Grilling and barbecue enthusiasts would agree that a pellet smoker is a a great type of grill to have. Aside from being a simple-to-use yet versatile cooker, this grill utilizes an automatically fed supply of pellets to maintained a pre-established temperature and infuse foods with smoke flavor and aroma.
Thankfully, the market full of time-tested models as well as newer, more innovative designs. From portable setups made exclusively for traveling and camping to those that offer direct heat cooking and temperature precision, there’s a grill to match every need. Below we breakdown the 5 best pellet smoker grills in 2019. For more background information, check out our pellet smoker grill buying advice and reviews below.
Want to try out a charcoal grill first? Then read our other review article, The Best Charcoal Grill.
Best Pellet Smoker Grill Buying Guide
How To Choose The Best Pellet Smoker Grill
With numerous options on the market, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Choosing a pellet grill for your need depends on what you’ll be cooking, the convenience you are after, your budget, and probably where you live (this will be clearer later). That notwithstanding, however, here are some additional aspects to consider.
1. Construction Material
Do not be fooled by the attractive pellet smoker exterior. Even with plenty of stainless steel easily visible, the manufacturer could have cut corners and used material that rusts on the inside. The fire pot, drip pan, flame deflector, and grates are the most important components of your pellet smoker and they should be made of industrial-grade stainless steel to last a lifetime.
If you’re after a grill made with powder coated steel, ensure the coating is high quality because the grill will start to rust and components will deteriorate as soon as the pain chips or blisters. It is also essential to note that pellet smokers made of high-quality materials perform better. With high-quality construction materials, you will enjoy better heat retention, efficient pellet consumption, and consistent temperature in cold weather.
2. Size of the Hopper
The hopper is a contained that stores your pellets ready for the auger to push them into the fire-pot. Ultimately, the size of your hopper dictates how long your cooks will be. Settling for a hopper that’s too small will result in less cooking time. Basically, a 40 pound hopper is supposed to give approximately 40 hours of cooking time at standard grilling temperatures.
Take into account where you live because if the climate cooler, your cooker will utilize more fuel to bring the smoker up and maintain consistent temperature. If what’s available for purchase isn’t large enough, you could buy a hopper extension. However, ensure the extension is compatible with the pellet smoker you settle for, and that the manufacturer is also reliable.
Central to pellet smokers is a controller that allows you to select your preferred cooking temperature.
Here are the different grill controllers you’ll come across as you shop around.
- 3-position controllers. These controllers are common on cheaper pellet cookers and come with three settings – low (225 degrees), medium (325 degrees), and high (425 degrees). These controllers feed the pellets in fixed cycles so you have little control over the temperature.
- Multi-position controllers. These controllers let you adjust the cooking temperature in smaller increments. Although pellets are fed in a fixed cycle, these controllers come with an LCD screen.
- PID controllers. Viewed as the gold standard of grill controllers, PID controllers use complex algorithms to produce cooking temperatures that are accurate to within a few degrees. Pellet feed is continuously adjusted to maintain the right temperature and feature LCDs as well. These controllers could also accommodate programmable meat probes which work together with the controller to reduce the temperature when cooking is complete.
4. Additional Capabilities
Unlike standard charcoal smokers, pellet grills could have a whole bunch of extras. Some features you should take into account include:
- Meat probes. Some pellet grills have outputs in the controllers that let you plug in meat probes directly. Readings taken from the meat can then be displayed conveniently on an LCD.
- Wi-Fi capability. Companies are now taking advantage of the fact that pellet smokers have a computer system in them. By integrating Wi-Fi capabilities, you can easily control and monitor the temperature of your cooker remotely.
- Grilling options. Earlier on, pellet cookers lacked grilling capabilities. Luckily, however, manufacturers have accommodated grilling, either by creating a dedicated grilling area or removing part of the cooker’s diffuser plate.
Benefits of a Pellet Smoker Grill
For many people, the versatility and convenience offered by pellet smokers is a plus. As a bonus, however, you can get:
- Temperature control. Most pellet smoker grills let you dial in your cooking temperature to within five degrees, and these units do a great job maintaining a stable temperature.
- Fuel efficiency. Pellet smokers could be compared to a home oven with an efficient convection fan so you spend much less in pellets than charcoal.
- Zero Flare Ups. Flare ups are a huge problem on most grills, but not the case with pellet grills. The fire pot is shielded from direct contact with food by a heat deflector and drip tray.
- Quick Heat Up. Most pellet grills will be lit in 10 minutes of pressing the power button. This allows busy people to grill at seemingly impossible times without compromising on flavor. Essentially, pellet cookers have the convenience of gas grills but with the added flavor of grilling over wood.
Pellet Grill Vs Charcoal Grill
For a long time, charcoal grills have been the classic way to grill food and you’ve probably used a charcoal grill at one point in time. While there are various types of charcoal grills (Kettle, Kamado, and Barrel), there are typically two fuel sources: charcoal briquettes and lump charcoal.
Cooking on charcoal grills could be a slow process that requires lots of practice to master, mainly because of the difficulty to control temperatures. Pellet grills, on the other hand, provide a simpler approach to temperature control which makes them more appealing to their charcoal counterparts. Pellet grills are also easier to clean than charcoal grills since a 40 lbs. bag of wood pellets produces no more than 1 cup of ash.
