Do you love holding barbeque parties in your backyard? If so, which grill do you use, and does it serve you, right? Searching for the best pellet smoker can be an exhausting task, especially if you do not know what to look for. However, there is one grill gaining popularity among barbeque lovers like you – a pellet smoker.
It is a particular type of grill, which applies some kitchen oven elements, charcoal smokers, and gas grills. Most grillers love it because it produces a clean fire that is versatile, portable, and easy to use. Moreover, you can barbeque in any weather conditions, even winter, with the right grill.
How to Choose the Best Pellet Grill and Smoker
However, with its increasing popularity comes a market packed with various products. So how do you know the one you are purchasing is the best on the market? You have to consider several vital factors like comfort, long service, pellet smoker size, price, hopper, wood pellets, and main cooking area. You want a pellet grill and smoker that results in a rich taste in your BBQ. In this review, we will check some of the top models of grills on the market, and you can pick up the one that meets your requirements.
- 1 What is the Best Pellet Grill & Smoker?
- 1.1 #1. Best Pellet Smoker Overall: Z Grills ZPG-450A 2019
- 1.2 #2. Best for Tailgates: Country Smokers CSPEL015010497
- 1.3 #3. Best Electric: Cuisinart CPG-4000
- 1.4 #4. Best Vertical: Bradley Smoker BS611
- 1.5 #5. Best Set and Forget It: Ozark Grills – The Razorback Wood Pellet Grill
- 1.6 #6. Best Versatile: Masterbuilt MB20251719 MWS 330S
- 1.7 #7. Best Custom Pellet Smoker: Direct Igniter 18″ Pellet Kit
- 1.8 #8. Best Dial-in Digital Control: Country Smokers CS0711
- 1.9 #9. Best Smart: Z GRILLS 2019 Upgrade Model Wood Pellet
- 2 Best pellet smoker – Buying Guide
- 2.1 What is the Difference Between Pellet Smokers and Other Grills?
- 2.2 Things to Consider Before Purchasing the Best Pellet Smoker
- 2.2.1 Pellet smokers – Cooking area
- 2.2.2 Best Smokers Temperature Range
- 2.2.3 Best pellet grills portability
- 2.2.4 Best Smoker Pellet Grill Temperature Control
- 2.2.5 Wifi pellet grill
- 2.2.6 Pellet smoker reviews: Meat Probes
- 2.2.7 Best pellet smokers – Drip Pan
- 2.2.8 Best wood pellet grills – Wheels
- 2.2.9 Backyard bbq smokers – Water Pan
- 2.2.10 Best pellet grill for the money – Hopper Capacity
- 2.2.11 Best meat smoker – Work Surfaces
- 2.2.12 Best smoker for the money
- 2.2.13 Pellet grill reviews: – Secondary Cooking Racks
- 2.2.14 Top Smoker Versatility
- 2.2.15 Wood pellets grill reviews – Tall and Large Enough
- 2.2.16 Pellet grills reviews – Construction and Maintenance
- 3 Best smoker – FAQ
- 4 Best pellet grill – Final Verdict
What is the Best Pellet Grill & Smoker?
We know that picking the best pellet grill and smoker is an overwhelming task as there are many models on the market and features to consider. To save you from the hassle, we spent countless days and nights trying to find the best grill and pellet smokers through extensive online research. We checked on reviews written by other users of each grill product and their ratings.
We also contacted a few professionals who tested these smokers. During this time, we evaluated even some of what are considered the best models like Traeger grills, Camp Chef, Z Grills, and yet unknown grill brands. We also checked their features and shortlisted the best grill products. With our findings, we were able to come up with this comprehensive grill review.
All pellet smokers here were reviewed individually and in detail. Below, discover an in-depth review of every grill product, its specifications, pros and cons, and so much more. There is also a grill buying guide to help you understand some of the features to look for in the best pellet grill and smoker. Let us look at nine of the best pellet grill and smoker products on the market.
#1. Best Pellet Smoker Overall: Z Grills ZPG-450A 2019
- Grilling Area: 450 square inches
- Controller: Digital auto temperature
- Cooking Temperature: 1800F to 4500F
- Warming/Smoking rack dimensions: 128 square inches
- Hopper Capacity: 15 pounds
- Cooking Grids: Porcelain-coated cast iron
- Warranty: 3 years
More Features: Shutdown recycles mode, foldable working shelf, rust-proof cover, and terrain wheels.
Overall Rating: 9.9 out of 10
Enjoy your Argentina style roast veal or smoked salmon with the new Z Grills ZPG-450A 2019. Z Grills is one of the best grill manufacturers that has created some of the best smokers for over 30 years. The Z Grills ZPG-450A is another great grill product from this company. It comes with upgraded features, which can inevitably turn your BBQ around. At a reasonable price, you get more than what you pay for.
With this smoker, you can grill, braise, smoke, roast, BBQ, and bake. It also offers top-notch technology features resulting in an exceptional and great smoky taste. One of the features most users enjoy about this grill is the temperature control system. Unlike traditional smokers, you do not have to struggle anymore to control the temperature of your grill. Simply press the button and get your cooking heated up.
