It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about pellet grills, pop songs, or pizza, everyone always wants to know which is the best. While that might seem like a fairly straight forward question, there is no simple one-word answer. Is the best pellet grill the most popular one made by the best-known brand? Is it the most expensive one with the most advanced features and high-end bells and whistles? Is it the one that offers the best combination of price and performance? Really, the answer depends on you, your means, and your needs. Or, put another way, maybe the question shouldn’t be what’s the best pellet grill? but what’s the best pellet grill for you?
The popularity of smoking meat has led to a huge number of grills and smokers to choose from, and these days, high quality smokers have become reasonably priced. You can make your wife happy by smoking tasty meat, and make her happy by keeping your 401K intact. And as we know, a happy wife…
Pellet grills run on standard household electrical current. When you plug the grill in and turn on the digital controller, a rotating auger delivers pellets from the hopper to a cylindrical fire pot housing an igniter rod. The rod glows red hot for several minutes, igniting the pellets. Heat and smoke from the combusting pellets are diffused by a continuously-running blower fan as well as metal plates under the grill grate. One model, the upscale Memphis Wood Fire Grill, lets you both smoke and direct grill over a wood pellet fire.
As new manufacturers are getting into the market to cater to the growing need for pellet smokers and they are coming up with unique features to help them stand out from their competitors. This is a great advantage for the users, since the competition is pushing for more innovation into the barbecuing industry.
The Fast Eddy’s by Cookshack PG500 Pellet Smoker is a collaborative design from respected smoker manufacturer Cookshack and competition-barbecue-circuit pro “Fast Eddy” Maurin. The FEC (Fast Eddy’s by Cookshack) line has been popular with competitive teams for years. While most FEC models have a utilitarian appearance, the beautifully crafted stainless steel PG500 fits right in with your shiny outdoor kitchen.
It is easy to see why I am so passionate about pellet grilling. In fact, I’m working on building a commercial-grade pellet grill to use at moto and iNG. Not only are pellet grills efficient, easy to use, and flavorful, they are also cost-effective and don’t involve potentially dangerous chemicals like propane. It’s just Mother Earth’s all-natural goodness… and you can taste it in every delicious and succulent bite!
Versatility is a big reason for the surging popularity of kamado grills. Whether you want to smoke a brisket or sear a rib eye, a kamado can do it equally well. Traditionally, kamado grills have been ceramic, which retains heat incredibly well, providing consistent temperatures and an impressive max temperature. The Weber Summit Charcoal Grill, on the other hand, is steel, making it lighter and more durable.
A pellet hopper is what you put your pellets in. The grill will automatically help itself from the hopper and use it to maintain the temperature you want it to. More heat requirement will use more pellet, and less heat will use less. What you need to make sure is that you have a good sized pellet hopper so that your grill can keep using from it and you do not have to keep refilling the hopper too often. There are pellet grills out there that are powerful and gentle enough to be cooking for hours, and sometimes overnight, all thanks to its large pellet hoppers that keep replenishing and refueling the fire all throughout.
The Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill has 570 square of cook space so you can quickly and easily prepare food for a family of four or for a party of 50. You could literally feed the whole neighborhood with this grill if you had to.
While the Traeger Lil Tex Elite does offer similar features as our top pick, such as a digital LED temperature control system and an auto-dispensing auger, there was one missing feature which we thought was necessary. This product has a smaller grilling area and lacks a removable upper rack, which gives you less grilling and prep space. I should mention that the unit does come in a bigger 700 square inch version for $200 more, as well as a smaller version that costs less. If this smoker is too big or too small for you, there are always other options available. Compared to our top pick, it’s also more expensive despite offering similar specs. Aside from that, this is a very efficient and reliable smoker.
On top of that, the construction is designed in a way that makes all the fat and grease drip to the bucket on the side. That way you can quickly and easily replace the bucket with a new one or quickly clean the old bucket.
