Many people swear food really tastes better when cooked in a pellet smoker. The wood pellets that power the smoker provides food with an amazing aroma. Smoke will not oversmoke as it will be cooked with an even temperature. There are more reasons why pellet smokers are on the rise these days.
Click to jump straight to each topic:
- 1 All You Need to Know About Pellet Smokers
- 2 What to Consider When Buying a Pellet Smoker?
- 3 How We Picked and Tested
- 4 Best Pellet Smokers on the Market
- 5 The Early Beginnings of Pellet Smokers
- 6 How Pellet Smokers Work
- 7 Top 10 Best Pellet Smoker Reviews
- 8 1. Camp Chef PG24DLX Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ – Best Over Pellet Smoker
- 9 2. REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill – Second Best Alternative
- 10 3. Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill – Best for Beginners
- 11 4. Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill – Best Budget
- 12 5. Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett – Best Portable
- 13 6. REC TEC Grills Bull – Best High-End
- 14 7. Louisiana Grills Country Smoker Pellet Grill
- 15 8. Traeger Junior Elite Pellet Grill – Best Budget Pellet Smoker
- 16 9. Pit Boss 72700S Pellet Grill
- 17 10. Traeger Pro Series 22 Wood Pellet Grill
- 18 Do you need to buy a Best Pellet Smokers Under $500?
- 19 Food Flavors with Pellet Smokers
- 20 Who Should Use Pellet Smokers?
- 21 Choosing the Best Pellet Smoker
- 22 Best Pellet Smoker Brands
- 23 Conclusion
All You Need to Know About Pellet Smokers
Hands up if you love outdoor cooking. Now, keep your hand up if you know the perfect pellet smoker for the ideal grilled or smoked meal. The thing about pellet smokers is there are lots of them on the market, with each promising the best results. Is that always the case, though?
We searched all available brands and tested samples from each. In total, we went through several products that promised to give us the best results and the findings were actually astounding. Oh, we had so much fun testing and trying out the different products that it doesn’t matter that our bikinis don’t fit anymore. We also went through several pellet smoker reviews online to see whether the sentiments shared corresponded with our findings.
So, what features should you look for in a pellet smoker? Which brand is the best and what can you get on a budget? How do you care for yours to ensure that it serves you well for long and to get value for your money? Sit back because this guide will answer all the questions you have.
What is a Pellet Smoker?
Some people say you haven’t lived until you have tasted smoked meat. Well, pellet smokers give you the chance to experience flavorful grilled meals, thanks to their design that uses wood for grilling, baking, and even slow-roast a whole bird.
Pellet grills use hardwood pellets not only as a source of fuel but also as a flavor enhancer. They are quite small in size depending on the one you choose and they are use easy to operate. You only need to be set to it to the desired temperature and leave it to cook your meal. The controls in the smoker make will keep feeding wood pellets to the pot as per the required temperature.
How Do Pellet Smokers Work?
A pellet smoker grill has a hopper where wood pellets are loaded. They are released slowly into the auger as needed so that the auger can push them to the pot underneath for cooking. A hot rod ignites fire, heating up a large plate above it that distributes heat evenly to the food. You will need to keep this pate clean as sometimes some sauce may drip on it. Also, and quite naturally, there will be carbon build-up over time that if not cleaned, could reduce the rate of heat conduction. A drip tray above the firepot prevents grease from dripping and thus prevents flare-ups.
The smoker has a digital control that determines the rate at which wood pellets are fed from the hopper into the auger. The higher the temperature setting, the more wood is dispensed into the auger. The digital controls use an algorithm to determine how many pellets will be required to reach optimal heat – as has been set – and how many pellets will be needed before, they are dispensed into the auger.
Some models use advanced technology to improve the quality and amount of smoke produced to ensure the food cooks on only the highest quality blue smoke. Pellets keep being fed into the auger until the desired temperature is reached and until the food cooks. For this reason, you don’t have to supervise the food as it cooks as long as you have set the desired temperate and you have stoked the hopper. Everything works on its own without your manipulation.
Do they Require Electricity?
While wood pellets are responsible for cooking your food, the digital controls will require electricity to keep them working perfectly. In some models, the smoker has LED display that lets you know when the heat in the smoker is below target so you can add pellets into it. MAK and Memphis, manufacturers of two of the best pellet grills, have designed versatile custom controllers that you can increase or decrease temperature with 5-degree increments at a time.
As with any oven, including the indoor kind, these controllers have thermostat cycles that go up and down depending on the target heat of your food. Because of their hassle-free use, these smokers are favored by busy people. They are the kid you want to use when you have people over and would rather be catching up with them than checking on your food every three minutes.
Pellets are an Excellent Choice
Wood pellets are not only economical, but they are environment-friendly too. They are natural products with no binders, fillers, chemicals, or petroleum products and so they are safe for smoking food. Bruce Bjorkman of MAK says 0.5lbs of pellets burn for an hour when temperature is set at 175°F. The burn-rate will depend on how cold your meat is and also on the temperatures outside. A pound of wood pellets goes for $1 depending on wood flavor and whether you get them on sale. Of course, pellets with fillers will cost about 25% less than natural ones.
Is It a Smoker or a Grill?
Most marketers like to call the pellet smoker a grill in a smoker, but it is simply an indirect heat smoker. It does not sear a steak the same way a charcoal grill does, and so it is best to refer to it as what it is.
