If you’re looking for a versatile and fast cooker with less messy post-grilling cleanup then you should have a look at these smokers.
These cookers made by brands such as Traeger, Camp Chef, Pit Boss, and Memphis Grills, among others, are incredibly versatile and get the job done faster than charcoal smokers. They also use a controller that is digital and a pellet feeding system that helps the smoker to keep a predictable heat by adding wood as needed.
The wood pellets are food–grade and come in a variety of flavors and wood types.
In this guide, we break down the best pellet smokers available in the market today. We’ll also run through what to look for when buying a pellet smoker and the pros and cons of pellet smoking to help your search for the right model.
Best Overall: Traeger Lil Tex Elite 22 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Top Reasons to Buy
- 418 square inches of grilling space
- Versatility – smoke, roast, grill, braise, bake, , roast, and barbecue
- Lightweight, coming in at just 98 lbs
- Wide temperature range of 180 – 450 degrees Fahrenheit
- Sturdy powder-coated stainless steel body
- Elegant bronze finish.
- Non-stick porcelain grill grates
What is the Best Pellet Grill 2020?
|Product||Capacity||Weight||Our Smoking Score|
|418 sq in||98 lbs.||5/5|
|219 sq in||57 lbs.||4.9/5|
|589 sq in||122 lbs.||4.8/5|
|700 sq in||118 lbs.||4.6/5|
|875 sq in||180 lbs.||4.4/5|
|844 sq in||283 lbs.||4.3/5|
1. Best Overall: Traeger Lil Tex Elite 22 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
- Range: 180 – 450°F
- Controller: Digital
- Grilling Space: 418 square inches
- Hopper Capacity: 18 lbs.
- Dimensions: 22 x 42 x 49 inches.
- Weight: 98 lbs.
This sturdy pellet smoker has 418 square inches of cooking space to fit up to four racks of ribs, sixteen burgers, twenty-four hot dogs, or four whole chickens!
It features one controller, which shows the temperatures on its LED display for quick monitoring. A built-in probe also monitors cooking temperatures to within +/-20F temperature variation.
The 18-lb. capacity hopper eliminates the need to refill pellets regularly, and the glide-on wheels allow for easy maneuverability. This excellent value smoker also has an auto-ignition for quick start up.
As well as being functional, this grill also looks stunning. The company designed this grill with a beautiful bronze finish on powder-coated stainless steel. It also features a convenient exhaust and induction fan, with an added grill cover for enhanced safety every time.
- Versatile; has 6-in-1 functional
- Durable powder-coated finish on stainless steel for longevity
- Maintains a +/- 20°F temperature control for precision grilling
- Durable powder coat finish and sturdy construction for longevity
- Easy to use
- Slightly expensive
- Temperature controls can be challenging
2. Best Portable Grill: Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Wi-Fi Controlled Portable Wood Pellet Grill
- Range: 150-550°F
- Controller: Digital
- Total Cooking Area: 219 sq. inches
- Hopper Capacity: 9 lbs.
- Dimensions: 29.5 x 20 x 14.5 inches
- Weight: 57 lbs.
The Green Mountain Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker has excellent features that lack in larger models.
It maintains its temperature incredibly well for an affordable smoker and even offers 5 degree increments to your desired temperature. It is also fully portable and can easily travel in your car or RV. This grill also has sturdy, well-designed legs that can fold up for quick and secure storage.
The Davy Crockett conveniently has Wi-Fi capability that allows you to monitor the grill from your smart device. An advanced touch pad controller with integrated meat thermometer makes checking in on the internal meat temperature a breeze.
This little smoker comes with adaptors to enable you operate it from a standard outlet or a 12V battery. If you’re a beginner grill master or regularly grill on-the-go on your camping or tailgating escapades, then this is the best portable pellet smoker for you.
- Highly portable
- Excellent temperature control
- Wi-Fi connectivity and App compatibility for convenience
- Easy to use, which is perfect for beginners
- The process of Wi-Fi connectivity can be challenging
- Not suitable for large barbecue productions
3. Best Professional-Grade: Traeger Select Elite Pellet Grill and Smoker
- Range: 180 – 450°F
- Controller: Digital
- Cooking Surface: 589 square inches
- Hopper Capacity: 18 lbs.
- Dimensions: 25 x 46 x 57 inches
- Weight: 122 lbs.
The Traeger Select Elite is the ultimate professional-grade grill designed to provide a professional grilling experience.. It is versatile and has a convenient, no-mess operation.
