Top 10 Pellet Smokers (Oct. 2018): Reviews & Buyers Guide

Comparison Table


Top Pick

Camp Chef PG 24

Camp Chef PG 24

Cooking Area: 560 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 20 lbs

Temp. Range: 170 F to 600 F

Cleanout System: Burnpot Ash

Known As: Best Smoker Under $500

Runners Up Pick

Traeger Lil Tex Elite Grill

Traeger Lil Tex Elite Grill

Cooking Area: 418 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 18 lbs

Temp. Range: 140 F to 400 F

Cleanout System: Side Drip Bucket

Known As: Best Smoker Under $700

$699.99

Budget Pick

GMG Davy Crockettt

GMG Davy Crockettt

Cooking Area: 219 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 9 lbs

Temp. Range:
150 F to 500 F

Cleanout System: Bottom Drip Bucket System

Known As: Best Smoker Under $400

Advanced Pick

Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill

Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill

Cooking Area: 700 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 20 lbs

Temp. Range: 180 F to 450 F

Cleanout System: Side Drip container holder

Known As: Best Smoker Under $600

$597.00

Portable Pick

Traeger Tailgater 20

Traeger Tailgater 20

Cooking Area: 319 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 8 lbs

Temp. Range: 140 F to 400 F

Cleanout System: Low Hanging Drip

Known As: Portable Choice

$499.87

6. Camp Chef Woodwind

6. Camp Chef Woodwind

Cooking Area: 570 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 22 lbs

Temp. Range: 160 F to 500 F

Cleanout System: Ash Cleanout

Known As: Best In Flavor

$899.00

7. Camp Chef SmokePro SE

7. Camp Chef SmokePro SE

Cooking Area: 560 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 18 lbs

Temp. Range: 160 F to 500 F

Cleanout System: Side Bucket Drip

Known As: Beginner’s Choice

$399.99

8. Camp Chef PG24S Smoker Deluxe

8. Camp Chef PG24S Smoker Deluxe

Cooking Area: 429 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 18 lbs

Temp. Range: 160 F to 400 F

Cleanout System: Ash Cup Cleanout

Known As: Simplified Smoking Process

$624.58

9. Pit Boss 71700FB

9. Pit Boss 71700FB

Cooking Area: 700 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 10 lbs

Temp. Range: 170 F to 600 F

Cleanout System: Side Drip Bucket

Known As: The Most Versatile Smoker

$410.59

10. Camp Chef SmokePro SG

10. Camp Chef SmokePro SG

Cooking Area: 811 sq in

Hopper Capacity: 22 lbs

Temp. Range: 160 F to 500 F

Cleanout System: Side Drip Bucket

Known As: Wood-fired Wonder

$649.96

ProductFeaturesKnown AsPrice
Camp Chef PG 24 Top Pick

Camp Chef PG 24

Best Smoker Under $500Check Price on Amazon
Traeger Lil Tex Elite Grill Runners Up Pick

Traeger Lil Tex Elite Grill

Best Smoker Under $700
$699.99
BUY NOW
GMG Davy Crockettt Budget Pick

GMG Davy Crockettt

Best Smoker Under $400Check Price on Amazon
Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill Advanced Pick

Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill

Best Smoker Under $600
$597.00
BUY NOW
Traeger Tailgater 20 Portable Pick

Traeger Tailgater 20

Portable Choice
$499.87
BUY NOW
6. Camp Chef Woodwind

6. Camp Chef Woodwind

Best In Flavor
$899.00
BUY NOW
7. Camp Chef SmokePro SE

7. Camp Chef SmokePro SE

Beginner’s Choice
$399.99
BUY NOW
8. Camp Chef PG24S Smoker Deluxe

8. Camp Chef PG24S Smoker Deluxe

Simplified Smoking Process
$624.58
BUY NOW
9. Pit Boss 71700FB

9. Pit Boss 71700FB

The Most Versatile Smoker
$410.59
BUY NOW
10. Camp Chef SmokePro SG

10. Camp Chef SmokePro SG

Wood-fired Wonder
$649.96
BUY NOW

A Short Summary of Our Findings

We at Grills Forever have used many kinds of pellet smokers in the past 4 years and come up with different strategies to find the best functioning pellet smoker. All of our reviews are so detailed because they come from the first-hand experience. After 72 hours of researching and testing numerous products, our team of outdoor cooking enthusiasts has decided to crown the PG24 by Camp Chef Pellet Smoker as the best. It emerged as the perfect choice for rookies and experts, always delivering that rich BBQ flavor and fragrance.

Our Pick

Best Smoker for The Price

With the Patented Drop down cleaning system & digital advanced temperature chip, Smoking was never so easy. All time favorite.

Get it on Amazon

This pellet smoker will bring your outdoor cooking experience to an entire new level with its massive 560 cubic meter cooking area that comes with one removable rack. It can reach temperatures of up to 500 degrees F which makes it an excellent choice for grilling, smoking, braising, baking, BBQ and roasting. Reasonably priced, it’s a great investment. It’s made of high-quality materials and superior digital controls, including LED controls and auto pellet feeder. Cleanup is also 60% less demanding because the convenient trap door is for burn pot cleaning. With this efficient pellet smoker, the money you spent will be worth it.

The Traeger Lil-Tex 22 Wood Pellet Smoker and Grill impressed us the most with its “6-in-1” feature, which lets you braise, smoke, grill, braise, roast and BBQ all kinds of foods. With porcelain-coated racks, this durable grill offers top-grade function that you’d expect from high-quality pellet smoker grills. The smoker features 418 sq. in. of cooking area, enough to cook for medium-sized groups. But if that isn’t enough, other sizes are available, all offering the same functions. It comes with digital temperature controls, so you can leave it to take care of the rest while you relax and play. This durable pellet grill is 2nd not because it’s not as great as our first pick –the grill is a bit more costly that’s all.

Budget Pick

Low cost, high functionality

At an affordable price, you already get all of the features you would need for a wonderful time outdoors. Its WiFi compatibility takes convenience to a whole new level. Control your cooking through your phone!

Get it on Amazon

Most people recommend the Green Mountain Grills smoker for its affordability, despite its plethora of features including Open Flame Technology, which ensures that meats are thoroughly cooked. But what impressed us the most was its Sense-Mate feature. For a budget pick, we were surprised to see that it had some of the most advanced technologies that even the most high-end products use. There’s no denying that you’ll get more than what it’s priced at!

Advanced Pick

If you’ve ever wanted an 8 in 1 wood pellet grill that you can just “set and forget”, then this grill makes a perfect unit for you. It was the best smoker we’ve used in terms of hassle-free use which is why it had to be one of our top picks. Digitally-controlled, this smoker ignites the unit and uses a Smart Smoke Technology™ to heat it up from 160 to 450 degrees F. This pellet smoker comes with 513 square inch grilling area, plus a 2nd cooking rack! While it doesn’t have any auto/one-touch cleanup system, its auto-shutdown feature makes it worth the value.

When you think of a portable smoker and grill, you think about basic features. But with the Tailgater by Traeger Grills, you get more than what most portable grills have to offer. At 300 sq. in., this portable grill is enough to cook decent and succulent dishes for small groups. It can even reach to a maximum 450 degrees F, so you’re never limited when it comes to the type of meat you want to grill or smoke. We loved its EZ fold legs, which make it easier to throw into the car trunk, ready for the next adventure.

End of Summary

Top 10 Pellet Smokers (Oct. 2018) – Detailed Buying Guide

Warm summer nights call out for a get-together. The laughter of your loved ones and the smell of your favorite BBQ in the air. This can be you and here at Grills forever we want to be the one that helps you find the top smoker grill that will make your party the best of the summer.

Well, if you get yourself a wood pellet smoker not only you can enjoy such an event in the summer, but also continue doing the same in the winter. Today, pellet smokers often come with the “turbo heating technology” that can help you fire up the grill even in the winter. Go get yourself a pellet smoker and don’t let something as trivial as seasons, limit your enjoyment. Because a smoking warm piece of marbled, top quality fatty meat is best enjoyed on a cold night.

Wood pellet smokers are some of the most popular smoker grills on the market. Part of the reason they are in such demand is because there are so many to choose from. With so many out there how will you know which one is right for you?

We are going to take the guesswork out of it for you. Here at Grills Forever we have seared, smoked and grilled on grill after grill so you can have the latest information on what smokers are the best pellet smoker grills. These best pellet smokers can sear and cook the most delicious foods, they are easy to control and convenient to use. We took all these features and more into consideration while compiling the top 10 wood pellet smoker review.

Why Should You Trust Us?

best pellet smoker: Why Should You Trust Us to Get the Best Electric Smoker?
I remember a time when I was going through some quad-bike reviews; it was all so confusing and I had no clue whom to believe and whom not to. Even when I eventually decided to put my faith in one of them, I kept having second thoughts regarding whether or not they would fail me. If you’re someone like me, let me give you four reasons our reviews won’t fail you:

First, we are unbiased: We are not affiliated with any certain brand of grills or smokers, nor we are getting any money from them. This means that our reviews are accurate, the best, and geared towards you: we’re only here to help you decide on what to buy.

Second, we’re the experts: We know what we’re talking about. Grills Forever is run by hardened grilling top enthusiasts and hobbyists. This means that we’re experts in this field and know what to look for and how to conduct a proper research.

Third, we’re experienced: We have burnt our foods and fingers; and while we were at it, we learned from our mistakes. In doing so, we’ve managed to become the best and mastered the art to perfection. So, we went through the same learning curves that you did or might do. So, we’re aware of the things that matter and we’re going to impart that knowledge with you, so that you don’t make the same mistakes as us.

Fourth, we’ve been around for some time now: We’ve been around and we’re here to stay. Our review website has been around for over 6 years now, still going strong. For 6 years, we have been loved and able to serve our readers diligently and we have no intention of stopping now.

Here, at Grills Forever, we independently promote only the best smokers out there so you, as a buyer, can make the perfect buying decision. If you’re looking for an objective and accurate top pellet smoker review out there, you’re at the right place.

What Is a Pellet Smoker and How It Works?

Pellet smokers are combinational grilling machines that you can use as a gas grill, a charcoal grill, a slow-cooking smoker as well as a kitchen oven. They come equipped with a pellet hopper that feeds wood pellets into the fire at a steady pace, ensuring a constant stream of fresh wood smoke to be infused with the food.

Pellet smokers can be used as a charcoal grill by adding the lit charcoal into the charcoal tray. Some of the best pellet smokers allow users to attach a propane tank to the stove to convert them into a gas grill or a kitchen oven. With a flat-top accessory, it can even be used as a griddle. A pellet smoker is an all-in-one solution for the hardened grill masters.

To understand why a pellet smoker would be better than the other smokers, or why it is more expensive, we first need to understand how it does what it does. Let’s take a look at the different parts that make a pellet smoker such a great product:

Pellet Hoppers: Pellet hoppers are boxes attached to a pellet smoker that hold wood pellets. You will load all the wood pellets you need into this hopper as a fuel for the smoker.

Pellet Feeder: Pellet hoppers have a small opening at the bottom that holds a large pellet auger. These augers are responsible for delivering pellets from the hopper to the fire box at a steady pace.

Fire Box: The firebox is a rectangular structure with small holes in the bottom and a fan underneath. It comes with an igniting rod as a heat source that ignites the wood pellets coming in from the auger.

