Wood = flavor = pro-level mouthwatering grilling.
If you’re on the hunt for a pellet grill, then you’re already clued into this grill secret.
Pellet smokers are key to achieving the smoky, wood-fired taste pit bosses are known for and the right pellet smoker will come with some key features to make grilling and smoking easy and fun.
Our top must haves: temp versatility, decent hopper weight capacity, feeding automation.
We’ve compiled a list of the best pellet performers with a break down of what each has to offer in a range of price points.
Remember how I said that one of the key must-haves in a pellet smoker was versatility? Z-Grills hits the top of our list for being a high-level 8-in-1 performer.
The ZPG is designed to grill, smoke, bake, roast, sear, braise, barbeque or char-grill. I think the only thing it can’t do is chill your beer.
It comes with fan-forced convection cooking, which means no rotisserie needed and allows you to cook your meat any way you like with no hassle and no add-on kits.
The new 2019 model also comes equipped with the temperature and pellet feed control upgrade, which auto-ignites and lets the user fine tune temps between 160 and 450 degrees for cooking quick and hot or low and slow.
Z Grills guarantees a temp variation of no greater than 5 degrees +/- whether it’s below zero or over 100 degrees outside, so if you’re that guy grilling on your covered deck in snow boots and a hat, you’re good to go.
The auto-feed system maintains an even and consistent temp and smoke output, keeping the pellets flowing through the belly of the beast because you’re a griller, not a babysitter.
Hopper capacity is a generous 20lbs, which is considered high capacity for this category, lasting about 20 hours.
I also love the Z-Grills because it is roomy – you’re getting 700 square inches of cook-space, which includes the smoke rack. This is one of the larger grills on our list and can feed a horde if you’re regularly hosting.
Additional features worth noting are the 25,000 BTU burner, the digital pellet purge system, LED temperature readout, easy to clean and dump grease bucket collection system, locking caster wheels, stainless steel construction with high heat resistance to prevent corrosion and top durability.
The ZPG also hits the top spot because the pricing on this model is reasonable given all the features packed into it and the overall quality of the feed and smoke.
There are more expensive grills on our list with a few more bells and whistles, but they don’t outperform when it comes to the value for cost calculation.
If you have a bigger budget you can spring for the discretionary upgrades in the Camp Chef we highlight next, but the ZPG still tops out for a quality grill with the best all-around experience and value.
The Woodwind is an exceptional smoker grill that offers a well-rounded experience for new and veteran pellet users, along with a few upgrades at a price point closer to the $1,000 mark.
Like the Z Grills, the Camp Chef offers auto-start ignition and a dual LED temperature display with a slightly larger range of 160-500 degrees. The dual LEDs monitor internal food and cooking temps.
The smart smoke technology is designed to allow for precision temperature selection with a variance of +/- 5 degrees, just like the Z Grills, which means if you’re a control freak griller or a carefree cook, you can pretty much set it and forget it.
The hopper and augur-feed system is also automatic so you’re not constantly regulating operations. Total hopper capacity is 22lbs.
A few fun features that I like on the Camp Chef are the attached bottle opener, streamlined grease management system, and the simple ash cleanout. Total cooking area between the two racks is 811 square inches so the overall size on this grill is a little over 100 square inches larger than the ZPG.
The main difference between this grill and the Z Grills that accounts for the big price jump is the Sidekick.
This is the little side burner rack on the left of the grill that can act as a sear station, griddle or extra grill space. It includes a propane hookup and the cast-aluminum burner offers 30,000 BTUs of power.
Like other standard gas grills the sidekick has one touch ignition, an independent grease management system and wind baffled technology to protect your grilling from the elements. This is the bell and whistle upgrade that is a great value if you have a little more flex in your spending.
The last grill in our top 3 line up gets top marks for offering a slimmer, portable profile.
I really love the versatility of being able to take this smoker box on the go, it’s the perfect addition to a road trip with the family, camping or even all day tailgating. It folds up like great stainless suitcase, with wheels and a handle for easy transport.
I also find that you’re not compromising on quality or cook versatility in favor of portability. Camp Chef packs in all the essential features and all the great automation you enjoy with their stationary grills.
Like the Woodwind, the Pursuit offers an electronic auto-igniter, automatic augur, and simple temperature selection with dual probes for meat and internal box temps with the same LED readout.
The hopper size on the Pursuit is the only real compromise, at just 10lbs, it has about 10 hours of life before a refill is needed. Since this grill is designed for use on the go, the smaller size makes sense here.
Total cooking area is 501 square inches, comparable to the ZPG.
My favorite feature on the Pursuit that the ZPG and Woodwind don’t have is the slide and grill technology. Camp Chef developed this so you can switch between direct and indirect flame cooking just by pulling on a knob.
This is a solid grill if you’re looking to be able to use a smoker outside your backyard and need a quality grill that can keep up without slowing you down.
