Pellet Smokers – The Best Eleven

When it comes to smoking meats, pellet smokers have revolutionized the whole process, bringing precision, control, new flavoring options, and above all, an ability to fix-and-forget your smoking.

They changed the whole game from something that was highly labor-intensive over hours or even days to something you could start and walk away from. Subsequent developments, driven by the pellet smoking process, have seen pellet smokers develop with a great deal of technology that has only increased this freedom and creativity.

But which are the best pellet smokers out there? If you were to jump into the game of home smoking using pellets, what machines can you not afford to ignore?

That’s not as straightforward a question as you might imagine – pellet smokers have developed in a whole range of directions, so the smokers that are best for some people won’t serve the needs of others. That’s why we needed 11 choices in our list of the best pellet smokers – 10 just wasn’t quite enough, while 12 would be just a little frivolous.

So if you don’t want to spend weeks trawling the internet, and possibly weeks more spending your weekends in showrooms talking about flues and smoke dampers, come with us – we’ve done the trawling and the traipsing, so you don’t have to. Somewhere on our list of the best 11 pellet smokers, there’s one that’s right for everyone – including you.

In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.

OUR TOP PICK

Z GRILLS ZPG-550B 2020 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker 8 in 1 BBQ Grill Auto Temperature Control, Cooking Area, 550 sq in Black

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel
  • Grate material: Porcelain-coated cast iron
  • Cooking capacity: 538 square inches across two racks
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 20 pounds
  • Heat range: 180 to 450 °F
  • Fuel type: Wooden pellets
  • Model: ZPG-550B
  • Assembled size: 47 x 20 x 45 inches
  • Weight: 84 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years

Pellet smokers exist on a spectrum, to be sure, but the brightest colors on that spectrum are “Fully loaded with features, but sign over your 401K to afford me” and “Plucky and affordable, but can’t do any of the really cool things.”

Then there’s the Z Grills 550B.

We like the Z Grills 550B. Well, you knew that – we’d hardly have put it at the top of our list if it was the pellet smoker equivalent of Most Guys On Tinder.

It balances affordability with a pellet smoker packed with features, giving you an option on which you don’t need to compromise too much to get great, reliable pellet smoking.

First of all, you get a powder-coated steel body for strength and durability. PID temperature technology is included, to let you precisely control and maintain your temperature (within an error margin of 5 degrees F).

Now, sure, we said there was no need to compromise too much with the Z Grills, but obviously, it’s not as big inside as some smokers on the market – that’s not so much a compromise as it is physics and material costs. But you still get 538 square inches of rack space, so don’t panic, invite the extra guests around, and let’s party.

There are 2 grates, both porcelain-coated and rust-resistant, and – which is the really attractive part, you get a pellet hopper that will give you more than 15 hours of smoking without begging for a refill. A handy window lets you see when you do need a refill, and there’s an easy cleanout door to help you empty out the ash without stretching, contorting, and getting covered in it.

Did we mention the 4-year warranty? No? Let’s. 3 years is more than long enough to really put the 550B through its paces, and Z Grills is a company with a strong reputation, so it’s unlikely the 550B is about to fall catastrophically to pieces minutes after the warranty expires.

If you want to understand where the corners have been cut, it’s true that the 550B is not among the new generation of wifi-enabled smart smokers, which might be annoying if everyone you know is having smoking data sent immediately to their smartphones. But if you’re interested in getting hold of a great, capable, cleverly-designed and sturdily-built smoker, you’re going to want to take a look at the Z Grills 550B.

Pros:

  • The powder-coated steel body of the smoker gives you robustness and durability
  • PID temperature control keeps the smoker within 5 degrees of your target temperature
  • The large pellet hopper allows you 15 hours of smoking without needing a refill
  • The 3-year warranty lets you smoke without any worries

Cons:

  • 538 square inches of space isn’t enough for larger gatherings

EDITORS CHOICE

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill w/New PID Gen 2 Digital Controller - Stainless Steel

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Stainless steel
  • Grate material: Stainless steel
  • Cooking capacity: 570 square inches
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 18 pounds
  • Heat range: 160ºF - 500ºF
  • Fuel type: Wooden pellets
  • Model: PG24S
  • Assembled size: 40.5 x 25 x 22 inches
  • Weight: 127 pounds
  • Warranty: No information available

The Camp Chef DLX Pellet Grill is by no means a smoker to pass by. With a body of stainless steel, it’s sturdy and on the heavier side at 140 pounds. Thankfully, it comes on caster wheels, so you can take it from your garage to the backyard easily.

