The 7 Best Inexpensive Pellet Grills to Buy in 2018

Take your grill game up a notch

davy-crockett-pellet-grill
Courtesy of Amazon

Pellet grills are the new kids on the grilling block. Just ten years ago, there were only two companies making them, but since then they’ve become more and more popular, thanks in part to their ease of use.

The fuel is wooden pellets made from compressed sawdust that is subjected to high pressure and heat. They burn cleanly and leave little ash to clean up. Pellet grills generally require electricity as well as the pellets, so you’ll need to think about where to place the grill so it will have...MORE access to electricity while in use.

Pellet grills preheat quickly, so you can start cooking almost immediately, and the pellets are available in a number of woods, for different smoke flavors. The smoke has a subtle wood-fired flavor with less of the acrid flavor that comes from standard wood or charcoal. For the maximum smoke flavor, it’s best to cook at a temperature lower than 250 degrees, while higher temperatures cook faster with less smoke.

Although these are marketed as grills, they do much more, including baking or roasting. Because they heat by convection, you might not get the grill marks that a gas or charcoal grill will give you, but you also won’t have the flame-up problems. While many pellet grills offer high cooking temperatures, the maximum depends on ambient temperature and wind. Many users wrap their grills in special insulating covers to help maintain heat, reduce fuel use, and reach the higher temperatures they desire.

Pellet grills are relatively expensive compared to the most inexpensive gas or charcoal grills, but there are plenty to choose from that won’t completely break the bank.

 

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

    Traeger was the first company that sold pellet grills, and they’re still making quality grills in many sizes. This 20-inch grill is large enough for the family dinner, but compact enough transport to the neighbor’s party or to the vacation cottage. The legs fold, so they won’t get in the way of transportation or storage.

    The Digital Elite Controller keeps the temperature steady at +/- 20 degrees, so you don’t need to constantly check and adjust the temperature, whether you’re grilling,...MORE smoking, baking, roasting or braising.

    Even though this is compact, it offers 300 square inches of grilling space, which is enough for a dozen burgers, two whole chickens or three racks of ribs. Nonstick porcelain-coated grates are easy to clean. This grill is available in blue or bronze.

  • Runner-Up, Best Overall: Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill

    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...MORE 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. Clean up is also easy thanks to the built-in hopper/ash clean out system.

  • pit-boss-440

    Best Grill with Broiler: Pit Boss 440D Wood Fired Pellet Grill w/ Flame Broiler

    Grilling is great, but sometimes a broiler is the best option. This pellet grill offers that broiling option for great browning, along with a 440 square inch grilling surface including the second tier rack.

    The cooking temperature can be adjusted from 180 to 500 degrees for low-and-slow or hot-and-fast cooking, and a digital control board lets you select your cooking method and temperature as easily as your home oven.

    The cooking grids are a porcelain-coated wire for easy cleaning.

  • 37" Wood Grill

    Best Portable Grill: Pit Boss 37" Wood Grill

    With 341 square inches of cooking space and a digital control board that sets the temperature from 180 to 500 degrees, you’ll be cooking whole meals in this grill, even though it’s the smallest model that Pit Boss makes. It will hold up to a dozen burgers for parties, or a chicken and vegetables for the family dinner. When cooking is done, the porcelain coated grill grates are easy to clean.

    A pair of wheels make this easy to move, then they can be locked so the grill won’t move if it’s...MORE accidentally bumped. While this is portable enough to be rolled to a new location or into storage, at 66 pounds, it’s still a very sturdy grill.

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  • Best for Tailgating: Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill

    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....MORE 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.

  • Easy Cleaning: Camp Chef Smokepro SE Pellet Grill

    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 a stainless steel meat probe 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...MORE 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.

  • Smoke Hollow 24 in. Pellet Grill

    Best Mid-Sized: Smoke Hollow 24 in. Pellet Grill

    With 440 square inches of cooking space, an auger-fed pellet delivery system, and a digital LED thermostat and controller, your cooking will be simple, whether it’s burgers, a whole turkey, or racks of ribs. The side shelf is a convenient place for cooking tools or plates while the bottom shelf can hold spare bags of pellets or jugs of sauces out of the way.

    The porcelain coated cooking grids are easy to clean, while the easy-drain grease system makes maintenance a snap. Wheels and casters let...MORE you easily move this grill to the perfect position despite it weighing over 100 pounds.

     

  • Best for Pizza: Uuni 3 Portable Wood Pellet Pizza Oven

    Most pellet grills have a similar shape, but this one stands out from the rest — for good reason. It’s designed specifically for cooking the best wood-fired pizza in the neighborhood.

    While the shape is optimized for pizza, you can also use it for cooking other foods, including artisan flatbreads, steaks, burgers, ribs or other foods that cook quickly and don’t stand tall. It can cook a pizza up to 13 inches in diameter in about a minute.

    This heats in just 10 minutes and can reach a maximum...MORE temperature of 932 degrees for super-quick cooking. The body is insulated to help maintain heat and the newly designed pellet burner offers better temperature control for more consistent cooking. The 3-legged design keeps this stable, even on lumpy and uneven surfaces.

    This comes with a baking stone and a pizza peel.

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  • Best for Steaks: Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill

    While many people enjoy pellet grills, some find it difficult to use pellets to produce true, flavorful steaks and barbecue since the fuel often lacks the same flavors as traditional grills. That smoky, wood flavor many steaks have is not impossible to get with the right pellet grill however. The Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill sports a combined grill/smoker setup with temperature control for the best pellet grilling experience available.

    The wood pellet grill features a dual rack design with a 513...MORE square inch main cooking surface and 187 square inch warming rack. With a 20-pound hopper capacity, the grill has plenty of space for wood pellets to keep grilling during long event and parties when you have many mouths to feed. An automatic pellet feeder makes it easy to maintain the desired temperature, so you can focus on just the grilling itself.  

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