The temperature range is from 1800F to 4500F. Moreover, you do not have to babysit the grill since it has an automated electric feed system to control the set heat. This makes sure your food is cooked evenly, so you can go on and enjoy your party without any worries. The grill also has an LED display where you can confirm the temperature levels while having fun with your family or friends.
This Z Grills ZPG-450A features 450 square inches of cooking grilling area, the main cooking area of 324 square inches, and a warming rack area. This makes it ideal for BBQ, roast, bake, smoke, and grill options. No charcoal or gas is required for this smoker. So, no need to go running to fill gas while in the middle of a party. Just some pellets in the 15-pound hopper will do. This is enough to hold 20 lbs pellets for approximately 20 hours.
In terms of sturdiness, this pellet smoker is built with stainless steel. This gives the grill a sleek look, prevents it from corrosion, and increases its durability. Additionally, the grill includes heavy-duty terrain wheels for smooth movement. For the BBQ lovers searching for a pellet smoker offering versatility and an exceptional flavor for their food, consider Z Grills ZPG-450A.
You can grill some hot dogs while smoking ribs at the same time at an affordable price. It is easy to use and provides precision in your food cooking. What we love about Z Grills is that they always offer easy recipes on their website. So you can go ahead and try out any of the smoking recipes in this pellet smoker.
- Built-in wheels for more effortless movement
- Affordable and versatile
- Large cooking space
- A digital temperature control system
- Issues while cooking at high temperature
- Does not come with accessories
#2. Best for Tailgates: Country Smokers CSPEL015010497
- Cooking area: 256 square inches
- Main cooking surface: 191.4 square inches
- Controller: Dial-in digital
- Cooking Temperature: 1800F to 5000F
- Hopper Capacity: 3.5 pounds
- Cooking Grids: Acrylic
- Warranty: Not specified
More Features: Removable upper rack and removable drip tray
Overall Rating: 9.6 out of 10
If you are a traveler, you want a pellet grill and smoker to take wherever you go. The Country Smoker CSPEL015010497 is a compact and portable smoker, which allows you, your family, and friends to enjoy a BBQ while away from home. It can also be ideal for tailgating. The pellet smoker features dial-in digital temperature control, which allows you to control the temperature manually.
It can range from 1800F to 5000F with a 25-degree increment between 225 and 350 and 50-degree increments between 350 to 450 degrees. The set temperature will stay put, ensuring your cooking is even at all times. The total cooking space is 256 square inches on this grill – the lower cooking rack measures 191.4 square inches.
Although this is not as large as other pellet smokers, it is still perfect for outdoor BBQ, sear, smoke, and grill options. Some users found this cooking space enough to fit several foodstuffs like 24 hot dogs, about nine burgers, one pork butt, around 40 chicken nuggets, a brisket point or flat, 14 brats so much more. The pellet grill and smoker has a black sand exterior that gives it a shiny and clean look.
The construction of the grill also helps the smoker to last for a long without corrosion or rusting. You will need to have a reliable power source at hand. The auger, digital display, and fan need a power supply to function. One feature I loved is the pellet hopper. Unlike other pellet smokers, the unit in this grill can lock, thus preventing pellets from ending up everywhere while you are on the move.
This is especially helpful when you are on a bumpy or rocky road. Just make sure to lock the grill first before placing the smoker in your trunk. Additionally, this pellet grill and smoker includes a removable drip tray. Remember to attach it to the grill before you start cooking food, or you’ll find grease all over the place.
We suggest this Country Smokers Travellers grill for those fanatics of tailgating or camping. The grill is small, making it easier to fit in the trunk when you are on the road. With its affordable price, this traveler’s pellet grill will give your food a smoky taste and everything you need for your next camp or travel BBQ. Do not let this grill’s compact size trick you since it can do what other big brands can do.
- A small and portable pellet grill and smoker
- Durable construction
- Simple clean-out system and easy to use
- Requires power supply for certain parts to function
- No sear box
- It does not include mount legs
#3. Best Electric: Cuisinart CPG-4000
- Cooking area: 450 square inches
- Controller: Dial-in digital
- Cooking Temperature: 1800F to 5000F
- Hopper Capacity: 15 lbs
- Cooking Grids: cast iron
- Warranty: 1 year
Extra Features: built-in electric ignition system, a dripping cup basket, a chimney.
Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10
If you love outdoor cooking with a “set it and forget it” mentality, then you will love this Cuisinart CPG-4000. Forget about tending the food on the grill occasionally when you are hosting a party. This is your time to enjoy and catch up with families and friends. This is what the Cuisinart CPG-4000 entails. It comes with many features allowing you to bake, grill, BBQ, roast, bake, and so much more while you enjoy your time.
It is a portable pellet grill and smoker with foldable legs and sturdy all-terrain wheels for easier movement to your backyard or storage. This grill makes it easier to smoke or cook food through an automated system. It is easy to use too; just place enough pellets in the 15 lb hopper, plug-in a power source, and set your desired temperature. You have no limitations on the type of pellets to use.
Try out any two or more combinations of pellets from cherry, mesquite, pecan, maple, hickory, and apple. This is proof that you can personalize your food taste using this Cuisinart grill. The smoker features a temperature control system. The user can change the temperature levels to fast, slow, or hot. It will depend on the type of food too. The low-temperature setting is ideal for smoking meat.
