The Best Pellet Smoker Reviews in 2019 – Complete Buyer Guide


best pellet smokers
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What do you need to know to make sure you buy the best pellet smoker for you?

Pellet smokers are seriously underrated when it comes to barbecue cooking. Although your traditional pitmaster might not agree, there’s no doubt that they’re easy to use, versatile, and are something that you should consider picking up.

It’s seriously impressive how easy it can be to cook mouth-watering food, with such minimal effort.

In this guide, we’ve delved into the world of the best pellet smokers, running through specs of each, in order for you to find out about the best one available out there.

NameImageFeatures 
TOP CHOICE
Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker with Patio Cover
- 700 square inches of cooking space
- 2 cooking grates
Comes in one size
Check on Amazon
TOP PELLET SMOKER
Memphis Grills Elite Wood Fire Pellet Smoker Grill
- 844 square inches of cooking space
- 1 cooking grate
Comes in one size
Check on Amazon
RUNNER UP - NEW MODEL
Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E 2019 New Model Wood Pellet Grill
- 700 square inches of cooking space
- 2 cooking grates
Comes in one size
Check on Amazon
Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker- 300 square inches of cooking space
- 2 cooking grates
Comes in one size
Check on Amazon
Camp Chef SmokePro LUX Pellet Grill- 875 square inches of cooking space
- 2 cooking grates
Comes in one size
Check on Amazon
Green Mountain Grills Pellet Grill- 219 square inches of cooking space
- 1 cooking grates
Comes in one size
Check on Amazon
Cuisinart CPG 4000 Pellet Grill Smoker- 450 square inches of cooking space
- 2 cooking grates
Comes in one size
Check on Amazon
Louisiana Grills 61100-LG1100 LG 1100 Pellet Grill- 1,061 square inches of cooking space
- 4 cooking grates
Comes in 3 sizes; 707 square inch, 913 square inch, 1,061 square inch
Check on Amazon
Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill- 700 square inches of cooking space
- 2 cooking grates
Comes in one size
Check on Amazon

Best Pellet Smokers in 2019

Whether it’s for a casual family cooking on the weekend, a get together with friends, or a professional cooking tool for serving paying customers – the following list will outline the best smokers for each scenario, and let you know which one will work best for your needs and requirements.

We’ll cover the various features, cooking styles, cooking size, integrated technology functions, temperature control, product assembly, and even look into things like the build quality and customer support.

Which one comes out on top for us? Which one stands out from the rest?

Have a read and you’ll find out!

Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker with Patio Cover

Top Choice

One of the larger and more pricey options, the Z Grills 700D Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is definitely one to consider. Despite its not-so-cheap price point, it’ll still put you back a lot less than competitor grills of the same caliber.

When it comes to the tools required and skill needed to assemble the unit, the Z Grills 700D Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is about as difficult to manage as following the instructions from a flat-pack furniture store.

Very minimal tools are included – such as a magnetic screwdriver, and a few metal wrenches. Illustrated by technical diagrams and simple instructions. That’s why assembly shouldn’t really be a challenge for anyone who’s moderately handy.

Although assembling the smoker is simple, it may take some time because of the sheer amount of parts included. You should consider setting aside around an hour of your time to put the whole thing together.

The grill includes a below-grill storage area, legs, and wheels. We’d recommend using your own higher-quality tools just to speed things up a bit.

But if you’d rather not, buying the grill in-person can mean that you’ll get an already-assembled model, saving you the time and hassle!

After it’s been assembled, like most smokers on the market, the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill must be seasoned in order to burn off any greases, oils and other manufacturing residues. This is essential before cooking anything in the smoker.  Having said this, this process shouldn’t take more than 45-50 minutes and is well-explained in the included instructions.

As for its appearance, opting for a brass-colored look on various parts of its exterior, the Z Grills 700D Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker stands out from its competitors. The designers dared to venture away from the default matte black of most smokers, opting for a more aesthetic and adventurous look.

