Pit Boss Grill Review – The Perfect Option for Beginners?

by | Nov 19, 2017 | Reviews

Updated July 17th with the review of the Pit Boss 71820FB. Check that out by clicking here.

Pit Boss 700FB

Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill

Our Rating:  
Digital Control of Burn 
Natural Wood Pellets 
Cooking Surface700 sq/inch
Price$$$

This particular pellet grill was featured on our list of the best options, which inspired this more in-depth Pit Boss grill review that you’re about to read.

This is an excellent choice, and one of the top picks in this budget range. Basically, it’s a great starting point without having to make any sacrifices. Despite being a great place to start your smoking journey, it’s definitely not an entry-level unit in regards to quality or value.

We’re going to cover some of the basics of backyard pellet grilling and what makes this such an exciting category that’s been gaining a lot of attention lately, and then we’ll get right into this unit in particular. We’re going to look at the pros, some areas that could use improvement, and finally who this grill is best suited for.

Why is everybody pellet grilling?

Pellet grilling is becoming more and more popular each season because it’s a relatively affordable way to produce top-caliber smoked foods at your own home. Be sure to check out our pellet grill reviews in another article. It takes the traditional backyard smoker and builds on it, making it easier to use and more versatile.

Most of them work in a very similar way. There’s a hopper attached to either the side or the back of the grill which holds pellets, often between 10-40 pounds at once, and it feeds them into the flames as necessary to achieve your desired temperature. The temperatures often range from 170 degrees up to 500. This allows you to smoke your food very slowly, for a perfectly flavorful and tender result, or to get the cooking done more quickly similar to that of a BBQ, but once again, with the delicious flavor profile from the pellets.

It’s just a matter of picking a grill, buying some pellets, and finding a couple recipes to try out. You’ll fall in love once you taste it, you won’t believe you could make something so delicious at home. It’ll taste like you got it fresh from a smokehouse in Texas.

Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill Review

Image Credit: HomeDepot.com

Let’s start with the basics. This grill has 700 square inches of cooking surface available so it can hold plenty. There are bigger options out there, but they’re basically as big as a tank and kind of overkill unless you’re smoking some serious quantities of meat at a time.

The grids that you’ll be cooking on are made of cast iron so they’re heavy, solid, and can hold a consistent temperature. They’re also coated in porcelain to help stop anything from sticking.

You can use any brand of pellets in here, but we highly recommend finding some pellets that are 100% natural hardwood. You can get individual woods like apple, mesquite, hickory, and cherry. You can also get blends that contain various amounts of different hardwords. In any case, the type of wood that you’re burning is going to influence the taste that the smoke adds to your food, and this pellet grill will work with any quality pellets – not just the ones made and sold by Pit Boss.

This grill weighs just under 120 pounds, it’s sturdy and durable, and it’ll last you a very long time, especially if you’re taking good care of it.

Best Features of this Pit Boss Pellet Grill

There’s a lot to like here, even before you sink your teeth into the first bike of a perfectly roasted brisket that has been teasing you with its scent all day long.

It’s big enough to cook a feast for up to six people. There are bigger units out there, but for the size and price this one is a great choice unless you’re doing some seriously heavy-volume smoking.

Pit Boss has made a very versatile pellet grill here, and used high-gauge steel for an excellent build quality. Back to versatility. Whether you want to grill, smoke, roast, sear, braise, BBQ, bake, or char-grill, you can do it.

In traditional smokers, the idea of a perfectly seared steak might sound like a fantasy, but now it’s a reality. There’s a plate at the bottom that you can slide over, which exposes the flames to the grilling area, to get a great sear while still enjoying all of the advantages of a smoker. There’s a second rack that you can use as well.

Overall, it’s very well-reviewed and people just love it.

Tip: If you’re a whiskey drinker, some people have been known to smoke water, then to freeze it into ice cubes, which adds a new flavor profile rather than just watering down your drink once the ice melts. This might not be your cup of tea, per se, but it’s an interesting example of what’s possible with a unit like this.

