Can You Use Charcoal In A Pellet Grill (5 Reasons You Can’t!)

Midway through your cooking you notice that you’re almost out of pellet!

What do you do?

You might think about using charcoal instead of pellets.

Is this a good idea?

Read this article to learn all about which fuel sources you can use in your pellet grill.

Can I Use Charcoal In A Pellet Grill?

The easy answer is no.

If you’ve chosen the way of wood pellet grills, you will need to use wood pellets exclusively.

There are a few reasons why it’s bad practice to use charcoal in a pellet grill.

Temperature

The biggest reason to avoid using charcoal is because of the hot temperature.

Hot coals can burn over 2,000°F. However, the heat dissipates quickly just a few inches away from the coals.

The heat from the charcoal will significantly cool down by the time it reaches the cooking grate. However, it may cause damage to the actual grill.

Pellet grills are not designed to reach temperatures over 500°F. This means charcoal may warp the grill in the long run.

Pellet Grills Use Only Pellet-Shaped Fuel

Because of the design of the auger, it is necessary to use the proper size and shape of pellets.

Charcoal can jam the auger and cause problems.

Ventilation

The ventilation in a pellet grill may blow charcoal ash onto your food.

While this might not break the grill, it will ruin your meal.

What Is The Difference Between A Pellet Grill And A Charcoal Grill?

There are a few differences between these two types of grills.

Fuel Source

Pellet grills use pellets and charcoal grills use charcoal.

Charcoal grills usually require the use of lighter fluid, as well. This is the main difference between each type of grill.

However, there are more differences to consider.

Flavor

Meat cooked on a pellet grill will have hints of wood in the taste.

If you use a charcoal grill, you’ll notice a charcoal flavor in your food.

Cost

Most pellet smokers and grills are quite pricey. Some are over $2,000, but you may be able to find some that cost less than $1,000.

Some charcoal grills may also cost a lot of money.

However, it’s not hard to find a charcoal grill between $50 and 200 to suit most people’s needs.

Practicality

Cooking on charcoal is not the simplest grilling experience.

With practice, charcoal grilling becomes easier.

However, the learning curve may frustrate many rookie grillers.

Cooking with pellets is a much easier process. If you’re familiar with cooking on a stove, you’ll be able to quickly learn this skill.

boneless-pork-loin-on-a-pit-boss-pellet-grill-1

Versatility

Most charcoal grills can only be used to grill food. Pellet grills are designed to also smoke food.

This means that they double as pellet smokers.

Temperature

Charcoal grills can get much hotter than their pellet counterparts.

However, it is much easier to control the cooking temperature on a pellet grill.

How Does A Pellet Grill Work?

To understand what type of fuel to use in a pellet grill, we must understand how they work.

The grill has a hopper where we can place the wood pellets.

An auger will rotate to push the pellets from the hopper to the firepot. 

A fan will blow into the fire pot to create a fire. The heat plate deflects the smoke to result in an even heat. 

The heat will cook the meat. Any drippings will fall into the drip tray.

Not sure what to cook? Here’s a list of great recipes to cook on your pellet grill.

Now that we know how it works, let’s talk about the fuel it takes.

Charcoal Vs Wood Pellets

Charcoal is wood that is burned in a low oxygen setting.

Wood pellets are made from dried wood and compressed sawdust.

Each type of fuel offers different benefits.

Charcoal burns hotter than wood pellets. Wood pellets usually burn longer than charcoal.

Since wood pellets easily burn longer than charcoal, they’re great for smoking meats.

They also can hold consistent temperatures.

Wood pellet grills are perfect for people who prefer slow cooking their meat.

Charcoal Flavored Wood Pellets

Charcoal pellets look like wood pellets but have the same properties as charcoal.

They are safe for pellet grills because they burn less hot than charcoal briquettes.

If you want the smoky flavor of charcoal, try using charcoal-flavored pellets.

These charcoal pellets are made specifically for a pellet grill so they are a safe option.

Charcoal pellets are also easier to cook with. Charcoal pellets do not create as much ash as lump charcoal.

This allows you to spend more time cooking and less time cleaning.

Are Wood Pellets Healthier than Charcoal?

Burning coal can release air pollutants. This makes burning wood pellets a healthier option for outdoor cooking.

Charcoal briquettes have lower quality ingredients than other types of charcoal.

If you choose to cook with charcoal, you may want to avoid the charcoal briquettes.

What Is A Combo Pellet Grill?

A combo pellet grill is a grill that has the option to use two different fuel types.

Usually, you’ll find a pellet and gas grill combo.

Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any pellet and charcoal grills on the market.

However, you can easily find a charcoal and gas grill.

By purchasing a combo grill, you will expand your outdoor cooking possibilities.

What To Do When My Pellet Grill Flames Out?

If you follow best practices, your pellet grill should rarely flame out.

Be sure to follow the instruction guide when using your grill. This will ensure that operator error does not harm the grill.

Common reasons for a flameout are moist or cheap pellets, too much ash in the fire pot, or cold weather.

If any of these seem probable to you, there’s an easy fix.

Purchase high-quality wood pellets. Clean out the ash. Use an insulation blanket over the grill.

Another simple problem to fix is the airflow. If you’re using a drip tray or cooking pan that is too big, it may prevent proper airflow.

More complicated problems may be found when you inspect the auger and induction fan.

If you notice anything wrong, consult your user’s manual to find the proper solution.

pit-boss-auger-not-turning

What To Do When My Pellet Grill Catches On Fire?

There are a couple of reasons why your grill may catch on fire.

Perhaps there is too much grease on your drip tray. Or there may be too many pellets in your firepot.

The simplest way to prevent these fires is by regularly cleaning your grill.

Another great tip is to follow instructions every time you cook something on the grill.

Now that you know everything about pellet grills, you will be able to safely cook food on your pellet grill.

Remember to follow best practices for your safety and the grill’s longevity.

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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