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If you’re looking for the ultimate pellet grill to take your outdoor cooking space to the next level, there are tons of high-end options on the market for your summer entertaining needs. What sets a pellet smoker (also referred to as a pellet grill) apart from charcoal grills, gas grills, and smokers is that this is an electronic device that is fueled by wood pellets.
These wood pellets are known for imparting smoky, rich flavor onto whatever you’re cooking, and they leave behind almost no waste, making them a breeze to clean up. Pellet grills can cook at temperatures between 150 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning that you can smoke foods at low temperatures or sear foods at higher temperatures. Because these machines are operated electronically, it’s much easier to control and maintain temperatures than if you were using a charcoal grill or traditional smoker.
Here, the best pellet smokers.
Best Overall: Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill
Lightweight and compact
Included portable power options
Learning curve on temperature interface
Some design quirks
There is so much to enjoy with this pellet smoker, but one of the best features that it offers is the ability to control and monitor the temperature of the smoker from inside the house thanks to the portable Wi-Fi control feature. This feature gives you the ability to control the temperature all through the touch of your smartphone.
With 210 square inches of cooking, the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett smoker has plenty of space for big groups and entertaining. The legs can open and close, making it super easy to transport in a compact and easy manner. The meat probe allows you to monitor the temperature of the interior of your foods. A peaked lid makes for an easy fix when smoking things like rib racks, and there is a large side tray with utensil hooks and a thermal sensor. Comparatively speaking, this grill is on the smaller side, but the “smart” capabilities make it an easy and convenient addition to your outdoor cooking toys.
"The grill's included cable options meant I was ready to smoke anywhere I could imagine connecting to power." — Justin Park, Product Tester
Best Splurge: Weber SmokeFire EX4 (2nd Gen) Wood Fired Pellet Grill
Lots of automation
App is easy to use
App doesn't always allow customization
Only two probes included
For a high-performing pellet smoker with all the bells and whistles, this Weber model is a top contender. It can cook anywhere from 200 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit and you can use the Weber Connect technology to control the temperatures remotely (two separate meat probes are included with an LCD display). With close to 700 square inches of cooking space, you have plenty of room for large cuts of meat or a ton of burgers. The stainless steel flavorizer bars make for extra tasty meats and the grease tray allows for super quick and easy cleanup.
The large 20-pound capacity hopper allows you to cook for long periods of time without needing to refill the pellets. Convenient side handles and a porcelain-enameled lid provide convenience and durability, while the locking wheels allow you to slide the smoker around between uses, if necessary. For a grill with all the added features, look no further than this over performer.
"Thanks to WiFi, it’s possible to monitor the grill temperature, recipe progress, and temperature probes from a distance, so there’s no need to hover over the grill to see what’s going on." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Vertical: Pit Boss Copper PBV3P1 Vertical Pellet Smoker
Uses a probe to monitor temperatures
Large hopper for 24+ hours of cooking
Uses vertical space efficiently
No grilling/high-heat capabilities
Vertical smokers offer a lot of cooking space without taking up all of your outdoor cooking area. If you’re not interested in using your pellet grill for high-heat cooking and want to focus mainly on smoking, this is a great option. This smoker allows you to monitor internal temperatures with a probe and digital LED readout. Not to mention, the 40-pound hopper gives you more than 24 hours of cooking, so you can definitely slow cook things overnight without worrying about your wood pellets running out. If low and slow meats are your priority, then this smoker is going to become your next outdoor cooking companion.
With a temperature range of 150 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, you can easily achieve all your smoking and oven roasting temperatures. Auto shutoff is a great safety feature to ensure that the machine cools down slowly and carefully. The porcelain-coated cooking racks are also extremely durable and heat evenly. Reviewers are impressed by how easy it is to assemble and use.
Best for Beginners: Z GRILLS ZPG-450A 2020 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
Easy to set and maintain temperature
Large hopper for long cook times
No Wi-Fi capabilities
Cannot go hotter than 450°F
If you're intimidated by pellet smokers, this one has all the features to ensure the process is simple for beginners. The woodfire technology of this Z GRILLS pellet smoker makes it super easy to set and maintain your desired cooking temperature. Also, having a large hopper like this one has can make it much easier to maintain and cook with your pellet grill because you’re not constantly worried about refilling it. If low and slow cooking is a priority, the 15-pound capacity hopper on this model will more than suffice. This also means you can cook things overnight without the need to replenish the wood pellets.
The Z GRILLS Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker is also extremely versatile so you don't have to worry about being limited for your outdoor BBQs. The temperature range is 180 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which gives you the option to grill, smoke, bake, roast, sear, braise, barbecue, and char-grill. A foldable working shelf gives you added surface area for prep. Plus, locking wheels allow you to move the grill around and lock it in place when you’re ready to use it.
This grill also includes a cover and racks, so you don’t have to worry about keeping it safe while it’s outside or buying any additional grill racks for cooking. With 450 square inches of cooking space, this pellet grill is a great size for families and fits nicely into a humble outdoor cooking area.
Best Traeger: Traeger Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill & Smoker
Easy hopper clean-out
6-in-1 cooking options
Large temperature range
No Wi-Fi capabilities
Known for smokers and grills, Traeger makes a slew of great products for all of your outdoor cooking needs. This particular grill and smoker gives you the option to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, or BBQ whatever it is that you’re cooking. With 572 square inches of cooking space, you can cook four chickens, five racks of ribs, or 24 burgers all at once. The hopper cleanout options make for simple cleanup that you can’t beat.
