Are you looking to buy a pellet grill or smoker but want to make sure you’re buying the right one?
You’re in the right place!
In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn:
- What to look for before making a purchase
- Our top 9 best pellet smokers
- And much more!
A charcoal or gas grill is great. They can cook your food and they’re easy to find.
However, in the way of convenience and versatility, these grilling classics can come short.
If you’re looking for an alternative that slashes learning curves and smoking and grilling times, look no further than a pellet grill.
In today’s grilling and barbecue market, pellet grills and smokers have earned a reputation for being user-friendly and easy to use. They are also popular for their consistency and versatility.
Did I get your mouth watering at the possibilities? Read on to learn more about my top 9 pellet grills and other things pellet smoker-related!
Traeger Grills Ironwood 885
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Pit Boss 440D2
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Weber SmokeFire EX6
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Z Grills 700D3
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Camp Chef WiFi Woodwind w/ Sidekick
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Green Mountain Davy Crockett
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Pit Boss Vertical
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Is It a Pellet Grill or a Pellet Smoker?
When it comes to these cookers, some will call them a pellet grill and some will refer to them as a pellet smoker. There’s not a difference between a pellet grill and a pellet smoker–they’re the same thing.
With that said, no matter what you call them, they’re much more of a smoker than a grill. Without getting too technical, they’d be more accurately described as indirect-heat convection smokers.
Top 9 Best Pellet Smokers
In a hurry? Here are our top 9 best pellet smokers we’ve tested and recommend:
- Traeger Grills Ironwood 885 (Best Overall)
- Pit Boss 440D2 (Best Budget Pick)
- Weber SmokeFire EX6 (Best High End Pick)
- ZGrills 700DE (Best Value Pellet Grill)
- Camp Chef WiFi Woodwind w/ Sidekick (Most Versatile Option)
- Green Mountain Davy Crockett (Best Tabletop Pellet Cooker)
- Pit Boss Vertical (Best Vertical Pellet Smoker)
- Traeger Tailgater (Best Portable Option)
- Recteq RT-700 (Most Durable Pellet Smoker)
Our Reviews of the Top 9 Best Pellet Smokers
For years, Traeger has dominated the grilling market with its releases.
Traeger has done it again with the Traeger Ironwood 885.
The Traeger Ironwood 885 has everything you will want and need in a pellet smoker. From seamless wireless connectivity to a clear-cut stainless steel design, this Traeger disappoints in no area.
It comes equipped with pellet sensors and meat probes. These features put you in the driver’s (or griller’s) seat as you manipulate smoker settings on your phone. The hopper also features a trapdoor design meant to make cleaning and changing pellets a breeze.
Be warned, however. Features on a pellet grill like the Traeger Ironwood 885 do come with a hefty price tag. Then again, if money isn’t an issue for you, I can’t think of a better pellet smoker you can go with.
- Control from WiFi
- SuperSmoke Mode
- High Quality Build
- You pay a premium when it comes to Traeger. Prices vary but expect it to cost around $1,500.
- Dimensions:50.2″ x 24.02″ x 39.8″
- Weight: 96 pounds
- Grilling Area: 518 sq. in.
- Hopper Capacity: 5 pounds
- Warranty: 5 Years
At 465 square inches of cooking space, the Pit Boss pellet smoker is as compact compared to some of the other grills on this list.
However, don’t let the compact size fool you.
Despite its smaller size, this pellet smoker from Pit Boss comes with features you’ll find in larger pellet grills.
This Pit Boss boasts a digital control board. Complimenting the control board is a large LED read-out screen that tells you how hot it is inside the smoker.
A set of cooking grills can also be found at the bottom of the pellet smoker. The Pit Boss 440D2 also guarantees durability with its high-quality non-chip powder coat steel exterior.
Compactness, durability, and monitoring are qualities that this Pit Boss pellet grill has in spades.
They are known for having high-quality grills at affordable prices, making this our top budget pick.
- Has Ability To Sear
- Great Value
- Porcelain Coated Grates
- If you’re cooking for a big family, you may want to go with a bigger model.
- Dimensions: 33″ x 43″ x 47″
- Weight: 204 pounds
- Grilling Area: 1,008 sq. in.