Once you program the temperature, the hopper will release a few pellets into the automated auger system. The firepot beneath the cooking space will then ignite, and the built-in fan distributes heat evenly, making sure the food cooks as desired. The grill features a two-tiered grate, making room for all kinds of foodstuffs. There is also a folding shelf to hang your spices or cooking tools.
It makes it easier to reach out for your devices when you are busy cooking. To prevent grease from accumulating on the bottom of the grill is a bucket holder. The only issue is that there is no dripping cup included. Additionally, assembly might be a hassle, especially for beginners but do not rush into it. Simply take your time to set up the legs and make sure everything is in place before using the pellet grill for smoking.
If you are one of those people that love hosting barbeques and at the same time catching up with friends and family, or multitasking, then consider the Cuisinart CPG-4000. It will let you do more than grilling. Simply choose the temperature, ensure there are enough pellets, and make this smoker do the rest. You will get a fantastic flavor leaving a memorable experience for your loved ones.
- It is easy to use and clean
- Is portable and versatile with foldable legs
- Shelves included for convenience
- Only 1-year warranty
- No grease cup included
- No sear box
- Not WIFI enabled
#4. Best Vertical: Bradley Smoker BS611
- Cooking area: 572 square inches
- Racks: 4 removable racks
- Cooking Watts: 500
- Smoking Watts: 125
- Controller: Dial-in digital
- Maximum Temperature: 2500F
- Material: Stainless steel
- Warranty: 1 year
Extra Features: Two separate burners
Overall Rating: 9.4 out of 10
This Bradley Smoker BS611 can be ideal for condo dwellers or apartment residents. It is fully insulated and can withstand any weather conditions, including winter. This insulation leaves the grill feeling warm to the touch, so you do not have to worry if a child touches it by mistake while playing. With a compact design, it will only take a little space on your balcony or patio.
When you want to enjoy the warm sunny weather with your loved ones, just move it to the backyard as it is easy to carry. Just like many Bradley smoker models, this one has an automatic smoke generator. Adding bisquettes has never been easy, and no need to torture your neighbors with smoke. This pellet grill can be useful for grilling or smoking a 15-pound turkey, sausages, a rack of ribs, fish fillets, and much more.
A temperature control button is placed right below the hopper. You can set the temperature at high, low, or medium. If you wish to add briquettes to the grill, just press the Bisquette Advance control. This control option shows how easy you can manage this pellet smoker without any trouble. During our research, we found that most users preferred to let this pellet grill stay outdoors after smoking.
Due to this, some of these grills experienced harsh weather conditions leaving them in a terrible state. So it might be wise to get a one-size cover for this 6-rack smoker to protect it from such issues. However, the grill contains a stainless steel construction inside and a powder epoxy outside for maximum durability. This also makes it easy to clean and gives the smoker a shiny finish.
It is hard to find a pellet grill you can use on the balcony of your apartment. However, this should not be a problem anymore as there is an ideal model, the Bradley Smoker BS611. It has simple to use the automatic generator so that it can be an excellent choice for beginners. The advance bisquette technology will add new bisquettes into the firepot after every 12 minutes.
If you load enough bisquettes, the fire can go on and on for up to 8 hours. So you can go and finish other tasks while your food gets a consistent and pure smoked taste. If you like, add a remote internal meat temperature control.
- Has an easy to use temperature control
- Easy setup
- Large smoking surface
- Solid stainless steel construction
- Does not include a waterproof cover
- No sear box
- Not WIFI enabled
#5. Best Set and Forget It: Ozark Grills – The Razorback Wood Pellet Grill
- Cooking area: 305 square inches
- Controller: Digital temperature control
- Hopper Capacity: 11 pounds
- Materials: bronze orange powder coating and black orange peel powder
- Grease Collection System: Yes
- Cooking Grids: Iron wire with porcelain enamel
- Warranty: 3 years, limited
Extra Features: All-terrain wheels, safety guard, lid handle
Overall Rating: 9.7 out of 10
Gone are the days when you had to worry if you have enough gas or charcoal for your grill. Ozark, the Razorback wood smoker, is a wood pellet grill that lets you have a comfortable life with its cutting-edge technology. The wood pellet grill features an easy to read digital temperature control system, which you can use to set the temperature within plus or minus 20 degrees. The wood pellet grill smoker offers versatility.
You can use it to roast, bake, grill, braise, and much more. What is even cooler is how you can adjust your cooking from slow or fast or vice versa at low and high temperatures with this wood pellet grill. Besides, you can view the heat setting on the LED display just above the temp control. This display should be one thing to look for when considering a wood pellet grill and smoker to ensure you do not do any guesswork when roasting or grilling.
The wood pellet grill uses advanced sensors, which can note a fall in temperature during the cooking process, and add more pellets to the burner. This also ensures proper airflow while maintaining constant temperatures. So you can sit back and relax while you let the smoker do the rest of the work for you.
