Wood pellet grills, or pellet smokers, 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 generally cook at temperatures between 150 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning that you can smoke foods at low temperatures or sear foods at higher temperatures. Plus, 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.
To find the best pellet smokers available today, we purchased several top-rated models for our expert food writers to test at home, and to test in our Lab. We looked at factors such as their setup process, heat control, heat retention, and size, using each grill to cook a wide range of foods and rating its performance accordingly. We also were able to experience the delivery process for each grill, which can be somewhat complicated due to their large size.
Whether you're a novice griller who wants to try something new or a seasoned smoking enthusiast, here are the best pellet smokers, according to our testing data.
Best Overall: Traeger TBB86RLG Timberline Pellet Grill
Excellent heat retention and heat conduction
Intuitive touchscreen controls
Bluetooth & Wi-Fi capabilities
Interior motion-sensor light
Can run on the cold side
What do buyers say? 55+ Traeger Grills reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Traeger might've outdone itself with the latest version of the Timberline. This model comes with 880 square inches of cooking space, a 22-pound hopper, three tiers of grates, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities, and temperature probes designed by Meater. Add to that induction side burner for safety, a motion-sensor internal light for nighttime grilling, plus it can be adapted to a built-in, if that's more in line with your patio's aesthetic.
It seems too good to be true, but when we tested this in our Lab, it performed heads-and-shoulders above the competition (save one minor flaw). From the very beginning, this was super-easy to assemble, and the intuitive touchscreen control panel lets you get started almost right out of the box. Once our testers started lighting up this grill, they struggled to find any weaknesses.
During all our tests, the first thing they looked for was hot spots, but the Timberline's design allows for smoke to circulate throughout grill preventing any hot spots from forming. Afterward, while tasting the final steaks, pizza, and chicken wings, the Timberline's moderate blue smoke translated to an appetizing smokey flavor. In the end, this pellet grill produced the juiciest pork shoulder and an evenly browned, perfectly crisp pizza. It was one of the simplest to clean with both an ash bucket and a pellet bucket, plus a light scrape down of the grates.
We even loved that the hopper is appropriately sized and the grill is efficient with burning pellets! We got through all of our shorter tests without once needing a refill. The minor flaw we did come across is that you might need to set your desired temperature a little higher than a recipe calls for. Our testers noticed it ran about 20 degrees colder than the setting, but turning up the dial brought everything to temp.
Price at time of publish: $3,500
Dimensions: 59 x 25 x 51 inches | Weight: 238 pounds | Grilling Area: 880 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 22 pounds | Temperature Range: 165-500 degrees Fahrenheit
"The Timberline can handle any task with ease. This grill performed consistently and almost perfectly throughout all 3 tests, so there isn't much you can't do on this particular grill."
Best Weber: Weber Smokefire EX4 Wood Fired Pellet Grill
Simple to operate, even for beginners
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 has a temperature range of 200 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for grilling as well as smoking, and it's equipped with Weber Connect technology, which allowed us to monitor the grill temperature, recipe progress, and temperature probes from a distance in both our at-home and Lab testing.
With close to 700 square inches of cooking space, the Weber Pellet Grill has plenty of room for large cuts of meat or a ton of burgers, and all of our testers thought it was easy to start and convenient to operate, as the two included probes keep tabs on the doneness of food. The stainless steel flavorizer bars made for extra tasty meats, including nicely charred chicken wings and a crispy edge to our Lab's pizza. There was one issue from Lab testing—too much ash collected during our long smoke test. The final pork butt was still tasty and delicious, though the testers did have to take time for a tricky clean out.
The large 20-pound pellet hopper allows you to cook for long periods of time without needing to refill the pellets, but in the event you want to swap in a different flavor, there's a release door that allows the pellets to drain out of the bottom of the grill. 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. For a grill with all the added features, look no further than this thoughtfully designed model.
