Pellet grill vs gas grill: Which is the better choice for your backyard?
While gas grills are a tried and tested favorite for high heat searing… There’s no denying that pellet grills offer outstanding cooking versatility.
But is that increased versatility reason enough to swap out your old gas grill?
In this article, we aim to see whether or not there’s a clear winner in the gas vs pellet grill debate.
From firing them up, to which dishes out the better flavors, to how big of a dent each will put in your wallet… Let’s take a closer look at all the main differences between gas grills and pellet smokers.
Gas and Pellet Grills Overview
Before we get to the nuts and bolts of pellet grills vs gas grills… Let’s lay the groundwork with a quick overview of each type of grill.
Gas grills have been around since the 1930s, and even today… They remain one of the most popular outdoor cooking appliances.
In fact, you can find a gas grill at over 60% of all American households. That’s a lot of BBQ!
We’ll get into more detail on this shortly… But generally, gas grills heat up faster and hotter, and are the best choice for high temperature, direct flame cooking (to get those sought-after sear marks).
If you’re looking for speed and convenience… A gas grill would certainly suffice!
So, how do pellet grills compare?
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Pellet grills came to be in the 1980s, when the first Traeger Grill hit the market.
While Traeger had their invention patented until 2006… More and more brands have since come up with their own spin on the pellet grill.
In recent years, pellet grills have seen a huge surge in popularity… And this shows no signs of slowing down!
Pellet grills are commonly referred to as pellet smokers… Which is actually a more accurate descriptor of these cookers.
They work similarly to a convection oven, and can sustain consistent, lower temperatures for long periods of time… Which makes them a great choice for low and slow cooks, smokes, or roasts.
That said, there are increasingly more and more models that support direct flame searing, as well.
Like gas grills, pellet grills are a super convenient and easy-to-use outdoor cooking appliance.
But if both are so straightforward and simple to use… Which is the better option for you?
Pellet Grill vs Gas Grill: Which is Better?
Before you can pick and choose between a pellet or gas grill… You should know what to expect from each.
So, let’s take a head-to-head look at some specific features!
Pellet Grills vs Gas Grills: Fuel Efficiency & Accessibility
First and foremost, let’s talk about fuel.
Obviously, gas grills are fueled by natural gas lines or propane tanks…
And pellet grills are fueled by wood pellets (which are simply compacted sawdust or compressed wood particles).
Unless you have special features like lights, illuminated knobs, or rotisserie… Gas grills only need a gas hookup to operate.
On the other hand, pellet grills require both access to electricity and wood pellets to get going.
The wood pellets will provide and sustain the heat while cooking… And electricity is responsible for powering the auger, fans, and digital controls.
So, if you’re leaning towards a pellet grill… Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay for both pellet and electricity costs!
Speaking of costs… Are wood pellets more expensive than natural or propane gas?
This isn’t the case! Pricing for these fuel types is actually comparable… With pellets typically costing a bit less.
And as for fuel efficiency… Well, this depends on how hot you’re planning to get your grill.
In most cases, you can expect 20 hours of cooking time at medium to high heats from a 20 pound propane tank.
For pellet grilling… 20 pounds of wood pellets can last you anywhere from six hours (for high heat cooking), to 20 hours or longer (for low and slow cooks).
Lastly, many consider wood pellet grilling more “clean-burning” than grilling with natural gas or propane… So if you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, pellet grills may have more appeal.
But at the end of the day, one fuel type isn’t inherently better than the other! However, we will say that natural gas and propane grills pull slightly ahead in the sake of simplicity, as you won’t need access to an outdoor outlet to get to grilling.
An Easy Outdoor Kitchen Solution
Gas vs Pellet Grill: Ease of Use
We briefly touched on this earlier… Both pellet grills and gas grills are super straightforward and simple to use.
To start a gas grill, you’ll just push a button or rotate a knob, which’ll ignite the burners and quickly heat up the cooking surface. It’s that easy!
It’s a similar story for pellet grills. Most will have digital control panels, where you can set a desired temperature.
With the push of a button, pellets will ignite in the fire pot, and the auger will automatically dispense new pellets as needed to maintain consistent temps.
Pellet grills do generally have longer preheat times than gas grills… So if you’re looking for maximum efficiency, this is worth keeping in mind!
But once your grill is fired up… What about temperature control?
Well, gas grills are a bit more finicky in this regard. You won’t have the option to set an exact temperature, so it may take some fiddling to get your grill just hot enough.
On the other hand, temperature control is easy as can be with a pellet grill!
Many pellet grills allow you to set extremely precise temperatures… And they will consistently maintain those temperatures for you, so there’s no need to hover over your grill or make adjustments.
