If you're searching for a grill that's simple, straightforward, and extremely versatile, a wood pellet grill might be just the product for you. These grills are powered by wood pellets that you put into a hopper attached to the grill, and they're automatically fed into the grill's firebox as you cook. This results in extremely even heat and minimal smoke and flare-ups, and most pellet grills automatically regulate their own temperatures, taking a lot of the trial and error out of grilling. For all of these reasons, owner and executive chef Rick Mace of Tropical Smokehouse in West Palm Beach, Florida, celebrates this grill style for being, above all else, “easy to use.”
That's not all, either. Wood pellet grills are also extremely versatile and can be used for grilling, smoking, searing, and even baking. Some of today's top models are even Wi-Fi enabled, allowing you to control the unit right from your phone. When shopping for a wood pellet grill, Mace recommends that you “pick a pellet grill that is the best size for your everyday needs and go with a manufacturer that is well known.” To help you with that task, we set some of our most popular grills to the patios of home testers, and tested 20 of the top models in our Lab.
Here are the best wood pellet grills to add to your grilling arsenal.
Yoder Smokers YS640S Pellet Grill
Amazing searing and smoking performance
Easy-to-use features and controls
Auto-responds to temperature fluctuations
Extra-large cooking area
Wood pellet grills offer convenience and versatility, and they can do almost all of the work for you. And that's especially true with the Yoder Smokers YS640S. The impressive pellet grill's 1,040 square inches of cooking space and 20-pound hopper are behind its outstanding performance that dazzled our Lab testers. After all was said and done, this cooked up some of the best-tasting steaks and chicken wings during testing.
Once you look beyond the physical specifications, like the 10-gauge steel chamber and ceramic ignition, you'll enjoy its other features like two integrated food probes and amazing temperature control. That temperature control is thanks to the grill's ACS, or adaptive control system, which is able to respond to fluctuations via its microprocessor. It also makes the grill able to connect to your Wi-Fi and be controlled via Yoder's proprietary app.
After a 2-person assembly, our Lab testers noted how easy it was to begin using the YS640S. Navigating the plethora of features was nearly effortless and after the one-button startup, it was quickly time to start smoking. It reached its maximum temperature (600 degrees) in less than 12 minutes, and that heat circulated consistently during cooking, even when the testers smoked 10 pounds of chicken wings. It also outperformed when cooking a low-and-slow pork shoulder, where our testers remarked on the allowed wiggle room of 5 to 25 degrees when setting the desired temperature.
When it comes to searing, there's an adjustable heat shield for when you want direct heat, plus an easy-to-use heat diffuser that circulate heat directly over the sear plate. During our steak tests, this produced dark grill marks and a moderately smokey flavor. It is the grill's searing abilities that brings about a downside though—when you're first learning the grill, the searing grate creates a hotspot. Another downside will be cleaning as all the internal components need to be removed.
Price at time of publish: $2,399
Weight: 335 pounds | Grilling Area: 1070 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 20 pounds | Temperature Range: 150-600 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 61.3 x 36.1 x 55 inches
"I can't stress enough how nice this pellet grill is. Everything from design to performance and ease of use/user experience is amazing."
Runner-Up, Best Overall
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
Remarkably consistent temperature control
Two smoke settings
Reaches up to 500 degrees
Pellet feed issues
Somewhat narrow dimensions
While there is a wide range of grills to choose from, we found that none compare to the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill. This model comes with a number of extra features, such as its included meat probes, adjustable smoke settings, large-capacity hopper, and side table for holding utensils, that make it stand out from the competition.
Incredibly easy to assemble, this grill offers a lower rack measuring 429 square inches and an upper smoking area of 141 square inches. One standout feature is the PID controller, a top-of-the-line feature that allows the user to adjust grill temperature more accurately (to within a few degrees). Our home tester specifically tried this out by measuring the grill's surface, and it mostly stayed within 10 degrees of the set temperature. It also gives users the ability to choose between a low smoke and high smoke setting, while also having the ability to reach up to 500 degrees.
While the automated auger worked well when full, our home tester did notice some issues when the 18-pound hopper was low, including it giving the user an error message. That was one of the few design flaws though. Our tester was won over by the little details, like a magnetic latch on the hopper lid, the secondary steel shelf, and the ash clean-out system.
Price at time of publish: $802
Weight: 140 pounds | Grilling Area: 570 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 18 pounds | Temperature Range: 160-500 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 45 x 21 x 51 inches
"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
Traeger TBB86RLG Timberline Pellet Grill
3 tiers of cooking space
Excellent performance and smoking capability
Intuitive control pad
BBQ experts place a great deal of trust in the Traeger brand. If you need a pellet grill that can feed a crowd, then the Traeger Timberline is the best version on the market today. “While it's not cheap, it's the ultimate in performance and convenience. It has fully-insulated construction for efficiency and year-round use, and it features easy cleanout that doesn't require a Shop Vac,” says Wes Wright, the founder and CEO of CookOut News, a news site that covers the BBQ industry. “Also, it comes with an induction cooktop that works great for searing or for cooking sides and sauces.”
