Are you looking to buy a pellet grill 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:
- Why a pellet grill may be a good choice for you
- What to look for before making a purchase
- Our top 7 best pellet grills
- And much more!
A charcoal or gas grill or smoker is great. They’re pretty intuitive and 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 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 description? Read on to learn more about my top 7 pellet smokers and other things pellet smoker-related!
Quick Note: The terms “pellet grill” and “pellet smoker” can be used interchangeably. One isn’t more right than the other.
Traeger Grills Ironwood 885
|View on Amazon|
Pit Boss 700FB
|View on Amazon|
Weber SmokeFire EX6
|View on Amazon|
Camp Chef WiFi Woodwind w/ Sidekick
|View on Amazon|
Z Grills ZPG-700D3
|View on Amazon|
Green Mountain Davy Crockett
|View on Amazon|
Pit Boss Vertical
|View on Amazon|
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Why a Pellet Smoker May Be a Good Choice for You
Let me start by saying that the best pellet smoker 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 ribs and 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. Easy 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 smoke a recipe that you needed 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 pellet grill too.
#6. Consistent Cook
With a pellet grill, 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.
Nothing displays a pellet smoker’s versatility better than its temperature ranges. Most pellet smokers 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 smokers are no longer just smokers. Their temperature ranges allow them to be an alternative to grills too.
How a Pellet Grill or Smoker Works
Pellet smokers or grills have a lot of similarities with their charcoal, gas, and electric counterparts. However, one thing sets a pellet smoker 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 smokers. 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 smoker. 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
What To Look for in a Pellet Smoker
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 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.
Our Reviews of the Top 7 Best Pellet Grills
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.
The Traeger Ironwood 885 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 smoker 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.
At 700 square inches of cooking space, the Pit Boss Classic Pellet Smoker is as compact compared to some of the other grills on this lsit.
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.
The Pit Boss Classic Pellet Smoker 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 Classic Pellet Smoker also guarantees durability with its high-quality non-chip powder coat steel exterior.
Compactness, durability, and monitoring are qualities that the Pit Boss Classic Pellet Smoker 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.
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 flavor delivered by this pellet smoker.
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
- Weber is newer to the pellet grill space, so they don’t have as much experience as some of the other competitors
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 smoker 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 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
Looking around at the Traeger and Pit Boss-dominated pellet smoker 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 700D4E Pellet Grill and Smoker came out.
This pellet smoker, 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 700D4E 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 700D4E Pellet Grill and Smoker on Amazon for its latest price!
- Good Value
- Stainless Steel Build
- Huge Storage Cabinet
- Their customer service is not easy to get ahold of by phone, and they disappear for days by email.
If you’re like me, you want a pellet smoker 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 smokers in 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 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 pellet smoker 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
- 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 cap off this list of picks with a vertical wood pellet smoker 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.
- 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
Final Thoughts on Buying a 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.
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.