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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Pellet Smokers & Grills Reviewed

For home or commercial use, we have narrowed down the best brands for your smoking needs.

by

The use of backyard pellet smokers is on the rise. As they gain popularity, new manufacturers are coming out with various features and options to make the experience even more enjoyable. Not to be outdone, the original vendors are upping their game to bring you the best cookout experience ever.

This review of the best pellet smokers and grills will compare the top models and give you all the facts. We will examine what you should be considering when buying a new pellet smoker for your next back yard barbecue. Whether you want to cook burgers and dogs, or put on a roast for a family gathering, our list of the best pellet grills will have you cooking in no time.

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Product

Temperature Range

Grilling Area

Check Price

Traeger TFB42LZBC Grills Lil Tex Elite 22 Wood...

Traeger TFB42LZBC

150 – 400 Fahrenheit Range

418 Sq. In.

Camp Chef SmokePro LUX Pellet Grill

Camp Chef SmokePro PG36LUX

160 – 500 Fahrenheit Range

875 Sq. In.

Memphis Grills Elite Wood Fire Pellet Smoker Grill...

Memphis Grills Elite VG0002S

180 – 650 Fahrenheit Range

562 Sq. In.

REC TEC Grills | RT-700 | Bundle | WiFi Enabled |...

REC TEC Grills RT-700

200 – 500 Fahrenheit Range

702 Sq. In.

Cookshack PG500 Fast Eddy's Pellet Grill

Cookshack PG500 Fast Eddy's

200 – 600 Fahrenheit Range

784 Sq. In.

Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill Smoker with 2020 Newest...

Z Grills 700D

180 – 450 Fahrenheit Range

700 Sq. In.

Camp Chef Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill...

Camp Chef Pursuit 20

175 – 400 Fahrenheit Range

501 Sq. In.

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX PG24 Pellet Grill with...

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX

180 – 500 Fahrenheit Range

573 Sq. In.

How Pellet Smokers Work

Pellet smokers use a combination of cooking methods to mimic a grill, a barbecue, and a smoker, all in one. With their ease of use, though, you can basically set the temperature, start the grill and forget about it until it’s time to eat. Think of them as an outdoor oven.

Instead of wood, charcoal, or propane, a pellet grill uses compressed sawdust. The sawdust is compacted into a small pellet that resembles gerbil food. These pellets can be made from almost any wood type, infused with other aromas or left natural.

You can purchase bags of pellets, almost anywhere backyard equipment and furniture are sold, including your local grocery store. When you are ready, you fill a hopper with the pellets. Depending on the size of the hopper and the performance of your grill, a hopper will last several hours to several days before needing to be refilled.

Then, you set the desired temperature of your grill, just like turning on your oven. Using an electronic ignition system, the grill is lit, and you wait for the temperature to rise. Once your desired temperature is reached, you can add the food to the grill.

The hopper will automatically feed the burners as they start to cool off. This maintains the temperature, unlike a coal grill that will need constant fiddling to maintain an even temperature. The pellets burn to cook the food, but they also smoke to infuse flavors and raise the temperature of your meat evenly. All the while, you can enjoy other activities while the grill tends to itself.


Pros & Cons Of Pellet Grill Smokers

Just like anything else you ever purchase, there is going to be a good side and a bad side. The pellet grill is no exception. Let’s look at the good things first.

  • Pellet smokers are easy to use.
    Almost anyone, regardless of skill level, can cook a perfect meal in a pellet smoker.
  • Pellet grills are multi-faceted.
    You can use most pellet smokers as a smoker, a grill, or even a baking oven.
  • Changing flavor is simple.
    If you want to try out a new flavor, you only need to add different pellets to the hopper. Many pellet manufacturers will have sample sets of their various flavors and offerings. Try them all and find your favorite.
  • Pellet smokers have better flavor.
    Don’t just take our word for it; pellet smokers deliver a smokier, more robust flavor than electric smokers can.

Now, there are a few downsides to a pellet smoker, too. Let’s see what those are.

