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Electric or Pellet smoker?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Yes, I know I'm in the Electric Smoker forum!  :icon_wink:


First of all, I'm looking for something with better build quality than the MES I see at the big box stores.  Right now, I'm liking the Smokin-it, LLC models but, Cookshack and Smokin'Tex are in there as well.  Then you also have the pellet smokers like Yoder, Traegar and, Rec Tec.


It appears that for similar price points, you are getting similar quality smokers.  I'm really liking what I see in the Yoder but, by the time I am ready to go it appears to be tangibly more expensive than the Smokin-It models, though the Yoder in general will have more capacity.


For a more hands off (i.e. no fire tending of a stick burner or reloading a WSM) approach to smoking, what are the pro's and con's of each?  I should note that I am in East Texas so, wood chunks, splits, etc. for smoking are relative easy to get though, fruit woods in particular are few and far between.  Am I crazy thinking putting a few chunks of good wood in an Electric Smoker is cheaper in the long run than fueling a pellet grill for long cooks?  I should also note that I want something that will last and not be a maintenance and science project to keep running and making the good stuff.




post #2 of 8

You need to decide what you will make most often. the Electrics you mentioned will run 100 to 275. Good for sausage and most red meat that will be pulled, but gives rubbery skin on poultry and no Hot and Fast smoking. Pellet Grills, not as much smoke without a supplemental source like a Tube or other generator. 150 to 180, depending on model, is the bottom end for pellet grills, sausage and ham may be challenge but at 325 poultry comes out great and going to 550 and you can sear Beef and Burgers. You will never see that with an electric smoker. So Electric good smoker but that's it. Pellet Grills, ok smoker, needs help, great for hot and fast cooker and reasonably good grill. I have had a Gen1 MES40 for 5 years and as soon as I get the funds together a KUMA Platinum SE or MAK2 is on the list...JJ

post #3 of 8

I don't have a more advanced electric smoker such as an MES, but do have a pellet smoker - PelletPro 627,  As Chef Jimmy noted, they may need a little assistance when a heavier smoke is desire.  For me, it's when I am doing a more dense meat such as ribs, brisket or butt/shoulder.  Then I use my cold smoker or other type of supplemental smoke.  But for steaks, chicken, fish, meatloaf - something where I don't want a heavy smoke profile - its perfect as is.


Personally I like the versatility of the pellet smoker, being able to do everything from low and slow to cranking up the heat for a quick grill.  If you get a unit with a quality PID, you have the convenience of set it and forget it like an oven. And depending on the unit you have a lot of real estate to work with for a larger smoke. I like the size of the PP627 because I don't feel like I'm firing up a bulldozer to do the job of a shovel for smaller cooks, yet I can fit up to 6 racks of ribs.  


Pellet cooking if very efficient too.  Once the pellets are lit it takes very little energy to operate - about the same as a light bulb.  Pellet cost will vary depending on the availability of a supplier in your area but you can get a 40# bag of Perfect Mix for $34 delivered.  For larger purchases you may find a good bulk purchase deal.


Hope this helps

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

So, it sounds like pellet grills can be a little expensive on the wood side of things but, offers some possible performance advantages.  Hot and fast with less smoke is where it's at with them.  Low and slow and heavy smoke is a bit tricky.


The electrics are easy on the wood cost and but don't get hot enough to crisp poultry skin but, are great for smoke flavor and low and slow cooking.  It sounds like they may be a great option for me since they could be used cold smoking and probably are a better match for lighter things like fish and poultry (except for the skin issue).


For searing and such, I have gas grills and cast iron skillets on the stove.  I can also crisp the skin on poultry with a torch or possible finish in a really hot oven and no, I won't finish it in a fryer.  :icon_wink: 

post #5 of 8
Actually pellet smokers produce better smoke at low and slow. I run mine at about 160 for up to 5-6 hours for my ribs. Because they use the wood pellet for the fuel source they produce less smoke once they get over 250

As far as operating cost, they are fairly economical when you consider cost of electricity, quality charcoal or good smoking wood.
post #6 of 8
As a MES30 owner for years now I can say that I'm glad I got it as a cheap entry into a rewarding hobby but my next smoker will likely be a GMG Daniel Boone w/WiFi. I'm tired of how small my smoker is, how worthless it is for hot & fast and the inability to accurately monitor & control my smoker/meat temps. I use a Maverick external but even with that the controls of the MES30 leave much to be desired in terms of stability & reliability. In fact, more often than not I forgo smoking meat just because of the unpredictable nature of the MES30 which should be the #1 selling point of an electric over the other types. I got by early on & was an MES30 apologist & was quick to defend it's value but after years of use I'm no longer wearing the rose-colored glasses & am ready for something better.
post #7 of 8
I have a Cookshack 025 electric smoker and a Cookshack PG500 pellet grill. Both are awesome quality.

I use them for different purposes. The smoker for low and slow and the pellet grill for cooks like poultry and steaks. I haven't tried to do low and slow on the pellet grill yet.
post #8 of 8

I own and use a Cookshack (CS) 066/Amerique.  Very well made unit.  All digital.  My brother has the Smokin-it (SI) model 3. Also a very well made unit.  And it is analog.  Both units produce great food. SI now offers some of it's smokers with the built in digital controller. It pretty much boils down to how much money you want to spend and how simple of a set-up you want.  Check out both the CS and the SI sites and see what the customers have to say, as well as the pricing for the units. CS is made in the USA.  SI and the SmokinTex  (ST) are imported as are a lot of electric smokers these day.  That is not a bad thing if they are properly designed and built. The SI and ST smokers will cost much more than their big box store brethren.  

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