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Best Pellet Grill

Pellet grills are a fantastic way to enjoy barbecue smoked in your very own backyard without having to learn the ins and outs of fire management like you would with an offset smoker. There are plenty of options out there on the market, though. So how do you know what …

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Best Pellet Grill Smoker

Pellet grills are a fantastic way to enjoy barbecue smoked in your very own backyard without having to learn the ins and outs of fire management like you would with an offset smoker. There are plenty of options out there on the market, though. So how do you know what the best pellet grills are? Here at Angry BBQ, we’ve got a list for you capped off by the Camp Chef Woodwind Pro. 

Why did we pick the Woodwind Pro? Because it handles one of the biggest issues people have with pellet grills: How do I get more smoke flavor? This smoker delivers flavor you won’t find anywhere else in the pellet grill market thanks to the Smoke Box. This box sits above the firebox and can hold wood chunks to ramp up the wood flavor while you’re smoking. You can even use the brand-new Fan Mode on the controller to cold smoke foods like cheese!

There are also some other fantastic pellet grills out on the market that we will dive into so you can get an idea of what matches your needs. We also included some honorable mentions from some companies you might not be familiar with (or don’t know them as pellet grill manufacturers).

Let’s dive in to help you make the best decision for your backyard smoking preferences!

Angry BBQ’s Top Picks

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageTop PickTop PickCamp Chef Woodwind Pro
  • Added Smoker Box
  • Insulated Walls
  • WIFI
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageRunner UpRunner UpRecteq Flagship 1100 Pellet Grill
  • Very Heavy Built
  • WIFI
  • 40 pound hopper
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBest CompetitionBest CompetitionYoder YS640s Competition
  • Competition Cart
  • Extremely Heavy Built
  • WIFI
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBest High EndBest High EndTraeger Timberline XL
  • Induction Cooktop
  • Built-In Options
  • Pop and Lock Accessories
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageHonarable MentionHonarable MentionGreen Mountain Grills Prime Peak
  • Best Smoke Profile
  • WIFI
  • 12 volt power
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageMost VersatileMost VersatileWeber Searwood XL 600
  • 600F+ Temps
  • Weber CRAFTED System
  • Storage Galore
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageMost ExpensiveMost ExpensiveMemphis Grills Elite
  • Extreme High Quality
  • All Stainless Steel
  • Touchscreen Controller
CHECK PRICE

Our Top Pellet Grills and Smokers


1. Camp Chef Woodwind Pro With Sidekick Review – Top Pick

Campo Chef Woodwind Pro in my backyard.
Brent’s 24″ Camp Chef Woodwind Pro with Sidekick + Pizza Oven

The Woodwind series of pellet grills have long been the standard for Camp Chef. They have delivered great performance and have more versatility than a standalone pellet grill thanks to the optional Sidekick add-on. The Sidekick adds a side burner capable of 28,000 BTUs (it sounds like a jet engine when you first turn it on, trust me).

Then came the Smoke Box late in 2022. The big knock against pellet grills has largely been that they prioritize convenience over wood flavor. So Camp Chef figured out a way to combine genuine wood smoke flavor with the ease of a pellet grill. 

The Smoke Box uses a butterfly valve to expose the wood chunks to the fire pot. Once the chunks have begun to smolder, you close the valve and just let the wood slowly smoke and give you fantastic flavor. Because the chunks are just smoldering, they don’t affect the temperature much which would otherwise force the pellet grill to make more changes to the flow of pellets to the firepot.

With that feature also comes an underrated setting on the Woodwind Pro. You can switch the controller to Fan Mode and actually cold smoke on this pellet grill thanks to the Smoke Box.

Camp Chef Woodwind Pro Pellet Grill with Sidekick Burner.

Another change that Camp Chef made from the regular Woodwind pellet grill to the Pro was the elimination of the traditional smoke stack. With pellet grills relying on more of a convection style of air circulation, manufacturers have started using vents on the back of the grills to improve circulation. The Woodwind Pro has two adjustable vents on the back to improve airflow throughout the grill ensuring all that smoke flavor circulates evenly.

The Woodwind Pro comes in two sizes: the 24-inch model with a total of 811 square inches of cooking space and the 36-inch model with 1,236 square inches of cooking space. Both models boast a 22-pound pellet hopper complete with a window so you can keep an eye on your pellet level. This grill will hold plenty of pellets for your overnight brisket smoking session.

Camp Chef Wireless App
Woodwind Pro Controller
Woodwind Pro Controller

The Woodwind Pro does have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. You can keep an eye on your pellet grill through the Camp Chef app. That allows you to even make adjustments to the temperature and the Smoke Number (which can create more smoke flavor from the pellets themselves, too.) The controller has four probe ports so you can even plug in meat probes to monitor cooking progress from the same app.

As we noted above, you can get the Woodwind Pro with or without the Sidekick side burner. If you go without, the grill has a side shelf for prep space. However, despite the need for prep space, we do recommend getting the Sidekick. It gives you the ability to prep side dishes, heat sauces, or sear steaks on the included griddle. I’ve cooked macaroni and cheese, baked beans, and even warmed barbecue sauce on my Sidekick. It’s super quick and easy. You just need to keep an eye on it so you don’t get it too hot!

Stay tuned for our full long-term test review that will be coming later this year!