  • Pellet smokers aren’t cheap.
    Even the low-quality smokers will cost more than a charcoal grill or propane grill. However, as popularity rises, the prices continue to fall.
  • Cleaning a pellet grill isn’t easy.
    You can’t just scrape a grill surface and wipe down a shell here. Pellet smokers are one of the more difficult smokers to keep clean. However, a lot of the upper-end machines will have a self-cleaning option that does help in your routine maintenance.

Buying A Top Quality Pellet Grill Smoker

Before you lay down your cash for a new pellet smoker, there are several factors you need to consider. The best pellet smokers can get quite expensive. Therefore, it is best to find out which features you need and which you can live without. Below is a brief explanation of the pellet grill aspects to think about.

Grill Controller Type

Pellet smokers use one of two types of controllers, PID and non-PID. PID, or Proportional, Integral, Derivative, is a controller that uses digital sensors to control the internal temperature of the smoker in more precise measurements. The PID controllers will adjust the heat based on the setpoint and keep it within 10 degrees either side.

Non-PID controllers are basically a bi-metal strip that heats up and bends. When it bends, the strip touches another strip closing the circuit and closing the hopper. As the temperature decreases, the metal cools, and the metal separates, opening the hopper to allow more pellets in.

Both methods work well for what they are. PID controllers are more accurate and have better readouts. They can also be controlled through wireless communications in some cases. Of course, this adds to the total cost of the smoker.

Combustion System

Most smokers will use a similar combustion system. It is essential to know how they work on the model you select, though. Once you pour the pellets in and set a temperature setpoint, the rest is up to the combustion system.

The pellets are fed from the hopper into the combustion chamber by an auger. The auger leads to an igniter that lights the pellets, and they immediately begin to smoke and release heat. A fan pushes the smoke and heat around the cooking chamber, where the temperatures are read by a controller (see above). The process repeats as the pellets in the ignition area burn out, and the temperature cools off.

Some brands have special processes for getting the pellets to the ignition area; others use impeller fans to push the air around. Each variation will affect the overall cost of the smoker, so it is essential to know what you are dealing with before buying.

Durability

Due to the extreme heat, you will want a smoker that will last. Most pellet grills are made from highly durable construction materials. Rapid heating and cooling will affect any metal over time, but the type of metal (stainless, steel, aluminum, etc.) and how thick it is, will go a long way to determining the durability.

Hopper Size/Pellet Delivery System/Consumption

In line with the combustion system, the hopper has an important job. The size of the hopper will determine how long you can use the smoker before you must refill. Some hoppers are a one-use style that requires filling every hour or two, while others are designed for the long-haul, holding 40 pounds or more and able to run for a couple of days.

How the pellets are delivered, the capacity of the hopper, and how fast your pellets burn will all go into your fuel budget. Pellets are one of the most economical fuel sources for smokers and grills (second only to gas), so depending on how often and for how long you plan to use the smoker, this can be a make or break decision factor.

Performance, Smoking/Grilling Consistency & Capacity

Another aspect to consider is the overall performance of the smoker. This includes how fast it heats and how long it can maintain the temperature.

Most smokers are used for the “low and slow” method, where you use lower temperatures for more extended periods. If your smoker can't maintain a low heat without high spikes for extended periods, it isn't going to be a pleasurable meal.

Being consistent in your food handling and heating is crucial for a pellet smoker, and a lot fo the cheaper ones will fail this test. You will see reports or reviews stating that fish was seared and ribs were undercooked. Make sure the type of grilling and barbecue you want to accomplish is something the pellet smoker you choose can offer.

Temperature Adjustment

Choosing a PID control will increase your costs (see above); however, it is the most effective method for proper temperature adjustment and control. Especially for those that have never used a pellet smoker before or are new to grilling.

Those that have been around the block when it comes to smokers will tell you that you don’t need a PID control system, and they are right. If you don’t know what you are doing, though, it isn’t a bad investment to make.

