Pellet grills heat quickly, provide the same type of precise control you get from propane or natural gas, impart far more flavor into your expensive cuts of meat and eliminate the hazard of having a propane tank sitting on your patio or deck. And that’s just for starters. Pellet grills won’t dry out your food the way propane does, won’t make you wait a half hour or more until they’re up to speed the way charcoal does and don’t require constant monitoring the way a wood fire does. In short, pellet grills are a grillmaster’s dream. Below we’ve brought together a half dozen of the best pellet grills on the market today for your consideration.
The Best Pellet Grill
It was Joe Traeger who actually invented the first pellet grill in 1985 so you can be reasonably sure the company he founded knows a thing or two about how to make a quality grill. These days the company that bears his name produces a full range of pellet grills with the TFB42LZBC (say that three times fast) being an ideal mid-sized unit. The 42 (as we’re going to call it to save time) features electronic auto-start so you don’t have to bother sticking your hand inside with a match. It’s also fully capable of handling just about any type of cooking including grilling, searing, baking, braising, roasting and your standard open-top barbequing.
The 42 offers easy dial control that enables you to keep the temperature within a 20-degree range so you can maintain proper control over the cook. Your choice cuts of meat will emerge tender and juicy instead of tough and dry like they often do off of the charcoal grill. There’s an internal fan that delivers the heat to the grill in an even, effective manner. And when the top is closed you not only have a one of the best pellet smokers but a great convection-type oven, just like in the kitchen.
Electronic auto-start ignition
Digital Elite Controller for precise temp regulation
Holds up to 16 burgers or 4 whole chickens
Smoke, grill, roast, bbq, braise or bake
Non-stick porcelain grates
Weight: 98 lbs
- Weight98 lbs
Sets up faster and easier than most other pellet grills.
Extremely versatile. Allows you to cook your food 6 different ways.
Although it’s not light that extra weight makes it very stable.
The LCD temperature display is clear and bright even after dark.
No condiment tray.
This is a stylish looking pellet grill as we’ve come to expect from Cuisinart and is super versatile with multiple cooking functions including grilling, smoking, roasting, braising, barbecuing and even baking. There’s little you can’t do on this 450 square inch cooking surface. With a generously sized hopper too as well as automatic temperature controls, you can enjoy delicious results whether you are cooking at home or away. The thoughtfully designed smoker features a unique portable design featuring all-terrain wheels and a stable handle so that you can maneuver into position. Other handy features include a grease bucket holder so that grease can be captured in a cup rather than accumulating at the bottom of the grill, saving on messy clean up afterward.
Despite its relatively compact footprint, it does have a two-tiered cooking great which makes room for more food and a convenient folding shelf that serves as additional storage for condiments, spices and other barbecue essentials. You’ll also appreciate just how easy it is to use the Cuisine Wood Pellet Grill which is thermostatically controlled just like your regular kitchen oven. This ensures that food is cooked thoroughly and evenly and eliminates the guesswork of working out the right temperature and time to keep your meat on the grill. It really is superb when it comes to slow-roasting succulent joints of meats and with a wide choice of hardwood pellets, you can create a wonderful smoky flavor by mixing your favorite pellets together. For delicious smoked food all the family will love, this is an excellent choice.
450 square inches cooking surface
All-terrain wheels to easily transport around
Thermostatic control works like a regular oven
Ideal for slow roasting barbecue meats
Comes with shelves and weather-resistant grill cover
- Weight103 pounds
If you’ve got the space and you love entertaining, then you need to take a look at the all-new and improved Z Grills ZPG-7002E wood pellet grill which delivers the ultimate 8 in 1 cooking versatility. There’s not a lot you can’t do with this attractive looking smoker. You can grill, sear, smoke, braise, bake, roast, barbecue and even char-grill. You’re sure to be the envy of the neighborhood with this easy to use, auto-start grill on your deck.
It’s literally packed with features to make life easier including an automatic pellet feeder as well as an upgraded digital control board. There’s a generous grilling area and warming rack alongside a large capacity 20-pound pellet hopper. It features hot rod technology to auto-ignite those hardwood pellets as well as an induction fan which can be used to stoke the fire to achieve faster results. Even if you are a novice to the world of grilling, you’ll soon get the hang of this machine and by serving up succulent seared and tender cuts of meat for family and friends. It’s fully electronic featuring auto-start ignition, digital auto temperature control as well as an easy to view LED temperature display. There’s no babysitting needed when you’re cooking with this Z Grill. It’s also easy to clean up afterward, fitted with a waste oil collector for convenient and clean disposal. Moving your cart around to a prime location is also easier than ever before thanks to the addition of locking castor wheels. Constructed from premium stainless steel to be corrosion resistant and featuring a stylish, sleek and polished finish that looks incredibly professional, this is one pellet grill you will be proud to own and use.
