Pellet Vs Electric Smokers – Main Differences With Pros & Cons

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After spending 28 hours we have done multiple temperatures, cooking, cleaning, and food testing experiments with our electric and pellet smoker, also consulted with some of the Owners and BQQ freaks, to make sure which one is better in terms of cost, flavors, cooking space, maintenance, etc.

The purpose of this guide is to settle the ongoing debate about Pellet Vs Electric Smokers, lets’s check out our quick answer.

The main difference between electric and pellet smokers is flavor, you will not be able to get that much authentic smoky flavor with electric or even gas smokers.

Pellet Smoker Vs Electric Smoker (Quick Comparison)

Electric SmokerPellet Smoker
Mild Smoky FlavorOutstanding Smoky Flavor
Lower initial cost ($150 – $700+)Higher initial cost ($500 – $2000+)
Lower ongoing costHigher ongoing cost
Low TemperaturesHigh Temperatures
Can do Smoking and other low-temperature dishesCan do Smoking, backing, searing, and other high temperatures dishes
Small/Large/Very Large cooking CapacitySmall/Large cooking Capacity
Most of them are portableFew of them are portable
Required More Electrical PowerRequired less electrical power
Easy to MaintainA  bit difficult to maintain

What Are The Pellet Smokers And How Do They Work?


Pellet smokers are solely made for real BBQ lovers who want to enjoy the real taste of smoke. Well, a pellet smoker works on pellets that are purely made from hardwood, we just need to plug the smoker into a power socket, feed some pellets to the hopper, the auger motor feeds 2 – 3 pellets to the bottom of the cooking chamber where the ignition process starts. The cooking chamber also consists of a fan that constantly intakes a decent airflow to produce smoke and heat.

Modern pellet smokers have multiple functionalities to adjust the temperature, smoke levels, etc. you will have a control panel to adjust the number of pellets you want to feed, if you want to increase the temperature and smoke levels you have to feed some more pellets, however, if you want to lower the temperature and smoke levels, you have to lower the number feeding pellets.

What Are The Electric Smokers And How Do They Work?


Electric smokers are usually found in vertical shape like a refrigerator they have decent cooking space, because of the arrangements of racks, unlike pellet smokers electrical unit has multiple racks from top to bottom, though you will found slightly smaller width when you are going to cook a brisket of 9 to 10 lbs. but you can make it half for easier placement.

The electric smokers primarily work on a heating element which is located on the bottom, however, we add some briquettes or wood chips and a water pan above the heating element of the electric smoker to get smoky flavor by maintaining juiciness. If you have a high-quality electric smoker like Masterbuilt MB20070210 you will have separate boxes for adding wood chips, briquettes, water, etc.

Like a pellet smoker, you will have a fully functional control panel to adjust temperatures, set timers, etc.

Most modern electric smokers have self-regulated temperatures which allow me to set the timer and forget it.

Pellet vs Electric Smokers (Detailed Comparison)

Initial Cost:

Electric smokers are cheaper compared to the pellet smoker, a decent electric smoker will cost you about $500, however, you have to spend 1000+ bucks to get a pellet smoker with a decent cooking area searing box, etc.

Though you can get an entry-level pellet smoker from$700 to $800 but you may have to compromise the cooking space and searing box which is a lifesaver to cook smoky steaks and burgers.

My brother is using an entry-level pellet smoker and it works pretty well if you want to cook for about 3 – 4 persons but if you want to cook a steak or want to infuse some char flavor to the burger patties or brisket you have to arrange a separate grill or a sear box.

WINNER: Electric Smoker.

Flavor Intensity And Texture:

No one beats pellet smokers in terms of intensive Smokey flavors; they are famous for infusing proper smokiness. On the other hand, most pellet smokers have an analog or digital meter to control the smoke levels, so it is not a big deal to control it.

Electric smokers are known for their mild smoky flavors, they usually produce normal smoke levels compared to pellet smokers.

On the other hand, electric smokers produce dry heat compared to pellet smokers, you always have to make sure that the juiciness of your food should be balanced, however, the pellets carry some moister that infuses some moister to your food.

Though you can use a water pan on the base of an electric smoker to balance the heat and moister levels, still a pellet smoker would be a great choice to avoid the hassle.

WINNER: Pellet Smoker.

Ease Of Use:

Both smokers are equally easy to use. In pellet smokers you need to pour some pellets into the hopper of the smoker, the rest will handle the auger of the smoker by transporting pellets to the combustion chamber you have to pour the pellets if the hopper has a smaller size but it is not a big task.

In electric smokers you just need to place some water and a few ounces of wood or briquettes, also most electric smokers have a self-regulated temperature which is a lifesaver for a lazy bone.