What We Like…

  • The Smoke Box to get the most wood smoke flavor out of a pellet grill
  • Fan Mode for cold-smoking cheeses and other food
  • The large window on the pellet hopper allows you to keep an eye on pellet levels

What Makes Us Angry…

  • That we didn’t have a Smoke Box on a pellet grill sooner?


2. Recteq Flagship 1100 Pellet Grill Review: Runner Up

Recteq Flagship 1100 on outside deck
Recteq Flagship 1100 on outside deck

Late in 2023, recteq launched a number of new pellet grills at their annual recteq fest. Among them was the Flagship 1100. Recteq bills it as a new version of the RT-700 which had been their flagship pellet grill. 

It’s easy to understand why the 1100 would get the Flagship moniker, too. It boasts 1,109 square inches of cooking space spread across two levels of stainless steel cooking grates. Recteq says that it can hold 10 racks of ribs or 10 pork butts at the same time. On top of that, it has an incredibly wide temperature range for a pellet grill of 180°-700°F. So you can smoke low and slow or crank the heat to grill.

Reqtec Flagship 1100 Large Pellet Hopper
Large Rear Pellet Hopper
Reqtec Smoker has Wifi
Wifi Connectivity

The Flagship 1100 also has a huge 40-pound pellet hopper. So if you’re smoking multiple briskets, you’ve got plenty of fuel to handle that or anything else you throw at this beast. Besides the size of the hopper, it’s not mounted on the side of the grill like most pellet grills. In order to accommodate a hopper of that size, recteq mounted the hopper on the rear of the grill.

Read our Recteq vs Traeger Review here.

To help control everything, recteq says that they’ve updated their digital controller. It has dual-band Wi-Fi capability to ensure the best connection possible to your phone. The controller also has two probe ports (and the grill includes two probes) so you can monitor two cuts of meat at the same time at the grill or on your phone.

What We Like…

  • The massive pellet hopper means we can smoke for longer than just about any other pellet grill on the market
  • It may be purely cosmetic, but the stainless steel bull horns for handles are one of the most unique (and coolest) looks in the industry
  • Four tool hooks built into the controller means you can keep all your tools within arm’s reach

What Make Us Angry…

  • Some people have had some issues with moisture around the pellet hopper lid. Make sure you’re covering it if you’re not storing it inside so you don’t ruin your pellets.
Recteq 1100 Flagship Smoker
Recteq 1100 Flagship Smoker


3. Yoder YS640s Competition: Best Competition Pellet Grill

Yoder YS640s Best Competition Pellet Smoker

Yoder has always been synonymous with quality and the YS640S is testament to that fact. Built out of high-quality stainless steel and constructed in the USA (the only grill on this list made in the USA), the grill is made with great attention to detail and is incredibly easy to use, yielding delicious results every time.

The confidence Yoder has with this grill is established by the generous ten-year warranty they provide on the grill body. The YS640S weighs in at 418lbs, so you know that it is built with heavy steel. The Traeger Timberline in comparison weighs 213lbs.

When Yoder decided to make a pellet grill, they did something different, they tried their best to emulate an Offset smoker by locating the firepot on the far side of their grill. Most other pellet grill manufacturers locate their firepot in the center of the grill which makes the center the hotspot.

In a true offset, the firebox is located on the side of the cook box and the heat flows through the cook box and out the stack. So the heat and smoke in a Yoder, move more similarily to an Offset. Offsets still create the best smoked brisket, ribs and pork butts, but the Yoder YS640s yields the best results from a pellet grill.

The YS640S offers a whopping 1,070 square inches of cooking space, separated into two racks, with 640 sq. inches on the main bottom rack and 430 sq. inches on the top rack. The pellet hopper can fit in 20 lbs of pellets and the grill has an operating temperature range of 150 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an incredibly versatile machine.

Yoder Ceramic Igniter
Ceramic Ignition System
Yoder Smoking Sausage
Heavy Duty Grates and Racking

One of the main standout features of the YS640S is the Variable Displacement Damper, which can be manually operated from outside the unit and can be used to create two separate temperature zones inside the grill. The damper can be moved to one side to concentrate heat on a single side of the grill, or moved to the other size to keep the heat consistent all over. The heat deflector plate also works to keep the heat consistent, and the quality hood has an intelligently placed counterweight.

The smokestack is also adjustable, allowing for the right amount of airflow over the pellets for clear blue smoke. Cleanup is easy and ample storage is provided with the grill, which also comes with two sturdy wheels and two locking casters. The stay-cool handles really help with handling.

The standout feature of the YS640S would be the advanced controller. The chip and code controllers used by Yoder are an improvement upon the standard PID controller in many ways. The ACS or Adaptive Control System adapts to the environment and specific user actions to best maintain internal temperature and smoke levels. This means that when you put meat on the grill or open the hood, the controller makes decisions that still keep the heat consistent. The ceramic igniter also works flawlessly every time.

Yoder Fireboard App Screenshot
Yoder Fireboard App

On top of all this, the grill also has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. With the companion mobile app, you can connect with the grill and receive real-time feedback on the grill temperature, readings from your meat probes, and the pellet level in the hopper. You can also control every aspect of the grill from the app, removing the need to remain tethered to the grill for the cooking process. Moreover, there is a wealth of accessories to choose from directly from the manufacturer.

Read our full review here.

What We Like…

  • The best construction and materials on the market.
  • The closest resemblance to an Offset Smoker on the market.
  • Very consistent internal temperature.
  • 10-year warranty

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Will make you want to quit your day job and start a BBQ business.
  • Price


4. Traeger Timberline XL Review: Best High End

New Traeger Timberline XL
New Traeger Timberline

If you have the money to drop on a pellet smoker, the Traeger Timberline XL is easily our pick for best pellet grill in the high-end category.

