Food, especially meat, tastes much better when smoked. If you want to take up smoking food but you’re worried that it might be too complicated there is one simple solution for you – get yourself a pellet smoker. Pellet smokers, also known as pellet grills, have started selling like crazy as people begin to realize they are incredibly easy to use. You may not get the street cred from traditional pit masters with your pellet grill and smoking skills, but you will be able to produce excellent barbecue effortlessly. Wood pellet grills give you smokey, juicy, and tender meat that’s perfectly cooked without the hassle of babysitting your smoker.
What is a pellet smoker?
As you could probably guess from the name of these smokers, they run by burning wooden pellets. Typically, a pellet smoker comes with a hopper on the side where the pellets are added. When you turn on the smoker, pellets will move from a hopper to a burn pot where they will be burned and the smoke will be diffused by a fan. A thermostat measures the temperature of the grill and determines how many pellets to burn while keeping a consistent temperature.
The greatest thing about pellet smokers is that you don’t have to do much to get perfectly smoked dishes. Simply set the digital controller to the desired temperature and the smoker will do the rest. These smokers are pretty much set-and-forget, which means that you’ll be able to spend more time with your guests and still serve them food that has wonderful smoked flavor. It’s this convenience that’s led to the recent rise in pellet grills and other electric smokers.
Another thing about pellet smokers which might impress you is that you can also use this type of smoker to grill your food. So, don’t be confused if you come across the term “pellet grill” in this article because it refers to a pellet smoker. When used as a grill, pellet smoker will start up quickly and cook your food with minimal supervision. Depending on your smoker, you can either use the small area above the fuel pot to grill your food or you can put a griddle on the pellet smoker when it is running on high heat.
Pellet Smoker Reviews
Best Pellet Smoker – Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill
Traeger Pellet Grills have been around since 1988, and with every new model their technology and appearance improved. Traeger has kept control over the monopoly for almost 30 years. After their patent expired, quite a few manufacturers entered the market and tried to compete in the barbeque game. However, Traeger kept listening to their customers and improving the design, so to this day Traeger dominates the market.
Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill is the revolutionary pellet smoker. It is a smoker that is also WiFi-based, so you can prepare delicious meals by remote controlling the smoker. The app is also user friendly, and contains different features that you will find most useful, including a section devoted to delicious recipes. The smoker grill also works with Alexa.
Pro Series 575 is different from its competitors, since instead of charcoal or gas, it uses compressed wood pellets. Through pellet smoking you combine the authentic wood smoke flavor with your meat, which enhances the taste, and changes the experience completely. Pellet hopper that can hold up to 18 lb Traeger wood pellets, which is enough for several hours of smoking.
What also makes Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill stand out from the competition is the 575 square inches grilling area which is large enough to feed all the friends and family you invite to your place. This model is a 6-in-1 unit that allows you to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and BBQ your food. Also, it contains a bottom (main) rack and top (secondary) rack that separates larger items when cooking. Despite the cooking space, the grill is still relatively lightweight and weighs only 128 pounds.
When it comes to the temperatures, the grill can heat up to 446°F, but you can also use it to cold smoke cheese, for example, at 167°F. Digital temperature control is very precise and the temperature may fluctuate up to +/- 45°F.
Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill Features
Easy to Assemble
Sometimes assembling your smoker might be a problem, but that isn’t the case with Traeger Pro Series 575. It can be assembled easily with its unique manual. Rather than saying how long it will take, the manual will instruct you how many beers you will need before you complete the task. It is a small detail that makes the entire experience much more enjoyable.
The smoker isn’t too heavy, so you can assemble it alone or with the help of a few friends. The majority of the parts are pre-assembled such as the grill chamber, pellet hopper, and pellet auger. All you need to do is mount the legs, chimney, and grates!
One of the coolest features of Traeger 575 is that it supports WiFIRE Wi-Fi connectivity and app. All you have to do is download the app on your smartphone and connect it to the Pro 575’s Wi-Fi enabled controller. This will allow you to follow the progress of your food on the app, which is great considering sometimes it takes hours to cook delicious meat.
Once the meal is about to be done, the cooker will send the notification to your phone, which will give you enough time to react and finalize the cooking process. The app also includes hundreds of tips, information, and recipes for beef, poultry, pork, fish, lamb, vegetables, and much more!
Cleaning smokers usually poses a problem for many people as there are difficult to reach parts, so the process lasts much longer than necessary. Traeger 575’ pellet hopper includes a pellet clean out chute that will allow you to empty the hopper easily, or switch out different kinds of pellets.
