The Best Pellet Smokers and Grills for the Best Flavor - Backyard Boss
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The Best Pellet Smokers and Grills for the Best Flavor

My family and friends always say that even when I am doing nothing, I am doing something. They are right because I love being active. When I’m not writing articles, I’m busy doing many other things, such as gardening or DIY projects. However, my greatest passion is grilling. I’ve been doing barbecue since I can remember, and over the years, I’ve become a master of smoking and grilling meat. 

I know most of the tricks and secrets of making a spectacular bbq, but there is one crucial thing you always have to keep in mind while preparing meat. Remember, if you want it to taste the best, you have to use the best grill. That’s why today, I’ll show you the five best pellet smokers and grills that can help turn your food into something truly delicious!

Backyard Boss Top 5 Pellet Smokers and Grills for 2021

Traeger Ranger Grill TBT18KLD - The Best Pellet Smokers and Grills for the Best FlavorTraeger Ranger Grill TBT18KLD
  • 8 pound hopper
  • 184 square inch cooking area
  • Advanced features
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Pit Boss PB440D2 - The Best Pellet Smokers and Grills for the Best FlavorPit Boss PB440D2
  • 8 pound hopper
  • 465 square inch cooking area
  • Large wheels
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Green Mountain Davy Crockett Sense Mate - The Best Pellet Smokers and Grills for the Best FlavorGreen Mountain Davy Crockett Sense Mate
  • 5 pound hopper
  • 150 square inch cooking area
  • Lightweight and portable
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Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24 - The Best Pellet Smokers and Grills for the Best FlavorCamp Chef SmokePro XT 24
  • 18 pound hopper
  • 570 square inch cooking area
  • Advanced features
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Z GRILLS 450B Wood Pellet Grill Smoker - The Best Pellet Smokers and Grills for the Best FlavorZ GRILLS 450B Wood Pellet Grill Smoker
  • 15 pound hopper
  • 45 square inch cooking area
  • Advanced features
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Why You Can Trust Us

As a staff writer here at BYB, I get to research and try out all sorts of cool things, from power tools and building raised garden beds to the best outdoor cooking equipment. Having a birthday typically falls around Memorial Day on the calendar, cooking out has been a life-long activity that I have pursued and enjoyed.

From smoking racks or ribs and stacks of chops to grilling up good old burgers, I have a genuine passion for the perfect grilled cuisine. And, in my mind, natural flavors, like wood, and charcoal, are the only way to go. That is why I have spent such a great deal of time grilling out and smoking foods with various types of equipment, and why you should trust me when it comes to suggesting the best wood pellet grills and smokers.

Best for Couples and Small Families

Traeger Ranger TBT18KLD Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
    From the most famous of all pellet burning grill and smoker makers comes the Traeger Ranger Grill series, a sleek and compact wood pellet grill and smoker.



Why We Like It: This unit is produced by Traeger, the oldest pellet-burning grill and smoker manufacturer, which is a plus in our book. It holds eight pounds of pellets, has Advanced Grilling Logic, and is highly portable. 

Made by the king of pellet grills, this wood pellet grill and smoker from Traeger is a real gem. It is made with heavy-duty cast iron and uses wood pellets for heating. The built-in griddle has a cooking area of 184 square inches and is perfect for preparing everything from eggs and bacon to searing steaks and making burgers. Even more, the grill grates are porcelain-coated, which means that they are quick and easy to clean up after each use. You can forget all about scraping and chiseling carbon off of the grate after searing a few steaks and chicken breasts.

This smoker and grill may not have as many functions as other models, but the ones it does have are top-notch, like the units Advanced Grilling Logic Technology. It also is easy to find somewhere to run the thing because it works with 120V of power. That means you can plug it in just about anywhere you, please. The hopper is bigger than those found on many comparable smokers and grills, at an eight-pound capacity. There are also built-in timers to let you know when you should check in on your food.

Who Should Buy It: Those looking for a highly versatile grill and smoker that is both big enough for feeding the family as well as portable to transport will benefit from having it.

Best for Larger Families

PIT BOSS PB440D2 Wood Pellet Grill
    The PB440D2 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is big enough for larger families and small gatherings and easy enough for beginners to operate.



Why We Like It: This grill/smoker is advanced compared to many other models, with an LED display, temperature readings, and more. Further, its massive cooking area and heavy-duty construction make it as appealing as can be.

The PB440D2 from PIT BOSS is another heavy-duty smoker and grill. Mahogany in color, consisting of premium gauge stainless steel and porcelain-coating, this unit has a sleek look about it in addition to all it has to offer. Perhaps the first and most noticeable advantage over other smokers and grills is its massive 465 square inch cooking surface. It also works via your choice of direct or indirect heat with fan-forced convection cooking to boot.

