I know very well from experience that choosing the best pellet smoker is not an easy nor quick task for someone who is a beginner or has no time to compare dozens of competitive pellet grills.
You need consider many things before the purchase in order to make a good choice and not lose few hundred dollars for a cheap and poor pellet smoker.
Especially if you want to keep the best quality to price ratio and get a grill that will last for years while helping you prepare great food.
Based on my research, the best pellet grills in 2020 are:
- Best Overall: Camp Chef SmokerPro DLX
- Best Budget: Z GRILLS ZPG-7002ENC
- Best Portable: GMG Davy Crockett
- Best Upgrade: Rec Tec Bull RT-700
- Best Large: Camp Chef SmokePro LUX
In order not to lose too much money and nerves, I recommend to read all of my reviews. That way you’ll be able to pick the right pellet grill for yourself.
|Camp Chef PG24 Deluxe||Check Latest Price|
|Z GRILLS ZPG-7002ENC||Check Latest Price|
|GMG Davy Crockett||Check Latest Price|
|Rec Tec Bull RT-700||Check Latest Price|
|Camp Chef SmokePro LUX||Check Latest Price|
The Seven Best Pellet Smokers 2020
Out of the entire offer on the market, I have only picked what I believe to be 7 best pellet grills for you. All those models are recommended by the owners but which of them will be the best for you only depends on your situation and specific needs.
Pay attention to all the significant aspects such as size, quality of workmanship, temperature range, warranty and additional features.
1. Best Overall: Camp Chef PG24 Deluxe
Camp Chef PG24 Deluxe is a great smoker that maintains a perfect balance between quality and an attractive price.
It guarantees precise temperature control, very good quality of workmanship and all the essential features.
Under the lid you’ll find quite a lot of space for a grill with this price, enough for most people.
A very important thing is temperature control, I have to admit with complete honesty that it is a real set and forget style smoker.
It’s a very easy to use and solidly built grill that can withstand a lot.
The cooking surface – is big considering the price of this pellet smoker. 429 square inches of the main cooking surface and 141 square inches of the rack. It is definitely enough for a big family.
It also comes with an extra heated rack that you can remove at any time.
From the moment you start it, you don’t have to worry about anything, the system will easily maintain a stable temperature.
The digital controller offers quite a huge selection of pre-set temperature settings within a range of 175-400. You have several programs to choose from, such as “Low smoke”, “High Smoke” or “High”. In this price range, it is really a solid and precise controller.
It is possible to plug in one probe, which allows to precisely follow things like the temperature inside the meat.
Nearly every pellet smoker (besides the new pellet grill from Weber) has problems with searing despite the ability to reach high temperatures (up to about 500 degrees F).
Seeing this problem, Camp Chef decided to take a step forward compared to the competitive brands and created the sear box.
It makes it possible to achieve much higher temperatures (even as high as 900 degrees F), becoming a very versatile tool (it runs on propane).
This option is sold separately, and it gets attached to the side of the smoker. Sadly, it costs quite a lot, but if you want to have phenomenal sear marks then you must have it.
Another great solution is the ash removal system – it’s a patented solution that you won’t find in any other grill. Under the grill you’ll find a cup where the ash from your pellets goes to. All you have to do is twist it off, throw out the ash and put it back in its place. Easy, quick, efficient and effective.
Camp Chef is a brilliant alternative to a pretty expensive pellet grill from weber and to the cheapest options, which in a very short time break down or simply have problems with maintaining the temperature.
Taking all the factors into account, I definitely recommend this pellet smoker, it has a very good quality to price ratio. If you’re not a professional meat smoker, this is definitely a great choice for you at a decent price.
2. Best Budget Z Grills ZPG-7002E
I took a very close look at the Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E and I have to admit that it is a great budget pellet smoker (the best on the market).
It offers all the essential features, good temperature control, quality and most important, affordable price.
Sudden appearance of this brand was something very strange to many people. Not many people know that the Z Grills company used to manufacture grills for other brands in the past, including the well-known Traeger.
These days they offer pellet grills under their own brand, declaring that quality-wise they are on the same level as the older Trager grill series with one important difference – they are available at much lower prices.
