Choosing the Right Pellet Grills

You may still have a few questions or wonder about what to look for when buying a pellet smoker. Here, we will take a look at the features that a good smoker should have and just how these things work. Stick around, and you might learn more than you expected.

How do Pellet Smokers Work?

Pellet smokers are different from ‘traditional’ grills because they do not rely on any fuel sources like propane or charcoal. Instead, as the name suggests, pellet smokers use pellets that are made of sawdust.

The sawdust is compressed, and as a result, it can burn for longer than firewood. These smokers do not look much different than other grills or smokers in design or size. It is actually not as easy to tell them apart. They are pretty straightforward to use and do not pose any technical requirements.

What are the Benefits of Using Pellet Smokers?

One of the things that stand out the most about these units is how easy they are to use. You don’t need to stress about getting the charcoal to the perfect temperature and then struggle to maintain it. You can trust on consistent heat that lasts for hours with pellets.

Sure, the same is possible with a traditional smoker, but those tend to be a little more complicated to use and calls for some skill. With pellet smokers, the only complication you can expect is if someone drops the meat on their way to put it away.

How to Choose the Perfect Pellet Smoker for You

Of course, everyone has their own unique needs and desires, so it’s likely that you won’t want the same pellet smoker as your neighbor. Or maybe you do, but that’s not the point. If you need to know what you should be looking out for when buying a pellet smoker, read on.

Size Matters

Contrary to what many say, size matters. This is especially true when it comes to grills, and more specifically, the hopper of a pellet smoker. This is where your pellets are stored and will determine how long your cooking session lasts.

You want, ideally, to have a hopper that gives you the kind of cooking time you will need. In general, a 40-lb. hopper will provide you with about 40 hours of cooking time if used at an average temperature. Now, you need to keep in mind that sometimes you may have to cook for long periods. If you have a smaller hopper, it may not be able to give you the hours you want. If you live in colder areas, the pellets will be used up quicker, so keep that in mind.

It is possible to buy a hopper extension that will give you bonus hours added to your smoker. This will be useful if you end up with a pellet smoker that has a small hopper. Sometimes, a small one is all you need, though. This is why individual needs affect the product that you will end up buying.

Durability and Maintenance

This is always important, no matter what you purchase. A good-looking pellet smoker may not be as durable and tough as you would hope, so check out all the specs before buying. The materials used to make the smoker will influence how long it lasts.

Some manufacturers will cut corners to save money, and this lowers the quality of the product. Marine-grade steel lasts very long, so if your smoker is made of that, you’ll enjoy many seasons with it. Make sure you are confident that all components are made with suitable materials, including the drip pan, fire pot, grates, and hopper.

You will also find that some pellet smokers are made of powder-coated steel, and that’s not bad, as long as a good quality coating was used.

To get the most out of your pellet smoker, be sure to clean it before you start cooking. Many people believe that not cleaning before using the smoker enhances the flavor of your food. This is actually not true. In fact, if you don’t clean your smoker, you will taint your food with unhealthy flavors.

Keeping your smoker clean will prevent any health issues as well, and it will last longer, thanks to your loving care. Before you start using your smoker, make sure that there is no messy build-up on the warming racks or inside the unit.

The last you want is for a gross mess while cooking or your food or drip pan catching fire. For the best way to maintain your unit, refer to the included manual. It will detail how to clean the pellet smoker and prolong its life through proper maintenance and care.

Price and Budget

The price you pay for your pellet smoker is obviously influenced by your budget and how rigidly you stick to it.

Keep in mind that cheaper products might seem like a good option at first, but replacing it could be costly. And most cheap smokers won’t last as long either. Again, more affordable doesn’t mean inferior; just keep an eye on the specs and materials used in manufacture.

Features and Pellet Consumption

Some pellet smokers come with extra abilities and bells and whistles. This will differ from one product to the next. Some offer separate searing compartments, and others have legs that can fold up, and some come with thermometers. Make sure you actually want everything on offer.

But don’t be fooled into buying a smoker of thousands of dollars if you won’t be using all these extra features. Unless you are planning on spending hours and hours using your smoker, you’d be wasting your money.

Pellet consumption is affected by the quality of the pellet cooker. A thin pellet will need many pellets to allow for better temperature maintenance, while thick metal walls also use more pellets. This is because thick smokers tend to sink the heat. So keep a close eye on just how the smoker looks and operates unless you don’t care about the number of pellets you use.

Best Pellet Grills for the Money

With this guide, we were able to find some of the best built and performing options on the market today. In the below reviews we take an in-depth look at five models that we are sure will deliver the desired results.

Traeger Grills TFB88PZBO Pro series 34 pellet grill

At Traeger Grills, the art of the barbecue is their main priority when it comes to manufacturing grills. It all started more than 30 years ago, in the secluded corners of Mt. Angel, Oregon in the US. Sparked by the innovation of improving not only the convenience of grilling but also refining the taste of the traditional barbecue, Traeger Grills began manufacturing what is considered one of the world’s finest grills.