The smoker is easy to set up and use as well. It includes a serving tray and side shelf that attach and come back off as you please. The unit also has two big wheels on the bottom for superior mobility, which makes it super easy to move around from the porch or patio to the garage or shed. Aside from being big, durable, and easy to move, the model is also smarter than competitor products. It features a LED display and digital control board for a fine-tuned smoking and grilling experience. A surprising little downside to this otherwise nearly perfect smoker/grill is that the hopper only holds five pounds of pellets at a time, which is less than some.

Who Should Buy It: For anyone who enjoys spending time in the backyard BBQing, this unit is a perfect choice. It is high-end, long-lasting, and offers plenty of room for cooking multiple times of food at once.

Best for Tailgating

Green Mountain Davy Crockett Foldable Wood Pellet Grill
    For tailgaters, RVers, and nature lovers, few pellet grills and smokers offer more than the versatile Green Mountain Davy Crockett foldable pellet grill and smoker.



Why We Like It: This smoker and grill may be quite a bit smaller than others, but that is a part of the appeal. It is easy to travel with, set up, break down, and cook. We also love the added features like the Sense-Mate thermal sensor and multiple power functions and the fact it can run on a car battery or regular household outlets.

If tailgating is a regular activity in your personal or professional life, a great portable pellet grill and smoker could be an epic investment. This unit, for example, the Davy Crockett, a folding pellet smoker/grill from Green Mountain, could be an excellent choice. It is highly portable, easy to use, and diverse in every other sense. The unit can be powered by your choice of 110V or 12V and one of three power adapters. It means you can hook it up to the electricity at a park or campground, the power outlets at your home, or to the battery of your vehicle. You could even hook it up to a gas or solar power generator.

The grill features a Sense-Mate thermal sensor that continually monitors cooking temperatures while you do your thing. It also comes with a convenience tray, a peaked lid for grilling racks of ribs, and a handy universal meat probe. There may not be as much room for cooking as the larger smokers and grills you might find in the backyard, but that is the price you pay to be able to take this thing anywhere and get in massive tailgating action. The only other real downside is that it is pretty basic compared to larger more expensive units.

Who Should Buy It: Tailgaters, campers, RVers, and minimalists looking for the best product to smoke and grill food while taking up the least amount of space, should consider buying it.

Best for Family Gatherings and Events

Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24 Pellet Grill
    If you love the flavor of wood pellet smoked grub, the Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24 could be the perfect addition to your porch or backyard.



Why We Like It: The sheer amount of positive feedback customers left about this model made us stop and consider it over others. The number of features it offers, coupled with its quality construction, easily made it one of our top picks. 

The Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24 Pellet Grill is one of the most popular units that we came across while researching which grills/smokers are best for events with up to 20 people, which is how we knew we had to share it with our readers. The grill has one of the best temperature ranges in the industry, allowing for slow smoking and grilling at any speed. Regardless if you’re after smoked chicken or BBQed ribs, this could be the equipment you need.

This unit is a second-generation SmokePro XT, which means that it comes with the best technology and features standard for pellet smokers and grills like an LED screen and smart controls. The smart smoke tech keeps the smoke down, and a patented ash clean-out system eliminates the need for lengthy cleaning after you’re done BBQing. It also features PID technology that helps regulate closely monitored temperatures and times for cooking specific meats. The biggest drawbacks we came across were a couple of complaints about faulty rod wires, which could probably happen with any brand.

Who Should Buy It: This grill/smoker is another great option for those who regularly attend events. Likewise, if you are a family that holds backyard get-togethers, this could be the best choice for you.

Best for Family Gatherings and Events

Z GRILLS 450B Wood Pellet Grill Smoker
    Z GRILLS 450B is an upgraded version of the Z GRILLS ZPG-450A. It comes with an even better design and is a perfect choice if you are looking for a real BBQ monster.



Why We Like It: PID Tech, upgrade design, and a 15-pound pellet hopper make this thing extremely appealing to us. The fact that it is capable of eight different cooking functions makes it a no-brainer for those who want a diverse piece of outdoor cooking equipment that can do it all.

When it comes to hosting big backyard BBQs or holding larger events with more than 25 people, not many wood pellet grills and smokers offer such a bargain as this one. The price is fair, the construction is high-end, the cooking space is larger than average, and it has one of the largest hoppers out of all the grills/smokers we looked at. With this unit, you can cook an entire chicken, a few burgers, and then some, all at once. Even better, you can pretty much set it up, and leave it to do its thing, thanks to its versatile range of features.

It is much more than just a grill and smoker, it also bakes, BBQs, roasts, sears, braises, and char-grills as well. So, no matter what sort of food you want to produce with an authentic hardwood smoked flavor, this unit has you covered. And, with PID Tech, and a larger hopper, you will be able to enjoy similar results every time, with very little hassle. That means your reputation as the best smoker and backyard BBQ chef in the neighborhood and family, could begin very soon!

Who Should Buy It: Anyone looking for a smoker and grill that also works like an oven, roaster, and more, should consider this model, particularly families or couples, with lots of friends/neighbors, that like to put on backyard gatherings.

