Pellet Smoker vs Charcoal Smoker – What’s The Difference?
Many people want to know if pellet smoker vs charcoal smoker – what’s the difference? Many people who enjoy smoking food are looking for an alternative to traditional methods of cooking. The answer is that there really isn’t much of a difference between pellet smokers and charcoal smokers.
They both have their pros and cons, but they also share many similarities. With that being said, this article will help you understand the differences between these two types of smokers so you can determine which one will work best for your needs.
Pellet Smoker vs Charcoal Smoker – The History
There are many different types of smokers available on the market today. The two main categories tend to be charcoal and gas smokers, but we will focus on comparing pellet and charcoal smokers since these seem to be the most popular at this time.
Pellet and charcoal smokers do share some similarities, but they also have a few differences as well. The biggest difference between pellet and charcoal is that you don’t need any kind of power source or electricity for a pellet smoker, whereas you definitely do with a charcoal smoker.
The history of Charcoal smokers:
Numerous people have cooked their food over an open fire for many years. It’s one of the oldest ways to cook, but it has also been one of the most dangerous. There are numerous problems with cooking directly over a flame.
For one, you never truly know how hot the fire is going to burn at any given time. Also, kitchen fires can be unpredictable and dangerous if you don’t stay on top of things at all times.
These days there are much better methods for cooking outdoors than using something like propane or charcoal briquettes to create your flame; pellet smokers offer an alternative that produces similar results without as much risk or hassle.
The history of Pellet smokers:
The pellet smoker was actually invented in 1982 by Ed Fisher. He was looking for a solution to the problem of cooking large amounts of meat for his catering business.
To solve this, he decided that he would create a wood pellet-fired oven that had no direct flame and used convection heat to cook his food efficiently. This new method allowed him to prepare large quantities of food while still ensuring it turned out flavorful and juicy instead of dried out or burnt.
Nowadays there are many companies that make pellet smokers at all price points which has helped them gain popularity over the last couple of decades.
Pellet smoker vs charcoal smoke – The Comparison:
First things first: Neither Charcoal Nor Pellets Are Healthier Than Each Other
When it comes to health, both pellets and charcoal are pretty much dead even when compared side-by-side. Both methods produce food that contains the same amount of carcinogens (when talking about Char-Grille).
In fact, when you add in all the other factors such as fuel source and fat composition, it’s hard to believe that there is a clear-cut winner between pellets vs charcoal.
TASTE AND FLAVOR:
Pellet smokers and charcoal smokers both have the ability to smoke foods. In all reality, you can use a regular grill rack for this, but Smoking is much more effective in helping your food to become incredibly juicy and flavorful!
The way it works is very similar in both situations. Basically what you are doing when smoking meat is cooking it at a lower temperature over a longer period of time so that moisture remains inside the meat rather than being cooked off into the air.
This gives you a lot of flavors which is an important part of smoking foods.
The taste of food cooked over a charcoal grill cannot be beaten by any other type of cooking appliance or even gas grills! Also, many people find that food cooked over charcoal has much more flavor and keeps things leaner since it’s essentially only using the smoke to cook the meat!
Pellet smokers are actually sort of in-between. Most will rely on wood pellets which are made from ground food scraps so there aren’t really any flavors added to them, but many models are designed to create their own flavor with different types of woods being used for each session.
Many people prefer this over charcoal because they don’t have to worry about ash or other impurities that may be present in certain brands while others believe that there is no comparison.
One reason why people switched from traditional ovens to pellet smokers was that they found that their meats would come out moister and more flavorful with less effort using these new appliances.
Many people still prefer to use charcoal smokers for this reason, but pellet smokers are becoming more and more popular. If you like the idea of having all of these flavors packed into your meat without any additional ingredients or marinades then a pellet smoker is definitely something you should research further.
DIFFERENCES IN USE:
The biggest difference between pellet smoker vs charcoal smoker is really their method of operation rather than how they operate once they are turned on. The way that you have to maintain both types of smokers may be very similar, however, there are some differences that still exist.
