Do you want to make your barbeque with convenience? Or are you only looking for a cooker that would allow you to produce delicious barbeque? Then you should consider buying one of the best pellet smokers.
Nothing beats being able to make barbeque effortlessly without stress. A beginner can easily use a pellet smoker without having to sweat the dust.
Well, this is going to be a long-form guide that covers everything and everything else you need to know about pellet smokers. From selecting the best pellet smokers in 2019 to highlighting the benefits and downsides of using a pellet smoker, we’ve got you covered. After completing this guide, we want to make sure that you’re able to make a convenient pellet smoker choice for your barbeque.
- 1 The Benefits Of A Pellet Smoker
- 2 How A Pellet Smoker Works?
- 3 Features Of A Pellet Grill
- 4 The Best Pellet Smoker & Grill Reviewed In 2019
- 5 1. Our Top Pick – Camp Chef Smokepro PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill
- 6 2. Runner Up- Z Grills Zpg-7002e Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
- 7 3. Portable Option- Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Wifi Grill
- 8 4. Large Option- Camp Chef Smokepro LUX Pellet Grill
- 9 5. High End Option – REC TEC Grills RT-700
- 10 6. Camp Chef Woodwind 24 Pellet Grill
- 11 7. Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill
- 12 8. Traeger Tfb42lzbc Grills Lil Tex Elite 22
- 13 Buyers Guide
- 14 How To Choose The Best Pellet Smokers
- 15 How To Maintain A Pellet Smoker
- 16 Conclusion
The Benefits Of A Pellet Smoker
Cooking with a pellet grill also comes with different unique advantages. They include:
- Higher fuel efficiency – Pellet smokers work like your typical home oven, alongside a highly effective connection fan, making you spend less time in pellets.
- Set and forget cooking style – Just feed the hopper with pellets and then set to your preferred temperature. And that’s all: you have nothing else to worry about.
- Easy to clean – Charcoal smokers can be messy whenever you cook. A pellet grill will help you remove the firepot, but it’s on a rare occasion (say once in about 50 usages)
How A Pellet Smoker Works?
As expected, pellet smokers run when they burn wooden pellets. Pellet smokers are typically set up by including a hopper on the side where the pellets would be added.
When the grill is plugged in, and heat is set on a digital controller, the pellet goes into the pellet cooker, and it is converted to smoke and heat.
Features Of A Pellet Grill
Unlike offset smoker or traditional charcoals, pellet smokers come with many excellent features. They include:
Companies are beginning to utilize the computer design integrated into pellet smokers by adding the WIFI connectivity features.
WIFI technology allows you to control and monitor your grill’s temperature from anywhere, so far you have an active internet connection. Manufacturers like Green Mountain Grills now provide a free downloadable app that you can use for your convenience.
Many pellet cookers come with outputs in their controller where you can directly plug in your meat probes.
That way, it will be able to display reading from your meat on the cooker’s screen.
Many years ago, a significant downside of using pellet grills was the exclusion of grilling options. Some manufacturers now include the grilling option. Some pellet grills have some portion of your diffuser plate removed while others provide a specified grilling area in the cooker.
Manufacturers provide different kinds of add-ons. Check the available add-ons and see if they come at an extra cost. Some companies offer add-ons that aren’t specifically from the manufacturer. If you need a particular feature, but it is not included in the standard functionality of your cooker, ensure that its add-on is available before purchasing the pellet smoker.
The controller is a crucial part of a pellet grill and responsible for the temperature regulation in your pellets smoker throughout the coking section. Only a few types of controllers are available out there. They include:
- Three position controllers – Also called LMH controllers, you can find the three position controllers mostly in the cheaper grills. They come with three settings which are the High (425°F), medium (325°F), and the low (225°F). At a fixed cycle, the controllers feed the pellets into your burner, so you have less control over the temperature.
