We Tested the Best Inexpensive Pellet Grills for Your Next Barbecue

The winner is the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill

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Do you want to wow your friends and family with a perfectly smoked piece of meat at your next BBQ party, but aren't necessarily a fan of the hassle that goes along with cooking it? Then a pellet grill might be for you. Pellet grills, also called pellet smokers, work similarly to an oven—all you have to do is set your desired temperature, and they'll automatically maintain the perfect heat level to cook your food.

Tested & Approved

Take your grill game up a notch with the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill. It was chosen as the best overall during our testing with its consistent temperature control, grilling capacity, and high level of performance. If you're looking to take the grill with you, check out the Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill. It's lightweight and portable, plus with its Wi-Fi capability, you can control it from your phone. 

Some pellet smokers can be quite expensive, but we wanted to try out some of the more affordable options. We tested a variety of inexpensive pellet grills, using them to cook everything from hamburgers and pork ribs to chicken thighs, and we evaluated each one on factors such as temperature control, ease of use, special features, and more.

Here are the best inexpensive pellet grills on the market, based on our testing.

Best Overall: Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill

4.8
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
What We Like
  • Simple interface

  • Consistent temperature control

  • Competitive price

  • Unique features

What We Don't Like
  • Narrow dimensions

  • Pellet feed issues

Pellet grills come in many different sizes with a variety of features. To take the top spot among pellet grills, the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Grill offers the best combination of grilling space, heat control, and easy-to-achieve flavors that will create tasty meats time and time again. The grill makes cooking with pellets quick, easy, and enjoyable no matter how much skill you have on the grate.

Digital temperature controls with an automatic auger maintain the desired amount of heat without any input. As a result, you can focus on grilling on the large, dual-tier cooking surface. Combined, the two grilling surfaces offer 570 square inches of cooking space. Cleanup is also easy thanks to the built-in hopper/ash cleanout system.

Camp Chef SmokePro

The Spruce / Justin Park

Dimensions: 45 x 21 x 51 inches | Weight: 140 pounds | Grilling Area: 570 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 18 pounds | Temperature Range: 160-500 degrees Fahrenheit

What Our Testers Say

"In testing with standalone grill thermometers, the SmokePro DLX actually stayed within 10 degrees of the set temperature most of the time."Justin Park, Product Tester

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill

4.8
Green Mountain Davy Crockett Wifi Control Portable Wood Pellet Electric Grill

 Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Lightweight and compact

  • Well built

  • Included portable power options

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Learning curve on temperature interface

  • Some design quirks

More and more appliances are WiFi-enabled, like this handy pellet grill. Billed as “the ultimate tailgate grill” it can operate on 120AC or 12V, for home use, camping, or tailgating. The legs fold and function as handles when it’s time to pack up the party and go home.

Sense-Mate, a thermal sensor, monitors the grill temperature while the WiFi controller lets you monitor and control the grill via an iOS or Android app. The peaked lid offers enough space for a stand-up chicken or other large foods. This includes a meat probe, a tray with utensils, and a grease tray. Weighing in at 57 pounds, this is designed to fit into the trunk of most cars.

Green Mountain Davy Crocket Pellet Grill

The Spruce / Justin Park

Dimensions: 29.92 x 14.96 x 21.65 inches | Weight: 57 pounds | Grilling Area: 219 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 9 pounds | Temperature Range: 150-550 degrees Fahrenheit

What Our Testers Say

"Once the temperature is set, the smoker mostly behaved as expected: It used the built-in sensor to feed the hopper, maintaining the set temperature mostly reliably." Justin Park, Product Tester

Most Versatile: PIT BOSS PB440D2 Mahogany Wood Pellet Grill

4.5
Pit Boss Wood Pellet Grill
What We Like
  • Portable due to wheels at base

  • Easy ignition

  • Versatile

What We Don't Like
  • Small hopper capacity

  • Different temperatures on barrel and controller

  • Uneven heat

  • Small area for searing

This pellet grill doubles as a smoker, offering the option of either indirect or direct heat using the slide-plate flame broiler. Cooking is easy, since it has digital controls with an LED readout, and it can handle a temperature range from 180 to 500 degrees for everything from low-and-slow cooking to searing meats for the perfect crust. 