The Traeger Grills Pro series is no exception to the company rules of manufacturing. When purchasing a Traeger, especially any of the Pro series, you can be guaranteed you’re investing in the best materials and leading innovation that will leave your neighbors green with envy. Not to mention, they will be lining your porch, lured by the mouth-watering aromas of Traeger’s legendary aromas.

Constructed from impressive and superiorly durable steel that is powder-coated for a protective seal, the Pro series offers you a rust-free grill that may as well become a family heirloom and tradition. It features top-of-the-line Advanced Grilling Logic that allows versatile 6-in-1 gourmet grilling.

You can bake, grill, smoke, roast, braise, and barbeque just about any dish you could possibly think of. With its Digital Pro Controllers, precision grilling is right at the tip of your fingers, and with porcelain grill grates, cleaning up afterward is a breeze.

What Recent Customers Report

  • Offers incredibly spacious grilling surface
  • Simplified assembly is approvingly convenient
  • The two temperature probes work wonderfully well and are accurate
  • Offers genuine smoke flavors that are just great
  • The heavy-duty construction is ideal to have
  • Worth every penny despite being a more affordable option
  • Exceptional versatility that allows you to cook anything
  • Simplified ease of cleaning is very convenient and trouble-free

Pros

  • Spacious 884 sq. in. grilling surface
  • Uses porcelain grilling grates that are easy to clean
  • Features 6-in-1 versatile grilling for endless recipes and experimentation
  • Durable rust-free powder-coated steel construction
  • Accurate and easy to use controls
  • 18 lb. hopper that is convenient and economical
  • Features all-terrain wheels for easy mobility
  • Affordable quality worth the investment

Cons

  • Does not include Wi-Fi technology
  • Requires the additional purchases of accessories like the cover

Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill

Pit Boss is a subsidiary project of Dansons, Inc., a family-owned business operating from the US, specializing in the manufacturing of quality grills and accessories. Known for the durability and excellent craftsmanship invested in their products, as well as their family orientation to approaching business and design, Pit Boss is one of the world’s most celebrated manufacturers.

Featuring all their latest innovations, it is certainly hotter, bigger, and heavier than their closest competitors. Designed to be as practical as it is versatile, the 700FB is made from high gauge steel components with excellent structural construction. It offers superior strength and durability, giving it astounding quality in every square inch of its design.

Designed with 8-in-1 grilling options ranging from grilling, smoking, searing, baking, roasting, braising, barbecuing, and even char-grilling with temperatures between 180° to 500° Fahrenheit, you will achieve perfection every time.

It comes with a standard flame broiler and digital control board; it is easy and convenient to operate. The 700-square-inch porcelain-coated cast-iron grates are also made using the finest care and provide ample space for small to medium gatherings. With 21 pounds of hopper load capacity, running out of pellet fuel would hardly be a problem.

Being one of Pit Boss’s most affordable grills, it is an ideal option. Perhaps it could include a few added conveniences to add to its value, but for its price and versatility, it remains an exceptional purchase. It should also be noted that if you intend to achieve searing ability, you may want to keep a long screwdriver handy to open the smoking vent.

What Recent Customers Report

  • Appreciative of the value for money in this purchase
  • Achieves perfection with every use
  • Temperature reach is perfect, and gauges work accurately
  • Perfect grill for a mid-size family or gathering
  • Features incredibly convenient controls
  • Extremely tough and highly durable
  • An excellent smoker that works great every time
  • Versatile grilling functions — is a must-have feature

Pros

  • Offers superior space with 700 sq. in. grilling surface
  • Economical pellet hopper with adequate 21 lb. load capacity
  • Features a porcelain-coated cast-iron grilling grate both economical and efficient
  • Offers a wide range of temperature for grilling just about any dish
  • Versatile 8-in-1 functions for limitless recipe possibilities
  • Durable all-steel construction made to last
  • Functional in all environments from hot to cold and even windy
  • Simplified assembly is very easy and convenient

Cons

  • Accessories and beneficial adjustments have to be bought separately
  • May need to keep a screwdriver handy to remove the smoker vent for searing

Z Grills ZPG 550B

Z-Grills is one of the world’s most sought after grills and was appointed as Forbes’ 2019 top-rated grills on the market. They take pride in their creations and consider themselves as the original wood pellet manufacturer. Their products are made with the finest care and are constructed using only the best materials. Among their many products, the ZPG 550B is a very fine example of their leading craftsmanship.

With heavy-duty construction, it is built to last, and best of all, it looks good, providing the kind of performance one could expect from a Z-Grill. With its digital control, automated pellet feeding auger, and auto-ignition, it will provide carefree, effortless precision grilling with every use.

Simply by turning the dial, the grill will automate its full functions, even providing the perfect amount of smoke that it is programmed to. With an 8-in-1 versatile design, it provides all the functions that you would find in competing models. Its temperature range reaches anything between 180 to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and is ideal for all kinds of recipes and grilling dishes.

