- 1 Pellet Grills: The Grill-Smoker Hybrid That Gives the Best of Both Worlds
- 2 What Is the Best Pellet Grill for You?
- 3 Reviews of the Best Pellet Grills to Buy in 2020
- 3.1 1. Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill – Editor’s Best to Buy
- 3.2 2. Z-Grill Premium 7002E Pellet Grill – Best Wood Pellet Grill
- 3.3 3. Green Mountain Grills’ Davy Crockett Pellet Grill – Best for the Money
- 3.4 4. Camp Chef SmokePro DLX 24 Pellet Grill – Best Rated
- 3.5 5. Rec Tec RT-700 Pellet Grill – Best Pellet Smoker Grill
- 3.6 6. Camp Chef Woodwind SG 24 Pellet Grill With Sear Box – Best for Searing
- 3.7 7. Z-Grill 450A Pellet Grill – Best Portable
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 A Comparison Table of the Top-Performing Pellet Grills Reviews
- 6 FAQs
- 7 What Are the Best Pellets for Pellet Grills?
- 8 How Does a Pellet Grill Work?
- 9 Top Favored Brands
- 10 Conclusion
In this article, you’ll find out how a pellet grill is a wise investment for grillers who want to diversify their menu options. We’ll then outline the criteria for choosing the best pellet grills on the market, followed by the reviews of our picks. The burning FAQs come next, and we’ll wrap up with the top-favored grill brands.
Pellet Grills: The Grill-Smoker Hybrid That Gives the Best of Both Worlds
Pellet grills inherit an electric grill’s convenience, a charcoal grill’s prowess, and a smoker’s distinctive smoking ability. They can dish out steaks with pinkish smoke rings and an irresistible smoke aroma— hallmarks of great BBQ and the cooks’ badges of honor. Not just grilling and smoking, pellet grills are versatile: they can broil, roast and bake as well.
An automatic feeding mechanism adjusts the temperature by adding the amount of pellet accordingly, so you don’t need to manually adjust the fuel and airflow. With this system, you’ll reach and maintain the desired temperature with pinpoint precision and ease.
And once the desired temperature is reached, a built-in fan regulates and distributes the airflow uniformly through the interior, so the chance of uneven cooking is drastically minimized. To a degree, a pellet grill is comparable to a convection oven.
Compared to charcoal or wood chips, pellets have less moisture and higher burning efficiency, as noted by Massachusetts-based Manomet Center for Conservation Center. In addition, pellets are easier and faster to ignite, and they leave less residue. The pellets also come in various flavors, but the most popular are oak, hickory, mesquite, and maple.
What Is the Best Pellet Grill for You?
To determine that, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Pellet grills are diverse in retail prices, going from $300 to $1,300, depending on the brand, capacity and other extra features. To just say it upfront: it’s not gonna be cheap. There are, however, pellet grills that can go below $300, but they are small and their quality is questionable, to say the least.
Regular pellet grills can retail somewhere between $500 and $900. They come equipped with a fully automatic hopper— the container that holds the pellets— and a grease bucket. If extra features matter to you, you can opt for bigger grills with remote control options and storage cabinets, but those grills can cost more than $1000.
If you’re regularly hosting grill fests on weekends, you should go for a large grill with a spacious cooking chamber. Otherwise, if you’re just planning on doing a cozy dinner party for your family every once in a while, then a medium grill should suffice.
The hopper size is another thing you should check carefully: a deep fuel box means you won’t run the risk of fuel shortage, particularly when you’re grilling on high heat.
Rust and corrosion are inevitable. It’s not a matter of how, but when.
Coated steel grills can handle high heat well and can withstand rust and the elements at least a few years before succumbing to corrosion. Since stainless steel is expensive, you won’t find many pellet grills made entirely from this material, but there are some grills with stainless steel components that are worth a look.
Sometimes you need to move the grill due to rain or the location of the power source. Therefore, look for models that are equipped with wheels and casters with locks, so you can easily move and secure them in a new position.
Or, if you’re a camping enthusiast, you might want a compact grill that you can bring along on your trip, as long as there’s an outlet, be it a portable generator, your car’s lighter socket, or an RV.
Since pellet grills run on electricity, you can adjust the temperature exactly the way you need it. The control panel may be either analog or digital, depending on the model.
