The Basics of Smoking Meat
Smoking meat involves using indirect heat for long periods of time. Your meat will have a delectable texture and flavor from the smoke. As your meat slowly cooks, a comforting, tangy and smoky flavor is created. The absorption of smoke provides your meat with a spicy, chewy and dark texture on the outside. Knowing the difference between gas vs electric smoker will help you reach the exact results that you want.
One of the most delicious parts of smoked meat is your bark. The difference between hot and cold smoking is the temperature you use for smoking your meat. You will use a lower temperature for cold smoking. Your meat will dry out, be perfectly preserved and full of rich smoky goodness. Your meat must be placed away from the flame so it can be reached by the smoke.
Hot smoking is often referred to as barbequing. Your temperature is usually between 225 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. As your meat cooks, it absorbs the rich flavors of the smoke. There are also different techniques you can use for smoking your meat.
Braising is an excellent technique for tougher cuts of meat. You brown your meat in oil or fat, then simmer it in your chosen liquid over low heat for a long time. Your meat will be juicier, softer and much more tender with exceptional flavor.
Pro Tip: Smoke your meat in your favorite wine for a unique and rich flavor.
The 3-2-1 technique is when you cook your meat bone side down for three hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. You then wrap your meat with aluminum foil until you have an airtight seal. Place your meat back into your smoker for two hours. You finish by unwrapping your meat and smoking it with the bone side down for the final hour.
The minion method is when you put a small amount of hot coals over the top of unlit briquettes. Your charcoal chamber needs to be filled with your briquettes. You can control your airflow through your bottom vents. This ensures your heat is low and steady for tender and juicy meat.
To use the snake method, place unlit charcoal briquettes around the circumference of your grill. Light one end of your snake with a few lit briquettes. The idea is to smoke your meat for a long time using a consistently low temperature. Your unlit briquettes will gradually light.
Gas vs Electric Smoker
Every type of smoker uses heat to smoke your meat at a lower temperature. The temperature of your gas smoke is generally 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. As your wood smokes and smolders, your meat is infused with incredible flavor. The difference between smokers is the heat source. Your gas smoker fuels the fire with natural gas or propane. There is a place above your flames for pellets or wood chips.
The way you control your temperature is similar to using your gas grill. You adjust your gas flow using a knob to increase or decrease your temperature. If you have a propane smoker, you use an external propane tank. If your smoker is powered by natural gas, you will need to have your smoker hooked-up to your gas supply by a professional.
Your electric smoker requires electricity for heating a coil or element beneath your wood chips. The combination of heat and smoldering wood flavors and cooks your meat on the higher racks. Electric smokers are exceptionally easy to use and sit vertically. Your temperature is maintained by the built-in thermostat. Some models need to be set to low medium or high. You will need to monitor these models to keep a steady temperature.
The Differences Between: Gas VS Electric Smoker
If you are interested in reliability, your best option is a gas smoker. A gas smoker has a box with a burner attached to your regulator. The mechanical setup is simple with very little that can break. The only real issue is if you live in a climate with a lot of rain or snow. Constant exposure can result in the floor of your gas smoker rusting out.
A good electric smoker is equipped with an electronic control panel. Your connections extend from your panel to your heating element and connect your panel to the thermometer. This means you are maintaining an electric system in a hot, greasy and moist environment. If any of your connections fail, your electric smoker will not work.
A gas smoker is harder to use than an electric model. You have to punch in your desired temperature into an electric smoker twenty minutes before you can make any of your electric smoker recipes. You will not be able to leave your electric smoker unattended for a few hours like you would your gas smoker. You must be there to keep an eye on your electric smoker.
Pro Tip: There are now gas smokers available with a thermostat control. Make certain you do your research because certain models are known for shutting off your gas.
To analyze gas vs electric smoker, you have to consider the weather conditions in your area including how often it rains. Your electric smoker should never be used when it is raining. Not only is mixing electricity and water an extremely bad idea, but your control panel will also be exposed to all of the water. Unless your control panel has an excellent seal, your electronics will get wet. The result is the death of your smoker before its time.
Your gas smoker is safe to use if it is raining, but you may be facing performance issues. Your insulation may not be good enough to prevent your heat from being sucked out by the rain. If you lose power, you can still use your gas smoker.
Electric smoker recipes will not provide you with as ideal of a flavor profile as the charcoal and wood used by your gas smoker. Your gas smoker will also enable you to achieve a nearly perfect smoke ring for a much tastier bark.
Electric Smoker Pros:
- If you purchase a high-quality electric smoker, the temperature control is extremely easy to use. You can adjust your temperature just by turning the dial. If you purchase a cheaper model, you still have the options for low, medium and high.
- If you want to have a smoker and live in an apartment, most buildings will not allow gas smokers. You can generally use an electric model.
- You can set your smoker for your desired temperature, then simply walk away. An electric smoker offers convenience.
- If you are a beginner, an electric smoker is an excellent option due to the ease of use.
- An electric smoker is safer than a gas model because there are no combustible materials or gases.
- You can easily convert your electric smoker into a cold smoker. You can set your temperature low enough to easily dehydrate food. Electric smoker recipes cook delicate foods such as fish beautifully.
Electric Smoker Cons:
- An electric smoker requires a conveniently placed power outlet. Unless you own a generator, you will not be able to take your electric smoker on a camping trip.
- Your electric smoker will not produce as high of a temperature as a gas model.
- If your electric smoker needs repairs, the process is more complicated and expensive due to the technical nature of this type of smoker.
- Creating a good smoke ring is much more difficult with an electric smoker. Although you can smoke wood to flavor your meat, your wood will not become hot enough to form a smoke ring. This is because you will not generate enough heat to release the necessary chemicals.
Propane Smoker Pros:
- You can use your gas smoker when you lose power.
- The results from your gas smoker are much closer to a traditional charcoal smoker than the best electric smoker you can buy.
- You can place your gas smoker outside of your home in any location without being concerned about a power outlet nearby.
- You can purchase a good quality gas smoker less expensively than an electric model.
- A gas smoker does not have many parts. If you need to have your smoker repaired, it should be simple and inexpensive to fix.
Propane Smoker Cons:
- The typical gas smoker does not have a lot of insulation. When it is cold or windy, your cooking time will be significantly affected.
- If you purchase a cheaper model, you will need to watch your temperature carefully.
- Certain apartment complexes do not allow gas smokers.
- Your gas smoker will most likely run hot.
- A gas smoker is low tech. This means the gadgets offered with electric smokers such as Bluetooth connectivity are not available.
The Final Verdict
When you examine gas vs electric smoker, you must factor in your individual preferences. Depending on your weather conditions, the importance of reliability, if you do not want to consistently watch your smoker and the level of heat you desire, either a gas or electric smoker may be ideal for your needs. You can base your decision using all of the information contained above.