- Hopper Capacity: 22 pounds
- Warranty: 3+ Years
The Weber Smokefire EX6 2nd Gen is the latest improvement to the not-so-popular EX4 model.
With the Weber Smokefire EX6 2nd Gen, Weber has shown improvements to how it makes pellet smokers.
The Weber Smokefire EX6 2nd Gen has a side tray on the right for preparation. You won’t need a gigantic prep area with this pellet smoker.
Also, you’ll be amazed at the smoky flavor delivered by this wood pellet grill. We found it generated more smoke than other pellet grills.
The pellet smoker’s temperature control settings allow you to not only smoke meat but sear it. So, if medium-rare steaks are your thing and you want them smoked, look no further than the Weber Smokefire EX6 2nd Gen!
- 1,008 sq in of Cooking Space
- 2 Meat Probes Included
- Weber Porcelain-Enamel Finish
- Overall High Quality Pellet Grill
- The grease drain isn’t as steep as others so use aluminum foil under your grill grates to avoid cleaning them after each use
- Dimensions: 47″ x 23″ x 52″
- Weight: 132 pounds
- Grilling Area: 694 sq. in.
- Hopper Capacity: 20 pounds
- Warranty: 3 Years
Looking around at the Traeger and Pit Boss-dominated pellet grill market, you’re likely getting an idea of how pricey pellet smokers are.
This can be enough to intimidate someone buying their first pellet grill — until the Z Grills 700D3 Pellet Grill and Smoker came out.
This wood pellet grill, for me, gives you the best balance of affordability and performance. For a small price compared to other pellet smokers, you get consistent cooking with its newly-developed PID controller. The PID controller ensures that your meat stays evenly cooked even as you leave it.
The Z Grills 700D3 Pellet Grill and Smoker also allows you to easily clean or change your wood pellets. A door conveniently located behind the hooper gives you access to the pellet feed.
Check out the Z Grills 700D3 Pellet Grill on their website for its latest price!
- Best Pellet Grill For The Money
- Huge Storage Cabinet
- Includes A Cover
- Dual Wall Construction
- It doesn’t have WiFi
It’s hard to find a pellet grill with the right balance of everything.
One that comes close is the Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 24 Pellet Smoker.
The Swiss army knife of pellet smokers, this Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 24 Pellet Smoker is a mid-sized smoker that is capable of large-scale grilling and smoking.
The Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 24 Pellet Smoker has a second-generation PID controller that allows you to select your desired temperature down to the smallest increment. With reliable wireless connectivity and app integration, this pellet grill puts you in the driver’s seat as you smoke your meat to perfection.
Versatile in its temperature settings, the Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 24 Pellet Smoker allows you to do more than smoke meat. Its various temperature settings also allow you to sear and grill meat to your desired taste.
If that’s not enough, it also has a flat top griddle on the side! You will need propane for this, though.
If you’re not sure about what pellet smoker to get, you cannot go wrong with the Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 24 Pellet Smoker!
- Sidekick Accessories
- Smoke Control Settings
- Ash Kickin’ Cleanout System
- It has a vibration while cooking and is a bit louder than other pellet grills
If you’re like me, you want a pellet grill whether you’re at home, tailgating, or camping.
When it comes to portability, no other pellet smoker holds a candle to the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WiFi Grill.
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WiFi Grill is one of the most portable pellet grills on the market. What’s equally impressive is the technology that goes with its portability. For its size and weight, it packs some serious wireless connectivity, allowing you the control of smoking from your phone.
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WiFi Grill’s application also gives you some smoking and grilling ideas. This makes this wood pellet grill worth checking out if you’re new to the barbeque game.
See the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WiFi Grill in all its compact glory on Amazon!
- Extremely Portable Pellet Smoker
- Smartphone Control
- Comes With A Cover
- When using their spring legs, make sure you’re on a flat surface or it can feel a bit unstable
- The spring legs don’t work great in the bed of a truck
We begin rounding off this list of picks with a vertical wood pellet grill from Pit Boss.
The Pit Boss PBV3P1 Vertical Wood Pellet Smoker has four cooking decks stacked on top of each other. Even with high volume smoking and grilling, you won’t need to worry about space.
