Not all pellet smokers are the same. There are different factors that separate the good ones from the inferior models. Often, it is not just about the price. Factors such as ease of use, size, features, and durability should be considered as well. If you need assistance in finding the best pellet smoker, you came to the right place! Read on and we’ll help you make a well-informed decision!
Here Are the Best Pellet Smokers on the Market for 2018
The table below summarizes the features of our top picks, followed by a more detailed review of each model.
|Product name||Cooking Area||Hopper Capacity||Our rating|
|Camp Chef PG24DLX Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker||570 square inches||18 pounds||5/5|
|Traeger TFB42LZBC Lil Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill and Smoker||418 square inches||18 pounds||5/5|
|Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill||219 square inches||9 pounds||4.5/5|
|REC TEC Grills Bull RT-700 Wood Pellet Grill||702 square inches||40 pounds||4/5|
|Pit Boss Austin XL Pellet Grill||1000 square inches||31 pounds||4/5|
|Z Grills 2018 ZPG-700E Wood Pellet Grill||700 square inches||20 pounds||4.5/5|
|Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill||700 square inches||10 pounds||4.5/5|
Camp Chef PG24DLX Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker
This is one product that is deserving to be called the king of pellet grills because of its advanced features and superior functionality. It features advanced digital control that makes operating the unit a breeze, even if you are a novice. This technology also ensures the consistency of the temperature.
In terms of size, this pellet smoker has a cooking area of 429 square inches. There is also a 144-square-inch rack for preparing and warming.
Care and maintenance of the unit do not require too much effort. One of the reasons for this is the patented ash cleanout. There is also a trap door that helps to contain the grease and ash in a single area.
When using this pellet smoker, guesswork can be eliminated! There is a built-in probe that makes it easy to monitor the temperature of the meat. There is no need to open the lid every now and then. This traps the smoke in the unit and prevents the fluctuation of temperature.
Right out of the box, the assembly of the unit does not require too much on your end. It comes with detailed instructions and almost everything that you will need to make it ready for smoking!
You also need not worry about portability. While it is not exactly lightweight and compact, there should be no problem as it comes with two wheels on the side.
Lastly, this unit delivers powerful performance, basically because of its 25,000 BTU per hour. The temperature, meanwhile, can be set from 160 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Easily monitors the temperature of the meat
- Easy to transport
- Digital controls
- Lid can be thicker
- Temperature sensor can fail
Traeger TFB42LZBC Lil Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill and Smoker
It is believed that around 80 to 85% of the pellet smokers and grills in the United States are made by Traeger, which is exactly the reason why this is one that deserves to be on your list. It has a set and forget feature, making it effortless to use. Even in terms of cleaning, you do not need a lot of effort.
The versatility of this product also makes it notable. It delivers six cooking functions, making it useful beyond smoking. It can also be used for grilling, baking, roasting, braising, and barbequing.
Even if you need to prepare a feast for a large group, there should be no problem. It has a cooking area of 418 square inches, which will be more than enough for four whole chickens, five rib racks, or 16 burgers.
Despite being multifunctional, this pellet smoker is user-friendly. It has an electronic automatic ignition, so there is no more need for a fire starter. The porcelain grill is made of a non-stick material that is easy to clean. Plus, it is made of tough materials to guarantee it extended lifespan.
To adjust the temperature, all that you have to do is to turn the dial and set it at a maximum of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a digital display that makes it easy to monitor the exact temperature of the digital smoker. There is also a convenient setting that allows you to cook slow and low, which is the perfect setting for smoking.
Lastly, it uses 100% pure hardwood pellets, providing an assurance of having that authentic wood-fired flavor!
- Durable construction
- Versatile cooking functions
- Easy cleanout
- No accessories included
- Minimal temperature settings
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill
If you are on the lookout for an advanced pellet smoker and grill, this is one product worth considering. It is Wi-Fi enabled, providing you with novel ways to control its functions. You can configure the smoker through a compatible app. Once connected, you will be able to change the temperature remotely from 150 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. The app will also notify you when the pellets are not fed properly or when there is a significant change in temperature.
