2018’s Best Pellet Smokers & Grills: Top 10 Picks For Every Budget

Product Name & Award

Our Score

Price

Material

Power Source

Item Weight

90

$$$

Steel

Wood Pellet

140 lbs

88

$$$

Steel

Wood Pellet

98 lbs

83

$$$

Steel

Wood Pellet

112 lbs

79

$$

Steel

Wood Pellet / El.

57 lbs

77

$$$

Steel

Charcoal / Wood Pell.

70 lbs

Our comparison table only shows our top 5 picks. You can find the other recommendations later in this article.

Purchasing the right pellet grill can be confusing, especially considering the size of the investment you are about to make.

There are literally dozens of brands and each brand has several different model lines – trying to compare all their different features is a nightmare.

Here are Fire Food Chef we have done the hard work for you. We have been using all different kinds of pellet smokers for a number of years which makes us more than qualified to recommend our top picks.

The Best Pellet Smokers and Grills For 2018

After testing and researching so many grills over the years we have come to the conclusion that the Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Smoker is the best option currently available. 

It's the perfect choice for beginners and pros - and it always delivers an amazing rich BBQ flavour and fragrance.

Top Pick:  Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Smoker

camp chef pg24

Best smoker for the price

"The Camp Chef Patented 'Drop Down' cleaning system coupled with the advanced digital temperature chip makes this our top pick."

Quick Summary:

If you are looking for a pellet smoker to take your outdoor cooking to the next level, then this is the grill for you. With  a massive 560 square inches of cooking space and removable rack, it has enough space for almost any occasion. 

It has a temperature range of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit which makes it a great choice for smoking, grilling, baking, braising, roasting and barbecuing. 

It is very well made using high-grade materials which makes it an excellent investment given its reasonable price. It has one of the most advanced digital controllers on the market and includes an auto pellet feeder and LED controls. 

Because of the innovative trap door for burn pot cleansing, cleaning the grill is a breeze. Overall this efficient, well made pellet smoker is worth every penny you spend on it. 

Pros:

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    Digital temperature control system (LED)
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    Massive 570 square inch cooking area
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    Auto 'Shut-down mode' makes it easy to use
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    Reached up to 500 degrees F
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    Efficient use of pellets
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    Super easy assembly - there's even a video on the Camp Chef website

Cons:

  • Requires high power input to start

Why Is It Our Top Pick?

For all the hundreds of different models and brands of pellet grill on the market, you must be wondering why the Camp Chef PG24 is our top pick?

Before we get into the full review below let me run through the reason why this smoker grabbed the number 1 spot.

  1. The Camp Chef has some amazing features you would usually only find on much higher priced models. Our favorite is the full automation from start to the ash clean out. If you wanted to find the same automation on other smokers you would be looking to pay around $900 minimum. The PG24 is special because it is no where near that expensive.
  2. Although most new pellet smokers now come with an auto pellet feeder system, the PG24's one is awesome. We have been personally using it for over 3 years and not had a single jam - that is pretty amazing considering how often we use it.
  3. Another great feature on the PG24 is the trap door for the burn pot cleaning after every cook. Camp Chef claim it makes cleaning the unit 60% more efficient - and I must say we agree. This feature on other grills would cost twice as much so it was a key feature when choosing our number 1.
  4. The final feature we loved is the auto-shutdown mode. As you can imagine we are a busy bunch, so this feature is great. It means we can pop to the office safe in the knowledge that we can enjoy some great tasting ribs when we get home. At the moment only 30-35% of other smokers have this feature.

The above doesn't even cover all the features of the PG24, so you can see why we love it so much. Probably the most amazing thing about the PG24 is the price.

Compared to high end smokers such as Rec Tec or Yoder, this grill is by far the best value for money when you consider everything it can do. We guarantee that you won't be disappointed if you choose the PG24.

You can read our in-depth review here.

Runner Up: Traeger TFB42LZBC (Lil Tex Elite 22)

Runner-up-pick-pellet-smoker

Versatile cooking at home

"Thanks to its innovative 6 in 1 cooking feature, this Traeger lets you cooking amazing dish's no matter your experience level"

Quick Summary:

One of our favourite features of The Traeger Grills Lil Tex Elite 22 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is the impressive "6 in 1" feature. With the touch of a button you can braise, grill, smoke, roast and BBQ all kids of foods. 

