Grilling is one of the most favorite outdoor activities. Different types of grilling options are available in the market like pellet and wood smokers. Both pellet and wood smokers are similar in the way that both use wood for cooking purposes. Which is better pellet smoker vs wood smoker? You must look for the pros and cons of pellet and wood smokers.
Pellet Smoker vs Wood Smoker.
Now, let’s start to discuss pellet vs wood smokers.
The wood smoker is an offset cooker for your backyard BBQ or smoking food. There is a variety of wood smokers out in the market depending on your budget. I will give you the basic information about a wood smoker that is the same for all wood smokers.
First, let us discuss different parts of the wood smoker and learn how it operates.
- Smoke chamber
- Firebox air dampener
The main part of an offset smoker is the smoke chamber where all smoke goes. It has one or two grates depending on the type of smoker. All food goes in that chamber. The smoke from the firebox enters this chamber and passes through the whole chamber it leaves from the smokestack.
In the initial part of this chamber where smoke enters, the temperature is a little higher and it goes down as the distance increases from the initial point. The manufacturer places a plate at the initial point to divert smoke a little to maintain that temperature. In this way, the temperature reduces a little at the initial point where it enters the chamber.
In some cases, they give a huge metal plate with holes in it that are placed under the grates. The sizes of holes vary from the initial to the ending point of the grate. At the start, it has small holes so that a little air can pass through it, and as the distance increases from the firebox size also increases. This is also another way to maintain temperature throughout the smoke chamber.
The firebox is the part where all wood chips or charcoal go to light the fire. The fire ignites with common general methods. Smoke is created here and then it goes from this box to the smoke chamber or cooking chamber.
It performs the function of the chimney. All smoke that enters the food chamber leaves from here. It has a different position for several types of smokers. Sometimes at one end of a smoker is a firebox and on the other end is the smokestack. Smoke enters from the firebox to the smoke chamber and passes through the whole chamber and leaves from another end.
However, in some smokers the construction is different. The firebox and smokestack are both in the same direction. In that case, the internal construction of the smoke chamber is a bit different. A long metal barrier stops the smoke from directly entering the firebox to the smoking chamber. It flows under the whole smoking chamber and first enters the smoke chamber from the opposite side of the firebox. Then it flows in between grates and leaves the cooking chamber or smoke chamber from the smokestack. The smoke flow process is reversed in that case and that smoker is called a reverse flow offset smoker. It is a fancy smoker.
Firebox air dampener
It is a window in a firebox that is called a firebox air dampener. It is used first for combustion. Charcoal or wood chips start burning and create heat and smoke and the temperature that we need to achieve.
First, the window is closed but when the temperature of the cooking chamber reduces, we open the air dampener window. Air enters the firebox and increases combustion increasing the burning process to enhance smoke and temperature as a result. Similarly, if we want to decrease the temperature just the window halfway or a little more to provide less surface area for combustion.
The fuel we used in offset smokers is mostly wood chips or charcoal. There is a variety of wood chips depending on the flavor. From white oak, mesquites like rich flavors to mild fruit flavors.
A pellet smoker or grill is an outdoor cooker that runs off using wood pellets to cook a variety of food. It is a combination of the smoker, kitchen oven, and gas grill due to which we can bake, grill, smoke, and sear food.
It is a time-saving machine with built-in functions which means we don’t need to babysit to avoid burning and undercooking meals. Pellet smokers are wood-feed electrically operated machines. Sometimes people think that electric pellets use electricity for cooking, but it only uses it to ignite the fire and airflow. Real cooking uses wood pellets. you can even use a pellet smoker in cold weather . For a detailed review of how it can work, you can read this blog post
To understand the pellet smoker completely we first need to look at the construction and working of the pellet smoker or grill.
Although every pellet smoker has different construction, this is an overview of pellet smokers that every smoker has.
- wood pellets
- Burning pot
- Cooking chamber
- Control panel
I will give you a brief description of every part in the next section.
Wood pellets are small cylindrical pieces of compressed hardwood. Which is the residue of real wood or sawdust of hardwood that is compressed in pellet mills without any binding material. There are several types of wood pellets according to flavor from mild to strong (mesquite, hickory, apple, cherry).
Wood pellets have very little ash content. Do not use softwood as it is used for heating homes because it releases some toxins that are not healthy when interacting with food.
Hopper is the part of the pellet grill or smoker used for the storage of wood pellets. The machine makes wood pellets from the hopper to the next section of the smoker called an auger. The size of the hopper is different in distinct size pellet smokers from a few lb. to many lbs. (2b-20lb).
