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We Tested The 10 Best Pellet Grills for Smoking, Grilling, and Searing

Written by Mike Futia | Updated October 28, 2023

Smoking meat on a pellet grill gives you a level of convenience you simply can't find with a charcoal grill, while still delivering that smoky goodness that you'll never get with a gas grill.

After smoking ribs, brisket, whole chicken, wings and more, our testing revealed that the Traeger Pro 780 is the best pellet grill for most people. It's super-reliable, fairly priced, and delivers world-class slow-cooked barbecue. 

Our criteria for pellet grills

  • Temperature control

The best pellet grills offer precise temperature control, and a wide temperature range.

  • Fuel efficiency

Pellets are expensive, so you want a pellet grill that uses fuel efficiently. 

  • Build quality

If you're going to invest $1,000 (and up) on a grill, you're going to want it to last you a long time.

  • Connectivity features

Look for a pellet grill that has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and a smartphone app.

10 Best Pellet Grills to Buy in 2023

Click the links to jump directly to the reviews

traeger

Smoking ribs and mac & cheese on my Traeger 780

Specs:

  • Materials: Alloy Steel, Porcelain Coated Cast Iron (grates)
  • Dimensions: 55” x 27” x 49”
  • Weight: 155 lbs.
  • Cooking Area: 780 sq. inches.
  • Max Temperature: 500°F
  • WIFI Equipped: Yes
  • Easy to Transport: Has wheels but is heavy.
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 18 lbs.

The Traeger Pro 780 is the best pellet grill you can buy. The 780 is constructed from durable alloy steel and is complete with all the bells and whistles to ensure you can use it for all sorts of grilling projects for years to come. Assembly was a breeze, taking about 30 minutes with very clear packaging and instructions.

traeger pro with pellets

Not only does this grill have the Traeger WiFire technology, but Traeger also gives buyers access to an app that has free recipes you can enjoy. The WiFi connectivity and the app are excellent features for those who want to monitor their cooks remotely. With set-it-and-forget-it technology, you can flip on your grill, load your meat, and go about your day while your dinner cooks. This is particularly great for low and slow smoking, as our 321 ribs came out perfect—tender, smokey, and juicy.

Traeger has spent lots of time on the research of temperature holding technology, and this grill should have no problem holding its temperature for hours on end. It also has an easy-to-use PID controller, so you know exactly what settings you are choosing. The build quality feels sturdy and solid, from the handles to the exterior.

traeger pellets in hopper

This particular model is mid-range when it comes to size. With 780 square inches of cooking space spread over two shelves, it's perfect for a family of 4-7 but isn’t so massive that you aren’t able to move it once it is set up.

With additional features like turbo smoke, you can easily add a little extra smoke to get that perfect flavor you desire. Plus, with the easy hopper cleaning feature, you can swap between pellet varieties with ease.

While the grill excels in smoking and indirect heat, it's not ideal for direct grilling and searing. For example, our chicken thighs had great flavor but lacked crispy skin, ending up more like oven-roasted. Similarly, while the steaks were juicy and tender, they lacked that grill flavor and char that comes from a good sear, even at high temperatures.

traeger controller

While this grill isn’t quite as customizable as some other Traeger models, it's a great choice at a decent price point, especially if you're new to Traeger or more focused on low and slow smoking rather than high-heat grilling. Either way, we have the Traeger 780 and absolutely love it for what it does best.

If you want something slightly smaller, this model also comes in the 575, which has 575 square inches of cooking space as opposed to 780. Check out more of the best Traeger models in our Best Traeger Grills guide.

Pros:

  • Equipped with WiFire technology.
  • Large grill, but still easy to move when needed.
  • Contains porcelain-coated cast iron grates.

Cons:

  • Not compatible with all Traeger accessories/difficult to customize.

2. Best Runner-Up: Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 36 w/Sidekick

camp chef

Specs:

  • Materials: Stainless Steel
  • Dimensions: 67” x 26” x 44.5”
  • Weight: 30 lbs.
  • Cooking Area: 1236 sq. inches.
  • Max Temperature: 500°F
  • WIFI Equipped: Yes
  • Easy to Transport: Yes
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 22 lbs.

A close second to our Traeger 780 is the Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 36 with a sidekick. Able to help you grill and smoke just like the Traeger, something unique about the Camp Chef is the sidekick feature, which can allow you to vastly expand what you are cooking with a simple attachment. Assembly for this grill was super easy, taking only about 15-20 minutes, and the organized, labeled hardware bags added to the straightforward process.

camp chef

While the sidekick attachment is chosen when you purchase (as it is built in), you can choose from a sear attachment or a flat top. Either of which expands what you can cook thanks to a gas hookup. The sidekick really adds versatility, especially for direct grilling, and heats up evenly alongside the main grill. There are also other attachments, like a pizza oven, which can be switched out with the flat top/sear box but use the same gas attachment.

This grill also has WIFI capabilities, though it doesn’t have a handy app as the Traeger grills do. Either way, you can still adjust the temperature and keep an eye on your dinner while you are in another room. The temperature control on this unit was phenomenal, fluctuating only about +/- 5 degrees once stabilized.

