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If you have never tried smoking meat with a wood pellet smoker, we are here to tell you something important. You’re missing out! True, wood pellet smoking and grilling is something new on the market, and these smokers only became widely available a couple of years ago. This is why it’s understandable if you have never tried one of those smokers.
Pellet smokers do have many advantages compared to charcoal and propane smokers. Actually, they kind of brings the two together. You get the amazing flavor of grilling or smoking over real wood or charcoal but without the hassle. A wood pellet smoker is as straightforward and easy to use as a propane grill, but without dealing with propane. Instead, you can actually use completely natural wood pellets.
So where is the catch, you might wonder? No, there is no catch. These smokers are simply great. And they are not just smokers either – any wood pellet grill/smoker can be used for a variety of cooking styles, including smoking, grilling, roasting, BBQ, and even baking.
Wood pellet smokers are great for beginners who have never used a smoker before. There is not much philosophy or skill required – all you need to do is choose the temperature you want. However, many seasoned cooks swear by their pellet grills and smokers too.
By now, you should probably be convinced that a wood pellet smoker is definitely worth looking into. But which model should you choose? Our top 10 list and buying guide should help you.
Z Grills are newcomers on the grill scene – but, only on paper. Even though the company was founded in 2017, the guys behind Z Grills have been making grills for famous brands like Traeger for years, before deciding on creating their own company. They wanted to offer Traeger-quality grills at a reasonable price, and the strategy seems to be working.
Z Grills always try to give us the best product possible. They fix issues and update their models in a timely manner. The first pick on our list is the 2020 updated version of a ZPG-450A grill. This year’s version comes with resolved issues from a previous model, as well as a few improvements. A new digital control board makes the ignition a piece of cake, and the temperature control is super precise, ranging from 180F to 450F.
As the manufacturer says, this is a 7-in-one unit – it grills, smokes, barbeques, bakes, roasts, braisers and sears. You can do what you want with your food, and you have plenty of space for that too. The model comes with 452 square inches of cooking area. The primary cooking area consists of 324 square inches, while the warming rack takes up 128 square inches. Cast iron grates are porcelain-coated, which doesn’t allow the food to stick to them.
The body of the grill is made out of sturdy, stainless steel. It’s corrosion-resistant and it’s going to last you a very long time. The grill comes in a bronze color with a glossy finish, and its modern design makes it look like it costs an arm and a leg. The grill is quite large and weighs 105 pounds. It comes with two heavy-duty, locking caster wheels, which makes it easily movable around your patio.
Starting the grill is easy – plug it in, fill the hopper with wood pellets, and set the right temperature on the digital controller. Precise temp control means this is a grill that needs no babysitting. Let it do its job, while you’re free to do other, more fun things. The heat is unaffected by the weather conditions. Whether it’s 10 or 100 degrees outside, your food will be cooked within 10 degrees of the set temperature. That’s because the digital temp control adds pellets automatically in order to regulate the heat. The hopper can contain up to 15 pounds of wood pellet, which will last for about 15 hours. Therefore, you probably won’t have to worry about fuel refilling throughout the whole cooking and smoking process.
Cleaning is super simple with Z Grills. The grease drain pan is slightly tilted to the right, so that grease flows from the grill into the grease bucket on the right side. It’s easily disposable, but can also be reused for gravy.
This grill comes with a free waterproof grill cover, which is neat as most other models sell a cover separately. Furthermore, for a new company, it’s great that Z grills offer a 3-year warranty on their models, as well as a 30-day return policy of products with defects in manufacturing or workmanship.
Cuisinart is a widely recognized brand that’s been making cooking appliances for quite some time now. They’ve been keeping up with trends on the grill market, so a pellet grill was a must in their collection. As a result, CPG-4000 was created.
Most pellet grills are versatile, and this Cuisinart model is no exception. The meat is juicy and tasteful, whether it’s grilled, smoked or braised. The great thing about pellet grills is that pellets of your choice add to the food flavor. There’s a variety of options – oak, apple, maple, cherry, pekan, mesquite… or, you can create your own aroma by mixing them. This grill doesn’t use direct heat, which means your food will be cooked evenly and stay moist, which is especially important for smoking. Furthermore, let’s not forget pellet grills are also great for baking, and you can make a pizza that tastes just like that one from your favorite pizzeria.