It has sturdy porcelain-enameled grates that provide 6-in-1 functionality and a decent-sized 589 square inches of cooking. This pellet grill has the capacity to cook approximately twenty burgers, six large racks of ribs, or five chickens at a go.
The built-in controller and thermal sensor maintains accurate cooking temperatures to within +/-20°F over a broad range of 180 – 450 degrees F. The display also lets you read the inner grill temperature with ease.
Despite the cost, the features are worth it. Built-in shelves for easy storage and glide-on wheels for quicker maneuverability add to the appeal of this pellet smoker.
- Easy to keep clean
- Comes with ample storage
- Large cooking capacity
- Excellent customer service with phone and email contact
- Well-built; excellent design and features
- Challenging to assemble
- Quite heavy
4. Best Budget Pick: Z GRILLS ZPG-7002ENC 2019 New Model Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
- Range: 160-450°F
- Controller: Digital
- Grilling Space: 700 square inches
- Hopper Capacity: 20 lbs.
- Dimensions: 48.5 x 22.5 x 51.2 inches
- Weight: 118 lbs.
If you’re on a shoestring budget the Z Grills ZPG-700ENC is the perfect fit for you. And just because it comes with a lower price tag, doesn’t mean it lacks premium features.
For just $409 at the current price, you get a large grilling area of 700 square inches, an automatic electric feed system, and a smoker that enables you to bake, barbecue, grill, sear, roast, braise, smoke, and char grill.
What’s more this grill comes with a built-in controller, one temperature and pellet feed control system, and an auto-ignition feature for quick start up. It has a decent hopper of 20 lbs., which eliminates the need for the constant refilling of pellets.
There is an easy-to-read display for temperature displays and a shutdown recycle mode. The design also includes a special waste oil collector for mess-free operation and caster-lock wheels for excellent mobility. A generous three-year warranty will also give you much-needed peace of mind.
- Easy to use
- Affordably priced
- Generous three-year warranty
- Versatile with 8-in-1 functionality
- Sturdy, high-quality construction
- It is challenging to assemble
- It can be fiddly and difficult to clean
5. Best Large Capacity: Camp Chef SmokePro LUX
- Range: 160-500°F
- Controller: Digital
- Grilling Space: 875 square inches
- Hopper Capacity: 18 lbs.
- Dimensions: 47.5 x 62 x 24 inches
- Weight: 180 lbs.
Camp Chef, Pit Boss, and Traeger Grills are right up there when it comes to pellet smokers.
This large enough Camp Chef SmokePro LUX Pellet Grill is superior to its cousin the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX. It offers an ample 663 square inches grilling surface on its lower rack and an additional 221 square inches on the warming rack.
The Smart Smoke Technology and automatic auger dispenser produce decent smoky barbecue. Besides that, the grill has various features included that would cost quite a sum on their own including a meat probe, warming rack, auto ignition, and a utility shelf.
It has a large hopper capacity of 18 pounds to enable continuous cooking with excellent temperature controls. It also assembles quite easy with no challenging steps.
This grill is a breeze to clean. Its patented ash clean out system, grease management features, and pellet hopper purge, make keeping this grill clean simple and straightforward. There is also a dual LED temperature display for the internal cooking temperature and the internal food temperature.
- Large cooking area
- Patented ash clean out system
- Dual LED temperature readout
- Includes a pellet hopper clean out and purge
- Convenientelectronic auto-start ignition
- Slight inaccuracy in temperature controls
- It doesn’t give a deep smoky flavor as other smokers in its class
6. Best Luxury Buy: Memphis Grills Elite Wood Fire Pellet Smoker Grill with Wi-Fi (VG0002S)
- Range: 180-700°F
- Controller: Digital
- Grilling Space: 844 square inches
- Hopper Capacity: 24 lbs.
- Dimensions: 69 x 29 x 47 inches
- Weight: 283 lbs.
The Memphis Elite Pellet Smoker is the epitome of luxury grilling. It has a beautiful and solid design with lots of convenience features that enhance your grilling experience. It has 8-in-1 functionality that allows to smoke, bake, roast, grill, sear, char, braise, and bbq.
This free-standing wood pellet smoker is made with high quality 304-stainless steel. It has a long life and is rust-resistant and weather-proof. It is also easy to keep clean and maintain.
The cooking grates consist of 6-mm nickel-plated steel, and the grill comes with an oven-quality gasket and dual-wall firebox. Cook multiple rib racks, chickens, hog, brisket, and turkeys for large crowds on the massive 844 square inches of cooking space, and with no interruptions thanks to the massive 24-pound hopper to yield up to 62 hours of continuous cooking without a pellet refill.
