Pellet smokers have been gaining in popularity since the 80's, and they have evolved and improved dramatically over the years to become the premier backyard meat-smoking devices they are today.
In fact, pellet smokers are the easiest smokers to use, being thermostatically controlled with digital temperature displays and feeding instructions to guide you. Most modern smokers are great buys, but finding the best pellet smoker can be tricky, that's why we have prepared a ultimate guide with the best pellet smoker reviews and other information needed to pick the best possible option.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Pellet Smokers for Consideration
- 2 Quick Comparison Table
- 3 Reviews of the Best Pellet Smokers
- 4 Conclusion for the Best Pellet Smoker
- 5 What are Pellet Smokers
- 6 Should You Buy a Pellet Grill?
- 7 What to Consider when Picking a Pellet Smoker
- 8 Tips on Using a Pellet Smoker
In a Rush? Here's Our Winner!
Best Pellet Smokers for Consideration
#1 - (Editor's Choice) - Traeger Lil Tex Elite 22 is one of the most popular pellet grill smokers out there. It features a 418 square inches Cooking Space, electronic auto-start ignition, and the Traeger's Digital Elite Controller unit for an even and precise temperature control experience. It is one of our favorite models and has everything you may want from a pellet smoker in a well built and good looking unit.
#2 - The Char-Broil Big Easy TRU-Infrared is a low-priced alternative that still gives you all the basic features you need for quality smoking and grilling. It offers 180 square inches of grill surface, including the upper story of the double-stack rack, and has dimensions of 36 x 18 x 24. It ranges from nine to 18 thousand BTUs.
#3 - The Traeger 155.01 BBQ is a moderately compact grill at 292 inches of cooking surface and with dimensions of 21 x 23 x 21 inches. It cranks out 19.5 thousand BTUs and comes with a mid-ranged price tag. Great for small to mid-sized smoking endeavors of all kinds and can be had in a special tailgate version.
#4 - Camp Chef PG24 Pellet Grill and Smoker is mid to upper tier and is an extremely good bargain for what you get. It measures 51 x 21 x 45 inches and offers 429 square inches of grill space plus 144 additional square inches on the removable upper rack. It has very good temperature control, efficient wood use, and an easily cleaned out ash box.
#5 - Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill with Flame Broiler is a mid-sized grill at a mid-sized price and with mid-tier smoker features. Its dimensions are 44 x 27 x 41 inches with 700 square inches of grill space. It weighs about 120 pounds and has a 10-pound pellet hopper.
(Bonus) - REC TEC Wood "Smart" Grill is quite possibly the best pellet smoker grill on the market today. Its size at 48 x 57 x 34 inches and a cooking zone of over 700 square inches give you room to smoke a veritable smorgasbord all at once. It has "smart grill" technology and all the perks. The price is on the high end, but then, so is the value.
Quick Comparison Table
Cooking Area (in2)
Up to 450°F
Up to 500°F
Reviews of the Best Pellet Smokers
Taeger Lil Tex Elite 22 Pellet Smoker Grill - Editor's Choice
The upper scale Traeger Grills Lil Tex Elite 22 Grill is a good family size grill. No need to heat up the kitchen during the summer.
The Lil Tex is 49" high x 42" wide x 22" deep, weighs 98 pounds, has a 418 square inch cooking capacity, and holds 18 pounds of wood pellets. It has a food capacity of 16 hamburgers, 24 hot dogs, four racks of ribs, or four chickens. This is enough to feed your family no matter how hungry they are.
The Lil Tex uses wood pellets for better flavor and provides the same six cooking methods as the other grills made by Traeger Grills. It also offers the electronic auto-start, Integrated Digital Elite Controller for consistent temperature, the high and fast or low and slow barbecuing, and the easy-to-clean porcelain grill grates. This means that this grill is so easy to use and clean that you won't mind using it for your family every night.
The durable steel frame has the powder-coated finish and is equipped with sturdier legs and two wheels.
The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker is an upgrade on the earlier Big Easy, giving you the benefits of quick, easy, and even throughout infrared cooking. The meat will not dry out, and you can cook a wide variety of meats, within the limited space.
You get 180 square inches of grilling surface in a 36 x 18 x 24 inch unit. This includes the innovative double-stack roasting basket. The unit weighs only 52 pounds and can hold up to 25 pounds of meat. Cooking power ranges from nine to 18 thousand BTUs.
The smoker box in the side lets you add smokey flavor to your meats and works just as well with wood chips. No air damper or water pan is required to keep the meat moist, there is no spit rod to worry about balancing, and no oil or charcoals need be supplied to keep it running.
The BBQ 155.01 by Traeger has many special features that help it to hold its own in crowded and competitive field.
At 19,500 BTU capacity, it is fairly powerful and has a maximum operating temperature of about 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It also sports a stylish bronze-finished lid and black steel body, automatic auger, auto-start function, and digital control.