CPG-4000 comes with 450 square inches of cooking space, which is divided into a two-tier rack system. You have plenty of space for making a dinner for a family of four. The grates on this grill are porcelain-coated, which retain heat better than other materials, and are also the easiest to clean.
For a grill this size, a 15-pound hopper capacity is more than enough. You can smoke a beef brisket for over 12 hours and you probably won’t need to refill wood pellets. Before you start cooking, simply fill up the hopper, and CPG-4000 manages how much fuel it needs. Your only job is to set the desired temperature on the digital thermostat, and the grill will use the pellets accordingly to maintain the desired heat. The grill can reach the temperatures from 100 to 475 degrees.
Shelves are important features when it comes to large grills. You want a place to put the food down prior to arranging it on the grids. Furthermore, it’s important to have where to rest your cooking utensils, spices or plates. This grill comes with two shelves, a larger, foldable front shelf, and a stationary side shelf.
A large and sturdy grill has to be heavy too. CPG-4000 weighs 103 pounds, but it’s still easily portable. On the left side of the hopper, it has a steel handle, while the legs on the right side have two all-terrain wheels. That way, you can easily move it around your patio and even roll it back to the garage when not used.
A spigot on the right side drains the grease from the grill into a grease bucket holder. The method is great, but here’s one complaint we have – the bucket is not included in the purchase. The manufacturer’s idea was to use paper cups which you can simply dispose of after use. While that means you don’t have to wash a greasy bucket, we still prefer a more heat-resistant option, as well as creating less waste.
This grill comes with an included grill cover, which is not always the case with Cuisinart products. That’s a nice addition, and the cover is high-quality, too. It’s made out of water-resistant fabric, which protects from all weather conditions, as well as UV rays.
Traeger grills are pellet grills pioneers. Joe Treger invented it back in 1985, and 35 years later, they are still the most popular name on the pellet grill market. They’re also on the more expensive side, but they’re updating their models regularly to keep up with the technological advances. For all of you tech-savvy bbq lovers, this is a brand for you. Pro series models are mid-range options, which are great for pellet grill newbies. Among those, a 575 model will suit all your needs.
As the name suggests, this model comes with 575 square inches of total cooking area. The main grate has 425 square inches, while a secondary, warming rack takes up 150 square inches. According to manufacturers, the grill can cook 36 burgers at once, which makes it suitable for a bbq party.
D2 Direct Drive Drivetrain is the power behind the grill. Basically, it’s the motor that ignites the grill and operates the fan that stokes the fire while the smoke and what circulates around the food. It also helps regain the temperature back after opening the lid. This model can reach the temperatures from 165 to 450F.
Temperature control from the comfort of your couch? With the WiFIRE technology, it’s possible. You can simply download a Traeger App on your smartphone, and connect it to the wi-fi controller. It allows you to set timers, adjust and monitor the temperature, or even check out a list of downloadable recipes. The digital controller comes with an integrated meat probe, which means you can also track the internal temperature of your food. And if the food gets done while you’re in the middle of some important task, simply click on a “keep warm” button, which will lower the temperature just enough to keep the food juicy until you get back.
Let’s talk about design. The grill is made out of powder-coated stainless steel, and comes in two color options – black and rustic bronze. The high-quality design is visible from afar. With 146 pounds, it’s a bit on the heavier side. It does come with two wheels as well as a steady handle for easier mobility. This grill’s grease drainage system is the same as with previous picks – tilted tray drains the grease into a bucket.
The hopper on this grill can hold up to 18 pounds of pellet, and it’s recommended that you fill it up to the top. The hopper is easy to clean, since there is a hopper door on the bottom side. The door opens up upwards, and there’s a thumbscrew that allows you to lock the door, preventing it from opening in the middle of cooking. When you do want to open the door, after cooking, there’s a magnet that holds it up.
Pro 575 comes with all the features like previous picks, and then some. However, it’s only third on our list because of its price tag. Traeger has been dominating the pellet grill market for a long time, but its competitors have stepped up the game, while keeping a budget-friendly price.
The Pit Boss Classic wood pellet grill is a nice choice for those who are not sure what they want from their wood pellet smoker. You’d like it to work, right? It should also have sturdy construction, and allow you to prepare tasty food every time? Well, that’s what this grill is.
