These smokers are ideal if you want a versatile and quick cooker with a less messy post-grilling cleanup.
These cookers, manufactured by Camp Chef, Traeger, and Pit Boss, among others, are extremely adaptable and perform faster than charcoal smokers. They also feature a computerized controller and a pellet feeding system, which help the smoker in maintaining a consistent temperature by adding wood as needed.
Wood pellets are food–grade and available in a variety of tastes and wood types.
In this article, we will go through the top pellet smokers on the market right now. We’ll also go over what to look for when buying a pellet smoker, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of pellet smoking, to help you find the ideal model.
Our top pellet smoker in each category
1. Our top pick: Pit Boss sportsman 820
Pit Boss is more accessible and economical to the typical user when compared to other manufacturers. However, the low price does not detract from its effectiveness because this grill produces comparable outcomes to its more expensive equivalents.
Furthermore, this brand allows you to enjoy a distinct natural smoking ability that you won’t find in other smokers or grills. So, whether you want to make seared fish, smoke jerky, or grill game, this model can do it all.
- Cooking variety
- Large cooking space
- Meat probes included
- Suitable for outdoor usage
- Low cost
- Easy to clean
- Side shelf and removable tray
- The auger takes some time to reflect temperature changes
2. Best budget: Z grills 7002e 2020 new model wood pellet grill & smoker
You get a huge grilling area of 700 square inches, an automatic electric system to feed the pellets, and a smoker that allows you to grill, bake, sear, barbecue, smoke, braise, roast, and chargrill.
This grill also has a built-in controller, a single temperature and pellet supply control system, and an auto-ignition feature for a quick start. It has a good hopper of 20 lbs., which reduces the need for regular pellet reloading.
For temperature regulation, there is an easy-to-read display and a shutdown recycles mode. The maximum temperature of this model is 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Reasonably priced
- Easy to operate
- Generous three-year guarantee
- Sturdy, high-quality build
- Versatile features
- A fantastic wood pellet grill
- It can be finicky and difficult to clean.
- It is difficult to assemble
3. Best for big gatherings: Camp Chef grill Smokepro lux.
This larger Camp Chef SmokePro LUX Pellet Grill outperforms its smaller cousin model, the SmokePro DLX. It has a generous 663 square inch grilling surface on the lower rack and an extra 221 square inch grilling surface on the warming rack. This is ideal for adding more cooking areas.
Smart Smoke Technology and an automatic auger dispenser create tasty smokey barbeque. Aside from that, the grill includes other features that would cost a lot of money on its own, such as a meat probe, auto ignition, warming rack, and a utility shelf.
It features a huge capacity of 18 pounds and excellent temperature controls, allowing for continuous cooking. It also assembles quickly and effortlessly, with no difficult processes, just like the smokepro dlx model.
- Large cooking area
- Dual LED temperature readout
- Patented ash cleanout system
- Convenient electronic auto-start ignition
- Includes a pellet hopper cleanout and purge
- It does not produce a deep smoky flavor like other smokers in its class
- Temperature controls are slightly inaccurate
4. Best looking: Louisiana grill lg1100
If you’ve never used a pellet grill before, you might be skeptical of modern technology. However, once you realize the full potential of the Louisiana Grill LG1100, it will shift your outlook on food and inspire you to try new cooking techniques.
This grill has an excellent built-in broiler plate, which is not common in other products. With this one, though, you need tongs to slide a metal plate at the base of the primary cooking chamber, exposing the meat to direct heat, as you would with a charcoal grill.
- Direct heat exposure
- Large grilling area
- Proprietary exhaust system
- Durable construction
- Digital Control
- The control station can be difficult to use
- It may be a little pricey
5. Best for slow cooking: Traeger pro 575 pellet grill
The Traeger PRO 575 excels at slow cooking and smoking meat at low temperatures. It allows you to slow-cook your food for eight hours or more, with only the occasional pellet popping. It maintains a steady temperature throughout the grilling process with the help of an electrical controller, preventing your meat from burning.
Another interesting feature is the WiFi connectivity, which enables you to connect this grill to your router while controlling its features and several cooking modes via an app. Furthermore, the app offers a range of recipes, advice, and tips.
- LED display
- WiFi connectivity
- Easy to use
- Six cooking modes
- Suitable for slow cooking
- Durable powder coating
- Difficult temperature controls
6. Best quality: Z grills – zpg-10002e
For more than 30 years, this US-based company has been producing high-quality smokers.
When it comes to performance, it performs admirably in both smoke and wood pellet grills. On the other side, the 432 square inch cooking area provides ample space for all of your culinary activities. There are two more racks for smoking warming, and the temperature ranges from 160° F to 450° F for quick cooking.