Memphis Grills Elite Wood Fire Pellet Smoker Grill

Top Pellet Smoker

Blending high-quality design with innovative and advanced features, the Memphis Grills Elite Freestanding Wood Fire Pellet Smoker Grill is definitely one of the more high-end pellet smokers on the market.

It’s a durable product, created with a long-lasting finish, thanks to its nickel-plated cooking grates and stainless-steel construction. These features ensure a non-stick cooking surface that makes grilling, smoking, or any other cooking, a breeze.

This 800-plus-square-inch-of-surface grill can be heated from as little at 200 degrees, to over 700 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are also a host of other features that we just have to mention. This includes the large hopper capacity (up to 24 pounds) allowing up to 62 hours of interrupted cooking time and its well-insulated cooking area, thanks to the tight seal provided by the dual-wall firebox and oven-quality gasket.

Not only that, but using the free mobile app, it’s also utterly controllable through Wi-Fi – yes, Wi-Fi! With its ITC temperature probe, it allows the user to see the internal temperature of their food, ensuring professional-grade cooking every time.

Because the app sends text or email alerts to update the user on the temperature of their food, this means the Memphis grill can be controlled, monitored and adjusted from anywhere, even if you’re in the kitchen making the skewers!

If you’re still wondering why this smoker is incredible, here’s why: With an 18-pound capacity hopper – split into two nine-pound sides – and its 62-hour cooking time, this pellet smoker can slow cook for almost three days non-stop!

Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E 2019 New Model Wood Pellet Gril

Runner Up

The Z GRILLS ZPG-700D 2019 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker is a winner if you’re one that doesn’t want the hassle of dealing with tars, or other stressful mess. The primary grilling area (26 inches by 19.5 inches) is likely to be enough.

However, it does also come with a secondary removable rack (7.5 inches by 26 inches), just to give you that extra bit of space when adding more to the cook. This particular smoker will deal with family picnics or barbecue get-togethers with ease.

This Z Grills ZPG-7002E grill comes with an automated electric feed system, limiting the amount of wood pellets to no more than 20 lbs.

This feature, coupled with its adjustable temperature regulator, means there’s no need for blowers or fans in order to stabilize its head. It uses its internal sensor to keep the heat between 180 and 450 degrees.

It’s things like this that let you enjoy your company, just as much as the cooking itself, as this model requires little supervision while still ensuring the quality of your meat.

When it comes to its construction, this model has been well crafted and designed to ensure customer satisfaction. It hosts a coated stainless-steel structure allowing it to withstand extreme heat and corrosion, as well as ensuring quality and durability.

In our opinion, however, the most appealing feature of this smoker is its ability to provide multiple styles of cooking.

As well as the basic expected functions, it can also roast, grill, bake, sear, smoke, and braise, meaning it’s unlikely you’ll need another machine to cater to your other needs. This one does it all!

Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Often referred to in the grilling world as the ‘baby brother’, of the Traeger Lil’Tex Elite, the Traeger Junior Elite is an affordable wood pellet grill that, compared to its competitors, is more versatile and portable as well.

The reason this grill stands out is primarily because of its portability, making it a fantastic choice for tailgate-cooking, while still producing smoky, full-bodied and flavorful foods.

The Traeger Junior Elite is the ideal grill if you’re moving from place to place. It weighs 60 pounds so it’s very lightweight compared to other pellet grills that can weigh up to 100 pounds.

It’s also very compact, measuring 37” x 18” x 36”. Although lightweight, the construction of the pellet makes it durable. When it comes to something that’s grab-and-go, this is one of the best pellet smokers out there!

Having said that, as is to be expected, its smaller size does sacrifice some grilling space. But total cooking space of 20” x 15” does leave most with plenty of room to produce a good cook. For a seasoned griller, there’s no excuse for not being able to put together a decent-sized feast.

It also has a built-in, digital thermostat, allowing it to monitor cooking temperatures in real-time, giving you complete control over your cooking experience. And as for the price, although certain pellet grills may put you less out of pocket, for what it offers, this model certainly is a bargain.

