Best Pellet Smokers in 2021
Updated 02-03-2021 – Dan Alvazrez
Pellet Smokers or Pellet Grills are a combination of a smoker and a grill. They are powered using wooden pellets which are small compressed hardwood sawdust. These small pellets are easily ignited and not only help to cook but also infuse exceptional flavors in any food you cook over it.
So if you are looking for the best pellet smoker that you can buy for domestic or commercial use, then keep on reading.
Why Do You Need a Pellet Smoker?
If you are someone who loves barbecues and outdoor parties, then buying a Pellet Smoker will be the best decision you ever made.
Pellet grills give you better temperature control than regular smokers. Depending upon the model of the grill, the unit can adjust temperature anywhere between 180 degrees till 500 degrees.
Things to Consider When Buying a Pellet Smoker
Every model of pellet smoker comes with its own set of features which makes it unique. So, choosing one that fulfills all your needs can be a tedious task.
That is why we have created the following list. This list contains some of the features that most users have claimed helped them navigate through the sea of products and find the one that they found satisfactory.
Features to look out for:
- Construction: You want a pellet grill that can stand different weather conditions and accidental impacts.
- Durability: Choose a unit that has a powder coating over its entire exterior. This will make it weather-resistant and rust/corrosion-proof.
- Hopper Capacity: It will determine how many pellets you need and how long your grill will function.
- Total Cooking Surface Area: This will help to decide the number of items you can cook simultaneously.
- Warming Rack: This will be useful especially if you are planning on using a pellet smoker for a barbecue party or commercial purposes.
- Pellet Delivery: Another important point to keep in mind is how far the auger tube is from the combustion chamber. The more pellets in the chamber the more temperature will increase and this can cause a fire hazard.
- Wide Sized Auger: So that the pellets will not jam into the tube and can pass smoothly.
- Protective Cover: These will keep your grill protected from water, sun, dust, and other types of external damages.
- Temperature Range: Most units have a temperature range from 180 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This range is ideal if you want a smoker for only smoking, grilling, and baking. Although you can get units that can increase the temperature up until 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Internal lighting: Though this is not a necessity, it is useful especially if you are grilling or smoking during the evening or night.
- Wi-Fi Connectivity: Many grills, as you will find in the reviews below, are Wi-Fi compatibility. This helps you to control the device from a considerable distance.
- Portability: This feature will be useful especially if you are thinking of moving between places with your smoker. Look for units that have foldable structure or have wheels.
1 Camp Chef’s Woodwind WIFi 24 Pellet Smoker
Camp Chef’s Woodwind Pellet Smother is equipped with top-notch innovative Wi-Fi and PID enabled controller so that you can easily connect and control the smoker without getting up from your seat. All you have to do is download the Camp Chef’s official application.
With this feature, you will be able to set timers, change the temperature, and receive various updates via notifications about your food on the grill. On the other hand, the PID controller makes it easier to regulate the temperature and helps to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the grilling time.
Camp Chef possesses a patented ash cleanout which tides things up within seconds. All you have to do is pull the lever once which will make the entire ash drop in a small cup present underneath the smoker. Then, all you have to do is unwind the cup and throw the ash away. It’s that easy!
It has a vibrant color screen which makes it easy to set the temperature and keep an eye on the settings while the food is cooking. It comes with two racks; the upper rack has an area of 82 square inches whereas the lower rack has an area of 19.5 x 22 inches. Overall, the total surface area of the rack is 800 square inches.
2 Z GRILLS’ ZPG-450A 8 in 1 Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
Whether you want to grill, char-grill, sear, braise, roast, smoke, bake, or bbq, the 8-in-1 Z GRILLS’ ZPG-450A does it all. The pellet smoker comes fully loaded with an enormous 20 pounds hopper, a compartment big enough to store all of your essentials, and a stainless steel cover to keep the food protected and warm.
The total grilling surface area is 450 square inches. The pellet smoker also has an advanced technology that makes it easier to infuse the wood fire flavor in any fruit, vegetable, or protein that you place on it. With 20 pounds of pellets, you can cook as long as 20 hours. All the grease and leaks from the food are trapped on a drip tray.
It possesses a simple and visible digital display on the side that lets you keep an eye on the current temperature of the grill. You can set the temperature within the range of 180 to 450 degrees. With its PID technology, you can keep the temperature flowing consistently throughout.
Furthermore, it has an electronic automatic start ignition that makes it convenient to be used by everyone; whether you are a professional or an amateur.
3 TRAEGER’s PRO 575 Black Pellet Grill
TRAEGER’s PRO 575 Black Pellet Grill uses the improved WiFIRE technology to give efficient and convenient controls of the unit. The technology helps you to monitor, manage, and adjust the temperature settings of the grill at any time and from anywhere via their official mobile-based application.