The Davy Crockett is Green Mountain‘s portable smoker grill option. While it falls a bit short of the Pursuit in terms of ease of use, and quality of construction, it’s a great lower budget grill.
The GMG includes sense-mate technology, which is their version of automatic temperature monitoring.
The portability comes from the legs, which fold up to double as handles. I prefer the wheeled suitcase style of the Pursuit for travel, but this works just fine if the walk from the car to grill spot is short.
The Davy Crocket includes a single meat probe, a peaked lid in case you’re cooking full size chickens, and a drop down side rack with utensil holders for prep and storage.
Cook size is 219 square inches and the hopper capacity tops out at 17lbs, which is pretty generous compared to the Pursuit.
The most interesting feature is that GMG added wifi tech so all temps can be monitored on a smart phone using their app. While this isn’t something you can use while on the go, it’s a fun feature to geek out on at home.
This is a roomy offering from Pit Boss with great quality construction and a no frills frame.
The temperature range on the 700FB is pretty standard, at 180-500 degrees. Like the other options on our list, it features electronic ignition and both indirect and direct cooking with an electronic burn system that lets you control burn length in addition to the heat.
The cast iron cooking grids are porcelain coated and the overall construction uses stainless steel components.
The cooking area on the 700FB is roomy at 700 square inches over two racks with 40,000 BTUs of total cook power, the equivalent of about 32 burgers. The hopper capacity is 18lbs.
This is a great entry-level grill with enough features that a newbie to pellet grilling can feel at home, while veteran smokers will be satisfied with the quality of the overall experience.
Another mid-range option in the smoker category, the Cuisinart is a solid backyard favorite with respectable ratings for quality. This is better suited to the weekend warrior and may disappoint die-hard pit bosses.
The CPG-4000 is a 6 in 1, offering the option to grill, smoke, roast, braise, barbecue and bake. It offers a larger 450 square inch cooking space and 15lb hopper capacity. Pellets auto-feed for continuous cooking and a digital temp readout for fine-tuning cook levels.
The overall design features all-terrain wheels, a side handle and pop up table for storing condiments and tools while cooking.
The RT-700 is one of the biggest, baddest grills on this list with the price tag to match.
This beast includes a crazy 40lb hopper and a total 1054 square inch cooking area encompassing both racks.
Construction is top-grade stainless steel on just about everything. It is also a smart grill with wifi technology that monitors temperature, pellet volume and feed, as well as automatic shut down. Temperature range is 200-500 degrees with nuanced 5 degree increments.
Other notable features include: dual meat probes, automatic lighting, stainless steel cooking grates, a ceramic ignition system, a bottom shelf for storage and utility hooks for storing tools.
Traeger offers some of the best built pellet grills on the market, but have dropped in our rankings due to customer service issues customers have been experiencing recently.
The grills themselves are top performers, but when issues arise, the Traeger team has been disappointing.
So what can you expect from the Renegade? For starters, 380 square inches of grilling area and a 18lb hopper capacity. Versatility isn’t quite as high as the top performers – the Renegade is a 6-in-1 grill.
The automatic temp control keeps temperatures within a +/- 20 degree spread (a wider range than our top performers) and allows for low and slow cooking on the “smoke” setting. The electronic ignition is auto-start and grill grates are easy to clean porcelain for a non-stick surface.
I do love all the storage on this grill, especially the tool caddy rack with room for condiments and hanging utensils.
This mini Camp Chef is a great smaller alterative to the full size version at a lower price point that makes it more accessible to a wider range of grill budgets.
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 larger 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. This is a great option if you’re grilling for a smaller group.
This last 6-in- 1 offering from Traeger doesn’t look like any other smoker on this list and could easily be mistaken for a regular gas grill with no barrel or smokestack.
The Elite is also one of the pricier options, coming in over the $1,000 mark.
So what can you expect from the higher-end Traeger? Cooking capacity is fairly generous at 589 square inches, which is large enough to hold 4 chickens, 4 racks of ribs or 20 burgers at once. Hopper capacity comes in at 18lbs.
The overall construction is strong, made primarily of stainless steel with a roomy enclosed lower cabinet for storage. The digital elite controller is reminiscent of an oven dial and makes setting smoking temps easy and precise. Max temp is 450 degrees and the LED display makes for easy readings.
The grill gates are made of porcelain and especially easy to remove and clean, like the other Traeger on this list.
This is a large profile grill and a solid intro into the art of smoking.
This is a great little pellet smoker and grill that I really like as a more portable, compact option. You don’t need a ton of space to house this guy and you can set it up on just about any table top or sturdy surface.
So what are we looking at in terms of specs? The hopper is pretty generous for the overall small size, accommodating up to 3.5 pounds of hardwood pellets, serving a 256 square inch total grilling surface. It also gets a good temperature range, spanning 180 to 500 degrees so you can bring the heat or cook low and slow.
