Is a Pellet Grill a Smoker? (Yes, but…)

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You want a grill but you also want a smoker. Will a pellet grill work as both?

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn: 

  • If a pellet grill is a smoker
  • The advantages of using a pellet grill
  • And much more!
is a pellet grill a smoker

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Is A Pellet Grill A Smoker?

The easy answer is yes, you can definitely smoke all kinds of things in a pellet grill.

You can also grill (thus, the name), roast, and even bake on a pellet grill. It’s the kind of tool that offers a lot of versatility with very little hassle. Most pellet grill manufacturers will talk about the “set it and forget it” style of cooking which is appealing to a lot of people.

You are basically buying an outdoor combination oven that will support a wide range of cooking styles.

What Is A Pellet Grill?

A pellet grill is an outdoor cooker that uses wood pellets as its source of fuel. The pellets provide flavor and heat to the food, while also providing convenient temperature control.

A pellet grill will allow you to cook low-and-slow for hours at a time, and some models can sear steaks at high heat in minutes. This type of cooker is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy the flavor of barbecuing without having to constantly monitor the fire and adjust air flow like you would with a charcoal or wood-burning smoker. 

pellet grill smoking ribs and chicken

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

Pellet grills have also been referred to as pellet smokers. Pellet smokers/grills are different from traditional smokers in several ways.

The main difference between a pellet grill and a traditional smoker is that pellet grills offer many cooking options like grilling, smoking, roasting, and baking, while smokers mainly offer the option of smoking food.

Related >> The Best Offset Smokers

However, since pellet grills use wood pellets as fuel instead of charcoal, they produce less smoke but still give food that smoky flavor we love so much. It does take a little getting used to, especially if you’re moving from a traditional smoker to a pellet grill. You will have to go through a few pork butts to get the right flavor in your smoked meats.

Can You Smoke On A Pellet Grill?

Pellet grills are often mistaken as just another type of grill, but in reality, they are great for smoking! Pellet grills do use compressed wood pellets as fuel and produce smoke from burning the same natural hardwood as a regular smoker.

Related >> How Long Do Pellets Last  

This makes it perfect for all sorts of smoked or low ‘n’ slow foods like pulled pork, ribs, or brisket. Because pellet grills deliver precise control over the temperature settings you can also get a more consistent cook over time and avoid the coals burning out and having to rebuild your fire during a long cook.

Related >> Smoked Pizza on a Pellet Grill

You can see a smoked brisket on a pellet grill in the video below:

You Can Also Grill On Them

There’s a reason they call them pellet grills. The same heat that can be regulated for low and slow cooking can be cranked up to use the pellet cooker as a traditional grill.

Some models can even get hot enough to sear meat and lock in all that meaty goodness.

Related >> The Best Pellet Grills for Searing

Just like charcoal or gas, the pellet grills will heat up and can be used for burgers, dogs, steaks, and more. Since you don’t have to worry about lighting charcoal, many people prefer pellet grills to traditional charcoal grills or charcoal smokers.

What Are The Advantages of Using A Pellet Grill

The biggest advantage for pellet grillers is the ability to control the temperature without constantly making adjustments to the fuel supply. The grill temperature is continuously monitored by sensors in the grill.

The sensors communicate with the auger system that feeds the pellets into the firebox. No one needs to check fuel, add charcoal or do anything other than set the temperature and let the grill do the work. The days of waking up at 4am to make sure there is enough charcoal in the smoker are over.

Related >> What To Do if You Run Out of Pellets While Cooking

Certain models of pellet grills can also replace the need for a grill and a smoker, saving space on your patio or in your outdoor kitchen. They give grilling and BBQ enthusiasts a lot of options in one package. They are also easy for the whole family to use if they want to get involved.

Once you understand how to set up the pellet grill and get it started, it’s as easy as using a conventional oven.

In addition, most pellet grills come with an ample amount of storage. Most models have onboard storage for accessories and tools which is another plus, considering traditional smokers are designed to cook food and that’s it.

Related >> How To Store Wood Pellets

There Are Also A Few Limitations To The Pellet Grill

Despite these advantages, there are some limitations when it comes to using a pellet grill as opposed to a smoker.

Let’s start with the price. Pellet grills tend to be more expensive than traditional smokers. You can get into a low-end smoker for under $100 (not that we’d necessarily recommend that) but it is possible.

That said, you can bring home a great smoker if you’re floating in the $400 to $800 range. Pellet grills tend to start around $400 and can go as high as $4,000. 

You can find some great pellet grills under $500, though.

On top of the purchase price, your fuel will be more expensive in a pellet smoker, and if you skimp on the price of pellets, you will likely not get the cooking results you want.

Cheaper pellets, like cheapo charcoal, have a lot of additives and fillers that can affect the flavor of your food. You are better off buying higher-end products.

Pellet grills tend to be larger than traditional smokers due to their hopper size which holds the pellets that provide fuel for cooking/smoking food. Additionally, most models have limited space for adding extra fuel such as charcoal or wood chips which means that users must plan ahead if they wish to add additional flavorings while smoking/cooking with the grill. 

Related >> Can You Use Charcoal on a Pellet Grill?

Finally, due to the nature of how pellets burn (in an oxygen-starved environment), there will never be quite as much smokiness compared to what you get from burning charcoal or wood chips directly on top of your fire source in a smoker box or tray – although this is something many people appreciate about pellet grills.

Related >> How To Use Wood Pellets in a Charcoal Grill

So, Is It A Grill Or A Smoker?

The only answer we can give is the one we started with: Yes.

The pellet grill is both a grill and a smoker. It’s an extremely versatile piece of outdoor cooking equipment most people love for its easy setup and unbeatable temperature control features. 

Jim Graziano

Jim Graziano

Hi, I’m Jim and I am blessed by being able to write a few articles for this incredible community of outdoor cooking enthusiasts. I have been cooking my whole life and about 10 years ago, the idea of BBQ caught my attention, thanks to a dear friend who introduced me to the craft. Since then I have competed in Memphis in May, spent a lot of weekends chasing KCBS honors and started a BBQ ministry with the men’s group at church. It is an honor to share some of what I’ve learned and continue to learn with all y’all, and I hope you find it helpful.

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