When cleaning the hopper, you can open the lid and the magnetic screw will hold the door up. This is a nice touch that makes the cleaning process that much easier.
- Never use gas or charcoal again: cooking with wood just tastes better. Traeger created the original wood-pellet grill as the ultimate way to achieve wood-fired taste
- Connected home technology: Built-in WiFIRE connects your grill to home WiFi and the Traeger app allows the user to control the grill from anywhere. Change temperature, set timers, monitor pellet levels and more.
- Versatile barbecue cooking: hot and fast, or low and slow, the Traeger Pro 575 pellet grill offers 6-in-1 versatility to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and BBQ all on the same grill.
- Easy and predictable: The Pro 575 offers consistency you can trust, allowing you to craft amazing wood-fired creations time and time again with the ease of s Set-It and Forget-It
- Perfect size for family cooking: enjoy 575 sq in of grilling space that can accommodate all the burgers, chicken, ribs, steak, fish, vegetables, or desserts that you can handle
Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill Pros:
- Simple and quick assembly process;
- Revolutionary WiFIRE technology;
- Reasonable price for given caliber;
- Large hopper capacity;
- 6-in-1 versatility all on the same grill;
- Includes a new D2 Direct Drive controller.
Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill Cons:
- Missing wheels on front legs which makes it more difficult to move around;
- Lacks an edge band to keep the heat under the lid;
- You might need an outdoor Wi-Fi extender for the WiFIRE feature.
Runner up – Louisiana Grill LG700
Louisiana Grills are one of the best pellet smoker manufacturers along with the Traeger Grills. It seems that in recent years they started manufacturing products that are better with each following generation. The company experimented with different designs and features and created unique grills that create high-quality meat. Also, Louisiana Grills offer highly-versatile grills that can be used for smoking, grilling, and baking.
Louisiana Grill LG700 includes various features that will cover all of your grilling needs. With LG700 you can choose to grill, bake, smoke, slow roast, and chair broil your food to perfection. You will see amazing results every time, so there is no need to worry about figuring out the perfect cooking time for each meal.
This Louisiana grill comes with 707 square inches of cooking space which is an ideal size for large gatherings. The model features a porcelain-coated cast iron main rack and a removable top rack. The temperature control features 5-degree increments and the temperature ranges from 180°F to 600°F. Also, the digital control center features a programmable meat probe and the grill comes with a hood thermometer.
Louisiana Grill LG700 Features
Easy To Use
LG700 uses a digital control center and lid thermometer that allows for precise temperatures. The temperature is also very easy to read to its well-designed controller. Temperature control means that you will get even heat when grilling, and its temperature range means that you can prepare anything you desire.
The grill also has an amazing feature called the “Prime” button that will, when pressed, consume more pellets and maintain the perfect heat.
Large Cooking Space
The grill contains 707 square inches of grilling area, which means that you will be able to cook food for larger crowds. The main rack features 497 square inches of grilling area, while the secondary (upper) rack has 210 square inches of grilling space. The upper rack is also easily removable which gives you extra space when cooking larger items.
LG700 comes with an adjustable side plate flame broiler, that you can use to sear steaks and fish quickly and to perfection!
Louisiana Grill LG700 includes everything that you will need to prepare delicious meals. However, if you are looking to step up your grilling game, you can always choose additional accessories that will change your grilling experience completely.
The versatility of this grill is unmatched by any other grill. You can choose optional accessories such as a smoker cabinet and hopper extension, and deluxe front and side shelves that will keep your grilling supplies at reach.
- Lg 700 Series wood pellet grill
- 707 sq. In cooking surface (497 main 210 upper)
- Porcelain cast iron main grids
- Porcelain steel removable upper cooking grid
- Digital control center
Louisiana Grill LG700 Pros:
- Quick assembly process;
- Easy to handle;
- Large capacity grilling area;
- Programmable built-in meat probe;
- Temperature control with 5-degree increments;
- Light mobility due to wheels on all legs;
- Excellent customer service.
Louisiana Grill LG700 Cons:
- The grill is lightweight and the smallest model within the LG Series;
- The pellet hopper doesn’t hold a lot of pellets, so you should get a hopper extension;
- It is difficult to attain the desired temperature;
- Requires regular cleaning and maintenance to function properly.
Best Portable Pellet Smoker – Davy Crockett from Green Mountain Grills
In 2014, Green Mountain drastically lowered prices of their residential models to allow the modern Wi-Fi units to come in at better prices. Yes, you’ve read that right; Wi-Fi pellet smokers do exist and the Davy Crockett Portable Pellet Smoker is one of them.