The body of the grill is made of heavy steel with a powder coating that was specifically designed to withstand high temperatures well. This is definitely a good thing, since you can go as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit with this grill. However, you can also go as low as 180 degrees Fahrenheit, which is perfect for slowly smoking jerky, for example. In addition to this, this wood pellet grill and smoker (and whatever else you want it to be) features a totally new flame broiler technology that allows you to cook over direct heat. This allows you to get the perfect sear on your meat, something that standard wood pellet grills often cannot do.
The grill also comes with its own stand which is very sturdy and stable. There is also a shelf under the grill and two large, all-terrain wheels on two of the legs. It’s really good that the wheels are there, since this grill is very heavy!
As you can see from the name, the Pit Boss Classic grill offers 700 square inches of cooking area. This includes the warming rack too. Both the main cooking rack and the warming rack are made of porcelain-coated wire. The porcelain coating retains some heat and makes the racks easier to clean (even after fish smoking).
Just like with all wood pellet grills on our list, the temperature controller on this one is digital. The automatic feed system also regulates the amount of air and fuel needed to achieve the temperature you’ve chosen. The control board also features a LED display that gives you a real-time readout of the temperature inside the grill. A meat probe is also included.
The capacity of the hopper on this grill is 21 pounds which is as much as you will ever need. With 21 pounds of wood pellets, you can really “set your grill and forget it” – it’s enough to keep it going for up to 12 hours. Perfect for long, slow smoking sessions!
Finally, the lid of this grill is in a color that could be called dark copper. It looks really stylish and the coating used is durable and heat resistant. Overall, it’s a great grill that does its job well.
Z Grills have introduced a new, updated line of pellet smokers in 2020. Compared to their older smokers, the improvements are subtle but noticeable. They have upgraded the whole system for feeding pellets and temperature control and the results seem to be amazing. They have also added the auto ignition, which means you just press a button, choose the temperature, and your grill does all the work.
The Z Grills 1000E wood pellet grill belongs to this new line of products by Z Grills. The reason it made only number 5 on our list is because no one has had the chance to test the durability of this grill. Since the model was only introduced this year, no one can tell how it will perform in 5 or 10 years. Still, we believe this grill will hold up well and we can attest that it works amazingly when new.
Probably the first thing that should be said about this specific model is that it is huge. You get a total of 1060 square inches of cooking area. The primary cooking area is 432 inches. The rest of the space belongs to two warming areas. The first warming area is right behind the primary grilling area, so you can easily slide the meat back when it’s done. The other warming tack is one level above the primary area. It is also removable which is useful for when you need to use every bit of space for making something huge, like smoking a whole turkey, for example.
Just like most pellet smokers, this is not just a smoker. It’s a grill that also works perfectly for smoking meat, roasting, and even baking. All of this is possible thanks to the amazing temperature control mechanism that allows you to hold a stable temperature anywhere between 180 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you load the hardwood pellets into this grill, the digital temperature regulator will control how many wood pellets go into the firepot to achieve just the right temperature. The pellets are carried to the firepot by an auger where they are set on fire by a hot rod that automatically ignites pellets. Additionally, an induction fan stokes the fire making sure that the heat is evenly distributed and allowing you to get perfect results every time.
Another thing that makes this model especially great for smoking is the large hopper capacity. You can add 20 pounds of wood pellets at once, which will allow the grill to operate on it’s own for about 20 hours. This means that you don’t have to add fuel in the middle of the process. Even if you like smoking your meat long and slow, it will surely be done in 20 hours.
This grill also comes with it’s own stand with 4 heavy-duty all-terrain wheels that allow you to move this rather heavy grill around. Under the grill, there is also a large cabinet, so you’ll have a lot of space to store your grilling supplies right underneath your working surface.
When we think about the Traeger TFB38TOD Renegade Pro Wood Pellet Grill, we think of a perfect family grill. We think of sunny Sunday afternoons spent in the backyard gathered around the grill and filled with laughter of our nearest and dearest.
This grill is big enough to be called a full-sized grill, but it is not huge. With 380 square inches of cooking area, we find that it is just right for an everyday backyard grill. For a family of 4, this grill can put out a real feast. If used at full capacity, though, it should be enough for a party of 10 or more people. To give you an idea of the size, this grill should comfortably fit 12 burgers at the same time. You can also smoke 3 full racks of ribs at a time.
