We all dreamt it.
The night before we prepare our meats or salmon we hope to catch during our fishing or camping trip.
You don’t want those small portable smoker, you want a good size one that can cook a good piece of meat.
You’ll need an RV or a truck to reel these bad boys to your destination, but it doesn’t matter.
You know it’s worth the experience.
You should know first what to look for when buying a pellet smoker.
Understanding what a pellet smoker is and how it work will help you make wise choices. We will also give you some product and model recommendations which could be fit for your needs.
Our top ten pellet smoker picks
Because of pellet smokers’ popularity, a lot of brands have begun emerging. Back in 2008, there were only two brands to choose from- Traeger and MAK. Here are our brand and model recommendations based on the features, capabilities and criteria mentioned above.This list is not in particular order.
Camp chef woodwind wifi 24
- ALL NEW WIFI & Bluetooth PID controller automatically maintains cooking temperature with 4 meat probe ports and meat probes.
- 160 F to 500 F temperature range from slow smoking to grilling (25,000 BTU).
- Dial in your smoke level with our Smoke Control with settings 1 - 10.
- Slide and Grill technology that allows for direct flame cooking with temps up to 650 F.
- Patented Ash Kickin' Cleanout system that allows you to dump the ash after every cook.
Camp chef woodwind wifi 24 is a good quality and feature-packed, mid-price point smoker. It also comes with a 36 inches variant. Being the best all-around pellet smoker, it prides in being user-friendly and simple to operate.
It has two options for grill and temperature control– through a companion app or its large colored touch screen in order to give users the convenience they desire. Because of its searing capability, you can adjust the heat through the slider rod for preparing burgers and steaks. It is highly versatile as you can also add a propane burner through its SideKick attachment.
- 24” model (mid-size, total cooking space of 811 square inches divided into 382 and 429 square inches for upper and lower rack respectively,)
- 36” model (1236 square inches of cooking space, fit for a large crowd.)
- Ash cleanout system
- Four meat probes for temperature monitoring
- Slide and grill for direct switching to flame grilling
- With smoke control which can be adjusted from levels 1 to 10.
- With an optional Grill Box and SideKick attachments for searing station
- Powered by new Gen 2 digital PID controller which allows dialing in the needed smoke level
- Problems in app connectivity- The phone connected either via WIFI or Bluetooth for controlling smoke level or changing the temperature may randomly lose connectivity. This can be annoying sometimes. Camp Chef regularly updates the app to fix this lose connectivity bug.
- Lack of cabinet door- Though it comes with a tiny storage shelf, it is not enough to store bags of pellets.
Traeger pro 575 wood pellet grill
- NEVER USE GAS OR CHARCOAL AGAIN: Traeger created the original wood-pellet grill as the ultimate way to achieve wood-fired taste; The Pro 575 takes it to the next level with precise temperature control. 500 °F Max Temp
- CONNECTED HOME TECHNOLOGY: WiFIRE technology connects your grill to home WiFi and the Traeger app allows the user to control the grill from anywhere; Alexa technology allows you to do it all by voice
- VERSATILE BARBECUE COOKING: The Pro 575 pellet grill offers 6-in-1 versatility to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and BBQ all on the same grill; The Porcelain grill grates makes clean up a breeze
- THE MARKET LEADER IN PELLET GRILLS: The Traeger Pro Series is the best-selling pellet grill; The upgraded Pro 575 with D2 drivetrain starts quicker, heats up faster, and puts out better quality smoke
- BUILT FOR FAMILY COOKING: 575 sq in of grilling space that can accommodate twenty four burgers, five rib racks, or four chickens effortlessly; The built-in meat probe allows you to cook to perfection
Traeger pro 575 wood pellet grill, named after its cooking space area, is a worthy upgrade from the 2019 pro models. It made a bunch of improvements compared to the older models– from fixing the poor heating and addressing difficulty in temperature and speed maintenance. It also has a more upgraded motor, drivetrain, and fan plus Wi-Fi. If you are willing to stretch your budget for a feature-packed grill, then this model is definitely for you.
- 575 square inches or the larger 780 square inches model
- With enough space to fit in three racks of baby back ribs
- Remote monitoring and control of grill through WIFI
- Brushless DC motor for the new D2 drive, thus higher torque at lower RPM
- One temperature robe for food temperature monitoring through Traeger appp or grill interface
- With a variable speed fan capable of slowing down or speeding up for a more accurate temperature
- With WiFire technology which allows food monitoring and temperature controlling through smartphone
- With hundreds of pre-programmed recipes to choose from. You no longer have to worry about temperature. air circulation and the entire cooking cycle.