A pellet smoker works by sending in the pellets into the firebox at a steady pace. Usually, when it’s turned on depending on the desired temperature level (adjusted by the control panel), the pellet auger in the feeder starts to rotate. In doing so, it draws out wood pellets from the pellet hopper and feeds them into the firebox.

Igniter: An igniting rod, heated up to a red hot level, ignites wood pellets as they fall inside the firebox. A cooling fan blows air into the pellet smoker from behind the pellet auger to prevent heat backdraft, while the fan underneath the firebox fans the flame – distributing heat evenly throughout the smoker. This heat is used to smoke and slow cook food in the smoker to give it the best flavors possible.

What to Consider When Buying a Pellet Smoker?

best pellet smoker: Why Should You Trust Us to Get the Best Electric Smoker?
When you think of a pellet smoker, what comes to mind is the rich taste of BBQ, better manipulation and convenience. These are exactly what the best pellet smoker should give you. To find out the best, among the many out there, you should think of various features. A burner that can give you control, comfort, long service, and great flavor in food is something a top rated pellet smoker should have. Let’s take a look at all the factors you should consider when making your purchase.

Price Factor:

Price is always an important factor. We all want affordable products, but buying a low-quality, cheap smoker could mean you have to spend more money in the future. A good-quality grill at a convenient price will be durable and be used more because you will be satisfied with your purchase.

Temperature Range:

Temperature range is an important factor. What you’ll need will depend on what kind of cooking you want to do. Top pellet grills can hit temperatures between 180 F to 425 F, enough for baking, smoking, roasting, and grilling. On the other hand, ioif you want to sear meat you need something that reaches the 500-550 F range. A functioning thermometer is a must. You’ll need a precise and accurate reading so you’ll know you’re cooking your meat at the right temperature.

3 position controller

3-Position Controller:

Consistency is the key to having the best results. If you want to make a tender brisket, your cooking temperature should be close to 250 F during the entire 12-hour cooking period. The control board is responsible for precision. There are three types of controllers – PID multi-position, non-PID one-touch, and 3-position. Check out the different types of controllers for the one that is right for you.

Cooking Area, Size and Portability:

Pellet grills come in various sizes from the portable types for tailgating to the extra-large units for commercial use. If you are someone who wants to be able to take your smoker on the go, be it camping, partying or any other event you’ll want something that’s easy to lift and has wheels to facilitate movement. If you have lots of parties and gatherings at home, then you might want something bigger. Its all up to what your needs are.

Features and Capabilities:

Some people think simple is best and some love a smoker grill that comes with all the bells and whistles on the market. If you are someone who likes to have all the latest features have a look out for a smoker grill that has some of the extras below:

  • Control boards with meat probe inputs
  • Programmable meat probes
  • Direct grilling options
  • Ancillary cooking racks
  • Wi-Fi capabilities

Pellet Smokers: Smoking and Grilling in a Package

Grilling Vs Smoking Vs Barbecue:

Words like Grilling, Barbecuing and Smoking are often used interchangeably by us. However, when looking at them from a grill master’s point of view, there are some subtle methodological differences among these three: One is done with the lid up, BBQ is done in a closed circulation with the lid down, and smoking is a slow cooking process in a closed circulation.

Now comes the best part about pellet smokers: they can conveniently do all these three. Coming with a large cooking space and a lid, the top rated pellet smokers would allow you to keep them open or closed, depending on what results you are looking for. With a dedicated space for putting your charcoal, you can use it as a charcoal grill, smoker or a barbecue. Or you can use it like a kitchen oven using the direct fire from the firepot. Finally, it does what it was made for – pellet smoking. Using small hardwood pellets running over the firepot in a corner, this smoker uses a fan to distribute the heat and smoke throughout the grilling area. This indirect heat ensures that the food is slow-cooked and smoked over long periods of time.

Who are The Pellet Smokers For?

best pellet smoker: Who Are Electric Smokers for?
Who can benefit from pellet smokers? They are for anyone who loves the taste of BBQ.

Honestly, these smokers add a whole new milestone in the world of smoker grill. It represents an easy user and environmentally friendly method as well.

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  • People who like easy and hassle-free smoking:

Do you enjoy hassle and stress-free living? If you want to enjoy the juicy smoked BBQ ribs with your friends and family without feeling disturbed, then the automatic smoker is the top choice for you. The automatic smoker, a pellet smoker, makes for an ideal choice. Do you know why it has it has earned the reputation of the best among all the easy to use smokers? You will find the automatic features incredibly easy to use and this convenient product’s simplicity stands out.

  1. Automatic ignition
  2. Auto fuel feed
  3. Maintaining temperature consistency
  4. Easy to clean function
  5. Portability

You experience all of these benefits by using a pellet smoker.

One thing you must keep in mind: Do not forget to get a smoker with an electric start and auto auger control. These functions will make your experience better and your life easier.

  • Competition: If you are buying a smoker for participating in any competition, then pellet smokers are your best choice. Gas or electric smoker grills are not allowed in any competition as they are using automation. Though you are getting temperature control and electronic start in pellet smoker it is accepted in competition. This pellet smoker review will point out the ones best for a competition.
  • Novices: Do you consider yourself a novice with a smoker grill? If so have no shame, in fact, look at me, I started as a novice too! Realistically, no one becomes a geek in 2 weeks of studying or research. So as a beginner you must look for an easy to use smoker grill. Well, the primary concept of a pellet smoker lies in its easy to use features. Set it and forget represents the motto and the main aspect you crave, right?
  • Professionals: the pellet smoker has emerged as the best option for beginners. However, that does not mean that a top grilling expert will not benefit from using it. Using a pellet smoker, the professional can turn normal pork into a mouth-watering dish with any kind of flavor. The precise temperature control will help any professional make the dish more accurate. A top pellet smoker can display some delicious magic that will prove unforgettable.
  • Travelers: Hey travelers, we haven’t forgotten about making your life easier. Have you ever tried smoked rabbit while jungle camping? If so, then you know the thrill and enjoyment in it, but you probably wouldn’t go through the hassle of taking a smoker in the jungle. Wait a minute mate, I recommend the top pellet smoker grills for a successful camping adventure with friends or family. I cannot count how many times we have done seen the advantages of this. It makes for an awesome experience every time. We recommend pellet smokers because of the lightweight and easy to shift aspects. It can fit easily in your car, which makes it the travelers dream.
  • Tech geeks: A tech geek will also prefer a Pellet smoker grill and some of the latest grills including Green Mountain Grills came up with some exciting tech functionality like Wi-Fi! Just imagine, hanging with friends and monitoring your pork with your smartphone? You can increase and decrease temperature and control pellet feed without even touching the grill. This gives you the ability to cook while you work!
  • Environment-conscious people: By the way, do you really care for the environment? If you do, then you should start burning pellets now. Have a look at the chart to see some amazing information!

best pellet smoker:

Figure Adapted from “The Carbon Balance of Woodfuel,” Northern Woodheat, 2010.

Burning wood pellets produces up to 90% less Carbon Dioxide than traditional fossil fuels such as gas or oil. Burning just one ton of wood pellets can replace approximately 400 liters of oil – saving up to 1,070kg of Carbon Dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

In other words, any smart person will choose the top pellet smoker out there for many reasons. You will get best smoked trout or pork prepared by yourself with only one-third of the effort compared to other smoker grills. I am decently smart and I love pellet smoker because it works wonders.

Should You Upgrade or Change Your Current Smoker Grill?

Normally you will get 1- 3 years of warranty for the top pellet smokers from different companies. Traeger will serve you with a 3-year warranty while Camp Chef will give you only 1 year of warranty. Considered this the safe period for your pellet grill, so take advantage. If you own a top quality smoker then you may need not to think of any replacement within 5 years of buying.

When you have owned your smoker grill for 5-6 years you start wondering if owning a new one would be the best idea. This might happen because you are facing problems with your machine and not getting the desired result. The first and primary advice in this situation remains to clean up your grill thoroughly. Open up each and every part then proceed to doing a thorough cleaning. Most of the problems like temperature inconsistency or jamming will get solved this way.

If you really want to replace your smoker grill then you should ask yourself these questions:

Will upgrading solve my problem?

If you have faced or currently face the problem with common things like pellet feed jamming or wear and tear of your smoker, then replacing the exact component will solve your problem. Thus, without changing your whole smoker you can continue with some $40 – $50 changes. It might seem complicated for you if you face a problem with your digital control system. Adding the element of professional knowledge will help tremendously. Solving problem with $150 is much better than spending $500, right?

Do I know how to perform this upgrade?

Like I said before, sometimes you will find it difficult to perform the upgrade yourself. Replacing the digital control system seems much more difficult than I thought when I did it. Your smoker manual will certainly help you in this regard. You should seek help from YouTube as you can see what exactly to do.

When is it the right time to change it completely and look for a great pellet smoker?

Honestly, it solely depends on what type of upgrade you need. If you do not get the desired amount of smoke, you need then check your induction fan. Maybe it does not function properly and changing one will cost you around $30 – $40, problem solved.

If you have an older smoker and need a lot of physical maintenance like changing the hopper and the digital control, then changing those two parts may not help. These two changes may cost you $200 – $250 and with a rusty hopper, you will continuously lose the smoke you produce. This is not safe for your health, so in this situation, you should definitely opt to get a new pellet smoker grill.

How We Picked and Tested

best pellet smoker: How We Picked And Tested
At Grills Forever, we work hard to bring you the best product reviews possible through an extensive online research process. We go through countless online reviews and browse through different brands, both known and unknown. We then go through their features and the value they can provide to the users. We shortlist the top products to do physical testing and then come up with a review. We do this on a regular basis to keep our list up-to-date.

That’s right! Every time we have a BBQ party, we are reviewing something. But it’s not all fun and games all the time. The process gets expensive pretty soon and these are the sacrifices we make to bring you the best value.

When reviewing pellet smokers, we’ve gone through over 1000 different user reviews to get an accurate understanding of how useful the products have been to them. With that primary data in hand, we did an extensive online research on 65 products from 17 different brands popular brands. In fact, we even looked into three less known brands as well, but they failed to stand out. We left no stone unturned.

From among these 65 products, we have selected the top class pellet smokers out there shortlisting 18 of the best candidates. Then, we have conducted a secondary research and compared their features against each other to find the best 10. Finally, we have compiled this review list of top 10 best rated pellet smokers considering their features, reviews, ratings, review frequencies and how great they were when we tested them out during BBQ parties.

Top Pick: PG24 by Camp Chef Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ

Since we are barbecuing experts, our top pick will definitely be a pellet smoker that is appropriate for almost everyone looking for a pellet grill. PG24 by Camp Chef Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ is built to help the outdoor cooking buffs take their backyard cooking venture to a whole new level.

Our Pick

Best Under $500

Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ

Get It on Amazon
Best Under $500

Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Smoker

With the Patented Drop down cleaning system & digital advanced temperature chip, Smoking was never so easy. All time favorite.

Why Is It Our Top Pick?

You must have thoughts in your mind centered around the thousands of pellet smokers and why PG24 by Camp Chef is our no 1 choice. We will list the detailed features, pros and cons of this smoker. First, let me tell you why this smoker grabbed the top spot on our pellet smoker review.

For you to understand we made point by point notes detailing why we like it so much.