- Easy to use
- 8-in-1 BBQ
- LED display
- Large grilling area
- Precise temperature control
- Auto-start ignition system
- Its side table may be weird and difficult to operate
7. Best for outdoor: Pit Boss sportsman portable pellet grill
Portable grills are quite useful, especially when you want to spend some time outside with your friends, enjoying excellent cuisine and fresh air. As a result, Pit Boss combines several features to provide its customers with the best cooking experience possible.
This appliance has digital controls, an automatic starter, and a cool-down function, and it can generate cooking temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Suitable for outdoor use
- Decent cooking surface
- Meat probe
- Folding legs
- Reasonably priced
- High-quality build
- Due to the tiny cooking surface, it may not be suited for large groups.
8. Best smart wifi: Camp Chef – Smokepro sg 24
Camp Chef may be the best choice if you want the ultimate high-end experience in pellet grilling technology. This fantastic grill has an 811 square inch cooking surface and a split-second grill rack that doubles the usable cooking space.
Given that this is a convection machine, heat is always circulating and reaching the higher rack. It also includes dual temperature probes, an LED display, and a big 22-pound hopper. The temperature varies from 160°F to 500°F, with direct flame grilling to 650°F using grill and slide technology. These are great features for reducing cooking time.
- LED screen
- Large cooking surface
- Patented ask cleanout
- Adjustable smoke settings
- Pellet hopper cleanout
- Grease management system
- Two grilling shelves
- Some customers prefer their thermometers to the new controller’s temperature sensors.
9. Best portable grill: Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett includes a WiFi feature, allowing you to monitor your smartphone or tablet grill. Checking the internal meat temperature is a breeze, thanks to an innovative touchpad controller with an integrated meat thermometer.
This small pellet grill comes with adaptors that can be powered by a regular outlet or a 12V battery if you’re a novice griller or frequently grill on the go when camping or tailgating. This is the ideal portable pellet smoker for you.
- WiFi connectivity and App compatibility for convenience
- Excellent temperature gauge
- Large cooking area for low and slow cooking
- Highly portable
- An affordable wood pellet grill
- Easy to use, making it ideal for beginners
- Not ideal for huge BBQ output.
- The process of connecting to WiFi can be difficult.
10. Best professional-level: Traeger select elite pellet grill and smoker
The Traeger Select Elite is the best professional grill designed to provide an authentic grilling experience. It is adaptable and features an easy-to-use, no-mess operation.
This model boasts strong porcelain-enameled grates, 6-in-1 versatility, and a generous 589 square inches of cooking space. These Traeger grills can cook twenty burgers, six enormous racks of ribs, or five birds simultaneously.
- Ample cooking space
- Ample storage
- Easy to clean
- Well-built; excellent design and features
- Outstanding customer support via phone and email
- Quite heavy
- Difficult to assemble
What is a pellet smoker (or grill)?
A pellet smoker is a grill-smoker that runs on small compressed wood pellets. Most pellet smokers operate at temperatures ranging from 150 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, they are better suited for low-and-slow barbecuing and grilled dishes that do not require a quick sear. Pellet smokers are powered by electricity and positioned near an electrical outlet (or a generator, if off-grid). Pellet grills and pellet smokers are both terms used interchangeably, except for pellet-fueled cabinet smokers and the like.
Pellet smokers are best suited for…
Even the most basic pellet smoker will cost more than charcoal or gas. However, for a little more money upfront, you’ll enjoy the ease and versatility that has pellet smokers taking over patios around the country.
Prices for good pellet grills start at about $400 and can easily exceed $1000. When was the last time you could acquire a great charcoal smoker such as the Weber Smokey Mountain for less than $300? You may be wondering why you would want to purchase a pellet grill.
The advantages of cooking with a pellet smoker may be summed up in two words. How pellet smokers function in terms of “convenience” and “versatility.”
How pellet smokers work
While pellet smokers share the ‘set it and forget it’ style of their gas and electric cousins, they use different ways to generate heat.
These smokers, as the name implies, operate by burning cylindrical hardwood pellets. A common configuration will contain a hopper on the side where the pellets are added.
Like those found in modern indoor ovens, a digital controller lies at the heart of all pellet cookers. You choose a temperature, and an LED display shows you the actual temperature.
Pellet cookers typically contain a drill or some feed mechanism that propels the pellets into a burn pot, which is roughly the size of a beer can cut in half. When you turn on the grill, an igniter rod in the bottom of the pot glows like the element on an electric stove.
As the pellets ignite, a fan blows to provide oxygen to them, and the igniter turns off.
One of the most significant parts of a pellet smoker is the controller. Throughout the cook, the controller maintains the temperature in your pellet cooker.
