Pellet Smoker Vs Charcoal Smoker – Which One Is Best?

Charcoal smokers have become an outdoor cooking source for American families worldwide since they were launched. But, after the launching of the wood pellet smokers, there is a routine debate between the BBQ enthesitis, whose title is pellet smoker, and charcoal smoker.

After knowing everything in detail about both, you will be able to make a worthy decision. People often ask which is better, which is a tricky question. The reason for this is that both smokers work differently from each other. The demand for pellet smokers has increased for several years, and many smokers and smokers like it.

But the supporters of charcoal smokers are present in large numbers. They both have their pros and cons at the same time. So, to tell you all about these smokers, I have added a detailed conversation about pellet smokers vs charcoal smokers.

pellet smokers vs charcoal smokers

What Is A Pellet Smoker?

The pellet smoker is a smoker type that uses wood pellets as fuel. These pellets are made from agricultural waste, recycled wood, or sawdust. Pellet smokers are available in different sizes and run on electricity.

It supports the digital controller of the smoker auger, which takes the pellets to the firebox from the hopper, where they are ignited by the hot rod. The computer of the smoker controls the amount of the pellet burned, but it depends upon the smoker’s temperature. 

To me, the benefit of a pellet smoker is its ease of use. Unlike other smokers, a beginner can learn its usage with a little work. They are also used as ovens and grills, despite “smokers.” 

Most pellet smokers are used for indirect cooking at the temperature between 450 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit which is not appropriate for searing. Many other brands have set it as a limitation.

What Is A Pellet Smoker

Benefits Of Pellet Smokers

As everything has its own pros and cons, hence the advantages of pellet smokers are the following: 

  • Many people say that it is much stronger than the other smokers
  • Pellet smokers create a different flavor in the food
  • With them, controlling the temperature is effortless
  • You can fire up the pellet smokers quickly

Drawbacks Of Pellet Smokers

The following are the drawbacks of the pellet smoker. Keep in mind these drawbacks while using a pellet smoker:

  • In order to maintain it, you must clean it regularly.
  • Pellet smokers need electricity to run, which means you would always stay near it when. 

What Is A Charcoal Smoker?

The charcoal briquettes are inexpensive, and one of the biggest benefits of these is that they produce more smoke and heat and thus give an exceptional taste to your meat. Charcoal smokers are primitive as compared to pellet smokers.

To generate heat, these smokers use lump charcoal or briquettes. It may be difficult for a beginner to control heat with the briquettes, but there is a steeper learning curve that will help you a lot.

What Is A Charcoal Smoker

Benefits Of Charcoal Smokers

Charcoal smokers have a lot of benefits, and some of them are explained below:

  • Add smoky charcoal flavor to your food
  • These are known as mobile smokers because electricity is not needed to run them. 
  • It will work well at both high and low temperature
  • It is an affordable smoker and has good maintenance

Drawbacks Of Charcoal Smokers

Here are some drawbacks of charcoal smokers:

  • You have to spend significant amount of time in cleaning
  • It is much more challenging to control both temperatures

Working Of Pellet Smoker

The pellet smokers contain a hopper at the back of the chamber, which can hold 7-10kg of pellets and is enough for more than 20 hours. Wood pellets are thrown into the firebox by a spiral metal rod known as an auger. The wood will be ignited in the firebox by the hot rod, also known as the electric resistive ignition rod.

Wood pellet smokers are elementary to use. On the smoker’s controller, simply set the desired temperature, and it will take care of the rest. To create heat, you need to burn the pellets inside the firebox. Some say it cannot give the results of traditional offset smokers, but it is not true.

Oil collected in a sloped drip tray on all pellet smokers can be disposed of easily in a side container. The design will keep the ash separated from the oil, meaning cleaning the smoker is much easier than emptying the drip bucket, replacing foil on the grease tray, and vacuuming the firebox.

anatomy of pellet grill

Working Of A Charcoal Smoker

A charcoal smoker can cook your food constantly for several hours. At last, your food’s internal temperature will equal the temperature of the cooker. Slowly cooking meat is the only way to get smoked meat, unlike cooking it on a BBQ grill, where flames quickly sear the flesh.