The Wi-Fi capabilities of the Traeger Timberline increase the user-friendliness of this model. “It comes Wi-Fi enabled so I can monitor my cooking temperature and food temperature remotely from a smart device,” says Paul Sidoriak, a writer/grill expert of GrillingMontana. “This is convenient when I’m cooking large slabs of meat like brisket or pork shoulder (not to mention, it keeps me under the covers longer when I’m doing an overnight cook).” If you’re new to pellet grilling (or just don’t want to constantly monitor your grill’s pellet content), the Timberline comes with a pellet sensor that informs you when the pellet compartment needs refilling, and you’ll get those notifications on your smart device.
Experts aren't the only ones who love this great, but pricey, grill. It outperformed every other grill when we tested it in our Lab. During our tests, it maintained an even heat across the grill surface, with the sometimes-heavy smoke enhancing the flavor of both chicken wings and pepperoni pizza. When we used it to long smoke a pork butt, it had a few issues reaching our desired temperature of 225 degrees. Regardless, it produced the juiciest meat with a beautiful smoke ring.
Add to all of this a shockingly easy set-up and clean-up, plus intuitive controls, and our testers agreed that this is one of the best. If you need more space, this also comes in an extra-large version with 1,320 square inches of cooking space.
Price at time of publish: $3,500
Weight: 238 pounds | Grilling Area: 880 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 22 pounds | Temperature Range: 165-500 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 59 x 25 x 51 inches
"This grill was the most consistent across the board in all 3 tests, even lending a smoke flavor to a frozen pizza. The large hopper leaves little to have to refill after performing several tasks. Top of the line price, but you get a top of the line pellet grill."
Best for Beginners
Weber Smokefire EX4 Wood Fired Pellet Grill
Simple operation with lots of automation
Excellent performance when grilling, smoking, and baking
App is easy to use
App doesn't always allow customization
Only two probes included
The first-generation Weber SmokeFire Pellet Grill—a highly anticipated product from the trusted brand—was plagued with issues, including hopper jamming and poor grease damage. However, Weber has since addressed these problems and released the second-generation SmokeFire EX4, which performs notably better than its predecessor. This pellet grill offers 672 square inches of cooking space across its upper and lower grates, and it can be programmed anywhere between 200 and 600 degrees, allowing you to smoke, sear, and more.
Our Lab testers found the Weber Smokefire EX4 easy to set up, and our home tester attested that it can be assembled by just one person. The Smokefire features built-in Weber Connect, a handy grilling assistant that will walk you step-by-step through the cooking process—ideal for those who are just learning their way around the grill. During testing, Weber Connect even provided clear and actionable instructions for seasoning the grill, which set the home tester up for success right from the start. The app can be used to monitor the temperature of the grill itself and to keep an eye on the temperature of the meat (using the included meat probes).
While Lab testing, this produced an evenly crisp pizza crust, with a nice, light smokiness. When the testers used it for a low-and-slow pork roast, they emphasized that you can control the smoke level independent of the temperature. With a medium smoke level, they cooked up a delicious, subtly smoky pork butt with a slightly too-deep smoke ring. Aesthetically speaking, our home tester mentioned that the Smokefire’s shiny black exterior and stainless steel accessories have a clean and sleek look, as do the carefully designed pellet hopper and ash collector.
All in all, the Weber Smokefire EX4 is a pellet grill that takes much of the guesswork out of the cooking process, that can be monitored and adjusted using Wi-Fi technology, and that manages to be both efficient and visually appealing on your patio.
Price at time of publish: $1,099
Weight: 160 pounds | Grilling Area: 672 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 20 pounds | Temperature Range: 200-600 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 47 x 43 x 33 inches
"The cooking programs and recipes were nice, but I also liked that I could set my own cooking temperatures when I wanted to." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Large Capacity
Oklahoma Joe's 20202105 Rider 900 Pellet Grill
More than 900 square inches of cook space
Two cooking modes
Ability to sear over live fire
Reasonable price for its size
Can have temperature swings when searing
If you regularly cook for a crowd, the Oklahoma Joe's Rider 900 Pellet Grill has more than 900 square inches of cooking space across its two porcelain-coated cast-iron grates. It's so big that it can accommodate six racks of ribs or multiple whole chickens at once, and it gets so hot, you can sear!
This pellet grill has easy-to-use digital controls, and you can choose between two modes: Timer Mode, which cooks food for set amount of time at your desired temperature, or Temp-Probe Mode, which indicates when your food has reached its target internal temperature. The grill has a QuickDraw hopper with a 20-pound capacity, as well as dual smoke stacks for more even heat.
