Easy to use and cleans up well. Gets high praise for its fine temperature control as well as its ability to smoke at very low or grill at very high temperatures. Offers 780 square inches of cook space.
WiFi can be problematic. Though faults are rare, owners are critical of customer service.
Easy to assemble and clean. Well-constructed option that offers electronic start ignition, internal food temperature monitor, and a large interior. Three-year warranty.
Several reports of faults with the temperature controller and/or ignition, and occasionally the pellet feed.
Easy to assemble and clean. Well-constructed option that offers electronic start ignition, internal food temperature monitor, and a large interior.
Comes with a bit of a learning curve to find the precise temperatures that are suitable for preparing various types of foods.
Large hopper is made for preparing lots of food at once, as it offers multiple racks and more than 800 square inches of cook space. Keeps consistent temperatures. Has a digital display and meat probe.
Price falls on the higher end of the spectrum.
Includes the brand's D2 Direct Drive drivetrain that delivers delicious smoked flavors. Maintains temperatures. Includes a meat probe and is compatible with the Traeger app.
Expensive, yet other models that cost less offer similar or larger cook space. Some longevity concerns.
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, please consider our highlighted picks. But if you want some general advice on what to look for in a pellet grill, our shopping guide has all the details.
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.
There are a quite a few reasons why a pellet grill might be a better option than a traditional grill for your patio.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 10°C 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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