  1. This grill has full automation from start to clean the ash off. If you want that type of automatic smoker, you need to increase your budget over 900$ – 1000$. PG24 by Camp Chef is special because of its comparatively low cost.
  2. The auto pellet feed is great. Though you can see this feature represents 80% of the present-day smokers, we relied on the fame of camp chef. Three years have passed with no jamming at all.
  3. What we loved most is that it has a trap door to allow burn pot cleaning after every cooking. It lessened our job of cleaning this pellet smoker by 60%. It is more than amazing because from our research we know that a feature like this will cost twice as much as the Camp Chef. Honestly, this has emerged as our key point when we selected this smoker to be the best in our review.
  4. We also loved this smoker because it has an auto shut down feature. That means you can even go to the office and enjoy delicious smoked ribs by dinner time. Only 30% – 35% of the existing smokers have got this feature.

Many other features, like its automatic control and built-in meat probe have made us select this smoker as the top one in our pellet smoker review. And the most amazing fact is the price. In the price range (see the price here), we never thought that we could get all these features and benefits. We took all the top smokers into considerations like the Rec Tec smokers, but this PG24 by Camp Chef can beat all through its performance and affordability.

PG24 by Camp Chef Review

PG24 by Camp Chef features tons of built-in features, designed to facilitate the cooking process. It is a smoker for cooks who are serious about getting the real taste of barbecues from their smoker grills. It’s worth your money believe me. Let’s look at its top features.

Temperature control

Controlling temperature is the best way to get the desired piece of cooked meat. This smoker grill has a built-in thermostatic control and a digital thermometer, so that means you won’t have to do much guesswork during barbecue. If the sensors sense a fall in temperature, more wood pellets are added to the burner, which allows you to place the meat on grill and relax.

It also features an dual electric ignition switch plus LED dual temperature displaying the cooking temperature which is one of the top things that a user should look for.

Cooking area

This smoker has cooking area measuring 560 sq. inches, large enough to allow you to smoke food for your friends and family. This is also enough to give you the best grilling experience, as we’ve found after reviewing the top products from Camp Chef. It also has a useful rack where you can keep your smoked food hot while your waiting for your whole meal to come together or that one couple who always arrive late for the party.

Digital control

PG24 by Camp Chef Pellet Grill also brings along a digital controller which you could use to set your desired temperature and at one point the heat in the chamber will be automatically adjusted. It allows meat to be smoked for hours at a temperature of 150 degrees F. You could increase temperature to 500 degrees F for searing and grilling. With convection, the cold and hot areas of the grill can be replaced with even heat.

Meat Probe

With a temperature probe for the meat inside the chamber, this allows you to keep an eye on the temperature of your meat without opening the grill. Nothing ruins a brisket or roast faster than the griller who constantly fiddles with the meat on the grill. Opening the chamber lets the heat out and that can quickly make for some tough meat. This handy feature takes the guesswork out of how ready your meal is, helping you get the best outcome.

Convenience


PG24 by Camp Chef has a weight of 124 lb with a pellet hopper that has 20-pound capacity. That’s so large, you won’t need to worry of getting more before your meal is done. This approach allows you to have the ultimate cooking experience. When the temperature drops, one wood pellet is released. This convenience can’t be found in other grill types, like gas or charcoal.

This unit will not let even a single pellet go to waste. No need of worrying whether you’re out of pellets or not. You can carry pellets at a maximum of 20 pounds, with the digital thermostat ensuring the pellets are being used properly. This saves you loads of cash and gives you smoking food simultaneously without wasting time in refilling pellets.

Cleaning and maintenance

Now we come to the part no one likes and that’s cleaning. This smoker won’t clean itself but it does make the process a lot easier. PG24 by Camp Chef Pellet Grill is created in a way that gives you easier access to the fire pot making cleaning out the ash effortless. It also has trap door that allows you to clean the unit without scouring through grease and ash. Anyone who has ever had to clean a smoker grill knows how time-consuming and enormous the task can be. This trap door is only present in expensive units, but you’ll be glad you paid a little more when cleaning becomes effortless. You could also buy the other version that could come with cover (which is $50 more expensive) to make sure the smoker is in the best condition at all times.

Power outage bypass

This allows bypassing the relight feature in case of a power outage in your home. Power outages may not happen often but when it does, this feature can save the hot rod from any wear and tear. It proves that the manufacturers actually did a lot of homework when designing this unit.

Pros

  • Digital LED temperature control system
  • Stainless steel meat probe to monitor the temperature
  • A large cooking area of 560 cubic inches with a removable upper rack
  • Trapdoor and easier access to the fire pot for easy cleaning
  • Efficient use of pellets
  • Easy assembly with a video tutorial on the Camp Chef website

Cons

  • Requires a high power input to start

Finally

PG24 by Camp Chef is the best choice for any expert smoker. Its reasonable price and amazing features make it a good prolonged investment. It comes with lots of nifty features that facilitate, smoking, grilling and searing in your backyard. For all these reasons, in our pellet smoker review, we consider this smoker as the top choice for the serious BBQ buffs.

View a Detailed and Illustrated Review

Runner Up Pick: Traeger Lil Tex Elite Grill

Why is this our Runner Up Pick??

Runner-Up Pick

Best Under $700

Traeger Lil Tex Elite Grill

Get it on Amazon
Best Under $700

Traeger Lil Tex Elite Grill

With a 6-in-1 feature, this smoker and grill lets you cook whatever your heart desires. Get ready for some pro-level cooking.

While the Traeger Lil-Tex does offer similar features as our top pick, such as a digital LED temperature control system and an auto-dispensing auger, there was one missing feature which we thought was necessary. This product has a smaller grilling area and lacks a removable upper rack, which gives you less grilling and prep space. I should mention that the unit does come in a bigger 700 square inch version for $200 more, as well as a smaller version that costs less. If this smoker is too big or too small for you, there are always other options available. Compared to our top pick, it’s also more expensive despite offering similar specs. Aside from that, this is a very efficient and reliable smoker – might even have been the best if our top pick wasn’t available on the market.

With over 375 reviews, this product had an impressive review rate. On its first 22 days, it got its first 10 positive reviews. Ten days after, it got its 2nd set of 10 positive reviews, and its 3rd set of 10 positive reviews after seventeen days. Online reviews have shown that, just like us, customers have been satisfied with the overall performance of this smoker from Traeger.

Quality-wise, the Traeger Lil-Tex comes very close to our top pick. It’s a strong substitute for the Camp Chef Deluxe Pellet Grill. Here is our detailed review of this beast:

Detailed Review

pellet-smokers-2

Grilling Surface

This smoker offers a decent 418 square inches of grilling space. This is enough to cook around sixteen burgers or four whole chickens. If the grilling space isn’t enough, Traeger also offers a larger unit that offers the same features at a higher price range. But the medium sized one is enough to cook for large groups of people already. Built to have a high capacity, this smoker allows for multiple cooking at the same time.

Set it and Forget it

The cooking process is made a lot more convenient with this smoker. To start cooking, all you need to do is flip the Traeger on/off switch, and you’re good to go. Then, you can simply set your desired temperature through the digital controls. Enjoy your time and relax while you leave the unit to do everything else. With its efficient temperature control system and automated auger with an induction fan, heat remains constant throughout the cooking process. You’ll have evenly-cooked foods that have that mouth-watering smoky flavor in no time.

Versatile Cooking

You aren’t limited to basic barbecuing. For us, what really stood out was its ability to deliver pro chef-level cooking even at home. This smoker lets you explore all there is about cooking, letting you braise, grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise and BBQ all kinds of food. Using only the best and the purest hardwood pellets, you’re sure to have the juiciest and tastiest meats and vegetables every time you host your outdoor parties. If you think you have to give up quality because of the quantity of foods it can cook, that’s not the case. Quality is maintained whatever it is you’re cooking.

This smoker comes with two cooking settings: hot and fast, and low and slow. Its Digital Elite Controller makes setting the temperature a breeze — all you have to do is turn the dial to your desired temperature, and you can leave it for the rest of the cooking process. This smoker can reach the temperature of up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The digital display on top of the grill lets you monitor the heat conveniently.

Convenient Cleanout

Aside from coming with porcelain-coated grills that are non-stick in quality, the product comes with an ash cleanout system which makes it easy for you to simply dump the ash and get started on your next cooking.

Pros

  • Convenient ash cleanout system
  • 6-in-1 versatile cooking
  • Efficient digital controls and auger system
  • Uses 100% pure wood pellets

Cons

  • Much more expensive than the Top Pick
  • Does not come with accessories

Finally

Placed against our Top Pick, this Traeger smoker and grill is a worthy competitor. It offers a variety of useful functions that will allow you to smoke, grill, bake, braise, roast and BBQ anything and everything. It’s definitely worth your money, because if you take care of it properly, it’s going to last you a long time. However, since it’s slightly more expensive than the top pick, we just couldn’t set it at the top of our review.

Budget Pick: Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill

Why is this our Budget Pick?

Budget Pick

Best Under $400

Green Mountain Grill

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Best Under $400

Green Mountain Grill

At an affordable price, you already get all of the features you would need for a wonderful time outdoors. Its WiFi compatibility takes convenience to a whole new level. Control your cooking through your phone!

The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett smoker lets you get more than what you paid for. At a surprisingly low price, you get to have tons of great features that are sure to elevate your BBQ experience. For its price, we were quite surprised to see that it satisfied most of the features on our review. We tested over fifty products, and even the expensive ones were no match for this product. In terms of value per dollar, this product deserves the top spot.

On its first 24 days, the Davy Crockett grill already gained its first 10 positive reviews. On the next 29 days, it got another 10 positive reviews, and it got even more positive reviews after 13 days. At Grills Forever, we like to take a close look at the review rate because this lets us know what other customers are thinking.

What we love the most about it is its Sense-Mate feature, which monitors the grill temperature. Usually, cheaper units don’t come with digital functions, but we found it with this grill.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the features that this budget-friendly smoker has to offer:

Detailed Review

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Portability

The great part about this smoker is that it is fairly light-weight, weighing in at 69 lbs, and its legs double as handles: all you have to do is fold the legs up and carry the smoker wherever you need to! Furthermore, this smoker comes with a 12V connector that you can plug into the cigarette lighter of your car, and a 12-foot alligator clips that you can connect to your car’s battery if necessary. You can take this smoker anywhere!

Open Flame Technology

The Davy Crockett Pellet Grill offers open flame technology which uses infrared radiation to cook your food. The peaked lid not only allows for you to cook tall slabs of meat, but it also helps the convection process within the grill, making sure that your meat is thoroughly and evenly cooked. This top notch technology ensures that you get that consistent and authentic tasting BBQ every time you fire up the grill!

Sense-Mate Feature

The Sense-Mate feature is another one of the best additions to this smoker: it is a thermal sensor system that monitors and reads the internal temperature of the grill within 5ºF of the actual temperature! Once you set your desired temperature using its digital controls, the Sense-Mate technology reads and monitors the temperature, while displaying it on the LCD display. Sense-Mate makes sure that heat is kept at a constant temperature, so whether you are cooking at 150ºF or 550ºF, you can rest assured that your meats will be evenly cooked.