Pellet Smoker Vs. Charcoal Smoker – Features Comparison


Pellet smoking devices are designed so that they are more beneficial for a smoker than the grill. Pellets burn more quickly than charcoal. It is complicated to reach a high temperature and maintain it with pellets, so they are best for constant cooking at low temperatures.

With charcoal smokers, you can cook meat at low and high temperatures by controlling air circulation. You can do the goth grilling and smoke with it at low and high temperatures.

Flavor And Taste Texture

A charcoal smoker is a winner for true BBQ lovers who love smoky flavors because it produces thick and dense smoke that can be mingled with meat and spices in an insanely delicious manner. You will get a strong flavor and an appalling aroma.

Make an experiment to know the wood pellet smoker vs charcoal smoker taste. It depends upon your preference. The smoke produced by the pellet is a little less strong than the charcoal smoker, but it is much better than the electric and gas smokers.

Temperature Ranges And Controls

Charcoal smokers have become very popular for their high temperature because the lump charcoal gives more heat than the pellets. In my experience, you can achieve 800 degrees Fahrenheit with a charcoal smoker. While with pellet smokers, the highest temperature range is 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

You should know about the vents and their benefits. Pellet smokers provide strong grips for temperature control, and some provide digital meters from which you can adjust the temperature, smoke level, etc. In the charcoal smoker, you need to have a grip on the ventilation process to control the temperature.

Ease Of Usage

The usage of pellet smokers is quite easy. Even a pupil can make wonderful and tasty briskets due to automation. Pellets will be transported to the firebox via the auger after being fed into the hopper, adjusted to the smoker’s temperature levels, etc. Besides, these smokers provide good temperature control.

In a charcoal smoker, you should make little effort to know about the exhaust chimney, temperature controls, how to add a grill, make ventilation, etc. The pellet smokers work like a charm for beginners.


Pellet smokers are very easy to clean as they have a drip, ash, and some other mechanisms you can utilize to do instant maintenance. Besides, the pellets produce less smoke than the charcoal smokers, so clean it after every 2-3 times.


On the other hand, there is no drip, ash, etc., for maintenance. Such smokers produce thick and dense smoke. Therefore, they need cleaning after every use. You would do hard work to remove ash and smoke from the grates of the charcoal smoker. However, there is no need for struggle in pellet smokers.

Initial Cost

A Weber pellet smoker costs $500, and you can find any good quality pellet smoker between $500-$1000, while a good quality charcoal smoker is available between $1500-$2000, such as Camp Chef. As you can see, there is a big budget difference between them, but there is no compromising on the quality.

Ongoing Cost

A pellet smoker will use only pellets that are more expensive than charcoal. And the lump coals and charcoal briquettes are cheaper than the pellets. The runtime of the charcoal is two times that of the pellets.

I have experimented and concluded that a single load of pellets lasts upto 6-8 hours, and a single pack of charcoal lasts about 14 hours, depending upon the smoker’s temperature. Moreover, the pellets are much more fragile than the charcoal, and they need the replacement of some parts.