Additionally, the body of this grill is basically a really large barrel. Thanks to this oval design, there is actually quite a lot of space under the hood. This is why this grill can do more than it looks like at first sight. Even though the size of the cooking surface is not impressive, there is a lot of space to work with vertically which allows you to cook large pieces of meat, like a whole turkey, for example.
The body of the grill itself is made of steel which ensures durability. On the outside, it features a beautiful black powder coat finish that is also quite long lasting. The barrel stands on a sawhorse-style stand with thick legs. We found that this design makes the girl very stable. In addition to this, there are also 2 big all-terrain wheels attached to two legs of this grill that make moving this machine around much easier. It weighs 109 pounds in total, so wheels are a must. The polished look of this grill is topped off with orange accents on the handle and the stand of the grill.
This is all fine, but we still didn’t talk about the most important part of any wood pellet grill or smoker – the hopper and the whole system that feeds pellets into the grill. The Traeger TFB38TOD Renegade Pro Wood Pellet Grill comes with the new Digital Pro Controller that automatically regulates the flame. All you need to do is choose the temperature you want. The hopper capacity is 18 pounds, which means the grill can run on it’s own for at least 12 hours.
We especially like that this bundle includes two 20-pound bags of Traeger premium wood pellets. One bag is Trager’s signature blend of hickory, cherry, and maple while the other contains Traeger Mesquite pellets. With those two, you can smoke literally any kind of meat. And a bag of pellets will surely last for one session, if not more. If you are getting this as a present for someone (or just can’t wait to get it for yourself), it’s really nice to have the pellets arrive with the grill so it can be used right away. If you prefer to get your own wood pellets from somewhere other than Traeger, they do also offer this grill without the pellet bonus.
The Davy Crockett wood pellet grill from Green Mountain is the only portable wood pellet grill on our list. This is not because we don’t like portable pellet grills, but because such grills are quite rare. Using wood pellets generally requires quite a massive grill just to house all of the necessary parts. This is why most manufacturers have given up on the idea of a portable wood pellet grill – but not Green Mountain.
When we say portable, though, we don’t mean you can take this grill somewhere without a vehicle. You can’t. It’s still a fairly large grill. However, it does easily fit in the trunk of a standard car. The whole unit weighs 68 pounds, so it’s really quite easy to lift. The legs also fold neatly under the grill. All in all, this is definitely the perfect wood pellet grill for tailgating. It’s also great for people who like to move around with their grill often, whether it’s a holiday in an RV, in a cabin in the forest, or some other reason.
The Davy Crockett grill offers 219 square inches of space. The cooking surface is not huge, but it is quite large for a portable grill. It can actually fit 12 burgers if you use the grill at full capacity. 9 burgers would definitely fit comfortably. We use burgers just to give you an idea about the size, but our topic today is smoking.
Just like any wood pellet grill, David Crockett can be used as a smoker. If you would like to smoke something big, like a rack of ribs or a pork butt, you might be worried about the amount of space inside the grill. However, there is a unique feature on the David Crockett grill that helps with this – the domed lid. The lid is higher in the center than on the edges, thus creating space for things that need to stand vertically, like racks of ribs (transforming this grill into a pellet vertical smoker).
Other than that, this grill is also full of little functional features. We already mentioned the legs that fold right under the grill for easier portability. You need only about a minute to do this, and the legs are quite stable once in place. There is also a large convenient handle on the lid that stays cool when the grill is in use. The grill also comes with a removable side shelf. It is really useful for preparing your ingredients, especially when you are using this grill outdoors while camping or tailgating. There is even a bottle opener on the side of the grill to make your experience complete.
Of course, a grill is worth nothing if it’s not able to maintain a stable temperature. Luckily, we found that the pellet feeding and burning system on this grill also performs great every time. There is a digital controller where you choose the temperature, and the grill does everything beyond that on it’s own (providing that you add enough pellets, of course). The Davy Crockett grill also excels in terms of the temperature range it can achieve. You can cook on temperatures as low as 150 degrees Fahrenheit (perfect for smoking), but this grill can also reach 550 degrees Fahrenheit. This is exceptionally high for a wood pellet grill and it allows you to get the perfect sear on your meat!