Davy Crockett pellet smoker is the ultimate tailgater pellet grill. It is small, it is portable, can be powered from a car battery, and you can bring it with you wherever you go. It weighs 60 pounds, making it the perfect smoker and grill for campign, beach days, and tailgating.
The cooking surface is relatively small – the grill surface 12” x 16” (192 square inches) with the hood being 7” tall at the highest point. This is just big enough to cook some larger cuts of meat like tri-tip or brisket. However, small size is not necessarily a downside. While you won’t host a 4th of July cookout with this pellet grill, the small capacity and the compact size of the Davy Crockett pellet smoker makes it a perfect choice for condo dwellers or for picnics.
The smoker uses a digital thermostatic controller with an LED display. In addition, Green Mountain includes adaptors which can provide power from a wall outlet, car battery, or even a car cigarette lighter.
Davy Crockett from Green Mountain Grills Features
Wi-Fi Pellet Smoker
Just like many other appliances available, the Davy Crockett pellet grill comes with Wi-Fi. It may seem absurd to pay more only because of the Wi-Fi feature, but every experienced outdoor griller will tell you that it can come in handy. If you want perfectly grilled or smoked food, you will need to keep your eyes on the temperature of the grill all the time. Taking your eyes off the thermometer for even a few seconds can result in your food being burnt. Because of this, the person behind the grill doesn’t get a chance to hang out with the rest.
With Davy Crockett’s Wi-Fi feature you will have more time to interact with your friends and family. Download the GMG’s app to your phone and you will be able to turn the cooker on and off, monitor and control internal meat temperature, and even receive system malfunction or low fuel warning. In addition, you can even add time and temperature instructions for your favorite recipes. For example, the grill can cook at 225°F until the internal meat temperature is 110°F. Then, the heat can be turned up to 500°F for browning until the temperature of the meat is 135°F. Lastly, the temperature can be dropped to 140°F to keep the meat warm.
Included Meat Probe
Instructing the grill like in the example above wouldn’t be possible without a meat probe. Knowing the internal temperature of the meat is very useful even if you don’t want to use the GMG app. Many meat probes which you can find in your local hardware stores are inaccurate and expensive.
Green Mountain Grills made sure to include a sturdy and reliable meat probe with their Davy Crockett pellet grill. The probe can easily connect to the unit’s digital controller and give you precise readings of the internal temperature of your food. Thanks to the meat probe, you will never serve dried and overcooked food again.
Open Flame Technology
If you have been doing any research on pellet grills, then you already know that most of them are quite limited when it comes to searing meat. Luckily, the GMG thought of everything. Besides the modern and advanced features, they made sure to include an innovative two-piece grease tray with their Davy Crockett pellet smoker.
The tray can be placed in the opened position and used for high-heat direct grilling. When you want to switch back to smoking, simply move the tray back to the closed position. And, just like this, all your smoking and searing problems are solved.
- Features Sense-Mate, a thermal sensor which constantly monitors grill temperature
- Includes a meat probe, peaked lid for rib racks, convenience tray
- Weighs 68 lbs. and folds to fits in nearly any trunk, making it the ultimate Tailgating Grill
- 110V or 12V with adapters for 3 power options
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pros:
- Small and portable.
- Multiple powering options.
- Includes Wi-Fi and a meat probe.
- Uses advanced open flame technology.
- Versatile cooking options – grill, smoke, sear, or even bake.
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Cons:
- A bit more expensive from the other portable smokers.
- Legs are too short.
Best Pellet Smoker for the Money – Pit Boss Wood Pellet Grill 71700FB
Pit Boss is becoming more and more popular in the world of pellet smokers dominated by Traeger. Their goal is to make pellet smokers similar to the Traeger models but at a much lower price and without sacrificing quality.
If you are on a budget or are looking for a low-cost way to test the world of smoking, the Pit Boss 71700FB is the perfect choice for you. You will get 700 square inches of cooking surface, porcelain-coated iron grids, and digitally controlled burn system for half the price of the Traeger Texas Elite 34.
When it comes to temperature range, Pit Boss 71700FB has a minimum temperature of 180°F and a maximum temperature of 500°F. This Pit Boss pellet smoker can be used for grilling, roasting, smoking, baking, searing, and braising. In addition, the Flame Broiler allows you to grill your food directly over an open flame. And with a hopper that can fit up to 12 pounds of wood pellets, you’ll be smoking all day without having to refill.