- Extra expenses for the accessories (an extra 119.98 dollars for the folding shelf and cover for the 575 model, and 149.98 dollars for the larger 780 square inches model.
Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E
- GOODBYE PROPANE: Make any barbecue-lover's dreams come true with this powerful, versatile pellet grill; Dimensions (L x W x H): 48 x 22 x 52 inches
- MULTIPLE METHODS: Ultimate 8-in-1 barbecue wood-fire pellet grill lets you grill, smoke, bake, roast, sear, braise, barbecue or char-grill
- CONFIDENT COOKING: Internal temperature sensor keeps the heat at a constant, consistent level (within 10 degrees)
- PLENTY OF STORAGE: Shelved storage cabinet base provides ample space for pellets and grill tools
- GRILL MARKS, BUD: Porcelain-coated grates prevent meat from sticking; Total Cooking Area: 694 square inches
We were drawn in by the pricing. Despite the incorporation of high quality amenities, Z GRILLS kept the price down to half of what other pellet grills with similar features cost. Check out the most recent price here.
The 7002E is one of the most valuable pellet grills available, thanks to its small size, solid construction, updated digital control system, and extra grill cover.
A generous three-year warranty. Simple cleaning procedure. Z GRILLS comes with a grease bucket that collects all drained grease, making cleanup a breeze.
- Constructed from tough, heavy-duty materials
- 8-1 many cooking options
- Cooking with a fan convection oven ensures a smooth cooking experience.
- Temperature control system upgrade
- The enhanced pellet feed system has a grilling surface of 700 square inches.
- hopper capacity of 20 pounds
- A generous three-year warranty
- The ZPG-7002E is one of the greatest Z GRILLS models. And this is despite the fact that the price and cooking space are also important considerations.
- 700 square inches of cooking capacity and a 20-pound hopper.
- Z GRILLS divides the 700 square inches of cooking space into two sections: a primary cooking area of 504 square inches and a warming rack of 190 square inches.
- It’s not the ideal choice for searing.
- Many manufacturers market their pellet grill as a “perfect searing grill,” yet we all know the opposite is true. One big issue with most pellet grills is their inability to sear. And Z GRILLS is no exception.
- It has a maximum operating temperature of 475°F. As a result, don’t expect a smooth searing.
- Incapable of cleaning ash and pellet wastes
- It can be tough to remove unused pellets. Typically, some greasy ash forms inside this unit.
It’s also worth noting that the Z GRILLS ZPG is available in both the 700E and 700D models. It has two more storage doors and new caster wheels. The only difference between the D and E models, I believe, is that the 700E has a maximum temperature of 475°F while the 700D has a maximum temperature of 450°F. To add to the confusion, Amazon featured these two options on the same page. Make sure to select your preferred cart option.
Green mountain grills davy crockett wifi grill
- Features Sense-Mate, a thermal sensor which constantly monitors grill temperature
- Includes a meat probe, peaked lid for rib racks, convenience tray
- Weighs 68 lbs. and folds to fits in nearly any trunk, making it the ultimate Tailgating Grill
- 110V or 12V with adapters for 3 power options
If portability is a priority for you, the green mountain grills davy crockett wifi grill is definitely the best choice. It comes with a portable accessory package that enables you to connect your smoker to different power sources such as car battery, car cigarette lighter, and generator. Aside from its edge in portability, it also is very convenient with its smart alert feature which warns you when the temperature drops or when the hopper does not feed in wood pellets. Moreover, this smoker is durable and materials are made to last.
- Foldable legs for convenient handling and portability
- With remote Wifi control through smartphone or tablet
- With programmable cooking instructions in the app—temperature, hours and automatic change in temperature after a given time.
- With manual and dial in temperature control. Manual for 5-degree increments and dial-in for one-degree adjustments.
- Wifi connectivity problems
- Not recommended for one-man moving because of awkward leg placement and heavy smoker.
Traeger Timberline 850
This smoker gives you value for your money and is worth every penny you will spend. This high-end machine is definitely an investment. It has the complete tech features you could ever ask for. It is also well-built and at par with popular models such as Yoder, Memphis Grills and Rec Tec. With its larger size, you get more interior for cooking and better insulation. This also comes with a three-year warranty.
