Let me make this clear right from the start, there is no definite winner in this topic. It all depends on your preferences, cooking style, needs, plus a pellet grill and a gas grill are two completely different types of grills.
Today I’m going to briefly tell you about each of them and present their upsides and downsides. It will let you understand both types of grills better so that you can confidently make your own decision on which grill will be better for you.
Personally I’d like to add that it is the best to have both, but if you have to choose only one of them, the below text will help you solve this problem.
Pellet Grill vs Gas Grill – Summary
In this short summary I would like to stress one important thing, both are advertised as grills but in reality these are two different, yet versatile devices.
When it comes to convenience, speed and efficiency, both represent a very high level in these regards.
If you take a closer look upon each of them, you will discover that the gas grill was actually mostly designed with grilling in mind, whereas the pellet grill was made with very convenient smoking in mind ( a pellet smoker would make a more fitting name ).
You’re thinking of delicious hamburgers and steaks with beautiful sear marks or maybe you dream of smoked meat, rich in smoky wood flavor? The answer is up to you.
In my humble opinion, the best solution is to have both types, but if you do have to make choice, use the information below to learn more about each of them.
Wood pellet flavor will always be richer than that made with gas, which burns pure. The advantage here is the ability to experiment with different types of pellets, which gives a better flavor.
In practice, gas doesn’t produce smoke, so the food doesn’t have the characteristic deep smoky flavor. It doesn’t mean, though, that the food’s flavor is bad, it is just different and not everyone likes that.
Overall, the prices for medium and high quality models are pretty high ( like with the gas grills ), but when it comes to the starting price, the price for a basic model is much higher here.
The price spectrum is very diversified, probably the most out of all types of grills. You can choose among models for people with a very limited budget, medium-tier models, high-tier models or even luxury ones that are worth few thousand.
This type of smoker was mostly designed with smoking in mind, but it can reach high temperatures that are often present in grilling ( up to 500-550 degrees F ).
It was mostly designed with grilling in mind, so reaching high temperatures of 550~ degrees F not only is not a problem, but takes very short.
It can’t get more convenient than that, once you start it you just have to select the temperature using a digital controller, and the rest will be taken care of by an algorithm that supplies the right amount of pellets to the furnace at the right time.
It is convenient, but not quite as precise and maintenance-free as with a pellet grill. A gas grill, however, is mostly used for grilling, where the temperature doesn’t matter that much, and the control consists of turning burner knobs.
From the moment of starting it, 15-20 minutes is enough to reach the right temperature for smoking.
Depending on what you’re planning to prepare, usually 10-20 minutes is enough ( in some cases longer than that ) for the grill to reach the right temperature.
You can expect wi-fi and a phone app, ash removal system, possibility of connecting probes. The most useful ones are wifi and the ability to plug in probes, it makes it possible to remotely monitor the smoking process.
Here you can expect a little more, on top of gadgets like a thermometer with wi-fi or a smoker box you can expect few different dedicated burners ( sear station, side burner and more when it comes to very expensive models ).
Easy to use
Pellet /Gas – Intuitive and very easy to use
The comfort and convenience of the highest possible level, from the moment of turning it on and programming the temperature you pretty much don’t have to do anything else, especially when it comes to maintaining a fixed temperature.
Undoubtedly the most convenient and fastest typical grill, you start by turning on a burner, and then all you have to do is adjust it accordingly once in a while in order to achieve the right temperature.
Basically, a pellet grill offers indirect heat that is perfect for smoking, but it is possible to create conditions for direct heat that is good for grilling, although the results are not what most people expect.
That’s what it was designed for and if you love delicious steaks and hamburgers with distinct sear marks then there’s nothing to wonder about, I especially recommend models equipped with a sear station.
That’s the exact thing it was designed for, the entire structure, the way it works and the indirect heat make it a perfect, nearly maintenance-free smoker that gives very good results.
Smoking requires smoke, which gas doesn’t produce, although one could use a separately sold smoker box or make their own. The results are nothing phenomenal, but for those who want to give it a try I have prepared a separate guide on how to smoke on a gas grill.
Considering the price, there is nothing to write home about, the mid-tier models usually are covered with about 2-3 years of warranty, when buying high-end models you can actually expect up to 5-6 years of warranty.
One of the leading brands ( Weber ) offers whole 10 years of warranty for all their models starting from the medium price range and ending at the highest class gas grills.
About Gas Grills
Overall – It was mostly made with convenient, quick and efficient grilling in mind, but with the right accessories it also allows for decent meat smoking. Just like with pellet grills, the starting price is pretty high if you’re thinking about a good, malfunction-free model.
