Nothing compares to the flavor of smoked chicken and chops prepared on one of the best pellet smokers and grills. For backyard BBQs, wood pellet-fueled outdoor cooking equipment is second to none. Read on to learn all about pellet smokers and grills, including what to look for in one before buying, our top five picks, and more.
Backyard Boss Top 5 Pellet Smokers and Grills for 2021
|Traeger Ranger Grill TBT18KLD||Check The Price!|
|Pit Boss PB440D2||Check The Price!|
|Green Mountain Davy Crockett Sense Mate||Check The Price!|
|Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24||Check The Price!|
|Z GRILLS ZPG-450A 2020||Check The Price!|
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 that 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
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.
What We Like: This unit is produced by Traeger, the oldest pellet-burning grill and smoker manufacturer, which is a huge plus in our book. The fact that it holds eight pounds of pellets, has Advanced Grilling Logic, and is highly portable, makes it even sweeter.
Made by the king of pellet grills, this wood pellet grill and smoker from Traeger is a real gem. The grill 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 who are looking for a highly versatile grill and smoker that is both big enough for feeding the family, as well as portable enough to easily transport to a friend’s or family member’s backyard, will have a hard time finding a better model than this Traeger Ranger Grill.
Best for Larger Families
What We Like: 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, and 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 it has 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 families that enjoy spending time in the backyard BBQing, this unit could be a perfect choice. It is high-end, long-lasting, and offers up plenty of room for cooking multiple times of food at once.
Best for Tailgating
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.
What We Like: This smoker and grill may be quite a bit smaller than others, but that is exactly part of the appeal. It is easy to travel with, setup, breakdown, and cook with. We also love the added features like the Sense-Mate thermal sensor and multiple power functions as well as 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 not only highly portable, and easy to use, but it is diverse in every other sense as well. The unit can be powered by your choice of 110V or 12V and one of three power adapters. That 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 as well. 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 in nature 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, this compact and highly mobile unit may be just the pellet smoker and grill that you’re looking for. Whether you are a sports fan, attend regular events, or just want the easiest grill and smoker to set up and pack back away when finished, this one should be right up your alley.
Best for Family Gatherings and Events
What We Like: 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. Not to mention the massive hopper and cooking surface.
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 small to mid-sized events, like parents who often attend their children’s sports games and practice sessions. Likewise, if you are a family that regularly holds backyard get-togethers, this could be the best choice for you.
Runner-Up Best for Family Gatherings and Events
If you are one of those neighbors that is constantly BBQing with the family and having backyard parties, this full-size smoker and grill from Z Grills could be just the right investment for you and the fam.
What We Like: 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 grill and smokers offer such a bargain as the upgraded ZPG-450A from Z GRILLZ. 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, boaster, 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?
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, and smoking modes, and for 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 absolutely zero differences between a pellet smoker and a pellet grill. They are one and 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
Now that you’ve had the opportunity to learn a bit more about pellet grills and smokers, as well as go over reviews for some of the best ones, 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 of a smoker and grill are some of the first aspects to give your attention to 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, e.g on your porch, backyard, balcony, or elsewhere, 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 a first-time smoker and grill buyers is whether or not 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 nothing but 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.