- 850 model: 869 square inches, can fit up to 8 racks of ribs
- 1300 model: 1343 square inches, can fit up to 15 racks of ribs, needs more pellet than the 850 model
- With a hopper cleanout trap door for ease of cleaning
- With adjustable bottom grate for getting good sear on food
- Great app with 1600+ recipes available
- Grill can be controlled via phone
- Option for super smoker mode
- With dual position sear gate
- Inclusion of a folding front shelf
- With a pellet sensor that sends alerts when pellets are running low
- Front tray needs few inches extension to handle large items
- Folding front shelf is not included in the Pro model, can be bought at 59.99 dollars
Camp Chef Vertical XXL Wifi Pellet Smoker
- NEW Camp Chef XXL Vertical Wood Pellet Grill Smoker (PGVXXL)
- Includes: 4 Smoking Grill Grates, 3 Jerky Racks, 2 Temp Read Probes, 1 Hanging Rack w/ 12 Sausage Hooks
- Sports a Digital Display, Grease Mgmt System, Pellet Hopper Purge, Smart Smoke Technology, Ash Cleanout System
- Compatible with Deluxe Collapsible Side Shelf (PGXXLSH)
- Unparalleled Camp Chef Quality
If you are saving space and are looking for a flexible, all-around smoker, this vertical-style smoker is the best fit for you. Even though it saves space, the cooking space is not compromised as it has a large cooking capacity. Despite its large cooking capacity, it is sturdy and durable as it comes with locking castor wheels and a cover.
- Adjustable 4 cooking racks, 3 jerky racks and 12 hook hanging rack
- With grease management system and ash clean-out feature
- With internal fans for cooling hot spots, leading to a more even cooking
- PID-style digital temperature
- Smoke level can be set from levels 1 to 10.
- With meat temperature probes connected to wifi to monitor meat cooking
- Tendency for smoke leak
- No option for grilling
Weber SmokerFire EX6 Gen 2
- Weber porcelain-enamel finish helps prevent rusting and cracking.
- Large 1,008 square inches of dual grilling space.
- DC powered engine, specially designed to prevent auger jams.
- Designed to distribute even heat across the cooking area.
- Enhanced grilling performance and new Weber Connect smart features
This is a great upgrade from its predecessor, the Gen 2 SmokeFire, as the previous one has some bugs and issues with it. The problems with the app and pellet bridging have been fixed and addressed. It is also known for producing food with great flavor and texture.
- EX4 model: 672 square inches
- EX6 model: 1008 square inches
- Has an excellent searing even when cooking at maximum temperature
- Does not come with side trays or front cabinets
REC TEC Grills RT-700 Wifi Enabled Wood Pellet Grill
For its price, it gives you a good quality and precisely built smoker that can be at par with expensive brands such as Ironwood and Timberline series by Traeger. Majority of its parts are made with stainless steel.
- 702 square inches of grilling space.
- Wifi connectivity
- Improved PID controller for temperature adjustment at 5F increment
- Dual meat probes
- With a 40 lb hopper for 40 hours of continuous cooking.
- With rollerblade wheels for ease of transport.
- With REC TEC bull horn handles
- Warming shelf is optional for over 1000.
Pit Boss Sportsman 820 Pellet Grill
- Sportsman 820SP Wood Pellet Grill
- Hardwood Pellet Fuel
- 180°F to 500°F temperature range
- 8-in-1 versatility to grill, smoke, roast, bake, braise, barbecue, char-grill, and sear
- 849 sq.in of cooking capacity
If you are on a budget but are looking for a pellet grill with a larger space, this one is the best choice for you. It is well-built and durable, and comes with features not available even for the more expensive models.
- Built-in shelf, spice rack and bottle opener
- Easy pellet clean-up system
- Good searing solution with the slide plate flame broiler
- No Wifi or app connectivity
Camp Chef DLX 24 Pellet Grill
Camp Chef is a popular brand in the smoker arena. Another model of theirs that made it to the list is the DLX 24 pellet grill. It almost has the same features and built as the more expensive variants of the Woodwind from Camp Chef. It has a cooking space of 570 square inches.
- Removable upper warming rack
- Gen 2 PID controller for better stability and temperature performance.
- No wifi connectivity
Is pellet smoker the same as grill?
