So the other day I was browsing the Walmart website looking at the new models which have been added to the Pit Boss Platinum Series. I then come across a range of pellet grills branded as Expert Grill. I wasn’t previously aware of Expert Grill (a Walmart brand) as they have only recently released this range of pellet grills/smokers. Therefore I thought I should do a summary article on Expect Grill pellet grills to explore what they offer and how they compare to the completion from the likes of Z Grills and Pit Boss etc. Well, I do think other budget pellet grill/smoker brands do have some tough competition on their hands.
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.
Introduction To The Expert Grill Pellet Grill/Smoker Range
So for many years now, ever since the pellet grill race really kicked off after Traeger’s patent expired in 2007 Walmart have been offering a wide range of pellet grills. As is the case with most of the products that Walmart carry, they are focused on the value/budget end of the market.
Hence, they mainly stock budget offerings such as the Camp Camp SmokePro range and various budget models from Pit Boss and Z Grills as referenced above. In recent years we have also seen other established brands enter the pellet game such as Cuisinart with their Woodcreek/Twin Oaks models and their latest offering the Clermont.
In several cases with budget brands such as Pit Boss and Cuisinart, they have signed deals for the distribution of their products exclusively through Walmart stores. The benefit to those brands is the brand awareness they gain from being in Walmart stores.
The benefit of exclusivity to Walmart is it brings more people into their stores due to those exclusive deals. Well, Walmart has now entered the pellet grill/smoker game directly with its own budget brand Expert Grill.
Yes, to brand a budget line of products ‘Expert Grill’ is quite ironic, but nevertheless, as I’ll discuss below for their price point they do actually appear to offer some impressive features.
Though it does make me think how do brands such as Pit Boss and Cuisinart feel about this after signing their exclusivity deals with Walmart? For Walmart to release its own branded products which directly compete with products from Pit Boss and Cuisinart, its a bold move.
Expert Grill Commodore Pellet Grill/Smoker
The smallest unit which is currently offered under the Expert Grill brand is the Commodore. This is a relatively compact pellet grill providing 770 square inches of cooking area.
However, as is usually the case with product marketing descriptions that’s for both the main cooking grate and the two upper warming/smoking racks. Unfortunately, its not stated what the size of the main cooking surface is, but I would estimate somewhere under 500 square inches.
In terms of the cooking grates themselves, remember this is a budget grill, therefore the standard porcelain-coated relatively thin wire racks are included. Therefore, to get reasonable searing/grilling performance out of any of these Expert Grills I would personally be adding a set of GrillGrates.
Though I should note, there is a ‘Sear Station’ provided on all Expect Grill pellet grills to provide some direct flame access. Though still, I would use a set of GrillGrates to hold the heat to get searing temperatures over 600 degrees. An above-average 24lb pellet hopper is provided, but what about the control panel? Well, that’s the interesting part, and I’ll discuss that more below.
Expert Grill Atlas Pellet Grill/Smoker
So for anyone with a larger family/group of friends or that just wants to cook really long racks of ribs there is the Atlas. Identical in the key features to the Commodore offering a ‘Sear Station’ and a 24lb pellet hopper.
The only real difference being this is just a larger pellet grill/smoker offering a total cooking area of just over 1,000 square inches. Again, that’s not the size of the main cooking grate where you will be grilling. As before, the size of the main cooking grate is not stated in the promotional materials/manual. I would estimate its somewhere under 700 square inches.
A feature of the Sear Station which is good to see and does appear to be becoming an industry standard is an external sear control leaver. Previously on earlier generation Pit Boss and Louisiana Grills pellet grills with a flame broiler you had to remove the cooking grates to open/close the direct-flame access. Having a leaver on the outside of the grill to open/close the sear function is just obviously a lot more practical.
Expert Grill Concord 3-in-1 Combo Pellet/Gas Grill
Now, you may be wondering why you would want a combo gas/pellet grill? Well, while a pellet grill is more convenient to say a charcoal grill, it will still take some time to heat up. A gas grill can be useful for its quick warm-up time and very high grate surface temperatures over 600 degrees.