Some makers have come up with ingenious ways to turn the pellet smoker into a bit of a grill as well by attaching a gas-fueled sear box to the side the way Camp Chef has. You can also sear your steak by adding a griddle to the smoker and then prepping the meat by smoking it first before placing it on the extremely hot griddle for the perfect sear. It is not as great as a charcoal-grilled steak, but it is a compromise.
Apart from being easy to operate and enhancing the flavor of food, pellet grills are loved for their conservancy. Wood pellets emit lesser amounts of carbon dioxide when compared to traditional fossil fuel. The food also needs no manipulation or supervision as the controls will cook it using the selected temperature settings.
What to Consider When Buying a Pellet Smoker?
There are as many pellet smoker brands out there are pellet smoker reviews and sometimes it can be confusing when you’re trying to get the brand that gives you the best value for your money. So, what should you look for in a smoker?
Cheap could be Expensive
While we all like a good bargain you want to be cautious when a brand is too cheap. It could seem like a good idea at first, but then you would need to replace parts after a few years of use. Pellet smoker grills go for as much as $1,000 but you could get a great one at just half that price. Anything below $350 is of questionable quality.
While pellet grills don’t need to be heavily set, they should not be flimsy at all. Before purchasing, you can tell whether or not construction is sturdy by the way the parts feel. If they are flimsy, then there is a possibility of the product being of poor construction and you don’t want to waste your money on such. The joints should be sturdy too.
The material that makes the smoker matters as much as the paint used. You want steel gauge with a high-temp powder coat paint finishing that can withstand high heat. The diffuser plate and the fire pot have to be made of equally high0-quality material as they are prone to rust.
You want a piece that has no problem hitting the preferred temperature range of foods you may want to cook and so anything in the range of 180°F to 425°F will do. Luckily, most brands hit that range effortlessly but that wouldn’t be enough for sears. If you have some cash to spare, you could get a more expensive brand with an upper range of 500°F- 700°F.
Type of Controller
A pellet grill’s ability to produce the tenderest brisket lays in whether it can keep temperatures as close to 250degrees F as possible for 12 hours, and this is determined by the control board. A 3-Position Controller has three controls – low, medium, and high – correlating to 225°F, 325°F, and 425°F. They feed pellets from the hopper at fixed cycles.
Multi-position controllers go from 180°F to 420°F in 25° increments, but their cycles are also fixed. They have meat probes and an LCD display that tells you the status of temperature. One-Touch Non-PID Controllers have 5° or 10° increments in temperature and they use these estimates to deliver pellets into the auger.
Size/cooking Area and Features
Pellet smokers are available on various sizes, from smaller units for smaller spaces to the custom-made kind that could take in lots of food. Naturally, you want to choose yours based on available space as bigger is not necessarily better.
They also come in different features depending on your budget. Some pellet smokers have meat probes where you just plug one end of your control board and insert meat on the other end then let the smoker do the rest. You can also get one with an attached cooking rack especially for searing meat. The more expensive a smoker, the more features you get.
How We Picked and Tested
Each member of our team has been a victim of poorly reviewed products, which is why we take our reviews seriously, ensuring to give unbiased feedback that will save you money. To get us started, we search relevant online reviews – and they are in their thousands – to help us decide which brands to highlight.
When reviewing customer feedback on pellet smokers, we set aside 1,200 reviews, but later narrowed them down to 800. After this, we selected 60 products which stood out to us and reviewed them further, paying attention to features, size, and even cost as we wanted this review to accommodate all price ranges.
The 60 were from known and unknown brands but we couldn’t review them all since they had similar qualities – and also, the number is just too large. After lengthy deliberations and countless cook-outs, we settled on these five pellet smokers that were are about to review.
Just so you know, we had lots of fun testing these grills. We held parties every weekend and tested out different food items that we braised, roasted, grilled, and baked. We compared our findings to those of other online reviewers so we could bring you this unbiased review, which was quite daunting. We still have mountains of data saved but we only used the information that we found valuable to this review.
What Can you Expect from the Review?
Lots of information on particular brands and features that make the selected products stand out. Our focus is on price, features, ease of use, as well as thoughts based on our findings and other reviews. Enjoy!
Best Pellet Smokers on the Market
Measuring 646 square inches in cooking surface, the Texas Elite is the largest pellet smoker in Traeger’s list. It has an old style digital controller that some may find a little hard to work at first, but it is a treasured classic when you get used to it.
Thanks to its 6-in-1 versatility, this grill allows you to grill, barbeque food, bake, smoke, roast, and braise meats to perfection. Since it is a slow cooker – if you set it so – you could leave your food to cook overnight and wake up to a feast.
It heats up to 450degrees F with increments of 20 degrees. It is made of steel for longevity and the coat of finished off in powerful paint. If this particular one is too big for your liking you can check out its smaller version from the same company – measures 418 sq. inches.
6-in-1 versatility that allows you to make a range of meals.
The cooking surface area is quite large for those making lots of food.
The old-style dial is outdated.
This amazing smoker has limited grilling capabilities, which is why Camp Chef added an attachment to help you sear your meats. The optional Sear Box comes at an extra $50, but reviewers find it quite useful as we did.
The Woodwind has a stainless steel lid and firepot, heavier legs to make it sturdier than other Camp Chef models, as well as a meat probe port located higher in the smoke chamber to make it last longer. Camp Chef intends to make these features a must in all their other models following the reception of the Woodwind in the market.
Thanks to its digital controller, you can set the required temperature and leave your meal to cook. Grill, barbecue, smoke, bake, braise, and roast your foods from as low as 160° F to 500° F.
