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Propane Smoker v. Charcoal Smoker

grubburg

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I am well aware of the pros and cons of both from doing a few searches and reading up.  The only thing i'm curious about is flavor only.  Is the flavor different?  If so, please describe.  How noticable is it?
 

jirodriguez

Master of the Pit
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Ever grill on charcoal and gas both? It's the same differance.

There is just that unique flavor you only get from charcoal - I personally prefer it.
 

grubburg

Newbie
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Joined May 3, 2013
yeah, with no wood present, the gas/charcoal difference is noticable.  I was wondering if the wood aroma drowns out the gas/charcoal difference.
 

fwismoker

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flavor difference goes...

Wood/charcoal- the most flavor

propane/wood chunks and chips less flavor

electric with wood chips  the least flavor

Rubs and brines will give flavor no matter what process you cook with but the gases from the combustion of wood give you the most complex good flavors. Propane combustion will give flavors as well just not as much.   

It all has to do with what is used for the combustion process.
 
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grubburg

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thanks for teh response.  you think if you were given two pieces of meat (charcoal smoker vs. propane smoker) you could tell the difference?
 

so ms smoker

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Try it both ways and smoke the way YOU like. If you like it then it is good. However, in most competitions, propane is not allowed. Charcoal or wood only.

   Mike
 

damon555

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Jun 26, 2010
Ask yourself if you'd rather use an oven that adds smoke or a grill that adds smoke. I started out with a gas burner because it was all I could afford. I scraped the money together for a Weber Smokey mountain and I'll never go back to a propane unit. There really is no comparison. Although a propane smoker turns out a fine product charcoal creates a flavor that gas never could.

But get whatever you want. Most home made BBQ is better than anything that you can get at a commercial joint.
 

rickypro

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Joined Aug 23, 2012
thanks for teh response.  you think if you were given two pieces of meat (charcoal smoker vs. propane smoker) you could tell the difference?
I have done two briskets the past month.  My first two briskets ever.  I have a lower end offset smoker that I have never smoked anything on until yesterday.  I purchased a wide body GOSM last year and have done all my smoking on that thus far.  The brisket on the GOSM was great!  Nice flavor and very juicy. BUT after cooking this most recent brisket on my offset, I will not do another one on my GOSM unless I have to.  There was a very noticeable increase in flavor in the most recent wood cooked brisket.  Now it was much more work but boy was it worth it!  This is not to say the GOSM is bad.  It is great too!  But I did notice a difference. 

My goal now is to save my pennies and try to get a higher end stick burner that will hold the heat and not be quite as much work as my current offset!
 
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fwismoker

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There are many charcoal challenged people around...truly sad because they don't know what they're missing.  I would never trade taste for convenience. 
 

mhchops

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I have a Smoke Hollow gas smoker i use quite often and a home built ofset smoker they are both great but ive done some tweaking to my gasser and personally think the q xoming off either is equally good (i i know there will be sone disagreement her) but ill tell you that my gas unit makes some of the best bbq i've eaten but its all up to your preference in which one you want. I have both for whatever i feel like that day if i want it easy or if i feel like tending a fire all day

Mhchops
 

tcaptain

Newbie
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Joined Sep 13, 2012
I'll chime in on the side of "there's very little difference"

I'm only talking about smoker though...side by side grilling, that's another story :)

I have a charcoal smoker (ECB) and a propane smoker (Masterbuilt).   I just did my first pork butt in the gasser, I did a chicken a couple of weeks ago in it too.

I've done both in the ECB a lot (using lump charcoal) and the flavor I get outside of the rub is all wood.   

The gasser is easier to handle, by far (although it has its quirks that I need to suss out).   I know a lot of people are old school and I've run into the vehement "propane ain't bbq" crowd and basically it comes down to this for me:

- Side by side, there's very little difference in what *I* cook.

- Not interested in competing

- I respect the skills needed to manage the fire, but what interests me about BBQing is the final result.  The ends justify the means.

- I've got a toddler to take care of and a loving wife who is supportive of my hobby...up to a point.  I can't stay out babying a charcoal smoker for 12 hours during a weekend and not have an unhappy family (although come dinner time I'm usually forgiven hehe).

That means, I want as close to a 'set it and forget it' solution.   Which means propane for me, unless I want to put in a lot more cash into a cooker than I can afford.
 

bbqbrett

Master of the Pit
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flavor difference goes...

Wood/charcoal- the most flavor

propane/wood chunks and chips less flavor

electric with wood chips  the least flavor

Rubs and brines will give flavor no matter what process you cook with but the gases from the combustion of wood give you the most complex good flavors. Propane combustion will give flavors as well just not as much.   

It all has to do with what is used for the combustion process.
That would be my view on it.  I have gotten the best results with a combo of wood and charcoal.

I have bbq'd for friends with wood and charcoal and had really good results.  I q'd at another friends house on his propane grill with a smoker box with wood chips for a group of friends.  A few of the people that had the stuff done on my cooker could tell the difference.  A couple could not.  They all thought it was good in both cases however and there were not any leftovers.
 

bama bbq

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For me there's something about the taste of food on a live charcoal/wood fire.  I gave my gasser to my son after I didn't even cook hot dogs on it anymore.
 

fwismoker

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For me there's something about the taste of food on a live charcoal/wood fire.  I gave my gasser to my son after I didn't even cook hot dogs on it anymore.
I almost feel sorry for the people that go gas...especially the electric folks because the are missing out on so much.  I am a recovering gasser so i can say this..lol
 

kathrynn

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For me there's something about the taste of food on a live charcoal/wood fire.  I gave my gasser to my son after I didn't even cook hot dogs on it anymore.
I almost feel sorry for the people that go gas...especially the electric folks because the are missing out on so much.  I am a recovering gasser so i can say this..lol
And I take offense at that comment FWIsmoker!  I like my gasser....and I like my charcoal one....and I like my electric.  They all have their place. 

Kat
 

phidelt1736

Newbie
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Joined Dec 7, 2012
I agree with the combustion comment to an extent. I have all three and from my experience charcoal is just another wood. What I mean by that is if I put hickory chunks in my electric it tastes different then charcoal, if I put a chunk of charcoal in the electric people have a real hard time tasting the difference between that and something cooked on actual charcoal. The lack of a ring is what gives it away but even in the electric charcoal will develop a slight ring. Charcoal just has a unique flavor that a lot of us grew up on etc so we prefer it. But I think the use of charcoal in any of the three can bring that flavor into the meat just like any other flavor wood. As with anything in life YMMV.
 

fwismoker

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And I take offense at that comment FWIsmoker!  I like my gasser....and I like my charcoal one....and I like my electric.  They all have their place. 

Kat
LOL, nothing personal Kat...You are correct that they all have a purpose.  Electric is geared towards convenience, low temps and will allow you to do jerkey, sausage etc...

Gas (which i have in a grill and a smoker) give you some better flavor because of the gas combustion component and also have the convenience factor.   I'll still use my gas offset for somethings just not as a primary smoker because it doesn't come close on the taste compared to all wood. 

Kat iirc you just use your new Weber for grilling and not smoking correct?  Get a smokenator for it sometime or  at minimum try some smoking on it by partitioning one sliver of it off with bricks or brick pavers and smoke some chicken thighs or something on the cool side, then sear it over the hot side.... it won't compare on taste to that of your gasser. 
 

s2k9k

AMNPS Test Group
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And I take offense at that comment FWIsmoker!  I like my gasser....and I like my charcoal one....and I like my electric.  They all have their place. 

Kat
I agree! I think there have been a couple of offensive comments on this thread.
 

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