Pellet Grill vs Pellet Smoker: A Complete Comparison

Are you considering making the switch from traditional grills to pellet-fueled smoker and grill?

Pellet smokers and grills are becoming increasingly popular among amateur and professional chefs thanks to their exceptional ability to evenly cook food while producing undeniable flavor.

But what is the difference between a pellet grill and a pellet smoker?

Do they serve different purposes, or can one device do both tasks successfully?

Generally, pellet grills produce more heat than smoke and can cook food more quickly than pellet smokers can.

In contrast to traditional smokers, which make use of the smoke produced by burning hardwood, pellet grills, also known as pellet smokers, are fueled by compressed sawdust pellets.

Traditional smokers, on the other hand, use the smoke produced by burning hardwood.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss exactly that – so if you’re interested in learning more about how a pellet grill stacks up against its smoky counterpart, keep reading!

What Is A Pellet Grill?

A pellet grill is like an outdoor cooking equipment

A pellet grill is like an outdoor cooking equipment that uses wood pellets as its main fuel source.

Unlike a charcoal grill, which requires messy charcoal and lighter fluid, a pellet grill uses modern technology to make grilling easier and more efficient.

Pellet grills are powered by an electronic motor connected to an auger, which feeds the wood pellets into the fire pot for combustion.

This method of controlled burning creates steady, even temperatures that can be adjusted with a digital control panel – ensuring your food is cooked to perfection every time.

Pellets come in various flavours such as hickory, mesquite or applewood, making it easy to add smoky flavors while slow cooking meat or casseroles to absolute tenderness.

Many experts would agree that one of the great benefits of using a pellet grill is convenience – no mess and no fuss.

Why Should You Use A Pellet Grill

  1. Pellet grills use wood pellets as fuel, which emit less smoke than other types of grills.
  2. They are more energy-efficient than other grills, as they use less fuel and produce less smoke.
  3. Pellet grills can reach higher temperatures than other grills, making them ideal for searing meat.
  4. Pellet grills are easy to operate, as they require little more than setting the desired temperature and adding pellets to the hopper.
  5. They are easy to clean, as they have removable ash trays and drip pans.
  6. They are versatile, as they can be used for smoking, baking, roasting, and grilling.
  7. Pellet grills are durable, as they are made with high-quality materials that can withstand the elements.

What Is A Pellet Smoker

A pellet smoker is a type of device used for food smoking that relies on the combustion of small pellets of wood.

Unlike traditional smokers, pellet smokers provide convenience and consistent results due to their computerized temperature control settings.

They also have an easier clean-up process than more traditional smokers, as they can be emptied using a hopper system located on the outside of the smoker.

Pellet smokers make it simple to slow-roast meats and fish, as well as hot-smoke items like cheese and nuts; temperatures can even be set to cook joints such as brisket or pork shoulder for extended periods of time.

While more expensive than other types of outdoor grills, pellet smokers offer precision temperature control and adjustable heat output— perfect for any barbecue enthusiast looking to elevate their outdoor cooking experience

Why Should You Use A Pellet Smoker?

  1. Pellet smokers cook food more evenly than other types of smokers.
  2. They are easier to use than other types of smokers.
  3. Pellet smokers produce less smoke than other types of smokers, so your food will not be as smoky-tasting.
  4. They are more efficient than other types of smokers, so you’ll save money on fuel costs over time.
  5. They are better for the environment than other types because they produce less pollution.
  6. Pellet smokers can be used to cook a variety of foods, not just meats.

Pellet smokers are available in a variety of sizes and styles, allowing you to select the one that meets your requirements and desires.

What Is The Difference Between A Pellet Grill And A Pellet Smoker?