It has whole 500 square inches of the main cooking area, at this kind of price it really is a lot.
the digital controller allows to choose out of several pre-set settings within a range of 180 to 450 degrees.
The greatest advantage of this model, besides the decent quality of workmanship and temperature control, is obviously the price. A pellet grill for this kind of money with such large cooking area is a very good offer.
A significant argument compared to the competing options, especially within this price range, is the warranty. A three year warranty period is exactly as much as offered by way more expensive brands.
It is not a 100% perfect grill, but for this kind of money you’re getting a lot. It’s a pretty new brand on the market without a rich history, but it offers everything that’s needed to start with and in decent prices too.
One significant downside is the lack of an ash cleaning system which means that ash removal isn’t quite as easy, fast and convenient as in grills equipped with an ash catcher. A good solution is to use a small vacuum cleaner that makes this task much easier.
3. Best Portable: GMG Davy Crockett
This time it’s a suggestion to those who need to bring the pellet smoker along when going out camping. Small portable pellet grill, equipped with plenty of useful features. You can easily put it in the car with you, as it has foldable legs and is lightweight.
The cooking surface is 219 square inches. That’s a good number for a portable pellet smoker.
Pellet hopper holds 17 lbs of pellets. Of course it also has a fat container, a stainless steel bucket, which is standard in every grill.
This pellet smoker is equipped with a PID controller, which means that the temperature control in this grill is very good. It can be controlled manually or using an app on your phone.
The panel allows to set the temperature at 150-500 F degrees at 5 F degree intervals. It guarantees that the temperature won’t rise or drop by dozens of degrees, making your cooking more complicated that way. The PID controller makes sure that the selected temperature is maintained, and it really does a good job with that.
Remember that the most important thing in those pellet grills is to maintain a fixed temperature. It’s a necessary condition for peaceful cooking. Such grill will easily let you smoke meat for many hours without the risk of burning it in an uncontrolled too high temperature.
Download an iOS or Android app and connect using WI-FI. The app enables to do many different things such as remote control of the grill temperature, control of temperature inside the meat or the ability to check the amount of pellets inside the hopper. You can get the temperature higher or lower while away from the grill. You can learn more about how this function works on the manufacturer’s official website.
The app allows to create profiles. That way you can set it so that your meat smokes at lower temperatures for the first 2-3 hours, then you can set it so that it smokes at higher temperature for the next 2 hours.
On top of that, GMG Davy Crockett Pellet Grill is equipped with a meat probe, which allows to instantly read the meat internal temperature.
It’s an inexpensive suggestion, I think if you’re at the start of your journey with a pellet smoker and don’t want to spend over 1000$ for the device. Then it’s a good choice to start your journey with this wood pellet grill.
It’s a good alternative to a portable electric grill, which is devoid of the smoked meat flavor. Wooden Pellet Smoker gives the meat a great smoked wood flavor.
4. Best Upgrade Pick REC TEC Bulls RT-700
The new version which is Rec Tec Bulls RT-700 ( a continuation of the previous version, RT-680 ).
A great high-quality pellet smoker, definitely one of the best ones in this price range. The price is high, but the manufacturers offer a whole 6 years warranty which is rare in this type of grill.
The previous version has earned plenty of high notes from customers, the new version was improved with Wi-Fi and an app that allows to connect to the grill in order to monitor the cooking process on the screen of your telephone or tablet.
For many people the grill that I described above will be enough and the price is half as much. If you have some more money to spend, then you'll love this smoker.
When you first look at the price you will think it is high. But it’s a pellet grill that is definitely worth every cent. Perfect suggestion for demanding meat smokers as well as for those who are starting on their journey and wish to have a really decent equipment with many interesting features.
Independent tests from other customers show that the new Rec Tec Bulls RT-700 can reach the temperature of 225 degrees F in just 5-6 minutes or so which is truly an impressive result ( tests performed in Miami at the temperature of about 80 degrees F ).
Another valuable novelty, ( which the previous version lacked ) is two ports to plug in two probes that allow to control the temperature inside the meat.