One feature most users appreciate in this smoker is the meat probe control. It allows you to keep an eye on your food without opening the grill. Opening the grill lets out heat and can quickly mess up your cooking. And there is nothing more embarrassing than serving tough meat to your friends. Whenever you cook, the grease will drop straight into the drip collection system in the pellet grill. This makes it easy to clean the unit after use.
The smoker has a cooking space measuring 305 square inches. It can be enough for small gatherings of friends or family. It might not be as big as the other products, but it allows you to roast, grill, sear, braise, smoke, and bake. We loved this pellet grill because it combines the elements of a traditional kitchen oven, gas grills, and a charcoal smoker.
The wood pellets give the food a smoky flavor just like that of a charcoal smoker but with a kitchen oven’s control. The Ozark Razorback wood pellet grill could be an excellent option for those looking for an affordable yet high quality product. Most users found it useful for smoking brisket and grilling sausages, hot dogs, and burgers.
- Easy to clean porcelain grates
- Three-year limited warranty
- Durable construction material
- Does not offer an ample cooking space
- No extra warming rack
- Not WIFI enabled
- No sear box
#6. Best Versatile: Masterbuilt MB20251719 MWS 330S
- Cooking area: 723.59 square inches
- Controller: Digital panel control
- Cooking Grids: Chrome coated
- Power source: wood pellets
- Warranty: Not specified
Extra Features: meat-probe thermometer, four coated chrome racks, a removable crucible
Overall Rating: 9.8 out of 10
Next on the list is the Masterbuilt MB20251719. It brings four coated chrome racks suitable for cooking different foodstuffs at once. The pellet smoker offers a decent total cooking space of 723.59 square inches. It is enough cooking space to fit three pork butts, four racks of ribs, and 12 chickens. Grilling could never be more exciting when you have this Masterbuilt model.
The smoker also has a clean pellet system. It will adjust the auger speed and, at the same time, monitor the set temperature. It then feeds the right amount of pellets to the system to maintain the temperature. Whether you are a newbie or a competition-ready pro, you will find it easy to use this pellet grill. To start cooking, all you have to do is set the right amount of wood pellets then press the on/off controls.
After that, using the digital control panel, set the right cook cycle to begin the cooking process. You can get competition results in any place. It is vital to get the right temperature when cooking meat. You do not want to mess up results. Fortunately, this smoker pellet grill comes with a meat probe thermometer. Checks on the temperature of the meat, making sure your food cooks evenly and adequately.
If you want to work on other tasks, you can do so with peace of mind, knowing the pellet smoker will finish the cooking for you. Another feature we found useful on this grill is the pellet hopper door. It is easy to collect the pellets and do ash cleanout with ease. This Masterbuilt pellet grill could be the best option for those who want a versatile model that can fit up to 2 turkeys and much more.
- Meat probe thermometer included
- Durable chrome-coated racks
- Large cooking space
- Auto pellet auger
- Issues with the temperature control panel
- Does not come with accessories or a sear box
#7. Best Custom Pellet Smoker: Direct Igniter 18″ Pellet Kit
- Controller: Digital temperature display and meat probe sensor
- Dimensions for Hopper Assembly Kit: 31” long x 18.75” tall x10” wide
- Insert Dimensions: 4” height x 5.25” width x 18” depth
- Hopper Capacity: 20 lbs of pellets
- Temperature: 200 to 550 with 5-degree increments
- Construction: black powder-coated steel
- Warranty: 1 year
Extra Features: 1 RTD sensor probe, a meat sensor probe, an auger shaft rod, 2 RPM auger motor, and a steel burn pot.
Overall Rating: 9.0 out of 10
Do you want to upgrade your pellet smoker or just simply build your own grill? If so, then you will appreciate the Direct Igniter 18 inches pellet kit. It lets you personalize your own smoker to get the outstanding results and taste you have always wished for. You can also replace your broken stove with this unit.
It is the cheapest and easiest way to build your own pellet grill. Moreover, it comes with all the essential components needed for your personalized project. These include the pellet hopper body, one meat temperature sensor, a digital control board, a steel burn pot, an RTD sensor probe, a 200W igniter, a 2 RPM auger motor, a combustion fan, and an auger shaft rod. All you need is to assemble everything in your smoker pit and you are good to go.
It is advisable to attach the RTD probe to the grill grate and not anywhere near direct heat or flame. Even though you are given almost everything you need in your new smoker grill, you will still need to get a drip tray for easy cleaning, and a flame guard. The features included in this kit are an auto-start with a temperature range of 160 to 500 degrees. Other settings are a smoke mode with P setting P mode, an automatic shutdown feature, and a few different settings.
The shutdown sets will leave the fan operating for five minutes, going it to blow out the fire and ashes before ash cleanout. Make sure to check on how to use these settings in the instructions. Before you replace your pellet grill, confirm the unit’s dimensions, and check other YouTube videos, so you do not miss a thing. This product has a black powder-coated steel construction to promote its durability and prevent rust.
Additionally, the hopper is large enough to hold up to 20lbs of pellets. Keep in mind you can try out many pellet flavors by switching them through the pellet dump at the back. The kit also includes a hinged grommet lid. Lastly, this product can work well with some common pellet grill brands such as Traeger smoking pellets and many more.
