Pellet Smoker Vs Stick Burner

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If you are looking for the perfect smoker but are confused about what to look for and how to choose between them, do not worry, you are not alone.

There are plenty of people who have struggled with the same issue.

Therefore we have compiled a comprehensive article on the differences between the pellet smoker and a stick burner so that you can make the right choice for you.

Pellet smokers are easier to use than stick burners; however, they are limited in mobility by their need for an electrical outlet.

A pellet smoker is easier to clean and maintain, and preparing it for cooking is far more straightforward, but a stick burner will cost you far less.

So now you know the fundamental differences between the pellet smoker and the stick burner.

However, picking between them requires that you have a greater and more in-depth understanding of the two devices.

You need to truly understand what makes them unique, the pros and cons of each, and the fundamental differences, so let us take a closer look at this. 

A Basic Breakdown Of The Pellet Smoker Vs. A Stick Burner

Over time, the way we cook food has evolved, and this has extended into all forms of cooking, even grilling and smoking meat.

There are various devices on the market, and it can be overwhelming when it comes to picking out what you would ideally like to use to get the job done.

So below, you will discover the fundamental differences and each one’s pros and cons.

AspectPellet SmokerStick Burner
Ease Of UseSimple and easyTricky and complex
RestrictionsUsually needs an electrical outletIt can be used anywhere
MaintenanceEasy Difficult
Flavor Less smokey meatIdeal for smoking meat
Cost (roughly)$500-$2,000$100-$500

One of the fundamental differences between the pellet smoker and the stick burner is that they use different fuels to keep them going.

A pellet smoker uses specialized pellets to make a fire, while, although called a stick burner, it uses logs, and if you desire, you can add sticks as well to maintain a fire. 

The Pros And Cons Of Pellet Smoker Vs. Stick Burner

Neither device is without its flaws, but on the other hand, they also each have their advantages over one another and other devices.

They both offer unique features and are similar, but they can be quite different in specific ways, as you will soon discover.

So below, we have broken down the pros and cons of each to give you a better idea of what you are looking at.

Pellet Smoker Pros:

  • Simple to clean
  • Ease of use
  • Requires minimal maintenance

Pellet Smoker Cons:

  • Generally more expensive than stick burners
  • Typically cannot be operated without electricity

Stick Burner Pros:

  • Infuses an excellent smokey flavor to your meat
  • Overall generally far more affordable than pellet smokers
  • Ease of use and can be moved around without restriction
  • It does not require an electrical outlet to work

Stick Burner Cons:

  • Requires more frequent and higher levels of maintenance
  • Are a struggle to clean
  • It takes more work and commitment to ensure that the flames and coals remain hot enough

The Breakdown Of Pellet Smokers Vs. Stick Burners

We have examined the primary differences between the pellet smoker and the stick burner and given you a vague idea of what to expect when using either one of them.

However, we need to dig deeper and scrutinize each one of these so that we can better equip you for when the decision to buy one over the other comes around.

Pellet Smoker

The pellet smoker, also sometimes referred to as a pellet grill, is a popular outdoor cooker.

It has features of various other cooking devices such as gas grills, charcoal smokers, and even kitchen ovens.

And they can handle the tasks you would expect from these said devices. Typically, as the name implies, the pellet smoker is fueled by wooden pellets.

The most likely kinds of things that people might opt to use in their pellet smokers are softwood, biomass scrap, and even bark.

The problem with softwood and the scrap is that they often lead to strange tasting meat.

That is why it is a better idea to opt for the actual pellets.

There is an array of options to choose from, and you can opt for alder, maple, oak, and apple tree pellets.

All of which are relatively cost-efficient and should not break the bank, and they perform much better than the alternatives we mentioned. 

The pellet smoker offers a more conventional means of cooking, and the food that it creates is usually highly flavorsome.

There are, as mentioned, also different kinds of cooking methods that can be executed with the pellet smoker.

And they are highly efficient, and their ease of use makes them something that many may choose over a traditional smoker.

However, it is an all-rounder and affords you many cooking options that other devices do not.

For example, you can grill, braise, bake, sear, and smoke; however, the last one is not as noticeable or fine-tuned as other devices.

So if you are looking for something that will add some serious smokey richness to your food, you may want to opt for something in that niche. 

Pellet smokers are a prime choice to go with because they ensure an even temperature throughout, and there is also the proper regulation of airflow in the device.

Overall, they are generally relatively compact devices that, although they often require electricity to run, offer clean-burning and allow you to cook to your heart’s content.

Stick Burner

Stick burners are undoubtedly in the category of meat smokers, and they are trendy and available in varying shapes and sizes.

The stick burner is ideal for cooking any preferred type of meat utilizing sticks and logs.

