The 7 Best Pellet Grills and Smokers of 2024, Expert Tested

Speaking as someone who’s been voted most likely to dig a pit, build a fire, and slow roast meats on a spit on a random Tuesday, just because I can, and have, doesn’t mean I want to. Sometimes, I just want to grill some food quickly with the wood fire taste that’s unachievable with a gas grill. Sometimes, I want to slow-smoke food and control the level of smoke imbued without being tied to the pit for hours. I might (hypothetically, of course) want to give a frozen pizza a wood oven taste when making one from scratch isn’t an option. In cases like these, pellet grills are the answer.

As the name suggests, pellet grills burn small wood pellets. Pellets ignite quickly, burn hot, and provide smoke. Most pellet grills have an electric igniter of some sort, plus a fan that creates convection and moves the smoke evenly around the inside of the cook chamber. As such, these grills heat quickly, maintain heat well, and recover temperature rapidly after you add food or open the lid — making them perfect for cooking a variety of recipes from your favorite grilling cookbooks. We put 19 pellet grills through several common cooking scenarios, assessing them in categories from assembly to heat recovery.

Best Overall

Weber Smokefire EX4 Pellet Grill

Weber Smokefire EX4 (2nd Gen) Wood Fired Pellet Grill

Amazon


The second-generation EX4 aced our grilling, smoking, and baking tests with consistent and even heating. The EX4 has excellent heat control and (more importantly) retention, thanks to its porcelain enamel finish. It can burn as hot as 600°F, and its large grilling area can accommodate about 13 burgers for high-heat grilling or three briskets for smoking. While the EX4 didn’t produce very distinct grill marks, it redeemed itself as a smoker with dark grill marks and a nice char on flank steaks after about an hour and 20 minutes of smoking. A dark, even bark formed around the pork shoulder we smoked for almost 10 hours.

The EX4 checked the boxes for easy assembly and cleanup; a bin for both grease and ash helps with the latter. The grill has an LCD display for controlling settings, and we found its app quite useful. Connected to probes, the app let us monitor and adjust the heat, and it prompted us when the time came to turn the meat. Finally, the EX4 costs about as much as the average pellet grill, which makes it a great value overall. Add this selection to the ever-evolving collection of excellent Weber grills.

Dimensions: 47 x 43 x 33 inches | Grilling Area: 672 square inches | Extra Features: Grease and ash collection system, LCD control panel, smoke boost, app-controlled

Best Splurge

Traeger Timberline Wood Pellet Grill

Traeger Timberline Wood Pellet Grill

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Cons

  • At 238 pounds, it’s heavy to move. Though not significant, the temperature hovered about 5°F less than our desired temperature during the smoking test.

The most expensive grill on this list, the Timberline has a high cost-to-value ratio. The cost is due, in part, to its double-wall construction and convection design, which paid off in the grill’s superior heat control and retention. Test after test, the Timberline stood out for the amount of smoke it gave chicken, pizza, flank steaks, and pork shoulder (the juiciest pork shoulder any of the grills produced). We like its large capacity, which can handle up to eight racks of ribs, nine chickens, or six pork butts. Three tiers of stainless steel grates allowed us to move food on and off the grill easily.

With Bluetooth probe thermometers and a touchscreen control panel, this grill monitors its ambient temperature, food temperature, and even low pellet supply in the hopper. It’s one of the best set-it-and-forget-it models on the market for grilling and smoking, and its smart features actually made cooking more enjoyable for us. If you’re inclined, the app connectivity is compatible with Amazon Alexa or Google Home.

Dimensions: 51 x 59 x 25 inches | Grilling Area: 880 square inches | Extra Features: Stainless steel racks, bamboo cutting board, pellet storage bin, Bluetooth probes

Best Value

Pit Boss Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill

Pit Boss 440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill

Amazon


Cons

  • The temperature can fluctuate, and we found a hot spot when smoking and baking. Also, the dome thermometer was out of sync with the control panel.

The Pit Boss 440 is a stripped-down, no-frills smoker grill. That isn’t a con, though. The 440 outperformed some more expensive models in heating time, retention, and temperature recovery. The grill does have some hard-to-avoid hot spots, with the firebox adjacent to the cooking space and a heat shield that doesn’t cover the entire grill. We also noted some temperature dips during our long smoke test, about 50°F below the preset temperature. These fluctuations gave pork shoulder a somewhat astringent taste. Our shorter smoking and grilling sessions, however, left meat with a smoky-clean flavor and nice sear.

