Investing in a smoker can give your cooking capacity a huge upgrade, but by now, you have probably realized that there are a lot of different options available. Pellet smokers and electric smokers are in constant competition, which is why we are here to help you determine which smoker is the right fit for you as a beginner.
This is part of a series of articles where we compare different types of smokers:
Table of Contents
What is a Pellet Smoker?
A pellet smoker is a type of cooking device that is designed to include parts from several popular cooking devices, including grills, ovens, and standard charcoal smokers. These grills heat wood pellets to cook food and impart flavor to it while it cooks, giving you a delicious wood-fired taste.
Read more: How does pellet smoker work
What is an Electric Smoker?
An electric smoker is a type of cooking device that is designed to heat food up using electric rods as its primary heating source. This flame-free option allows you to cook food like any other smoker and generally has a vertical design with shelves inside.
- Temperature reaches up to 275˚F
- Digital panel controls on/off, cooking temperature and time
- 711 sq. in. of smoking space to feed the whole family
- Four chrome-coated smoking racks
- Thermostat-temperature control for even, consistent smoking
Pellet Smoker vs. Electric Smoker Comparison
Let’s consider a few key features to decide if a pellet smoker or an electrical smoker is right for you.
Ease of Use
Both pellet smokers and electric smokers are fairly easy to use. They both include the same process, heating, placing food inside, and waiting for it to cook. Both devices can be used by the average person. However, the electric nature of an electric smoker can make it more difficult to fix if something goes wrong.
Temperature Control and Range
A system’s temperature control and range can determine how many different approaches to cooking you can take with it. An electric smoker can cook most foods, but pellet smokers have a clear advantage when it comes down to the range. Electric smokers generally don’t exceed 300F in temperature, whereas pellet smokers can push past 500F. With that being said, electric smokers are great for cooking at lower temperatures.
Price can play a key role in how accessible a smoker is, especially if it isn’t something you plan to use daily. In this regard, the electric smoker is a more affordable option. A high-quality electric smoker can come under $300, but a pellet smoker can easily pass $500.
When you invest in a pellet smoker or an electric smoker, you should expect to plug it in during use. However, pellet smokers also use pellets as an additional source in the system, so keep this in mind.
Cost to Operate
Operating costs for these two types of smokers can be fairly similar depending on how you use them. An electric smoker might seem like it has a lower cost simply because it has less power behind it while cooking. A pellet smoker can cost more simply because it cooks at higher temperatures and includes the cost of pellets.
Pellet Smoker Pros
Pellet smokers can pack a serious punch when making great food. Let’s take a look at why people love them so much.
For people who love to experiment, the pellet smoker is an obvious champion. This versatile system can be used to smoke, grill, or even cook like an oven depending on how you want to use it. With this versatility, you can make more meals of different styles.
Maintaining a pellet smoker is a fairly simple job. As long as you remember to remove any ash and use catch trays while you cook, it is very easy to keep your smoker clean and operational.
Compared to some of the other grill and smoker options, a pellet grill is a fairly environmentally friendly system. Since these smokers burn natural elements in the form of wood pellets to generate a good amount of their heat and energy, they are technically operating on renewable energy for much of what they do. Of course, these systems also use traditional electrical energy sources.
Digital Temperature Controller
A digital temperature controller makes it easy to ensure you are cooking your meals at the right temperature. Moreover, most high-quality pellet smokers have PID controllers for precise temperature control.
The real selling point when it comes to pellet grills is the wood-fired flavor that people just can’t seem to get enough of. It brings a whole new level of flavor that gets set right into anything that you cook, making every meal taste like it should–but better. To make it even better, you can impart different flavors using different pellets.
Pellet Smoker Cons
Every smoker has some features that people do not always love. Let’s look at some of the drawbacks that come with these systems.
Requires a Power Source
Even though pellet grills do burn wood, they also require energy for some features to function correctly. This means that you will need to plug in this grill, which can limit where you use it.
Pricing and Availability
Since pellet grills offer such a wide range and so many different features, they do tend to come in at a higher price tag–well into the hundreds. In most cases, you will want a mid-to-high-level pellet grill to ensure an even finish with that perfect smoked flavor.
Requires Careful Planning
To enjoy that perfect flavor, you do have to plan your meals fairly well. Cooking with a pellet smoker generally takes several hours, and you have to heat it up prior to use and refill pellets as needed. But a large hopper will provide extended cooking sessions to save you the hassle.
Electric Smoker Pros
There are plenty of reasons that people love electric smokers. Let’s take a closer look.
Nice and Clean
Electric smokers do not include any ash or physical burning, making them very easy to open up and clean. The system stays fairly clean all on its own.
Great for Condos and Apartments
Most apartments and condos do not allow wood-burning systems on the property. For this reason, it can be great to have an electric smoker to get around this.
Suitable for Smaller Dishes
Electric smokers tend to be smaller in size, so they can more readily cook smaller dishes without you having to keep an eye on your food. Their low-temperature options also make them good for reheating.
Compared to other smokers, electric smokers tend to come in at a fairly low price tag. They are definitely the more budget-friendly option of the bunch.
The compact design of electric smokers makes them very easy to store and move. This is a wonderful option for people who regularly move or have limited space.
Electric Smoker Cons
There are a few limitations that come with electric smokers. Find out what people don’t enjoy about these systems.
Unsuitable for Grilling
Though electric smokers can cook and smoke food, they are almost never designed for grilling in any capacity. This is a feature that pellet smokers do offer.
The flameless nature of electric smokers makes them effective at cooking but not at imparting flavors. Food made in an electric smoker will lack the smokey flavor most people look for.
Takes Practice to Use
Every electric smoker is unique and will have its own quirks. You will need to learn how to use your system to prepare different dishes.
Needs to Be Plugged In
Since electric smokers run on electricity, they do need to be plugged in before you can use them.
Why Are Z Grills Pellet Smokers so Popular?
Z Grills offers leading pellet smokers that impart perfect flavor in every dish. Let’s explore what their models offer.
Ease of Use
Z Grills Pellet Smokers are very user-friendly–even for beginners. Designed to be used by people at all experience levels, cooking with a Z Grills smoker is really easy.
Superior Build Quality
Z Grills makes smokers that are built to last, allowing you to benefit from them for years to come. When you’re ready to get a new model, your old one will likely still be going!
Unmatched Wood-Fired Flavor
At the center of the pellet grill experience is that delicious wood-fired flavor. The design of Z Grills models makes it easy to lock flavor right into any dish, and they even offer different pellets to make it easy for you to change up the flavor.
With a Z Grills smoker, you get eight amazing functions–grill, chargrill, barbecue, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and sear–all with one device!
Getting that perfectly consistent flavor isn’t just luck, it’s science. Z Grills models use a PID controller to keep your temperature where it needs to be for perfectly even cooking.