- Made of heavy steel and finished ideally to withstand heat.
- Up to 570 square inches of cooking surface.
- It is quite pricey.
With up to 513sq. inches of cooking surface, this pellet smoker allows you to Grill, Smoke, Barbeque, Bake, Roast, and Braise your food at whatever temperature you choose. It also has a second cooking rack measuring 187 square inch. Its temperature range is 180ºF to 450ºF which can be increased in variations of 20 degrees at a time. With its 20lb hopper capacity, you can make up to 20 burgers, 6 racks of ribs, or 5 whole chickens at a go.
Apart from the digital controller, this pellet smoker has an internal temperature sensor that lets you know the temperature of the coking food. Thanks to the steel used in its construction, this grill weighs 112lbs, is finished with high-quality paint that will not chip due to heat and also comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- Lifetime guarantee.
- Has a waterproof cover.
- It needs lots of storage space.
This pellet smoker boasts 429 square inch of cooking surface and has an 18lb hopper for feeding pellets into the auger. It is thermostatically controlled to enable you to set your temperatures and leave the food to cook without needing to check on it every few minutes. Braise, roast, grill, bake, and smoke your food in this smoker, but it is not the ideal one for searing.
It comes with a large metal grill that distributes heat evenly in the fire pot while being angled just right for oil and gravy to drip when cooking. The cooking grates and drip plate are quite easy to remove and clean too. Although heat from the firepot is not intense enough to produce the best sear, you get great flavors from the wood pellets.
- It is just the right size for a standard kitchen without occupying too much space.
- The drip plate is easy to remove and clean.
- Its heat is not intense enough for sears.
The Pit Boss 700 smoker is one of the best smokers you will find on the market of its price range. It is all black, steel-made and finished with porcelain coat, and boasts up to 700sq. inches of cooking area, which is larger than most. It has a coated steel rod, a removable cooking rack, and coated wire lower shelves. It conveniently comes with a bracket to lock the electric cord connecting to the hopper.
The Pit Boss 700 has a sear box for searing meats, but unfortunately – and like most smokers – only the meat directly under heat gets the desired sear. However, flavors from smoking are amazing and they make up for the lack of enough heat to sear meat.
- Heats up to 425degrees F and has controllers for temperature check.
- Is large enough to cook a large meal.
- It has a one-year limited warrantee.
- So, there you have it. We hope this review helped you get the best pellet smoker for your budget.
Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to Pellet Smoker
Many people swear food really tastes better when cooked in a pellet smoker. The wood pellets that power the smoker provides food with an amazing aroma. Smoke will not oversmoke as it will be cooked with an even temperature. There are more reasons why pellet smokers are on the rise these days.
A pellet smoker or pellet grill or wood pellet grill is a barbeque, grill and smoker in one. It uses tiny and compressed sawdust pellets to smoke meat.
Pellet smokers are literally a set it and forget it appliance. Using pellet smokers mean you do not have to constantly check on fuel levels and you will never experience temperature fluctuations. This ensures you will have even heat inside the smoker at all times. With pellet smokers you just need to ensure the hopper is full of wood pellets when you start and it will take care of the rest.
Pellet smokers are equipped with a thermostat that monitors the temperature inside the smoker at all times. Just set your desired temperature. When temperature starts to drop, more pellets from the hopper are automatically delivered to fire the smoker and keep the temperature steady.
Pellet smokers are easy to use because they do not need much attention when in operation. Pellet smokers take the guesswork out of smoking a perfect meat. They are perfect for competition pitmasters and user-friendly for the novice chef.
Although pellet smokers are a bit more expensive than other smoking appliances, they are very much worth the extra dollars you will spend on them. All these benefits are reasons pellet smokers are on the rise today.
The Early Beginnings of Pellet Smokers
Pellet smokers are today the hottest products in backyard barbeque. This new star however is not all that new. Pellet smokers have in the market for the past 30 years.
Joe Traeger pioneered the manufacture of pellet smokers as an offshoot to the home heating furnaces fueled by wood pellets he was already selling. After a couple of years, a thermostat was included to make pellet smokers a set it and forget it appliance.
From the introduction of the Traeger Pellet Grills, the very first pellet smoker in the market in the early part of the 1980s, pellet smokers have evolved from being a creative alternative to conventional coal and wood smokers to an all-in-one cooker that can smoke, roast, sear and even bake in some models.
Today, other than Traeger, such manufacturers as Green Mountain Grill, Rec Tec, Louisiana, Pit Boss and Camp Chef to name the more popular brands have been developing top of the line user-friendly and reliable pellet smokers.
How Pellet Smokers Work
Being an all automatic appliance, pellet smokers are easier to operate than charcoal or wood smokers. They are as simple to operate as electric smokers. A pellet smoker generally consists of a motor, auger, firebox, fan, hopper and the grill.
- Load enough fuel on the hopper. The hopper stores the wood pellets before they are delivered to the smoker.
- Most pellet smokers start by just a press of a button.
- The auger is powered by a motor to deliver wood pellets from the hopper to the firebox (combustion chamber) located under the grill. The higher the set temperature, the more wood pellets are supplied to the auger.
- The auger delivers pellets to the hopper and eventually the firebox at a rate based on the set temperature in the smoker’s thermostat control.
- In the firebox, the wood pellets are automatically ignited by a hot rod to create a fire.
- A combustion fan stokes the fire to create convection heat which will cook food evenly in the grill.
