Low and slow, or quick and intense – how would you cook your steak? For these two techniques, you contemplate on two types of grills: the pellet grill vs. gas grill. How do they compare, and does one produce healthier meals than the other? To answer these questions, you need to know the unique traits of each grill type.
Both are suitable for cooking steaks or barbeque outdoors. However, they differ in many ways. If you face the dilemma of choosing only one that’s suitable for your cooking method, this article is for you! This detailed guide features the pellet grill and gas grill, their pros and cons, and the key areas where they differ.
Pellet Grill versus Gas Grill Overview
Before we go over “how do the pellet grill and gas grill differ,” let us take a short rundown on their similarities. First, both of them are outdoor grills suitable for backyard barbecues and picnics. A user-friendly wheeled cart that houses them makes them portable.
If you are worried about your electric consumption, neither will increase your bill. The pellet grill draws its fuel from the wood pellets, while the gas grill’s power comes from natural gas or propane gas. However, the pellet grill uses electricity to power the fan that helps combust the smoke. Nevertheless, if you don’t grill that much, these two grill types are cost-efficient. You also have the choice to turn off the fan.
Cooking slowly at low heat brings out the most flavor and aroma of the meat. If you don’t mind waiting for a little longer, the pellet grill works better at this method; it is definitely worth the wait. On the other hand, gas grills come in a temperature range from medium to high. It cooks the meat faster but without compromising much of the smoky taste and smell.
Pellet grills are the best choice if you want to smoke meat in lower temperatures. It works like an oven in that it cooks your food thoroughly and slowly, except that it adds a smoky flavor to the flesh. Pellet grills are ideal if you aren’t seeking for high heat cooking all the time.
An Overview and Brief History
Aside from pellet grills, some people go by pellet smokers. Pellet grills or smokers are outdoor cooking hobs that combine the functions of charcoal grills, gas grills, and ovens. They can cook the food in a variety of ways – smoking, grilling, or baking. They have the insulation capacities that make them some of the most multifunctional grills.
Pellet grills draw heat from burning wood chips. With some integrated controls, these grills allow you to adjust the temperature and other cooking requirements. Interestingly, new models, such as Lil Tex Elite from Traeger and Weber Smokefire EX4, are now technologically advanced. They come with wireless features enabling the users to control and monitor them from a distance. Meanwhile, some recent, competitive units of Yoder versus Rec Tec pellet smokers come with WiFi too, and prove that the market is teeming with serious innovation.
The rise of the pellet grill industry began in 1973 when an oil crisis happened among the Arab petroleum exporting countries and other regions. The pellet grills were the best alternative fuel sources for cooking, which then, later on, paved the way to wood pellets.
The first pellet grills resembled like a wood stove but functioned in a very different manner. Electricity powered them and fed the pellets from the hopper to the fire hub. Located in the fire hob is a fan that helped in the air combustion to keep the fire going.
In 1986, Joe Traeger invented and patented the first pellet grill. It was called the Traeger pellet grill, which was the only brand for 20 years. Despite the monopoly in the pellet grill industry, Traeger remained to be a small family-run business. When the patent expired in 2006, other companies manufactured pellet grills that made way for competition in the market. A prime example of Traeger’s competition is Rec Tec, another producer of excellent pellet grills.
How Do Pellet-fueled Grills Work?
Above is a photo of Traeger’s grill diagram to show you the basic parts of a pellet grill.
Different parts work together in pellet grills to create user-controlled insulation for cooking the meat. The operation starts with electricity kickstarting the wood pellets into the hopper located at the sides or back of the grill.
The hopper directs the pellets into the fire hub where the burning happens. In this area is a rod that glows red when it reaches an extreme temperature. This rod ignites the pellets to fire up and emit smoke and heat. A fan also located in the fire hub helps combust the fire and distribute the heat throughout the stove.
Pellet grills have controls to allow the user to set the temperature, usually from 180 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Some new models come with digital control for adjusting the temperature. Because of this feature, pellet grills work much like an oven. You can choose to cook your food in low heat for a more extended time. This method brings out the deep, rich flavor of the meat. You can even use it as a backyard pizza oven or bake all sorts of stuff.
A gas grill is what most backyard cooks prefer to grill on because of their ease of use and the abundance of options on the market.
An Overview and Brief History
Gas grills are another type of outdoor cooking equipment. Natural gas or propane gas powers them, which further gives buyers freedom of selection. There are two mechanisms in which the gas grill works: it cooks the food directly under an open flame, or under indirect heat discharged by the coils or other heating elements. They usually cook the meat fast at a medium to high temperature.
