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 Z Grills reviews I’ve come across from owners of the various models covering both pros and cons.
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As Z Grills has such a significant range of pellet grills/smokers as I’ve previously discussed in my general Z Grills article, I do wish they would consider simplifying/consolidating their model branded. The there model numbers then followed by a letter or two identify a specific model. But as a result its not quick to identify a specific capability to a specific range of Z Grills models.
For instance, there are now Z Grills with PID control panels for better/tighter temperature control. However, working out which models actually have a PID controller is not a quick/simple task, especially as one version of the PID control panel has the identical appearance of the previous generation time-based control panel fitted to some models still on sale.
Anyway, those issues aside, what Z Grills is offering is a value-focused range of pellet grills/smokers which can serve as a great first-time pellet grill/smoker purchase for those on a tighter budget where brands such as Traeger, Camp Chef and Weber are out of their reach. So let’s dive into the best Z Grill reviews shall we?
Best Z Grills 600E Review
Now, all Z Grills are relatively low priced/affordable for pellet grills in general, but let’s start with one of their most affordable and compact models the 600E. What doesn’t surprise me following on from my comments above is the model number for this grill on the Z Grills website isn’t that consistent, the 600E is in some places on their website branded as the 600DE3, why? Who knows, I’ve given up trying to understand the product numbers/letters for Z Grills products.
Anyway, the key point to know is the 600E (600DE3) while being one of Z Grills smaller/more compact models that retail for around $450 on their website is actually using one of their latest PID control panels. While temperature settings are still in 25-degree increments from previous control panels which is a little disappointing, the PID technology can actually hold a temperature accuracy of 5 degrees. I think the best review currently out there on the Z Grills 600E is by David Somerville of Be Awesome, Grill Happy.
In David’s review, he’s been using the 600E for a month and is overall generally positive about his experience. One of the first things David discusses is the size of the pellet hopper at only 8lbs. Not a high capacity compared to the industry average for backyard pellet grills of around 20lbs. However, as the 600E has a relatively small cooking chamber pellet consumption will be reduced in getting the grill up to and maintaining temp.
David is also a fan of the tighter temperature control of the PID panel and he notes the 257-degree temperature setting which is missing on some Pit Boss grills which is discussed in one of the best Pit Boss reviews I’ve previously shared. Despite having direct-flame access David notes the 600E is limited when it comes to grilling/searing performance which is a common trend with Z Grills pellet grills.
Best Z Grills 700E Review
The 700 Series pellet grills from Z Grills have been their most popular models for many years now and it sits in the middle of their range on cooking area and price point. The 700E is often confused with the Grilla Grills Silverbac, however, as I’ve previously discussed in my Z Grills vs Grilla Grills article, while they share a similar appearance, they are not built to the same specification. Then again, the 700E comes in at a cheaper price point of around $650.
It is important to note, the 700E does not feature a PID control panel. There are slightly more expensive 700 Series models such as 700D2 and 7002F which do feature PID temperature control, and I look forward to adding owner reviews to this article on those models once available. However, with regards to the 700E, I think the best review currently out there is by Joe of Smoked BBQ Source.
What Joe likes about the Z Grills 700E is the value for money for the relatively large cooking area of 700 square inches in total (500 sq.in at the main cooking grate) for its sub $700 price point. Joe also liked the additional durability of the stainless steel lids for the cooking chamber and hopper. Furthermore, Joe found that with regards to temperature distribution across the cooking area at typical 200-degree temperature settings, the results were fairly even.
However, Joe did find the lack of a pellet hopper cleanout a bit disappointing, and Z Grills have addressed this on the slightly more expensive 700D2 and 7002F discussed above. Furthermore, the high-temperature performance of the 700E Joe found disappointing. As discussed in the review of the smaller 600E above, high-temperature grilling/searing is the main limitation of Z Grills in general.
Best Z Grills 1000E Review
The pellet grills from Z Grills which are offering the largest total cooking area are the 1000 series, which yes, you guessed it, provide a total cooking area of just over 1,000 square inches. However, when it comes to the size of the main cooking grate which will be at the highest temperature, on the 1000 series grills its 428 square inches, which’s actually smaller than the 700E referenced above.
Therefore, while the 1000E and other 1000 series models do offer more cooking area overall, for cooking more food at higher temperatures the 700 series grills are actually offering a little more space. With that being said, besides the larger cooking area, there are a couple of other features that set the 1000 series Z Grills apart, and I think the best review currently available is by David of the Barbeque Lab.