Cooking Area, Storage & Footprint

You will also want to consider how big the grill is. If you have limited space on your patio or deck, a large, cumbersome pellet smoker may not be the best option. Likewise, if you plan to cook for more than your immediate family, a smoker with a small cooking area may not suffice.

Striking the perfect balance between capacity, cooking surface area, and the overall footprint of the smoker is crucial. Know your measurements before you click the buy button.

Mobility, Ease of Use, Easy Cleaning

If you need to transport your smoker, mobility will be an issue to consider. Perhaps you store it in the shed or garage and only bring it out when needed. Pellet smokers can get quite heavy, and if you purchase a stand-alone smoker, it may not have transport handles or wheels.

We have also mentioned before that pellet grills are not the easiest grilling option to keep clean. There are tips and tricks you can use, such as tin foil, to help reduce the maintenance and cleaning times, but overall you will need to dedicate a good portion of time to the care and upkeep of the unit. The larger the unit, the more time required.

Other Features

Next, you will want to look at the list of features to find out if there are any non-standard items you have to have. WiFi capability is a newer feature that is becoming more commonplace. With WiFi communications, you can use your smartphone or tablet to control the temperature from inside the house while you are prepping other food. Or to check on timers, thermometer and probe readings, etc.

Some of the more expensive smokers will also come with internal meat probes. You can still use your own, but with a built-in meat probe, the internal temperature of your meat is sent to the control panel so that proper temperatures and even cooking are more fine-tuned.

Still, other smoker companies will attempt to lure you in with free add-ons and extra items, such as covers, upgraded controls, storage options, and their own brand of pellets. Consider each item that comes with your purchase to figure out what you can and cannot live without.

Warranty Coverage & Budget

Finally, your budget will play the most significant role in your final decision. Getting a durable, reliable, and feature-rich pellet smoker will cost you more than most other types of grills or smokers. However, if you are serious about your backyard barbecues and the taste and quality of your meats, there isn’t anything better.

Plan a budget and stick with it. That will only make the experience that much more enjoyable, knowing you can afford the smoker you are after.

Make sure you check the warranty details also. Most of our review list below will have a decent warranty period. However, some may require extra work on your part during or after purchase to fulfill the warranty conditions. Read all the fine print before making your purchase.


8 Best Pellet Smokers/Grills Reviewed

1. Traeger TFB42LZBC

Our Top Pick!

Weight

98 Lbs.

Grill Size (H*W*D)

49x42x22 Inches

Temperature Range

150 – 400 Fahrenheit

Grilling Area

418 Sq. In.

Hopper Capacity

18 Lbs.

Warranty

3-year warranty against defects or craftsmanship

Traeger’s Lil Tex Elite, our top pick, puts a lot of cooking space into a small area. You get over 400 square inches of prime smoker real-estate in a package not much larger than your standard grill. Now you can try all of the smoker tricks to get perfect smoke rings, barbecue, grilling, and even baking!

This 6-in-1 cooking system can also braise, roast, and of course, smoke. The pellet hopper holds up to 18 pounds of wood pellets, which will last you an average of six hours.

For the size, the Lil Tex is a bit on the higher end of the price range, but it is worth it. Not only is Traeger one of the best pellet smoker/grill companies around, they back their machines with a full 3-year warranty on defects and craftsmanship. If anything ever goes wrong with your smoker because of their parts, they will replace it, no questions asked.

While the system is great for cooking multiple items at once, there is a downside. Since the overall unit is a little smaller, it can become more challenging to keep clean. If you cook a "low and slow," you should clean the entire unit after every use. For higher temps or faster cooking uses, you can let two or three cooking sessions go by before a clean, but it should be a regular routine.

Pros

  • Best 6-in-1 cooking systems
  • Large cooking area in a small footprint.
  • Great for large families or small parties.
  • Highly durable to last for years to come.

Cons

  • Can be difficult to keep clean.
  • Not ideal for smaller budgets.