Pellet Grill Smoker  
Require power(Electricity) No power needed
Price ranges from $200 – $2500+ Price ranges from $200-$1500+ and is generally cheaper than pellet grill/smoker
Use wood pellet Use wood and charcoal
Some are portable with folding legs Generally heavy and not portable
Have the large cooking capacity Have the very large cooking capacity
No mess, easy to use and some have WiFi to control your barbecue using your phone.   It’s not easy to master how to cook a good barbecue with an offset smoker.  
Pellet grill is best in winter and cold weather Cooking on a smoker in colder climates can be very difficult because it is hard to maintain the desired temperature.  
Often tastes less smoky, but this is good if you prefer your food to be unsmoked.   Gives Barbecue flavor that’s always authentic


Both a pellet grill and a pellet smoker share the characteristic of using wood pellets as their primary source of fuel in order to smoke and prepare meals.

However, there are a few exceptions key distinctions between the two.

A pellet grill is more adaptable and can be utilized for a larger range of cooking techniques than a pellet smoker, although both are excellent options for cooking outside. 

A pellet grill is like an outdoor cooking appliance that is often bigger and freestanding.

This grill can be used for a variety of cooking methods, such as grilling, smoking, roasting, and baking.

It typically consists of a hopper that can store wood pellets and a temperature control system that can manage the level of heat produced.

Pellet grills are adaptable and may be used to prepare a wide variety of items in a single cooking session.

A pellet smoker, on the other hand, is an appliance that is smaller and more compact than a traditional smoker, and its primary purpose is to smoke food.

It is possible that it does not have as many cooking options as a pellet grill and normally has a smaller hopper for storing wood pellets.

Pellet smokers are the most effective devices for smoking meats and other items over low heat for extended periods of time.

All in all, Pellet grills offer a more broad range of temperature control than smokers, making them ideal for grilling and smoking simultaneously as well as traditional barbecuing.

On the other hand, pellet smokers are designed to be smokehouses of sorts and provide longer, slower smoke times which results in a much smokier taste while being able to maintain low temperatures better than its counterpart. 

Also Read: What Temp Is Smoked Brisket Done? (A Guide to the Perfect Brisket)

Pellet Grill Vs. Pellet Smoker- Detailed Comparison

Pellet Smoker

Let’s start with the standard pellet grill (horizontal) and pellet smoker (vertical). 

The Heat Source

The burning wood pellets or other heat source of a pellet grill are significantly nearer to the food being cooked.

Due to the horizontal layout of a pellet grill, the food is laid out over the flames.

However, some types of pellet grills from various manufacturers include an upper rack.

The heat source for a pellet smoker is located at the bottom of the unit.

The things to be smoked are placed on racks. Foods placed higher away from the burning pellets are less likely to be damaged.

In a pellet smoker, only the bottom rack is somewhat close to the fire. It’s still typically longer than the space required to separate the flaming pellets from the food on a grill.

To successfully smoke meat or vegetables, you must keep them a safe distance away from the fire. Smoke, not direct flame heat, is what’s needed for cooking.

Therefore, a pellet smoker is preferable if authentically smoked food is your goal.

On the other hand, a pellet grill can produce the flavour and texture of dishes smoked over real fire. This is because a pellet grill makes use of the smoke and heat generated by the hardwood pellets.

The Cooking Chamber

Manufacturers like Traeger and Z Grill classify their pellet grills as smokers as well since they employ both heat and smoke within the cooking chamber. 

Therefore, even when using a grill, the smoke from the underlying hardwood pellet fire will affect the cooking process and provide flavour.

Most pellet grill advertisements emphasise the smoky flavour or effect

Close the lid of your pellet grill while cooking for a combination of heat and smoke that will give your food a reasonably smokey effect, texture, or flavour.

The combination works fine except that it is too close to the source of the heat.

For the best results with smoked dishes, you’ll need to devote more time to the cooking process.

Cooking times on a pellet grill are significantly shorter compared to those in a pellet smoker. 

The Smoking Effect

Smoke flavouring is one thing, but employing smoke as the main cooking method is entirely different.

Both pellet grills and smokers rely on convection heat, although smokers produce more smoke and less direct heat from the burning pellets.

