The detailed 8 Differences Between pellet smokers and wood smokers
Pellet smokers vs wood smokers, what is the difference? Well, you are on the right site to get the main difference between the two. While both use wood, pellet smokers use small, compressed wood pellets as fuel, while wood smokers use larger logs or chunks of wood. Both have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences
And since both are famous for their excellent work, you may need clarification about which to choose. Due to that, we took time to come up with 8 differences to help you find the best smoker. So whether you’re a seasoned BBQ enthusiast or a beginner looking to up your grilling game, read till the end to learn more about the pros and cons of pellet and wood smokers.
First, let’s have a deep study of these two smokers, then you can easily learn their differences later.
What is Pellet Smoker
A Pellet smoker is a tool that uses sawdust pellets to smoke and heats food. It is an outdoor grill, smoker, and oven combined in a single unit and uses wood pellets other than charcoal and gas. In other words, it’s the result of the combination of tradition and technology.
Unlike traditional alternatives, a pellet smoker is a less expensive method. It needs low-maintenance methods that use charcoal or wood for fuel, producing soot.
The main advantage of a pellet smoker is that it is incredibly versatile. You can use it for baking, searing, roasting, and more.
How Does Pellet Smoker Work
The pellet smoker contains a control panel at the front. Once you switch on the unit, the induction fan will automatically drive air into the chamber. For the pellets in the section to roll, the control panels notify the drill an start spinning.
The auger motor at the base of the pellet pot feeds into the inside burner. And also, the pellets move from the auger motor under the deflector and racks. In the process of the auger feeding pellets into the burner pot, the heating unit will begin to heat up.
Just two minutes are enough to keep the fire going, and it will go off as the fuel source continues burning. You need to set the temperature for the air and heat to ignite pellets to high temperatures. Heat and smoke will build up in the closed chamber to keep the heat and flavor inside.
4 Advantages of Using the Pellet Smoker
Easy to Use
The pellet smoker is easier to use and needs less maintenance than other methods. If you are out of time and do not want to babysit your grill, it’s the best option.
The pellet smoker is also convenient, making it ideal for people with less experience. In terms of maintenance, you will save on effort, time, fuel, and more maintenance costs.
Suit for More Recipes
Other than smoking meat, the pellet smoker is incredibly versatile. The temperature of the pellet smoker can reach 600 degrees, while the temperature of the electric smoker is usually only 300 degrees, which means that many recipes can only be made by the pellet smoker. And just like outdoor ovens, you can roast, bake, and cook at the highest temperatures possible.
Pellet smokers are compatible with wood pellets. It means you cannot use any fuel type on the pellet smokers to operate your grill. It is a reason enough why they only produce a wood-fired flavor.
You can get hardwood charcoal pellets, but only a few pellet smokers support that kind of source of fuel.
Faster cooking speed
Pellet smokers’ cooking speed is faster compared to other smokers. The pellets preheat in just ten minutes which is far better than the barbecue grills. Apart from that, pellet smokers can maintain heat for the longest time.
Effective Control Temperature
The pellet smoker has automated temperature settings on the control panel. And the temperatures can go up to 700 degrees. In other words, you will not encounter temperature spikes and dips affecting the meat.
Disadvantages of Pellet Smoker
The pellet smokers take up much space and need extra upkeep. You will need to buy pellets regularly and clean the ashtray occasionally.
Also, if you compare their prices, you will notice that pellet smokers are far more expensive.
Hard to Control Temperature
It can be hard to control the temperature of your pellet smoker, especially maintaining consistency in the grill. It is not ideal for people that love having complete control over the temperature settings.
Inhalation of barbecue smoke is also a health risk, smoke contains carcinogenic PAHS, and will be easily absorbed by the lungs, if we smoke food frequently, it will lead to our chances of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s, and brain damage greatly increased
The pellet smokers need electricity to operate. So if you do not have any access to power outlets, you cannot use the grill. The pellet smoker system is designed with heat elements, electrical controls, and fans.
What is Wood Smoker
A wood smoker allows you to prepare meals at low temperatures in a controlled, smoky environment. It is similar to the charcoal smoker, using wood as its primary fuel source.
You can use a wood smoker for slow and low cooking methods. And even in other recipes, you want to achieve the smoky flavor.
It traditionally works with chips or wood lumps, all you need is to get away for the wood to begin burning manually.