Camp Chef is a company that specialises in all kinds of outdoor cooking equipment, with the goal of bringing an amazing cooking experience to the outdoors. They make everything, from lightweight backpacking stoves to huge grills and so far they haven’t disappointed us.
With the Camp Chef SmokePro Stainless DLX Pellet Grill, Camp Chef ventured into the world of pellet girls, and we really like how it turned out. This is a medium-sized grill that offers a total of 570 square inches of cooking area. That includes 429 square inches on the primary cooking rack and a warming that gives you an additional 141 square inches of space to work with. This upper rack is also great for smoking.
When we say medium-sized, we mean there are larger grills than this one, but by no means do we want to say that it is small. This grill is big enough to feed a very large family. You can definitely cook for 10 people comfortably with this much space.
Besides the cooking area itself, we also liked how this grill is designed overall. It stands on 4 stable legs, 2 of which have large wheels that make it easier to move the grill around. This is definitely necessary, since the unit weighs 140 pounds in total.
Another thing we liked is the design of the lid. With most barrel-shaped girls, you basically lift the whole top part to open up the grill. With the Camp Chef SmokePro Stainless DLX Pellet Grill, this is not the case. The back and the sides of the top part remain fixed, and the lid opens only at the front. This is really great for windy and rainy days as your food stays totally protected when you open the grill. The stainless steel lid is also easy to lift and equipped with a large, comfortable handle.
This grill also comes in version with the lid in black or bronze. The version with a stainless steel lid is a little more expensive, but we believe it is well worth the difference. Stainless steel is just much more durable and resists the test of time and all kinds of weather conditions better than any other material. When it comes to the lid of your grill, this is definitely what you want.
This model features an updated digital controller and an automatic auger that allow the grill to regulate the temperature by itself. All you need to do is choose how hot you want it. Between 160 and about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, that is. Just like most pellet grills/smoker, this one doesn’t get much hotter than 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This is much more than you need for smoking, but not enough for getting a good sear on your steak, for example. There is a remedy to that, though. Camp Chef offers a sear box accessory you can buy separately and attach to your SmokerPro wood pellet grill.
PID controller for consistent temperatures (+/- 5ºF ), Adjustable smoke settings from 1-10, 160º F - 500ºF temperature range, Easy to use menu dial, High-visibility, low-glare digital display, Includes 2 meat probes
Ash Cleanout System, Pellet Hopper Cleanout/Purge, Grease Management System
Large capacity pellet hopper means less filling, more smoking
Side attachment compatible (Sidekick or Sear Box)
Grilling Area Dimensions: 19.5" x 22", Total Rack Surface Area: 573 sq. in, Hopper Capacity: 18 lbs. of pellets, Overall weight: 140 lbs
The ZPG-550B is another coute pellet grill made by Z Grills. What makes this one stand out among the others is the looks. This grill comes completely in black, and the powder-coated pitch black finish really makes it look amazing. Not only this, but it also fits really well in any backyard.
This model is a standard barrel-style grill. The body of the grill actually looks like a large barrel placed horizontally – an ages old design that is known to work great for smoking meat. The ZPG-550B comes with it’s own stand. The legs are really stable, but they are actually pretty different from those you will find on most other girls. Namely, it’s not so much legs but two semicircles made of thick steel piping, one on top of the other on each side. This creates a flowy look that fits really well with the round shape of the grill. On one side, there are also two large all-terrain wheels that let you move your grill around with ease.
Finally, there is also a large shelf near the bottom of the stand of the grill. This sturdy shelf gives you a lot of extra space for your grilling equipment. In addition to this, the shelf also keeps the grill more stable by connecting the legs and keeping them in place.
Now, let’s move on to what actually makes this grill a wood pellet grill and not just a barrel with legs – the feed system. It’s an automated electric system that feeds the pellets into the fire pit according to your requirements. You just need to choose the temperature you want, and a digital controller takes care of the rest. To be honest, this grill will not get the temperature right with surgical precision, but it does definitely keep it within +/- 20 degrees which is good enough for most dishes you can make on your wood pellet grill.
