Pellet vs. Charcoal Grills: Which one is best for you?

Pellet vs Charcoal Grills: Which Is Best For You?

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A recent debate has focused on the superiority of pellet grills vs charcoal grills. They operate quite differently from one another, thus it’s not always a straightforward difficult topic to answer.

Over the past few years, pellet grills have become more and more well-liked among grill masters. Of course, charcoal still has its devoted followers. Both grill models have their unique advantages and ideal application settings.

Some people like to cooking in your backyard, or maybe you want to improve your skills with a better grill. You might be unsure about the grill or smoker to buy in each of those situations. It can be daunting to consider all of the possibilities that are accessible today. 

As a result, we’ve compared a pellet grill vs charcoal grill in this post, including their differences and the ideal use cases, to help you decide which grill would be a better fit for your cooking needs.

Pellet Grills vs Charcoal Grills

Although they may both be used to smoke or grill meat, they function extremely differently, so it’s a challenging issue to answer. We’ll examine the differences between a charcoal grill and a pellet grill in great detail in this article.

We’ll compare and contrast them, consider the advantages and disadvantages, and, if you’re still undecided, we’ll help you choose which is ideal for you. We have a detailed discussion on each factor below.

Effect on Flavor

The food you are cooking has a more complex and refined taste than the wood flavor because pellet smokers are technically cooking with raw wood. Additionally, different types and varieties of wood pellets will impart varied flavors to your meats and other foods. 

You will always have the distinct flavor of cooking over charcoal using charcoal grills. Additionally, it’s simple to give your steak a good sear due to the higher temperatures you can achieve. Many claims that adding wood chunks or chips to charcoal can produce a more potent wood taste than a pellet barbecue.

Price Comparison

Compared to most charcoal barbecues, the best pellet grills are usually a more expensive purchase. Most other pellet barbecues cost more than $1,000, the top Traeger grill is close to $2000, and Camp Chef pellet grills range in price from $600 to over $1300. In this article, the 7 best top-rated grills under $200 are discussed.

pellet grills range

Of course, when using a pellet grill, wood pellets rather than charcoal are used to generate heat. The best smoking pellets cost more than others, much like charcoal. The auger that feeds pellets to the hopper is less likely to get jammed when using the more expensive ones.

In addition to pellets, you should think about the price of replacement parts that could break down after the grill’s warranty has expired.

Which One Is Best For Controlling Temperature?

With a digital pellet grill, adjusting the cooking temperature is simpler than ever, especially when doing low and slow smoking. As previously stated, all you need to do is set a dial to the preferred cooking temperature and relax. With a charcoal barbecue, all temperature adjustment is done manually, either by physically adding more charcoal or opening and closing air vents.

The grill will become hotter the more air you let pass through it. Therefore, managing the cooking temperatures on a charcoal barbecue requires some practice, particularly when trying to slow-smoke meat. When cooking with charcoal, setting up a two-zone configuration with a direct heat side and an indirect heat side will help, but it will still need to be manually managed.

Temperature Range

The maximum temperature that most pellet grills can reach is 500 °F, and even then, some of them struggle to reach that temperature. They are quite good at maintaining a constant lower temperature.

Grills made of charcoal can readily heat up considerably, much more. It is possible to obtain temperatures beyond 800 °F depending on the size of the grill you are using and the type of charcoal you are using (lump tends to burn hotter than briquettes). They can also be used for smoking and cooking at considerably lower temperatures.

Run Time

The majority of pellet grills are made to effortlessly cook for eight or more hours without the need to add additional wood pellets. Simply open the hopper cover and add more pellets if necessary if the pellet supply does start to run low during a cooking session.

With a charcoal grill, you may easily cook for more than 12 hours using just one load of charcoal during a low-temperature smoking session. However, if you grill hot and quickly, you can easily use up all of your charcoal in a matter of hours. Therefore, it’s crucial to always have enough charcoal on hand to last the duration of your cook, depending on the temperatures you use for cooking.