- A dip tray located over the firepot keeps direct flame from getting into direct contact with food and catches food drippings.
Most pellet smokers use indirect heat. This allows the cooking of large quantities of meat at low temperatures at long cooking times. Air and heat are well regulated in pellet smokers so you can really cook large quantities of meat at steady temperatures with perfect and predictable results.
Top 10 Best Pellet Smoker Reviews
1. Camp Chef PG24DLX Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ – Best Over Pellet Smoker
The Camp Chef PG24DLX Pellet Smoker features a medium-sized cooking surface (19.5 inches x 22 inches). It comes with an 18-pound hopper mounted on the side with a trap door. Grill grates are made from stainless steel and unit is made from powder coated stainless steel. It comes with a single-layered lid.
This pellet smoker includes a temperature probe and a meat probe. A digital temperature controller provides a steady temperature preventing fluctuations to ensure consistent temperature settings. Temperature ranges from between 1800 F to 5000F.
- Ash catcher is mounted and removable.
- Smoke stack cap is adjustable
- Built-in meat probe included
- Grease Management System to manage grease drippings from food
- Patented Ash Cup Cleanout System for simple and easy ash clean up
- Highly affordable
- Thin and awkward-looking lid that can easily bend or warp.
This set it and forget it pellet smoker is ideal for turkey, beef, pork, chicken and any type of meat. It can also cook vegetables and pizza
2. REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill – Second Best Alternative
The REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill comes with an all solid stainless steel built. It features a temperature control from 1800 F to 500 0F with 50F increments. It also features a “full setting” with an instant 5000F setting.
Heat control and temperature monitoring is at its best with this pellet smoker. It provides precise and accurate temperature control to achieve perfectly cooked meat. Temperature is so accurate you can even bake in this pellet smoker.
This pellet smoker is easy to use because of its set it and forget it feature which makes the smoker do everything on its own guaranteeing worry-free cooking. Its ceramic igniter creates fire in a flash and is guaranteed for trouble-free and long-term use.
- Able to achieve high cooking temperatures
- Large cooking surface capable of holding up to 40 pounds of meat.
- Smart Grill Technology™ temperature gauge not found in most pellet smokers
- Attractive design
- Does not include features for easy cleaning.
- Unpopular design which may not be appealing to many
The REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill is not lacking in cooking options as it can smoke, roast, grill, sear and even bake. The unit comes with a 6-year warranty.
3. Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill – Best for Beginners
Although the Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill is relatively small its 418 sq.in cooking surface can hold 4 pieces of whole chicken, rib racks, 16 burgers and 24 hot dogs at one time. This porcelain coated pellet smoker is a set it and forget it appliance. Simply set the timer and wait for the food to cook.
The Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill features an auto auger feeding mechanism that drops pellets to the combustion chamber as set temperature dips so you do not have to continuously monitor the amount of pellets in the smoker. This smoker also comes with an auto ignition allowing an on/off push button control.
- Set it and forget it style of smoking.
- Easy to use
- Versatile 6-in 1 cooking methods for versatility
- Auto ignition for quick starting
- Grease draining system allows easy cleaning
- Made by Traeger , a company with a solid reputation in pellet smokers
- Small cooking surface.
The Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill comes with an efficient grease management system, is fuel efficient and is easy to clean. This smoker can roast, braise, grill, sear, smoke and bake. It is durable, handy and affordable. Best of all it can cook extremely flavorful and smoky food.
4. Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill – Best Budget
The Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill is similar to the Camp Chef PG24 DLX model except it does not come with a side shelf making it lower in price. If you do not anyway need a side shelf, this pellet smoker is efficient and highly reliable.
This pellet smoker features a digital temperature multi-position controller. It comes with 1600 F to 5000 F temperature range. It comes with a meat probe for easy monitoring of internal meat temperature without having to lift the lid and losing heat inside the smoker.
The Grease Management System and Ash cleanout system allows easy and fast cleanup of food drippings and ashes.
- Digital temperature control
- Perfect Ash cleanout System for easy cleaning
- Wide temperature range of between 160°F- 500°F.
- Chimney top is adjustable
- Includes a meat probe
- Relatively small cooking surface.
- Does not have side shelf
The Chef SmokePro STX pellet grill is perfect for mouthwatering and smoky-flavored food. The digital temperature controller provides cooking precision preventing overcooking and undercooking of meat.
5. Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett – Best Portable
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett is a portable pellet smoker that can be brought anywhere. It is lightweight and comes with foldable legs which double as handles. It features a 219 square inch cooking surface and can accommodate 17 pound of pellets which is great for a portable smoker.
This GMG pellet smoker comes with 3 power option adaptors for 110V or 12V. Of course it also comes with a stainless steel bucket and fat container. It is Wi-Fi enabled so you can monitor and control temperatures inside the smoker and of the inside of the meat from your smartphone, tablet or any Wi-Fi enabled device through an iOS and android app
Temperature ranges from between 1500F to 5000F with 50 F increments. Temperatures selected are consistently maintained by a PID controller for even cooking and preventing overcooking and undercooking.
- Lightweight and portable and comes with foldable legs that double as carry handles.
- PID controller allows the control of high temperatures.
- Comes with temperature and meat probes.
- Small cooking surface
- WiFi app is not too reliable
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett is the best alternative to an electric grill which does not give food the same smoky flavor. It is important for pellet smokers to maintain constant temperature and this GMG pellet smoker does so even during long smoking hours while preventing burning of food due to high temperatures not being efficiently controlled.
