The ability to prepare great barbecue very easily is without a doubt the biggest advantage of the pellet smoker. Never again will you have to worry about temperature control or complicated smoking process that requires a lot of attention.
Even the simplest model will handle the task and stand out significantly among other types of grills.
Personally, though, I suggest increasing your budget and buying a much better model which will benefit you not only in terms of quality but also versatility.
This article will help you choose the new pellet smoker based on my tips and suggestions. I have only picked what I consider to be several best pellet smokers available in different prize ranges.
For those who are new to the topic, I have also prepared a lot of useful information on this type of grill. First and foremost, remember that “pellet grill” and “pellet smoker” are two different words that actually mean the exact same thing.
The Best Wood Pellet Grills Reviewed
The popularity of pellet smokers has led to a very intense development of this type of smoker within the last decade. A lot of companies were set up that offer many interesting solutions, which only made it harder to choose the best pellet grill. As someone very experienced on the topic, I have decided to help you by sharing my favorite options.
The best entry-level pellet smoker, great quality of workmanship, durability, universal size, precise controller and a price adequate to all that.
Camp Chef is a valued and trusted manufacturer of different types of grills including great pellet smokers. Their offer includes plenty of different models but I have decided to only choose one.
Camp Chef SmokePro Deluxe is in my view not only the best model in this manufacturer’s offer, but also the best choice in this price range. Great both for beginners and advanced users looking for a solid grill.
Every grill should be solidly built and durable but when it comes to pellet grills another thing that matters is electrics. I’m talking about the controller together with the entire system managing the grill’s operation.
When smoking, fixed temperature is incredibly important which makes it just as important to have a high quality controller – The newer the controller the better, you get more versatility and precision.
In this model, the controller works great, not having any problem maintaining a fixed temperature with a full pellet container over many hours. The controller itself offers quite a lot of settings, you can choose among initial settings such as “High”, “LO Smoke” or “Hi Smoke” and the ability to manually set the temperature within a range of 170-400 degrees F.
What is really important, this model has a fully operational and well thought-out ash catching system which is rare in this price range and at this kind of size and model configuration.
Therefore, the above advantages have helped Camp Chef Deluxe definitely stand out among its competitors and take the well-deserved first place in my guide as the best entry-level pellet grill.
Pellet grills are among the most expensive types of grills, there are a lot of cheaper models but most of them are not worth their price. Personally, I only know a few models available at lower prices that are worth recommending.
Remember that this type of grill has a lot of electrics, which in cheaper models are of poorer quality, making budget pellet smokers more prone to malfunctions.
Another important thing is stable temperature which is also not guaranteed by most of cheaper models.
That’s why this time I will recommend to you a pretty big pellet grill for its price - Z Grills ZPG-7002ENC
Z Grills manufactures the same grills as those from Traeger at much lower prices. How can I be sure? In the past, the manufacturer specialized in manufacturing grills for Traeger, among others. In 2017 they decided to make a serious step which was manufacturing grills under their own brand of “Z Grills”.
Using their huge experience, the manufacturer created a grill of the same quality and efficiency as Traeger, but available at a much lower price.
Z Grills ZPG-700 is a model that I can honestly recommend but I have to make it clear that it comes with a few minor flaws that slightly impact convenience. As a result, for that money you get a good quality pellet grill with a pretty big cooking area and decent temperature control.
I almost forgot, this model is covered with whole 3 years of warranty which I think matters a lot when buying your first pellet grill for a lower price.
No competitive model offers configuration this big for a price this low. First and foremost, the greatest surprise is the fact that there’s a mobile pellet smoker and it’s really great.
The structure was made with convenient cooking away from home in mind, like when camping. For that purpose, the grill has to be convenient to transport and that’s the case here. The size was shrunk significantly, thus lowering the weight, and folding legs were added.
Considering the quality of workmanship and of materials I can honestly say that GMG Davy Crockett is also a durable grill.
Even though it is a mobile pellet grill, remember one thing, this type of grill requires constant access to electricity so keep that in mind when you want to cook away from home. Of course the manufacturer provides an adapter for as many as 3 different power options to make the access to electricity while away from home easier.
In terms of mobility, there is certainly no better model on the market right now, even at much higher prices.
