Best Pellet Grill Under $400 in 2021 (8 Contenders)


Hi, I’m Chris I started PelHeat.com back in 2007.

As shown by my A to Z list of pellet grill brands there are now over 30 brands to choose from, and many of those brands offer a huge range of models. Therefore, working out which will be the best pellet grill for you can be a significant challenge. Well, with this article we are going to look at what is the best option under $400. Previously a budget pellet grill meant missing out on features such as a PID temperature control. However, that’s no longer the case as you will see below.

Best Pellet Grills Under $400
Here are the 8 contenders to be considered for the best pellet grill/smoker under $400

Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.

In a rush? Jump to my conclusion on what I think is currently the best pellet grill for under $400 considering features such as temperature control technology, cooking area and hopper capacity. Maybe consider slightly increasing your budget to get the best pellet grill under $500?

Introduction To The Best Pellet Grill Under $400

So I’ve created a shortlist of 8 contenders for the best pellet grill under $400, including models from many of the leading brands such as Camp Chef and Pit Boss along with other smaller brands. Now, to determine the best pellet grill under $400 I’ve been researching models that get as close to that price point as possible. Hence, all of the models below are between $300 and $400.

1st Contender – ASMOKE AS500N

You may not be aware of ASMOKE as they are a relatively new brand, however, the company behind them is a previous manufacturer of Danson LLC (Pit Boss/Lousiana Grills) products. The brand is currently best known for its tabletop pellet grill the AS300. However, they also produce a couple of full-sized grills such as the AS500N.

ASMOKE AS500N Pellet Grill
The ASMOKE AS500N is available in blue and silver paint finishes: Images – ASMOKEGrill.com

While being a relatively small pellet grill the ASMOKE AS550N does benefit from direct-flame access which will provide 650 degrees plus temperatures at the centre of the cooking grate for steaks and burgers etc.

ASMOKE AS500N Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 465 sq.in (325 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 10.8 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $324 to $399
  • Availability = ASMOKEGrill.com & Lowes.com

2nd Contender – Camp Chef PG24STXB

The Camp Chef SmokePro range is a very popular option of mid-range pellet grills typically priced above $500. However, I was browsing the Walmart website and I came across a model I’ve never seen before, the PG24STXB and not only that its priced under $400?!

Camp Chef PG24STXB Pellet Grill
The PG24STXB is the smallest and latest addition to the Camp Chef SmokePro range: Images – Walmart.com

The good (but strange thing) about the PG24STXB is that its fitted with the Camp Chef Gen 2 PID controller. Of all the contenders above this is the only PID control panel that can be adjusted (and hold) its temperature to within 5 degrees of the set temperature. The odd thing though, is you cannot buy this model directly from CampChef.com, therefore I’m presuming its a Walmart exclusive.

Camp Chef PG24STXB Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 429 sq.in on the main grate
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 18 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 160 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $384
  • Availability = Walmart.com

3rd Contender – Cuisinart Bristol

Cuisinart is a very well-known brand in the kitchen accessories market and they now offer a couple of different models of pellet grills, with larger examples being the Woodcreek and Twin Oaks. However, their smallest and cheapest model is the Bristol which shares a similar design and features.

Cuisinart Bristol Pellet Grill
The Cuisinart Bristol is the only one of the contenders with an insulated lid with a viewing window: Image – Walmart.com

While the Bristol features porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grates unfortunately there is no direct flame access. Likewise, while an App and Bluetooth connectivity are available, but there is no WiFi connectivity.

Cuisinart Bristol Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 505 sq.in (381 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 30 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No (Bluetooth)
  • Typical Price = $321 to $357
  • Availability = Walmart.com

4th Contender – Expert Grill Atlas

I’ve previously written an article on the Expert Grill pellet grill range where I discuss for their price/features they are some the best value budget pellet grills currently on the market. Take the Atlas below, for under $400 for it to offer a total cooking area over 1,000 sq.in on a pellet grill that has never been offered before.

Expert Grill Atlas Pellet Grill
The Expert Grill Atlas is easily offering the largest cooking area of all the contenders: Image – Walmart.com

From what I’ve seen from various owners reviews the PID control panel fitted to Expert Grills can hold the temperature to within 10 degrees of the set temperature. That’s not as good as the 5-degree temperature accuracy of other more premium PID pellet grills, but very reasonable for a pellet grill for under $400.

Expert Grill Atlas Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 1001.5 sq.in (500 sq.in roughly on the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 24 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 450 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = No (Bluetooth)
  • Typical Price = $397
  • Availability = Walmart.com

5th Contender – Monument 86000

Monument is currently not a well-known pellet grill brand, however, when it comes to budget pellet grills they should be considered. For instance, this particular Monument model I’ve found at a couple of different outlets for under $400 and it offers the second-largest cooking area of the contenders.

Monument 86000 Pellet Grill
There are a couple of Monument pellet grills priced at $399, however, this model the 86000 offers the best value: Image – HomeDepot.com

Now apparently according to the marketing literature the Monument 86000 is fitted with a PID control panel. However, I’ve also read the manual and temperature control is limited to 25 – 50 degree increments. Therefore, if the control panel is indeed running a PID algorithm its not taking advantage of the technology fully for 5-degree increments in temperature control.

Monument 86000 Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 698 sq.in (524 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 20lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes (apparently)
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $399
  • Availability = Walmart.com & HomeDepot.com

6th Contender – Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 600

While the Rider 600 does benefit from porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking racks unfortunately unlike the larger pellet grills in the Oklahoma Joe’s range the Rider 600 does not feature direct-flame access for higher searing/grilling temperatures at the centre of the cooking grate.