Wood pellets move from the hopper to the auger which is a screw that is attached to an electric motor that is further attached to a control panel. The motor starts and rotates the auger(screw) to feed the burning pot with a pellet as it receives instruction from the control panel.
When the desired temperature of the grill is achieved control panel gives instructions to stop or slow down the feed to the burning pot and vice versa.
A burning pot is the part of a pellet smoker which ignites the fire. It has an electric heat rod. When we set the temperature for the grill, the control panel gives command of burning pellets and creates heat and smoke. It is the part of the smoker which fires up the pellets.
To start combustion at the burning pot to ignite the fire we need air or oxygen. The fan which is like an auger controlled by a control panel performs this function and provides air for combustion as well as maintaining the heat equally inside the cooking chamber. We cannot control the flow of air independently as the fan is automatically operated by the control panel.
It is the main cooking part of the smoker or grill where all kinds of cooking take place. It consists of one or two grills depending on which kind and size of pellet smoker we buy. Heat and smoke flow through this chamber maintains the temperature of the chamber that we set initially.
This is the main major part of pellet smoker which differentiate it from other types of smokers and grills. Its function varies in several types of pellet smokers. Every command that we give to the smoker is given through the control panel. They programmed the control panel according to the features that are given in that specific pellet smoker. Temperature control, airflow, and ignition of fire all is controlled by the control panel.
Similarities between pellet smokers and wood smokers.
The sizes of both smokers are the same. Both come in different shapes and sizes. Both provide a great flavor at the end. Both provide slow cooking of meat for longer periods. Other many features are similar but both smokers have many differences. Let’s discuss some for better understanding.
Pellet Smoker vs Wood Smoker. Difference between them.
- A wood smoker needs babysitting which means you need to attend it all along the way of cooking to control temperature while a pellet requires no attention you just set the temperature and come back at the right time.
- Pellets burn slowly and do not give higher temperatures while wood smokers burn fast and can give higher temperatures.
- Pellet smokers are more expensive than wood smokers.
- Are Pellet Smoker Grills Good Smokers? Pellet smokers give less smoky flavor than wood smokers.
- The meat of pellet smokers is juicier, and it has more moisture than wood smokers.
- Pellet smokers also run-on electricity which wood smokers do not require.
- Pellet smokers have an auto-control function while wood smokers do not have this feature.
- Pellet smokers give an even color to food while wood smokers give deep color, especially at the edges.
- A Pellet smoker has a small hopper for wood pellets as compared to a wood smoker which has a large fire pot at the bottom or side of the smoker.
Pros and Cons of Pellet Smokers.
- Temperature Control.
- Easy Portable.
- Gives even cooking.
- Gives even color to food.
- do not need cleaning after every use.
- they are expensive.
- They give a less smoky flavor.
- The fuel tank is small.
Pros and Cons of Wood Smoker.
- They are cheaper.
- Do not use electricity.
- Give crispy dark edges.
- Gives a richer smoky flavor.
- The fuel tank is big.
- they take time.
- they are not portable and easily.
- need cleaning after every use.
which one is better pellet or wood smoker?
Both smokers are incredibly good and easy to use. Both have unique features but in my opinion charcoal or wood, smokers are difficult to manage as you cannot control temperature. If you are a beginner, then pellet smokers are best. Although they are expensive, they are easy to use, and you can control the temperature easily. But if you are not new then it depends on your taste and which type of flavor you mostly like.
Is wood better than pellets?
Wood chips burn more quickly than pellets. Pellets give a deeper smokey flavor to your food than wood chips. The temperature at which the wood burn is much higher than pellets and you can cook more variety of food.
Do pellet smokers give good smoke flavor?
No pellet smokers cannot give your food a good smoky flavor. the smoke which is produced by pellet smokers is less smoky as compared to charcoal smokers.
What is the best smoker for a beginner?
For beginners, you must consider many things for buying a smoker that suits you. In my opinion, you can buy a Master-built vertical 1050 smoker. it is the best smoker for beginners
Is it better to smoke with pellets or charcoal?
pellet vs wood smoking. It depends upon your taste that you like. people prefer to smoke with charcoal than pellets because charcoal gives a richer smoky flavor than pellets. what you cooked with charcoal is hard to beat in taste.
Do pellets burn longer than wood?
Yes, pellets burn longer than wood chips. pellets are the same in shape and size, and they are used in automatic burning systems.