The control panel on this little guy is digital so it’s easy to dial-in. The cooking grates are porcelain coated and pretty simple to maintain so this isn’t a smoker you’re going to have to baby and spend a lot of time maintaining.
If you’re serious about grilling and smoking on the go, this Country Smoker model is perfect for a long camping trip or extended tailgate party.
If you’re looking for a big boy pellet grill and smoker, look no further than this hefty model from Big Horn Outdoors.
This is a very roomy smoker with a bunch of great features, a good look and a nice classic rolling cart to set it up just about anywhere. I’m also a fan of the classic barrel shape and old school smoke stack.
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 8lb hopper capacity so you can really fill it up.
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.
This is a beautifully designed pellet smoker from Ozark that is a great mid-range option for grillers seeking something average sized, but not massive.
It offers 305 square inches of primary cooking area which is enough space to accommodate about 10 full size burgers at once. It’s also designed to be versatile so you can switch between grilling, slow smoking, baking, roasting and braising at a range of temperatures.
The digital control panels allows for temperature control within 20 degrees and really helps you dial in your cooking.
The pellet hopper is pretty sizable with an 11lb capacity so you can load it up once for your slow smoke and be good to go. The hopper lid also serves as a convenient side table for a little prep work before or after grilling.
The Razorback also comes equipped with one meat probe so you can keep precise tabs on the cook of your meal.
Ok guys, if you’re reading through this list looking for a big old honking smoker, here she is, the XXL from Camp Chef. This is a vertical style pellet smoker and has the capacity to handle anything you throw in it.
It comes with eight 12.5×14’’ racks that you can pack full or ribs, pork butt and whole chickens. It includes dual meat probes so you can monitor different types of meat simultaneously, and also offers a special hanging rack with 12 sausage hooks.
The total temperature range is 150 to 350 degrees and pumps out heat at 33,000 BTUs per hour. It has an easy ash cleanup system and a fun bottle opener attached right on the pellet hopper so you have everything you need right at your fingertips.
The total hopper capacity is a whopping 18lbs, one of the largest on this list. The hopper itself has a pellet window so you can easily monitor the fill level as you’re cooking.
This is a great mega smoker for the serious and dedicated griller.
The PB440D2 is a great medium-sized traditional pellet smoker from Pit Boss. It’s got the old school barrel shape and offers a smooth smoking and grilling experience for both newbies and old pros.
The feature list is solid with 465 square inches of cooking space, both direct and indirect heat options and porcelain-coated cooking grates. The control board is all digital with LED readout and includes a lid mounted analog thermometer. This model also includes a bottle opener for convenience.
The hopper size is on the smaller side at 5lbs but the Pit Boss also includes a detachable side tray for prep or meat storage while you’re getting the grill ready.
The lower cart is generous and able to store all your essentials. The overall construction is stainless steel for a durable and reliable build.
Another big boy, this is a nicely sized traditional-style pellet smoker from Camp Chef for the more serious griller.
At 573 square inches, the SmokePro is one of the bigger barrel style smokers and offers enough space to really smoke up a storm. It has a generous size pellet hopper at 18lbs and includes an easily accessible under-mounted ash can that makes clean up quick and easy.
The temperature gauge is digital LED and easy to fine tune for whatever you’re grilling or smoking.
This model doesn’t have a lower cart for storage but it does include a right side prep table and a prep space over the pellet hopper so you have a little extra room to stash tools or rest your beer.
This grill can also be upgraded with an optional pizza stone so you really can use it to cook just about anything.
Traeger grills are well known in the smoker world and are a favorite of seasoned grill bosses who know their stuff. The Renegade Elite is a workhorse and a great addition to our line up.
This is the ideal size for an average backyard set up at 380 square inches of grilling area and all the features needed to get the job done with ease: a fold down front rack for prep, a lower mounted tool caddy with hooks, easily accessible ash can and a cool touch front handle.
The Renegade is also one of the more versatile options with the capability to grill, bake, smoke, roast, braise and barbecue. Grill grates are porcelain-coated and it includes an electronic auto-start ignition system.
The digital controller makes setting the grill quick and intuitive, allowing you to main a precise temperature within 20 degrees. The LED makes it easy to read in low light settings.
I also can’t help but mention I’m partial to the red accents they’ve added in here – totally not part of the functionality, but they look sweet.
Ok luxury grillers, I know you’re out there and this one is for you.
Big, powerful and full of all the cool bells and whistles with the hefty price tag to match. If you have the budget to spend, here’s a grill with all the fancy gadgetry.
The Woodwind is beefy at 1,236 square inches, the second biggest on our list. The hopper capacity is also generous at 22 lbs, so refilling will be infrequent, even with your longer smoking projects.