The 5 Best Pellet Smoker Grills 2019 Reviews
The Z-Grills ZPG-450A is an authentic US brand, 6-in-1 grill and smoker that employs advanced wood fire technology that provides wood fire flavor at the convenience of gas. Besides the total rack surface area of 700 square inches, this smoker can also cook for about 20 hours per 20 lbs. of pellets. Beginners and seasoned grillers can enjoy super easy cooking all thanks to an electronic auto-start ignition, auto temperature control, and a real-time LED temperature display.
This smoker also boasts a stainless steel construction that’s highly resistant to corrosion. With a temperature range of 180 to 450 degrees, this cooker is incredibly versatile and suitable for smoking, grilling, baking, roasting or searing. The digital temperature control automatically pushes pellets as needed for proper temperature regulation (which often stays within 10 degrees of the set temperature). And with the convenient heat distribution technology, your food will be cooked evenly and to perfection. The cooker also boasts a specially designed waste oil collector that makes cleaning super easy as well as an upgraded card for easy movement.
- 3-year warranty
- Authentic wood flavored meat
- 6-in-1 grill and smoker
- Easy to assemble
- Great customer service from the manufacturer
- Doesn’t include a clean out chute
- Temperature control unit isn’t as accurate
- Pellet hopper doesn’t feed properly
Known to many as the ultimate tailgate grill, the Green Mountain Davy Crockett Grill is one of the few Wi-Fi enabled pellet grills on the market. This grill can operate on 12V for home use or camping and the foldable legs can function as handles when you need to pack up.
The Sense-Mate thermal sensor monitors the cooker’s temperature while the dedicated Wi-Fi controllers allows you to control and monitor the grill through an Android or iOS app. The grill also comes with a peaked lid that provides sufficient space for a stand-up chicken or any large foods you’re cooking. Other great additions to this cooker include a meat probe, a convenience tray fitted with utensil hooks, and a grease tray. Weighing 57 pounds, this pellet grill is designed to fit in the trunk of most cars.
- Wi-Fi enabled
- Control can be done manually or through the app
- Legs can be folded into carrying handles
- Pellets last long
- Easy cleanup
- Stainless steel lid fades with time
- Short Wi-Fi coverage
Pellet grills incorporate a high level of technology, and the Z GRILLS ZPG-550B 7-in-1 Pellet Smoker isn’t an exception since it offers a perfect blend of traditional cooking and stellar technology. Arguably the highlight of the smoker is the Smart Smoke technology that helps the cooker maintain temperatures within the range of 20 degrees. The 538 sq. inch grilling area is adequately large to handle bigger family gatherings. Fueled by 100% hardwood pellets, this cooker generates heat and smoke that infuses your food with the savory wood-fire taste.
The grill’s automated electric feed system means that you can set everything and walk away with a guarantee that temperature is maintained between 180 degrees and 450 degrees. This smoker is also equipped with an oil collector that drains grease into a bucket. We also loved the fan-forced convection cooking that creates a great environment for baking, smoking, roasting, and braising.
- Several grilling options
- Lifetime warranty
- Digital temperature control
- Easy to use
- Great smoke taste
- Easy to assemble
- Comes with some dented components
If you’re looking for a pellet smoker grill with the most advanced digital control, then the Camp Chef PG24MZG SmokePro is what you need. The smart temperature control and automatic auger sends pellets into the grill to maintain proper grilling heat. You just have to set it and leave it to work. Cleaning between cooks is incredibly easy all thanks to a patented ash cleanout system that only requires you to pull a lever.
Assembling and firing this grill up is also straightforward all thanks to the walk-through video on camp chef website. After that, you can pay more attention to grilling on a large, dual-tier cooking surface. Brought together, these grilling surfaces provide up to 811 sq. inches of grilling space. And if you want to change the wood pellets, just place a bucket on the hook then pull the lever to clean out your hopper. Besides the convection style cooking, we also loved the fact that we could cook steaks with a direct flame mode. Better yet, the two stainless steel meat probes let us know when food is cooked.
- Temperature control is great
- Well built
- Easy to clean
- Responsive customer service
- Direct flame cooking
- Price of desirable accessories is expensive
- Complaints that the grill arrived damaged
Are you looking for the ultimate way to achieve a wood-fired taste? Then the Traeger TFB38TOD Renegade Pro is the grill you need. Versatile barbeque cooking is a breeze since you can choose to go hot and fast or slow and low by relying on an 18 lbs. pellet hopper. Additionally, this 6-in-1 cooker adds to the versatility by letting you roast, smoke, braise, bake, and BBQ your food to juicy perfection. The electronic auto-start ignition makes firing up this cooker fast.
In terms of construction, this grill is boasts a powerful steel body with a powder coat finish that’s sturdy and durable. Besides, the porcelain grill grates are a breeze to clean and the wheels are all-terrain for easy movement. Precise temperature control is easily achieved with the Digital Pro Controller that maintains temperatures within the 15 degrees range for precision grilling. Although it is relatively small compared to other models we reviewed, the 380 sq. inch cooking area can accommodate 12 burgers or 2 chickens.
- All-terrain wheels
- Sturdy construction
- Dual meat temperature probes
- Easy to assemble
- Self-regulating temperature
- Quite heavy
- Packaging isn’t adequately protected
With all aspects considered, we’ve decided to settle for the Green Mountain Davy Crockett Grill on this one. It’s everything that a good pellet smoker router should be – affordable, good construction, portable, great temperature control, and well worth the money.
True, its stainless steel lid may fade with time, but none of the other pellet smoker grills are Wi-Fi enabled. Nonetheless, this grill will be more than sufficient for an average household, just don’t expect to control the smoker when you’re several yards away!