If you are new to smoking you might be in a dilemma. Should you buy a gas or a charcoal smoker? A lot of people who consider themselves experts at smoking and grilling would say you can’t beat the taste of food cooked on a charcoal grill as it has a more of a smoky flavor. However, it is much harder to use a charcoal smoker than a gas one.
In this article, we shall be looking at some gas smokers and charcoal smokers and telling you what the differences are between them.
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Similarities Between Gas and Charcoal Smokers
- The size of a gas and a charcoal smoker is remarkably similar. If you get a vertical smoker its’ size can be anywhere from about 2’ x 2’ and for an offset smoker, 6’ x 4’. Both have different cooking capacities. It is your personal choice which decides what size you go for. If you are only smoking for a couple of people you probably won’t want too large a smoker, but if you like to smoke for a crowd, you will want a larger one.
- Both gas and charcoal smokers can also roast as well as smoke so you can cook a whole bird with great results.
Differences Between Gas and Charcoal Smokers
- A gas smoker is easier to use than a charcoal one. All you have to do is light the fire and set the temperature with a gas smoker and you’re ready to go. You have to have more control over a charcoal smoker. When you look at the temperature range a gas smoker usually works between 150F and 400F, while a charcoal smoker has a range between 125F and 350F.
- Gas smokers are more complex than charcoal smokers. They have hoses and burners and either of these could fail meaning that your meal could be ruined. Charcoal smokers are much more straightforward.
- Cleaning a gas smoker is easier than cleaning a charcoal unit. All you have to do with a gas smoker is wipe down the racks with a damp cloth. Charcoal, however, can be susceptible to creosote build-up so they will need extra cleaning. However, they do come with an ashtray so that part of cleaning is easy.
- A gas smoker is usually more expensive than a charcoal one because it has complicated parts. You can buy a high-end charcoal smoker for the same money as a standard gas smoker. However, the cost of running a gas smoker is cheaper than a charcoal smoker so this all has to be added into the equation. On average it costs 40 cents per hour to heat a gas smoker, while a charcoal smoker can cost anywhere between 50 cents and a dollar.
- Gas smokers are healthier than charcoal smokers as charcoal produces more carcinogens. In addition, charcoal smokers produce more smoke which gets into the atmosphere. Too much smoke can create breathing difficulties.
How to Use Your Smoker
The first thing to do is to get your fuel ready. Connect the gas tank to the smoker and light it. If you are using a charcoal smoker put the charcoal in and light it. If you are using wood chips add them as well and if you have a water pan, put in some herbs to infuse your meat with different flavors.
A gas smoker heats up quickly, but with a charcoal smoker, you will have to wait for around 20 – 30 minutes until it reaches temperature. You will need to make sure that air is flowing so open the air vents until heated and then close them.
The next step is to put in your meat and vegetables. However, don’t just leave everything to cook. Check up on your food a few times during the cooking process. Mind you, don’t do it too often as heat will escape and drop the temperature in the smoker. It’s a good idea to turn your meat over every 2 – 3 hours.
You will also have to keep an eye on your fuel as gas tanks may need to be changed or more charcoal added.
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope that we have given you enough information about gas and charcoal smokers but if you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We have answered a couple of possible questions here.
Can you get a natural gas smoker?
It is exceedingly difficult to get hold of a smoker that works on natural gas. However, you can change your propane tank to natural gas if you have a hook-up outside. It’s best to get a professional in to do this as it can be dangerous if you’re not sure what you are doing.
Why is gas so much easier to use?
Charcoal is difficult to use as you have to control the temperature by opening and closing air vents and dampers. It is more labor-intensive than gas. With gas, you just turn it on and you’re ready to go. If it gets too hot, you just need to turn a knob to lower the temperature.
Gas also doesn’t get affected too much by wind, but with charcoal, you need to keep an eye of the air blowing into the vents.
We hope that you have found this article useful and informative and that you have made your decision as to whether to buy a charcoal or a gas smoker. Both have their pros and cons. We stand by our 2 top choices. The Pit Boss Gas Smoker has an impressive 884 square inches of cooking space spread over 4 grates and a total of 13,500 BTUs. The Weber Smokey Mountain charcoal smoker has an extra-large water pan which helps to provide smokiness and heat all day long. It comes with a thermometer and dampers. We hope that you enjoy your summer smoking in one of our choices.