Do Pellet Grills Use Propane? A Look At The Differences

You’re thinking about getting a new grill, should you get a pellet grill or gas grill? Do pellet grills use propane and what’s the difference between them?

Do Pellet Grills Use Propane?

No, pellet smokers are grills that use wood pellets as their fuel, while gas grills use propane fuel tanks to cook and heat up food. Both types of grills can grill great food, but there are some big differences you need to understand.

do pellet grills use propane

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at both types of grills to help you understand which one will work best for you. After reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of both types of grills as well as how to decide which type to buy.

*This page contains affiliate links to products I recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

What Is Propane?

Propane is a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and is colorless, nontoxic, and odorless that is naturally compressed and has four major uses in homes, cooking, grilling, space heating, drying clothes, gas fireplaces, backup electrical generators and etc.

This is a very popular fuel source and is used in over 50 million American households. According to Statistica, in 2018 over 64% of Americans own a gas grill, as opposed to a charcoal or electric grill.

Propane VS Pellet Grill

gas grills vs pellet grills

Gas Grills

Ignition System

It uses propane gas to cook the food. The heat deflectors help deflect the heat up. This causes the grates to become hot similar to a stove top and cooks the food. You can control the temperature of the grill by adjusting the temperature settings knob.

To turn on the gas grill, you open the propane tank to release some gas into the grill, turn the knob on and press the ignitor button. This makes the flame come right up.

Temperature Ranges

The average temperature on gas grills will range from 250° for low, 350° medium, and 450° for high. These ranges will vary depending on the brand you invest in.

Temperature Stability

Expect the cold temperatures to add longer cook times, so make sure you have backup fuel. On high windy days, position the grill perpendicular to the wind, to help control the temperature in the grill.

Fuel Source Cost

When you first get your grill, you’ll need to buy a propane tank which can cost about $35 at Home Depot. The tank will be empty, so you need to have it filled, the cost will be based on the cost of propane.

We personally just use the propane exchange services, which make it easy to exchange an empty tank for a new one. Many grocery stores offer this service, so be sure to ask.

If you do a lot of grilling, you’ll want to have a backup. You can expect to get about 20 hours of cooking on one propane tank.

Most gas grills will use a standard 20 pound tank.


Gas grills usually have a slot in the back that allows smoke to be released while cooking.

Drip System

Most grills will have a drip pan or some type of system that will make it easy for you to clean up after a cook.

Types of Cooking

A gas grill is like a stove, which means it can cook anything your stove can cook. You can smoke with a gas grill, but you’ll need to invest in a separate smoker box.

A smoker box will allow you to use any flavor smoke you want. The downside is, it’s a lot of tedious work to smoke food on a gas grill.

Maximum temperature

It will take about 15 minutes for a gas grill to reach its maximum temperature. This will also vary depending on the weather outside.


The gas grill doesn’t keep food as moist as a pellet grill. It has a tendency to dry the food out, especially, if overcooked.

Quality of Food

The quality of food you get from a gas grill will be good, it just won’t have a smoky flavor. If you’re okay with that, then you can’t go wrong with one.

Cool Down Time

It can take a couple of hours for a grill to cool down. Make sure it has completely cooled before putting a cover on it.

Pellet Grill

Ignition System

To start a pellet grill, you’ll need to fill the hopper with wood pellets and plug it into an electrical source. This article will walk you through step-by-step on starting a pellet grill.

Temperature Ranges

The temperature ranges will range from 170° to 600° depending on the type of pellet grill you have. I personally use a Pit Boss 820 and it has a maximum temperature of 500°.

Temperature Stability

The temperature stability on a pellet smoker is unsurpassed by any other grill. It will automatically hold its temperature to the setting and in temperature changes, it will automatically adjust itself to the outside temperatures by feeding more or less pellets to help maintain its temperature.

Fuel Source Cost

Wood pellets are used to make your fire. The pellets are loaded into the hopper and then fed through the auger into the cook box that heats the pellets and starts a flame. Check out this video to watch how a pellet grill works.

The cost of pellets will average between $15 and $40 depending on the brand and size of the bag you buy. You can expect to go through about 2 lbs of pellets for every hour you cook. Faster and hotter cooks will burn through pellets quicker.

The 100% hardwood pellets don’t have extra fillers, oils, which will make them last longer, you can compare prices here.


Like the gas grill, a pellet grill will have vents, chimney or some type of exhaust system so the smoke can escape.

The smoke is supposed to circulate around the food, which gives the food that smoky flavor, before leaving the grill.

Drip System

The grease runs down the drainage system into the drip cup hanging at the bottom of the grill. Once the liner gets too full and dirty, you can replace the liner with a new one.

Types of Cooking

Pellet grills have become popular because they can do pretty much anything a convection oven can do. My Pit Boss can smoke, bake, roast, braise, roast, sear, and of course BBQ.

Just set the temperature you want and the grill does everything for you. Of course, you’ll still want to monitor the grill, and make sure it doesn’t run out of pellets.

A pellet grill can get down to a minimum of 150° which makes it great for long slow cooks.

Maximum Temperature

It will take a pellet grill about 10-15 minutes to reach maximum temperature.


The wood pellets have their own moisture in them, which keeps the food from drying out. Some people will wrap their food in foil or put a water pan in their grill to make the food even more moist.

Quality of Food

The quality of the food can’t be beat. Whether you’re cooking a Boston butt, hamburgers, steak or etc, you’ll notice an amazing smoky flavor that you just can’t get from a gas grill.

Cool Down Time

Once the pellet grill has gone through the shutdown process, it will take several hours to cool down. I recommend keeping the lid open to help it cool faster.

Are Pellet Grills Healthier Than Gas?

According to the National Cancer Institute, cooking muscle meats (poultry, beef, fish, and pork) at high temperatures can cause heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PHA). Both PHA and HCAs can increase the chance of cancer.

Unfortunately, this pertains to all grills, even pellet grills. But if you put it into perspective, microwave radiation can be harmful and so is eating fried food. Yet most of us continue to use our microwave at least once a day and don’t even get me started on fried foods.

What Are The Best Propane Grills?

There are literally too many brands of gas grills out there, it would be impossible to tell you which one is the best to go with.

I’ve personally heard great things about Weber Spirit II, Char-Broil, and etc. Choosing one will take a lot of research as they all have different features and prices.

I’d recommend sitting down and deciding which features you want. Do you want a grill with 4 burners, stainless steel, cast iron cooking grills and etc?

Once you know what you’re looking for, you can shop online and offline for the best prices. Prices will range from $50 (portable grills) to $1500 or more.

Which Grill Should You Choose?

If you want your food fast, then go with a gas grill. They are designed to cook hot and fast. However, if you enjoy grilling and hanging out with friends while your food cooks slowly, then you’ll be better off with a pellet grill.

Final Word

You can’t go wrong with either a pellet grill or a gas grill. It really just depends on how you like to cook. Most people like myself have both a pellet grill and a gas grill because it makes it easier when you don’t want to spend hours smoking something.

Start out with the gas grill as they are usually cheaper. If you enjoy outdoor grilling, you can save your money and buy a pellet grill, be sure to check out some of the best smoker grills on the market.

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