In recent years I’ve started to notice more of the most popular pellet grill brands coming out with pellet/gas combination grills, commonly know as combo grills. Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons. As there are both pros and cons to both pellet and gas grills producing a grill with both fuel options does appeal to some people. Therefore, I thought I would produce a post to highlight some of the best pellet/gas combo grill/smokers currently on the market and to also discuss if and when you might want to consider such a combo grill/smoker. For instance, is a 50/50 split between pellets and gas cooking areas really your best option? Or is a smaller side propane accessory a better option?
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While pellet/gas combo grills are a relatively new addition to the market, combo grills have been around for many years. However, previously they would have been charcoal/gas combo grills. The appeal of both types of combo grills is essentially the same. You use the pellet/charcoal side when you have more time and you want to get better flavour into your food. If you are tight on time and you just need to cook some quick burgers, for instance, you just use the gas grill to get the job done. However, I believe charcoal/gas combo grills and pellet/gas combo grills are very different beasts.
Introduction To Pellet/Gas Combo Grills/Smokers
So you may still be wondering why would you need/want to have combo pellet/gas grill? After all, aren’t pellet grills/smokers operated through a control panel making them even easier/simpler to use than even a gas grill? While that’s true, there are two advantages that gas grills hold over pellet grills, and that’s warm-up time and maximum temperatures for searing. As I discuss in my article on which pellet grills get the hottest, some pellet grills get much hotter than others. Now, you can use GrillGrates to improve the searing performance of a pellet grill. However, a gas grill is still going to be able to achieve higher searing temperatures of closer to 900 degrees. Best case scenario on a pellet grill with direct-flame and GrillGrates you will be looking a cooking surface temperature of 700 degrees.
However, its the time aspect which is a significant consideration for many people. A pellet grill will take longer to get up to those high grilling/searing temperatures. Now that’s likely not so much of a problem on lazy weekends. However, if its a mid-week summer evening and you’re looking to get some burgers done its going to be much quicker to just use a propane grill. Those burgers aren’t obviously going to taste as nice as they would be cooked on the pellet grill, but if you don’t have the time, that’s irrelevant.
Now, the time difference between getting a pellet grill and gas grill up to temp is not anywhere near as significant as comparing a charcoal and gas grill. However, there is still a difference, with gas being quicker to get to temp. Hence, the appeal of the pellet/gas combo grills. So below I’ll discuss the various pellet/gas combo grills currently on the market today with links to my detailed articles on those products.
Camp Chef Pellet Grills With Propane Sear Box/Sick Kick
Currently, my favourite combo pellet/gas grill is the option of combining either a Camp Chef Woodwind or SmokePro pellet grill/smoker with either a Sear Box or Side Kick propane attachment on the side. I have a separate post comparing the Sear Box vs Side Kick, as the differences between the two are not immediately clear. The Sear Box as the name implies is purely for searing/grilling. You can probably fit 4-5 burgers on there and 2-3 steaks. Now granted, that’s not a lot of space compared to some of the 50/50 pellet/gas combo grills below. However, this solution is mainly focussed on providing more utility to the pellet grill/smoker. In other words, you do most of the cook on the pellet grill to lock in the flavour and then finish off the cook with the Sear Box. Or cook up just a couple of quick burgers/steaks etc on the Sear Box.
The SideKick, on the other hand, is more flexible (and has a higher BTU output). However, to use the SideKick you have to purchase additional accessories such as the BBQ Grill Box, Cast Iron Griddle, Artisan Ovan (for pizza) and various other cookware is available. The SideKick with the BBQ Grill Box does provide more grilling space than the Sear Box, however, the total cost is more. Though the thing I really like about the Camp Chef solution to a pellet/gas combo grill is you can just start with the pellet grill on its own, and add the Sear Box/Sidekick at a later date if you need it. The thing is, many people actually find they get along just fine with the pellet grill on its own. However, with the Camp Chef solution, these propane attachments can always be added later if you really want/need them.
