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Pellet Grill vs Smoker – What’s the Best Choice?

Pellet Grill vs Smoker – What’s the Best Choice?

In the world of outdoor cooking, two powerhouses stand out from the rest: the mighty pellet grill and the trusty smoker. But which one will reign supreme and earn a spot in your backyard oasis? Join us as we embark on a journey through the fiery depths of flavor and explore every facet of pellet grills and smokers. We’ll weigh the pros and cons, compare features, and arm you with all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.

What are Pellet Grill and Smokers, exactly?

A BBQ smoker on a porch giving off smoke

A pellet grill is a type of outdoor cooking appliance that combines the functions of an oven, a grill, and a smoker. It uses wood pellets as its fuel source, which imparts a unique flavor to the food being cooked.

Old smoker grill in use with adjacent woodpile

On the other hand, a smoker is an outdoor cooking device specifically designed for smoking food at low temperatures over an extended period. Unlike pellet grills, smokers can use various fuel sources such as charcoal, gas, or electricity.

Best Examples of Pellet & Smoker Brands

There are a lot of choices when it comes to pellet grills and smokers. There are the big brands at Home Depot and Lowe’s – but also so many other specialty brands online and at specialty retailers.


Weber SmokeFire EX4 Wood Fired Pellet Grill (2nd Gen) with Cover

Known for their high-quality grills and smokers, Weber’s Smokefire EX4 Wood Fired Pellet Grill is considered one of the best overall pellet grills on the market. With a temperature range of 200 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, it excels in both smoking and grilling. Weber is known for its durability, ease of setup, and value for money.

Camp Chef

Camp Chef 24 in. WIFI Woodwind Pellet Grill & Smoker, WIFI & Bluetooth Connectivity, PID controller, Stainless Steel, Total Cooking Surface 811 sq in

The Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 24 Pellet Grill is highly regarded for its performance and features. This brand offers excellent build quality and design, with the ability to add on functionality like dedicated searing and a pizza oven with the SideKick attachment. Camp Chef is known for its versatility and user-friendly controls.


Traeger Grills Pro Series 575 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker with Wifi, App-Enabled, Black, Large

As one of the pioneers in the pellet grill industry, Traeger is known for producing high-quality and reliable pellet grills. Their Pro 575 Wood Pellet Grill is a popular choice among BBQ enthusiasts for its performance, durability, and ease of use. Traeger is also known for its wide range of wood pellet flavors.

Z Grills

Z GRILLS Pellet Grill Smoker 700D3 with PID Controller, 700 Cooking Area, Meat Probes, Hopper Clean-Out and Rain Cover, for Outdoor BBQ

Offering great value for money, Z Grills’ 700D3 Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker is an excellent budget-friendly option. This brand is known for its affordability without compromising on performance and features. Z Grills pellet grills are versatile and easy to use, making them a popular choice for beginners.


recteq RT-700 Wood Pellet Smoker Grill | Wi-Fi-Enabled, Electric Pellet Grill | 702 Square Inches of Cook Space

Known for their durability and performance, Recteq’s RT-700 is considered one of the most robust pellet smokers on the market. This brand focuses on providing long-lasting, high-quality products that can withstand the test of time. Recteq is also known for its excellent customer service and support.

Green Mountain Grills

Green Mountain Trek Wi-Fi Controlled Portable Wood Pellet Tailgating Grill - Small Smoker Grill for BBQ, Camping, Tailgating, RV

The Green Mountain Grills Trek is a popular choice for tailgating due to its portability and performance. This brand is known for its innovative designs and features, such as WiFi connectivity and precise temperature control. Green Mountain Grills offers a range of pellet grills suitable for various needs and budgets.

Pit Boss

PIT BOSS Grills 77550 5.5 Pellet Smoker, 850 sq inch, Copper

Offering affordable and high-quality pellet grills, Pit Boss is known for its value for money and performance. Their pellet grills are versatile and easy to use, making them an excellent choice for those looking for a budget-friendly option without compromising on quality.

Yoder Smokers

Yoder Smokers’ YS640 is a premium pellet grill known for its ability to sear and smoke effectively. This brand focuses on providing high-quality, durable products with excellent performance. Yoder Smokers is a popular choice among professional BBQ enthusiasts and those looking for a top-of-the-line pellet grill.

Memphis Grills

Memphis Grills PRO BUILT-IN ITC3 NEW 2022 Model!, VGB0001S-ITC3

Memphis pellet grills are known for their high cooking temperatures and ability to provide a mild, clean smoky flavor. With models like the Memphis Pro, this brand offers premium pellet grills with advanced features and excellent build quality. Memphis Grills is a popular choice for those seeking a high-end pellet grill experience.

Weber SmokeFire Gen 2

Weber SmokeFire EX6 (2nd Gen) Wood Fired Pellet Grill, Black

As an updated version of the popular SmokeFire series, the Gen 2 offers improved performance and features. Known for its versatility in both smoking and grilling, this pellet grill is a popular choice for those looking for a reliable and high-performing option from a trusted brand.

Comparison of Pellet Grills vs Smokers

Fuel Source

Traeger Grills Apple 100% All-Natural Wood Pellets for Smokers and Pellet Grills, BBQ, Bake, Roast, and Grill, 20 lb. Bag

Pellet grills use wood pellets as their primary fuel source, while smokers can use charcoal, gas, or electricity. Wood pellets provide a consistent heat source and impart a distinct smoky flavor to the food.