A gas grill comes equipped with burners that make it possible to cook using the direct and indirect method. It works best for grilling with the direct method, though, especially at high temperatures.
I recommend it for those who think about quick and convenient grilling. It works great for grilling steaks or hamburgers. Some models come with a sear station that makes it possible to get sear marks using searing burners.
When choosing a gas grill, you also need to choose the source of heat, which is propane or natural gas. It is a broad topic that I touched upon in this post, and I invite you to check it out.
Easy to use – You don’t need to worry about adjusting the air vents etc. Before starting it, make sure that you have enough fuel supply and after reaching your desired temperature you don’t have much left to do.
Speed of warming up – From the moment of starting the grill, you only need 10 to 15 minutes for the temperature under the lid to be good for cooking. Which makes gas grills great if time matters to you and you want your food made fast.
Easy cleaning – A properly designed grill drains the grease onto a special tray that you just need to clean or replace once in a while. After each cooking you just need to clean the grates which is a case with every type of grill. When it comes to general cleaning then there’s nothing complicated about that and you only need to repeat such procedure every few months depending on how much you cook.
The best for grilling – Quick grilling at high temperatures is a specialty of this grill. You love classic sear marks on the surface of a steak or hamburger? Direct heat and high temperature make perfect conditions for searing. It is interesting to note that certain models are equipped with a special sear station that allows to achieve perfect conditions for searing much faster.
Price – Gas grills are available in all the different prices, no other type of grill has a price spectrum this huge. It is good news that even for small amount of money you can buy a decent model to last for few years. I recommend, however, to invest in something at least from the medium price rage and be safe for years to come. Either way, those with a limited budget as well as those with a thick wallet will find something for themselves.
Warranty – Of course, depending on what model you buy and how much you pay for it, you have a warranty provided. When it comes to mid-range gas grills, the warranty period can be as high as 10 years, which is a proof of quality and makes you confident about your investment.
No smoky flavor – The source of heat is burning gas ( propane or natural gas ) that doesn’t produce smoke when burning, like charcoal or wood pellets for example. That’s why food made on a gas grill tastes completely different from that made on a typical charcoal or pellet grill. That doesn’t mean that the flavor is bad, but you have to be aware that it is completely different.
It’s hard to smoke meat – The gas grill was designed mostly with grilling in mind, but technically speaking, it is also possible to smoke meat. For that purpose, you need at least a two ( preferably three ) burner grill and a box with wood chips ( smoker box ). The right configuration of burners allows to create conditions for indirect cooking, whereas burning wood chips produce smoke that influences the food’s flavor. Of course the results will never be quite like with a real smoker.
Safety – An improperly stored or used propane tank poses a legitimate danger, which is why one should take all the precautions by storing it away from flames. To make sure, check the tightness of the installation and the condition of hoses once in a while.
Lack of fuel – If you run out of gas in the tank halfway through cooking, you might have quite a problem. A simple solution to such situation is simply to keep a spare tank around or monitor the propane level in the tank before you start cooking. Plenty of models come equipped with a fuel level indicator, so that you can know exactly how much propane is left in the tank.
About Pellet Grills
Overall – Despite being promoted under the name of grill plus smoker, it should actually be mostly referred to as a smoker. It was mostly designed with smoking meat using indirect heat in mind. Therefore, when it comes to grilling, it is more like an additional feature, incomparable to typical grills that utilize direct heat.
A pellet grill relies on electricity, inside its structure you will find several crucial elements responsible for the functioning of the grill. The source of heat are compressed wood pellets that are transported from the container to the furnace using a spinning auger. The whole process is monitored by technology that handles calculating when and how many pellets need to be supplied to the furnace in order to maintain a fixed temperature.
Your task is to just refill the pellets container, and then select your desired temperature using a digital controller. Plenty of more expensive models also come with the ability to plug in few probes for temperature control inside the meat.
This type of grill has become so popular thanks to the convenience and results of smoking. From the moment of starting and setting the temperature, you don’t have to do anything else. All is taken care of by the technology I mentioned above.
Pellets are compressed wood, which just like charcoal produces smoke when burning. Which means that smoked meat has a genuine, intense smoky flavor, although it needs to be noted that it differs from that of charcoal.
Flavor – Wood Pellets produce quite a lot of smoke that gives meat a very good flavor. I’d like to point out that it differs from food made on a grill where the fuel is charcoal.
Top level convenience – There is no machine this convenient that provides smoking or grilling results this good pretty much without any intervention on your part. You don’t have to get the charcoal burning, control the temperature or air vents. Just start the grill, set the temperature, and the rest will be taken care of by the system.
