Is a pellet grill and a pellet smoker the same? Well, this is a question that haunts several newbie grillers every time they set out to purchase a grill! However, is there really a difference between the two or are they used interchangeably for the same grill type?
Well, to be brief, a pellet grill and a pellet smoker are not identical. So, what are the differences and unique features? Well, that’s what we are going to cover in this article. Want to know more about: Pellet Grill VS Pellet Smoker, keep reading!
What is a Pellet Grill?
A pellet grill is a type of grill that burns wood pellets, which are small pieces of compressed sawdust. It heats up quickly and requires less maintenance than a traditional charcoal or gas grill, but it’s still able to bring you the smoky flavour of your favourite barbecue dishes, without the hassle.
A pellet grill uses an auger to feed wood pellets into the firebox, where they’re ignited by a flame. As they burn, they provide heat to cook your food via convection. That means that instead of being heated directly by the fire, your food will be heated by hot air circulating around it from all directions. This method also allows you to maintain specific temperatures when cooking different types of food.
Because each pellet is a little larger than a grain of rice, you can fit hundreds of them into one hopper which means you won’t have to refill often!
Some Features of a Good Pellet Grill
Pellet grills are a great option for those who want to cook with a lot of flavour and precision. The best pellet grills are easy to use, versatile and offer many features that make them stand out from other types of grills.
1. The ability to control the temperature
The ability to control the temperature is one of the most important features of a pellet grill. This allows you to cook at different temperatures so you can prepare your food perfectly every time. Most pellet grills offer a digital display that allows you to adjust the temperature according to your needs. This means that you don’t have to worry about under or over cooking your food when using it.
2. An automatic feeding system
An automatic feeding system is another important feature of any pellet grill because it allows you to cook various dishes at once without having to constantly refill them with pellets. This means that you won’t have to spend time refilling with wood pellets as often which will give you more time for doing other things around for your guests.
3. A built-in thermometer
A built-in thermometer is also an important feature because it allows users to monitor the temperature quite efficiently and then decide their grilling time!
Pros and Cons of a Pellet Grill
- Pellet grills are quite effective in grilling, roasting and barbecuing.
- Some pellet grills even have searing facilities.
- Modern pellet grills now come with automatic temperature and heat control and even in built Wi-Fi systems.
- Pellet grills cannot be used for smoking food.
- Also, pellet grills require electricity, and some are even more expensive than conventional grills!
What is a Pellet Smoker?
A pellet smoker is a type of grill that uses wood pellets as fuel to cook and smoke food. It’s a great choice for anyone who wants to control the flavour of their food.
Pellet smokers are very versatile, so you can choose one that’s right for your needs. Some are perfect for everyday grilling, while others are designed to be used when you have more time to prepare your meal. They come in many different sizes and styles, so you can find one that fits perfectly on your deck or in your yard!
A pellet smoker uses a small auger that rotates and pushes pellets through a tube into the fire box. These pellets contain a fuel source such as sawdust or corn cobs, which burn when lit by the heat from the firebox.
The smoke produced by these pellets is then channelled through a series of tubes, or “smokestacks,” into an insulated smoking chamber where it mixes with air before exiting through an exhaust pipe. This process creates an even distribution of heat and smoke from one end of the smoker to another, ensuring that everything is cooked evenly.
Some Features of a Good Pellet Smoker
When you’re looking for a pellet smoker, there are a few things to consider. Here’s what I think are the most important features:
1. Quality of construction
The best pellet smokers are made of high-quality materials that can withstand long-term use and abuse. Look for sturdy materials like stainless steel and some cast iron when choosing a smoker, and make sure it comes with a warranty, so you know it’ll last.
2. Ease of use
Pellet smokers should be easy to use, even if they’re complicated machines. If you’re looking for something that’s going to take up some space on your deck but still be easy to operate, you can read my article on the best recommended grills and smokers!
