Many people use the terms “pellet grill” and “pellet smoker” interchangeably, assuming they are the same thing.
While both of them use wood pellets as a fuel source, a pellet grill is designed primarily for grilling, while a pellet smoker is designed for smoking.
Pellet grills are lately equipped with a direct flame cooking system that allows high-temperature grilling with precise temperature control.
On the other hand, a pellet smoker is designed with an indirect heat cooking system, where the food is cooked low and slow at a consistent temperature, producing a smoky flavor.
The temperature control system on a pellet smoker is designed for a more extended period of smoking, typically between 4 and 24 hours.
Why Get A Pellet Smoker?
Unlike traditional smokers, pellet smokers use electricity to heat up wood pellets, providing a consistent and even smoking experience without requiring constant attention.
This means you can set and forget your pellet smoker, letting it do the job on its own while you go about your day.
Additionally, pellet smokers offer a wide range of temperature settings, giving you the ability to cook different types of meat at varying degrees and achieve desired results.
Plus, the pellets come in different wood varieties, allowing you to experiment with unique flavors and aromas.
Another advantage of pellet smokers is their efficiency – they burn cleanly and produce very little ash, making clean-up a breeze. Overall, a pellet smoker is a great investment for any meat enthusiast who values convenience, precision, and flavor.
A disadvantage of a pellet smoker is that there sometimes is a limited smoke flavor. The other one is that you are always depending on the electricity net or another power source such as a generator.
Why Get A Pellet Grill
Unlike traditional grilling equipment, these grills are more versatile and allow for a wider range of cooking options.
The unique design of pellet grills allows them to use compressed wood pellets as a fuel source instead of charcoal or gas.
This not only adds flavor to your food but also gives you complete control over the temperature, ensuring that your meal is cooked to perfection.
Pellet grills offer more precise temperature control than traditional grills, and that means you can cook a variety of dishes in it with ease.
Whether you want to grill meat, smoke fish, roast vegetables, or bake pizza, a pellet grill can do it all with great accuracy.
With so many cooking options, it is easy to see why pellet grills have become so popular among enthusiasts and are an excellent investment for anyone who loves to cook outdoors.
I have seen people take a portable pellet grill with them on a camping trip.
The disadvantage of a pellet grill is in most cases that they do not get as hot as a regular grill and even with the open flame models the grill surface has a limited size.
What Should You Choose? – Pellet Grill Or Pellet Smoker
Pellet Grill Or Pellet Smoker? When it comes to outdoor cooking, deciding between using a pellet grill or a pellet smoker is largely a matter of personal preference.
Both options offer unique advantages depending on what your needs are. Pellet smokers are designed solely for smoking and are ideal for those who want to give their meats that smoky flavor.
With a pellet smoker, the meat is cooked low and slow, allowing the smoke to infuse the meat giving it that distinct smoky flavor that many of us love.
On the other hand, pellet grills are versatile cooking appliances that can also smoke food. They are designed for grilling as well, making them a great option for those who enjoy a good barbecue.
Pellet grills offer more flexibility than pellet smokers, meaning they can cook a wider variety of foods, at higher temperatures. This makes them perfect for grilling burgers, hot dogs, and steaks.
Ultimately, the decision on whether to choose a pellet smoker or a pellet grill comes down to your personal preference, and what you plan to do with it.
Consider your cooking style, what kind of food you plan to cook, and what features are most important to you.
I would describe it as followed:
If all you do is smoke meat on low and slow go for a quality pellet smoker.
If you like to grill and smoke and only want to buy one product? Buy a pellet grill with an open flame option.
In this way you can have the best of two worlds and not spent money on a separate grill.
Pros Of Pellet Grills And Smokers
The main pros of both of them are the control over the temperature setting. In combination with how a pellet grill works, the auger moves the pellets to the fire pot to ignite them you have a convenient grill that in most cases does not need any adjustments.
There is not really a need to monitor the cook and some even have a warning system for when your hopper is almost empty.
Pellet Grills In The Past
Rember for grilling you need at least 350 degrees Fahrenheit and even better is an option to cook with direct heat. With a pellet grill, you were basically cooking over indirect heat and you could probably compare it more to cooking in an oven.
Searing and or making grill marks was basically not an option on the older model pellet grills.
Hence, the name pellet grill should actually not be used since it is more or less only usable for smoking.
The Future Of Pellet Grills
First I have to mention that I am not a fortune teller and am not able to look into the future, so this is just my opinion on how I see the future of pellet grills and pellet smokers.
Pellet grills are becoming more and more versatile and usable cooking/grilling machines. Kind of a grill and a smoker in one.
With most models nowadays coming out with searing and open flame options it will become easier to smoke and grill on one product.
However, just as with any product they will have to make compromises to be able to use them both for smoking and grilling.
Smoking on a pellet grill is the easiest to accomplish since that is the basics of how pellet grills were used.
To make them more suitable for grilling they must be able to reach higher temperatures of a minimum of 500 degrees for searing.
For the die-hard smoker a pellet smoker, without all the bells and whistles, will be a great option to smoke meat. Especially when they have the option to switch to “heavy smoke” as some of the newer models already have.
For some more affordable brands, I see the smoke stack slowly will disappear and making place for the “downdraft” system as you can read more about in my Traeger Timberline review. This will ensure more smoke flavor and will eliminate the use of a pellet smoker tube.
Will Pellet Grills Replace All Other Smokers And Grills?
The die-hard off-set smoker user loves the taste of the seasoned wood in their meat and I don’t believe that any pellet will ever be able to replace that.
It is also the playing with wood and fire aspect that some people, including me, could not give up on.
The die-hard grill master will also not give up on playing with a good bed of coals under a grill grate and moving his meats around from hot to cooler spots.
Competition For Pellet Grills- Are There Any?
Several of my friends claim that what you can do on a pellet grill can also be done on a Kamado Type grill.
You can go from smoking to extreme heat grilling in a matter of minutes. My own daughter even got rid of her pellet grill and cooks strictly on her 18″ Kamado grill.
Also, a regular grill can run on wood and does not have the need for electricity.
Related Read: https://bettergrills.com/pellet-grill-vs-kamado-grill/
Pellet Grill Versus Pellet Smoker – My Opinion
I have used both pellet smokers and pellet grills with some great and some not-so-great results.
In the past, there was a big difference between one and the other, and to be honest there were not a lot of pellet smokers that could also grill.
For the simple reason that they did not get hot enough.
There were also not many pellet grills that could really deliver that high temperature needed for grilling.
With all the newer models and open flame becoming more standard I think they are only gaining in popularity.
I believe there will be more and more people who will buy a pellet grill or smoker and be totally happy with it as a stand-alone cooking equipment or an add-on to what they have already.
Eddie van Aken
Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he can find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews and the outdoor cooking tips he is writing about. You can read more on the About page for Eddie van Aken