Camp Chef SmokePro LUX Pellet Grill

The Camp Chef SmokePro LUX is the largest and newest addition to the supplier’s roster, and it’s the best bet if you’re looking for ways to improve your open-air cooking.

 

With its unique digital temperature chip being one of the key features, it offers steady levels of smoke and heat, making it much more convenient to the user, and provides a reassuring level of consistency in its cooking.

For those who don’t like the hassle of clean-up, this model includes a patented Ash Cleanout System which makes cleaning a breeze, which has proven to be a winner to some customers.

This, as well as a host of other features, demonstrate just how brilliantly this product has been designed.

With ‘slow and low’ smoke, ensuring the flavors are locked in, and an extra-large grilling area, this smoker is the perfect choice for those family and friend get-togethers – especially when using the recommended Camp Chef pellets.

So, when it comes to cooking space, this is one of the best pellet smokers out there and there’s a reason this grill is a Vesta-Award-Winning product!

Features like digital temperature readouts are something that often go unappreciated, allowing the user to see exactly what temperature the thermometer is reading, and providing them with a much higher level of accuracy when gauging the heat of their smoker.

Toggling between 160º F and 500º F makes both slow smoking and high-heat cooking ideal.

As one of the leading smoker makers, Camp Chef has also used this model to introduce its auto-ignition system.

The hassle of setting fire to your fuel during smoke is a task that even the most seasoned grillers can hate dealing with, but auto-ignition does a great job at igniting the fuel, so you can get straight into your cooking.

In addition to this, the built-in pellet dispenser and large-capacity pellet hopper allow you to change the pellets many times within the same cooking session. This model includes the largest ever hopper size made by Camp Chef – hence the ‘LUX’ in the title!

Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill

If you’re looking for a pellet grill that you could start using immediately, the Green Mountains Pellet grill is an ideal choice.

When you order the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett pellet smoker, apart from a few minor parts that’ll need to be placed inside, the unit comes mostly assembled.

The instructions are concise, with the expectation that the customer will be able to decipher them by themselves, but most people won’t find any issues with it.

Apart from a few layers of plastic coating, there really isn’t much to complain about.

The only unusual aspect of this grill comes right after the unit has been fully assembled, as an electric controller prompts you to feed pellets into the firebox which is something we haven’t experienced before.

The smoker then initiates a countdown which, we found, took an unusually long amount of time before the grill finally fires up as normal. Although this initiation is quite strange for a grill of this kind, it didn’t pose any problems.

The processes that followed this were more straightforward, especially when we started setting up the Wi-Fi enabled app. Though this might confuse those who are not used to this kind of feature, the app was easy to understand and use.

As you can expect, you’ll need to season the Green Mountain Pellet Grill during its initial startup procedure.

The user is required to run the grill for a set amount of time, essentially heating it up to make it a safe apparatus to cook on. Hence the oily smell when the initial residue is burned off.

The smell will last between 20 and 40 minutes depending on your chosen cooking location, and after that, you’re ready to go!

Cuisinart CPG 4000 Pellet Grill Smoker

Models like the Cuisinart CPG-4000 make it simple to smoke and grill meat by using an automated system. The user adds pellets to the 15-pound hopper, and then plugs it into a basic household socket.

With its built-in electric ignition system, simply turn it on and set the display to the desired temperature.

This triggers the automated internal auger, delivering a portion of wood pellets to the firepot that lies beneath the cooking area. When this happens, the internal fan is turned on, feeding oxygen to the fire and ensuring that the heat and smoke rise up, cooking the food that lies above.

This particular model also features a folding front shelf and a bracket for holding a disposable drippings cup. Although not the same stainless steel that some of its competitors provide, it’s a great addition to the product nonetheless.

Opting for a simplistic approach, the idea is for the user to place a plastic cup, can or another container into the holder, collecting up the smoky grease. Once you’re done, simply wash the container out or throw it away as we’d recommend, to avoid the hassle of washing up such messy residue.