For example, with a charcoal smoker, you have to keep adding wood or charcoal if need be whereas with a pellet smoker this is done automatically for you. This is because the pellet smoker contains a hopper which will only allow it to produce so much heat and smoke before needing to be refilled with more pellets or wood.
With a charcoal smoker, the temperature is entirely dependent on how hot your charcoal is at any given time. This can lead to some complications when it comes to making sure that your food cooks evenly and that you don’t burn anything.
It can take some trial and error in order to figure out what works best for your particular grill/smoker setup, but this also offers an element of creativity if you want to experiment with different flavors and cuts of meat.
This will ultimately depend on what type of smoker you go with, but both are pretty distinctly different in terms of the cost.
If you want to have a more reliable machine that comes with everything built into it then a pellet smoker will probably be your best bet. Better quality machines will also heat up faster and produce more smoke when required so they are worth the higher price.
This is not true at all for charcoal smokers, however, as these work on the basis of adding more fuel when needed so they don’t cost much at all!
You can find some pretty cheap units if you look around and if you take care of them properly they too should last for many years! It’s definitely hard to beat the value offered by standard charcoal smokers and this makes them very popular.
However, you need to consider more than just upfront costs. Think about how much a bag of pellets costs in the long term. This is because, over time, a bag of pellets will produce 5 times or more meat than a bag of charcoal.
On average, you can expect anywhere from 1/5th to 1/10th the amount of food per pound when using a smoker made for this purpose.
A charcoal smoker uses indirect heat by burning charcoal at low temperatures for long periods of time. A single bag of wood pellets can last anywhere from 4-12 hours depending on how much food you intend to cook and how hot your smoker burns.
It also depends on what kinds of foods you choose to cook with either option too because both methods work well with certain kinds of meats but not others (this is a whole different topic, though).
Once you decide to go with a pellet smoker you will be surprised at the level of temperature control that is offered by this style of grill. The hopper located within your unit will only allow so much fuel into the system before it needs to be refilled, depending on how often you use it and how long each session lasts.
This means that there are no worries about overheating the grill or running out of fuel if you need to step away for an extended period! Also, certain models even include self-cleaning options which automatically clear out any leftover ash so you can keep cooking without worrying about other problems.
This is not true with charcoal smokers where the temperature is dependent entirely upon how hot your fire is burning so there isn’t really any way to prevent overheating. You can shorten the time it takes to burn through your fuel, but this is all you’ll be able to do to control the temperature.
OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE:
Using a pellet smoker is actually quite simple and it’s something that you don’t really need any experience with in order to learn how it works properly.
Many of these come with automated features which means that there isn’t much chance for user error and if anything does go wrong then help is only an email away! On top of this, many brands offer dedicated customer service lines so you can get in touch if need be!
Charcoal smokers may look easy enough on the surface, but they actually require quite a lot of maintenance in order to make sure that they continue to operate properly.
You will need to keep adding more fuel on occasion and you may even find that ash builds up pretty quickly, depending on how often it’s used. Also, many models need to be cleaned after each use so there isn’t any chance of lingering flavors sticking around for too long!
As for maintenance, a pellet smoker will require very little maintenance compared to other options you have. You may need to check the hopper occasionally to make sure that it doesn’t run out of pellets and that the machine itself isn’t starting to overheat.
Other than that, you won’t need much help from your end in this department.
When compared to charcoal smokers, pellet smokers are much simpler machines. They really do everything automatically so there isn’t anything for the user to worry about when using them!
The hopper will refill automatically as needed and you can pretty much just sit back and wait for your food to cook! Of course, you will need to refill the hopper yourself, but this is a simple process that doesn’t take too long.
Charcoal smokers aren’t quite as easy to operate, especially if you have never used one before. They do work at a pretty high level of simplicity so there isn’t really anything overly complicated about the way they function, but they certainly require a good deal more maintenance than pellet smokers do. This is probably going to be a deciding factor for some people!
As for quality, this one is debatable. While it’s hard to say which is better, many believe that pellet smokers are cleaner and produce meat that has a more uniform texture than meat cooked in charcoal smokers.
