I write a lot about the many different models of pellet grills/smokers now on the market. While I’m able to provide a thorough structured breakdown of product specifications and compare one brand/model to another I often don’t get the chance to get hands-on with them. As part of my research though I watch a lot of real owners reviews on YouTube. Therefore, I thought I would produce a summary article on the best Pit Boss reviews I’ve come across from owners of the various models covering both pros and cons.
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.
The Pit Boss range of pellet grills/smokers is likely the most extensive of any other brand currently on the market. Many of the models though share similar core features and just have cosmetic differences to create slightly different models to sell through the big box stores like Walmart and Lowes. Therefore, I’ve not included an owner review on every single Pit Boss model as in some cases, there just isn’t a good quality owners review covering the pros and cons. However, I’ve included owners reviews on all of the most popular Pit Boss models going in size order, smallest first.
Best Pit Boss Table Top Review (150PPS)
One of the latest models in the Pit Boss range is their ultra-portable tabletop grill. Traeger has their own tabletop grill the Ranger, therefore this is a direct alternative from Pit Boss. Currently, this tabletop grill in Mahogany on the Pit Boss website is just $199 which is a pretty good deal compared to the Traeger which retails for at least $100 more, and the Pit Boss tabletop comes with a cover as well.
A notable difference between this Pit Boss table top pellet grill and the competition from Traeger is this table top has direct-flame access. Therefore, it will have the best searing performance of any table top pellet grill to date. To demonstrate that direct-flame ability I’ve included the video below from the Grill Sergeant, Andrew Rog cooking some ribeye cap steaks and getting some very impressive results.
While the above video is not technically a review per say, it does a good job showing the capabilities of this small tabletop pellet grill. What I will note is that Andrew in his review states he was cooking the steaks on the grills maximum temperature setting of 500 degrees. However, in reality with the flame broiler open the surface temperature at the steaks would have been much higher. Pit Boss claim ‘Open flame searing up to 1,000° F’, but I think that’s overly optimistic, though the surface temperature of the grill will likely be around 650-700 degrees.
Best Pit Boss Tailgater Review
The original portable pellet grill from Pit Boss has been their Tailgater which offers a larger cooking area to the tabletop pellet grill shown above. I think the best review of the Tailgater currently out there is by Kevin of Man Kitchen Recipes. Its a review after owning and using the Tailgater for over a year after Kevin was able to pick it up at an end of year clearance at Walmart for a great price. Kevin uses his Tailgater as an extra little smoker instead of using it primarily as a portable unit. Though Kevin does discuss a key benefit of the Pit Boss Tailgater over the competition from Traeger and that’s the folding leg design, which is much superior and easier to use.
Just like the Pit Boss tabletop grill above, the Tailgater can direct-flame sear which is not common across all pellet grills and is a good feature to have. However, as I’ve discussed previously on when to clean a pellet grill, keep it clean from grease to be safe. Something Kevin discusses in his review which I hadn’t picked up on in the past is the ability to run the Tailgater off a lower-powered portable power supply.
In my article on portable power for pellet grills I discuss how you have to get an inverter to convert 12V DC to power a 110V AC for a pellet smoker, and the inverter has to be rated to provide sufficient power. Well, most components (auger, fan, control panel) require very little peak power, its the hot rod igniter which draws the most power, though only for a short period of time.
Well, with the Pit Boss Tailgater on the back you can isolate the power going to the igniter to reduce power draw so you could run the pellet grill off a smaller inverter. Pretty handy actually, though it would mean you would have to manually start the fire with fire lighters/gas torch etc.
Best Pit Boss Austin XL Review
As I discussed at the start of this article, Pit Boss produces a huge range of pellet grills. Well, their best seller of all these models for quite a few years has been the Austin XL a larger family-sized pellet grill/smoker which is commonly found at Walmart for around $500. The Austin XL has the obvious benefits of providing a larger cooking area than the above Pit Boss pellet grills while still offering the high-temperature searing provided with direct-flame access. I think the best review of the Pit Boss Austin XL currently out there is by The Barbecue Lab.
As Dave from the Barbeque Lab notes in his review you are getting a lot of grill for around $500, however, as a result, you need to be realistic on the thickness of the steel and the build quality for this price point. As with most Pit Boss grills, assembly is required, and Dave did have some trouble with broken screws, but the parent company Danson did resolve the issue pretty quickly.
When it comes to temperature control the Austin XL is fitted with a traditional time-based algorithm control panel which does lack the temperature accuracy of PID pellet grills, such as Pit Boss’s more premium products referenced below. For instance, Dave was a little disappointed that it wasn’t possible to set the grill to 275 degrees, as past 250 degrees the Austin XL jumps up in 50-degree increments.
Dave did touch on the differences between pellet and offset smokers which I have done myself in the linked article. Essentially, with a pellet smoker, you will get a lighter more discrete smoky flavour compared to an offset, but a pellet smoker is a lot less labour intensive and hence saves you a lot of time. In summary then, Dave believes the Austin XL to be good all round first pellet grill which I agree with.
Best Pit Boss Gen 2 Pro Series Review
A step above the Austin XL but of a similar size is the range of Pro Series pellet grills. Now on their second generation, I’ve previously written a Gen 1 vs Gen 2 Pit Boss Pro Series article to explain the differences/upgrades. The main difference being, the Gen 2 Pro Series models (except the 600) feature a PID/WiFi control panel. Hence, the limitations on temperature control discussed above with the Austin XL are not the case with the Gen 2 Pro Series models. Again, its Dave and The Barbeque Lab who have produced what I think to be the best review available on the Pro Series.