So, you want to get an easy-control regulator, and possibly with an integrated thermometer to check the inside temperature without opening the lid too often.
The party was fun, the food was great, and once the guests have left, the host is left to deal with all the greasy mess.
To minimize the cleaning hassles, you should cover the drip tray and grease bucket with thick replaceable liners. They are made from aluminum foil and are cheap and easy to replace.
When buying a new pellet grill, you should look for those with detachable components that can be washed and dried separately.
As for the hopper (the container of the pellets) and the grill itself, some models have latched doors to empty the ashes and any remaining unburned pellets. If there is none, you can use a vacuum cleaner to suck out all the remnants.
- Side sear box
- WiFi-supported control: lets you monitor and control the grill from afar when you’re watching the game on TV, greeting guests or preparing other dishes inside.
- Bottom shelf or cabinet: they’ll provide extra space for the grillers’ workstation, where they can lay spices, condiments, food trays, and utensils.
Reviews of the Best Pellet Grills to Buy in 2020
Below you’ll find our carefully selected candidates. These best pellet grills will enrich your food with an all-natural smoky flavor!
- Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill – Editor’s Best to Buy
- Z-Grill Premium 7002E Pellet Grill – Best Wood Pellet Grill
- GMG Davy Crockett Pellet Grill – Best for the Money
- Camp Chef SmokePro DLX 24 Pellet Grill – Best Rated
- Rec Tec RT-700 Pellet Grill – Best Pellet Smoker Grill
- Camp Chef SG 24 Pellet Grill w/ Sear Box – Best for Searing
- Z-Grill 450A Pellet Grill – Best Portable
Here are our top picks for the Best Pellet Grills to buy in 2020:
1. Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill – Editor’s Best to Buy
It’s always important to make a long-lasting first impression, and Traeger Pro Series 34 surely captures the eyes of the beholders, possibly for its extra-large size and sturdy built.
We picked the Traeger Pro Series 34 for its extra-large size and sturdy build. It’s a versatile grill with multiple cooking options all packed in the same unit— grilling, smoking, baking, roasting and braising. Granted, its cost may be quite exorbitant, its overall performance is warmly received by the grilling community.
The grill measures 22 inches deep by 54 inches wide by 49 inches tall in outer dimensions, with the interior offering 646 square inches of grilling surface. The grill can house various large items all at once: eight whole chickens, seven racks of ribs, or 30 burgers. The hopper can house up to 18 pounds of pellets.
The body and shroud is coated steel, so they are reasonably resistant to rust stemming from high heat, weather, and daily wear-and-tear. Meanwhile, the grate is porcelain-enameled steel. The frame, dubbed the “sawhorse chassis” by Traegger, is painted wood.
Weighing 125 pounds, the Pro Series 34 is easy to move thanks to the all-terrain wheel and casters, which can traverse over any surface.
Traeger claims that the Pro Series 34’s Digital Pro Controller integrates Advanced Grilling Logic, a feature that keeps the selected temperature constant. That way, you can just set the temperature to your liking, walk away and tend to other tasks.
The grate is easy to clean using a grill brush and regular dish soap.
The grill has a built-in slanted tray that will catch grease and juices from the meat. These droplets will follow the tray into the bucket on the side of the grill. This design not only alleviates the cleaning burden, but also prevents the fat from falling into the fire, creating carcinogenic compounds.
If you don’t feel like scraping charred pieces and grease of the drip tray, you can use the liners (sold separately). The liners are made from aluminum foil and are disposable, so they will save you a considerable amount of cleaning time.
As for the bucket, you can stack the cup-shaped liners inside the bucket, and whenever grease fills the bucket near the brim, you can just take the top liner cup out, dump the grease, and the new cup is ready.
When you’re cleaning the hopper, it has a clean-out back door so you can get rid of the remaining pellets, clean out the ash, or change the pellet type if you want to get creative with the different flavors.
The Pro Series 34 model can accommodate a folding front shelf and a bottom shelf for cooking utensils, condiments, and spices. But these parts are not included in the grill, so you have to purchase them separately.