When it comes to the assembly of this model, it’s a little harder than similar competitive wood pellet smokers on the market.

Rather than a quick and easy put-together over a half an hour or 45 minutes, you’ll want to set a bit more time aside for this one, making sure to clearly understand which parts go where – though hard, not impossible.

Though some would consider Cuisinart a relatively new name in the barbecue and grilling market, with the CPG-4000, they’ve definitely managed to build a reputation for high-quality and well-designed products.

With a primary focus on quality materials, one of this model’s most noticeable features are the cart base wheels that roll smoothly on almost any surface. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but certainly a nice addition that the customer is bound to appreciate.

Louisiana Grills 61100-LG1100 LG 1100 Pellet Grill

The Louisiana Grills LG 1100 seems to have a key focus on its internal temperature control features. Using an internal probe thermometer, it lets the user know the heat of the internal chamber, as well as what heat the food itself is at, working to keep the two in balance, to ensure an even cook.

Working in 5-degree increments, it reduces the chances of the meat over-cooking or drying out, while allowing you to hold things over in case a part of the cook is done a little early, and you’re wanting the food to be served at the same time.

The LG 1100 comes with a range of interesting features. It has a hopper extension, which is key for long smoking sessions, as this allows you to load up a large number of pellets to keep the cook going.

This can even be used for overnight smoking, as you won’t have to worry about reloading the wood pellets. It also contains a folding front shelf, and although this runs the risk of staining the front of your shirt while reaching forward, if you’re worried about this you can fold it away, and pretend it isn’t there.

Louisiana Grills also offer a range of accessories that are compatible with this product. We particularly noted the offset smoker cabinet, an ideal feature for smoking jerky, sausages, and even fish.

With this model, it’s clear that Louisiana Grills prioritize quality in their products, choosing to use heavy-duty steel throughout the unit, and non-stick cast iron grill grates – impressive stuff!

For what might seem like quite a complicated device, the assembly instructions are on the easy side of things. But we wouldn’t recommend tackling the assemble alone, as this grill is very large, and you’ll likely need a hand.

Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill

The main downside to wood pellet grills has always been their inability to flame or sear meat, due to their key reliance on indirect heat. We all know there’s something so satisfying about getting traditional grill marks on your flame-grilled burger.

The Pit Boss 700FB, however, doesn’t suffer from this downside, by adding a standard flame broiler feature. When setting up the grill, the bottom of the main chamber hosts a sliding plate which moves over the fire, allowing you to grill from direct heat.

It also has a digital control attached to its hopper, which allows you to control the temperature from 180 degrees, all the way up to 500 degrees. The pellet cleanout door, allows you to remove unused pellets after a grilling session which makes it a very efficient model.

This might seem like a minor feature to some but it’s handier than you’d think. Some other wood pellet grills leave you to scoop the leftover wood pellets out, but this model makes it much easier.

Besides, stopping your wood pellets degrading or going to waste, saves you both time and money.

In this particular unit, all the metal components are created from durable steel or other high-quality materials. With finishing touches like the porcelain glaze on the cast iron grill grates, this helps with both heat retention and ease of clean-up after a cook.

The steel wheels are chip and scuff resistant, as opposed to plastic alternatives.

However, the design lacks corrugation or tread on the wheels. This means moving it on a deck won’t be a problem but you may have issues rolling it across an uneven surface.

But this is a small downside to what’s otherwise a great design. “Where Quality and Economy Come Together” – is the motto Pit Boss like to go by, and we feel like they definitely live up to it with this one.

Who Are the Pellet Smokers For?

In short, if you’re someone who likes to ensure consistent cooking without a big clean-up afterward, then pellet smokers are a good choice for you.

The primary reason for choosing a pellet smoker, over something else, is their ease of use. Due to their versatile designs, pellet smokers are able to cook various kinds of meat on one grill.

Not only that, but, compared to charcoal smokers, clean up after using a pellet smoker is a fairly easy task. Charcoal smokers are known to create a mess after each use, and some feel like just as much effort can go into cleaning as it does into the cooking itself, ruining some of the fun.

