Whether you prefer smoked chicken or well-done steak, the best pellet grills deliver. Their versatility and ease of use set them apart from other types of grills. Wood pellets can simmer on low at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit or smolder at temperatures that—depending on the grill model—may top 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
Their set-it-and-forget-it design relies on digital controls, an internal thermostat, and an electric hopper that automatically feeds pellets to the firebox to ensure easy use. But keep in mind that, because of these automated and electric features, pellet grills require both fire and electricity.
This guide examines the features to consider when shopping for the best pellet grill and offers up the top choices on the market, from small portable models to large units ready for a big backyard barbecue. Each of the top picks below was selected after an in-depth review of the market and thorough product vetting.
- BEST OVERALL: Traeger Pro 575 WiFIRE Pellet Grill
- RUNNER-UP: Camp Chef PG24 DLX Pellet Grill
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Z Grills 450A Pellet Grill
- UPGRADE PICK: Weber SmokeFire EX6 Wood Fired Pellet Grill
- BEST VERSATILE: Camp Chef PG36PL Woodwind 36 Pellet Grill
- BEST PORTABLE: Green Mountain Grills Trek Pellet Grill
- BEST FOR STEAKS: Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX 1200 Pellet Drill
- BEST SMART: Traeger Timberline 1300 Pellet Grill
- BEST LARGE: Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill (Gen 1)
- BEST FOR SEARING: Pit Boss 700FB Wood Pellet Grill
How We Chose the Best Pellet Grills
We considered a variety of criteria when selecting the top pellet grills for our list. We chose models with precise temperature controls that could maintain lower temperatures for smoking pork butts as well as searing heat for grilling steaks. We only considered models made of heavy-gauge steel with durable enamel or powder-coated finishes that protect from rust. We also gave special consideration to models equipped with large-capacity hoppers to reduce the need for repeated pellet refills. While pellet grills are generally easier to use than other smokers, ease of use was also a consideration.
Our Top Picks
The list below considers size, quality, and additional features to narrow the field to some of the top pellet grills on the market. This list includes portable models and full-size pellet grills from some of the top names in the business.
A model from one of the most highly regarded names in pellet grills, the Traeger Pro 575 features a solid build and smart design, making it one of the best pellet grills on the market. Traeger’s D2 drivetrain starts and heats faster than other pellet grills. WiFIRE technology gives outdoor chefs control of the Traeger grill from a smart device through the Traeger app or voice commands (when paired with Alexa).
Heavy-gauge steel construction makes this a sturdy appliance. A large 18-pound-capacity hopper ensures the grill runs for many hours without a refill, and its 570 square inches of cooking surface will help feed a crowd.
- Cooking surface: 570 square inches
- Width: 41 inches
- Hopper capacity: 18 pounds
- Superb quality grill and smoker from one of the industry’s leading brands
- Combines rapid starting with excellent hopper capacity and large cooking surface
- WiFIRE technology offers control via smartphone app and voice commands when paired with Alexa
- While complaints are rare, some buyers found the paint has bubbled or chipped off
Get the Traeger Pro 575 pellet grill at Amazon, Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, BBQ Guys, Best Buy, or Traeger.
A solid pellet grill for a reasonable price, Camp Chef’s DLX pellet grill features 570 square inches of cooking surface and a hopper that holds 18 pounds of pellets—an ample supply for a full day of smoking or hours of grilling.
Connections for two meat probes allow the chef to view the temperature of food from the grill’s digital controls without raising the lid. These newly updated controls help maintain temperatures more consistently. Camp Chef’s DLX comes in black, bronze, or stainless steel to fit a variety of styles.
- Cooking surface: 570 square inches
- Width: 50 inches
- Hopper capacity: 18 pounds
- Fully featured grill and smoker at a very reasonable price
- Updated digital controls provide consistent temperatures and 10 smoke levels
- 18-pound pellet hopper has a purge function for rapid change of woodsmoke flavor
- The majority work well, but several faults suggest that quality control is inconsistent
Get the Camp Chef PG24 pellet grill at Amazon, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Target, or Camp Chef.