It comes with durable, porcelain-covered racks that offers top grade functionality that you would usually find on the more expensive pellet grills. 

It has a decent 418 square inches of cooking space which is more than enough for medium size groups. However, if that isn't quite enough then there are other Traeger models which have larger grills - but have the same great features. 

This pellet smoker also comes with a top digital controller which means you can relax safe in the knowledge that your food will come out perfect every time.

You must remember that this durable grill isn't our 'Runner Up' because it isn't as good as the Camp Chef - it just costs a little more.

Pros:

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    Manufactured by the 'Original' pellet smoker company
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    Has an easy to use ash clean out system
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    6-in1 cooking function making it super versatile
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    Good size 418 square inches of cooking space
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    Uses 100% pure wood pellets

Cons:

  • More expensive then our top pick with a similar number of features
  • Doesn't come with an accessories

Why Is It Our Runner Up Pick?

There is no doubting that the Lil Tex Elite is a pretty awesome grill, but why is it our runner up and not our top pick?

The Traeger has many similar features as the PG24 such as digital LED temperature control and an auto-dispensing auger. However, not only is it more expensive, but it has a smaller cooking area.

And unlike the PG24 it doesn't come with a removable upper rack. 

Although we have used this smoker personally, we don't own one so took the Amazon reviews heavily into consideration. Currently there are over 390 reviews with almost all of them being positive.

They re-enforce everything we liked about this smoker when we used it. Couple that with the fact that Traeger is one of the most reputable manufactures on the market and it's easy to see why this grill was a close second.

Overall, the Lil Tex Elite came very close to being our top pick and it a strong substitute for the Camp Chef PG24. We have written a full review below, so if you are still on the fence if this is right for you, please read on.

Best Budget: Green Mountain Grill

green mountain grill

Low cost, high functionality

"For a great time outdoors at an affordable price, the Green Mountain is great. It packs some amazing features, and its Wi-Fi compatibility adds a new level of convenience"

Quick Summary:

Although the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett smoker is jam packed with awesome features, the first thing you will probably notice is the price - this is a cheap grill.

There are 2 features that we love on this grill: the Sense-Mate feature and the Open Flame Technology which is there to ensure all your meats are cooked right through.

Considering this is our budget pick, you will be pleasantly surprised with the advanced technology packed inside. You are certainly getting way more than you are paying for!

Pros:

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    'Sense-Mate' which constantly monitors grill temperature
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    Very reasonably priced considering its features
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    Can run off 110v or 12v - great for road-trips
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    Wi-Fi digital control is a nice luxury
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    Large temperature range between 150 - 550 degrees F

Cons:

  • Compared to some grills the cooking area is smaller

For Advanced Users: Z Grill Wood Pellet Grill

Z grills wood pellet grill

Set it and forget it

"The 'Smart Smoke' technology brings convenience at the touch of a button. Even though it's a little more expensive, the price is well worth the experience"

Quick Summary:

If you're looking for a truly 'set and forget' grilling experience combined with amazing 8-in-1 cooking features then the Z Grill is the perfect unit. 

We have used many smokers over the years, but hands down this is the most hassle-free we have every come across - and that's why it deserves to be one our top picks.

Not only is it easy to use, but it comes with a massive 513 square inches of cooking space plus a second rack if you need it. It has a top quality digital controller and utilizes 'Smart Smoke Technology' to quickly heat up to between 160 and 460 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The only downside is it has no auto cleanup system. However it's auto-shutdown features makes the price reasonable. 

Pros:

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    'Smart Smoke' technology means Set and Forget
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    Massive 513 square inches of cooking space
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    8-in-1 cooking facilities making it ultra versatile
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    3 year warranty
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    Easy to move with built-in wheels

Cons:

  • Doesn't come with any accessories
  • Has no easy clean out system

Best Portable: Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable

traeger portable pick

BBQ anywhere, anytime

"This grill is the ideal choice for taking on road-trips. It has easy to fold legs and some pretty versatile cooking options - even a digital temperature control"

Quick Summary:

Usually portable smokers and grills have basic features to compensate for their increase mobility. However, the Traeger Grills Tailgater is quite the opposite.

