The 15 Best Pellet Grills under $500 | The Ultimate Guide for 2021

A great pellet grill is not only going to bring the heat, it’s going to bring the SMOKE.

A solid hardwood pellet burning grill under $500? That’s even better.

We’ve thoroughly researched and compiled a list of our favorite 25 smoke show pellet grills to up your grilling game to the next level.

Final Sear

The Final Sear: The Z Grills ZPG-7002E is my favorite grill in this category. Packed with 25K BTUs of cooking power and an impressive 700 sq. inches of cooking area, this thing is a beast. Well under $500 makes it a steal.

The 15 Best Pellet Grills under $500 in 2021

  • Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
    Product Name
  • 4.5Rating
  • 160 - 400temperature range
  • 573 sq. inCooking Area
  • 40.5 x 25 x 22 inDimensions
  • $$Price
  • Z Grills ZPG-7002E Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
    Product Name
  • 4.3Rating
  • 180 - 450temperature range
  • 694 sq. inCooking Area
  • 48 x 22 x 51 inDimensions
  • $$Price
  • Oklahoma Joe's 20202106 Rider Deluxe Pellet Grill
    Product Name
  • 4.4Rating
  • 175 - 650temperature range
  • 578 sq. inCooking Area
  • 31.2 x 55.5 x 54.2 inDimensions
  • $$Price

1. Z Grills ZPG-7002E Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

When it comes to pellet grills, this is a beautiful example of what a quality model should look like, especially if you’re ready to do a lot of smoking.

The Z Grills 700 is designed for max versatility and ease of cooking so you can really enjoy whatever style you use it for, whether that’s smoking, grilling, roasting or baking.

With this model, I really appreciate the quality build, size and included features. The total cooking area is a generous 700 square inches, which is pretty substantial for a pellet grill. The hopper capacity is also roomy, holding up to 20lbs (enough for about 20 hours) at once so you’re not constantly refilling each time you decide to grill.

This is an 8-in-1 model which means it’s capable of grilling, roasting, smoking, searing, braising, char-grilling, barbecuing and baking. The fan-forced convection cooking eliminates the need for a separate rotisserie and makes it the ideal set-up for any type of cooking situation. It also gets about 25,000 BTUs per hour.

Z Grills includes a well-engineered automated electric feed system that maintains your heat level and produces the ideal amount of smoke – it’s a sweet set it and forget it feature that gives you a lot of freedom while cooking. The temperature range is 180 to 450 degrees and can be set using the dial knob and digital screen.

I mentioned this model is also really easy to use, here’s why: electronic, auto-start ignition, digital auto temperature control, intelligently designed waste oil collector for hassle free cleaning, and an upgraded cart with locking caster wheels for transport.

I also appreciate the look and build of the ZPG with the stainless steel hood and handle, the large lower cart area for storage and the small workspace available on top of the pellet hopper.

If you love a wood-fired flavor, this is a super convenient option that really brings to smoke and heat.

2. Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill

Camp Chef is on their second generation of the DLX model of their pellet grills and it has some nice little feature upgrades that bump it up to the top of this list of overall pellet smoker favorites.

In terms of size, it edges mid-range to large in terms of overall space. The total square inches round out at 570 with a solid 18lb hopper capacity and Camp Chef’s exclusive ash cleanup system, one of our favorites of any brand for its easy of regular cleanup and long term maintenance.

The overall BTUs come in at 25,000 per hour.

The full feature list include all of our typical must-haves, including an electronic ignition system for quick and easy starts, a dual PID Gen 2 temperature readout showing both internal food and cooking temperatures, simple temperature selection, automatic auger dispenser for smoking maximization, a single temperature probe for internal temps, a fan, simple grease collection system and porcelain-coated cooking grates.

The overall temp range is a respectable 160 to 500 degrees with 2 smoke levels so you can actually finesse your cook a bit. You can also add on a sear attachment for an extra hot temp to get that perfect crust on steaks.

The overall build mimics the rest of the Camp Chef line with a solid stainless steel exterior with powder-coated finish, all terrain wheels and a convenient side table for prep and holding meat as you unload the grill before and after a cook session.

Your Camp Chef pick is really going to come down to size and the scale you need for the type of smoking and grilling you do, this is a great mid-range option that is going to tick all the boxes for most at home, non-competition level grillers.