Electronic auto-start ignition
Ultimate 8 in 1 barbecue wood fired pellet grill
Fan-forced convection cooking
Digitally controlled pellet feeder and heat temperature regulator
Huge grilling area of 700 square inches
LED temperature readout
- BrandZ GRILLS
- Weight132.2 pounds
This Davy Crockett Smoker Grill combo is hybrid outdoor cooking at its best. It’s light enough for anyone to set up, light and compact enough to be your tailgate cooker has plenty of interior capacity to keep the big crowds happy and offers WiFi control that allows the busy cook to multitask. The DCPG features Sense-Mate thermal sensing that provides real-time monitoring of the internal temperature so you can maintain precise control and produce the kind of dishes you could previously only make indoors.
The DCPG runs on either 12V or standard 120AC house current so you can just as easily hook it up on the deck as you can in the stadium parking lot or state park using the car or a portable 12 volt generator. This pellet grill also boasts foldable legs that make is a breeze to fold the unit down and fit it in the trunk of the car of the back of the SUV. And the best part about taking this grill on the road with you is that you don’t have to transport a propane tank too. Just a bag of wood pellets.
9-pound pellet hopper capacity
Digital WiFi controller
Sense-Mate thermal grill sensor
Runs on 12V or 120AC
Attractive price point
Weight: 57.3 lbs
- BrandGreen Mountain Grills
- Weight57.3 lbs
WiFi control lets you take care of things in the house while monitoring the cook.
The open flame technology provides an authentic pellet bbq experience.
Its lightweight portability makes it an ideal choice for the beach or tailgating.
Outstanding customer service.
Functions beautifully but it’s not the most handsome grill.
We bring this list of best pellet grills to a close with a true high-end unit called the Z Grills ZPG-700D. This is a deluxe backyard accessory in every sense of the word and could easily serve as the main cooking utensil in a backyard kitchen. With the 700D you get up to 25,000 BTUs of steady, wood-derived heat for baking, roasting, braising, smoking, grilling, searing and barbequing with more than 500 sq inches on the main grill and nearly 200 more on the warming rack.
What really sets the 700D apart from other grills though is the generous storage area under the grill. This makes your entire grilling life easier by allowing you to store utensils, sauces, pellets, oven mitts or anything else you’re going to need and have it right at hand at all times. You’ll pay a bit more for this unit but the storage along makes it worth the stretch.
20-pound pellet hopper capacity
Two-level cooking/warming system
Produces 25,000 BTUs per hour
Automatic temperature control
Warming grill nearly 200 sq in
Weight: 172 lbs
- BrandZ GRILLS
- ModelZPG-700D 2018
- Weight172 lbs
The large warming grill is a life saver during big parties.
Temperature control is accurate to within a few degrees.
The best in class under the grill storage makes everything so much easier.
As handsome a grill as you’re going to find at any price.
The lack of a grease bucket is a bit mystifying at this price.
The ZPG-450A from Z Grills has a nice big pellet hopper, automatic temperature controls and is capable of kicking out an incredible 25,000 BTUs. It will grill, braise, roast, bake, smoke or sear your choice cuts with the best of them and picking one up won’t require you to spend the kid’s college fund or mortgage the house.
There’s a generous warming rack so you can keep your precious food products hot until the masses are ready to consume them. An internal fan that forces hot air from the combustion chamber into the grill where it creates convection-style circulation. A handy front shelf that we’d like to see on every grill regardless of price or fuel type. And the ability to set any temp you’d like between 180 and 475 Fahrenheit.
20 pound pellet hopper capacity
25,000 BTUs per hour
Automatic temperature control
Custom fit waterproof cover
Effective cooking temp range of 160 to 475 Fahrenheit
Weight: 99 lbs
- BrandZ GRILLS
- Weight99 lbs
It’s as close to ‘plug and play’ as you’re going to get in a grill.
The drippings run off into a catch bucket and can be used for gravy.
Cost less to operate than a comparably sized gas grill.
Comes with a free waterproof cover.
If we have to complain about something we’ll mention that the handle on the lid can get pretty hot.
Camp Chef grills are some of the best built on the market. And you are going to pay for that build quality. The only question is, “Is it worth it?” In our opinion, if you can afford the financial stretch then the SmokePro LUX from Camp Chef is very much worth it. It’s a versatile, dependable pellet grill that will be a fixture at your holiday get-togethers for years to come and it does a routinely excellent job turning your meat and produce into first-class culinary offerings.
The combined cooking/warming surface area is an impressive 875 sq inches. The grill has the capability to monitor heat, both in the grill itself and in your various meats, by way of a stainless steel meat thermometer. You’re also able to regulate the amount of smoke so you get as little or as much of that delicious smokey flavor as you want. In general, temperatures are more accurate than with most other pellet grills with few temperature swings, regardless of the weather or how much food you add or remove.
Large 875 square inch cooking surface
Dual LCD readouts: Grill temp plus food temp
18-pound pellet hopper capacity
Convenient ash can cleanout system
Electronic auto emission
Weight: 180 lbs
- BrandCamp Chef
- Weight180 lbs
It’s heavy but well-balanced so one adult can move it.
One of the largest cooking areas in its class.