In terms of grill space, you get 429 square inches, with 141 square inches of dedicated smoking space.

In terms of the hopper capacity, the Camp Chef has the Z Grills beaten too – it can hold 18 pounds of pellets at once, so you can smoke to your heart’s content between refills.

With a dual-LED temperature control and a stainless steel temperature probe, a smart grease management system and a ridiculously easy ash management system (Can we say “pull that lever there”?), the Camp Chef is all about making your smoking (and grilling) life straightforward and stress-free. It even includes automatic ignition to stop you having to mess around lighting your own fire.

For an easy smoker with a heavy-duty hopper and lots of handy buttons and levers to take the stress out of smoking, check out the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX.

Pros:

  • The 18-pound hopper means you can smoke your meats for longer without refilling
  • Automatic electric ignition makes the initial stages of your smoking so much easier
  • The ash management and cleaning systems are really straightforward too
  • The SmokePro DLX brings smart grease management to your smoke
  • A dual-LED temperature read-out gives you clarity in a heartbeat

Cons:

  • Compared to some, the compartmentalization of the rack space makes for a smaller smoking area

BEST VALUE

Traeger Grills Pro Series 575 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker, Bronze

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Bronze
  • Grate material: Porcelain
  • Cooking capacity: 575 square inches
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 18 pounds
  • Heat range: 160ºF - 500ºF
  • Fuel type: Wooden pellets
  • Model: Pro Series 575
  • Assembled size: 27 x 41 x 53 inches
  • Weight: 124 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years

Well, you knew there was going to be at least one Traeger on the list, right? We’ll make it easy for you – there are a few smokers from a few of the top names in the business on our list.

That’s not us taking a shortcut though, that’s the fact that the top names in the business became the top names in the business by delivering above and beyond the competition.

As it happens, Traeger has pellet smokers in its DNA – the company was founded nearly 40 years ago specifically to make and sell the world’s first wood pellet grill.

Patents schmatents, there’s an argument for claiming all wood pellet grills should now be known as Trager grills, but let’s not quibble. Suffice it to say, Traeger knows a thing or two about making world-class wood pellet grills and smokers.

The Pro Series 575 grill and smoker has 575 square inches of cooking space, and is multi-functional – as well as smoking and grilling, you can bake, braise, roast, and BBQ in this moderately insane multi-cooker.

The controls of the 575 are easy and intuitive, so you won’t spend half the day trying to adjust your smoke levels.

Besides, and perhaps most importantly, the Traeger 575 is the first of the new wifi-enabled smokers to make it onto our list. Using the Traeger WiFire technology the smoker sends details of your smoke to your smartphone, and lets you adjust the temperature, check your pellet hopper for capacity, and set timers.

 That means it’s the first set-and-forget smoker to make it onto our list. With an 18-pound pellet hopper, you have a good while between refills, and an automatic augur that feeds the pellets in when necessary to auto-maintain the temperature.

If you need more space inside, the Pro 575 has room for an upgrade to the Pro 780 (Guess how many square inches of space that has?), but for most extended families, the Pro 575 will be more than clever enough.

Pros:

  • It’s wifi-enabled, so you get time and temperature updates, remote control, and more from your smartphone
  • It’s a multi-cooker, so you can do much more than smoke in it if you want to
  • An 18-pound pellet hopper gives you a long while between refills
  • An automatic auger feeds in pellets to maintain the right temperature without your intervention
  • The controls of the smoker are easy and intuitive

Cons:

  • The price will give some people sticker-shock because it’s a significant step-up due to the wifi and the multiple cooking methods
  • Removing ash can be a hassle, as you need a vacuum to do it properly

RUNNER UP

Z GRILLS ZPG-7002B 2020 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker, 8 in 1 BBQ Grill Auto Temperature Controls, 700 sq inch Cooking Area, Black

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Powder-coated stainless steel
  • Grate material: Porcelain-coated cast iron
  • Cooking capacity: 700 square inches
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 20 pounds
  • Heat range: 180°F - 450°F
  • Fuel type: Wooden pellets
  • Model: ZPG-7002B 2020 Upgrade
  • Assembled size: 48 x 22 x 51 inches
  • Weight: 84 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years

Our list will feature several entries from some of the leading manufacturers. You remember we said that, right? Good – here’s the second option from Z Grills.

