Which Wood Pellet Grills Get The Hottest? (For All Budgets)


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

The popularity of pellet grills has grown considerably in recent years. However, there is a general criticism of pellet grills that you may have heard ‘pellet grills don’t get hot enough to sear!’. Now, that’s a very general statement and its not true in many cases. However, some wood pellet grills, such as earlier generation Traeger pellet grills would not exceed 450 degrees. That’s not really hot enough to get a good sear going on steaks and burgers etc. So let’s look at which wood pellet grills get the hottest for various budgets, for instance, under $500, under $1,000 and under $2,000.

Hottest Pellet Grills
Three examples of pellet grills currently on the market which get to the hottest temperatures (details below)

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 On The Hottest Wood Pellet Grills

As I’ll discuss below, the pellet grills with the highest/hottest temperatures are Luxury Class pellet grills. However, those pellet grills are expensive, and not everyone (me included) has over $2,000 to spend on a pellet grill.

So I’ll discuss the hottest pellet grills to to various price points, so no matter your budget you can find a pellet grill to meet your grilling/searing needs.

    Before I start to discuss which pellet grills can reach the hottest temperatures for different budgets, we need to discuss something. How hot a pellet grill/smoker can get is not just about what the highest number is on the temperature dial/display.

    For instance, Pit Boss pellet grills don’t get to the hottest temperatures because they have the highest temperature settings on their control panel.

    In fact, many Pit Boss pellet grills have the same maximum temperature setting as Traeger pellet grills at 500 degrees. The reason Pit Boss (and some other pellet grill brands) will exceed the maximum temperature setting on the control panel is due to direct flame searing/broiling.

    Pit Boss Direct Flame Broiling/Searing
    The direct flame broiling/searing feature of Pit Boss pellet grills is the reason they are generally regarded as providing some of the hottest temperatures: Image – PitBoss-Grills.com

    Now, Pit Boss is by no means the only brand to offer direct flame broiling/searing. Its available on several Camp Chef pellet grills and several others.

    Its just that Pit Boss are the second most well know pellet grill brand after Traeger. Therefore, Pit Boss is the most well-known brand that offers direct flame searing/broiling where the surface temperature of the grate will exceed 650 degrees.

    So you may be wondering, ‘why doesnt Traeger offer direct flame broiling?‘. And that’s a valid question. Its not because the pellet burn pot doesn’t reach the same temperatures as Pit Boss pellet grills or the combustion fan is less powerful etc.

    The reason is likely to do with the fact the user has to be very careful when direct flame broiling to avoid issues with flare-ups/grease fires. Hence, allowing a feature such as direct flame searing does add an element of risk for the pellet grill manufacturer.

    Traeger Timberline XL
    Even the Traeger Timberline XL at just under $3,800 does not provide the option of direct-flame broiling/searing: Image – Traeger.com

    That’s not to say direct flame broiling is a feature you will never see on a Traeger going forwards. Take Green Mountain Grills (GMG) as an example.

    Every GMG pellet grill can direct-flame sear if you specifically ask for the optional accessory grease tray with the required holes, however, its not provided as standard.

    Why? Well, Green Mountain Grills have stated to me they only want customers to have access to direct-flame grilling who fully appreciate the risks.

    So Traeger may adopt a similar sales strategy in the future. In the meantime, a way to significantly improve the searing/broiling performance of any pellet grill that does not provide a flame broiling feature is to fit a set of GrillGrates.

    GrillGrates fitted to any pellet grill can increase the surface cooking temperature by another 100-200 degrees: Image – Amazon.com

    The Difference Between Indirect and Direct Heat

    The temperature dial on all pellet grills is the reading from an internal thermostat (thermocouple) positioned within the cooking chamber. In other words, its the temperature of the air within the cooking chamber.

    So the highest temperature setting on a pellet grills control panel is the highest temperature which will be achieved for in-direct/convection cooking. Essentially the same method of cooking as your kitchen oven.

    This type of thermometer/thermocouple found in every pellet grill cooking chamber tells the control panel the indirect temperature within the grill: Image – Amazon.com

    However, the other form of heat your pellet grill provides is direct heat. In other words, how hot is the main grate able to get on the pellet grill?

    As discussed above, if the pellet grill provides the option of direct flame broiling/searing, the grate surface is going to get hotter than a pellet grill without that feature.

    Though as also referenced above, a set of aluminium GrillGrates can also provide a much hotter (direct heat) cooking surface temperature.