3. Oklahoma Joe’s 20202106 Rider Deluxe Pellet Grill

Oklahoma Joe’s as a brand is new to our lists, but this pellet grill model is such a rising star it has to claim the #3 spot.

Significantly larger in size to the Camp Chef in the #2 ranking, the overall cooking area is 578 square inches with two 328 square inch adjustable warming racks for nearly 1200 square inches of overall cook space. This is not a small or even mid-size grill. The hopper is also designed to serve the larger size with a nice 20lb capacity, which will fit most pellet bags in their entirety.

The Pit control system is designed to provide alerts when you have either reached a specified length of cook time or when your meat hits a programmed internal temp set in advance. This is a nice way to control and guide your cook and eliminates much of the guesswork. The readout for temp and time is also digital for at a glance visual monitoring.

Flex grates allow for multiple configurations of space so you can design your grilling experience to suit your current needs, whether that’s smoking some ribs or grilling up some burgers for the weekend.

My favorite feature on this grill that is absent from most pellet models is the sear capacity. The Rider Deluxe is designed with “sear mode” which increases temps as high as 650 degrees, well beyond the usual cap at 500, so you can go from smoke mode to sear mode and finish off your meat.

Dual smoke stacks positioned in the lid allow for increased airflow and a quick draw hoppers pulls pellets downward to make storage easy and facilitate swapping out favors as needed.

The construction on this beast is primarily heavy-duty steel with a lower card and two large wheels for ease of mobility. A single size shelf with tool hooks offers some quick at-hand storage along with a lower cart shelf for larger grilling essentials.

This is a sweet large size pellet grill with all the key features you want to check off your list. If you have the space, make this model a top contender.

4. Z Grills ZPG-450A 2020 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

If you’re a fan of Z Grills, this is a great alternative to the big brother grill in our top spot.

Coming in as a 6-in-1 with a 450 square inch grilling area and a foldable work shelf for some added prep space.

Fun features to look for include: fan-forced convection cooking (no need for a rotisserie), auto-ignition for quick starts, a cooking temp range from 180 to 450 degrees, their automated electric feed system designed to maintain internal temps for the duration of your cook, and digital temperature readout.

I like the big honking, heavy-duty casters on this model and appreciate the easy ash cleanup system to keep maintenance hassle-free.

This is a great smaller model if you love the grill in our top spot but don’t need the extra cooking area.

5. Ozark Grills – the Stag Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Another model from Ozark, this one comes in larger than our #2 pick but offers all the same features plus a slightly higher price tag.

Total cooking area is a hefty 570 square inches with a massive 23lb pellet hopper capacity. That’s going to keep you stocked for a long time. It also comes with an extra meat probe so you can monitor multiple projects at once.

Additional features we love on this model is the overall cook versatility, allowing you to smoke, grill, braise, bake, and roast at a range of temps, a 20 degree range for temperature selection capping out at 450 degrees, a simple to use digital control panel, auto-feed to maintain internal temps, and an auto-igniter for quick and easy start-ups.

This is a great size for feeding larger groups and is a favorite for serious tailgaters.

6. Pit Boss PB440TG 440 sq in Portable Wood Folding Legs Pellet Grill

Another mid-size grill, this is a solid portable model from Pit Boss that is a great choice for longer events and grilling at parties with bigger groups.

The total cooking area is a roomy 440 square inches. It also includes a collapsible leg design with rolling wheels so it can condense and sit low to the ground or save space during transport.

This model includes a flame broiler for direct flame cooking, a dial-in temperature control range of 180 to 550 degrees, an auto-start hot rod for quick heat ups, a digital control center and LED display, a lid-mounted thermometer and porcelain-coated cooking racks.

The hopper size on this guy is small compared to the overall grill space at just 5lbs, so it will require more monitoring than the other options on this list.

7. Weber 23510201 SmokeFire EX6 (2nd Gen) Wood Fired Pellet Grill

This hunk of grilling beauty is new to Weber’s line up and isn’t as tried and true as many of the pellet grills on this list so it ranks lower than it probably deserves. We’ll give it a year and re-evaluate but for now, the new SmokeFire EX6 can ride on the Weber name and overall reputation for quality.