This is also perfect if you want a portable and lightweight smoker. The approximate weight is only 69 pounds. The legs can be folded and can double as a handle. Nonetheless, the downside is that the cooking capacity is not as big as the other models mentioned in this post. The cooking surface of this model is only 219 square inches. It also comes with a small rack on the side.
As a high-end smoker, its components are built to deliver superior functionality. For instance, there is an advanced thermal sensor, guaranteeing the right temperature all the time. Meanwhile, the auger system is powered by a high RPM motor for smooth and consistent performance. There is also a stainless steel grease bucket to catch all the drippings and to keep the area free of mess.
- Can be controlled using an app
- Excellent temperature monitoring
- Wide temperature range
- Wi-Fi connection is sometimes problematic
- Minimal grilling capacity
REC TEC Grills Bull RT-700 Wood Pellet Grill
Known as the King of the Mountain, the price of this model can easily set you off. Nonetheless, the cost can be justified by the fact that it has high-end features and unmatched performance. It comes with a cooking chamber that is made of stainless steel, providing you with the confidence that it will be long-lasting. This also makes it resistant to peeling, rusting, and cracking.
Similar to the product from Green Mountain that has been mentioned above, it is also Wi-Fi capable, which revolutionizes the way it is operated. Using the compatible app, you will be able to have full control of the smoker without the need to be near.
The unit also comes with dual meat probes, making it easy to monitor the temperature in the absence of frequently opening and closing the lid. Plus, it has Smart Grill Technology, which allows the precise temperature to be maintained.
The hopper capacity of this model is high, which is 40 pounds. This means that you will be able to enjoy a continuous cooking of up to 40 hours! This is proportionate to the large cooking area of the unit, which is 702 square inches.
There are also several features that will ensure your convenience. For instance, it automatically fires up, eliminating the need for fire starters. It also shuts down on its own. There are also several tool hooks to provide easy access to everything that you will need.
Lastly, the pellet smoker comes with an industry-leading six-year warranty.
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Comes with a premium cover
- Has a digital display
- Unit can be unstable
Pit Boss Austin XL Pellet Grill
If you want an oversized pellet smoker, this model can be an excellent choice. It has more than 1,000 square inches of cooking area, which makes it the largest from the models that are mentioned in this post. Despite this, the price can be considered as mid-range.
The unit comes with full-function LED control, which makes it user-friendly. The temperature can be adjusted from 150 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also a meat probe to easily monitor the temperature of the meat and a digital display. The grill is also multifunctional, making it useful beyond smoking and grilling.
There are several features that will make it almost effortless to use. For instance, there is a flame broiler, which is great for direct flame grilling. The controls are also strategically positioned so that they will be easy to access. There is also a stainless steel side shelf that provides extra space and can be removed when you do not need it. Meanwhile, the hopper has a capacity of 31 pounds, eliminating the need to have it frequently refilled.
Weighing approximately 183 pounds, this is not the lightest pellet smoker you can find. The weight, however, is a proof that it is durable, especially because it is made of heavy-duty stainless steel. Luckily, there are side wheels that will allow you to easily transfer the smoker from one place to another.
- Large cooking area
- Portable design
- Comes with a digital control board
- Durability can be an issue
- Not as popular as other models
Z Grills 2018 ZPG-700E Wood Pellet Grill
If budget is your concern, this is one of the cheapest options you can find on the market. Despite its price, it does not fall short in terms of features. One thing that you will love is how it is used not only for smoking and grilling, but also for braising, roasting, and searing, among other functions.
There are several features that ensure its ease of use. For instance, there is no need to manually light the fire as it comes with an automatic electronic ignition. There is also a LED readout, which makes it easy to monitor the current temperature. Even when it comes to moving it around, things do not have to be difficult as it comes with wheels.