- Multi-position controllers – The multi-position controllers let you adjust your temperature but in smaller temp increase. The controller feeds the pellets in a fixed cycle, which means that these controllers still do not provide excellent accuracy. In an ideal condition, the accuracy of a typical multi-position controller is at +/-20°F. Excellent addition to these controllers is the LCD screen.
- One-touch non-PID controller – This controller allows you to adjust your grill’s temperature to increase in about 5-10°F. However, pellets are still fed in fixed cycles which mean that you should only expect the accuracy of about +/- 15-20°F. There’s also an additional one-touch button, LCD screens, and several meat probes input.
- PID controller – Many people consider PID controllers as the gold standards of pellet smoker’s controllers. PID controllers implement complex algorithms to keep the temperature at a certain degree.
It continually adjusts the pellet feed to keep the correct temperature. The PID controller supports programmable meat probes to reduce the heat once the smoking is done. They also come with a one-touch button and LED.
The Best Pellet Smoker & Grill Reviewed In 2019
We chose our pellet smokers based on their quality, features, and warranties.
1. Our Top Pick – Camp Chef Smokepro PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill
The first quality that attracted us to this pellet smoker is its ultimate performance even at its medium size.
With the Camp Chef SmokePro PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill, you’ll get just about everything you need from a high-quality pellet smoker.
We checked the temperature dial, and we were amazed at the flexibility of the different dial option (we’ll talk more about it down the road). That way, you can cook at your preferred temperature.
The 429 square inches of cooking space allows us to cook for the family and our neighbors. It’s large enough to accommodate a moderate number of people.
This is not hype, but this best pellet smoker has everything you’ll ever want in a grill. You don’t have to stare endlessly at the smoker waiting for your barbeque to finish cooking. Just set the smoker to your desired temperature and entertain your guest.
In other words, the Camp Chef SmokePro PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill implement the “set it and forget” style of cooking in their pellet grill. Remember that smoked barbeque flavor? You’ll also enjoy this when you cook with the SmokePro PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill from camp chef.
When it comes to build-quality, this pellet smoker is second to none. Thanks to its stainless steel materials that gives the grill that sturdy quality.
As said earlier, the SmokePro PG24 Deluxe comes in a preset dial temperature starting from 175°F to 400°F. You can as well set your temperature to preset levels like the “LO Smoke, Hi Smoke, or High”.
Another exciting part of the preset temperature is that you can decide to maintain a particular temperature for several hours.
When we used this pellet smoker, we were amazed at the little pellet consumed. The smoker will never eat up your pellets. As you know, pellet consumption efficiency determines the quality of a pellet smoker.
We tested different pellet smokers, and one of the problems we faced is with cleaning, which requires more effort. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the SmokePro PG24 Deluxe. The model features a trap door that allows you to clean the burn pot easily.
The smokestack is smartly positioned at the back of this grill. That way, you’ll have plenty of space to work on the right side.
Although this is not a general problem, many users review on Amazon complained of temperature sensor failing after using for a few months.
However, we spoke with camp chef friendly support, and they are always more than ready to resolve any issue.
Overall, the Camp Chef SmokePro PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill is an excellent quality pellet smoker on its own, and you’ll be glad you purchased it.
- High quality pellet smoker
- Doesn’t eat lots of pellets
- Durable Stainless Steel Materials
- No cleanup issue
- Smart positioning of the smokestack
- Temperature sensor issues
2. Runner Up- Z Grills Zpg-7002e Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
Z GRILLS has been manufacturing grill for the big fish in the industry, not until in 2017 when they decided to create their high-quality pellet smoker at a budget-friendly price.
It can be challenging to find a budget-friendly pellet smoker with the best of quality. So this is your opportunity to own a pellet smoker at an affordable price.
The 700 square of coming space is split into two with the primary surface taking 500 square inches while the secondary surface took 200 square inches. It also comes with a hopper which makes it comparable to the surface cooking area of most top quality pellet smokers out there. But this is coming at an affordable price.