This model from Z Grills offers one of the most affordable ways to add a pellet grill to an outdoor kitchen, costing hundreds of dollars less than many other pellet grills. A side-mounted 15-pound-capacity hopper feeds a 459-square-inch cooking surface for ample space and grilling time. Digital controls like those typically found on higher-end pellet grills allow for precise temperature settings. Steel construction and a powder-coated finish protect against rust. At 45 inches wide, it’s one of the more compact pellet grills on the market.
- Cooking surface: 459 square inches
- Width: 45 inches
- Hopper capacity: 15 pounds
- Ample cooking surface holds up to 18 burgers, 4 rib racks, or 3 whole chickens
- Digital temperature controls precisely maintain cooking temperature
- Steel construction, foldable front shelf, and all-terrain wheels offer durability and convenience
- Smaller hopper capacity requires more frequent refills than other models
- Lower max temp of 450 degrees Fahrenheit means some items may take longer to cook
Get the Z Grills pellet grill at Amazon.
Perhaps the best-known name in grills, Weber waited until 2020 to launch its first pellet grill, but the SmokeFire EX6 was worth the wait. A common critique of many pellet grills is that they can’t achieve high enough temps for searing. Weber takes what it’s learned from more than half a century of manufacturing grills to produce a pellet grill that heats to a max temp of 600 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 100 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than most other pellet grills.
Weber’s SmokeFire EX6 provides the same sturdy build and high-quality materials as the brand’s other grills. One of the larger models on the market, it packs more than 1,000 square inches into its cooking surface. A large LED control screen and smart controls round out its attractive features.
- Cooking surface: 1,008 square inches
- Width: 55 inches
- Hopper capacity: 20 pounds
- Renowned Weber quality with porcelain-enamel finish for all-weather protection
- Smart controls via Wi-Fi and app with 200 to 600 degree Fahrenheit temperature range
- Special Flavorizer bars for consistent heat, plus smoke boost for added flavor
- It’s a large grill that needs plenty of space, and it’s more expensive than most
Get the Weber pellet grill at Amazon, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, BBQ Guys, Target, or Best Buy.
Many pellet grills offer good versatility, but few can rival the capabilities of the Camp Chef Woodwind 36. Its massive 1,236-square-inch cooking surface is enough no matter how many friends turn up. Included with this model is the Sidekick Sear for perfect steaks and vegetables. For those who really want to take their grilling to the next level, this can be switched out for a griddle plate or even a pizza oven (at extra cost). A sliding deflector plate provides direct flame broiling by pulling a single knob.
As expected, there is precise digital control with an informative, easy-to-read display. Wi-Fi compatibility delivers a wealth of information via smartphone and allows instant adjustment of smoke levels or the setting of timers. There is rapid hopper purging for pellet changing and an ash cleanout function for quicker cleaning.
- Cooking surface: 1,236 square inches
- Width: 62 inches
- Hopper capacity: 22 pounds
- Huge cooking area and searing box plus optional griddle or pizza oven delivers unrivaled versatility
- Smartphone app provides smoke and timer settings as well as notifications when meat reaches the desired temperature
- Packed with user-friendly features like fast flame broiling and rapid ash cleanout
- With the attached Sidekick, this is among the largest and most expensive grills we looked at
Get the Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill at BBQ Guys or Camp Chef.
With its ample cooking surface within a manageable overall size, Green Mountain’s portable pellet grill makes a great addition to camping trips and tailgating events. It boasts over 200 square inches of cooking surface (notably large for a portable grill) on its 63-pound frame. While a bit on the heavy side for a portable, it’s compact enough to load into a trunk.
Compatible with 12-volt power sources, a car battery, or a vehicle accessory outlet, this grill goes just about anywhere. But the chef won’t have to hover. With its Sense Mate smart Bluetooth connection and meat probe, the grill master can monitor meats while mingling with friends. But make sure they check out the grill, too. With its handsome stainless steel lid, optional extendable legs, and rolling cart, this appliance is meant to be shown off.