It has a very tidy 300 square inches of cooking space, which is plenty to cook for a small group.

It also has a digital temperature controller which can get up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit - meaning you aren't limited to what kind of meats you can cook.

The feature we loved most was the folding legs making it easy to store away in the back of a car - ready for your next road-trip.

Pros:

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    Super portable meaning you can enjoy great food anywhere
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    Good digital controller which is accurate to +/- 20 F
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    Nice 300 square inches of cooking space
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    6-in-1 features makes is versatile
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    Portable design

Cons:

  • Compared to other grills the cooking space is small

In-Depth Reviews Of Our Top 2 Picks

Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Smoker Full Review:

camp chef pg24

Which ever way you look at it, the Camp Chef PG24 is an amazing grill. It has tons of in-built features that make it a great choice for both beginners and experts.

As far as we are concerned, it is worth every penny. Let's take a look at some of its features:

Temperature Control

Good temperature control is paramount to cooking you meat to succulent perfection. Unlike some old pellet smokers that relied on analogue temperature controls, the PG24 comes with an in-built thermostatic control and digital thermometer.

This means that you set the temperature via the digital panel and the unit automatically regulates its temperature so you can exclude any guesswork while barbecuing.

As you can imagine this is a pretty great feature and one of the things that makes it perfect for beginners. The PG24 also features a cool dual ignition switch and dual temperature LED display so you can clearly see the cooking temperature.

Cooking area

While not the biggest cooking space in this list, the PG24 has an adequate 560 cubic inches which is more than enough to cook for your whole family or a group.

If you ever need to cook for more people, then you can use the handy warming rack to keep cooked food warm while you cook more. 

Digital Control

We mentioned the digital control above, but it is so good it is worth mentioning again. You simply set the desired temperature and the PG24 handles the rest - simple as that. 

The temperature range is also pretty good. You could smoke something at 150 F for hours with no issue.

You can also get the temperature up to 500 F if you want to sear or grill your meat. Also worth noting is that the heat it spread via convection so you don't get those dreaded hot and cold spots on the grill - it is nice and even. 

Meat Probe

There is nothing that ruins a good brisket more than constantly opening the grill to fiddle with the temperature. Thankfully the PG24 comes with an internal temperature probe inside the chamber.

This means you can be sure that your meat is cooking exactly how you want it without opening the chamber and ruining what was a lovely meal.

Convenience

The PG24 backs an awful lot into its 124 pound frame and comes with a 20 lbs hopper.

This is large enough not to have to worry about re-filling it during a burn which adds to the 'set and forget' cooking experience you can expect from this grill. 

Unlike a gas or charcoal unit, when the temperature drops then a wood pellet is dispensed and the temperature kept steady. This kind of convenience makes cooking with this unit a dream.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Lets be honest, nobody likes cleaning their grill. But it ain't gonna clean it's self now so this is a big thing to consider. While some grills are a nightmare to clean, the PG24 actually makes it a bearable task. 

It was designed to give you easy access for cleaning and it also comes with a very hand trap door which means you can clean the grill without digging through grease and ash.

Usually you only find a trap door like this on higher priced units, so it's a pleasant surprise considering the price. You can also purchase a cover for the grill which ensures that your smoker is in top condition all the time.

Summary

The PG24 is our ultimate choice for beginners and experts. It is very reasonably priced and the build quality is great making it a a long-term investment.

It comes with some amazing features which we have mentioned above and if you purchase this smoker we are sure you will have no trouble. For all of these reasons, it's our top choice! 


Traeger TFB42LZBC (Lil Tex Elite 22) Full Review:

Runner-up-pick-pellet-smoker

The Traeger was a very strong contender for our top spot thanks to it amazing build quality, awesome features and ease of use.

It is great for both beginners and experts and even though it is a little more expensive than the Camp Chef - we feel it's a great long-term investment that you won't regret. Let's take a look at some of it's features:

Grilling Surface

While a little smaller than the Camp Chef, the Lil Tex Elite has a decent 418 square inches of cooking space.

This is adequate for a family or small group of people, but if you require something larger then we recommend the bigger brother - Traeger TFB65LZBC Grills Texas Elite 34.