Areas to improve

It’s hard to criticize a unit for things it wasn’t designed for. Some people love the size, others wish it was  a bit larger, but frankly 700 square inches of cooking surface is a lot bigger than other grills in this price range, for the most part.

We’ve looked at grills with larger hopper capacities, but this one has been reported to hold anywhere from 10-20 pounds, depending on who you ask, but you should be able to fit a twenty pound bag in there. This isn’t really a major point of contention because it’s simple to add more pellets as needed, and you can have this thing smoking all day without having to add more.

To finish off this Pit Boss review…

To wrap things up, let’s go over who this unit is for, and who should look for something else.

If you…

  • Are new to smoking,
  • Want to start with a high-quality unit instead of something totally entry-level,
  • Want a unit that’s well-made and will last you a long time,
  • Don’t typically need to feed more than 6-8 people at a time…

Then Pit Boss grill is a really strong choice, to sum things up. If you have been smoking meats for years  and are looking for a unit that lands at the very peak of the high-end for home use, you’ll want to look at one of the premium units we’ve reviewed, but frankly for the vast majority of people, this one right here will be an absolute treat and more than enough.

If you need to feed huge groups on a regular basis, or like to have a TON of leftovers, you might want to look at a larger unit as well, but this Pit Boss isn’t small by any means.

All in all, if it fits your budget, this is a great choice whether you’re new to smoking or you’re just looking for something new.

Pit Boss 820FB

Pit Boss 71820FB Pellet Grill

Our Rating:  
Flame Broiler 
Cooking Range180 – 500 Degrees
Cooking Surface820 sq/inch
Price$$$

For those of you who don’t know, Pit Boss is the company behind the already famous Louisiana wood pellet smoker. They already have a good reputation for quality, and being a Canadian company, the quality is as good as they come.

I gave the 71820FB a test a few weeks ago, cooking out twice and getting a good feel for how this grill copes with real-world use.

Features of the 820

The Pit Boss comes with 820 square inches of cooking space, that’s up there with most large grills. It also comes with a flame broiler for open flame searing of meat, plus a temperature control with LED readout.

One neat feature is that the Pit Boss has a fan assisted convector, plus nice cast iron grates. The grates are all coated in porcelain enamel, which should resist heat easily.

So far, Pit Boss is most well-known for their wood pellet smokers; the 71820FB follows in this tradition with wood pellets being the fuel of choice.

Setting It Up

The first thing you’ll notice when opening the Pit Boss packaging is the excellent instruction guide and easy to read diagram. There’s a bit of assembly required to get the Pit Boss up and running, namely the smoke box, legs, wheels and the bottom storage grill.

It’s not hard to bolt it all together, and all the fixtures and fittings are of good quality. One thing that does slightly worry me is that the enamel paint finish doesn’t seem all that great. Compared to a Dyno Glo, or Char-Griller, it doesn’t seem quite so tactile.

On a happier note, the steel barrel and smokebox are manufactured from quite thick steel. That more than makes up for the dodgy paint job and hopefully points to solid quality in other areas too.

The Pit Boss weighs in at 140 pounds, quite light for such a large grill and easily moved about. One thing that does impress is the wheels and carry handles. They’ve been well engineer by Pit Boss, and do a good job of keeping the grill sturdy.

In Use

One of the great things about the Pit Boss is that it has an electronic temperature control device and LED readout. The LED control runs from 180 degrees right up to 500; however, I couldn’t push the grill to more than 350 degrees. To be honest, I don’t think many grill owners will need that type of power anyway.

The grill has its own electronic ignition system, so all you need to do is add the pellets and press a button.

The 71820FB, with its 820 square inches of cook space, is an excellent place to cook. It has two racks, an upper one and a lower one. One thing I will say about the porcelain coated barrel is that it’s a lot tougher than it looks! What originally looked a bit cheap on unpackaging the grill, turned out to be quite sturdy once in use.

