The 7 best pellet smoker Grills for 2021 with reviews Plus a Complete Buyer’s Guide

best pellet smoker

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In this article about the best pellet smoker, we have compiled a list of 7 pellet smokers. For a variety of reasons, pellet smokers have become more popular among BBQ enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Pellet smokers are easy to use since they use wood pellets as fuel. A digital controller controls everything, delivering that delicious BBQ wood smoke taste we all like with minimal effort.

However, as these pellet smokers have become popular, several more manufacturers have gotten on board and manufactured their own. In this article, we will help you find the best pellet smokers and advise you on the best option for you.

We will go over the best pellet smokers, what to look for, and our top pick.

Here is How we tested and rated the pellet smokers in list.

  • Features
  • Quality
  • Cooking Capacity
  • Hopper Size
  • Efficiency 
  • Maintenance Requirements
  • Warranty

These Are Pellet Smokers and Grills are Discussed in this Article and Described in More Detail Below in this Article

Table Of Contents
  1. Here is How we tested and rated the pellet smokers in list.
  2. These Are Pellet Smokers and Grills are Discussed in this Article and Described in More Detail Below in this Article
  3. The Best Pellet Smokers Buyer’s Guide – What to look for in a good pellet smoker
  4. Detailed Reviews of the 7 best pellet smokers
  5. How do pellet smokers work?
  6. How do I pick wood pellets for smoking?
  7. Beware of gimmicks
  8. Are Pellet Grills Worth It?
  9. The Last word. Which is the best pellet smokers?

The Best Pellet Smokers Buyer’s Guide – What to look for in a good pellet smoker

Common features and capabilities

The best pellet grills are packed with technology and features. However, not every pellet grill offers the same features and capabilities. Some pellet smokers offer the latest gadgets, including WiFI enabled controllers, while others only offer a cooking timer.

A pellet smoker is an amazing machine, and three main complements make these grills work. First, you have the pellet hopper, which holds and stores the wood pellets. Then there is the auger or automatic pellet feeder, which moves the pellets to the fire pot.

Once the pellets are dropped in the fire pot, an electrical igniter ( heat rod ) heats and burns the pellets while an electric fan below the pot blows air through the pot to build a flame.

These are the basic components of any pellet grill. In charge of controlling all these components is a digital controller referred to as the PID ( Proportional, Integral, Derivative). Yeah, I know, better to just say PID. The digital controller monitors the pellet smoker’s internal temperature feeding wood pellets and ignites pellets accordingly to maintain the desired temperature.

What to look for in Pellet Grills Controller

  • An easy-to-use temperature controller.
  • At least one meat probe.

Now, the best wood pellet smokers take this formula to another level. The top pellet grill manufacturers further develop their grills to add more precise temperature control systems and smart technologies. 

These extra and advanced features can include a temperature probe, preprogrammed temperatures for different proteins, and even an auto-shutoff monitoring system to turn off the grill when the food is done.

Then things go to a higher level where top pellet grills will have WiFi-enabled controllers that you can monitor and control from your phone.

If you want a good pellet grill, stick to the basics and make sure the basic components we mentioned are present and of the highest quality.

If you want the best or have the means to pay more, pellet grills with advanced technologies such as WIFI will be more expensive.

Durability and Quality

Aside from a good and easy-to-use temperature control system, quality is another area where your money should be spent. Because of the technology and components required in making these grills function, pellet grills are not inexpensive. So you do not want to invest money on a pellet grill just to have to replace it a year later.

Other components of a pellet grill are the fire pots, fire deflectors, drip pans, grates, and the cabinet itself. When looking at a grill constructed of powder coated steel, ensure the coating is high quality. Cheaper pellet smokers with cheap paint can peel off during high-temperature burns and even while the smoker is preheating.

When the coating or paint on your grill peels away, exposing raw metal, it will begin to rust.

High-quality materials and thicker steel will retain heat better, allowing the pellet smoker to be more efficient, use less fuel, and work better in cold weather.

Size of the Hopper

You can compare the pellet hopper with the fuel tank of a car. The larger the pellet hopper capacity, the more fuel you have available and less need to refuel.

The average pellet grill will consume about 1 pound of pellets per hour. A pellet smoker will consume slightly less because it cooks and operates at a lower temperature range. So a 40-pound pellet hopper provides approximately forty hours of cooking at normal meat smoking temperatures.

The wood pellet burning rates can increase during the winter months when the smoker needs to burn more pellets to compensate for the colder temperatures.

Most pellet smokers have a 20-pound pellet hopper capacity, which is enough for smoking a big brisket or rack of ribs. Although 20 hours of cooking period without refueling the pellet hopper is not bad, a lower pellet hopper capacity, such as an eight or ten pound hopper, may require more frequent refueling during a long meat smoking session.

