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Here’s How a Pellet Grill Works and Why It’ll Totally Take Your Barbecue to the Next Level

Summertime means beach days, family time and cookouts. In fact, there’s nothing better than sunshine and grilled food. Sure, you could use a traditional charcoal Weber or invest in a fancier gas grill, but when it comes to producing the best barbecue food, there’s a new kid on the block, namely, the pellet grill. The best pellet grills are multi-purpose cooking devices that can grill, smoke, barbecue and more. Not to mention they’re user-friendly to boot.

What is a Pellet Grill?

Pellet grills, also known as pellet smokers, are the new must-have in the grilling world. Why? Well, they combine the best parts of several devices, including kitchen ovens, gas grills and charcoal smokers, resulting in a device that delivers delicious food and an impressively user-friendly cooking experience. Forget having to spend hours reading how to smoke meat or achieve a consistent and evenly heated cooking environment. Let these advanced devices do the complicated work for you. Read on to find out just why these grills are creating such a buzz.

How Does a Pellet Grill Work?

As you may have guessed, pellet grills use pellets as a fuel source instead of charcoal or gas. The majority of pellet grill designs look very similar to the average barbecue, except for a box tacked onto the side. This box is actually a hopper used to house the pellets before they are fed, usually automatically, into the burn pot, which is located at the bottom of the main grilling space.

Inside this burn pot, the pellets are set alright by an ignition, and then they burn to produce cooking heat. Once the process begins, pellets are consistently fed from the hopper when required to maintain constant heat. A fan feeds directional air into the pot to help create an even airflow throughout the grill, resulting in the even cooking environment users love.

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In terms of user control, things are pleasantly simple. On the average pellet grill, you’ll find an ignition button, a temperature button or dial and a button for seeing the temperature probe reading (if your model features one).  

What are the Benefits of a Pellet Grill?

Pellet grills have numerous benefits over standard grills, mostly thanks to their simple setup. They rarely have more than an electronic auto-start ignition button, a digital auto temperature control and an easy-to-read, LED temperature reading. Here are some of the major benefits of a pellet grill:

Easy Ignition – Forget wasting time trying to get charcoal to light. Pellet grills allow for one-touch ignition. Simply set your temperature, and start cooking.

User Friendly – For newcomers, arguably the best reason to choose a pellet grill is their user-friendly designs. Plug it in, then fill it with pellets. You’re only ever minutes away from a multi-functional cooking environment for grilling, roasting, smoking, braising and baking.

Even and Consistent Heat – As no direct heat ever hits the cooking food (unless you want it to), pellet grills are able to produce far more even and consistent cooking environments than the average charcoal or the best grill. Add in directed air and built-in thermostats for a totally controlled cooking process. In addition, usually one or more baffles are included in the design. These combine with forced convection air to cook your food from above and below.

Goodbye Flare-Ups – As mentioned, pellet grills don’t allow for direct heat, so when drippings fall, they aren’t instantly ignited and returned in the form of flames. Instead, drippings are either directed off into the grease bucket or vaporized and returned to your food in the form of even greater flavor.

Wireless Connectivity – Some pellet grills allow you to control the cooking environment through WiFi connectivity. Through your smartphone or even your voice, you can adjust the cooking temperature, monitor the cooking progress, set alarms and set timers.

Delicious Smoky Flavor – 100% all-natural hardwood pellet fuel is available in a range of different flavors. From hickory and apple to cherry and pecan, when used inside your grill, your food will take up this flavor for a truly out-of-this-world result.

Optional Chargrilling – For anyone who loves that char-grilled appearance, most pellet grills feature some form of sliding grill technology. This lets you temporarily expose your food to a naked flame for that appealing finish.

Each of the best pellet grills included in our roundup has been chosen for its user-friendliness, quality construction and, most importantly, its ability to produce delicious food.


1. Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker


The Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker is an eight-in-one device. It can barbecue, braise, grill, smoke and prepare your food in several other ways, too. This grill is super easy to use, making it ideal for newcomers and experienced pellet cookers alike. The design also features a durable and water-resistant exterior covered in either a black or silver finish. Functionally, this advanced grill includes a pellet feeding system, a handy digital auto temperature control and a waterproof cover to keep it clean when it’s not in use.

