People often ask which cooking appliance is better, and while it is hard to answer, we have the perfect guide for you—the Wood Pellet Grills vs. Charcoal Grills – the MAJOR differences.
These are two of the most common types of grills on the market. While they are pretty similar in terms of cooking capabilities, there are some huge differences between them in functionality.
I cannot simply make vague judgments about each type of grill and say that one is better than the other. But, there is a right way to look into these grills to see which one is better.
Pellet grills are versatile because they can produce a lot of heat while also adding some flavors to the food. The same goes with the charcoal grill, although it is a bit weaker.
Weaker meaning it does not add too much flavor to the food unless you modify the fuel. Despite that, the charcoal grill has more than a few advantages over the pellet grills that we are used to.
In this article, we will dive deeper into the features and functions of each type of grill. That way, we will better understand what they can do and choose which one is a better grill.
The Impact On The FooD
Not all grills can put some additional flavors to the food. However, these two types of grills can do so, and they can make the food even better the longer you cook them.
One of the major advantages of using a pellet grill is you can cook both in slow and low temperatures and in high searing temperatures for different types of recipes.
In hindsight, pellet grills use wood as fuel, but instead of having a whole chunk in them, the wood is ground and compressed into small pellets to make way for more space.
That means that they can give the same flavor as smokers that use wood. They emit a thick cloud of smoke that passes through the food and eventually enters the food to add flavor.
You cannot attain that same flavor if you are only using charcoal as fuel. However, there is also this unmistakable flavor that you can only get when you grill with charcoals.
Charcoals do not release as much smoke as wood pellets, so you need to enhance the flavor in other ways. Most users put a chunk of wood on top of the charcoals to produce smoke.
Some claim that the smoke’s flavor from the chunk of wood is better than what you get from wood pellets. I say it is up to your preference since they are very similar in terms of flavor.
When it comes to cooking at a slow and low temperature, the better grill is the wood pellet grill. Charcoal alone cannot attain the same flavor that wood pellets can bring to your food.
The Initial Cost
Since these two types of grills function differently, they do have a huge difference in the initial price. Usually, the pellet grill is more expensive than the charcoal grill for a few reasons.
If you are going with a high-quality, top-tier pellet grill, you will most likely spend over a thousand dollars. That way, you get the convenience, features, and other benefits.
Lower than that, and you might have to deal with a pellet grill that can cook but does not give you the controls and ease of use. Pellet grills are a bit complicated, so they are reasonably pricey.
Charcoal grills, on the other hand, are pretty simple. They do not need to have complicated controls and systems to work; you can go as low as $100 for a charcoal grill.
You can even make your own by ordering cheap materials and creating a small barrel-like grill. That would be great for someone who does not want to spend too much money on grills.
How About In The Long Run?
Initially, pellet grills can be a little expensive, but another story is when you look at it from a broader perspective. There is also the total cost that comes with all types of grills.
This is true when you look at the grills’ operating costs and see that you can surpass the initial price because you need to buy and replace the temporary parts or functions.
For example, you need to buy fuel regularly, especially if you use the grills frequently. That can add up to the grills’ operating cost as it piles up as the years go by.
There is also the cost of replacing parts in the long run after the warranty period has expired. That will depend on the parts you need to replace since some may cause more than the other.
In terms of the parts, wood pellet grills have more expensive parts. The features such as the pellet hopper, auger mechanism, and burners usually cost a lot of money when replaced.
You also need to hire a professional to install the replacement parts properly, as some can be complicated. Charcoal grills are pretty simple, and you rarely need to replace the parts.
The fuel that you use in these grills is also a bit of a problem if you look at it in the long run. Wood pellets are relatively cheap, but you need to get the best ones which are a bit harder to find.
Charcoals can be inexpensive if you choose to go with briquettes. However, the lump charcoal burns a little hotter and grills better, but it is more expensive.
Convenience And Ease Of Use
One of the most important parts and functions that you need to consider when getting a grill is the ease of use. Many grills nowadays can cook without much management.
In terms of convenience, you need a grill that will also allow you to do some activities while grilling. You do not need to constantly stand beside the piping hot grills when cooking.
I got my money on the pellet grills on this one since they have more advanced functions. Usually, you can set and forget these grills and do other things while waiting for the food.
Pellet grills nowadays only need to be filled with wood pellets, turned on, and then let heat up. That is because of some advanced feeders that bring the pellets to the firebox automatically.
There are even some more advanced features where you can control the pellet grill’s temperature through the remote control or your smartphone. Easy and convenient.
There is no such thing as an automated charcoal grill. You will need to constantly keep an eye on the grill to reach the temperature you have set and maintain the heat.
You can just click the temperature you need with pellet grills and let it climb up, while you will need about 30 minutes for a charcoal grill to light up and reach the desired temperature.
What Can I Cook In Them?
When it comes to versatility in cooking, it is clear that pellet grills have the advantage. They are made not only for grilling, but their structure is also made for a convenient smoker if wanted.
It can go lower easily and cook at slow and low temperatures. This gives you more versatility on what you can cook without changing the appliance or other settings on the grill itself.
Charcoal grills can smoke meat and other foods as well. As long as you put a chunk of wood on top of the burning charcoals, you will be able to attain that smoky flavor that you want.
However, if you look at it in a way where you just use what you get from the purchase, it is obvious that pellet grills can cook more types of food without any modifications.
Charcoal grills can smoke but compare to pellet grills; I would personally prefer not to stand beside the hot grill for hours. That is why pellet grills win in the versatility of food they can cook.
Since we are on the topic of versatility, let us take a look at the temperature range of each grill. The temperature range is important since it is also a huge factor in the versatility of cooking.
While pellet grills excel at holding or maintaining the temperature, they do not offer a wide range of temperatures than charcoal grills. They usually have a limit of 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some pellet grills even have a hard time reaching that temperature. Charcoal grills can go way higher than that and give you more options to cook at those temperatures.
Charcoal grills can go up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just below the requirement for cooking authentic pizzas. Your pizza will finish cooking at that temperature in less than 5 minutes.
So in a more general sense, the pellet grill is more versatile in cooking at lower temperatures, but the charcoal grills take over when it comes to cooking at searing temperatures.
There is no contest here as pellet grills take over in this category. They have better controls where you can set the temperature by turning a dial or pressing some buttons on the grill.
You will have an easier time controlling even the lower temperatures that are available on the grills. There are some options where you can control the grill even if you are far from it.
With pellet grills with digital controls and display, you would not even need a thermometer as it will automatically display the grill’s temperature. It also maintains it as much as it can.
As long as the pellet hopper is full of fuel, you would not need to worry about the temperature dropping down. The pellet grill will automatically feed the fire to maintain the temperature.
Charcoal grills, I cannot say that they are hard to control, but more of a learning experience. If you are new to grilling, you will not have the easiest time controlling a charcoal grill.
You can increase or decrease the charcoal grill’s temperature by opening or closing the vents on it. You will have to learn how air works inside the grill to know how to control it.
While it is obvious that pellet grills have the advantage in terms of ease of use, you can also go for the more powerful charcoal grills. They can both cook different types of food.
If I were to choose, I would still go with the charcoal grill since it gives you an authentic feel when cooking. Plus, if you learn from charcoal grills first, it would be very easy to cook with a pellet grill.
I would suggest going with wood pellet grills if you are a beginner since they are easier to control. Again, it would be a personal choice so you should choose according to your preferences.
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