The cooking grids are porcelain-coated steel, offering a total of 518 square inches of cooking space (in addition to a removable upper cooking rack), so there’s plenty of space for family meals or entertaining roughly four people. The pellet hopper holds 5 pounds for several hours of grilling, which our tester said worked well for short cooks, like smoking fish or chicken. But for extended cooks, like pulled pork, it was insufficient because she had to go in and add more pellets before the meat was done cooking. And while there isn't a tremendous amount of searing space, she was able to sear two chicken thighs at a time before finishing with indirect heat.

To save space on a small deck or when the grill needs to be stored, the side table is removable. The bottom shelf offers room to stash a bag of pellets or other gear, while the mahogany-colored lid gives this grill a distinguished look that stands out among its peers. Two large wheels make this easy to move to the perfect place in the yard or on the deck, and the side table is great for holding tools or condiments.

Pit-Boss-PB440-Deluxe-Wood-Pellet-Grill-parts

The Spruce / Renu Dhar

Dimensions: 50.2 x 24.02 x 39.8 inches | Weight: 83.33 pounds | Grilling Area: 518 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 5 pounds | Temperature Range: 180-500 degrees Fahrenheit

What Our Testers Say

"The grill has enough space to sear and then finish cooking indirectly, so I could cook a bunch of vegetable skewers, bacon-wrapped asparagus, and chicken sausages, and move them over to finish cooking on the other side. I also used the grill to cook a batch of green beans and bacon in a Dutch oven." Renu Dhar, Product Tester

Best for Novice Grillers: Z Grills 450A Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

4.5
Z GRILLS ZPG-450A 2020 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Food is extremely flavorful

  • Maintains consistent heat within +/- 15 degrees

  • Included cover

What We Don't Like
  • Takes longer than expected to preheat


  • Prep tables are too small

  • Doesn't get hot enough to sear

Z Grills updated its ZPG-450A pellet grill, making it easy enough for new grillers. They fixed a few issues like improving the temperature control and pellet feed systems. Now, the digital control board ignites the grill automatically and provides temperatures from 180 to 450 degrees for a wide range of cooking methods. A generous fold-down front table provides space to hold food, plates, and tools before folding out of the way when it’s not needed.

It’s simple to check the temperature on the LED display, while the automatic feed adds pellets as they’re needed to maintain the chosen temperature. The grates are porcelain-coated cast iron and provide a total of 452 square inches of cooking space. With a hopper capacity of 15 pounds, this can handle multiple cooking sessions without refilling, or up to 15 hours in one go. The bronze color on the lids looks attractive and the two large wheels make it easy to move into place.

Our tester used this grill to make hamburgers, steak, pulled pork, and even pizza. She was impressed with the flavor of meat and the grill's ability to maintain a consistent temperature. While this grill isn't going to get hot enough to sear, and it does take a while to preheat, our tester deemed it "an unbeatable value." It's simple and effective controls also make it perfect for someone just starting out in grilling.

While we tested the 450A back in 2021, Z Grills has a newly released upgraded version, the Pioneer 450B. The Spruce Eats has not yet tested this model, but it features upgraded digital controls and a new pellet cleanout system. It's also similarly priced.

Z Grills 450A Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

The Spruce Eats / Camryn Rabideau

Dimensions: 45 x 28 x 49 inches | Weight: 84 pounds | Grilling Area: 452 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 18 pounds | Temperature Range: 180-450 degrees Fahrenheit

What Our Testers Say

"It delivered unbelievably flavorful hamburgers and steaks (even though it sometimes took a painfully long time to preheat). We could definitely tell the difference between meat cooked on the pellet grill versus meat cooked on our gas grill." Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester

Best Basic: Char-Griller Wood Pro Pellet Grill, Black

4
char-griller-wood-pro-pellet-grill

Courtesy of Char-Griller

What We Like
  • Food turns out flavorful

  • Spacious cooking area

  • Easy to clean

What We Don't Like
  • Trouble reaching temps over 400

  • No easy way to swap out pellets

The Char-Griller brand is quite popular in outdoor cooking equipment, and this pellet grill is a good example of its offerings. It has a total of 580 square inches of cooking space on porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grates, and our tester found that it could easily hold 12 or more hamburgers. The grill is very sturdy in its construction, though it lacks the bells and whistles that other options may offer. Every food we cooked on it came out delicious and flavorful.