Pit Boss Wood Pellet Grill 71700FB Features
Heat Range and Convection Cooking
The Pit Boss 71700FB comes with a range of cooking temperatures from 180°F to 500°F, and you can set your temperature with a turn of the dial. This pellet grill comes with an electric igniter which provides easy and mess-free barbecue lightning. The digital control board with the internal meat probe will cook your food perfectly every time.
This smoker also features fan-forced convection cooking which eliminates the need for a rotisserie. All the moisture will be sealed in the meat and leaving you with the juciest barbecue you’ve ever cooked.
Easily-Cleaned Cooking Grates
The cooking grates are made out of cast iron and additionally coated with porcelain. This allows you to clean the grates easily. There is no need for a steel brush when it comes to cleaning. Instead, after every use clean your pellet grill with a paper towel, or for a more thorough cleanup use dish soap and a soft cloth.
Large Cooking Surface and Flame Broiler
One of the greatest features of the Pit Boss 71700FB is the large cooking surface. You get 700 square inches of cooking surface and two racks – the main one and an additional removable upper rack.
Besides being able to smoke, roast, sear, and bake your food, the Pit Boss 71700FB allows you to do one more thing – directly grill your meat. The unit comes with a flame broiler, a simple slide-plate, which gives you complete control of grilling on direct flame. This is one of the few models that will let you both smoke and grill, and it comes at a great low price.
- 700 sq. in. total cooking surface.
- Porcelain coated cast iron grids.
- Digitally controlled burn system.
- Fueled by 100% natural wood pellets.
Pit Boss 71700FB Pros:
- The best value pellet smoker on our list.
- Solid construction out of heavy gauge steel.
- Automatic startup and shutdown.
- Plenty of cooking space.
- High-temperature capabilities allow for smoking, baking, and grilling
- High hopper capacity which can last throughout long, slow cooking.
Pit Boss 71700FB Cons:
- Bulky and heavy unit, not great for transporting
- One-year warranty compared to three-year warranty from Traeger
- Lack of insulation means the grill can experience temperature swings in harsh conditions like wind, rain, and snow.
Best Pellet Smoker for Competitions – Yoder YS 640 Pellet Grill
Yoder Smokers are built for experienced pitmasters and competitive cooking. So, you may be wondering why is the Yoder YS 640 the runner-up then? It’s simple – this is a pro-level grill and it’s more than what many people actually need. And since it is built for competitive purposes it also happens to be the most expensive pellet grill on this list.
Yoder smokers are named after the size of the cooking surface. The YS640 pellet smoker has 640 square inches of grilling surface. In addition, you can get yourself a removable second shelf that adds 65% to the cooking surface area – bringing the total space to 1,070 square inches. The entire smoker is built out of quality materials and comes with a lifetime guarantee against burnout.
Yoder Smokers are great for advanced cooking because they offer an insane amount of control throughout the cooking process. You can smoke, bake, or grill on a YS640, and the smoker offers the ability to adjust the grill for each of these purposes.
One of Yoder’s most unique features is the Variable Displacement Damper. This makes it easy to smoke, sear, and grill your food using the YS640. This is a metal plate that moves along the lower smoke box. If you move it all the way left, it concentrates heat directly over the firepot for conductive searing. If you move it back to the right, the heat will spread evenly across the entire some box for even cooking. The unit comes with a side firebox which has a removable cooking grate if you want to grill your food in it.
The YS 640 also uses an original temperature controller built from scratch by the Yoder. This controller is known for its superior flexibility, accuracy, and efficiency, which is why competition pitmasters love their Yoder pellet grills.
What makes the Yoder YS640 Great:
- Primary cooking area is expandable to 784 square inches.
- Temperature range: 150°F to 600°F.
- Hopper capacity: 20 pounds.
- Precise control panel.
- Powder coated steel construction.
- Includes an internal baffle for adjusting airflow and heat.
Consistent Temperature in All Conditions
The Yoder YS640 is a more professional pellet smoker which maintains consistent temperature across the cooking grates. This means that you will never have to move your food to avoid overcooking because of the hot spots within the smoker. In addition, cold weather and winds won’t affect the temperature within this smoker as they do with some other pellet smokers.
With the Yoder YS 640 you won’t have to worry about scooping the ashes anymore. This pellet smoker burns the pellets so efficiently that there will be almost nothing left to clean. All you will have to do is empty the ash tray every now and then and wipe down the grates. You can spray the grates with PAM prior to use which makes clean up even easier.