The included dual temperature probes let you monitor the food and the temperature inside the grill without opening the lid too often, thus losing the heat. The display on the control panel will keep you up to date with the temperature inside the grill, since the reading is refreshed every second. You can always grill the meat to your favorite doneness, with no more fear of overcooking or undercooking.If the Pro Series Traeger 34 is a little bit too oversized and over your budget, you can give the Lil Tex Elite 22 a closer look. Although much smaller, its construction and performance are similar.
The Traeger Pro Series 34 ranks first for its overall performance, consistency, and durability. As a shining example of Traeger’s high-quality product, it sets the benchmarks for the other pellet grills to follow.
2. Z-Grill Premium 7002E Pellet Grill – Best Wood Pellet Grill
The Z-Grill Premium 7002 is a combination of price and function. It can cook various dishes well enough— with a smoky aroma to boot— at a reasonable price tag.
The grill measures 22 inches deep by 48 inches wide by 51 inches tall. The primary grilling surface measures 504 square inches, while the warming rack provides another 190 square inches, totalling 694 square inches.
The 7002E has stainless steel lids for the body and the hopper, while the rest of the grill is powder-coated steel. It can withstand the weather, daily usage, and high heat fairly well.
Weighing 112 pounds, the grill isn’t that heavy. However, the lack of casters makes this grill particularly hard to go sideways or turn corners. That said, the dual all-terrain wheels are versatile enough to cross multiple surfaces.
You should set the grill on a flat and even surface, since the wheels don’t have locks, which means the grill can roll if parked on slanted ground.
The automatic pellet feeding mechanism— controlled by a knob— lets you control the temperature, which goes from 180°F to 475°F. You can also select the smoking mode on low or grilling on high heat.
The built-in sensor reads the internal temperature and automatically adds the correct amount of pellets, maintaining the temperature and amount of smoke. When the preferred temperature is reached, the 110-volt fan circulates the air inside the cooking chamber evenly. No longer do you have to stay glued to the grill: just set the temperature however you like it, and the grill will keep it hot.
Also worth mentioning is the shutdown cycle, which runs the fan for a couple more minutes before completely turning off the device for cleaning. By this point, the 7002E is cool to the touch, ensuring that you won’t burn yourself when you’re wiping or vacuuming the grill.
The grates are reasonably easy to clean by hand.
Like most pellet grills, the 7002E has a built-in drip tray that catches the dripping grease and fat and lets them slide out of the grill into the external grease bucket.
The pellet purge system lets you clean out the remaining pellets, or replace the current pellets with a different type, in case you want to mix-and-match or experiment with other wood flavors.
What we really like about the Z-Grill 7002E is its enormous hopper size, which can house an amazing 20 pounds of pellets.
Last but not least is the bottom shelf where you can put your cooking utensils, food trays, and spices. Although the shelf itself isn’t that big, it’s still nice to have that extra working space. But the thing is, it doesn’t come with the grill, so you will need to purchase it separately.
If you fancy a different color, Z-Grill offers the Master 700D, another model worth considering. It’s a larger model with a stylish bronze finish and has a built-in cabinet.
The Z-Grill 7002E will infuse the all-natural hardwood aroma within your food, bringing you the irresistible smoky flavor that everyone loves.
3. Green Mountain Grills’ Davy Crockett Pellet Grill – Best for the Money
If you’re on a tight budget, why not consider the Green Mountain Grills (GMG) Davy Crockett? The mini smokehouse is the perfect companion when you go on a camping trip in the RV or you can set it in the back of a pickup truck to travel to a tailgate party. Not only compact, this grill packs quite a lot of heat, too.
The grill measures 23 inches deep by 34 inches wide by 31.75 inches tall when the legs are open, and 17.5 inches deep by 27.75 inches wide by 20.5 inches tall when the legs are closed. Though its modest 219 square inches of grilling surface isn’t a lot, it is still enough for a picnic of four.
The pellet hopper is capable of holding nine pounds of pellets, with a sloped design to help the pellets fall easily into the feeding system.
The Davy Crockett is made of coated steel for durability and resistance to rust, and aluminum for the portability.
Weighing 68 pounds, this pellet grill heavy to carry around, since there are no wheels or casters. Although the fold-up legs also function as a handle, it can be quite troublesome when unloading it on or off the vehicle and moving to other spots.
