Are you an avid outdoor chef but looking for a more versatile cooking option with amazing smoky flavor? A pellet grill or smoker is like having a convection oven right in your very own backyard. Besides its notable feature of being able to slow-smoke food, it can roast, bake, or braise. The Z Grills 550c Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker have 8-in-1 cooking versatility, meaning it can do all that and even sear, grill, char-grill, and barbeque.
If you are new to this type of grilling, we’ll keep it our little secret! Setting up and using the wood pellet grill and smoker is easy. After you load the hopper with your favorite flavored (or a blend of different flavors) pellets and set your desired temperature, the grill will maintain even heat distribution to perfectly smoke a variety of foods while adding a delicious wood-fired flavoring you couldn’t get with a regular grill.
While pellet grills and smokers tend to be more pricey than gas grills, if you’re all about the flavor like we are here at Backyard Boss, it’ll be worth the investment! Let’s take a look at all the Z Grills 500c Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker has to offer…
To start, make sure to set aside about 45 minutes to an hour and recruit a helping hand. The grill is around 85 pounds, so you’ll need an extra person to help flip it over to secure the legs. Be sure to follow the guide and set it in the included styrofoam inserts to keep the body safe. Luckily, all the tools, even a wrench, are included to make your assembly more convenient. Once the legs and bottom plate are secure, you then bolt the wheels and stand them upright.
Everything is accurately labeled and pretty straightforward. After you assemble and secure the lid handle and smokestack, you can add the front shelf, heat baffle, grease drain pan, cooking grate, and warming rack, and then you are set to go! Don’t forget to hang your grease bucket on the side hook before your first cook.
- 8-in-1 cooking – With a temperature range from 180 degrees Fahrenheit to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, you can slow smoke, braise, bake, roast, sear, grill, char-grill, and barbeque. It means you have so much versatility in cooking. Not only can you smoke a brisket, but you can sear a steak, barbeque shrimp, and even bake an apple pie for dessert.
- Auto temperature control – The PID controller allows you to set your desired cooking temperature, and that’s it! The grill automatically takes the pellets it needs to keep the temperature within range, give or take approximately 10 degrees Fahrenheit. This feature is among the most desired features of pellet grill owners. It takes the guesswork out of getting perfectly cooked food and allows you to “Set & Forget”.
- Hopper – With a 10-pound hopper capacity, all you have to do is fill with hopper with your favorite wood pellets and the grill takes care of the rest! The pellets are fed from the auger to the firepot where then the hot rod ignites the pellets creating heat and smoke through the chamber.
- Shelving – I love the look of the built-in wood shelf. Aside from its appearance, it provides extra space to prep your food or a place to set your grilling utensils as you cook. There is also a bottom shelf, giving you extra space to store your bag of wood pellets.
- Extra-large cooking surface – You can cook a large amount of food on this grill. I’m talking four racks of ribs, three chickens, or 22 hamburgers! It has porcelain-coated steel grill grates with a top rack (147 square inches) and a bottom rack (406 square inches). In other words, you have 553 square inches of grilling space to play!
- Wood-fire flavor – Likely, the most desired feature of a pellet grill owner is that smoky, wood-fired flavor you get. The wood pellets generate heat and smoke, which then infuse your food with flavor you can’t get from a traditional grill.
- Convection cooking – The grill has a built-in blower fan that gives you even convection heat distribution, much like an oven. Therefore, not only will you have perfectly cooked food, but this will also prevent flare-ups.
As mentioned earlier, pellet grills and smokers are more expensive than other types of grills. Luckily, Z Grills runs promotions and deals to help fit into people’s budgets. One such promotion is the Blind Box. You can get one of Z Grills’ pellet grills for a discount, but there’s a catch… you don’t know which grill you’re getting! They choose a few of their high-quality grills, so you know you will be getting one of (approximately) five grills, but you won’t know exactly until you open the box.