The ZPG-7002E Wood Pellet Grill takes the fight to Traeger. Where the Trager offers you 6 cooking methods, the Z Grills gives you 8: grilling, BBQing, roasting, braising, baking, smoking, searing, and char-grilling. That’s a whole lot of techniques in the one machine.

Porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grids five you a strong, durable surface for your meats, and while cast-iron is going to add to the weight of anything, the 7002E has a wheel to make it easier to move the smoker from place to place as needed.

504 square inches of cooking area with an extra warming rack of nearly 200 square inches gives the machine a lot of capacity, and intuitive controls and automatic ignition make for an easy life in the second of our Z Grills.

Also, we’re creeping up in hopper capacity the further down our list we go. The 7002E gives you a 20-pound pellet hopper with an automatic augur to feed them in to maintain temperatures as needed.

That means you’re unlikely to be refilling the hopper on any given day unless you happen to be doing a round-the-clock smoke. Add a fan to distribute the heat evenly and what you have is easy, hassle-free temperature control.

While its range of temperature variation is double that of our list-leasing Z Grill (10 degrees), the 7002E is also significantly more budget-friendly than that option, so while it would be crass to say you get what you pay for, you still get a lot of great stuff with the 7002E (Did you miss the 8 separate cooking methods?), and at the price, you can afford to live with a temp variation of 10 degrees.

Pros:

  • This is a sturdy smoker, with cast-iron in its rack space
  • The enormous 20-pound pellet hopper and its automatic augur take the hassle out of regular refilling
  • Fan-assisted temperature control gives you extra smoking precision
  • You can use no fewer than 8 cooking methods
  • For a Z Grills machine with 8 cooking methods, the price is extremely reasonable

Cons:

  • There’s no proper ash disposal system, which feels like a blinding omission in an otherwise impressive smoker

RUNNER UP

Camp Chef PG24MZG SmokePro Slide Smoker with Fold Down Front Shelf Wood Pellet Grill, Pack of 1, Black

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Stainless steel
  • Grate material: cast iron
  • Cooking capacity: 811 square inches
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 20 pounds
  • Heat range: 160°F - 650°F.
  • Fuel type: Wooden pellets
  • Model: PG24MZG
  • Assembled size: 40.5 x 25 x 22 inches
  • Weight: 144.7 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years

Yes, it’s a Camp Chef SmokePro. No, this is not déjà vu; there are plenty of elements that make the PG24MZG SmokePro Slide Smoker worth considering in its own right.

Built of stainless steel, it has a ruggedness that will serve you well for years. The caster wheels help take the pressure off its 145 pound body, so you can move it around as though it were a much lighter machine.

While nothing like as fancy as the 8-function Z Grill, you can do a lot more than smoke your meat on the Camp Chef – it allows for grilling, roasting and braising too – giving you lots of tasty options alongside the primary joy of smoking.

A total of 811 square inches of cooking and smoking space means this is a machine to be reckoned with, and digital temperature control allows for precise smoking (and cooking) of your meats. Like many of our listed smokers, an automatic augur helps keep the pellets flowing to maintain ideal temperatures.

Where the Z Grills 7002E was let down by the lack of a proper ash disposal system, the Camp Chef PG24MZG keeps ash management as simple as a level pull.

One of the things often forgotten in modern smokers is the space you need to keep your utensils, plates, and so on. Happily, the Camp Chef has both a foldable front-facing shelf and a side-shelf to accommodate these items.

Keeping the whole smoking process as simple as it can be is the ethos at work in the PG24MZG, and it delivers a smoker that makes you smile by virtue of the thought and engineering that has gone into it.