Temperature – I will start from that since I believe that it is something you should pay attention from the start. This smoker is phenomenal at handling maintaining a fixed temperature. Forget about constantly monitoring the temperature, it’s completely unnecessary here.
All thanks to the Smart Grill Technology™ PID temperature controller. This system is intelligent and precise enough to allow you to set the temperature from 180ºF to 500ºF at 5º intervals. And it really does work, it’s not just another marketing gimmick on the manufacturers’ part.
When you open the lid of the REC TEC Grill, the Smart Grill Technology™ system detects the temperature drop and adds more fuel in order to maintain the temperature you choose.
Your grill calculates the amount of fuel needed to maintain the desired temperature in real time.
The construction and the elements - REC TEC Pellet grill are an investment for years, safe from corroding. Most of competitive grills look pretty on the outside and the manufacturers claim they are made of stainless steel. The truth is, only the outside part of the grill is stainless. The steel on the inside is different, and major parts are made of materials of poorer quality.
It is different with REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill, here the solid construction is made of high quality materials.
Cooking surface – Whole 702 square inches at our disposal, which is a lot. But if this is still not enough for you, you can buy a second shelf and expand the cooking surface by extra 352 square inches. That’s the total of 1052 square inches of meat grilling or smoking space. I think when it comes to this pellet grill, you can’t complain about insufficient space.
This smoker comes with a whole 6 year warranty, which proves that it’s a really good stuff. Quite a lot of people praise the customer service.
The reviews for this smoker speak for themselves, over 95% positive marks from the active users proves what a good product this is.
5. Best Large Camp Chef SmokePro LUX
This pellet smoker combines the most important features such as big grilling surface, maintaining approximate temperature and other useful options at decent price. It’s a grill for those who expect a decent equipment that is worth its money.
Definitely a very good pellet grill, the construction is solid and it has whole 875 square inches of the grilling surface. It will work great for cooking for a bigger group of people.
Equipped with a digital controller that allows you to set the temperature between 160 and 500 degrees F. Dual LED allows you to check the current temperature inside the grill and read the internal temperature of the meat using a meat probe for that.
It has all the features you will find in the Camp Chef PG24DLX model. They include Ash cleanout system, Smart Smoke Technology and Grease management system. All these features make using the pellet grill and cleaning it significantly easier.
Automatic electronic ignition, a technology that will make it much easier to start grilling. All the good grills have this solution these days. It allows to start the pellet smoker quickly and comfortably.
I can easily say that Camp Chef Pellet grills are some of the better ones that are worth checking out before making the decision to purchase a new grill.
This grill is very good at maintaining temperature, although it would be better if it had a PID controller.
As a conclusion, it’s a much bigger version of Camp Chef PG24DLX with the same features.
The main difference here is the cooking surface. If you need much more of it than in the PG24 model, this is definitely a grill you will be satisfied with.
6. Best Traeger Traeger PRO 575
Year by year, Traeger was losing its market position due to rapid development of other brands. It was obvious that they would either be left behind and lose or introduce something new.
The problem with older grills from Traeger was their obsolete construction, poor functionality, lack of features adapted to modern times and above all, high price.
The changes in 2019 have made Traeger Pro worthy of consideration thanks to a completely new construction and introduction of many interesting features.
The new improvements resulted not only in great appearance, but also functionality and efficiency.
The D2 PID controller is characterized by much better temperature control. It allows to choose temperatures at 5 degree intervals within a wide range.
You have an option to plug in one probe to monitor the meat temperature. You can monitor the whole process using the grill’s interface or with a dedicated phone app that you can connect with using Wi-Fi.
It lacked such solution as a cell phone app, especially with ability to use Wi-Fi (which gives longer range). It comes with many interesting features and a large database of recipes and tips.
The new D2 Direct Drive unit allows to achieve higher torque, which enables Traeger Pro to achieve high temperatures in a short time by delivering large quantities of pellet to the furnace.
You have two sizes to choose from in the Pro series, 575 and 780. The numbers mean the cooking area, whereas the bigger size only costs $200 more, which makes it a good idea to consider the bigger option.