In contrast, charcoal and gas smokers offer a more traditional approach to outdoor cooking, with the added benefits of using different types of wood chips to achieve various flavors.

Cooking Options (Grilling, Smoking, Roasting, Baking)

Pellet grills are incredibly versatile, allowing you to smoke, grill, roast, and bake using the same appliance. You can even make pizza crusts and cakes with a pellet grill!

Smokers, on the other hand, are primarily designed for smoking meat at low temperatures. Some smokers may have additional functionalities, such as grilling or roasting, but they generally do not offer the same level of versatility as a pellet grill.


As mentioned earlier, pellet grills are highly versatile outdoor cooking appliances, suitable for cooking various types of food. With a pellet grill, you can easily switch between smoking, grilling, roasting, and baking by adjusting the temperature settings.

mokers are more specialized, focusing on smoking meat at low temperatures for an extended period. While some smokers offer additional functionalities, they generally cannot match the versatility of a pellet grill.

Temperature Control

Pellet grills offer precise temperature control, allowing you to maintain consistent heat throughout the cooking process. Most pellet grills come with digital controllers that enable you to set the desired temperature accurately.

Smokers, especially charcoal ones, require more manual temperature adjustments and constant monitoring to maintain the right temperature for smoking.

Fuel Management

Wood pellets used in pellet grills are an efficient and consistent fuel source. They are easy to store, handle, and load into the grill.

Charcoal and gas smokers require more hands-on fuel management, such as lighting the charcoal, adjusting the vents, and monitoring the fuel levels.

Ease of Use

Pellet grills are known for their ease of use, making them an excellent choice for beginners and seasoned pros alike. With a pellet grill, you can set the temperature and let the grill do the work without constant monitoring.

Smokers, particularly charcoal ones, require more attention to maintain the right temperature and ensure consistent results.

Consistent Results

Due to their precise temperature control and consistent fuel source, pellet grills deliver consistent results across different types of food and even different cuts within each type. Smokers, especially charcoal ones, may not provide the same level of consistency due to the manual nature of temperature adjustments and fuel management.

Smoky Flavor

Both pellet grills and smokers impart a delicious smoky flavor to the food being cooked. However, the intensity of the smoky flavor may vary depending on the type of wood pellets or wood chips used.

Some users may prefer the more intense smoky flavor produced by charcoal smokers, while others may appreciate the milder, more nuanced flavors offered by pellet grills.

Wet-Weather Use

Pellet grills are generally more suitable for wet-weather use than charcoal or gas smokers. The pellets remain dry in their storage container and can be easily loaded into the grill, even in damp conditions.

On the other hand, charcoal can become difficult to light in wet weather, and propane tanks may not function optimally in cold, damp conditions.


When it comes to portability, both pellet grills and smokers have their pros and cons. Some pellet grills are designed with portability in mind, featuring folding legs and compact designs for easy transport.

However, they do require an electrical power source, which may limit their usability in remote locations. Smokers, particularly smaller charcoal or gas ones, can be more portable but may require additional accessories such as charcoal, wood chips, or a propane tank.

Pros & Cons of Pellet Grills and Smokers

Now that we’ve compared the features of pellet grills and smokers let’s summarize their pros and cons:

Pellet Grills

  • Pros:
    • Versatile: Can smoke, grill, roast, and bake
    • Precise temperature control
    • Consistent results
    • Easy fuel management
    • Generally easier to use in wet weather
  • Cons:
    • Requires an electrical power source
    • May not produce as intense a smoky flavor as traditional smokers
    • Can be more expensive than some smokers


  • Pros:
    • Produces delicious smoky flavors
    • No electricity requirement (charcoal and gas smokers)
    • Can be more portable than some pellet grills
  • Cons:
    • Less versatile than pellet grills
    • Manual temperature control and fuel management
    • Charcoal can be difficult to light in wet weather

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between a Pellet Grill and a Smoker

When deciding between a pellet grill and a smoker, consider the following factors:

Electricity Requirement

Pellet grills require an electrical power source to operate, while charcoal and gas smokers do not. If you plan to use your outdoor cooking appliance in a remote location without access to electricity, a smoker may be a better option for you.

Budget Constraints

Pellet grills can be more expensive than some smokers, particularly those that use charcoal or gas as their fuel source. If budget is a significant concern, you may want to consider a smoker over a pellet grill.

Personal Preference

Ultimately, the choice between a pellet grill and a smoker comes down to personal preference. If you value versatility, precise temperature control, and consistent results, a pellet grill may be the best choice for you.

However, if you prefer a more traditional approach to outdoor cooking with more intense smoky flavors, a smoker may be the better option.


Both pellet grills and smokers have their unique advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking for an all-in-one outdoor cooking appliance that offers versatility, ease of use, and consistent results, a pellet grill is an excellent choice.

However, if you prefer a more traditional smoking experience and don’t mind the additional hands-on involvement, a smoker might be right for you.

Final Thoughts

In summary, pellet grills and smokers both offer unique benefits for outdoor cooking enthusiasts. Pellet grills provide versatility, precise temperature control, and consistent results, making them ideal for users who want to experiment with various cooking methods.

Smokers, on the other hand, deliver a more traditional smoking experience with intense smoky flavors, appealing to those who appreciate the hands-on nature of charcoal or gas smoking. Ultimately, the choice between a pellet grill and a smoker depends on your personal preferences, budget, and specific outdoor cooking needs.