Despite sharing the same name, the new Traeger Timberline grills that came out in April of 2022 share nothing in common with the Gen 1 Timberlines. The new Timberline pellet smokers are designed to be the centerpiece of an outdoor kitchen, complete with an industry-first outdoor-rated induction cook top. Traeger even has a kit for converting the grill from casters to leveling feet in order for the grill to be integrated fully into an outdoor kitchen.

The Timberlines also endeavored to address a common complaint of Traeger pellet grills, the lack of prep area. The grill comes with the P.A.L. system, or “Pop And Lock,” for adding extra storage options like a folding front shelf or a condiment basket. You can get tool hooks so you can hang your spatula or tongs wherever is most convenient for you. Traeger also has a holder for rolls of butcher paper to wrap your brisket or pork butt.

The induction cook top serves a number of uses, but it helps address pellet grills’ struggles with proper searing. As long as you have cookware that is magnetic, you can quickly and easily heat food up or even get a perfect sear on a thick steak that you smoked on the pellet side. You can even heat up your favorite barbecue sauce for glazing smoked pork or chicken. Just make sure your cookware is flat-bottomed. A wok will not work properly with an induction cooktop.

Traeger also upgraded the controller on their pellet smokers, giving users a full-color touchscreen interface. It pairs with the two included MEATER+ wireless temperature probes as well as with Traeger’s WiFire app for remote monitoring and control.

The Timberline pellet grills also come with some new features to Traeger for easy cleaning. Traeger made ash and grease cleaning a lot easier with a single catch bucket under the center of the grill that collects both waste byproducts. This will cut down on how many times you have to remove all the interior parts of the grill to vacuum out the burn pot.

Traeger Timberline XL Controller

Traeger also made it easier to empty the pellet hopper for switching out flavors or storage purposes. The shelves underneath the hopper on this pellet smoker can be removed so you can slide the included pellet bucket in and empty out the hopper. The included bucket is perfect for keeping pellets dry.

There are two pellet grill models: the Timberline and the Timberline XL. The Timberline has 880 square inches of cooking space while the Timberline XL has 1,320 square inches of cooking space. Consider investing in the XL if you want plenty of space for direct flame grilling and indirect heat.

For a deeper dive into the updated Timberline series, check out our quick-take review here.

What We Like…

  • The induction cooktop adds versatility that few pellet grills can match
  • The P.A.L. system adds additional storage that other Traeger grills lack
  • The included MEATER+ meat probe allows for wireless monitoring which means no more tangling wires
  • Integrated grease and ash bucket makes cleanup easier
  • Can be the centerpiece of an outdoor kitchen
  • 10 year Warranty on new Timberline

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Price. Traeger is charging dearly for this grill.


5. Green Mountain Grills Prime Peak Review: Honorable Mention

Green Mountain Peak Smoker

It may not have won the spot for best pellet smoker, but Green Mountain Grills continues to develop pellet grills that focus on high-end features without completely breaking the bank. The Prime Peak is their top-of-the-line pellet smoker model packed full of features, including WiFi connectivity, windows in both the pellet hopper and main lid, side shelf and folding front shelf, and interior grill lighting.

Green Mountain Grills made the Prime Peak out of steel, both the body and interior components, for longevity and style. It packs a respectable 658 square inches of cooking space all on the main cooking grate. This pellet smoker also has attachments for an optional rotisserie kit to add even further cooking functionality. The cooking chamber is 13.5″ from the grill grate to the top of the lid, allowing plenty of room for big cuts of meat or carving out space for indirect heat.

The window in the lid allows you to keep watch on whatever you are smoking, grilling, or otherwise cooking without opening the lid of the pellet grill. This allows for you to watch as that bark forms without losing heat or smoke.

The Prime Peak has an 18lb pellet hopper capacity, smaller than a number of the pellet grills on the list but still plenty large enough for most smoking sessions. The large pellet hopper window allows you to keep an eye on the amount of pellets so you can refill as necessary without worrying about running out while smoking.

GMG designed the Prime Peak with an operating internal temperature range of 150-550 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re looking for even higher temperatures to cook a pizza or sear a steak, GMG has a pizza oven attachment that fits right onto the pellet smoker’s firepot. Its design allows the pizza oven to reach temperatures around 900 degrees to give a true wood-fired pizza experience.

Storage and work surface was a big priority for GMG when it came to the Prime Peak. It has the full-length folding front shelf, a side shelf with four tool hooks, and a bottom shelf for storing tools and pellets when not in use.

The Prime Peak connects to the GMG app via WiFi. The app allows users to control and monitor their cooks. It also has a feature called Server Mode, allowing you to access your pellet grill even when you aren’t home on the same WiFi network as your grill.

For pitmasters who live in a colder climate, the pellet grill comes with an ambient temperature sensor and system called Sense-Mate. It will signal the grill to have the pellet feed move faster to the firepot to give it the necessary boost for startup.

