Electric VS Traditional smoker

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by kyleqman, Mar 7, 2015.

  1. kyleqman

    kyleqman Newbie

    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,)? 

    -Kyle Q.
  2. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    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.

    Hows that?
    bigred77 likes this.
  3. kyleqman

    kyleqman Newbie

    Nice! I think I like the idea of the traditional smoker. Maybe I just like playing with fire? I heard that getting a decent smoke ring isn't all that possible with an electric. How true is that?
  4. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Foam has given some great info. No need to elaborate on first question.

    Now the question on the smoke ring....... many have posted about that on here. It has to do with a chemical raction you get with the meat and the actual burning of the wood/charcoal. Because you only smolder the wood in an electric smoker, it is very hard almost impossible to get a smoke ring. I have gotten a very slight one, but almost burned up the smoker doing so.

    On many shows and in many circles they make a big deal about the smoke ring. I know in the FBA run BBQ comps they are told not to count a smoke ring as part of their judging. It does not add to the flavors, but it does look good when it is there. Some say you can fake the ring, not sure how, but I am sure someone has figured it out.
  5. kyleqman

    kyleqman Newbie

    Jar jar,
    You would think that they would be looking at the all around look of the cut including the smoke ring. Flavor and texture is what really matters to me. The smoke ring is just a good way to know how well it was smoked (i think). So I think I like the traditional way but I'll probably continue to look around at electric ones to see what they're about first hand.
  6. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    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.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  7. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would think they would look at it all as well. But they said during class that some were faking the ring. Also some of the smokers allowed for comps don't produce a smoke ring, so they just want the field to be level. But you still judge on presentation, texture and taste.

    I use electric, propane, carcoal and a cheap offset (usually only small splits) and they all can do a great job. Some are easier that others for diffrent cooks. My favorite right now is my jumbo mini. Very easy to use, maintain and puts out a great product. .....
  8. 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
  9. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    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.
  10. You can fake the smoke ring with a combination of marinades and rubs.
  11. 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


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