2. Camp Chef SmokePro PG36LUX

Best Rated Pellet Smoker/Grill

Weight

180 Lbs.

Grill Size (H*W*D)

48x61x24 Inches

Temperature Range

160 – 500 Fahrenheit

Grilling Area

875 Sq. In.

Hopper Capacity

18 Lbs.

Warranty

3-year warranty against parts, labor, and defects.

If you are looking for the best-rated pellet smoker, then look no further. The Camp Chef SmokePro LUX is one of the highest-rated, most reviewed, and durable home pellet smokers money can buy.

With over 875 square inches of cooking space, there isn’t anything you can’t do with this grill. You can even opt for the baking stone and bake a pizza inside! The best part of this pellet smoker is the features. Not only do they make it easy to keep clean, but you also get full control over your meats and temps.

The SmokePro comes with a digital controller and meat probe so you can keep an eye on the internal temperature of the smoker and your meat without having to buy anything extra. If that isn’t enough, the automatic auger and removable ash catcher make clean up a breeze.

The 18-pound pellet hopper capacity will keep you cooking hands-free for hours on end. Not to mention the simple electronic ignition that makes the start-up a snap. If you are new to pellet smoker cooking, the owner’s manual also comes with several recipes for meats, salmon, and veggies to get you going.

You can be king of the backyard barbecue with the best-rated pellet smoker on the market.

Pros

  • Simple, electronic ignition lets you set it and forget it.
  • Digital thermometer monitors smoker temp and meat temps.
  • 875 square inch cooking area.
  • Ash cleanout system makes maintenance easier.

Cons

  • No accessories included with purchase.
  • 18-pound hopper is a little small for the smoker size.

3. Memphis Grills Elite VG0002S

Top Of The Range

Weight

213 Lbs.

Grill Size (H*W*D)

47x69x29 Inches 

Temperature Range

180 – 650 Fahrenheit

Grilling Area

562 Sq. In.

Hopper Capacity

24 Lbs.

Warranty

7-year warranty against defects, craftsmanship, and corrosion.

The Memphis Grills Elite smoker is a competition-ready smoker right on your patio. Built from durable 304-stainless steel (with an option to 430-Stainless), the double-walled unit is heavy but highly reliable.

It is also high-tech with wireless communications for the three meat probes and temperature settings. Using the iOS or Android app, you can monitor and change your temps from almost any device, anywhere.

The 24-pound hopper allows a continuous feed for over 30 hours (depending on temperature range and ambient conditions). The large 562 square inch cooking area can also be upgraded to 834 square inches with a separate purchase of extra grates.

You will have a hard time moving the smoker on softer surfaces because the caster wheels are quite small. However, on solid concrete or patio decks, the wheels are resilient and can hold the 213-pound smoker well.

If you aren’t convinced yet, Memphis Grills stand behind their products and include an industry-leading 7-year warranty against defects, craftsmanship, and corrosion (with the 302 stainless steel option).

Pros

  • Upgradable grill area increases capacity to 834 square inches.
  • Double-walled stainless steel construction.
  • 7-year warranty is tops in the industry.
  • WiFI enabled for up to three meat probes.

Cons

  • No hopper cleanout system makes changing pellets difficult.
  • Maintenance levels are high.

4. REC TEC Grills RT-700

Best Pellet Smoker/Grill Under $1500

Weight

200 Lbs.

Grill Size (H*W*D)

50x54x26 Inches 

Temperature Range

200 – 500 Fahrenheit

Grilling Area

702 Sq. In.

Hopper Capacity

40 Lbs.

Warranty

30-day return, 6-year warranty on parts, construction and craftsmanship.

When you are ready to get serious about your smoker, the REC TEC Grills RT-700 will be waiting for you. “The Bull,” as it is known, is made entirely of 304-stainless steel and comes with an enormous 6-year warranty.

Besides the highly-durable build construction, the RT-700 comes equipped with WiFi communications. Not only can you monitor temperatures (two meat probes included), but through the REC TEC mobile app, you can even start your smoker remotely.