To make things even better, this luxury grill has Wi-Fi connectivity for remote grilling and a precise temperature probe to check internal food temperatures and exert accurate digital temperature control. It also has lock-on caster wheels for easier mobility.
All in all, if you like your pellet smoker with all the bells and whistles, this is the smoker to pick.
- Strong and durable build
- High-quality components and features
- Massive cooking area for large productions
- Wide temperature range
- Excellent temperature controls
- Easy to clean and use
- Quite heavy and cumbersome
- Quite expensive
Buying Guide – What to Look for When Buying a Pellet Smoker
Cooking Surface Area
Decent smokers have 300 – 1300 square inches of cooking space, with larger size grills costing more.
The inches of cooking space you’ll need depends on how many people you usually cook for, as well as how much food you want to cook in one cycle. A small size smoker of 570 sq inches or less, may result in you cooking more sessions of barbecue, while a larger size smoker of 600 sq inches or more may waste pellets.
Choose a model that consists of powder-coated stainless steel body with sturdy construction. This quality ensures that it lasts long, and is also rust-resistant and weather-proof.
Premium pellet smokers also have useful features such as porcelain-enameled grates, a fire box, and drip pan. The best smoker will feature marine-grade 304-stainless steel for the ultimate durability.
Pellet smokers deliver wood pellets into auger tube, and then into the combustion chamber. The more pellets that enter the combustion chamber, the more the heat forms.
When choosing a pellet grill, ensure that the tip of the electrical-powered auger tube is at a safe distance from the combustion chamber to prevent fire from reaching any unused wood pellets in storage. Also, go for wide size augers to avoid jamming of pellets, and a hopper capacity of at least 18 lbs. for uninterrupted cooking.
Pellet smokers with controllers that are digital are better because they make grilling and temperature control more straightforward. These grills are perfect for set-and-forget smoking allowing you to move away from the grill as the smoke progresses.
These controllers come as:
- Non-PID Controllers – these allow you to change your pellet grill’s temperature to increase in 5-10°F temperature intervals. They also feature meat probes, LED displays, and an additional one-touch button.
- PID Controllers – these allow for auto-pilot smoking. They implement complex algorithms to keep the temperature to within specific ranges.
- 3-position Controllers – these controllers, come with three heat settings low (225°F), medium (325°F), and high (425°F). At fixed intervals, this controller feeds pellets into the combustion chamber, leaving you less control over the temperature. They usually come with lower-priced models.
PID controllers are the best. They relay the temperature variations inside the smoker and maintain the temperature range to within +/-50 degrees Fahrenheit of your set temperature. Some PID digital controllers also come with Wi-Fi connectivity.
Many pellet grills also feature outputs to plug-in meat probes. That way, you can also read internal meat temperatures easily on the pellet grill’s LED display.
Most of these grills have temperature ranges of 180 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit perfect for smoking, baking, and grilling. If you want to smoke low and slow, there are pellet grills that operate in the 180-250 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you want to sear or hot smoke your food, ensure that you choose a pellet grill that can reach temperatures of 450 – 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pellet grills come with excellent added features that enhance your grilling experience. Some of these features include:
- Wi-Fi Connectivity – some grills are wifi enabled to control them from a distance using a smart device
- Sear Box – some grills include a sear box for extra char-grilling and hot smoking capability
- Built-in Lighting –grilling outdoors in low light conditions with in-built lighting is quicker and easier
- Multiple Level Cooking Racks – these racks enable you to cook different kinds of food at the same time, and with differing heat levels in your pellet grill and smoker
- Portability – some pellet smokers are portable and have foldable legs, for easy transport and secure storage.
Price is governs all purchase decisions. You don’t want to buy a product that’s too expensive with too many features that you don’t need, or one that’s too cheap and which won’t last.
Expect to pay $400 – $2000 for quality model. A cheap and low quality pellet grill that doesn’t match your barbecue needs will cost you more in the long run. Choose a grill that is affordable, durable, and well-built for real smoking value.
Benefits of a Pellet Smoker
Drawbacks of Pellet Smokers
Pellet Grills – Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Pellet Smoker?
A pellet smoker is a normal smoker heated using small, high energy wood pellets.
They generally use a built-in digital controller that monitors the internal smoker temperature, and then automatically feeds pellets into the firebox to keep the smoker at desired temperatures.