Keep in mind that the flavorings used for this method of cooking will play just as big of a role as the actual smoker itself does when it comes to the overall quality.
Pellet smoker vs charcoal smoker – The feature products:
Moving into our pellet smoker vs charcoal smoker review, we wanted to focus on some of the features that each grill offers when compared side by side. We also want to mention that not all pellet smokers are created equal, so make sure you do your homework before making a purchase!
THE WOOD PELLET SMOKER:
For our pellet smoker vs charcoal review, we decided to go with one of the most popular styles on the market right now and this is especially true if you are an experienced griller or choose to experiment frequently with your cooking style.
The wood pellet smoker functions just like any other type of equipment would but it’s actually quite unique in its design! There is no need for any extra fuel sources since the pellets do all the work for you.
As far as adding flavor goes, this may be one of the best options. As mentioned before, most pellet smokers are able to use their own flavors so there is no cost whatsoever for wood pellets.
Most of them are quite powerful and will produce a good amount of smoke without any problems at all! They also tend to be much easier to transport than other styles and they can even fit in attics if necessary!
If you already have an unused smoker sitting in your backyard or garage somewhere, it may be worth your time to put it to some actual use again.
This is definitely a great investment since these grills will last for many years with proper care and (which we will cover below) will be able to produce the best tasting barbecue in your neighborhood!
The Oklahoma Joe’s 2-Door BBQ Smoker ORBBQ18
The pellet smoker we chose for our pellet smoker vs charcoal review is the Oklahoma Joe’s 2-Door BBQ Smoker ORBBQ18. This is a great model that allows you to add flavors and smoke at different times which can definitely improve your overall experience when compared to other styles.
It’s also very easy to use once you get it put together properly, though that may take some time! So let’s explore all of its features right now:
- The side firebox and main chamber share heat and smoke equally
- Adjustable air control valve will help with temperature maintenance
- Folding firebox door helps keep the ash from getting everywhere
- Side shelf allows for convenient storage
- Includes 2 cooking grates and a built-in temperature gauge
If you want to know more about this specific model, make sure you click the image to see it on Amazon. They also offer free shipping which makes the entire process even easier!
Another thing we like about wood pellet smokers is that they can be used for much more than traditional smoking. Another great perk is that they are usually very easy to modify and repair as well.
This means that if something breaks or wears out prematurely, you won’t have a hard time finding a replacement part or fixing whatever issue has come up.
It’s one of those appliances that doesn’t require too much effort overall but still functions just as well as higher-end products would In fact, some people actually prefer these models for grilling since there is no need to spend any extra time adding fuel sources or anything like that!
We also wanted to mention that this specific model was not designed with beginners in mind. While it’s still very easy to use overall, you will definitely want to read all of the instructions before putting it together!
This helps make sure that everything gets put together properly and you minimize both potential damages as well as having issues cooking your food later on.
We also recommend taking the time to get familiar with how your grill works before using it for the first time just so you are aware of what needs to happen throughout different parts of the cooking process.
Moving into our pellet smoker vs charcoal review, we want to tell people about the great features that this model offers. We found that all of these models offer many unique features but the ones that stood out to us were their ability to hold temperature, power, and smoke effectively.
Of course, there are other things like the cooking area and build quality but since they’re similar for both grills we decided not to include them as a deciding factor.
We really liked how easy it is to control the temperature on this model. In fact, most pellet smokers have very similar temperature ranges so there aren’t any notable differences between those areas!
The main reason we wanted to mention it is due to its accuracy which will allow you to cook your food evenly throughout each session.
You can exactly set a specific temperature for the grill which will give it enough time to warm up before you put your food on. We also liked how evenly the heat was distributed throughout the entire smoker chamber, so there aren’t any cold or hot spots for this model.
This is another thing that we didn’t get to use during our pellet smoker vs charcoal review but customers seem very satisfied with its performance overall, which is always a good sign! You are definitely going to have some trouble adjusting at first since there are recipes included with each type of meat you plan on cooking.
