Best Pellet Grills of 2017 – The Complete Buyer’s Guide

by | Apr 26, 2017 | Grill

Choosing a pellet grill is no easy task. There are a lot of options, and they all look pretty similar to the untrained eye. Well, they’re not all created equal…

We’ve painstakingly compared all of the models we could muster, and from that we’ve come up with a top 5 list. Now, just because something’s lower on the list, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice for you. All of these grills are great, and we’ve ranked them on a number of criteria. The importance of each criteria will vary from person to person, thus a grill that ends up lower on our list might be the perfect fit for your needs.

We’ve ranked them based on the price, the value, the performance, the size, the overall durability and build quality, and the taste they’re able to help produce.

We’re sure that you’re eager to get smoking, so let’s not waste any more time, let’s get right into it…

Summary Tables

Rank#1#2#3#4#5
Product


REC TEC

Wood Pellet Grill


Check Price


Traeger

Pellet Grills


Check Price


Camp Chef

PG24


Check Price


Pit Boss

71700FB


Check Price


Louisiana Grills

60800


Check Price
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Rating5 Stars5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.0 Stars
Proslow/high temperatures, quality materials, large cooking areadigital control, affordable, multi-use, lightervery accurate, easy-to-use, good cooking surfacelarge cooking surface, digital burn control, low/high temperatures, very affordableawesome cooking surface, very durable, fast cooking
Consheavy, not the cheapest optionlimited cooking surfacenot an entry-level unithopper is a bit too bigheavy grill, not the cheapest option
Cooking Surface (sq/inch)700292570700800
Shipping Weight250 pounds71 pounds132 pounds134 pounds210 pounds

Summary Tables

Best BBQ Grills of 2017

Learn more about our top BBQ grill picks for this year, and let us know if you have any questions that we can help you with.

REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill

Featuring Smart Grill Technology™

Our Rating:  5 Stars (5/5)

 

Versatile Grill    
Stabilized Temperature  
Product Warranty   

Coming in at first is this wood pellet grill by Rec Tec. There are a lot of reasons to love it, and reasons that it managed to edge out the competition not just in individual categories, but overall as well.

This is as close to perfect as you’re going to get. From smoking at lower temperatures, to grilling food at higher temps, you get the best from all words, in an amazing looking package, made with quality materials that’ll last you season after season of heavy use. Let’s get into more details, because there’s a lot to love here…

Using their trademarked Smart Grill Technology, Rec Tec have managed to give you a wide array of temperatures, with precision control of 5 degrees. From 180ºF to 500ºF, and whether you’re looking for a low and slow cook that’ll keep your neighbors jealous and salivating all day, or you want to bang out something more quickly at a higher temperature, you’re covered, with one unit.

The cooking area is ample, at just over 700 square inches. That’s nearly 20 inches x 36 inches. At a full three feet wide, and nearly two feet deep, that’s no joke. You can feed a large group, or simply make yourself enough for thirds, fourths, and lunch for the next week.

It’s very easy to operate, just press a button and you’re off, it’ll start heating up to the specific temperature you’re requested. Sometimes, with smokers, you’ll have trouble maintaining the correct temperature throughout the entire cooking process, but that’s not an issue with this pellet grill.

Your food is cooked over a real wood fire, but you’re also getting the advantage of computers to regulate the temperature by controlling how much wood is allowed to burn, and how hot.

This pellet grill comes with a 6 year warranty, but don’t expect it to start following apart a month after your warranty is up. Even after a year or two, if you use it with any regular consistency (Spoiler alert: You will), you’ll feel it’s already paid for itself.

The sheer amounts of meat people have been able to fit into this unit is also impressive, but not surprising given the roomy size of it. For example, one family could smoke 4 twelve pound turkeys at once, 6 full racks of baby back ribs, or two large briskets.

The hopper is at the back and totally out of the way, and has a giant capacity of 40 pounds. There are less expensive units out there, but you won’t find anything nearly this consistent and solid for less money, and you’d be hard pressed to find anything better for more money, until you start getting into the really high-grade professional restaurant caliber stuff, so for at home – this is it, this is the one to get.