As David discusses in his review, compared to some other pellet grills, there is more assembly work required with the 1000E compared to many grills from Traeger, Pit Boss etc. This is actually true of all Z Grills pellet grills, however, the benefit is lower shipping costs, in fact, shipping is often free with Z Grills. If you check out the Louisiana Gills website, for instance, you will notice there is a $110 shipping fee on some of their grills.
David concludes that overall, for its price point of between $650 to $850 depend on if a sale is running (check ZGrills.com for the latest price) the 1000E is offering a lot of cooking area for the price. Yes, the 1000E currently lacks WiFi/App functionality and its also not one of Z Grills PID pellet grills either, but as a first-time pellet grill purchase, there is value to be had with the 1000E.
High-Temperature Steak Searing On Z Grills Pellet Grills!?
I’ve been wanting to discuss this for a while, and this article covering the best Z Grills reviews is as good a place as any. So you will have noticed a general theme from all of the reviews above, while Z Grills excel as an affordable means for indirect cooking/smoking, their high-temperature searing performance is limited, in part due to their maximum 450-degree temperature setting.
However, I’ve recently come across several videos on YouTube showing you can indeed sear a steak on any Z Grills pellet grill at surface temperatures in excess of 600 degrees. One such video has been produced by David Somerville of Be Awesome, Grill Happy who reviewed the Z Grill 600E above. I want to discuss why anyone considering this method should be very careful and understand why the manufacturer would never recommend this method of grilling.
So in Davids video to get the high searing temperature of 650 degrees at the meat he removes the grease tray and heat deflector and cooks directly over the pellet fire on a couple of GrillGrates. He does indeed get some very high searing temperatures as you would expect. However, I personally would never recommend using a pellet grill like this and neither would a pellet grill manufacturer, and I’ll discuss why.
The Risk Of Grease Fires On Pellet Grills
First off, I know from watching quite a few of David’s videos, he does frequently clean his pellet grills which would indeed keep the grease fire risk on a pellet grill to a minimum. However, let’s discuss this topic as a generalisation, in other words, what is the risk of a grease fire if a pellet grill is not kept especially clean?
Well, any grill can have a grease fire if not cleaned frequently enough, that includes a gas grill, pellet grill or charcoal grill. However, there is a difference between the risks on a gas grill compared to a pellet/charcoal grill. If a gas grill gets a grease fire you can pretty much instantly stop the gas flames contributing to the issue by turning off the gas and waiting for the grease fire to steadily die down. However, on a pellet/charcoal grill its not that simple.
On a pellet grill if a grease fire starts sure you can set the pellet grill to the off cycle. However, the fan will continue to run for 10 to 15 mins to burn out all the pellet fuel sitting in the burn pot. Hence, a grease fire in a pellet grill is going to go on for longer compared to a gas grill, and that’s with the grease tray in place, separating the majority of the grease from the actual fire. Without the grease tray/heat deflector the flames from a grease fire would be intense and potentially very dangerous.
But Other Pellet Grills Have Direct-Flame Access, What’s The Difference?
So you have a couple of brands offering direct-flame access such as Pit Boss and Camp Chef, even Z Grills offer the feature on some of their pellet grills. However, the difference is the flames are controlled by louvres within the grease tray which can be opened and closed. Hence, if there was a grease fire, the direct-flame access feature can be isolated to help keep the grease fire more under control.
However, make no mistake, a pellet grill with direct flame access does come with a higher risk of a grease fire. That’s why I’ve previously produced an article on when to clean a pellet grill. Another example I can give is the Weber SmokeFire, its a great pellet grill for searing. However, as I discuss in my article on the Gen 2 Weber SmokeFire it is still more prone to grease fires than your average pellet grill and will need more frequent cleaning.
Therefore, my overall point is while it is indeed possible to get a high-temperature sear on a Z Grill by removing the grease tray/heat deflector its a not a practice I would recommend. I believe if the grill is not kept very clean you would be running a very high risk of a dangerous grease fire.
Conclusions On The Best Z Grills Reviews
As I stated above, Z Grills do now offer a couple of their pellet grills with PID control panels. Therefore, once available I do want to add to this article owners reviews with more of those grills. However, overall, the consensus is pretty clear. As a cheaper/more affordable means Z Grills products can offer a solid entry into the world of pellet grills and smokers, just keep your expectations on the grilling/searing performance of a Z Grill in check.
That’s it! I hope this article on what I think are the best Z Grills reviews you found interesting/useful. If you would like to learn more about the brand I have a Z Grills FAQ. Furthermore, I could encourage you to check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to check out all your options. 🙂
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.