There’s certainly nothing quite like a pair of succulent sausages or a juicy T-bone steak that has been grilled to perfection.
It’s a well-known fact that debates rage on about what makes a good steak and how long you should grill one, but there’s also the matter of what hardware to grill it to bring out its full potential. More specifically, the question is what type of fuel you should be using to give the grilled food an unmistakable taste.
With that said, Pellet Grill vs. Gas Grill is on our menu today.
Apart from the traditional charcoal grill, which has been the mainstay of backyard parties and outdoor events since, well forever, gas and pellet grills are gaining more traction and deserve a closer look.
Each has some merits and a few drawbacks, so to make an informed purchasing decision the next time you find yourself in need of a grill, here’s an overview of what to expect from each.
By the end of this ultimate pellet grill vs gas grill showdown, you’ll be armed with the pros, the cons, and the facts to help in your decision-making.
And the winner is? Let’s find out!
Table of Contents
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Pellet Grill vs Gas Grill
In today’s Pellet Grill vs. Gas Grill Showdown, we will be looking at a number of conveniences and drawbacks for both to help us decide our winner.
Pellets made out of tiny scraps of wood have become an inexpensive and appealing solution not just for indoor heating, but for grilling your meat too.
Pellet grills offer you the best customization options when it comes to tweaking the meat’s smokey flavor to just the way you like it. If you love the fresh, unmistakable smell of wood smoke permeating your grilled meals, then pellet grills are hands down the best option here.
The pellets themselves come from a wide variety of wood species, so you can experiment with them and combine two or more to create a distinct flavor other types of grills simply can’t mimic.
Another one of the pellet grill’s strong suits is its versatility. You can roast, barbecue, grill, smoke, braise, or bake using a pellet grill. And they just keep getting better. Some newer models now let you switch between indirect and open-flame cooking to allow you to sear the perfect steak.
Most are designed to be ideal as smokers, allowing you to prepare delicious smoked food with very little hassle. Another factor to consider, which ties in with its grilling and smoking capabilities, is that a pellet grill can heat up evenly much quicker than a charcoal grill, shortening the time it takes to start preparing meals on it.
Pellet grills leave little mess, and they’re among the most lightweight and mobile models, so you can maneuver around the backyard with ease. They even have electrical attachments that work with your car that will let take yours with you when you go on vacation and not be deprived of the smoky flavor you’ve become accustomed to.
On the Other Hand
On the other hand, pellet grills do suffer from a few drawbacks. Pellets aren’t as widespread as grilling enthusiasts would like yet, and depending on where you live, you might not be able to get a hold of any locally, or the ones on offer might be more expensive than what you’re willing to pay.
Speaking of cost, most pellet grill models don’t come cheap, and you should be prepared to pay as much for one as for a good gas grill. Smaller models lack the capacity you’ve come to expect from gas models, so the cost becomes even more of an issue. Most importantly, pellet grills can’t work without electricity, which severely limits their use in outback areas.
You can read more about pellet grills in my “What is a Pellet Grill? – An Introduction to Pellet Grilling” guide.
Cooking speed and the number of different possible bells and whistles are what makes gas grills a serious contender and part of what makes them the most prevalent type of grill today.
Their indisputable convenience is another fan favorite—just set the grill to the proper temperature, fire it up, and forget about worrying over inconsistent temperatures or uneven heat distribution. Give one just about 10 minutes to properly get cooking and you can do the same. You can fine-tune the amount of heat it gives off simply by adjusting one or all of the burners, which means that you can also keep food warm for later consumption.
Gas is a cheap and readily available fuel source and might prove to be the most inexpensive option if you plan on using the grill a lot. You can get a good 20 hours’ worth of grilling out of one propane tank, and swapping it out is easily taken care of.
Once you’re done with grilling, there’s next to no cleanup. Since only gas has been burned there’s no messy ash to take care of, leaving just the mildly unpleasant chore of cleaning the grates in preparation for the next cookout.
On the Other Hand
On the other hand, gas grills need a lot of open space to be handled safely. Whether it comes with a separate propane tank or is hooked up to your local gas grid, you need to ensure that the grill is operating in a wide open area to reduce the risks of a fire hazard.
In some places, city ordinances prohibit the use of gas grills, so you’ll definitely need to familiarize yourself with those before you even consider buying a gas grill. Those which hook up to your grid are also stationary, so you can’t take them along on a camping trip.
A good gas grill is also expensive. If you’re satisfied with nothing but top-of-the-line models with all the trimmings, expect your expenses to reach well into the thousands. Last but not least, a common complaint about gas grills is that the food they cook tastes bland compared to the richly flavored delicacies you can make with pellets or charcoal.
You can read more about gas grills in my “What Is A Propane Gas Grill? – An Introduction To Outdoor Propane Gas Grills And Their Many Options” guide.