What Exactly Is a Pellet Smoker?

Image Credits: Photo by Z Grills Australia – on Unsplash

A pellet smoker is a piece of outdoor cooking equipment that functions as a smoker, grill/BBQ, and oven. They are fueled by wood pellets, which allows them to slowly and thoroughly smoke food or cook it much quicker. The best models come with easy-to-use electronic controls for grilling, baking, smoking, and regulating temperatures and airflow. They also tend to include auto-feeding pellet hoppers.

Created in the 1980s, pellet smokers and grills are newer than more traditional smokers and grilling equipment and thus may not be as well-known as a kettle-style grill or even a gas grill. A major difference between an old-fashioned smoker and a pellet version is that these bad boys are powered by electricity rather than logs and have an auger that automatically feeds the correct amount of fuel to the burner and fan.

Despite having significant differences compared to traditional smokers, there are zero differences between a pellet smoker and a pellet grill. They are the same thing. The truth is, they are simply referred to by different names based on regional slang. In North America, they are known as pellet grills, while in Australia, they are called pellet smokers.

What to Look for in Pellet Smokers and Grills

Image Credits: Photo by Z Grills Australia – on Unsplash

Now that you’ve had the opportunity to learn more about pellet grills and smokers, here are a few pointers on what to look for while shopping for the very best one for you and your family.

Size and Capacity

The size and capacity are the first aspects to consider while shopping for the best model for you and your family. The size determines not only whether it will fit where you’d like to place it but also how much food it can handle cooking at one time. 

The capacity of the hopper, the container that holds pellets and feeds them into the smoker/grill, is another critical consideration. It determines how long you can leave it alone without having to add more fuel. Hopper capacities usually range between five and 15 pounds.

Quality of Components

Beyond size and capacity, the actual quality of components and craftsmanship that the unit is made with is also critical to consider. At first glance, many lesser quality units may appear to be golden. But, upon closer examination, you may find that the materials used in its construction are lacking compared to others. 

If you want the best, you will want a unit made with premium materials, including stainless steel, cast iron, and porcelain-enameled parts. In some cases, aluminum parts are also acceptable but may require a closer inspection to make sure they are indeed as durable as you desire.

Availability of Pellets

One simple aspect that is often overlooked by first-time smokers is whether the model you are interested in requires specific pellets or whether it can use any old wood pellets. In the case that a particular brand of pellet is required for optimal performance, you will need to do a bit of research and find out what the availability of pellets looks like in your area. 

If you find that there is nowhere to buy them locally, you may need to reconsider which model to buy or resign yourself to the fact that you will need to buy your pellets strictly online.

Versatility and Features

Generally speaking, the more versatile, the better. However, that may not always be the case. If you are shopping for a grill and smoker, those are two features you know you want. But, would you also like your unit to work as a roaster? Or maybe as a fryer? Only you can decide just how versatile you want the functions and features of your grill and smoker to be. 

Many models come with as many as eight functions. Likewise, features may include anything from LED displays and meat thermometers to tool hooks, fold-down tables, wheels, and more.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Beyond the features and functions of your chosen grill and smoker, consider the amount of upkeep, maintenance, and cleaning that it will take to keep the smoker running at its best. Models with less convenient designs may require much higher levels of upkeep, while others will remain in top shape with only minimal effort. 

Take the Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24 Pellet Grill, for example. It comes with a patented cleaning system that greatly reduces time spent on cleaning and maintenance.

Cost and Warranty

Your budget is what it is, but regardless of how much money you have/want to spend, keep in mind that the best units always come with a warranty or guarantee, if not both. 

After all, if you are investing in something like a smoker and grill that the whole family will benefit from, you want it to be worth every penny and last for as long as possible. Most of the ones out there come with at least enough coverage for a few years. The very best ones have lifetime coverage.

How We Picked

To bring you guys a list of the actual best pellet smoker and grill options, we relied on two things; our real-life experience and our professional researching skills.

Having used PIT BOSS and Traeger units on several occasions and loving them, they were an automatic add to our list. After preliminary research, we turned up a few other popular and well-proven smoker and grill brands like Green Mountain, Camp Chef, and Z Grills.

Once we settled on these five brands we feel are the best, we got to work looking through their product lines for their very best smoking and grilling units. What you see here on our list are the best of the best.

Choosing the Best Pellet Smoker and Grill for You

Picking out the very best pellet smoker and grill for you and your family is a big choice. You’ll have to keep in mind your budget, warranty options, and all of the particular specs you want your new grill and smoker to have. Thankfully, with the information provided above, as well as the list of great models to consider, your decision should be much easier.

For us, we find the PIT BOSS PB440D2 Wood Pellet Grill to be the best all-around wood pellet smoker and grill currently available. It has a fair price point, is built with high-end parts and fine craftsmanship, and does everything the best models are known for.