Wood pellet smokers are an easy way to get into authentic backyard BBQ smoker. Here’s my guide to 11 of the best, what to look out for, and why you need one in your life.
Pellet smokers are a great way to enter the daunting world of BBQ smokers. Unlike traditional offset smokers, they’re easy to use and flexible, all while still delivering beautiful smoked barbecued food.
The purists might go for charcoal offset smokers, but if you nee something simple and affordable, then look no further than a wood pellet smoker.
Wood pellet cookers are growing in popularity and it’s not hard to see why. They’re quick to start up, powerful, and give you the temperature control that you don’t get with charcoal.
In my guide today I’ll be looking at eleven of the very best pellet smokers of 2019, so you’ll know exactly what you need from your next pellet cooker.
Let’s get into it.
The wood pellet smokers we’ll be looking at are:
- Camp Chef SmokePro PG24
- Traeger Grills Pro Series 34
- Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E
- Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett
- Camp Chef SmokePro LUX
- Z GRILLS 2019 Model 8-in-1
- Camp Chef Woodwind 24
- Pit Boss 700FB
- Ozark Grills Bison
- Z Grills ZPG-7002B
Note: Links above will take you to Amazon to see latest prices and reviews
Camp Chef SmokePro PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill
I’m kicking off this list with what is quite simply the best all-around pellet smoker.
This mid-size smoker strikes the perfect balance between superb quality and value for money. Nothing is compromised, and you get so much bang for your buck it’s worth the investment.
But what make it so great?
With any pellet smoker we want to be able to have the same level of temperature control that we’d have on a gas grill or even an indoor oven. The temperature controller that the Camp Chef SmokePro offers gives us exactly that. It’s easy to use, and offers enough versatility in its setup to allow you to smoke anything you want.
It offers good cooking space of 429 square inches over its iron grates, which is more than enough to cater for almost any party size. Across this surface it offers several cooking racks to allow you to smoke iconic BBQ meat like ribs, all at once.
Crucial to its beginner-friendly use is its start-up time. In contrast to traditional charcoal smokers, you don’t need to wait the best part of 30 minutes for it to reach your target temperature. Instead, you’re good to go in no more than 10 minutes.
Like with other pellet smokers, you dial in your pre-set temperature configurations on the thermostatic control, allowing you to quickly and easily reach the 225°F-250°F that good BBQ smoking aims for.
The easy temperature control unit also allows you to set and forget, in the truest sense of the phrase. With the heat levels set you can leave the smoker to do its thing.
The smoker’s build is mainly comprised of heavy gauge stainless steel, and feels like its truly built to last.
What else makes this smoker stand out? Its smoke stack design allows you to work at the front of the chamber without disrupting any cooking happening at the rear.
It has a simple cleanup door to allow you to quickly get to the ash building up at the bottom of the chamber.
Its solid build means that it’s incredibly energy efficient, which in turn means that the wood pellets you use go much further.
The smoker has the option of an added sear box which can reach an incredible 900°F, and will allow you to sear steaks or burgers, as well as use advanced cooking methods like reverse searing. This effectively makes the smoker a Swiss army knife-like smoker, with i being able to do essentially everything you need for good barbecue.
If you have the budget, and are serious about getting a pellet smoker, then this is the one for you.
Traeger Grills Pro Series 34
Traeger are one of the original brands, and so it stands to reason that they still make one of the best wood pellet BBQ smokers out there.
The Traeger Guru is one of the largest, most powerful units out there, and this new version in the form of the Pro Series is another sign of the pallet grill’s progress.
Gone are past issues with warm up speeds and heat retention, all in favor of a reliable, study, smoker that locks in heat.
What’s changed? The Pro Series’ engine has been developed to turn the pellet auger quicker, which means that more fuel can get into your smoker’s firepot faster. This means faster heat up time, and more responsive controls.
It include a built-in temperature gauge to allow you easy temperature readings for your smoker surface and ambient temperature. However I would always recommend investing in your own specialist temperature probe for reliable accurate readings.
The smoker’s controls allow you to tweak temperatures in 5°F increments, making aiming for that ideal 225°F relatively easy.
A recent addition to a lot of barbecue equipment, and not just not pellet smokers, is WiFi connectivity. This is more than just a gimmick though, as pairing with your handheld device or smartphone will allow you to control the smoker remotely. Not only that, but the app on your smartphone will also allow you to target cooking in line with built-in and preset cooking options.