While we love this ability to customize, one of the reasons this pellet grill isn’t our top pick is because it's made of stainless steel, which just doesn’t last as long as alloy steel. Plus, this grill will set you back financially almost twice as much as the Traeger 780. However, it's well worth mentioning that the build quality is excellent, with a heavy-duty construction that feels very sturdy and a great fit and finish.

camp chef

The Woodwind Pro has a larger cooking area of 1236 square inches, and it is easier to move, meaning it might be a better fit for a large family that likes to host guests at home along with block parties from time to time. The grill grates are heavy-duty and retained heat evenly, avoiding any issues with hot or cold spots.

Grilled chicken came out juicy with crispy skin and good color from direct grilling, while ribeye steaks had an excellent sear with a nice subtle smoke flavor and char. Low and slow smoking also worked perfectly—the ribs were tender and had a great smoke flavor.

Other design features that deserve mention include a pellet clean out, a side shelf, and even a built-in bottle opener. The only other minor downside we found was that the sliding grease tray can stick when it gets dirty.

Want a smaller grill? This model also comes in other sizes, most notably the Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 24, which has 811 square inches of cooking space and only weighs 152 lbs.

Overall, the Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 36 offers really nice grilling capabilities in addition to its low and slow smoking, making it a top-tier pellet grill.

camp chef

Pros:

  • Adjustable smoke setting.
  • Gas sidekick hookup for accessories and a larger variety of cooking options.
  • WIFI enabled.
  • Easy to operate.
  • For a large grill, very light and is on wheels if you need to move it.

Cons:

  • Not as durable as other grills.
  • Expensive for what you get.

3. Best High End: Yoder Smokers YS640 Competition Pellet Grill

yoder

Specs:

  • Materials: 10-Gauge Steel
  • Dimensions: 61.3” x 36.1” x 55”
  • Weight: 335 lbs.
  • Cooking Area: 1070 sq. inches.
  • Max Temperature: 600°F
  • WIFI Equipped: Yes
  • Easy to Transport: Not really, but it has wheels.
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 20 lbs.

Now some of you may be shopping for a pellet grill because you want to enter grilling competitions. For this, you will need to make an investment in a high-end grill like this one from Yoder Smokers.

The Yoder Smokers YS640 is the best of the best when it comes to high-end grills. Made from 10-gauge steel, which is 1/8th of an inch thick, this grill will last you for a decade or more. The construction is incredibly heavy-duty and sturdy, weighing over 500 lbs. It's built like a tank, and assembly was straightforward, taking about 30-45 minutes following the instructions.

With 1070 square inches of cooking space and lots of headroom, you can make all the turkeys and pork butts your heart desires. While this isn’t the largest grill on our list (and commercial smokers will need a larger one), this is the best pellet grill for personal competition use. The grill offers a lot of versatility, allowing you to smoke, bake, grill, sear, and much more. It has many different configurations to suit your needs.

This grill will set you back a few thousand dollars, but it's a worthwhile investment for its durability and performance. While it does have wheels, it is over 300 lbs., meaning you shouldn’t plan to move it without the help of a vehicle. It is equipped with WIFI and Bluetooth, allowing you to monitor and control your smokes from afar. The WiFi app works great, letting you create custom programs and receive alerts when your food is ready.

Temperature control is another area where this grill shines. It holds the set temperature extremely consistently, allowing for juicy, tender, and perfectly cooked results every time. Whether you're smoking salmon, turkey, or burgers, you can expect a subtle, pleasing smoky taste. It also gets very hot, enabling you to achieve a beautiful sear on your steaks.

Our only complaint is that a 20 lb. hopper doesn’t seem like near enough for a competition pellet grill, but then again, during a competition, you are likely near the grill anyway and can refill it as needed.

Wrap this up with the fact that it is made in America, and there aren’t many pellet grills that can come close to the quality of those by Yoder Smoker. With a 10-year warranty on some parts, this grill is a no-brainer. Overall, it's an amazing, versatile grill that produces incredible tasting food. The only real downside is the high price, but it pays for itself in the long run with its exceptional durability and performance.

Pros:

  • Durable, will last for years to come.
  • Plenty of space for making high-clearance meats.
  • WIFI enabled.
  • A long warranty on most parts.

Cons:

  • The Pellet hopper is a bit on the small side.
  • Temperature fluctuations of +/- 20°F are reported.

4. Best Budget: ZGrills 7002C

zgrills

Specs:

  • Materials: Alloy Steel
  • Dimensions: 48” x 26” x 51”
  • Weight: 113 lbs.
  • Cooking Area: 700 sq. inches.
  • Max Temperature: 450°F
  • WIFI Equipped: No
  • Easy to Transport: Yes
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 24 lbs.

As far as budget pellet grills go, the ZGrills 700C is the best of the best. For less than $500, you can get a durable alloy steel pellet grill with 700 square inches of cooking space. Best suited for a family of 4-6, you can enjoy smoked ribs, a decent-sized smoked brisket, and more.

Assembly might take about 3 hours, but once it's set up, you'll find the temperature control to be very consistent. The PID controller ranges from 180°F to 500°F, and in our experience, fluctuations were within +/- 10°F. Of course, one of the reasons this grill is inexpensive is because it doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles. For example, there is no WIFI connectivity, but the ZGrill 700C holds temperature well. So while we can’t change the temperature from afar, you can still set it and forget it, just make sure you have a timer on your phone, so you know when your dinner is done.

The 24 lb. capacity hopper not only has ample capacity for long smoke sessions but also includes a window so you can easily see the pellet level. Whether you want to load it with four racks of ribs or maybe six whole chickens, you’ll be surprised at how much this mid-size grill can hold. It even comes with two meat probes, a rare feature at this price point.