In terms of size, it falls on the larger end of the spectrum with 1,008 square inches of dual-grilling space with a large 20lb capacity hopper designed to accommodate a full bag of pellets, ideal for low and slow all day cooking projects.

Like all Weber grills, the SmokeFire includes Weber’s signature flavorizer bars for infusing juices and smoke back into the meat.

Additional features include two meat probes, a removable and easy to clean ash and grease drawer, an LCD display showing time and temperature output, a temp range of 200-600 degrees and the ability to connect to Weber’s smart phone app for continuous remote updates.

Like the Oklahoma Joe, the EX6 has the ability to reach temps of 600 plus to finish off meat with a nice sear, no additional components needed to get the job done. This is one of my favorite features on any pellet grill and is definitely one you should expect at this price point.

The overall design is porcelain-enameled steel with chrome components and casters on all four legs for easy maneuverability. It’s a sleek and modern-looking grill with all the quality fittings and feel you expect of any other top-tier Weber grill.

8. Davy Crockett Pellet Grill Tailgating Package

If you’re looking for a pellet grill you can throw in the back of your vehicle to tag along on tailgates and camping trips, you want something durable, reliable and easy to use. This grill ticks all the boxes and is something you’ll enjoy so much, you might consider replacing your at home pellet grill with it too.

This model is substantially sized and weighs about 57 lbs so you’ll ideally want a buddy to help with loading and unloading. It is compact and folds nicely to fit in just about any trunk so it’s ready to roll when you are. Total grill size is 31.75’’ x 34’’ x 23”.

Features include the Sense-Mate thermal sensor to continuously monitor internal grill temps, a meat probe to track the internal temp of the meat you’re cooking up, a peaked lid so you can grill rib racks and whole chickens, and a stainless side table pop-up for prep with tool hooks for all your essentials. The temp range is 150-550 with 5 degree increment control so this guy gets hot and can be dialed in with a lot of precision.

The cooking area is a more compact 219 square inches and the hopper capacity for the pellets is 18lbs. The pellet window allows you to easily monitor your fill level and top off as needed.

One of the best perks of this grill is the digital wifi controller so you can monitor temps and cook time on the Green Mountain app via your smart phone.

9. Big Horn Outdoors Pellet Grill and Smoker

If you’re looking for a big boy pellet grill and smoker, this is a very roomy option with a bunch of great features, a sweet look and a nice classic rolling cart to set it up just about anywhere.

The feature list is pretty rich with a 700 square inch cooking space – big enough for 3 whole chickens, 20 individual burgers or 6 racks of tasty ribs. It’s also imminently flexible, offering six cooking features, including: grilling, smoking, roasting, bracing, baking and of course, barbecuing. Temperature control is automatic digital and the LED display is both easy to program and to read.

The overall construction is durable and high-quality stainless steel with a folding front shelf, lower storage rack, wheels for easy maneuverability and an adjustable damper on the smoke stack.

The temp range on the Big Horn is 225 to 450 degrees with a slightly disappointing 8lb hopper capacity.

The side bar comes with movable tool hooks and the overall set-up is just designed for intuitive ease of use. This is a great set up for someone serious about classic smoking looking for a grill large enough to accommodate a significant quantity of meat at one time.

10. Traeger Grills Ranger Grill TBT18KLD Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

If you’re looking for uber compact and portable, this little guy from Traeger is a solid pellet grill and smoker.

It legitimately looks like a small hard shell suitcase, it is that minimalist. The external design is meant to take a beating and it can be hauled around in just about any size vehicle to accompany you to sporting events, tailgates, picnics, camping trips, and fishing weekends.

Features include a digital arc controller allowing you to set temps in 5 degree increments, advanced grilling logic for precise temperature monitoring, a convenient keep-warm mode after cooking is over, easy to clean porcelain coated grill grates, an internal meat probe for checking meat temps without lifting the lid, a built-in cooking timer and lid latches to lock it down for transport.

The total grilling area is 184 square inches so it is one of the smallest options on this list. By no means does that imply this Traeger is lacking, that equates to a rack of ribs, 6 burgers or 10 hot dogs, perfect for the average family. The pellet hopper capacity is about 8lbs.

A cast iron griddle is a nice added bonus to perfect the sear on your steak or cook up a traditional big breakfast.

