A pellet grill vs. gas grill is one of the most frequent questions grill buyers have, and they both have several pros and cons. We’ve used both over the years and know that the right grill for your home is a personal choice, and some people may benefit from one grill type or another.
Read on as we compare the similarities and differences between pellet grills and gas grills so you can make the right decision for your household.
Pellet Grill vs. Gas Grill Comparison
Can grill, smoke, and even bake
Primarily for grilling
Ease of Use
Maintains set temperature automatically
Manual control over burners
Wood smoke adds unique flavors
Lacks wood smoke or charcoal flavor
Requires an electrical source
Lighter and doesn't require electricity
$700-$1000 for quality smokers
$300-$600 for quality grills
Seasonal deep cleaning required
Less frequent and less intensive cleaning required
Pellet grills are a newer type of grill that uses both wood pellets and electricity as a fuel source, giving you both grilling and smoking options. Pellet grills come in a variety of styles, brands, and sizes, making them an excellent choice whether you live in a house or an apartment.
Pellet grills are known for their ease of use and easy temperature control. They are loved by new grillers and experienced grillers alike. Let's look at the pros and cons.
Advantages of Pellet Grills
1. Versatile and Customizable
The number one reason most grillers choose a pellet grill is because of the variety of cooking methods they can be used for.
Not only can you sear at high temperatures, but you can smoke cuts of meat low and slow, allowing you to make tasty recipes like smoked spare ribs and brisket. Plus, there are a variety of pellet grill attachments that can allow you to make things like pizza, and you can even add a gas burner to some brands. You can also use charcoal pellets to get a delicious charcoal taste.
This means that even if you choose a pellet grill over a gas grill or charcoal grill, you could still have the best of both worlds in the future.
2. Ease of Use
While smoking meat may sound like a lot of work, a pellet grill truly makes it a piece of cake. You simply load your hopper, set your temperature, and walk away. Unless you have a small hopper (or really long smoke session), there is no need to refill them halfway through. You also don’t have to worry about keeping them lit, as the auto-ignition does that for you.
3. Easy Temperature Control
For those familiar with traditional methods of smoking meat, it can be difficult to monitor the temperature of smoldering wood chips and charcoal, leaving you wondering when your meat will be done or needing to babysit it very closely.
With a pellet grill, you choose your temperature, and the grill is programmed to light just enough pellets to maintain that temperature. This makes following smoking recipes a piece of cake, as you can use time recommendations to let you know when to check in on your meat.
One of the major reasons some households choose a pellet grill is because of the flavors that pellets put into the meat. Unlike gas grills, cooking over wood smoke adds a delicious taste to your meat which can’t be beat.
Not to mention that you can switch up wood pellet flavors and even use charcoal pellets, allowing you a whole range of BBQ meat flavors with a single grill purchase.
Downsides of a Pellet Grill
1. You Need a Plug
We love grilling on the go, and unfortunately, a pellet grill makes this difficult as you do need an electrical source to plug it into. While we’ve made do with a boat battery while camping, this is a major disadvantage of a pellet grill.
2. Can Be Costly
When you compare the cost of a pellet grill vs. gas grill, you’ll probably be a bit shocked. Gas grills aren’t cheap, but pellet grills are pricey. Although you can find a pellet grill for as low as $200, for the best quality pellet grills, you should be prepared to pay $700-$1000, maybe more.
It is worth noting, however, that pellet grills are often worth the cost as they function so beautifully and last for years to come. It can just be a bit of an initial shock to someone who is used to other types of grills.
While talking about cost, we should also mention that the pellets needed to power the grill can also be pricey, but gas canisters also aren’t free, so this is a comparative cost in our eyes. In some areas, propane can be pricey, so this is something to look into before you buy.
3. Difficult to Clean
We love our pellet grill, we really do, but it is a pain to clean. At least once a season, you will need to take your grill apart, clean all aspects of it, and vacuum out the fire pot. You will also need to have a plan for cleaning the grease-catching system. This can be challenging for a first-time grill owner.
Gas Grill: Pros and Cons
Gas grills are grills that are designed to run on either natural gas or propane. They usually feature several burners or heating areas, which can be turned on and off independently. Gas grills come in many shapes and sizes, some of which are easily transported.
Gas grills are easy to turn on and off, making them ideal for those new to grilling. They are, however, often passed over by more experienced grillers.
Advantages of a Gas Grill
1. Easy to Use
Gas grills are some of the easiest grills to use. You simply turn on the burner you want, toss your food on the grill, and cook. They also preheat quickly, which is something that can’t be said of pellet grills.