When it came to putting the Pro 1150 together, Dave had a better experience than with the Austin XL but would still recommend two people for the job. When it comes to the core capabilities of the 1150 while it can indeed perform very respectably as a grill, Dave notes its true strength still lies in being a good easy to use smoker. For instance, the huge hopper on the 1150 holding over 30lbs of pellets based on typical pellet consumption will run for a very long time. Though, I always recommend emptying the hopper if the pellet smoker will be left unused for more than just a few days.
As the Pro Series grills use a more advanced PID control panel 10-degree temperature increments are possible up to 300 degrees which is not possible on cheaper units such as the Austin XL. Dave was also a fan of the SmokeIT app which lets you monitor and adjust the temperature inside the grill as well as monitor up to four meat probes and set timers etc. While the Pro Series 1150 is typically found for around $100 more than the Austin XL, it does have the additional features to justify the price increase.
Now, as Dave does note, the first Gen 2 Pro Series models that were sent out had a control panel that only offered 25-degree temperature increments, not 10-degree increments. If you purchase a new Gen 2 Pro Series now, it should be a 10-degree increment version. However, if that’s not the case, Pit Boss will correct that, and send out a new flashed control panel with the updated firmware.
Best Pit Boss Lockhart Review
Ok, now we have got to the ‘big boy’, the Pit Boss Lockhart, this is a very unique and huge pellet grill/smoker which I’ve previously written about in my Pit Boss Platinum Series article. Something I’ve discussed in the past is the pros and cons of horizontal vs vertical pellet smokers, well, the Lockhart is unique and a hybrid of the two with a horizontal and vertical smoking cabinet combined into one. I think the best review currently available on the Pit Boss Lockhart is by Paul Wickey.
The first thing I should note is the original version of the Lockhart only had Bluetooth connectivity, whereas the current version also has WiFi. If you’re not sure of the significance/benefits of WiFi over Bluetooth please check out my WiFi article. A notable difference between the Lockhart and cheaper Pit Boss products referenced above is the Lockhart features interior lighting within both the lower cooking chamber and upper cabinet, a feature that comes in very handy during even cooking.
As Paul shows, to get heat/smoke into the top smoking cabinet there are two vents that can be opened up which let the heat/smoke rise. Now, the temperatures within the top chamber will be lower than those recorded for the lower cooking chamber. However, Paul notes the top chamber is not just a cold smoker, with the lower chamber set at 350 degrees the top chamber can hit 300 degrees in a 47-degree climate.
What it is important to note about the Lockhart is its a large/heavy pellet grill/smoker (275 lbs!). Hence, you do have the consider is it too big for your needs? Moving the Lockhart around and in and out of storage will not be as easy as it is with most other pellet grills.
Best Pit Boss KC Combo Review
Pit Boss currently offers the largest range of pellet/gas combo grills on the market, and of that range, the best model is the KC Combo which is part of the Platinum Range to which the Lockhart above also belongs. While other/cheaper Pit Boss pellet/gas combo grills are available with non-PID/WiFi control panels, I thought it was probably the best idea to show the pellet/gas combo grill which has had the most attention. As such, I’ve included another review below from The Barbeque Lab, yes that is three reviews from Dave in this post, but I genuinely believe he is currently producing some of the best pellet grill/smoker reviews.
As David notes in his review of the Pit Boss KC Combo, while its technically one unit, you need to think of it as two separate cooking areas. The pellet grill/smoker side of the unit does still have cast-iron cooking grates and direct-flame access as do other Pit Boss pellet grills. However, on the KC Combo, you can finish the food off with an even higher temperature sear on the gas burner section. The propane cooking area can also be used as a griddle though for cooking small chopped meats/vegetables.
Just like the Lockhart discussed above which is also part of the Platinum range, the KC Combo has lights in both the pellet and gas cooking chambers, very handy for evening cooking. You will notice the control panel on the KC Combo is the same as the Lockhart, providing PID temperature accuracy along with Bluetooth and WiFi support for the SmokeIT app.
Best Pit Boss Gen 1 Pro Series Review
Pit Boss currently sells the widest range of vertical pellet smokers, and for many years Gen 1 Pro Series vertical smokers have been the most commonly available. Today there are Gen 2 Pro Series vertical pellet smokers with WiFi/SmokeIT integration and there is also a Platinum model the Brunswick. However, good reviews of those vertical smokers are a bit thin on the ground. Therefore, I thought I would include what I think is the best review of the Gen 1 Pro Series vertical smoker from Andrew, the Grill Sergeant.
The reasons I like Andrews review the best is that over the year of ownership he has clearly used the smoker quite a lot, and the review is also about how to clean/maintain the smoker. I wholeheartedly agree with Andrew as I discuss in my article on BBQ wood pellets, sifting pellets to removes small bits/fines is best practice and will help the unit run better and more efficiently.
Other than an initial auger blockage error which Andrew thinks may have been due to not initially sieving his pellets, he has found the smoker to be very reliable. When it comes to cooking areas, Pit Boss vertical pellet smokers for the money provide a lot of space. As I discuss in my article on the best vertical pellet smokers, if you already own a gas grill, a vertical pellet smoker may actually be a better choice over a horizontal pellet grill/smoker.
Conclusions On The Best Pit Boss Reviews
So I hope you found at least one of the owner’s reviews above interesting/useful. I would encourage you to also go onto YouTube and check out/subscribe to their channels, lots of good advice/tips are available. The thing to remember with Pit Boss is they are a value-focused brand, they are trying to offer a wide range of products to meet the needs of most people. They are not the market leaders in build quality/materials, but for their respective price point, no one should expect that either.
That’s it! If you are still curious about the wide Pit Boss range and their features/capabilities, please check out my Pit Boss FAQ page, which also contains links to my various vs/comparison articles. If you want to explore other brands, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide where you should find at least something interesting to read! 🙂
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 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.