I’ve been writing summary/review posts on a wide range of wood pellet grills smokers from different manufacturers for a while now. Therefore, I thought I should probably make a single resource page linking to all my articles on wood pellet grills/smokers on the market today. I’ve written about budget/starter pellet grills, mid-range units all the way up to luxury grills. Below you will also find articles on the various unique features/accessories some manufacturers offer as well as posts on how to repair various pellet grills. I’ve decided to order the links to the different posts based on which class a particular model/brand each pellet grill sits in. If you are not sure on the different pellet grill classes please first read my post on how to choose the best pellet grill for you. Enjoy 🙂
Purchasing a Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker on a Set Budget
If you have set aside a certain amount of money to spend on a pellet grill my first selection of posts below should help you to understand what size of pellet grill and what features you can get for that budget. How much you have to spend not only influences the size of the grill/smoker but also how capable it is and the materials which are used in its construction.
Even if you are on a pretty tight budget and only have $500 to spend there is an ever-growing range of entry-level pellet grills now available. You have options from the major brands such as Traeger, Camp Chef and Pit Boss but also other options from smaller brands such as Z Grills and GMG. So with this post, I discuss what you should expect from a sub $500 pellet grill and which units I currently think are the best options available and why. Many of the cheaper pellet grills use previous generation time-based temperature control panels and not PID/WiFi controllers. However, even a cheap sub $500 pellet grill can produce great tasting food.
If you have a bit more disposable income to spend on a wood pellet grill/smoker up to $1,000 what are your best options? Well, there is a range of options from Traeger, Camp Chef, Cuisinart, Broil King and Weber. Stepping out of the sub $500 range up to $1,000 you will find more use of stainless steel and thicker gauge mild steel. You will also find a selection of larger family-sized back yard grills with PID/WiFi temperature controllers. Several of the grills also have cast-iron grates which help to provide improved searing performance. If you are considering a Traeger there are previous generations and current generation Pro Series wood pellet grills to choose from. I explain the differences between Gen1/Gen 2 Pro Series and which may suit you better.
If you have a budget of up to $2,000 to spend on a wood pellet grill you probably take your backyard grill time pretty seriously. Hence, you are looking for pellet grills with improved materials and higher quality construction. Well, with a budget up to $2,000 you are able to afford the best Traeger grills, the Ironwood and Timberline range. With these higher specification Traeger grills you get their innovative downdraft chimney design which provides more even heat and smoke distribution over the food. However, you could also consider a full stainless steel wood pellet grill/smoker from either Cookshack or Memphis.
Economy/Budget Class Pellet Grills
These are the cheapest pellet grills currently available. They are typically pellet grills based on previous-generation controllers. Hence, temperature/smoke control is generally not as advanced on these grills as it is on Practical or Premium Class pellet grills. They also generally use cheaper materials and less stainless steel than Practical/Premium Class grills etc. However, this class also includes small portable pellet grills which can have advanced features.
The Scout and Ranger are Traegers smallest/cheapest pellet grills currently on offer. While they can be used for grilling/smoking in your backyard that’s not their primary intended use. These portable pellet grills are mainly intended for camping/hunting/fishing trips or to be used as a small tailgating grill. The Scout and Ranger are the same physical size. However, the Ranger uses a superior Digital Arc controller and features a larger pellet hopper.
Models such as the Pit Boss 340, Tailgater and 700 are the cheapest pellet grills that Pit Boss offer. These units do not feature PID temperature controllers or WiFi. Therefore, the temperature settings step up in 25-degree increments. So these grills are not capable of more precise temperature control within a couple of degrees as seen on higher specification pellet grills. However, they do offer cast iron grates and flame broiling features in some cases. Generally seen as a good/low-cost option and entry point into the world of cooking/smoking with wood pellets.
The SmokePro range of pellet grills were the first units that Camp Chef brought onto the market and they are now their entry-level grills. However, Camp Chef is building a strong reputation for good build quality and unique features which all started with this SmokePro range. For instance, Camp Chef features a quick clean out ash pot positioned under the grill beneath the firepot, simply twist to release and empty. While SmokePro units didn’t originally come with PID temperature controllers they do now and can be upgraded with WiFi with the Gen 2 Controller.
