- 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 in 2020
- 3.1 1. Camp Chef SmokePro DLX 24 Pellet Grill – Best to Buy in 2020
- 3.2 2. Z-Grills Premium 7002E Pellet Grill – Best Wood Pellet Grill
- 3.3 3. Green Mountain Grills’ Davy Crockett Pellet Grill – Best Budget Pellet Grill
- 3.4 4. Rec Tec RT-700 Pellet Grill – Best Smoker Pellet Grill Combo
- 3.5 5. Camp Chef Woodwind SG 24 Pellet Grill – Best Pellet Grill for Searing
- 3.6 6. Z Grill L6002E Pellet Grill – Best Portable Pellet Grill
- 4 Top-Rated Pellet Grills Comparison Table
- 5 Best Pellet Grill Brands
- 6 FAQs
- 7 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 Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. 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 in 2020
Below you’ll find our carefully selected candidates. These best pellet grills will enrich your food with an all-natural smoky flavor!
- Camp Chef SmokePro DLX 24 Pellet Grill – Editor’s Best to Buy
- Z-Grills Premium 7002E Pellet Grill – Best Wood Pellet Grill
- GMG Davy Crockett Pellet Grill – Best Budget Pellet Grill
- Rec Tec RT-700 Pellet Grill – Best Smoker Pellet Grill Combo
- Camp Chef SG 24 Pellet Grill – Best Pellet Grill for Searing
- Z-Grills L6002E Pellet Grill – Best Portable Pellet Grill
Here are our top picks for the Best Pellet Grills.
1. Camp Chef SmokePro DLX 24 Pellet Grill – Best to Buy in 2020
With the first pick of the batch, we select the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX. It’s a sturdily-built pellet grill with a diverse temperature range and immense heating prowess. It can grill, smoke, bake, roast and braise with ease. Granted, its price tag might bring about second thoughts, its overall performance is warmly received by the grilling community. In fact, this grill is so well beloved by BBQ aficionados, it’s no surprise that this makes another feature in our picks for the top grills of 2020.
The SmokePro DLX has a grilling surface of 429 square inches from the primary grate. Combined with an extra 141 square inches on the upper warming rack, you’ll receive a total of 570 square inches of cooking space. 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 SmokePro DLX is made of heavy-duty coated steel. While coated steel is not as rust-resistant and conductive as stainless steel, it comes pretty close.
In addition, the side sear box is stainless steel.
Despite an overall weight of 140 pounds, the grill is equipped with all-terrain wheels for mobility. However, we advise you to choose the spot to park the grill carefully— preferably on a flat surface— so that the grill won’t roll away.
The built-in electronic automatic ignition lights up and preheats the grill effortlessly. Also, you don’t have to struggle with keeping up-to-date with the temperature changes, because all data is shown on the low-flare screen: you can monitor the temperature inside the grill as well as the meat temperature via the dual probes, eliminating the need for guesswork.
The temperature management system— dubbed the Smoke Control by Camp Chef— uses PID technology to keep your food flavorful and exactly the way you like it. 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 an increment of five degrees. And that’s not all: you can also set the smoke level from one to ten.
For BBQ lovers who prefer clear and distinct sear marks, you can use the side sear box. This extra burner will also come in handy when you need to reheat something in a jiffy, like a pan of sauce or warming some sesame buns.
The grate is reasonably easy to hand wash— it would be too oversized to fit in a dishwasher, anyway.
The hopper has a quick-access door that lets you drain out the pellets quickly. This will come in handy when you’re storing the grill for the winter or mixing different pellet types. Just remember to unplug the unit and place a container under the grill to house the pellet before emptying the hopper.
There’s also 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 one 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.
2. Z-Grills Premium 7002E Pellet Grill – Best Wood Pellet Grill
The Z-Grills 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.
What we really like about the Z Grills 7002E is its enormous hopper size, which can house an amazing 20 pounds of pellets.
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.
The grill is quite heavy, weighing up to 112 pounds. To make matters worse, the lack of casters makes it 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.
You can find extra storage room at the bottom of the grill.
A bottom shelf gives grillers additional space to place utensils, trays, spices, and dressings. Though a cabinet with doors would be nicer, the bottom shelf nonetheless should suffice and is a budget-reasonable design.
If you fancy a different color, Z-Grills 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 Budget Pellet Grill
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 is quite 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. Rec Tec RT-700 Pellet Grill – Best Smoker Pellet Grill Combo
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.
