Which Is Better Between Pellet Grill and Charcoal Grill?
When you’re considering buying a new grill or rotisserie, there are a lot of things to consider. You may seek advice from friends and neighbors, but what works for one family may not work for you.
When in doubt, it’s best to get an unbiased opinion and review the pros and cons of the different options so you can decide which option best suits your needs. This is where we come in.
What Is a Wood Pellet Grill?
A pellet grill (or pellet smoker) is an outdoor cooker that runs on hardwood pellets. Pellets are made from ultra-fine food-safe fine hardwood chips and fibers that are compacted into pellet shape.
Pellet grills work by burning these pellets as fuel, which burn slowly and emit woody smoke that flavors the food inside.
You can get different varieties of wood pellets such as oak, hickory, maple and fruit trees according to your personal taste. These produced fumes have a slightly different smell and taste, a pleasant taste and smell.
Unlike gas grills, you don’t necessarily have to turn a button to control the grill’s temperature. In this way, they are similar to charcoal grills in that their cooking temperature depends on the amount of fuel you use.
However, most pellet grills have the option to use air conditioning to maintain a consistent preselected temperature, which greatly reduces the amount of time the grill master has to spend dealing with it.
Wood pellet grills are generally considered cleaner than other types of grills because the wood is sustainable. But the main reason why wood pellet grill lovers are so obsessed with them is the amount of that signature smoky flavor they offer and how easy they are to use.
How Does a Pellet Grill Work?
The first thing you should know about pellet grills is that they work differently than traditional charcoal grills.
Pellet grills do not have a charcoal-burning chimney, but instead rely on a hopper system to feed pellets into the bottom of the grill. As the particles fall through the grate, they start to burn and produce smoke.
If you’ve ever cooked with charcoal, you’ll notice that there is no real “flame” in the process. That’s because a flame is created when hot air hits the surface of the charcoal.
In contrast, pellet grills don’t generate much heat, but they hold heat better than charcoal grills and are more fuel efficient to use.
The second thing you should know about these grills is that they run on electricity. So you need a wall socket to run the device. Some models come with a built-in power supply, while others require you to connect an extension cord.
What Is a Charcoal Grill?
Charcoal grills, also known as open flame grills, are fueled by burning lumpy charcoal briquettes. They are usually used outdoors and are very popular on camping trips and tailgating parties.
Unlike pellet grills, you can’t easily adjust the heat on a charcoal grill. This means you need to add more charcoal, take some away, or adjust the coal configuration if you want to change the temperature.
Once the desired temperature is reached, you have to wait for the coal to cool before adding more charcoal to maintain the same temperature. This is a constant balancing act that the holder must perform.
If you want to use a charcoal grill to cook outdoors, make sure to bring a lot of charcoal, as it burns fairly quickly compared to the amount of gas used by compacted wood pellets or a gas grill.
It’s also important to note that if you plan to use a charcoal grill to prepare food for large groups, you may need more than one grill, as they are not always space efficient.
Charcoal vs Pellet Grill – Key Differences
One of the biggest differences between these two grills is obviously the type of fuel they use. The pellets are made from compressed sawdust and wood chips, while the charcoal comes from burning coal. So, what makes them so different?
Well, pellets are usually cheaper than charcoal, and they don’t require any extra equipment since most wood pellet grills are self-igniting.
Charcoal, on the other hand, requires a chimney starter or lighter liquid, matches, and sometimes even a lighter to start the party. Most wood pellet grills are self-igniting, so you don’t need to worry about all the extras.
Another major difference is the size of the grill itself. Pellet grills have more moving parts and tend to be larger than regular charcoal grills.
That’s not to say you can’t find a large charcoal grill or a smaller, more portable pellet grill.
Advantages of Pellet Grills
The main advantage of using a pellet smoker is that it is easier to use than a traditional charcoal grill. It doesn’t require lighter liquid or charcoal blocks to light up and start cooking.
In fact, all you need to do is add some particles and turn the ignition button. This means that if you don’t want to spend time lighting and tending your fire, a pellet grill is a great option.
Another benefit of pellet grills is that they are more efficient than charcoal grills. They need less fuel to cook the same amount of food.
For example, a typical charcoal grill needs at least 20 pounds of charcoal blocks per hour to keep the oven hot enough to bake bread. However, pellet grills use only 5 to 6 pounds of pellets per hour to achieve the same effect.
This means you save money by buying less fuel, and you don’t have to replace them as often.
One of the main benefits of using a wood pellet grill over charcoal is that the fuel you burn is renewable, not limited fossil fuels.
While deforestation is not a good thing, many pellets are made from safe by-products from other industries, such as wood processing, so they can help reduce waste.
While cutting down trees isn’t great, it’s better than overusing the planet’s limited resources and producing toxic gases in the process.
Disadvantages of Pellet Grills
While pellet grills are far superior to charcoal grills in terms of efficiency, there are still disadvantages associated with them.
One downside is that pellets are harder to find than charcoal. Many people who own pellet grills report having difficulty finding them at local stores.
Another problem is that pellets can be expensive. Some brands sell for $20 or more per pound, which can make them prohibitively expensive compared to charcoal.
Additionally, pellet grills tend to be high maintenance as they rely on electronics and some complex systems to function. You will need to deep clean the pellet grill after every 8-10 cooking times at most to keep it functioning properly.