The Z Grills brand first arrived in 2016 to focus purely on the budget/economy end of the wood pellet grill market. Very similar in features and appearance to the previous generation Traeger pellet grills. However, the latest iterations in the Z Grills range do show some other design ideas, such as adding flame broiling capabilities. While these pellet grills are relatively basic compared to more modern alternatives in the Practical/Premium classes below they can serve as a low-cost introduction to pellet cooking. In this post with the help of an owners review, I discuss the capabilities of these entry-level wood pellet grills.
While Cuisinart is new to the pellet grill game their Woodcreek (pellet) and Twin Oaks (pellet/gas) grills are impressive for their relatively low price. They do not feature PID temperature controllers or WiFi, though Bluetooth control is possible. While precise temperature control is not where these grills will shine they are large capacity grills that offer a lot of ‘bang for your buck’. The large twin-wall insulated lid and huge 30lb pellet hopper are particularly notable features of these grills. As these Cuisinart grills can reach 500 degrees and they feature cast-iron grates they also have reasonable searing performance.
While the Oklahoma Joe brand has been present in the BBQ industry with their charcoal smokers since the 1980s they have only very recently entered the pellet grill/smoker market place. However, I believe the Rider pellet grill range has some good design choices with the pellet hopper/pellet storage solution and Smoke/Sear selector. There are three grills in the range the Rider 600, 900 and DLX. Oklahoma Joe has also developed a very useful range of Flex Accessories which are worth considering as well.
Practical Class Pellet Grills
In this class of pellet grills/smokers, you get a step-up in materials, build-quality and features. For instance, within the Practical Class, you will find several grills with PID/WiFi panels for more accurate temperature control and remote monitoring and adjustment. Though obviously you will have to pay more for these pellet grills over their Economy Class counterparts.
The most popular range of Traeger pellet grills is the Pro Series. There are however two generations of Pro Series grills with the first generation using older analogue controllers. The new generation of Traeger Pro Series pellet grills is based on the new DC (Direct Current) D2 Direct Drive platform and features WiFire which is Traeger’s new WiFi integration and App which includes recipes and downloadable grill settings. Traeger started the pellet grill revolution in the 1980s and the Pro Series is the most popular range of wood pellet grills on the market today. If you are looking for a solid/mid-range pellet grill with a strong developed community to get up to speed on pellet grilling a Traeger is worth considering.
A step-up from the SmokePro, the Woodwind range of pellet grills/smokers from Camp Chef offers a few notable improvements. First is the PID/WiFi controller with a bright colour screen and four meat probe monitoring ports. The Woodwind grills also feature a stainless steel lid for easy cleaning and increased durability. With the Woodwind range, Camp Chef also introduced the option of a propane sear box or sidekick accessory. Its also worth noting these pellet grills can also direct flame sear/broil. Therefore a Woodwind pellet grill is one of the most flexible units on the market.
A very well know brand when it comes to propane grills Weber has now decided to enter the pellet grill market with the SmokeFire. The build quality of these pellet grills is very high for the price point. With the rear-mounted pellet hopper and drop-down burn pot, its clear Weber have decided to try and bring some new ideas to the table. These grills do feature a maximum temperature setting of 600 degrees which is not common in this class and not found on some other grills in higher classes. How successful the launch of the Weber SmokeFire range has been though is still open for debate.
Another new player to the pellet grill game, though Broil King has been making propane grills for many years. Broil King has introduced the Baron and Regal, with the Regal being the higher specification pellet grill. These are well-built products from 16 and 14 gauge steel respectively. They feature a clever ash cleanout system and bright/easy to use control panels. They also have a 600-degree maximum temperature setting and cast-iron grates with good searing performance. A rotisserie kit can also be included with these Broil King pellet grills giving them more utility/functionality.
Since 2008 Green Mountain Grills (GMG) have been producing well-built/competitively priced pellet grills with excellent temperature control. GMG has been using PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) controllers on all their pellet grills from the start. They also offer WiFi integration on all their models, even their little Davy Crockett portable pellet grill. All GMG pellet grills including the Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone (mid-sized) and Jim Bowie (large) can flame sear/broil with the sliding grease tray accessory. In Prime specification, some of the pellet grills also feature an ash vacuum port for easy cleanup and an adjustable heat shield. GMG also manufacture a trailer-mounted commercial cooking unit called the Big Pig Trailer Rig.
