Pellet Smoker Vs. Electric Smoker

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Choosing between a pellet smoker vs a electric smoker can be tough.

With a large number of smoker options on the market today, it can be challenging to pick the one that suits your needs.

Two of the options you will come across are the pellet smoker and the electric smoker, but how do these smokers differ? 

Pellet smokers and electric smokers are excellent smokers.

They both supply you with delicious, tender, and juicy meat.

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However, they have some noticeable differences that will affect the flavor of the meat you smoke, among other things.

Some of these include the size and the heat capacity. 

In this article, we will cover the pros and cons of both these smokers and more overall information about them, including how they work.

So, keep reading if you want to find the best smoker for you!

Pellet Smokers Vs. Electric Smokers: What’s The Difference?

Smoking meats has grown in popularity over the last few years, as everyone loves the taste of a perfectly smoked brisket or pork belly.

Smoking meats adds a unique flavor that cannot be beaten. You can also control the cook and flavor of the meats better by smoking them. 

The thought alone of a juicy, tender slice of smoked meat is enough to get you drooling.

So why not purchase your own smoker to allow you the luxury of having delicious smoked meats whenever you like. 

When you look around to find a smoker best suited to your needs, you will likely come across a pellet and an electric smoker.

These two smokers seem quite similar, with the only difference being one is electric, and the other is not. 

However, this is not the case. These two smokers have many differences that can make you favor one over the other.

Before we go in-depth about all the differences, you need to know more about each smoker, so let’s go through each smoker individually. 

Information On Pellet Smokers 

Pellet smokers, which also go by the name pellet grills, are pretty new to the smoker category.

Pellet smokers use hardwood pellets placed in the bottom cooking chamber to smoke the meat to perfection. 

Most pellet smokers can reach a high of 650°F, which means you can use them as a smoker or as a grill, depending on what you want to cook and how you want to cook it.

Also, pellet smokers combine the elements of gas grills, smokers, charcoal grills, and ovens, offering a wide range of cooking options. 

In addition, pellet smokers come in varying sizes and colors, so you should be able to find one in the style you like.

With a pellet smoker, they should only be used outdoors, as using them indoors can be extremely dangerous. 

Information On Electric Smokers

Electric smokers are also fairly new to the smoking world, but they are quite popular.

Electric smokers do not use hardwood pellets as a heat source, but there are heating elements inside the electric smoker that provide the heat for smoking the meat. 

On the other hand, electric smokers are also vertical and not horizontal like most other smokers.

The heating elements are situated on the bottom of the smoker, and above them, you will find a water pan, which will help keep the meat moist inside the smoker. 

There will also be a woodchip pan above the heating elements if you want the authentic smoky flavor of smoked meat.

Electric smokers are also self-regulating, meaning you won’t need to monitor the temperature closely, as the smoker will keep the temperature you set it to easily. 

How Do Pellet Smokers Work?

Now you know more about these two smokers, we can go over how these smokers work to help you determine which smoker is best for your needs.

So, how exactly does a pellet smoker work, and how do you use it to smoke your meat perfectly? 

When you are prepared to smoke your meat, you will need to prep your pellet smoker.

Attached to the side of the smoker will be a chamber called the hopper; this is where you place the hardwood pellets. 

Once the pellets are in the hopper, they are fed through to the burn pot inside the cooking chamber of the smoker by the auger.

The auger is a device that looks like a drill and rotates to push the woodchips into the burning pot. 

This auger is powered by electricity, so even though you have a pellet smoker, you will need electricity to operate it.

When the woodchips are in the burning pot, they will ignite and cause a flame, releasing the smoke. 

The fire is maintained by dropping more woodchips into the burning pot throughout the smoking process.

This is controlled by the temperature dial on the pellet smoker.

If you set the temperature higher, it will feed the woodchips into the burn pot faster to maintain a high temperature.

How Do Electric Smokers Work?

Electric smokers require access to electricity to operate.

Before you plug the electric smoker in, you need to fill the water tray and the hardwood pellet tray and place them back inside the smoker in their respective locations. 

Then you can plug your electric smoker in. the electricity in these smokers is controlled by a thermostat or a rheostat.

However, a thermostat allows better control over the temperature, so getting a smoker with a thermostat would be better, but they are more expensive. 

You can set the temperature, and the heating elements in the electric smoker will heat up to the exact temperature you chose.

The water will create a vapor that will keep the meat moist, and the woodchips will begin releasing a small amount of smoke to help flavor the meat. 

The Differences Between An Electric Smoker And A Pellet Smoker

Both the electric and pellet smokers are easy to use and won’t take much time to set up and get ready to begin the smoking process. 

These two smokers sound pretty similar and seem like they will both smoke meat with a similar outcome.

However, they have many differences you should be aware of before deciding which one is best for you.

These differences can make you favor one of the other, as they are quite substantial.

So, let’s take a look at how these two smokers differ to help you make the best decision for you. 

The Flavor Of The Smoker Meat

When you smoke meat in an electric smoker and a pellet smoker and taste the two, there is a surprising difference in the flavor of the smoked meat.

The meat from the electric smoker will have less of a smoky taste to it, as there is less smoke in the cooking process to penetrate the meat. 