Pros:

  • The stainless steel construction is sturdy and can take some hard use
  • Despite weighing 145 pounds, it’s easy to maneuver
  • There’s an easy to use ash management system on this model
  • There’s adequate shelving for the add-ons to the smoking experience

Cons:

  • There are no hooks sold as standard with the PG24MZG. That feels like deliberate penny-pinching when you consider the quality of the rest of the offering

RUNNER UP

GMG 2020 Green Mountain Grill Davy Crockett Grill/Smoker with Cover

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Enameled steel
  • Grate material: Porcelain
  • Cooking capacity: 219 square inches
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 8 pounds
  • Heat range: 155°F - 550°F
  • Fuel type: Wooden pellets
  • Model: GMG 2020
  • Assembled size: 29.92 x 14.96 x 21.65 inches
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Warranty: 2 years

If you plan to take your smoker on the road, you’re going to need a model that’s both extremely portable and one that does a few extra tricks.

The Green Mountain Davy Crockett may be the machine you’re looking for.

Wifi-enabled and much less of a massive monster than some of our other machines, the Davy Crockett weighs only 68 pounds, which is light by anyone’s definition of a smoker.

With lightness comes a break for your wallet too, which is always a good thing. It will never have enough smoking space to host a massive cookout, but if you think of it as your travel smoker, you’re not going to ever want it to do anything that vast.

It does however come equipped with the smartphone connectivity, so whether you have an Android or an iPhone, you can get updates on what’s happening inside your smoker, and you can control it from the palm of your hand.

The joy of using the Davy Crockett is that when you want to use it at home, you just plug it into regular mains power, but when you’re on the road and in need of that smoky flavor, you can just switch it over to your 12 volt cord and run it from your vehicle’s battery or any portable power station you’ve brought along.

There’s a handy selection of smoker utensils included with the unit, too, so you’re not going to need to look for an extra meat probe, utensil tray, or sensor to double down on your temperature monitoring.

That makes the Davy Crockett an agreeably helpful proposition. In particular, the Green Mountain Sense-Mate temperature monitor that’s included works extremely well to keep your finger on the temperature pulse with this unit.

As with the size of the smoking space, the portability of the Davy Crockett means you have only a 9-pound pellet hopper, but again, in any realistic terms, you’re not going to use this smoker as an all-day, all-night banquet smoker, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

And with a solid 2-year warranty, you can afford to take it wherever you like and test it out to the limits of its potential.

Whether you’re on a long RV trip, or at a beach party smokefest, the portability, power options, and wifi-enabled smartness of the Davy Crockett recommends it. Whether you use it as your main at-home smoker is between you and the gods of smoky barbecue, but as a travel option, it comes very much into its own.

Pros:

  • This is a highly portable smoker that you can use with your RV or car battery
  • It’s wifi-enabled, so you can get updates and remote control on your smartphone
  • The Sense-Mate is very effective at registering temperature
  • It’s made of stainless steel, meaning that rust is never going to be an issue
  • A 2-year warranty lets you test the Davy Crockett in various situations

Cons:

  • To improve portability and lightness, the steel here is thin enough to make it harder to use in colder conditions
  • The pellet hopper is much smaller than some at-home options on our list

RUNNER UP

Traeger Grills Tailgater 20 Portable Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker, Black

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Stainless steel
  • Grate material: Porcelain
  • Cooking capacity: 300 square inches
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 8 pounds
  • Heat range: 180°F - 450°F
  • Fuel type: Wooden pellets
  • Model: Tailgater 20
  • Assembled size: 37 x 18 x 36 inches
  • Weight: 62 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years

Tailgating is a hugely popular way to use your smoker, and naturally, because they never sleep, the people at Traeger have designed a pellet smoker specifically geared to use at tailgate parties.

We know – if you’re going to use it at a tailgate party, why not just get the Davy Crockett, right? Light, portable, highly controllable, job done?

Sure. The benefits of the Traeger Tailgater though include 50% more smoking and grilling space than the Davy Crockett, which is useful when you’re going to be catering to the meaty needs of more people.

Add to that Traeger’s Digital Elite Controller, and you have a smoker that can do all the heavy lifting while you hang with your pals.

At just 62 pounds and with optional legs so it can stand alone or on a surface, the Traeger Tailgater suffers a similar issue when it comes to the size of its pellet hopper – just 8 pounds. And in a tailgating scenario where you’re feeding more people, that might be more of an issue than in the likes of an RV setting.

There’s no wifi connectivity in the Tailgater either, though the Digital Elite Controller more or less makes up for that. And the standard Traeger 3-year warranty should give you peace of mind for several tailgate seasons.