What We Like…

  • The big cooking chamber allows for big cuts of meat without concern of running into the lid
  • Windows in the pellet hopper and the main lid give you plenty of observational options without opening any part of the grill
  • WiFi connectivity and Server Mode means plenty of control and monitoring from your phone
  • Dump door on pellet hopper makes for easy switches and cleaning

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Smaller Pellet Hopper capacity


6. Weber Searwood XL 600 Review – Honorable Mention

Weber started 2024 off with a bang, launching new grills and updates galore. A big part of that was the switch from the SmokeFire pellet grill line to the new Searwood series. There are two models, the 600 and the XL 600. The standard 600 model has 648 square inches of total cooking space with a 420 sq in bottom grate and a 228 sq in top grate. The XL 600 has 972 square inches of cooking space with a 630 sq in bottom grate and a 342 sq in top grate.

Both models have a 20-pound pellet hopper which is plenty for just about anything you will normally throw at a pellet grill. The grill has a temperature range of 180°-600°F to give you plenty of versatility. The Searwood, as befitting its name, also has flame access (called DirectFlame cooking) that allows you to sear across the entire bottom cooking grate. The Searwood does not have a traditional solid drip pan like most grills, instead opting for a single tent cover running lengthwise over the very middle of the grill so more flame is directly exposed.

The controller has two probe ports (with one probe included) to go with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities. You can keep an eye on your grill and your food through the WEBER CONNECT app. The controller is a new one called the Rapid React PID which helps the Searwood get up to temp more quickly as well as recover from an open lid much quicker. We want consistency in our temps so a quick recovery time is huge. Plus, the display has a pellet level indicator so you don’t have to open your hopper to know how many pellets you have left.

Weber Searwood XL 600 Pellet Grill in Action

We recommend the Searwood XL 600 simply because we believe that you should always go with more cooking space if you can afford it and have the room. It would be frustrating to get a smaller grill and realize that it simply isn’t big enough a few months down the road.

What We Like…..

  • The upgraded PID controller that recovers quickly to an open lid and displays the pellet level
  • Easy grease and ash cleanouts on the bottom of the grill
  • The ability to sear on a pellet grill with the redesigned tent cover protecting the fire pot

What Makes Us Angry…..

  • A bit nitpicky, but we prefer our grills to have locking casters for easier movement while still keeping the grill still during use. The Searwood has two large wheels and two legs.



7. Memphis Grills Elite Review: Most Expensive Pellet Grill

Memphis Grills Elite Review

There’s no question that the Memphis Grill Elite is a visually striking pellet grill. The all-stainless steel construction shines while also helping extend the life of the grill. The two side shelves hide the dual-bin pellet hopper construction with the shelves sliding out of the way. The controller is a touchscreen panel mounted to the side of the cooking chamber and looks like a small tablet. 

However, this grill isn’t only about the looks. As noted, the pellet grill has two separate hoppers, one on either side of the grill covered by a sliding shelf. If you’re asking yourself how that works, this pellet grill features two augers that feed from each bin to ensure you can get the perfect blend of pellets without having to mix them yourself. 

Plus you have two prep spaces built into the grill, which is always handy. Each hopper and shelf also has four tool hooks in the front so you don’t have to worry about finding a spot to hang your tongs, spatula, or grill brush. 

The grill comes stock with 862 sq in of cooking space between the main grill grate and a smaller warming rack. You can add on with optional grates that increase the total cooking space to 1,275 sq in if you really want to cook for a lot of people. 

Pellet grills tend to focus on the smoking aspect of cooking, but Memphis Grills did ensure that you can use the Elite pellet grill to, well, grill. It has an insert that allows for direct flame cooking so you can reverse sear. The grill has a temperature range of 180°-700°F, plenty of heat for steaks while being able to go low-and-slow on your brisket or pork butt.

Memphis Grills boasts that the Elite’s IntelliBurn Technology makes the Elite the most efficient pellet grill on the market when using it for grilling or baking applications. Memphis Grills says that the Elite only burns 1.3 pounds of pellets an hour when running at 350°F, ensuring that you’ll be able to grill or bake for hours without worrying about the amount of pellets in the hoppers. The Elite also has WiFi connectivity for remote monitoring of the grill temperature and food temperature thanks to the included meat probe.  

Memphis Grills built the Elite to be efficient and last with its double-walled heavy-duty stainless steel construction. The grill weighs in at 283 pounds but rides on four locking casters so you can still move it when needed while ensuring it doesn’t roll over anyone’s toes or off the deck accidentally.

What We Like…..

  • Searing ability due to direct flame access
  • Large 24-pound pellet hopper split into two bins for mixing and matching pellet flavors
  • 862 sq in of cooking space is plenty for almost every cook
  • WiFi controlled
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Seven-year limited warranty

What Makes Us Angry…..

  • One of the most expensive pellet grills on the market while lacking some of the high-end features of other less-expensive grills


Other Pellet Grills Worth Mentioning

These grills are not as commercially known as the pellet smokers above. They are all manufactured in the USA by smaller grill companies. These grill companies are doing some great things and deserve to be noticed. Here are a couple of our favorite pellet smokers from small company grill manufacturers.

1. MAK Grills Two-Star General Pellet Grill Review

Mak Grills Two-Star General Grill

The MAK Grills Two-Star General pellet grill is a made-to-order stainless steel pellet grill designed to smoke low and slow as well as hit higher temperatures than most pellet grills. MAK Grills uses their proprietary FlameZone system to focus higher heat across the entire grilling surface.

The Two-Star General can cook at temperatures between 170 and 600 degrees Fahrenheit across a cooking surface of 429 sq in. It also has a built-in warming and smoker box allowing you to cold smoke cheese and other foods without additional equipment, The Two-Star General has 20lb of pellet hopper capacity, plenty for whatever you put on its cooking surface.

