Large grilling surface
Expensive for novice smokers
Z Grills got its start making private-label products for other grill companies including Traeger before introducing a branded line of smokers in 2017. Now available across the country in stores including Home Depot and Walmart, the company’s lower-cost, quality products have made an impression on the pellet smoker market in a short period of time. The Z Grills 700D Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is one of its larger and more expensive offerings, but at around $600, it’s still hundreds cheaper than similar high-end competitor grills. We gave it a go at our Colorado home, cooking up burgers, brats, steaks and more for a crowd.
Setup: Tool-free build and seasoning
The Z Grills 700D Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is on-par with an IKEA furniture project in terms of the skill required and tools needed to assemble. Technically, it comes with basic tools including small stamped metal wrenches and a magnetic screwdriver, which should be all you need to get the 700D up and running. However, having our own ratchet set saved us time on some tasks.
The default aesthetic for most smokers is a matte black that hides smoke residue, but the splashes of bronze made this smoker a more attractive fixture on our deck.
Because the grill includes an under-grill storage area, legs and wheels, the assembly took us a decent amount of time. The straight-forward process is led by drawn technical diagrams and instructions that shouldn’t be a challenge for the moderately handy individual. However, the sheer number of parts and steps meant that we needed to set aside at least an hour for the build. If you buy the grill in-person from a big box store, there’s a possibility you can get a pre-assembled model and avoid this step.
Once assembled, we had to season the grill (like most smokers) to burn off any oils and manufacturing residues and prior to putting food in the smoker. This process was well-explained and didn’t take more than the recommended 45 minutes.
Design: Not your average matte black barrel
The The Z Grills 700D Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker stands out in a lineup of barrel-style wood pellet grills mostly for its liberal use of brass-colored coating on both the stainless steel grill door and hopper cover as well as the under-grill storage area. The default aesthetic for most smokers is a matte black that hides smoke residue, but the splashes of bronze made this smoker a more attractive fixture on our deck.
The under-grill storage area features magnetically secured doors that swing out from the center and make use of space that many smokers waste. We used it to store extra pellets and protect them from the elements, which can easily ruin them.
Other small touches, such as stamped letters on the front reading “WOOD PELLET GRILLS,” make the Z Grills 700D feel thought-out and custom. Plus, the foil-ready grease outlet is easier to clean than the default galvanized metal grease bucket included with most smokers.
Performance: Standard pellet smoker performance
The The Z Grills 700D Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker features a mostly standard digital electric controller with an oven-style temperature knob. This knob offers a “Smoke” setting and temperatures ranging from 180 to 450 degrees.
The 20-pound pellet hopper functions like most pellet smokers: A gravity feed into a computer-controlled auger adds pellets to the firebox as needed to maintain the desired temperature.
We cranked the grill up to cook burgers, brats, and steaks and we found that it heated surprisingly fast for a pellet smoker.
Anyone who has used older Traeger pellet smokers or any of the many copycats will be comfortable with the simple controls and behavior of this grill. The controller senses temperature changes and adds pellets or pauses based on whether it’s low or high. It’s not an exact mechanism, so the actual temperature can be off the set temperature by as much as 60 degrees in either direction. But while it swings, it swings somewhat reliably. We didn’t experience any errors due to the hopper not feeding or the firebox overheating with too many pellets.
We cranked the grill up to cook burgers, brats, and steaks and we found that it heated surprisingly fast for a pellet smoker, reaching 400 in about 10 minutes. That warm-up time is still slower than most gas grills, but the improved flavor from smoke is worth the wait.
When we tested with a separate grill thermometer, the 700D didn’t appear to have any “hot spots.” Temperatures from different parts of the grill usually read within 10 degrees of each other. Hot spots can result in some food getting cooked faster than others, depending on placement. As far as readout accuracy, the temperatures on the grill grates were usually 10-15 degrees lower than the displayed temperature.
Price: Cheaper, but not cheap
The price tag of around $600 may not seem low to new smoker cooks, but given that higher-end Traeger smokers now retail for over $2,000, the Z Grills 700D is squarely in the budget range. For an outdoor cook who wants a larger, quality grill without spending $1,000 or more, the 700D is a great buy.
If you’re a novice smoker just looking to get started, it might be wiser to start with a smaller grill from Z Grills or another brand that offers the same style of cooking at a lower price point. The Z Grills 550B is essentially the same grill, but it has 25 percent less cooking space and costs around $400. The Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill is a smaller style that is roughly $450.
Z Grills 700D Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker vs. Camp Chef SmokePro SG Pellet Grill
The Z Grills 700D is a great buy at $600 compared to many more expensive brands, however, the Camp Chef SmokePro SG offers some features that the 700D lacks for around $50 more and may be attractive to some backyard cooks.
The SmokePro SG features a bit more cooking space at around 800 square inches, and the addition of dual built-in meat probes is a nice feature that could save you from purchasing a separate meat probe thermometer. Additionally, the SmokePro features two settings missing from the 700D: 160-degree low-smoke and 225-degree high-smoke modes.
More is not always better, however, and cooks that don’t need the extra bells and whistles may appreciate the streamlined controls of the Z Grills 700D.
- Product Name 700D Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
- Product Brand Z Grills
- SKU ZPG-700D
- Price $599
- Grilling Area 694 sq. in.
- Hopper Capacity 20 lbs.
- Warranty 3 year