The only downside of the system is that the hopper capacity is much smaller than on most other girls – only 10 pounds. This shouldn’t be a big issue, though, as the grill is really efficient and can run for many hours with 10 pounds of pellets.
This grill gives you around 400 square inches of primary grilling area to work with. This is enough for about a dozen burgers or 3 chickens, for example. In addition to this, there is also a warming rack on top with additional 139 square inches of space. The warming rack can also be used when smoking meat.
The Big Horn Pellet Grill and Smoker is not very well known in the world of wood pellet smokers. However, we think Big Horn is actually quite underrated. This is a sturdy and durable grill that works great. It can totally stand up to more popular wood pellet smokers out there, and it comes at a very reasonable price.
This is a fairly large grill too. It offers a total of 700 square inches of cooking space. Out of this total, 270 square inches belong to the warming rack above the main grilling area. The main grilling area is 430 square inches.
One thing that should be said is that this is definitely not a portable grill. It takes some time to assemble it (although it’s not hard), and once it’s assembled, you don’t really want to move it around. It’s quite heavy, and, simply put, it’s a backyard grill. It does have wheels for moving it around your yard, though.
One reason why this grill will look nice in any backyard is the retro look. With black powder-coated finish and signature details like the wire-coil handle and the metal wheels, this grill looks like it’s at least a century old. However, when you start it up, you immediately realise it’s a very modern grill.
This grill gives you the amazing taste of smoking with wood without the hassle that is usually involved in such an endeavor. A digital controller allows you to set the temperature and the grill really does hold the temp really well. The hopper capacity is slightly lower than with most other wood pellet smokers in this size range. It fits only 8 pounds of wood pellets. However, with 8 pounds, you can still use the grill for a couple of hours without refilling the hopper.
Pellet grills gained popularity in recent years. The main reason is obvious – versatility. Why would you have many different appliances that do just one thing – whether it’s grilling, smoking, baking… when you can have an all-in-one unit like a pellet grill?
Besides that, a pellet grill is a great choice for those who like the whole “set it and forget it” cooking principle (unlike a gas smoker, or charcoal smoker). For example, with charcoal grills, the fire can flare up and burn your meat in seconds, so you have to keep a close eye on it, but that’s no issue with a pellet grill.
Features that make a certain pellet grill stand out don’t necessarily mean it’s the best one for you. Here, we will bring up the most important characteristics of a pellet grill that you should keep in mind when making a choice.
In our product reviews, we’ve got grills with a cooking surface ranging from 200 to 1000 square inches. That’s quite a difference, and you have to ask yourself, how big of a grill do you actually need?
If you’re mainly going to cook for, let’s say, your partner and yourself, then buying a huge grill will just be a waste of space, pellet, and therefore, money. On the other hand, you don’t want to spend hours making burgers for your backyard party on a 200 square inch grilling surface.
The size of the hopper of your grill directs the length of your cooking. As a rule of thumb, the grill uses around 1 pound of pellet per hour. If you plan on smoking a chuck roast, which generally takes anything from 12 to 20 hours, you should have a large hopper that can contain the right amount of fuel for such a long smoking session. Otherwise, you will have to refill the hopper in the middle of cooking.
Depending on the thickness of the material the pellet grill is made out of, the temperature can also be more or less affected by the weather conditions. On a cold day, it might require more fuel to warm up the grill to the desired temperature.
For many people, a pellet grill is a grill of choice because your only task is to start it up, and then proceed with your other tasks. The need to refill your hopper a few times during cooking means you do have to babysit it.
Some brands, like Traeger or Pit Boss, have a hopper extension which can be bought separately.
Surely, you want a product that’s durable. Most pellet grills on the market claim to have a stainless steel exterior, which should speak of its durability. However, we’re talking about a material that’s not 100% resistant to corrosion.
There are different grades of stainless steel, some more corrosion-resistant than the others. The percentage of chromium it’s made out of defines how heat-resistant it is, but with cooking appliances, there’s also a combination of air and moisture, all of which can end up in your grill rusting over time. Not many manufacturers will specify the grade, though.
Some cheaper grills will claim they’re fully made out of stainless steel, but pay attention to all the parts, such as drip pans, legs, doors… What’s the use of having a stainless steel hopper if its lid is, let’s say, plastic?