- Cooking surface: 219 square inches
- Width: 32 inches
- Hopper capacity: 9 pounds
- Big enough to cook for the family, compact enough to fit in a camper or RV
- Can run from 12-volt sources such as a vehicle battery or plug into a main supply
- Smart control of temperature in 5-degree-Fahrenheit steps plus thermal sensor for constant monitoring
- While the compact size makes it portable, it does weigh 63 pounds
Get the Green Mountain Grills pellet grill at Amazon, BBQ Guys, or Wayfair.
At its max temp of 650 degrees Fahrenheit, Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX easily achieves that sought-after crust on seared steaks. Remarkably, the Rider also holds steady at temps as low as 200 degrees Fahrenheit for delectably smoked meats, too.
Backyard gourmets can configure the system of grates and racks for grilling or smoking. They can also monitor temperatures and the grill’s total runtime through an innovative probe system. Dual smoke stacks allow for optimal airflow. Heavy-gauge steel construction ensures a durable appliance.
- Cooking surface: 1,234 square inches
- Width: 55 inches
- Hopper capacity: 20 pounds
- Maximum temperature of 650 degrees Fahrenheit with sear mode for perfect steaks
- Dual-sensor temperature technology provides accurate control for all cooking styles
- Large Quickdraw hopper provides consistent feed and rapid pellet changeovers or emptying
- At 255 pounds, it is very heavy, and there have been a few reliability issues
Get the Oklahoma Joe’s pellet grill at Amazon, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, or Oklahoma Joe’s.
Traeger’s Timberline boasts an impressive 1,343 square inches of cooking surface and a 24-pound-capacity hopper. Grill chefs control the appliance through a smartwatch or voice commands when paired with a smart-home digital assistant. A double-walled stainless steel interior makes for easy cleanup and maintenance. Other notable features include LED controls, ample prep and storage space, stainless steel front and side shelves, and a large drawer.
- Cooking surface: 1,343 square inches
- Width: 58 inches
- Hopper capacity: 24 pounds
- WiFIRE app for control via phone, smart watches, or digital assistants, plus pellet-level sensor
- Up to 3 tiers of cooking grates provide spacious and versatile cooking
- Downdraft Exhaust System and Super Smoke Mode help maximize wood smoke flavors
- It’s expensive, and Wi-Fi connectivity problems are not unknown, although home setups may be responsible
Get the Traeger Timberline pellet grill at Ace Hardware or The Home Depot.
With nearly 900 square inches of cooking surface, this behemoth from Traeger provides enough space to handle a half-dozen racks of ribs or up to 40 burgers. To support that large cooking surface, the Pro Series 34 features Traeger’s Digital Pro Controller, which uses the grill’s built-in fan and pellet-feeding auger to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the grill’s large cooking chamber.
At more than 4 feet wide, this grill doesn’t wobble thanks to a steel sawhorse chassis. Dual meat probes allow the chef to keep an eye on meat temperatures via a digital display without opening the lid. Wheels make it easy to maneuver the outsize appliance. Just keep in mind that at 53 inches wide, this grill takes up a substantial piece of real estate on decks and patios.
- Cooking surface: 884 square inches
- Width: 53 inches
- Hopper capacity: 18 pounds
- Enough cooking surface for a half dozen racks of ribs or up to 40 burgers
- Digital temperature control with 2 meat probes to monitor cooking without raising the lid
- Solid steel construction with sawhorse chassis design for maximum stability
- Although it’s popular and usually reliable, some buyers have reported trouble maintaining high heat
Get the Traeger Pro Series 34 pellet grill at Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, BBQ Guys, Best Buy, or Traeger.
The Pit Boss 700FB pellet grill combines traditional smoker looks with modern digital control technology. The 700 square inches of porcelain-coated racks provide plenty of cooking space for family and friends. A 180- to 500-degree-Fahrenheit temperature range allows for smoking, grilling, roasting, braising, baking, and searing. A big 21-pound hopper means long runtimes between top-ups.