One downside of this grill is that it doesn't come with a removable second tray, however it's build to have high capacity so you can do multiple cooks at the same time.

Set It And Forget It

We say this smoker is great for beginners and experts because of how easy it is to use. To start cooking you simply flick the on/off switch and the auto-ignition system takes care of the rest.

You then simply select your desired temperature via the digital controls and relax, safe in the knowledge that the temperature will stay steady and there won't be any dreaded hot or cold spots. This consistence is achieved through the efficient temperature control system and automated auger. This ensures a deep smokey flavor is embedded in your meat every time.

Versatile Cooking

If you consider yourself a bit of a BBQ'in expert then this smoker delivers. You are able to create pro chef-level dishes with ease thanks to its versatile cooking features. It is suitable for grilling, braising, baking, roasting... literally anything you can think of.

And because you are only using pure hardwood pellets, you are sure to infuse your food with the tastiest flavors possible. 

If you are worried about quantity of foods cooked vs quality of food cooked, then I can assure you that this is not the case. The high quality is maintained despite what foods you are cooking. 

If you are still learning then the smoker comes with simple cooking settings: hot and fast, and low and slow.

Thanks to the amazing digital controller you simple select the temperature you want and leave it for the rest of the cooking process. With a heat range of 150 - 450 F you can cook pretty much anything. Finally the digital LED temperature display makes it a breeze to keep an eye on the cook. 

Convenient Cleaning

The Traeger has 2 weapons to make cleaning this smoker easier than most. The first is the porcelain-coated grills which are non-stick. You can simply wipe the grease off them with ease - no need for soaking for hours. The second is the nice ash clean-out system which makes it super easy to dump the ash after each cook. 

Summary

Overall the Traeger is a super strong contender to our top pick. It is super versatile and is easy to use for both beginners and experts.

Even though it is a little more expensive, if you take care of it, then it should last you a very long time.

Other Notable Pellet Smokers

Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill

Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill with Sear Box - Smart Smoke Technology - Ash Cleanout System

Set and forget smoke settings

"The Woodwind is a good grill and when combined with the Camp Chef 'Smart Smoke' technology it becomes amazing"

With the Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill you never have to worry about under cooking or overcooking your food.

Thanks to Smart Smoke Technology you can set it, forget it and go take care of something else while the grill does all the work. The digital temperature controls and automatic auger will feed premium hardwood pellets into the grill so the temperature always remains just right without any assistance from you.

The versatility of this grill gives you endless cooking possibilities. You can roast, bake, barbecue, smoke and of course grill. You have a huge temperature range of between 160° F up to 500° F which allows you to cook your food any way you want.

There is also an included sear box that can reach up to 900° F so you can sear your meat to perfection. Once you are done grilling your steaks, burgers and chicken you can transfer them to the sear box so they can get the nice and crisp caramelized sear.

The Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill has 570 square of cook space so you can quickly and easily prepare food for a family of four or for a party of 50. You could literally feed the whole neighbourhood with this grill if you had to. There’s even a removable upper warming rack that provides you with additional space if you need it.

The worst part about using a grill is always the clean up. It usually requires you pull out a vacuum or broom and get your hands dirty while you are trying to prepare one of your grilling masterpieces.

Luckily this grill features a patented ash cleanup that makes cleaning the grill as easy as pulling a lever. This means you can spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying the food you just prepared. This is an exclusive feature and can’t be found on any other grill.

The Woodwind is a little expensive, but the features are pretty amazing. In our opinion they are well worth the price for a grill that will last you a long time.

Pros:

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    Comes with 'Smart Smoke' technology 
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    Really easy clean up 
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    Comes with separate sear box which can reach up to 900 F
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    Great build quality - durable and stable
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    Quite portable

Cons:

  • No Wi-Fi capability

Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill

pit boss 820 pellet grill

Perfect for beginners and pros

"The Pit Boss is one of those grills that is easy to use, but is jammed with advanced features if you want them"

The Pit Boss 71700FB is perfect for both new and veteran backyard cooks. With it you will be able to prepare and serve gourmet goodness right from the comfort of your backyard.

