Pellet Grill vs Smoker

Many people are confused about the pellet grills and smokers. This is because of the simple face that both of them are almost similar in nature. We said almost because there are certain differences between the two. The line drawn is thin and it can be difficult to find the difference between the two without knowing. We are here to solve all your questions. Take a look. 

What is a Pellet Grill?

Pellet grills are often known as pellet smokers. They are called the outdoor ovens and they work as an update on the traditional smokers because they work on electricity. They have all the elements of the ovens, smokers, gas grills, and charcoal grills. The pellet grill works on hardwood pellets. These are a special fuel source. The grill does not use direct flame but they cook the food with indirect heat and smoke. That is why they are similar to the smoker. 

If you want the pellet grill to work then you have to place the pellets in the hopper. Then this will go to the cooking pot where there will be a heating element that can set this on fire. The flame is maintained when the pellets are poured from the hopper to the pot. The timing of the feed is determined by the temperature you have the grill on. 

What is a Smoker?

A smoker is a device that allows you to cook the food at very low temperatures. The smoke is produced so that you can get that smoky flavor in the food. There are different kinds of smokers that you can find in the market. The pellet grills are generally used as smokers but that is only one function of the grill. 

Offset Smokers - These are traditional and basic kinds of smokers. The firebox is connected to the large barrel where the cooking takes place. They can use firewood or charcoal as a fuel.

Electric Smokers - These run on electricity and they are going to allow several racks to be stacked on each other. They are kind of like a vertical smoker. 

Pellet Grill vs Smoker - Comparison

Now a pellet smoker and a pellet grill is something that can be used in a variety of ways. Some companies offer a combination to them. They are made to perform grilling and smoking to baking, roasting, braising, searing, and more. Pellet grills use more heat than the pellet smokers and they can cook the food faster too. A pellet smoker is going to cook food for a long time. It is better when you want to get slow cooked food. You can get a good sear when you are cooking on the grill. 

Are Pellet Grill and Pellet Smoker the Same?

Pellet grills and pellet smokers use the same fuel source : hardwood pellets. They need electricity to fire up the pellets and then a fan to regulate the heat and smoke throughout the grill. It may seem that they are more or less the same but technically they are not. They have a slight difference. 

Pellet Grills

Here are some of the significant pros and cons of a pellet grill 


  • It is used for grilling, roasting, and barbecuing.
  • You can also sear food on certain pellet grills.
  • A few models have Wifi connectivity.
  • They are able to moderate the temperature.


  • They are very expensive.
  • They are not suited for traditional smoking recipes.
  • They need electricity to run.
  • The cost of pellets is additional as a fuel source.

Pellet Smokers

Here are some of the significant pros and cons of a pellet smokers  


  • They are perfect for slow cooking.
  • You can bake and roast in a pellet smoker.
  • You can grill if the model has provisions for it.
  • It has good temperature and heat control.


  • Vertical pellet smokers can not sear food.
  • They need electricity to function.
  • They are very expensive.
  • The recurring expense is increased because of the pellets.

Head To Head

Now that we have learnt about the pellet grills and smokers, it is time to go for a head to head comparison between the two. We will make sure to give you all the important facts. Take a look. 

The Heat Source

The heat source of the pellet grill is much closer to the food than the pellet smoker. The pellet grills have horizontal design so all the food are at the same level of the heat. There are models where you can find an additional rack over the main one. Those are very rare though. 

The pellet smokers are vertical in nature and they have the heat source at the base. The multiple racks on the smoker allows you to cook many good food at the same time and the food placed on the above racks are much further away from the heat source. The pellet smokers generally have a lot of more distance between the lower rack and the heat source than in a grill. 

If you want smoked food then you should go for the smoker even though it is possible to smoke in a pelket grill. You need to go ahead and cook the food in smoke and not direct flame and the vertical smoker is perfect for this purpose. This is also good for smoking vegetables. However, if you just want the smoky effect on the food then it is better to go with the grill. 

The Cooking Chamber

There are many companies that label their pellet grills like smokers too. This is because of the heat and smoke produced in the chamber. Some of these companies are Traeger and Z Grills. This is causing problems among the users but we can not blame them because you can choose to close the lid on the grill and it can essentially become a smoker. We will agree on one fact - it is all very confusing. Even experts might have a hard time differentiating between the two. 

The pellet smoker has a taller and vertical profile. The pellet grill is more compact than the smokers. This can be one of the main differences that you can find between a pellet grill and a pellet smoker. 

The Smoking Effect

There is a difference between smoky effect and the smoke being the main cooking method. Convection heat can be found in both the pellet smokers and grills. However, the smokers uses less of the convection heat and more of the smoke for the cooking process. If you want to completely smoke the food then a pellet smoker is ideal for you. However, if you want to eat a steak with hints of smoky flavor then you will have to go for a pellet grill. 

The Cooking Capacity

A vertical smoker has more space than the grill. You might have to refill the hopper at approximate intervals. It depends on the temperature that you are cooking your food in. A minimum cooking capacity is present in each model. It allows you to cook food for a lot of people. 

The Taste Test: Pellet Grill vs. Pellet Smoker

A pellet smoker is perfect when you want to smoke your steak but if you want to sear it then you have to go for the grill. Some people who have the combo of both like to use them both. The pellet smoker can infused the steak with pure smoky flavor and the pellet grill can offer a nice searing finish. 

Vegetables are different from meat. If you want to smoke the veggies then you have to do it in a smoker. A pellet grill can barbeque your vegetables instead of smoking them. You need to be careful about that. After all is said a and done, the bottom line is that the pellet smoker offers more smoky flavor than the pellet grill. 


We do hope that this article had been able to solve some of the questions that you had about pellet grills and smokers. Of course, you can get different smokers in the market but pellet smokers are the perfect counterpart for the pellet grills. The most important thing to note in this matter is the amount of smoky flavor that you can get with the device. When you are cooking on a pellet smoker, you get the authentic flavor of smoking. It totally depends on how the user wants the food. Thank you so much for giving this article a read and bearing till the very end. Have a grand time grilling and smoking good.