Rather than individual legs, the Two-Star General has two leg panels to help with assembly time. The panels sit on four locking casters for increased mobility when you want to wheel your pellet smoker around while keeping it still when you’re using or storing the grill.

The pellet hopper lid and smoker box double as work space while the smoker box has four tool hooks to keep your spatula and tongs close at hand.

The pellet grill’s control panel has ports for three K-style meat thermometers that provide quick and accurate temperature readings on whatever is inside the grill. This pellet smoker comes with two probes ready to go.


2. Myron Mixon BARQ-1700 Pellet Grill

Myron Mixon BARQ-1700 Pellet Grill

Myron Mixon is known as the winningest man in competition barbecue and is a five-time world champion. He knows what it takes to produce high-quality barbecue over and over again. So he took that knowledge and turned it towards making fantastic smokers, including the BARQ series of pellet smokers.

The BARQ-1700 uses four cooking racks stacked on top of each other to create 1,588 sq in of cooking surface. The pellet smoker has a 20lb hopper capacity, plenty to fuel long smoking sessions with the cooking chamber packed full. It has a front and side shelf for workspace as well as bottom shelf for storage purposes.

Mixon’s pellet grill is made out of stainless steel on the exterior while the cooking racks are nickel-chrome. The walls of the grill are double-walled for ideal heat retention and insulation. It sits on only two wheels which are big enough to roll the grill around, but this pellet smoker is meant to stay in one place.

The cooking process is controlled by a PID controller to keep the temperatures steady. It has WiFi connectivity for remote monitoring and control as well.


3. Lone Star Grillz Pellet Smoker Review

Lone Star Grillz Pellet Grill

Lone Star Grillz’s pellet smoker is a beast of a smoker, sitting on industrial-grade 5″ wheels with two locking casters. The body is made from stainless steel and even comes with a lifetime warranty on the cooking chamber and steel structural parts. It also has a steel front shelf for prep work. The lid was designed to seal in the smoke and heat with flanges and gaskets the entire way around.

The Lone Star Grillz has 1062 sq in of cooking space on the 36″ model between the two cooking grates fueled by 40lb of pellet hopper capacity. It has a range of 160-450 degrees Fahrenheit with the ability to reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit at the bottom grate due to direct heat. This pellet smoker has a sliding heat deflector allowing you to expose the fire pot for grilling.

Despite the 40lb pellet hopper capacity, it still has a dump out feature on the hopper to switch out flavors or for storing pellets in a dry place.

Lone Star Grillz made cleanup easy by making the burn pot accessible from the exterior of the pellet smoker. That allows you to remove the pot and clean out any built-up ash without having to remove all the internal components to reach the bottom of the grill.


4. Broil King Regal 500 Pro Pellet Grill

Broil King Regal Pro 500 Pellet Grill Review

Broil King might not have the same name recognition as some of the other companies on this list, but it has certainly found a good niche in the outdoor cooking industry with some great gas grill options. The Regal Pellet 500 Pro aims to do the same in the pellet grill market. 

This pellet grill boasts a total cooking space of 865 sq in, 625 of that on the main cooking grid. All the cooking surfaces are made from solid stainless steel to help stand up to the rigors of smoking and grilling for years. What sets the Regal Pellet 500 Pro apart from a lot of pellet grills is the included rotisserie kit. You can hook up the kit and cook chickens or large roasts while still enjoying the smoke flavor from the pellet grill.

The 22-pound hopper offers a good amount of fuel for whatever you want to cook, whether you’re smoking pork butts or grilling burgers. The grill offers a range from 200°-600°F so you can do just about whatever you want on the grill. The controller has WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity so you can monitor your cooking session from the Broil King Pellet Grilling App. The grill also comes with two probes to help with that monitoring.

The Regal Pellet 500 Pro also boasts a stainless steel side shelf and a folding front shelf so you can prep your meals or serve right at the grill. 

For cleanup purposes, the grill has a slide-out grease tray as well as an ash cleanout system to help make routine cleanup easier than having to remove all the inner workings like some grills.

What We Like…..

  • Respectable 22-pound pellet hopper has a built-in sensor
  • WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity for monitoring the grill and the cook with two included probes
  • Grease tray and ash cleanout system make cleanup easier
  • Comes with a full rotisserie kit for cooking chicken or large roasts
  • Full Rotisserie Kit (Rare in Pellet Grills)

What Makes Us Angry…..

  • Some customers have had issues with the auger jamming
  • Expensive compared to some of the other pellet grills on the list


How To Choose The Best Pellet Smoker

What I look for in a good pellet grill and smoker comes down to a couple key items. Listed below are the items that are most important to me and if the pellet grill can achieve most of this list, then we have a great pellet grill.

  • Build Quality and Materials Used
  • Consistent Temperature Management
  • Temperature Ranges
  • Technology and Features
  • Track Record
  • Warranty

We will go over these topics in more detail and explain what to look out for in each category for the pellet smoker that’s best suited to your needs.

Pellet Grill Build Quality and Materials

Build quality and materials are probably the most important items that I look for in pellet grills. What gauge of steel was used to fabricate the pellet smoker? How good are the weld joints? What fire box and ignition system are they using? Paint finish quality? Here are the key components to look at when buying a pellet grill.

Metal Construction

If the pellet grill was made out of a thin gauge steel, you will feel a cheapness to the grill instantly. Thin steel creates a couple problems for pellet smokers.