It’s no doubt that the Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E is a steal especially with its large cooking space and size of the hopper. It also features durable stainless steel materials and a 2019 upgraded temperature control system for a practical cooking. Even with these great features, the pellet smoker still comes at an affordable price.
We love the three year warranty that comes with this product because it’s still relatively new in the market. So we don’t have much idea of its longevity. But the three year warranty is a great deal.
One of the major challenges of this pellet smoker is cleaning the unused pellet. First, you have to remove the pellet, which is the hardest part. I recommend buying a small vac to solve this problem.
You’ll need an insulated cover when you want to cook outdoors, especially when the temperature falls at less than 40°F. Some users also complained of the instability of the temperature control system. But I think the issue has been resolved after the 2019 update.
If you don’t have a problem with buying from a company that recently started producing pellet smokers, then this Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker will be a great buy. We also love the responsiveness of their customer care unit.
- Excellent quality at an affordable price
- Three years warranty
- Large cooking space
- Cleaning problem
- No cover
3. Portable Option- Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Wifi Grill
Are you looking for a portable pellet grill? You may want to look at the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WIFI Grill. This pellet grill is portable enough that all you have to do is to plug it into an electric source and from anywhere.
With that said, Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WIFI Grill is specially created for you to convey them easily.
We love how the legs are easily foldable and conveyable to anywhere. There also an adapter that allows you to tap power from anywhere in the compound or even from your car.
No product at the price of this pellet smoker can beat its features. For example, you can connect your grill to a WIFI enabled smartphone and control the temperature of your grill from anywhere, as long as the WIFI connection stays On.
Although Green Mountain is not popular like the industry’s big fishes, its grill comes at a quality that matches up or even higher than them.
We love the foldable leg features and the several accessories that allow you to use your smoker from anywhere. All these features make the pellet smoker a very portable option for use.
We couldn’t but commend the temperature control technology of the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WIFI Grill. The portable smoker is designed to ensure you can make a 5-degree temperature adjustment. And based on your preference, you can also make a 1-degree temperature adjustment using the app.
The app won’t just allow you to control your grill’s temperature but also let you adjust your smoker’s temperature according to your preference. I usually set it to cook at a temperature of 225°F for about 4 hours and later change it to 5 hours.
With this feature, you don’t have to check your pellet smoker now and then. There’s a smartwatch technology that alerts you of an operational problem for example when the hopper isn’t feeding the pellet well.
We don’t recommend one person to carry this pellet smoker because of the weight and the shape of the leg. You will need a helping hand to move the pellet smoker.
Some users said the grill usually lose connection quickly. Although this largely depends on how you set up the grill.
But it comes at an excellent build quality with high-quality materials that will last for long. Overall, the most distinctive quality of the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WIFI Grill is how you can easily fold it up and move to your desired location- a feature which is scarce among pellet smokers.
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WIFI Grill doesn’t promise you very hot cooking, but you can manage the maximum 420°F cooking temperature.
Keep your campers excited with a lovely 10lb of brisket, which is a considerable right amount of food for your audience.
- It is portable
- Temperature control technology
- App and Wi-Fi technology
- Alerts of an impending danger
- Can be heavy
- Wifi connection can be unstable
4. Large Option- Camp Chef Smokepro LUX Pellet Grill
Do you love all the features of the Camp Chef PG24DLX but wish it had a better cooking space? Then check out the SmokePro LUX from camp chef.
Featuring a large cooking space of 875 square inches, this is the largest pellet on our list. Let’s hop over to the incredible features of this pellet smoker.
The large size is the main pro of using this pellet smoker. The impressive large cooking space makes it easy for you to smoke a huge amount of pork butt and briskets on the go.
Camp Chef SmokePro LUX Pellet Grill is not the best for searing because it came at a maximum temperature of 400°F. Luckily, Camp chef created an add-on sear box which allows your pellet grill to reach a temperature of up to 900°F.