The Pit Boss PBV3P1 Vertical Wood Pellet Smoker’s auto-start 300-watt lighter quickly fires up the pellet smoker’s heating rod. Once the fire is going, the Pit Boss PBV3P1 Vertical Wood Pellet Smoker’s auto-shit feature turns off the heating rod. Hence, burning will not be an issue.
The temperature range of the Pit Boss PBV3P1 Vertical Wood Pellet Smoker is from 150 to 400 degrees. The heat deflector ensures that all decks receive the same amount of heat for even and consistent cooking.
The Pit Boss PBV3P1 Vertical Wood Pellet Smoker is available on Amazon, but the stock runs low often.
This made the top of our list of the best vertical pellet smokers as well!
- Massive 40lb Hopper
- Vertical Design Fits Anywhere
- Dual-walled Construction
- It doesn’t seem to hold a temperature as accurately as higher-end pellet smokers
- Several fluctuations up and down (+/- 10 degrees) during a 6 hour smoke
Many people like to grill on the go, whether they’re cooking in a park or a campground. However, most grills are either too bulky to move around or too delicate for bumpy trips.
That’s why many grilling aficionados want portability in their grills.
When we found the Traeger Grills Tailgater, we felt like we had discovered an underrated gem.
It may just be the best portable pellet grill available today! Its most distinct feature is its easy-fold legs, which make transport a breeze.
The size is also not too shabby for a portable pellet grill, with a total grill capacity of 300 square inches. That’s more than enough space for two whole chickens or a dozen burgers.
With the precision temperature control, you’ll have an easy time cooking whatever dish you want on the go. No undercooking and no burning!
Best of all, you’ll get the same classic smoky flavors and wood-fire taste that’s characteristic of pellet grills.
- 6-in-1 function
- Precision temperature control
- EZ fold legs
- Traeger customer service has been helpful the many times we’ve called them
- I had a tough time getting the Tailgater up to temp and an even tougher time keeping it at the exact temp I set
Grills typically stay outside, where they’re exposed to the elements, and if you’re adventurous like us, you’ve probably brought your grill to some even rougher terrains.
Most grills can take this like champs, but they will degrade over time.
That’s why many are looking for a grill that’s durable and can last a lifetime.
If you’re looking for a grill that can handle what life throws at it, the Recteq RT-700 Wifi-Enabled Electric Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker is just what you need.
We’ve found that this grill is equipped with more high-quality stainless steel than any other model in its class; almost all of its parts are made using stainless steel (including the grill grates), so we’re confident that this wood pellet grill can take a beating.
It’s also extremely spacious, sporting 702 square inches of space. Wherever you take it, you’ll be able to cook large meals in one batch.
Don’t worry about long cooking times; even if you’re away, you can control this Wi-Fi-enabled grill with your smartphone. With the right app, you can remotely adjust temperature settings and monitor your food from anywhere!
- High-quality, durable stainless steel build
- Wi-Fi enabled controls from anywhere in the world
- Versatile cooking options
- The rear hopper is more difficult to fill when compared to a side hopper
- Grill tools fell off the grill hooks every time I moved the grill around
Quickly Compare Pellet Smokers
Here is a comparison for each of our top picks:
|Model||Our Rating||Hopper Capacity||Grilling Area||Weight||Warranty||MSRP*|
|Traeger Ironwood 885||4.9||20 lbs||885 sq inches||175 lbs||3 Years||$1,599.95|
|Pit Boss 440D2||4.8||5 lbs||518 sq inches||96 lbs||5 Years||$449.99|
|Weber Smokefire EX6||4.8||22 lbs||1,008 sq inches||204 lbs||3+ Years||$1,438.80|
|Z Grills||4.7||20 lbs||694 sq inches||132 lbs||3 Years||$649.00|
|Camp Chef Woodwind w/ Sidekick||4.7||22 lbs||811 sq inches||162 lbs||3 Years||$1,149.99|
|Green Mountain Davy Crockett||4.7||9 lbs||219 sq inches||68 lbs||2 Years||$379.00|
|Pib Boss PBV3P1||4.6||40 lbs||901 sq inches||97 lbs||5 Years||$509.00|
|Traeger Tailgater||4.6||62 lbs||300 sq inches||62 lbs||3 Years||$529.00|
|Recteq RT700||4.5||190 lbs||702 sq inches||190 lbs||4 Years||$1,709.00|
*Please note that the MSRP may not accurately reflect the current price of the smoker.
