cooking options, the pellet grill provides more options than the electric grill. you can grill, sear, toast, and even bake on a pellet smoker with freedom. An electric smoker can only smoke food. A pellet grill is a good investment if you want more cooking options.

Buying cost

Winner: Electric Smoker

The electric smoker is cheaper than the pellet smoker. There are a lot of options available in the market ranging from low to high. Before buying enlist your needs, usage, and budget and pick the one that matches your needs.

Temperature Control

Winner: Both

One of the most important factors is the temperature control system in both smokers. The electric smoker provides better control over temperature. however, the temperature range may vary with the model but almost all provide consistent results and temperature. Some cheaper smokers come with less durable temperature control dials. so, while choosing any kind of smoker you must check the durability of the control dial or knob. The range of electric smokers varies between 176°F – 248°F.

The pellet smoker also provides an even, stable and consistent temperature by maintaining the ratio of pellet display from auger to heating element according to the preset temperature and time. The pellet smoker provides a wide range of temperatures between 176°F – 482°F so you can easily set the required temperature according to the meat and cuts.

Smoking Time

Winner: Both

Both Pellet smokers and electric smokers can smoke for hours.  All you have to make sure is that there are wood chips in the electric smoker or that there are wood pellets in the pellet smoker.

Once a pellet smoker is filled it provides up to 10 hours (in some models more than hours) of smoking. So you can easily cook for hours.

Why are Pellet Grills so Popular?

The pellet grills provide a consistent result without drying, burning, and uneven cooking and smoking. One of the biggest reasons for the popularity is to maintain this consistent temperature and smoke for hours. So you can easily smoke rib and brisket for which slow smoking temperature is required.

Are Electric Smokers Worth the Money?

The electric smokers are worth your single penny. Electric smokers provide you freedom of smoking especially in close apartments and condos where you cannot use gas or charcoal smokers.

Final Thoughts

There are definitely some things that one type of smoker does better than the other. Both types provide an excellent grilling experience and consistent results every time you grill. If you have a low budget or leaving in a small apartment then the electric grill is the best option for you. However, if you love the smoky flavor and more than grilling then you go for a pellet smoker

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