When it comes to pellet smokers, they save you time by creating little-to-no mess. With some of the more modern designs coming with their own cleaning systems, it’s even easier. Take the Camp Chef Deluxe Pellet Grill with its own ash cleanout feature. It’s less time cleaning, more time cooking.

Pellet smokers are definitely a big investment in comparison to regular grills, but the reason is simple – you’re getting both a grill and a smoker, and the price tag obviously reflects this. And because they’re primarily constructed using stainless steel, they’re made durable, tough and strong, allowing many manufacturers and suppliers to provide as much as 3, and even 4 years warranty.

Features like temperature monitoring, controls, and even automatic temperature regulator allow you to get on with other tasks while the meat is cooking, or just spend more time with the company around you. Not everyone likes having to stand over the grill every second just to prevent the food from burning.

But being able to make sure the meat doesn’t lose its flavor, without having to worry or stress, can be a great addition to your cooking experience.

How Do Pellet Smokers Work?

In simple terms, pellet cookers are outdoor cookers that still requires electricity to run. When they’re plugged in, and the digital controller is activated, a rotating device delivers pellets into a cylindrical fire pot that houses an igniter rod. This rod then heats up and ignites pellets.

The pellets produce heat smoke and heat, which are then diffused by a blowing fan as well as the grill grate’s metal plates. These pellets are used as fuel by the grill, in order to flavor, smoke, and cook a varying range of food – but mainly meat.

One of pellet grills’ most defining features is their capacity to hold larger quantities of food, spanning larger in size than usual household appliances.

For those who are unused to them, a pellet grill might seem like any other conventional smoker. They’ve even been labeled by many as a ‘country smoker’, as they deem them to be versatile enough to tackle any grilling recipe.

Other names include smoker grills, electric smokers, wood-fired grills, and pellet smokers. All of these named refer to the same type of appliance – pellet grill with a wood fire.

Pellet grills are also known to make event hosting a much easier process, as providing food for large numbers of guests is much easier to achieve.

They rarely have a steep learning curve, meaning most people used to a barbecue won’t encounter any problems with pellet grills – especially as many modern models come with varied temperature controls, as well as a range of other features.

Many consider them ideal for those who don’t necessarily have any prior cook-out experience.

How to Choose a Pellet Smoker

Here are the main factors you should consider when looking for the best pellet smoker on the market:

Price Factor

The number one concern with pellet smokers is their price, but it’s easy to get confused with something affordable, and something that’s just cheap.

Although there are plenty of models whose price tag makes them seem like an attractive find, cheaper models can easily cost you more in the long run, despite saving you some money on the initial purchase.

From components breaking to parts rusting and poor customer support, although shedding out at the start might not be ideal, you may find yourself replacing more parts than you planned – and end up shedding out more for a less reliable model.

Like with many products, quality pellet grills are built to last a long time, providing years of reliable performance. Bargain pellet grills not only lack a lot of the features of more advanced models, but also lack capability and finesse.

There’s something for every price range, but make sure to look out for a grill that’s well-built, hardwearing, and offers reliable and consistent results. Take our advice, it’s better off shedding out more for the initial model just for the peace of mind, knowing that your purchase will last.

Temperature Range

Temperature range can be key, depending on the type of cooking you plan to do on your grill. The wider a grill’s temperature range, the more cooking options available.

Every pellet grill is designed for indirect cooking, and most models nowadays don’t struggle to reach temperatures in excess of 200, 300, 400 and even 450 degrees F, and much higher. This makes them adequate for, not only smoking but also grilling, baking, and roasting.

Some models, however, struggle with searing, which requires temperatures in excess of 500 degrees F. Performance pellet grills boast upper ranges of 500 – 700 degrees F – even hot enough for a great sear and fire-bake pizza.

Some even allow for direct grilling, allowing you to cook over an open flame, as well as over indirect heat.

Cooking Area, Size and Portability

One of the best things about pellet grills is the range of sizes available, making them perfect for a variety of needs.

