Which Is Better? Pellet Smokers vs. Propane Smokers

March 21, 2023 – ,

Tired of spending hours behind a burning-hot charcoal grill but don’t want to give up your perfectly prepared proteins? If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably considered investing in a pellet smoker.

While pellet smokers can make a great addition to your backyard BBQ shack, they aren’t the only option out there. During your search, you’ll also discover a propane tank smoker, sometimes referred to as a gas smoker.

These appliances use a small propane tank to slow-cook meats, much like a standard pellet smoker. The key difference is that regular pellet smokers use wood pellets and an electric heater instead of a propane heating element.

A propane tank for smokers is identical to the portable tanks you use to power traditional gas grills. However, you can also retrofit your grill to run off your home’s propane tank.

At this point, you’re probably wondering which option is the better buy. Let’s take a closer look at both options, so you can look forward to cooking tender meat while working on your farmer’s tan.

The Good and the Bad of Pellet Smoke
There are two notable benefits associated with pellet smokers. The most obvious one is that they use wood pellets for fuel. As such, everything you cook will have a nice, smokey flavor.

Additionally, most pellet smokers are high-tech. Top-end smokers include Bluetooth and wi-fi capabilities, meaning you can kick back on the couch and control the temperature with a user-friendly mobile app while feeling fancy. There’s literally no easier way to cook, especially during those sweltering summer days when your clothes are soaked in sweat.

Now for the downsides.

The biggest drawback is cost. Full-sized pellet smokers from a leading manufacturer will cost you upwards of $1,200, with some models pushing the $2,000 mark – it feels like the same price to fill up a pickup truck these days. Even compact pellet smokers can cost around $500, whereas a small propane smoker may only run you a couple of hundred dollars.

Another con is the need for extension cords. Pellet smokers use an electric heating element, meaning you’ll need to snake a long extension cord through your backyard. That creates a trip hazard for your guests and can make using your grill a bit of a hassle. What if you don’t have an outlet accessible? I guess you would just order pizza.

Propane Tank Smokers — Everything You Need to Know
Pellet smokers have become the new hotness over the last couple of years. They allow you to “set it and forget it,” freeing you up to watch the big game or entertain your guests while your high-tech grill smokes a premium cut of meat to perfection.

However, 61% of grill owners still rely on safe, clean-burning propane. Propane gas is convenient, generates heat quickly, and provides the stability needed to slow-cook a mouthwatering slab of ribs, pork butt, or even lamb shank if you want to feel high-class.

Propane smokers are also more affordable than pellet smokers. Don’t worry — you can still purchase a high-tech option that includes wi-fi connectivity; it just won’t cost you nearly as much, meaning you’ll have more money left over to stock up on extra pork butts in the deep freezer.

The Verdict: Pellet Smokers Are Great – Propane Smokers Are Better
Pellet smokers can be a great investment for avid smokers and pit masters. But overall, propane smokers are the better buy. They’re more affordable, ultra-reliable, and can do everything a pellet smoker can and more.

Once your new smoker is up and running, you’ll want to follow a few safety best practices. Clean your smoker after every use, as failing to do so is the leading cause of grill fires. Also, make sure you keep up with your manufacturer-recommended maintenance to maximize the lifespan of your new smoker.

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