Pros:

  • It’s lightweight and portable, which helps when using it in a tailgating setting
  • The Digital Elite Controller means you can set your smoker running and then chill with your friends
  • It has quite a lot of capacity for a portable smoker
  • The 3-year warranty gives you long-term peace of mind

Cons:

  • The smaller hopper might lead to repeat refilling during longer tailgate parties
  • There’s no wifi connectivity with this smoker, which would be an extra convenience

RUNNER UP

Traeger Grills Ironwood 885 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker with Alexa and WiFIRE Smart Home Technology, Black

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Steel
  • Grate material: Porcelain
  • Cooking capacity: 885 square inches
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 20 pounds
  • Heat range:165°F - 500°F
  • Fuel type: Wooden pellets
  • Model: TFB89BLFC
  • Assembled size: 53 x 27 x 47 inches
  • Weight:175 Pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years

Yes, absolutely, it’s another Traeger. We really can’t help it – the company practically wrote the book on pellet smokers, and it keeps adding new chapters to chew on along with tender smoke-flavored meats.

You’re going to love the Ironwood 885. It’s got all the toys.

Sure, smartphone apps and wifi are fun an’ all, but the Ironwood 885 takes the whole idea of remote control one step further – it works with Alexa, so you can voice command your temperatures, times, and thermometer checks.

Using the relatively new Traeger WiFire (See what they did there?), the Ironwood 885 is just that little bit cooler than fiddling about with a smartphone app that can crash, or stall, and make you feel like a fool having to go over and do things manually anyway.

Now sure, if you don’t have an Alexa to spare, you can still use the smartphone app to control your Ironwood 885. You just won’t be quite as sci-fi cool as you could be, that’s all.

Sliiiightly belying the number in its name, the Ironwood 885 gives you 850 square inches of smoking and grilling space, and it applies the new D2 Direct Drive drivetrain to maintain precise temperature control inside the unit. And it also has a sensor to tell you when the hopper needs refilling, so until you see it or hear it, you’re worry-free.

There are also a TurboTemp feature, that heats up the chamber faster than usual and pushes the temperature up to 500°F if you need it, a SuperSmoke mode which correspondingly drops the temperature to make more smoke, an internal temperature probe and Tru Convection fans to give you a vortex of smoke, rather than letting it waft aimlessly.

We did say it had all the toys…

If you’re not sure you need the whole 850 square inches, there is a smaller version available – the 650 version.

As you’ll know if you’ve read this far, all the Traeger smokers come with a 3-year warranty which beats a lot of those out there. With the Ironwood 885, you get a pellet smoker that’s about as modern and easy to use as you can possibly imagine – with added wifi sprinkles.

Pros:

  • It’s compatible with Alexa for voice commanded remote control
  • The D2 Direct Drive delivers more intense flavor
  • The SuperSmoke mode gives you more smoke to bring up the flavor
  • Tru Convection fans create a vortex to encourage smoke penetration
  • The 3-year Traeger warranty lets you experiment all you want with the Ironwood 850 with peace of mind

Cons:

  • For a smoker so keen on new technology, the absence of the Timberline series’ grease management system is a bizarre omission

RUNNER UP

Camp Chef 36 in. WiFi Woodwind Pellet Grill & Smoker with Sidekick (PG14) - WiFi & Bluetooth Connectivity

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Powder-coated stainless steel
  • Grate material: Porcelain
  • Cooking capacity: 1226 square inches
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 22 pounds
  • Heat range:160°F - 500°F (up to 650°F with Sidekick)
  • Fuel type:Wooden pellets
  • Model: Woodwind 36
  • Assembled size: 30 x 69 x 49 inches
  • Weight: 193 Pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years

Let’s cut to the chase with the Camp Chef Woodwind 36 with Sidekick.

It’s the most feature-rich smoker Camp Chef makes.

Powered by the same PID controller as our higher-ranking Camp Chef smokers, it gives you reliable temperature control so you can get exactly how much smoke you want, without constantly tweaking the temperature.

And as the name suggests, the Woodwind has WiFi connectivity so you can control the PID controller from the palm of your hand. It might go against the history of smoking, but if you can get great results without staring intently at your smoker up close, it has to be worth going for, right?

It’s true that at the moment the Camp Chef Connect app is on the basic side, especially compared to the Traeger Ironwood, but the good thing about apps is that they can be upgraded over time without trading in any hardware.