After a somewhat time-consuming assembly, our home tester put it through its paces with steaks, hamburgers, chicken thighs, and racks of ribs. Its sear mode is activated by flipping a lever, which opens up the 17-inch-round heat shield and exposes direct flame. It's a large enough space for a few steaks, but you do have to monitor the heat level, as our home tester found out. The probe thermometers proved useful when doing a slow roast of ribs, which were infused with great smokey flavor.
Price at time of publish: $1,000
Weight: 185 pounds | Grilling Area: 900 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 20 pounds | Temperature Range: 170-650 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 35.2 x 49.4 x 55.1 inches
"As long as you keep an eye on what you’re cooking, the results are amazing—nicely seared with more wood-cooked flavor than you’d get from a gas grill." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Traeger Tailgater 20 Pellet Grill
Large cooking area for a portable grill
Digital control panel
Easy to clean, even on-the-go
By default, portable grills have a few limitations, but a really great portable grill can be key to a successful tailgating party or weekend camping trip. The Traeger Tailgater 20 Pellet Grill does have a few things to overlook, but given its size, it exceeded expectations when we tested it.
First, don't be fooled by its 3-foot-high size. Our Lab testers were able to get four 8-ounce steaks on the grill's 300 square inches, and it could hold up to five pounds of chicken wings at a time. It also has an intuitive control panel that rivaled those on more expensive models. The fold-out legs make it easy to set-up, though our home tester recommends having a second set of hands for getting it into position.
During testing, both our Lab and home testers experienced reliable control with a few temperature swings to watch out for. Our home tester noted that limiting the times you open the hood helped mitigate the swings, while our Lab testers noted it would lose heat through the exhaust ports. The swings didn't prevent our testers from smoking a pork shoulder or grilling up chicken drumsticks, but it's best to keep an eye on the internal temperature. When it's time to head home, cleaning this was a breeze with all the pieces easily removable.
Price at time of publish: $530
Weight: 62 pounds | Grilling Area: 300 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 8 pounds | Temperature Range: 175-450 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 37 x 18 x 36 inches
"Though it has a higher price point than others in the portable category, it more than holds its own against larger, more expensive models. A standout at any tailgate."
Best for Pizza
Ooni Fyra 12 Portable Wood-Fired Outdoor Pizza Oven
Reaches extremely high temperatures
Cooks pizza quickly
Breaks down for easy storage
Good for more than just pizza
Learning curve for operation
If you’re looking for something smaller that still maintains high temperatures, this wood-pellet-fueled pizza oven is incredibly powerful and petite. Reaching temperatures up to 932 degrees, this compact, lightweight unit heats up in only 15 minutes. And the removable chimney and hinged legs make it easy to take along to a party or store away in your garage.
When we tested this in our Lab, it produced multiple gorgeous pizzas with a good char and bubbly cheese. The only limitations are from its fuel source. Being a wood pellet pizza oven means few more steps in assembly, and a little less heat control during the pizza making so they'll take you a few extra minutes. But afterward, you have a pizza with that slight campfire-scent that only wood-fired ovens can create. With a 12-inch cooking surface, it does come with a durable stone baking board. Also, the oven can be used for other foods besides pizza as well. This model also comes with a 3-year warranty when registered on the manufacturer’s site.
Price at time of publish: $350
Weight: 22 pounds | Temperature Range: Up to 950 degrees Fahrenheit | Pizza Size: 12 inches | Dimensions: 29 x 16.25 x 28.75 inches
Traeger Pro 575 Wood Pellet Grill
"Set it and forget it" temperature control
TurboTemp allows fast startup
Expensive for its size
Wi-Fi abilities are unreliable
All wood pellet grills are dependent on electricity, but not all grills have an electric starter and temperature control. As the brand behind the first wood-pellet grill, Traeger has upgraded the original with bells and whistles such as an auto-ignition to fire up the grill quickly as well as an automatic auger system that feeds the pellets and controls the heat to your desired temperature.
Reviewers rave about the “set it and forget it” temperature control because it makes grilling so much simpler. Simply turn the dial to your desired temperature, push ignite, and the grill does the rest of the work. The total cooking space measures 575 square inches and includes an 18-pound hopper capacity. It supports temperatures of 165 to 500 degrees. This grill is also versatile in that it can smoke, bake, braise, and barbeque.
This unit is also equipped with Wi-Fi technology, allowing users to monitor and adjust their grill’s temperature from their phones.
Price at time of publish: $900
Weight: 124 pounds | Grilling Area: 575 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 18 pounds | Temperature Range: 165-500 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 41 x 53 x 27 inches
How We Tested
We sent these products directly to the homes of our expert food writers and to our Lab. At our Lab, our testers grilled, seared, baked, and smoked using each grill to thoroughly analyze every feature and the grill's performance. The grills were then rated on heat control and retention, size, features, performance, ease of cleaning, and overall value. Our home reviewers spent weeks using them in their backyards to see how the stood up to everyday cooking and cleaning. They were also able to offer additional insights including how easy they were to set up and store, and using these during typical weather conditions. After testing, our writers submitted their feedback on what they liked and didn't like.