Pellet grills have increased in popularity in recent years because they offer that classic wood-smoked flavor without the inconvenience of having to slave for hours over the grill. They make great beginner smokers as they require no experience to operate, work with a set-and-forget operation, and produce amazing-quality food with little to no work.
How Does a Pellet Grill Work?
Pellet grills work in a simple but ingenious way to ensure continuous cooking without interruption. They are one of the most easy-to-operate grills due to this pellet delivery system.
- One motor turns the auger, which in turn feeds pellets into the firebox.
- A digital controller controls the smoker internal temperature by controlling fuel and oxygen supply to the firebox.
- A heat rod in the firebox ignites the pellets and a combustion fan keeps them burning.
- A firebox creates wood-burning fire, which circulates pure hardwood smoke and flavor throughout the grill
- An auger motor and micro-adjusted variable-speed fan enable you to keep your grill and food at the temperature you set.
How Do You Use a Pellet Grill?
To make the best use of your pellet grill, make sure that you know how to use it. Carelessness and negligence can result in you damaging your expensive unit sooner, wasting valuable money.
We have explored some useful tips below to ensure that you maintain the quality of your pellet smoker as well as enhance your grilling experience.
- Ensure that you keep your pellet grill clean at all times. It is important to stay hygienic to avoid food poisoning. Proper maintenance also prevents pollutants from affecting the flavor of your food. Also, purchasing only the best pellet grills is an effective way to ensure longevity.
- It is very important to observe safety as you use your pellet smoker. You should always stay updated on the weather forecast to make sure that you don’t expose your pellet smoker to water damage in case it rains. One thing you must observe is to keep all power the cords away from water and ensure they are not wet before use. Also, always put your pellet smoker in a secure vertical position where it won’t trip or fall over.
- Some of the components that come with a pellet grill will need replacement from time to time. These include components like gaskets. Replacing these at the right time will improve the performance of your pellet grill.
- Avoid opening the lid when smoking on the pellet smoker. Doing this will, one, cause your food to lose its smoky flavor and, two, cause temperature fluctuations prolonging the cooking time of your food.
- Keep your pellet grill as dry as possible. To this effect, look for a grill cover to protect it at all times. Exposing your pellet grill to water greatly hinders the performance of the smoker. The food doesn’t burn as well, takes longer to cook, and the pellet grill can buckle and swell with water damage.
Are Wood Pellet Smokers Good?
These grills are excellent if its flavor you’re looking for in your barbecue results. The pellets produce both heat and smoke to cook foods slowly developing more flavors.
Wood pellet smokers allow you to experiment with different types of wood, to yield different tasting barbecue products. You can choose from oak, cherry, and maple, among others to get different results.
One thing these grills excel at, is letting you set the temperature, close the lid and walk away. Most of these grills also have a meat probe to check internal meat temperatures, and an ash cleanout pail or box that collects the ash from the pounds of pellets burned, leaving the grill easy to clean up.
Leading brands include
- Camp Chef,
- Green Mountain Grills,
and others like
- Pit Boss,
- REC TEC,
- and Cuisinart.
Which Smokers are the Best?
The answer to this question really depends on how you like to use your smoker and your skill level as a grill master. Each type of smoker offers different functionality to complement your style and skill level.
A charcoal smoker is the most difficult to use as temperature controls are fully manual and their operation is messy. They are best suited to advanced users. They yield the best-tasting barbecue, full of classy smoky flavor.
This smoker is the easiest to use and well-suited to beginners. Unlike traditional smokers like charcoal or gas BBQs, electric cookers regulate the flow of electricity to a heating element rather than the flow of air to a direct flame.
This quality means they are much more controllable and make safer cookers, perfect for beginners.
A gas grill offers convenience, size, and ease of use. They’re a great choice for beginners, perfect for outdoor cooking, and are relatively pain-free, with excellent if you are going to cook with the “set it and forget it” method.
Final Verdict: The Best Pellet Grill for the Money?
Pellet smokers are increasing in popularity and this trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
These grills offer maximum convenience, impart a delicious, smoky flavor on barbecued foods, and are easier to use than charcoal grills. Even though you may have to dig a little deeper into your pocket, especially if buying a large size grill, the investment is well worth it; this grill will serve you well for many years to come. Brands like Traeger, Memphis Grills, Pit Boss, and Camp Chef produce some of the best models.
We hope that this review and buying guide has inspired you to buy a pellet grill, and that it’s given you the right pointers to enable you get the best pellet smoker for your needs.
While electric smokers can make the job easier for you while smoking without the guess work, these types of smokers are probably the better bet.