Based in Holland, Michigan the founders of Grilla Grills are a family-owned steel fabrication company that’s been in business for more than 40 years. They looked at what other pellet grill manufacturers were doing and thought they could offer a better product at a more competitive price point. The first model produced was the Grilla, a rather unique upright pellet grill. Later followed the Silverbac which has a more classic grill design and their latest model is the Chimp, their portable pellet grill. Their Alpha control panels offer a lot of flexibility and accuracy.
The Pit Boss Platinum Series currently includes two pellet grill smokers. The Lockhart is a very unique (and large) horizontal pellet grill with a vertical smoking cabinet on top. The KC Combo is a pellet/gas grill trying to offer in one unit wood-fired flavour and the convenience (and high BTUs) of a propane grill. The KC Combo provides over 1,000 square inches of cooking area. However, the Lockhart with its vertical smoker cabinet provides over 2,000 square inches. Both the KC Combo and Larkhart have equal large pellet hoppers at 26lbs and 40 lbs respectively. With the Platinum range, Pit Boss has also introduced their first PID control panel which will offer more accurate temperature control within a 5-degree range. In terms of cooking area at this price point, both of these Pit Boss Platinum grills are huge.
Premium Class Pellet Grills
With Premium Class there is another jump up again in build quality and materials over the Practical Class. For instance, you will find more use of stainless steel and better insulation with twin-wall construction and lid gaskets. What this means is these grills can typically hold a more consistent temperature in colder climates with less need to use an insulated grill blanket.
The Ironwood range is a step-up over the Traeger Pro Series. While they are based on the same D2 Direct Drive platform they feature a more advanced D2 control panel with Super Smoke and Keep Warm modes. More stainless steel components are found on the Ironwood grills over the Pro Series. They also feature insulated sidewalls. Furthermore, the Ironwood 650 and 850 are simply larger grills than the Pro Series grills. While not included you can add the Traeger Pellet Sensor and monitor the hopper level through the WiFire app.
The Timberline range is currently the highest specification of pellet grills Traeger produce. While they feature the same D2 control panel as the Ironwood range there are some noticeable differences. The Timberline range is fully lined with stainless steel internally. The grill racks on the Timberline grills are also stainless steel, making them easier to clean and providing increased durability. The front and side shelf is also made from stainless steel. The horizontal downdraft exhaust enables Traegers Tru Convection cooking performance, providing even heat/smoke distribution throughout the grills.
Now, REC TEC actually produces a very wide range of pellet grills. Their smallest pellet grill the Bullseye really comes under the Practical Class. However, in general, I think the majority of REC TEC pellet grill line up comes under the Premium Class for a key reason, extensive use of stainless steel. The entire REC TEC pellet grill range now features a stainless steel cooking chamber which will mean these grills should last a really long time. REC TEC now has fitted PID temperature controllers to all of their pellet grills. Most of the REC TEC pellet grills also come with integrated WiFi.
Luxury Class Pellet Grills
The Luxury Class of pellet grills is intended for those who want (and can afford) the absolute best. Therefore, that includes heavy-duty internal components such as the auger and combustion fan etc. However, more significantly is what these grills are made from and how they are constructed. Expect to find almost exclusively stainless steel construction on these pellet grills/smokers.
Cookshack along with their design partner Fast Eddy have been making full stainless steel luxury wood pellet grills for longer than anybody else. Furthermore, these grills are not only designed/engineered in the USA they are made in the US at the Cookshack factory in Ponca City, Oklahoma. The Cookshack pellet grills have high max temperatures of 600 degrees and offer direct flame searing/broiling capabilities. However, they also have the ability to cold smoke which is not a common feature on pellet grills. They currently produce two residential units the PG500 and the PG1000. The PG500 is the cheaper of the two whereas the PG1000 features twin-wall insulated construction.
Based in the small town of Dallas, Oregon MAK GRILLS diversified their steel fabrication business to start producing their own line of high-quality/made in USA pellet grills/smokers after the 2008 market crash. MAK GRILLS firmly believe that ‘Precision cooking requires precision engineering‘. That precision is demonstration is high-quality steel welded and riveted construction of their pellet grills the One, Two and Three Star Generals. I’m also very impressed with the FlameZone heat deflector design features on these grills.
