3 reasons to buy a wood pellet BBQ – and 2 not to

Wood pellet BBQs are great, but they're not without caveats

Traeger Ironwood 650 wood pellet BBQ
(Image credit: Traeger)

I curate T3's best BBQs and best smokers buying guides and, as a result, I have reviewed quite a few wood pellet barbecues.

Wood pellet BBQs are really great, too, and I frequently recommend them to readers as well as friends and family as a result.

However, wood pellet BBQs won't suit everyone's barbecue needs, which is why I've decided to briefly explain what they're good for, and where gas and charcoal grills may have them beat.

Traeger Ironwood 650 wood pellet BBQ in use by an adult human male

(Image credit: Traeger)

3 reasons to buy a wood pellet BBQ

1. Wood pellet BBQs are brilliant grillers, roasters, smokers and even bakers – The most obvious reason to buy a wood pellet grill, at least in my mind, is that the cooking quality they deliver is top tier, beating off gas and charcoal. Wood pellets burn very evenly and their burn can be tightly controlled by the grill master, allowing you to get the perfect result every time no matter what you're cooking.

2. Wood pellets enhance the flavour of cooked food really well – The wood pellet fuel of these barbecues is one of their biggest strengths, as the wood gives a lovely smoky finish and balanced cooking temperature. In addition, most wood pellets are infused with a flavouring that helps bring out even more flavour for specific produce, such as brisket, steaks or ribs. 

3. Wood pellet BBQs are large and super versatile – Due to their size and ability to cook food in variety of ways, wood pellet grills are super versatile outdoor cooking devices. Indeed, they act more like a hybrid between a grill, oven and smoker, and are therefore capable of cooking, say, whole birds or a suckling pig, or bake pizzas on a pizza stone, or smoke up some kebabs, or sear steaks, or grill fish – the list is massive.

bbq grill with burgers being cooked

(Image credit: Skitterphoto | Pexels)

And 2 reasons not to buy a wood pellet BBQ

1. Wood pellet BBQs are slower to fire up that gas grills – For me, the biggest reason why you wouldn't buy a wood pellet grill is because you want the extra speed delivered by a gas grill, or you want a more rustic, laid-back experience with charcoal. Gas grills are very much instant on, you turn the gas canister nozzle, ignite, and then are cooking within minutes. With wood pellet grills you need to wait for the augur to be primed and initialised, the wood pellets to ignite in the burn pot and then the grill to come up to temperature. I'd say most wood pellet grills take about 20 minutes to get cooking ready, but this is halved I'd say with a gas grill.

2. Wood pellet BBQs are expensive to buy and fuel – Another area where gas and charcoal grills beat wood pellet grills is in terms of up-front and fuelling costs. Wood pellet grills cost more to buy and you'll go through bags of wood pellets far quicker than you will a good sized gas canister, the latter often lasting years before a refuelling is needed. Charcoal briquettes are also cheaper than wood pellets, too, in general, and will go further in terms of number of BBQs. In addition, artisanal wood pellets cost even more.

Want my recommendation of wood pellet BBQ?

I'm a advocate of the Traeger Ironwood 650 as a great all-round wood pellet BBQ grill. Indeed, this barbecue won the Best BBQ award at the T3 Awards 2022, with judges picking it due to its excellent cooking performance, features and craftsmanship. As you'd expect from a state-of-the-art wood pellet grill, it isn't exactly cheap, but Traeger has a first-rate range of flavoured wood pellets and an excellent app and accessories range, too.

Robert Jones

Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology, toys (specifically Lego and board games), smart home and more for over 15 years. As the editor of PC Gamer, and former Deputy Editor for T3.com, you can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket his two favourites.