This grill weighs around 100 lbs. and has all-terrain wheels, making it good for those who want a larger grill to take camping. It's easy to roll the grill over dirt, grass, and more. The grill also preheats quickly, going from a cold start to 250°F in just 11 minutes.

One huge downside of this pellet grill is that it is more designed for smoking than searing, mostly because it only reaches 450°F, which is a bit low. However, it was still able to produce good grill marks and crispy skin on chicken thighs. While this is still enough heat to sear a burger or a steak, those looking for competition-level searing will be left disappointed.

But no matter how you look at it, for a below $500 budget, there is no better pellet grill. The ZGrill 700C delivers consistent performance and comes with features like a 24 lb hopper and two meat probes, making it a great value.

Pros:

  • Made of extremely durable materials.
  • Easy large grill to take on the go.
  • Large pellet hopper. 

Cons:

  • No WIFI connectivity.
  • The maximum temperature is only 450°F.

5. Best for Large Families: Traeger Timberline XL

traeger timeberline

Specs:

  • Materials: Stainless Steel
  • Dimensions: 71” x 25” x 51”
  • Weight: 232 lbs.
  • Cooking Area: 1320 sq. inches.
  • Max Temperature: 500°F
  • WIFI Equipped: Yes
  • Easy to Transport: Not really.
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 22 lbs.

If you have a large family you need to feed regularly, look no further than the Traeger Timberline XL. This grill is positively massive, with 1320 square inches on the grill as well as an induction cooktop, you can truly cook for everyone using this appliance. Boasting a large 885 sq in cooking surface with stainless steel grates, this grill performed very well across a range of temperatures, delivering good smoke flavor.

Equipped with WiFire technology, you can also keep track of dinner while you are running errands or making sides from the kitchen. The updated PID controller has a full color touchscreen and even offers a Super Smoke mode. Additionally, the grill includes two meat probes and two wireless Bluetooth probes with a charger, so monitoring your meat is easier than ever.

Whether you want to make 12 chickens or 16 racks of ribs, this grill can fit it all. Its 22 lb. pellet hopper even comes with a pellet clean out and a bamboo cutting board for added convenience. If you're looking for customization, the Timberline XL comes with a new P.A.L. accessory mounting system for custom accessory placement, whether you need cups for your BBQ sauce or maybe a roll holder for butcher paper.

This pellet grill is massive, but it isn’t quite as heavy as others on our list, meaning while we suggest you keep it in one place, it can be moved into a garage or shed with help. In fact, it has a fully insulated double-walled construction with a tight lid gasket, which ensures even heating and good smoke output. It also comes with several shelves and storage cabinets, something which can’t be said for most pellet grills—giving you all the storage space you need for your grilling tools.

The Timeberline XL isn’t quite as durable as some other pellet grills on Traeger’s docket, but it does come with a 10-year limited warranty, meaning it should last your family a long time. The only real downside is that it's quite expensive, especially if you're considering it as a built-in grill. But for what you get, including the first outdoor induction side burner that boils fast and sears well, it truly is worth the cost.

Don’t need quite this much grill? Traeger also has the regular Timberline (not XL), which has 880 square inches of cooking space and only weighs 232 lbs. The Timberline XL even comes with a new easy-clean system featuring a removable drip tray and ash keg, making clean-up a breeze. Overall, this is an excellent high-end pellet grill with lots of features.

Pros:

  • Includes induction side table for plenty of cooking styles.
  • Huge capacity.
  • WIFI enabled.
  • Plenty of storage cabinets and shelves.
  • Easy to customize.

Cons:

  • Not as durable as other Traeger grills.

6. Best Mid-Size Pellet Grill: Pit Boss 440 Series

pit boss 440

Specs:

  • Materials: Premium Gauge Stainless Steel
  • Dimensions: 50” x 24” x 39”
  • Weight: 96 lbs.
  • Cooking Area: 465 sq. inches.
  • Max Temperature: 500°F
  • WIFI Equipped: No
  • Easy to Transport: Yes.
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 5 lbs.

Are you looking for a pellet grill for your balcony? We recommend the Pit Boss 440 series. This line of mid-size grills gives those who have a smaller space access to a pellet grill without needing to look at tabletop models.

Reasonably priced, the 440 series by Pit Boss is perfect for a family of four or less or those with limited space. It also only weighs 96 lbs., making it more transportable than the other grills on this list. While 465 square inches of cooking area may seem small, note that this is still enough room for 20 burgers or a medium-sized brisket if you are hosting a party,

Of course, for a smaller and less expensive grill, you do make a few sacrifices. First of all, there is no Wi-Fi connectivity, and you only have a 5 lb. pellet hopper, meaning you will have to stay nearby when you are smoking your dinner.

That being said, we have a Pit Boss 440 that we absolutely adore. While we can’t venture too far during long smokes, this grill does hold temperature well, meaning you don’t have to sit right next to your Pit Boss while it cooks. We usually just set timers to remind us to top off the hopper at certain intervals.

This pellet grill is overall very durable and comes with a 5-year warranty to ensure you can use it for years to come. While this grill likely isn’t enough for a smoking aficionado, it’s an excellent starting point for a couple or a smaller family that just wants to try their hand at smoking a brisket or two.