Yoder YS 640 is built out of durable materials. Unfortunately, this means that it is heavier than some other units. It weighs 325 lbs, nearly twice as much as the Traeger Texas Elite 34. The main body is built out of 10 gauge metal. It will take more time to reach the highest temperature, however the smoker will hold the heat in far better than some other cookers.
The doors are also a heavy, stout component which makes sure no smoke comes out at all. To take the feeling of the weight away, Yoder added a counterweight that gives the cooker a nice look and also makes opening the door a lot easier.
The cooking gates are built out of metal which provides additional support for your food than the typical bar grates. Just like every other part of this pellet smoker, the shelves are both heavy duty and removable, making them easy to clean.
Yoder YS640 Pros:
- Made out of durable materials.
- Large cooking capacity.
- Precise temperature controller.
- Supports high-temperature grilling capacity.
Yoder YS 640 Cons:
- More expensive than other units.
- Has limited heat retention.
REC TEC RT 680
REC TEC pellet smokers appeared a few years ago and the makers wanted to make their grills stand out. They wanted a grill that would have the type of temperature control found in an oven. Logically, this meant a pellet grill. But the REC TEC RT 680 isn’t revolutionary – it has a great marketing campaign, strong following and committed support. The makers even provide a 30-day no questions asked return policy and a six-year warranty.
The grill is built for large scale cooking. The cook surface is big, with 702 square inches of rack space. The pellet hopper is mounted in the rear and it can hold up to 40 lbs, much more than the othe smokers featured here.
The temperature control unit is easy to use and relatively good. To start it, all you have to do is push one button.When it comes to the unit itself, the REC TEC RT 680 is, in general, thick and well built. Unfortunately, the reported temperature can differ from the actual temperature due to airflow inconsistencies inside the cooking chamber. The maximum temperature this grill can reach is 500°F.
The Rec Tec RT680 is a solid grill. We just think it’s expensive, and for the price it’s not a great value. When comparing cost, features, and quality, the Traeger Texas Elite 34 is a much better choice.
REC TEC RT 680 Features:
- Very large hopper capacity.
- 702 square inches cooking area.
- Temperature range: 180°F to 500°F.
- Steel powder coated construction and stainless steel cooking grates.
If you are looking for a great portable grill then the Traeger Tailgater might be the one for you. It is 36 x 37 x 18 inches large and weighs only 62 lbs! It also features Traeger’s EZ Fold legs which make moving the grill around incredibly easy.
We think this model is a toss up with the GMG Davy Crockett pellet smoker. The Traeger Tailgater would have won our “best portable grill” category if it wasn’t more expensive than the GMG’s Davy Crockett. The two grills have very similar features, ultimately there are a few key differences that will determine which is right for you.
- Size – The Traeger Tailgater has a 300-square inch grilling area compared to the 219 square inches which the Green Mountain Grill’s Davy Crockett has. A cooking surface this large allows you to. keep up to 12 burgers, 18 hot dogs, 3 rib racks, or 2 chickens. This is the perfect size for a small gathering at home or maybe even a picnic in the park.
- Temperature – The tailgater has much more advanced digital temperature controlling technology. Owners also report a much more consistent temperature than the Davy Crocket Grill
- Wi-fi capabilities – The Traeger Tailgater lacks the Wi-Fi feature
- Hopper Capacity – The Tailgater’s hopper has 18 lb capacity, which is much larger than the Davy Crocket. A built-in sensor warns you whether the auger needs to add more pellets to the firepot or not.
- Power source – The Davy Crocket is built to run off of a cigarette lighter, which makes it great for camping. You’ll need extra equipment to make this work with the Traeger Tailgater.
If you’re looking for a very portable smoker on a budget, we recommend the Davy Crockett by Green Mountain Grills. However, if you’re looking for a small backyard smoker that you can use at the occasional picnic, tailgate, or cul-de-sac party, we recommend the Traeger Tailgater. We think the slight increase in cost is justified by the bigger grill space, which comes in handy if you’re using your smoker frequently or to cook for more than two people.
- NEVER USE GAS OR CHARCOAL AGAIN: Traeger created the original wood-pellet grill as the ultimate way to achieve wood-fired taste. The Tailgater is our most capable of our portable wood pellet grills
- PRECISION TEMPERATURE CONTROL: The Digital Arc Controller maintains a plus/minus 15 degree F temperature control to guarantee precision grilling, and a temperature range of 180-450 Fahrenheit
- Take your grill and your wood-fired BBQ wherever you go. Whether it’s your truck tailgate, the parking lot, out at the campsite or anywhere your travels take you, you’ll never have to leave your smoke behind
- EZ fold legs, a grill capacity of 300 sq inches, and capacity for 12 burgers, 3 racks of ribs or 2 whole chickens
- 6-in-1 versatility to grill, smoke, braise, roast, bake, or BBQ
Traeger Tailgater Features:
- Large 300 square inches cooking surface.