For easy cooking, this pellet grill has auto ignition, and its temperature is electronically controlled via an easy-to-use dial. However, in testing, it struggled to reach temperatures over 400 degrees, so it's best for low-heat cooking. The hopper holds 18 pounds of pellets, but there's no easy way to swap them out.

Our tester did experience a one-time issue when smoking pork ribs, where the temperature dropped drastically and she ended up switching the ribs to a different grill after attempting to restart the Char-Griller with no success. This reliability issue is slightly concerning, but keep in mind there is a five-year warranty. This grill is quite simple to clean. There's a flat sheet that catches grease and funnels it down into the little grease bucket, and it's easy enough to just scrape down periodically. 

Dimensions: 48 x 21.6 x 13.38 inches | Weight: 170 pounds | Grilling Area: 580 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 18 pounds | Temperature Range: 180-450 degree Fahrenheit

Char-Griller_Wood_Pro_Pellet_Grill_05

The Spruce Eats / Camryn Rabideau

What Our Testers Say

"Chicken thighs took longer to cook at 250 degrees than other grills, but they tasted great and weren’t burnt at all. The smokey flavor really came through here! Texture was spot-on as well. Overall, one of my favorite meals cooked on this grill."Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester

Best Traeger: Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

4
traeger-pellet-grill
Courtesy of Home Depot.
What We Like
  • Easy-to-use interface

  • Lightweight and portable

  • Good for grilling and smoking

What We Don't Like
  • Prone to temperature swings

  • Small hopper

Traeger is one of the best-known pellet grill bands, and for good reason. Its grills are generally reliable, well-built, and easy to operate. However, they're also on the more expensive side, so if you're shopping with a tight budget, the Traeger Tailgater is one of the most affordable options from the brand. While technically designed for tailgating, this pellet grill can easily be used at home, and it offers 300 square inches of cooking area across its single rack.

This grill has an incredibly simple interface—you simply set the dial to your desired temperature, then let it take care of the rest. It can hold up to 8 pounds of pellets in its hopper, so you will need to monitor it carefully during long smoking sessions. But you can't beat the lightweight design, which has folding legs for easy storage. During testing, we did find that this grill is prone to temperature swings, but overall, it's a well-built portable pellet grill.

Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill

The Spruce / Justin Park

Dimensions: 37 x 18 x 36 inches | Weight: 62 pounds | Grilling Area: 300 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 8 pounds | Temperature Range: 175-450 degrees Fahrenheit

What Our Testers Say

"We found that grilling was easy enough—crank the controller dial to the higher temperature ranges for burgers, hot dogs, and more traditional quick-sear fare. Folks accustomed to gas grill convenience will immediately notice that it takes a few minutes longer to come to those temperatures than with a gas grill, but we thought the improved flavor from the addition of real wood smoke was a fair trade-off."Justin Park, Product Tester

Best Easy Cleaning: Camp Chef SmokePro SE Pellet Grill

Camp Chef Smoke Pro SE Pellet Grill

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Lever-operated ash cleaning system

  • Includes meat probe

  • Well-built

What We Don't Like
  • Low level of smoke

Camp Chef is a familiar name in grills and smokers, including pellet grills. This one offers a heat range from 160 to 500 degrees and includes two meat probes to monitor your roasts.

The adjustable chimney top and smart smoke technology help to maintain the optimum temperature when you prefer smoking over grilling.

This has a convenient lever-operated ash cleanout system and a grease management system for easy cleaning and maintenance, while the roller wheels make it easy to position anywhere you want it. The ample cooking area and 18-pound pellet hopper make it easy to cook for the family or for a party. Additional warming racks and an additional front shelf are sold separately.

Dimensions: 40.5 x 25 x 22 inches | Weight: 110 pounds | Grilling Area: 429 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 18 pounds | Temperature Range: 160-500 degrees Fahrenheit

What The Experts Say

"I tend to stick to the traditional pellet profiles that use Oak or Hickory, since they are universally complementary to all meats. Swapping out pellets can be a pain, so for me, the ideal scenario is a flavor that will work well with anything from beef to chicken and the occasional vegetable!" —  Jess Pryles, Grilling Expert and Author of "Hardcore Carnivore"

Best Compact: Oklahoma Joe's Rider 600 Pellet Grill

Oklahoma Joe's Rider 600

Courtesy of Oklahoma Joe's

What We Like
  • Ideal for smaller households

  • Separate mode for searing

  • 20-pound hopper

  • Includes pellet storage bin

What We Don't Like
  • No handles to help move

If you typically only cook for one or two people, chances are you don't need a huge grill. Consider the Oklahoma Joe's Rider 600 Pellet Grill, which has a more modest size without compromising on features. This grill has a main cooking area of just 380 inches, plus an optional warming rack, but it can still hold up to 20 pounds of pellets in its hopper. Plus, the grill offers two modes of operation—smoking between the temperature of 175 and 300 degrees, or high-heat searing on low, medium, and high settings.