Pros:

  • Full-size grill that can easily fit on a smaller balcony or patio.
  • Durable construction.
  • Easier to move than other grills.

Cons:

  • No Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Only a 5 lb. pellet hopper, so you’ll need to stay nearby as you smoke.

7. Best Portable Pellet Grill: Green Mountain Trek

green mountain

Specs:

  • Materials: 13 Gauge Stainless Steel
  • Dimensions: 24” x 16” x 32”
  • Weight: 63 lbs.
  • Cooking Area: 219 sq. inches.
  • Max Temperature: 550°F
  • WIFI Equipped: Yes
  • Easy to Transport: Yes.
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 9 lbs.

Grillers who are looking for a pellet grill to take on the go should look no further than the Green Mountain Trek. Replacing the previous Green Mountain Davy Crockett model, this pellet grill is made of extra durable 13-gauge stainless steel but is built to be small enough to pack in the back of your car or flatbed truck when you need to take it on the go.

Weighing in at only 63 lbs., you still have 219 square inches of porcelain coated steel cooking space on this grill, meaning you can smoke and grill for your family while you are on vacation. With an updated PID controller and app connectivity via WiFi, its temperature range is from 150°F to 500°F, allowing this grill to both smoke and sear, leaving your options for cooking while camping open.

One big thing to note about this pellet grill is that it has very short legs. It is truly meant for tabletop or truck bed operation—meaning it may not be the right choice if you are only looking for a pellet grill for your home. There are, however, options for a cart or stand from Green Mountain Grills that you can buy so you can use this comfortably at home and on the go.

Even though this grill may be on the smaller side, it doesn’t cut any corners, as you still have Wi-Fi connectivity and a 9lb pellet hopper with no pellet dump feature, allowing you to have longer smoke sessions even while you are camping. The grill also comes with one meat probe for monitoring food temperature and provides remote monitoring and temperature alerts through its app. So, if you are living in an RV or want something to take on the go that holds temperature very consistently compared to the previous model, this grill is the perfect solution for you.

Pros:

  • Lightweight, easy to take with you on the go.
  • Large pellet hopper for the size.
  • Wi-fi enabled.
  • Durable, despite its small size.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have full legs. You’ll need a cart or stand if you don’t have a table you can use it on.
  • The small size means you’ll have to watch the clearance of the items you want to smoke.

8. Best Small Pellet Grill: Pit Boss Tabletop Pellet Grill

pit boss tabletop

Specs:

  • Materials: Alloy Steel, Porcelain Coated Steel (grates)
  • Dimensions: 19” x 24” x 15”
  • Weight: 42.5 lbs.
  • Cooking Area: 256 sq. inches.
  • Max Temperature: 500°F
  • WIFI Equipped: No
  • Easy to Transport: Yes.
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 5 lbs.

Are you looking for a pellet grill that you can take anywhere but also store in a closet during the off-season? Then you should check out the Pit Boss Tabletop Pellet Grill, which is a good value. The only one of its type, this pellet grill truly gives you smoking and grilling freedom along with 256 square inches of cooking space.

While you won’t be able to smoke anything large like a turkey or a pork butt, a limitation confirmed by the small size of this model, you can easily make a small rack of ribs or some smoked steaks with this grill. It preheats fairly quickly, taking about 10 minutes to reach 350°F. While it is a bit small for a family of more than two people, it is perfect for those who want to head camping or don’t have an outdoor space suitable to store a grill.

The grill's controller type isn't clearly labeled, but it appears to use time cycles based on temperature fluctuations during use. Despite initial temperature overshooting at first startup, it settles down and maintains a fairly stable cooking environment, fluctuating about +/- 10°F from the set point.

With a 5 lb. pellet hopper that you can load with wood or charcoal pellets, this pellet grill is an excellent alternative to a travel charcoal or gas grill, making cooking easy on the go. The temp probe's positioning may affect its accuracy, something we've seen in other models, and it's disappointing that it has a second probe port but doesn't come with a second probe. Plus, it is made of durable materials, so you won’t have to worry about it getting damaged if it ends up at the bottom of the trunk as you pack. This grill also comes with a 5-year warranty.

Notably, the grill features a gasket around the lid, which is a nice feature to hold in smoke. However, it uses a flame broiler/grease tray design that we're not fans of—we prefer a flat design for better grease drainage. Ash cleanup wasn't too bad, just some minor blowing around. The porcelain-coated grates are functional but prone to chipping and rust over time.

We definitely recommend this grill for those who are always on the go. If you really want to become a smoking pro, however, we recommend getting a larger pellet grill which will allow you to smoke larger items like turkeys and pork butts. But for someone just wanting to make some ribs and burgers, and who can overlook some temperature fluctuations, this pellet grill is well built and functional for the price point.

Pros:

  • Extremely portable.
  • Made of durable materials—it won’t dent if something gets set on top of it.
  • A 5 lb. pellet hopper gives you plenty of smoke time.
  • Easy to store.
  • Gasket around the lid helps hold in smoke.

Downside:

  • Extremely portable.
  • Made of durable materials—it won’t dent if something gets set on top of it.
  • A 5 lb. pellet hopper gives you plenty of smoke time.
  • Easy to store.
  • Gasket around the lid helps hold in smoke.

