Best Wood Pellet Grills

Best Wood Pellet Grills for the Money

Pellet grilling systems are not for everyone. There are a couple of affordable models on the market, but even they are more expensive than gas or charcoal units. However, for some people, having the fanciest BBQ in the neighborhood is a matter of prestige. If that is the case and you are looking for a genuine high-end unit, take a look at the Memphis Grills Pro Wood Fire Pellet Smoker Grill. It is undoubtedly one of the best wood pellet grills for the money available these days.

This unit is incredibly massive and one of the heaviest I have seen in the grilling world. It weighs no less than 213 pounds, but there is a good reason for that. It is made of commercial grade 304 stainless steel. It is incredibly sturdy, and there is absolutely no chance of someone accidentally knocking it over. The durability of the unit is unmatchable, and you can rest assured that it will last for decades.

The dimensions of the product are somewhat standard – 57 x 29 x 47 inches. However, the manufacturer took a different approach when it comes to the design of the unit. They went with a traditional look that reminds more of gas-fueled grills. There are side tables on both sides of the central unit. The entire product stands on a cart equipped with four casters for added mobility.

The enclosed cabinet provides extra storage space, but you should keep in mind that it’s also where the hopper is located. The capacity of the hopper is 18 pounds. It depends on the temperature you use, but you can expect at least 15 hours of grilling with a full hopper. While we are on the topic of heat, let’s mention that you can adjust it from 180F to 650F. The digital controller is located on the left side of the unit. It only takes a couple of clicks to program it any way you desire.

The beauty of the Memphis Grills Pro Wood Fire Pellet Smoker Grill is that it can also be controlled via Wi-Fi connection. All you need to do is to download the app for your mobile phone (supports both Android and iOS). After that, you can sit in that chair in front of the TV and monitor the unit from afar. In the end, let’s just mention that the cooking surface of this unit spreads to 562 square inches. That is enough for all your food endeavors, including baking a pizza and grilling some burgers for the entire neighborhood. However, if you think you need extra space, you can purchase a second grate with additional 272 square inches.

Top Rated Wood Pellet Grills

The previous model I mentioned is genuinely high-end, but if we want to talk about a manufacturer that customers trust the most, it is definitely Traeger. Several of their BBQ systems belong to the top rated wood pellet grills category, but I would like to focus on Texas Elite 34 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker. This is one of their best-selling units and for a good reason.

It provides 646 square inches of cooking space. That should secure food for 10-12 people, which means that you can plan your next barbecue party real soon. The temperature ranges from as low as 140F to as high as 450F. You will notice the digital controller on the left front side of the unit. You can adjust the temperature in 25-degree increments. The critical thing is that the thermostat is accurate. Traeger emphasizes that the temperature is always around 20 degrees from the set level. That enables consistent heat and finely-cooked food every time you use the unit. Thanks to the broad temperature range, you have six cooking options at your disposal – barbecuing, grilling, roasting, smoking, braising, and baking.

Starting the unit is also a piece of cake. All you have to do is to hit the on/off switch, and your Traeger Texas Elite 34 will be ready to go. The hopper capacity is 18 pounds but keep in mind one thing. The manufacturer requires you to use the pellets that they produce. You can choose between a dozen of different flavors which is a good thing. The bad news is that the warranty will be voided if you use other types of pellets. Fortunately, the wood that Trager provides is of exceptional quality and worth every cent.

When it comes to design, it’s a barrel-like grill with the controller mounted on the left. The entire construction is made of heavy-duty steel. The powder coating gives the Texas Elite that stylish and classy look and improves its resistance to rust. The unit doesn’t weigh that much either, with its weight set at 125 pounds. There are four wheels on the bottom, and two of them can be locked for increased stability. Otherwise, you can get the product moving by pushing it around.

Best Portable Wood Pellet Grills

You won’t find many pellet BBQ systems that are considered to have high portability on the market. However, there is one unit that we need to single out from the crowd. Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill is one of the best portable wood pellet grills you can find. It is compact in both size and weight. The dimensions are 32 x 16.5 x 21 inches, while it weighs 57 pounds. It might be a bit more than you are used to for a portable unit, but keep in mind that this is an incredibly powerful and versatile small grill.

