Portable due to wheels at the base
Small hopper capacity
Different temperatures on barrel and controller
Small area for searing
We purchased the Pit Boss PB440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
Whether you are gearing up for the grilling season or want to test your mettle as a pitmaster, a pellet grill offers the best of both worlds with very little effort. You get the flavor of wood and fire, and the convenience of a set-it-and-forget-it gas grill. The variety of pellet grills available ranges from budget-friendly to exorbitant.
Furthermore, the performance of a pellet grill can range from being better at smoking or grilling, but most can do both. Pellet grills require an electricity source to run the auger that dispenses wood pellets into the firepot. The ignition starts the fire, and the grill is ready to cook on after it reaches the set temperature.
Pellet grills are much easier to use than traditional smokers and charcoal grills, but do they really bring in the best of both worlds? I tested the Pit Boss PB440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill to see how it performed as a grill and smoker. Would it maintain temperatures and cook delicious baby back ribs? Would I be able to grill and bake all summer long? Read on to find out.
Setup Process: Easy as long as you follow the instructions
The Pit Boss PB440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill comes packed in a compact box with a lot of the individual parts packaged separately. At first, it looked like there may be one too many parts, but as I started to assemble, I found it easy. I made sure to thoroughly check the parts in the box and verify against the list provided in the instruction booklet to check for any missing pieces. I highly recommend using a ratcheting screwdriver or cordless drill/driver as there are many screws to assemble.
I highly recommend using a ratcheting screwdriver or a cordless drill/driver as there are a lot of screws to assemble.
The instructions in the booklet are fairly straightforward and easy to follow. However, I needed an extra set of hands to hold the hopper assembly when attaching it to the drum. The top two screws for the hopper assembly are in an awkward location inside the drum, and I needed to use a flexible screwdriver to secure them. The flame broiler main plate was a little awkward to put in place, too. Overall, it took me around 25 minutes to fully assemble the grill, but it might take longer if you use a regular screwdriver.
Design and Material: Simple and user-friendly
This wood pellet grill is gorgeous with a mahogany barrel finish and side shelf with a serving tray. The tray doubles up as a place to set up the food or condiments while using the grill. The two wheels made the grill portable to use in any part of the patio, and when the grill was not in use, I could push it into its storage area quite easily. One of the legs is mounted with a bottle opener for easy entertaining on the patio.
The LED screen on the hopper assembly is at the very bottom, but it's not easy to read in daylight, especially if it is sunny. While that's not the worst inconvenience, I had to place some shade on it to check the temperature.
All the grill parts are made of heavy-gauge stainless steel, and overall, the grill feels fairly sturdy. The cooking grids are made from porcelain-coated steel, and the grease bucket is lined with an aluminum liner that can easily be swapped for a clean one when needed.
Temperature Control: A little uneven
After completing the hopper priming procedure (this gets the pellets into the firebox), I performed the first use burn off. Keep in mind: You have to follow the priming procedure the first time the grill is ignited and each time the smoker runs out of pellets in the hopper. I set up the grill to operate at 450 degrees for 40 minutes to rid it of any manufacturing oils and foreign matter before testing out the actual grilling capability. It was a warm sunny day, and the grill took about 15 minutes to come to temperature, which is pretty fast, but on a colder day, it took about 30 minutes to preheat.
The temperature dial is set in 25-degree increments, which are a bit high and don’t allow for more control. The readout on the control board did not exactly match the thermometer on the barrel, so I had to use external thermometers to gauge the temperatures inside the barrel. The grill's temperature dropped fast as soon as I opened the lid, especially on the right side, whereas the temperature was not as hot as the left side near the firepot. It took a long time to get the grill to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for searing without opening the flame broiler slider, but opening the slider helped get the grill grates' temperature up faster.