9. Best Pellet Grill for Searing: Weber SmokeFire

weber smokey fire

Specs:

  • Materials: Stainless Steel with Porcelain Enamel Finish
  • Dimensions: 30” x 55” x 31”
  • Weight: 204 lbs.
  • Cooking Area: 1,008 sq. inches.
  • Max Temperature: 600°F
  • WIFI Equipped: Yes
  • Easy to Transport: Not really.
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 20 lbs.

As someone who loves to sear a steak, it can be difficult to sacrifice your searing capabilities for an excellent pellet grill. The good news is, with the Weber SmokeFire, you don’t have to.

One of the standout features is its ability to get up to 600°F+ for direct grilling and searing, backed up by stainless steel flavorizer bars that prevent hot and cold spots.

The SmokeFire Gen 2 is a large pellet grill with 1,407 square inches of total cooking space—making it a good fit for a large family. While it is a bit on the heavy side (232 lbs.), it is on wheels, allowing you to move it around your patio as needed. The grill also comes equipped with two leave-in meat probes integrated with the app, providing more control over your cook.

Like many of the other pellet grills on our list, the SmokeFire comes with top-notch app connectivity through the June smart grilling operating system, allowing you to watch and adjust your smoke settings from afar. While this grill isn’t as durable as a Traeger brand pellet grill, its porcelain enameled lid and firebox offer good protection from rust and it has seen significant improvements over the Gen 1 model, particularly in ash and grease management, minimizing flare-ups.

One thing to note about the pellet system is its 20 lb. pellet hopper with a clean-out chute. During testing, pellet bridging wasn't a major issue, so you can smoke worry-free. For those who appreciate both low-and-slow smoking and high-heat grilling, this grill held 250°F for a solid 8.5 hours during our tests.

One thing we don’t like about this grill is the price. It is just as expensive, if not more, than most mid-size Traeger models, and we aren’t sure if you get enough benefits from the grill to make it worth it. In our opinion, you are paying a little extra for the Weber name when you buy this grill. But if you are a Weber fanatic, the performance improvements and versatility might make it worth the extra price.

Pros:

  • Excellent for searing.
  • Wi-Fi equipped.
  • Plenty of room for cooking and a large pellet hopper.
  • Easy to use controller and easy grease collection system.

Downside:

  • Expensive for what you get.
  • Difficult to accessorize.

10. Best Combo Pellet Grill: Pit Boss 1230 Series

pit boss 1230

Specs:

  • Materials: Powder Coated Steel
  • Dimensions: 70” x 31” x 50”
  • Weight: 203 lbs.
  • Cooking Area: 1,261 sq. inches.
  • Max Temperature: 500°F
  • WIFI Equipped: No
  • Easy to Transport: Not really.
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity: 21 lbs.

Do you want a pellet grill, but you aren’t quite ready to give up the convenience of cooking with gas? The Pit Boss 1230 series, also known as the Navigator 1230 combo grill in some circles, has the best of both worlds.

This 3-in-1 grill has a pellet grill on the left and a 3-burner gas grill on the right, providing you with a large combined cooking surface featuring porcelain-coated cast iron grates. You can cook with wood pellets and gas simultaneously, giving you 631 square inches of pellet grill and 631 square inches of gas grill all in one appliance

What sets this grill apart is the ability to use the gas side as a cold smoker by routing smoke from the pellet side. This unique feature allows you to infuse smoke flavor when using the gas grill, so you can sear, smoke, bake, or even braise with added flair. The pellet hopper comes with a clean-out feature for changing pellets easily, and two meat probes are included for monitoring your food's temperature. While you do have an easy-to-use PID controller for set-it-and-forget-it cooking, there is no Wi-Fi connectivity, making it a bit basic in terms of tech features

Of course, two grills in one means this device is heavy and isn’t ideal to take on the go. While it does come on wheels, maneuvering this 200 lb. grill may require some assistance. This combination grill is perfect for a large family with diverse culinary preferences. The Pit Boss 1230 is made of durable powder-coated steel and comes with a 5-year warranty, ensuring that it will be a staple in your backyard for years to come.

Pros:

  • Cook with pellets and gas simultaneously.
  • Large cooking space and pellet hopper.
  • Made of durable materials.

Cons:

  • Not Wi-Fi enabled.
  • The cooking area is divided by a wall, so you have to choose to cook an item with wood pellets OR gas, you cannot use both.
  • Difficult to clean.

Who Are Pellet Grills Best for?

pulled pork

Smoking pulled pork on my Traeger 780

Pellet grills are amazing pieces of technology, but they aren’t for everyone. First and foremost, they take more care and knowledge than a gas or electric grill, so before you buy one, you want to make sure that a pellet grill is a good fit for you.

Pellet grills are generally recommended for grillers who want to go beyond the basic sear and plan to grill more than just burgers and steaks. If you are the type of griller that just puts burgers on every Friday night, then a pellet grill may be a waste of money for you—especially if you already have a gas or charcoal grill that you love.

But if you find yourself staring into the flames of your grill, wishing you could make a brisket or a rack of ribs with ease, then a pellet grill is the answer to all your problems. Pellet grills go far beyond the basic grill, opening you (and your family) to new horizons you never thought were possible.

While there is a bit of a learning curve when you get your first pellet grill, they are overall simple to use, and you can educate yourself to become a pro in no time. Plus, you’ll be able to experiment with all kinds of new recipes that your family is sure to love!

Just keep in mind that pellet grills are designed for those who love to grill and smoke. If you are looking for a pellet grill just because you want to cold smoke some salmon, then it may be better to look into a full electric smoker, which will probably come with cold smoking options to help you make the most delicious smoked salmon you’ve ever had.