- An affordable way of customizing your smoker
- Can hold up to 20 pounds of pellets
- Easy ash cleanout
- Does not come with a manual
- Assembling the parts can be hard for beginners
- Sear box not included
#8. Best Dial-in Digital Control: Country Smokers CS0711
- Cooking area: 711 square inches
- Main surface: 444 square inches
- Controller: Dial-in digital controller
- Hopper Capacity: 8 pounds of pellets
- Temperature range: 140 to 500 degrees
- Material Type: Stainless steel
- Power source: corded electric
- Warranty: 3 years
Extra Features: grated bottom shelf, 10-inch metal wheels, sturdy legs
Overall Rating: 9.2 out of 10
If you are a voyager and searching for the best pellet smoker for your next big trip, consider this Country smokers model. Just from the manufacturer’s name, you can guess this product comes with a rustic design. It offers what you pay for, ensuring that you get not only a durable pellet grill, but also a distinct smoky flavor. It has 711 square inches of cooking surface. It is large enough to grill your favorite foods for you and a few friends.
Every outdoor grill enthusiast wants a pellet grill that contains all the necessary features. Well, you do not have to trust every little detail advertised, but instead, look deeper into the manufacturer’s product details. During our research, we found this product to have high-end technology features. It has a wood pellet hopper system, which can hold up to 8 pounds of pellets.
However, you have to connect the cable to a power source for this pellet grill to work. After this, set the desired temperature, high for fast cooking or low heat for slow grilling. The hopper will then release a few pellet pieces into the auger motor, which will push it to the fire pot and ignite. The built-in fan then distributes heat evenly through the grill, ensuring your BBQ cooks on each side, leaving no part uncooked.
It also comes with a thermometer on top of the lid where you can check the temp. There is no need to open the cover to occasionally check on your meal because you can mess with the airflow, which can spoil your food. To keep all your tools at arm’s reach is a collapsible front mesh shelf. It can hold all the kitchen equipment as you continue cooking.
Another shelf is just below the smoking container. There is also a steel handle on the side where you can hang kitchen towels and other tools while barbecuing. All the residual grease or excess oil will drip in the bucket set just below the handle. Moreover, the pellet grill has two metal wheels making movement to your backyard or back to storage easier.
- Easy to move around with two metallic wheels
- Convenient shelves for holding kitchen tools
- 711 square inches of cooking area
- Small pellet capacity as compared to other products
- No built-in sear box
#9. Best Smart: Z GRILLS 2019 Upgrade Model Wood Pellet
- Cooking area: 538 square inches
- Main surface: 399 square inches
- Warm rack: 139 square inches
- Controller: Digital control
- Hopper Capacity: 10 lbs of pellets
- Temperature range: 180 to 475 degrees
- Material Type: porcelain-coated cast iron
- Power source: electric
- Warranty: 3 years
Extra Features: Rust-proof cover, all-terrain wheels, auto temperature
Overall Rating: 9.4 out of 10
The Z Grills 2019 upgrade model is our best smart technology pellet smoker in our review due to a couple of reasons. It has a sleek design that distinguishes it from the other models from Z Grills. This can be the right choice for those who love tailgating, family gatherings, or home parties. Instead of the 6 in 1 in options, some of the top models offer, this one can perform eight functions.
These include BBQ, char-grill, bake, smoke, braise, grill, sear, and roast. This pellet grill has 399 square inches of cooking surface and 139 square inches of the warm rack. This space can fit about five racks of ribs, four chickens, and 24 burgers. With Smart Smoke Technology, the user can set the right temperature depending on the type of food. You can select high or low heat for fast or slow grilling.
You can also choose temperature levels from 180 degrees to 475 degrees. The temperature levels are at intervals of plus or minus 20 degrees. It allows you to attend to your guests or prepare other meals without worrying about the meal you left on the grill. Once you have set the temperature, the induction fan, which you will rarely see in some pellet grills, will pull the pellets to the auger, which in turn, pushes the pellets to the firepot.
The hot rod then ignites the pellets automatically. To make sure the heat is allocated evenly is a fan. This also distributes the smoke equally to the chicken, ribs, or other meals, leaving a great smoky flavor. During grilling, the meat’s grease will pass through a chute under the smokestack right into the drip can. It is advisable to smoke the grill when the lid is on and leave it open for about two to three minutes before closing.
After you finished grilling, turn the knob to the shutdown cycle. This leaves the induction fan going for about 10 minutes to burn excess pellets. The pellet grill model is made with heavy-duty stainless steel in both the body and the lid. For more natural movement, it comes with two all-terrain wheels with brakes.
Generally, this Z GRILLS pellet smoker is truly an upgraded model with additional features—no need to rotisserie your meal with this pellet grill. You can try out the fantastic recipes from the manufacturer’s website.
- Versatile and can handle eight cooking options
- Induction fan included for more natural heat distribution
- Comes with three years warranty
- Wheels have brakes
- Has a learning curve
- Problems with cleaning pellets
- No sear box
Best pellet smoker – Buying Guide
Not so long ago, BBQ lovers had to choose between smokers from only a few companies, the most common one being Traeger smokers. More and more companies emerged with time, filled the market with top-notch, and some not so high quality products. Now that there are so many brands, it can take ages before finding the best pellet smoker that will meet your needs.