There are several types of grill controllers available:
- Three-position controllers: These controllers are commonly found on lower-priced pellet cookers and have three settings: low (225°F), medium (325°F), and hot (425°F). They are also referred to as LMH controllers. Because the pellets are fed into the burner inset cycles, you don’t control the temperature.
- Multi-position controllers: These allow you to adjust the temperature in smaller increments. In ideal settings, a multi-position controller is usually accurate to +/-20°F. The addition of an LCD screen is a wonderful feature of these controllers.
- Non-PID one-touch controller: This controller allows you to set the temperature in 5-10°F increments. However, they continue to feed pellets in set cycles, limiting their precision to +/- 15-20°F. They also include LCD panels, one-touch buttons, and several have meat probe inputs.
- PID (proportional-integral-derivative) controllers: PID controllers are widely regarded as the gold standard of grill controllers. Temperatures are precise to a few degrees using advanced algorithms. To keep the temperature stable, the pellet feed is regularly regulated. This controller can even support programmed meat probes, which work combined with the controller to reduce the temperature when the meat is done.
Buying guide – What to consider when buying a pellet smoker
Cooking surface area
The best pellet grills range in size from 300 to 1300 square inches, with larger-sized grills costing more.
The amount of cooking space you’ll require is determined by how many people you regularly prepare for and how much food you want to cook in one cycle. A small smoker or grill of 570 square inches or less may allow you to cook more barbecue sessions. However, a larger smoker of 600 square inches or more may result in pellet waste.
Choose a model with a powder-coated stainless steel body and a sturdy build. This quality ensures that it will endure a long time and that it will be rust-resistant and weather-proof.
Premium pellet smokers also include features like a firebox, porcelain-enameled grates, and a drip pan. For maximum longevity, the best pellet smoker will be made of marine-grade 304 stainless steel.
When choosing a pellet grill, make sure the tip of the electrical-powered auger tube is positioned safely away from the combustion chamber to keep the fire from reaching any unused pellets in storage. Also, aim for large augers to avoid wood pellet jamming and a hopper capacity of at least 18 lbs. for undisrupted cooking.
Pellet smokers with digital controllers are preferable because they simplify grilling and temperature management. These grills are ideal for set-and-forget smoking since they allow you to move away from the grill while the smoke develops.
These controllers are available in the following configurations:
- Non-PID Controllers — These allow you to control the temperature of your pellet grill in 5-10°F increments. They also have meat probes, LED displays, and a one-touch button.
- PID Controllers — these enable smoking on autopilot. They use complicated algorithms to keep the temperature within certain limits.
- 3-position controllers – these controllers have three heat settings: low (225°F), medium (325°F), and high (425°F). Because this controller delivers pellets into the combustion chamber at predetermined intervals, you have less control over the temperature. Lower-priced variants generally accompany them.
PID controllers are the most effective. They relay temperature differences inside the smoker and keep the temperature range within +/-50 degrees Fahrenheit of your selected temperature. WiFi connectivity is also available on some PID digital temperature controls.
Most of these finest pellet grills feature temperature ranges ranging from 180 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, making them ideal for baking, smoking, and grilling. Pellet grills run in the 180 to 400-degree range if you prefer to smoke low and leisurely. If you want to sear or hot smoke your meal, consider a grill that can reach temperatures ranging from 500 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
The combustion system
The combustion system is made up of two parts: the fire pot and the igniter.
The fire pot is little more than a thick steel can with ventilation holes cut in it. The igniter rod functions similarly to a car’s cigarette lighter. During the initial startup, the tip glows red hot, and after the controller detects heat in the grill, the igniter turns off.
Top pellet grills provide amazing extra features that improve your grilling experience. Among these features are:
- WiFi Connectivity – some grills are WiFi-enabled, allowing you to control them from a distance using a smart device.
- Sear Box – some grills include a sear box for additional chargrilling and hot smoking capability.
- Built-in Lighting – grilling outdoors in low light conditions is easier and quicker with built-in lighting.
A high-quality model will cost between $400 and $2000. A low-quality smoker that does not meet your barbeque needs can end up costing you more in the long run. For true smoking value, choose a grill that is inexpensive, robust, and well-made.
Ease of clean up
As ash from burned pellets accumulates around the burn pot and behind the heat deflector, pellet grills needs to be cleaned regularly.
Most models are relatively easy to clean with a shop vac. You will need to remove the grill grates and the deflector plate.
Some versions, such as the Camp Chef Woodwind, provide a simple way to wipe out the ash from the burn pot without disassembling the entire grill.
Other things to consider
Power — Consider how far your smoker will be from an outlet, as all pellet grills need 110v/120v AC power. Unless you want to have an electrician install it permanently, you should get a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord with at least 12-gauge wire.
