The Best Pellet Grills and Smokers for Backyard Barbecues of 2024

Smoke a rack of ribs or grill a juicy steak on one of the best pellet grills and smokers.

Best Overall

The Traeger Pro 575 Electric Wood Pellet Grill on a white background.

Traeger Pro 575 Electric Wood Pellet Grill

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Runner-Up

Traeger Ironwood Wi-Fi Pellet Grill & Smoker on a white background

Traeger Ironwood Wi-Fi Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

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Best Bang For The Buck

The Z Grills ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Grill on a white background.

Z Grills ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Grill

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Whether you prefer smoked chicken or well-done steak, the best pellet grills and smokers 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, the best pellet grills and smokers 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 top pick below was thoroughly researched or hands-on tested after an in-depth review of the market.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Traeger Pro 575 Electric Wood Pellet Grill
  2. RUNNER-UP: Traeger Ironwood Wi-Fi Pellet Grill & Smoker 
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Z Grills ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Grill
  4. UPGRADE PICK: Weber SmokeFire EX6 Wood Fired Pellet Grill
  5. BEST FOR STEAKS: Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX 1200 Pellet Grill
  6. BEST SMART: Green Mountain Grills Trek Prime 2.0 Pellet Grill
  7. BEST LARGE: Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill & Smoker (Gen 1)
  8. BEST FOR SEARING: Pit Boss 700FB Wood Pellet Grill
The Best Pellet Grill closed and emitting smoke on a deck at dusk
Photo: amazon.com

How We Chose the Best Pellet Grills and Smokers

We considered a variety of criteria when testing and selecting the top smokers and 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 wood pellet 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 and smokers on the market. This list includes portable models and full-size wood pellet grills from some of the top names in the business that we hands-on tested or thoroughly researched. 

Best Overall

Traeger Pro 575 Electric Wood Pellet Grill

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Product Specs 

  • Cooking surface: 575 square inches
  • Width: 41 inches
  • Hopper capacity: 18 pounds

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • While complaints are rare, some buyers found the paint has bubbled or chipped off

A model from one of the most highly regarded names in pellet cooking grills, the Traeger Pro 575 features a solid build and smart design, making it one of the best wood 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 575 square inches of cooking surface will help feed a crowd.

Get the Traeger Pro 575 pellet grill and smoker at Amazon, Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, BBQ Guys, Best Buy, or Traeger.

Runner-Up

Traeger Ironwood Wi-Fi Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

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Product Specs 

  • Cooking surface: 616 square inches
  • Width: 59 inches
  • Hopper capacity: 22 pounds

Pros

  • Extremely versatile construction; grill, smoke, baste, roast, and braise with 1 appliance
  • Comes with multiple accessories; features porcelain grates, a pellet sensor, and a grilling light
  • 2 cooking tiers with an adjustable top shelf allow you to keep food warm while continuing to cook other items 

Cons

  • Some buyers have reported issues with Wi-Fi connectivity

The Traeger Ironwood lets you customize your grilling and smoking experience to your heart’s content. Use the WiFire technology and touch-screen display to get your barbecue going; then cook your food to precise temperatures with two wired meat probes. Insulated dual-wall construction reduces temperature fluctuation while grilling and smoking. Plus, Super Smoke mode keeps fresh smoke flowing over your meat, imbuing it with even more wood-fire flavor.

And at the end of your cooking session, the EZ-Clean grease and ash keg collects both pellet ash and drippings into a single large container that’s easily accessible, making for quick cleanup. For even more customization, purchase a range of P.A.L. Pop-And-Lock accessories, including extra shelving, tool hooks, storage bins, and cup holders.

What our tester says: Stephanie Cronk, executive commerce editor at Bob Vila, notes the following about the Traeger Ironwood pellet grill: “The Ironwood is an easy-to-use, quality-built pellet grill. It lives up to the Traeger name in terms of efficiency and durability. The digital screen is user-friendly, and the built-in seasoning process is a great touch. If you enjoy smoky flavor, which my family does, the Super Smoke function is a must. We’re very happy with this pellet girl and will never go back to gas.”

Get the Traeger Ironwood pellet grill and smoker at The Home Depot, BBQGuys, Best Buy, or Traeger.

Best Bang for the Buck

Z Grills ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Grill

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Product Specs 

  • Cooking surface: 452 square inches
  • Width: 45 inches 
  • Hopper capacity: 15 pounds

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

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 452-square-inch cooking surface for ample space and grilling time. Digital controls like those typically found on higher-end wood 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. 

Get the Z Grills pellet grill and smoker at Amazon.

Upgrade Pick

Weber SmokeFire EX6 Wood Fired Pellet Grill

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Product Specs 

  • Cooking surface: 1,008 square inches
  • Width: 55 inches
  • Hopper capacity: 20 pounds

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • It’s a large grill that needs plenty of space, and it’s more expensive than most

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 wood 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. 

Get the Weber pellet grill and smoker at Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, Target, or Best Buy.