Which grill is genuine, and which one offers the best features? What is the difference between all these models? There is a lot you need to consider: some factors, features, and types of grills, before jumping to the conclusion of purchasing a pellet grill. This grill combines some elements you can find in a charcoal grill and a kitchen oven.
Instead of using charcoal, you will use wood pellets that can add flavor to your food. Some of the everyday things to consider include the cooking area, hopper capacity, temperature, drip systems, etc. In this buying guide, we will look at all of these features and other essential details.
What is the Difference Between Pellet Smokers and Other Grills?
There are four types of grills:
- Electric grill
- Charcoal smoker
- Gas smoker
- Pellet smoker
To understand how a pellet smoker works, we will discuss the above types so you can know how the pellet smoker stands out from the rest.
Just like its name suggests, electric grills are powered by electricity. They can be best for replacing charcoal smokers and for using indoors. You can mostly find them in hotels, but this does not mean you cannot use them at home. To operate, simply plug in the electrical cord to a power source and program the temperature. These grills are more user-friendly compared to other smokers.
They are also safer, especially for those who have kids. However, the electric grills are a little bit complicated to use since they come with computerized features. Moreover, some users complain that these grills do not come with the smoky BBQ flavor that pellet grills offer. What’s the use of having a barbeque if you cannot enjoy a delicious and distinct meat flavor? They might also need some babysitting, which is why some people tend to stay away from them.
These types of smokers are fuelled by charcoal. They produce the perfect smoky flavor that most people look for in grills, but are they any better than pellet grills? Well, these two smokers are almost the same. However, charcoal smokers require more babysitting since you need to check on the charcoal and produce too much heat or not, – unless you get the more advanced charcoal smokers.
One benefit of using this type is they are easy to maintain. Those who have used these smokers, however, criticize the ability to cook in different weather conditions. Are you looking for the best smoker? For instance, it can be tough to use it during the winter season since charcoal grills are made with a thin coat of metal, which can lose internal heat fast.
Gas grills are powered by gas. They are reliable, especially for those who are always on the road. It adds an exceptional flavor to the meat you will never find using any other power source. Other than their positive characteristics, these types of smokers are also portable. You do not have to regularly tend to it like a charcoal smoker – no need to fiddle with coals checking if the temperature is okay. Instead, just set it and leave. The problem with this kind of smoker is that you should always have an additional gas source if one runs out.
What is the point of smoking if your grill cannot produce smoke in the first place? Well, you do not want so much smoke that it causes an uproar with your neighbors. It is where pellet smokers come in. Yes, they are the best pellet grills for smoking and so much more, but are they better than the rest? First, most of these pellet grills have a “set it and leave” setting. It lets you enjoy your party without any worries while the grill does the rest.
Instead of charcoal, these pellet grills use wood pellets. The good thing about pellet grills is you can customize your taste by using hardwood from different trees. As you can see, pellet smokers are much better than the rest in so many ways. If you truly want an amazing smoky flavor, then you should consider a pellet grill that can produce it correctly, which charcoal smokers and gas grills cannot deliver.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing the Best Pellet Smoker
The features you need to consider in a pellet smoker will vary depending on the manufacturer and the model. Some come with Smart Technology, while others do not. Others have a big cooking area, and some have a smaller grilling area. Below are the things you need to consider before purchasing a pellet smoker.
Pellet smokers – Cooking area
When going for a pellet smoker, it is best to pick one that matches your lifestyle and needs. The cooking size differs from one model to another and from different types. Those meant for tailgating or just for your backyard will have different areas. Make sure to note the dimensions before anything else. One vital thing you need to understand about the cooking area is it can be referred to as the total cooking area or main grilling grate.
The total covers the central area plus any secondary racks. However, there is not much difference in any of these since pellet smokers offer indirect heat. The heat will still be distributed to all the racks equally. A grill with several shelves can be better than one with just one primary stand. Remember, a more significant cooking area does not necessarily mean better.
Do not go for a greater cooking area, which you might never use. Instead, pay for a model with enough space to meet your needs. If you like holding large outdoor parties, you can consider a pellet smoker like the Masterbuilt MB20251719 MWS 330S with 723.59 square inches. If it is just for you and your small family, then a smoker like the Country Smokers CSPEL015010497, which has a total of 256 square inches of the cooking surface, should be enough.
Best Smokers Temperature Range
The temperature of a pellet smoker determines the type of meal you will cook and its method. Most grills have no trouble reaching a temperature range between 180 and 425 degrees. This might be good for baking, roasting, grilling, and smoking. However, these temperatures are not adequate for searing. You might need a temperature of 500 to 550 degrees for this process.
A higher temperature level means the pellet grill can do more. It is essential to note the intended use first to note the ideal temperature levels. A pellet grill that can be great for searing, baking, grilling, and so much more is the Country Smokers CS0711 with a maximum temp of 500 degrees. Stop here! Are you searching for the best smoker?