Advantages of Charcoal Grills
Charcoal grills are probably the oldest outdoor cooking equipment available today. They’ve been around long before gas grills came along, and they’re still popular even now.
There are many reasons why charcoal grills are still so popular, not just nostalgia. First, they produce incredible smoky flavored food.
Once lit, maintenance of a charcoal grill is very simple. All you really need is a chimney starter and a few pieces of charcoal, and you’re good to go.
If you’ve never cooked on a charcoal grill before, you might be surprised how easy it is to get started. You can also buy prepackaged charcoal briquettes in different sizes.
These are convenient because you don’t have to worry about measuring your own briquettes. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a charcoal grill is to choose the one that fits your lifestyle.
If you like to entertain a lot, then you should consider buying a larger model that can handle a lot of food for many people.
Charcoal briquettes are also widely available and inexpensive from your local store. If you want a grill with the lowest running costs, then getting a charcoal grill may be your best bet.
Disadvantages of Charcoal Grills
There are some downsides to using a charcoal grill. One of the biggest problems is that they produce smoke, not that woody, delicious light smoke pellet grill.
That means they’re not the nearest neighbor’s appliance, and not everyone will like the smell.
So if you live in a community or apartment where kids play outdoors, you may want to think twice before buying a charcoal grill. Many apartments actually ban the use of charcoal grills.
Cooking on something that’s constantly producing smoke isn’t the most comfortable experience either, so you might want to consider that too.
Finally, charcoal grills are not as effective at heating food as other types of grills. For example, if you put a whole chicken on a charcoal grill, the cooking time will be longer than on a propane grill.
That being said, if you’re looking for a grill that won’t break the bank but isn’t as fuel-efficient as a pellet grill, a charcoal grill is definitely worth considering.
Pellet vs Charcoal Grills - Considerations When Comparing
Cleaning (Regular and Deep)
While pellet grills may produce cleaner smoke and are a more environmentally friendly option than charcoal grills, how easy are they to clean after use?
In general, wood pellet grills are easier to clean than charcoal grills. This is mostly because the charcoal doesn’t actually reduce that much as it burns, so there’s more waste, and it marks everything it touches as horribly black.
Burning wood pellets produce little waste and are therefore easier to get rid of in this regard. In terms of which is easier to clean, we recommend using wood pellets instead of charcoal grills in this regard.
In our experience, most people who like a charcoal grill for the taste will only say because it makes the food taste like they remember grilled food from when they were younger.
In our opinion, the smoky flavor itself is more of a burnt flavor than a smoky flavor, but everyone has their own.
This flavor is really where wood pellet grills excel because of their unique ability to cook and smoke while infusing the meat or protein inside with a delicious natural wood flavor.
Don’t even get us started with the smell of slow roasting wood pellet grills at work. This is heaven.
Initial Investment Cost
Pellet grills tend to be more expensive than charcoal grills. This may be because of the recent popularity of pellet grills, or because they are a relatively new product compared to charcoal or gas grills.
Whatever the reason, a pellet grill might set you back between $600 and $2,000, while on a charcoal grill, you’ll pay a few hundred dollars instead of thousands for a new, high-quality one.
Compared to charcoal briquettes, wood pellets are harder to source and more expensive. Again, users of pellet grills might say that because of the variety of wood pellets you can get, you get more flavor options with a wood pellet grill.
Charcoal is widely available and relatively inexpensive to buy, however, you should keep in mind that cooking the same thing requires a lot of charcoal, and less pellets can.
In terms of running costs, you may not find much difference between a pellet grill and a charcoal grill.
Easy To Use
Using a pellet grill is a simple matter. Fill the hopper with pellets and set the correct temperature. The auger will then deliver the right amount of pellets into the combustion chamber as needed.
If you want it to be hotter, then you can turn up the temperature, which will increase the rate at which particles enter the combustion chamber. simple.
Charcoal grills are user friendly, but they are not as easy to use as pellet grills or smokers. To set up your charcoal grill, you will need a charcoal chimney or lighter liquid and a lighter to start it.
Once the fire has been established, you will need to wait about 20 to 30 minutes to ensure the coals are hot enough to cook.
Wood pellet grills are excellent at grilling – but they are also capable of low and slow smoke grilling. And since they operate like a convection oven, you can also bake and simmer on them.
Charcoal grills can be used both for grilling for a traditional grilling experience and for easy smoking, but they produce a different smoky flavor than using a wood pellet grill.
Pellet grills are somewhat limited in their temperature capabilities, as they can reach the 500-degree Fahrenheit range, but charcoal grills will be much hotter than that.
A seasoned char or char king should be able to reach temperatures above 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
The most important thing to consider when buying a new grill is to consider which type of grill will best suit your lifestyle. You need a grill that ticks the boxes that are important to you.
Do you love the unique charcoal flavor you get when using a charcoal grill? Or is the extraordinary convenience of a pellet grill more important to you?
Both types of grills have pros and cons, so it’s important to know your preferences before buying.
If you’re considering purchasing a pellet grill, you’ll also need to consider the initial cost of one and how to justify it. One way you might be able to decide between the two is to ask yourself how often you plan to use it.
A good rule of thumb is that if you plan to use it every few days, at least in the summer, a pellet grill is probably worth the initial investment.
On the other hand, if you’re on a budget, arguably you can get more grilling space with a charcoal grill.
In the end, deciding between different types of grills is a personal decision, and the right answer will vary from person to person.