However, these are just guidelines and aren’t too difficult to figure out once you get used to them. This means that if you go in expecting great results instead of failing miserably like most people do when they first start out, you can get some great results.
We really liked how well this model is able to cook different types of foods. Obviously, you will need access to recipes that are compatible with your smoker but in many cases, they can be easily modified to suit your needs.
This also means that if there is a certain type of meat or dish that takes too long to cook, you just won’t have it on for as long since the temperature will stay the same throughout the entire grilling process. There’s no need to worry about having extra charcoal or lit wood chips which help save both effort and money!
The Smoke Hollow 4400 Series
Another choice for a Pellet smoker, The Smoke Hollow 4400 Series was easily our top pick for a pellet smoker. We really liked how it can hold temperature so well, which is something that all of the models on our list have in common.
However, this one also has some unique features that make it stand out from the rest. When you get to cooking for longer periods of time it will continue to maintain its heat level very smoothly, which lessens both potential damages and allows you to just get more done overall.
There are also many extra features included with this model that help take your grilling experience up to another notch!
For example, there is an adjustable hopper feeder system installed which will allow you to control how much wood pellets are released into the pit every hour or every 15 minutes depending on what you prefer.
This is great for when you are cooking at lower temperatures or want to cook your food more evenly.
The Smoke Hollow 4400 Series features:
- 18 gauge stainless steel from top to bottom
- Solid steel construction for durability and strength
- Easy to use temperature management system
- 660 total square inches of cooking space!
The main unit consists of two side shelves, a front shelf that can be removed if wanted, and a rear rotisserie burner. It is constructed out of 18 gauge stainless steel and is very solidly made. You really get the feeling that it will last a long time.
It uses a simple temperature management system with an LED display to show you the current temperature. You can set it between 160-500 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooking space is 660 square inches, which is more than enough for most people.
Two side shelves are included. These are very nice because they are adjustable, using a simple wheel system located at their front ends. There is also a front shelf which can be removed if you want to make more room to move around, or you can put it back in if you need extra counter space.
The rear burner is what really makes this unit unique though. It uses a 3-inch steel tube to conduct the heat instead of a traditional wire rack, making for more powerful and even heating throughout the grill. The wheel system that controls the racks is very sturdy and easy to use.
The rotisserie burner provides up to 15,000 total BTUs from its rear half only, which is pretty impressive. It uses a standard sized rotisserie spit, and the brackets are easy to install. A meat thermometer is included with purchase at no extra charge.
This smoker has all of the extras you would expect to get in an expensive model without costing nearly as much! There are many great features that make it very user-friendly, durable, and customizable. You can’t go wrong with this one!
Now that you know a little more about the Smoke Hollow 4400 Series, you should feel confident in knowing that it is a great option for anyone looking for an easy to use smoker. It has many features that make using it a very enjoyable experience, and you can rest assured that your food will always turn out perfect.
Usually, these models will be limited since they only include one burner which has its own temperate settings. This means that if it gets too cold near this section of the grill then you won’t be able to heat up other areas in order to compensate.
Fortunately, this model comes with an additional 3-inch steel tube installed so the heat can travel upwards and allow for even more powerful heat distribution throughout the entire grill!
All of these little things add up quickly and help make each session a lot more enjoyable, especially when you don’t have to worry about dealing with any charcoal or wood chips that need replacing every hour.
THE CHARCOAL SMOKER:
Our #1 Choice For A Charcoal Smoker: Weber One-Touch Gold
Continue with pellet smoker vs charcoal review, our pick for the best charcoal smoker in this was actually a tough choice between this model and the Weber Master Touch.
Overall, we thought it offered slightly better heat distribution which is what gave it the upper hand in our eyes. This means that you won’t have to worry about unevenly cooked meats or foods that are burnt where they shouldn’t be!
It’s also very easy to use overall so if you’re not too experienced when it comes to grilling then this should work well for you.
The amount of time needed in order to set up the entire grill is minimal, especially since there aren’t any gas lines or electrical cords attached which can often lead to difficulties when trying to figure out how everything works.