Price at time of publish: $1,199
Dimensions: 30.3 x 43.5 x 31.3 inches | Weight: 170 pounds | Grilling Area: 672 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 20 pounds | Temperature Range: 200-600 degrees Fahrenheit
"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 for Smoking: Traeger Ironwood 885 WiFi Pellet Grill and Smoker
Temperature stays consistent for hours
Wi-Fi abilities are reliable and convenient
Delivers extremely even cooking
Hopper cleanout door makes it easy to switch pellets
Slow to heat up
If you spend time grilling and smoking every weekend, the high-end Traeger Ironwood 885 is a worthwhile splurge for your home. The Spruce Eats received a free unit for at-home testing and found that the heavy-duty grill delivered impressively consistent results, outcomes verified by our Lab with its testing. While it doesn't come cheap, this pellet grill offers a wide range of convenient features that make it a joy to use, and it's versatile enough to replace all your other outdoor cooking tools.
The Ironwood grill boasts 885 square inches of cooking space across two racks, and it can hold up to 20 pounds of wood pellets in its hopper, which has a trap door that allows you to easily empty it. Its temperature can be set anywhere between 165 and 500 degrees, and in both home and Lab testing, the grill did an unbeatable job maintaining a consistent temperature for hours, never straying more than 10 degrees from its set temperature, even with the lid open. There were also no hot spots across the grill, which led to a nice golden pizza crust in the Lab.
We did notice some issues when heating up. Our home tester's model would take up 10 to 15 minutes to heat up, while our Lab's model would heat up quickly and then cool off, preventing the testers from getting a good sear. Additionally, the "Super Smoke" setting didn't seem to produce any extra smoke but the Lab's chicken wings did end up flavorful.
Another one of this grill's selling points is its Wi-Fi capabilities, which allowed us to monitor and adjust the grill and its temperature probe from anywhere. The app can even follow a recipe automatically, adjusting the temperature after a set period of time, so you don't have to monitor the smoker all day. How's that for fancy?
Price at time of publish: $1,600
Dimensions: 53 x 27 x 47 inches | Weight: 175 pounds | Grilling Area: 885 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 20 pounds | Temperature Range: 165-500 degrees Fahrenheit
"Traeger grills are for the people who genuinely love grilling. The flavored wood is spectacular, and you can cook literally anything on it. It has digital features that make it easy enough for anyone to use and as a Jamaican chef myself if I have my family around and want to make some jerk chicken or some shrimp, I could fire up my Traeger grill because of how quick and easy it is to use." — Wayne Sharpe, Co-Founder and Executive Chef at Jrk!
Best Budget: Z Grills 450A Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
Affordable price point
Food is extremely flavorful
Maintains consistent heat
Comes with rain cover
Prep tables are too small
Doesn’t get hot enough to sear
For those who want a pellet grill to create delicious smoked foods, the Z Grills ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Grill is a budget-friendly option. It has a modest temperature range of 180 to 450 degrees, and during our at-home testing, we found that this pellet smoker shined when it came to smoking pork at a low temperature, yielding an absolutely delicious, flavorful meat.
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. It can hold up to 15 pounds of wood pellets at a time, and we liked that it comes with a cover, which is essential for protecting the hopper from the elements when left outside. The grill did take quite a while to preheating in our testing—sometimes as long as 20 minutes—but it managed to maintain consistent heat within 15 degrees of its set temperature, even in windy conditions. And while it did grill up delectable burgers and steaks, it doesn't get quite hot enough to get a good sear.
Price at time of publish: $472
Dimensions: 45 x 28 x 49 inches | Weight: 84 pounds | Grilling Area: 450 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 15 pounds | Temperature Range: 180-450 degrees Fahrenheit
"The pork smoked at 250 for around 7 hours, and the grill did a perfect job maintaining its heat, even though it was somewhat windy. There wasn’t a ton of smoke given off at 250 degrees, but the end result was still packed with flavor and fall-off-the-bone tender." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Best for Entertaining: Pit Boss 1150G Wood Pellet Grill
Built-in front and side shelves
Cover is included
Digital control board
Possible inconsistent temperatures
With a whopping 1158 square inches of grilling space, the Pit Boss 1150G Wood Pellet Grill is ideal for entertaining. Whether your friends or family enjoy eating carne asada, baby back ribs, or freshly caught walleye, there is more than ample space to cook everyone’s favorite foods. With porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grids and a digital control board, everything will come out as delicious as possible.
