Americans love eating BBQ!
Memorial is the official kickoff to backyard grilling season, and at least 75% of adults in the United States own a grill or a smoker. With 63% of grill owners using their grill year-round. You’re probably asking yourself what’s all the craze and “are pellet grills worth it?”
When I was in the market for a grill, I had no clue what a pellet smoker was and how it differed from a smoker grill. I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned.
Are Pellet Grills Worth The Money?
Yes, if you love grilling outdoors, you’ll love a pellet grill. Depending on the brand and temperature of the grill, the indirect heat allows you to cook, smoke, braise, roast, grill, and seer foods without a lot of interaction from you.
To better understand what a pellet smoker is, you first need to know what they are and how they work.
What Is A Pellet Grill?
Pellet grills use all natural wood pellets and a combustion fan to thoroughly heat food to a specific temperature, similar to that of an outdoor convection oven.
Depending on the brand you get, pellet grills can grill, bbq, bake, sear, braise, roast, smoke, and char-grill. It offers precise easy-to-use digital control between 82-260°C / 180-500°F.
I know this all can sound confusing, especially, if you’ve been cooking on a gas grill like I used to. So let’s take a closer look at how these grills work.
How Do Pellet Grills Work?
The hopper holds the all-natural wood pellets. The auger system then feeds the wood pellet grills into the cooking chamber, that eventually make their way to the firepot.
Once in the fire pot, the pellets are ignited by a hot rod, the combustion fan then stokes the fire creating a convection like heating method to cook your food evenly throughout.
Pellet Grill Overview
It can be confusing when you hear people talking about grills, smokers, or outdoor ovens. I had no clue what a pellet grill was when I purchased my Pit Boss Pro Series 820.
I did a lot of research on forums before I finally broke down and bought my Pit Boss.
Basically, what I learned is that a pellet wood smoker grill can do so much more than just grill. Think of this type of grill as a smoker or outdoor convection oven, because of the way it can cook.
- All-natural wood pellets
- Auger motor
- Combustion fan (can only be seen when taken apart)
- Auger (sits at the bottom of the hopper)
- igniter (can only be seen when taken apart)
Most Popular Brands
Should you get this brand or that brand? It can be so confusing, but some of the most popular companies that sell pellet grills are Pit Boss, Traeger, Green Mountain, Rec Tec, and Z Grills are all brands that come highly recommended.
How Much Is A Pellet Grill?
Pellet grills aren’t cheap and they can range anywhere from $100 – $2,500 or more. You can still enjoy the taste of smoky flavored food, regardless of your budget.
I’ve put together some of the best smoker grills that will fit any budget to help you find the best one for you and your family.
Are Wood Pellet Grills Better Than Gas?
It depends if you like the taste of smoked foods, then yes. If not, then no. Pellet grills are also more expensive than gas grills. There is quite a bit of difference between gas and pellet grills.
Which is Better Charcoal or Pellet Grill?
The biggest difference is the heat source. Charcoal allows you to sear your food fast, giving it a great char flavor. While pellet grills are geared more towards the low and slow method to give you a smokey flavor, but also allow you to grill foods quickly.
Pellet grills are not the most beginner friendly grills to learn on, and require some grilling experience.
Are Pellet Grills Easy To Use?
Yes, if you can operate an oven, you can operate a pellet grill. All you need to do is load up the hopper with your favorite wood pellets, set your target temperature, and let your grill do the work.
You can easily use a meat probe to monitor the internal food temperature while cooking.
Are Pellet Grills Expensive To Operate?
Not really, a one 20 pound bag of wood pellets can last for several cooks. Besides pellets, you may just need a small aluminum pan that costs about $1.00 to put inside your grill to help keep the meat moist.
Other than that, there isn’t a lot of upkeep to a pellet grill. The best part is that most of them come with a warranty that will cover you from any unexpected expenses.
Here’s what the Pit Boss 5 year warranty covers.
Why Pellet Grills So Popular?
Pellet grills have become so popular because they allow busy people to grill without having to babysit their grill. Their popularity is one of the reasons they are so expensive.
These grills allow you to the average person experiment with flavor combinations of wood pellets without spending a fortune.
Even if you’ve never grilled before, it’s easy to deliver great flavored food your family will absolutely love!
Which Pellet Grill Should You Get?
There are many different factors that go into choosing the right pellet grill. That’s why I’ve chosen to write an article to help you determine the right type of pellet grill.
Before you buy a pellet grill, there are several things you need to consider.
Why Choose A Pellet Grill?
Now that you know how a pellet grill works and how much you can expect to pay, let’s take a look at why you may want to consider buying one.
I’ll also share the reason I decided to invest in my Pit Boss.
Advantages of Pellet Grills
- Pellet grills are versatile. They allow you to grill, roast, smoke and you can even braise or bake in one. You can cook whole chickens, ribs, your favorite veggies and so much more with just the push of a button. We even cooked a beer can chicken that took about 2.5 hours.
- Easy to clean and maintain. Unlike charcoal grills, pellet grills don’t make a huge mess. Charcoal grilling tends to be messy.
- Pellet grills preheat in about 5-10 minutes. You can fill it up with your favorite pellets, plug it into an electrical outlet, and be ready to cook in about 5 minutes. Charcoal grills require at least 15-20 minutes to heat up.
- The fuel source is very affordable. You can choose from a wide range of all-natural wood pellet flavors, that can be purchased online or your local home improvement stores.
- It’s so easy to use, all you do is turn it to the proper cooking temperature and let it do all the work!
- Tons of accessories you can buy. Pellet grills have become so popular in the last few years, there is no shortage of the types of accessories you can buy from wireless thermometers, smoker tubes, cast iron cookware and etc. If you’re not careful, this can become an expensive hobby!
Disadvantages of Pellet Grills
- Pellet grills run on both electricity and wood pellets. If your power goes out while you’re cooking, you won’t be able to finish your cook unless you have access to a generator or inverter.
- They can be more expensive than regular grills and can easily range from a few hundred dollars to more than $3000.
- Pellet grills cook slowly, especially, if you want your food to have that smoky flavor. So you’ll want to be sure to put your food on early, especially, if you’re hungry.
- It’s important to keep your wood pellets dry, as wet pellets can damage the auger and make the grill inoperable until it is repaired. So you really can’t use them in the rain.
- It can be hard to produce a smoker flavor. Unlike other types of grills, some pellet grills won’t produce a strong smokey flavor or great sear marks.
While not cheap, pellet grills offer real value for the money if you love your BBQ. We bought ours because we wanted to be able to cook different types of foods without having to babysit the grill.
As mentioned above, these are so much more than grills. It’s hard to explain how much better the food tastes, until you cook on one!
References And Further Reading
Forbes – Larry Olmsted – The United States of Barbecue – America’s Love Affair With Backyard Cooking