The simple electronic start-up will have your smoker at temp in less than 10 minutes, and thanks to the perfect-fitting construction, temperatures stay in range for hours on end.

If there is a downside to the Bull, it is the smoker’s legs. The unit weighs just over 200 pounds, and the legs do wobble a bit when you are loading and unloading. So far, there hasn’t been a reported issue, but it is still something to keep an eye on.

Other than that, the mobile app undergoes continuous upgrades to help alleviate issues some users have. The primary concern is that after a few hours, the temperatures don’t update from the meat probes as well. You can bypass this by using your own meat probes, though, and REC TEC was kind enough to leave an access hole, so you don’t need to compromise the lid seal.

Pros

  • Stainless steel build
  • Phenomenal 6-year warranty
  • WiFi capabilities
  • Can reach temperature in less than 10 minutes

Cons

  • WiFi meat probes lose accuracy over time
  • Legs tend to wobble

5. Cookshack PG500 Fast Eddy's

Best Commercial Pellet Smoker/Grill

Weight

330 Lbs.

Grill Size (H*W*D)

54x56x25 Inches 

Temperature Range

200 – 600 Fahrenheit

Grilling Area

784 Sq. In.

Hopper Capacity

23 Lbs.

Warranty

2-years on parts and craftsmanship

CookShack brings you the Fast Eddy’s PG500. It is currently the only smoker on the market that uses char-broil cooking technology. The all-stainless steel (304-stainless) isn't double insulated. However, the unit does maintain temperature reasonably well. Still, you may want to invest in a smoker blanket to help pellet conservation.

The 23-pound hopper will burn through about 2 pounds an hour, giving you up to 12 hours of cooking time before you need to refill. The downside here is that there is no cover to the ash catcher, and with the direct fan, some reports come through that ash ends up on the food.

Fast Eddy’s PG500 offers you four cooking zones; you can grill, smoke, char, and run a “low and slow” any time you wish. The double front-open doors are a novelty and make loading easier. However, they also tend to get in the way when unloading or basting.

With simple electronic controls, the easy-push buttons give a good response, so you don’t have to guess if it was pressed, even with gloves on. A total of 784 square inches of cooking space ensures you can cook almost any type of meat for as long as you need.

It doesn’t handle smaller meats like hamburgers and hot dogs very well, though with practice it can be done. You also get a 2-year warranty on parts and construction, so you don’t have anything to worry about while using.

Pros

  • 304-solid stainless steel construction.
  • Great temperature range for all meats.
  • Commercial application designed for at-home use.
  • Warming tray included

Cons

  • Missing insulation on body does lead to heat loss.
  • Ash collection doesn’t have a cover.

6. Z Grills 700D

Best value For The Money

Weight

146 Lbs.

Grill Size (H*W*D)

42x48x22 Inches 

Temperature Range

180 – 450 Fahrenheit

Grilling Area

700 Sq. In.

Hopper Capacity

20 Lbs.

Warranty

3-year warranty on parts and construction.

When value and budget are a concern, the Z Grills 700D is the best pellet smoker for the money. You won’t get a lot of bells and whistles, but what you do get is a great smoker with easy to use controls.

Sure, you are missing things like meat probes and wireless communications, but the 20-pound hopper will feed pellets for up to 18 hours. Weighing 146 pounds, the smoker is sturdy and durable. You won’t have to worry about doing the unloading dance while the smoker moves back and forth. The legs are sturdy, and if you do need to move it, the caster wheels accommodate.

You will have over 700 square inches of cooking space, as well. Two shelves allow you to mix and match your meats and cooking times. With a range of 180 to 450 degrees, you can opt for a low and slow brisket or a high heat seared steak.

Clean up is more complicated than some other models because there isn't a drip tray for drippings and grease. Instead, you will place a paper cup in a cup holder to catch any drips. The easy-access flip-top lid will see to it that you don’t have to spend hours cleaning out the insides.