From giant outdoor kitchens to medium-sized models, to those portable enough for a tailgating cook – there are loads to choose from.

An essential thing to consider is that you’ll want to pay just as much – if not more – attention to the cooking area, as the grill size itself.

A giant grill is only good if it can also accommodate a giant food selection. The cooking area is measured in two parts – the primary cooking area, which is the main cooking grate, as well as the total cooking area, which takes into account any other racks and grills for cooking.

However, bigger isn’t always the better option, as you can end up paying for space you’ll never actually use. Because pellet grills are mainly indirect cookers, there’s no real difference between the main rack and the upper rack – the temperature should be the same on both.

A ‘smaller’ grill with an additional upper rack, might host more cooking space than a ‘larger’ grill – as the upper rack might give it a larger total cooking area.

An average-sized family could be accommodated by a primary cooking area of 450-500 inches while single or smaller families can afford to go with a smaller grill.

Versatile Cooking

Having multiple options while cooking can make the process both easier and more enjoyable. Being able to grill, braise, smoke and more can allow you to cater to people’s preferences at events and get-togethers.

Getting a pellet smoker that allows for all of these cooking styles is key. Brands like Traeger can accommodate for this, offering various models of pellet smokers which support various types of cooking styles.

Clean-up and Maintenance

Cooking is fun – clean-up isn’t. And preparing good meat on the dirty grill, with grates covered in a few weeks’ grease isn’t fun either. 

Not only is it unhygienic, but it can really affect the flavor of the food you’re cooking, putting lots of your effort to waste.

Cooking on a pellet grill is guaranteed to generate ash, which can clog holes in the grill and have a negative impact on the grill’s function.

Keeping the grill clean and clear on a regular basis means it’ll work a lot better, and be more enjoyable to use. It’ll also extend its lifetime, ensuring your value for money. Check out this video for more on how to clean a pellet smoker.

Wi-Fi Compatibility

Like everything nowadays, pellet grills have joined the long list of Wi-Fi compatible devices, and with good reason. Already having digital control boards means that making them Wi-Fi integrated unlocks a huge range of functions for grills.

Connecting to the grill can allow you to remotely monitor and control your cook, from a computer, tablet, or even a smartphone – giving you one less thing to worry about throughout the day.

Although only a few pellet grills currently have Wi-Fi capability, more are following suit, and integrating the technology in their units.

Suppliers like Traeger Timberline and Memphis Grills use cloud-based Wi-Fi, making them easy to connect to, and hosting a huge range of options.

Smoky Flavor

One of the main reasons pellet grills are used is for their ability to induce a naturally smoky flavor to the meat that they cook.

Some even say that different pellets work particularly well with different meats – like pecan and apple being complimentary to chicken, or hickory and oak working well with beef, and so on.

Build Quality

Buying a pellet grill that’s well-built with quality materials is the best way to ensure that it’ll last a long time.

Simple things like lifting the lid to feel the weight, or reading the description to check the materials, can be the difference between choosing something that lasts for months, compared to years. The way joints are welded, or the way the lid rests on the grill, noticing a snug fit to ensure minimum heat loss.

Unlike many offset smokers, pellet grills don’t need to be hefty, but probably shouldn’t feel fragile or delicate. It’s difficult to notice these details when shopping online, but do your own research by reading the reviews, and comparing specs and materials.

Some even go as far as to call the manufacturer to confirm these details. If you’re going to shedding out a decent amount of money, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a good product, and the manufacturer should be able to reassure that the model you’ll buy is the right one for you.

Pellet Grill Controller Types

Pellet grills can be controlled in various different ways, and their consistency and precision can vary between them.

Here’s a list of functions to consider when picking which is best for you:

3-Position Controller

LMH controllers, sometimes referred to as 3 position controllers, use 3 key temperature settings—low, medium, or high.

They feed pellets in set cycles determined by the settings you choose. But with only three settings to choose, it can leave you with slightly less control over the temperature than other, more advanced methods, hence why these controllers are often found on grills in the lower price bracket.