You can easily remove all unused pellets from the Hopper and clean out any leftover wastes due to burnt pellets.
We were skeptical about the quality of the meat probe. Some users complain about how it kinks so quickly. We advise you to run an excellent third-party digital thermometer. But if you will be using the default probe then use it with extreme care.
While the simplicity of the temperature controller is quite commendable, many users claimed that the actual temperature usually drops by 20-50°F. Just get your thermometer. Furthermore, we think Camp Chef should be more transparent with their installation instruction. However, you shouldn’t spend more than an hour on installation.
- Large size
- Optional space for the sear box
- Easily cleaned
- The meat probe isn’t up to the mark
- Temp controller problem
5. High End Option – REC TEC Grills RT-700
This pellet grill combines an excellent build quality and modern-day technologies to provide a convenient cooking experience. Some of the features you’ll get to enjoy include the ability to control your temperature from anywhere using the WIFi technology. You’ll also get to enjoy the dual meat probes and an enhanced PID controller. Like other model reviewed, the temperature is adjustable to 5°F increment, which is something you’ll never see with the cheap pellet smokers out there.
We were amazed at the primary cooking area of 702 square inches alongside a warming shelf of over 300 square inches.
However, all these features compare with the top guns in the pellet smoker industry and don’t come at a budget price.
Most of this grill is stainless steel made. The sizeable 40lb copper can cook up to 40 hours. You can as well quickly move your grill.
6. Camp Chef Woodwind 24 Pellet Grill
You must be wondering why we’re selecting another series from the popular Camp Chef pellet grill. Well, we can’t but let you know about the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 Pellet Grill.
It comes with a 570 square inches of cooking space alongside upper warming each which can be removed to clean.
Mind you, this is a new model from Camp Chef, and it shares several features with their Smoke Pro series, with only a few similarities.
We love how manufacturers used a large cover on the copper. In terms of price, woodwind is a bit pricier than the DLX PG24. But they are both great options, but you can make a choice based on your budget.
7. Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill
If you search online, you’ll know that put boss sells lots of pellet grills. And fortunately, their pellet grills are usually affordable. You can get a pellet smoker with the same size as the popular brands at a lesser price.
However, the lower price is sacrificed with the advanced features which you can only find with the too pellet smoker brands.
But if you don’t care about these latest technologies then the Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill will be a good buy. The sliding plate system if this pellet grill provides you with a better searing experience. The sturdy steel construction of the grill makes it a durable option, even at its size.
8. Traeger Tfb42lzbc Grills Lil Tex Elite 22
Coming at a cooking space of 300 square inches and an LED digital thermostat control, this model is the perfect option for smokers on a budget. Although the price is one of the reasons we were don’t want to recommend this product at first, since it’s coming from Traeger you’re getting a high-quality grill.
Because this is the low entry model, Traeger TFB42LZBC Grills Lil Tex Elite 22 Wood Pellet Grill gives up some spaces, unlike the Lil Tex Elite Smoker which features an additional surface area of 126 square inches.
In this section, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about a pellet smoker. We hope that in the end, you’ll be able to make the right choice of a pellet smoker.
How To Choose The Best Pellet Smokers
To select a pellet smoker, it’s essential to consider certain factors. That way, you won’t make a wrong choice or end up with a low-quality pellet grill. Below are essential factors to look out for in a pellet smoker before making a purchase.
Size of Hopper
The hopper is a container where pellets are stored for the auger to transport into the fire-pot. Therefore, the Hopper’s size essentially determines the length of your cooking section.
So, it’s annoying to settle for a relatively small Hopper, as you’ll only have a little cooking time.
Ideally, a 40-pound hopper pellet grill will deliver over 40 hours of cooking time, at an average temperature. Remember, some cooks may take up to 20 hours; so for example, an 18-pound hopper won’t be able to handle that. Remember, your cooker will eat up more fuel to keep the temperature constant if you reside in a colder climate.