Compared to most of the models that are mentioned in this post, the temperature range is quite limited as you can adjust the heat only from 180 to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
To add, the unit also comes with the revolutionary wood fire technology, which is the one responsible for giving the food a wood fire flavor despite the fact that it runs on propane and gas. Also, with only 20 pounds of pellet, you can cook for already about 20 hours.
For your peace of mind, the manufacturer of this pellet smoker and grill offers a three-year warranty.
- Versatile function
- Comes with free pellets
- Temperature easily prone to fluctuation
- Can have durability issues
Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill
This is more than just a pellet smoker as it can be used for other functions as well, including searing, roasting, baking, and braising, among other functions. You do not have to use gas, charcoal, or propane! It uses pellets that are 100% sourced from American hardwood. It does not contain fillers.
In terms of size, the grill has a total cooking area of 700 square inches, which is large enough to cook up to 32 burgers at a time. The hopper capacity, meanwhile, is 20 pounds. You do not need to replace the pellets very often because of the large capacity.
The pellet smoker is made using heavy-gauge steel parts, which will make it able to withstand the test of time. They won’t be easily prone to rust, peeling, and cracking, among other external damages.
The mechanism by which it works provides an assurance of the best outcomes every time it is used. The fan will force the air into the grill and the arched flame broiler will make its circulation. With the exhaust design, you can be confident that the air will be distributed evenly.
- Solid and durable construction
- Provides natural smoked flavor
- Assembly can be quite tricky
- Can be noisy
What are the Benefits of Using Pellet Smokers?
Here are some of the most compelling reasons to invest in one of the pellet smokers that have been briefly discussed above:
They are easy to use. This is because they have a set and forget function. After setting the desired temperature, you can leave it on its own and come back only when it is done smoking.
Pellet smokers are also known for their versatility. While they are most popularly used for smoking and grilling, you can also use them for other functions, such as for searing, roasting, and baking.
It uses an indirect cooking mechanism. This means that the meat or food is not directly cooked. Rather, it is the heat that surrounds it that carries out the cooking. This results in improved flavor.
Because you will be using wood pellets, you can choose from the different flavors available depending on the pellets that will be used, which include cherry, hickory, apple, maple, and pecan, among others.
How Does a Pellet Smoker Work?
Regardless of the brand or the model of the pellet smoker that will be chosen, they work almost in the same way. One of their common features is the digital controller, which is similar to the controller in ovens. Often, it exists in the form of a knob or dial that you have to turn to select the desired temperature. This will be displayed on the small LED screen. All that you have to do is to set and forget, which makes it user-friendly.
In the case of most models, they come with an auger. This is the mechanism that allows the pellet to be pushed and burned. Once the pellets are ignited, the fan will blow and the process will start.
One thing that is also common in pellet smokers is the indirect delivery of heat, which is the one that is responsible for cooking low and slow.
Underneath the pellet smoker, there is usually a plate that catches the drippings from the surface.
How to Choose the Best Pellet Smoker?
With the abundance of the options that are available on the market, here are some of the factors to consider:
Construction: The build quality of the smoker is an important consideration as it determines its durability. Choose one that is made of long-lasting materials. Stainless steel is a good choice, which can resist rusting and other external damages. High-quality construction will also improve heat retention and overall performance of the pellet smoker.
Portability: A lightweight pellet smoker will also be great because it will be easy for you to transfer it from one place to another. Aside from being lightweight, a wheeled construction will also be nice. See to it that the wheels can be locked to keep it in a stable position when the unit is used.
Temperature Range: A wide temperature range is better for other applications, such as for grilling. When it comes to smoking, on the other hand, this won’t be too much of a concern since a lower temperature is preferred.
Size: If you are a small family and you do not use the smoker a lot, a small model will be enough. Nonetheless, if you are a large household and if you often invite friends over, pick one that comes with a larger cooking area. A warming rack will also be great.