  1. The grill will not hold consistent temperatures very well.
  2. Pellet consumption will be higher.
  3. Life expectancy of the cook box will be lower if thin gauge steel is used. These can burn out over time.

Pellet Drive Auger

The pellets are moved through the internals of your pellet smoker using the “Auger” which passes the pellets through the internal systems of the grill from the hopper to the fire pot where they will be burned to produce the smoke and flame you need to make your meal. Several pellet grill manufacturers have moved to a DC driven auger which has proven to be more reliable. Ex. Traeger

Precision Temperature Control

Yoder ACS Controller

The key to a good wood pellet grill is in the temperature controls. The better the temperature controls are, the more consistent your grilling will be. You can get pellet smokers with three main types of temperature controls.

There are the older model of temperature controllers, called non-PID controls. They are much less precise than their counterparts. They are still functional, but they operate within a larger range compared to where you set your desired temperature than other variants. You could expect to see a difference of up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit from where you set your desired temperature.

The other main type of temperature control is the PID control. It essentially operates the same as a non-PID controller, but it is constantly performing calculations using data it receives from several different sources to get more accurate readings on the temperature. It takes steps to adjust the heat, so that it remains within your desired range.

The final type of controls are PID-Plus controls, which are PID controllers that have even further added benefits on top. The most common variety of PID-Plus controllers are ones that have Wifi functionality, which allows you to walk away from the grill and get updates on its progress on your phone.

Hopper Capacity

It’s such a basic specification to look at with a pellet grill, but hopper capacity needs to be considered. I believe any respectable pellet grill should have a hopper capacity of 20 pounds of wood pellets as a minimum.

The larger the wood pellet grill, the larger the hopper capacity it should have. Large pellet grills have a much higher burn rate than smaller pellet grills. Add some wind, colder temperatures, and there is a chance you’ll run out of wood pellets before your long cook brisket or pork butt is done.

Portability

Now for some people, portability is of great importance. You need to really decide how you plan to use the grill. If it’s going to sit on your deck or patio, do you really need portability? If you plan to do some BBQ competition, then you might want to consider a grill that includes a competition cart that has extra tie downs for trailer mobility (like the Yoder above).

Pellet grill companies are now offering small portable pellet grills that can be carried in one hand and used on picnic tables in campgrounds. We didn’t cover these in this article, but we did review the best portable pellet grill best portable pellet grill and others here.

Combustion Fan

As the pellets are moved from the hopper into the grill itself, they pass over the combustion fan and it begins to cycle air through the internal parts of the wood pellet grill, which is used to fuel the fire that will burn the pellets and give your grill the heat it needs to cook your food.

Igniter

The igniter is what causes combustion and ignites the fuel as it passes into the fire pot where the fuel actually burns and creates the smoke you’re after. This is where the air from the combustion fan is going to keep the fire strong and consistent. The air that is cycled over the igniter will keep the flame healthy and make it more powerful if you decide to increase the temperature of your cook. Yoder offers a ceramic igniter that has proven very fast and instant pellet ignition.

Yoder Ceramic Igniter
Yoder Ceramic Igniter and Fire Pot

Fire Pot

Inside the fire pot is where the fuel finally ends up and where it burns. The more fuel that is inside of the fire pot, the higher the temperature will be, but the lower the temperature it is the more smoke will be produced, so there is a fine balance that needs to be struck to get the right temperature and the right amount of smoke to infuse your food.

Location of the firebox is important to me. Most locate the fire pot in the middle of the cook chamber which is not similar to an offset smoker where the fire box is located on the far side. Yoder locates their fire box on the far side of the cook chamber.

Pellet Grill fire pot

Cooking Chamber / Barrel / Box

The cook box is where the magic happens in your pellet grill. The key items you want to consider here is steel thickness for temp consistency. Is the cook box insulated? Traeger offers insulated cook boxes in their Ironwood and Timberline models. Yoder builds with such heavy steel, that they do not offer insulated cook boxes. Most grill manufacturers offer an insulated exterior blanket to cover the grill when being used in cold temperatures.

Space in the cook box is also important. If you cannot fit a packer brisket in the cook box, why even consider the grill?

Traeger Timberline 850 Open
Timberline Cook Box

New Technology and Features for Pellet Grills

As wood pellet grills and smokers have become more popular, they have started to go through a modernization process that has resulted in a lot of new technologies being implemented into them. Pellet grills identify themselves from other grill types with their added convenience and ease of use, so technology finds a natural place with them since they share the same purpose. You can find different tools being added to them often with different purposes, like allowing you to cook without being near your grill, or checking the temperature of your food without having to remove it from the grill.

Built in Meat Probe

A lot of pellet grills are now implementing internal meat probes for checking the temperature of your meats versus the temperature of the grill. Using a meat probe is especially useful as a way to tell you when your meat is finished cooking and ready for consumption, without having to cut it open and check it visually.

It has the added convenience of being part of the grill’s function instead of being a separate tool that you would have to open your grill to use. Instead, you can take advantage of the convenience this new feature implements into the grill directly.

Wireless Connections

Another highly convenient feature being added to a lot of pellet grills today is the ability to connect to them from your phone and manage the temperature and other things while on the go by connecting to it through the internet or Bluetooth. 

Traeger WiFire App Current State

This is great for when you need to step away from the grill to check something inside of your home or even when you need to leave your home entirely. Gone are the days when you would have to shut down your grill and postpone your meal because something came up and it was unsafe to leave your grill unattended. 

