Best Pellet Grill Under $500 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 $500. Previously a budget pellet grill meant missing out on features such a PID temperature control and WiFi functionality. However, that’s no longer the case as you will see below.

Best Pellet Grill/Smoker Under $500
Here are the 8 contenders to be considered for the best pellet grill/smoker under $500

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 $500 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 $600?

Introduction To The Best Pellet Grill Under $500

So I’ve created a shortlist of 8 contenders for the best pellet grill under $500, including models from many of the leading brands such as Traeger, Camp Chef and Pit Boss along with other smaller brands. Now, to determine the best pellet grill under $500 I’ve been researching models that get as close to that price point as possible. Hence, all of the models below are between $400 and $500.

1st Contender – ASMOKE AS660

ASMOKE are a relatively new brand on the pellet grill scene. However, the manufacturer behind them has previously been a manufacturer for Danson LLC pellet grills (Pit Boss/Louisiana Grills). You may be familiar with the ASMOKE AS300 tabletop pellet grill. However, ASMOKE also produces full-sized units, the best of which being the AS660 below.

ASMOKE AS660 Pellet Grill/Smoker
The AS660 (left) is finished in bronze, the AS660N is finished in silver: Images – ASMOKEGrills.com

The control panel fitted to the AS660 appears to be similar to that fitted to the previous generation Pit Boss Pro Series. The flame broiler fitted to the AS660 is also of a similar appearance. Not a bad option to consider for under $500, however, these units are missing PID and WiFi functionality.

ASMOKE AS600 Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 700 sq.in (484 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 26 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? =No
  • Typical Price = $400 to $500
  • Availability = ASMOKEGrills.com & HomeDepot.com

2nd Contender – Camp Chef SmokePro DLX

The Camp Chef SmokePro range has been around for quite a few years now. However, the SmokePro models have been updated with Gen 2 PID Controller to give them a temperature accuracy within 5 degrees of the set temperature. Unfortunately, the SmokePro DLX is missing WiFi integration and support for Camp Chef Connect.

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX
I’ve found a silver DLX at Walmart and a bronze DLX at HomeDepot for under $500: Images – Walmart.com & HomeDepot.com

Another missing feature of the SmokePro DLX compared to higher-spec models and the Woodwind range is direct-flame access. However, the SmokePro DLX can be fitted with the Camp Chef Sear Box or SideKick. On CampChef.com the DLX is priced above $500. However, I’ve found a silver DLX at Walmart and a bronze DLX at HomeDepot for just under $500.

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 560 sq.in (429 sq.in at 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 = $500
  • Availability = Walmart.com & HomeDepot.com

3rd Contender – Cuisinart Woodcreek

In my full-length article on the Cuisinart Woodcreek when it was originally launched you can tell I was pretty impressed that such a large pellet grill was available for the price which was originally between $600 to $700. However, the Woodcreek which is a Walmart exclusive seems now to be consistently priced under $500.

Cuisinart Woodcreek Pellet Grill/Smoker
The Cuisinart Woodcreek is a huge pellet grill/smoker for under $500: Image – Walmart.com

The Woodcreek offers one of the largest cooking areas of the all the contenders along with the largest pellet hopper at a frankly bonkers 30lbs. However, the Woodcreek is missing several features, there is no direct flame, PID or WiFi functionality. While it does feature Bluetooth connectivity that’s only suitable for short-range communication with your phone.

Cuisinart Woodcreek Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 862 sq.in (648 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 30 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 200 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No (Bluetooth)
  • Typical Price = $427 to $500
  • Availability = Walmart.com

4th Contender – Lifesmart 760 & 760G

As I discuss in my article on Lifesmart pellet grills, the best feature of these pellet grills is their PID control panels offering +/- 5 degree temperature control. The smallest Lifesmart pellet grill is the 760 offering 510 sq.in of cooking area. However, there is also a version (760G) with a side griddle that just sneaks in under $500.

Lifesmart 760 and 760G Pellet Grills/Smokers
On the left the Lifesmart 760 and on the right the Lifesmart 760G with side griddle: Images – HomeDepot.com and Walmart.com

Its the Lifesmart 760G with the side griddle that is the most interesting option. As overall, the Lifesmart pellet grill besides its PID control panel has no stand out features, as its missing direct-flame access and WiFi/App integration.

  • Total Cooking Area = 510 sq.in (600 sq.in with side griddle)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 15 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degres
  • Direct-Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $449 to $500
  • Availability = HomeDepot.com (760) & Walmart.com (760G)

5th Contender – Pit Boss Platinum Laredo

When I originally wrote my article on the Pit Boss Platinum Series, the Laredo wasn’t available, neither was WiFi/App connectivity. However, the entire Platinum Series has since been updated with WiFi to go along with its PID functionality and the smallest model the Laredo is now available too.

Pit Boss Laredo Pellet Grill/Smoker
The Laredo is the smallest unit in the Pit Boss Platinum Series: Image – Walmart.com

As you can see from the key specs below, for under $500 the Pit Boss Laredo is pretty hard to beat. Not only does the Laredo include the key features of direct-flame access, PID and WiFi functionality its also one of the largest pellet grills of the contenders.

Pit Boss Platinum Laredo Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 1,006 sq.in (527 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 26 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = Yes
  • Typical Price = $500
  • Availability = Walmart.com (exclusively)

6th Contender – Pit Boss Pro Series 850

The Pro Series of Pit Boss pellet grills is exclusive to Lowes, and there are important differences between the Gen 1 and Gen 2 Pro Series. The Pro Series 850 is a second-generation model and comes with notable features such as PID and WiFi connectivity.