Why a Pellet Grill May Be a Good Choice for You
Let me start by saying that the best pellet grill is the one you’re comfortable with. With the many advantages of a pellet smoker, I wouldn’t be surprised if you get one after reading this guide.
Go online and you’ll see many people touting the selling points of pellet smokers. For the sake of conciseness and simplicity, I’m going to share what I think the pros of pellet smokers are:
- The reduced need for you to babysit whatever your smoking
- Quick and easy ignition
- Easy use
- Control from a distance via wireless connectivity
- Access to recipes
- Consistent cooking
- Reduced chances of flare-ups
Let’s go over each benefit in greater detail:
#1. Set It and Forget It!
To some, the toil and effort that goes into grilling is part of the experience’s appeal. In my opinion, I believe it’s better to prepare and eat as soon as possible.
Charcoal and gas smokers and grills require a lot of prep and smoking time. For this reason, you’ll need a lot of elbow grease with these types of smokers.
With a pellet smoker, babysitting your BBQ ribs and pork chops will be a thing of the past. A lot of brands of pellet smokers today have easy temperature-setting systems you only need to manipulate once.
Once you’ve picked the desired temperature of your pellet smoker, you can just sit back, crack a cold one, and wait.
#2. Quick and Easy Ignition
With a gas and charcoal smoker, you’ll need to prepare your charcoal and lighter fluid to start the flame. At times, once you get an initial flame going, there’s no telling how long you have to keep it going.
Pellet smokers come with button-activated ignition systems. For this reason, all you need to do is flick the switch and pick your desired temperature. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
#3. Pellet Grills Are Easy To Use
Pellet smokers allow you to do less babysitting due to their self-calibration of temperature. Based on the temperature you selected, a pellet smoker automatically regulates the number of pellets being dumped onto the auger. The pellets then burn to create the temperature you desire.
All this gets done after you push a button and pick a temperature setting!
#4. Control from a Distance
I used to think it was the stuff of science fiction. However, I was made a believer when I upgraded my Traeger.
Although some grills don’t offer it as a feature, wireless connectivity is a feature you can look forward to with a pellet smoker. The wireless connectivity is made possible via WiFi and an app that you can download on your phone.
This way, you’ll be able to control your smoking and grilling from a distance. How’s that for high-tech convenience?
#5. Takes the Guesswork Out of Smoking
When was the last time you had to make a meal with a recipe that needed to be written down? I’ll bet that it was a frustrating experience if you lost the list.
Sometimes, we’re left “guesstimating” a recipe. Let’s face it — in these scenarios, the quality of our meat turns out okay less than half the time.
Pellet grills with wireless connectivity will make these situations a thing of the past. Along with the app meant for controlling are recipes you can select. What’s more, after selecting these recipes, you can program them on your smoker. Automatically, your smoker receives the recipe and smokes to your desired setting.
This feature, for me, is why people buy pellet grills. If you aren’t exactly a Michelin chef yet, it can be your reason for choosing a wood pellet grill too.
#6. Consistent Cook
With a pellet grill, after you start it, the flame remains at the desire you have set. Couple this with a pellet smoker’s chamber design, and you get evenly distributed heat. These conditions allow your brisket or lamb to be cooked evenly every time.
Perhaps, the only time the temperature changes is when you change it. Otherwise, you can bank on your pellet grill’s ability to evenly smoke your meat.
#7. Say Goodbye to Flare-Ups
Flare-ups occur when the grease or marinating sauce from your meat drips into the smoker’s heat diffusion pan. When this happens, a sudden albeit short burst of flame emerges, potentially torching some of your meat.
Flare-ups do not happen with pellet smokers for two reasons. First, pellet smokers allow moisture of any kind to vaporize back into the meat inside the chamber. This means the diffusion pan stays dry throughout the smoking process.
Also, any moisture that comes off your meat and isn’t vaporized just makes its way to the grease pan located somewhere outside the smoker.
