Getting to the point
The simple answer is that it really depends on what kind of flavour you're looking for. If you really enjoy that charcoal flavour, then a traditional charcoal smoker will certainly give you that. If you like the wood flavour, then a pellet smoker is really the way to go. If you want the option of choosing both flavours, then the Pit Boss and Louisiana Grills are the choice for you. They have access to both wood and charcoal pellets, giving you many options when it comes to flavour.
Buff BBQ stocks the full range of Pit Boss and BBQ smokers.
A bit more information
One could be forgiven for thinking that these 2 types of BBQ grill are one and the same, with many thinking that pellet grills use the same fuel source as charcoal – just under a different name. However, as we explore the differences between using charcoal and 100% hardwood pellets, we start to uncover not just the difference in flavour that they provide, but also the different cooking experiences and the ways that the texture of the meat is impacted.
The advantages of a charcoal grill
One of the first things to note is that for most users, charcoal grills and pellet grills can be used similarly, with some charcoal grill owners stating that the addition of some wood to burning charcoal can add a rich and smoky flavour which replicates that produced by a pellet grill. You may be wondering why, if they want the smokiness of a pellet smoker, those buyers don’t just invest in a pellet smoker rather than a charcoal grill – and the answer usually lies in the cooking style.
The primary advantage of a charcoal grill is the high temperatures it can reach, making it the ideal BBQ grill if what you want is charred and caramelised seared edges on your meat. Charcoal is designed to burn very intensely and quickly, so lighting up your charcoal grill is easy and provides that chargrilled finish in record time. As the charcoal burns down, it slowly becomes easier to control, and it has been noted that the final hours before it burns out are actually conducive to a mildly smoked meat. Users tend to leave meat wrapped in foil atop a charcoal grill as it burns down to really enrich the meat slowly with flavour and juices.
The other advantages of a charcoal grill include its initial and ongoing costs (relatively low when compared with other more modern styles of grill in the BBQ smoker UK market), and the versatility of the grill depending on how you tend to it as it burns and how regularly you fuel it.
The advantages of a pellet grill
Meanwhile, the pellet grill is the all-rounder of the BBQ smoker UK market; taking all of the advantages of a charcoal grill and combining them into something with a broad range of potential uses. Pellet grills boast all the flavour of a charcoal grill paired with the ease of use that the charcoal grill lacks.
We’ve already touched on the versatility of a charcoal grill, though the challenge with most is that in order to create that controlled cooking environment, you have to spend a lot of time fuelling, monitoring and tending to the burning charcoal. With a digitally controlled pellet smoker, such as those offered by Pit Boss and Louisiana Grills, all the hard work is done for you – leaving you able to set the grill to your chosen temperature and then leave it to cook your meat to perfection.
Of course, what makes the experience even better is the diverse range of cooking methods you get with a single pellet smoker purchase. The Pit Boss range provides an 8-in-1 cooking versatility which allows you to not only smoke your meat, but also to roast, bake and chargrill it. This makes the pellet smoker a solid investment for all-year-round use – one of its greatest advantages over the charcoal grill and other styles of BBQ which are widely used (and only suitable for use) in the summer months.
While the charcoal grill hosts a simple design with a fuel source and a grill tray, the pellet smoker appears a little more complicated – that is until you come to understand exactly how it works. With an adjustable cooking tray that can be moved to expose the direct flame or cover it up for the low and slow smoking method, the pellet smoker is highly versatile and offers more freedom in cooking styles. Pellet smokers are also considerably more interactive and can be controlled completely from the external digital display, or even, in the case of the Louisiana Grills range – via WiFi connection between the grill itself and a smartphone app. To the modern BBQ lover who values ease of use and wants to be able to host guests attentively, this digital control over the grill is a real winning trait of the modern pellet smoker.
In short, the pellet smoker is the perfect BBQ for those who want to cook on a real fire, without the constant tending and attention that a real fire requires.
Why the pellet grill is the all-rounder you need – even if you want that charcoal flavour finish
So, how do you decide which kind of grill provides a better all-round cooking experience? After all, the charcoal grill may give you that coveted seared outside and charcoal-smoked flavour, but the pellet grill offers the versatility of 8 different cooking methods – including the best parts of the charcoal grill - with additional control.
For those new to the BBQ smoker UK market, we would recommend a pellet smoker. Not only does it give you a user friendly experience, but the ability to maintain consistency of the temperature ensures that the meat is cooked exactly to your specifications. Also, if it’s that coveted chargrilled outer finish that you’re looking for, the 8-in-1 design means you can quickly slide the cooking plate over to the direct flame and sear your meat with that intense flame-grilled exposure to finish the cooking process.
Pit Boss and Louisiana Grills have both created ranges of 100% natural hardwood pellets designed to complement their grills with a variety of flavours, including a charcoal flavour for real smoke enthusiasts. In short, the pellet grill provides that “best of both worlds” experience that so many are now looking for, as outdoor cooking becomes an evermore popular choice for year-round cooking.