Most gas grills have a cart-construction that is easy to transport. The wheeled body has a dedicated slot for the gas tank and an upper deck that holds the grill unit. The frame also has side spaces that can support other compartments, tables, and other areas.
Gas grills are one of the environment-friendly outdoor cookers. They use propane or natural gas that burns cleaner than wood or charcoal. In other words, they don’t emit smoke that worsens the effects of climate change. This property is one of the primary reasons why barbeque enthusiasts choose a gas grill over other types of grills.
A lot of homeowners use propane gas grill because it is cheap, safe, and easy to maintain. The gas has a tank enclosure that is easy to transport. It even comes in smaller sizes that are incredibly convenient for camping and fishing. The major drawback, though, is that they need adequate open space and need to be away from flammable objects or materials that will obstruct the unit.
The history of gas grill dates back in the 1960s when the Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company remodeled a charcoal grill. The restructured grill ran on bottled propane. It cooked the meat at a consistent temperature and a faster rate.
The new grill was more expensive than the charcoal grill. Nevertheless, a lot of people shifted to it. Since then, it has become the staple backyard grill in American homes.
How Do Gas-powered Grills Work?
Users can fire and extinguish the gas grill quickly. Once flamed, it creates a safe cooking atmosphere that cooks the meat at a user-controlled temperature. How does it work?
Gas grills connect to a portable propane tank where it draws the fuel. It has several parts – a regulator connected to the valve, burner arms where the flame flows through, and a cooking area usually made of a covered metal grid.
The user sets a predetermined amount of gas from the tank into the burner arms. He or she turns the dial to release the gas from the container. This action creates a quick flame that lights the gas throughout the burner arms. The burner arms have holes that help dispense a uniform amount of gas for burning. Then, the user adjusts the regulator to sustain the even flow of gas all through the cooking course.
One side note: The natural gas-fueled grill has an indoor installation. It connects to a gas main through the gas pipes located underground. This type of gas grill isn’t for outdoor grilling. The significant advantage, though, is that you will never run out of gas. Just like the propane gas, natural gas has several pros and cons that you should take into consideration.
How Do Pellet & Gas Grills Differ?
To identify the type of grill suitable for you, we will have a quick overview of their fundamental differences. While they are both outdoor grills, they are quite different. First, they draw energy from varying sources. The pellet grill uses wood pellets, while the gas grill uses natural gas or propane.
If you intend to throw your meat inside without monitoring it from time to time, the pellet grill could be your choice. It works at a low temperature, which cooks the meat evenly. As a result, the steak or barbeque has a little smoky taste. Pellet grills generally cost more than the gas grill because pellets are not available in many areas compared to the gas.
On the other hand, gas grills cook food faster and impart sear marks on the meat. They create an authentic presentation on the meat for events and parties. Not only that, but they also come in a significant number of burners that can cook large batches of meat at a time. If speed and convenience are your primary consideration, then the gas grill is an excellent choice.
We have created a table to summarize the differences between the gas grills and pellet grills. For a more comprehensive comparison, we also discuss the characteristics of each grill type as well as their brief history and mechanisms on how they work.
|Pellet grill||Gas grill|
|Temperature range||200 – 350 degrees F||225 – 700 degrees F|
|Fuel source||Wood pellets||Propane or natural gas|
|Time to reach cooking temp.||15 minutes||10 minutes|
|Run time||0.5 - 2 lbs. per hour||20-lb. tank per 20 hours|
|Temperature control||Dial or digital control||Knob or dial|
After a thorough overview of the pellet grill and gas grill, which between the two stands out for you? The important considerations are your personal preferences like the flavor and aroma of the barbeque, and convenience such as the time you can allocate for cooking, the portability, and more.
We have created a detailed list of differences so you will not miss out on the essential factors that you need to consider.
The significant dissimilarity between the pellet grill and gas grill is the temperature range. The pellet grill, being a ‘low and slow’ cooker, is best at cooking the food at a low temperature. It maintains a steady temperature from 200 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Some models already scuffle at 400 degrees, but none will go beyond 450 degrees F.
The low temperature of pellet grills requires more time for cooking. Can you wait a little longer for the steak you want? Its “set and forget” feature makes it convenient to use. You place the meat onto the grilling surface and give it enough time. You don’t have to check the meat minute by minute, but you need to provide it with a longer time for cooking. The steady, low temperature cooks the meat and brings out its rich flavor and aroma.
The gas grill is the opposite. It works at a high-temperature range from 225 up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Some units can even reach 700 degrees F. If you want to cook the meat fast, the gas grill is more suitable for you. You can also sear vegetables and salmon. However, a little bit of the meat flavor is compromised.