Pit Boss Pro Series 850
The 850 sits in the middle of the current Gen 2 Pro Series line-up: Image – Lowes.com

Reviewing the specs below you should notice many similarities to the Pit Boss Laredo above, such as direct-flame access, PID and WiFi connectivity. However, the Pro Series 850 offers a smaller cooking area (though a slightly larger main grate) and the 850 also features a smaller pellet hopper.

Pit Boss Pro Series 850 Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 850 sq.in (593 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 20 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 500 degrees
  • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = Yes
  • Typical Price = $500
  • Availability = Lowes.com (exclusively)

7th Contender – Traeger Tailgater

As it is indeed possible to purchase a Traeger for under $500 and Traeger is the most well-known brand I had to include the Tailgater into this list. However, as you can see from its current specifications it cannot really compete with the other contenders in this article.

Traeger Tailgater Portable Pellet Grill
The Tailgater is by no means the best Traeger, but its the only freestanding Traeger now available for under $500: Images – Traeger.com

Now, the Tailgater is first and foremost a portable pellet grill, therefore it will obviously struggle to compete on cooking area etc with the other contenders. However, the Tailgater does not feature WiFire compatibility and its not utilizing the Traeger D2 Direct Drive platform which utilizes PID technology. Hence, there is no feature of the Tailgater that can really compete with any of the other contenders.

Traeger Tailgater Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 300 sq.in
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 8 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 450 degrees
  • Direct Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = No
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $470
  • Availability = Traeger.comAmazon.comBBQGuys.comWalmart.com & HomeDepot.com

8th Contender: Z Grills Pioneer 450B

As I discuss in my Z Grills article, they are probably one of the most well know brands when it comes to affordable budget pellet grills. So what’s the best Z Grill you can currently get for under $500? Well, there is now a range of Z Grills with PID control panels, hence that’s where I would focus my attention and as a result the Z Grills 450B.

Z Grills 450 Pellet Grill
The Pioneer 450B is one of the first Z Grills to feature a PID control panel: Image – ZGrills.com

What I should note about the Z Grills 450B is while it does feature a PID control panel that can control the temperature more accurately than previous models, the temperature settings are still in 25 to 50 degree increments. And unfortunately, the maximum temperature setting is still just 450 degrees.

Z Grills 450B Key Features

  • Total Cooking Area = 459 sq.in (331 sq.in at the main grate)
  • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 15 lbs
  • Temperature Range = 180 to 450 degrees
  • Direct Flame Access? = No
  • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
  • WiFi/App Control? = No
  • Typical Price = $429 to $499
  • Availability = ZGrills.com

Round 1 – Temperature Control & Cooking Performance

PID control panels provide the most accurate temperature control, therefore those contenders that offer the technology are the most advanced. Therefore, that includes the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX, Lifesmart 760, Pit Boss Platinum Laredo, Pit Boss Pro Series 850 and the Z Grills 450B.

Of those contenders, they all offer a maximum temperature setting of 500 degrees, except the Z Grill which maxes out at 450 degrees. In terms of direct-flame access that feature is only found on the two Pit Boss models, the Laredo and Pro Series 850. Therefore, they have the potential to reach temperatures around 650 degrees plus in the centre of the grate.

So what about WiFi/App connectivity and control? Well, again, that’s a win for the two Pit Boss models as they are the only contenders to offer this feature. While you may not at first think WiFi/App functionality will give you much value, I think you would be surprised by the convenience it can provide.

Round 2 – Cooking Area & Hopper Capacity

While I would never recommend that anyone prioritise the size of the cooking area above features such as PID temperature control, you want to get the best bang for your buck. However, you also need to pay attention to the difference between the overall cooking area (including all racks) and the size of the main cooking grate.

For instance, while the Pit Boss Platinum Laredo provides the largest overall cooking area at 1,006 sq.in that’s over three racks, its main cooking grate is 527 sq.in. While the Pit Boss Pro Series 850 offers a smaller overall cooking area at 850 sq.in it actually provides the larger main cooking grate at 593 sq.in. However, the Cuisinart Woodcreek comes in with a massive 682 sq.in at the main grate.

The Cuisinart also offers the largest pellet hopper at 30 lbs, but really I think that’s overkill, as I don’t recommend pellets are left in the hopper over extended periods of time. The ASMOKE AS660 comes in with a large 26lb hopper and so does the Pit Boss Platinum Laredo, with the Pro Series 850 still offering a respectable 20 lb pellet hopper.

Round 3 – Pricing & Value

If you catch them at the right time of sale you have models such as the ASMOKE AS660 and Cuisinart Woodcreek which can come in just over $400. As discussed above, for that price, the Cuisinart, in particular, is providing a very large cooking area at the main grate.

You may be able to pick up a Z Grills 450B for around $430 which for a full-sized pellet grill with PID temperature control is not a position I thought we would be in just a few years ago. There is then the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX which can be purchased for under $500 and then potentially upgraded in the future to provide even more functionality with the Camp Chef Searbox or SideKick.

However, the reality is, for under $500 the best deals above are from the Pit Boss Laredo and the Pro Series 850. Both providing PID, WiFi and Direct-flame access along with some of the largest cooking areas/hoppers of all the contenders above puts them out in front.

Conclusions On The Best Pellet Grill For Under $500

If I had to choose one of the pellet grills above based on their specifications it would be the Pit Boss Laredo. It offers the largest overall cooking area, one of the largest pellet hoppers and all of the key features of PID temperature control, WiFi/App functionality along with Direct-Flame access to provide the best value for $500.

It is also worth noting that the Pit Boss warranty is 5 years which is one of the longest in the industry. Though its important to understand that doesn’t cover the paint finish/corrosion. Therefore, I would suggest not storing the pellet outside if it can be avoided.

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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