Built into the Davy Crockett is a thermal sensor— dubbed Sense-Mate— that records and analyzes the temperature every second. It can seamlessly convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit.
The GMG Smart Control allows you to monitor and adjust the grill from afar through your mobile device, as long as there’s WiFi connection. However, you can also manually control it.
With a temperature range from 150°F to 550°F and a 5-degree increment control, you can set the heat to your heart’s content. The Davy Crockett is also equipped with a meat probe, so you can monitor your steaks without opening the lid.
What we particularly love about this Davy Crockett is its flexible power source. Most pellet grills can only plug into a wall socket. The Davy Crockett, however, can connect to a portable generator, an RV’s power outlet or your car’s lighter socket.
Its auger system— the motor that adds the pellets into the firebox— runs at 4.7 to 5.3 RPM (revolution per minute), which effortlessly feeds the fuel into the fire. Meanwhile, the 4100 RPM combustion fan motor maintains the inflow of oxygen, keeping the pellets aflame while circulating the temperature inside the grill.
The 60-watt Davy Crockett runs on a 12-volt current, while its igniter is 100 watts.
The grate, drip tray, heat shield, and grease bucket are easy to hand wash, using a grill brush and regular detergents.
GMG also recommends routine deep-cleaning after using 2-3 pellet bags (80-100 pounds), during which you should service the firebox and igniter carefully.
The Davy Crockett has a side rack with multiple hooks for cooking utensils. Although the rack is small, the extra space and convenience are always welcomed.
What we particularly like is the user-friendly app. It’s available on both iOS and Android devices. You can start or turn off the grill, adjust the temperature and set alarms for the probes. Additional app functions include fan mode, timer, and stopwatch.
When the preset temperature is reached, the pellet hopper is running low on fuel, or one of the grill’s parts isn’t functioning normally, you’ll get an alert. You can also set personalized profiles for your separate dishes.
But what if you’re outside of your WiFi coverage? You can connect to server mode, so no matter where you are, you can always keep an eye on your favorite steaks on the go.
For a pellet grill this affordable, yet with so many added features, the Davy Crockett is a rare gem among the budget-friendly models on the market.
4. Camp Chef SmokePro DLX 24 Pellet Grill – Best Rated
We picked the DLX 24 for its popularity among the grilling community. The reasons why it is highly rated on Amazon are its excellent overall performance, compactness, and the budget-friendly cost.
The DLX 24 has a smaller grilling surface of 429 square inches combined with an extra 141 square inches on the upper warming rack for a total of 570 square inches of cooking creativity. The grill measures 32.5 inches tall, with the cooking chamber measuring 3778 cubic inches. The hopper can house up to 18 pounds of pellets.
The DLX 24 is made of heavy-duty coated steel.
Weighing 140 pounds, the DLX 24 is equipped with casters for mobility and has locks on the casters to prevent the grill from rolling away, even on a slanted surface.
The built-in electronic automatic ignition can light up and preheat the grill with ease. Also, you don’t have to struggle with keeping up-to-date with the temperature changes, because all data is shown on the LED screen: you can monitor the temperature inside the grill as well as the meat temperature via the probes, eliminating the need for guesswork.
The temperature selection system is easy to use: just dial the knob to your preferred temperature, and the grill will take care of the rest. The heat is maintained as the automatic auger continually feeds pellets from the hopper into the burning firebox below. With the assistance of the convection fan, the hot air is spread evenly throughout the grill’s interior.
You can set the heat from 160°F to 500°F and anywhere in between. With this wide temperature range, you can smoke, grill, BBQ, and sear at will.
The grate is reasonably easy to clean. For the more stubborn gunk, you can use baking soda.
The hopper has an ash cleanout system that collects the ash falling from the firebox. All you have to do is remove the cup at the bottom of the grill, dump the remains, wipe with a clean rag, and reattach to the grill.
If you’re cleaning the interior of the grill, you can pull a lever to empty the remaining ash from the grill bottom, and vacuum the rest.
The side table measures 16 inches by 12 inches, adding working space for spices, rubs, or tools.
Another thing worth mentioning is although the grill is under warranty for 3 years, the manual says only 1 year. However, this is quickly addressed by the support team on the manufacturer’s main website.
