Food turns out flavorful
Spacious cooking area
Easy to clean
Problems with reliability
Trouble reaching temps over 400
No easy way to swap out pellets
We purchased the Char-Griller Wood Pro Pellet Grill so our reviewer could put it to the test in her backyard. Read on for our full product review.
Pellet grills like the Char-Griller Wood Pro Pellet Grill give you the best of both worlds. Not only can you grill burgers or steaks, but you can also use them for low-and-slow cooking, like smoking pork ribs or brisket for your next backyard barbecue. I wanted to see how this pellet grill stacked up against other options at the mid-range price point, so I used it to cook a variety of foods over the course of several weeks. Here’s how it fared.
Setup Process: Straightforward
I’ve put together a lot of grills in the past few years, and the Char-Griller Wood Pro Pellet Grill was one of the more straightforward projects. It’s heavy to move around, so you’ll definitely want to enlist a friend to move the box, but the assembly itself is easy. My partner and I were able to get it put together in around 30 minutes, as there aren’t too many components.
It’s on the smaller size as grills go, but it still has 580 square inches of cooking space, which was able to easily accommodate 12+ hamburgers.
The only problem we had putting this grill together was that several pieces came wrapped in a wax paper-type material that was impossible to remove. It’s fairly common for pellet grills to have oil on components like the grease tray, but this paper was dried onto the metal and wouldn’t peel off. (Maybe it was old?) No amount of scraping was going to get it all off, and we eventually gave up, hoping the remnants would burn off in the first few firings—and they did.
Design: As simple as it gets
This pellet grill is truly bare bones, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your perogative. It’s on the smaller size as grills go, but it still has 580 square inches of cooking space, which was able to easily accommodate 12+ hamburgers. The grill has four rectangular cast iron grates that drop into place in the grilling chamber, and while they’re somewhat lightweight, I appreciated that they weren’t just steel. They don’t sit perfectly flat, which is slightly bothersome, but it didn’t impact the functionality. The grill itself is made from heavy-duty metal with black powder coating, and its overall build is extremely solid.
The hopper for this grill can hold up to 18 pounds of wood pellets, and it’s located on the right side of the grill, which is kind of unique. It has a simple dial for temperature control and a button that changes the smoke level, and it’s mounted on two locking caster wheels and two regular wheels. It was easy to wheel the grill around my deck as needed, which came in handy when I had to move it out of the rain. (It doesn’t come with a cover.)
It’s worth noting that there’s no side table on this grill, which can be frustrating when your hands are full. I ended up putting my plates and utensils on top of the hopper, which works fine but is a little small.
Fuel Type: Wood pellets for max flavor
Given its name, it should come as no surprise that this grill runs on wood pellets. When you turn the grill on, an auger feeds these little compressed wood pieces into the firepot, where they’re burned to create smoke and heat, giving your food a wood-fired flavor.
I was able to fit nearly a full bag of pellets into the hopper, and I used another brand’s pellets with no problems. However, one downside is that there’s no way to quickly remove pellets from the hopper. Other grills have doors that let you pour pellets out if you want to switch wood flavors, but with this grill, I had to scoop out the pellets by hand when I wanted to switch from hickory to apple pellets.
Temperature Control: No high heat here
As mentioned, this grill’s controls are very simple. The temperature can be set using the dial, which goes from 200 to 375 degrees in 25-degree increments. There’s also a “smoke” setting that’s 180 degrees and a “high” setting that’s supposed to be 450 degrees, but no matter how long I waited, the grill never got higher than 380 or 400 degrees. So if you’re looking for a pellet grill that can put a dramatic sear on steaks, this isn’t it.
I’ll admit that it took me a while to figure out the grill’s smoke control button. The smoke settings are labeled at P0 through P7, and the manual explains that the higher the number, the slower the grill feeds pellets into the firepot. This results in a lower grill temperature and higher level of smoke. I know some other grills use this system, but I didn’t find it intuitive and ended up needing to consult the manual every time I adjusted the grill. If you remember anything, it should be that higher numbers = more smoke.
Performance: Great… until it’s not
I put this pellet grill through its paces over the course of a month, and overall, I was pleased with its performance. My family regularly has hamburgers for dinner on weeknights, and you can easily fit 12 or more burgers on this grill at a time. The meat always came out extremely flavorful—much more so than they ever do on a gas grill—but the trade-off is that we ended up waiting longer for the grill to pre-heat. In 10 minutes, this grill only gets up to 250 or so.
The burgers always came out extremely flavorful—much more so than they ever do on a gas grill—but the trade-off is that we ended up waiting longer for the grill to pre-heat.
One afternoon when I didn’t feel like standing over the stove, I used the grill to smoke chicken thighs soaked in a lemon-y marinade. I would typically cook these in a pan, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well they came out on the smoker. After 1.5 hours at 250 degrees, they were perfectly cooked and had a great smoky flavor that really enhanced the meal.
The only time I had problems with the Char-Griller Wood Pro Pellet Grill was when I smoked pork ribs—and of course, this was the one time I was cooking for a dinner party, so the issue was especially inconvenient. I was about three hours into the six-hour smoke time when I went to check on the grill, only to find that the temperature was really low. It was supposed to be at 225, but it was around 150. Within 10 minutes or so, it had dropped below 100. I assumed the fire had gone out, so I tried to restart the grill to no avail. With dinner guests waiting and an hour of smoking time lost already, I ended up switching to another grill to finish the ribs. Because of the lost time, the ribs weren’t nearly as tender as I wanted.
I’m not the only one who has experienced issues with this grill, either. Many users report issues with components like the fire rod, auger, heating element, and more. Thankfully, I was able to get my grill started a few days later, but the whole experience made me question how reliable the product is. The good news is that these types of issues are covered by a five-year warranty.
Cleaning: Quick and easy
Thanks to its simple design, this grill is a breeze to clean. It has a grease-collection bucket that I lined with tin foil for easy cleaning, and the grease tray was easy to clean off using a grill brush and scraper. I was able to vacuum out dust and ash from the bottom of the grilling chamber, and the porcelain-coated grates came clean with just a few swipes of my favorite grill brush.
Price: A little high
The MSRP for the Char-Griller Wood Pro Pellet Grill is $600, but it’s usually on sale for closer to $500. I do think this price is a little high considering how basic this grill is—especially since I’ve tested other pellet grills in the same price range that offer a lot more in terms of functionality. If you’re going to get it, I’d definitely recommend waiting for a good sale.
Char-Griller Wood Pro Pellet Grill vs. Oklahoma Joe's Rider Deluxe Pellet Grill
The Oklahoma Joe's Rider Deluxe Pellet Grill is a little more expensive than the Char-Griller Wood Pro—it’s often around $800, but I’ve seen it on sale for as low as $600—but it makes up for the price difference in its versatility and thoughtful design. The Oklahoma Joe’s Grill has a truly impressive temperature range of 175-650 degrees Fahrenheit, and it boasts 1,234 square inches of cooking space across its main grate and two adjustable warming racks. It comes with a temperature probe and a bucket for storing extra pellets, and it even has a unique “sear mode” that opens up the firepot for extra heat.
It won't wow you, but it (usually) works.
The Char-Griller Wood Pro Pellet Grill does deliver tasty food, but it also has a low maximum temperature, reliability issues, and an overall unimpressive design.
- Product Name Wood Pro Pellet Grill
- Product Brand Char-Griller
- SKU 9020
- Price $599.99
- Weight 170 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 26 x 50 x 50 in.
- Hopper Capacity 18 lbs.
- Cooking Area 580 sq. in.
- Warranty 5 years