Alternatively, you can buy a hopper extension to add to your pellet smoker. Ensure that you purchase the one that is compatible with the pellet smoker and that you buy from a reliable manufacturer.
Plan how large you want your cooking space to be before you decide the size of your cooker. To determine the size of the cooker, it’s essential to ask yourself a few questions.
What number of people will I cook for? Am I planning to cook large cuts or just or a whole animal?
However, another fact is that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Buying a large pellet cooker may eventually turn to a waste of pellets.
A unique feature of the pellet grill is how the temperature is located around the cooking area. With this, the top and bottom rack have no temperature difference when cooking.
With this in mind, let’s talk about what differentiates the primary cooking area from the total cooking area. The primary cooking area is the main area on the cooking plate. The total cooking area is other areas like the secondary racks.
That means, large cooker with 500 square inches of the primary cooking area might not be as useful as the smaller pellet cooker with a 459 square inches of primary cooking area and secondary rack of 125 square inches. If you can do the math, that’s a total cooking space of about 575 square inches.
What’s important is that you decide on what you need. Don’t be deceived that bugger means better.
Don’t be deceived by the enticing look of some pellet smoker on the outside. Even if you see several stainless sheets of steel at the exterior, chances are the manufacturer has cunningly cut corners, using low-quality materials that may damage from rust.
The most critical component of your pellet grills includes the flame deflector, grates, fire pot, and drip pan. If the marine grade stainless steel is used to build this component, your cooker will last you for long.
If you’re considering a pellet smoker designed with powder-coated steel, ensure you choose a top-quality coating. Because choosing the wrong coating may cause your paint to chip and blister, leaving your cooker to rust and components deteriorate.
Remember, pellet smoker made with excellent materials will perform more effectively.
They will be able to retain heat, ensure more effective pellet consumption, and keep an average temperature even in cold weather.
Some pellet smokers contain averagely high tech components. Some also come with moving parts like the auger. That means some parts of the cooker are susceptible to physical damage which you may find difficult to fix. Ensure that you know the length of the warranty, what the warranty covers, and where you can repair your smoker with the warranty.
Warranties usually vary among manufacturers, so ask questions until you understand everything you need to know.
The price of pellet grills varies greatly. While some costs hundreds of dollars, others are within the thousand dollars range. An important tip- always learn to differentiate good quality and low price.
Cheap cookers usually save more money at first. But what if they start rusting, or materials breaking down within a short time and you have no excellent warranty or incapable customer care? You may have to spend more money, after all.
Also, if you spend heavily to purchase a pellet smoker with all modern features, but ended up not using them, then you have wasted money when you can buy a simple less costly cooker to do the trick.
Before spending money on a pellet grill, ensure that you review what we mentioned above. Know what’s working and ask questions.
With the huge price variation, you need to ascertain what you’re looking for in a pellet smoker. Run through these checklists will keep you on track.
We recommend buying from an established company because their customer service team are usually dedicated. Also, the company may likely be around in many years to come when you may require their service.
Ideally, buying from a smaller company can be beneficial. Firstly, their customer care may approach your inquiries in a reliable and more personal way. And they will be more acquainted with your pellet grill model.
You will never know how efficient the customer service can be unless if you ask them questions and test the waters.
Amount of pellet consumed
Everyone hates a pellet burner that eats up many pellets. Heat is easily lost through the body of a very thin pellet cooker. The thin pellet will require many pellets for temperature maintenance.
On the other hand, thick metal will also consume many pellets. The walls of these thick smokers usually sink the heat. The walls take away heat from the cooking area, storing them in the cooker’s walls. So you’ll need plenty of pellets to help the cooking area attain the right temperature.
While some cookers support thick walls, pellet smokers do not do well with them. Do research on the pounds of pellets your smoker burns within an hour. If it’s up to one pound per hour at an average temperature, then that’s fine.
