Skip to content

Are wood pellet barbecues any good?


Wood pellet barbecues have gained popularity in recent years as an alternative to traditional charcoal or gas grills. These innovative grilling systems use wood pellets as fuel, providing a unique cooking experience and flavorful results. But are wood pellet barbecues any good? In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of wood pellet barbecues, their functionality, and why they might be a great choice for your next barbecue.

The Benefits of Wood Pellet Barbecues

Wood pellet barbecues offer several key benefits that make them an appealing option for outdoor cooking enthusiasts in the UK.

  • Convenience: One of the main advantages of wood pellet barbecues is their convenience. Unlike traditional charcoal grills, wood pellet barbecues have automated features that allow for precise temperature control. With the push of a button, you can easily set the desired temperature and let the grill do the work.
  • Flavor: Wood pellets add a distinct smoky flavor to the food, enhancing the taste of grilled meats, vegetables, and other dishes. The variety of wood pellet flavors available allows you to experiment and create unique flavor profiles.
  • Versatility: Wood pellet barbecues are versatile and can be used for various cooking methods such as grilling, smoking, roasting, and even baking. This flexibility makes them suitable for a wide range of recipes and culinary techniques.

How Wood Pellet Barbecues Work

Wood pellet barbecues operate by using an electrically powered auger to feed the wood pellets into a firebox. The speed at which the pellets are fed determines the temperature inside the grill. The pellets are ignited by a heating element, and the resulting flame provides the heat for cooking.

“Wood pellet barbecues offer the convenience of gas grills with the flavor of charcoal.”

The temperature control in wood pellet barbecues is accomplished through a digital control panel or smartphone app, allowing you to easily monitor and adjust the heat level. This precise temperature control ensures consistent results and eliminates the need for constant monitoring and adjustment.

Considerations and Limitations

While wood pellet barbecues have numerous benefits, it is important to consider their limitations before making a purchase decision.

  • Cost: Wood pellet barbecues can be more expensive than traditional charcoal or gas grills. Additionally, ongoing costs include purchasing wood pellets, which can add up depending on usage.
  • Power Requirements: Wood pellet barbecues require electricity to operate due to their automated features. If you plan to use the grill in remote areas without access to power, this could be a limitation.
  • Availability of Wood Pellets: While wood pellets are generally easy to find, the variety of flavors and brands might be more limited compared to charcoal or gas grill options.

Do Pellet Grills Taste Like Charcoal?

Grilling enthusiasts often debate between the traditional charcoal grill and the modern pellet grill. While both options have their merits, one common question that arises is whether pellet grills can produce a similar flavor to charcoal grills. Let’s delve into this topic and explore the nuances.

Charcoal Flavor vs. Wood Flavor

Pellet grills are known for their ability to infuse a smoky flavor into grilled foods. However, the flavor produced by pellet grills is different from that of charcoal grills. Charcoal imparts a distinct smoky taste that is often associated with the classic barbecue flavor. On the other hand, pellet grills use wood pellets as fuel, which imparts a more nuanced and milder smoky flavor.

According to barbecue experts, the wood flavor produced by pellet grills can be just as desirable as charcoal flavor, albeit in a different way. The choice between the two ultimately comes down to personal preference, with some preferring the bold charcoal flavor and others enjoying the subtleties of wood smoke.

The Versatility of Pellet Grills

One advantage of pellet grills is their versatility in terms of offering various wood flavors to enhance the taste of grilled dishes. Different types of wood pellets, such as hickory, mesquite, or applewood, can be used to achieve different flavors and aromas. This allows grillers to experiment with flavors and truly customize their cooking experience.


“Pellet grills offer a wide range of flavors that can complement a variety of dishes. It’s like having a BBQ pitmaster’s collection of wood chips right at your fingertips.” – BBQ enthusiast

Is a Pellet Grill Better than a Charcoal Grill?

When it comes to outdoor cooking, choosing the right grill is crucial. Two popular options that often come up in the debate are pellet grills and charcoal grills. Both have their unique features and advantages, but which one is better? Let’s take a closer look.

Pellet Grills

A pellet grill uses wood pellets as its fuel source, providing a convenient way to achieve that authentic smoky flavor. These grills are known for their versatility, allowing you to easily control the temperature and even use them for smoking. Pellet grills also offer automated features, such as digital controls and Wi-Fi connectivity, making them user-friendly.

One of the biggest advantages of pellet grills is their consistent temperature control. With precise temperature settings, you can cook your food evenly without constant monitoring. Additionally, pellet grills produce less ash compared to charcoal grills, making cleanup a breeze.

Charcoal Grills

A charcoal grill is a classic choice with a loyal following. These grills use charcoal briquettes or natural lump charcoal as their fuel. The direct heat from the burning charcoal lends a distinct flavor to the food, resulting in that traditional grilled taste loved by many.

Charcoal grills are known for their high heat output, allowing for searing and creating that desirable charred crust. They are also portable and require no electricity, making them ideal for camping trips or tailgating events.