It also possesses the D2 Drive-train which acts as the main catalyst for providing you the perfectly seared Ribeye steak. It increases the durability, reliability, and performance of the grill and makes sure that it provides you the best type of smoke quality possible.
The controller is easy to use and helps to adjust the temperature of the pellet smoker throughout its operation. The unit also comes with an integrated meat probe which can be used to check the internal temperature of the food. The best thing is that you do not even have to lift the lid to check the temperature!
The smoker consists of two racks; one rack has an area of 154 square inches whereas the second one has an area of 418 square inches. Overall, the total cooking capacity is 572 square inches. Furthermore, the hopper can store as much as 18 pounds of pellets at once.
The most impressive feature is the porcelain covered grill grates which prevent food from sticking to the surface. Also, it makes cooking as well as cleaning a lot easier.
4 Camp Chef’s SmokePro LUX 36 Bronze Pellet Grill
Best for Commercial Use
Camp Chef’s SmokePro LUX 36 Bronze Pellet Grill is a large grill with a cooking capacity of 875 square inches so it is ideal if you are thinking of hosting an outdoor party. It consists of various features like a digital temperature display, user-friendly control panel, meat probe, and a warming rack that makes the unit worth every penny you spend on it.
The pellet grill is made from high-quality stainless steel to ensure its longevity. To keep the unit stable on all types of surfaces, the unit has wider legs than many of its previous models. Moreover, it features Smart Smoke Technology that increases the amount of smoke inside the grill and ensures that your protein has the most exceptional smoke flavor ever.
With its exceptional Ash Cleanout System, cleaning up and tidying up the grill is extremely easy. Just remove the cup from the bottom and dump the residuals into the trash can. The grease management system further shortens the time you spend cleaning the unit after use.
The pellet grill has an electronic auto-start ignition and an LED that displays the internal cooking and food temperature. You can set the temperature of the grill anywhere from 160 degrees Fahrenheit to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. So, you can slow smoke your food as well as grill it.
5 Z GRILLS’ 700D Wood Pellet Grill
Constructed from top-quality steel, the Z GRILLS’ 700D Wood Pellet Grill can be used to smoke, grill, sear, barbecue, braise, char-grill, and bake any type of food. You can even bake a cake or brownies in this too! The possibilities are endless.
The steel is coated with a thin power coat which ensures that the unit can stand the daily bumps and scuffs along the way. It also includes an all-weather cover so that you can keep the unit protected from dust, water, and other determinants conveniently.
The grill is a low-maintenance grill. Just insert the desired temperature and relax. The auger system will automatically adjust the rate of pellet feed and will give the ideal smoke to cook up your food.
The unit only has a single cooking rack and an upper rack used for warming food. However, if you require additional space, you can cook more food on the warming rack. On the whole, the cooking surface area is 694 square inches. This is enough to grill almost 3 burgers simultaneously.
The unit gives you accurate control of the temperature and also has porcelain-coated grids so that you can get the perfect cook on your food without it sticking to the surface.
6 Cuisinart’s CPG-4000 Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
Best Budget Option
With an ability to cook food in six different ways, Cuisinart’s CPG-4000 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is one of the best low budget options available in the market. It consists of two-tiered cooking grates and a folding shelf so you can grill a lot of food at once and have a place to keep your tools, and ingredients within hand’s reach.
The appliance offers you a small grease bucket holder that hangs on the side. The grill has a built-in spigot that continuously drains grease and other liquids from inside the unit to a small cup which makes the cleaning process a lot easier. Unfortunately, you will have to buy the cup separately.
With its two wheels and a comfortable handle, you can move this unit anywhere you want. So, if you are looking for a small yet adequately sized pellet smoker, then what are you waiting for?
Also, the unit features an exclusive fuel system. The pellet grill analyses the hopper capacity and evaluates the fuel it needs to function. Besides this, it offers accurate temperature control. It adorns a thermostat that displays the temperature on an LED screen and maintains it as well.
Furthermore, the thermostat can also automatically add the pellets to the fire if need be. Lastly, it comes with a weather-resistant grill which will protect the unit from UV rays, water, and dust.
7 Camp Chef’s SmokePro SG 24 WIFI Black Pellet Grill
If you are looking for a Pellet grill that will make you forget your oven then Camp Chef’s SmokePro SG 24 WIFI Black Pellet Grill is the one. It offers a total cooking area of 811 square inches which is divided into two racks. The upper rack has a surface area of 382 square inches and the lower rack has a surface area of 429 square inches.