Maintenance – When you mix electronics, steel, and weather, you can get into trouble. Motors, igniters, and electrical parts can and do fail. Consider the company’s age and inquire about the availability of replacement parts in the future. Some pieces are standard, while others are made to order. Will you be able to obtain spare parts in the future?
Your Cooking Style — Before buying a pellet smoker, consider how much pellet grilling you will perform. Are you going to create a restaurant providing smoked meats, or will you just smoke a brisket now and then for yourself and your wife?
Pellet grills are first and foremost smokers, then grills. Usually, the burn pot is small and will not do as well as a standard charcoal grill at grilling huge numbers of steaks and burgers. If you only need one or two burgers, most of these will be enough.
The advantages of using a pellet smoker
- These smokers are more efficient than charcoal or electric smokers. They pre-heat quickly, employ digital control to keep temperatures stable and cook much faster. Pellet grills have excellent temperature control, allowing you to rest while your meal cooks. Most pellet grills include automated temperature regulation, which eliminates the need for you to stand over your grill and watch your food in case it burns.
- Pellet smokers are a fantastic investment and value for money. They may be more expensive, but the convenience and functionality they provide are superior.
- Pellet grills are versatile, with some offering 6-in-1 and even 8-in-1 features. With these handy cookers, you can barbecue, roast, grill, bake, and smoke.
- Pellet smokers make little to no mess during smoking, making them easy to clean. Some models also have self-cleaning systems and ash cleanout systems.
- Some models allow for cold smoking, allowing you to cook things like smoked salmon and smoked cheese.
The disadvantages of pellet smokers
- They do not produce high heat temperatures like the charcoal grills. They cannot sear with this feature as well, and you will not receive the distinctive finest flavor that a charcoal grill provides.
- All pellet grills require electricity to function. This limitation may limit where you may set it up.
- Pellet grills are unable to function without pellets. Always keep an extra supply of pellets on hand if you run out in the middle of a cooking session.
- These beauties aren’t cheap. Expect to pay between $350 and $400 on the cheap end and more than $1000 for luxury brands and models.
Do pellet grills require electricity?
Pellet grills, unlike gas or charcoal grills, need electricity to operate. A pellet grill’s thermometer, control panel, auger, and fans are all often all-electric, so the equipment must be plugged in before you can start grilling.
How effective are wood pellet smokers?
Pellet grills are fantastic if taste is what you’re after in your barbecue outcomes. To cook foods, the pellets emit both heat and smoke, gradually producing new flavors.
Wood pellet smokers enable you to experiment with different types of wood to produce various barbecue flavors. To achieve mixed results, you can choose from maple, oak, and cherry, among others. Check out our best wood pellets you can use.
Which smokes the best?
The answer depends on how you use your smoker and your skill level as a grill master. Each type of smoker grill has a unique set of features to fit your style and skill level.
- Charcoal Smoker
A charcoal smoker is the most difficult to use because the temperature controls are completely manual, and the operation is untidy. They are best suited for experienced users. They produce the best-tasting barbeque with a sophisticated smokey flavor.
- Smoker (Electric)
Electric smokers are the easiest to operate and are ideal for beginners. As opposed to traditional smokers such as charcoal or gas BBQs, electric cookers manage the flow of electricity to a heating unit rather than air to a direct flame.
Because of this, they are far more controlled and make safer cookers, making them ideal for novices.
- Gas Smokers
A gas grill is convenient, small, and simple to use. They’re a wonderful choice for beginners, ideal for outdoor cooking, and are pretty painless if you’re going to cook with the “set it and forget it” strategy.
How do you take care of a wood pellet grill?
To clean the grates before cooking, raise the temperature to 200 to 300°F and wait 10 minutes for the grease to melt. After that, use a brush to remove any food particles that have remained on the grates.
Next, remove the grates and use a scraper to wipe the grease drip tray. Scrape and clean the grease shoot with a long wooden stick.
Use a vacuum to remove any remaining ash from the inside of the chamber and the firepot. To finish, use a mildly wet cloth to wipe down the chamber and the metal probes. Some pellet grills may also include an ash-removal mechanism for easier cleanup. Simply empty the bucket of ash and reinstall it.
You should clear out the chimney once a year with a brush and a damp towel. Along with this, be sure to wipe the grill’s exterior and use a polish to keep the stainless steel surfaces in good condition.
Pellet smokers are becoming increasingly popular, and this trend does not appear to be slowing down.
A pellet grill is more convenient than a charcoal grill, produces a great, smoky flavor on grilled dishes, and is easier to use. Even if you have to dig a bit deeper into your budget, especially if you are buying a large grill, the investment is well worth it; this grill will work well for you many years to come. Pit Boss, Traeger, and Camp Chef make some of the best models.
Last update on 2022-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API