The only real downside we can think of is that it is somewhat limited in terms of the amount of power it has. This means that you will have to keep a closer eye on your food and ensure that you don’t leave it cooking for too long or else things can easily get burnt!
In most cases, you should be able to compensate by simply adjusting the temperature of the grill but if this happens often then there may be some issues with what you are cooking so it’s worth keeping that in mind.
The Weber One-Touch Gold features:
- Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid
- One-touch cleaning system
- Wire cooking grate
- Built-in thermometer
The Weber One-Touch Gold is our top pick for the best charcoal smoker. It offers even heat distribution, is easy to use, and includes everything you’ll need to get started. However, it has a relatively low amount of power which means that you will have to keep an eye on your food more carefully than usual!
Our #2 Choice For A Charcoal Smoker: Weber Master Touch
The next pick for the best charcoal grill is the Weber Master Touch. This grill had an extremely close call with the first choice for this article but fell short due to what we felt was slightly inferior heat distribution. However, it is still one of the top choices on the market today and should meet all of your grilling needs!
This model is very convenient because it features some great gas-less technology that allows you to control the heat even down to the individual briquettes. With that in mind, you can be sure that your food is always cooked at the exact temperature that you want in order to avoid any potential problems!
The primary downsides are in regard to its price and lack of included accessories. It does cost significantly more than some other options on the market but if you’re looking for a grill that will last then it may be worth the investment.
Additionally, you will need to make sure that you have some of the basic accessories such as a grill cover and grilling tools in order to get started.
The Weber Master Touch features:
- Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid
- One-touch cleaning system
- Adjustable gas control valve
- Wire cooking grate
The Weber Master Touch is another great pick for the best charcoal grill. It’s got some great gas-less technology and offers a lot of customized features to ensure that everything is cooked exactly as you want it.
However, there are some inherent downsides such as the price and lack of included accessories which may make it harder for some people to get started.
Overall, these models were a pleasure to work with and helped us save a lot of time and effort without sacrificing too much convenience or quality.
For those who have been struggling up until now, hopefully, our reviews have proven useful and given you some insight into which of them will work best depending on your unique needs and preferences.
Pellet smoker vs Charcoal smoker – Which One Should You Choose to Buy?
So, what is the best smoker for you? Is it the pellet smoker or the charcoal smoker? Or it something else? Moving right along, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each style of smoker briefly before we get into our pellet smoker vs charcoal smoker review:
The Charcoal smoker:
+ Offers full control over the temperature
+ Very simple to operate and maintain
+ Doesn’t require a lot of experience to use properly
+ No need for charcoal or propane once it is set up correctly
– Requires quite a bit more effort on the part of the owner
– BBQ flavor cannot be matched by any other type of grill
– Not as easy to transport around like some other styles
The Pellet smoker:
+ Offers nearly complete control over the temperature
+ Wood pellets offer unique flavors that gas or charcoal grills can’t provide
+ Incredibly simple to operate and maintain compared to charcoal smokers
– The wood pellets do cost quite a bit more than buying real wood would
– Some people claim that they don’t produce enough smoke for really good barbecue
But most people prefer to use pellet smoker over charcoal smoker because it is more convenient. Here are some advantages of using a pellet smoker:
- The food tastes amazingly good.
- It’s easy to clean up after making your favorite dish with this device.
- When cooking with this machine, you will not get harmful fumes in your home because there is no fire used when smoking food. In other words, there is no smoke!
This feature makes the air quality in your home much better since smoke from burning wood releases carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals into the air that we breathe.
- You can set and forget. It doesn’t require your attention while cooking, which means you can get some necessary rest or simply do things around the house while it’s working its magic!
There are also some disadvantages of using a pellet smoker:
- The price is more expensive than charcoal smokers; however, it is still affordable for most people since this machine will last forever with proper care and maintenance.
- You need to shop for pellets in different flavors that can add up to your costs in the long-run. For example, if you purchase a bag of apple flavored pellets each week, then in one year you’ll have spent $150 for just pellets!
This does not include the cost of electricity used too, so your costs will be higher.