How To Maintain A Pellet Smoker
Clean before cooking
Everybody doesn’t feel the same with cleaning before cooking. Some even believe that not cleaning allows the old flavor to develop which improve your cooking flavor. That’s a facade: ensure to clean your pellet smoker regularly before using. Doing this will stop any unhealthy flavor from tainting your meal. When it comes to health, you wouldn’t want any leftover flavor entering into your next meal, because it may result in a severe issue.
Before you turn on your pellet smoker, make sure you check the warming racks, internal roofs and walls, and confirm that they are free from build-ups.
You don’t want a full stop pan that, when you want to cook, may result in two things: either messy or even caught fire.
Study the instructional manual
By nature, most people tend to ignore instructional manuals. However, we advise you to study them before cleaning.
Today with plenty of features packed into a smoker, they now have several parts, and some parts should never have any contact with water. Some parts like fans, igniter rod, auger, and digital controller, should avoid contact with water. If you want to clean, genially scrub the dirt or moisture with great caution.
Always clean the thermostat carefully because it is a delicate part of the pellet grill and if damaged, may lead to a false reading.
Check and replace the Gasket
Some parts of pellet smokers usually wear off quicker than others. And one of them is the gasket. Always check these gaskets for splits, cracks, or corrosions. In case you notice any of the following, just quickly fix it or buy a new one. To replace or tend to your gasket, make sure you refer to your instructional manual.
Make sure your smoker doesn’t have a grease chute. Always rinse them out thoroughly and remove the build-ups. Furthermore, make sure you check the auger and hopper to confirm there is no wood pellet stuck inside.
Always check the burner before turning on the smoker
It’s still important to inspect the burners on your pellet smokers. If you notice any problem of leaks, corrosions, or blockages, make sure you fix that before use. That’s because these may result in fire, is refer to your manual for a quick fix.
Maintain the outside
Many cooking enthusiasts take pride in keeping their pellet smoker looking clean from the outside.
To keep your smoker’s exterior looking gleaming, you’ll need dish soap and warm water. Make sure your sponge is soft, not some brush or steel wool. That’s because they may leave irremovable marks on the exterior or even cause damage. To clean stubborn stains, mix a little quantity of elbow grease and vinegar. Also, avoid using kitchen spray or chemicals as they may damage the exterior thoroughly. Use the club soda to remove any form of water spots
Keep the inside clean
The condition of your internals will determine the overall health of the pellet smoker. Always keep your motor, belts, and fans properly tuned and lubricated. Refer to your institutional manual for the best information on your model.
Always practice general cleaning
To avoid issues with flavor, still maintain your pellet grill. We recommend buying a cover to shield the grill, which also helps to increase its life span.
Avoid opening the lid too often
Opening the lid frequently will make the smoke vanish away, which weakens the flavor and also make the temperature fluctuate. Here’s the good news; many updates models already have a built-in probe.
For safety purposes, keep it safe from rain. Always keep the cord safe from water and from getting wet. Check all parts thoroughly before use. Make sure the smoker is in good condition and perfect position.
Certain areas of the pellet grill need to be replaced occasionally. One of them is the gasket. Replacing the gasket helps the smoker achieve maximum functionality.
Furthermore, always store your pellets properly. Avoid keeping them in moisture areas because they become less efficient when they are damp or fail to get hot, or become swollen and functionless.
Selecting the best pellet smoker can be an overwhelming task. To make the best buying decision, consider one of the products we listed on our review. However, we understand that they are not the most affordable options out there (except for a few budget options), but they are durable, versatile, and perform exceptionally. They are worth more than the money you’ll be spending.
We hope this guide has helped you figure out the perfect pellet smoker that suits your needs and budget. And we hope you’ve also learned more about the benefit and downside of using a pellet grill. Have a great smoking experience!