Whether you think you need this added connectivity or not is up to you, but even with this put to one side there is no denying that is an extremely efficient and powerful pellet smoker.
Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
Z Grills have long made grills and smokers that comfortably sit at the more affordable end of the spectrum. And while not every product of theirs has been a hit, the 7002E more than deserves to sit in the company of Traeger on this list.
The fact that they’re were founded in 2017 in China might arouse suspicion as to the build quality of this smoker, but you need not worry: This is a fine smoker.
The Z Grill actually offers a large hopper than many of its competitors, which in turn means you benefit from excellent fuel efficiency. You don’t need to fill the smoker up with wood fuel as often, and your smoker does more with less.
To do this at lower cost is impressive.
Not only this, but it comes with a 3-year guarantee. This should reassure anyone who still carries doubts about the durability of this unit.
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett
This is a bit of a quirky looking smoker, and its small stature might throw a lot of people. But don’t be fooled: This smoker is up to the job.
This sturdy smoker performs excellently at maintaining temperatures, largely thanks to its excellent build and smart temperature control.
Its temperature control elements are fantastic, offering much more precision than a lot of other pellet smokers. Its manual control panel allows you to adjust temperatures in 5°F increments, and can even be altered to allow you to cut these increments down to 1°F. While these might seem overly granular to some, BBQ smoking is all about exact measurement, so we welcome this degree of control.
It does have a few issues with keeping a steady flow of pellets into its firebox, but as long as you keep the hopper full then you shouldn’t run into any problems.
Mobility might not be on the priority list for you when choosing a new pellet smoker, particularly as they demand an easy power source via a plug.
The Green Mountain Davy Crocket has been beautifully designed to offer excellent portability. Its legs are foldable, and comes with power adapters to allow you to link it up to your vehicle or power generator.
And at 68 pounds, it’s relatively easy to move around when compared to other pellet smokers.
It has a smartphone app to allow you to control temperatures remotely, allowing you to be far less hands-on than you do with other smokers. It also features a smart alarm to notify you of any issues with the hopper or auger.
A brilliant option for people wanting to bring pellet smoking to their next tailgate party or camping trip.
Camp Chef SmokePro LUX Pellet Grill
One of the most impressive things about this smoker is its fuel-to- power efficiency. Even though its hopper is a relatively modest 18 inches in height, once full it can burn for a good 12 hours. Even longer if you’re smoking in warm weather.
What makes this even more remarkable is that its cooking area is generous in size. This smoker can take a lot of food.
This smoker also comes with the option of an added sear box, giving you a bit more freedom with your barbecuing. For an added cost you can get a 16,00 BTU sear box installed in it, which should be able to reach upwards of 800°F to help you with reverse searing.
It does come with its own built-in temperature probe, but I’d recommend getting your own. It’s a bit flimsy, and in all honesty I prefer buying my own because third party models tend to be far more reliable and accurate in their temperature reading. If you’re looking for one then take a look at my guide to thermometers and temperature probes.
We’ve found that its temperature calibration can be a bit wide of the mark, usually by about 30°F. With something as dependent on consistent heat level as BBQ smoking is, this can be frustrating. It shouldn’t be enough to discourage anyone from considering this grill, but you’ll just need to recalibrate the smoker every few uses.
Z GRILLS 2019 Model 8-in-1 BBQ Smoker
Camp Chef Woodwind 24
We have already contained two smokers in the Camp Chef”Smoke Guru” lineup, but we simply could not leave the Woodwind off our listing.This grill provides a generous 570 square inches of cooking surface and a detachable upper heating rack.The Woodwind possess a bigger and enhanced cover on your pellet hopper
Reduced storage container
Stainless Steel lid and firepot
Blue LED display read out that is easier to see from direct sun
Both are great alternatives and the advancements on the Woodwind are not radical, so you to purchase is dependent upon your budget and in the event that you are able to get either while it is on special.
Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Smoker
Pit boss market a variety of pellet grills, and are advertised as a cheap option to Traeger.
You can generally receive exactly the identical size grill for a couple hundred less than the equal equivalent.With the launch of this 2019 Traegers, the technology in the Pit Boss is definitely lagging behind, but if you do not care about getting the newest whistles and bells then the Pit Boss could nevertheless be a fantastic purchase.The Pit Boss employs a sliding plate method to permit for more direct searing that gives it a tiny bit more flexibility.With heavy gauge steel structure this grill is amazingly sturdy considering the dimensions and cost.You might even pay a little extra to your SC version that includes updated cart with storage cupboard and caster wheels.Get the latest cost on Amazon.