Many experts say that 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect heat for searing steaks, and that’s where the Pit Boss hits peak performance. However, for those who want to turn the heat right up, the Pit Boss has a special Flame Broiler Lever that gives quick access to a direct flame searing up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cooking surface: 700 square inches
- Width: 43.1 inches
- Hopper capacity: 21 pounds
- Has a Flame Broiler Lever specifically designed for direct flame searing
- Precise digital temperature control is easy to adjust using a rotary dial
- Simple but effective steel bucket for grease management and easy cleanup
- Problems are unusual, but there are a few reports of control panel faults
Get the Pit Boss pellet grill at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing a Pellet Grill
When shopping for a pellet grill, consider cooking surface size, construction quality, hopper capacity, and these other key attributes.
Grill size refers to the cooking surface as well as the overall size of the appliance and how much space it will require on a deck or a patio.
Most pellet grills offer between 350 and 550 square inches of cooking surface. Chefs cooking for two can work with surfaces of 300 square inches. Food for a family of four will require at least 450 square inches. Larger grills of 500 square inches or more make a great centerpiece for entertaining.
Of course, the larger the cooking surface, the larger the grill and the more space it will require. While all grills have a similar depth and height, they vary in width. Compact pellet grills are around 40 inches wide. Larger models can measure 50 inches wide or more.
Pellet grills and smokers spend their days outdoors in the elements and withstand temperatures up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s why quality is crucial. You’ll find them in either painted steel or stainless steel. Cheaper painted steel will eventually rust when the paint wears away and exposes the steel to oxygen and water. More durable stainless steel with a rust-resistant chromium layer makes the ideal grill construction metal.
Higher-end pellet grills include stainless steel internal parts, such as burners, grates, and heat plates, within a sheet-metal body. On the best models, the sheet metal is thicker and resists warping.
The hopper on a pellet grill automatically adds pellets to the grill based on the temperature setting on the control panel. An electric auger feeds the pellets from the hopper into the grill’s firebox, so the chef won’t need to manually add fuel to the fire. This automation accounts for the typically higher cost of pellet grills than their gas and charcoal grill counterparts. Pellet consumption depends on the grill’s size and the temperature settings. Most pellet grills use about a ½-pound of pellets per hour to smoke and about 2½ pounds per hour to grill.
Precise temperature controls set pellet grills and smokers apart from a charcoal or gas grill. Unlike these other types of grills, a pellet grill allows you to set the grill to a specific temperature like an oven and helps avoid grill hot spots that result in uneven cooking. These controls come in either analog or the more expensive digital format. A thermostat inside the grill box assesses the temperature, which then adjusts the hopper to add pellets at a rate that will allow it to maintain the set temperature. Some pellet grills even have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections that allow you to set the temperature remotely from a smart device.
Most pellet grills have features that make them easy to clean once the grilling or smoking is done. A knob on the hopper releases the unused pellets for proper storage until the next grilling session. A catch at the bottom of the grill makes it easy to remove pellet ash. A bucket under the grill collects drippings for easy disposal.
Pellet grills serve as both smokers and grills. They’ll sear the perfect crust on steaks and burgers at high temps that could reach 600 degrees Fahrenheit and smoke meats at low temps in the 200-degree-Fahrenheit range. This versatility helps justify the higher price tag of a pellet grill.
Portable models of these automated appliances that both smoke meat and grill make great campsite and tailgate companions. A portable pellet grill offers about 200 square inches of cooking surface and weighs about 50 pounds. The pellets themselves are easy to transport, too.
Additional Features and Accessories
Many pellet grills come with additional useful features that facilitate use, such as wireless connectivity that allows you to adjust the grill’s controls or monitor temperatures remotely from a smartphone app. Pellet tube smokers are sometimes confused with pellet grill accessories but, in fact, are intended for standard charcoal, gas, or electric grills, bringing the benefit of smoky flavors to those devices.