You can purchase hopper extensions for your pellet grill and add, on average, an extra 20 hours.

The larger the pellet hopper, the more expensive the pellet smoker will be. So consider how you will be using your smoker. If you are serious about smoking meats and are planning on smoking large meat cuts, then invents in a large grill with a large hopper.

Pellet Consumption – Efficiency

Not all pellet grills are efficient. Due to poor design and construction, some models are extremely inefficient, burning through pellets as a Hummer does fuel. This is mostly due to the thin metal construction and low-cost components.

If the pellet smoker cabinet walls are too thin, then heat and smoke will escape. The pellet smoker will need to work harder and burn more pellets to keep their temperature. Thick walls and thicker gauge steel will retain heat better and save on fuel. Also, the fewer temperature variations when smoking meat, the better the food results will be.

High-quality pellet smokers will be more pricey, but they will be made of thicker steel and will last longer and be more efficient.

Easy To Clean and Maintain

Cleaning your grill is everyone’s favorite task ( joke ). Having owned many pellet smokers, I can tell you that these things can get dirty and are challenging to clean. An easy-to-clean pellet smoker is always appreciated.

Unlike other grills, when a pellet smoker gets dirty, it will stop working. In fact, if the temperature sensor in the cooking chamber gets covered in grease, it will fail to register temperature, and most pellet smokers will throw an error code and shut down.

Most pellet smoker models can be cleaned with water and vinegar, as well as a shop vacuum to collect all of the ashes. The best models include removable ash pans and other features that make cleaning a breeze.

Not maintaining your pellet smoker or keeping eat clean can damage the pellet smoker and even start a fire.

Customer Service

A pellet smoker, like a kitchen oven, has several moving components and digital electronics. These grills may occasionally display error codes, for which you may want support. This is why a company with an excellent customer service line is beneficial.

When your pellet smoker stops operating, having access to customer service is really valuable. There is nothing worse than asking a few people over for a barbecue and discovering that your pellet smoker would not start.

Smaller companies offer a more personal and reliable service, and the people you contact will be very familiar with your pellet grills and likely even own one.

Larger companies tend to outsource their customer support, and getting quick answers can be a challenge. On the other hand, larger companies often offer customer support 24/7.

Long term warranty

Even the best pellet grill will have an issue at some point. Pellet smokers have many moving parts and electronics, and something is bound to happen.

This is why a good warranty is so important with these grills. You want to make sure that after spending your hard-earned cash if your pellet smoker quits working, you will be able to get it repaired or at the very least get the parts to fix it yourself.

Moving parts like the auger may break, and heavily used parts like the firebox fan can fail. Warranties vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so feel free to ask a lot of questions.

Make sure you ask exactly when your warranty ends and what the warranty will cover.

Cooking Capacity How much Cooking Space You Really Need

The number of inches of cooking space, or as well call it, cooking real estate, is important to consider. A large smoker will handle large amounts of foods but will also need more fuel to get to temperature and sustain that temperature.

Think about a hot air balloon. Bigger air balloons can carry more people but require more hot air to fill a larger area. The same goes with a pellet smoker. The larger the cooking chamber, the more pellets it needs to burn to fill the chamber with hot air, get it to temperature, and sustain that temperature.

If you are more likely to smoke and cook small meat cuts, having less inches of primary cooking area can benefit you. Consider a pellet smoker with a larger cooking space if you intend to smoke large meat cuts or for large crowds.

The point here is to only spend money on a pellet smoker with the inches of cooking space you will use. Anything bigger can be wasteful.

The bottom line is to be realistic about what you’re getting and not be fooled with thinking bigger is better.

Detailed Reviews of the 7 best pellet smokers

1. The Traeger Ironwood 885 – WiFi – Best Technology and Features

Why we chose this item as our top pick?

The choice was straightforward. Not only do you get a high-quality grill from Traeger, but you also get amazing technology and functionality for your money. This grill’s controller is second to none. This grill was designed with great attention to the details, and after cooking in it for a few hours, is easy to love and appreciate all of the design features.

Remembered when we talked about pellet grills packed with features and gadgets, well this is it. The Trager Ironwood is a feature-rich wood pellet smoker. Thi pellet grill can work with Alexa!

With Traeger’s D2 Direct Drive drivetrain, you can get a greater precision temperature control and better results. This means that this pellet grill can keep a more constant temperature and fewer temperature drops mean better meat.

Now here is what I like the most about this pellet grill. The Ironwood has a pellet sensor that will notify you when you are low on pellets. The grill connects to your home’s WiFi, and you can view all of your pellet grill’s information right from your phone.