How Does Wood Smoker Work
For the wood smoker to start, you must place fuel into the firebox. The energy will ignite manually, and the lid will seal the box.
Smoke and heat will flow through the chute toward the cooking chamber. It will circulate your meat to cook to your preference.
Unfortunately, most wood smokers do not use modern controls. It means you must adjust it manually for a stable temperature.
But they come with inbuilt thermometers. And sometimes, you can use probes to track the meat’s temperature.
Advantages of Wood Smoker
A wood smoker is cheap since its fuel source is readily available in stores. Also, storing charcoal or wood is easy, and you will stay at peace without worrying about exploding.
Wood smokers are highly versatile and come in different sizes and styles. All you need is the wood smoker that fits your cooking style.
Unlike other cooking methods, cooking meat in a wood smoker does not need fat or sugar sauces. The fats present in the flesh you cook in a smoker naturally occur. Due to that, it qualifies to be a healthy alternative with lower calories and low-fat options.
Consuming smoked food allows you to eat meals with raised amino acids and proteins.
It Doesn’t Need Power
Unlike a pellet smoker, it does not need electricity or gas. The wood smoker needs wood pellets, lumps, charcoal, and other logs to run. Due to that, it’s more cost-effective than pellet smokers; all you need is to stock the necessary fuel.
The Disadvantage of Wood Smokers
In this modern technology, you need something automated with a digital control panel. But that is ultimately the opposite for completely manual wood smokers. It needs more practice before getting into it.
Hard to Control Temperature
It is difficult to control the temperature since it is manual. To achieve the right temperature, you must open and close the vents to adjust the airflow. That sounds more challenging than it seems; it needs more practice to get used to it.
Spend More Time
Using a wood smoker to cook is time-consuming, especially if you are short on time. Because the temperature in a wood smoker is lower than pellet smoker. This lower temperature allows the flavors of the wood to infuse into the food, but it also means that it takes longer for the heat to penetrate the food and cook it. It requires patience, and if you are not such a person, you have better choices.
Wood smokers produce more smoke than pellet smokers. So if you are smoking fish or meat, it may have an unpleasant taste. It means you must be careful about the smoke and heat that reaches your food from the burning logs.
Another reason is that its construction materials and size give more smoke. And more smoke may lead to temporary symptoms such as eye irritation and coughing.
Can I Use Normal Wood in a Smoker?
You can use any wood free of resin, which is problematic. If the type of tree makes nuts and fruits you love eating, the wood is excellent for smoking. And you should remember some wood produces better smoke compared to others.
Main 8 Differences Between Pellet Smokers and Wood Smokers
1. Working Mechanism
Even if pellet smokers use fuel as a source of smoke flavor, they still depend on electricity. All you need to do is pour pellets into the hopper, flip the switch on, and the smoker will start running.
And for the wood smoker, the process is entirely different from the pellet smokers. After putting your wood logs, you need the propane torch for the wood smoker tank to get hot and start burning.
The pellet smoker has an automated control. In contrast, the wood smoker is entirely manual. You need to adjust the airflow of the wood smoker by opening and closing the vents.
And with the pellet smoker, you must select the hotness level you need in the control panel. After that, it will adjust the airflow and the number of pellets to reach the desired temperature.
3. Burning Efficiency
The pellet smokers heat up to as high as 600 degrees F, while the wood smoker goes up to 400 degrees. It means the burning efficiency of the pellet smoker is higher than that of the pellet smoker.
4. Fuel Diversity
Pellet smokers run on 100% hardwood pellets. In comparison, wood smokers can run on charcoal, firewood, and wood lumps. Even if pellet smokers can use wood, the wood has to be grounded to sawdust first before being compressed to bullet shapes.
And in wood smokers, you can combine charcoal and wood lumps for cooking efficiency. Because it is not fixed on the kind of fuel to use, it qualifies to be extra versatile than pellet smokers.
5. Temperature Range
The pellet smokers have a temperature of up to 300 degrees. On the other hand, wood smokers have a temperature of up to 750 degrees.
It indicates that wood smokers have the highest temperature range than pellet smokers. However, they both have a good temperature range to consider.
Most people believe that wood smokers produce more flavor, but that is more guesswork. The pellet and wood smokers have an equal amount of smoke, similar to the taste level.