WiFi Compatibility

We were surprised to see that the pellet grill was WiFi-compatible. Usually, grills come with basic remotes, but this one comes with a digital WiFi controller. It allows you to control and monitor your cooking through an app on your iOS or Android phone. We found this convenient, since we didn’t have to get up to check on our grill every few minutes. This is probably why it’s one of the top pellet grills in the market.

Free Accessories

In addition, the Davy Crockett Pellet Grill comes with multiple accessories. These include a meat probe, peaked lid (which is useful for large fowls and stand-up chickens), rib racks, a convenience tray as well as utensil hooks. This takes away the trouble of having to order additional parts for modification.

Pros

  • Sense-Mate temperature monitoring
  • Open Flame Technology
  • Portability
  • Large Wood Chip Tray
  • Wide Temperature Range (150ºF -550ºF)
  • Convenience tray on the side for utensils, sauces, or plates

Cons

  • Grilling capacity is on the lower side

Finally

While the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill is compatible with most iOS and Android devices, I want to stress, check the compatibility of your device with the grill before purchasing because it would suck to buy this grill only to find out that this feature is not compatible. Also, if you do not plan on using the grill on some elevated surface, the legs are not tall so the grill sits close to the ground. Regardless, this is a GREAT smoker: your meat will come out tender and juicy with that authentic BBQ taste we all love! Neither of these cons affects the quality of your BBQ and both can be worked around.

All of GMG’s like of product lines like the Daniel Boone and Jim Bowie come with similar features. In fact, the Daniel Boone will always be a better alternative to the Davy Crockett. However, the Daniel Boone line isn’t winning any spot in our budget pick due to its higher price tag. With its build and quality, it does become one of our honorable mentions, if not the pick; and the Davy Crockett continues to be the top choice for the grillers on budget.

Advanced Pick: Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill

Why We Chose This as Advanced Pick

Advaced Pick

Best Under $600

Z Grills Smoker

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Best Under $600

Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill

This grill’s Smart-Smoke Technology brings the luxury of convenience to your succulent, smokey BBQ with the press of a single button! The price is worth the amazing experience! A truly great smoker!

  1. The Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker comes with Smart Smoke Technology, which lets you set and forget your grilling. It accurately sets and maintains the desired temperature using an automated electric feed system, heating your unit from 180 degrees F to 450 degrees F. We’ve gotten used to smokers taking around 30-40 minutes to heat up, but with this unit, it took only 20 minutes for the temperature to settle in!
  2. This unit costs almost half of what most high-end smokers cost, but it offers equal (or even better!) features. This 8-in-1 smoker and grill lets you enjoy the fun of grilling, smoking, baking, roasting, searing, braising, barbecuing and char-grilling!
  3. With just one push of the button, this Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker uses its electric auto-ignition system to fire up your grill using authentic wood pellets. You got that right, it doesn’t use gas, propane or charcoal!

Detailed Review

pellet-smokers-4Complete with a variety of spectacular features, the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker redefines the whole concept of smoking. At a reasonable price, this smoker gives you more than what you paid for. It offers top technology-rich features that ensure consistent smoking for that great smoky flavor. Plus, many customers – including ourselves – have attested to its durability. This smoker will serve you without failure for a very long time.

Every outdoor cooking enthusiast wants an affordable pellet smoker that has all of the key features that even a high-end unit would have. In most cases, this is just a dream and a result of false advertising, because most impressive smokers typically cost a hefty sum of money. The Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker claims to be a reasonably-priced smoker that offers top-of-the-line features, and many users have agreed with those claims. With this pellet smoker review of the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker, we’ll find out if it really does what it claims to do.

Key Features

Some of the top features of this pellet smoker include:

Smart automatic heating

Most traditional grills and smokers would have you struggling to reach the desired temperature, but with this unit, that problem is long gone. All you have to do is set your temperature using its digital controls, and press a button to get it heated up.

Internal temperature control for thorough cooking

Once it reaches the ideal temperature, it uses an Internal Temperature Sensor to maintain it throughout the cooking process. Forget about checking on the status of your grilling every few minutes, this unit makes sure your food is cooked thoroughly and evenly — no babysitting needed here! This way, you can enjoy your time with your friends, which is what a BBQ party should be.

Massive cooking area

The Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker comes with a primary cooking surface of 513 square inches, plus a second cooking rack with 187 square inches. Its large cooking space makes it ideal for large events, letting you grill, smoke, bake, roast, sear, braise, barbecue and char-grill all sorts of food at once.

Authentic smoky flavor

No gas, charcoal and propane solutions here. This grill uses only wood pellets, letting you serve that pro-like, rich smoky flavor that your guests will enjoy. Do you want to cook more recipes? The Z Grills website features dozens of recipes for your indulgence.

Pros

  • Big cooking area with additional secondary grill space
  • Hassle-free and even cooking every time
  • Easy to move with built-in wheels

Cons

  • Does not come with accessories (can be expensive if bought, too)
  • Hopper quickly runs out of pellets
  • Lack of convenient cleanup system

Finally

With a large cooking space and the most advanced cooking techniques, this is easily one of our favorite products among our top ten. While it lacks some of the features that the other grills and smokers in this review have (such as an ash and grease cleanup systems), it does deliver fine-dining quality foods, which is the ultimate goal of every grilling enthusiast. For its price, it offers some of the best features you can find in high-end products.

Portable Pick: Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Why is this our Portable Pick?

Portable Pick

BBQ Anywhere, Everywhere

Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable

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BBQ Anywhere, Everywhere

Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable

Easy to fold legs and versatile cooking options make this grill an ideal decision for any outdoor activity. It even has digital temperature controls!

You might be wondering what the difference is between this grill and our runner-up pick. Well, we found all Traeger grills reliable and The Traeger Grills Tailgater is quite similar to the Traeger Lil Tex Elite (Which is our Runner-up pick), but it has lesser storage space, which is why it’s been called Traeger’s portable product.

Typically, most portable grills would give up certain features just to maintain their portability, but this wood pellet grill from Traeger actually had more than what other top grills have to offer. Out of all of our features, it managed to tick 85% off the review. Its digital controls, versatile cooking features, and decent cooking space (perfect for outdoor adventures) all make it our best portable pick.

For a mid-range priced product, you get all the features you would need in a portable grill and smoker. Though it’s a portable pick, one of its great features (which also makes it worth the price) is its durable build. If you’re going to bring this grill with you on camping trips and hikes, you’re going to need it to be as sturdy as possible.

Although it took quite some time for this product to receive its first ten positive reviews, the review rate quickly picked up. After over 200 days, it already gained 20 five-star reviews, which is a great accomplishment for any grill. We checked out comments online and found that they were mostly positive.

What we loved most about it was its versatile 6-in-1 feature. With the Traeger grill, you can grill, smoke, roast, bake, braise and BBQ all kinds of foods at ease. We tested all of those out and found that they all delivered the same juicy perfection that it promised.

Here’s a more detailed explanation of why it deserves to be our Portable Pick:

Detailed Review

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Portability

The Traeger grill and smoker is extremely easy to transport. It comes with EZ-fold legs which allow you to easily pack it up and throw it in your car trunk, ready to go. With a height of 38 inches, width of 35 inches, and weight of 76 pounds, this can quickly be transported to even the most rugged terrain.

Grilling Area

Being portable doesn’t mean it has to be extra small. This smoker boasts an accommodating 300 square inches of grilling space. This is enough to cook around twelve burgers or three racks of ribs. Perfect for families going on camping!

Temperature Control

With its Integrated Digital Elite Controller, temperature is kept constant within + / – 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It also allows for low/slow and hot/fast smoking for up to 450 degrees. Checking up on your food’s temperature is also made easy with the LED display, which clearly shows the temperature even under bright daylight.

Versatile Cooking

Using 100% hardwood pellets, this smoker gives you authentic, smoky flavored foods whatever you do with it, whether it’s smoking, grilling, baking, roasting, braising, or BBQing. You get the wood-fired taste all of your guests are looking forward to each time.

Pros

  • 6-in-1 cooking
  • Easy to clean
  • Portable
  • Digital temperature control

Cons

  • Cooking area limited to small groups
  • A bit too short

Finally

Overall, the Traeger Grills Tailgater is a top choice for outdoor trips with small families or groups. While it doesn’t deliver the most convenient and advanced cooking as compared to the other picks in this pellet smoker review, it does have the right degree of portability and functionality needed in any outdoor adventure.

A List of 5 Other Pellet Smokers We Reviewed

BEST IN FLAVOR

Smoky taste every time

Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill

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Smoky taste every time

Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill

Camp Chef Woodwind offers a state of the art pellet grill with digital temperature controls, a patented ash cleanout, and perfected sear box offering up to 900 degrees F! The stainless steel grill is visually pleasing and guaranteed to bring flavor to your food.

Temperature control

The Smart Smoke technology is one of the most convenient and easy to use features on the grill. It contains a dual LED temperature readout that keeps the heat at a constant temperature. This means you have more time for socializing and can sit back and relax. The temperature ranges from 160 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The grill uses a pellet feeder system that burns slowly to add intense flavor to your food. It also uses an electric auto-start ignition that requires the grill be plugged into a standard 120v outlet.

Versatile Cooking

With a temperature range of 160 degrees F to 500 degrees F, you can cook however you want. Braise, grill, roast, bake, smoke or barbecue your foods — that’s entirely up to you. This smoker is powerful enough to cook even the most demanding dishes.

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Aesthetic and Functionality

The grill is plated with beautiful stainless steel that gives the grill a refined and impressive look. The huge cooking area includes 570 square inches of surface area. That’s enough to hold 20 burgers or 4 rib racks! It also contains a second warming rack and bottom shelf that provides the grill stability and extra storage. This version comes with a sear box that can reach temperature of up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, which caramelizes your food. There’s a cheaper version without a sear box that costs around $200 less if a sear box isn’t a necessity for you. Additionally, the legs are built with extreme thickness giving the grill a grounded base. The caster wheels add portability to the grill so you can find that perfect place in the backyard.

Cleanout

The cleanout for both the pellets and ash is a huge perk to the grill. The patented “Easy Ash Cleanout” does not require the user to take apart the grill. Instead, they simply have to twist and dump the container. The 18lb pellet hopper is similarly an easy cleanout. The stainless steel also makes it easier to clean the grill because of the steel’s properties.

Pros

  • Smart smoke temperature monitoring (160-500 degrees F)
  • Easy clean up
  • Sear box’s high temperature (up to 900 degrees F)
  • Durable and stable
  • Portable

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi capabilities
  • Accessories can be costly

Finally

The Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill was chosen as our sixth choice because it lacked some features found in our Top 5 picks, especially when it came to cooking flexibility. While it does offer an impressive 6-in-1 cooking experience, it lacks an auto shut-off feature, which makes it less of a “set it an forget it” kind of smoker. The grill is rather heavy, at an overall weight of 146lbs. It’s also more expensive than the rest, even though it offers similar (even less) features. It’s a decent choice if flavor is the only thing you’re looking for.

BEGINNER’S CHOICE

Pro-level cooking for the non-pros

Camp Chef SE Pellet Grill

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Pro-level cooking for the non-pros

Camp Chef SE Pellet Grill

Camp Chef made this smoker with a built-in temperature gauge and a great grease management system. These features make the process of grilling fun and the cleanup afterward easy, all for a fair price!