Traeger Pellet Grills

BBQ155.01 19.5K BTU Pellet Grill

Our Rating: 5 Stars (5/5)

 

Digital Control  
Automatic Auger  
Cooking Area   

If you’re looking for something less expensive than the Rec Tec unit, but still want something very decent, and don’t mind not having the very top of the line, this pellet grill by Traeger is an excellent choice. It comes in at around half the price, but it’s no slouch. It’s a good way to save some dough, if the Rec Tec is overkill for you.

If you’re looking for something less expensive than the Rec Tec unit, but still want something very decent, and don’t mind not having the very top of the line, this pellet grill by Traeger is an excellent choice. It comes in at around half the price, but it’s no slouch. It’s a good way to save some dough, if the Rec Tec is overkill for you.

The Traeger has a 292 square inch cooking surface, which is less than half of that of our #1 pick, mind you it’s still plenty big for most people, you can certainly cook your family dinner on here, you just might not be able to feed the entire football team.

This is right up near the top of our list for best pellet grill because it’s got a high-tech computer to perfectly regulate the temperature, and automated auger, fully-electronic starter, and does a very nice job of smoking your foods.

It’s not perfect, thought. There are certain features left to be desired. For instance, this smoker doesn’t have a temperature probe like we’ve seen with some models. It’s not a deal breaker, it does come with a very accurate thermometer, but we have seen probes on units in this price range so that’s left to be desired.

This pellet grill is made of steel, and the dimensions of it are 21 x 23 x 21. It’s not huge, but it’s still ample. It weighs 70 pounds, which seems like nothing compared to the 250 pound weight of the Rec Tec. We don’t want to compare them side-by-side too much, since it does cost quite a bit less, and offers a more-than-adequate introduction to the wonderful world of backyard smoking.

There are cheaper units, but if you can afford this (And not quite ready to go all out on the Rec Tec), this is a great option. It’s a very high quality unit that will serve you well for many years, even though there’s some breathing room between this and the very top of the line.

Camp Chef PG24 Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker BBQ

with Digital Controls and Stainless Temp Probe

Our Rating: 4.5 Stars (4.5/5)

 

Digital Temperature Control  
Cooking Area  
Easy to Assemble  

Rounding out our top 3 is the best pellet smoker that Camp Chef offers, when you factor in quality, price, size, and overall value. This is an excellent choice. If the Traeger, our 2nd top pick, is a bit too small and you’re looking for something with a few more features, that’s still within the same price range, you’ve found what will likely be ideal for you.

Arguably the best value overall, it’s a great middle-point between both of the best pellet grills we’ve featured thus far. It’s not overkill, but it’s got plenty of room and some very useful features.

First of all, this unit includes a temperature probe that plugs into the front and allows you to accurately determine the temperature of whatever you’re cooking. This ensures the center of your meats are getting enough heat and are safe, and that everything is working optimally in general. In addition to that, you’ve got an excellent temperature control with a thermometer that’s accurate to about 10 degrees, so between that and the probe you’ll know exactly where you need to be and exactly where you’re at.

The hopper holds 18 pounds, and the cooking area is 429 square inches. It’s less than some units offer, more than others, and generally a pretty happy medium if you aren’t really sure how big or small to go. You can fit a couple chickens or turkeys on here, a handful of racks of ribs, a brisket or two, and more.

The overall dimensions are 51x21x45 and it weighs about 130 pounds. This unit has some great features that help with cleaning and maintenance, as well. This is an excellent place to start if you’re a beginner, this pellet grill will definitely hold your hand through the process, but don’t get the wrong idea – it’s far from being an “entry level” unit.

Generally, we’d advise you against anything “entry level” since you’re going to have a worse experience and it could turn you off of the art of smoking your foods in the first place. Something in the $500-$1000 range seems like a huge investment upfront, and frankly it is, but when you consider that you’ll have it to enjoy incredible meals for years that’ll blow the socks off all your buddies, and prove to your family that you really can cook after all, it’s a small price to pay.

Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill

with Flame Broiler, 700 sq. in.

Our Rating: 4.5 Stars (4.5/5)

 

Digital Control of Burn  
Total Cooking Area  
Natural Wood Pellets  

Next up is the Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill which shines in some areas, and is a very viable option. Before we continue, it’s worth pointing out that everything on this list of the best pellet smokers and grills is an excellent choice, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. While our number 1 pick is the top choice for a reason, there wouldn’t be a grill on this list that wasn’t worthy of your patio.

We’re basically looking at two price ranges. The ones in the $1000 range, and the ones in the $500 range, give or take. So, the first logical choice is to determine the size of the unit you need and what your budget is. From there, you can more or less narrow it down, unless one unit in particular has a feature that you just can’t live without. Alright, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at what this unit from Pit Boss has to offer you.

One interesting feature is a sliding plate to help you sear your steaks. Imagine a slow-smoked steak with that incredibly woodsy flavor, but also with a delicious sear. C’mon!

This grill has a digitally controlled burn system, 700 square inches in cooking surface, and porcelain coated cast iron grids. The cast iron is a great conductor of heat, and the porcelain works to stop your food from sticking. Great combo!

Pit Boss makes the claim that this unit offers the “Best value per square inch in the pellet grill industry!” and that claim is hard to argue with. From 180 up to 500 degrees, it features the standard temperature range that you’d expect.

It’s made from heavy gauge steel, feels very durable, and should last you for many, many years if you take good care of it and maintain it. One point of contention is that the hopper could be a bit bigger, some have said it holds around 10 pounds. That’s not horrible, and filling it isn’t some horrible task or anything, but it’s worth pointing out that it could stand to be a bit larger.

Louisiana Grills 60800

Stainless Steel Wood Pellet Grill, 800 sq. in.

Our Rating: 4.5 Stars (4.5/5)

 

Digital Control System  
Stainless Components  
Total Cooking Area  

Finally, we checked out the Louisiana Grills 60800 Stainless Steel Wood Pellet Grill. This is the best pellet grill that’s rounding out our list of top picks, but it’s certainly not the least.

It has everything you could want, we just felt that Rec Tec’s offering edged it out, and when we take into account price, performance and features, and overall value, it certainly earns a spot on the list, just not at the top. None the less, there’s a lot that this unit completely nails, so let’s get into some more details.

The spacious cooking surface offers you a massive 838 square inches so you can get a LOT done at once with this one. The design itself is a contemporary-looking stainless steel, which looks very similar to a high-end BBQ, except with the hopper on the left hand side.

Some users have remarked that it goes through pellets faster than other units, which is certainly influenced by the size. If you’re not cooking a lot at once, one of the smaller units on this list would be a lot more economical.

This is a sturdy 210 pounds, and also features those excellent cooking grids made from cast iron and coated with porcelain. The broiler is a nice touch, you can expose the grill to open flame for a perfect sear. This will also cause it to go through pellets more quickly, naturally.

Final thoughts on which pellet grill to buy

Hopefully this list has helped to shine some light on the different options out there, and you’ll find something that suits you so that you can start grilling right away.

Make sure to check out some of our favorite pellet grill recipes, because even the best pellet smoker on earth needs a great recipe to do it justice, otherwise what’s the point? Make sure you let us know if you have any questions, or how much you love the taste of the slow-smoked food that you’re able to make at home.

Billy StewartBilly Stewart

Founder of BarbequeSmoked.com

My dad is a true mans man, and has owned a number of grills. Ranging from gas to charcoal. Growing up with him allowed me to see what different types of rubs, spices, brines, etc went into making the best BBQ. Although my dad was a truck driver, and I had a degree in Information Technology I knew that I wanted to do something about grilling and our recipes.  That’s where Barbeque Smoked comes in.

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