- Weighs only 62 lbs.
- You can use it to smoke, bake, grill, braise, roast, and barbeque your food.
- Very easy to assemble and use.
- Portable, lightweight, and suitable for tailgating.
- Provides precise cooking temperature.
Traeger has another portable smoker which is similar in size but slightly cheaper – the Traeger Elite Junior. They’re roughly the same grill, so we prefer paying a bit more for the Tailgater in exchange for the portability.
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX
The fight for building the cheapest pellet smoker with decent quality is pretty intense. Unfortunately, a cheaper pellet grill often leads to lower quality construction. The Camp Chef SmokePro DLX is more expensive than the Pitboss 71700fb, and in our opinion the Pitboss is the better pellet smoker. It isn’t a bad unit; the controller of this smoker even includes a meat probe that typically comes only with the more expensive units. However, it does have one flaw – the lid.
The lid is a big complaint from some owners. It is thin and easily warped or bent. It can’t be shut very tightly all the time, causing the smoke and the heat to escape. Not only will this affect the flavor of your food, but will also cause a higher pellet consumption. The cost of wood pellets adds up over time, it is not worth burning through bags of them just so you could pay less for a smoker. Despite this flaw, the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX can still grill and smoke your food efficiently.
Camp Chef does offer one key accessory that most other pellet grills don’t have. We’re talking about the SmokePro BBQ Propane Sear Box. Most pellet smokers aren’t that good at searing. However, the Camp Chef made sure to address this issue. The sear box can reach up to 900°F and reverse sear four steaks perfectly. If you’re willing to overlook some inefficiency with the smoker, and searing your meat at high temperatures is important to you, then the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX could be the right smoker for you.
- Large capacity pellet hopper with exclusive ash cleanout system
- Electronic auto-start ignition for quick and easy start every time
- Dual LED temperature readout shows internal cooking temps and food temps
- Simple temperature selection system maintains heat
- Automatic auger dispenses pellets as needed for improved smoker efficiency
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Features:
- Up to 573 square inches of total cooking space.
- Comes with a built-in meat probe to monitor the temperature
- Lightweight construction.
- The lid won’t line up perfectly all the time.
- Precision temperature control panel.
- 18-pound capacity wood pellet hopper.
- Temperature range: 180°F to 500°F.
- Sear Box can be purchased as an accessory
Traeger Texas Elite 34 Pellet Smoker
Traeger Pellet Grills were the first smokers available on the market. The production began in 1988 and for almost 20 years, Traeger enjoyed a monopoly on the idea. But when their patent expired, a number of new manufacturers hit the market, but that hasn’t kept them from dominating the category they’ve created.
The Traeger Texas Elite 34 Pellet Grill is large enough to fulfill all your smoking needs. We think this is the best pellet smoker for most people because it is large enough to host a cookout, is feature packed relative to it’s competitors, and is relatively inexpensive considering its high quality.
- 884 square inches grilling area.
- Powder coated steel construction.
- The Digital Pro Controller guarantees precision grilling by maintaining a +/- 15°F temperature control.
- Comes with the main rack and an extra rack which are made out of steel.
- The main rack can hold 24 burgers, 6 chickens, 9 rib racks, and 32 hot dogs.
- The extra rack can hold up to 16 burgers and 24 hot dogs.
- 6-in-1 unit: grill, smoke, roast, bake, barbeque, and braise food.
- Simple 10-position temperature control unit.
- 18-pound capacity pellet hopper.
- At 165 pounds the grill is relatively lightweight for it’s size. It also features a side-lift bar and all-terrain wheels for easy transport.
Easy System Startup
Starting smokers can sometimes be a real hassle. In order to start some smokers, you will have to spend time loading the wood chips or pellets and then playing with the knob until you reach the correct temperature. When you add your food, you may catch yourself constantly adjusting the knob to control your smoker’s temperature.
Traeger makes this process very easy. All you have to do is add pellets, open the lid, turn the knob to smoke and that’s it. The hopper will automatically feed pellets over a hot rod and ignite the fire. You should have your smoker up and running at 230°F in less than 10 minutes. All you’ll have to do after the Traeger 34 Elite smoker starts up is add meat and make sure you don’t run out of pellets.