So, while the meat will still taste delicious and tender and juicy, it won’t have that strong smoky flavor that many people enjoy.

With the pellet smoker, as it uses hardwood pellets as its heat source, there is plenty of smoke to penetrate the meat and create a strong smoky flavor. 

If you don’t like the strong smoky flavor that smoked meat usually has, the electric smoker is an excellent option.

However, if you love the strong smokiness, you might be disappointed with an electric smoker. 

The Meat Renders Differently

When you smoke with an electric smoker vs. a pellet smoker, you will notice that the meat renders differently.

One smoker is a combustion smoker (the pellet smoker), and the other is a non-combustion smoker (the electric smoker). 

When you smoke with the pellet smoker, you will smoke the meat low and slow, which will create a lovely reddish-pink smoke ring on the meat that you will see when you slice it. 

With the electric smoker, it’s more difficult to smoke low and slow, so you will not have this tell-tale smoke ring on the meat.

This smoke ring is what many people find visually appealing with smoked meats, so when it’s not present, it can be disappointing. 

Heat Capacity 

Another difference between these two smokers is the heat capacity of the smokers. The heat capacity is how hot the smoker can go.

This will affect the versatility of the different smokers. 

Electric smokers will generally have a heat capacity between 100° and 350°F.

This is quite a low heat capacity and will affect what you can smoke in the smoker.

For example, some meats like pork require a higher smoking temperature for safety reasons. 

Pellet smokers have a higher heat capacity than electric smoke. They have a heat capacity between 180° and 450°F.

Some pellet smokers can even reach 500°F.

This gives the smoker more versatility, and you can use the smoker as a grill, which will cut costs if you are a smoker and a griller. 

Price Of The Smokers

One of the biggest differences between these two smokers, especially for the budget-conscious, is the price of each smoker.

This can be a make-it-or-break-it category for most people, as not everyone has a huge budget to spend on a smoker. 

Electric smokers are less expensive when compared to pellet smokers. Electric smokers also have a wider range to choose from.

They have beginner smokers and commercial-grade smokers that you can choose from depending on your skill level and how often you smoke meat. 

Electric smokers are priced anywhere from $300 to over $1000. On the other hand, Pellet smokers have a much higher price tag.

Most pellet smokers are in the price range of $700 to over $1500. They are more sort after as they offer a smokier flavor than electric smokers. 

Size Of The Smoker

When we look at the size of a pellet smoker and an electric smoker, the electric smoker is more compact and easily fits in smaller gardens.

This also means that the electric smoker is easier to store for the winter if you don’t want to use it. 

Electric smokers usually have a cabinet design, with three of four shelves inside to place your meat on.

Pellet smokers have a similar design to regular hooded outdoor grills.

The pellet smokers can be as big as 26.7″ W x 54.9″ H, with a weight of 97 lbs.

Electric smokers are generally a lot smaller, usually measuring about 20.4″ W x 33.3″ H x 19.8; D, with a weight of 45.9 lbs.

This is a significant size difference between the two smokers.

Pros And Cons Of Both Smokers

These two smokers have a fair number of similarities and many differences that make these two smokers stand out from each other. 

On the surface, the only difference these two smokers seem to have is their style and heating method.

But when you dig deeper, you realize that there is far more going on than these two differences. 

Let’s glance through the advantages and disadvantages of each smoker.

This would help you decide which smoker is best for you and to further help you understand the differences between the two. 

Pros And Cons Of Pellet Smokers

We will first cover the pros and cons of a pellet smoker, and then we will see how the electric smoker compares.

Here are the pros of a pellet smoker:

  • Pellet smokers are easy to use.
  • Pellet smokers offer the real wood-fired flavor that many people want with their smoker meats.
  • These smokers are set and forget smokers, so they don’t need constant monitoring. 
  • Most pellet smokers can also be used as grills. 
  • Pellet smokers are more fuel-efficient than other grills/smokers. 

Here are a few of the cons of having a pellet smoker:

  • Pellet smokers require electricity to operate.
  • These smokers are expensive. 
  • Pellet smokers are usually large. 

Pros And Cons Of Electric Smokers

Now you are informed of the pros and cons of the pellet smoker; we will go through the pros and cons of the electric smoker and see how they differ.

Here are the pros of an electric smoker:

  • Electric smokers are easy to use.
  • These smokers can be used in the winter and cooler climates when well insulated. 
  • Electric smokers are fairly inexpensive.
  • These smokers are set and forget smokers, not requiring close monitoring when in use. 
  • Electric smokers are small and don’t take up much room.

Here are a few of the cons of having an electric smoker:

  • Electric smokers need electricity to operate. 
  • Electric smokers are not multifunctional, meaning you cannot use them for grilling.
  • The meat will lack a strong smoky flavor.
  • The meat won’t have the smoke ring.
  • It can take practice to get the right woodchip levels and stop the meat from drying out.


Pellet smokers and electric smokers are both excellent smokers that will give you delicious, tender, and juicy meat that everyone will enjoy.

These two smokers have some noticeable differences that make you favor one over the other, even though they are both great smokers. 

Both smokers have some pros and cons that need to be considered before you purchase one or the other for yourself.

Hopefully, this article has assisted you with making your decision. Good luck smoking your meat!