Do you love cooking outdoors—grilling, smoking, or barbecuing? If you’re wondering what smoker to get, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, The Golden Eagle Restaurant help you get acquainted with the pros and cons of pellet vs charcoal smoker, two of the best kinds of meat smokers according to the flavor they lend to food.
When you choose the grill that’s right for you, you have the ideal partner for a lifetime of incredible outdoor cooking experiences.
A craftsman requires the right tools, and a grill master needs the best grill.
You’ll wish to think about safety, expense, ease of use, and most of all, the method the grill will make the food taste.
Wood Pellet Grills
Table of Contents
Pellet grills provide consistent smoke and heat that is quickly changed.
The smoke provides whatever you prepare natural wood-fired taste.
There are no flare-ups because the flame is kept securely away from the food.
And there is no need to monitor a pellet grill– the temperature stays where you want it for as long as you desire.
However, temperature levels are tough to control when cooking on a charcoal grill.
Different areas of the grill will be various temperature levels, depending on how hot the charcoals below them take place to be burning at that moment.
The heat comes from charcoal briquettes when you cook with a charcoal grill.
You light the briquettes, wait around 20 minutes for them to get hot, then put them below the cooking grate.
And to get true natural smoke flavor, you need to use specialty briquettes or add wood chips or chunks to the charcoal.
When you prepare with a gas grill, the heat comes from burners sustained by flammable gas.
It works similarly to an indoor gas range. The huge downside is that due to the fact that gas is odorless and tasteless, it doesn’t impart any smoke taste to food.
Pellet vs Charcoal Smoker– What’s the Difference? Pros and Cons Of Each?
What are charcoal smokers?
The charcoal smoker provides the closest experience to an old-school charcoal grill.
You need to do everything manually, from starting and maintaining the fire to disposing of the charcoal.
A distinguishing feature of the charcoal smoker is that it comes with a water pan to generate more vapor that helps evenly cook meats and vegetables.
Using a charcoal smoker though is a slow, cooking process as it takes an extra 30 to 45 minutes for the food to cook.
But the complexity and waiting time pay off well, especially if you throw in some hardwood chunks and chips into the charcoal because meats come out with the most authentic, smoked flavor.
That’s one of the reasons why backyard chefs swear by it.
What are pellet smokers?
The pellet smoker, also known as wood pellet grill, electric pellet smoker, and wood-fired grill, is a versatile electrical cooking appliance.
Aside from smoking, grilling, and roasting, braising and baking can also be done in a pellet smoker.
Working with it is a no-brainer, just turn it on, load quality pellets into the hopper as calculated by the smoker, select the desired temperature.
Put your food on the grill grate, wait for the food to cook, and voila! Because the machine automatically feeds the pellets from the hopper into the fire to maintain the set temperature and a built-in fan distributes the heat evenly.
All you need to take care of are the rubs and sauces.
Wood pellet vs charcoal smoker
Ease of Use:
The set-it-and-forget-it technology of the pellet smoker makes it perfect for the best pellet smokers for beginners or busy hosts.
You don’t need to worry about maintaining the temperature, adding pellets, or fanning them as the machine does all of these.
It functions much like a convection oven. The charcoal smoker, on the other hand, requires you to do the hard work of soaking the wood chips as well as lighting the charcoal and tending to it.
Moreover, food takes longer to be ready in a charcoal smoker than in a pellet smoker.
But if you think the food isn’t just about the flavor but also the experience, then the charcoal smoker will certainly lend you that pit master feel.
Of course, you need to develop real backyard chef skills since success is highly dependent on your techniques with the charcoal meat smoker.
Compared to electric or propane smokers, the wood pellet smoker gives a deeper smoky flavor to what you are cooking. But compared to the charcoal meat smoker, it can be a hit or miss.
Although the pellet smoker does well in low and slow cooking, it doesn’t hold a candle to a charcoal smoker in terms of searing meat.
That is not to say that meat cooked on a pellet smoker doesn’t taste good. In fact, it performs especially well if you use quality hardwood pellets.
But people accustomed to old-school smoked meat might find themselves looking for that strong, smoky flavor that you can find in food prepared on a charcoal grill.
Charcoal meat smokers are more affordable than wood pellet smokers. The latter sells for about double or triple the price of the former.
And if you’d take into consideration that wood pellet smokers run on electricity and use up pellets pretty fast, they can cost you even more.
Smoking a 10-pound brisket may require a whole bag of pellets. Added to the price tag that comes with wood pellets is the fact that they are quite hard to find in some places.
What is the best wood pellet grill on the market?
The included functions such as WiFi and Bluetooth connection elevate your grilling experience by remote access to control the temperature level.
A pellet cigarette smoker’s versatile operations permit you to barbeque, smoke, braise, roast, and bake……………….
……A pellet cigarette smoker is an apt choice for you to spend less on the grill monitoring the temperature.
A pellet cigarette smoker is more cost-efficient as compared to the other smokers that need propane or gas. All you need is to purchase wood pellets that are reasonably less expensive than charcoal or wood.