    You will also find that pellet grills that come with cast-iron cooking grates as opposed to thin wire racks, will provide higher direct heat temperatures.

    The reason is, like the GrillGrates, cast-iron grates can hold heat much better. Learn more in my indirect vs direct heat article.

    How Can You Measure The Direct Heat Of A Pellet Grill?

    So below, I’m going to discuss the indirect maximum temperature settings of different pellet grills for different budgets. However, what about direct heat temperatures? In other words, how can you measure the temperature at the grate (direct heat).

    Well, the easiest way to do that is with an Infrared (IR) heat gun. You simply aim the gun at the grate, pull the trigger, and it will tell you the surface temperature of the grate.

    Now, depending on the location/position of the pellet burn pot on the pellet grill, there will be colder and hotter spots across the surface of the grate. This can also be tested/demonstrated with the ‘biscuit test’.

    A cheap infra-red (IR) heat gun is the best tool to measure the direct heat/grate surface temperature on a wood pellet grill: Image – Amazon.com

    Want More Heat? Consider Charcoal Pellets

    The condition of your pellets, and whether they have absorbed any moisture can impact their heat output. There are also small differences in heat output between Oak, Alder, Apple and other wood species.

    However, if you want the highest heat possible for grilling on a pellet grill, there are now 100% charcoal pellets. When using 100% charcoal pellets, the grate surface temperature of any pellet grill may get above 100 degrees more than with standard BBQ pellets.

    Hottest Pellet Grills Under $500

    When it comes to full-sized pellet grills under $500, as I discuss in my article on the best pellet grill under $500 the best overall option currently is the Pit Boss Platinum Laredo which is part of their Platinum Series.

    Not only does the Laredo come with their new PID/WiFi control panel with a 500-degree temperature setting, it features direct-flame access (650+ degrees) and cast-iron cooking grates.

    Pit Boss Platinum Laredo

    Pit Boss Platinum Laredo 1000
    • 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)

    There are other options such as pellet grills from Oklahoma Joe’s. However, Oklahoma Joe’s range of pellet grills is yet to be updated with the latest PID/WiFi technology.

    Therefore, while they will provide similarly high searing temperatures to the Pit Boss Laredo, they are not comparable on other features.

    Now, if you don’t need a full-sized pellet grill such as the Pit Boss Laredo above, there are portable pellet grills and even tabletop pellet grills which offer direct-flame access for temperatures in excess of 650 degrees in the centre of the cooking grate.

    GMG Trek

    GMG Trek
    • Total Cooking Area = 219 sq.in
    • Weight = 63 lbs
    • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 9 lbs
    • Temperature Range = 150 to 550 degrees
    • Typical Price = $344 to $399
    • Availability = BBQGuys.comAmazon.com & Walmart.com

    Now, as standard, as discussed above, GMG does not provide a perforated grease tray to enable direct flame broiling/searing as standard. It would have to be purchased separately.

    However, as the GMG Trek costs significantly under $500 (typically around $350) you can purchase the additional perforated grease tray and their Sear Kit (GrillGrates) and still be under $500.


    Hottest Pellet Grills Under $1,000

    If you have a larger budget of up to $1,000 to spend, there are several more options to choose from. For instance, you could consider one of the large models in the Pit Boss Platinum Series.

    Available as either a combined horizontal pellet grill with a vertical smoker cabinet or a combination pellet/gas grill, both options offer direct flame broiling over the pellet fire.

    With a pellet/gas combo grill as the gas grill surface temperatures will get up to 900 degrees, more of these pellet/gas combination grills are coming onto the market.

    Cuisinart also offers a pellet/gas combination grill (Twin Oaks), and Camp Chef has its propane Sear Box/Sidekick attachments which can be fitted to either SmokePro or Woodwind models.

    Camp Chef SideKick/Sear Box
    The Camp Chef propane SideKick/Sear Box can be added onto all their pellet grills to offer additional grilling/searing fucntionality to their pellet grills: Image – CampChef.com

    Another new player to the market offering a high in-direct heat setting of 600 degrees is Broil King with their Baron and Regal pellet grills.

    While these pellet grills do feature cast-iron grates which will hold heat very well, direct-flame is not available on these pellet grills. However, as stated above, that also means pretty much a minimal risk of a grease fire if cleaned frequently.

    Therefore, it could be argued as the Broil King pellet grill range has a such a high heat setting of 600 degrees and cast-iron grates does it really need a direct-flame feature?

    Another option under $1,000 which offers a 600-degree in-direct temperature setting and direct-flames is the Weber SmokerFire.