Final Thoughts on Our Pellet Grill vs Gas Grill Showdown
Both types of grills can do a fine job of thoroughly cooking the food you put on them—that is a given. From here on, however, things start to get complicated and have as much to do with your lifestyle choices, budget constraints, and taste preferences as they do with the grills’ actual features.
For those of you who enjoy the occasional, meticulously planned meal full of different flavors, the pellet grill sweeps the competition away. Conversely, if speed, convenience, and volume are at the top of your grilling needs list, gas grills offer the advantage you need to satisfy all three every time.
Whichever model you choose, be prepared to make several compromises, but rest assured that great-tasting food won’t be one of them.
And The Winner Is?
I will let you decide in the comments below.
As always, if you or someone you know could benefit from this article on Pellet Grill vs. Gas Grill cooking, or if you find this information useful, please consider sharing it with your grilling friends or on social media!
If you would like to leave a comment or have a Pellet Grill vs. Gas Grill opinion of your own to share, please do so below. We always welcome your input.
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A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, self-proclaimed grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!
I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!
Great information! You made my mouth water describing that grilled food. Lol. Beautiful photos. I’ll be needing a grill. 😉
I’m happy you found it helpful Lynn. These grills can really dish up some awesome food. Let me know if I can lend a hand in helping you pick out the perfect grill. Cheers!
I’ve always been a gas grill user and now that we need a replacement I got the wild hair that I should try pellet. Jury is still out….I’m scared to make a change like that! Budget is of big concern as well.
It’s very wise to do your research and consider all options when making a purchase of this magnitude. I would suggest really looking at what type of cooking you want and intend to do. If you want fast and hot cooks like hot dogs, burgers and thin steaks, then a pellet grill is probably not for you. If you want to focus on slow cooking with indirect heat or want to use your grill more like an oven but with the added benefit of wood smoked flavor, then a pellet grill is a great way to go. If you want more info on cooking with pellet grills, check out my article on “What is a Pellet Grill? – An Introduction to Pellet Grilling” or you can send me a message and I will happily talk with you more on the subject.
Any chance you can cook us up some big juicy succulents sausages one of these days??
My grill is always open. Come on by 🙂
I love this site. It’s an awesome read.
Thanks Rath. I’m sure glad you like it and hope you stop by again. There will be plenty more helpful and fun articles to come.
What about cost after the initial purchase. What is the cost difference for purchasing pellets vs filling a propane tank. How long does a bag last?
That is a great question and information I will be updating this post with. There are a lot of factors involved that can influence consumption, including outside temperature, individual grill BTU output, number of burners being used and cooking temperature but here is a general overview.
A general rule of thumb to follow for gas grills is a standard 20lb propane tank should last about 18-20 hours on most grills. Typically prices vary widely depending on the season and economic conditions but I usually see prices range from $12 to $18 to fill a 20# cylinder, which is about 4.7 gallons of actual gas. A good reference can be found at the following link: https://www.bbqguys.com/content_content_792.html
Again, this may vary from pellet grill to pellet grill but the standard Pellet Grill will use typically 1.5-2 lbs per hour on high, 1 lbs per hour on medium and .5 pounds per hour on smoke. I have seen 20 lbs bags of pellets running anywhere from $10 to $20 depending on specific brands. Not all pellets are created equal so it is best to do your research. I hope this helps answers your question. If you need more info, let me know.
So I have a Big Green Egg and a gas grill. My gas grill is dead. I am contemplating replacing the Gas grill with a Pellet one. Is buying a pellet somewhat redundant?
Sorry, this ended up being a pretty long-winded reply so I apologize in advance.
I wouldn’t say redundant, but it really depends on the kind of cooking you will be doing. I personally would never cook certain things on my pellet grill, like a steak for example, but that is my preference. If you are like me, then you probably use your egg 90/95% of the time compared to your gas grill. But I find myself using my pellet grill much more often than my gas grill. But mostly for side dishes or really time consuming cooks. I smoke shrimp (bacon wrapped shrimp comes out great) on my pellet grill. Chicken wings and drumettes come out amazing and can get quite crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I also roast garlic, make garlic bread and I just smoked my pumpkin seeds this year for the first time. The family loved them. I smoke my BBQ sauce in the pellet grill before applying it and that really adds a nice touch.
I have a five year old daughter who takes up a lot of my time so I find I use my pellet grill for slow cooks quite often too now. Pellet grills really are as close to set it and forget it as you can get. I still love smoking on the egg, but the convenience of the pellet grill is hard to beat at this point in my life. I have smoked many a brisket on my pellet grill and people love it. I actually get requests for it quite often. Pork shoulder is another popular request I smoke on the pellet grill and it comes out really well. Making your own bacon or beef jerky is another tasty thing that works great on a pellet grill.
A pellet grill is more like an oven that adds that grilled smoky flavor to your food. So anything you would normally cook in an oven can just as easily be cooked in a pellet grill, and because there are no open flames, you won’t ruin your cookware like you most likely would in the egg.