Pit Boss Pellet/Gas Combo Grills
Pit Boss currently produce the widest range of 50/50 split pellet/gas combo grills. However, availability to actually pick up each of the models does vary. For instance, the Navigator pellet/gas combo grill is only available from certain local retailers/speciality stores, and the same goes for the Sportsman pellet/gas combo grill. The Pro Series 1100 gas/pellet combo grill is only available through Lowes. The most widely available (through Walmart) Pit Boss pellet/gas combo grill is from their Platinum Series, the KC Combo. It also happens to be the best Pit Boss pellet/gas combo grill and the only one with a PID temperature controller for more accurate temperature control.
The Pit Boss KC Combo for the price (under $800) is not a bad deal at all. Furthermore, Pit Boss grills do come with a 5-year warranty, which is one of the longest available of the most popular pellet grill brands. Through you should note, the paint finish and rust/corrosion are not included within the warranty. You will not find much stainless steel if any on Pit Boss grills, as I discuss in my Traeger vs Pit Boss post, Pit Boss are targeting the value/budget segment of the market. Furthermore, while you can control the Pit Boss KC Combo with your phone, its not a true WiFi pellet grill (it uses Bluetooth). Key specs below.
Pit Boss KC Combo Pellet/Gas Grill Specs
- 1,001 Square Inches of Cooking Area (pellet and gas grill)
- 180° to 500° F Temperature Range
- PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) Technology
- 26 LB Hopper Capacity
- Assembled Product Weight 262.35 lbs
Cuisinart Twin Oaks Pellet/Gas Combo
When Cuisinart started to first sell pellet grills/smokers they were essentially identical to Z Grills models. However, their two latest offerings the Woodcreek and Twin Oaks appear to be unique designs, and they do have a lot going for them for the price. For instance, their 50/50 split pellet/gas combo grill (Twin Oaks) is actually cheaper than the Pit Boss KC Combo. I think its actually better than the Pit Boss in a couple of areas (stainless steel lid with viewing window for instance), but its not as good in other areas (thin folded sheet steel construction, none PID control panel). However, for the price (less than $700) the Twin Oaks could be worth considering if you’re on a tight budget and you’re looking for a pellet/gas combo grill with a 50/50 split of the cooking area between both fuel options.
What is a bit odd is that Walmart sells the Cuisinart Woodcreek (pure pellet grill), however, they don’t stock the Twin Oaks!? To purchase the Twin Oaks pellet/gas combo grill currently, your only option to do so is directly from Cuisinart.com. The pellet hopper on the Twin Oaks is a massive 30lbs. Now, that may sound like a good thing. But in reality, its way more than you need, as you don’t want to leave pellets in the hopper for too long. If you do its possible the pellets will absorb moisture and go bad. I also wouldn’t leave this Twin Oaks combo grill outside. The thin steel construction could rust through pretty quickly once the paint finish starts to fail.
Conclusion On The Best Pellet/Gas Combo Grills
Personally, I think the best solution in most cases and for most people is the Camp Chef solution of either the propane Sear Box or Sidekick. First off, at their core, I feel the Camp Chef grills are superior pellet grills compared to the offerings from Pit Boss or Cuisinart. All Camp Chef pellet grills now come with a PID controller as the Gen 2 Controller is standard across the SmokePro range. Furthermore, Camp Chef pellet grills are true WiFi grills, read my Traeger WiFire vs Camp Chef Connect article to learn more. But specifically with regards to their propane add ons the Sear Box or Sidekick, they are optional and can be added at a later date if the initial cost of the grill with one fitted is outside of your budget. Though most of the Camp Chef range is under $1,000, therefore they are still relatively affordable.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found this article on the best pellet/gas combo grills interesting/informative. I’m sure we are going to see more pellet/gas combo grills in the future so I’ll do my best to keep this post updated. Please check out my Wood Pellet/Grill Smoker Guide for links to a wide range of my articles. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.