Pellet Grill vs. Gas Grill: BBQ Showdown
Back in the day, buying a grill was all about choosing your preferred brand as there was not that many options and the models available were pretty much the same. But over the years, things have changed greatly as more and more types come up such as the pellet and gas grills.
Pellet and gas grills are now two of the most popular grill options in the market, and many barbeque lovers will prefer them for their convenience and relative ease of use.
However, choosing between the pellet and gas grills is not always a straightforward affair as each has both its positive and negative aspects which can make things confusing. But, once you know what each has to offer and what gives it an edge over the other, the choice should be easier.
In this piece, we highlight in more detail what these popular grills are all about, their pros and cons and also provide an in-depth comparison to help barbeque lovers make an informed pick.
When compared to other grill types such as the traditional charcoal grills, the pellet and gas grills are relatively new as they have only been around for a few decades. But, there is no doubt the two are among the most popular options in the market. However, the two use different power sources and each has its pros and cons.
Pellet Grill Overview
Pellet grills are more of a smoker than a grill, and this is why they are also more popularly referred to as the pellet smokers.
These are electric appliances mostly used for smoking but can still work as a grill, and they will heat the food indirectly with the source of the heat being compressed wood pellets.
The grills will have multiple compartments which include the side hopper where you put the pellets and the burn pot where they are transferred to for burning to produce the heat and smoke required to cook the food.
Most of these grills will also have precise digital temperature control to give you more control over the cooking process, and they are relatively easier to use as there is nothing much you need to do besides adding more pellets and monitoring the food.
Gas Grill Overview
Gas grills are built for ease of use and convenience and will be ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. And as the name suggests, these are the grill types that are powered by either natural or propane gas.
They are perfect when you need to grill something at high temperatures for a shorter period, and because unlike the pellet grills they do not require plugging in, they are more portable and can be used both indoors and outdoors.
The gas grills will include burners that allow for both direct and indirect heating and some modern models will also include the more efficient infrared burner.
Like the pellet grills, they will also heat up quite fast, and you can also control the temperature by adjusting the burners. Better yet, in most places, gas tends to be a cheaper and more readily available fuel source, and so your gas grill will be more economical to operate.
Impact on Flavor
Adds a distinct smoky flavor
No added flavor
200°F to 500°F
225°F to 700°F+
More manual (adjusting burner)
Traditional, rustic look
Sleek, modern look
Ease of Clean Up
$350 to around $1,300
$90 to over $1,000
Pellet Grill vs. Gas Grill
Overall, the gas and pellet grills will offer you more convenience and speed than many other types, and they are also more user-friendly. However, the similarities probably end there as these are quite different grills given the different power source. And here are some points that set them apart.
1. Impact on Food Flavor
The first and the most important difference between the pellet and gas grills is the effect that they have on the food's flavor. And given the different characteristics of the fuel they use, this should be an obvious difference.
Pellet grills will use wood pellets which are often made from compressed sawdust and burning these pellets produces a lot of smoke which ends up on the food, and hence giving it a nice and distinct smoky flavor.
With gas grills, on the other hand, the food does not benefit from any extra flavor since the fuel burns cleanly without any flavor-adding smoke. Hence, with gas grills, all the flavor has to come from the ingredients and seasoning.
2. Temperature Range
With any grill, the temperature always matters because it will determine the types of food you can cook, and also how fast it will cook. Hence, when picking between pellet and gas grills, the temperature range is a crucial factor to consider.
Pellets grills are perfect for slow and low-temperature cooking and make the best foods when the temperature is between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. However, these grills can also be cranked up to 500 degrees and hence allowing for direct food grilling.
For the gas grills, on the other hand, most models will not have any problem getting to the 500 degrees mark, and some more efficient models will cook at up to 700 degrees. Better yet, they can also cook at temperatures as low as 225 degrees Fahrenheit for those that want to use them for low and slow cooking.
3. Temperature Control
Being able to control the temperature on your gas grill easily will ensure you have more control over how the food cooks to avoid under or overcooking anything.
When it comes to temperature control, the pellet grills are the clear winner here as they make use of electronic temperature control that is more precise at regulating the temperature.
Gas grills, on the other hand, will require you to turn the burner knobs to alter the flow of gas which in turn increases or decreases the temperature, but not as precise as you would with the pellet grills.
4. Cooking Versatility
While it is possible to grill and smoke on both the pellet and gas grills, it should be clear that it will be more convenient to smoke on the pellet grill and to grill your foods on a gas grill.
But, even with that said, the gas grill seems to be the more versatile of the two as it can reach high temperatures easily to allow you to cook almost any food, and you can also tweak it by reducing the temperature and adding wood chips to smoke food.
With pellet grills, it is a little hard to get the super high temperatures required to cook certain food types. Even if you can achieve these temperatures, you will not get that perfect sear on your steaks as you would on a gas grill.
5. Overall Appearance
A good grill not only has to cook well but also needs to look good because most true barbeque fanatics will always look forward to showing off their grills to family and friends.
When it comes to the looks, the pellet and gas grills have some quite distinct look. Gas grills will typically come in a sleek, modern look and with a clean finish while most pellet grills have a more traditional and rustic appearance.
6. Ease of Cleanup
Barbequing always ends with some cleanup, and so you cannot overlook the ease of cleaning up after use when picking between these two amazing grills.
While both are fairly easy to clean, it should be obvious that pellet grills will give you a little more work due to the larger volume of ash that is left behind by the burning pellets.
With gas grills, there is no ash to deal with, and so most of the work goes into getting rid of the grease. Also, gas grills will have fewer components inside than the pellet models that also have electric parts for temperature control and heating which will require some extra care and hence making clean up more hectic.
7. Average Initial and Operating Costs
You also need to be sure that you cannot only afford to buy the grill but will also be able to use it smoothly with no financial strain.
The average cost of buying a gas grill tends to be relatively lower than what you would spend on a pellet grill. Gas grills will have starting prices of around $90 while the cheapest pellet grill retails for about $350. As for the ceiling price, there are several factors in play as you can get both types that will retail for thousands of dollars.
When it comes to the operating costs, the pellet grill is also more expensive because you will need to pay for both wood pellets and electricity. Gas grills only need propane or natural gas both of which are fairly affordable in most places.
Although both pellet and gas grills are user-friendly and convenient, at the end of it all they are quite different appliances and will hence work for different kinds of users.
Ultimately what you choose between the two will depend on several factors such as your budget, preferences and the kind of barbequing that you intend to be doing often and if you can afford both the better.
However, if like most people you have to choose one, go for the pellet grill if you will be doing more of smoking than grilling and the gas grill if you will be grilling a lot and only smoking on rare occasions.