I have a traditional smoker but I'm looking into electric smokers. Are there any differences in the meat that is smoked on a traditional smoker vs something like a Traeger (i.e. taste, smokiness,)?
Smoking basics are the same, smoke heat time. But how you arrive at the final result is much different.
Traditional for the most part can achieve much higher temps. Some traditional smokers consider 325 to 350 degrees smoking temperatures where as an electric normally can only reachless than 300. Traditional normally requires moisture, basting, moping, spritzing, saucing. Electric requires none. Traditional will when proberly smoked the meat will have a beautiful smoke ring, not so with an electric. Traditional smokers require tending the fire, electrics nope, no need. Traditional recovers from heat loss very rapidly, electrics recover extremely slow.
I do both and have done traditional for a very long time (since tending Pop's fire box), I have only done electric for a little over 30 years. Im my humble opinion unless you are a really old smoker they are about the same or can be made to appear and taste that way. But I don't think the electric will ever cook better than a tradition. Of course a traditional will never be as simple as an electric. Plug it in, set the remote temp device, and walk away till its done. Nothing else is required. 24 hours butt smoke, put it in, drink and chase women all night, get drunk, go to bed sleep all night, wake up get over the hang over and the butt is ready. Not so with the traditional. Course you can stay up all night partying while smoking but with electric you do have a choice.
They taste the same, they have the same smoke, basically you are swapping the smoke ring (which you can't taste) for a good nights sleep. But I still like the taste of a traditional slightly better. But the electric is just so damn easy.
I have pits and electrics. I really like both. I probably would smoke much much less and grill much more if not for the electrics. And I know I probably wouldn't been curing bacons and hams, and stuffing sausages without the electric.
A Tesla is fun but you still keep the Yukon! They both have their uses.
I have both a small electric and a big stick burning trailer rig, and I love them both.
I love being able to put a good amount of food on the electric and go to town, go fishing, or go to sleep and come back at my prescribed amount of time (from experience) and find some great tasting smoked meat
But I also love the wood too. there is just something to be said about hanging out for several hours, keeping up with the fire. something really primal about the whole process that really just isnt there with my electric. Something about the challenge and feeling of satisfaction that comes from it.
I can also fit about 10 packer briskets in my wood burner and have to cut a brisket in half to fit in the electric.
both have their place, and I wouldnt want to give up either
its really up to your wants and needs, and what suits your setting
I use an electric so I am not the most versed on smoke rings, but from what I have read they really amount to nothing. The depth of the smoke ring can vary due to many reasons including the cut of meat so it really is not a good judge of the finished product. I have never had anyone even mention the lack of a smoke ring on my food. The taste and texture from an electric is indistinguishable from a wood fired if you use it correctly.
A couple of things, I'm an RF stick burner, but have thought many times and still thinking of getting an electric. There are many times and circumstances that I could use an electric opposed to my RF.
Smoke ring, Smoke rings are the pride of a successful stick burners smoke, but that's all Like lipstick on a pig, All looks, Now I take pride in my smoke ring just because I always have. But don't panic it adds no flavor