#8. Pellet Grills Offer The Most Versatility
Nothing displays a pellet smoker’s versatility better than its temperature ranges. Most pellet grills on the market today are capable of a wide range of temperature settings.
In fact, some, like the Traeger Ironwood 885, can easily hit the 400 to 700-degree range on nearly the same number of pellets. So, pellet grills are no longer just smokers. Their temperature ranges allow them to be an alternative to grills too.
Related >> How to Clean a Pellet Grill
Downsides of a Pellet Smoker
If any product is very good at 1 thing, it’s probably lacking in another area. Pellet smokers are no different–they have downsides as well.
They’re oftentimes advertised as 8-in-1 grills with the ability to do the following:
While some may be able to pull off most of these fairly well, they are best for low and slow smoking.
They are extremely versatile, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be excellent at all of these styles of cooking. Most pellet smokers are not good at searing or even grilling some foods without adding attachments.
This is mainly due to the lack of high-heat functionalities, which makes sense since their main selling point is “set it and forget it”.
If you want to be able to make good food, add wood-fired smoke flavor, something that is easy to learn, and easy to use, then a pellet smoker will be a great purchase.
If you want something that is great at searing foods and grilling at high temperatures, I’d recommend going with a different option.
How a Pellet Grill or Smoker Works
Pellet smokers or grills have a lot of similarities with charcoal grills, gas grills, and electric smokers. However, one thing sets a wood pellet grill apart from other types of smokers — how it creates heat.
Unlike charcoal and propane smokers, pellet smokers use wood pellets as fuel. These pellets are fed into feeding inlets located on the sides of pellet grills. These pellets make their way into augers that feed the pellets in a pellet smoker’s burn pot.
The burn pot of a pellet smoker has underneath it a heating rod. It’s similar in many ways to the heating plates you find on most kitchen stoves. The heating rod on its own will not create a fire.
However, with wood pellets, enough flame can arise to create the smoke you require. A fan located within the heating part of the pellet smoker stokes the heat.
For the most part, pellet smokers or grills have the same type of temperature control mechanism. The temperature controller is an internal computer for the pellet grill. It ensures that everything from the fan to the number of pellets fed is in sync to deliver the temperature you desire.
It does this for the entire duration of smoking or grilling.
In short, pellet smokers:
- Use pellets as a fuel source for heat
- Burn pellets using a heating rod
- Have internal temperature control computers that regulate the smoker’s temperature
Learn More >> How Does a Pellet Grill Work? (An In-Depth Explanation)
What To Look for When Buying a Pellet Smoker Grill
Not all pellet smokers are created equal. With the options available on the market, you’ll need a guide on how to narrow your choices. While it all comes down to personal preference and budget, you may want to check what features you want in a smoker.
Here are some things to look for when you’re in the market for a new pellet smoker:
- The size of the cooking area
- The size of the pellet cooker’s hopper
- The presence of meat probes
- Wireless connectivity
The Size of the Cooking Area
This will largely depend on how much grilling or smoking you’ll do. In reality, pellet smokers cost money — a lot, in many cases. So, if you’re grilling or smoking no more than a few pork chops or ribs, then a large smoker may not be worth it.
On the other hand, if you frequently barbeque or smoke large cuts, you might need a smoker with a larger cooking area. You might also need one that has a secondary cooking area.
You can think of the secondary cooking area as another rack above the main cooking area. The main cooking area is the part directly on the smoker. You don’t need to worry about uneven heat since a pellet smoker evenly distributes heat throughout its chamber.
The Size of Your Pellet Smoker’s Hopper
You may ask: “Where and what is the hopper?”
The hopper is a part of your smoker’s pellet cooker. It is the part that holds the pellets. The size of the hopper matters because it determines how long you can smoke.
Larger hoppers naturally mean larger pellet capacity. This is a sign that your pellet smoker or pellet grill is built for longer cooking sessions.
Your pellet hopper’s capacity will be an even more significant consideration if you live someplace cold. Colder climates mean longer cooking times. Smoking meat somewhere cold or during the colder months will require a smoker with a large hopper.
A good pellet smoker is an investment in and of itself. One that gives you years of seamless smoking and grilling is even better.