Ozark Grills Bison Wood Pellet Smoker
Z Grills ZPG-7002B
Why you should get a pellet grill
Pellet grills are actually relatively newcomers to the BBQ space, and were originally championed by essentially just two big name brands: Traeger and MAK.
Their quick rise to popularity across the world has now meant that there is a lot more choice out there, which in turn has meant that pellet smokers (and grills) have gotten better and better with every year.
This has also meant that prices have become more and more affordable. While original models in the 2000’s were upwards of $100, current units are far cheaper and comparable to most types of outdoor grill.
Quality has not suffered however, and any good pellet smoker offers authentic BBQ smoking with cleaner and more affordable fuel, all without compromising the deep and smoky flavors that we love.
How do pellet smokers work?
A typical setup will have a hopper on the side in which you insert the pellets.When you plug in and place the warmth on a digital control, the pellets begin getting pushed through and turned to smoke and heat.Central to each of pellet cookers is an electronic control like the controls on contemporary indoor ovens. You decide on a temp you need, and there’s an LED screen that tells you that the true temp.Pellet stoves normally have an auger or a different feed mechanism which pushes the beans to some burn pot typically about the size of a beer may ripped in half. An igniter pole sits at the base of the kettle and when you flip on the grill it shines like the element in an electric stove.The control is among the most crucial sections of a pellet smoker. It is the computer that regulates the temperature on your pellet cooker during the cook.There are a Couple of Distinct Kinds of grill controllers on the market:3 place controls: These controls are usually found on more economical pellet stoves, and also have 3 settings — low (225°F) moderate (325°F) and large (425°F). They’re also referred to as LMH controls. They nourish the pellets to the burner in fixed cycles so that you do not have a fantastic deal of control over the temperature.
Multi-position controls: These controls permit you to adjust the temperature in increments. Pellets are fed in stationary cycles significance that these controls still do not offer you amazing accuracy. A multi-position controller is generally true +/-20°F, in perfect conditions. A wonderful feature of these controls is the inclusion of an LCD display. But they still feed pellets in stationary cycles meaning they can only provide precision of +/- 15-20°F. They also contain LCD displays, 1 touch switches and several have inputs for meat probes.
PID controls : PID controls are believed by many to be the golden standard of grill controls. Using complex algorithms, temperatures are precise to within just a couple of levels. The pellet feed is continually adjusted to keep the appropriate temperature, and this kind of controller can also adapt cushioned meat probes that operate in tandem with all the control to decrease the temperature once the meat is finished. In addition they contain LCD and a single touch switches.Durability and Structure Material
Do not be tricked by an attractive pellet grill outside. Even if there’s loads of stainless steel to the exterior, the maker might have cut corners and used cheap materials which will rust on the interior.
If these elements are made from marine grade stainless steel, then you have a stove that will last you a life.
If you are taking a look at a grill created out of powder coated steel, then be certain it’s a really large excellent coating. Whenever the paint chips and blisters, your stove will begin to corrode and these elements will deteriorate.It’s also worth noting that a pellet smoker made from premium quality materials will do far better. Premium quality materials will keep heat, ensure more effective pellet consumption, and keep equilibrium better in the chilly weather.
Size of this Hopper
The hopper of the pellet cooker is your container that stores the pellets prepared for the auger to carry them into the fire-pot. As a result, the dimensions of your hopper basically dictates how long that your cooks could be. Thus, settling for a hopper that’s too little will end up being bothersome to say the very least, as your cooks will probably fail to go the distance.As a manual, a pellet grill using a 40 pound hopper can provide you approximately 40 hours of cooking time at regular smoking temperatures.And keep in mind, if you reside in a colder weather, your stove will utilize more fuel to deliver up the toaster to, and keep temperature.You are able to buy hopper extensions to your pellet grill. Make Sure That the hopper extender You Purchase is compatible with the pellet smoker you’ve bought, which the producer is reputablePlan just how much cooking property you WantBefore determining how large your cooker should be, you have to ask a few queries.Bear in mind that bigger does not necessarily mean better. Buying a massive pellet stove can definitely just mean pellets that are wasted.Because of this, there should not be a temperature difference between the upper rack and the base rack whilst cooking.Bearing this in mind, let us talk about the gap between the main cooking area and complete cooking area. Primary cooking area refers to the place on the most important cooking plate. Total cooking space takes into account secondary racks.Thus, a large cooker using a main cooking area of 500 square inches, may really be of less use for you than a more compact cooker with a entire cooking area which comprises a 450 square inch main rack plus a 125 square inch secondary stand.The most important thing is that — take inventory of everything you require, and do not be tricked into believing that bigger is better.Frequent Characteristics and capacitiesContrary to your traditional charcoal or counter smokers, toaster grills may include a whole lot of whistles and bells.