The only thing to nitpick here is that the warming rack above could have been bigger. On the whole, this is otherwise a well-made, well-performing and a popular choice among the grilling community.If bronze isn’t to your liking, then you’d probably fancy a mysterious black grill, which is also from Camp Chef.
A pellet grill that under-promises yet over-delivers like the SmokePro DLX 24 is not something you come across often.
5. Rec Tec RT-700 Pellet Grill – Best Pellet Smoker Grill
Next on our list is the Rec Tec RT700, a unique-looking grill with an impressive smoking capability.
The primary grilling surface measures 702 square inches, spacious enough to fit whole a whole turkey or six large racks of ribs. However, with an additional grate— which can be purchased separately— you can further expand the interior to 1,054 square inches.
The RT-700’s dimensions are as follows, as detailed by the manufacturer:
Regarding the exterior, Rec Tec uses stainless steel for the cooking chamber, bull-horn handles, towel ring, controller shelf, hopper lid and its handles, hinges, lid stop, grease bucket hook, smoke stack cap, and pull handle. The lid, meanwhile, is powder-coated steel.
As for the interior, the grates, fire pot, heat deflector, smoke tray, and drip pan are 304 stainless steel. Meanwhile, the HotFlash ignition system is ceramic.
It’s not just the logo that bears the image of a bull, but the Rec Tec RT-700 itself resembles one as well, with the horns for the handes and the nose ring for the towel holder.
The all-terrain wheels can traverse different surface, while the casters make the grill swivel effortlessly. However, the RT-700 cannot go sideways.
Utilizing Smart Control, the PID algorithm will maintain the temperature precisely: the RT-700 allows you to set the desired temperature— the setpoint— and monitor the real-time readings— the actual temperature inside the chamber. For more precise grilling on specific items, on the control panel, there are two more ports where you can connect the two meat probes that come with the grill.
With the temperature range from 200°F to 500°F, you can adjust it in 5-degree increments until you’re satisfied. But if you want a slow smoke, the LO setting operates under 200°F to achieve the maximum amount of smoke. The 110-volt pellet grill is easy to use, since the ignition and shutdown are completely automatic. The Rec Tec RT-700 has multiple cooking options: smoking, BBQ, grilling, baking, and roasting.
The grease bucket, grate, and drip tray are reasonably easy to hand wash. A metal grill brush soaked in warm soapy water should suffice.
The Rec Tec Grills app, available for both Apple and Android devices, will allow you to monitor and control the RT-700 from afar. The app is user-friendly.
With a 40-pound capacity, the hopper can hold an impressive amount of pellets. Rec Tec claims you can cook over 40 hours non-stop with a full hopper.
The bottom shelf provides extra storage room, so you can place trays and spices on it. The tool hooks will keep the utensils and tools at an arm’s reach, adding convenience for the cooks. Also, the RT-700 has an interior light, which will come in handy at night.
Although its price tag may raise some eyebrows, the Rec Tec RT-700 is a worthwhile investment for those who want to smoke large chunks of brisket or ribs. In the long run, it will prove to be not only a wise decision, but also the heart and soul of every grill fest you throw for the neighborhood.
6. Camp Chef Woodwind SG 24 Pellet Grill With Sear Box – Best for Searing
Although pellet grills are versatile, there is one particular cooking method that they don’t handle very well due to their maximum temperature: searing. And that’s why we picked the Woodwind SG 24, the go-to solution for those looking for the grill marks on their steaks.
A combination of 382 square inches from the upper warming rack and 429 square inches on the lower grate provides a total 811 square inches of cooking surface. The SG 24 is 42 inches tall, with the cooking chamber measuring 4850 cubic inches. The side sear box measures at 11.5 inches by 16 inches, providing an additional cooking area of 184 square inches.
Regarding the hopper capacity, while the older Woodwind grills could hold 18 pounds of pellets, the SG 24 can hold 22 pounds.
Camp Chef uses a variety of materials for the components: enamel steel for the lower grate, nickel-plated steel for the upper grate, and stainless steel for the sear box.
Despite weighing 150 pounds, the Woodwind SG 24 comes with all-terrain wheels and casters, so it’s easy to move the grill across different surfaces. The casters have locks to prevent the grill from rolling away.