It isn’t the highest-rated smoker on the market, and it lacks a few fundamental aspects. However, for under $600, the 700D is the best option for lower budget or first-time users to get a perfect smoked grilling experience.

Pros

  • A budget-friendly model with enough features to get you going.
  • Ideal for the first-time smoker or novice grill master.
  • 700 sq. In. cooking space for all your meat smoking needs.

Cons

  • Grease drippings have no catch.
  • Lower high-end temp setting prevents certain types of grilling.

7. Camp Chef Pursuit 20

Best Portable Pellet Grill/Smoker

Weight

100 Lbs.

Grill Size (H*W*D)

40x23x20 Inches 

Temperature Range

175 – 400 Fahrenheit

Grilling Area

501 Sq. In.

Hopper Capacity

10 Lbs.

Warranty

3-year warranty against craftsmanship and defects (except paint and finish).

Pellet smoking on the go? You bet! With the Camp Chef Pursuit 20, you can have smoked brisket and racks of ribs anywhere. The ultra-portable design makes the PPG20 the easiest smoker to transport and the best portable pellet grill on the market.

You won’t win any competitions with this guy, but you can have some of the easiest smoked meats at your campsite. The 10-pound hopper will only last a few hours, which increases the amount of interaction on your part. However, with dual meat probes, you can watch the temps and monitor the meat inside without worry.

Even as compact as the portable smoker is, you still maintain over 500 square inches of cooking space. This is more than enough to hold a family of campers for a meal or two at a time.

The controls are made simple, with turn-dial temperature selection and auto-ignite technology. You can have your PPG20 at temp and ready to load in about 15 minutes.

The unit doesn’t come with a pellet dump, so you will have to do some extra work if you want to change smoke flavors for different meats. That being said, the 10-pound hopper is small enough that you can cook your meal and then refill with another type of pellet without having to empty the hopper manually.

The Camp Chef 20 comes with a 3-year warranty that will cover the unit from wheels to stove pipe. It doesn't include the paint and finish, though, so make sure you read all the fine print before making a claim.

Pros

  • 100-pound unit folds and rolls for easy portability.
  • Large cooking surface for a compact pellet smoker.
  • Easy to use controls and fast ignition system.

Cons

  • 10-pound hopper requires more attention than other models.
  • No pellet dump for switching flavors.

8. Camp Chef SmokePro DLX

Best Pellet Grill/Smoker Under $500

Weight

140 Lbs.

Grill Size (H*W*D)

51x45x21 Inches 

Temperature Range

180 – 500 Fahrenheit

Grilling Area

573 Sq. In.

Hopper Capacity

18 Lbs.

Warranty

3-year warranty against craftsmanship and defects (except paint and finish).

Rounding out our top 8 smokers is the best pellet grill under $500. Once again, the team at Camper Chef comes through with a model that fits any budget. Available in two finishes (black and black with Stainless), the design is eye-catching without being distracting.

You have a decent cooking area that accommodates up to 573 square inches. This is plenty of room for a group of 8 or less. Clean up isn’t as simple as some of the other models on our list, and routine maintenance is required after every use.

You do get a larger 18-pound capacity hopper that will feed the unit for up to 20 hours. Some heat loss will occur as this budget model doesn’t seal 100 percent all the time. If you opt for an insulation blanket, though, you won’t have to worry.

You can monitor your temperatures through the digital readout of the two meat probes and know when your meat is perfect. Unloading is simple, but you must understand the shut-down sequence. After every use, the shut-down sequence must be adhered to, or you can void the 3-year warranty.

The process isn’t difficult, but there are more steps than most other smokers. With constant use and some practice, starting, cooking, and shut-down will all become second nature.

Pros

  • Easy to start and monitor temperature throughout the cooking process.
  • Large temperature range for various smoker needs.
  • Budget-friendly model designed for all users of any skill level.

Cons

  • More maintenance required compared to other models.
  • Smaller cook area for a smoker of this size.