How Does a Pellet Grill Work?

traeger hopper

Emptying pellets out of my Traeger 780

Those new to pellet grills may wonder how they work to allow both smoking and searing on a single device. Pellet grills are powered by both electricity and wooden pellets, and you will need both to ensure your pellet grill operates as expected.

Once your grill is loaded with wood pellets and plugged in, you’ll push the power button. This turns on all the parts of the grill. While the exact start-up method will vary from grill to grill, in general, you will just turn the dial to your desired temperature, and the grill will start.

When you turn the dial or press the ignite button, an ignition rod in the pellet grill is electronically lit and pressed toward the wooden pellets in the firepot. If this is your first time using your pellet grill, you will need to depress the priming button to push some pellets into the fire pot.

Once your grill is lit via the ignition rod, it will self-regulate to your desired temperature. It does this via a part called the augur, which shifts pellets from the pellet hopper to the fire pot at a speed designated for holding a certain temperature. The grill will maintain this speed unless the temperature is changed or turned off.

When the temperature dial is turned off, the ignition rod will stop lighting pellets, and you’ll hear a fan running. This fan will continue to run until the pellets in the fire pot are extinguished. It is very important that when you turn the dial to off on the pellet grill, you don’t unplug it or turn the power off immediately, as this fan needs to run to extinguish the pellets.

If you turn the power off before the fan shuts off on its own, the flame could continue to burn and ignite the pellets in the augur and hopper. While this is rare, it does happen, and it causes something akin to an explosion which can be very scary.

So, for best results, never turn off or unplug a pellet grill until the internal fan stops running.

What to Consider When Buying a Pellet Grill

Have you decided that a pellet grill is the right option for you and your family? Well, then, it’s time to look at the factors that you should consider as you shop for your first pellet grill. 

Size/Space

In our opinion, the most important part of choosing a pellet grill is selecting one that is the right size for your family. After all, if you buy one that is too small for regular use, you won’t enjoy using your new pellet grill.

But at the same time, while buying one as large as possible might seem like the solution, remember that larger grills burn more fuel, so you’ll be wasting pellets if you have a lot of space that is left unused on a regular basis.

Additionally, you need to consider where you will keep the grill at your home. If you have a patio or need to store the grill in a shed during the winter, you may be more restricted in size than those who plan to leave their grill outside year-round.

We recommend getting a grill that has 100 square inches for each family member you plan to cook for on a regular basis. For example, if you have a 5-member family, a 500-square-inch grill is a good size to start.

Once you know how many square inches you need to feed your family, we also recommend considering what you will cook. If you want to smoke a turkey, for example, you will need to get a pellet grill that has enough clearance to do so.

Look at it this way, if you are a family of five, you need 500 square inches regularly, but let's say your parents often come to visit on the weekends. This means you should plan for a grill with at least 700 square inches since you will be cooking for 7 people just as often as you will be cooking for 5. And if you know you’ll be hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas at your house, it’s a good idea to get a smoker that can fit a turkey, pork butt, or other large cut of meat to impress your family. 

Pellet Hopper Size

Beyond just the size of the pellet grill, you want to look at the hopper size as well. Remember, your pellet grill will burn pellets at a different rate depending on your grill brand, but it will generally burn pellets at a rate of 2-3 lbs. per hour.

This means that if you get a pellet grill with only a 5 lb. hopper, you’ll need to refill your grill every couple of hours. This can get tedious, especially if you have some 18-hour smoke projects in mind.

While you shouldn’t base your purchase solely on hopper size, it is definitely something to keep in mind.

For more information about pellet burn rates, check out our article How long do pellets last

Construction/Durability

Pellet grills can be costly, but as long as you are getting a grill that is durable, it will last you for years to come and be well worth the initial cost.

The most durable materials when it comes to pellet grills are powder-coated steel, alloy steel, and cast iron. While stainless steel can be a good alternative, it can’t hold a candle to a steel grill.

So, before you buy, look at the materials used to make all aspects of the grill and ensure they are durable and long-lasting. Of course, if you are just getting into pellet grills, you may decide to go for a slightly cheaper one until you know if you like it. Either way, we recommend purchasing the most durable grill that you can afford.

Movement Abilities

One of the major things to consider as you shop is whether or not you want to be able to move your pellet grill after it is delivered. For some people with a permanent patio or kitchen, a heavy and bulky pellet grill is no problem as it will live in one spot all year round.

But, if you need to be able to move your pellet grill seasonally or want to take it tailgating, you’ll need to shop for a pellet grill that isn’t 300 lbs. and has wheels to make moving it easier. Oftentimes, if you decide on a brand, you can adjust the model to get the portability you need.

Don’t get too carried away with portability, though, as you also need to consider whether the portable grill you want to buy can truly meet your needs at home. You may even want to consider getting two pellet grills, one that can be used at home and one that you can take on the go, especially if you plan to grill frequently. 

Additional Features Desired

While some add-ons can be added to a pellet grill after purchase, there are many critical ones that need to be purchased at the same time as the grill. For example, if you want a grill with WIFI connectivity, then you need to purchase one outright—you cannot add WIFI connectivity later.

Plus, if you want lots of on-grill storage space, this is another add-on that usually must be considered prior to purchase. Although some grills do allow adding a small shelf to the side or front later (such as Traeger grills with the pop and lock system), those with lots of storage generally need to be purchased that way.