Pellet smokers and grills are basically the same, that is why they are used interchangeably. Some prefer to call it pellet smokers, while others call it pellet grills. Pellet smoker is specifically used for the kind of grill-smoker which uses wood pellets as its fuel. Since it is fueled by pellets, this kind of smoker works fine for low-and-slow cooking as it can cook from a range of 150 to 500F. Pellet smokers and grills are more versatile than the charcoal and gas-fueled models that’s why a lot of users prefer this.
Advantages of pellet smoker over wood and charcoal models
Pellet smokers are generally more expensive than charcoal smokers. Pellet smokers usually range at 400 to 1000 dollars while for a charcoal smoker, you can literally buy one for just under 300 dollars. But despite the almost deal breaker price, the convenience and versatility that the pellet smokers offer is worth the investment. Here are other benefits and advantages of choosing a pellet smoker and grill over other types:
- Can be used in areas with restrictions on burning wood or charcoal, such as condos
- Easier to use since you no longer have to use wood or charcoal to lit the fire, no need to tinker with the wood, airflow, etc.
- Set it and leave it convenience with either digital buttons or remote control
- Can cook a variety of recipes ranging from baking, grilling, smoking, etc. due to its 200F to 500F temperature range.
- Easier to clean and maintain as you simply need to put pellets in the hopper opening.
- More fuel-efficient as most pellet smokers are well-sealed, constructed and insulated.
- Easier to start up compared to the wood and charcoal smokers which needs around 45 minutes to reach the desired temperature.
- Healthier to use than other models as it uses an indirect heating source, thus emission of carcinogenic chemicals is minimized.
Disadvantages of pellet smoker over electric and charcoal models
Despite all of those numerous advantages mentioned, there are also disadvantages of pellet smokers that may discourage you from purchasing. Here are some of the disadvantages:
- Can be more expensive than the other types. Pellet smokers’ initial cost is around 500 to 2000 dollars while electric or gas types range 200 to 400 dollars. That’s a lot of price difference.
- Pellets can be unavailable in some areas. Charcoal and gas which can be bought almost anywhere, but this is not always the case for pellets.
- Can not be great at grilling. Although pellet smokers are also called “grills”, it can never get the sear quality of charcoal or gas grill.
- Pellet grills rely on power cord, and it’s length may dictate your maneuverability.
Steps on how to use and maintain the wood pellet smoker
- Understanding how a wood pellet words will help you realize just how different it is from the electric models. Here are the steps on how to use a wood pellet smoker.
- Fill the hopper with wood pellets. Check if the brand specifies what kind of pellet to use, otherwise, you can use whatever type you want.
- Correctly assemble the cooking grates.
- Connect it to a power source
- Using the control panel, set your desired temperature. Note: higher temperature means shorter cooking time.
- Turn on the grill. If there is an auto-ignition button, use a lighter to ignite the pellets. If there is an auto-ignition button, press it instead of manually lighting the pellets.
- Check the LED for the current temperature. Once you reach your needed temperature, place the meta and start cooking.
- Refill the pellet if needed.
- Once done cooking, turn off the grill and remove the dishes.
- Wait for the grill to cool down before you start cleaning and removing the grease.
- Remove the leftover food particles on the grates by using a brush.
- Use a vacuum to remove any ash leftover in the chamber.
- Wipe the exterior of the smoker to keep it looking polished.,
- After cleaning, store the grill in a safe spot.
Features you should consider before buying a pellet smoker
You must be on the lookout now for the next pellet smoker to buy.
Here are some of the features and standards you must bear in mind when buying pellet smokers:
The controller is the heart of a pellet smoker. Smokers with digital controllers allow you to select a desired temperature and have the current temperature displayed in an LCD screen, giving you the option to monitor it while also doing other chores. Pellet grills and smokers also have a feed mechanism, or called an auger, which automatically pushes pellets into the burning pot to achieve the needed temperature.
Looking at the controllers for your pellet smoker is like examining the processor before buying a computer. That is why, here is a list of some common types of controllers that you may choose from:
These are commonly known as 3-position controllers as this has three settings (low, medium and high) at 225F, 325F and 425F respectively. You do not have much control over the temperature with this kind of controller as the pellets are fed into the burner in fixed cycles. That is why this controller is commonly found in cheaper and low-end pellet smokers.