Pellet vs Charcoal Smokers

Charcoal is the defacto standard for grills and smokers. Even those that prefer propane have used and enjoyed charcoal. However, charcoal can be messy, hard to start, and requires a lot of ash clean up.

Pellet smokers, on the other hand, are easy to start with their single electronic ignition. You also don't have a ton of ash to collect after each use. An entire 40-pound bag of pellets will produce less than a cup full of ash.

While cleaning a charcoal grill can be simple, the pellet smoker isn’t as easy. It won’t be the most difficult task in the world, of course, but it will take some time.

Most importantly, though, pellet smokers cost less to run. A bag of pellets is less expensive than a bag of charcoal and generally lasts five to ten times as long.


Tips When Using A Pellet Smoker/Grill

When you get the pellet grill home, opened and set up, there are a few things you need to do before putting in your first brisket or rack of ribs. Let's cover some of the tips you should follow to get the most out of your smoker.

Season the smoker. This refers to the initial burn-in, not adding salt and rosemary to your hopper. The initial burn-in is started by priming the auger. Add pellets to the hopper and fill the combustion chamber. Most smokers will have a prime setting.

Allow the pellets to fall and then stop the priming. Turn the smoker on and set the temperature to 350 degrees. Let the temperature set for about 20 minutes. Once the 20 minutes is up, raise the temperature to 450 degrees and run for another 30 minutes. Shut down the smoker and allow it to cool, and your seasoning is done.

For a smokier flavor, add your meat to the smoker from the fridge. Cold meat holds the smoke flavor better.

Put your longer cook time meats on the upper racks of your smoker with a water tray underneath. This will allow the meat to heat evenly from the smoker and not get heated from the drip tray.

Want to smoke the perfect brisket? Traeger Grills has one of the best hickory-smoked brisket recipes you will find. Check it out here.


Pellet Grill Accessories

There are accessories that your new pellet smoker may not be able to live without. While these extra purchases aren’t required, they are worth a second look.

  • Cover
    If you plan to leave your smoker outdoors when not in use, you may want to invest in a cover. Look for a cover that will fit without much effort, has a UV coating to protect against sun damage, and is, of course, waterproof. The Traeger 34 cover, for example, fits a few different Traeger smokers.
  • Wood Chips
    Wood chips aren't the same thing as pellets, though a lot of people use them interchangeably. You will want only to use pellets in your smoker as the auger isn't designed for chips. However, there are plenty of varieties of pellets to choose from for various flavors and aromas. Trying a multi-pack of different flavors is a fun way to find your favorite mix.
  • Grill Mat for Fish & Vegetables
    Smoking fish and vegetables in a smoker are something made simple with a pellet smoker. It is made even easier with the help of a grill mat, like this set from DREAMSOULE that is designed specifically for fish and vegetables (works great for hamburger, too).
  • Sausage Hooks
    You can make your own sausage in a pellet smoker, as well. You will need a good set of sausage hooks for the task, though. Bradley Smoker makes a 4-piece set specifically for sausage but can be used for fish, meat, and bacon as well.
  • Meat Thermometer Probes
    Internal temperature is the only sure-fire method to know your meat is done. As you may well know, opening your grill or smoker almost instantly removes the heat (and the smoke!). If your smoker doesn’t come with a meat probe, you can purchase a wireless one that will report the internal temperatures directly to your handheld device. This ThermoPro model has a dual probe for larger meats.
  • Smoker Insulation Blanket
    A smoker insulation blanket helps maintain a more constant temperature by insulating the smoker and protecting it from heat loss to a colder ambient temperature. It won’t make your smoker cook any faster, but it will preserve pellet usage and give your smoker meats a more robust aroma since they won’t be losing temperature as often.
  • Smoker Grilling Tongs 
    Tongs and accessories for handling the meat are also essential, so don't overlook them. Any grilling tools will work, including tongs, spatulas, two-prong forks, etc. You may look into getting a grilling kit that also includes trays and mitts to protect your hands from the heat inside the smoker.
  • Conversion Kit
    A pellet smoker conversion kit turns your existing grill into a pellet smoker while still allowing you to use your grill as a grill. For those that into big DIY projects, a conversion kit will help you transform a grill, drum, or even an old refrigerator into a pellet smoker. It is a more economical way to get a pellet smoker, though it takes a lot of work on your part.