    As I discuss in my article on the best pellet grill under $1,000 the Weber SmokeFire EX6 is a very good deal, but you do have to clean it more frequently than other pellet grills to avoid the risk of a grease fire.

    Weber SmokeFire EX4

    • Total Cooking Area = 672 sq.in (432 sq.in at the main grate)
    • Pellet Hopper Capacity = 22 lbs
    • Temperature Range = 200 to 600 degrees
    • Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
    • PID Temperature Control? = Yes
    • WiFi/App Control? = Yes
    • Typical Price = $1,000
    • Availability = BBQGuys.com

    Hottest Pellet Grills Under $2,000

    With a budget of up to $2,000 there are several full-sized made-in-the-USA products you could consider that offer direct-flame access and temperature settings of 500 to 600 degrees.

    However, when it comes to the most capable pellet grills at this price point there are two new options from Camp Chef I think you should be considering.

    The first is the Camp Chef Apex 24″ which is a true pellet/gas combo grill with full width propane burners. Now granted, fully spec’d out the Apex 24″ is over budget at $2,200.

    However, the grill can be intially purchased without the gas burners for well under $2K, and then the propane kit can be purchased at a later date as and when needed.

    Camp chef Apex 24"
    The Apex is a pellet grill with full width row of propane burners for exceptional high heat searing/grilling: Image – CampChef.com

    It’s another Camp Chef model though that I think can keep pretty much everyone happy and stay’s under the $2K budget, and its the Woodwind Pro 36″ with a propane SideKick/Sear Box.

    The Camp Chef Woodwind Pro as well as being a pellet grill features an additonal smoke box where wood chips, chunks or charcoal can be added to increase the smoke flavour profile.

    Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 36″ SideKick/Sear Box

    Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 36"

    Total Cooking Area = 1,236 sq.in (432 sq.in at the main grate)
    Weight = 184 lbs
    Pellet Hopper Capacity = 22 lbs
    Temperature Range = 150 to 500 degrees (SideKick 900 degrees)
    Typical Price = $1,799
    Availability = CampChef.com & BBQGuys.com


    Hottest Luxury Wood Pellet Grills

    There are pellet grills from Memphis and Cookshack to consider which do offer temperature settings around 600 degrees, however, they are not the hottest pellet grills.

    An honourable mention goes to Coyote pellet grills which offer a very impressive maximum temperature setting of 700 degrees! But again, they are are not currently the hottest pellet grill.

    That honour goes to Twin Eagles, as their pellet grills have a 725-degree temperature setting. The Twin Eagles pellet grills also have a charcoal basket insert which fits just under the grate. Why would you want to put a charcoal basket on a pellet grill?

    Well, with the forced air pellet fire underneath that charcoal basket it results in a cooking grate surface temperature of between 1,000 and 1,500 degrees! Hence, the Twin Eagles pellet grills currently offer the highest/hottest cooking temperatures on the market.

    Twin Eagles 36″

    Twin Eagles Pellet Grill

    Total Cooking Area = 939 sq.in (624 sq.in at the main grate)
    Pellet Hopper Capacity = 13 lbs
    Temperature Range = 140 to 725 degrees
    Direct-Flame Access? = Yes
    PID Temperature Control? = Yes
    WiFi/App Control? = Yes
    Typical Price = $8,559
    Availability = BBQGuys.com


    Conclusions On The ‘Hottest’ Pellet Grills On Market

    So there is a couple of things I would like you to take away from reading this article. First, with a pellet grill you need to appreciate the difference between its in-direct heat capabilities (convection cooking) and its direct heat capabilities (searing performance).

    Even if a pellet grill does not offer direct-flame capabilities, that doesnt mean it cannot offer good searing performance. If the pellet grill has cast-iron grates that will help with searing performance for instance.

    If not, you can add in a set of GrillGrates and you’re golden! I wouldn’t recommend choosing a pellet grill within your budget purely on which one offers the highest in-direct and direct temperatures.

    There is so much more to choosing the best pellet grill for your needs, from its cooking area, control panel (PID/WiFi) and general build quality/materials.

    That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found this article interesting on the which pellet grills offer the hottest cooking temperatures within the different price brackets.

    As I’ve stated above, there is so much more to choosing the best pellet grill your needs/budget. Therefore, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to learn more. 🙂

    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.com

    Hi, I’m Chris. I started PelHeat.com back in 2007. This website is intended to be an educational resource on BBQ pellets, pellet grills & smokers. I hope you find the information useful.

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