Of course, you want a pellet smoker that will not give up on you within just a year. A good rule of thumb would be to choose a pellet smoker that consists mainly of stainless steel.
Powder-coated steel or alternatives to stainless steel aren’t bad choices. However, powder coating doesn’t do well in high-moisture and can lead to rust after a while.
Inspect a pellet smoker for the presence of other materials aside from stainless steel. The existence of other materials like aluminum shouldn’t always be a deal-breaker. However, you shouldn’t see it on most of a pellet smoker that claims to be made of stainless steel
If you do, move on to the next model, and spare yourself from a bad buying decision.
According to the FDA, the internal temperature of meat needs to be 145° F to 160° F. To ensure that your meat has been smoked to perfection and is safe for consumption, you need a thermometer.
The problem with meat thermometers is that you cannot always leave them in the meat as you smoke them. To solve this common pain point, some companies have included meat probes in their pellet smokers.
Meat probes allow you to keep an eye on the internal temperature of your meat as you smoke it. Though not an absolute necessity, it’s surely something worth having.
Ultimately, people buy wood pellet grills for the convenience they offer users. No other feature provides convenience better than wireless connectivity.
Most pellet smoker brands have wireless capabilities built into the pellet smokers they sell. You will want one that seamlessly integrates with your mobile devices — whether you use a tablet or a phone.
Also, some companies offer in-app recipes. If you’re new to grilling or smoking, a pellet smoker with wireless connectivity and app integration may be worth the extra dollar.
Pellet Grill FAQs
Are Pellet Grills Worth It?
Pellet grills are worth it if you enjoy the versatility of smoking, grilling, baking, roasting, and more all on the same cooker, but don’t mind the hefty initial cost.
If you love wood-fire taste, you’ll love having a pellet grill around. I use mine almost daily.
Who Makes the Highest Quality Pellet Grill?
Traeger Grills is known for making the highest quality pellet grills on the market. They had a patent for 20 years that made them the only pellet grills on the market, which gave them an advantage.
During our tests, we were impressed with the quality of the 2nd Generation of the Weber Smokefire.
What Pellet Brand Is Best?
We recommend using the same brand of pellets as the maker of your pellet smoker if possible. This makes dealing with any future warranty issues easier on you.
We have found, though, that using any brand of pellets works in pellet grills. If you find a good deal and it’s a different brand, I’d still grab them and take advantage of the discount.
How Long Will a 40 lb Bag of Wood Pellets Burn?
We’ve found that a 40 lb bag of wood pellets burns for about 24 hours, which is great when you’re smoking brisket.
Can You Cook Burgers on a Pellet Grill?
You can cook burgers on a pellet grill and get a unique smokey flavor to them. Many of the pellet grills on our list can go up to temperatures of 450-500 degrees, which is great for grilling hamburgers.
You can also try smoked burgers on your pellet smoker.
The burgers in the picture below were smoked and then seared on a PitBoss pellet grill.
Are Pellet Grills Good for Steaks?
Pellet grills are good for steaks if you like adding a wood-fired taste to your steak. Although most can’t sear a steak, getting the tender smoked steak is easily done on your new pellet grill.
Pit Boss has a feature where you can sear directly over a flame, which is great for steaks as well.
How Can You Get More Smoke From Your Pellet Grill?
If you’re not getting enough smoke for your liking, try using a smoke tube in your pellet grill.
Final Thoughts on Buying a Wood Pellet Grill
A pellet grill is an excellent choice if you’re into hassle-free smoking. With some brands, you can play the role of a Michelin-star chef even as a novice smoker or griller.
If you’re looking for the highest quality pellet grills, go with Traeger or Weber.
If you want something inexpensive, try Pit Boss or Z Grills.
A pellet smoker can be one of the best additions to your yard or patio, but make sure to follow these safety tips:
- Don’t use your pellet grill in the rain. Water and electricity don’t mix well
- Only smoke on your pellet grill in a well-ventilated area
- Make sure to check the internal temp of your meat before eating or serving it
Don’t forget your smoker accessories when getting your new cooker!
Make a decision on which model you’re going with? Let me know in the comments or on social media.