Cleaning and Maintenance

The good thing about cleaning out a pellet smoker is that unlike a charcoal grill, you won’t have a lot of ash to worry about. A large bag of pellets will burn down to almost nothing, leaving behind less than a cup of ash.

The hard part comes in keeping all the moving parts and food surfaces cleaned and operational. There will also be more build up on the upper parts of the smoker, like the lid, hinges, and internal ceilings. You will want to use a nylon scraper to assist you. Cleaning from the top down, you will want to make sure you clean the grates, hooks, thermometer, and even the grease trap.

For a simplified visual explanation, check out this video from Treager Grills.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have any questions? This section covers the most common questions about pellet smokers and grills.

How long do these pellet smokers last?

The longevity of your pellet smoker is determined by a lot of factors including build quality, construction material, how often it is used, what temperature range is used, and how well it is maintained and cleaned. Most pellet smokers will be warrantied for multiple years, and with proper maintenance routines, your smokers can last well over 8 or 9 years.

How do you ensure the meat doesn’t burn in a pellet smoker?

The best way to monitor your meat is with a meat probe thermometer. You will want to start your smoker off at a lower temperature for the first hour; this is how you develop a good smoke ring on the meat. From there, you can increase the temperature for your specific cut of meat and keep an eye on the internal temperature using your meat probe.

How long do pellet smokers take to reach desired temperatures?

Once you have set the temperature setpoint and ignited the pellets, your temperature should be ready for the meat in ten to 15 minutes. Keep in mind this is an even temperature across the entire smoker and not just in a single area, like with coals.

Where is the best place to buy these pellet grill smokers?

The best place to buy a pellet smoker from our review list above is through Amazon. When purchasing through Amazon, you get faster shipping, better customer support for all products in a single call, tracking, and warranty claim services. While most smokers listed here have their own departments, Amazon's response is generally faster and easier to deal with.

What are the best meats to smoke or grill in a pellet smoker?

There isn't a bad meat to cook on a pellet smoker. The most common uses include pork butt, tri-tips, pork chops, sausage, brisket, pork shoulder, and beef and pork ribs. Don’t forget you can also smoke salmon, steam vegetables, and make your own bacon, too.

What are the best pellet grill smoker brands?

The best pellet smoker brands will always be a debate. However, the best-reviewed and brands that have the most loyal customers are Traeger and Camp Chef. Green Mountain Grills and a few select others have a devout following as well.

For durable smokers that are the most reliable, REC TEC is always at the top of the list. Of course, for a more commercial application, you will want to look at Memphis Grills and Cookshack for their highly dependable smokers.

Are pellet grills bad for your health? Do pellet grills cause cancer?

The concern for cancer-causing agents comes from a suspicion that grilling meats can introduce two chemicals into our bodies from the grilling process. The first, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), come from drippings onto hot coals, which are then added back to the meat during a sear-up.

The second, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are produced by the meat when introduced to high heat. Neither of these are common with pellet smokers because there are no coals to sear-up when grease drips, and smokers can use high-heat but generally start off at lower temperatures and rise slowly.

The meat you decide to cook in a pellet smoker will have more adverse health effects because of the amounts of fats, cholesterol, and higher calories.


Conclusion

When you want the perfect cut of meat cooked to perfection, nothing is better than a pellet smoker. With essential functionality and optimal set-and-forget controls, you can load the meat, set the temperature, and walk away.

Everything from low and slow cooking to high-temp searing can be accomplished with a pellet smoker. Most models give you the option of cooking at least six different ways. Our top pick, the Traeger Lil Tex, is ideal for all skill levels, includes enough features to get you used to smoking and leaves you with a perfect meal every time.

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