Can I Use A Smoker Instead Of A BBQ?

Can I Use A Smoker Instead Of A BBQ?

Because of how popular these appliances have become over the past decade or so, many people wonder if you can use a smoker as a BBQ.

It’s a valid question and can often sway people when they decide to purchase one of these magical features.

But it can be hard to find the answers you need. No matter how hard you search, you just can’t find out if you can use a smoker instead of a BBQ and achieve the same results.

Well, no more! There are many differences between the two and we’re here to cover all bases. So read on more to find out if you can use a smoker instead of a BBQ.

Is It Possible?

The general answer is yes, you can use a smoker instead of a BBQ, depending on what the food is you’re looking to cook.

The differences in cooking times, flavors, and even heat can drastically influence your decision on whether you’d be able to use a smoker as a BBQ.

If you’re cooking a large piece of meat like a steak, then you’d more than easily be able to use a smoker.

However, the process would take longer than using a grill and the flavor of the food would taste smokier! There are a lot of different factors that you have to consider when grilling or smoking your food.

Functions Of The Two

First of all, it’s important to note that these two appliances work very differently, although they both end with the same outcome – your food being cooked. Smokers have a more ‘traditional’ or ‘natural’ way of cooking food, so to speak.

As the name suggests, they use real smoke to cook your food, which can alter a few different aspects of your food. To put it simply, smokers do exactly what they say on the outside of the box.

You’d be surprised at how many different forms of smokers you can get. Some are centered around charcoal or wood, which people might regard as more natural and classic.

On top of these, however, there are also gas and electric versions of these appliances that are widely regarded as much easier to use and require much less adjustment.

Because you can use dials and switches to alter the quantity of smoke, these forms are great for beginners.

Unlike BBQs, smokers use indirect heat and use the clever combination of a water basin and a wood chip basin underneath the smoker chamber, or at the bottom of this area.

The water is used to ensure that the internal temperatures inside of the smoke don’t get out of control and stay stable. On the other hand, the wood chip basin is used to give food that smokey flavor that we all love on our food.

The wood chip basin also produces the smoke that is so key to achieving the smoky tones that appear in some of our food.

Alternatively, grills offer more of a flexible experience when cooking your food and will give you the choice of preparing your food in different ways. There are three typical types of grills coming in electric, charcoal, and gas forms.

However, gas and charcoal grills are usually more popular because of the difference in taste they offer compared to electric grills. A lot of people will prefer grills over smokers because of the versatility the appliance possesses.

When it comes to grilling your food, you can either use direct or indirect heat by placing your food either on top of an open flame or by placing your food next to a burning flame.

Cooking your food using indirect heat slows down the cooking process and allows you to prepare larger cuts of meat without burning the outside.

Steak lovers will know how difficult it can be to cook their meat evenly!

However, that’s not all! In recent years many people have turned their attention toward another type of grilling method, called infrared. With this variation of grilling, the entire process relies on an infrared heat source using infrared technology.

People find these forms of grills so popular because they can hit much higher temperatures when cooking and can produce these levels of heat a lot quicker than more traditional grills.

For example, infrared technology allows grills to hit around 700 degrees Fahrenheit in roughly 7 minutes! This means that your food will be ready quicker and on your plate in no time!

Temperatures For Cooking

Temperatures For Cooking

As previously mentioned, there are many differences between smokers and grills. However, one of the biggest differences between the two forms of cooking appliances is the temperatures used to cook food.

Generally speaking, grills will cook at a very hot temperature and will have an internal temperature of around 400 degrees Fahrenheit when in full flow.

On the other hand, smokers will use a much lower internal temperature of anywhere between 150 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

On top of this, smokers designed specifically for meat cooking will take longer to cook food, but this is part of the fun!

Timings With Cooking

A lot of people generally consider grills easier to use because of their simplicity and their ability to produce food quicker than smokers.

Cooking your food directly above a flame will cook your food quicker but will have a larger chance of burning your food.

However, cooking your food with a smoker will leave less chance of your food getting burnt, but can take considerably longer depending on the food.

When looking at the potential use for your grill or smoker, you have to consider how many people you’d be cooking for.

If it’s more of a personal appliance, then smokers may be the right way for you, however, cooking for larger groups of people might be better suited to having a grill available.

Grills will cook larger quantities of food due to the speed of the grill and will be able to keep larger groups of people happy!


When discussing the flavor of a smoker, the general taste is always a lot smokier than when using a grill, however, grills can offer more juices and moisture for foods like steak and other forms of beef.

Many ham lovers will opt for a smoker when cooking something like ribs or bacon, which can also have an impact on which appliance you’d rather.

Luckily, a lot of meats can be cooked in smokers and grills, it just depends on which flavor and timing you’d rather!

Final Thoughts

So the final answer is yes, you can use a smoker instead of a BBQ, however, with the differences in flavors, heat, and time to cook food, many people will base their choice around these key elements.

With regards to which appliance is better, it all comes down to personal preference.

If you prefer juicier, quicker food then grilling is your area. But if you prefer smokier, slowly cooked produce then you’re more of a smoker kind of person. It’s all down to you!

Annie Plummer
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