It comes with steel legs that increase stability when placed on a flat surface. The legs are foldable, and they double as carrying handles to make the transport more comfortable. Basically, this unit offers anything you might expect from a wood pellet grill, but in a compact size. The only thing that cannot compare to standard-sized units is the available cooking space. However, the grilling area had to be reduced to increase portability, and the product overcomes that with the fact that you can take it tailgating or camping.

The temperature range is impressively broad, which makes this grill as versatile as any other fueled by wood pellets. The manufacturer named the feature that monitors the temperature inside the cook box Sense-Mate. Thanks to it, consistent heat is secured across the entire cooking surface. You also get a meat probe, and I was thrilled by the fact that there is a tray that you can use to set aside a platter you don’t use. There are even hooks intended for utensils.

It’s also worth mentioning that the lid of the Green Mountain Davy Crockett Pellet Grill is peaked so that it can accommodate rib racks and fowl such as chicken. I saved the best for last. Even though it is compact and portable, you can control this unit by using Wi-Fi internet connection, which is an incredible addition for the price.

Best Wood Pellet Grills Under $500

Wood-fueled grilling systems might be more expensive than alternatives that use other fuels, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find affordable models. Traeger designed its Tailgater 20 Pellet Grill with the intention of becoming one of the best wood pellet grills under $500. It’s interesting to note that it is available in two different colors – bronze and blue.

Although it is a cheaper option than some other grills designed by the same company, this unit has all benefits that come with using wood pellets. The flavor of the food will be unique and unmatchable. Keep in mind that you need to use only Traeger’s hardwood to keep the warranty active, but you will have a choice of 100% pure hardwood of more than ten flavors.

You can adjust the temperature up to 450F with the digital controller set in the front of the unit. Once you choose the desired temperature, the only thing remaining is to turn the unit on. The rest will be taken care of by the Tailgater 20 Pellet Grill itself. It will automatically monitor the temperature and add more pellet if needed to maintain it at the desired level. While we are on the topic, let’s mention that the hopper capacity is 8 pounds, which should be enough for 8-10 hours of grilling. That all depends on the cooking choices you make and the temperature you choose. You have six different options at your disposal – smoking, barbecuing, roasting, baking, braising, and grilling.

The cooking surface spreads to 300 square inches. It might not sound too much, but it is enough for the average BBQ crowd of four to six people. The unit weighs 62 pounds and measures 36 x 37 x 18 inches. It comes with four legs and two wheels for increased mobility. The unique feature of this model is that the legs are foldable. That enables you to pack it in your trunk and take it to a tailgating party or even camping.

Advantages of Wood Pellet Grills

Let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with the benefits that come with purchasing and using a wood pellet grill.

Choose Your Desired Flavor

Wood pellets are available in more than a dozen of different flavors. Some of them include maple, hickory, pecan, apple, and cherry. You can test and see which flavor suits you best. However, if you ask experts, any of them will still provide a better taste than food prepared on gas and charcoal grills.

And the best part is that you can mix and match. What is to stop you from combining some apple with hickory pellets? Just imagine how much room you have to experiment and find the flavor that suits you the most.

Incredibly Convenient

Most of wood pellet grills’ manufacturers have the same thing as a priority when designing their product – convenience. That is why they are proud to state that their grilling system can be programmed to “set it and forget it” mode. The truth is that controlling a wood pellet grill is a piece of cake. The only thing expected from you is to purchase some high-quality pellets and add them to the unit. Once you are done with that, choose the desired heat settings and let the grill do its magic. You can go inside and watch some TV or talk to your family and friends. The unit will inform you once it is done and you can serve food.

Consistent at All Times

Adjusting the desired temperature is simple, but what is impressive is how wood pellet grills manage to maintain that level of heat at all times. In fact, the integrated thermostat is incredibly accurate. In some cases, you can even adjust the heat in increments as low as 5F. Because a pellet grilling system acts like a convection oven, it is able to maintain the same temperature throughout the entire cook box. They are automatically monitoring the heat. In case there is the need to increase it, pellets are automatically added for that purpose. That is why you can whip up a perfectly grilled steak over and over again.

Impressive Versatility

If you are using a wood pellet BBQ system, you will have no less than six cooking options at your disposal. These units have a broad temperature range that can go from as low as 160F to as high as 800F. In layman’s terms, pellet grills are perfect for your classic grilling needs. However, they are also ideal for smoking, braising, and even roasting an entire chicken.