It is also surprising in terms of functionality, it comes with a digital controller with a wide temperature range ( at 5 degree intervals ). The biggest surprise, however, is the Wi-Fi technology in this price range. It makes it possible to remotely control the grill straight from an app on your phone or tablet.
In practice, it is not quite so mobile as it would seem, its huge weight still requires two people to comfortably transport it on foot.
I have to admit that temperature control looks very good, it is stable and precise but when it comes to maximum temperature, it is only able to achieve about 400 degrees F.
Due to its high price, this model takes the last spot in my guide but in terms of quality, efficiency and functionality it could easily take the first place.
Rec Tec RT-700 is a very big pellet grill that offers a lot of space and highly advanced technology. Despite its large size it can achieve very high temperatures in an incredibly short time.
Grills from Rec Tec are famous for their high quality of workmanship, the RT-700 model is a great example of that. To a large degree, the grill’s structure was made of high quality stainless steel, it’s a massive and solid grill.
The modern, advanced digital PID controller offers a wide range of temperatures at 5 degree intervals. On top of that, it allows to plug in as many as two meat probes and comes with Wi-Fi. It means that you can control the smoking process remotely and modify it from your phone or tablet.
Personally, I like the well utilized space under the grill, the spacious shelf can fit a lot of tools.
If anyone has any doubts then I’ll just remind about 6 years of warranty for this model which in this category of grills is a rare occurrence.
It is definitely an option for experienced and demanding people, especially considering the high price. In reality it is 100% worth its price, proving it with its quality and efficiency.
Tips for buying a pellet grill
Size – Think carefully about how many people you cook for and what your needs are. This is the first step that you should start with when looking for a new pellet smoker.
Budget – The next stage is defining your budget, sadly this type of grill is among the most expensive ones, which is why you should determine your budget. It will make it much easier for you to pick a new grill out of all the available models.
Controller – You want the best temperature control possible? Look for newer controllers, preferably digital ones, which have a better precision when it comes to the temperature choice and lower tolerance for temperature fluctuations. Stay away from models equipped with an old type controller, they only have a few temperature settings and quite big temperature fluctuations.
Warranty – The more expensive the model the better the warranty should be, sadly in many cases the price doesn’t translate to a good warranty. Remember that a pellet grill has a lot of electronics inside that are prone to malfunctions which makes a good warranty a must.
Features – You like versatile grills? Some models come with many useful gadgets and features but keep one thing in mind. Things of this type usually only increase the convenience while also increasing the price significantly. If you have a limited budget then it’s better to look for simpler models that will certainly be cheaper.
Temperature range and adjusting – Check out the controller’s temperature adjustment range, the newer the model the better it looks. The best controllers are the digital ones, which make it possible to freely pick the temperature, like from 170 to 500 degrees F at 5 degree intervals, for example.
The pros and cons of buying a wood pellet smoker
Convenience and speed – There is no doubt that the pellet grill is one of the most convenient and the easiest grills. It’s a set & forget style smoker that doesn’t require your attention once it’s turned on. After you set the desired temperature, just wait about a dozen minutes and you can start cooking.
Temperature control – You don’t need to worry about the temperature being too high or too low, adjusting the air vents, amount of fuel or burner power. All of that is taken care of by a system that calculates when and how much fuel to add to the furnace to keep a particular temperature. The newer and more advanced the system, the better the results. That’s what makes it an incredibly convenient smoker, smoking usually takes a few hours and requires a lot of control whereas in a good pellet grill you don’t have to worry about anything.
Cleaning – Most models have a properly designed structure and different features that make cleaning easier. Pellet leaves ash behind that has to be removed once in a while.
Price – The greatest downside is sadly the price, a good entry-level pellet grill costs much more than a high quality charcoal smoker or charcoal grill ( such as weber performer ). It is pretty much impossible to buy a good pellet smoker at a much lower price.
Malfunctioning – Another downside is a lot of electronics, which are prone to malfunctions ( definitely less than an electric smoker ). If something stops working then in most cases you can forget about being able to cook something. The costs of repairs in many cases are pretty high as well which is why I believe that it’s a better choice to buy a more expensive model with a better warranty.
Requires being plugged in – It is a certain limitation which has a negative impact on mobility but keep in mind that a pellet grill needs electricity to function. Without it all the important systems won’t work which makes the grill impossible to use.