Multi-Position Controller

Multi-position controllers offer just that – more positions on where you can control the temperature, giving you a more specific level on control, and allowing you to go from 180 to 420 degrees in 5 increments that are usually 25 degrees. This is usually shown on a digital display.

In windy weather or lower temperatures, they aren’t always as accurate, but some versions of these controllers allow input for meat probes that can keep track of food temperatures, giving yet even more control.

One-Touch Non-PID Controller

These controllers feature a digital display, and allow you to adjust the temperature in 5 or 10-degree increments, allowing you to set an extremely accurate cooking temperature, and giving you ultimate control.

Like multi-position controllers, using a fixed cycle, they deliver the pellets to the grill, and are therefore often limited in accuracy to within 20 degrees of the desired temperature.

Also, like multi-position controllers, they can have meat probes to monitor the internal temperature of food.

PID Controllers

The controller with the highest level of sophistication has to be the PID controller, which uses a complex and detailed algorithm in order to retain the desired temperature, and is often accurate to within just a few degrees.

Also featuring a digital display that can be used to adjust the temperature in 5-degree increments, rather than opting for fixed cycles, PID controllers continuously measure the temperature and then alter its cycle accordingly, only adding pellets when necessary to maintain the ideal temperature.

Because of this added sophistication, PID controllers have the ability to include programmable meat probes which can automatically lower the temperature when the food has finished cooking.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pellet Smokers

Even with all this know-how, it’s still hard for many to decide whether or not the pellet smoker is the correct tool for them and their needs, especially as they’re quite a bit pricier than a standard barbecue.

If slow-cooking meat to get that great smoky flavor is what you’re after, then the pellet smoker is probably something you’ll be glad to pick up, with great ease of use and a convenient method of cooking great food.

But there are drawbacks too, and learning these can help make the right choice if you’re still on the fence.

Advantages

Here are a few of the main advantages:

Flavor

The smoky and rich flavor offered by pellet smokers is something that’s almost impossible to find elsewhere.

You can even change the taste of the food simply by changing the pellets used to heat it. With various different styles and combinations, you’ll find it hard to run out of options.

Good Temperature Control

Cooking using a traditional oven or grill isn’t the only way to maintain a solid temperature control, especially with the newer pellet grill models offering complex software and integration to do just that.

Other smoke-based grills don’t come close to the accuracy of a pellet grill, and the newer advanced technology makes this completely stress-free.

Cooking Speed

Being able to get started right away is appealing when it comes to food preparation, and with pellet grills, they’re usually up and running within 10-15 minutes, meaning you can start cooking in no time.

With the more modern versions having integrated technology, sometimes it just takes the press of a button.

Ease of Use

One of the greatest upsides of the pellet smoke is its simplicity, allowing you to cook delicious food with very minimal effort. With some models, simply refilling the pellet container can be enough to keep things going during the cook.

Versatility

The versatility is definitely one to note too, giving you the ability to cook in various different styles, and cook at a huge range of temperatures. This ensures that whatever you’re rustling up – sausages, burgers, steaks, and even fish – is done in exactly the way you want it.

Not a Typical Grill

The pellet smoker, although not your average grill, was designed in a way that it can be left unattended, while still maintaining a regular fixed temperature, and therefore an even and consistent cooking – this allows for a long period of slow cooking or smoking that other grills don’t always offer.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning up after cooking is the least fun part of the job. But with pellet grills, they’ve got it covered.

With ash-collecting containers and dripping trays or buckets, simply emptying or disposing of the excess can be enough to keep the pellet grill clean, giving you more time to cook, and less time to deal with the mess.

Disadvantages

Here are the disadvantages:

Can’t Work without Electricity

Unlike traditional barbecue that can operate solely from coal or other fuel, pellet smokers are powered primarily by electricity, meaning the grill is unable to start without a power source.

This is evident more than ever, with the digital controller now playing a large part in the function of these grills too.