Thanks to the fact that they behave like an oven, you can also bake things in wood pellet units. If you thought about pizza now, the answer is yes. You can even bake a pizza on your grill, which is nothing short of phenomenal. I will also name some of the other options available, such as steak searing, or slow-roasting a turkey. The truth is that only your creativity is the limit with wood pellet grilling systems.

How a Pellet Grill Works

I’m sure you found out a lot of useful things about wood pellet grills, but you are still wondering how they work. You can find some videos on YouTube that show this, but let’s try to explain it in writing. The best way to do that is to divide the entire process into sections.

Since pellet grills are fueled by hardwood, you will first need to purchase the fuel. I recommend using only 100% natural and high-quality pellets that secure a delicious taste of the food. You add wood to the hopper, which can vary in capacity from 5 to 20 pounds. The default size is considered to be 18 pounds, which should be enough for at least 20 hours of cooking.

Once you’ve added the pellets to the hopper, head to the front of the unit and see where the digital controller is located. This is where you start the product and select the desired temperature. Adjusting the level of heat depends on what you plan to cook. If you want a smoke some meat, I suggest low temperatures of about 180F. However, if you need some quickly-grilled burgers, you can set it at 400F or more.

That is where your participation ends. The auger will ignite the fire by pulling the pellets into the firepot below the grates. The induction fan is tasked with stoking the fire, while a hot rod ignites pellets that were transferred into the fire pot. Thanks to the fan mentioned above, the heat, and smoke both circulate around the cook box. That is how even temperature is achieved throughout the entire firebox.

The temperature is monitored automatically by an integrated thermostat. In case it falls below the level you set, the auger activates again to pull some more pellets into the fire pot. That is how the temperature once again gets increased to your desired level. The only thing remaining for you to do now is to wait for your meal to be done and serve it on a plate.

How to Choose the Right Pellet Grill

Overall, it’s hard to go wrong when purchasing a wood pellet grill. However, some models are better than the others. But what is more important, some units are more suitable to your preference than others. Let’s take a look at things you need to consider when making a purchase.

Quality of Construction

The first thing you need to consider is the materials used in constructing the unit. You can’t make a mistake if you choose high-quality 304 or 490 stainless steel. These materials are heavy-duty and durable, and they will undoubtedly last for years. If you don’t consider yourself an expert on the issue, perhaps it is a good idea to check the warranty. If a manufacturer offers a general warranty (at least five years) that is a clear indicator that they trust the product they designed. However, if there is no warranty available, take that as a guarantee that the parts will begin to rust quickly and stay away from those units.

How High Can You Go with the Heat?

One of the most significant advantages of pellet grills is their broad temperature range. Almost every unit is perfect for smoking and slow-roasting thanks to the fact that the lowest point of heat goes as low as 150F. However, you need to worry about the highest heat point. Yes, 450 degrees is more than enough for grilling, baking, and braising. Those are incredibly versatile units with plenty of cooking options.

But what if you wish for searing marks on your steak? That is not something that can be done at 450F. You will need at least 550F or more to sear the meat. Fortunately, there are models whose temperature range reaches that point. So, if you are a fan of searing, make sure to look for them.

Digital Controller Type

Aside from the broad temperature range, you need to ensure that you can accurately adjust the heat to your desired level. Unfortunately, not all wood pellet grills allow that. Some of them only have controllers with three heat positions. That includes high (425F), medium (325F), and low (225F) settings. However, some types of food require precise adjusting of the heat somewhere between these levels.

That is why you should choose digital controllers with no more than +/- 25F increments. That way you will also ensure that the thermostat that monitors the heat works right. It will keep the temperature in those increments, which will enable consistent heat and therefore delicious meals for you and your BBQ visitors.

Cooking Space

This depends on two factors – what type of food you plan to prepare and how many people you want to serve. For example, if you plan to roast a rib rack, you might need a lot of space. But if you only want to do basic grilling and some pizza baking, the moderate cooking surface will be more than enough. It is advisable to get approximately 450 square inches of grilling area for a four-person family. If you plan to host large parties, you will need more than that. But if you are a couple or single, even less than that will do.

Wi-Fi Control

We’ve reached the point where advanced technologies are included into grilling. Some of wood pellet models available today have Wi-Fi control feature integrated. That enables you to monitor and adjust the heat of your unit by using internet connection. It feels nice to sit in your chair in front of the TV or be on the other side of the yard and change the temperature of the grill. However, keep in mind that this is an extra feature that you might not need so you might skip it if you are looking to save some money.

William N. Russell