6. REC TEC Grills Bull – Best High-End
The REC TEC Grills Bull comes with a stainless steel barrel type body. It features a patented PID controller with a customized touchpad. The controller allows you to set the desired temperature and forget about the cooking process as this pellet smoker will do everything. You can monitor and control temperatures through any WiFi enabled device through the Wi-Pellet Wi-Fi technology and Rec Tec app.
The PID controller of the this REC TEC pellet smoker adjusts the pellet feeding rate depending on the opening or closing of the lid, on the weather and other factors that may affect temperature fluctuations. This pellet smoker comes with two meat probes which communicate with the controller and to the app in your WiFi enabled device.
- All-steel construction
- HotFlash ceramic ignition system for an easy fire.
- Huge cooking surface which means equally huge food capacity.
- Unique REC TEC’s Smart Grill Technology Controller with Wi-Fi control
- Limited mobility because of its big size.
The REC TEC Grills Bull is the most expensive pellet smoker and also the biggest with a 1054 sq. inch cooking surface, a 40 pound hopper and a 200 0F -500 0F temperature range with 50 F increments. It also comes with a Ceramic Ignition System for ease in creating a fire. It comes with a 6-year warranty.
The Louisiana Grills Country Smoker Pellet Grill features a 729 square inch cooking area, 232 square inches of which is in the upper level and 497 square inches in the main level. It features a digital control system and a meat probes with programmable temperatures. Temperature ranges from between 180 0F to 600 0F with 5 0 F increment.
The Louisiana Grills Country Smoker Pellet Grill comes with a heavy duty gauge 14 stainless steel construction. Burn grate is also made of full stainless steel. It is capable of both direct and indirect cooking together with the flame broiler. It can simultaneously cook 45 pieces burger patties.
- Can do both direct and indirect cooking
- Comes with an electronic ignition fan.
- Features the Burn Technology
- Huge cooking space for cooking 45 burgers at one time.
The Louisiana Grills Country Smoker Pellet Grill is a durable pellet smoker as it comes with a high temperature stainless steel powder coated finish. It comes with a dome thermometer which includes a bezel and a sturdy bottom shelf for cooking accessories.
8. Traeger Junior Elite Pellet Grill – Best Budget Pellet Smoker
The Traeger Junior Elite Pellet Grill comes with a digital controller to ensure the right temperatures are reached and maintained. Being the pioneer in pellet smokers, Traeger always comes up with a value for money product and the Traeger Junior Elite is no different.
This Traeger pellet smoker efficiently maintains the temperature inside the smoker to ensure consistent temperature all through the cooking process. This set it and leave it appliance has a cooking surface of 300 square inch good enough for about 18 hot dogs or 12 burgers. This is quite impressive for a small pellet smoker.
- Value for money pellet smoker
- Comes with a convection blower to ensure even cooking
- Stainless steel construction for durability
- Easy to assemble
- Easy to clean
- Beginner smokers may find it difficult to use during the first time.
Its digital thermostat is the best feature of this Traeger Junior Elite Pellet Grill. The thermostat ensures temperatures are reached and maintained to come up with good quality and flavorful food whether you are smoking, grilling, roasting, barbecuing or braising.
The Pit Boss 72700S Pellet Grill comes with a generous 700 square inch cooking surface. This pellet smoker features a stainless steel powder coated finish that can withstand high temperatures.
This set it and forget it pellet smoker has 8 temperature settings ranging from 180 0 F to 500 0 F so you get the right temperature for the food you are cooking.
- Grids are of cast iron coated with porcelain
- Comes with a digital controller to ensure even and consistent temperatures
- Cart comes with caster wheels with a locking system so the smoker always stays in place.
- All stainless steel construction
- Quite heavy
Cooking in the Pit Boss 72700S Pellet Grill is just like cooking in a conventional kitchen oven. It is easy to use and equally easy to clean.
The Traeger Pro Series 22 Wood Pellet Grill comes with a sleek bronze finish lid. It features a 567 square inch of cooking surface and can reach temperatures of up to 400 0 F. The grill comes with a digital pro controller which features the Advanced Grilling Logic. It comes with two meat probes.
The Digital Pro Controller maintains set temperature within +/- 150 F for précised cooking. This pellet smoker is highly versatile as it has a temperature range of between 180 0 F to 4500 F to cook food to perfection.
- Comes with Advanced Grilling Logic to make sure temperatures remain constant and consistent.
- Even heat ensures perfectly cooked food.
- Hardwood pellets falling into the cooking chamber for even heat distribution and smoky and flavorful food.
- Some loyal Traege pellet smoker users say this model comes with thinner walls which makes heat loss noticeable.
The Traeger Pro Series 22 Wood Pellet Grill takes your cooking skills to a higher level. With a strong body, all-terrain wheels and a precise and accurate temperature control, this Traeger pellet smoker can handle even the most difficult smoking challenges.
Do you need to buy a Best Pellet Smokers Under $500?
Every meat aficionado knows that some cuts are just better when they’re smoked.
The natural smokey flavor. The tender juiciness. The rich aromas.
But to smoke your meat well, you need a good smoker. There are many types of equipment based on how they produce smoke. Everyone has their own preference, but today we’re focusing on one popular category: wood pellet smokers.
If you’re new to smoking and/or new to the pellet smoker, here’s what you need to know.
Pellet Smoker Basics
As you might have guessed, a pellet smoker uses wood pellets as its fuel. These pellets are made from compressed sawdust. Unlike charcoal, they don’t have additives and fillers so they leave very little ash behind.