Best for Steaks

Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX 1200 Pellet Grill

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Product Specs 

  • Cooking surface: 1,234 square inches
  • Width: 55 inches
  • Hopper capacity: 20 pounds

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • At 255 pounds, it is very heavy, and there have been a few reliability issues

At its maximum temperature 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 DLX pellet grill’s total runtime through an innovative probe system. Dual smoke stacks allow for optimal airflow. The heavy-gauge steel construction of this pellet smoker grill ensures a durable appliance. 

Get the Oklahoma Joe’s pellet grill and smoker at The Home Depot or Oklahoma Joe’s.

Best Smart

Green Mountain Grills Trek Prime 2.0 Pellet Grill

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Product Specs 

  • Cooking surface: 220 square inches
  • Width: 34.25 inches
  • Hopper capacity: 9 pounds

Pros

  • Big enough to cook for the family; compact enough to fit in a camper or RV
  • Smart Wi-Fi capability allows for control and monitoring of internal temperature
  • Connects to both AC and DC power sources for excellent versatility 
  • Compact construction is perfect for transporting while camping and RVing

Cons

  • While the compact size makes it portable, it does weigh 67 pounds
  • Smaller hopper capacity compared to other options on this list 

With its ample cooking surface within a manageable overall size, Green Mountain’s portable pellet grill makes a great addition to an outdoor cooking arsenal during camping trips and tailgating events. It boasts 220 square inches of cooking surface (notably large for a portable grill) on its 67-pound frame. While a bit on the heavy side for a portable, it’s compact enough to load into a trunk. 

Compatible with AC and DC 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 smart Wi-Fi connectivity 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, rolling cart, and its range of 150 to 550 degree Fahrenheit cooking temperatures, this appliance is meant to be shown off. 

Get the Green Mountain Grills pellet grill and smoker at Amazon, BBQGuys, or Wayfair.

Best Large

Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill & Smoker (Gen 1)

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Product Specs 

  • Cooking surface: 884 square inches 
  • Width: 52.7 inches
  • Hopper capacity: 17.6 pounds

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Although it’s popular and usually reliable, some buyers have reported trouble maintaining high heat

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 pellet grill smoker 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 Traeger 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 52.7 inches wide, this pellet smoker and grill takes up a substantial piece of real estate on decks and patios.

Get the Traeger Pro Series 34 pellet grill and smoker at Amazon, Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, BBQGuys, Best Buy, or Traeger.

Best for Searing

Pit Boss 700FB Wood Pellet Grill

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Product Specs 

  • Cooking surface: 700 square inches
  • Width: 43.1 inches
  • Hopper capacity: 21 pounds

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Problems are unusual, but there are a few reports of control panel faults

The Pit Boss 700FB pellet grill combines traditional smoker looks with modern digital control technology. The 700 square inches of porcelain-coated racks provide ample inches 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.

Get the Pit Boss pellet grill and smoker at Amazon or Pit Boss.

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing a Pellet Grill and Smoker

When shopping for a pellet grill, potential buyers will want to carefully consider cooking surface size, construction quality, hopper capacity, and other key attributes.

Grill Size

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 more inches of cooking space, 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. 

Build Quality

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.

Hopper

The hopper on a pellet grill automatically adds wood 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 as compared to that of their gas and charcoal grill counterparts. Pellet consumption depends on the grill’s size and the temperature settings. Most pellet grills use about a 0.5 pound of pellets per hour to smoke and about 2.5 pounds per hour to grill. 

Temperature Control

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. 

Easy Cleanup

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. 

According to Pike, “the ash from the pellets burning builds up over time, so you need to regularly empty the firepot, usually every one to three uses.”

Versatility

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. 

Portability 

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 and Smoker

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.

FAQs

If you’re wondering exactly how a pellet grill works, read on for answers to commonly asked questions about these outdoor appliances. 

Q. Are pellet grills unhealthy? 

It is perfectly safe to use a pellet grill to cook or smoke meats. When used correctly, these grill types allow for cooking at both high and low temperatures, both of which reduce the amount of harmful bacteria and other substances in meats. However, when smokers are incorrectly used, they could increase the risk of cancer or carcinogens in charred meats and smoke.

Q. How does a pellet smoker work?

Wood pellet smokers have hoppers where wood pellets are placed and burned with electric combustion and dispersed with intake fans over cooking meats to add smoky flavor and char. A pellet smoker has an average hopper size of 9 to 22 pounds.

Q. How much does a pellet grill cost? 

Pellet grills range from $500 to $3,500 depending on the size, portability, and built-in features provided by manufacturers. Compact or portable pellet grills are under $500.

Q. How does a pellet grill work?

Pellet grills have a hopper that holds the pellets for grill use. 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. Users are advised to be careful and pay attention to grilling safety tips before using their pellet grill.

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; however, 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. Most pellet grills are under $1,000, 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 will also want to 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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Tony Carrick

Contributing Writer

Tony Carrick is a freelance writer who has contributed to BobVila.com since 2020. He writes how-to articles and product reviews in the areas of lawn and garden, home maintenance, home improvement, auto maintenance, housewares, and technology.

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