A medium-sized grill, the 440 can hold about 19 burgers. If you don’t need a large cooking area and can look past a few inconsistencies, the 440 delivers good results at an unbeatable price. While it lacks built-in connectivity, an add-on device is available for purchase.

Dimensions: 40 x 50 x 24 inches | Grilling Area: 518 square inches | Extra Features: None, but Bluetooth connectivity is available as an add-on.

Best Professional Grade

Yoder Smokers Pellet Grill

Yoder Smokers YS640S Pellet Grill

All Things Barbecue


The Yoder is a workhorse of a smoker, designed for volume and efficiency. Its 20-pound pellet hopper and large grilling area speak to this: we smoked 10 pounds of chicken wings and baked multiple frozen pizzas with room to spare. This grill weighs in at a hefty 418 pounds, so, while the instructions are clear and easy to follow, it was a two-person job. Having to remove all of the grill’s internal parts for a thorough cleaning, however, soon became our biggest complaint. This behemoth is mounted on pneumatic wheels, making it surprisingly easy to move.

The time it took the Yoder to reach temperature (less than 12 minutes) and recover heat outpaced most models reviewed here. Its circuit board design responds to abnormal circumstances, such as temperature drops from loading cold meat or opening the door frequently. It may even be too efficient, as we saw temperatures race past the target by 100°F before settling back down.

We found a hot spot over the searing grate, on the top of the firebox, which didn’t affect our cooking except when baking pizza. It’s a great grill for searing, which takes moving a lever on the heat diffuser. Of all the grills we tested, only the Yoder model yielded dark grill marks. The Yoder produced a good amount of smoke in all of our tests, though this almost understates its exceptional performance in our long smoke test. The smokiness it gave shoulder was just right, without any of the astringency that typically indicates over-smoking.

Dimensions: 55 x 61 x 36 inches | Grilling Area: 1,070 square inches | Extra Features: Excellent app connectivity and pneumatic tires

Best Large Capacity

Traeger Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Traeger Pro Series 780 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Amazon


The Traeger Pro 780 handles a large amount of food without breaking the bank. It can hold six chickens, 34 burgers, or the equivalent of each. One of the more remarkable features of the 780 is the amount of smoke flavor imparted onto foods (with the exception of baked pizza) while maintaining a relatively low amount of smoke leaving the grill. Though food turned out lighter in color than that cooked on other Traeger models, it browned evenly thanks to a lack of hot spots. At higher temperatures, however, the unit dropped as much as 90°F when we opened the lid to place food inside, and it struggled to get back to the target temperature.

We like that the control panel and app integration provide accurate cook temperatures and times for more control. Sure, you could spend less on another Traeger, such as the Pro Series 34 Electric Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker ($700 at Amazon), but the 780’s features and overall performance make it well worth the extra cost. It also gets points for easy setup and cleanup.

Dimensions: 55 x 49 x 27 inches | Grilling Area: 780 square inches | Extra Features: WiFIRE technology, a comprehensive yet easy-to-use control panel, wheels, and meat probe connectors

Best Smart Grill

Louisiana Grills 1000 Black Label Series Grill

Louisiana Grills 1000 Black Label Series Grill

BBQ Guys


Setup doesn’t get much easier than this Louisiana Grills model. It comes fully assembled. It offers a large cooking capacity of 1028 square inches with two rows of racks for two-zone cooking. It didn’t score the highest in our baking tests, but the unit did not drop its temperature at mid-range operation when opening and adding food. Even with an 18-pound capacity, we’d like to see a larger hopper, as it seems outsized by the available cooking area.

A few hot spots revealed themselves during our testing, but none that would preclude the grill from our list. It sears well, as most pellet grills do, but it doesn’t produce a hard crust. Bluetooth app connectivity and a feature-rich control panel make this a straightforward unit to operate. The features and performance balance the price, giving it good scores on our value rating.

Dimensions: 46 x 42 x 32 inches | Grilling Area: 1,028 square inches | Extra Features: Foldable shelf, hopper clean-out door for changing pellets, temperature probes, flat shelf, hopper viewing window

Best Portable

Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill

Traeger TFB30KLF Tailgater Pellet Grill

Amazon


This solid Traeger grill brings most of the functionality of larger models to a mobile form. With digital controls and app connectivity, it reaches set points quickly (hitting its maximum temperature of 450°F less than 14 minutes) and retains heat moderately well. Despite its travel-friendly size, the Tailgater holds 12 burgers, two chickens, or three racks of ribs. While it doesn’t need as much fuel as larger grills to maintain its temperature, its 8-pound hopper will need refilling during longer smokes simply due to its smaller capacity. For reference, we added more pellets seven hours into smoking.