While wood pellets produce great results with little risk of over-smoking, they do have their challenges. You need to find the right temperature balance because pellets produce more smoke at lower temperatures.
One more clarification: You may hear about pellet smokers and pellet grills. These terms are typically used for the same products. However, pellet smokers aren’t great at searing the outside of the meat, so don’t expect the same results as a typical grill.
Best Pellet Smokers Under $500
Pellet smokers come in a range of prices, from less than $100 to $5,000 or more.
If you want to keep a pellet smoker in your budget, this list can be your guide.
1. Buffalo Grills 1602 Wood Pellet Grill
The first pellet smoker on our list is perfect for the beginner. The automatic start and shut-down system makes it easy if you’re busy entertaining.
And with a 434-square inch cooking capacity, you’ll have room for all your guests’ favorites.
2. Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill
Techies and tailgaters alike have fallen in love with the Davy Crockett. It’s lighter than most and has foldable legs, making it portable. But it’s also full of great features.
Green Mountain Grills’ Sense-Mate constantly watches the grill temperature. And for ultimate convenience, this grill is wifi-enabled. With the manufacturer’s app, you can control it with your smartphone.
3. Smoke Hollow PS2415 Pellet Grill and Smoker
Smoke Hollow is one of the most-recognized and best smoker brands around. Of course, they have a pellet smoker that’s earned a spot on this list.
This smoker focuses on giving you a seamless cooking process. The exceptionally large hopper means fewer pellet refills for you to manage. When your meat has reached its perfect temperature, the handy grease-draining system allows for a quick clean-up.
4. Traeger Grills Junior Elite Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Traeger is the company that first developed the pellet heater and later, the pellet smoker. For good reason, you can expect them to be one of the masters of the trade.
Traeger has several smokers on this list, but the Junior Elite is the most affordable. The best feature of this smoker is its versatility. With so many settings and options, you can smoke, bake, roast, grill, barbecue, and braise to your heart’s content.
5. Boss Grills 440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill
If you want to be the talk of the neighborhood, the deluxe look of this smoker will do it. It’s also equipped with a high-end digital control panel and a meat probe.
For the chef who knows how to get that perfect smoke, this smoker gives you the control you want. Plus, with temperature ranging from 180-500 degrees Fahrenheit, you can choose slow-cooking or fast-cooking to your liking.
6. Grills Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Taking a step up from the Junior Elite, Traeger Grills has the ultimate tailgating pellet smoker. The foldable legs and compact size combined with high quality for the best of both worlds.
One of Traeger’s specialties is maintaining a consistent temperature, so you know exactly how long your meat will take to cook.
7. Z GRILLS ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Barbecue Grill And Smoker
We’ve reached the grills near the top of the $500 budget–but trust us, they’re worth it.
This master smoker has a unique look, but that’s not where its advantages end. It has the versatility and predictability every chef wants, with set-and-go temperature controls.
Plus, Z Grills has packed this pellet smoker with perks. It comes with a free cover to keep it in tip-top shape. If you don’t love it, you have a money-back guarantee including a three-year manufacturer warranty.
8. Pit Boss 71820FB Pellet Grill with Flame Broiler
If you’re looking for maximum space for your dollar, this is it. Most of the pellet smokers on this list have around 300-450 square inches of cooking space.
This Pit Boss model, on the other hand, has a whopping 820!
That does, however, meant that this model is heavier than most, at over 141 pounds. This makes it ideal for parties and gatherings at home, with undeniable quality.
9. SMOKIN-IT Smoker Model #2
Smokin-It is known as much for their high-quality smokers as they are for their no-nonsense naming scheme.
This great brand has a reputation for well-built smokers that last for years and years. It’s all about utility. The smoker has a basic and industrial look, but it gets the job done right.
10. Traeger Grills Bronson 20 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Traeger is a frequent flyer on this list, but the Bronson 20 is at a higher level than their two lower-cost models.
This smoker still has the 6-in-1 versatility and the temperature consistency Traeger focuses on. But the Bronson 20 has a larger hopper, deeper cooking area, stable sawhorse-style legs, and all-terrain wheels. These features combine to make it a convenient choice for any home chef.
If you have a landlord or HOA that restricts open flames, this smoker is helpfully compliant.
Getting to Work Without Breaking the Bank
For anyone who wants to take a step outside their typical kitchen routine, a smoker is a way to go.
From ribs to pulled pork and even your Thanksgiving turkey, it’s a versatile and low-maintenance technique. And as you can see from this list, you don’t have to sacrifice quality to stay within your budget.
For more meat smoking tips, recipes, and product reviews, please explore our website. Happy smoking!
Food Flavors with Pellet Smokers
Wood pellets are not expensive. The cost per cook is almost the same as that of propane gas. Wood pellets create lesser ash than charcoal.
Food cooked in pellet smokers always come out juicy, moist and one of the greatest tasting food ever without having to exert so much effort. Cooking in pellet smokers will give you the most desirable wood-fired flavor.
The flavors derived out of cooking in pellet smokers depend on the type of wood pellet you use in smoking. There is a pellet flavor to match a particular food.
- Apple Pellets. Sweet, mild and smoky flavor. Ideal for pork and poultry.
- Alder Pellets. Neutral and mild with some sweetness. Ideal for chicken and fish.
- Hickory Pellets. Rich, bacon-liked flavor and smoky flavor. This is the most popularly used wood pellet.