Best pellet grills portability
If you are a traveler, you certainly want a pellet smoker to take around with you everywhere. It should also fit the trunk without any problems. Some manufacturers have portable pellet smokers to entertain and fulfill your grilled desires while away from home. Remember, all pellet smokers operate on electricity, so it is essential to have a reliable power source wherever you are. For instance, battery packs, or car batteries. Portable pellet grills are suitable for tailgating and camping. An excellent example of an easy to carry pellet smoker is the Country Smokers CSPEL015010497.
Best Smoker Pellet Grill Temperature Control
The temperature control system is a crucial part of ensuring consistent heat in the pellet grill to produce outstanding results. There are various types of temperature controls, and it is advisable to confirm the type before purchasing the pellet smoker. These controls differ from model to model. The common ones are as follows:
- 3-position controller: As you might have guessed, this controller comes with only three settings, low, medium, and high. This translates to 425 degrees for high mode, 325 degrees for medium, and 225 degrees for low. Sometimes they are referred to as LMH settings. This controller works like the others but is the easiest to use. The pellets will be released according to the option you choose.
For instance, low might use fewer pellets than medium or high. The only disadvantage with this model is you will have fewer temperature control options than in more advanced pellet grills. You can find these LMH settings, mostly in cheaper pellet smokers.
- Multi-position controller: It is an upgrade of the three-position controller. It comes with a knob with temperature levels ranging from 180oF to 420oF. These types of controllers offer more temperature control, and the pellets are fed in fixed cycles. The accuracy of these controls is kept at increments of -/+20oF.
You must know that a great feature of this controller is the LCD screen. Some of these pellet smokers come with a meat probe thermometer to monitor the temperature of the food. A problem with these smokers is that they are less accurate during windy or cold conditions.
- One-Touch non-PID controller: This option allows the user to set temperatures with increments of +/-5o to 10o. Just like the multi-position controller, this part also feed pellets in fixed cycles. This means they are less or more the same in accuracy with about -/+ 15 to 20 degrees. The pellet smokers with this type of controller come with an LCD, a one-touch button, and one or two meat probes.
- PID controller: The PID controller uses complex algorithms to maintain the temperature levels at the selected temperature. They are more sophisticated, and instead of using fixed cycles, it adds pellets only when necessary. They also come with a one-touch screen, LCD, and feature temperature increments of 5 degrees.
Most people might go for the models with this type of control because they come with several and more advanced meat probes. These probes can lower the smoker’s temperature automatically when the food is done.
Wifi pellet grill
Wi-Fi has simplified our lives so much that we want to use it in almost everything, including pellet smokers. Luckily, there are a few models with Wi-Fi connection options. It allows the user to check the pellet grill or control the settings wherever they are on their phone, laptops, or tablets. This is indeed the greatest “Set it and Forget” feature.
If you have some spare money in your budget or want to enjoy your party with no distractions, consider models with this feature. If you wish to a WI-FI enabled smoker, Traeger and Green Mountain Grills offer this option.
Pellet smoker reviews: Meat Probes
A meat probe checks on the meat and if it is cooked as desired. You might also want to check if the pellet smoker comes with a meat probe, or you have to purchase it separately. Some inquiries are programmable to lower the heat of the pellet grill when it is done cooking. Furthermore, confirm if the pellet smoker has an output for the meat probe or not. Also, make sure you stay updated with the best propane smoker.
Best pellet smokers – Drip Pan
Traditional smokers let the fluids from the meat drip into the fire. Cleaning the grill could take some time since some of the greases could fall on the surface. And we all know how difficult it is to remove stuck fat, especially on grill grates. Luckily, pellet smokers are built with a drip collection system, mostly a small bucket attached to the side.
The grease drops on a slanted surface right above the burner and goes all the way to the can. If you want an easy to clean pellet smoker, confirm if it includes a drip pan. You can use the collected grease or dispose of it.
Best wood pellet grills – Wheels
Pellet smokers with wheels are often easier to move from the storage area to the backyard. Ensure the grill you choose has sturdy wheels that can pass over any surface. A great model with all-terrain wheels is Ozark Grills – the Razorback Wood Pellet Grill.
Backyard bbq smokers – Water Pan
Some of the best pellet smoker brands come with a water pan above the heat pot. It is essential in reducing fluctuation in the heat in the grill. This, in turn, increases humidity and prevents the meat from drying out. Although the pan is meant to be filled with water, you can fill it with any kind of liquid.
Best pellet grill for the money – Hopper Capacity
How many pounds of pellets can the grill’s hopper hold? The pellet hopper capacity is essential, mainly if the smoker is intended for more extended use. If you get one with a bigger pellet holding capacity, you won’t need to make frequent trips to refill the pellets. Furthermore, note the functions of your grill to know which size you will need. You can always customize your pellet smoker with another hopper kit like the Direct Igniter 18″ Pellet Kit, which can hold up to 20lbs of pellets.
Best meat smoker – Work Surfaces
Some pellet smokers come with built-in or foldable shelves where you can place your cooking tools. It provides convenience as your tools will be at an arm’s reach. So, no need to go running to the house to pick your grilling equipment, when you can have them all next to the grill.
Best smoker for the money
Price is always the number one factor in anything you intend to buy, whether it is a piece of candy or a burger. When it comes to pellet smokers, you definitely want one that will meet your needs and fit your budget. The price of a pellet smoker is more affordable than electric grills, but a bit more expensive than charcoal smokers.