Like other pellet grills, the SG 24 can smoke, BBQ, grill, bake, and roast. However, what sets this pellet grill apart from the others is its searing ability. The sear box can reach up to 900°F, giving your food a crisp and caramelized surface. The stainless steel burner can dole out 16000 BTUs of heating capacity.
Much like other pellet grills, the Woodwind SG 24 has an automatic ignition system. All of the temperature readings are displayed on the LED screen, including that of the temperature inside the grill as well as the probe temperature.
The SG 24 has a digital control, and an automatic auger feeds the pellets into the burning heat source to maintain the temperature.
Speaking of temperature, a knob lets you dial the setting from 160°F to 500°F, and the two meat probes will let you know how well your food cooks.
The grate, bucket and drip tray can be easily hand washed. You should use warm, soapy water and a grill brush to scrub the gunk and charred pieces off.
The ash cleanout system will collect the falling ash gathering at the bottom of the grill, and the hopper door lets you easily empty the remaining pellets.
The Woodwind SG 24 also comes with a bottom shelf for extra storage room and a built-in bottle opener, to boot.
When it comes to searing on a pellet grill, the Camp Chef Woodwind SG 24 is second to none. It offers a diverse range of cooking methods that can satisfy the palates of different diners.
7. Z-Grill 450A Pellet Grill – Best Portable
With the final pick, we chose the Z-Grill 450A. Like other Z-Grill products, it’s a nice blend of functionality, portability, and budget-friendliness.
By combining the 324 square inches from the cooking grate and the 128 square inches from the smoking rack, the 450-A offers a total 452 square inches of grilling surface. The hopper can hold 15 pounds of pellets.
The grill is made of heavy-duty painted steel for endurance against the elements and daily wear-and-tear.
With the listed weight at 98 pounds, the 450-A is lighter than most of the pellet grills featured in this article. The grill also comes with two all-terrain wheels and two casters for effortless movements.
Much like all of its Z-Grills counterparts, this 250-watt pellet grill runs on a 110-volt current. The automatic ignition is easily controlled via a switch on the panel, which also includes an automatic shutdown recycle mode for cleanup.
The 450-A has a 160°F – 450°F temperature range, with 25000 BTUs of heating capacity.
The pellet purge system will collect the ash after a grilling session. If you want to clean the hopper or change the flavor of the smoke, you can use the hatch door to unload the pellets and add new ones.
The grate, grease bucket, and drip tray are to be scrubbed manually with a soft-bristled brush and dish soap.
This grill doesn’t have any notable extra feature.
If you prefer the all-black look, maybe this Z-Grill model may be worth your time.
The Z-Grill 450A is a lightweight grill that’s perfect for small gardens, backyards, front lawns, or wherever space is limited.
And we’ve reached the end of the product reviews. Hopefully, this article can assist you in choosing the right pellet grill. Anything you’d like to share, contribute, or if you feel we’ve left something unsaid, your comments are always highly welcomed.
A Comparison Table of the Top-Performing Pellet Grills Reviews
|Model||Cooking Area (sq in)||Extras||Warranty|
|Traeger Pro Series 34||646||3-year warranty|
|Z-Grill Premium 7002E Pellet Grill||504 on main grate + 190 on warming rack = 694 in total||3-year limited warranty|
|Green Mountains Grills’ Davy Crockett||219 sq||3-year limited warranty|
|Camp Chef SmokePro DLX 24||429 on lower grate + 141 on upper rack = 570 in total||3-year warranty|
|Rec Tec RT-700||702 on lower grate + 352 on optional upper grate = 1054 in total||6-year non-transferable limited warranty|
|Camp Chef Woodwind SG 24 with Sear Box||429 on lower grate + 382 on upper grate = 811 in total||3-year warranty|
|Z-Grill 450A||324 on main grate + 128 on warming rack = 452 in total||3-year limited warranty|
Pellet grills are a different beast compared to your average charcoal or propane cooker, so we’re here to help. Below are the burning questions that stir confusion among even the most seasoned pitmasters when using a pellet grill.
What Are the Best Pellets for Pellet Grills?
We first need to know what the pellets are made of to determine which ones are the best.