- Cherry Pellets. Slightly sweet.
- Mesquite Pellets. Spicy, tangy and string. Gives of a very strong smoke flavor.
- Maple Pellets. Mild with a little sweetness. Ideal for turkey and pork.
- Pecan Pellets. A bit spicy and nutty. Ideal for chicken and beef.
- Oak Pellets. Milder than hickory and stronger than apple or cheery. Ideal for vegetables and fish.
The flavor that gets to the food from the pellets is based on the strength of smoke achieved from burning the wood pellets and not from the flavor itself of the wood pellets. Mild pellet flavors are great for delicate foods and strong pellet flavors are for healthy foods.
No matter what type of wood pellets you use, they will always produce a powerful smoky flavor.
Fuel Consumption with Pellet Smokers
At a temperature of 225°F about 1 ½ to 2 ½ pounds of pellet can burn in an hour. Some pellets supply more overall burning times than the rest. A pound of hardwood pellets burn longer a pound of fruit wood pellets. Some pellets come as blends or mixes.
Advantages of Using Pellet Smokers
- Pellet smokers deliver a more natural and better smoky flavor than electric smokers.
- Pellet smokers are easier to use than other types of smoker. This is so because they can be controlled just as you would a kitchen oven. Simply set the temperature, create a fire, throw in the meat and leave it to do the cooking.
- It is easy to change fuels with pellet smokers. Switching from one smoky flavor to another is a breeze. There also are a lot of different types of pellets to choose from.
- Pellets smokers are versatile. They can smoke, roast, grill and barbeque.
Disadvantages of Using Pellet Smokers
- Pellet smokers cost more than other types of smokers. The benefits you get from pellet smokers however make the extra dollars you spend worth it.
- Just like any smoker that uses solid fuel, pellet smokers can be difficult to clean. High-end pellet smokers however come with built-in cleaning systems to make cleaning easier.
Who Should Use Pellet Smokers?
Anyone who adores the taste of smoked meat should use a pellet smoker. People who like a hassle-free and enjoyable smoking experience will benefit a lot from this type of smoker. It is not only easy to use it is environment-friendly as well:
- Auto feeding of fuel
- Automatic ignition
- Consistent temperature
The automatic features of a pellet smoker make it easy to use and an ideal choice for all types of smoking enthusiasts
- Beginner Smokers. Pellet smokers are easy to use making them ideal for beginner smokers. The set it and forget it feature gives the novice smoker the confidence of being able to come up with perfectly smoked food.
- Competitive Smokers. Pellet smokers are best to use for competitions. Electric and gas smokers are not allowed to be used in competitions because of its automation features. Although pellet smokers come with an electronic start and temperature control features, they are allowed to be used in competitions.
- A professional smoker can churn up a most delectable dish from ordinary pork with any flavor of choice. The accuracy of the temperature control will be a big help to the professional.
- Techy Smokers. Many pellet smokers are equipped with hi-tech features, the most notable of which is the WiFi functionality. This feature allows you to monitor and control everything going on inside your smoker through your smartphone from wherever you are.
Features of Pellet Smokers
Pellet smokers can easily be brought to camping trips so campers can smoke any of their wild catches on the spot. Most pellet smokers are lightweight and can easily fit in any vehicle.
If contributing to saving the environment is one of your advocacy, burning pellets is extremely environment-friendly.
Pellet smokers are ideal to all sorts of smoker enthusiasts regardless of level of knowledge in smoking and how the smoker is going to be used.
Pellet Smokers vs. Electric Smokers
Electric smokers are convenient and easy to use. They are also able to cook superb quality food. A discerning chef would however always opt for a pellet smoker over an electric smoker.
Pellet smokers produce better flavors. Favors produced by pellet smokers are more subtle and better quality than that produced by electric smokers. This is so because wood chips used in pellet smokers are specially made for use with authentic and open flame instead of with a heating element.
Pellet smokers are versatile in the sense that aside from smoking, they can often be able to roast, barbeque, sear, grill and sometimes even bake. Electric smokers function only to smoke food.
Pellet Smokers vs. Wood Smokers
For starters, pellet smokers are more convenient to use than wood smokers. It is more difficult to get started in a wood smoker not to mention that you will have to constantly check on them.
The major disadvantage of wood smokers is that it is difficult to maintain a consistent temperature. If you load the wrong fuel, you will end up with an overcooked, undercooked or half overcooked and half undercooked food.
Pellet smokers are automatic smokers. They are a set it and forget it appliance that will always churn up perfectly cooked food.
Choosing the Best Pellet Smoker
Pellet smokers are known to produce rich tasting and flavorful food. Pellet smokers are also known to be extremely convenient and easy to use. There are a lot of brands and models of pellet smokers in the market with a wide range of features.
Convenience, better control, durable, long lasting and of course a great food flavor are just some of things you need to look for in the best pellet smoker. Here are most of the factors you need to consider before choosing the best pellet smoker for the best backyard smoking experience.
1. Pellet Delivery
Wood pellets are stored in the hopper. From the hopper pellets fall into the auger tube then goes into the combustion chamber. The temperature inside the pellet smoker as shown in the digital controller lets the auger know how much wood pellet to feed the combustion chamber.
More pellets fed to the combustion chamber will create less smoke and higher heat. Fewer pellets fed to the combustion chamber will create more smoke and lower heat. Given these conditions, the pellet delivery system should have these features:
- The tip of the auger tube should have enough clearance from the fire box so fire will not hit the hopper where unused wood pellets are stored.