Firms have begun to benefit from this reality that pellet smokers have a computer from them by design. By incorporating WiFi connectivity, then you are able to track and control the temperature of your grill from almost everywhere, provided that you have an online connection. Readings taken from the own meat can then be displayed conveniently on the display of your stove. Some producers have made grilling potential, either by eliminating a part of the diffuser plate, or even simply by giving a dedicated grilling place inside the stove. Assess what features come standard, and also what exactly are add-ons at additional price. Some add-ons are provided by companies independent of the producer. When a feature is valuable to youpersonally, but isn’t a normal feature of your specific cooker, so make sure it’s accessible as a add on before you get the cooker.
There are a few fairly large tech elements in pellet smokers. Additionally, there are moving components, like the auger. This usually means that you will find elements of your stove which can break, and you might be unable to fix your self.Ensure that you are clear about just how long your guarantee is, what it will cover, what will void this, and in which you would have to take your smoker to get almost any repairs under guarantee.
Nobody enjoys a pellet hog, in other words, a pellet burner which chews through extreme pellets.In case your pellet cooker is overly slim, heat will be lost through the entire body of this stove. It’ll use a great deal of pellets simply to keep the temperature.If the metal is too thick, then you’ll also use a good deal of pellets. Heat is removed from the cooking area and saved from the walls of this stove. Thus, it is going to take a great deal of pellets to acquire the cooking place up into the desired temperature. While thick walls are needed for some kinds of cookers, they aren’t needed in pellet smokers.Do a bit of research and discover the number of pounds of pellets per hour that the smoker burns. By way of instance, Bruce Bjorkman of MAK asserts his barbecues just use about 1/2 per pound each hour to the smoke atmosphere.
Beware of gimmicks
From the realm of pellet smokers, there’s a fine line between practical tacky and technology gimmicks. With rising competition among producers, companies are eager to stick out above the rest.That isn’t to state that all attributes are just gimmicks and ought to be disregarded as such. In the end, you need to consider if the attributes on the pellet smoker will be of real use to you.If the attribute is something which you would consider useful, can it be included at the cost of other, more important items, like pellet durability or usage?By way of instance, think about the addition of WiFi, or other remote management attributes.They assert,”This really is a grill. You have ta go outdoors and set the meat onto the grill. Can it be too much to request press a button? And also to lift the lid and see whether you have pellets?”But if you reside in a cold climate and it’s freezing out, the capacity to control the cook from within your hot house might be an appealing attribute.
The advantages of a pellet smoker
As we have mentioned previously, the majority of men and women wind up picking a pellet style smoker due to the convenience and flexibility.Set it and forget it smoking — just make certain that the hopper is filled with pellets and place your desired temperature and there is not much else you have to be worried about.
Easy temperature controller — Many pellet smokers allow you to dial in the temperature to over five levels, and the device does a fantastic job of keeping a steady temperature.
Additionally, there Are a few benefits unique to cooking using a pellet smoker:Super gas efficient — Pellet smokers are very similar to your home toaster, using a super effective convection fan, which means you spend a whole lot less in pellets than charcoal.Less attempt cleaning up — Charcoal smokers may earn a small mess each time you cook.Steven Raichlen has an superb breakdown of the many pros and cons of pellet grills you might choose to look out for.
Pellet grills are flexible. You can grill smoke, grill, roast (type of–more on this below), and also bake or braise in a pellet grill.
Excellent temperature control
With their reliance on digital he plan discourages flare-ups.Some pellet grills permit you to control temperatures at 5-degree increments, providing you pinpoint heat management. A thermostat in the smoking chamber sends precise signs to the engine and modulates pellet shipping.