- Pellets are sometimes hard to find in different flavors you might enjoy cooking with. You can always order them online, but it could take a few days before they arrive at your doorstep.
This means that if you’re craving smoked ribs for dinner, then you’ll have to settle for something else instead because the store near you was out of pellets when you went shopping!
- You need to keep buying pellets every week or two depending on how often you use it. Some brands offer bulk discounts if you purchase larger quantities at once, but this is still more expensive in the long-run compared to using charcoal briquettes for smoking food.
So which one is better? Let’s compare them both.
Wood pellets are made from compressed sawdust, so they are basically small pieces of wood. This material can be used for smoking because it burns quickly and gets hot, which is why it’s the perfect fuel for smokers that use electricity.
The nice thing about this type of smoker is that you just have to plug it in and let it do its magic! There is no fire involved when cooking with a pellet smoker.
Pellet burn hotter than charcoal briquettes or logs , which makes them perfect for making smoked food . You will not get “bark” on the meat even if you cook at higher temperatures over 400 degrees F (204 C).
Usually people cook their meat between 225 and 250 degrees F (107-121 degrees C). The lower heat makes it perfect for smoking all day long.
You can use different types of flavors in your food when using a pellet smoker when comparing pellet smoker vs charcoal smoker.
You can choose whatever flavor you like and enjoy cooking with it. Some popular choices are hickory, apple, cherry, peach or maple flavored pellets that will make your taste buds go crazy!
The downside is that this type of smoker is more expensive than charcoal smokers; but the good news is that it’s still affordable for many people while delivering excellent results every time you cook something. This all depends on what kind of grill or smoker you buy.
Pellets are small pieces of compressed saw dust particles which have been made to burn by machine. They are very similar to sawdust, which might also be used in the smoker.
The pellets are easy to find in most stores near you or can also be ordered from online retailers who sell them at a reasonable price depending on the quantity of pellets you buy at once.
In fact, many markets have already started selling different flavors of pellets for use in smokers so you will not have to choose one flavor only . You can easily switch between different types anytime you feel like it and enjoy smoking with each kind because they all turn out delicious!
The downside is that this type of smoker is more expensive than traditional charcoal smokers; but the good news is that it’s still affordable for many people while excellent results every time you cook something. This all depends on what kind of grill or smoker you buy.
The smoke can easily take its time to reach your food because there is no open flame burning the wood . The pellets are burnt up slowly which means that it’s easy to control the temperature and let the smoke fill up your entire kitchen with delicious aromas!
You don’t need to worry about flare-ups because there is nothing flammable inside the smoker.
So if you’re interested in trying out a pellet smoker, then why not give one a try? They are excellent for smoking food and will save you lots of time chopping wood every weekend! You’ll also be able to enjoy different flavors anytime you feel like cooking without having to worry about running out of options.
Pellet smokers are more expensive than charcoal smokers but they also provide better results when it comes to smoking meat. The only thing you need to do is plug it in and wait for the food to get cooked! It’s so easy, even a child can do it!
Conclusion on Pellet smoker vs Charcoal Smoker
The choice really comes down to what kind of experience you want when cooking. Do you prefer natural smoky flavors or do you like the convenience of a pellet smoker? It’s also worth noting that price can sometimes be an indicator as well.
Pellet smokers will typically cost around $1500 for a good quality, 40″ model while charcoal smokers can range anywhere from $40 all the way up to $500 for popular models on the market today.
However, among pellet smoker vs charcoal smoker, if you’re looking for convenience and the ability to produce moist foods that are full of flavor – pellet smokers can’t be beaten.
If you want to get the maximum amount of flavor possible while smoking your meats then perhaps a pellet smoker is for you. There are so many great options on the market at various price points that it should definitely be considered by anyone who loves cooking outdoors.
These smokers automate some of the more tedious aspects of regular smokers but offer all of the same benefits with an increased level of convenience and ease of use.
With charcoal smokers, you get less automation and more freedom to play around with different flavors and cuts of meat until you find what works best for you.
However, these types do require more monitoring in order to ensure that they cook properly throughout, which can be inconvenient for some people.