Grilling capacity

Another “set it and forget it” pellet grill, the Camp Chef allows you to set the temperature controls for up to a range of 500 degrees F, and leave it to do the regulating. With its efficient auto-dispensing pellet hopper and digital temperature controls, the pellet grill sets, maintains and adjusts the desired temperature for even cooking each time. With consistent and fuss-free temperature control, you’ll sure to have the most perfectly grilled foods.

Temperature control

This smoker offers a massive 560 cubic inches of grilling area with a large-capacity pellet hopper. Even though it’s the perfect starter grill, it’s still packed with plenty of extras that even the pro chefs will enjoy. If the grilling space isn’t enough, the removable upper racks can be turned into extra cooking space. The smokestack behind the unit can also be converted into a prep area.

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Efficient hopper

In addition, the pellet hopper can hold a large amount of wood pellets. This means that you won’t need to frequently refill your hopper, which just adds to its convenience. It can hold up to 18 pounds of pellets. Its automatic mode allows it to disperse them throughout the cooking process as it maintains the desired temperature.

Mobility

Although this would not work as a portable grill, it does come with built-in wheels for convenience. You can easily transfer your grill to any part of your backyard and it will stay secured in place (as long as it’s on an even surface, of course).

Cleanup system

Cleaning up after grilling is every cook’s dreaded part of the process, but this pellet grill simplifies that. Its warming rack comes with a patented ash-catcher system, the Ash Can Cleanout System, that allows for an easier cleanup of the unit. Additionally, it also features a grease drip disposal system that comes with a bucket. You won’t have to waste precious time cleaning up afterward!

View a Detailed and Illustrated Review

Pros

  • Easy to set up and use
  • Large cooking and working area
  • Precise temperature management with digital controls
  • Sturdy construction that adds to durability

Cons

  • Heavier than other smokers in this glass
  • Pellets recommended by the manufacturer are expensive

Finally

For a large-sized smoker, the Camp Chef SmokePro SE delivers excellent, smoky-tasting flavor that even beginners can accomplish. This is largely due to its automatic temperature control features and grease management system, allowing you relax while it cooks for you. With minimal cons (only weight and pellet price), this is a definite hit among professionals and newbies. The SmokePro SE is an unquestionable bang for your buck kind of purchase.

THE BIG EASY

Simplified Smoking Process

Camp Chef PG24S Pellet Grill

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Simplified Smoking Process

Camp Chef PG24S Pellet Grill

This grill offers the patented ash can and hopper clean-out system that makes cleanup easy. I love this smoker because, with the press of a button, you can check the internal temperature of your meat!

Temperature Control

The Camp Chef PG24S lets you set the smoker to your desired settings so you can leave it to relax while it does the rest for you. With an advanced digital temperature chip, it steadily monitors the temperature, achieving a constant cooking temperature at all times. Dual LED temperature displays allow you to easily check the temperature of the food kept inside your smoker without losing any heat. With an auto-dispensing pellet hopper that can hold around 18 pounds, your pellets are used efficiently. The grill can work in temperatures that range from 160F to 400F.

Grilling Space

This heavy-duty top-notch grill and smoker has a total cooking area of 429 square inches, which is large enough for cooking around twenty burgers at once. If that’s not enough, it comes with a secondary rack of 144 square inches that you can use for smoking or warming. With a height of 32.5 inches, you can cook a variety of meats and foods to your heart’s desire.

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Hopper Capacity

With the Camp Chef PG24S, you won’t have to constantly refill your hopper. Your pellets will be used as efficiently as possible, as this product comes with a hopper that can hold up to 18 pounds of wood pellets. With the digital heat control system, it instantly feeds the pellets into the grill to maintain the ideal cooking temperature. This ensures that food is cooked most satisfyingly.

Cleanup and Maintenance

The Camp Chef PG24S uses three cleanup and maintenance systems. The Ash Cup Clean Out System collects leftover ash in a cup for easy cleanup. The Grease Management System instantly drains grease into a bucket for easy disposal. Finally, the Pellet Purge System helps you clean out pellets from your auger with ease. Cleaning up has never been so easy.

Pros

  • Large working area
  • No need for internal meat probe
  • Easy to configure and use
  • Efficient utilization of pellets
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • Heavier than most grills at 127 pounds
  • Cooking on high temperatures is complicated

Finally

The Camp Chef PG24S is one of the most high-capacity, heavy-duty smokers we’ve ever used. For its size, it’s fairly easy to operate and won’t require you much maintenance. Although it’s quite heavy, it definitely cooks large amounts of food for big groups. Overall, a great investment that will last you a long time.

8-IN-1 Wonder

The most versatile smoker

Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill

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The most versatile smoker

Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill

Whether it’s smoking, grilling, searing, roasting, braising, char-grilling, baking, searing or barbecuing, you can do all of that with just one product.

Cooking Surface

With a massive 700 square inches of primary grilling space, this grill impressed us when compared to other Pit Boss grills we reviewed. Its size is large enough to cook for large groups of people. It features a Flame Broiler that uses slide-plates which allow for direct flame grilling, which means you get an even cast-iron cooking each time. If the 700 square inches isn’t enough, you can make use of the additional upper cooking rack space. The racks are made of porcelain-coated cast iron for optimum grilling as well as easier maintenance.

Versatile Cooking

Pit Boss’s real wood cooking lets both beginners and pros cook and smoke everything from ribs to fish, bake biscuits to pizza, grill burgers to vegetables, sear and charbroil steaks and more. It’s an 8-in-1 beast that will spice up your kitchen.

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Temperature Control

The flame broiler uses a digitally controlled burn system. Its Digital Control Center lets you set the temperature ranging from 170F to 600F with ease. The desired temperature is set and maintained through an electric auto-start and fan-forced air mechanism. These, in addition, give that flavorful smoky taste to all of your foods. The auger automatically feeds pellets into the smoker, so you can pretty much let it take care of everything.

Pit Boss Advantage

Pit Boss takes pride in their top-of-the-line cooking process. The Pit Boss 71700FB uses a fan-forced air accelerate to maintain the flame, achieving that flavorful smoky taste. Its flame broiler also has two cooking settings, direct and indirect, that elevate the food’s flavor while keeping excess grease away.

All-Natural Fuel

No gas, propane or charcoal used here. This smoker uses 100% natural cooking-grade wood pellets. You won’t have to worry — the wood pellets don’t contain any fillers, adders, scents or adhesives. This delivers that authentic smoky flavor without risking your health.

Pros

  • 700 square inches cooking space
  • Extra upper rack cooking space
  • 100% wood pellets
  • Digitally-controlled temperature

Cons

  • Uses only Pit Boss brand pellets which are expensive

Finally

The rest of the product we reviewed offered 6-in-1 features, but this one surprised us with its 8-in-1 cooking versatility. If an efficient smoker that can do multiple things is what you’re after, then there’s no need to look further. This could just be your top choice! The pit Boss Pellet Grill with Flame Broiler cooks almost all kinds of food with 100% genuine wood pellets. Talk about quality and quantity!

Wood-Fired Wonder

100% real smoky flavor

Camp Chef SmokePro SG Wood Pellet Grill

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100% real smoky flavor

Camp Chef SmokePro SG Wood Pellet Grill

Everyone who eats BBQ knows that authentic smoky flavor is the best kind. With real hardwood pellets, this smoker easily creates professional-level flavors.

Smart Smoke Technology

The Camp Chef SmokePro utilizes its famous Smart Smoke Technology in using wood pellets efficiently. This makes sure that your foods are smoked to top quality. Because of this, you can “set it and forget it” so that you can sit back and relax.

Grilling Area and Capacity

Available in 24-inch and 36-inch units, the Camp Chef SmokePro is packed with great features for their size. It features a massive 811 square inch rack surface area, perfect for grilling multiple foods at once. Using an auto-dispensing pellet hopper that can hold 22 lbs of pellets, grilling is made convenient and efficient.

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Automatic Features

The Camp Chef SmokePro’s automatic features definitely set it apart and make it truly a “set it and forget it” kind of unit. It makes use of an electric auto-igniter system that lets you start grilling with just one button. The automatic auger instantly dispenses pellets to maintain the desired temperature and use your pellets the most efficient way.

Temperature Control

This smoker uses dual meat probes to determine the temperature, and then displays the internal temperature through a convenient dual-LED temperature readout display. You don’t have to risk losing heat just to check on your food’s temperature every once in a while, making sure that you get tender and juicy food all the time.

Cleanout

Just like most Camp Chef products, this pellet grill smoker uses a patented ash cleanup system that takes away the trouble of vacuuming. Ash is immediately stored in an ash clean-out cup that’s easy to dump.


Pros

  • Easy cleanout system
  • “Set it and forget it”
  • Digital temperature control
  • Large cooking area

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Not that many reviews

Finally

Some products feature the wood-pellet fuel system as a bonus, but the Camp Chef SmokePro SG makes its wood-fired function the star of the show. Using 100% real hardwood pellets, recreating 5-star-cuisine level dishes on a large scale is now made convenient. Though it still has limited reviews, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this smoker quickly becomes a best-selling choice. It’s the kind of smoker that you need if you want hassle-free and fast cooking.

Honorable Mentions:

We have reviewed the best pellet smokers on the market today after doing our extensive comparative research. However, there were some hidden gems that could not make it to our top 10 product list because of one reason or another e.g. due to their high prices, unavailabilities in some regions, and other factors. Also, some just failed to get in our top 10 list only because it was a top 10 list and not a top 20 list. Regardless of the reasons, here are a few honorable mentions that failed to make it to this top 10 best pellet smoker review, but are still worthy in their own rights:

pellet-smokers-10

RecTec Bull 700 is an insanely expensive product among the Rec Tec Wood Pellet Grills, which is why it failed to make it into our top 10 list. However, with its great prices comes great features that you will just adore.

RT 700 offers a Front Folding Shelf and has its own set of meat probe to monitor meat temperature while the grill smoke is infusing with the meat. Its Stainless Steel body protects it from rust and the colors from cracking or peeling. With its built-in WiFi-enabled control, coupled with Rec Tec’s proprietary PID algorithm, you will have control over your cooking process remotely using your wireless devices.

Rec Tec Wood Pellet Grill boasts a cooking area of over 1000 sq. inches. However, that area is calculated from its optional cooking shelf. Without it, the cooking area is roughly around 700 sq. feet. This removable shelf can allow you to increase your cooking area if you’re trying to cook patties, steaks, chicken pieces and items as such; or they can be removed for granting a greater volume of space for smoking brisket or whole turkeys.

This Rec Tec Wood Pellet Grill has a 6-year warranty, which is not only a great option but also long enough for you to figure out whether this product will last or not. In fact, you’d even be able to tell whether this product is rust-proof or not during this time.

Rec Tec has always been known for making advanced Rec Tec wood pellet grills coming in at a higher price. However, some of the popular models come in smaller sizes, like Trailblazer 340 or Bullseye 380. However, compared to their capacities and features, the products in our top ten lists would be better choices. So, among its products, the RecTec Bull 700 is the only one that falls in our Honorable Mentions.


Yoder’s YS480 Pellet Grill is, without a doubt, the best grill in terms of build quality. The material used in the manufacture of this grill, the color, and the finish are nothing but top-class. However, compared to the size of the grilling area, the hopper capacity is a little inadequate in our opinion.