Therefore, on a combo pellet/gas grill you have the best of both worlds. You have a pellet side to provide flavour/smoking and the gas side for speed and really high-temperature searing performance.
In terms of cooking area, the Concord 3-in-1 offers just under 650 square inches of pellet cooking area and just under 354 square inches on the gas griddle. A combo pellet/gas grill can be quite a versatile setup.
You can be low temperature smoking large cuts of meat/vegetables on the pellet side while at the same time using the gas side set to a high temperature for cooking steaks burgers. Ideally, you would start the cook of the steaks/burgers on the pellet side to get some smoke flavour into them, before quickly finishing them off on the gas grill.
I’ve previously written a summary article on the various combo pellet/gas grill options which I’ll have to amend to add in the Expert Grill Concord above. My current personal favourite is a Camp Chef Woodwind with a Sear Box/SideKick gas attachment.
However, there are also offerings from Pit Boss with products such as the KC Combo and from Cuisinart the Twin Oaks. The Expert Grill Concord 3-in-1 is priced quite a bit below the Pit Boss KC Combo ($750) and is competitive with the Cuisinart Twin Oaks ($540). However, the Concord 3-in-1 does have an advantage over the Twin Oaks, its more advanced control panel.
A PID/Bluetooth Temperature Control Panel?
So I’m looking through the promotional specs on the Walmart website for each of the three Expert Grills above, and it all seems pretty standard fare. I’m looking through customer reviews and I’m seeing references to WiFi functionality, however, the specs only state Bluetooth support through the Expect Grills app.
Now, as I discuss in my article on WiFi pellet grills, WiFi is the superior option to Bluetooth. To put it simply, Bluetooth is limited to short-range communication with your phone, whereas WiFi opens up the possibility of controlling/monitoring the grill while you’re down the shops etc.
Anyway, I find a link to the Expert Grills manual, and I start to read it. Right enough, all the Expert Grills are currently only Bluetooth enabled. Then again, these grills start from under $300, so even Bluetooth is above average specification for that price.
However, as I’m reading a see ‘PID screen’ and I literally said out loud ‘What? Really?’. PID stands for Proportional Integral Derivative, and if that sounds really complicated, don’t worry I explain what that means in simple terms in my article on PID control panels.
But basically, a PID control is a smarter means to control a pellet grill than the time-based control panels which were fitted to pellet grills/smokers for many years.
We have seen PID control panels fitted to several pellet grills under $500 from Green Mountain Grills for instance. However, that particular model the Davy Crocket is a portable pellet grill, hence much smaller than the Expert Grill Commodore above.
Of the current pellet grill/smoker products on the market, I’m not aware of another ‘full-sized’ pellet grill smoker for under $300 which is fitted with a PID control panel. The bizarre thing is that Walmart has not marketed this feature in the product description of the Expert Grills pellet grill/smoker range?!
Conclusions On The Expert Grill Pellet Grill Range
So what are my final thoughts, do I think due to the PID control panels everyone should be rushing out to purchase an Expert Grill? Not exactly, there are limitations of products made at such a low cost. For instance, the sheet metal construction appears very thin, and that means a couple of things.
First off, I wouldn’t leave one of these pellet grills outside. Once the paint finish starts to fail, with such thin steel corrosion damage will quickly take hold. Secondly, due to the thin construction, you would definitely want to consider adding a decent thermal blank to be able to use the grill in winter.
However, the fact remains, for the price, this Expert Grill range is producing a new perspective on what consumers should expect from their pellet grill. PID control panels becoming the norm will help all pellet grill owners get more accurate/predictable cooking temperatures that will also reduce pellet usage/consumption.
If you were only willing to spend less than $500 on a pellet grill, sure the Expert Grill range could be worth considering. If you are willing to spend a bit more there is a wide range of potential alternatives you may want to consider.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope my summary of the Expert Grill range and their features was interesting/useful. If you would like to check out other pellet grills/smokers please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
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.