The Oklahoma Joe's Pellet Grill helps you keep track of your food with a built-in timer and temperature probe, and it can alert you when your meat reaches the desired internal temperature. There's a removable ash cup on the bottom of the cooking chamber for easy cleanup, and it even comes with a pellet storage bin that hangs conveniently underneath the hopper.

Dimensions: 35.5 x 38.9 x 47.9 inches | Weight: 149 pounds | Grilling Area: 617 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 20 pounds | Temperature Range: 175-525 degrees Fahrenheit

Final Verdict

The Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill ranks first thanks to its professional-grade performance for a reasonable price. It offers 570 square inches of cooking space, and we were impressed by its consistent temperature control and unique features. Or, for something you can use at home and on the road, consider the Green Mountain Davy Crockett Portable Wood Pellet Grill, which is lightweight and can even be controlled from your phone thanks to its Wi-Fi connectivity.

What to Look for When Buying an Inexpensive Pellet Grill

Capacity

Just like with other grills, cooking capacity is an important consideration. Will you only be using the grill for family dinners, or will you be hosting backyard parties where you’ll need to feed a crowd? While pellet grills cook food quickly, you don’t want to make your guests wait in line while you’re putting the second wave of burgers on the grill.

Portability

Even if you never take your pellet grill on a road trip, you might want to move it from one side of the yard to the other when you’re having a party, or move it out of the way when you’re not using it. While some pellet grills are light enough to pick up and carry, wheels make the job easier. Of course, if you have a permanent spot for your grill, portability is less of a consideration.

Unique Features

Though all of the pellet grills on our list perform the same basic function, each has unique features that make it stand out from the crowd—like Wi-Fi capability or foldable legs for portability. While some of these add-ons may be of little interest to you, others might make that particular grill a must-buy—so look closely.

FAQs

How does a pellet grill work?

Pellet grills operate a little bit differently than a gas- or charcoal-powered grill. These grills have a "hopper" that you fill up with hardwood pellets, and when you turn the grill on, the pellets are automatically fed into a cooking chamber by an auger. The pellets are burned in the cooking chamber, and heat and smoke are dispersed throughout the grill, cooking food with indirect heat instead of open flames.

One of the main differences between pellet grills and other fuel types is that they maintain their own temperature. Similar to an oven, you set the temperature you want to cook at using the grill's control panel, and the unit holds the temperature on its own, adding more pellets when needed. This saves you from having to monitor the grill constantly.

Does a pellet grill need electricity?

Unlike a gas or charcoal grill, pellet grills do require electricity to function. Typically, a pellet grill's control panel, thermometer, auger, and fans are all electric, so the unit must be plugged in before you can start grilling.

What are the advantages of pellet grills?

There are a number of reasons some people prefer pellet grills over traditional charcoal or gas models. One of the main benefits is that they provide precise temperature control with minimal oversight, which is useful if, for instance, you plan to smoke food for long periods of time.

Pellet grills also give food a wonderful smoky flavor, and you can use different types of pellets to control the flavor profile of your meals. Further, because pellet grills cook using indirect heat, they prevent flare-ups and result in more even cooking.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Freelance food writer and cookbook author Donna Currie is an expert on all things food, from cookbooks to cooking gadgets. She's also a product tester for The Spruce Eats and has cooked with every type of grill out there, including pellet grills.

This article was updated by Camryn Rabideau, a grilling expert and product tester for The Spruce. She's tested several pellet grills included in this article, including the Z Grills ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Grill, Char-Grill Wood Pro Pellet Grill, and Oklahoma Joe's Rider Deluxe Pellet Grill, and she interviewed Jess Pryles, a grilling expert and author of "Hardcore Carnivore," while researching grills for this article.

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