Performance: Smoking and hot
With a total of 518 square inches of cooking space, including the top shelf, the Pit Boss PB440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill is a great size for a gathering of up to four people. I made smoked chicken wings using the smoke setting, and they were ready in about 90 minutes. The chicken wings were full of smoke flavor and did not dry out.
Setting the grill on the smoke setting couldn’t be easier. The “P” setting on the control board allows you to control the desired smoke and grill temperature to compensate for weather conditions. The lower the P setting, the higher the temperature of smoke you will get. This was very useful on a cold day when the outside temperatures reduced the grill temperature.
The “P” setting on the control board allows you to control the desired smoke and grill temperature to compensate for weather conditions.
After opening the flame broiler plate, I seared some chicken thighs and got fairly good grill marks on the meat that I put exactly on top of the flame broiler area. The other regions did not sear the meat so well. I had to sear the chicken one or two pieces at a time to get the desired browning and then move it towards the right to finish cooking. 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.
I ran into no trouble with the hopper capacity for short cooks, like smoking fish or chicken, but the 5-pound hopper capacity for extended cooks, like pulled pork from Boston butt, was insufficient, and I had to go in and fill up the hopper in a few hours.
Once the dutch oven heated up, the green beans cooked in just under 10 minutes. I ran into no trouble with the hopper capacity for short cooks, like smoking fish or chicken, but the 5-pound hopper capacity for extended cooks, like pulled pork from Boston butt, was insufficient, and I had to go in and fill up the hopper in a few hours.
Fuel Type: Wood pellets and electricity
The grill needs to be connected to a power source for the auger and automatic igniter to work. The fuel for the grill comes from real wood pellets that produce about 8200 BTUs per pound with very little ash. While on the road, the grill can operate using a 12-volt, 100-watt inverter plugged into your automobile outlet. Just make sure to use the manual startup procedure because the igniter draws 200 to 700 watts of electricity during the startup phase.
Barbecue wood pellets come in many flavors, like hickory, cherry, mesquite, whiskey barrel, and more. I used mesquite on some of my fish and then changed it to a cherry blend for pork for a rosy tint.
Cleaning: Regular cleaning recommended
For general cleaning, I left the grill running at a high temperature for 10 minutes after finishing cooking. This action cleaned the cooking grids of any leftover residue, and a grill brush did the rest. For a deeper clean, I followed the cleaning frequency chart in the manual. I found that a vacuum cleaner, ideally something like a Shop-Vac, was quite handy in getting debris out from the firepot and bottom of the main grill. Furthermore, cleaning the outside with a scrub and soapy water removed the grease.
Price: Affordable versatility
Retailing for around $350, the Pit Boss PB440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill makes entering the world of pellet smokers affordable for everyone. It performs very well as a smoker, and except for the small area for searing, it is a fairly decent grill as well. For the versatility it offers, I would say it is a great entry-level pellet grill.
Pit Boss PB440D2 Wood Pellet Grill vs. Pit Boss Lexington 500 Wood Pellet Grill
If you are going to smoke and grill for longer durations, then the smaller hopper capacity of the Pit Boss PB440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill is going to be an inconvenience sooner or later.
The Pit Boss Lexington 500 Wood Pellet Grill, on the other hand, has a 540-square-inch cooking surface and a 15-pound hopper capacity for up to 17 hours of continuous smoking. It also comes with an internal meat probe to track doneness. Design-wise, you will be trading off the side shelf, which is handy for keeping things organized.
A good budget option.
If you are looking to get started on pellet grills, the Pit boss PB440D2 Mahogany Wood Pellet Grill is versatile and affordable for a beginner cook or small family. It eliminates the need to have a separate smoker and a grill.
- Product Name PB440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill
- Product Brand Pit Boss
- Price $349.00
- Weight 87.08 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 24.02 x 38.19 x 50 in.
- Color Mahogany
- Material Heavy-duty steel
- Grilling Area 518 square inches
- Hopper Capacity 5 pounds
- Warranty 1-year warranty against defects, workmanship and electrical components