Pellet grills are essentially smokers, although modern models are versatile, allowing you to smoke and grill foods. Some models even have open flame access, taking the smoker’s traditional concept to another level.
However, what makes pellet grills stand out is their convenience. The digital controls allow you to set the temperature and let the pellet grill do all the work. Also, wood pellets are affordable and easy to use.
It’s essential for those who might be considering getting a new grill or smoker to understand the main differences between all types of grills and smokers in the market.
Pellet Grill vs. Charcoal Grill
A charcoal grill offers the classic grilling experience. In addition to enjoying great food, many people see grilling as a relaxing and fun activity to enjoy in their free time. They take pleasure in a hands-on approach to grilling and barbecuing. Since a pellet grill practically does all the work for you, it might not be the best option for these people.
Pellet grills are great for people that run large cookouts or events. You can cook vast quantities of food and get excellent results. Pellet grills have fewer flare-ups and are very consistent and reliable. In that sense, you can compare them to home ovens. You can simply fill them with food, set the temperature, and wait until it’s ready.
A pellet grill is a smoker, and it’s excellent at giving food a smoky wood flavor. Grilling with charcoal gives you an intense flavor that is hard to replicate with other types of grills or smokers.
In general, a pellet grill is much more convenient than a charcoal grill. However, there can be a downside to pellet grills in terms of where you can use them. Because they have digital controls and a small electric engine that handles the wood pellets, you need to plug them in. People who love camping or taking their grill on the road are better off with a small portable charcoal grill.
Pellet grills are a versatile and modern upgrade from traditional grills. For example, many models offer Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity so that you can control the temperature from your phone. Partly because of the technology, pellet grills tend to be more expensive than charcoal grills.
Pellet Grill vs. Gas Grill
A gas grill is a bit more convenient than a charcoal grill, but it still can’t beat a pellet grill in convenience and ease of use. Most modern gas grills run on propane or natural gas.
If you have a natural gas line in your house, a gas grill might be a good idea since natural gas is affordable, clean, and safe. You won’t have to handle and connect propane tanks to your grill, and you have an endless supply of gas.
The main difference in flavor is that pellet grills are technically smokers, and gas grills aren’t. Gas grills reach much higher temperatures and provide a more classic grilling taste. Pellet grills are great for smoking meats and experimenting with different wood pellet flavors.
However, there’s a way to smoke food on a gas grill. You can use a small smoker box with wood chips inside your grill. This allows you to turn your grill into a smoker easily.
A gas grill is more convenient than a charcoal grill, but it’s still no match for a pellet grill. They are similar in that you can start both kinds of grills very quickly with an ignition button, and the temperature is easy to control compared to a charcoal grill. Gas grills are more portable than pellet grills and offer added benefits for people who like to camp or take their grill on the road.
What’s excellent about gas grills is that there’s a wide variety of products in different price ranges. You are sure to find a quality gas grill for your specific budget. Also, both propane and natural gas are affordable energy sources. A single 20 lbs. tank of propane can last for a whole summer if you grill primarily on weekends.
Pellet Grill vs. Offset Smoker
An offset smoker is a traditional type of smoker. It works with a firebox that’s attached to a cooking chamber. People usually burn a combination of charcoal and wood in the firebox, depending on their preference. The smoke disperses around the cooking chamber and slowly cooks the food.
Because of charcoal and wood combustion, offset smokers provide a more intense smoky flavor than pellet grills.
Much like charcoal grills, you’ll have to monitor an offset smoker’s firebox and use vents to adjust the temperature. A pellet grill is an excellent way for beginners to start smoking foods, while an offset smoker provides more of a challenge.
Offset smokers are generally more affordable than pellet grills. However, offset smokers’ running costs are slightly higher than those of pellet grills. An advantage of offset smokers is that they can last for many years when they’re well taken care of.
Pellet Grill vs. Electric Smoker
Both electric smokers and pellet grills are leaders in convenience and ease of use. Electric smokers run only on electricity, and they usually have a rectangular or square shape that doesn’t occupy much space.
Pellet grills offer a more intense flavor compared to electric smokers. Electric smokers work with an electric heating element that heats the cooking chamber by convection. There’s usually a tray of wood chips on top of the heating element to add some flavor. However, the overall taste is mild compared to food on a pellet grill.
Electric smokers are the ultimate piece of equipment for convenience. They simply run on electricity, so you just have to plug them in, turn them on, set the temperature, and wait. Using wood pellets isn’t complicated either, so both types of grills are relatively evenly matched for ease of use.
Electric smokers are cheaper than pellet grills. You can buy a good quality electric smoker for a lower amount than where pricing for a decent pellet grills starts. High-quality pellet grill models require a healthy budget.
Choosing the Right Kind of Grill or Smoker for You
A pellet grill is an excellent choice for a beginner because of its versatility and ease of use. The only problem is the high initial cost, especially compared to the more affordable offers on charcoal and gas grills.
But if you are willing to stretch your budget, pellet grills are an excellent investment to gain experience and try out new techniques. You can experiment with both grilling and smoking, and thanks to the digital controls, it’s challenging to overcook food.