With Wi-Fi-connectivity, smoke control, and PID technology, using and maintaining this grill is extremely easy. Moreover, with their exclusive patented ash cleanout system, tidying up the unit is also just as smooth.
By downloading Cam Chef’s official application, you will be able to check and control the device from anywhere and at any time. There is a full-color LED screen on the front of the grill that displays the current temperature of the food inside the grill and helps you to adjust the temperature anywhere between 160 degrees Fahrenheit and 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The best thing is that the unit can easily be expanded. The chamber height can be increased. Furthermore, it also accommodates side attachments (sear box or sidekick).
8 Green Mountain’s Wood Pellet Tailgating Grill
Green Mountain’s Wood Pellet Tailgating Grill is the model that you need to opt for especially if you are thinking of bringing a pellet smoker with you on an outdoor adventure. It adorns a Sense-Mate which is a thermal sensor that continuously tracks the temperature of the grill.
Weighing only about 68 pounds and having a foldable structure, the unit can fit in any type of truck for travel. The legs are specifically engineered so that when it folds, it turns into an easy-to-use carry handle.
Although, you will need an electric supply to use the smoker. But do not worry! The company gives you three different power options; you can use your car battery or a car cigarette lighter or even a generator! It runs 110 or 12 Voltage with adapters.
The unit also has a digitized controller that you can easily control using a reliable Wi-Fi connection and your smartphone. All you have to do is download the mobile-based application from either Andriod’s play store or the iOS app store.
The meat probe correctly measures the internal temperature of the food you have placed on the grill. The peaked lid is ideal for stand-up rib racks, chicken, or large fowl. The grill also accommodates a convenience tray that has small hooks that can be used to hang the various utensils.
9 REC TEC Grills’s RT-700 Wood Pellet Grill
Made from full stainless steel, the REC TEC Grill’s RT-700 Wood Pellet Grill is perfect if you are looking for a robust built and durable unit that you can use for longer periods. The hopper capacity is around 40 pounds which means that you can cook for 40 or more hours continuously without any stop.
It features a HotFlash ceramic ignition system which further enhances the durability of the product. The best thing is that it has a modular design which allows you to easily replace its different components whenever it is needed. So, it will stay around all your life.
The PID-styled control works efficiently to keep the temperature within the range throughout the cooking time. So you can use the appliance not only for making food via smoking, searing, grilling, but you can also preserve food through the dehydration process.
The Wi-Fi compatible remote controller makes monitoring the device extremely easy. So, if you are looking for a pellet smoker for outdoor cooking or a business, then this is the one.
The LO function helps to create the maximum amount of smoke whereas the FULL setting can increase the temperature above 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degree Celsius). Furthermore, the unit has auto-shutdown which makes using the unit even handier.
Some other notable features it includes are two meat probes, a hopper lid made from stainless steel which can be used as a warmer, an interior light, and tool hooks.
10 PIT BOSS’ 700FB Wood Pellet Grill
Best Large Budget Alternative
PITT BOSS’ 700Fb Wood Pellet Grill lets you smoke, grill, roast, braise, bake, char-grill, sear, and barbecue any piece of food. It also uses the Flame Broiler Lever that lets you set the temperature range anywhere between 180 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Furthermore, the broiler lever is adjustable; you can use choose whether you want to cook your food or direct heat or indirect. On the other hand, you can also sear any food up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit in an open flame.
The digital control helps you to monitor the temperature even when the lid is closed. This is useful because opening the lid might let out the smoke and this will cook your meat unevenly. The unit also features a dome thermometer that gives precise readings at all times. The control board has a vibrant LED so that everyone can see the data irrespective of the light conditions.
The hopper capacity is around 21 pounds which is sufficient enough for an entire day of cooking. The entire structure has a high-temperature powder coat finish which ensures that it can survive for longer hours without any problem.
The cooking grate is made from steel and coated in porcelain. It has reinforced legs that stabilized it. At the end of the legs, two metal wheels smoothly transition the unit from one place to another.
The total cooking surface area is 700 square inches so you will have a lot of space to smoke/grill different types of foods. The burger capacity is 32.
11 Weber’s 23510001 Wood Fired Pellet Grill
Best Mid-Sized Option
Weber’s 23510001 Woof Fired Pellet grill gives you a temperature range between 200 to 600 degree Fahrenheit to grill smoke, or sear any type of protein, vegetable, or fruit to perfection. The porcelain-enamel finish keeps the unit from cracking and rusting.
It offers dual grilling space which has a total surface area of 1008 square. So, if you are looking for a pellet smoker to help your business, then this one fits right in that category. Besides, it possesses an SC powered engine that is designed to minimize as many auger jams as possible. So, you will be able to easily manage the device without any problems.