The material the handles are made out of is also important. You’ll want something that’s heat-resistant. Otherwise, you’ll burn your hands trying to handle the grill.
Last but not the least, the material of the grates matter too. Stainless steel grates are lightweight, and they heat up pretty fast, but do not retain the heat that great. However, as we established that the stainless steel is not a corrosion-proof material, in time, they will rust. Cast iron grates are thicker than the steel ones. This means they heat up slower, but they are better at retaining heat, and make those perfect searing marks. However, they are also susceptible to rust. Finally, we’ve got porcelain-coated grates, which are either stainless steel or cast iron. However, the coating prevents the grate from corrosion. They are also super easy to clean, but be careful, as you can crack the coating with a cleaning brush and thus remove its corrosion-proof protection.
Pellet grills are a bit on the pricier side. While you can get a decent charcoal grill for less than $200, you’d have to spend much more to get a pellet grill with appropriate features. On the other hand, a $900 pellet grill doesn’t necessarily have to be better than some $400 model.
A cheap grill won’t last you a long time. It will corrode faster, and the issues will show up a year or two down the road, all of which will affect the cooking process. However, if you’re new to pellet grilling and you only want to try out before committing to an expensive appliance, then sure, a cheap option is a good choice.
Bear in mind that affordable doesn’t have to be of cheap quality, and vice versa. Z grills are a good example. They don’t cost an arm and a leg, and yet they offer a Traeger-quality product. They might not have fancy features like Traeger do, but it all comes down to what your priorities are. The point is, there’s a pellet grill for every pocket.
Most pellet grills will reach the temperature ranging from 180F to 400F. That’s more than enough for smoking, braising, baking and grilling. However, to get that caramelized dark sear on your meat, you need high temperatures. Some pellet grills go as high as 500F, but that’s not a common feature.
Pellet grills are all about the no-babysitting method. You want to set the desired temperature and then forget all about it, so precise temperature control is a must. Digital controllers are a game-changer, and pellet grills come with three different types of controllers:
This type of controller uses a sophisticated algorithm to diminish the temperature fluctuations. Basically, this controller does a lot of math. It takes into consideration the current temperature and the desired one, as well as external factors such as weather conditions. When all of that is added to the equation, it calculates how much fuel should be used to achieve the desired heat level.
These controllers don’t do all that hard math stuff that their PID brothers do, but that’s not to say they aren’t precise. With non-PID controllers, you can change the temperature in 5F to 10F intervals. Avid fans of good smoking swear these types of controllers are needed for achieving that perfect smoke taste.
You can find this type of controller on an entry-level pellet grill. It comes in three temperature settings – low, medium and high. The intervals are fixed, which means you don’t have precise control over the heat.
Warranty is especially important when buying a new product. You wouldn’t want a new TV without it, then why should a pellet grill be any different?
Most pellet grills come with a warranty period ranging from 1 to 3 years. That’s enough time to see if your product may have come with a manufacturing defect, or it’s just of poor quality.
Other features to keep in mind
Besides the most important features of a pellet grill above, some models have some fancy options you can consider.
Wifi connection – Super busy people will appreciate this feature. You can do other chores while monitoring your cooking on your smartphone.
Portability – For those who live on the go, this is one of the most important characteristics. What’s the point of a fancy grill if you are barely ever home?
Accessories – Often sold separately, but you have models that have the option of adding, for example, a rotisserie. This is a perfect addition for all the poultry lovers out there.
Truth be told, all pellet girls are similar to each other. Especially from the outside. Most of them work great the first time you use them too. However, the problem with some wood pellet grills and smokers is that they start having a variety of issues once you have used them for a month or two. The auger can start getting stuck, sometimes the digital temperature controllers stop working and so on. With our list, we tried to give you a choice of really good pellet smokers that won’t have this kind of issue.
The Z GRILLS ZPG-450A 2020 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker and Cuisinart CPG-4000 Wood BBQ Grill & Smoker have both pleasantly surprised us. Z Grills is a newcomer on the market compared to other better-known names. However, their new ZPG-450A really rocks and is definitely comparable to some more famous models. When it comes to Cuisinart, they are already a well-known name in the world of kitchen appliances, but not really one you turn to when you are looking for outdoor cooking equipment. With the CPG-4000 wood pellet smoker, they have shown they can totally play this game too.