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Best Pellet Grills

Updated September 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 40 Models Considered
  • 8 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 160 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best pellet grills

    Last Updated September 2018

    Who doesn’t love a delicious rack of ribs or juicy burgers hot off the grill? Being able to barbecue every day is one of the best parts of summer, but cooking the food to perfection depends on having the right equipment. Even if you’re not a pitmaster, you can cook and smoke consistently great meats and vegetables with a pellet grill.

    But shopping for a pellet grill can be a challenge because there are so many different models to choose from. You have to figure out what size, temperature controls, and other factors will work best for your grilling routine.

    If you’re ready to buy a pellet grill, the matrix above has our top picks. If you want some general advice on what to look for in a pellet grill, our shopping guide has all the details.

    An 18-pound hopper can hold enough pellets to smoke food for 18 to 24 hours.

    What is a pellet grill?

    A pellet grill is an outdoor electric grill fueled by wood pellets. But the pellets don’t just fuel the grill – they also provide a delicious smoky flavor to the meat and other foods you cook on the grill.

    And the pellet grill is designed to be used in a variety of ways. You can grill, smoke, roast, bake, or braise your favorite foods all in the same appliance.

    The other great thing about a pellet grill is how easy it is to use. Most have digital controls, which means you can set up the grill and relax knowing your food will be perfectly cooked every time.

    High performance, big capacity

    With over 800 square inches of cooking space, the Pit Boss pellet grill is the ideal grill for a crowd. But its appeal isn’t just about cooking space – the grill can heat up to 500°F, so you can grill, roast, smoke, braise, sear, and bake. And its flame broiler allows you to sear your steaks flawlessly every time.

    Pellet grill benefits

    There are a quite a few reasons why a pellet grill might be a better option than a traditional grill for your patio.

    Ease of use

    For most people, one of a pellet grill’s main selling points is its user-friendly operation.

    • The grill starts with the press of a button – you don’t have to mess with lighter fluid, charcoal, or newspapers.

    • Once you set the controls, the grill maintains the right temperature until the food is done. No more hovering over the grill to make sure the chicken doesn’t burn.

    • Pellet grills have fewer flare-ups.

    • Outstanding flavor: The other main appeal of a pellet grill is the delicious flavor that the wood pellets impart to your food.

    • You can find wood pellets in a variety of flavors, including hickory, mesquite, cherry, or maple, so you can choose the best one for the dish you’re making.

    • You can mix two or more pellet types to customize the flavor.

    Impressive temperature range

    Despite being so easy to use, a pellet grill boasts a wide temperature range.

    • You can choose higher temperatures for faster cooking.

    • You can choose lower temperatures for slower cooking.

    • Some pellet grills are compatible with cold smoker attachments for fish, cheese, or sausage.

    Consistent performance

    You always get the same results when you use a pellet grill, without any risk of overcooking.

    • A pellet grill maintains the right cooking temperature by monitoring the temperature and adding pellets automatically when necessary.

    Versatility

    A pellet grill isn’t just for grilling burgers and hotdogs.

    • You can use a pellet grill to smoke, roast, bake, and braise your favorite meats, fish, chicken, and vegetables.

    Overall value

    If you’re a fan of both grilling and smoking, a pellet grill is a great value.

    • A pellet grill is like two appliances in one.

    EXPERT TIP

    Keep the lid closed on a pellet grill. If you open it too often, you’ll let the heat out and increase the cooking time.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Store the pellets for your grill in a cool, dry location. Moisture and humidity can make them difficult to light.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Pellet grill features to consider

    Material

    For the best performance, it’s important to choose a pellet grill that’s well constructed and made of a sturdy material. Stainless steel resists rust, is easy to clean, and is highly durable. Choose a grill that’s made from either commercial grade 304 stainless steel or 430 stainless steel.

    • Grills made of 304 stainless steel offer the best performance but are more costly.

    • Grills made of 430 stainless steel are usually more affordable and still pretty durable.

    Size and cooking area

    You’ll get more use out of a pellet grill if it’s the right size for cooking for your family and friends. Size varies greatly, from small models good for camping trips to large, commercial-style grills good for a hungry crowd, so there’s bound to be an option that suits your grilling habits.

    Most grills feature a primary cooking area (the main grate) and a secondary cooking area (additional racks). In a pellet grill, there’s less difference between the two grilling areas because it mainly cooks by indirect heat, so the temperature is the same throughout the grill. It’s best to pay attention to a pellet grill’s total cooking area because it is the sum of the primary and secondary cooking areas.