Now you can connect to it with your phone and receive alerts if something happens so you know it’s time to rush back and take care of whatever problem might have occurred, and if all goes smoothly then you can manage the temperature and adjust it any time, from anywhere.

There are two ways to use this new technology, using Wi-Fi and the internet to connect to your grill from anywhere or using Bluetooth within a certain radius of your grill.

Wi-Fi Enabled Pellet Grills

Wi-Fi could theoretically be used to connect to your grill from anywhere. As long as you have an internet connection, and your grill is connected to your internet at home, you should be able to connect to it. That said, this technology is relatively new and pellet grill manufacturers are still working out the kinks, so we would still recommend that you take the time to check in on your grill frequently while using this feature.

BBQ WiFi App

Bluetooth Enabled Pellet Grills

Bluetooth icon

Bluetooth is another way that you can connect to your grill from a device and manage it remotely, but it will only work within a certain radius, so this is good for when you need to step away from your grill, but you aren’t going to be traveling too far. It is especially useful if you want to cook something overnight while you are sleeping because if something does happen your phone can wake you up and you can take care of it, but otherwise, your meal will be done by the time you wake up.

Warranty

I find it surprising how different the warranty options are from each manufacturer. Some are very short and others surprisingly long but you have to read the fine print. Some will brag a long warranty but it is only on very specific parts of the grill.

Pellet grill Warranty Comparison

ManufacturerYears Of Warranty What Is Included
Traeger10 yearsOnly for New Timberline. Defects from materials and workmanship under normal use.
Yoder10 years, 3 years, 1 year10 years on cooker body, 3 years on control system, 1 year on igniter.
Camp Chef3 yearsDefects from materials, and workmanship under normal use. Excluding paint and finish.
Louisiana Grills5 years Defects from materials and workmanship under normal use.
Z Grills3 years Defects from materials, and workmanship under normal use. Excluding paint/finish, firepot and cover.
Green Mountain Grills3 yearsDefects in workmanship and materials, excluding cosmetic elements like paint and finish.
Recteq6 yearsLimited warranty. Against defects in material and workmanship under normal operating conditions.
Broil King5 yearsLimited warranty. 5 years on cook box and stainless grates. 3 years on remainder.
Weber5 yearsLimited warranty. 5 years on cook box and all components except for cooking grates, pellet slide, burn pot, heat baffle, pellet grate, and controller bezel are 3 years.

A History of Pellet Smokers

Pellet grills did not form out of a vacuum. They are actually an alteration to an earlier device, called a pellet stove. In 1973 there was an oil crisis that resulted in a demand for alternative sources of heat for your home. One of the alternatives that was considered, and then put into use, was the pellet stove using wood. In the late 1970s, in the United States of America, we created pellets out of wood for our fuel source. They were small, capsule-shaped pieces of sawdust that were compressed to about the size of a pencil’s eraser.

In the early 80s, there were two different people experimenting with using these wood pellets as a fuel source for stoves, Joe Traeger, a heating company owner in Oregon, and Jerry Whitefield, who worked as an engineer in Boeing aviation in Washington. These wood stoves that were being created by them looked a lot like the traditional wood stoves you are probably familiar with, but they were run on electricity and they worked a lot like what we described earlier, with the pellets being moved through the system using an auger into a fire pot that was fueled by a combustion fan and an igniter.

Old Traeger
Early Model Traeger. The Lil Tex.

In 1986, the first wood pellet grill was made by Traeger. He signed a patent for his design which made it exclusively his property for the next 20 years and he continued to hone his craft over that time without any competition. The original designs for the first Traeger pellet grills used what was called an “LMH” temperature controller. It was called “LMH” because he allowed you to adjust the heat between Low, Medium, and High. Each of those different settings was representative of a certain range and fed a specific amount of pellets to the fire pot to achieve those temperatures.

Unfortunately, this early system was pretty unsophisticated and didn’t have any means for adjusting the number of pellets it used to regulate the temperature based on any factors other than the setting that the user set, so they required a lot more tending and management by the user. 

Today, this type of controller is called a non-PID controller because PID controllers are much more sophisticated and common, so much so that they are likely what you are familiar with working with and most users have probably never seen an LMH controller except on the cheapest of pellet grills.

Quality of Wood Pellets Effects Pellet grill Performance

Hardwood Pellets as a Fuel

The fuel source used for a pellet grill is what gives it its name. A wood pellet grill uses wood as its source for fuel, in the form of small pellets that are fed through a hopper, typically found on the side of the grill. The pellets are usually made out of pure, hardwood that is ground into dust. That dust is then compressed under a large amount of physical pressure while in a very high temperature environment to condense it into the pellets that you use as fuel in a very similar process to the creation of diamonds.


There are a lot of differences, though, between different types of wood and there are variations on the process we just described for different brands. You can see this at a glance by comparing two different brands of wood pellets because you will notice that they often look different and are different sizes.

smoker wood pellets on fire

Wood Pellet Flavor

Different types of wood will have different flavors and they will pass those flavors on in the smoke that they infuse your food with. It can be hard to figure out what kind you like in the beginning, before you have experimented with a lot of different kinds. While taste cannot be transferred through text and it is a purely subjective sensation, there is still a bit of advice we can give you to help you along your way and focus your experimentation so you can find the kind that will work best for you.

Smoking Wood Chart

The smoke produced by different woods will have stronger flavors than others. Using something like Mesquite or Hickory wood pellets in a wood pellet grill will result in a very strong smoke flavor being added to whatever you cook with them.

