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Pellet Grills vs. Gas Grills – Which is the better?

Before rushing into making a decision on which grill is right for you, it is vital that you take your time and get to know some of the essential differences between the two.  Although they both having the word ‘grill,’ they are quite different types of cookers.  Both the gas and pellet cookers are known to offer convenience and speed in a user-friendly manner.

The pellet grills do make a great set and forget versatile cookers and are more like the outdoor oven. They are also known to do an excellent job at cooking slow and low and do impart subtle Smokey flavor to their food.

You might have heard of people talking about pellet grills and pellet smokers. It’s just a different way of referring to the same thing.  The smokers can be a better name since they do make better smokers than grills.

The pellet grills do cost more than the gas grills, and they are also not that readily available as the gas grills.  Hence, if cost-effectiveness, speed and excellent sear marks on the steak do mean more, you will have to consider the gas grill.

Gas grills are known to come into their own when cooking at either mid or high temperatures. It is possible to get a gas grill that fits well into your budget Gas grills do heat up lightning fast.  In this guide we will be comparing the pellet grill and the gas grill to enable you know which one is best according to your needs and budget.

Overview of the Pellet Grill

pellet grill
pellet grill

It’s a bit confusing to call these cookers grill.  You can instead view it as an outdoor/smoker oven which can also grill.  With the popularity of the pellet grills becoming more popular, the number of manufacturers offering these cookers has been on the increase for a long period. Yoder, Rec Tec, MAK and Tregear are all brands which are highly recommended.

Pellet grills use indirect heat for cooking food, with the help of a convection fan, somewhat like an oven. To power the fan, and other features of the grill, pellet grills need to be plugged into your electricity.

The wood pellets meant for smoking are made from sawdust which has been compressed into cylinders like the larger chicken feed pellets. They are placed into larger containers which are also referred to as the hopper.

It is usually situated at the side or the back of the unit.

The hopper is shaped like a funnel at the bottom and feeds the pellets into the auger. The drill looks like a large screw, which slowly turns and feeds the pellets into the firepot.

The fire pot has a rod inside, which heats up to be glowing red. When the pellets come in contact with this rod, they catch fire and produce the smoke and heat which cooks your food.

The fan blows this smoke and heat throughout the cooking area of the grill. Many pellet smokers will also have a heat baffle to distribute the heat evenly throughout the cooking area.

Reasons Why You Should Consider Using Pellet Grills

Versatile

Pellet grills allow you to smoke, roast, bake, and barbecue and grill (although the sear won’t be as good as you can expect from a charcoal grill) all within the one unit.

Fast

You can expect your pellet grill to be up to temperature and ready to cook within 15 minutes.\

Maintaining is much easier

Unlike charcoal grills, pellet grills don’t make much of a mess. Aside from the cooking surfaces themselves, you may need to clean out the fire pot occasionally, but that is it.

Convenient

After you have filled up the hopper with pellets and set the temperature, all you need to do is kick back, relax and wait for your dinner.

Reasons Why You Should Not Use Pellet Grills

Expensive

To get a quality pellet grill, you need to be prepared to outlay some cash. Be prepared to pay at least $400.

Not Yet Plugged in

The Pellet grills are not as portable as other types of griller. They aren’t suitable for camping unless you have a generator.

Less Heat and smoke

The Pellet burners do not produce a strong Smokey flavour like stick burners, for example. As we mentioned earlier, they also do not reach the same high temperatures as other types of grills, so you cannot expect great sear marks either. Some model like the Camp Chef PG24 Deluxe let you get around this by purchasing a sear grill attachment.

 You will have to get Emergency Pellet Stockpile

Smoking pellets are more of a specialty item. While you can head down the road and grab more coal easily enough, this is not necessarily possible with pellets, unless you’re lucky enough have a specialty barbecue store nearby. Getting the pellets you like may well involve an order from Amazon.

Overview of the Gas grills

gas grill
gas grill

The gas grills are best when it comes to grilling at high temperatures for shorter periods. However, some grills come with lids and other features which allow them to be used for indirect cooking as well.

They will use natural gas or propane

The gas is stored in a gas bottle which usually sits under the cooking area of the barbecue.

The gas travels up through the gas regulator hose into the manifold. The manifold is a tube that runs along the length of the cooking area.

The manifold then feeds the gas into valves. These valves are what you use to control the amount of gas you wish to burn, which, in turn, controls the temperature.

Some gas grills will have an infrared burner, which distributes the heat evenly. However, most gas grills will have burners that produce a flame. Food isn’t cooked directly over the flame, so that heat needs to be distributed evenly throughout the grill.