The stick burner is unique in that it has a firebox on the side of it that fuels the cooking process with wood or charcoal. 

Various types of stick burners are available on the market and can be purchased for residential and commercial use.

Some stick burners are more high-tech, just as you will find with pellet smokers.

Some can be operated with a smartphone and have automatic features, but there are those which are more “old-school” and do not have electrical components.

A genuine offset smoker is a type of stick burner, but it is designed to use wood and wood alone.

You cannot make use of charcoal for these kinds.

These devices are designed with the hardcore barbecue lover in mind.

These individuals have an accurate idea of how to manage a fire and control the internal temperature properly. 

They differ from regular stick burners because they do not run on charcoal and are ideal for those who wish to cook their meat in a more traditional fashion.

They also offer a far more smokey flavor to the meat; however, with this said, the regular stick burner would provide you with much the same.

The Ease Of Use Of Pellet Smoker Vs. Stick Burner

Pellet smokers are incredibly easy to use, and they offer simple means of cooking.

Just switch the smoker on, ensure there are pellets in the hopper, and then you can dial the temperature to what you would prefer to cook at.

After that, you can relax as the system takes care of the rest of the business. All that is left is to wait until it is ready to cook.

You also do not have to wait very long for the pellet smoker to be primed for cooking, as it usually takes between 10 and 15 minutes for the temperature to be reached.

The auger motor will then ensure that the pellets are fed to the fire at the correct time.

The sensors in the smoker will ensure that the temperature is maintained throughout.

For ease of use, there are even components in many pellet smokers that allow you to have remote control of the device to sit back and relax and control it while you sip on your preferred beverage.

This adds a great deal to the convenience factor of the apparatus. However, this is a more modern feature and does not come with some of the older models.

As we have touched on, one downside to the pellet smoker is that the device requires electricity to run the auger motor to feed the pellets.

Some also need it to start the ignition, which can be a pain, especially if you had hoped to move the smoker around or place it somewhere not close to an electrical outlet.

So you will have to consider where you are going to put it. 

Stick burners offer an entirely different experience for their users.

Here there is no automatic feeding of the flames, and you will need to manually and continuously add fuel to the fire.

You will have to ensure that the fire is kept alive, and it is also a good idea to keep an eye on the temperature as you do not want to burn your food or have it under-cooked. 

You will need to know how often to place logs into the stick burner as you do not wish to snuff out the existing flames initially.

Later on, you do not want the fire and resultant coals to get too hot either.

So you will have to practice patience and keep a watchful eye on the device from the start of the process to the end.

One thing that is convenient about stick burners is that you can place them wherever you desire without the need for electrical input.

Also, you can feed them as you like with logs, wood, and sticks.

Yes, you will work harder with the stick burner, but if you are an avid individual when it comes to barbecuing, then this could be the device for you. 

The Maintenance Of Pellet Smokers Vs. Stick Burners

Maintenance on a pellet smoker is next to nothing.

Just like the ease of use, this one comes out on top between it and the stick burner, which we shall get to in a moment.

Once you have set up the pellet smoker, all you need to worry about is ensuring that your meat or whatever you are cooking is turned as required.

There is nothing more to the process.

Once you have completed the task, all that is needed to do, which is incredibly easy to do, is wipe out all of the ash gathered in the smoker.

Disclaimer: be sure that you allow the burnt pellets to cool before brushing out the ash, as you do not want to potentially burn yourself or the dustpan and broom that you may use.

The pellet smoker also only requires a thorough clean roughly once a year, where you get into all the nooks and crannies.

This would ensure that it is properly cleaned and does not have any residue built up in it. 

Now, the stick burner is an entirely different story altogether.

Firstly it takes far longer for it to be primed to cook, and secondly, once you have cooked, you practically have to dismantle the entire device to clean it.

You need to tackle many things when it comes to this device, and if convenience and simplicity are what you are after, then this is not the device for you.

You will also need to do a thorough clean of the device after every use.

This is after you have gone through the effort of constantly feeding the furnace and ensuring that it does not die on you.

So as long as you do not mind the additional work, you can opt for the stick burner, but consider the pellet smoker if you want a low-maintenance device.


The choice comes down to personal preference.

Do you want the ease of use of the pellet smoker that can take between 10 and 15 minutes to reach cooking temperature but be limited to the level of smokiness that is added to your meat?

Additionally, you will also have the convenience of the hopper automatically feeding pellets in.

Or are you willing to wait an hour or so for the stick burner to be ready to cook your meat in a more traditional style?

You will potentially have more fun with a stick burner as it takes skill to build up a fire and keep it well maintained to ensure that the temperature remains constant throughout the cooking process.

We have given you the details; now it is up to you to decide.