It comes with 4 meat probes and get this, is wifi and bluetooth compatible so you can monitor all the tech inner-workings of your smoke and grill process right on your smart phone. This is basically living in the future.
The PID controller helps regulate smoke and temperature to precision tune your cooking for the perfect results.
Smoke level can be adjusted with the easy smoke control settings from a 1 to a 10 based on what you’re cooking. Slide and grill technology allows for cooking over direct flames and you can get the temp up to 650 degrees for when you’re ready to get your Benihana on.
The special ash clean out system makes it easy and hassle free to remove and dump the ash after each use.
This grill is also sidekick compatible so you can add on an optional side burner for extra cooking space as needed. A lower cart rack provides storage and the lidded hopper serves as extra prep space.
Of course a mounted bottle opener is included.
This smoke show from Country Smokers is meant for a more professional setting and isn’t your average backyard grill or pellet smoker.
It is massive at 2,588 square inches and is basically designed to feel a small army. It has porcelain-coated cooking grates, 4 cooking racks, a traditional barrel shape with smoke stack and a side-mounted hopper.
The temperature range is pretty big, spanning 140 to 500 degrees.
The hopper capacity is 20lbs, so you’re not constantly refilling and a large lower cart rack is ideal for storing necessary tools. A collapsible front shelf helps with loading up the grill and an extra side table is ideal for prep and storage as you cook.
This is a great grill if you have a small bbq stand or restaurant and need to smoke large quantities of meat on the regular.
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 small 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.
Total grilling size is 300 square inches with an included meat probe to monitor cook temps. The temperature precision is also really nice on this model and can be set in 5 degree increments.
The pellet hopper capacity is average at about 8 lbs.
Another heavy hitter, the Austin falls into our 1,000+ club for cooking area and is ideal for feeding big groups.
It includes porcelain-coated cooking grates, a temperature range from 150 to 500 degrees, a flame broiler for direct flame grilling when needed and a digital control board with LED readout.
The hopper is nicely sized at 31 lbs with a built-in purge system and hopper window so you can monitor the fill level.
The build is impressive on this model with a high-end copper finish on the main lid and stainless steel finishings for the removable side shelf and serving tray. It also includes a lid mounted thermometer for standard grilling and a traditional smokestack.
The lower cart is a nice size for storing must-haves and the ash can is easy to access and dump when full.
The little guy offers a 390 square inch total cooking area with porcelain-coated grill grates and warming rack. Temperature control is foolproof with a dial-in knob and digital readout.
The hopper is pretty nicely sized with an 11.5 lb capacity. The lower cart is compact, but roomy enough to store a few essentials and the side mounted table is a good size for prep work.
This is a good grill for the entry-level griller who is just getting interested in pellet smoking and looking for a first grill.
And now for something a little different. We’ve been featuring a lot of barrel-style traditional pellet smokers but this vertical option can really hold it’s own.
The vertical style gives you lots of room to work with and the 77550 from Pit Boss includes five porcelain-coated adjustable racks and 1830 square inches of cooking space.
An included meat probe and digital LED readout allows you to monitor temperatures which can be fully programmed in 20 degree increments from 150 to 450 degrees.
It also includes an auto-start igniter and shutdown system when your meat is done smoking.
The hopper is HUGE on this guy with a 40+ lb capacity that Pit Boss claims lasts over 24 hours, making this pellet smoker a set it and forget it operation.
Another versatile offering from Ozark, the Stag is capable of smoking, grilling, baking, roasting and even braising just about anything you’re feeling inclined to toss in there.
This is a nice, mid-size smoker at 570 square inches and comes equipped with two temperature probes for dual smoking endeavors and a nice 23 lb hopper so you’re not constantly on refill duty.
It also includes a digital control panel to finely tune temps in 20 degree increments.
The construction is primarily stainless steel and the overall feel is durable and sturdy. Dual side shelves are a handy addition for prep and resting finished meat and the lower cart rack is just big enough for essentials.
The ash can is easily accessible and simple to empty when you’re done for the day.
This grill always makes me think of the meat being on lockdown. It’s big, vertical and windowless so you can’t exactly see what’s going on in there but you know it’s good.
This is a 30’’ model with four chrome-coated cooking racks that can be arranged internally to suit whatever you’re cooking. Included meat probe thermometers allow you to monitor your cook with precision and a digital control panel keeps tabs on temperature, cook, and smoke time.
The total temperature range capability is 180 to 350 degrees and a heat diffuser makes for even heat distribution throughout the inner chamber.
Ash is easily removed and disposed of and the hopper is similarly easy to clean out when nearly empty. Total hopper capacity is 8 lbs of pellets, which is on the smaller size.
This is a great larger sized vertical smoker with a pretty reasonable price tag that’s especially attractive if you’re newer to the smoking game and not ready to invest in a Traeger or PitBoss just yet.
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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!