Thus, a pellet smoker is perfect for those who enjoy smoking ribs, sausages, and veggies.

However, a pellet grill is your best bet if you’re after a smoky steak. A smoker does not offer a cooking effect, unlike a pellet grill

The Cooking Capacity 

In most cases, there is more room available in a vertical pellet smoker.

On the other hand, you might need to refill the pellets.

The necessity to refill the container also applies to barbecues that use pellets.

The pellet capacity of a given model determines the refilling frequency as well as the total amount of cooking time

The following table compares the amount of space devoted to cooking offered by each of the four models featured in this guide:

Brand and Model Cooking Capacity
Traeger Grills Pro Pellet Grill & Smoker 884 sq in (0.57 sq m)
Z Grills Pellet Grill & Smoker 452 sq in (0.29 sq m) or 15 lbs (6.8 kg)
Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 900 Pellet Grill 20 lbs (9 kg)
Pit Boss PBV3P1 Vertical Pellet Smoker 40+ lbs (18+ kg)


If you need to make do with a limited amount of room, the cooking capacity might help simplify your mission.

In the event that this is not the case, you will need to investigate more and compare the temperature range, precision, and other aspects of a pellet grill and a pellet smoker

The Temperature Range

The following is the temperature range that each of the four models of pellet grill and pellet smoker covered in this guide can accommodate:

Brand and Model Temperature Range
Traeger Grills Pro Pellet Grill & Smoker 180 °F to 480 °F (82 °C to 249 °C)
Z Grills Pellet Grill & Smoker 180 °F to 480 °F (82 °C to 249 °C)
Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 900 Pellet Grill 175 °F to 300 °F (80 °C to 149 °C)
Pit Boss PBV3P1 Vertical Pellet Smoker 150 °F to 450 °F (65.5 °C to  232 °C)


The right model and kind of appliance will depend on the grilling and smoking temperature needs of a single dish or a collection of recipes

In order to achieve temperatures as low as 150 °F (65 °C), the Pit Boss pellet smoker is required.

This is the lowest temperature setting out of the four models, and none of the others have it

Pellet smoker temperatures up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius) are recommended for extra-meaty baby back ribs; much higher and the meat will dry out.

A pellet smoker temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius) is required for cold smoked salmon

The Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 900 pellet grill can reach temperatures of up to 375 °F (190 °C), but not 480 °F (249 °C). If you want a vertical pellet smoker, the Pit Boss is not the right choice, but the other pellet grills are.

In general, pellet smokers can be set to the ideal smoking temperature.

Additionally, pellet grills can reach the required temperatures.

Because of these devices’ different intended purposes, it’s important to ensure they can work together

The increment option, which allows you to increase or decrease the heat according to the recipe’s needs, should be checked in addition to this temperature range.

Most manufacturers work with 14-degree Celsius (around 25-degree Fahrenheit) intervals

The Taste Test: Pellet Grill Vs. Pellet Smoker

If you want to smoke a rib eye, whether rib eye or wrap, a pellet smoker is the way to go.

If you want the steak to have seared outside, you will need to use a pellet grill.

It is common practise for some individuals to make use of both a pellet smoker, which imparts a delectable smoky flavour and a pellet grill, which produces an outstanding seared finish.

Of course, the situation is very different when it comes to vegetables.

On a pellet grill, if you do not have the low heat setting that is required, you run the risk of chargrilling your vegetables instead of smoking them.

This problem is also widespread among persons who use a pellet grill for smoking meats at temperatures higher than those suggested.

To achieve the ideal smoky flavour, cook the food at an appropriately low temperature for the necessary time.

As a result, a pellet grill or combination is not a substitute suitable for or practical in place of a pellet smoker.

In the same vein, a vertical pellet smoker does not have the ability to grill, sear, or barbecue.

After everything is said and done, investing in a pellet grill capable of smoking can be worthwhile if you are looking for a smokey flavour that is more subdued rather than going all out with the smoked cooking method.