The Tailgater reached its maximum temperature of 450°F in less than 14 minutes, and it retained heat fairly well. That said, being capped at 450°F made searing difficult. We noticed a slight variation in hot and cool temperature zones, though not significant enough to leave it off our list. Overall, it’s a great option for grilling and smoking for portability and price.

Dimensions: 36 x 37 x 18 inches | Grilling Area: 300 square inches | Extra Features: Folding legs, temperature probes, digital control panel, app connectivity

Our Favorite

After testing 19 pellet grills, and weighing their value, consistency of cooking, user-friendliness, setup, and features, we concluded that the Weber SmokeFire EX4 is the best choice for all levels of grill cooks.

The Tests

All of our cooking tests began with the same steps: loading the hoppers with pellets and, with the grills cold, inserting wired thermometer probes into the grills before turning them on. We then recorded the time it took for the grills to reach our desired temperature, which varied from test to test. During cooking, we measured for hot spots as well as changes in temperature. We also took notes on the amount of smoke the grills produced. Finally, we recorded how full the hoppers were after each test. 

For our first test, we loaded each grill with chicken wings and covered them for smoking, noting the amount of smoke the grills produced. For our second test, we placed a frozen pizza at the center of each grill grate, baking according to package instructions. Our third test focused on searing and grilling flank steaks. We limited our fourth test, long smoking pork shoulder, to the nine grills that had performed best in our tests. Overall, we cooked over 300 pounds of meat and 20 pepperoni pizzas.

In addition to how the grills performed in our cooking tests, we considered how easy they were to assemble, use, and clean. We graded the grills on several attributes, including temperature range, heat control, features, capacity, and overall value. With this in mind, we named seven models as the best pellet grills on the market.

Factors to Consider

Heat Control

Heat control and retention were important in our tests, helping us choose our top picks. The best pellet grills heat up fast and keep a relatively consistent temperature. Ideally, the heat won’t drop significantly when you open the lid, but if it does, the grill should be able to return to its target temperature. We also recommend pellet grills that can cook at low and high temperatures alike.

Size

When it comes to choosing a pellet grill, one of the main specs to consider is the size. This relates to how you intend to use the grill. For large parties, large families, or events, you will want a grill that has a large cooking capacity. Generally, most people can get a mid-size model, around 24 inches, that will do everything they need it to do. To consistently serve a crowd, we recommend upsizing to a 36-inch model.

Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore


Construction

At first look, pellet grills are solid appliances that can weather the elements, but their construction can vary. Stainless steel holds up better over time than carbon steel and powdered steel as it resists corrosion. If you’re considering longevity, stainless steel is also the ideal material for grill parts, from grates to grease trays to fire burn pots.

Features

Pellet grills can come with all sorts of features, from electric starters to WiFi connectivity to a seamless switch from direct flame grilling to offset smoking. More basic are features like a grease management system, an ash collector, and a hopper that opens to release pellets.

Explore the features that are the best match for how you intend to cook with the grill. If you are more of a smoker, you may want to focus on features that allow you to maintain a consistent temperature and have ways to easily control smoke flow. If you are more of a griller, you may want to explore features like the ability to easily create indirect cooking zones. For both, connectivity packages that allow you to monitor temperature from your phone can be very useful.

Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore


Cost

Finally, consider your budget and plan accordingly. In general, for an investment like this, it’s sometimes easier to consider your eventual cost per use. If this is something you will use weekly, it may be worth a larger upfront investment. If you envision using the grill less frequently, you may not need to spend as much.

Other Pellet Grills We Tested

Strong Contenders

Recteq RT-590 Wifi-Enabled Electric Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker ($1,109 at Amazon)

The RT-590 Wood Pellet Grill scored well in the smoking and grilling areas, with good heat control and retention. It didn’t fare as well in baking, and it ships with just a QR code for assembly instructions. The controls, app, and larger capacity cooking area and hopper make this an excellent grill for those who want to rely mainly on the former areas.

Camp Chef SmokePro SG 24 WiFi Pellet Grill ($593 at Amazon)

The SG 24 performed well in our testing. It has limited features and capacity, but it scored good ratings in our searing tests. It has some hot spots that result in slightly uneven cooking, but this is a good entry-point pellet grill at a reasonable price.