When you smoke or grill any protein, it is going to release its juices. In the case of meat, you will have droplets of grease all over your pellet smoker. So, to ensure this does not happen, the unit possesses an ash and grease drawer. You can easily remove this tray and dump the residue in the trashcan.
If any stubborn ash pieces got stuck to the surface, you can use the plastic scraper it comes with. However, you might still have to manually disassemble and vacuum the entire for routine clean-up.
The flavored bars of the grill is specifically designed to give you consistent and even heat all along the surface of the grill. Moreover, the unit has a hopper capacity of 20 pounds.
Lastly, the unit has a weather-resistant LCD that shows you all of the important data; like the temperature, time, and controller output on a visible screen.
12 PIT BOSS’ SPORTSMAN 820 Wood Pellet Grill
Most Convenient and Easy To Use
Allowing you to cook your food in eight different ways, the PIT BOSS’ Sportsman 820 Wood Pellet Grill is perfect for home as well as business. It uses a Flame Broiler Lever that lets you adjust the type of heat you want in the grill. The adjustable temperature range is 180-500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The control board is completely digitized and so, it makes it easier to monitor and control different functions of the unit. Moreover, the control board works in collaboration with the meat probes so you will not only be able to keep a check on the external temperature of the meat but also the internal.
The controller also lets you check in on the fuel level without opening the lid. It has a hopper capacity of 21 pounds and a total cooking surface area of 849 square inches.
Some other admirable features are a hopper viewing window, a bottle opener, and an in-built spice rack. So, you do not even have to step away from the unit while cooking. You have a place to keep every utensil and every spice on the station! Also, it features a removable tray side self and a foldable front shelf.
To ensure that the pellet smoker will last for years, the entire structure is coated with a high-temperature powder.
Buyers Guide for Pellet Smokers
Direct Heat Vs Indirect Heat
Pellet smokers let you cook a variety of food. However, each type of food requires a different temperature and cooks for different durations. Typically, there are two main ways to cook any type of vegetable, protein, or fruit inside a grill; via direct heat or indirect heat.
Direct heat is usually used for grilling food by placing it directly over the heat source; such as burners or charcoal. Usually, the food is cooked at high heat and the lid is usually off.
Direct heat can be used to cook burgers, kebabs, hot dogs, seafood, steaks, and vegetables. It gives a crispy golden-brown exterior and juicy interior.
Indirect food is used to cook any food that takes more than 20 minutes. This type of grilling method creates two heat zones within the unit; one that is directly above the heat source and an adjacent zone with no direct access to the source.
The lid is usually closed so that the food can cook more evenly from all sides. This method is especially used if you want to smoke your food and infuse it with a rich flavor.
You can cook meat, chicken, roasts, cedar plan fish, pork shoulder, and briskets.
Working Mechanism of Pellet Smokers
Pellet grills are easy and simple to operate. Before talking about the mechanism step-wise, let’s talk about the different components of the pellet smoker and how they work.
- Pellets: They are small bullets that are made from compressing sawdust or wood shavings
- Hopper: This is the place where you dump the pellets
- Auger: It is in a shape of a long screw that rotates slowly and delivers the wood pellets to the burn pot. The speed of the auger depends entirely on the thermostat settings
- Burn Pot: As the name suggests, it is where the pellets drop and are ignited to produce smoke and heat
- Control Board: Most units have a digitized one and they monitor the fuel and oxygen supply to the burn pot
- Heat Rod: It helps to set fire to the pellets
- Combustion Fan: It tries to keep the pellets burning after they have been ignited
Following is the basic operations that each pellet smoker goes through to infuse the best smoke flavor in any food you are putting on the grates:
- A motor turns the auger
- The auger then transports the pellets into the firebox/burn pot
- The controller keeps the temperature levels in check
- A heated rod lights up the pellets
- The pellets stay alight due to the combustion fan
- The smoke and heat from the pellets rise to the grill and spreads evenly.
- The auger motor and the fan help to keep the temperature within the set limits.
Different Types of Temperature Controllers
In the above reviews, you might have noticed that some had PID controllers while others did not. So, in this section, we will discuss the four major types of temperature controllers you will find in pellet smokers or grills and what advantages each has.
A Proportional-Integral-Derivative controller, or PID controller, constantly keeps an eye on the internal temperature of the grill and weighs it against the set temperature. Then it makes regular adjustments to the auger as well as the fan speed to keep the temperature 5 degrees within the set temperature.
These types of controllers help you to change and manage the temperature of the grill within defined temperature intervals (Example: 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit intervals). They also come with meat probes, a one-touch button, and a vibrant LED.