The Advantages of Owning a Pellet Grill
Among the many benefits of pellet grill ownership is versatility. Unlike most charcoal and gas grills, a pellet grill can maintain low heat for smoking and reach the high temperatures required for proper grilling. This versatility eliminates the need to purchase separate grills and smokers. Since pellet grills use automated hoppers and fans that circulate air for ventilation, they maintain specific temperatures independently without the cook’s intervention. A full baffle covering most pellet grills’ heat source means fewer flare-ups. The wide variety of pellets on the market, including hickory, cherry, and mesquite, offer flavors to please almost any palate.
- Broad temperature range
- Easier to use
- Wide variety of smoke flavor
- Fewer flare-ups
Tips for Using a Pellet Smoker and Grill
Pellet grills are decidedly different from charcoal and gas grills, so you’ll have to operate yours accordingly.
Wood pellets not only produce the heat that cooks the food, but they can also flavor the meats as they come in hickory, cherry, and mesquite, among other varieties. Look for wood pellets that best suit the type of food you’re smoking or grilling.
Use a thermometer rather than a timer to determine when the food’s ready, especially if you use the grill to roast or smoke meat.
Smoky flavors adhere better to cold surfaces than warm ones, so keep your pork butts, chickens, and ribs in the fridge until it’s time for them to go on the grill.
Finally, reverse sear your meats to crisp chicken skin or create a crust on thicker cuts of steak.
Here’s a recap:
- Use wood pellet flavors that complement the food.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat is cooked through.
- Use refrigerated meat to achieve the best smoke flavor.
- Use the reverse-sear method.
If you’re wondering exactly how a pellet grill works, read on for answers to commonly asked questions about these outdoor appliances.
Q. How does a pellet grill work?
Pellet grills have a hopper that holds the pellets. The pellets themselves are made of wood that has been chipped and compressed into a convenient size to produce uniform heat. An electric auger moves these pellets from the hopper into the fire pot, where they are ignited by a heated rod. An electric fan provides ventilation, helping to maintain the burn over long periods and control the temperature. A thermostat connected to the controls regulates the fan and auger to meet the temperature set on the control panel.
Q. How long do pellet grills last?
How long a pellet grill lasts can vary considerably. Most manufacturers claim their pellet grills will last between 6 and 10 years with normal use. High-quality pellet grills may last longer. Proper maintenance and care are vital for the pellet grill’s longevity and performance. Instructions will usually come with the grill, and these should be followed as closely as possible to maximize working life.
Q. Which pellet grill has the best flavor?
Flavor is not really contingent on the pellet grill chosen, though, as discussed above, some are better than others at grilling or searing. Flavor comes from two sources. First, any coating or marinade applied to the meat, fish, or vegetables before grilling provides flavor. Second, the type of pellet used also affects flavor. Apple and hickory are perhaps the two most popular, though many also recommend cherry, pecan, and mesquite. As most grill pellets are very affordable, this is another area where experimentation can prove rewarding.
Q. Does a pellet grill need electricity?
Yes, a pellet grill does need electricity. The auger that feeds the pellets, the fan, and any kind of control panel all need electricity to work. Wherever possible, plug directly into an outlet rather than using an extension that might overheat. If an extension is unavoidable, ensure the cable is the correct rating for the grill. A ground-fault circuit interrupter should be fitted so that in the event of cable damage, a short circuit, or other fault, the power will be cut before it can endanger the people using the grill.
Q. How do I clean my pellet grill?
It is best to clean the grates or racks after each barbecuing session while they are still hot. You should also clean the main body of the pellet grill every three to five uses to ensure it stays in tip-top operating condition. Use a putty knife to scrape any buildup from the inside of the lid and around the body. Using a shop vac to remove all the debris you’ve scraped loose is a good idea, though household vacuums are not recommended because the fat and oils can cause damage. Those who don’t have a shop vac can either dedicate a steel dustpan and brush to the task or use a paint scraper to drag the waste into a bin. Wipe down the inside and outside of the pellet grill, and then reassemble it.
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