While Coyote has been producing luxury outdoor kitchen and freestanding gas/charcoal grills since 2011 they are relatively new to the pellet grill game. However, they are offering currently the cheapest 304-grade stainless steel pellet grills on the market today. The Coyote pellet grills are available in widths of either 28″ or 36″ and freestanding or built-in configurations. These wood pellet grills can reach a temperature of 700 degrees, therefore, they are capable of searing. With the appropriate grease tray insert fitted flame broiling is possible.
If you have or looking to build an outdoor kitchen and are looking for a built-in pellet grill you should definitely be considering a Memphis pellet grill. The built-in units are made from 304 stainless steel to even withstand salty coastal air. However, Memphis does offer freestanding grills also made from more affordable 430-grade stainless steel. Memphis grills have high maximum temperature settings from 550 up to 700 degrees. They also offer direct flame broiling with the direct flame grease tray insert.
As of this moment, the highest specification (and most expensive) wood pellet grill you can currently buy is a Twin Eagles pellet grill/smoker. Available as either a free-standing or built-in unit at 36″ in width. These pellet grills have the lowest (140 degrees) and highest (725 degrees) of any pellet grill on the market today. With the sear plate or charcoal tray inserts the Twin Eagles pellet grills can sear/flame broil at between 1000 and 1500 degrees respectively. Along with their full-colour WiFi enabled touch screen displays these are currently one of the best pellet grills you can buy today.
Wood Pellet Grill Informative/Discussion Articles
As well as writing my pellet grill review articles I’ve also written various articles on other more general pellet grill topics. Below I’ve included links to my various wood pellet grill articles and a quick summary of the contents of each one:
My various articles/posts above on wood pellet grills share something in common, they are all horizontal pellet grill/smokers. There is currently a small selection of vertical pellet smokers you could consider. Not that many, but I believe there will be more such models coming on to the market soon. However, this does bring up the question, why would you choose a vertical wood pellet smoker over a horizontal pellet grill/smoker? After all, a horizontal unit can do it all whereas a vertical unit is only suitable for ‘low and slow’? Well, after reading this post you will hopefully have the answer.
While many pellet grills/smokers (like many appliances) are made abroad in countries such as China, there are quite a few (probably more than you think) USA made pellet grills. Companies such as Traeger and Grilla Grills started manufacturing their pellet grills in the USA but then felt they had to move manufacturing abroad to grow their companies. Brands which are still making pellet grills in the USA today include Smokin’ Brothers, Blaz’n Grill Works, MAKGRILLS, Yoder Smokers, Cookshack, Memphis and Twin Eagles. In this article, I go through each company providing a quick breakdown on their origins and the pellet grills/smokers they produce.
Its fair to say that previous generations of pellet grills and many economy/budget products while excellent smokers do struggle with high-temperature grilling/searing performance. While more modern and higher specification pellet grills have much-improved grilling capabilities they are also more expensive. Therefore where does this leave you if you want a pellet grill on a budget that can actually, you know, grill!? Well, the solution is measure up the pellet grill for a set of GrillGrates and you will be high temp grilling/searing in no time at all.
If you have been browsing my other articles above, namely on ZGrills and Grilla Grills you may be thinking ‘are they the same grill?!’. You would be forgiven for thinking the ZGrill 700 series and the Grilla Grill Silverbac are the same pellet grill, as they do look very similar. However, first impressions can be deceiving, they are actually very different in the materials used and importantly their control panels. So in this post with the help of a video from Grilla Grills I discuss the differences. Is the Grilla Grill Silverbac a superior product? Yes. It is more expensive? Also Yes. Therefore, this article is not about telling you which grill to purchase. Its about making you aware of what you are actually getting for your money.
As Traeger is the oldest and most well-known pellet grill/smoker brand there is an ongoing debate whether Traeger produces the best pellet grills. So with this article, I wanted to discuss the features/capabilities across the whole range of Traeger pellet grills compared to previous and current grill generations (D2 Direct Drive/Downdraft exhausts etc). I discuss areas where I think Traeger grills excel and whether they lack certain features compared to other brands of pellet grills. Whether those features are important to you or not will help you to determine if a Traeger pellet grill/smoker is going to be your best option.