With the Wi Fire app, you can control and monitor the grill’s temperature as well as the internal temperature of the meat. All this technology allows you to go about your day while monitoring your pellet grill from anywhere in your home, and you will not run out of pellets while cleaning your truck or going for a beer run. 😉

Specifications for the Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill

A cooking area: 885 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 20 lbs

Temperature Range: 180 to 500

Weight: 175 lbs

What we like:
  • Amazing technology – I love having an app on my phone to control the grill.
  • The digital controller is outstanding. Every feature of the grill, including the screen display contrast, may be customized and other settings adjusted.
  • The controller menu settings are fairly intuitive, similar to what you would see in a high-end kitchen appliance. You navigate the settings menu using a rotating dail, pushing it to choose an option.
  • This grill has a “keep warm” function. – this function control the grill and keep its tempture to 165 degrees F and keep food warm until is time to eat.
  • Timer – just like the kitchen timer in your oven you can use the timer to remind you when side dishes are done. It makes and audible sound to get your attention.
  • Super Smoke button! Super Smoke is only accessible at smoking temperatures if you want to manage the quantity of smoke or give a boost of smoke when adding new meat to the grill.
  • Amazing temperature control.
What we don’t like:
  • Ok this is expected, everything good comes at a price. Traeger grills are premium quality grills and do come at a price. But if you are looking for top quality and performance is hard to beat a Traeger.

2. The Z Grills ZPG-1000D – Our Runner Up | Good balance of performance and Value per Dollar.

Why we chose this item as our runner up?

We like Z Grills becuase even though it might lack some of the bells and whistles found in other grills you still get an good quality grill. With Z Grills, you can save money while still getting a high-quality grill. The controller and convenience features are the two noticeable ares where these grills fall being our top pick. The Z Grill digital display, for example, is not as user-friendly as Traeger’s; you have simple temperature control knob and an on/off switch. This simplicity may appeal to some, but you also miss practical features such as a pellet disposal door. Still you get a lot of grill for your dollar.

ZPG-1000D is a reliable, efficient, and solid pellet grill. The 1000D is manufactured out of heavy-duty stainless steel with stainless finishes. This is a big boy and includes all the features you need in a good pellet grill.

There are side tables, a storage area with doors, and it even has four wheels to move this beast around.

The Z Grill 750D provides a total cooking space of 1,060 square inches spread over three grill grates. The main cooking grate offers 432 square inches of cooking space, a second level warming grate offers 374 square inches, and a third level warming rack offers 225 square inches of space. Yes, this thing is large!

A 20-pound hopper powers this large cooking space, and this Z Grill can operate at a temperature range of 180 to 450 degrees which means you can smoke, barbecue, bake, roast, or braise.

Specifications for the Z Grills 1000D Pellet Smoker

A cooking area: 1056 sq in.

Hopper Capacity: 20 lbs

Temperature Range: 180 to 450 Degrees F

Weight: 134 lbs

What we like:
  • 3 Year Warranty ( original owner )
  • Large with three grill grates.
  • Large removeable ash pan. (slides out form the back of the grill – easy to clean )
  • Z Grills offers thermal blankets for this grill. ( great for cooking and smoking in cold weather )
  • Good and simple to use temperature controller.
What we don’t like:
  • Would be nice to have a pellet clean out door. Nothing a cup can’t handle and scoop out the pellets.

3. The Z Grills 450 – Budget Pellet Smoker

Z Grills 450B is a budget and economical pellet grill with amazing reviews and everything you need to cook a good meal.

As its name suggests, the 450B offers 450 square inches of cooking space, and although it doesn’t have WiFi and all the bells and whistles, it includes all the fundamental components to make this pellet grill smoker work.

The temperature control manages the grill and allows you to set the desired cooking temperature, and it will sustain that temperature.

The hopper will hold 15 pounds of pellets enough for about 15 hours of cooking.

Specifications for Z Grills ZPG-450B Pellet Smoke

A cooking area: 459 sq in.

Hopper Capacity: 15 pounds

Temperature Range: 180 to 450 degrees

Weight: 75 lbs

What we like:
  • Simple and easy to use.
  • Includes all the basics to cook a good meal.
  • High-temperature resistant powder coating.
What we don’t like:
  • No meat temperature probe
  • It is recommended to add some gasket to reduce heat and smoke leaks.

4. Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill and Smoker

This Traeger is another budget-friendly option and a basic grill. It is light enough to be considered a portable pellet grill but offers enough space to cook for a small family.

This portable pellet smoker features folding legs and 300 square inches of grilling space.

You get the basics, good digital temperature control, and a 20-pound hopper.

Specifications for the Traeger Tailgater Pellet Smoker

A cooking area: 300 square inches 

Hopper Capacity: 8 pounds

Temperature Range: to 450 Degrees F

Weight: 62 pounds

What we like:
  • Simple as simple gets – you get a good grill with folding legs easy to transport
  • Good size hopper ( 20 pounds )
What we don’t like:
  • No necessary problem, but keep in mind this is a simple grill, no gadgets here but great value.

5. Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Pellet Grill

With a weight of 68 pounds, this is a smaller and more portable model, ideal for individuals with a small backyard, apartment balcony, or who prefer pellet grills that are simple to move around the house.

The Green Mountain grills have been refreshed and now feature WiFi capabilities to control and monitor temperature from a cell phone (Apple or Android) with Sense-Mate app.

It now includes a meat probe, utensil tray, and disposable grease rack for easy cleaning. Ideal for camping holidays, beach days out, and road trips. And check this out it can plug in the 12-volt outlet in your car or connect it directly to the battery using ( included ) alligator clips.

Stats for Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Pellet Grill

A cooking area:

Hopper Capacity:

Temperature Range:

Weight:

What we like:
  • Small and light but very capable.
  • WiFi ready with mobile app.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Works with a 12-volt car battery.
What we don’t like:

It is small, so temperature control can be challenging.

6. The Camp Chef WiFi Smoke Pro WiFi and Bluetooth

Camp Chef makes good quality pellet grills, and the Smoke Pro is no exception. This pellet grill and smoker offers great value offering many features found in higher tier grills.

For example, you get meat probes, a digital controller with WiFi, and Bluetooth. You also get two cooking grates and plenty of grilling space.

There is a 20 pound hopper and a removable ashtray cup.

Specifications for the Camp Chef WiFi

A cooking area:

Hopper Capacity:

Temperature Range:

Weight:

What we like:
  • WiFi and Bluetooth
What we don’t like:
  • The grease management system needs to be kept clean.

7. Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill w/New PVC Grill

Camp Chef’s DLX wood pellet grill includes features not found in more expensive pellet grills. This wood pellet grill offers a large cooking surface. 429 square inches of grilling and smoking space and is powered feed by a 20-pound hopper which is common in most pellet grills.

It includes a removable ash cup, two meat probes, and of course, a good digital controller.

Here is a cool and innovative feature of this grill. It offers attachable accessories, including a pizza stone, a searing box ( great for grilling steaks ), and a flat-top griddle.

Specifications for the Camp Chef DLX

A cooking area:

Hopper Capacity:

Temperature Range:

Weight:

What we like:
  • Attachable accessories
What we don’t like:
  • The grease management system needs to be kept clean.
  • Not crazy about the legs system.

How do pellet smokers work?

Unlike charcoal grills, pellet smokers use different systems for heating and cooking food. Pellet grills cook mostly with indirect heat generated by the combustion of wood pellets. In a charcoal grill, the coals are spread across the bottom of the grill.

The controller or PID is one of the key components in the pellet smoker. The system manages the auger and the feeding of pellets to a burning pod with a heating rod to ignite the pellets. This automated system is what makes pellet grilling so easy and fun. On a high end pellet grill is common to find advanced technologies like Bluetooth and WiFi.

How do I pick wood pellets for smoking?

Tell us what separates your best pellet from one that is not so good. How to select the best wood pellet for your meals, grill the best for your food. How are they different.

Hardwood and Softwood Pellets

Hardwood pellets burn at the same temperature over an extended period of time. Softwood pellets contain fewer lignins resulting in a stronger burning in higher temperatures than hardwood pellets. 

Hardwood pellets burn longer and offer more thick smoke.

Ingredients

Many manufacturers use alders, oaks, and chemical fillers to help reduce production costs. Fillers may save them money, but it affects tastes negatively. 

Use 100% natural wood pellets to give you a maximum flavor.

Moisture content

Whether cooking a gas or charcoal grill, moisture is not your friend. Wood pellets with low moisture content light and heat up faster than those with higher moisture content. 

Flavor

There are many pellet flavors and blends. You can find anything from oak to fruity flavors like cherry and apple. Some brands even create their own been like Pit Boss and their competition blend, which goes pretty well with most proteins.

Beware of gimmicks

There is a perfect balance between useful technology and tacky gimmicks in pellet smokers. Ask yourself, do you really need a shiny stainless steel body WiFi Woodwind pellet grill, a stainless steel meat probe or will just the basic will do.

Since these pellet cookers are so technologically advanced is easy to manufacture pellet grills with many bells and whistles. Marketing departments have a field day promoting bells and whistles.

Also, having more gadgetry opens the door for more things to go wrong, and at the end of the day, all we are trying to do is smoke meat.

Are Pellet Grills Worth It?

You bet they are! These grills are as easy to use and yield amazing flavor compared to gas grills.

The Last word. Which is the best pellet smokers?

Pellet smoking is a lot of fun, and when cooking with a good pellet cooker, the cooking experience is even better. Out top pick is the Z Grills, but the Traeger is also an amazing grill.

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