Versatility: For the best value for the money, it is important to look for one that can carry out multiple functions. For instance, aside from smoking, most of the products mentioned in this post can also be used for braising, roasting, and searing, among others.
Ease of Use: One feature that makes it easy to use is a digital control that allows easy monitoring of the temperature. A built-in probe is also nice. More so, cleaning and maintenance should be almost effortless on your end. One thing that will make this possible is the ability to collect ash and grease.
Controller: The type of controller will affect the ease of use of the unit. Most basic units have a three-position controller where you can choose low, medium, or high setting for the heat. With multi-position controllers, on the other hand, you can adjust the temperature based on pre-determined increments. For more precise adjustments, a one-touch non-PFID controller is a good choice as you can adjust the temperature in increments of 5 to 10 degrees.
Wi-Fi Capability: This is a luxurious add-on that you might want to look for in a pellet smoker. This will allow you to control the unit wirelessly through a compatible app, making it possible to adjust the temperature and monitor the functions of the pellet smoker.
Hopper: The hopper is the place where the pellets will be loaded. It will be better if it is large, which means that you won’t have to frequently reload the pellets. Smoking takes a long time, so the hopper must hold a lot of pellets.
Warranty: The standard warranty that most manufacturers offer is one year. However, if you want peace of mind, look for a pellet smoker that comes with at least five years of warranty to enjoy support in case of problems with craftsmanship that are not due to your negligence.
Choosing the Right Type of Pellets for the Smoker
Now that you know how to choose the right smoker, this section will provide some tips on how to find the right pellets.
Pick the Right Flavor: The flavor of the pellets will affect the flavor of the meat that is being smoked. Take note, however, that the flavor of the pellet does not really affect the actual flavor of the food, but it affects the intensity of the flavor or its smokiness. If you are smoking beef, some of the best pellets include mesquite, hickory, and oak. On the other hand, for pork, choose hickory, apple, or cherry. Meanwhile, if you are smoking chicken, some of the best pellets are pecan, apple, and alder. For seafood, alder, mesquite, and oak are great. Lastly, for vegetable, choose apple, cherry, and maple.
Make Sure that it is Food-Grade: Look at the label of the wood pellet grills and see to it that it says food-grade. Avoid pine and spruce as these pellets will negatively impact the food’s flavor.
Go for Hardwood: Pellets are generally grouped into two – hardwood or softwood. The better option would be hardwood pellet. While softwood is capable of generating more heat, hardwood is better since it is more stable and can maintain a consistent temperature. Hardwood is also capable of providing a more authentic or purer smoked taste.
Tips for Using a Pellet Smoker
It is not enough that you choose a top-rated smoker. To be guaranteed the best outcomes, here are some of the most important tips to keep in mind:
Keep the smoker clean. Proper maintenance is necessary to avoid any negative impact on flavor. It will be good to buy a cover to protect the grill, which is also important to extend its lifespan.
Do not open the lid every now and then. This is going to cause the smoke to escape, resulting in a weaker flavor. This can also cause temperature fluctuations. The good thing is that most of the advanced models are already equipped with a built-in probe.
For your safety, keep the pellet smoker out of the rain. Make sure that the cords are not wet or exposed to water. Carefully inspect all parts before it is used. See to it as well that the smoker is in a stable position.
There are certain parts of the pellet smoker that should be replaced periodically. A good example of this is the gasket. Replacing it will help achieve the optimal functionality of the smoker.
As for the pellets, make sure that you store them properly. Keep them away from moisture. If they are damp, they won’t get hot or they won’t be efficient when they burn. They can also end up being swollen and can be useless.
Choosing the best pellet smoker is not an easy task. To avoid regrets, keep an eye on the products that we have mentioned in this post. They may not be the cheapest options available, but with their durable construction, versatile functions, and exceptional performance, they are sure to be worth every dollar that you will be spending.