Advanced Pellet Delivery System
The greatest thing about pellet smokers, in general, is the ease of using pellets instead of wood chunks. First of all, they leave a very small amount of ash behind and burn very efficiently. With the 20-pound hopper that comes with this Traeger grill, you can smoke for as long as 40 hours without refilling the hopper.
Cleaning other types of smokers typically includes scooping ash from the burners and removing burnt remains from the racks. Traeger turns this messy process into a very simple one. The smoker burns pellets so efficiently that there is almost no ash left behind. Since there is no direct flame, the cooking grates will not get sticky and caked with excessive amounts of burnt, juicy meat. In order to clean the racks, all you have to do is brush them quickly and then wipe them with a paper towel.
- Never use gas or charcoal again: cooking with wood just tastes better. Traeger created the original wood-pellet grill as the ultimate way to achieve wood-fired taste
- Versatile barbecue cooking: hot and fast, or low and slow, the Traeger Pro Series 34 pellet grill offers 6-in-1 versatility to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and BBQ food to juicy perfection
- Precision temperature control: The Digital Pro Controller rocks Advanced Grilling Logic, which maintains a +/- 15 degree F temperature control to guarantee precision grilling. 450 °F Max Temp
- Sturdy and Durable: Powerful steel construction and durable powder coat finish, easy to clean porcelain grill grates and all-terrain wheels
- Large cooking capacity: 884 sq. in. cooking capacity that can accomodate 8 chickens, 7 racks of ribs or 40 burgers
Traeger Texas Elite 34 Pros:
- Consistent and hassle-free cooking.
- Simple startup and shutdown system.
- Large hopper capacity.
- Simple mobility.
- Delicious flavor every time.
Traeger Texas Elite 34 Cons:
- Basic 10-position dial pellet controller only gives you so much control
- The maximum temperature of 450°F means this grill isn’t great for searing
What to look for in wood pellet grills
The best pellet smokers on the market will give you convenience, control, and rich taste. But there are some other factors you should take into account. Here are some of the key features we think matter most when trying to find the best pellet smoker.
Pellet Grill Size
Pellet smokers come in many different sizes ranging from smaller, portable models to large ones for commercial use. When choosing the right size of the smoker, you need to take into consideration its dimensions (so the smoker can fit in your space) and also the cooking area.
A pellet smoker with a primary cooking area of 500 square inches should be sufficient for an average-sized family who wants to have the occasional cookout. If you’re cooking for yourself or a couple, tailgating, or camping, we recommend going for smaller units. It all depends on your needs, keep in mind that bigger doesn’t always mean better. You don’t want to be paying extra money for space you won’t use at all.
If you want your investment in a pellet smoker to last for years, then you have to make sure the smoker is well built. High-quality materials will not only protect your smoker from rusting but also make it perform better. Well-built pellet smoker will also retain heat better, leading to shorter and more consistent cooks using fewer pellets.
Pellet grills made out of stainless steel are more durable and rust-resistant and are often the most attractive option. Since many smokers are painted, make sure to research the quality of the paint. A high-temperature powder coat paint can withstand high heat. This is important because if the paint flakes it will leave the steel exposed to outside influences and it could rust.
But it is not only the outside of the smoker that matters. Even if the body is painted well, the inside parts, such as the firepot and diffuser plate, have the potential to corrode. Some manufacturers allow you to upgrade the inside parts to stainless steel to prolong the life of your smoker.
Temperature control is a critical component of any pellet grill. The most important thing about smoking is precision. Fluctuations can be within 20°F, give or take. Anything more than that can make a huge difference in your final dish and at the very least will impact your cook time.
The most common one among high-quality grills is the computer-regulated temperature control. The precision of different temperature controllers varies. Most can hold a consistent temperature in good conditions, but many temperature controllers fail in the cold and rain. There are several different types of controllers:
- 3-Position Controller – has only three temperature settings – low, medium, and high. This means that you will have less control over the cooking temperatures.
- Multi-Position Controller – typically has a knob with temperature settings that go from 180°F to 425°F and they may have an LCD display. Such controllers offer better control, but they can only maintain about +/-20°F in ideal conditions.
- One-Touch Non-PID Controller – such controllers come with an LCD display and one-touch buttons which allow you to accurately set the desired cooking temperature. These controllers are also limited in accuracy to about 15°F – 20°F.
- PID Controllers – these controllers are the most sophisticated. They also feature an LCD display and one-touch buttons. However, unlike the previous controllers that use fixed cycles for adding pellets, this type of controller will constantly measure the smoker’s temperature and add pellets when necessary to hold the desired cooking temperature.