- The tube and auger should be of the right size to prevent jamming.
- The hopper should be large enough to hold needed wood pellets.
- The hopper should be protected so it will remain always dry regardless of the weather.
- It should be easy to load wood pellets to the hopper. The hopper should be easy to clean, too.
2. Type of Controller
The control mechanism of a pellet smoker is responsible for churning up the best tasting food with precision. Look for a pellet smoker with a digital controller. The digital controller of the pellet smoker you choose should be reliable and accurate because the digital controller dictates the entire operations of the pellet smoke.
Digital controllers could either be One-touch, 3-position controllers, PID (proportional–integral–derivative) multi position and Non-PID. PID controllers take note of the goings on inside the smoker and maintain the temperature to within 50 of your set temperature. With PID controllers it is as if you have an auto pilot cooking your food.
Some digital controllers come with WiFi features so you can control the pellet smoker from your smartphone from anywhere. It is also best to choose a pellet smoker with a temperature probe (monitoring temperature inside the pellet smoker) and a food probe (for monitoring internal temperature of the meat). There are pellet smokers with temperature controls that can accommodate up to three probes, one for the smoker and two meat probes.
3. Combustion System
The combustion system of a pellet smoker consists of the igniter and the fire box. The igniter rod is similar to a car lighter. The tip of the igniter rod is initially red hot and shuts of the heat is sensed by the controller. The fire box is a can with ventilation holes.
Look for pellet smokers made from thick metal or stainless steel. Make sure too that the igniter are easy to replace when they burn out.
4. Temperature Range
Before shopping for a pellet smoker have an idea of what kind of food you want to cook. Most pellet smokers have temperature ranges between 1800 F and 4250 F which is ideal for smoking, roasting, grilling and baking. If you intend to sear in your pellet smoker choose one that can reach a temperature of 5000F to 5500F.
Pellet smokers need to have an accurate temperature to ensure that you are always cooking at the right temperatures.
5. Cooking Surface
The sizes of pellet smokers range from the really big ones for commercial use to the portable ones for tailgating. Choose the size that is right for how you intend to use your smoker. Whether you smoke meat just for your family or you are fond of entertaining guests there is a pellet smoker size that is right for you.
6. Design and Construction
Pellet smokers with an all stainless steel construction are almost corrosion-free. Most manufacturers use powder-coated or painted stainless steel. Some pellet smokers have enamel-like coatings. For longevity, stainless steel fire boxes and grill grates are the best option. Grill grates made from iron coated with porcelain is a good second choice.
If you want a pellet smoker that comes with a lot of extra features, might as well look out for these:
- Meat probes that can be programmed
- Controllers with meat probes
- Options for direct grilling
- WiFi capabilities
- Auxiliary cooking racks
The most important features you need to look out for are an automatic auger control and electric start-up. These features will make the pellet smoker a lot easier to use.
8. Ease in Cleaning
Appliance cleaning is always a hassle. To make cleaning easier look for these features in the pellet smoker:
- Easy to access grease and ash pans
- Easy to access hopper
- Removable or easy to access fire box
Although the product guarantee will not make or break a product it always feels good to know how confident the manufacturer is of the product. Most pellet smokers come with a 10-year guarantee.
Price is always a main consideration in everything you buy. Everyone likes to save money without realizing that a cheap and low quality pellet smoker will end up being more expensive in the long run. Choose one that is a cross between good quality and affordability.
Best Pellet Smoker Brands
Traeger is the pioneer manufacturer of pellet smokers. In 1984 Joe Traeger’s gas grill caught fire while he was cooking burning the all the chicken he was cooking. After this incident he decided to manufacture the Traeger Wood Pellet Grill with the same wood pellet technology his family has been using for their furnaces and stoves.
Green Mountain Grills
Green Mountain Grills was founded in 2006 and is based in Reno, NV. GMG was created out of the love for grilling and smoking of its founders. They thought the pellet smoker they owned needed a lot of improvements so they decided to make their own.
Green Mountain was the first to manufacture pellet smokers when the patent of Traeger expired. They are one of the more accomplished brands and are the biggest competitor of Traeger.
Rec Tec hit the pellet smoker market to offer something different. While Rec Tec pellet smokers do not offer anything new they are known for their great marketing campaigns and extra-ordinary customer service.
Rec Tec pellet smokers are king in the low cost category with their attractive design and solid construction.
Louisiana Grills together with Green Mountain is one of the earlier brands of pellet smokers after Traeger. Established in 2006, Louisiana Grills made their mark in the market by producing affordable pellet smokers with advanced and desired features.
Pit Boss Grills
Pit Boss Grills pride themselves in being able to keep intact the natural flavors of food. These smokers come with a solid construction giving it superior strength.
Camp Chef Grills allows you to churn up food with professional flavors of wood fire. These smokers pride themselves with the unique Ash Cleanout system and Smart Smoke Technology.
The pellet smokers mentioned above are able to produce delectable meats with the smoky flavor you desire.
The best pellet smoker in the list however is the Camp Chef PG24DLX Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ. It is made from powder coated stainless steel, making it is rust free and durable. The model also comes with a single layer solid lid. It comes with the Grease Management System to manage grease drippings from food and the Patented Ash Cup Cleanout System for simple and easy ash clean up making this pellet smoker not only highly efficient but user-friendly as well.
If you want to enjoy meat with the distinct smoky flavor make sure to cook in one of these Top 10 Best Pellet Smokers.