If you already own or are looking to purchase a Traeger pellet grill there are several specific accessories which I think pretty much every Traeger owner should consider. For instance, Traeger produces their own degreasing cleaner which is worth considering, as it will do a good job of cleaning your grill while not causing damage while being food-safe. The article also discusses the pellet bucket filter kit which is important to reduce the amount of fines/dust going into the pellet hopper. I also discuss Traeger’s custom made grill covers and insulated heat blankets. If you want to cook with a Traeger in the colder months/climates an insulated heat blanket will really help you achieve higher/more stable temperatures.
While the top-of-the-range Traeger Timberline pellet grills come with an integrated pellet sensor the Ironwood and Pro Series pellet grills do not come with a pellet sensor as standard. However, both Ironwood and Pro Series (Gen 2) Traeger pellet grills can be upgraded with a pellet sensor. The pellet sensor connects up directly to the D2 Control Panel for power and data transmission. Therefore, a percentage capacity readout is sent to the WiFire app so the user can monitor the remaining pellet hopper capacity while away from the pellet grill. The reading is given as a percentage, for instance, 40% remaining etc. This feature is particularly useful if you are doing a long/smoke cook of a brisket or pork butt. You can check the hopper capacity remotely and be confident you still have pellets remaining to finish the cook. This article covers how to install and calibrate the pellet sensor.
The second-generation Traeger Pro Series, Ironwood and Timberline pellet grills are all based on a new control platform called D2 Direct Drive? But what exactly is D2 Direct Drive and why is it an improvement over the previous control system used on older Traeger pellet grills? Well, previously the pellet feed auger motor and induction fan used AC motors. In the D2 Direct Drive platform, the motors use DC power. What this means is instead of the control panel turning the motors simply on/off it can vary the speed of the auger and combustion fan to more precise control the burn and in turn the temperature inside the pellet grill/smoker.
Remote monitoring and control of pellet grills via WiFi is fast becoming an essential feature for many people looking to purchase a new pellet grill. Its understandable, as most people simply don’t have the time to be in close proximity to monitor their pellet grill over several hours. Furthermore, if you are doing a long/slow cook overnight its much easier to let your phone monitor the grill for you. In this article, I compare the features/capabilities of Traegers WiFire app against the Camp Chef Connect app.
With either a Camp Chef Woodwind or SmokePro pellet grill you can fit a propane attachment called either the Sear box or SideKick. While these two propane accessories are similar in many ways and appear to cost the same they are actually very different in their capabilities/functionality. With this article, I try to help Camp Chef owners or potential owners answer the question of which one would be best for them. While several models of Camp Chef pellet grill can flame broil over the pellet fire at around 650 degrees a propane grill can sear at 900 degrees. Hence, adding either the Sear Box or SideKick to a Camp Chef pellet grill make it one of the most flexible pellet grills currently on the market.
WiFi integration and remote monitoring/control of a pellet grill is quickly becoming a crucial feature for many pellet grill owners. Therefore, Camp Chef has introduced the Gen 2 PID/WiFi controller which can be retrofitted to first-generation Woodwind and SmokePro pellet grills. Not only will this upgrade an old Camp Chef pellet grill with WiFi control via and the Camp Chef Connect app it also provides PID temperature control. What this means is this controller can give an old pellet grill the ability to keep the temperature within a 5-degree range apposed to a 25-degree range.
With this article, I discuss the various brands of BBQ wood pellets on sale today and discuss which flavours (Apple, Hickory, Oak etc) are best for cooking/smoking which foods. When you purchase a pellet grill is important to check if within the warranty period you have to use a specific brand of wood pellets. Within this article, I also discuss the differences between wood pellets used in pellet stoves/boilers and those used in pellet grills/smokers. Furthermore, I discuss the differences between full flavour and blended BBQ wood pellets as its important to know what you are actually buying to work out if you are getting a good deal. Importantly within this post I also discuss how you can test the quality of the wood pellets and why you should screen them for dust/fines before loading them into your grills hopper.