Overall weight is 60 lbs so it isn’t too much of a beast to lug around. The dimensions are 13’’ x 21’’ x 20’’.

11. Camp Chef PG24XT Smoke Pro Pellet BBQ

This generously sized Camp Chef is a great larger alternative to the 429 square inch version at a slightly higher price point. I love this option for grillers newer to smoking that need a smooth and easy introduction.

Overall size is 570 square inches with an 18lb hopper capacity. Like the slightly smaller version, it features smart smoke technology, a meat probe, electronic auto-start ignition, and a dual LED temperature readout for monitoring internal food and cooking temps to fine tune the experience.

It is narrower than most of the smokers on our list and comes with sturdy casters for easy movability. It includes a lower rack for some basic storage and casters for movability.

This is a great option if you’re grilling for a mid-size group and need just a little more space than the model in our #3 spot.

12. Traeger Pellet Grills TFB30KLF Tailgater 20 Grill

The Tailgater is a nice smaller option from Traeger with all the basics needed for a solid smoke.

Traeger considers this a portable smoker due to it’s more compact size and while I don’t see it being the easiest to transport to your favorite tailgate, you can collapse the foldable legs and load it up in the back of your truck. You can also use it while its legs are collapsed int he bed of your truck if you want to save on space.

Total grilling size is 300 square inches with an included meat probe to monitor cook temps and electronic ignition. The temperature precision is also really nice on this model and can be set in 5 degree increments to fine tune the experience.

The pellet hopper capacity is average size at about 8 lbs.

13. Pit Boss Classic 700 sq. in. Wood Fired Pellet Grill & Smoker

There are so many high-quality grills from the Pit Boss team and this is another great example.

One of the big boys, the Classic offers 700 square inches of cooking area with a nice 21lb hopper capacity that hits the sweet spot for long-term smoking without refills.

This is the perfect “forever grill” if you’re on the hunt for a smoker that you’ll use season after season. Features include a cooking range from 180 to 500 degrees, an electronic auto-start, continuous pellet feed to meet internal temperature selection, a temperature dial with digital readout, a lid-mounted temperature gauge and a solid steel build with powder coating.

It also includes a nice flame broiler for direct heat cooking.

The lower rack is dialed in for storing essentials and the heavy-duty casters make it easy to reposition and store the grill during seasons of non-use.

14. Pit Boss PBV3P1 Vertical Pellet Smoker

The first vertical style on our best under $500 list, this is another big boy option for newer smoker fans.

Total area is 901 square inches, the largest cooking area of any pellet grill on this list, thanks to the extra room afforded by the vertical design. It includes four porcelain-coated cooking racks along with a porcelain coated water and heat deflector.

It also comes with a nicely sized 40lb pellet hopper with a side display window for easy monitoring and purge function.

Temperature is fully programmable from from 150 to 450 degrees and offers the standard auto-start igniter with auto-shut off you will find on most pellet smokers.

The PBV ansi has a digital temperature readout with LED display and a meat probe for monitoring internal temperatures.

15. Traeger 10526 Bronson 20 Pellet Grill

Finishing us off is this sweet little compact model from Traeger.

The overall size on this guy is 300 square inches of cooking space, enough room to pack in 2 chickens, 3 racks of ribs or 12 burgers. The pellet hopper capacity is about 10 lbs.

Features on the Bronson include the usual porcelain-coated cooking grates, 6-in-1 versatility for cooking however you like, Advanced Grilling Logic designed to maintain temperatures inside the grill for perfect distribution of pellets, temperature selection in 20 degree increments from 180 to 400 degrees, and electronic auto-start ignition.

The sawhorse style chassis provides a lot of stability and includes all terrain wheels for off-roading when you’re feeling adventurous and decide take this model on the road. It also offers a bonus side handle.

This is a lower-end model and has a decent feature list with a solid brand name, but we recommend it at the bottom of our list due to a range of consumer issues that make it an unreliable performer.

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About the Author Craig Rinde

I am a grill freak! It's hard to pick my favorite thing to grill, but if I had to choose... it is still a tie between pork ribs and a juicy beef burger. I am currently grilling on a Weber S210(I live in a small space) but my dream grill is definitely a summit. Those things are bad ass. Anyways I would love to hear from you, leave a comment or question below!

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