Oklahoma Joe's Rider 600
The Rider 600 is currently the smallest pellet grill in the Oklahoma Joe’s range: Images – HomeDepot.com

I’m a big fan of the hopper empty feature on the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grills, its the quickest and easiest hopper empty system I’ve seen to date. Furthermore, a plastic tub and lid are provided to protect the pellets from moisture which no other brand currently supplies even though protecting your pellets from moisture is vital.

Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 600 Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 617 sq.in (380 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 20lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $399
  • Availability = HomeDepot.com

7th Contender – Pit Boss Pro Series 600

The Pit Boss Pro Series has been a very popular range of mid-spec pellet grills for many years and is now in its second generation. For instance, the Pro Series 850 is one of the best pellet grills under $500. The Pro Series 600 below is the smallest model of the second generation models.

Pit Boss Pro Series 600
The 600 is the smallest model in the Pit Boss Gen 2 Pro Series range: Image – Lowes.com

The Pro Series 600 does have good features such as porcelain-coated cast-iron grates and direct-flame access. Unfortunately, the 600 is missing the PID/WiFi control panel found on the larger second-generation Pro Series models.

Pit Boss Pro Series 600 Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 600 sq.in (434 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 12 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $349 to $399
  • Availability = Lowes.com (Exclusively)

8th Contender – Z Grills 550B

As you may be aware Z Grills is quite a well-known budget pellet grill brand, and there are actually a couple of different models available for under $400. However, to put the best foot forward for the brand I’ve chosen the 550B as their contender as it is fitted with a Z Grills PID control panel.

Z Grills 550B Pellet Grill
The 550B is the largest Z Grills pellet grill for under $400: Images – ZGrills.com

Non-PID Z Grills pellets grills using timer-based control panels will float 25 degrees on either side of the set temperature, whereas the 550B with its PID controller has less float at 10 degrees from the set temperature. However, I should note, temperature adjustment is still in 25-degree increments.

Z Grills 550B Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 560 sq.in (406 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 10 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 450 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $369 to $399
  • Availability = ZGrills.com, Lowes.com & HomeDepot.com

Round 1 – Temperature Control & Cooking Performance

Several of the contenders above feature control panels running a PID algorithm that enables tighter control of the temperature due to the constant monitoring and adjustments to the fan/auger speed a PID control panel makes. Those contenders include the Camp Chef PG24STXB, Expert Grill Atlas, Monument 86000 and Z Grills 550B.

However, as I’ve referenced in the product description above, only the Camp Chef is fitted with a PID control which is taking full advantage of the technology for 5-degree adjustments in temperature control. While the other PID pellet grill contenders will have more accurate temperature control compared to the other contenders, the Camp Chef features the most advanced control panel.

In terms of temperature range, 180 is the lowest temperature of all the contenders except the Camp Chef which can go a little lower to 160 degrees. At the top end, most of the contenders offer 500 degrees, except the Expert Grill and Z Grill which max out at 450 degrees.

However, the Expert Grill, Monument, ASMOKE AS550N and Pit Boss Pro Series 600 all feature direct-flame access. Therefore on those pellet grills, it will be possible to get the centre of the cooking grate to 650 degrees plus for superior grilling/searing performance.

Round 2 – Cooking Area & Hopper Capacity

When it comes to the cooking area there is a clear win on the overall cooking area for the Expert Grill Atlas providing a massive 1,001 sq.in. The next closest contenders are the Monument 86000 offering a total cooking area of 698 sq.in and the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 600 at 617 sq.in. But which contender offers the largest main cooking grate?

Well, the Expert Grill and Monument also lead the contenders on the size of the main grate at around 500 sq.in. Behind those models, you have the Pit Boss Pro Series 600 offering 434 sq.in at the main grate and the Camp Chef PG24STXB not far behind at 429 sq.in.

When it comes to the pellet hoppers the ASMOKE AS550N and Z Grills 550B are fitted with very small hoppers around 10lbs, with the Pit Boss only holding slightly more at 12lbs. Most of the other contenders have much more functional hopper sizes between 18 to 24lbs. Though the Cuisinart Bristol actually has the largest pellet hopper which holds 30 lbs.

Round 3 – Pricing & Value

Two contenders the ASMOKE AS550N and the Cuisinart Bristol can typically be found for the lowest prices of all the contenders, at closer to $300. However, as neither pellet grill is fitted with the more advanced PID temperature control technology and they offer some of the smallest cooking areas they are not the best options with $400 to spend.

As I discussed above the Camp Chef PG24STXB is fitted with the most advanced PID control panel of all the contenders which gives it a lot of value if you are looking for the most accurate pellet grill for this price when it comes to temperature control.

Overall though, its hard for the rest of the contenders to compete against the Expert Grill Atlas, offering the largest total cooking area, largest main grate, direct flame access and a PID control panel with Bluetooth connectivity/App support.

Conclusions On The Best Pellet Grill For Under $400

So what are my final thoughts on the contenders above? Well, if you have a small family and you are looking for the most accurate temperature control and smoke adjustment you will get that from the Camp Chef PG24STXB.

However, if you have a larger family and you can cope with a wider temperature swing the all-around package of the Expert Grill Atlas is hard to beat. It offers the most cooking space and still has the key features of PID, direct-flame access with Bluetooth/App connectivity to boot.

That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found the information/analysis above useful. If you would like to learn more about your options at different price points please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂

Click above for our suggestion tool to help you find a pellet grill/smoker within your budget

A to Z List of Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands

A to Z List of Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands

Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.

Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.

A to Z List of The Best BBQ Wood Pellets

A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.

In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.

Chris - PelHeat

Hi, I’m Chris. I started PelHeat.com back in 2007. This website is intended to be an educational resource on how pellets are made and their various uses. I hope you find the information useful.

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