YS 480 has a second level sliding out shelf which can be added for a greater cooking area at the expense of volume. It has a front and a side shelf for cooling and storing purposes while cooking. These shelves are made with 7/16 inch Chrome-Plated, hard, round bar steel.

It has a cooking area of 800 sq. inches and a hopper capacity of 20lbs. While that just would be fine for regular smoking, this product needs some supervision and pellet refilling for longer smoking sessions. It does not have a Wi-Fi enabled control system, though it does come with a digital control system to provide you some ease of control while cooking with this product.

If you’re looking to expand the features and the usability of YS 480, you can go for any of its additional parts like Direct Grill Grates, Fitted Cover, Insulated Jacket and much more. So, if you’re missing any features that you’d want on your grill, you can be sure that there’s an accessory that can fix that.

The price of this product is as high as Rec Tec’s, making this unsuitable for most users. Apart from that, this product doesn’t even come with as many features, making us eliminate this from our top 10 list. Regardless, due to its build quality, we have chosen to place it in our Honorable Mentions.

YS 480 comes with a variant, built for professional grill masters seeking to take part in a grilling competition. Such a trend can also be seen in Yoder’s bigger model, the YS640, which comes in both its basic model and the competition variant.

Grilla Grills are not only great with their puns, but also great with their products. Since we compiled a list of top 10, getting rid of this product from our review was a very difficult choice. Silverbac Pellet Grill, along with several others from our honorable mentions list, has been tied with our advanced pick. Therefore, we were forced to place this on our honorable mentions list. With its traditional barrel-shaped design and astounding colors, they’d look nice in your backyard should they be your top choice.

Silverbac Pellet Grill has a great heating technology with useful features like auto-ignition and a Set n forget temperature control system. It can cook at a temperature range of 180 F to 500 F, with its auto-shutdown safety features turning off the machine as soon as it reaches temperatures above 650 F.

The Silverbac and the Silverbac original models of the Grilla Grills come with a good build. It has a stainless steel burn grate and a stainless steel firebox with a rugged exterior. It is painted with a high-temperature powder coating on a heavy-duty steel body. The seams are welded, caulked and powder coated for a three-layer weather resistance. Its lid and all the internal components are made of stainless steel, greatly improving this product’s life.

For certain, Grilla Grills are packed with great features. But when choosing our top 10 picks, none of these features were unique or exclusive enough for us to include it in our list. Yet, this is a great grill on its own and can give you a smooth grilling experience.

Louisiana Pellet Grills were among the first of the pellet grill manufacturers once Traeger’s Patent had expired. They advanced the design of the grills in some revolutionary ways e.g. shortening the distance from the hopper to the firebox. With such a contribution towards this grill, they made it into the list of honorable mentions.

Louisiana Grills LG Pellet Grill 1100 model is named after its cooking area: 1100 square inches – 750 sq. inches on the main cooking grid and an area of 350 sq. inches on the removable grid. Its cooking grids are made of cast iron with a heavy porcelain coating to prevent rusting.

Speaking of its build quality, the Louisiana Grills LG Pellet Grill 1100 is built with a 14-gauge heavy-duty steel, giving it superior durability and strength. However, it does come at the cost of being a little susceptible to rusting. It has in-line skate casters on its wheels for better mobility, made with heavy duty materials.

Its advanced cooking system comes with a “set and forget” temperature control system that is monitored using its programmable meat probe. Its flame broiler allows for direct and indirect cooking. It has an automatic start up and cool down feature and LG’s proprietary exhaust mechanism for even second tier cooking. Its adjustable temperature can be set from as low as 170 F to 600 F.

Due to having such features and being the best Lousiana Grills Product, the Louisiana Grills LG Pellet Grill 1100 could not escape our vigilant gaze when we did our research. However, it had some shortcomings, mainly due to its build and price that did not allow it to make it into our pellet smoker review. Regardless, we could compare it with some of our products that it had tied with. But as always, we could only choose the top 10 products for this review and this had to go. Regardless, this still is a great product, worth mentioning.


We already have two of the best Traeger Grills in our review. A third one that has tied itself with the Advanced Pick was better off as an honorable mention. It should speak volumes of the quality of this product. It comes with great features and a great price (when compared to the features).

Renegade Pro is built to suit all your cooking needs; it can cook, braise, broil, char, sear, bake, smoke, roast, grill, and barbecue your food to that “melt-in-the-mouth” perfection. To bring about this versatility, it offers different temperature settings, such as “Hot and Fast” and “Low and Slow” that can be controlled using its Digital Pro Controller.

This grill is mounted on a bracket with a sawhorse design with wheels that provide it mobility in all terrains. It has a steel construction with a powder-coated finish, giving it a great look and a sturdy body. It has a hopper capacity of 18 pounds but it’s enough to continuously cook and smoke food in its 380 sq. inches of cooking area. Its porcelain-coated grill grates give you a no-rust and non-stick cooking experience that you won’t forget.

Traeger’s Renegade Pro series comes with dual meat probes to monitor internal temperatures. It has an electronic auto-start functionality that makes it easy and convenient to light up the grill and start cooking.

Its only shortcomings include its cooking capacity and its price. While you can get similar features at a better price and a greater cooking area if you go for a budget pick, we just couldn’t consider this to be better than any of our picks. However, it still is a product worth mentioning, bringing it to our honorable mentions.


We have already mentioned this product in our review once and we’re talking about it again. Whenever you are thinking of Green Mountain Grills, Daniel Boone should always be your first choice; it’s simply the best among the GMG products. Due to having other products at much lower prices with the same features, we could not include Daniel Boone in this review. We have, however, included the Davy Crockett in our review as our Budget Pick.

Before talking about its features, we need you to close your eyes and ask yourself these questions: Does it grill? Does it smoke? Can it ever replace a gas grill? Does it work like a charcoal grill? Now, open your eyes and listen to the answer: Yes. With GMG Daniel Boone’s motto “Think Everything”, you can be certain that it will provide the all-in-1 solution you seek.

By default, the Daniel Boone series comes in a stainless steel body and a steel lid, though you can opt for a more expensive stainless steel lid option for a completely rust proof experience. The smooth black powder-coated finish gives it a brilliant look with hard-rubber tires for mobility.

It comes with some unique features, such as its proprietary “Sense-mate” technology that uses a thermal sensor to monitor the ambient temperature. If used in a cold weather, this grill fires up the turbo mode so you won’t have to wait for it to heat up before you start using it. It comes with “fan-only” mode to blow off the ash and automatically clean the grill once it has been shut off.

Compared to the features, Daniel Boone’s price is quite reasonable. But with brands like Camp Chef and Traeger in the market, it has been difficult for GMG to take more than one spot in our top 10 list. Regardless, this is the best product GMG has to offer, having a balance between price, cooking space and features, bringing it to our honorable mentions list.

Other Notable Products

During our research, we left no stone unturned. We have gone through all the available brands out there and considered their best products before shortlisting the ones for more detailed research. Since we have gone through the trouble of researching them, we figured we’d share the names of the best products anyway.

Cookshack PG500:

Among the Cookshack products, the Fast Eddy’s PG 500 and PG 1000 stand out. But if we are to choose the best from these two, we’d rather suggest you go for PG500 since that will be the best product from Cookshack.

Z Grills ZPG – 7002 Wood Pellet Grill:

Priced around the $530 range, this product can go head to head with its already impressive counterpart – our advanced pick, Z Grills 7-in-1 wood pellet grill. However, with that product having even better features than this one for a relatively lower price, it failed to land a spot anywhere in our review.

Big Horn XL1093:

Big Horn’s largest available grill, the XL 1093 comes with a large cooking area of 1093 sq inches. With it’s low price tag of around $300 and a high cooking area, this product could have been a great choice for pellet smokers. However, we’d rather not suggest something that’s susceptible to rust and weather conditions to be kept outdoors at all times.

Cabela’s Pro Series 36” Elliptical Pellet Grill:

This is an expensive product compared to the ones in our review. However, its build quality and features are simply the best among the $800 price range it comes in. But when we looked at the users’ preferences, this product found a pretty low rating. If most of the users aren’t willing to buy it, we wouldn’t want to suggest it for you either.

Memphis Elite Pellet Grill – VG0002S:

Without a doubt, this is a grill suited for the grill master. But due to its $5000 price tag, we cannot, in good conscience, suggest it for home and personal use. Hence, this product came to this section instead of our top 10 list.

Outdoor Gourmet – Triton XL:

Outdoor Gourmet is one of the more obscure names in the grill industry. However, it does have a considerable fan base, leading us to investigate this product as well. During our research, this is a product we found worth mentioning in this article.

FireCraft® Pellet-Q450™:

FireCraft, after retailing many different brands of grills, chose to get into this game and released their own line of products. Among them, we believe that among their products, the Q450 stands out.

Additional Parts and Accessories for a Pellet Grill

Despite being a little complicated when compared to the other types of grilling equipment (because of the automatic pellet auger and fan), they are pretty easy to repair if you have the right parts. You can find these parts right at a home depot or online. It doesn’t matter if you need to replace the auger or the fan, the ignitor rod or the hopper, for the top brands, you’ll find the replacement parts just as easily. Let’s look at the replaceable parts of a pellet smoker:

Lighting Mechanism: The lighting mechanism, as has already been mentioned, is responsible for firing up wood pellets. Although its individual parts cannot be found for all brands of pellet smokers, the whole mechanisms can be found bundled for all of them. They usually include a lighting rod with wires, a connection pin and thermocouples.

Wheels: These are not only replaceable, but are also affordable, available and necessary. More often than not, you’d find that the wheels are wearing off if the smoker sees heavy movement. We’d suggest you not to trail your smoker around with your car (unless it’s a trailer rig) if you don’t want to replace these very frequently.

Door Thermometers: Not all pellet grills come with a door thermometer, but for the ones that do, don’t see any problems with this device very often. On the off chance that your one gets broken by that stray throw by your kid, you should be able to get a replacement for it online.

Auger Motors: These are the single most important things for a pellet smoker to function properly (apart from the Lighting Mechanism). If you find yourself in a situation where you need them to be replaced, you’d be able to get one for $30-$50 at a local home depot, hardware store or online.

Fan Motors: The best fans and fan motors come pre-bundled for use if you find your grill not working properly. Replacing these parts are simple and with the internet in the tips of your fingers, you won’t be hard-pressed to find a video tutorial for it after you buy one.

PID Controllers: Digital controllers for these smokers are replaceable, but they need to be purchased separately for different brands of pellet smokers. Unfortunately, there is no “One-Model-Fits-All” controller out there.

Chimney, Hinge, and Body Parts: Loose body parts like screws, hinges, and chimneys for your pellet smoker can be widely found at a hardware store or online. May it be the casters for the wheels or a broken axle, you wouldn’t have much trouble finding a replacement for it.

Apart from the replacement parts for a pellet smoker, there are also certain accessories that one can use to increase the range of its usefulness as well as improve its performance. A user can attach a griddle attachment to a pellet grill to use it as a flat top griddle, or use a hopper extender to increase the pellet hopper capacity; there is an attachment for every purpose to suit all of your needs. Let’s take a look at the types of accessories commonly found:

Grill Covers: They protect the grill from dust, water and the weather in general.

Direct Grill Grates: These allow you to add some more cooking space for cooking and a different grill marks pattern for your meat.