The Verdict

Ultimately, the choice between a pellet grill and a charcoal grill depends on personal preference and the specific cooking needs. If convenience, precise temperature control, and versatility are important to you, a pellet grill may be the better option. On the other hand, if you value the traditional smoky flavor, high heat output, and enjoy the process of tending to the fire, then a charcoal grill would be a great fit.


“Both pellet grills and charcoal grills offer unique advantages, so it’s important to consider what matters most to you in your outdoor cooking experience.” – BBQ Enthusiast Magazine

To help you make an informed decision, here’s a quick comparison between the two:

Features Pellet Grill Charcoal Grill
Temperature Control Precise and automated Requires manual adjustment
Flavor Authentic smoky flavor Distinct charcoal taste
Cleanup Less ash More ash
Convenience User-friendly with automated features Requires manual fire management

In conclusion, both pellet grills and charcoal grills have their own merits. Consider your cooking style, desired flavor profile, and level of convenience to determine which grill suits your needs best. Whichever you choose, both options can deliver delicious results and enhance your outdoor cooking experience.

Is it cheaper to cook with pellets or charcoal?

Cost Comparison

When it comes to the cost of cooking fuel, pellets and charcoal offer different advantages. While charcoal is generally less expensive upfront, pellets tend to be cheaper in the long run due to their efficiency. A 20-pound bag of charcoal typically costs around £10, whereas a 20-pound bag of wood pellets costs around £15. However, pellets burn more efficiently and produce more heat, meaning you’ll need fewer pellets to achieve the same cooking results as you would with charcoal.

Efficiency and Heat Output

Wood pellets are highly efficient and have a higher heat output compared to charcoal. This means that you can achieve the desired cooking temperature faster and use fewer pellets overall. Pellets also burn cleaner than charcoal, producing less ash and reducing maintenance and cleanup time.

Environmental Impact

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your cooking fuel, pellets are a better choice. Charcoal is made from wood and often requires cutting down trees, whereas pellets are typically made from waste wood materials such as sawdust and wood shavings. By using pellets, you’re contributing to recycling efforts and minimizing deforestation.

Why are pellet grills so popular?

Pellet grills have gained immense popularity among BBQ enthusiasts in the UK for a variety of reasons. These innovative grills offer a unique cooking experience that combines convenience, versatility, and great flavor.

Convenience and Ease of Use

One of the key reasons behind the popularity of pellet grills is their convenience and ease of use. With automated temperature control and simple operation, anyone can become a grill master. The grill’s digital control panel allows you to set and maintain the desired temperature with precision, eliminating the need for constant monitoring. Additionally, pellet grills often feature hopper systems that automatically feed wood pellets into the fire, providing consistent heat and smoke throughout the cooking process.

Versatility in Cooking

Pellet grills are incredibly versatile, allowing you to grill, smoke, bake, roast, and even braise your favorite foods. The ability to adjust the temperature and smoke intensity makes it possible to achieve a wide range of cooking styles. Whether you want to slow smoke a rack of ribs, bake a pizza, or sear a steak, a pellet grill can handle it all. This versatility appeals to both novice cooks looking to experiment and experienced grillers who want to expand their culinary repertoire.

Flavor and Smoke

The unique design of pellet grills helps impart a distinct smoky flavor to your food. Unlike traditional charcoal or gas grills, pellet grills use wood pellets as fuel, which release aromatic smoke when burned. This smoke infuses your food with a rich, natural flavor that cannot be replicated with other grilling methods. From hickory and mesquite to apple and cherry, there is a wide variety of wood pellets available, allowing you to experiment with different flavors and customize your cooking experience.

The “Set It and Forget It” Factor

Pellet grills are often praised for their ability to provide consistent results with minimal effort. Once you’ve set the desired temperature, you can simply relax and let the grill do its magic. The automated temperature control ensures that the grill maintains a steady heat, taking the guesswork out of the cooking process. This convenience is especially appreciated during long smoking sessions, where maintaining a constant temperature is crucial.

In the words of a satisfied pellet grill owner, “Using a pellet grill is like having a sous chef who never sleeps. It takes care of the cooking so I can focus on spending time with my guests.”

As the popularity of pellet grills continues to rise, more and more people in the UK are discovering the joy of outdoor cooking with these versatile and user-friendly grills. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner griller, a pellet grill can elevate your culinary skills and enhance your outdoor cooking experience.


While pellet grills may not replicate the exact flavor of charcoal grills, they offer their own unique taste that many grill enthusiasts appreciate. The versatility and range of wood flavors available with pellet grills provide an opportunity to experiment and create delicious grilled dishes.

In the end, whether you prefer the unmistakable charcoal flavor or the nuanced wood smoke flavor is a matter of personal preference. So why not try both and decide for yourself which one suits your taste buds best?

In terms of long-term cost, efficiency, and environmental impact, cooking with wood pellets is generally the more cost-effective choice.

To summarize, while charcoal may be cheaper upfront, wood pellets are more efficient, provide higher heat output, and have a lower environmental impact. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective and eco-friendly option for your cooking needs, consider switching to wood pellets.