You’ll want to make a list of your non-negotiable grill add-ons before you go shopping to ensure the pellet grill you choose can meet all your needs. If you want a lot of accessories, it might even be worth it to look in advance and see which grills will work with the accessories you want to purchase.

Below are some of the additional features you likely want to consider when purchasing your grill:

  • WIFI and Bluetooth connectivity (cannot be added later)
  • Meat probes (Can be added later, but a company throwing one in could be a bonus!)
  • Ability to attach accessories later.
  • Shelf/storage space
  • Ability to build the grill into an outdoor patio or kitchen space (another accessory that cannot be added later).
  • All-terrain wheels (cannot be added later)

Warranty Length

Now this one is toward the bottom for a reason. While it can be important to consider warranty length as you shop, know that any reputable pellet grill brand will offer at least a three-year warranty, and if yours doesn’t, run.

That being said, while a 3-year warranty is generally sufficient if you are putting down significant amounts of cash, you may want to look for a brand with a 5- or 10-year warranty to ensure you can use your pellet grill for many years to come.

You may also want to try messaging the customer service of the brand you want to buy to see if they are responsive or not. A three-year warranty truly means nothing if you can’t contact someone to tell them about your issue. We recommend narrowing down your pellet grill choices to two brands and messaging both brands with customer service questions to see if they are a brand you want to possibly be dealing with in the future. 

Ease of Cleaning

Something else you should think of as you shop is how easy the pellet grill you want is to clean. Keeping your pellet grill clean is a major part of ensuring your investment is worth it and lasts you for years to come.

Most pellet grills these days have some sort of grease control system, and you’ll want to know what it is and how it works (also, consider buying some liners if it needs them!) Then you’ll also want to know whether or not you need to take apart your pellet grill to clean out the ash pot and other aspects of the grill.

In most cases, you do need to somewhat disassemble your grill at least once a season for cleaning, and you’ll want to make sure you can do so easily. If the pellet grill you are interested in has reviews stating it is hard to clean or take apart, you’ll probably want to look at another brand or model.

Also, know that you’ll want to clean the ash pot more frequently than the entire grill. We clean ours once a week, but if you smoke multiple days a week, you may need to vacuum it out twice a week. So, look for how easy it is to access the firepot regularly as you shop. 

Price

Last but not least, you’ll need to consider how much pellet grill you can afford. Even though we do recognize the importance of a budget, the reason we put price last is that you shouldn’t let it solely dictate your decision. Obviously, a pellet grill is going to be expensive, but remember that you are paying for a quality piece of equipment that will last your family for years to come.

Of course, there are $200 pellet grills on the market, but you’ll notice that we didn’t recommend any of these—mainly because they just aren’t on par when it comes to grill quality. While you should still set a budget before you shop, we recommend choosing a range and letting the combination of the above factors help you choose the perfect grill for your family. 

What Pellet Grill is the Best? 

tomahawk on smoker

Smoked tomahawk on the Traeger

Overall, the pellet grill, which is considered best, will vary from person to person based on their individual needs. In our opinion, the Traeger 780 is the best pellet grill that money can buy, and we couldn’t be happier with ours—but we know this isn’t the case for everyone.

As you shop for a pellet grill, take the time and energy to choose one that you know you are going to love. Just make sure you get one that is large enough for your family and suits your desires and price range, and you truly can’t go wrong!

A Pellet Grill vs Electric Smoker 

If you are considering a pellet grill as an alternative to an electric smoker, you may be wondering why you should pick a pellet grill. Well, in general, food made on a pellet grill is tastier, and the device is overall easier to use than an electric smoker.

Additionally, in our opinion, a pellet grill is easier to clean than an electric smoker, plus you get the added bonus of it working as a grill when you need it to. Electric smokers, while they work well for smoking, can’t usually be used as anything else, meaning you will need a second appliance if you also want to grill in addition to smoke.

Below we break down the advantages versus the disadvantages. 

Advantages of a Pellet Grill vs. an Electric Smoker

  • In most cases, a pellet grill can be controlled from afar via Wi-Fi technology, giving you more freedom while you smoke different meats.
  • Easy temperature control.
  • Fuel efficient—you’ll likely end up using less fuel than you would with an electric smoker.
  • Easy to clean.
  • More versatile.
  • Preheats quickly (10-15 minutes in most cases)

Disadvantages of a Pellet Grill vs an Electric Smoker

  • Generally, more expensive than an electric smoker.
  • You need to keep extra pellets on hand—you won’t be able to use the grill without them.
  • You usually can’t cold-smoke items like fish and cheese in a pellet grill.

A Pellet Grill vs. Charcoal Smoker

Similar to our comparison above, a pellet grill is generally easier to use than a charcoal smoker. Mainly because they come with automatic ignition systems, which save you the stress of trying to battle to light charcoal.

Plus, pellet grills are much easier to control temperature on, while charcoal can easily get too hot and ruin your plan of slow-cooking dinner. Pellet grills have made smoking accessible for everyone, and while some people miss that charcoal taste of a charcoal smoker, it can still be achieved using charcoal pellets in a pellet grill.

Below we further break down the advantages and disadvantages of both of these appliances. 

