What Cooks Better – Charcoal Grill or Pellet Grill?

Ask any barbecue purist and they will say that nothing beats the authentic flavor from a charcoal grill. It’s hard to deny how popular this grilling method is, with the deep, smoky flavor being synonymous with barbecued food. 

Yet in recent years, pellet grills have become more popular, with many swearing that the smoky flavor produced by this type of grilling being far superior to the traditional charcoal grill. 

Both are known to create a similar taste and can cook a variety of foods in a few different ways, leading many to ask what cooks better – a charcoal or pellet grill?

Let’s take a closer to find out! 

Flavor 

When it comes to choosing which type of grill leaves a better flavor, it’s hard to say for sure because we all have different preferences! However, we can look at the impact that each grilling method has on the flavor, which you can then use to decide what might be preferable to your own palate. 

Pellet grills use small wood pellets for fuel. You fill a hopper at the side of the grill, set a temperature, and hit ignite, with the pellets being fed into a rotating burn pot. As they burn, they produce smoke that helps to cook food with a smoky flavor.

The smokiness left in the food varies depending on the type of wood pellet use, with all kinds of blends available to produce different flavour notes on the food. This means you can have a variety of smoky flavours, ranging from deep and intense flavors like mesquite or oak to lighter flavors like applewood and hickory. 

Charcoal grills are known for producing a deep smoky flavour, which many feel you can’t replicate even on a pellet grill. This is because you can also use wood chunks with the charcoal, giving food an intense smoky flavor that incapsulates barbecued food. 

So, if you like a strong smokiness to your grilled food, then look no further than a charcoal grill. Add some wood chunks for an even deeper smoky taste! If you prefer less intense smokiness to your meats, then a pellet grill with milder wood pellets like hickory or maple are a good choice. 

Cooking Method 

Both a charcoal and pellet grills can be used to grill and smoke food. When smoking, you cook at a lower temperature over a long period to produce an incredible smoky flavour that is umistakable. 

When it comes to smoking food, pellet grills are definitely the better of the two. This is because you have more precise contorl over cooking temperature, making it easier to cook low and slow, which is the best way to smoke on the grill. 

Charcoal grills are much better at directly grilling food, especially searing, as the coals reach a much higher temperature than wood pellets. A good BBQ sear is just as important as a smoky taste for many, which is why a lot people prefer a charcoal grill to a pellet grill. 

Again, it’s mostly down to personal preferences! 

Usability 

The better grill in terms of usability is a pellet grill. Quicker and easier to get fired up, you can be cooking on the grill in no time, whereas you probably going to wait around 20-30 minutes for the charcoals to be hot enough to cook on. 

Also, getting different smoked flavors using a charcoal grill is more difficult than a pellet grill.

You need to add wood chunks, adjust air vents to get the right temperature, and find the right balance between wood and charcoal – with a pellet grill you just fill up the hopper with pellets of your choosing and let the grill do the rest. 

That said, once you get used to using a charcoal grill, cooking with it becomes much easier! 

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