Great for smoking – The pellet smoker was mostly made with smoking in mind. The structure provides conditions for indirect heat which is perfect for slow meat smoking at low temperatures over many hours.
Temperature control – From the moment you start it and set the temperature, you don’t have to worry about anything else. The system will calculate on its own how many pellets and when need to be added to the furnace. The more expensive the model, the more advanced and accurate the system. Some models take the weather into account and are able to maintain the temperature at +/- 5 degree F intervals. Your job is to make sure that the pellets container is full and to remove the ash around the furnace once in a while.
It warms up fast – The pellet grill, just like the gas grill, can reach the right temperature for smoking/grilling in just 10-20 minutes from starting.
Versatility – Despite mostly specializing in smoking, on top of that it can also roast, bake and grill pretty well. Of course you shouldn’t expect the kind of results of grilling or searing like in a dedicated charcoal grill.
It requires being plugged to a source of electricity – The thing about electrics is that without permanent access to electricity they don’t work. Take that into account if you decide to buy this type of grill.
Price – The starting price for a good quality basic pellet grill is high. Of all the types of grills, this is one of the most expensive ones, especially if you want to have a model with different gadgets.
It requires regular cleaning – As a result of pellets burning, quite a lot of ash is produced that accumulates around the furnace, which is why once in a while it is necessary to clean the entire cookbox under the lid, especially around the burner.
Pellet Grill vs Gas Grill – Direct Comparison
Ease of use – Both types are actually very easy to use. So easy in fact that even beginners won’t have any problems. Everything is intuitive, and the process of starting and warming up the grill isn’t complicated.
Food’s flavor – When it comes to the flavor then the pellet grill wins, where the source of heat are wood pellets. When burning, pellets produce smoke, which gives the food a clear smoky flavor.
When it comes to the gas grill, on the other hand, the grilled food doesn’t get any extra flavor. It simply tastes like cooked meat, as gas doesn’t produce anything that impacts the flavor. It can of course be changed using condiments, and if you want to get a smoky flavor then you need to use a smoker box and wood chips.
Grilling & smoking – The pellet grill is advertised as a versatile machine ( smoker & grill ). But in reality, it was mostly designed for smoking, with optional grilling or baking. It offers indirect heat that isn’t best for grilling, which is why I only recommend it if you think about smoking.
The gas grill specializes in quick grilling, like hamburgers or steaks, at high temperatures. You need to know, though, that a bigger number of burners allows to create different independent heat zones. One can use it for indirect grilling or even smoking when combined with the right accessories ( smoker box ). Nevertheless, I recommend the gas grill mostly for grilling, at which it is really great.
Starting price – One has to admit that in both cases the starting price for a good quality mid-tier grill is high. You have to get prepared for spending about 400-500$ for start if you expect quality and efficiency.
For those with a limited budget, there is sadly no decent pellet grill. When it comes to gas grills, on the other hand, one can buy several basic noteworthy models at low prices.
Warranty – The winner here is definitely the gas grill, the manufacturers of which offer as many as 10 years of warranty. When it comes to the pellet grill, you can expect about 2-4 years at best for a grill with a similar price.
Temperature range – Both types achieve equally high temperatures ( about 500-550 degrees F ). One has to remember here, though, about significant differences, a gas grill mostly offers direct heat, whereas with a pellet grill it is indirect heat.
Temperature control – Both types of grills are easy when it comes to temperature control, but it is the pellet grill that is famous for incredible simplicity. All thanks to the technology and systems that monitor the whole smoking process in real time, maintaining a fixed temperature which is very important when smoking.
When it comes to gas grills, temperature control is simple as well, all you have to do is properly regulate the burners and that’s it. Grilling doesn’t require perfect temperatures like smoking does, which means there’s even less reason to worry about temperature fluctuations.
Cleaning – Gas burns clean, not leaving ashes behind as is the case with pellets, which means the only thing to clean is the grill grates and the grease tray.
When it comes to the pellet grill, depending on whether your model comes with an ash catcher or not, there is also the task of cleaning the inside of the grill. Pellets, when burning, leave a lot of ash behind that over time accumulates around the furnace as well. That’s why once in a while, on top of the standard cleaning, the inside has to be cleaned as well, a vacuum cleaner will come in handy here.
Interesting gadgets and features – In both cases you can expect interesting additional features and gadgets. Of course you have to be prepared that most of gadgets increase the price significantly, which affects those with a limited budget.
Among interesting accessories are definitely smoker & grill thermometers, smarphone apps, wi-fi, side burners, sear stations etc. Some of them are only available for gas grills and vice versa for pellet grills. Either way, those who like useful gadgets will find a lot of interesting things.