It is one of the few grills on the market that uses 100% natural wood pellets for fuel. That means you don’t have to worry about the toxic fumes that usually come from using gas, charcoal or propane. It also means cleanup will be a lot easier.

As with every Pit Boss, this grill is built to last and designed to help you get going as quickly as possible. When you use this grill success is pretty much guaranteed.

The Digital Control dial-in control gives you complete control over the temperature of the grill. It has a temperature range of 170 Fahrenheit all the way up to 600 Fahrenheit. You simply set the temperature and the grill will do the rest.

The auger will automatically feed the wood pellets to the burn pot. Once the pellets are in the burn pot they will be ignited and the grill will stay at the perfect temperature for as long as you need it to.

To ensure you always maintain a clean burning flame this Pit Boss grill comes with an electric ignition and fan forced air. Once the air has been fan forced into the grill it gets channeled around by the flame broiler.

The exhaust design ensures the air is evenly circulated throughout the entire grill. This process is what allows the grill to achieve uniform heat no matter what grilling method you are using.

The flame broiler is an absolute fan favorite. It allows you to directly or indirectly cook while adding a great deal of flavor back into the foods you are preparing. And don’t worry, this grill will channel all the excess grease so you don’t have to.

One thing that really makes this grill stand out is its versatility and real wood flavor that saturates anything you’re cooking on the grill. Whether you want to smoke a big slab of ribs or charbroil a steak, with the Pit Boss you win with every meal.

Once you have finished preparing your food press the power button and the grill will automatically go through a cool down period before shutting all the way off.

There are two other smokers that are quite comparable to this in terms of features and price. The first is the masterbuilt 20070910 30 inch smoker - you can read the full review here.

The second is the Bradley 4-rack smokers. We have just updated out 2018 Top Bradley Smoker list here.

Pros:

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    Massive 700 square inches of cooking space
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    Comes with an extra rack for even more cooking space
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    Uses 100% wood pellets
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    Uses a good digital controller for the temperature 

Cons:

  • Can only use Pit Boss branded pellets which can be expensive

Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill

Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill

Precision cooking make easy

"The Smokepro's digital temperature controller is one of the best on the marketing making is easy to cook a variety of dishes. 

Once you try the Camp Chef Smokepro STX Pellet Grill your taste buds will never be the same. The slow smoked flavors will make you feel like you’re in heaven.

With the Smokepro STX you can smoke, sear, braise, bake and grill all with this one cooker.

Is precision cooking your thing? If so you will love the digital temperature control that gives you complete control over your cooking time. There is also a stainless steel meat probe that ensures every meal is cooked to wood fired perfection.

The adjustable chimney top gives you the power to adjust how much smoke flavor gets into your meat. And with Smart Smoke Technology the grill will automatically maintain the optimum temperature range to produce the most smoke possible.

Clean up with the Smokepro STX can be done in 5 minutes or less. Just pull the cleanout system lever and cleanup will be complete.

Pros:

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    Very easy to use and setup
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    Has a large cooking area
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    Uses a digital temperature controller for precise use
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    Very sturdy build which makes is very durable

Cons:

  • Is one of the heaviest pellet grills on the market
  • The recommended pellets can be quite expensive

Z Grills ZPG-7002 Wood Pellet Smoker

Z-grills Wood Pellet BBQ Grill and Smoker with Digital Temperature Controls

Great food cooked anywhere

"This Z Grills wood smoker is built to last. It features some pretty sturdy wheels to meaning you can take it literally anywhere"

The Z-grills Wood Pellet BBQ Grill and Smoker with Digital Temperature Controls is the ultimate 7 in 1 grill. You can smoke, grill, bake, sear, roast, braise and BBQ all on this one grill.

With heavy duty all terrain wheels this grill can easily be navigated in just about any outside situation. It also comes with a rust proof cover to ensure the grill is always protected no matter what the weather looks like.

The automated electric feed gives you the freedom to do other things while you are preparing your food. Just set it and walk away. The system will maintain the temperature ensuring your food is grilled to perfection every time. This grill has a temperature range of 180ºF to 450ºF.

With a 700 square inch grilling area and 20Ib hopper capacity this grill is perfect for cooking for large groups of people.

Z Grills offers a fully satisfied or money back guarantee. There is also a 3 year warranty from the manufacturer. 