Other Options We Tested
- Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill: While Green Mountain claims this is "the ultimate tailgate grill," when we put it through its paces in our Lab, various vital elements came up short. Other than searing steak, it didn't perform to our standards for most of our tests and at least one grease spill came about from its design. Its Wi-Fi connectivity is definitely a positive and it efficiently used wood pellets, but that wasn't enough to keep this former pick on our list.
- Z Grills 700D Wood Pellet Grill: The consistent temperature, large cooking space and 20-pound hopper capacity of this grill were all appreciated by our home tester and Lab testers. But that's where the mutual feelings ended. While the home tester enjoyed the simple controls, our Lab testers felt these features are the bare minimum these days. After a challenging set up, this model couldn't sear steaks and barely imparted any smoke flavor in food. Add to this that the handle created a safety concern, and we concluded this former Most Versatile pick wasn't so versatile anymore.
What to Look For in a Wood Pellet Grill
As with any grill, you'll want to look for a wood pellet grill that's an appropriate size for your cooking needs. Consider the dimensions of the grill, which will impact how it fits into your home, as well as its cooking area. It's specifically beneficial to look at the primary cooking area, as some brands inflate the overall cooking space of their grills with the addition of multiple racks.
Wood pellet grills are most commonly used for cooking low and slow, but if you're looking for a model that can do traditional grilling, be sure to look at its temperature range. A pellet grill that only goes up to 400 degrees isn't going to be very effective at searing meat—at the minimum, you'll want a model that goes up to 500 degrees to put beautiful char marks on your food.
All pellet grills have a hopper where you load wood pellets, and there are a few things you'll want to look at as you shop. First of all, consider the hopper capacity. Models with larger hoppers can be operated for longer periods of time without needing to be refilled, which is essential if you're planning to smoke brisket or other time-consuming recipes.
Another feature you may want to look for is the ability to empty the hopper. Certain pellet grills have a trap door that allows you to empty pellets out of the hopper, and this allows you to switch to a different pellet flavor or remove the fuel to troubleshoot your grill. Cheaper grills often lack this feature, forcing you to use up all the pellets in the hopper before switching to new pellets.
If water gets into the hopper of your pellet grill, the wood pieces will expand, clogging the hopper and auger. As such, it's important to cover your grill when not in use, especially if you're planning to keep it outdoors. You'll want to look at whether the pellet grill you're buying includes a cover, and if it doesn't, be sure to check the price of buying one separately.
How does a wood pellet grill work?
Wood pellet grills are unique in their operation, and it can take a while to get used to them if you typically cook on a gas or charcoal grill. Pellet grills are fueled by hardwood pellets, which you load into the grill's hopper. These small pellets of wood are slowly fed into a fire pot in the main cooking chamber by an auger, and they are burned a little at a time. Heat and smoke from the fire pot are dispersed throughout the grill, which cooks food with indirect heat instead of open flames, and the grill will maintain its set temperature by feeding more or less pellets into the fire pot.
Are all wood pellet grills electric?
Wood pellet grills require electricity to operate their augers, fans, and other internal components, so make sure you have an outdoor outlet nearby where you can plug in your grill.
How fast do wood pellets burn in a grill?
The speed at which you go through wood pellets depends on the temperature you're cooking at. If you're cooking at a high temperature, you'll likely go through around 2 pounds of pellets per hour. At low smoking temperatures, your grill may only go through 1/2 pound of pellets in an hour.
How do you light a wood pellet grill?
Wood pellet grills are extremely easy to start—it requires almost no effort on your part and is similar to preheating an oven. You'll want to open the lid of your grill, then power the grill on. Once you select your desired cooking temperature, the grill will begin heating up its fire pot and feeding pellets into it from the hopper (at which point you can generally close the lid). It often takes 10 minutes or more for pellet grills to reach the desired cooking temperature.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Cheyenne Elwell's favorite part of outdoor cooking is the smell of food fresh off the grill, especially in the hot days of summer. She has experience testing and using a variety of grills including electric, gas-powered, wood-fired, and charcoal models.
This article was updated by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. She's written close to a dozen pieces on all styles of grills and done firsthand testing of smokers and grills featured in her articles.
Taylor Tobin also updated this article. She is a freelance journalist who covers cooking, product reviews, and recipe content for outlets like Simply Recipes, HuffPost, Insider, and Allrecipes.
The Spruce Eats Editor Siobhan Wallace compiled testing data from our official Lab as well as insights from our home tester's full product reviews to update this roundup.