Here is the guide on how to use an electric smoker in the right way


Cost To Operate:

The operational cost of a pellet smoker is almost 5x or more than an electric smoker. Due to the cheaper electricity and efficient mechanism you just need to feed a few ounces of wood chips or briquettes to prepare your delicious food with an electric smoker. With a pellet smoker, you need to spend on both electricity and pellets, electricity is not a big problem but a bag of pellets may cost you $5 – $40 depending on the quality and size.

As per my experience, a pellet smoker needs at least 1 – 2Lbs. of pellets to work for about 1 hour, if you are operating the pellet smoker for 10 hours this will cost you about $10 – $20 without electricity; however, the cost of an electric smoker will be around $2 – $5 without electricity.

The difference is visible pellet smoker is way more costly for ongoing operations but the taste is unmatchable.

We BBQ lovers always spend on Pellet smokers because we weigh test over money.

WINNER: Electric Smoker.


Electric smokers are generally small and compact as compared to pellet smokers, since pellet smoker has a hopper and mainly comes with a grill or offset design, however, electrical smokers come with a vertical or shelf design with normal width and height you can transport an electric smoker easily with your pickup truck.

Though some of the pellet smokers are portable like Green Mountain but you will find a few compared to the electrical units.

WINNER: Electric Smoker.

Cooking Area:

Well, the pellet smoker has a decent cooking area but the larger electric unit can easily dominate the pellet smokers in terms of the cooking area, since electric smokers mainly come with a vertical shape we will have multiple grills.

WINNER: Electric Smoker.

Cooking Versatility:


Pellet smokers have generally higher temperatures which allow searing, backing, roasting grilling, etc., however, with electric smokers, you will only have limited temperature with decent control on the temperature you can lower the temperature to cook in different styles but you don’t have the option to increase the temperature.

The bottom line is electric smokers are limited in terms of cooking versatility.

WINNER: Pellet Smoker.


Electric smokers are a bit easier to clean and maintain since they don’t produce a huge amount of smoke, you will not find an excessive amount of grime, ash, or creosote, you just need to clean the grease and oil do some cleaning of grates that’s it.

In the case of pellet smokers, you need to clean out the ashes after each use.

WINNER: Electric Smoker.

We also have written a guide about Electric Vs Charcoal Smokers make sure to have a look.

Pros And Cons Of Electric Smokers


  • Affordable.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Large cooking area.
  • Portable.
  • Easy to use.
  • Well insulated, can work in a cooler climate
  • Low ongoing cost.
  • Suitable for use outside condos or apartments where real fires are not permitted.
  • Self-regulated Temperatures.


  • Can’t be used for grilling, roasting, and searing
  • Medium smoky flavor.
  • Not able to create huge smoke.
  • Can’t provide a smoke ring.
  • Need some expertise to maintain the juiciness of the meat.
  • Pros and cons of pellet smokers

Pros And Cons Of Pellet Smokers


  • Easy to use
  • Provide a smoke ring.
  • Well, insulated, can work perfectly in a cooler climate.
  • High temperatures.
  • Real Smokey flavor.
  • Can be used for grilling, searing, backing, etc.
  • Suitable for use outside condos or apartments where real fires are not permitted.


  • Expensive.
  • Few of them are portable.
  • A bit difficult to maintain.
  • High ongoing cost.
  • Medium cooking space.

My Words On The Pellet Vs Electric Smokers

If you want an authentic BBQ flavor go for a pellet smoker just ignore the cost, no doubt a pellet smoker is the king of smokiness. Also, a pellet smoker will provide you with cooking versatility due to the high-temperature ranges.

If you want a decent portable smoker with an affordable price tag, low ongoing cost with normal temperatures you should go for an electric smoker

Happy BBQ!

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Is it a pellet smoker or a pellet grill?

It depends if your pellet smoker can reach high temperatures like 180 – 480F you can call them both pellet smoker and pellet grill, however, if your pellet smoker can only reach 180 – 240F you can’t call it a pellet grill.

Why are pellet smokers so popular?

Due to the authentic BBQ taste, pellet smokers are popular to infuse proper Smokey flavor to the meat.

Can you grill on an electric smoker?

Not possible to do grilling with most of the electric smokers, since they have limited temperature ranges.

Do pellet smokers give a smoke ring?

Pellet smokers are well known for making smoke rings. Due to the excessive smoke, the carbon monoxide and nitric oxide come together and react to create a smoke ring around the brisket.

Samy is an industrial engineer and fellow meat enthusiast. He works as a graphic designer and content manager for

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