Pros:

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    Comes with 'Automatic Electric Feeder System' meaning it maintains a constant heat
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    Massive 700 square inches of cooking space
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    Portable thanks to locking cast wheels
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    Long 3 year warranty

Cons:

  • Manufactured in China

Traeger Texas Elite 34

Traeger TFB65LZBC Texas Elite 34 Series Wood Pellet Grill

Versatility from an established brand

"Traeger were the first manufactures of pellet grills so have been around a long time. They are classed as one of the best on the market"

Traeger created the original wood pellet many years ago, and it's fair to say that they have innovated over the years. Their current line up of grills are world class - hence the mention of the Elite 34 in our recommendation.

The Texas Elite has a great Integrated Digital Controller which keeps the temperature pretty steady through the cook. It's a little easier to use than a pure digital one - think of it like the knob you have on your home oven. 

It has a whopping 646 square inches of cooking space which makes it perfect if you love to entertain groups - or you just love eating BBQ food.

Another great feature we love is the electronic auto-start system. You simple switch a button to turn on and off this Traeger meaning no messing around with fire starters. 

While it is a little more expensive than other models, if you are looking for a versatile grill with a large cooking area then this unit is perfect.

Pros:

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    Big 646 square inches of cooking space
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    Great digital 'Elite' controller maintains temperature +/- 20 F
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    Comes with auto-start ignition making it really easy to use
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    Easy to clean porcelain grill gates

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to most other grills

What Makes A Good Pellet Smoker?

When you mention a pellet smoker to someone, they instantly think of the rich smokey flavours infused into BBQ food.

However, if you dig a little deeper you should also think of the control and convenience a good pellet smoker can give too. 

A few years ago there were only a few options to choose from.

These days there are literally hundreds of different models to pick from and to ensure you end up with the right one for you, you must consider all the various features.

Sure you should look for a pellet smoker that will give you control, convenience, great customer service, good warranty and great flavour for your food, but there are quite a few other factors you should also consider.

Price

Obviously price is probably the most important factor you need to consider when choosing your grill.

You can pick up a few models for less than $100 and on the other end of the scale a few will cost you over $10,000.

However, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. We all love to save money, but buying a cheap smoker based purely on the price will end up costing you a fortune in the long run.

It is possible to find a high-quality pellet grill at an affordable price - it will last longer and you'll get more use than something that is always breaking down or hard to use.

Temperature Range

pellet grill temperature

The second most important factor you need to consider it the temperature range. As first you may not think this is that important, however certain types of cooking require high temperatures. 

Most pellet grills will warm to between 180 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit which is great for smoking, baking, grilling and roasting. However if you like to sear your meats then you are going to want something that will reach around 550 degrees Fahrenheit (some brands actually offer a separate searing box which attaches to your grill).

While we are talking about temperatures we should also mention the importance of a good thermometer. While lots of grills have inbuilt probes, most are not great and you are unable to calibrate them.

We always recommend an aftermarket thermometer so you have an accurate reading - ensuring your meat is always cooked through. 

Controller Type

Cooking with a pellet grill is all about consistency - and this is made possible due to digital temperature controller. If you want a super tender brisket then you are going to want to keep a constant 250 F for the whole 12 hour cooking period.

The controller is constantly monitoring and maintaining this so getting a good one is very important.

There are a few different types of controllers: One-touch non-PID, PID multi-position and 3 position (HML) controllers. You should check out the different types to ensure you get the one that is just right for you.

One Touch Non PID Controller 

The One Touch Non PID controller gives you the ability to set the temperature using one touch buttons. The temperature can be set in 5° or 10° increments and there is an LCD display that shows the exact setting.

One Touch Non PID controllers are a lot more accurate than the previous two controllers. However, keep in mind they too deliver pellets on a fixed cycle. Because of this accuracy is limited to +/-15–20°F.

Some one touch non PID controllers have meat probe inputs that allow you to monitor the internal temperature of the foods you are preparing. This of course is extremely useful when you are grilling meat.

Multi Position Controller

With a multi position controller you use a knob to set the temperature to where you want it to be. The temperature ranges from 180°F all the way up to 420°F and can be adjusted in 25° increments.

Depending on the type of pellet grill you purchase there may be an LED display that shows the temperature.