Looking for convenience? This grill most certainly has it. There are included stainless-steel meat probes so you know when your food is done cooking. The front folding shelf gives you extra space for platters of cooked or uncooked food. Better yet, built-in tool hooks mean you don’t need to interrupt your cooking or conversation to grab that extra set of tongs. It even comes with a cover, so you won’t need to purchase a separate one, or store the appliance indoors when not in use. Some reviewers do mention that the built-in thermometer can be inaccurate, so it's wise to have a separate one.
Price at time of publish: $852
Dimensions: 63.86 x 37.01 x 47.05 inches | Weight: 185.19 pounds | Grilling Area: 1158 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 32 pounds | Temperature Range: 180-500 degrees Fahrenheit
“If you’re an individual that enjoys hosting family gatherings or barbecues, you would enjoy pellet smokers and all the features that come with it. They are simple and easy to use. The feature I appreciate the most is the fact that the pellet grills are not powered by charcoal but by flavored wood pellets that, in my opinion, work better and more efficiently for flavor.” — Wayne Sharpe, Co-Founder and Executive Chef at Jrk!
Best Portable: Cuisinart CPG-256 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
Heats up to 500 degrees
Real-time temperature display
Locking lid with handle
Possible issues with the water/wood chip pan
Whether you’re camping, tailgating, or simply prefer a compact wood pellet grill because you don’t have a lot of storage space, you’ll love the Cuisinart CPG-256 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker. You can trust Cuisinart to prove that a smaller size doesn't necessarily mean fewer features. With the capability to smoke, barbecue, bake, roast, grill, braise, sear, and char-grill, this 45-pound grill is one of the most versatile options on the market. So you can cook whatever you're craving, no matter where you are.
The locking lid and carrying handle make this grill incredibly convenient to use. The auto-start ignition means you’ll never be fumbling to get the grill lit, while a real-time temperature display and digital auto temperature control lets you know exactly what’s happening inside the hood. With a 4-pound hopper capacity (that’s covered with a snap-shut lid to boot), you’ll be able to grill up your favorites on the go.
Price at time of publish: $350
Dimensions: 24.7 x 18.9 x 14.9 inches | Weight: 39.6 pounds | Grilling Area: 256 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 4 pounds | Temperature Range: 180-500 degrees Fahrenheit
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.
Price at time of publish: $554
Dimensions: 26 x 22 x 53 inches | Weight: 97 pounds | Grilling Area: 901 square inches | Hopper Capacity: 40 pounds | Temperature Range: 150-400 degrees Fahrenheit
According to our testing, the Traeger TBB86RLG Timberline Pellet Grill outperforms all other pellet grills, no matter what we were cooking up. The Weber SmokeFire EX4 (2nd Gen) Wood Fired Pellet Grill, meanwhile, is an unbeatable choice for both beginners and experienced grillers.
How We Tested
To test these pellet smokers, we sent them directly to the homes of our expert food and grilling writers. Our reviewers spent weeks using them to see how they stood up to a variety of cooking tasks, from everyday grilling to smoking meat and more. They were also able to offer additional insights including how quickly the products shipped, how easy they were to set up and store, and more. After testing, our writers submitted their feedback about what they liked and didn’t like and rated each one on the following factors: setup, heat retention, heat control, size, and features.
Other Options We Tested
- Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill: Our former budget pick didn't hold up to our standards after testing in our Lab. We liked that it connects to Wi-Fi and that the hopper doesn't need constant refilling. But it performed poorly at the actual grilling and searing, and its design left much to be desired.
- Z Grills Multitasker 11002B with Wi-Fi: On paper, this pellet grill looks like it has everything you need. Its enormous 1068-square-inch capacity can feed a crowd, plus there's a cornucopia of features including smart tech and multiple temperature probes. But in our Lab, the issues started with an intense assembly process. During tests, the grill's inefficient heat retention, and copious amounts of smoke didn't translate into smokey flavor.
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.
It was updated by Amanda Lauren, a seasoned writer and foodie. She loves smoked meats and veggies, especially when someone else does the cooking.
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.
- Wayne Sharpe, Co-Founder and Executive Chef at Jrk! in Aventura, Florida