My background and experience is in how to make wood pellets and its how I got into wood pellet grills in the first place. Therefore, one of the first articles I ever wrote regarding BBQ wood pellets/pellet grills was this article on how Traeger wood pellets are made. With the help of a video from Traeger, I discuss how the raw material is prepared and processed to make wood pellets. I can tell you from many years of experience, while the process may look pretty simply is a fine balancing act to actually produce good quality/durable wood pellets. For instance, if the wood is slightly too dry you will end up with dust. Slightly too wet and you can end up with a blocked pellet mill die.
Wood Pellet Grill Maintenance/Repair Articles
Pellet grills, just like any appliance will need maintenance from time to time and certain parts may need to be replaced if they are not working correctly. Therefore, I’ve written a series of articles on how to repair/maintain certain pellet grills and how to resolve issues such as auger blockages.
This is my summary article on how to work out what the problem is with your Traeger pellet grill and how to fix it. For instance, before you start randomly changing/replacing components one of the first steps is the check the cylinder fuse on the back of the control panel. If the fuse is fine I then discuss the next steps to get your Traeger pellet grill going again. Please note this article is to help with older/Gen 1 Traeger pellet grills. It will not provide assistance on how to resolve issues on the Gen 2 Pro Series, Ironwood or Timberline Traeger pellet grills. Within this article, I discuss how to check the control panel and cable connections to each of the components, auger, hot rod, induction fan and temperature probe. Ultimately to find out which component (if any) has failed and is stopping the grill working properly.
For owners of old Traeger pellet grills, they may want to consider upgrading their controller to a newer Gen 1 Pro Series controller with dual meat probes. In other instances, the control panel may simply have become faulty and need to be replaced. In this article with the help of a couple of instructional videos, I discuss the process the removing and replacing a Traeger controller. Its a relatively straight forward process. However, you will need to take your time to avoid damaging wires/other components. I also discuss in this article how to determine if the controller is faulty or if the problem lies elsewhere with other components such as the auger motor/temperature probe.
If you own an older Traeger pellet grill (pre D2 control panel) you may have a small button recessed into the control panel next to the digital temperature display. Well, this small button can be used to adjust the P Setting on the pellet grill, but what the heck is a P Setting anyway? Well, the P setting stands for Pause Setting. Essentially, on the older Traeger controllers to feed the fire to a set temperature the auger was simply turned on and off in bursts. Well, the gap between these bursts when on the smoke setting can be adjusted by changing the P Setting. Live in a cold climate? Its likely you will want to adjust the P Setting.
If you own a Traeger pellet grill and its not achieving or maintaining its set temperature the RTD temperature probe may need to be replaced. In this article, I discuss the process of how to remove the old probe and replace it with a new one along with the help of some official how-to videos from Traeger. In some cases, the Traeger pellet grill temperature probe may just need a good clean to remove fat/grease to get it working properly. I also discuss how you can use an infrared heat gun to test if the RTD probe is working or not and if it needs to be replaced.
The hot rod is positioned in the base of the firepot. Its a resistive electrical heating element, essentially its very similar to the element in an electric kettle. As the hot rod igniter heats up the pellets start to smoke and with the assistance of the induction fan combustion will take place. Well, that’s what happens when the hot rod igniter is working in a Traeger pellet grill. If your Traeger pellet grill won’t get going the hot rod igniter may need to be replaced. I’ve included a couple of different instructional videos in this post to show you how to remove and replace the hot rod. They are also applicable for replacing the firepot itself. Many hot rods also come with a 5A cylinder fuse which fits on the back of the control panel.
While a properly functioning hot rod igniter and pellet auger motor are important components to get the fire going the induction fan is equally important to feed the fire with sufficient air. The induction fan is also commonly referred to as the combustion fan. Located fairly close to the bottom grate of the pellet hopper its easy to tell by looking up under the hopper if the fan is working. If the induction fan has stopped working luckily it is one of the easiest/quickest components to replace. You can remove and replace the induction fan without having to remove the pellet hopper.
If your Traeger pellet grill is no longer feeding pellets into the firepot while the auger motor could have failed it could also simply be the result of a blocked/jammed auger. Auger jams are most often caused by water/rain getting into the pellet hopper and expanding the wood pellets. Expanded wood pellets will jam up the auger to the point the motor cannot free the auger. Within this post, before I discuss how to change the auger motor I go through the process to check and resolve an auger jam. After the auger jam has been resolved by simply changing the fuse on the control panel it may be possible to get the pellet grill up and running again.