Being that you will have more temperature settings you will also have more control over how you cook your food.

Just like with the 3 position controller, with a multi position controller the pellets are fed in on a fixed cycle. In ideal conditions a multi position controller can maintain the temperature at about +/-20°F. In windy conditions however the controller is less reliable and not as accurate.

Some multi position controllers have meat probe inputs for monitoring food temperatures.

3 Position Controller

Often referred to as LMH controllers, the 3 position controller has only 3 temperature settings. Low which is around 225°F, medium which is around 325°F and high which is around 425°F.

The temperature setting you choose will determine how and when the pellets are fed into the grill.

If you are someone who likes more control over how you prepare your food having just 3 temperature settings can prove to be a big issue.

If on the other hand you are new to grilling and are still figuring things out, a 3 position controller can make learning how to grill a lot easier.

You will usually find 3 position controllers on lower priced models.

Pellet smoker reviews

Cooking Area and Size

Pellet grills come in all shapes and sizes - everything from handheld portable grills to extra-large competition units. When considering what size you need, you should think about if you want to grill on the go.

While it's possible to get a smoker packed with amazing features and portable (such as the Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable we mentioned above) usually you will want either something which will stay in the back yard or something which you will take on the road. 

When it comes to cooking size, this is pretty self explanatory. If you have a large family or regularly cook for groups then you are going to want a larger area. Most grills will come with a second rack to keep food warm while you continue cooking - so take that into account when choosing.  

Features and capabilities

Some smokers are basic and some are jammed with a range of extra features and capabilities - which one is right for you depends on your situation.

Are you willing to forfeit some features for a lower price? Or do you want all the bells and whistles?

With so many pellet grills on the market the only way manufacturers can differentiate themselves is through features. Find out which ones come standard and which ones are optional. If you are trying to save money keep the features to a minimum. Here are 6 popular features you should look for when shopping for a pellet grill:

Patented Cleanout System

For many the worst part of owning a grill is having to clean it out.

And while pellet grills are easier to clean, it can still be a frustrating process if you are someone who does a ton of grilling.

Some pellet grills, mainly Camp Chef pellet grills, come with a patented ash clean-out system. Having this type of system in place makes cleaning up as simple as pulling a lever. And because cleanup is so fast you will have more time to enjoy your friends and loved ones.

WiFi Capabilities

These days we are more connected than we have ever been in the history of the world. And just like our homes have become smart, so have our grills.

Pellet grills already have an electronic control board which makes them a natural fit for WiFi. When your pellet grill is connected to WiFi you will have more freedom to roam and do other things as you will be able to monitor and control everything remotely.

Just download the app and you are ready to go. No matter where you are you can simply log in and control the temperature of the grill. It’s the ultimate set it and forget it experience.

Currently there aren’t that many pellet grills that offer WiFi capabilities. However, as demand continues to increase you can expect more companies to start offering this feature. Right now Memphis Grills and the Traeger Timberline grill offer cloud based WiFi.

Control Board With Meat Probe Input

Most pellet grills have a meat probe outlet that you can plug into the control board.

The other end of the probe will be placed in the meat so you can monitor the temperature. When connected the digital display will show the temperature of the food without you having to lift the lid.

Included Meat Probes

meat probes

While most grills do accommodate meat probes, many of them do not come with the probe. Some will require you buy it separately.

It’s also important you know not all meat probes are created equal. Some are only capable of monitoring while others can be programmed to lower the heat of the grill once the food reaches a certain temperature.

If you have the option opt for a programmable probe as it will give you more freedom while you are grilling.

Direct Grilling

Direct grilling is become more and more popular as people would prefer their grill be able to handle both grilling and smoking.

Some grills require you remove part of the diffuser plate which will allow flames to come through so you can do direct grilling. Other grills have an area dedicated to direct grilling.

Secondary Cooking Racks

This feature is important for those you need to maximize the amount of cooking space they can use. Look for a pellet grill that can accommodate a secondary cooking rack.

Some pellet grills come with a secondary cooking rack while others will require you purchase it separately.

Quality Of Construction

If you want a grill that will last for years to come it all starts with the construction of the grill. 