Good info, but it’s missing something… the cost to use. I’ve been looking for a long time to get into smoking. I have only ever used a propane setup for grilling. My main quesion is the cost to use propane vs charcoal vs pellets. I’m very interested in pellet smoking AND grilling. A couple times a week my wife and I will grill some chicken breasts or steaks. Can you breakout an approximate cost comparison to run the different methods? Appreciate it!
Pellet grills are versatile. You can barbecue, smoke, roast, grill (sort of—more on that below), and even bake or braise in a pellet grill. At BBQ University, we have used them to cook everything from crisp chicken wings to braised short ribs to smoked pork chile verde and crème brulee.
How hot you cook something on a smoker grill affects the flavor hugely, so having a good control over the temperature and the knowledge you can keep it at that temperature for however long you need to get the right effects is really helpful. A temperature gage is a must.
We at Grills Forever have been using all kinds of pellet smokers for over 4 years and have come up with different strategies to finding the best pellet smoker. That’s why all of our reviews are so detailed — because they come from first-hand experience. After 15 hours of testing and researching numerous products, our team of outdoor cooking enthusiasts have decided to crown the Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Smoker as the best. It emerged as the perfect choice for beginners and pros, always delivering that rich BBQ flavor and fragrance.
Hey David, Is there a particular reason why the Grilla grills interest you? I tend to find they’re great smokers, just expensive for what they are. If you’re working with limited space (say smoking on a condo balcony) then the Grilla models vertical footprint can make all the difference between having a smoker or not. But for the price, and for a standard model smoker, the Traeger models tend to be better all around.
Includes a meat probe, a peaked lid, a convenience tray with utensil hooks and our new open flame technology grease tray. Also included is Sense-Mate, a thermal sensor which constantly monitors grill temperature.
So if you want more of a smoke profile, cook at longer and lower temps in your pellet pit. I have found that is the best way to get a more distinct smoke profile in your food. Cook at 180-190 for the first several hours.
A. pellets can easily be affected by humidity and moisture, making the user to be very careful when storing the pellets. A dry place with extremely no moisture or humidity is conducive. Moisture and humidity can cause difficulty or no lighting of the pellets when one is cooking. The pellets can hence swell causing jam in the cooking grill.
BBQr’s Delight pellets are made of 100% of the flavor of the wood that is indicated on the package. Jack Daniel’s Smoking Pellets are made from the used mellowing charcoal from the distillery, pulverized and mixed with sawdust then pelletized. Savory Herb is oak sawdust with leafy oregano, rosemary and thyme mixed in before pelletizing. The 14 flavors of the flavor pellet line are available online in one pound bags.
Hey Reid – thanks you for your question. You can use any pellet brand you like in a Traeger grill. I really like what the folks at Cookin’ Pellets bring to the table both in their 100% Hickory and their Perfect Mix blends (fruit wood/hard wood mix). Have been very pleased with them. You can check out their stuff here.
I have the larger Traeger smoker and have really liked it but not from the start. I had issues with the heating unit but the Traeger help people managed to get my “mechanical blondness” through this and all is well. The assistance center people at Traeger weres super supportive so I’m a loyal fan today. One thing I suggested to Traeger, and all who have a Traeger smoker, is to make the grill surface in two parts so it fits into a dishwasher. I cut my grill in half allowing it to fit in my dishwasher. Easy peasy to clean now!
The temperature settings can give you a colder smoke at 150f, low and slow steady at 225f, or hot and fast as high as 400f. It has a stainless steel tray for wood chunks, with a sizeable water pan directly above to help add moisture to your food.
Comes with a large 19.5″ x 36″ (702 square inch) cooking area. Maintains precise temperature from 180ºF to 500ºF (5º increments). REC TEC will automatically light up with a push of a button and heat up to the temperature you have selected. REC TEC has a really good and precise temperature control so you can even use it for baking.