    For four people, a pellet grill with at least 300 square inches of total cooking area is usually sufficient. For one or two people, you can opt for a smaller model. If you routinely cook for five or more, you’ll want a larger grill.

    Pellet hopper

    Because the wood pellets are the grill’s fuel, you should pay careful attention to the pellet hopper, the chamber that holds the pellets. You want a large enough hopper to hold all the pellets you need for a single cooking session. Look for a hopper with at least an 18-pound capacity if you want to slow cook for longer periods without having to refill the hopper.

    Don’t add pellets to the grill when it’s in operation. If you run out of pellets in the middle of cooking, allow the grill to cool completely before adding more.

    Temperature range

    In order for a pellet grill to be as versatile as possible, it should offer a fairly wide temperature range. For indirect cooking, such as smoking, roasting, and baking, you need a range of 180°F to 425°F. For searing, the grill needs to reach 500°F or higher.

    Some more expensive grills can heat up to 700°F for even more versatility. These models usually offer a direct heating option, so you can cook your food over an open flame if you like.

    Temperature controller

    A pellet grill’s controls help maintain its temperature for consistent cooking. There are several different types of controllers to choose from, and some perform better under certain conditions than others.

    • Three-position: A three-position controller, which is sometimes known as an LMH controller, has three temperature settings: low, medium, and high. Pellets are fed into the grill at predetermined intervals based on the temperature setting. Because you only have three heat settings to choose from, you don’t have as much control over the temperature.

    • Multi-position: A multi-position controller allows you to set the temperature at 25°F intervals, which you can see on an LCD display. These grills offer more precise temperature control, but they only release pellets in fixed cycles. They can also be sensitive to the cold and wind, so they may not perform as well in inclement weather.

    • PID: For the most precise temperature control, some pitmasters feel that a grill with a proportional-integrative-derivative (PID) controller is the way to go. A PID controller uses algorithms to keep the temperature within a couple of degrees of the setting. It doesn’t use fixed cycles to release the pellets. Instead, the controller only adds pellets when it’s necessary to maintain the desired temperature.

    • One-touch non-PID: One-touch non-PID controllers have buttons for selecting the temperature in 5° or 10° intervals for more precise temperature control. These grills also have LCD displays. They feed the pellets at fixed intervals, though, which means the temperature is only accurate to within about 20°F.

    Meat probes

    Some higher end pellet grills have controllers with an outlet for a meat thermometer. You can check the temperature of the meat on the grill’s display without having to open the lid.

    WiFi

    Like so many appliances these days, there are some pellet grills that include WiFi connectivity, so you can monitor the temperature of the grill, as well as keep track of the temperature of your food, via an app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You don’t have to be anywhere near the grill to make sure that your food turns out perfectly.

    Smaller grill that delivers big time

    This Char-Broil grill may not boast the same cooking space as some other pellet grills, but it can still cook a 25-pound turkey to perfection. Easy-to-clean stainless steel cooking grates, porcelain-coated hood, stay-cool handles, and no flare-ups – what’s not to love?

    Pellet grill prices

    Pellet grills range in price based on the size, temperature range, and special features, but you can expect to spend between $175 and $2,600.

    • Budget-friendly

    A small or portable pellet grill that offers about 300 square inches of cooking area, can heat up to about 450°F, and has few special features usually runs from $175 to $330.

    • Mid-range

    A mid-size pellet grill that offers about 500 square inches of cooking area, can heat up to 500°F, and has some special features usually runs from $330 to $775.

    • Expensive

    A large pellet grill that offers more than 500 square inches of cooking area, can heat up to 550°F or more, and has several special features usually run from $775 to $2,600.

    If you want to use your pellet grill year-round, choose a model with a PID controller, which works better than others in cold weather.

    FAQ

    Q. Does a pellet grill require electricity?

    A. A pellet grill does require electricity to operate. While the wood pellets are the fuel used to cook the food, electricity is needed to power the grill’s control board, fan, and the hopper that adds the pellets to maintain the temperature. Most pellet grills require a standard 110-volt outlet for operation.

    Q. What kinds of foods can I cook on a pellet grill?

    A. A pellet grill is  extremely versatile, so you can cook a wide range of foods. The standard grill fare like burgers, hot dogs, chicken, vegetables, and fish are all fair game, but you can also smoke brisket and ribs; roast a tenderloin, prime rib, or turkey; prepare braised short ribs; and even bake foods like pizza and pies.

    Q. What kind of pellets should I use in a pellet grill?

    A. The proper pellets for a pellet grill are usually sold as barbecue or smoker pellets. They should be made from food-grade hardwood and not contain any filler materials.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Rich
      Rich
      Writer

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