Pellet Smoker Vs Charcoal Smoker – Comparison Chart

Section Pellet SmokerCharcoal SmokerWinner
Performance In ColdPellet Smokers are good in cold but not like Charcoal SmokersCharcoal Smokers are good in cold than the Pellet SmokersCharcoal Smoker
Smoking CycleMost Pellet Smokers have a built-in overnight smoking setupCharcoal Smokers are suitable for overnight smokingCharcoal Smokers
Power SourceLittle Electric Power + PelletsBriquettes + Lump Charcoal      _
Cleaning SystemPellet Smokers are much easy to clean than the Charcoal SmokersCharcoal Smokers are much more tricky to clean as compared to the Pellet SmokersPellet Smokers
Operating CostAuger Electric Cost+240$ if used for 8 hours, so expensive than the Charcoal SmokersUses 8lb of charcoal for 8 hours. Little more inexpensive than Pellet Smokers. Charcoal Smokers
Cooking OptionsGrilling, Roasting, Searing, Clod Smoking, Hot SmokingSmoke Roasting, Liquid Smoking, Hot Smoking, Searing, Clod Smoking      _ 
Smoke StrengthIn terms of Smoke Strength, Pellet Smokers are less stronger than Charcoal Smokersproduce intense smoke as compared to the Pellet SmokersCharcoal Smokers
Durability5-20 years7-20 years    _
UsabilityPellet Smokers are easy to use than the Charcoal smokersA little tricky than Pellet Smokers    _  
Best FoodsChipotle Rubbed Tri-Tip, Beef Brisket, Strip SteakSmoked Spiral Ham, Smoked Beef Brisket, Applewood Smoked Chicken    _
Average Temperature Range150F-500F150-600FCharcoal Smokers
Price Range200$-2000$200$-1000$Charcoal Smokers
Top BrandsChar-Griller, Oklahoma Joe’s, Green Mountain, Z Grills, Traeger, Camp Chef Char-Griller, Masterbuilt, Cuisinart, Real cook, Char-Broil, Weber      _
Working MechanismOutdoor pellet smokers use direct heat from food-grade compressed wood pellets to bake food, smoke or cook. Heat Convection is the mechanism for cooking meat. With the help of charcoal’s smoky hot air, a charcoal smoker cooks food gradually over a long period. Charcoal Smokers are different from Grills, but you do not get confused. Some smoking brands offer charcoal operating devices with both smoker chambers and grills. Charcoal contains a charcoal chamber from which the smoke and hot air are sent to the smoking chamber near it. 

Which One Should I Choose?

If you want a smoker offering great automation, versatile cooking options, decent smoky flavors, and needs no effort to maintain, then the pellet smoker is the best choice. Since pellet smokers are more expensive than charcoal smokers, they are ideal for beginners.

Suppose you like the smoky flavor and can easily keep an eye on the maintenance the smoker needs for cooking, ventilation, and temperature control. In that case, I recommend a charcoal smoker. Both smokers are made for different purposes, so you have to check your requirements about digital pellet smokers vs charcoal smokers.


Frequently Asked Questions

The temperature of your charcoal grill must be manually maintained, so you will need to invest some time and charcoal before determining how much fuel you need. You need to get a pellet smoker for long-term cooking, as it is best for low and slow cooking.

Many pitmasters clearly have no proof that pellet grilling is healthier than other grilling techniques. Some smokers put wood chips in their charcoal grills to produce a smoky flavor. This experiment will create a diverse taste when it comes to adding flavor.

The vital thing you should remember is that the pellets burn slower than the charcoal. The long-term cost of the fuel depends upon how often you cook. Charcoal is much cheaper, so if you cook frequently, the savings and the five-times longer life of pellets can add up very quickly.

To add an excellent flavor to the food, you can use chips in the pellet tube or smoke tube. Pellet tubes are the best things that can add a smoky taste to your food without harming your pellet grills. You need to ensure that you have packed them tightly so that they will burn efficiently.

Ordinary charcoal briquettes can be used for smoking because they will burn at the right temperature. In most cases, boutique lump charcoal burns too hot for smoking, so there is no need to spend extra money on it. It is best to use standard-issue charcoal. You can also add wood chips for a distinctive flavor.

Final Words

So, the use of pellets and charcoal smokers depends on the taste of the food and preference. Ultimately, both types of smokers have their advantages and disadvantages. If you want to know about the offer in detail about these smokers, then you should read this article. Hopefully, this article has helped you decide which smoker is better for your BBQ satisfaction.

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