To test the grill out, I decided to try it with ribs, sausages, and burgers. Once the grill settles down, small items of meat cook quickly, and the wood pellets give the meat a Smokey flavor. I also tried a longer smoke with an 8-pound brisket. My own recipe is the “low and slow” variety, something the Pit Boss does very well. I like to cook my brisket at 180 degrees, and the Pit Boss happily maintained the temperature for hours at a time.

Naturally, being a wood pellet grill, there’s a learning curve in getting the temperature just right; however, the Pit Boss and it’s electronic control make that curve far shallower. That’s not to say the Pit Boss is perfect; I measured a temperature fluctuation of about 10 – 15 degrees in use; however, it’s far easier to control than most!

Portability

The Pit Boss is quite a substantial beast at nearly 150 pounds, yet it does come with a good set of wheels and a solid carry handle on the other side. This allows you to roll the grill over most surfaces no matter how uneven.

You could, in theory, remove the legs of the grill and just about get the unit in the back of a car; however, it’s not that practical, so you’re best to look for another grill if you need true portability.

Round-Up

I was ready to lambast the Pit Boss after the first few minutes and looking at a rather cheap looking paint finish; my first impressions couldn’t have been more wrong!

After getting to grips with the grill, I discovered a well-engineered unit that boasts some impressive features. The electronic control does an excellent job of regulating temperature; and although it’s not perfect, it makes your life far easier when trying to get a consistent cookout.

I was also impressed with the strength and thickness of the steel used, and general build quality of the mechanisms and switches. I hated the paint at first, yet it’s quite strong in real-world use, resisting bumps, scratches and heat pealing.

Cooking space is on a par with anything else within its price range, which at about $650 is quite high and anyone purchasing one will want something that can cater large groups.

As for negatives, the only two are the temperature fluctuations I saw, mainly when cooking my brisket. This could have been down to lack of experience with the grill; I know that the more I’d get to know the Pit Boss, the more I’d be able to get that temperature nailed down.

The other issue is/was the paint finish. It’s very strong in practice; however, you might not get that impression on first view!

Overall, I’m impressed with the Pit Boss 71820FB. Loved the build quality, liked the grill space and enjoyed my time cooking on it. I’d be happy to put up with a little temperature fluctuation in return for the sheer quality of this grill!

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.

4 Comments

  1. I’ve been taking a hard look at the 700FB and with its ability to sear it seems like a great unit for the price. thanks for the review!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Lou. The 700FB is a great choice, and a is a very solid grill.

      Reply
  2. No one talks about some of the more importa t and unforgotten . How do u get the pellets out of the hopper if you want to change flavor and also what kind of metal is the the bowl that the pellets go into in the grill itself and is there an easy way to keep that area clean without taking the whole grill apart

    Reply
    • Great questions Dave, and I’ve noted suggestions to team about aspects they may consider adding in the reviews like Maintenance, materials, and clean-up.

      In terms of changing pellets, this sort of depends on the brand and model you go with. In the newer Pit Boss models, they have a “cleanout chute” where you can unscrew the hopper and allow the pellets to come out. In the Traeger models they have a door and pellets come out that way instead. This is something that brands like Pit Boss and Traeger recognized as being a problem and obviously it is now being implemented. When making your purchasing decision, definitely do your research and ensure the model has an option on the hopper to remove the pellets.

      As far as clean-up goes, in my opinion, it is significantly easier to clean a pellet grill as apposed to like a traditional gas or charcoal option. On the Pit Boss options remove the grill grates, and then use a vacuum and the hose attachment to suck up the pellet dust, and clear the burner. The burner can sometimes get clogged so clearing that with the vacuum works nicely. After that it’s just a matter of grabbing a rag and wiping the grease from the grill.

      Again the style of material used is dependant on brand, but options like the Pit Boss 820 are made specifically of 16 gauge black powder coated steel with porcelain coated cast iron grates.

      Hopefully that answers your questions Dave!

      Reply

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