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Pellet vs charcoal smoker


Fire Starter
Joined Feb 8, 2020
Good evening everyone. Quick question, I went to home depot today and they had a pretty slick looking gravity fed charcoal smoker for about $400. It had wifi, temperature control. I'm currently smoking with the Louisiana grills vertical smoker from Costco. What is everyone's thoughts about the pellets vs. Charcoal smokers in terms of flavor, heat regulation, char, etc. Thanks in advance!


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Jan 18, 2020
IMHO, pellet cookers only advantage is that they are set and forget, other than perhaps having to add fuel on very long cooks.
Meat flavor wise, they are weak sisters compared to gravity rigs, as long as you remember to add wood chunks to the charcoal.
Gravity rigs are also set and forget so it's pretty much a tie, user friendly wise.

Mr. Zorg

Smoke Blower
Joined Aug 26, 2021
I've never owned or used a pellet smoker because IMO they only provide a "tease" of smoke flavor in the finished product. But I'll qualify that as having grown up in South Texas using charcoal and mesquite, or all mesquite, for grilling and smoking with a very occasional bag of hickory chunks for vareity until I left Texas in 2000. Living in other places where water oak, pecan, shagbark hickory, and wild cherry were locally abundant which expanded my cooking wood palette. I've tried apple and sugar maple and those aren't my personal preference for example. It's all a matter of individual preferences.

Having said that I haven't tried any foods cooked on a pellet rig that incorporated some of the relatively new Royal Oak 100% Hardwood pellets on a pellet grill, nor have I yet had any food cooked on a gravity fed charcoal and wood smoker. My experience is a vertical bullet style smoker with remote temperature system with configurable alarms is sufficient when I don't want to invest the time & effort feeding an offset smoker. However if I wound up with some degree of greater physical restrictions / difficulty I'd be researching gravity fed charcoal and wood smokers for my next purchase. I'm just not optimistic I'd enjoy the finished product from a pellet rig on a continuous basis.

YMMV of course.


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Feb 25, 2018
I love my pellet smoker for a lot of reasons, I would love to own a gravity smoker and will buy 1 at some point, they are fuel hogs from what I read so they wont get used all the time or every time, the pellet is very versatile but smoke is less than other cookers but can be helped several ways. some folks hate anything electric but I don't hate none of them.


Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Jan 14, 2014
can't speak on charcoal smokers but I have a pitboss pellet smoker/grill yes they're convenient but as to smoke flavor in my opinion has a lot to be desired, my mes 30 beats my pellet without question.


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Joined Sep 29, 2018
My MES 40 with the Auber and mailbox mod is my go-to unit 75% of the time. When use the RT 590 , most times add 6" smoke tube which is additional 2 hrs of extra smoke. Both are set it and forget it.


Fire Starter
SMF Premier Member
Joined Aug 31, 2021
I prefer the smokiness of charcoal over pellets, I have to admit the set and forget convenience of a pellet smoker/grill is tempting though.


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Aug 26, 2018
I have both, a much modified pellet smoker and a gravity fed smoker. IMHO, pellet smoke will never compare to true hardwood and charcoal smoke…. I had to add a hardwood burning smoke generator and a smoke basket to my pellet grill too get the desired smoke I was missing from pellet smoke alone. I posted this earlier in another thread that if the present day Gravity Fed Smokers from Masterbuilt and CharGriller were available 4 years ago, I would’ve went that route in a heartbeat first. My CG-980 is able to produce great hardwood and charcoal smoke from 200* degrees on up over 350* degrees and it’s as set it and forget it as any pellet grill. Every Smoker has their pros and cons… but if someone is looking for the easiest way to make great bbq, without compromising a great smoke flavor profile, then the Gravity Fed Smokers are the way to go. Would I get rid of my Pellet Pro Austin XL?? No. It’s still very effective and does a great job on seafood and poultry, but the CG-980 requires less work, plus the great hardwood and charcoal smoke that today’s stand alone pellet grills can’t replicate. .02

Char-Griller 980 GF… Pellet Pro Austin XL and a few more mods... In SoCal and Always... Semper Fi


Smoking Fanatic
SMF Premier Member
Joined Mar 16, 2019
I have a pellet and a cabinet cooker. I still love my pellet because of the ease of use but my cabinet provides a much better smoke profile in my opinion. I run a controller and fan on my cabinet and it is close to the pellet in set and forget. Starting it up required more work though.
The gravity fed cooker, from what I heard are as easy to use as pellet cookers with more pronounced smoke when used with wood chunks. Not sure what your budget is but for more $$$ there is Myron Mixon or Assassin Smokers or Stumps Smokers to name a few. For insulated cabinet smokers check out Lone Star Grillz, again more $$$


Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
Joined Nov 29, 2020
Never had a pellet pooper but do own a MBGF 1050. The 560 would work on weekday cooks but need the extra room on the weekends for the kids and grands.
Had it since Jan 21 and fire it up 3-4 times a week . Absolutely love it.......but only have the MES40 (which I also love )
to compare it to .

And if you're not in a rush you should be able to grab one on sale ! 😎


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Dec 23, 2011
Thanks for everyone's feedback, https://www.homedepot.com/p/Masterb...UhRPgGuYHtYQjnHuH2YaAtZ8EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

This is the smoker I was talking about. I feel I could put my pellet smoker up for $200 and pay the difference just got to see if I can get my wife on board. Would you all trade essentially the pellet smoker +300 to get into something like this?
I have had one of these for over a year now. It can crank up to 700 degrees. I can use it as a charcoal grill and it will maintain precise grilling temps. Or I can but some wood chunks in the hopper and it does a great job as a smoker.

At the worst if I am in a hurry I get great flavor from the charcoal grilling. And when I have time I can slow the process down and throw some Cherry chunks in the gravity hopper. The Masterbuilt gravity series are nice.


Joined Aug 25, 2021
It also depends greatly on your taste preference. My wife prefers the meat smoked in the pellet cooker than smoked meats from restaurants because she doesn't like the heavy smoke. I personally like the heavy smoke flavor so a pellet grill with a smoke enhancer is a good compromise. If you have enough space, you can always get both!

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