With a gas grill, you can also easily control temperature and heat zones, making it easy to only turn on the part of the grill you need.
2. Easy to Clean
While you will need to take the burners apart once per year and clean them out, this is much less of a cleaning routine than a pellet or charcoal grill requires–especially if you get one with high-quality burners. Check out our guide on how to clean a gas grill.
Heading camping? It is easy to find a portable gas grill that can come with you wherever you go. Just grab a few extra canisters of propane to make sure you don’t run out while camping, and you are good to go.
Additionally, gas grills tend to be lighter weight than pellet grills because the ignition system isn’t as complicated. This means if you need a grill, you can move around your yard frequently, a gas grill might be more convenient than a pellet grill.
Downsides of a Gas Grill
1. Not Versatile
Unlike a pellet grill, all you can really do on a gas grill is grill. If you think you want to try smoking or even baking, the gas grill will restrict you tremendously. But if you only plan to grill burgers and steaks, this may not bother you at all.
2. Less Flavor
Food grilled on gas grills is tasty, but you won't have the wood smoke flavor or charcoal flavor you would get with a pellet or charcoal grill. Additionally, there is no way to change the flavor by changing the fuel; you’ll just be using the one fuel, propane, all the time.
3. Can Be Costly
Propane canisters and natural gas aren’t free, and depending on where you live, this could make a gas grill unaffordable for you. While the pellets a pellet grill requires also aren’t free, you’ll want to compare the costs in your area to know if this is a downside for your household.
How to Choose Between Pellet Grill vs Gas Grill
Feeling overwhelmed? Not to worry, choosing between a gas and a pellet grill is no easy decision. Below is a step-by-step process to help you make the best choice for your family.
1. What Do You Plan to Cook?
Ask yourself (and your family) what you plan to cook on your grill. If you are just planning to make burgers once a week and maybe the occasional steak, a gas grill will do.
But if you want to experiment with baking or smoking or learn to cook a wide variety of recipes, then you absolutely must choose a pellet grill, as you won’t be able to do these things on a gas grill.
2. Does Flavor Matter?
If you love the taste of meats cooked over wood or charcoal, then a pellet grill is best for you. Not only can you easily get that woodsmoke flavor, but you can also get charcoal pellets for cooking delicious burgers.
For those who just want quick and efficient cooking (and don’t care for the wood smoke flavor), then a gas grill is an excellent choice.
3. How Do You Feel About Grill Cleaning?
Remember, a pellet grill will require a bit more cleaning than a gas grill. If you really hate cleaning and want to do the bare minimum, you should probably choose a gas grill. Those who don’t mind a little seasonal cleaning will find the pellet grill well worth the work.
4. Cost in Your Area
Before you choose between the two grills, take a look at propane and pellet costs in your area. Which is more affordable in the long run? If you plan to grill often, then you will want to choose the grill with the less expensive fuel source.
Although the purchase price of the grill may also play a factor in your decision, know that it should come after you have gone through the other 3 questions on this list. While it is important to stay within budget, it is also critical to choose a grill that will truly serve your family for years to come.
Who Are Pellet Grills Best For?
Pellet grills are best for the BBQ enthusiast who wants to go far beyond steaks and burgers. If you find yourself dreaming of smoked chicken and pork belly, then you definitely need to get yourself a pellet grill.
Just keep in mind that pellet grills take a little bit of cleaning work, and there is a small learning curve to getting recipes just right. But if you truly enjoy smoked meats, there is no other option for you.
Who Are Gas Grills Best For?
Are you a busy family constantly rushing to get dinner on the table in time? Then a gas grill might be best for you. Quick to heat up and easy to cook, you’ll be able to whip up a tasty dinner in just a few minutes. While you won’t be able to do much experimentation, you likely don’t have the time to do so anyway.
Gas grills are low maintenance, and they don’t require any learning curve. So, if you are a bit nervous about trying a pellet grill, grabbing a gas grill might be the best solution for you.
The Final Verdict
Overall, pellet grills and gas grills can both yield the same result–delicious grilled food. While a pellet grill might be a little more versatile, it also comes with a little more work. A gas grill is quick and easy for those who don’t see the need to change their grilling routine.
No matter what grill you think is better, know that only you can choose the best grill for you. If you do decide to try a pellet grill, take a look at the Traeger brand, which is one of the best pellet grill brands on the market. Gas grill fanatics should look at Weber, one of the best names in the gas grill market. Either way, you can’t go wrong when you buy a high-quality grill.