3. Temperature control
If a smoker doesn’t have good temperature control, it won’t do much good on its own, even if it’s well-built and has other great features! Make sure your new smoker has an adjustable thermostat so you can get the heat exactly where you want it, every time.
Pros and Cons of a Pellet Smoker
- Pellet smokers are quite effective in smoking, roasting and even baking.
- They are exceptional in temperature as well as time control.
- Modern pellet smokers now even come with grilling features too.
- Pellet smokers cannot be used for searing food.
- Also, pellet smokers require electricity, and some are even more expensive than traditional smokers!
Pellet Grill Vs Pellet Smoker
Now that we know that pellet grills and pellet smokers are not identical, let’s compare them head to head regarding their cooking methodologies!
1. Heat Source
A pellet grill uses a small auger to move pellets from the hopper to the burn pot where they are ignited by an electric igniter. Pellets are made from compressed sawdust, so they burn cleanly, with minimal ash and no smoky flavour.
A pellet smoker uses a digital controller to regulate temperature by feeding the pellets into the fire pot at a precise rate. The controller allows you to set a temperature range in 5 or 10 degree increments, so you can more easily control your cooking temperature.
2. Cooking Chamber
Both have similar cooking chambers: they’re essentially metal boxes with a firebox on one end and an attached lid on top.
The main difference is that pellet grills have an open grate design (with adjustable bars), while pellet smokers have an enclosed wood cabinet design that gives you more control over temperature and smoke distribution within the chamber.
3. Temperature Range
One of the biggest differences between a pellet grill and a pellet smoker is their temperature range. Pellet grills tend to be much more limited in their temperature ranges, which makes them better suited for sear-roasting and other high-temperature cooking methods.
Pellet smokers have much wider temperature ranges, which makes them better suited for low-temperature smoking methods like cold smoking or hot smoking.
4. Cooking Capacity
Another difference between pellet grills and pellet smokers is their cooking capacity. Pellet grills tend to be smaller than pellet smokers, which makes them easier to fit on a small apartment or condominium balcony.
1. Can we use a Pellet Grill as a Smoker?
Yes, you can use a pellet grill as a smoker.
A pellet grill is essentially an electric smoker, but without the smoke circulating fan, so it’s possible to use it for smoking foods. The process is quite similar to smoking foods in a smoker. You will need to add wood chips or chunks of woods on the fire, but make sure they’re dry before you start smoking. You can also add wood chips while you’re cooking if you want more smoke flavour. Unfortunately, the smoky flavour won’t be as pronounced as using a real smoker.
2. Which is better: A Pellet Grill or A Pellet Smoker?
I get this question sometimes, so I thought it would be a good idea to break down the differences between the two.
The design of a pellet grill allows it to be used as a smoker. It has an enclosed cooking area and uses wood pellets to create heat. While those wood pellets are burning, they also create a certain amount of smoke which is giving your meat a smoky flavour. The temperature is controlled by the user, who regulates the amount of pellets that are burned, but the grill does not have a fan to blow the hot air and smoke evenly inside the cooking chamber. So, the flavour might be uneven.
A pellet smoker, on the other hand, is used primarily for smoking meats and fish. A built-in thermometer and a thermostat ensures that the temperature remains constant throughout cooking by controlling the amount of wood pellets added in the burning pot, allowing you to achieve that smoky flavour you’re after.
So, which one should you choose? Well, that depends on the type of food you wish to prepare! If you’re looking for something that can give you the best smoked meat, then go with a smoker.
But if you want something that can handle all types of cooking situations, from grilling steaks on their own or slow-cooking ribs in a flavourful marinade, then go with a grill!
If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs and troubleshooting about camping and enjoying the outdoors, here are some additional posts to check out:
A pellet grill and a smoker may sound like synonyms but in the grilling world these two cooking appliances are quite distinct. Each of them will be equally good at what they do but they are designed to excel in their individual way.
So, now that you know all distinctive features, pros, and cons of each device, I hope that this article will help you in choosing the one that perfectly suits your needs!