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What is the best charcoal smoker grill?
A lot of individuals prefer charcoal cigarette smokers over the other types of smokers because of the ideal combination the charcoal cigarette smokers offer.
They are less expensive, more portable, and produce amazing taste.
Weber’s Joe smoker is the best solution if you are looking for something little and more portable.
Weber’s Premium cigarette smoker is the perfect medium-sized, portable, and highly budget-friendly cigarette smoker to have for middle-ranged events.
However, if you frequently serve large events, then the Dyna-Glo cabinet-style smoker is a good option.
A lot of people choose charcoal smokers over the other kinds of cigarette smokers because of the perfect combo the charcoal cigarette smokers provide.
They are more economical, more portable, and produce fantastic taste.
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Depending on your needs, either a charcoal meat smoker or a wood pellet grill will be perfect for you.
If you like taking your time and adding extra love to preparing your meats, the charcoal smoker is a great choice.
With hardwood chips mixed in the charcoal and great backyard chef skills, you and your family will be able to enjoy a good slab of seared meat.
But if all you want is a no-fail and fuss-free way to prepare good food, the wood pellet grill is an easy choice.
Of course, you need to consider how accessible quality hardwood pellets to you are since they hold the secret to fully make the most of this machine.
How to Keep Charcoal Smoker Hot The Right Way?
Cooking with a charcoal smoker is one of the best ways to get that authentic, smoky flavor on your meat.
However, it is not as simple as it looks. It entails a lot of hard work, from preparing the charcoal to cleaning up the smoker.
One of the greatest challenges posed when working with this thing is learning how to keep charcoal smokers hot.
Unlike the wood pellet smoker that is fitted with a set-it-and-forget-it technology, this cooker needs manual fine-tuning, which will test your patience and commitment to achieving that elusive, perfectly seared, juicy, and tasty meat.
Thus, toughing it out with this beast until gaining mastery over it can be a rewarding venture.
So how do you exactly fire up and manage the heat of your charcoal smoker?
How to Keep Charcoal Smoker Hot The Right Way?
Let’s find out here.
The Two Methods of Firing Up Your Charcoal Smoker: How to Keep Charcoal Smoker Hot The Right Way
The Standard Method
This is for short, high-heat cooks that require around 325 to 350 degrees of heat.
It involves using a heap of lit pieces of charcoal or briquettes. Ideally, cooking is started once the fuel—the charcoal or briquettes—gets a good coating of grey ash.
The Minion Method
This is for low and slow cooks, lasting 6-18 hours and requiring around 225 to 275 degrees of heat.
The idea is to fill the chamber with unlit briquettes or lump charcoal, then placing a small number of hot coals on top.
The unlit fuel will catch fire during the cooking process.
There are various variations to this method, including the crater and coffee can method.
This technique is ideal for cooking brisket and pulled pork, and may not sit well with people who prefer charcoal briquettes to be fully lit before cooking.
Tips on How to Keep Charcoal Smoker Hot
Don’t fill the charcoal chamber to the top when using the standard method.
Overheating is likely to happen with the charcoal chamber filled with red-hot coals. Just keep a few lit coals at bay in case the charcoal chamber runs low on fuel.
With practice, you’ll get a feel of how much charcoal you’ll need for what you intend to cook.
Don’t keep checking on your meat.
Opening the meat smoker can let out accumulated heat and may also mess with the coals by exposing them to more oxygen. Limit checking to once every hour or less.
Open the bottom vents more if the fire is dying.
The top and bottom vents allow you to adjust the heat inside the charcoal smoker.
The top is for some heat to escape, while the bottom vent is for the oxygen to enter which helps with burning the charcoal.
If the temperature is too high, you need to close it a little to adjust the air that’s coming in.
Normally, you keep the top vent open and make adjustments at the bottom vent, and unless you’re having trouble raising the temperature, you can close it up as well.
Switch from charcoal briquettes to lump charcoal.
Charcoal briquettes produce more ash than lump charcoal does. Too much ash in the chamber can cause temperatures to drop and can hamper good air circulation.
If considerable ash has collected, remove the old ash and replenish it with pre-lit fuel.
Another good reason to switch to lump charcoal is that briquettes contain chemicals.
That’s why with the minion method, some people think that using unlit briquettes is not a good idea.
Supposedly, it’s only when they are fully lit that these impurities are removed.
When working with natural lump charcoal, you may need to refuel the grill after every 30 to 40 minutes.
Natural lump charcoal burns hot and clean yet unevenly. They become less hot at the end than in the beginning.
If you’re aiming for longer burn times, fill the charcoal chamber with manageable chunks and give it a shake to reduce voids.
Small temperature fluctuations are okay.
So don’t fret because as long as you’re close to the target, you’re doing fine.
Smoking is not an exact science like baking, and you’ll get by with some variations in the temperature without spoiling the food you are preparing.
With some practice, you’ll get the hang of managing the heat in a charcoal smoker and be on your way to a more relaxed outdoor cooking session.
You can then focus on perfecting the taste and the look of your meats like a badass pitmaster.
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