Pellet and wood smokers use different types of fuel to generate smoke. People assume that wood smokers give more smoke and hence more flavor because of the wood chunks. But you should remember that every wood chunk is unique, and the smoke you receive will depend on external factors.
The pellet smoker does not create much mess as wood smokers do. It means it burns cleaner making cleaning a walkover.
On the other side, the wood smoker needs more cleaning since the smokers create more mess. You will need to start by removing ashes after every use. Apart from that, you will need to take out carbon on grates and in the burning place.
A pellet smoker costs as low as 350 dollars up. And you can find great and famous brands of quality pellet smokers.
On the other side, wood smokers are readily available, and you get them from 150 dollars up. Apart from that, you can make wood smokers at home, and they have a simple design too.
Which is Better: Pellet Vs Wood Smoker
Both pellet and wood smokers are the best options for cooking at home. They give excellent results and only differ in their smoking meat approach.
However, the pellet is your best option if you are looking for a convenient and easy way. The most exciting part about pellet smokers is that once it is set, it needs little to no maintenance to run it. In other words, there is not much effort, just put some fuel into the hopper, and you do.
Also, before getting the pellet smokers, you must know the amount of control you will need over the output.
And if you love consistency, the wood smoker is ideal for you. Unlike pellet smokers, wood smokers give more control and versatility over the end product. But that does not qualify you to say pellet smokers do not offer premium quality meat.
We also recommend you use an air fryer grill combo, it will make you get a more enjoyable cooking experience.
Best Pellet Smoker: Traeger Grills Pro Electric Wood Pellet
The Traeger grill pro electric wood pellet is what you have been looking for. It uses wood pellets to achieve the best wood-fired tastes that you will love. You can adjust the temperature keeping them within minus/plus 15 degrees precision.
The product is versatile enough. So if you want to be low and slow or hot and fast, you will get it right. Besides, you can use the barbecue to braise, bake, smoke, grill, and roast and get the perfect juice. And it is easy to assemble and use, making it more convenient than other pellet smoker brands.
Unlike other products, this quality smoker offers the best smoke flavors you desire. And you will have an excellent experience with this digital pellet smoker. You just need to set the temperature and wait for the superb juice result.
Best Wood Smoker: Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker
The Masterbuilt digital electric smoker has more than 970″ square of cooking capacity. Besides, it contains a cold rolled steel body, a removable grease tray, and 4 cooking racks.
There is no messing up with the art of smoking since it has an adjustable thermostat with an electric timer. Also, it has a leg kit that raises the smoker about 10 inches making it accessible.
The best part is that it has a large pan to hold water or juice when cooking. And the maximum temperature you can set is 275 degrees, yet it produces smoke. Also, it is designed with quality material to serve you for the longest time.
Frequently Asked Question
Pellet Vs Charcoal Smoker: 6 differences
- Pellet smokers are great for cooking at consistently low temperatures. And charcoal smokers allow you to control the airflow to either low or high temperatures.
- Although the smoky tastes from wood pellets are nice, they can’t beat the flavors from charcoal that most people prefer.
- It is much easier to maintain and clean wood pellets than charcoal smokers. Charcoal smokers produce a lot of ash residues and so you need to clean it after every use.
- It is cheap and easy to access charcoal to use in charcoal smokers. And wood pellets are somewhat expensive and overwhelming to find them.
- Unlike the pellet smoker, which doesn’t need much effort to light, the charcoal smoker needs more work to start it up. It may take up to 30 minutes to start it up, hence more prep time.
- Pellet smokers have a limited temperature range than charcoal smokers. The highest temperature pellet smokers can hold 600 degrees.
Is a Pellet Grill a Smoker?
The pellet grills can work as a smoker and a grill. You can fuel them with wood pellets and then compress the hardwood sawdust. After that, they will heat faster and burn hot, creating smoke.
The pellets are easy to use, user-friendly and consistent when preparing many dishes.
Getting the best smoker can take time and effort, especially if you buy one for the first time. But knowing what differentiates one from the other makes work even more straightforward.
And I know with the help of our article you already know what you need. Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment and share on your social media to help a friend.
My love for food was influenced by my brother, a chef at a 2-star Michelin restaurant, and we often exchange food knowledge together. It’s been 12 years since I first stepped into the kitchen, and with my vast experience and expertise, I will share many ideas on how to make dishes more delicious!