While this makes the grill more affordable, you will not be able to return or exchange the grill (unless there are quality issues or manufacturing defects). However, Z Grills’ wood pellet grills are high quality and come with a 3-year warranty.
What I Like
After we got all the parts in place, we began the initial firing instructions. Everything worked perfectly and went just as the instructions indicated. It took a little over an hour to make sure we burned off any unwanted containments or oils. In the meantime, we prepped our brisket! We were so excited to do the first cook that we forgot to cover the grease drain pan with tin foil as recommended. Fortunately, there wasn’t too much to clean, and came off pretty easily.
Cooking is a breeze! I love that all you have to do is set the temperature and let the grill do all the work. Its features work together to give you consistent temperatures and evenly cooked food every time. And, let’s not forget the amazing flavor infused into your food. We followed Z Grills smoked brisket recipe, used cherry flavored wood pellets, and ended with a mouth-watering dinner that we couldn’t get enough of!
And, if you’ve read any of my past reviews, you know that my absolute most favorite part of any new appliance is a cookbook! While there wasn’t a physical book included, Z Grills’ website offers an endless amount! They break down my method of cooking, type of food, and even holiday specific!
Another feature I’m a huge fan of is the 8-in-1 cooking versatility. When first looking into pellet grills, I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to grill hot dogs and hamburgers since we have two tiny picky eaters on our hands! Luckily, with the 500c (as well as many other models these days), we can do all that and so much more.
Lastly, the aesthetics of this grill are modern, with a hint of rustic. I love the bronze details, and my favorite is the wood shelf. Not only does it complement our outdoor decor, but it’s the perfect prep station.
What I Don’t Like
The first thing that set me back was the “Pellet Restrictions” in the Owner’s Manuel. It states that it is recommended to only use Z Grills wood pellets as they can’t guarantee that other brands are suitable. Well, my husband and I already scoured the local stores for wood pellets and bought a brisket.
Much to my surprise, it wasn’t as easy to find bags of wood pellets in my area compared to propane tanks, and when we did, my first choice of flavor, apple, wasn’t available. Anyway, since we already made those purchases, we used the PitBoss Cherry Blend Pellets. Luckily, we didn’t experience any problems but now know to use Z Grills’ pellets.
While I can’t say there was anything in particular about this specific grill and smoker that I wasn’t pleased with, in general, pellet grills do require electricity as well as the pellets. We haven’t received our electric bill yet, but since the electricity is only used to power the auger and fan and not as a heating element, we don’t expect it to be much more expensive.
Although, I was worried four hours into smoking our brisket when it started to rain. Not only is the pellet grill plugged into an electric outlet, but the wood pellets need to stay dry to prevent any blockages as they move from the hopper. Luckily, the rain didn’t last long and didn’t affect the temperature setting. However, to our disadvantage, here in Pennsylvania, we tend to experience all four seasons in one day, and the weather reports change by the minute!
Lastly, the “all-terrain” wheels aren’t so all-terrain. Wheeling through the grass at a slight incline was a bit challenging. I also feared tipping the grill on its side as the wheels went over uneven surfaces.
Z Grills 550c Pellet Grill and Smoker
Beautiful, heavy-gauge steel pellet grill and smoker featuring bronze details. Get delicious wood-fired flavor on a range of food with ease!
All in all, this is a great, high-quality grill that I fully recommend. Not only is cooking super easy but the wood-fired flavor is amazing! It has so many great features that are ideal for anyone who loves backyard cooking. You can smoke meat, grill burgers, braise green beans, sear a streak, and much more. Also, its impressive 553 square inches of cooking space allows you to cook all at once for backyard gatherings while giving you evenly cooked, smoky-infused food each time.
Let’s not forget about aesthetics! It is a sharp-looking grill with bronze details and a wood shelf. And, it gives you plenty of room to prep and store bags of pellets!
Do you have a pellet grill and smoker that you love? Share your experiences in the comments below, and as always, like and share our review.