Meat Probes: You’d want to know what temperature your meat is at when being cooked. For grills that come without meat probes, or if your existing ones are broken, you can get these accessories to help you out.

Cooking Utensils: Grill tongs, grill cleaners, scrapers, spatula…. Whatever you need for cooking, are usually sold (and sometimes bundled with your product) by your smoker manufacturer.

Flat-Top: A flat top griddle can be placed over the grills to get a different cooking experience and increase the range of items you can cook.

Pellet Hopper Extender: Some models of smokers allow you to attach a hopper extender, allowing it to hold a larger amount of wood pellets to be cooked with. It is extremely useful for increasing your slow cooking times without the need for supervision.

Common Pellet Grill Problems and Solutions

While running and maintaining a pellet grill, you are bound to get into trouble with the equipment at one point or another. And when you do, you’d be left with 3 options: 1. Replace it. 2. Take it to an expert. 3. Become the expert and repair it yourself.

Now, let me ask you, which of these three options sound the most appealing to you? I hope you said number 3. because that’s what we’re going to discuss in this section: DIY Pellet grills repair and maintenance.

The first thing we have to understand is the anatomy of a pellet smoker. Check the related section on this page to get the idea. Once we know which part goes where, the bigger battle will be won. Next, we’re going to have to be able to analyze the problem if we are to solve it. What seems to be the issue? Are the pellets not lighting up? Are the pellets getting stuck and not working properly? Weird noises coming out from the hopper? Are foods not cooking well? Let’s take a look at these problems and how to solve them:

Pellets not Lighting: It’s a simple issue. There is a problem either with the connection of your lighting rod or a damaged system. Repairing the wiring, if that’s where the problem is, might be a little complicated for most. So, for the average griller, the best and the easiest option is to replace the lighting mechanism altogether. When you buy the replacement part, it will come with a detailed instruction manual that anyone can follow.

Auger Making Weight Noises: It’s usually indicating a problem with the motor that’s responsible for rotating the augers. Under such circumstances, you would be left with no other choice than to replace the motor completely. Since the motors and augers are usually packaged together, this can get quite expensive. In such scenarios, it’s better to let it make noises and run for as long as it would serve you before going to replace it. However, once that problem occurs, you’d often find the auger not feeding the pellets at the expected rate and thus, the desired temperature might not be reached in some cases.

Pellets getting stuck and not being fed properly: If you’re facing this problem, it’s most likely on you. Clean out the gunk, ash, and charcoals stuck in the feeder mechanism. If that’s not working, you most likely aren’t using the appropriate sized wood pellets (which shouldn’t be the case in modern times).

Food not cooking evenly or at desired times: It’s worth checking out the health of the fans in your pellet grill. Usually, if the fan is unable to distribute the heat properly throughout the whole smoker, these problems occur. Fans are relatively inexpensive and very easy to replace. Even if you see the fan working and still getting these problems, it might be that the fan is working intermittently or at slower speeds that it needs to. Have it replaced: it would be the best course of action and won’t be heavy on your wallet.

Apart from the aforementioned problems, you might face some minor issues like the smoker staying hot for hours in the end even after your cooking is over and it’s turned off? It’s better to check out the backdraft preventing cooling fan for your grill. Although this wouldn’t cause any major issues with your grilling experience, it’s a safety feature that is always worth checking out and fixing.

Other Must-Know Stuff About Pellet Smoker/Pellet Smoking

History of Pellet Smokers

Joe Traeger designed and developed pellet grills back in 1985 and he patented the design one year after. But these didn’t go into full commercial production until 1988. Because of the patented design, Traeger held a monopoly in the pellet grill market for twenty years. But being a small family-run company, they did not diversify and kept supplying their products only to a select network of stores.

So, when their patent expired in 2006, large companies capitalized on that one and Traeger began facing cut-throat competitions. Within two years, a few companies had already begun producing some of the best pellet grills with more advanced designs and features. By 2014, around 27 companies had already penetrated the market and newer brands were coming out almost every month. Now, with so many companies already in the market, some of them are creating strategic alliances with other brands producing different grilling equipment.

What has Changed Over the Years?

The initial design by Mr. Traeger consisted of a “classic” drum barrel shaped grill design with a chimney on top. Instead of the firebox, the grill contained a pellet hopper. It used a fan to distribute the heat evenly over the pellets. Unlike the modern pellet grills, the original design didn’t include any auto-ignition features and the pellets had to be lit manually.

Over time, as other companies started entering the scene, the designs saw some massive improvements. Later, the firepots were brought closer to the hopper, reducing the distance the pellets had to travel to reach it. This move reduced the probability of a pellet jam. Later, more features began to be added to these grills to further improve the reliability, safety, and convenience.

Now, the best pellet grills come with more advanced features like auto-ignition using igniting rods, Wi-Fi Support, automatic turn on/off, and much more. One of the key safety features added by pellet smokers (designed by Green Mountain Grills), is a cooling fan to cool off the grill after it has been turned off. Even the shape of the body has been changed to have peaked lids so that it can accommodate turkeys and other kinds of roasts. Some come with multiple levels of racks for warming and cooling.

Which Type of Grill Will Suit You?

It’s like one of the ten commandments of grilling: Thou shalt be bombarded with choices when thee seeks to purchase a grill! Kamado, Kettle, Bullet, Pellet, Charcoal, Gas, Griddle… the review goes on. So, what are these categories? And how do you choose the best one that will be right for you?

To understand that, you need to understand what these types are and what the best uses for them are. From that, you can easily determine which grill would be perfect for your needs.

Kettle Grills: These are the most basic types of grills. They come in a roundish kettle shape with leg stands. The user adds in charcoal into it, light it and then place a grill over it to cook their foods with. These are the cheapest options for charcoal grilling.

Bullet Smokers: They come in the shape of a bullet and works in a similar fashion as kettle grills. However, the main advantage it has over kettle grills is that you don’t need a charcoal chimney starter to light it up. Plus, the shape will allow the users to cook at a lower temperature and smoke for a little longer than they can on a kettle grill.

Gas Grills: Simply put, these grills use gas to light fire and light up the grills. These can sometimes be used as a kitchen stove and as a grill. These are usually the best options for broiling and cooking.

Electric Smokers: They come in two forms: Electric Smoker and Smoke Vaults. Usually, they use electricity to heat up a lighting rod to fire up wood chips and give the food a sealed area to allow it to get the full smoke from the wood chips.

Flat-Top Grills: Also known as griddles, the most primitive form of these are just flat surfaces that you can place over a heat source to sear, stir fry and poach your food. But the more advanced forms come with built-in gas burners that will provide you with a direct heat source.

Pellet Smokers: Since pellet smokers today come with a variety of features, it can be used for all of the purposes above with the right attachments. However, among these all, pellet smokers tend to have a higher maintenance and traditionally cost the most.

If you’re looking for a cheaper charcoal smoking experience, go for a charcoal or a bullet smoker. If you’re looking for everyday cooking, you’d be better off with a griddle or a gas smoker. But if you really want to get the best of all of them, dedicate your life to grilling of all sorts and if you are not afraid to spend a little more, then pellet smokers are definitely for you.

Hopper Capacity and Cooking Times

When we’re talking about pellet smokers or thinking of buying them, one thing that comes into the mind is their hopper capacity. But what do we mean by that? Simply put, it’s how much wood pellet can the smoker hold at a time because if you run out of pellets, your cooking is halted.

Now, what that means is that if you have a lower hopper capacity, your pellet smoker will run for a smaller period of time. It also depends on the cooking temperature you have selected for your cooking purposes. However, at higher temperatures, they will provide less smoke; thus would be more suitable for grilling and barbecuing, but not so much for smoking.

With that being said, it’s necessary to understand how much wood pellet would last you and for how long. A 40-pound bag of wood pellets would last you for approximately 24 hours if burned at 250 F. Therefore, if you’re trying to slow-cook a large piece of brisket for 14 hours straight, your 6-9 lb hopper capacity just won’t cut it. You’re going to have to refill it in the middle if you wanted to continue cooking.

Wood Pellets vs Wood Chips

Wood chips and wood pellets are used to add and enhance the flavor of the food being barbecued. These are placed into a fire or lit charcoal and the smoke from the wood gets infused with the food, giving off the best woody, barbecue taste. You can use different types of wood for different types of flavors.

What are Wood Pellets?

Wood pellets are small pieces of hardwood made from compressed sawdust from hardwood. Generally, some wood pellets made for room heating and stoves are produced using some form of binding agent like glue and other additives, which would leave a bad taste and flavor when used for cooking. However, for modern-day grilling, wood pellets are made of pure wooden sawdust and sometimes a little bit of vegetable oil to help it burn. So, nowadays, wood pellets are even better than the real wood chips for grilling.

Advantages of Pellets over Wood Chips

Wood chips are usually soaked before being placed into burning charcoal. This is done to ensure that it burns for a longer period of time. Once the chips are burned up, it’s just a piece of burnt charcoal that can no longer add any flavors to the meat. Then you have to add more soaked chips into the grill for the best outcome.

However, with a pellet smoker, you can ensure that new pellets are being fed into the fire automatically, ensuring that it burns for longer and while it burns, it imparts with its flavors. It doesn’t need to be soaked and fed into a burning pile of coal to work. Above that, sawdust, when separated by the heat and being burned, gets a larger surface area to burn with and thus sends out a bigger burst of flavor per pellet.

Are Pellet Grills Healthy?

Wood pellets that are tailored for pellet stoves or fireplaces usually contain tree barks and binding agents such as glue. When used in pellet smokers, these wood chips can expel some harmful chemical substances infused with the food. But since the dawn of Traeger pellet smokers, different manufacturers have been producing food-grade wood pellets to be used in pellet smokers.

These food grade wood pellets contain only the best and the pure compressed sawdust from hardwood and are sometimes added with natural vegetable oils, perfectly safe and healthy for your food. However, the carbon in the soot and ashes that fly off the firebox can get embedded into the body of the food, which can get inside your body. The good news is problems such as these can be easily avoided if you can keep your smoker clean.

Since wood pellets don’t need to be soaked and burnt out for too long, they produce less ash and char than wood chips. That’s why they are actually healthier compared to their charcoal smoking and wood chip smoking counterparts.

Choosing the Right Type of Pellets

Whenever you want to smoke with a pellet smoker, you will have to make a choice: What type of wood pellets should I use? Well, the answer may sound simple – whichever flavor you like the best – but might be pretty difficult if you’re smoking for the first time. Unfortunately, the only way to know which flavor you like most is to try them all at least once and then decide upon which one floats your boat.

Regardless, it’s worth mentioning the basic types of pellets available on the market to get you started. First there are the hardwood pellets, made from the sawdust from any specific type of hardwood, such as ash, cherry, maple, etc. Then there are different organic hardwood blends: a combination of different types of wood shavings and dust, giving them a customized, special flavoring. For beginners, we’d suggest getting a premium blend, just to be on the safe side (because you can’t go wrong with these). Even then, we’d like to mention a few types of pellets commonly used for different purposes:

For Beef: The most preferable types of wood pellets for cooking beef would be Mesquite, Oak and Alder. We personally prefer using hickory wood pellets for cooking anything related to beef.

For Pork: If you want to smoke some pork butts or a belly, we’d suggest choosing a more flavorful pellet, such as Pecan, Cherry or Apple. You could go for the occasional Maple or Hickory for this purpose as well for the best flavor.

