Should You Buy a Pellet Grill or a Smoker?
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Should You Buy a Pellet Grill or a Smoker?

Posted May 8th, 2023

Are you ready to take your grilling game to the next level this summer? If so, then it may be time to consider upgrading your grill. With so many options on the market, you may be wondering how you’ll know which one to choose. Not to worry, we'll explore the differences between two popular types of grills to help you get started: pellet grills and smoker grills.

By the end of this blog, you'll have a better understanding of which one is right for you, so you can get to grilling delicious meals in no time.

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What is a Pellet Grill?

A pellet grill is an outdoor cooking device that uses wood pellets to fuel the fire. These pellets are typically made of compressed sawdust and are known to give food a unique smoky flavor that is difficult to replicate with other grills. Loved for their convenience and versatility, pellet grills can be used for smoking, grilling, and even baking.

Simply load the pellets into the grill’s hopper, which then feeds them into a firepot where they are burned to produce heat and smoke. Unlike traditional charcoal or wood-fired grills, pellet grills have a digital controller that allows you to set the cooking temperature and forget about it. With the ability to control the temperature so precisely, you can cook a wide range of dishes to perfection, from slow-cooked pulled pork to seared steaks!

Pros of a Pellet Grill

Versatility: Pellet grills can be used for a wide range of cooking styles, including smoking, grilling, roasting, and even baking.

Efficiency: Pellet grills are highly efficient, using less fuel than traditional charcoal or gas grills. The heat generated by the burning pellets is also evenly distributed throughout the cooking chamber, resulting in faster and more even cooking.

Easy to Clean: Pellet grills typically have a removable ashtray or cup that collects the ash from the burned pellets. This makes cleanup quick and easy, with minimal mess.

What is a Smoker Grill?

A smoker grill, also known simply as a smoker, is an outdoor cooking device that is designed to slow-cook food, primarily meat, using smoke and low heat. The heat source can be a variety of fuels, including charcoal, wood, or gas. The heat and smoke are channeled into a smoking chamber, where the meat is cooked low and slow to achieve that classic smoky flavor.

They do require a bit more skill and patience to use than pellet girls, however, many meat enthusiasts find that the end result is often worth the effort. The biggest advantage of a smoker is the low and slow cooking process that allows the smoke to infuse the food with a rich, smoky flavor while leaving the meat incredibly tender and juicy.

Pros of a Smoker

Flavor: Smoker grills are designed to slow-cook meats using low heat and smoke, resulting in a unique and flavorful taste. The smoke can come from a variety of wood types, each with its own distinctive flavor.

Tender and Juicy Meats: Smoker grills are ideal for cooking meats such as brisket, pork shoulder, and ribs, which require a slow cooking process to become tender and juicy.

Budget-Friendly: Smoker grills can be relatively inexpensive, with many models available at affordable prices. They also require minimal ongoing expenses, with only the cost of wood chips or chunks to consider

Low Maintenance: Smoker grills require minimal maintenance, with no moving parts or complex controls to worry about.

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Which Is Right For You: Pellet or Smoker?

Ultimately, the choice between a pellet grill and a smoker grill comes down to personal preference and the type of outdoor cooking you plan on doing. Consider these factors to help you choose the grill that best suits your needs:

What You Want to Cook:

Consider what types of food you want to cook. Pellet grills are versatile and can be used for a wide range of dishes, from slow-cooked ribs to seared steaks. On the other hand, smoker grills are best suited for low and slow cooking of meats such as brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. If your main interest is smoking meat, then a smoker would be a great fit.

Experience Level:

Think about your level of experience with outdoor cooking. Pellet grills are generally considered to be easier to use and more forgiving than smokers. The digital controller and automatic pellet feed system make it easy to maintain a consistent temperature and consistently cook food to perfection.

Smokers require more attention and skill to use them effectively. If you’re new to grilling or prefer a more full-proof approach, then a pellet grill may be the better choice.


Pellet grills tend to be priced higher than smokers, especially if you opt for a higher-end model with advanced features. Smoker grills can be relatively inexpensive and require minimal ongoing expenses.


Some wood pellet grill models can be bulky and require a dedicated space in your backyard or patio. Smokers can be more compact and portable, making them a good choice if you have limited outdoor space.

Our Top Picks

Pellet Grill: Traeger Grills Iroonwood 885

If you're looking for a top-of-the-line pellet grill that offers exceptional performance and versatility, then the Traeger Grill Ironwood 885 is a great choice. Thanks to its advanced features such as WiFIRE technology, Turbo Temp, and Super Smoke Mode, you get an elevated grilling experience with consistent and perfectly cooked food every time.

Offering a wide range of cooking options from low and slow smoking to high-temperature searing and grilling, you can do it all. Bake, roast, braise, and more, this grill is one of the most versatile grills on the market.

Smoker: Big Joe Grill - Series III

If you are leaning towards purchasing a smoker, this premium Kamado Joe smoker is sure to impress. With its durable construction and advanced features, this grill is built to last and provides an exceptional cooking experience making it a great investment for years to come.

Its free-standing design allows you to easily rearrange it around your backyard or patio, making it ideal for those who like to entertain outdoors and enjoy an easy setup. The smoker also features an advanced control system that allows you to easily monitor and adjust the temperature

Frequently Asked Questions

How do smoker grills work?

Smoker grills work by using smoke to cook and flavor meat, fish, or vegetables. The smoke is produced by burning wood chips or chunks, which are placed in a firebox or on a separate tray. The heat and smoke travel through the cooking chamber, which is usually covered, and cook the food low and slow, giving it a delicious smoky flavor.

How long does it take to smoke meat on a smoker grill?

The length of time it takes to smoke meat on a smoker grill depends on several factors, such as the type of meat, its thickness, and the temperature of the grill. As a general rule, smoking meat takes longer than grilling, as the low and slow cooking method requires patience.

For example, smoking a brisket can take anywhere from 12 to 16 hours, while smoking a pork shoulder can take 8 to 10 hours. However, some smaller cuts of meat, such as chicken or fish, can be smoked in just a few hours.

How long do pellets last in a pellet grill?

The length of time that hardwood pellets last depends on the size of the hopper, the temperature setting, and the type of pellets used. Generally, a 20-pound bag of pellets can last for around 20 hours of cooking at low temperatures and around 10 hours at high temperatures.

However, this can vary depending on the grill and the cooking conditions. It's always a good idea to keep extra pellets on hand, especially if you plan to smoke or grill for an extended period.

Are pellet grills suitable for beginners?

Yes, pellet grills can be suitable for beginners, as they are relatively easy to use and offer consistent results. Pellet grills are designed to have automatic temperature control, so you don't have to worry about adjusting the heat manually.

Additionally, pellet grills work by providing a consistent source of smoke, so you don't have to worry about adding wood chips throughout the cooking process.

Unleash Your Inner Chef With Our Premium Grills

You can conveniently shop our great selection of Traeger pellet grills, stainless steel smokers, and more from the top leading brands in the industry on our website to complete your outdoor oasis in time for grilling season. You can also visit our store locations in Charlotte, Salisbury, Morganton, Monroe, Pineville, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro, North Carolina, to browse our wide inventory of high-quality grills in person.

Whether you are looking for a gas grill, a charcoal grill, or anything in between, Queen City is the best grill appliance store near you. Upgrade your grilling game today when you purchase one of our premium grills and accessories!

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