Unlike the LMH controllers which has only three options, multi-position controllers give you the option to set the temperature in smaller increments, typically at +/-20F in ideal conditions. It also has an LCD screen, but just like the 3-position controller, you do not have much temperature accuracy as pellets are fed in fixed cycles.
One touch non-PID controller
Just like the multi-position controller, one touch non-PID controller allows you to adjust temperature at small increments, but this time, with an accuracy of 5-10F. It also has LCD screens, inputs for meat probes, and one touch buttons, where its name is derived. Just like the two controllers previously mentioned, this one also automatically feeds pellets in fixed cycles so your accuracy usually plays around +/- 15-20F.
This is considered as the gold standard among the grill controllers. Unlike the previous three controllers mentioned, pellet feeding is not in fixed cycles, but are constantly adjusted to fit the desired temperature. With this, temperature is accurate and even comes with an option for programmable meat probes. It also has one touch buttons and LCD just like the one touch non-PID controller.
Cooking area and hopper size
A larger hopper size means more container space for you to store more pellets for the fire-pot. Basically, the larger the hopper, the longer your cooking will last. For instance, a 40-pound hopper will be around 40 hours of cooking time given that it is at a standard cooking temperature. Other factors that could affect your cooking time is the weather. If you are in a colder climate, naturally more pellets are needed to heat up the smoker. If you just settle with the smaller sized ones, you would have to be constantly refilling it with pellets, and it can be pretty annoying. There is an option though to buy a hopper extension. However, you could have compatibility issues, and buying another hopper would be an extra cost on your part.
However, another thing that you should consider is the cooker size. Bigger does not always mean better. You must consider the area on the main cooking plate (primary cooking area) and the area with the secondary racks (total cooking area). What you should go for is a smoker that has a relatively even temperature across the cooking area. If you go for a bigger smoker and you just normally cook small dishes, you could be wasting pellets by trying to heat up the whole cooking area.
Material, construction, and durability
Looks are not everything. Just because it is made of stainless steel on the exterior does not mean that it is durable. When looking for smokers, consider the materials used, how it is constructed, and if it is durable. Some smokers may be durable-looking outside but are actually made of cheap materials on the interior. Make sure that the fire pot, drip pan, grates and flame deflector are made of durable and high-quality materials so that it doesn’t break easily and that it will retain more heat, maintain better temperature, and be more pellet-efficient.
If you are planning to buy a powder coated steel, ensure that the coating is of high quality. If you settle with cheap coating, the paint would easily be blistered and chipped. A blistered and chipped paint leads to rusting which can affect the other interior parts in the long run.
Other features and capabilities you should also consider:
Pellet removal and cleanup
Models with a chute to remove pellets are a plus. It would be a hassle to vacuum out the pellets after every cooking session. In some models, you also have to remove the grill grates and deflector plate before you can vacuum, while others have a sliding rod for easy disposal.
App and wifi connectivity
Smokers with app compatibility and wifi connectivity enables you to monitor and control the grill temperature giving you the “click and forget” convenience. Green Mountain Grills is just one of the companies that makes use of this connectivity for user convenience.
More parts in a smoker means more chances of breakage and damage. It is always a good choice to choose brands that offer warranty than those who don’t. The higher the warranty length, the better. Make sure to ask what the warranty scope is, and where the repair would take place in case when needed.
You can easily know which type of smoker is a pellet hog by looking at its body. If it has a very thin body, chances are it will need a lot of pellets to maintain temperature since a lot of heat will be lost through its body. On the other hand, if it is made of a very thick metal, it will also consume a lot of pellets, because heat is instead stored in the body of the cooker rather than in the cooking area. It is important to do your own research on how many pounds of pellet a certain smoker consumes per hour.
You may not be able to make use of your warranty if the company has poor customer service. That is why it is important to consider if the brand you are purchasing your smoker from has an accommodating and dedicated customer service. Their team must also be able to provide you with answers regarding your queries and where to go and what to do in case there are damages and breakage.
It also boils down to how much you can afford. However, do not be a cheapskate because even if the initial cost is low, it will cost you a lot in the long run as cheap smokers made of cheap products rust easily and may need more repairs in the future. Warranty and customer service may also be not as good on the low-end products.
However, spending a lot of dollars for a feature-packed smoker is also not a good idea especially if you are not going to use and maximize its functionalities and features. You may consider the exclusion of Wifi if you do not really need it. It is important to strike a balance between price and quality.
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