Charcoal Smoker vs Electric Smoker: Which is better charcoal or electric?

Charcoal Smoker vs Electric Smoker: Which One is Better?

One the hardest puzzles you have to solve in life is the conflict between taste and testing. If you have been all through using a charcoal smoker, you might always believe that it is the best. Right, that is your taste. But you also have to go about testing to find out the absolute truth and underlying reality. 

For you to make an informed decision, we have identified the underlying truth between charcoal smoker vs electric smokers. We shall take you through the pros and cons of both types of smokers one by one. In the end we will settle on a better option.


Here is the basic information regarding electric smoker and charcoal smoker. Read through to find out which direction you will take.

Electric Smoker

Electric smoker is a relatively complex kitchen appliance that uses electricity as the main source of power. Its salient features include heating element, timers and thermostats. Most of these features are programmable thus as a user, a great bulk of your work is already catered for.

Additionally, electric smokers are faster than charcoal smokers just like any other electric appliance. This implies that electric smoker is convenient and allows for automation. The design also utilizes insulation features meaning that all users, beginners and experts, are assured of utmost safety. 

If you are stuck between choosing electric or charcoal smoker, these are some of the greatest advantages of electric smoker.

Despite its convenience, safety and speed, using electric smoker limits you to a place where there is electricity alone. Without electricity, your smoking work cannot go on. Research after research has also ranked electric smokers lower in terms of lower food quality as compared to charcoal smokers. 

For this reason, we list food quality as an area of weakness as far as electric smoker is concerned.

What is Charcoal Smoker?

Charcoal smoker uses heat produced by charcoal to produce the heat which in turn burns wood chips for the production of smoke. It is simple in make and design. Generally, charcoal smokers are recognized for the production of strong heat used for smoking.

A typical charcoal smoker is divided into three major parts namely the firebox, water chamber and cook chamber used for different functions. As far as modern technology is concerned, most smokers consider charcoal smoking a conventional.

In musing over whether to buy a charcoal or electric smoker, its pros and cons are the major guiding tenets. Take a keen look at its strengths and weaknesses and make an informed decision.

Pros and Cons of Charcoal Smoker


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    Charcoal smoker is recognized for high quality smoking due to the strong heat generated by charcoal.
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    It sells at a relatively cheaper price compared to gas smoker.
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    Chances of achieving distinctive flavor are high as long as you add the right wood chips.
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    The heating reaches its peak quickly once the charcoal smoker is lit.
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    It is easy to fill the chimney.
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    Convenient for outdoor smoking compared to other types of smokers.
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    Operational mechanism is straight forward and good for beginners.


  • As far as charcoal smoker is concerned, you have to spend considerable amount of time attending to your barbeque.
  • It lacks automated features evident in electric smokers. It does not confirm to the modern technology.
  • Not convenient for busy professionals.
  • Charcoal has a limited cooking time of 30 to 45 minutes. Immediately the smoker attains its speak, it begins to drop at a quick rate.
  • It requires utmost care to ensure that your meat is clean and free of dust. Otherwise possibilities of contaminating your food with the dust are high.
  • Unless the user has a chimney starter, it can sometimes prove a challenging task to light a charcoal smoker. This is contrary to electric smoker that only takes a switch-on button to start.
  • The nature of charcoal makes it difficult to maintain constant temperature.
  • Limited to outdoor use only. It is unsafe if used inside.

Differences Between Charcoal Smoker and Electric Smoker


Charcoal smoker requires closer attention compared to electric smoker. If there is a reason electric smokers have grown popular in the recent past, it is the ease of use and convenience due to its ease of use.

Food quality:

Smoked meat using charcoal smoker is no doubt tasty compared to meat smoked in an electric smoker. However, the question worth asking is: By what degree do they differ? Electric smokers have been found to produce equally tasty food, though not as perfect as charcoal smoker.


Charcoal smokers are readily affordable at a cost effective price. While this might seem convenient, there comes a time when your hassles and struggles might prove your decision wrong.

Charcoal smokers generally fall below $300 although there are extremities. However, the best electric smokers go beyond $400 and some are even above $500. But the real difference is manifested when you get at home.


Unlike conventional charcoal smokers, electric smokers do not produce coal or real ash. This makes it a better option because the cleanup process is easier, faster and stress free.

Smoking Space:

If you choose charcoal smoker over electric smoker, be sure to limit your smoking sessions to the outdoors. This is for the purposes of safety precautions. An electric smoker on the other hand, is all convenient. It fits in the outdoors and indoors as well.

A few exceptional cases such as Bradley electric smoker are restricted to the outdoors. However, quite a number of electric models are for both spaces.


Versatility refers to the multipurpose nature of an appliance. There are types of food a charcoal smoker will handle quite excellently compared to electric smoker.

On the other side of the game, electric smokers will slowly take you through every bit of your needs, including salmon and vegetable.

Which is better Charcoal or Electric Smoker?

One greatest consideration we never miss out is the need to address customer needs in every decision we make. In our analysis, we focused majorly on convenience, food quality, safety, cost, cleaning, smoking space and versatility.

Once these aspects are fulfilled, then you have a good smoker for your needs. We literally voted and found out that electric smokers scored highly in the areas of convenience, safety, cleaning, smoking space and versatility. Charcoal smoker only takes the lead in the area of food quality and cost efficiency.

Without reservation, we straightaway settle for electric smoker as our better option.

Final words

What comes clearly in mind is that charcoal smokers are good for perfectionists of meat smoking. Electric smokers are for non-gamblers.

We suggest that you first of all identify what you will be smoking in the long run. Then think of your own availability as an active smoker always attending to your meat.

If for sure you are going to smoke meat and that is what you are up for, well and good. Your choice of charcoal smoker is not bad. If you are not yet sure or you foresee a variation in what you will be smoking, electric smoker should be your ultimate choice.

Basically, those looking for convenience, speed and safety can confidently opt for the electric smoker. Those concerned with the end product regardless of the quality of the process are prospective users of charcoal smokers.

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Theresa Lori

Hi, I'm Theresa. My passion for grilling delicacy gradually built during the time I was living with my parents. My family members especially my mother was a great fan of grilled dishes to and from the love of food. I started preparing smoked food with my mom. This bonding helped me to know more and more about to smoke, grill what always I share on So, in two words you can call me a BBQ lover.

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