The steel construction is undeniably durable, so there’s no need to worry if you’re keeping the grill in a location that’s subject to intense weather and outdoor conditions. While this particular model is not equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities, it still offers reliable temperature monitoring. Reviewers love the steady, even heat that never produces any unwanted flareups.
Best for Entertaining: Oklahoma Joe's Rider Deluxe Pellet Grill in Black
1,200+ square inches of cooking
175°F to 650°F temperature range
20-pound wood pellet capacity
No Bluetooth capabilities
No pellet purge system
If you’re in need of a whole lot of surface area for cooking, then this grill has what you need. With over 1,200 square inches of cooking, Oklahoma Joe's Rider Deluxe has the capacity to cook a ton of food at once. The tall-body smoke chamber offers premium capacity and two levels of cooking on porcelain-coated cast iron grates. Whether you’ll be cooking large cuts of meat or just a whole lot of food at one time, this smoker can accommodate a huge amount of food.
Aside from its large size and unparalleled capacity, it also offers a bunch of other noteworthy features. The pit control system affords you smart, high-tech cooking while monitoring the internal temperatures of the foods that you’re cooking. Removable ash cups allow for easy cleanup and heat-proof handles ensure you won’t accidentally burn yourself while maneuvering the grill. A convenient front shelf and towel bar give you added room for food prep and storage. Wagon-style wheels give you the choice to cart the grill around, if needed, and lock it in place when it’s time to use it.
Best Tabletop: Traeger Ranger Pellet Grill and Smoker in Black
Easy to transport
Cannot control temperature digitally
No grease pan
For a pellet smoker that won’t take up your entire outdoor entertaining space, this compact model is a great option. You can prop this up on a table outside easily or bring it on your next outdoor adventure. The 8-pound hopper is quite large considering the humble size of the grill. The grill also comes with an optional griddle that you can use for eggs, breakfast meats, and pancakes if desired. Reviewers love how easy it is to transport, noting that the grill probably burns about a pound of wood per hour, so you should be set with one full hopper for a weekend of cooking.
Because of the lack of a grease tray, reviewers recommend staying on top of the maintenance by vacuuming out dust and wiping away residual grease. Though you lose some of the added features and high-temperature capabilities that other grills offer, you cannot beat the ease of transporting this one.
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Smoker is lightweight, portable, and affordable, yet it still delivers delicious, flavorful meat, making it our top choice among pellet smokers. Or, for a high-end model with ample automation, consider the Weber SmokeFire EX4 (2nd Gen) Wood Fired Pellet Grill, which offers a wide temperature range for cooking a variety of foods.
What to Look for When Buying a Pellet Smoker
While the actual temperatures that a grill can achieve depend partly on ambient temperature and weather, if you want to cook at extremely high or low temperatures, it’s good to check out the grill’s rated temperatures to make sure you can get close to your desired cooking heat.
Pellets go into a hopper, which then feeds the fire. The larger the hopper, the less often you need to fill it. If you plan on doing a lot of low and slow cooking, a bigger hopper is a good idea. If you cook a lot of steaks, burgers, and seafood, a big hopper is much less important.
While any of these grills will cook your food well, they all have their own unique features, and their own look and feel. The sizes and shapes are different, as are the controls. Some have smart capabilities, some have better wheels for transporting, and some have easy hopper-cleanup options. When you’re spending a lot of money on a grill, it’s important to pick the one that has everything you want as well as what you need.
What is a pellet smoker?
Pellet smokers are outdoor cookers that are known for imparting a rich, wood-smoked flavor onto all of the food that it cooks. These grills typically combine smoking and grilling, and they are electric machines that run on hardwood pellets, rather than being fueled by propane. They come in a variety of different styles and sizes, depending on how you’ll plan to use the smoker. Pellet smokers heat up quickly and you don’t have to worry about potential flareups, which are common occurrences with gas grills.
How does a pellet smoker work?
Pellet smokers are fueled by wood pellets, which are also generally known as the easiest fuel to use. The pellets produce less than 1 percent of ash (significantly less than charcoals), which means that a large 40-pound bag of pellets will amount to ½ cup of ash in total. Wood pellets also provide rich, smoky flavor. Pellet smokers work by pouring wood pellets into a small compartment called the hopper. Then, these pellets are fed into a chamber by an electric-powered auger. The wood pellets ignite because of combustion, thus heating the cooking chamber. Air is brought in by small intake fans, and this combination of air, smoke, and heat creates a hot, smoky cooking area.
Are all pellet grills smokers?
Different pellet grills have different temperature capabilities, but generally speaking, pellet grills can cook at temperatures between 180 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows you to cook low and slow, or at super high heats. So yes, pellet grills can act as smokers because of their potential to cook at super low heat and with wood pellets. Some home cooks like to use their pellet grills overnight (a “set it and forget it” kind of project) so that food can cook for an extra-long time in the hot, smoky chamber. Pellet grills use an automated fuel and air system, which means it’s much easier to control their temperature than that of a traditional smoker.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Sara Tane has written nearly a dozen buying guides for The Spruce Eats, understanding what consumers and cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures. After researching gas grills, charcoal grills, budget grills, and portable grills, she can help you find the best outdoor cooking set up for your home.