Don’t be tricked by the manufacturers who boast the smokers that have heat zones. This is not a good thing because having a heat zone means that a smoker can only maintain the temperature within a certain limited “zone.” You also want to stay away from pellet smokers who use any manual form of air flow for temperature regulating purposes.
Just like you need to have precise control over your unit’s temperature, you also need to make sure that your smoker can reach an adequate temperature. Most pellet smokers can reach temperatures between 180°F and 425°F, which is a decent range that can fulfill most of your smoking, baking, and grilling purposes. However, if you want to sear your meat, you will need a unit that can reach at least 500°F.
The higher the temperature range goes, the more your pellet smoker can do. For example, a pellet smoker with a temperature range of 500°F- 700°F is hot enough to sear food and even bake a pizza. Consider getting a good thermometer or even a meat probe so you could have an accurate reading and make sure you are cooking your food at the right temperature.
Every pellet smoker should come with a fuel containment unit known as a hopper. Hoppers come in different sizes. The smaller the hopper, the more often you’ll have to refill it with pellets.
You want a hopper that can take at least 10 pounds of pellets. Anything less and you might need to refill your grill with pellets mid-smoke depending on the temperature and length of your recipe.
The most common features all pellet smokers should have are the following:
- Electronic auto-start ignition
- Easy adjustment of temperature or smoke
- Decent temperature range (160°F to 450°F)
- Ashtray, pellet hopper, built-in sensor gauge for reading the temperature
- Additional warming rack
Depending on your needs (and how much you’re willing to spend) some pellet smokers have more advanced functionality:
- Wi-Fi capabilities
- Direct grilling option
- Additional thermometers or meat probes
- Additional cooking racks
Types of Smokers
Besides pellet smokers, there are several other types of smokers classified by the type of fuel they use – electric smokers, propane, charcoal. There are even “duel fuel grills” that give you the ability to use multiple fuel sources. Unsure which type of smoker is right for you? Check out our deep dive on the different types of smokers to see if a different source of fuel might be a better fit for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pellet smokers are perfect for anyone looking to save money by using pellets instead of fuel. Another important feature that makes pellet smokers good is that you can use different bags of wood pellets. This way you can experiment with different flavors. Also, the majority of pellet smokers take less time to heat up compared to electric grills. If you’re not sure what type of smoker is right for you, check out our guide to the different types of smokers.
The Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill is the revolutionary pellet smoker which is our pick for the best pellet smoker on the market. It combines revolutionary WiFIRE technology and unique design to cover all of your grilling needs. With it, you can grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and BBQ. Pro 575 is also very easy to assemble and requires minimal cleaning.
Pit Boss is becoming increasingly popular in the world of pellet smokers. The models are very similar to Traeger models, but they sell for a much lower price. Pit Boss 700B is our pick for the best pellet smoker for the money since it is cheaper than the competitors but still offers a high-quality experience. You can use a lot of cooking space, adjust the temperature easily, grill food directly over an open flame, and much more!
Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill is one of the best pellet smokers under $500 you can get. What makes this smoker stand out is 700 square inches of cooking surface, porcelain-coated iron grids, and digitally controlled burn system. When it comes to temperature, this pellet grill has a minimum temperature of 180°F and a maximum temperature of 500°F.
Davy Crockett Portable Pellet Smoker is without a doubt the best portable smoker. It features Wi-Fi connectivity, and it is also small and portable. The best thing about it is that it can be powered from a car battery. This means that you can bring it wherever you go! It has a relatively small cooking size, but easy control and fast cleaning make it perfect for any family outdoor activity.
The Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is considered to be the best vertical pellet smoker currently available on the market. The four chrome-coated racks offer you plenty of cooking space and they do a great job at maintaining consistent heat and temperature. The smoker is great for cuts of all sizes, and you can use it for cold smoking as well.
Pellet grills are specifically for grilling foods and cooking at high temperature. Pellet smokers are much more like an oven, you can set a target temperature and the pellet smoker will hold that temperature constant while using smoke from burning the pellets to add flavor to your dish.
There are different kinds of pellets, and your choice of wood pellets can have a great effect on the quality and taste of your food. You can choose different pellet flavors from smoking such as alder, apple, cherry, hickory, maple, mesquite, oak, pecan, and much more! You can read our guide about the best type of wood to use for each type of dish to learn more. The quality of wood pellets depends on pellet makers, many companies that sell pellet smokers also manufacture their own pellets. You should look at the products from Traeger, CookingPellets, Camp Chef, etc.