In addition, if your pellet grill comes with a second rack, you may use it to smoke food over a prolonged period of time using the low and slow method.

What Is Offset Or Traditional Smoker Grill?

There are a number of other names for a smoker, including an offset barrel smoker, a horizontal smoker, a pipe smoker, a stick smoker, and a side firebox smoker.

Because of this, the entire smoking process can be managed with complete precision.

A form of outdoor smoker known as an offset smoker has a long horizontal cooking chamber that is positioned at an angle relative to a vertical stack of heaters.

It is a type of barbecue that imparts a smoky flavour to food by producing smoke through the combustion of natural gas, wood, or charcoal.

The smoke that is produced by the firebox makes its way through the cooking chamber and into the main chamber, where it cooks the food.

Because of the offset construction, smoke is formed at one end of this type of smoker and flows down to the other, making it challenging to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the entire device.

Because of this, even when there is a sufficient amount of smoke, it is possible that it is not dispersed evenly throughout the cooker.

Wood smokers are frequently utilised for the purpose of barbecuing large or entire cuts of meat such as brisket or hog shoulder.

In colder climates, using an offset smoker to cook can be particularly challenging because it is difficult to maintain the temperature at which the food should be cooked.

Because offset smokers demand a greater level of attention than normal smoker grills, inexperienced users typically avoid using offset smokers.

Drum smokers and even more basic grills, like gas or electric barbecues, are great options for those just starting in outdoor cooking.

Are Pellet Grill and Pellet Smoker the Same?

This difference lies in the way that heat is generated.

A pellet grill uses indirect heat from the pellets placed in the fuel bin, while a pellet smoker uses direct heat that flows through the steel tubes are heated by the constantly burning pellets.

Consequently, a pellet smoker allows one to enjoy not only smoking their food but also searing with higher temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whereas pellet grills feature lower temperature ranges with around 450 degrees Fahrenheit of peak temperature.

This means that a pellet smoker offers more control over low-temperature cooking while still giving you access to higher temperatures as opposed to just offering indirect heat like the grill does.

Pellet Grill Vs. Pellet Smoker Vs. Pellet Grill & Smoker

Your specific requirements should guide your decision between a pellet grill and a pellet smoker.

If you use your grill on a more regular basis, a pellet smoker is not the right choice for you.

A pellet grill is not going to cut it if you are looking for substantial smoke and extended cooking times at lower temperatures.

This decision is made more difficult by the fact that many firms sell products that are labelled both as grills and smokers.

Two brands that fall into this category are Traeger and Z Grills. These devices are also known as pellet smokers by some people.

On the other hand, these types are most accurately classified as a combination horizontal grill and smoker.

On, you will discover details about the Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 Electric Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker.

Traeger claims that their 6-in-1 device can grill, smoke, roast, bake, and braise food in addition to braising and barbecuing.

You might also be interested in the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker, which is available on

This 8-in-1 appliance is capable of searing, chargrilling, barbecuing, braising, baking, roasting, and smoking food.

Oklahoma Joe’s eliminates the confusion by referring to its pellet grills as “simply that” in the company’s product descriptions.

In addition, the confusion disappears when you make a distinction between people who smoke horizontally and those who smoke vertically.

When compared to the horizontal grill and smoker combos offered by Traeger and Z Grill, the Pit Boss pellet smoker offers a unique design.

Pellet Grill


  • Grilling, roasting, and barbecuing are all possible.
  • Some pellet grills allow for searing, even on fire.
  • Temperature or heat regulation that is automated.
  • WiFi is built into a few models.


  • Pellet grills are incompatible with smoked food recipes.
  • More pricey than standard grills.
  • Electricity is required for pellet grills.
  • The use of high-quality hardwood pellets raises ongoing expenditures.

Pellet Smoker


  • Efficient in lowering the rate of smoking.
  • You can also choose to bake or roast the meat.
  • Outstanding ability to regulate both temperature and time.
  • A handful of these devices also make it easier to grill.