That said, if you do need to adjust temps… This can be done easily via the digital control panel. Or in some cases, you can even control heat output remotely via WiFi connectivity!
The takeaway here? Gas grills get a point for their quick preheat times and cooking efficiency… And pellet grills get a point for their low maintenance cooking and accurate temperature control.
Wood Pellet vs Gas Grill: Temperature Range & Cooking Versatility
So, we’ve talked about how gas and pellet grills work… But what temperatures can you expect from each?
High quality gas grills should easily be able to reach 450 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. These higher temperatures are the sweet spot for gas grilling!
But while gas grills may excel at heating up fast and hot… They aren’t really designed to operate at lower cooking temperatures.
The reason for this? Well, gas grills usually don’t have great insulation for heat retention, so they’ll struggle to maintain consistently lower temps.
It’s the opposite for pellet grills… These have great insulation, allowing for stellar heat retention!
On average, pellet grills can sustain consistent temperatures between 200 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit… With some of the best pellet grill models dipping as low as 150 degrees, and reaching degrees as high as 700!
So, what does all of this mean for cooking versatility?
Well, high temperature, direct flame gas grilling will allow you to sear with ease (and efficiency)!
But since pellet grills can sustain low temperatures… They can be used for so much more!
This includes baking, roasting, and smoking… And of course, if a pellet grill can reach those higher temps, you’ll also be able to sear.
As you can see, pellet grills certainly offer more cooking options! From briskets for dinner to smoked pies for dessert, there’s really not much you can’t whip up.
But in most cases, gas grills will still take the cake for efficient, high temperature searing.
The Meat of the Matter: Which Has The Better Flavors?
Alright. It’s time for the most important point of comparison… Which grill cooks the better food?
As far as flavor profile goes… The fuel source actually plays a huge role!
So, let’s start with gas grills.
Since gas is odorless, it really won’t impart any unique flavors to your cooking.
But because you’ll be cooking directly over an open flame on a gas grill… You will get those deliciously caramelized, more “traditional” BBQ flavors.
You can also add special accessories to a gas grill to spice things up…
So if you want to achieve wood-fired, smoky flavors on a gas grill, you could always add a smoker box with flavored wood chips.
Or for pseudo-charcoal grilling… You could also pair your gas grill with a charcoal tray!
Now, let’s take a look at pellet grills.
Even with no add-ons… Wood pellets will certainly impart smoke flavors to your dishes!
Fans circulate wood smoke throughout a pellet grill, allowing your food to take on those tantalizing, smoky flavors.
And you’ll be able to pick and choose which flavor of pellets appeals to you (to give you an idea, hickory, apple, cherry, and maple are all popular choices).
What’s more, pellet grills cook indirectly and evenly, with top-to-bottom heating… While gas grills cook directly over an open flame, and heat foods from the bottom up.
This means the food you cook on a pellet grill will also be much juicier! With gas, there’s a much higher chance of your food drying out.
But ultimately, this all boils down to your personal preferences! Only you know your preferred tastes.
Pellet vs Gas Grill: Maintenance
Unfortunately, no matter what type of grill you have… Cleanup is an unavoidable part of the cooking process.
For both gas and pellet grills alike, you’ll want to clean the grill grates after each and every cook. This will keep them looking good as new, and prevent any food leftovers from making an appearance on the cooking area down the road.
To easily get residue off cooking grates, all you’ll need to do is turn the grill up to its highest setting to carbonize any grime buildup.
Then, let your grill cool… Scrape away the burnt food bits with your go-to cleaning utensil… And then wipe clean with warm water and thoroughly dry.
Now, if you have a pellet grill… The cleaning process will be more involved than this.
When wood pellets burn, they create lots of ash buildup… And if this isn’t frequently cleaned, it can inhibit airflow.
While some pellet grills have ash canisters that are simple to remove, empty, and replace… For others, you may have to remove all the interior components and run a vacuum along the interior to clear out ash.
This isn’t as daunting as it sounds… But even so, pellet grill maintenance will still require more elbow grease than cleaning a gas grill.
Wood Pellet Grill vs Gas Grill: Features & Affordability
Finally… Which of these grillers has the bigger price tag?
If you’ve done any shopping around… It’s clear to see that gas grills are certainly the less expensive option.
Depending on what you’re looking for, expect to spend anywhere from $100 to a few thousand on a gas grill!
Now, for pellet grills, even the cheapest models don’t usually dip below $500… And certain high end models tend to hover around or above the $5,000 price point!
There are a few reasons for pellet grills’ elevated price.
First and foremost, there are way more gas grills out there than there are pellet grills, which may contribute to their lower cost.
And as a rule, pellet grills are much higher-tech than gas grills!