You Can Only Use Pellets

Depending on a single type of fuel doesn’t usually cause a problem, as is the case with pellets, as there are plenty of suppliers to choose from, as well as various types of flavor and aroma. You’ll just have to make sure to keep a healthy stock to prevent you from running out before a scheduled cook.

Price

There’s no denying that pellet grills rarely come with a low-price tag. If you’re looking for a model that does more than the bog-standard, you’ll be looking to stretch into four-figures.

But in comparison to the number of fantastic meals it can provide, coupled with that experience shared with friends or family, to many people, it’s well worth it. Low budget models are available too, just don’t expect them to last as long.

Defects

Due to integrated technology, pellet grills have become slightly prone to malfunction. If just one key element fails to work as it should – whether it’s the display, controller, ash removal system, fan, burner or the auger – it can sometimes mean the entire unit will fail to start.

Although it’s a rare occurrence, being unable to cook until one of those defective parts is replaced can be a major hassle.

How to Cook on a Pellet Grill

Whether you’re new to the idea of cooking outside or you’re a seasoned barbecuer that’s yet to try pellet grills – finding out how to operate one can help you cook a plethora of delicious food.

As with most things, there might seem to be a lot to get your head around initially, but it’s easier than it seems once you get started. One of the first things to note is that a power source is needed before starting up the grill.

Before starting it up, it’s important to check the amount of pellets in the container. Wet pellets can’t be used, as they can clog up the auger that puts pellets from the container into the furnace. Pellets can become wet if your grill is kept outside uncovered, so if this is the case, make sure the pellets are dry before you start it.

If the grill is already plugged in, and the pellet container full, then the next step is to configure the digital controls. After you’ve set the desired temperature, then click the grill start button. There are various temperatures to choose from depending on the pellet type and grill model, but it’s usually between 200 and 500 degrees.

Many of the latest models even allow you to set the temperature at 5-degree F intervals. Once you’ve picked and started the grill, close the lid and wait for around 10 minutes for the grill to reach the desired temperature.

FAQs

How long can you cook with a bag of pellets?

How long your pellets last depends entirely on the pellets themselves as well as the grill model. However, it’s worth noting that most grills use between 1 and 3 lbs of pellets per hour.

It’s best to check manufacturer’s guidelines, though they often gauge this on lower temperature cooking.

Can you use a pellet smoker to grill?

Because of their versatility, pellet grills aren’t only good for smoking, but are also great for roasting and grilling too. Like with the other methods and settings, it might take a little experimenting, but with a bit of research, you’ll know exactly how it’s done.

How long do pellet smokers need to heat?

On average, pellet grills take between 10 and 15 minutes to heat up, though there are a number of variables that determine this. This includes the size of the grill, the temperature setting, and even the weather. It’s safe to say that most lower temperatures can be reached in just 10 minutes, and higher temperatures with a bit more time.

Can you cook using wood pellets?

It’s only recommended to use food-grade wood pellets when cooking on a pellet grill, as other wood pellets have been adapted for different uses, and may contain various ingredients that can be hazardous when cooking.

What if you soak wood pellets?

Wood pellets are designed specifically to be dry and free from any moisture, so you’re not supposed to soak them at all. Not only do wet pellets take longer to heat up, they can block some of the parts, preventing them from being placed properly in the firebox.

So, it’s recommended that you always keep your grill and pellets somewhere dry and protected from rain, water or moisture.

Do pellet smokers need electricity to work?

As mentioned before, pellet grills rely on a constant supply of electrical power in order to function properly. From the ignition to the fan, to the auger, and any other parts – these all require a constant hook up in order to work.

Conclusion

In conclusion, our top pick has to be the Z Grills 700D Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker.

For the price it comes with, it packs one hell of a punch, and is a great addition to anyone keen to host some great parties or events, while still having time to mingle with guests.

With a straight-forward assembly, integrated technological functions, an under-grill storage area, fantastic build quality, and a dazzling aesthetic appearance, it’s our pick as the best pellet smoker out there. We can’t find any reason why you shouldn’t pick one up yourself!


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