The ash can cleanout system works as advertised.
The food temp monitor is a valuable addition.
Casters may not be up to the job long term.
If you don’t want to drop serious money on the Camp Chef SmokePro LUX but you still want the Camp Chef quality, consider their Woodwind Classic 24 Pellet Grill. While it doesn’t have quite the cooking area of the SmokePro or the ability to regulate smoke release it does an outstanding job maintaining whatever temperature you choose between 160 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The hopper on the Woodwind Classic holds up to 22 pounds of wood pellets, which is enough to keep you going all day, literally. At the end of the day, you won’t have to devote hours to clean up because it also boasts the company’s patented Ash Cleanout system. The Woodwind also does a great job handling the drippings. It deposits them into a nifty little aluminum bucket and you have the choice of using them as a base for mouth-watering gravy or to just discard them. Swapping out pellets is also fast and easy.
Automatic hopper cleanup system.
Large 22 pound capacity hopper.
Wide temperature range up to 500 Fahrenheit.
6 different cooking modes.
Electronic automatic start mechanism.
Weight: 148 lbs.
- BrandCamp Chef
- Weight148 lbs
The extra-large pellet hopper lets you cook longer without worrying about running out.
With 2 temperature monitors (grill and food) you’re on top of everything.
The grease management system is more effective than on some other grills.
It’s great to have on the deck or patio for those big summer get togethers.
Moving the grill can be awkward.
The automatic ash cleanout system could use some work.
Pellet Grills Buying Guide & FAQs
A Pellet Grill is likely to be an investment that you will want to last for some time to come so it's essential that you consider the key features you’d prefer it to have from the outset. You don’t want to invest in something that doesn’t have enough grilling space or regret your decision when you find out the hard way how challenging your grill is to get clean. Here are some of the key features and considerations we think are worth being mindful of.
Temperature Control - To achieve any semblance of successful cooking results, even if your oven at home, you are heavily dependent upon being able to regulate and control the heat. You may well be able to gauge how long to cook a chicken for but can you be sure that it will still be succulent and tender rather than a shriveled, dried up mess. One thing that people can’t abide about traditional barbecue cooking is the inconsistency. One sausage is charred to within an inch of its life. The other raw in the middle. So if you want to be able to fully control the outcome of the food you cook, then look for a pellet grill have has an adjustable temperature control setting with a reliable +/- differential. Plenty of the grills we reviewed could be set digitally from 180 all the way up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with negligible heat difference meaning you can rely upon the results.
Pellet Hopper Capacity - The last thing you want is for your supply of wood-burning pellets to run out halfway through searing the next batch of stakes. Obviously, the bigger the hopper, the more overall space it’s likely to take up. Before you purchase your grill, consider how many people you are likely to be regularly entertaining and cooking for and take it from there. The pellet capacities we reviewed in our recommended selection of products ranged from 9 to 20-pounds, so that’s quite some difference.
Warming Rack - A warming rack is a really lovely extra feature to have, especially if you are dealing with larger social gatherings where there is likely to be lots of food continually on the go, coming on and off the main grilling rack. They don’t come as standard with every grill so if this is a feature that you would find particularly handy, make sure you check first that your grill incorporates one.
Types Of Temperature Controllers
We mentioned the importance of being able to control the heat and also touched upon digital controls. The other factor to bear in mind is what kind of heat control system you feel confident operating. You do have a couple of basic choices.
Three-Position Controllers - these are basic control systems that offers Low, Medium and High settings only. While better than just charcoal which you can’t control, if you are looking to take your grilling expertise to the next level and wow your guests with your culinary prowess, you might want more control than this.
Multi-Position Controllers - with this type of controller, you should be able to adjust the temperature within a pre-designated range, up and down in 25-degree increments. These provide the next level in control and are better suited if you’re lacking in confidence in the kitchen and want to eliminate some of the guesswork.
Proportional Integrative Controllers - incorporating next level digital technology, you should be able to maintain a more steady and consistent temperature with this type of setting. PID controllers are continually pulling heat information, monitoring the internal temperate, in order to produce a reasonably accurate reading (+/-10%) which will typically be available to view on a LED readout.
Pellet Grill FAQ’s
Q: What is a pellet grill?
A: A pellet grill is for use outdoors and instead of using fuel such as propane, charcoal or gas, instead relies upon being fed a source of wooden pellets which can be infused with all different flavors to smoke your meats. The became popular in the early 1970s when crude oil was on embargo and alternative fuel sources needed to be sourced. From necessity, the wood pellet emerged although it wasn’t really adapted for use in outdoor grills until the late 1980s. Since then, this choice of grilling has been garnering favor with more and more different types and flavors of wood pellets being made available. It benefits from being versatile, easy to control and quick to heat up.
Q: How does a pellet grill work?
A: A pellet grill uses electricity and features a thermostat and readout along with a fan and rotating auger that feeds pellets into a combustion chamber. Pellets are supplied at a rate according to the intensity of temperature required. The actual degree of overall temperate control will vary from model to model.