Advantages of a Pellet Grill vs a Charcoal Smoker

  • Less mess.
  • Easy and straightforward temperature control.
  • Easier to light and use (no need to use a chimney or other charcoal lighting method).
  • More control over the final taste of the meat.
  • Easier to clean.

Disadvantages of a Pellet Grill vs a Charcoal Smoker

  • You have to use charcoal pellets to get the same charcoal taste.
  • The pellet grill needs to be plugged in to work, so you’ll need to have an outlet nearby, making them less portable than a charcoal grill or smoker.  
  • Less portable than most charcoal smokers.
  • More expensive to buy and upkeep than a traditional charcoal smoker.

Are Pellet Grills Worth it?

Obviously, we are slightly biased, but we think pellet grills are 100% worth it. A pellet grill is a unique device that gives you the versatility of both smoking and grilling with one single device—meaning instead of needing to buy a smoker and a grill, you can just make one large purchase that can accomplish both.

Cost aside, pellet grills also produce far superior food to any other grill we’ve ever used. Whether you want wood smoke or even charcoal smoke, a pellet grill can do it all. Plus, they are way easier to light, use, and clean than a charcoal grill. You’re never going to find us buying a regular grill again, as all we want is another pellet grill!

While they can be an expensive initial purchase, pellet grills (as long as you buy a good brand) last a very long time, so we think they are worth a steep initial cost.

Accessories You Should Buy with Your Pellet Grill

traeger grill cover

A pellet grill is a large purchase, and you may feel like you don’t want to spend on anything else just yet. However, there are many accessories that are critical for the operation of your pellet grill, so as you order your new grill, you should add these to the basket as well—otherwise, your new grill will arrive, and you won’t be able to use it. 

1. A Cover

You are likely investing quite a bit of money into your new pellet grill, and we recommend buying a cover to protect your new purchase. Some pellet grill manufacturers will throw one in when you buy, but if they don’t, be sure you add one to the cart. 

2. A Spatula

Trust us on this one, that small plastic spatula for your kitchen isn’t going to work with your new pellet grill. Take the time to pick out a set of grill tools. While it doesn’t have to be fancy, we recommend choosing one with at least a grill-safe spatula and tongs. 

3. A Grill Brush

You’re going to need a way to clean the grates on your new grill! If you’re anything like us, you are probably a little nervous about purchasing a grill brush with bristles. We recommend grabbing a Fire Rescue Grill Brush, which is 100% bristle-free.

4. Wooden Pellets

Your new pellet grill won’t work without pellets! We recommend grabbing a few bags of different flavors to experiment with until you find your favorite. You may also want to grab a bag of charcoal pellets if you are a fan of the charcoal flavor when cooking. 

5. A Temperature Probe

Many pellet grills come with a temperature probe, and if yours does, you can skip this one. But if yours doesn’t, you absolutely need a temperature probe to ensure your meat is done. We don’t recommend gauging doneness using any other method. 

6. Fireproof Gloves

If you are planning to make large cuts of meat like brisket or pork butt, the tongs you’re buying above aren’t going to cut it. We recommend buying fireproof gloves to make transporting large cuts of meat easy. If you are just going to use your pellet grill for burgers and steaks, you can skip this one.

That about covers the accessories you will need right away when you buy your pellet grill. Of course, you may notice that you need some additional ones later, and that’s fine, we just recommend grabbing these ones right away so you can grill as soon as your pellet grill arrives.

Pellet Grill FAQs

What Are Some Affordable Pellet Grill Brands?

While we love our Traegers, we know that they aren’t in everyone’s budget. Those looking for a more affordable pellet grill will want to look at Pit Boss, ZGrills, and Camp Chef for some budget pellet grill options. 

Are Traegers Worth the High Cost?

As you already read, we think a pellet grill is worth the high initial cost. But what about Traegers? Well, we also find them worth it. Although they are more expensive than other brands, they often surpass the other brands in terms of accessories, ease of use, and quality.

Therefore, while a Traeger may cost more initially, it will likely last you longer than a less expensive brand.

Are Pellet Grills Really Smokers?

In short, pellet grills offer the benefits of both a grill and a smoker, and we have yet to find a difference between our pellet grill and our smoker. However, pellet grills work slightly differently than traditional smokers, meaning you likely won’t be able to cold smoke cheese or salmon—but other than that, we don’t see a major difference!

Why Are Pellet Grills More Expensive?

If you are comparing the cost of a pellet grill to a gas grill, you may be wondering why they are so expensive, and the answer is that pellet grills are high in demand! Not only that but they are built to last. Your average gas grill won’t last longer than 5-7 years, while a pellet grill is built to last 10. So, while they may cost more initially, they are so worth it!

Are Pellet Grills Good for Beginners?

Pellet Grills are one of the best choices on the market for someone who is just starting to get into smoking. They are easy to use, allowing you to get the hang of it, and experiment, without having to struggle to use a traditional smoker. 

Final Thoughts on the 10 Best Pellet Grills

Overall, we hope that this article has helped you learn all about the different pellet grills that are out there, how they work, and what pellet grill is best for your family. If you still have questions, take a look at some of our other pellet grill articles to learn more about them.

Mike Futia

Hello, I'm Mike Futia, a passionate griller and BBQ enthusiast. I'm the creator of Grill Frenzy, and I'm committed to sharing my knowledge of grilling and smoking with you. I believe that BBQ and grilling should be accessible to everyone. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, I'm here to guide you on your grilling journey. Welcome!


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