How many types of Smoker Fuels are there?

There are essentially only 4 types of fuel sources used to heat today's smokers. These are charcoal, propane, electric and wood pellets.

I've heard of people using corn-cobs as fuel, but I've never tried it and I'm not sure I would want to. For any smokers out there using other types of fuel, all I can say is "Yuck" and "good luck".


Charcoal barbecue smokers are probably the most popular and most widely available. More styles of smokers make use of charcoal over any other heat source. Charcoal and wood smokers require the most attention to ensure the temperature and air flow stays optimal. Wood can always be used in place of charcoal in any of the charcoal smokers, but it can be really difficult to keep a steady heating temperature.


Propane smokers are mostly limited to the cabinet style of smoker. They are relatively cheap as well as cheaply built, but produce some pretty decent smoked food. Propane smokers are usually pretty simple to use and don't require much attention while smoking.


Electric smokers are also mostly found in a cabinet style, but there are some bullet-style vertical smokers available that also use electricity. Electric smokers, like propane smokers, do not require much attention because the heating temperature is controlled.

While meat cooked in an electric smoker is good, most experienced smokers don't believe it as good as food prepared in a smoker using combustion.

Wood Pellet

Pellet smokers are the latest generation of smokers and burn pure hardwood sawdust that has been compressed into pellets. These smokers usually have an auger or some other type of feed mechanism that feeds the pellets into a burner or fire pot at a rate sufficient to keep a steady temperature. Pellet smokers are another "set it and forget it" type of smoker, similar to propane and electric smokers, but the benefit here, is that they are actually using wood as the heat source.


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