A lot of complex electrical components go into making these smokers functional… And these aren’t cheap to produce!
Point is, it makes sense why pellet grills have a heightened cost! But unfortunately, there may not be an option out there to fit everybody’s budget.
Of course, as with any outdoor appliance… Gas or pellet grill prices will be higher if you’re looking for more special features and add-ons.
For gas grills, these special features usually include rear rotisserie burners, internal and external lighting, and warming racks.
For pellet grills, expect more technical bells and whistles, like WiFi connectivity, digital displays and touch screens, integrated meat probes, direct flame attachments, smoke modes, warming modes, and more.
So, that concludes our pellet grill vs gas grill comparison!
Now, which grill is best?
The Final Verdict: Which is The Best Grill?
Gas Grill Pros
- Gas grills don’t require electricity to function (unless using special features, like grill lights, illuminated knobs, or rotisserie).
- Gas grills are great for mid to high-temperature searing.
- You’ll get those traditional, caramelized BBQ flavors.
- Gas grills are easier to clean.
- Gas grills are straightforward and simple to use, and are great for those looking to cook efficiently.
- Gas grills are more cost effective.
Gas Grill Cons
- Gas grills offer less cooking versatility.
- It’s easier to dry out your food on a gas grill.
- You’ll need special grill accessories to get smoky flavors.
- Gas grills don’t have as many high tech bells and whistles.
Pellet Grill Pros
- Pellet grills offer outstanding cooking versatility.
- Pellet grills cook juicy foods with delicious, wood-smoked flavors.
- Cooking on pellet grills is low maintenance and easy to do.
- Higher end pellet grills have more special features.
- Pellet grills are cleaner-burning than gas grills.
Pellet Grill Cons
- Pellet grills are generally more expensive.
- Pellet grills may take more effort to clean and maintain.
- There aren’t as many pellet grill models available.
- Pellet grills require electricity to operate.
The moment we’ve all been waiting for… Which type of grill is best?
After taking the pros and cons of each into account, we can safely say that the best type of grill is…
Up to you!
We hate to leave you hanging, but it’s the truth! It all boils down to your personal wants and needs.
If you’re looking for a straightforward grill for high heat searing… And you’re a fan of that classic backyard BBQ experience, you really can’t go wrong with gas.
But if you’re looking to diversify the menu at your next cookout (and let the grill do most of the work for you), a pellet grill may be the better choice.
And hey, if you’re still unsure after studying the features of each… You could always get both! We won’t judge.
But whether your interest is piqued by pellet grills, or you’re ready to go all in on a new gas grill… We have a great solution for upping your outdoor grill game.
Get The Most From Your New Grill
We’ve talked at length about differences in this article… Let’s shift our focus to something that absolutely everybody can agree on.
No matter if you’re leaning towards pellet or going with gas… A summer kitchen is the best solution for leveling up your new grill!
And here at RTA, we’ve made getting an outdoor kitchen as easy as pie.
With our free online design tool, you can customize your dream outdoor kitchen layout in just a few minutes…
And you’ll also have full access to Coyote Outdoor Living’s full suite of premium appliances, right at your fingertips.
Of course, this includes their high quality built-in pellet and gas grill inserts… As well as countless other amazing accessories!
Not to mention, an outdoor kitchen would provide you with a great excuse to spend every waking moment outside.
And get used to it, too… Because your kitchen isn’t going anywhere!
We make our islands and countertops with high performance concrete, which isn’t only rated for 100 years… It’s also backed by a limited lifetime structural warranty. Say hello to decades of outdoor enjoyment!
Now, planning an outdoor kitchen is no small thing…
If you have questions, our Learning Hub most likely has the answers!
Or, don’t hesitate to reach out! We’re here to set you down the right path.
And when you’re ready to give your new grill the treatment it deserves, you know what to do!
Need Help With Your Plans?
Neither a pellet grill or a gas grill is necessarily a better option for your backyard… They’re both solid choices!
While gas grills are better suited for efficient, high heat searing and caramelized flavors… Pellet grills are perfect for those who don’t mind sitting back, relaxing, and letting the grill do most of the work for them, to churn out delectably juicy, wood-smoked fare.
Generally, pellet grills operate better for cooking or smoking at lower temperatures, while gas grills flourish at medium to high heats.
That said, there are more and more pellet grills that offer direct flame cooking, and can get hot enough to sear!
If you want a grill that can do it all, look for pellet grills that can reach high temperatures (over 500 degrees).
Propane is a bit more expensive than wood pellets, but certainly not by leaps and bounds.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that pellet grilling may boost your electricity bill, since they need to be plugged in to operate. So with a pellet grill, you’ll effectively be paying for two types of “fuel!”