5. Camp Chef Woodwind SG 24 Pellet Grill – Best Pellet Grill 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.
6. Z Grill L6002E Pellet Grill – Best Portable Pellet Grill
Pellet grills are meant to deal with huge slabs of briskets and whole birds. But wouldn’t that mean all pellet grills are humongous? Not necessarily. You can still find a high-power unit with space-saving design and versatility like the Z Grills L6002E.
The total grilling surface— measuring 573 square inches— comprises the main cooking area and warming rack, 333 square inches and 240 square inches, respectively. Z Grills claims the interior fits 24 burgers, five ribs racks, or four birds.
As for the hopper, it can load up to eight pounds of pellets. Considering how the L6002E is more streamlined than conventional pellet grills, we think it’s fair enough.
For other measurements of the L6002E, check out the illustration below.
The body is heavy-duty steel with a layer of high-temperature fine powder coating. This finish keeps the grill rust-proof against the daily wear-and-tear and weather— until its effectiveness wears off, that is.
For reasons unclear, the lid is stainless steel. Odd choice, but who are we to judge? Meanwhile, the cooking grates are porcelain-enameled cast iron.
Weighing just under 100 pounds even when fully pellet-loaded, this grill poses little to no difficulty moving around. Though the absence of swivelable casters is noticeable, the all-terrain wheels are fine enough on their own. Do be careful, though, when making turns around corners: you’d have to pivot the whole unit on the hind legs and the wheels, making things all the more awkward and difficult than it already is.
Like many of its Z-Grills brothers, the L6002E boasts an impressive arsenal of cooking prowess. You can expect a wide range of options and methods, including:
- Grilling & barbecuing,
- Charring & Searing.
Speaking of searing, there’s a slidable plate flame broiler that lets you grill directly above the open flame. Direct grilling isn’t exactly a pellet grill’s strong suit, but the L6002E proves otherwise with such an unconventional design.
Control-wise, the L6002E is rather standard. Featuring one-button start-up and a PID tracking system, the grill keeps the set temperature constant— not fluctuating too much and too often. The temperature range goes from 180°F to 450°F, to boot.
Unlike conventional pellet grills, the L6002E doesn’t have a trap door that unloads the remaining pellets quickly. Instead, you’d need to scoop or vacuum the old pellets if you need to purge the hopper or replace with a fresh batch.
Other detachable components— the porcelain grates, grease bucket, and drip tray— shouldn’t pose too many cleaning hassles. A warm bubble bath with dish soap and a soft-bristle grill brush should suffice.
The grease bucket collects most of the fat and juice dripping from the food. To lessen any cleaning effort, we advise placing a tinfoil cup inside the bucket before you start your grilling session. That way, you can dispose of the greasy messes in one go.
Like the 7002E, the L6002E features a bottom shelf. This extra space is handy when you need a surface to place all sorts of grilling tools, spices, and dishes. You’d also be pleased to know that the bottom shelf does come with the grill.
The side table offers extra working space, albeit not much. You can also find a bottle opener and a number of hooks on the side table to keep utensils within arm’s reach.
If you prefer the all-black look, the Z Grills 550B model may be worth considering instead.
The Z Grills L6002E retains all qualities of a well-rounded pellet grill, and it packs all that heating prowess neatly inside a streamlined body. This grill should make a nice addition for any garden or backyard with limited space.
Top-Rated Pellet Grills Comparison Table
|Model||Cooking Area (sq in)||Extras||Warranty|
|Camp Chef SmokePro DLX 24||570||3 years|
|Z-Grills Premium 7002E||694||3 years limited|
|Green Mountains Grills’ Davy Crockett||219||3 years limited|
|Rec Tec RT-700||1054||6 years limited|
|Camp Chef Woodwind SG 24||811||3 years|
|Z Grill L6002E||573||3 years|
Best Pellet Grill 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.
1. 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 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.
If you’re doing a quick lookup for pellet grills, more often than not, one of the first recommendations is a Z Grills.
Z Grills has been around for 30 years making grills for various brands, but it was only as recently as 2017 when they started carving their own path.
Their latest models— the Z Grills 1000 series— have gathered numerous positive feedback and favorable reviews. The most prominent from this lineup include the 1000D and 1000E, both of which are among bestselling models on various retailing platforms.
3. Rec Tec
Rec Tec was founded in 2009 by friends-turned-business-partners Ray Carnes and Ron Cundy in Augusta, Georgia.
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. The brand also offers some of the best customer service in the industry.
4. 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. 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.
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:
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.