Although the gas grills have a higher temperature range, they’re not good at retaining heat. If you turn off the flame, the heat goes off quickly. Therefore, if you want to adjust the temperature at a low setting, it is not possible. Gas grills, especially the cheaper brands, have a weak capacity for heat retention.
Gas grills have a dial knob through which the user can adjust the flame or amount of gas supplied into the burners. On the other hand, the pellet grill comes with electronic control, which is more convenient than the dial knob. The user can adjust the temperature at a distance. Some pellet grill models even come with a heat regulation feature that the user can control at high accuracy.
Ease of use
The very challenge of grilling is to keep the fire going. Considering this factor, both gas and pellet grills are a win. They are popular among the outdoor barbeque enthusiasts because of their extreme convenience. You can easily maintain a steady amount of flame because it isn’t affected by external factors like wind. The pellet grill has an integrated electric-powered fan to help in the combustion of heat.
However, when it comes to cleaning up, both grills have a different story. Situated between the pellet grills’ cooking grates and firepot is a barrier. This area is where the debris of food accumulates the most. To prevent the mess, many users wrap it with aluminum that they can replace once in a while.
The gas grill has the so-called ‘Flavorizer bars’ where the drippings of food drop. To clean it up, some users set the temperature to the highest setting to dissolve the drippings. It turns the debris of fat into carbon that is easy to scrap off.
Although they have different methods of clean up, the pellet and gas grills need a thorough cleaning at least once a year. Detach the grates and temperature reflectors, and wash them with hot water and dishwashing liquid. This way, you remove the deep-seated dirt and carbon that can affect the grill performance and quality of food.
Flavor and aroma
Meat cooked at a steady low temperature under the burning woods always has the best-tasting flavor and aroma. If you want this quality, the pellet grill would be your best option. It burns wood pellets, which also gives the meat an authentic, smoky flavor.
And how about the meat cooked on a gas grill? Some barbeque lovers say, “meh.” It tastes like cooked meat with much less smokey flavor. It may be flavorful, but that’s because of the added seasoning you applied before cooking.
Pellet grills offer extreme versatility compared to the gas grills. They have heat controls that give you more freedom to cook using different techniques. With pellet grills, you will be able to smoke, grill, roast, and even bake. They also have a fan that helps strengthen the flame and distribute the smoke throughout the unit. For the price of one cooker, you can have an oven, grill, and smoker in a pellet grill.
You can also convert the gas grill into a smoker. Add some wood chips and adjust the temperature settings. It can add a little smoky flavor to the meat. But since it works on a high-temperature range, you can’t convert it to any other kind of cooker. The pellet grill is more versatile than the gas grill.
You can expect more additional features in a pellet grill. High-end units come with wireless capabilities, including a phone app and probe connections- these features allow the user to monitor the cooking process at a distance.
Gas grills are more basic, which is an advantage for some users. For added features, some incorporate an external thermometer and a smoker box. It has limited features, but some gas grill models come with several burners, side burner, and a sear station.
If you want a decent grill that will last for years, you should be ready to shed off some money. A good quality pellet grill usually costs $400 to $500. You can’t expect a unit cheaper below this price range to be efficient and durable.
If you have a limited budget, you can find a good quality gas grill. The price of gas grill comes in a broad spectrum that is cheaper than the pellet grill. You can purchase a noteworthy unit at a reasonably low price. Propane tanks are also affordable and can last up to several months if you don’t grill often.
When it comes to warranty, the gas grill is also a winner over the pellet grill. Some manufacturers back their products with up to a 10-year warranty. On the other hand, you are lucky if you find pellet grills with a two to four-year warranty. One particular brand that offers value for money is the Woodwind pellet grill or Chef Woodwind pellet grill.
Which is Better?
You can achieve the best-tasting, authentic grilled food in a pellet grill. But, you must have the patience to wait for it for a few hours to cook. Indeed, patience is a virtue. The gas grill does it better when you intend to cook the meat faster and for several people.
Just like in the other products or areas in life, you can’t have it all in a grill. By identifying the factors relevant to you and ticking them off, you will be able to determine which one best matches your criteria. Regardless of your choice, make sure to use it with caution to prevent an accident, save energy, and cook healthy meals.
I spent most of my life fascinated by food, and the outdoors. I can’t think of a more fitting combo that leads to mastering the art of BBQ one day. I ended up decent enough to grill the perfect burger and choose the best equipment after years of improvement. I create this website for outdoor cooking enthusiasts, who are fueled by interest but lacking in help, feel educated when they leave because I see my past clueless self in them.