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2. Realcook Charcoal BBQ Smoker Grill


With its vertical arrangement, the Realcook Charcoal BBQ Smoker Grill is great for barbecuing, grilling, smoking and roasting your food while taking up minimal floor space when compared to more traditional grill styles. Inside the grill, you’ll find 646 square inches of cooking space across two cooking racks, plus four hooks inside the lid for further cooking options. For precise cooking, the design includes a built-in thermometer in the lid as well as heat controls in the top and bottom in the form of vents. Additionally, the grill’s easy-to-breakdown, interlocking design makes this a solid option for users wanting a portable grill.

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3. Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker Roaster & Grill


The Char-Broil Big Easy Smoker Roaster and Grill lets you smoke, roast or grill in one easy-to-use product. This smoker features TRU-Infrared cooking technology which prevents flare-ups and allows your food to cook evenly for tender and juicy results. This multipurpose grill can fit up to a 25-pound turkey or other similarly sized pieces of meat, and it features a porcelain-coated hood and cool-touch handles for solid and durable construction. It’s also portable to boot.

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4. BIG HORN OUTDOORS Pellet Grill & Smoker


From delicious ribs to outstanding jerky, having the BIG HORN OUTDOORS Pellet Grill & Smoker parked in your yard is sure to raise your grilling game. Not only does it look great with its exhaust chimney for better smoke control, but it also keeps you fully in charge with a digital elite controller. This lets you choose the exact cooking temperature at any time, which means you can smoke, roast, bake and grill anywhere between 225 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the 700-square-inch grilling area ensures there’s plenty of room for all of your culinary delights, while the built-in, fold-out shelf provides additional working space for more manageable cooking.

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5. Green Mountain Davy Crockett Sense Mate Grill


Can you imagine a better way to celebrate game day than with a cookout on your Green Mountain Davy Crockett Sense Mate Grill? We certainly can’t. This compact device includes advanced technology which allows you to connect your smartphone to the grill in order to control and monitor your food from a distance. For constant internal temperatures, it also features Sense-Mate, which regularly checks the temperature and adjusts accordingly for a more consistent cooking environment. Furthermore, you’ll find a handy convenience tray, a peaked lid for creating delicious ribs and a meat probe are all included with the grill.

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6. ASMOKE AS660N-1 Electric Grill and Smoker


The ASMOKE AS660N-1 Electric Grill and Smoker comes supplied with everything you need to get going on your pellet-fueled cooking journey. From a grill cover and heat-resistant gloves to a meat probe and meat claws, there won’t be many situations that will catch you without the right equipment. The grill sports a large, 25.8-pound hopper from which the pellets are fed into the main chamber, while a removable utensil shelf adds to the convenience of this well-rounded device. Inside, you’ll find 700 square inches of cooking area and have the ability to choose a constant cooking temperature between 180 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

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7. PIT BOSS 700FB Pellet Grill


PIT BOSS is known for its quality grills, and the PIT BOSS 700FB Pellet Grill is no exception. This traditional-style device offers 700 square inches of cooking surface and includes porcelain-coated cast iron grids for even, stick-free cooking. The simple-to-use, digitally controlled burn system keeps you in control at all times. In addition, the 18-pound capacity pellet hopper ensures you get plenty of cooking time before you’ll need to refill the natural wood pellet fuel.

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8. Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker


The Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is fueled by 100% natural BBQ wood pellets which allow you to enjoy the subtle flavors of grilled and smoked foods. This model has seven-in-one versatility to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, barbecue and function like an oven as well. It has a heavy-duty, stainless steel lid and body, easily moves anywhere you want and has a large space underneath where you can store grilling accessories, seasonings and extra pellets.

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9. Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill


If the ability to control your pellet grill through your smartphone or by using your voice sounds appealing, the Traeger TFB57GZEO Pro Series 575 Grill could be the choice for you. This advanced device uses WiFIRE tech to let you adjust the grill temperature, monitor your food, set cooking timers and create alerts using WiFi. It boasts an auto-feeding, 18-pound pellet hopper and houses 575 square inches of grilling space inside. Other notable inclusions are the meat probe, precise temperature control and quick start-up. Additionally, you’ll find all-terrain wheels for greater portability and porcelain-coated grill grates which help prevent food from sticking and make clean up easier afterward, too.

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