Charcoal smokers are widely available in the market and they’ve been used for years to smoke meat such as salmon, beef cuts and turkey. A regular charcoal grill cannot get in the smoky flavour as good as a grill that’s essentially a furnace that uses smoke alone to cook the meat. Recently, electric smokers have become very popular in the barbecue business for both professional and home use but not without sparking the debate of which is better – electric or charcoal?
A layman might argue that a charcoal smoker is obviously the better choice since charcoal smoke is what will get the job done the best; however, such an argument only comes from one who doesn’t fully understand how a smoker functions. A charcoal smoker burns charcoal as a fuel rather than the smoke ingredient itself; the burning charcoal ignites the wood chips which are what smoke the meat in the end. Granted, that a charcoal smoker will probably give the meat an extra kick of smokiness from the charcoal itself but also has a few weaknesses that an electric smoker doesn’t have; it’s harder to monitor the temperature inside the charcoal smoker, while the best electric smokers have gauges and dials that you can use to monitor and control the cooking temperatures towards a better result.
Electric smokers use an electric coil which is heated up to ignite the same wood chips that a charcoal smoker would use but since there’s a greater degree of control that you have over how your meat is cooked, it makes a lot of sense to use an electric smoker, especially for commercial use. But then again, if you’re a purist and you don’t want to make anything easier by using a short cut, you can stick with a traditional charcoal smoker too.