  • Grilling and searing are not possible with vertical pellet smokers.
  • Compared to traditional smokers, more expensive.
  • Electricity is required for use in pellet smokers.
  • The use of premium-quality hardwood pellets will result in an increase in ongoing costs.


Is A Pellet Grill Superior To A Smoker?

Despite the resources available on pellet grills and smokers, many still disagree about which is superior.

A pellet grill provides convenience due to its programmable design, allowing it to do most of the work for you.

On the other hand, a smoker gives you complete control over the temperature and smoke intensity, meaning that you can customize each cook session exactly how you want it.

Both provide delicious BBQ results; however, your preferences should determine which type would be best for you.

Generally speaking, pellet grills are perfect if you want convenience while smokers are perfect if you want maximum flavor control.

Are Pellet Grills Worth It?

For serious grillers, a pellet grill can be a great investment as these grills offer both precise cooking temperature control and convenience.

By using digitally controlled burners, the temperature stays consistent throughout, ensuring that every dish comes out perfectly cooked no matter what your cooking time is.

Furthermore, since many of these grills work like ovens, you don’t need to monitor the fire or constantly move coals around.

This can save time during busy holiday parties and summer gatherings while allowing you to focus your attention on other aspects of hosting such as preparing appetizers or mixing drinks.

However, if you’re more of an occasional griller or prefer charcoal umami flavors in your dishes then a pellet grill may not be right for you.

Ultimately, it’s up to you decide whether investing in one is worth it for your needs.

Is A Pellet Grill Healthier Than Charcoal?

Pellet grills may be healthier than traditional charcoal grills due to reduced exposure to carcinogenic compounds.

Pellets, typically made from sawdust and other wood byproducts, burn cleanly and completely which translates to fewer polluting emissions compared to the incomplete combustion of charcoal.

Additionally, some studies have suggested that the taste of foods cooked on pellets is more enjoyable than food cooked on standard charcoal grills.

In comparison, wood pellet grills involve less direct exposure to flame and smoke with higher temps.

Health-conscious consumers may opt for a pellet grill in order to reduce their risk for cancer and disease associated with being overexposed to carcinogenic compounds when using traditional charcoal.

How Would I Get More Smoke Taste In My Pellet Grill?

The answer to the question is divided into two parts. First, check that the wood pellets you are using have an appropriate density and that they are the right kind.

Second, ensure that you are using the appropriate quantity of pellets, and experiment with a variety of flavours of pellets.

Use meat that is fresh, of high quality, and refrigerated so that it can continue to absorb the delightful smoky taste.

Are Pellet Smokers Bad For Your Health?

It is possible for potentially hazardous compounds like PAHs to be produced when meat juices and fat drip into the flames of a fire.

When organic material, such as coal or gas, is burned at high temperatures, PAHs are produced as a byproduct.

They are carcinogenic compounds that have the potential to influence the immune system, as well as the lungs and the skin.

There is no conclusive data to suggest that cooking with pellets on a barbecue is any healthier than cooking with other types of grills.

How Long Do Pellets Last In Smoker?

Pellets are susceptible to being significantly influenced by both temperature and humidity.

They have a five or six-month shelf life when stored in dry circumstances. On the other hand, their lifespan is reduced when exposed to high levels of humidity (at best – at worst, half the time).

Be careful to store your pellets in a method appropriate for the weather where you live and reduces the amount of moisture in the air.

The Verdict

Your key necessity as well as your personal preference will ultimately be the deciding considerations.

When compared to a vertical pellet smoker, a pellet grill and smoker combo will not be able to produce smoked foods of the same high quality.

If you have the funds available, you might want to look into purchasing both a grill and a smoker.

A pellet smoker cannot sear, grill, roast, or barbeque like a pellet grill.

Examine the relevant models and pick the one that best fits your needs.

However, before committing to a particular pellet grill or pellet smoker, ensure it can provide the results you seek.

Also Read: When To Wrap Pork Butt – Here’s What You Need to Know

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