These features, as the name suggests, three different heat settings; low, medium, and high. The intervals are fixed and you cannot change them. Hence, they give you less control over the temperature settings. The models that possess 3-position controls are usually low-priced.
These allow you to change the temperature settings in much smaller increments than the 3-position controllers. The pellets are supplied to the firepot in fixed cycles which means that you still do not have a lot of control over the unit. Moreover, some professionals suggest that it does not give accuracy; they are accurate with a variance of +/- 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Fix a Jammed Auger
One of the most common issues that almost all of the users face is a jammed auger. This happens when the auger stops spinning and it is not feeding the wood pellets to the burn/firepot. Moreover, at least once during the entirety of your pellet smoker experience, you might have come across a jammed auger and had to struggle to fix it.
So, in this section, we will talk about this problem and how to fix this. Although, keep in mind that different models have different modular designs and so, the method to fix a jammed auger might be slightly different than the one we will discuss below.
Below, we will talk about how to fix a jammed auger in Taeger’s Pellet Smoker. Some of the tools you will need for this process are a 7/64 Allen key, a Phillips head screwdriver, a flat head screwdriver, pliers, a pipe wrench, and a hammer (or any tool with a flat edge).
Steps to fix a jammed auger:
- Disconnect the pellet smoker from the power before beginning
- Remove the screws from the control board
- Dismount the controller
- Put the controller through the mounting hole into the hopper
- Remove the screws from the grill to dismount the hopper from the main body
- You can either take the hopper burner out or you can just work without pulling it out. However, the former is an easier technique
- Use an Allen key to remove the shear pin between the auger motor and the auger shaft
- Use the flat head or the Phillip screwdriver to remove the small screw of the bushing
- Remove the bushing
- Use the pipe wrench to turn the tube of the auger and pull it out
- Once it is removed, use the hammer or a flat edged tool to clean up the debris inside the compartment
- Use a vacuum to clean out all of the excess pellets or debris from the firepot, the top of the auger, and the inside of the auger shaft
- Put the auger back into the auger shift
- Attach the bushing using its set screw
- Attach the motor back using the shear pin
If you follow these 15 steps, you will be able to recover the auger within minutes. It is an easy technique that will imply on most types of models.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How big of a pellet smoker do I need?
This depends upon your intention of buying the smoker. For instance, if you want to purchase one for your home, then a pellet smoker with a cooking surface area of 450-500 square inches will suffice. However, if you are thinking of buying one for business, then one with at least 800 square inches of the surface area should be sufficient.
Are pellet grills worth the money?
If you are a regular barbecue lover, then yes, pellet grills are worth the money. However, do keep in mind that they are not inexpensive so you must think about why you need them before investing in one.
Do pellet smokers use a lot of electricity?
Pellet smokers need electricity to ignite the pellets present in the firebox. According to some experts, this takes about 300 watts.
How often should I clean my pellet smoker?
You should always clean your smoker before using it every time. The same goes after a grilling session. It should not be intense and your focus should be on cleaning the grill grates and emptying the drip tray or every last speck of grease it has.
Most people believe that cleaning also enhances the durability of the product. This perception is wrong but keeping your station clean will also help to improve the taste of the food you are cooking.
Things that you need to check every few weeks is the smokestack. It ensures that the smoker has proper ventilation. Most importantly, keep an eye on the burn pot and the ash collection tray too. Clean them up once both of them are full.
However, at the end of the day, how frequently you should clean up your entire pellet smoker depends entirely on how much you use your unit. If you use it a lot then you will have to maintain it regularly. On the other hand, if you have it for your home and only use it every once in the while, you might get away with not cleaning it up for months.
How to Get More Smoke Flavor from your pellet smoker?
You can get more smoke flavor from your Pallet Smoker by:
- Choose a cut of meat that has the right amount of fat to muscle ratio.
- A cut of meat with a lot of fat will not infuse the flavor effectively as compared to one with a maximum of ¼ inch of fat.
- Put the meat in the freezer for a few hours before use.
- Experts suggest that since meat does not absorb smoke when its internal temperature is 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above, so a colder piece of protein will take more time to reach the temperature and hence will absorb sufficient amounts of smoke.
- Use Hickory or Mesquite Pellets.
- These two types of pellets are considered to infuse the strongest smoke flavors in the meat as compared to many other fruitwoods and hardwoods.
- Make sure your food is smoked over indirect heat.
- Direct heat can burn the meat rather than smoke it as the temperature is too high.
- Do not open the lid repeatedly.
This will allow the smoke and the heat to observe and lead to uneven cook.
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