One way to do this is by using briquettes. These sit directly on top of the flame on a rack. The flame heats the briquettes. Your food sits on a rack on top of these briquettes, and the heat is evenly distributed to cook your food.

Reasons Why You Should Consider Using Gas Grills

Easy to Use

You can find a gas grill that suits just about any budget. While the higher end gas grills will offer more features, there are still quality offerings at the lower end of the price range. Gas is also a cheap, efficient, and readily available fuel. You can hope to get around 20 hours of grilling time out of a typical LPG tank.

Fast

Gas grills should only take around 10 minutes to reach the desired cooking temperature.

Excellent Grilling

Gas grills come into their own when grilling at higher temperatures. While they can be used as smokers, they will not do as well as other types of barbecue when cooking low and slow.

Clean

It is clean burning fuel, so you will not be left to clean up the remains of burnt wood or coals.

Reasons Why You Should Not Use Gas Grills

Does not have Flavour

The gas itself is flavourless, so you are not going to get any smoke flavour into your food when using gas as a fuel without the addition of a pellet smoking tube or something similar.

Safety

One will have to open space to operate a gas grill. This is to reduce the fire hazards posed when using gas. Also take a moment to check your local rules and regulations, as some city ordinances prohibit the use of gas grills.

Retention of heat

The gas grills need to require ventilation. For this reason, the heat retention of gas grills is not excellent. This makes them poor smokers.

Control of Temperature

After you have become familiar with using your gas grill, the temperature shouldn’t be a problem. However, initially, you might need to fiddle around with the controls to make sure you are getting the heat just right.

Pellet Grills Vs. Gas Grill

You are now aware of the main differences between these two types of cookers. We can now make a comparison between the two.

Ease of Use

Both the pellet and gas grills are top-rated mainly due to their ease of use. Considering that the trickiest part of grilling is getting the fire going, it stands to reason the appealing feature of both of these types of grills is that starting the fire is as easy as turning a knob.

Cleaning

If you plan on using your cooker as an oven or smoker, then this is easier on a pellet grill. While you can hack a gas grill into a decent smoker, it takes a little bit more DIY skills. However, both the pellet and the gas grills are known to be easy to clean.

Temperature Range and Control

The pellet grills excel when cooking low and slow, with the sweet spot being between 200-350°F. They struggle at temperatures of 400°F plus, and generally will not reach anything above 450°F.

On the other hand, you have pretty much the opposite situation with gas grills. Most gas grills will have no problem hitting the 500°F mark. Better quality gas grills will be capable of reaching temperatures around 700°F,

However, the heat retention issues often associated with gas grills means that controlling the temperatures in the lower ranges can be difficult. Cheaper gas grills which have poor heat retention may struggle to maintain a consistent temperature around 250°F.

That being said, a good quality gas grill will do a better job of keeping consistent low temperatures.

Pellet grills work with complex algorithms which control the temperature, and some models can even offer accuracy of +/- 5°F, which is pretty impressive.

Great Features

Both gas and pellet grills offer fancy bells and whistles, especially as the price gets higher.  But at this point, pellet grills are more likely to come packed with technology.

Pellet grills are, by design, high tech units. As such, manufacturers have been quick to include features such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability, integrated meat probes and LCD screens. Some can even be programmed to hold meat at a certain temperature once the cook is done.

Gas grills don’t come with automated temperature control features.  Usually, gas grills come with more traditional features, such as side burners and rotisseries. Some models also offer little luxuries like internal lights and illuminated knobs.

How healthy are the Pellet Grills?

There are carcinogenic compounds which are formed whenever the meat muscles are cooked at higher temperatures. These compounds have also been identified in the smoke from charcoal or wood.

There have been some claims pellets grills are a safer barbecuing option. The claim is that pellet grillers by design do not allow as much of this potentially dangerous smoke to come into contact with the food. The fact that pellet grills don’t reach the same temperatures that other grillers do has also given rise to the idea that it is a safer barbecuing option.

However, for these claims to be verified a lot more in-depth, research needs to take place. Kristie Sullivan, a toxicologist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, relates that these carcinogenic compounds can still be produced without visible char marks on the meat.

Conclusion

We do hope that you did enjoy the comparison between the pellet grills and gas grills.

In case you are about to invest your cash in a new grill, you are now in a position to tell what you can get from a particular grill to ensure you get the best value from your money and get one that best suits your needs.  Although both the pellet grills and the gas grills are known to offer high convenience and efficiency levels, there are still some differences which will determine which type of drill will come on top.

Which one do you prefer, the pellet grill or the gas grill? Do you have any opinion or questions? Feel free to post or ask in the comment section below.

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