The Camp Chef SmokePro utilizes its famous Smart Smoke Technology in using wood pellets efficiently. This makes sure that your foods are smoked to perfection. Because of this, you can “set it and forget it” so that you can sit back and relax.
Versatility – Cook and bake like on a regular grill or braise and sear meat at low temperatures for many hours. All of that is possible with this one grill, additionally the food is enriched with a wood-fired taste.
Can you comment on the Camp Chef entry level pellet grill. I’m of limited funds but would like to purchase one of these type grills. I’ve been using an electric smoker and I personally don’t like the creosote taste I’m experiencing with it! So I guess my question is will I regret purchasing one of these “cheap” pellet grills?
FireCraft: Made in the USA, the awesome FireCraft Pellet-Q450 Pellet Grill sells for about $900 and allows for both direct and indirect grilling. It also includes a trademarked “Pellet Exchange” feature, giving you the ability to quickly switch out pellet flavors.
I took a stab at locating your IP address (it shows when you leave a comment). It has your in the Olney, MD area. If I’m right, Clarke’s Ace Hardware in Ellicott City (410) 465-9633 sell the Traeger Pro series pellet grills. I called them and confirmed that they can get them in and have a bulk order of them in to Traeger now.
A lot of people will grill vegetables alongside any meat on the grill as its always nice to have an accompaniment. However, the grilled vegetables can be a meal on their own. They can easily hold the smoky flavor you get from using your pellet smoker so why not give it a try.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, there are a few pellet grills that lead the pack in terms of name recognition. The ones featured here are those that come most highly recommended by friends of mine on the professional BBQ circuits with KCBS and FBA.
Cover – Being able to properly cover your smoker will help you keep it clean and will prevent it from getting damaged from rain and other elements. If your smoker of choice doesn’t come with a cover, however, you can purchase something to keep it properly sheltered.
Interest in smoking continues to grow each year. We correctly predicted 2016 would be the year of the pellet smoker and were delighted to see showroom floors clearing more space for these convenient and effective devices. Not long ago, on the rare occasions average shoppers bumped into a pellet smoker, they were mystified by the perceived high prices and unfamiliar designs. “I don’t understand how it works or why it costs so much,” was a common refrain. Today, the tide has begun to turn as pellet smoker manufacturers are finally gaining ground in their backyard battles for market share. Now more brands and more models, with more features and lower prices are becoming readily available as word of mouth spreads that these once mysterious “grills” can be turned on and set to temp just like your indoor oven with one big difference: they burn wood (in the form of pellets) and produce delicious smoky BBQ that’s better than most restaurants. You’ll find several good options on our lists.
Made of rugged 1/8″ thick aluminum, 20″ long, with four serious rivets, Meathead says his shows zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. He uses it on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, yiou can easily pick up a whole packer brisket.
It’s an automated grill with features mostly found in much more expensive models. Everything I described above allows me to easily say that this is the best pellet smoker. This grill keep a great price to quality, efficiency and functionality ratio.
I am interested in buying a pellet smoker grill, but I don’t have the funds to afford a $1,000.00 smoker. I am looking at two differant smokers and would like your honest opinion on witch one to purchase. I’m looking at the traeger lil’ tex elite 22 and the camp chef smoke pro DLX. could you give me your pro’s and con’s on both units? THANK YOU
First of all, the construction is really top notch. At around this sale price, you can’t usually expect a smoker grill to be well made, but this one is. Tight seals, good welding, snug fitting attachments, smooth action on the door and handles. It all adds up to something that gives the impression of being much more expensive. The wide feet give the Smoke Vault a sturdy and stable stance and the door is pleasingly like a bank vault door. It is almost like robbing a mini bank, just one full of deliciously smoky meat, when you open the door and the plumes of aromatic smoke pour out. It is a mini dramatic experience.
It’s really a lot like charcoal in terms of brand loyalty. Thus far the brands of BBQ wood pellets that stand out as being best of breed come from the following manufacturers. Note – this list is not in any specific order.