Traeger Ironwood 885 WiFi Pellet Grill and Smoker ($1,500 at Amazon)

The Ironwood has the same double-wall construction as many of Traeger’s other models and is feature-laden in the app and control departments. It fared well in baking in searing tests, but the Super Smoke feature didn’t impart the flavor we expected during testing. Still, it’s a good smoker grill that’s extremely easy to set up and operate.

Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 600 Pellet Grill ($449 at Home Depot)

The Rider is another good entry-level pellet grill. It doesn’t offer the bells and whistles of app connectivity or a range of temperature controls, most notably. It does outperform more expensive models in the smoking tests, though it doesn’t excel at searing. Setting it up was a bit of a pain, but once assembled, it performed well.

Pit Boss Sportsman 820 ($500 at Amazon)

The Sportsman 820 scored firmly in the middle of the pack. It performed well in the functional tests and was easy to assemble. With 892 square inches of cooking area, it has a good capacity and adequate heat retention and recovery times. We rated it a good value for the price, but app control and intelligent features found in more expensive models would increase its rating.

Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore


What Didn’t Make the List

Other pellet grills we tested were perfectly average. Average doesn’t mean a bad grill; it means the middle of the pack. While the Traeger Pro Series 34 Electric Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker ($700 at Amazon) offers the heat retention and recovery that most Traeger models do, it lacks their app connectivity. It fared well in most tests, but it struggled to maintain heat over 450°F, leaving a relatively poor sear. Suitable for camping or tailgating, the Traeger Ranger Pellet Grill and Smoker ($449 at Amazon) has a limited cooking area of 300 square inches but offers good heat retention and recovery. It’s not a good grill for baking, as our test revealed, but the searing and smoking tests yielded good results.

The Z Grills Multitasker Pellet Grill and Smoker ($500 at Best Buy) also performed best when functioning as a smoker, as heat retention left a bit to be desired at higher temperatures, but it did recover its temperature quickly after we added food. Likewise, the Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 24 Pellet Grill ($675 at BBQ Guys) performed much better in the smoking and searing tests than in the baking.

Of course, some grills fell below average. While the Z Grills 700D ($549 at Home Depot) offers consistent heat, making it suitable for baking or smoking, its upper-temperature limit of 450°F doesn’t translate into a good sear. We also found the amount of smoke too subtle. The Char-Griller Wood Pro Pellet Grill ($297 at Sportman’s Guide) also had a maximum temperature of 450°F, so searing was a challenge. We found multiple hot spots throughout the grill, and temperatures fluctuated during cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the pros and cons of a pellet grill?

    Easy to use and quick to heat, a pellet grill can be a terrific entry point for those who are new to the art of barbecue or for grillers who want the taste of true smoke, according to Matt Horn, the chef-owner of Horn Barbecue in West Oakland, Calif., and the author of Horn Barbecue. With wood pellets as their fuel source, pellet grills infuse meats with the flavors of oak, hickory, maple, and more. Plus, wood pellets burn slower than charcoal, which means you can buy less of them.

    Pellet grills are also easy to clean, thanks to parts like ash collectors and grease buckets that you can empty when you’re finished cooking. And pellet grills are clean in another sense, with the lowest carbon footprint of all types of grills, according to a peer-reviewed analysis published in 2022.

    As for cons, pellet grills generally aren’t as portable as charcoal grills. With some exceptions, pellet grills run on electricity and have heavier builds than charcoal grills, though certain models are constructed to be portable. Also, pellet grills reach lower temperatures on average, which can prevent the Maillard reaction that gives meat a crust or bark.

  • How do pellet grills compare to gas and charcoal grills?

    “While my preferred method is always using a wood smoker, a pellet grill is good for convenience. It cuts down the time of having to source your wood and prep the charcoal. With a pellet grill, you can still cook your meat low and slow, but prep time is cut shorter,” says Horn.

    “The preferred method for a pellet grill is to smoke your ingredients and infuse the flavor of the pellets into your meat slowly over time,” he says. Gas grills don’t produce the smokiness that people associate with outdoor cooking. With food cooked on a charcoal grill, the smokiness is deep and unmistakable. The smoke produced with a pellet grill falls somewhere in between, as it’s more subtle and aromatic.

  • How much does a pellet grill cost?

    The 19 pellet grills we reviewed range in cost from $449 to $3,300. At the time of testing, the average cost came to just over $1,000. Our favorites reflect this: our Best Value pick costs $450, a few of our winners are $1,000, and the $3,300 pellet grill from Traeger holds the title of Best Splurge.

Our Expertise

Greg Baker is an award-winning chef, restaurateur, and food writer with decades of experience in the food industry. His written work appears in Food & Wine, Food Republic, and other publications.