Chicken: Whether you’re cooking chicken, or a duck or that Christmas turkey (yet another reason to fire up the pellet smoker in the winter), you should always go for Pecan. Optionally, you can choose hickory, alder and apple as well, but we really suggest going for pecan (and maybe some cherry pellets as well).

Seafood and Fish: For grilling, smoking or cooking fish, we’d rather not suggest you to get fancy with the blends or combinations. Just stick with some alder pellets or some oak if you’re not willing to experiment.

Also, feel free to try out all types out there and even different combinations if you’re feeling adventurous. Trust us, that extra time will be well spent once you find the flavor that you can personally love.

Types of Wood Chips

Although pellet smokers already have their own custom-made wood pellets with different flavor and blends, if you choose to moonlight your smoker as a charcoal smoker for some reason (maybe for a different experience or a cooking experiment), you can use it as a regular smoker using wood chips. Under such circumstances, it’s going to be worth learning a bit about the types of wood chips out there.

Needless to say, wood chips come with different flavors. But it’s important to know that cherry wood chips wouldn’t be smelling anything like cherry! Wood chips can come from any type of hardwood like oak, maple and cherry. As with pellets, you should experiment with the flavor you love most and stick to using that type of wood chips.

Some popular types of wood chips include: Oak, Apple, Cherry, Hickory, Mesquite, Pecan and Alder. However, there are wood chips from other types of hardwood too that can give you just what you want. Wood chips such as Mulberry, Birch, Pear, Maple, and Cottonwood can give you a wonderful flavor and experience as well.

Since wood chips are by-products of carpentry and woodwork, they are not only inexpensive but are also helpful for the environment since you’re using up all the parts of a tree. Its death wouldn’t go in vain! If you’re looking to learn more about the types of available wood chips and what kind of flavors they impart with, feel free to check out our post on that topic.

A Few Recipes You Can Try with Your Pellet Smoker

After everything being said about pellet smokers, it’s worth talking about what you can actually cook using a pellet smoker. Here are a few simple recipes for you to try on that shiny new pellet grill you have just purchased:

Smoked, Spicy Pork Butts:

A smoking piece of juicy pork butt will just make your day. Not only does it smell good and taste good, the excitement of grilling and the anticipation of a good meal makes the experience even greater. But if you’re new to cooking and grilling, gathering the correct ingredients for a pork butt might be difficult. So, we’d rather simplify it for you with off the shelf products. If you’d rather make the rub yourself, check out our detailed guide.

  1. Get yourself a pack of Killer Hog’s BBQ Spice Rub.
  2. Rub it on the pork butt in a generous amount.
  3. Make sure the pork butt is in room temperature. If it isn’t, let it settle for a few minutes with the rub on.
  4. Fire up your pellet smoker.
  5. Once you are ready, place it on the smoker and put it on 300 F setting.
  6. Smoke to your heart’s content for 1-2 hours.
  7. Check using a meat probe/thermometer. If the core of the butt is at 150 F or higher, it’s time to take it out.

Simple Smoked Chicken:

Cooking the best meal with a chicken is simple, fast and the meal is healthy. All it takes is just around 15 minutes of cooking and a 5 minute preparation period if you’re following this guide.

  1. Take a whole chicken and separate the drumsticks, thighs and breast pieces.
  2. Take a pack of Old Bay’s Dry Rub.
  3. Anoint the chicken in the dry rub.
  4. Heat up the smoker to its maximum setting.
  5. Place the chicken pieces in the grill and put down the cover.
  6. Smoke for 10-15 minutes before removing the lid.
  7. If you prefer grill marks on your chicken, try to heat up the grill grates on a direct flame or a charcoal before placing the chicken pieces on them initially.

BBQ Beef Brisket:

Beef Briskets are big, slow and tasty. If you’re willing to try this recipe, make sure that you’re not in a rush. For a good brisket, this saying goes well: “Good things always come to those who wait.”

    1. Get yourself a prime piece of brisket for this project. If you’re doing it, you better do it right because cooking briskets requires a lot of time and effort. If you absolutely must, go for a choice cut at least. But you want to do this with the best piece of meat.
    2. Soak the Piece into a bath of brandy and inject some salt-water into the meat at different places.
    3. Apply some Stubb’s BBQ Spice Rub onto the brisket.
    4. Once the whole thing is covered in a thick layer of spice rub, it’s time to set it into the pellet smoker.
    5. Let the smoker smoke it at the lowest setting for 8-14 hours straight (depending on the size of the meat).
    6. Once you are done, it’s time to remove the lid, pull it out, slice it up and dig in.

If you’re looking for a more detailed guide, feel free to check out our post on this topic.

Understanding Cooking Temperatures:

When starting on a grilling project, it’s important to know at what temperatures should a food be allowed to settle inside a pellet grill before it reaches its desired doneness. Of course, the time it spends on the grill also plays a major role in it, but you have to understand that cooking on a high heat for long time periods can leave the meat charred while on a low heat can turn it into soft and mushy.

So, we’re here to discuss the different cooking times and temperatures for different types of meat so that you don’t overcook or undercook your meal. But for the health concious, they should avoid certain meats. It’s worth noting that we’re here to discuss the temperatures needed for slow cooking and these should not be considered as universal standards for searing or grilling.

Beef: For ground beef items such as patties and pies, the ideal temperature would be 250 F. If trying to smoke some steak, we’d suggest 225 F. For both these temperatures, the food should be allowed to cook for around 1 hour to 1 and a half, depending on your preferred doneness. Alternately, for steaks, you can reduce the temperature further, increasing the cooking time for more tender but less juicy results.

Poultry: Poultry takes a shorter time to cook than Beef, Mutton or Pork. When cooked at the ripe temperature of 275 F to 300 F, they can be slow-cooked for great results. Preferably, cook them for 75 – 100 minutes.

Pork: When cooking pork, it’s important to understand which parts will take how long to be done properly. For pork butts and chops, you can start from 225 F up to 250 F, cooking it for 5 – 3 hours respectively. If smoking sausages, you should consider cooking for 1 – 3 hours.

Fish: Fish, shrimps and other seafood should be cooked at a low temperature of 220 F and cooked for 45 minutes. Fish are tender and take less time to cook.

Care and Maintenance for Pellet Smokers

We love recommending and reviewing wood pellet smoker grills, but we also want you to get the most out of them once you purchase. Without proper care and maintenance, even the best pellet smoker is bound to have a shorter lifespan. Therefore, how you use your smoker and how you maintain it after use greatly determines how long it will serve you. A little bit of work will go a long way toward extending the life of your smoker. A thorough cleaning of the smoker should occur at least once a year. If you frequently use it, you should have it done at least three times a year. Buying quality pellets will extend its life as well.

Cleaning Before You Cook:

Most old-timers will tell you that a buildup of soot and grease will improve the taste of your food. This does not prove true, in fact, it’s not good for you and can even be dangerous. At Grills Forever we want your grilling experience to be the best and safe. Therefore, before any cooking session, always clean your grill to optimize its performance and prevent any off-flavors. Check the grease pans or collectors before smoking because the collector could be full and overflow, starting a fire. If there is a grease chute then clean it for sure.

Inspecting Your Burners:

Burners represent an important component of your smoker grill and you need to inspect them often. Make sure there are no blockages or corrosion. Cleaning your burn pot with the proper methods will provide great benefits.

Replacing Your Gaskets:

Certain parts of your smoker grill will wear out faster than others if you use your smoker a lot. So, you may need to replace them every few years or so to have the best experience. The gasket represents the place where the dome meets the base. This makes for an easy fix and you can purchase a kit and have it repaired in no time.

The Instruction Manual is Necessary:

Yes, no one likes to read the instruction manual. But there are many advantages of learning the specifics of your grill and reading the manual is key. Generally, you should not use water to clean your pellet smoker, so keep your hose pipe far away. These smokers have digital controllers, a motorized auger, a fan and an igniter rod for the fire pot. These parts will get destroyed if they come into contact with water. You should gently dry scrub the dirt off these parts, making sure not to disassemble any parts. Cleaning the thermostat will also prove to be essential; otherwise, it may read internal temperatures inaccurately.

Maintaining Exterior Components:

If you are concerned about the shine on its exterior, always use dish soap, warm water, and a scrubbing sponge to clean it. Also, avoid metal brushes or steel wool. Remove stubborn stains by scrubbing using diluted ammonia or vinegar. And you can remove the water spots using unsweetened club soda.

Lubricate your motor and fans for optimal use. This will help your smoker work better and last longer. Note that you should not store your grill for long idle time periods. Doing so can cause the structure to warp and mold to form under the grill cover, which of course can render the entire grill unusable or inefficient.

What to Look Forward to?

Not all people and culture will be able to truly understand our love for barbecue here in the USA. For them, it might just be a cooking activity while for us, it’s a tradition – a ritual to celebrate the summers (and occasionally the winters). As long as this love for grilling stays with us, which will be, we’re going to continue to expect more and more from the grill manufacturers.

The manufacturers won’t have any other choice than to comply with the growing demands of their customer base. As such, they’ll be forced to explore their limits and reach new heights in their advancements. As grillers, we’re grateful that they would and thus we would have a lot of new ideas and advancements to look forward to.

While we might already have seen some of these advancements in the designs, not all of them have become mainstream. However, we’re still going through these advancements and hopefully, we’ll all be able to see them in all of the best smokers out there in near future.

  • Wi-Fi control – Most of the feature-rich pellet grills now come with the Wi-Fi technology. However, in near future, we expect these distinctions between the “Wi-Fi enabled” versions and “non-Wi-Fi” versions gone and all of them come with the Wi-Fi technology that you can use to maintain and monitor the cooking temperatures remotely.
  • PID ControllerPID Controllers (Proportional Integral Derivative) are devices that most of the grill manufactures don’t fully utilize yet. They can be found as a separate device attached to the grills if you’re handy enough, but all the manufacturers aren’t fully considering them yet. Using a PID controller, you can accurately maintain the temperature while cooking and ensure that the food is cooked automatically to perfection without much supervision.
  • Web-based control – This is an idea yet to be implemented and is intended to be an upgrade to the Wi-Fi control feature. The plan is to make it possible to control a smoker’s temperature from any place on the planet as long as the smoker is connected to the internet. This will let you set your food and go to work without worries.

Apart from these new inventions in pellet smokers, the most common things to look for while shopping for your smoker include:

  • Digital temperature controls with temperature as high as 550 degree F or more
  • The size of the cooking area and its portability
  • Inclusion of programmable meat probes to check the actual temperature of your food
  • Secondary cooking racks
  • Efficient use of pellets
  • Direct grilling options
  • The price – it should reflect the features of the smoker

With the upcoming and already existing new features, you can achieve an easier and much better smoking experience than ever before. Always look for features that can help bring out the real taste of food, and give you more control and convenience. Keep visiting this page because we will always be the first ones to bring you the newest and the best news about the innovations in grills and smokers.

Alex Coleman

Alex Coleman’s family has been farming in the Piedmont region of North Carolina longer than anybody remembers. The area is famous for “Lexington Style” barbeque, which focuses on pork shoulder barbeque served up with a variety of sauces based on ketchup, vinegar, and peppers. But Alex’s daddy taught him so much more than that about grilling and smoking...Read more