With a cooking surface of 538 sq. in., it is most suitable for small gatherings but can be adequate for bigger families too. However, with such a small grilling area, it would not be recommended to use it for big gatherings where a slow roast is intended.

This is a very compact and light grill, made for easy traveling and is fitted with caster wheels for convenient mobility. Its 10-pound hopper capacity is slightly limited, but considering it would serve a small family, it is a sufficient option. Due to its smaller size, it is an ideal traveling companion or the perfect wood pellet smoker for bachelors and students.

What Recent Customers Report

  • Perfect starter pellet smoker for inexperienced grillers
  • The compact size is suitable for small patios and dwellings
  • Comes with clear instructions and is relatively easy to assemble
  • The effortless operation is ideal for busybodies with little time to grill smoke
  • The safety of indirect grilling conveniently prevent any flare-ups
  • This grill is perfect for slow and low grilling
  • Grills and smokes wonderfully with little effort
  • Well-constructed and the durable design is appreciated

Pros

  • Small compact grill ideal for small gatherings and dwellings
  • Heavy-duty construction that is reliable
  • Ideal for picnics, camping and traveling
  • Features caster wheels for convenient mobility
  • Easy to use controls that are ideal for beginner smokers
  • Affordable quality with plenty of innovation
  • Features safety designs that prevent flare-ups
  • A brilliant smoker that achieves perfection every time

Cons

  • May not be suitable for bigger families or gatherings
  • Limited hopper capacity may need continuous refilling during prolonged grilling

Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker Roaster & Grill

The Char-Broil has a unique cooking system called TRU-Infrared, and it helps to cook food much more evenly. It also makes use of a unique grill that is porcelain-coated for better heat distribution. The zig-zag section enhances the heating of the grill surface for even better results while cooking. The cooking area is a little small and not suited for family grills, though.

A good thing about using this grill is that your food won’t get burnt because there is no direct contact with the flames. You still get the grill taste, thanks to holes in the grill. Because of the excellent design, you can cook smaller pieces of food without it falling into the unit.

The way this grill prepares your food helps that your meat will retain more of its moisture, so it will come out much juicier. There are no flare-ups because it is not possible for the fat to drip into the open flames.

This grill is easy to use, comes with a convenient roasting basket, and offers versatility with a propane option. It is made durable, and you get a high-quality cover included when buying the grill for extra protection.

What Recent Customers Report

  • The grill is easy to assemble and use
  • Heating is decent and even
  • Temperature range is quite impressive
  • Cooking systems allows for more even cooking
  • Propane ability is a big bonus
  • Allows grilling, smoking, and roasting
  • Made from durable stainless steel

Pros

  • Comes with a roasting basket for easy grilling
  • Technology allows for even cooking
  • Flare-ups are not a problem
  • Versatile with the option to use propane gas
  • Roasting basket will handle up to 25 lbs.
  • Temperatures are easy to adjust
  • Maintenance and cleaning is straightforward
  • A grill cover is included in the purchase

Cons

  • Smoker box is small and calls for refilling often
  • Cooking area could have been a bit bigger

Traeger Grills TFS60LZC Select Elite Pellet Grill and Smoker

This grill is admired for being very easy to use and a very versatile option. It is an all-in-one option that is able to endure great temperatures and last many seasons.

You will be able to enjoy the much-admired smoky taste that grill lovers appreciate so much without using propane or charcoal.

The natural hardwood pellets that you use with the grill also gives off a wonderful aroma. You can use this grill for braising, smoking, roasting, baking, and grilling.

The Traeger Select Elite is not only a very functional and affordable option, but it is also a very good-looking one. This unit is ideal for most grill users, be they regular grillers or someone who only uses it once or twice a month.

Even beginners will be able to make the most from this grill and smoke their food quite easily. Included in the purchase is a handy digital controller. This allows you to set the temperature in the same way you would your oven. It is easy to understand and lets you make adjustments very easily.

The 3-piece non-stick porcelain grill grate is simple and easy to clean, so you won’t have to worry about the mess you make when grilling.

What Recent Customers Report

  • Offers plenty of grilling space for intensive cooking
  • Hardwood pellets best suited to the grill offers a smoky taste
  • Plenty of storage space for better use
  • Side-shelves are useful and easy to clean
  • The wheels glide smoothly and allow easy moving
  • Able to handle temperatures up to 450° Fahrenheit
  • Grill grates are easy to clean and maintain

Pros

  • Stainless steel side-shelves are durable
  • Storage space beneath the grill
  • Wheels allow super easy positioning
  • Impressive cooking surface
  • Will endure many seasons of use
  • All-in-one outdoor cooker
  • Uses porcelain-coated grates
  • Using the grill is very easy and simple

Cons

Could prove difficult to assemble

Making a Choice

In the end, the grill you choose will depend on your unique needs and requirements. All in all, the Traeger Grills TFB88PZBO Pro series 34 pellet grill is one of our very favorites because it is very spacious. It allows for cooking a lot of food simultaneously, and the hopper is very economical.

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