As well as its highly controllable smoke, the Woodwind comes with Slide & Grill technology. What the heck is Slide & Grill technology? It’s a single button that switches you from direct to indirect heat, so if you want to get juicy and flame grill your meat, you can do it with a single button push.

(You can flame grill up to 500°F. If you need more heat – that’s where the Sidekick comes in. It’s an extra hotplate that you plug into a propane tank to go intense with your heat (up to 650°F). That lets you sear, boil, braise or grill – alongside one of the best smokers you’ll find anywhere.  

Did we mention the size of the pellet hopper? The previous record on our list was 20 pounds. The Woodwind casually stroll past that mark with a 22-pound hopper. Imagine how infrequently you’ll have to bother refilling that, compared to most on the market, and the Woodwind begins to look like your new best friend.

A taller cooking chamber than was previously available, plus an impressive ash management feature makes the Camp Chef Woodwind with Sidekick feel like one of the most helpful, Labrador-like smokers on the market. Whatever you want it to do, it has an interesting or technologically empowered way of delivering for you.

Added to which, Camp Chef takes the warranty game to Traeger here, giving you 3 years of cover when you buy the Woodwind, so you have a multi-cooking smoker that you can use as you like.

Pros:

  • As well as a smoker, the Woodwind gives you options to sear, grill, barbecue, braise, roast and bake too
  • The PID controller maintains temperature within 5 degrees of your target
  • Wifi connectivity gives you the power to control your times and temperatures from your phone
  • The 22-pound pellet hopper allows for longer smoking without refilling
  • The 3-year warranty lets you use the Woodwind without fear of breakage or damage

Cons:

  • You may get some smoke leakage around the door

RUNNER UP

Z GRILLS ZPG-10002B Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker 1000 SQ IN Cooking Area 8-in-1 outdoor grill and smoker for Big Family + 40LB Wood Pellets

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Stainless steel
  • Grate material: Porcelain
  • Cooking capacity: 1060 square inches
  • Pellet hopper capacity: 20 pounds
  • Heat range: 180°F to 450°F
  • Fuel type: Wooden pellets
  • Model: ZPG-1000D
  • Assembled size:54" x 29" x 53"
  • Weight: 140 Pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years

We all love a Traeger, naturally – there are enough of them on this list to show you that they do what they do exceptionally well.

But if you don’t have the bullion in Fort Knox to afford a Traeger, the Z Grills ZPG-1000D might well get you close enough not to mind the difference – and still leave you change for the meat to put in it.

Newly updated with a digital control board, the 1000D maintains a temperature within 10°F of target. So, reliable heat control for the win! 

There’s heavy-duty stainless steel in the construction of the 1000D, so it’s about as sturdy as they come short of cast-iron. Does that add to the weight of the smoker? Mmm, you might say so – it comes in at over 140 pounds.

That said, you get an almost ridiculous amount of smoking and grilling space with the 1000D – over 1000 square inches, spread across three grates. The three grates cut down the overall footprint for a smoker with such a capacity to feed half the block.

The 1000D lets you access a handful of other cooking techniques alongside its smoker – braising, baking, roasting, and grilling are available here, though as the grill temp only goes to 450, you’re not going to get fantastic results grilling on the 1000D.

Pellet hopper size? Anyone? If you said a more-than-adequate 20 pounds, give yourself a well-deserved handshake.

And yes, there’s a 3-year warranty here too, so as with the Traegers, you can use the Z Grills with a good deal of abandon and still be sure you won’t put it at any risk.

Pros:

  • Made of stainless steel and weighing in at over 140 pounds, this is a very sturdy smoker
  • It has an enormous cooking and smoking capacity – over 1000 square inches spread over three racks
  • Temperature control is now guaranteed within 10 degrees
  • The pellet hopper can take a full standard 20-pound bag
  • A 3-year warranty allows you peace of mind while you put the 1000D through its paces

Cons:

  • This is not a wifi-enabled smoker, so it’s not as advanced as many others on our list
  • Removing unused pellets from the hopper is hard work

RUNNER UP

Grilla Grills Silverbac Alpha Smoke Bundle | Multi Purpose Smoker and BBQ Wood Pellet Grill | Dual Mode PID Controller | Non-WiFi | Stainless Steel Construction | Up to 900 Sq. in Cooking Space

Specs - At A Glance

  • Barbecue material: Stainless steel
  • Grate material: Porcelain
  • Cooking capacity: 900 square inches
  • Pellet hopper capacity:20 pounds
  • Heat range: 180°F - 500°F
  • Fuel type: Wooden pellets
  • Model: Silverbac Alpha
  • Assembled size:22 x 47 x 51 inches
  • Weight: 150 Pounds
  • Warranty: No information provided

The Grilla Grills Silverbac Alpha might sound like a relative unknown in this forest of Traegers, Camp Chefs and Z Grills. But it’s worth taking a look at, because it manages that difficult balancing act of being rich in features but budget-friendly.