The advantage of Traeger is availability of many interesting accessories, but sadly most of them cost quite a lot.
You have a little more cash lying around or are a Traeger fan? The Pro series is a great offer worth considering. A new drive unit, Wi-Fi technology, digital controller and an interesting design are elements that make Traeger once again worthy of being among the best.
What is a pellet grill
It’s a pretty young type of grill compared to others, around 1985 the first pellet smoker was created that was called Traeger, the name comes from its creator who is Joe Traeger. He was the owner of the patent for many years which meant that back then the development of the pellet grill only lay in Traeger’s hands. Over all those years, the company was promoting this type of grill and selling plenty of units of this grill, going down in the history of pellet grills.
After the patent expired, a gate was opened for other potential manufacturers. That way, plenty of people appeared that started manufacturing and perfecting their own pellet grills. As everyone knows, competition propels market forward, as one has to have a product that stands out in order to have high sales. That way plenty of manufacturers created their own unique models of pellet grills that differ significantly from those from few decades ago.
The today’s pellet smoker is definitely a much more technologically advanced machine that is much smarter. Today’s systems analyze plenty of factors during cooking and control the grill in a way that maintains automatically selected temperature. Digital controllers currently offer the ability to set the temperature at 5 degree F intervals.
They combine convenience, simplicity and also control of temperature. For a single price you get a grill and a smoker. People make a wrong assumption that pellet grills are something complicated.
The truth is that it’s a very easy to use grill that even every beginning BBQ fan can handle.
With the term pellet smoker come new words such as auger, hopper and fire pot. Sounds complicated but it’s not.
Hopper – That’s where you put the fuel, or pellets, which is them sent through a special auger to the place where pellet is burned. Resupplying pellets in the hopper is a very easy and quick task, often quite different in the case of grills with different type of fuel ( for example gas or charcoal ).
It’s a revolution among grills, a growing number of people warms up to them. You have to know how to choose the right pellet grill, though. They usually cost much more than other types of grills.
Less demanding people, however, can find a great and efficient pellet smoker for a lower price that comes with plenty of interesting features.
Set & Forget - Pellet Smokers are the best solution for people who want to smoke meat for many hours without stress. The set & forget style is a domain of this type of grills. Just set the desired temperature and your smoker will maintain it for the following hours. That way you can leave your meat for even more than a dozen hours at a fixed low temperature without worries.
You want to set 180 degrees F for the entire day? No problem, but a little bit later you want 300 degrees, here you go. It makes a pellet smoker comprehensive and allows us to prepare all types of meat. Allows to get a good smoke ring.
Flavor – another advantage, pellet burners have a great influence on the flavor of your food. With use of good quality premium hardwood pellets you create smoke that gives your food a characteristic wooden flavor.
It is definitely something different than an electric, gas or charcoal grill.
Pellet smokers heats up faster than charcoal grills, but slower than gas grills. It reaches satisfying temperatures of up to 500 degrees F ( with more expensive models it’s even up to 600 degrees F ), of course it’s much less than gas grills. But the upside is that pellet smoker can maintain low temperatures even at 160 degrees F for many hours. Some of the models are equipped with a gas powered sear box that heats up even up to 900 degrees F.
No flare ups – it’s an advantage to some and a flaw to others. It all depends on what type of meat you’re preparing and how you want to cook it.
It’s thrifty depending on the temperature set. Pellet smoker burns about 1 pound of pellets per hour in low temperatures and up to about 2 pounds of pellets in high temperatures.
What to pay attention to when buying a new Pellet Grill ?
There’s few things you definitely need to pay attention to before buying a new grill. It will affect whether you’re satisfied with your choice. If you don’t know what to pay attention to, make sure your grill has the following features:
Temperature: Most of all, you have to pay attention to whether your pellet grill maintains a chosen temperature. People buy a pellet smoker because it makes it possible to smoke meat for long at fixed low temperatures. Very convenient and simple, and a grill that always maintains a selected temperature guarantees that the meat will be perfectly cooked.
