Wood pellet grills are the one of the latest innovations to the hit the grilling market. These devices are becoming the grill of choice for many, with digital controls making it easy to get the perfect temperature for grilling and smoking, while the wood pellets produce an unforgettable aroma that seeps into the flavor of the food.
You might be thinking you’ve heard this before with a barbeque smoker, which has been a long-time favorite of grilling aficionados for decades. A smoker does much of the same thing as a wood pellet grill, so what exactly is the difference between these grilling machines?
Let’s take a closer look to find out!
What is a Wood Pellet Grill?
A type of grill that operates on electricity, wood pellet grills look very similar to gas grills. It features a large hopper at the side which is filled with lots of small hardwood pellets.
These are fed into a fire pot using an auger, which pushes them at different speeds and times depending on the temperature you set on the digital control panel.
When pushed into the pot, the pellets are ignited and start to produce smoke, which is then blown upwards by an internal fan, causing the smoke to fill up the body of the grill where the food is cooking.
This smoke cooks via convection while also seeping into the taste of the food itself.
What is a Smoker?
Known as a barrel smoker or an offset smoker, smokers usually feature a small firebox that feeds smoke into a larger cooking area.
Place charcoal and some wood chunks into the firebox and the smoke produced slowly feeds into the cooking chamber and then funnelled out through a chimney. The heat from this cooks the food while leaving an unforgettable smoky flavour.
You can use just wood as fuel source in a smoker or combine it with charcoal, which produces a more intense flavor.
What are the Differences Between a Smoker and a Wood Pellet Grill?
Smokers are a much more basic type of barbecue prep. They don’t use electricity like a wood pellet grill, which requires a power source for the various functions like the fan, augur, and temperature control.
This means you just set a temperature and the grill will work on its own to maintain it, with the auger feeding pellets as needed to maintain the desired temperature. They start much quicker than a smoker and will maintain a temperature with ease, which isn’t always the case with the smoker.
Because smokers use a manual fire, control temperatures isn’t as easy like on pellet grill, so checking the temperature with a thermometer is a must. Thankfully most smokers come with a built-in thermometer for this reason!
Both can be used for grilling or smoking, while the convection fans included in a pellet grills mean it can bake and roast food too.
The other big difference is the fuel source. Pellet grills use hardwood pellets to produce smoke and heat for cooking, while smokers only use charcoal and/or wood chunks for fuel. Also, a wood pellet grill needs electricity whereas a smoker doesn’t.