If you want a lighter or subtler flavor, then consider using something like Apple or Cherry. These two kinds of wood are very similar and both result in a very subtle taste infusion so that the smoke doesn’t overpower the natural taste of the meat or vegetables. They are very good options when you are working with a very delicate meat or something with a lot of flavor on its own that doesn’t need much added to it.

Heating vs Food Grade Wood Pellets

Something else you should keep in mind is that there is a difference between heating pellets and food grade pellets. Many people have heard that heating pellets can be used in a pellet grill and they are further vindicated by the fact that pellet grills can use heating pellets as fuel. That said, this is a case of misinformation being spread far and wide, just because you can use them as fuel doesn’t mean that you should. 

You should not use heating pellets in your pellet grill under any circumstances. They are not intended to be used with food and this is because they will infuse that food with unhealthy byproducts of combustion that can result in serious health problems. You should always check to see if the pellets you are buying are food grade before making that purchase and do not listen to the advice of others if they are telling you to use heating pellets for cooking food.

Why choose a pellet grill over other grill options?

The primary reason you would choose pellet grills over other grill types is for their ease of use. Even a novice griller can produce excellent food. Using these pellet smokers is very similar to using a standard oven. All you have to do is set a temperature you want to cook at and the wood pellet grill will handle the rest. You don’t have to worry about tending the fire or managing the fuel source, because top rated pellet grills will handle all of that for you. Charcoal Grills or Offset smokers typically need to be tended to much more than a pellet grill.

Are There Downsides to Using a Pellet Smoker?

Pros vs Cons

The primary downside to using a pellet grill or smoker is that you may have a difficult time getting them as hot as other grill types. Premium pellet smkers will reach acceptable temperatures, but cheaper ones might have some trouble getting above 600 degrees Fahrenheit. You should make sure you look into this before purchasing a pellet grill and adjust cooking instructions, if necessary. I typically always use a gas or charcoal grill to sear my steaks.

Another complaint of pellet grills is the lack of smoke flavor they provide when compared to a true offset smoker. Though Camp Chef has gotten creative in this area with their new Woodwind Pro. The way pellet grills burn their fuel does not produce the same amount of smoke over the food, plus they use electric fans to manage cook temps which makes the smoke escape the chamber at a faster rate then an offset.

What you need to know about using these smokers

While pellet grills do use wood for fuel, they actually run off of electricity, so you need to make sure that there is a source of electricity wherever you plan to use your new grill.

There is a bit of conversation around what kind of pellets you should use for your smoker. There are a surprising number of people that claim to use “Heating Pellets” to fuel their wood pellet grill. This is a huge mistake and you should not follow in their footsteps. Not only will these pellets make your food taste bad, but they are also detrimental to your health! You should make sure that you are using food-grade pellets to heat your grill and only those.

If you live in a place with harsh winters like I do, but you want to experience the joys of a grilled burger at any time of year, don’t worry about it! Pellet grills DO work in cold weather. That said, they might burn more fuel to maintain their temperature, so you should purchase an insulated blanket for your grill to help mitigate that problem and save yourself some cash in the long-term.

You should also note that you don’t necessarily have to use the brand of pellets made by the creators of your wood pellet grill. Give the owner’s manual a look to see what the requirements are for pellets used by your grill. If that sounds like too much work or you are confused at any point, then just stick with the brand-name pellets because they are specifically designed to be perfectly compatible with your grill.

Conclusion

Of all of the pellet grills, the Camp Chef Apex lineup is the most versatile pellet grill and smoker on the market today. The Apex finally brings high temp searing to the pellet grill market and also brings high end features such as insulated cook box walls, WIFI, and easy ash and grease clean out. They managed to keep the price in line for this pellet smoker and kept it well below Traeger’s premium lines. Now you don’t have to keep that gas grill parked beside a pellet smoker, because the Apex can do both.

Best Pellet Grill FAQs

Is Traeger or Pit Boss better?

Each of these pellet smoker brands has good products. If you’re looking for a pellet grill with a larger cooking surface, you may prefer Pit Boss over Traeger pellet smokers. We have a pellet grill model from Traeger as our top pick if you’re getting a high-end pellet grill, but you don’t necessarily need to shell out big bucks for a product you’ll love.

Are pellet grills worth it?

That depends on what you want to use your pellet grill and smoker for. In general, a pellet grill and smoker can do a lot. It’s a versatile tool. But if you plan on cold-smoking anything, most pellet grills can’t do low enough temperature control for the best results. Hot smoking isn’t a problem, but they can’t achieve a subtle smoke flavor that comes with temperatures below 90 degrees F. There’s also a very wide range of prices. You don’t have to buy the Weber Smokefire Ex4 Wood Fired Pellet Grill, which clocks in over $1,000, to have a pellet grill and smoker you’ll be happy with.

What company makes the best pellet grill?

That depends slightly on your needs, but based on our extensive testing, we believe the Camp Chef Apex 24 with gas is the best pellet grill overall. The right pellet smoker for you, though, may be the best portable pellet grill because you want to bring it along or a pellet grill and smoker set up for competition if you’re in that circuit.

Which is better pellet or wood smoker?

A wood pellet grill is going to be a better choice for most people than a smoker that uses wood chunks or logs. Most pellet smokers will be easier to start and more efficient, and have better temperature control. The better your heat control, the more consistently you can maintain your desired cooking temperature, which will get you the best finished product for your efforts.

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