A cheaper model might cost anywhere between $100 and $900, while the most expensive and high-end products can cost up to $10,000. The costly pellet smokers have more features than the cheaper ones. The affordable ones tend to have the most common features like a three-position controller. Ensure whichever model you end up buying can fulfill your smoking needs without exceeding your budget.
Pellet grill reviews: – Secondary Cooking Racks
Some pellet grills can accommodate secondary racks, so confirm first before purchase. Secondary racks can help you maximize the cooking area. Therefore, you can cook different foodstuffs at once. You can always purchase these racks separately, but ensure you check on the pellet grills’ dimensions.
Top Smoker Versatility
One advantage of using pellet smokers is versatility. Anything can be grilled or smoked, but some of these grills can do much more. Most pellet smokers can perform baking, grilling, roasting, searing, smoking, or braising. Others like the Z GRILLS 2019 Upgrade Model can char-grill. You can confirm with the manufacturer the type of cooking suitable for a specific model.
Wood pellets grill reviews – Tall and Large Enough
If you consider grilling turkeys on the pellet smoker, it might be wise to check if it has adequate space. The space between the racks should be at least 12 inches to fit a turkey.
Pellet grills reviews – Construction and Maintenance
The construction materials of a pellet smoker will determine its durability. Some of the products come with heavy-duty stainless steel, which can last for several years without rusting or chipping off. If the materials used are not sturdy enough, the smoker might get damaged sooner than expected. You do not want to invest in a grill that will last you a couple of months, but many years to come.
Ensure the materials used on some of the crucial parts of the pellet smoker like cooking grates, drip pan, or firepot. Besides, the kind of construction materials used will impact how easy it is to clean it. Stainless steel is trouble-free to clean since no stain can easily stick on it.
Best wood pellet grill feed
The best pellet smoker should come with an automatic pellet feeding system. This keeps on adding the pellets to the auger as the old ones get burned. Otherwise, you will spend time adding more and more pellets manually as they cook.
Top rated pellet grills – Warranty
Another essential factor to consider is the warranty of the pellet smoker. Some of these products contain movable parts that are susceptible to damage. So it is necessary to note the length of the warranty and what it covers before you buy one. Besides, some parts come with their assurance. The warranty usually varies from one manufacturer to another, with some offering a limited lifetime guarantee.
The best type of smoker – Customer Service
Always research what other customers are saying about a specific manufacturer’s customer service before buying their products. You might find some good or bad reviews of a company. Whichever the case, make sure that the customer service is easy and fast to reach, and they offer their services 24 hours a day. This is in case you experience any issues with the pellet smoker, or you have any questions.
Best smoker – FAQ
1. What is the best pellet smoker to buy?
The best pellet smoker to buy is the Z Grills ZPG-450A 2019. It has 450 square inches of cooking surface and can hold up to 20 pounds of pellets. It is a durable model constructed with porcelain cast iron grills. It is also affordable and versatile.
2. What is the best pellet grill for the money?
The best pellet smoker that offers value for money is the Z GRILLS 2019 Upgrade Model. It comes with smart technology, has an electric feed system, and is very versatile. It is an 8 in 1 product, meaning it can roast, grill, barbeque, smoke, bake, and even char-grill and sear. Moreover, it has a 10 lb hopper capacity and features a smart digital controller keeping the temperature at intervals of -/+20 degrees.
3. Which smokers are the best?
The best pellet smoker depends on your personal choice and requirements. You might want one that can go up to a higher temperature of 550 to 600 degrees. Some may want a simple to use the grill. Some of the best models on the market include the Z GRILLS 2019 Upgrade Model, Z Grills ZPG-450A 2019, Country Smokers CS0711, Bradley Smoker BS611, and Cuisinart CPG-4000. You will find some of the best models from the best brands, such as Cuisinart, Bradley, Traeger, Z Grills, and Country Smokers.
4. How much smoke does a pellet grill produce?
The amount of smoke produced in a pellet grill varies from one model to another. However, they do not produce as much smoke as charcoal smokers but enough to provide that smoky flavor in your meat. Note the kind of pellets used plays the most significant role in large cooking spaces and smoke production. It also depends on how dense the wood used is. For instance, pellets from apple trees do not produce as much smoke as from hickory. Ash cleanout from the firepot is essential before and after use.
Best pellet grill – Final Verdict
It is no easy task finding the best pellet smoker, but you can identify some of the essential things you want in your grill with a buying guide. The quality and quantity of the pellet smoker can depend on a few factors like the hopper capacity, temperature control system, and cooking area. Our best overall is the Z Grills ZPG-450A 2019 since it combines affordability and quality.
It has a large cooking area to fit enough meals for a small gathering. If you are looking for a portable pellet smoker best for tailgating or your RV, consider the Country Smokers CSPEL015010497. It has a compact size and a small cooking area, but enough for a small family or a couple.
Lastly, for those interested in a customizable hopper kit, consider a product like the Direct Igniter 18″ Pellet Kit. It has everything you will need to personalize your new pellet smoker or upgrade your old grill. Whichever model you choose, remember to consider what you will use it for, how many times, and most importantly, your budget.