Easy to Clean

Charcoal may, without a doubt, become very dirty very quickly. Your hands, your clothing, and most assuredly the entire bottom of the grill can become contaminated with the carbon from the charcoal itself.

In contrast, there is hardly any mess when utilizing wood pellets. In reality, there won’t be much dust in the bag if you choose high-quality pellets. In this article, we have discussed the 5 best ash vacuums for pellet grills.

ash vacuums for pellet grill

To help extend the life of your pellet grill, you’ll need to perform routine cleaning every few cooking sessions. Every time you cook on a charcoal barbecue, the ashes must be cleaned out. Whatever kind of grill you use, it’s critical to maintain adequate cleanliness.

Best Things About Pellet Grills

  • It’s easy to use and more convenient for beginners
  • You can cook meat at your desired temperature
  • You can add any wood flavor, but not charcoal flavor

Best Things About Charcoal Grills

  • Wood flavor mixed with charcoal provides a unique flavor
  • It allows for direct cooking over flame
  • It’s a more convenient option for outdoor cooking

FAQs

What Are Pellet Grills?

Pellet Grills

In the simplest terms, a pellet barbecue grills food using produced wood pellets. The pellets are frequently created by compressing a variety of hardwoods into the required shape.

To maintain a predetermined temperature, pellet grills use an electric auger to drive the pellets from a hopper into the burn pot. The pellets are ignited by an electric spark, and a fan blows to provide the fire with the necessary oxygen.

What Are Charcoal Grills?

Charcoal Grills

No one knows when the original charcoal grill was invented because they have been around for so long. Someone among our ancestors must have discovered in a cave that cooking meat over a fire made of charred wood produced amazing results, a beautiful char, and a tone of Smokey taste.

With charcoal barbecues, not much has changed throughout the years. Every charcoal grill, in its most basic form, is essentially a firebox with a grate and a way to regulate airflow from the top and bottom.

Are Pellet Grills Better Than Charcoal Grills?

The fundamental distinction between pellet grill vs charcoal grill is that a pellet grill may provide several functions that a charcoal grill just cannot. The ease of temperature control is one of the most significant characteristics of pellet grills.

To determine how much charcoal you need to manually maintain the temperature of your grill, you’ll need to invest some time and a significant amount of charcoal. A pellet grill is unquestionably preferable for prolonged cooking operations when you need to cook slowly and gently.

As long as you don’t run out of pellets, you don’t have to fuss with adding fuel to the fire while using a pellet grill. With a charcoal grill, you will need to remove the grate and add charcoal for long operations like smoking or roasting at low temperatures.

Why Would Anyone Want a Charcoal Grill?

It would be tough to comprehend why anyone would pick charcoal over pellets after seeing how convenient a pellet grill is. The issue about charcoal is that it has a distinct flavor and texture that other types of cookers find challenging to match. With charcoal grills, you may effortlessly cook with various types of wood.

Charcoal makes it easy to add a small bit of a highly flavorful wood, such as mesquite, right towards the conclusion of your grilling. Since you have to add wood to the hopper and wait for the auger to draw fuel into the fire, doing the same thing with pellets is inconsistent and challenging.

Why Are Pellet Grills Become So Popular?

The simplicity of temperature control and the usefulness of a fuel hopper has already been mentioned as some of the reasons why pellet grills are so popular in modern society, but there are a few more. While some of the justifications for choosing pellets over charcoal are legitimate, others are more myth than reality.

What Are the Downsides of Pellet Grills?

When deciding whether to use a pellet barbecue or a charcoal grill, there are a few variables to take into account. We’ve already talked about what makes a pellet grill desirable, but there are several more factors you should consider before jumping on the pellet train.

The major disadvantage of using a wood pellet grill for outdoor cooking is the requirement for an electrical source. Some folks won’t be affected by this. They have a great location for a barbeque and many outdoor electrical outlets. Upgrading to a wood pellet grill may require you hiring an electrician!