But be aware that even though many of the newer models of pellet grills are coming with the ability to sear your food, most just don’t do a good job of it yet. They are getting better though. Also, keep in mind that pellet grills are electric so grilling in the winter is a challenge if it is wet outside. Unless you have a covered area with plenty of open ventilation, it’s not happening.
I hope this answers your question, but if not, let me know and we can discuss it more.
Thank you. That helps. I have a four and five year old along with 17 year old twins so time is often the battle. The reason I was considering a gas grill was the speed and convenience.
Your descriptions are very helpful.
Wow, you totally understand the limited time battle many of us go through. I am glad I could help Grant. Keep in mind that, (In my opinion,) pellet grills work great for smoking, baking or barbecuing. Grilling, not so much. If you are not sure what the difference is between barbecuing and grilling, here is a great article that explains it very well. Grill vs barbecue – do you know the difference?
It really is hard to beat the speed and convenience of a gas grill, I will agree with you there, but again, it all comes down to what types of foods you plan on cooking and how you plan on cooking them. A Gas grill may be the better option for you. No matter which type of grill you ultimately decide on, I always suggest you take your time and do your research so you can make an informed decision that best fits your needs
Although I always try to provide the best and most accurate information, it ultimately comes down to my personal experiences and opinions and which might not match yours.
If you ever want to talk grilling again, stop on by and say hi. Best to you and your awesome family.
Great site. Just had a quick read.
Great Information , I have used a weber genesis for 4 years now and use it at least 3x a week. We are moving up north to Ohio so I will be in the market for a new grill and I’m seriously thinking about a pellet grill. I will cook steaks sometimes and burgers for sure but mostly I seem to cook ribs, briskets and beer can chicken mostly. In my weber I use one of those smoker boxes and put wood chips in them. I’m guessing the flavor of the meat still cant compare to Wood pellet grill and the smoker box that I have has to be changing out the chips frequently so the meat doesn’t get bitter from the chips getting to burnt. Your thoughts Patrick
Yoder, Traeger, Green Mountain, etc.
What pellet brand do you prefer?
I know this article is a few months old, but I am just now shopping for a new grill and leaning towards a pellet grill. I understand the limitations for searing burgers and steaks, so what about using grill grates on the pellet grill?
Here are my thoughts on pellet grills Jon. They are awesome for slow cooking, smoking, baking and roasting foods and great for adding a little wood grilled smokey flavor along the way. They are super easy to use and extremely convenient. But I personally never cook steaks or burgers on my pellet grill. I am lucky enough to have access to several types of grills and just prefer finishing my steaks at high heat directly over an open flame. Many things come out great on a pellet grill. Chicken wings, for example, are one of my favorite things to cook up on the pellet grill. The skin gets crispy while the inside stays moist and tender. Same goes for whole chickens and even turkeys. My pellet grill brisket is phenomenal if I may say so my self. Steaks, not so much.
Pellet grills cook pretty much just like your oven, and I would never cook a steak in my oven. That’s just me. I use my pellet grill often, but I would never have it as my only grill. Now, there are many newer models of pellet grills that allow you to cook over an open flame and even some with dedicated sear stations as well. Some don’t do a very good job, but several do. If you are considering a pellet grill and want to be able to sear your food, consider one with this option.
Almost forgot to answer your question about the grill grates. I use them often on my pellet grill and they do a nice job. But again, they do not allow you to truly sear hot and fast over an open flame. You can check out a great video on how well grill grates work on my review article on them here.
Keep in mind, this is completely my own humble opinion from my experiences and preferences. Others opinion and mileage may vary. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Have you tried searing a steak in frying pan first then finish cooking in pellet grill to 132 deg F
I definitely have and I have also done it the other way by starting it in the pellet grill and finishing it off with a sear over charcoal or in a frying pan. Both work out great.
My husband and I are considering getting a pellet grill, in part because of how customizable the cooking options are like you mentioned. I like the idea of having that extra smoke flavor in my meat without trying to spit roast or grill with the more complicated slow-grill systems. My husband is going to be doing the final decision making because he’s our family chef, but it’s hard to say no to being able to make our own wood-fired pizza in the same grill that can make our roasts for this Thanksgiving.
Can I proofread your website for you? I’m an avid proofreader. Trying to decide the difference between propane v. pellet.
Hi Robin. It depends on what type of cooking do you want to do. Both have their benefits, but they definitely cook differently.
Thanks for the great information. I was considering the Pit Boss 700FB Series Pellet Grill since I do like the possibility of searing steaks, but now that I read your thoughts on this, I’m not certain anymore. I have been using small wood block BBQs with a small fan for the last few years, but the company stopped making them and mine has done it’s time. I just love cooking with wood and being in the city I can’t have a fire pit. I find that charcoal take too long to start and I’m not a fan of propane. I am curious as well to try different types of food so the pellet seemed to have the versatility I was looking for. What would you recommend? Are the more recent pellet grills better at cooking over the flame since you wrote your article?