Pellets are biofuels from organic matter (also called biomass). They’re made from various materials, the most common of which include sawdust, organic waste, and tree barks. These materials are compressed into dense chunks known as pellets, which helps them burn longer and more efficiently. The most popular type are wood pellets, which have been processed to food-grade safety. Since wood pellets have less moisture than some other types, they burn more effectively and give off more heat.
Manufacturers make various types of pellets with different flavors and scents using different types of wood. There is no golden rule for which pellets go with which kinds of food, so you can experiment until you find pairings to match your taste. The most common wood pellets are made from oak, maple, mesquite, cherry, hickory, and pecan, just to name a few.
So, the short answer is wood pellets are generally the best. Simple as that.
How Does a Pellet Grill Work?
The pellets are stored inside a container called a hopper, which can be designed above or beside the grill, depending on the manufacturer. Once the griller sets a specific temperature, the pellets fall through a funnel. An auger conveyor— a motor with large ridges like an oversized corkscrew— spins and carries the pellets toward the burning fire pot. The auger conveyor is a variation of the Archimedes screw, which is likely the oldest conveyor machine in history— sometimes the oldest solutions are still the best!
Inside the fire pot is a burning rod or igniter. After coming into contact with the heat source, the pellets catch fire, producing heat and smoke. The fan inside the grill helps distribute the heat and smoke evenly inside the entire cooking chamber.
People always say “A picture is worth a thousand words”. We didn’t think a thousand words were necessary since pellet grills aren’t too complex, but an illustration is still helpful:
Top Favored Brands
Whatever pellet grill you ultimately choose is up to you,but going with a well-known brand may offer a little extra peace of mind. Most brands also make their own pellets.
A household name among meat lovers, Traeger has been in business since 1985. Founded by Joe Traeger, this brand was the pioneer and trailblazer in the pellet grill manufacturing industry.
Ever since its patent expired in 2006, Traeger has lost its exclusivity in the market and has faced many competitors. Nevertheless, the name Traeger is still synonymous with the pellet grill itself, and this brand is not going away anytime soon.
The folks at Z-Grill have one goal: globalization.
With its warehouses in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Z-Grill has plans to expand its reach even further. Having exported their products throughout North America, they are now taking aim at Europe.
Their objective is to offer high-quality products and reliable customer service. Z-Grill insists it will not stop until it becomes the go-to brand. And with the new 6002 series coming available for purchase soon, they should be able to capture the attention of the BBQ community with an improved and more powerful pellet grill.
3. Camp Chef
Founded in 1990 in Utah, Camp Chef knows a thing or two about the fun of picnics and camping. Understanding travelers’ struggles with the weather when making outdoor meals, Camp Chef’s products have their customers’ best interests at heart. They encourage people to be closer to nature, so all of their products are tested against the harshest elements. That’s probably why grills with this unmistakable red-and-black logo are among the barbecue community’s favorites.
4. Rec Tec
Founded in 2009 by friends-turned-business-partners Ray Carnes and Ron Cundy in Augusta, Georgia, this new player still has a lot of catching up to do before it can hang with the veterans in the field. However, if Rec Tec can keep offering well-made grills and reliable customer service, it won’t be long before it can go toe-to-toe with the household names. Rec Tec grills are known for their extra-large interiors that are great for use in competitions or when hosting particularly festive parties for large crowds.
5. Green Mountain Grills
Started in 2007, Green Mountain Grills is another rookie in the pellet field. They are known for their grill line named after famous frontier figures— Davy Crockett, James “Jim” Bowie, and Daniel Boone are their top offerings. And although still far behind in the race for the go-to pellet grill brand title, that doesn’t stop GMG from striving for improvement. Not only focusing on the grills, GMG also puts a lot of energy toward improving customer experience by developing their mobile app for the grills.
A pellet grill is the all-in-one cooking appliance that inherits the smoking function from a smoker, the ease of control from an electric grill, and the firepower of a charcoal grill. That said, these grills come in different sizes, brands, and costs, which can be frustrating for buyers to pick if they are unclear of what they actually need.
With that in mind, we wrote this review article of the best pellet grills— along with the buying guide. So no matter who you are, a veteran griller, an amateur home cook, or a frequent camper, there is always a pellet grill that best matches what you asked for.
If you have used any of these grills and have any tips, insights, or grilling experience you want to share with us, you can comment right below this article.