If you will be shopping in a local retail store take the time to really investigate the grill. Lift the lid to see how sturdy it is.

Move it around a bit so you can feel the weight. Is it heavy or flimsy and light? While a pellet grill doesn’t need to be overly hefty, you don’t want it to be too light on its feet either. The grill should feel sturdy and there should be no visible gaps or spaces that will allow heat to escape.

If you will be shopping online the best way to get an idea of the quality of a particular grill is by reading reviews (Amazon user reviews are amazing for this.)

Most pellet grills are built using painted steel. However, not all painted steel is created equal. For best results you want a coat of paint that can handle high heat. If the paint cannot handle high heat it will start to blister and flake if it gets too hot. Once the paint starts blistering the steel will eventually be exposed and start to rust.

If you would rather avoid the potential for rust altogether consider getting a stainless steel pellet grill. Not only are they rust resistant, but they are extremely durable and a lot easier to maintain.

If you are on a tight budget opt for a pellet grill made using 430 stainless steel. It is still very durable and not as expensive as a pellet grill made from commercial grade 304 stainless steel.

A well built pellet grill is not only more durable, but it will also perform better. When quality materials are used the grill is able to retain heat better. As a result the grill will perform in a more efficient manner no matter how hot or cold it is outside.

Generally speaking cheap grills are not made with quality materials. While the outside may look good, often times you will find the guts of the grill are made with lower grade metals. This of course affects functionality and longevity. If the inside of the grill isn’t made using quality materials you will literally burn through it over a certain period time.

Are You Ready To Make a Decision?

When it boils down to it the pellet grill you choose to purchase will depend on your personal wants and needs. You’re the one paying for it so you’re the one that needs to be happy with it.

The most important advice we can give you is to do your research.

Find out the different features that you need and research the different pellet grills that offer those features. If you are well informed before you make your purchase you will be less likely to have buyers remorse.

You may also want to check out the top 5 best electric smoker review if you’re not yet set on getting a pellet smoker. 

How to care and maintain for your pellet smoker

While we love reviewing and writing about pellet smokers, we also want you to get the most out of them once you make a purchase.

If you carefully look after your smoker then it will last a lifetime, however, fail to do this and you will be lucky to get a few years.

With smokers, a little bit of work goes a long way. While you should clean it after every cook, we recommend a full deep clean at least once a year - if you're a frequent user, we recommend 3 times a year. 

One thing which is often overlooked is the quality of pellets used. Sure you can purchase cheap ones, however they will have a detrimental effect long term. It's worth paying the extra - trust us!

Clean before you cook

Some 'old schoolers' will tell you that a build up of grease, soot and ash all add to the BBQ flavour and taste. They couldn't be further from the truth - it's not good for you and could even be dangerous. 

That's why we recommend you always clean your grill before every use. Sure it's not fun and you want to get on with cooking, but it will optimise the performance and enhance the taste. 

You should always check the grease pan or collectors before you start - if they are full then it is a massive fire hazard. Don't forget the grease chute too if you have one.

Inspect your burners

Arguably the burners are one of the most important aspects of your smoker so you need to check them often. You should be on the lookout for corrosion or blockages - if you find any then you should sort the issue before cooking.

You should also clean your burn pot. Make sure to use the proper methods and cleaning materials as this will produce great results. 

Replacing your gaskets

If you use your smoker a lot then certain parts wear quicker than others - the gaskets being one of them.

The gasket is the place where the dome meets the base, so you can imagine this is where most of the pressure is. Thankfully, these are usually easy to replace and the parts can usually be purchased from the manufacturer. 

Always read the instruction manual (yes it's boring)

Ok we know that nobody likes to read the instruction manual - especially us men. But even expert pit masters could learn something which is specific to their grill.

Most manuals will have the same general advice about not using water to clean the smoker. 

Almost all pellet smokers comes with digital controllers, motorized augers, fans, igniters etc and if they come into contact with water, they will be ruined.

It's advised to gently rub any grease or dirt off these parts making sure that you don't take the units apart (most are sealed units anyways.)

instruction manual

Don't forget to always clean your thermostat - the main reason for mis-cooked food is an inaccurate temperature. We usually recommend an aftermarket probe too.

This post was last updated on September 12th, 2018 at 12:31 pm

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