Dual controller technology lets you smoke for a long time, while independently grilling for heat and speed.

The grill area is large enough to fit eight whole chickens at a time, so – chicken for everyone!

The new joy in the Silverbac Alpha is what’s known as “Alpha Smoke” controller technology. That allows you to choose between Grilla Grills traditional smoke mode and a new PID smoke mode.

What’s the practical difference? Control, friend. With the PID smoke mode, you can control your temperature much more distinctly, and better temperature control over your smoke means better, more predictable, more intentional smoke flavor in the results.

For those already familiar with the Silverbac range, don’t panic. Just because the Alpha’s bringing the PID precision temperature control, it doesn’t mean you’re losing any of the more traditional Silverbac features.

The Silverbac Alpha comes with a strong stainless steel lid to prevent smoke or heat loss, convenient in-unit storage, a digital control system that gives you set-it-and-forget-it hassle-free smoking or grilling, and automatic pellet feeding, so you never have to hover by your hopper to constantly refill.

Add to that an automatic ignition, a thermal metal jacket and some wheels to make the whole thing easily portable and you have one of the most complete smoking grill systems on the market. The fact that it’s available at the budget end of the spectrum despite the richness of its features is just an extremely agreeable bonus.

Pros:

  • You get a very large cooking or smoking area – enough for 8 chickens at a time
  • With the Alpha Smoke controller technology, you can choose the level of control you want over your smoke, for precision or old-style authenticity
  • The PID smoke control also gives you precise temperature control
  • It’s very feature-rich for a smoker at the budget end of the spectrum

Cons:

  • At 150 pounds, it’s a heavy unit, wheels or no wheels
  • There’s no up-front warranty information provided, which is enough to give many buyers pause

Pellet Smokers – The Best Eleven Buying Guide

If you’re buying a pellet smoker, there are several questions you’ll want to answer to narrow down your choices to the ones that are right for you..

To wifi or not to wifi

The more modern smokers have wifi connectivity, to allow you to control them and get alerts via your smartphone. There are some that even link to Alexa to give you voice control over your smoker.

But with such modern convenience usually comes a price hike. It’s worth deciding whether the hands-free, fix-it-and-forget-it technology is worth the extra money you’ll pay for them.

Precision temperature control

There are smokers that can give you control over the temperature in your smoking chamber, and maintain it, some to within 5 degrees, others to within 10. How important is it to you that the temperature control window is as small as possible?

Again, you’ll likely pay more to get a narrower control window, so while this might not immediately strike you as hugely important, it could well be a factor that dictates what you spend.

Ease of control

Beyond the question of whether you have remote control on your smartphone, and how precise your temperature window is, you should decide how complex you’re willing for your smoker’s controls to be.

They range from something just a little short of a space shuttle to something plain and simple that you should be able to simply set and walk away from. Which sounds more like your machine?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pellet smoking bad for your health?

Smokers of all kinds can create carcinogens, and while most medical authorities concur that pellet smoking is no better for your health than any other form of smoking, there seems as yet to be no medical consensus that it’s worse for your health either.

If you’re going to smoke and grill meat, there are risks and benefits, whichever way you do it. That said, recent studies have suggested that smoked meats are actually healthier than grilled meats.

Can I leave my unused pellets in the hopper?

You technically can do, but you risk leaving them to literally rot – which is what we call significantly sub-optimal when turning them into smoke to be absorbed by proteins.

Ideally, don’t overfill your hopper any time you smoke meats, and take out any that are left over, to store for next time.

What are the advantages of using a pellet smoker?

Precision, speed, and a range of ‘flavored’ woods to give your meat a wide range of tastes are among the benefits of using a pellet smoker when smoking your meat.