Because of that, you have to pay attention what type of controller your pellet smoker is equipped with. There are different types:
Three stage controller – there are three options to choose from, smoke ( or low), medium and high. It’s an old and very poor controller. It only has three options to choose from, it’s very poor at maintaining temperature. It doesn’t take weather and other factors into account. The result is that the temperature inside the grill can significantly rise or drop without you knowing. Such solution makes it impossible to set a precise temperature and limits the cooking options.
Multi-position and digital controllers ( LED display ) - a much better solution, but it does have its flaws. First a multi-position controller, then a digital controller that allows to set the temperature at intervals of +/- 25 degrees F. It’s a controller that also has poor responses to weather. A great advantage of a digital controller is that it allowed to implement other innovative solutions. It helped introduce such technologies as alerts, timer or better meat control.
PID Controller – one of the best controllers. Precisely maintains the temperature you set at intervals of +/- 5 degrees. Perfect when it comes to long and slow meat smoking at low temperatures. You can leave such a pellet grill for the entire day without worries and forget about it. When coming back after many hours, you’re sure that your meat has been cooked at the fixed temperature that you set.
A switch to digital controllers allowed to introduce new technologies over time. Better grills have solutions like Wi-FI or meat probes implemented.
PID controller has a developed algorithm that takes many factors into account such as weather changes or opening the lid. Such changes have a very huge impact on the temperature inside the grill. Despite that, this system is perfect at handling them while always maintaining the desired temperature.
You can read more about controllers and other significant features of a pellet grill here.
Pay attention as well to what temperatures your grill can heat up to. Most of pellet grills can maintain a temperature within 160-500 degrees F ( with much more expensive models is even 600 degrees F ). Why am I mentioning that? Because you have to think about what is the most popular grilling style for you. It will influence whether your pellet smoker will be a good choice for you.
It is great when it comes to smoking meat at low temperatures, regular grilling, baking or roasting. You can have problems, though, if you want to sear your meat, it requires much higher temperatures. Sadly, a regular pellet smoker cannot reach them. In that case look around for a pellet grill that comes with an additional sear box that is gas fueled and can heat up to 900 degrees F.
Who are those Pellet Smokers for ?
Beginners – Very easy to use electric ignition allows to quickly start grilling. You set the temperature and forget about it all. Your only concern is to refuel the pellet Hopper before the next cooking. So for the beginners who are just starting on their journey with BBQ and learning to cook delicious meat – it’s a great choice.
Travelers – Of course there’s a perfect pellet smoker for you too. It differs from a basic pellet grill in that it’s smaller and much lighter. It has foldable legs, which allows you to easily take it to the car with you. Everyone’s been on a camping or a field trip at some point. In moments like those, grilled food is something delicious and wholesome. I found the right portable pellet grill for you, which thanks to its size and weight is portable.
Fans of gadgets – More expensive models come with very interesting features. You can download app for your phone or tablet (iOS and Android). Then you can use Wi-Fi to connect with your pellet grill. It allows you to monitor the temperature inside the grill while away from it. Some of the grills even make it possible to check the internal temperature of the meat.
BBQ fan – If you’re a more demanding person, grill a lot of different meat using different methods. Then pellet grill will work great for you. Especially when it comes to smoking meat for many hours, all you have to do is set the temperature and do whatever you please in the meantime. You can leave it for the entire day with no worries and after a specified time expect very good results, as a pellet smoker is very good at maintaining desired temperature. To put it shortly, a pellet grill will make it easier for you to prepare a top quality meat at home.
For more of my favorite recommendations, have a look through these related Exchange Bar and Grill links:
You can buy a good smoker at low price and a very poor one from the upper price shelf.
Going camping ? Bring along a small and lightweight portable pellet smoker.
Have a big family? Get a grill with a huge cooking surface to fit a lot of meat. A big pellet hopper would be useful so that you don’t worry about running out of pellets within few hours. Your pellet smoker will be automated, and you’ll have time for your guests instead of controlling the temperature or fuel level all the time.
Or maybe you need a small pellet smoker, of course you’ll find that too, it will be much cheaper than the bigger ones.