You get a respectable 292 inches of cooking surface space, dimensions of 21 x 23 x 21, a fully portable 71-pound unit, and a 10-pound pellet hopper.
Most will want the Junior Elite version of this smoker-grill, but a Tailgater version with fold-down legs also exists and serves a useful purpose for those who like to combine the grilling and gaming life.
The Traeger BBQ 155.01 is not really big enough to smoke a sizable turkey, but anything smaller it handles superbly. It comes with a digital thermostat that greatly simplifies the smoking process and guards your precious meat from overcooking.
This smoker and grill more than adequately meets the great majority of your smoking needs and comes at a mid-ranged price for a great value.
Camp Chef PG24 Grill/Smoker Review
The PG24 from Camp Chef is not quite the star of the pellet smoker world as the Traeger options just covered above, but it may be the best value dollar for dollar. It still requires a good investment, not nearly so much as some other high-end products, but still has a large number of top-tier features packed into it.
The dimensions are 51 x 21 x 45 with 429 inches of grilling surface, 573 if you factor in the detachable upper grill rack. The unit is of solid steel build and weighs in at around 125 pounds.
You get both a build-in digital meat probe and internal temperature sensor, along with an LED digital display.
The hopper holds 18 pounds of pellets and uses them very conservatively. The ash can can be cleaned out via a patented system that eliminates the need to take the grill apart to clean it.
Among other beneficial features are auto-ignition, auto shutdown, and a spacious side shelf.
Pit Boss's 71700FB is mid-tiered model in a few ways when comparing with other products on this list.
It has dimensions of 44 x 27 x 41 inches and it is also priced in the middle-range group of this list, which is a bit less than the comparable Traeger smoker reviewed above.
You do get 700 square inches of cooking surface, including a second-level rack, combined together should be more than enough cooking space for the average consumer.
The burn system is digitally controlled and the grill plates are of porcelain-coated cast iron, making it very easy to set and reach the desired cooking temperature.
Most of the build material used on this product is of heavy gauged steel, and the hopper holds up to 10 pounds of pellets.
This is a great, overall well-build product with a few simple features and plenty of cooking space, all priced on a very reasonable price.
Conclusion for the Best Pellet Smoker
We see the Traeger Lil Tex 22 Grill as the clear winner of our best pellet smoker contest. It costs the most of all contenders but has the best temperature control, consumption efficiency, and grilling space.
The Lil Tex 22 offers little room for improvement with its ease of use, wide range of grilling options, and easy portability via roller-blade-like wheels.
If there were a number two placer and a more best cheap pellet smoker , it would clearly be the Traeger BBQ 155.01, for its great "features per dollar" ratio and its easy clean-out ash can.
What are Pellet Smokers
With the popularity of pellets rising massively, manufacturers decided to innovate and produce new products to offer the customers the latest trend and a much more enjoyable experience.
A pellet grill smoker is a wood-pellet fueled device, which is a combination of a smoker and a grill at the same time. It combines the advantages of both these types into one single unit.
They use compressed sawdust also known as pellets, to produce heat instead of gas or charcoal. The pellets are put into a hopper and when you turn the unit on, the igniting rod will burn the pellets, producing heat. The automatic auger will continuously supply pellets to the fire pot to keep the temperature consistent. The amount the auger gets into the fire pot depends on your temperature choice. For high-temperature cooking, more pellets will be burned while for low-temperature cooking, the auger will only supply a small amount of pellets.
Since pellet smokers don’t provide direct flame for your food as a grill do, it eliminates the flare-ups completely, offering you a more even cooking experience.
Thanks to its automatic temperature control, similar to a gas grill and the pellet/wood flavor, just like a charcoal grill, the pellet smokers can also be used for grilling, baking, smoking, roasting, etc, giving you the best experience for several cooking methods.
Should You Buy a Pellet Grill?
If you are wondering if you should buy a pellet grill or not, then here are a few advantages where you can benefit from owning such type of smoker.
If you like grilling outdoor but you want to reduce the time you spend using a traditional charcoal grill, then pellet smokers are the right choice for you. You don’t have to keep an eye on the food all the time to monitor the temperature since the automatic temperature control unit will do the work for you.
Also, with traditional grills, you have to spend more time setting up and firing up while with pellet smokers, you can start them up by just pressing one button and filling up the hopper with pellets. And, on top of that, they don’t need much effort during the cooking since most of the process is automatic.
Another benefit of a pellet grill is the charcoal flavor. While the gas grills are convenient, they still lack the unique wood flavor which charcoal gives to your food. With pellet smokers, you get the convenience of a gas grill and the unique flavor of cooking with wood.
Also, you can mix the flavor by combining different kinds of pellets to create a unique flavor. You are free to use apple wood, cherry, pecan, hickory wood, etc. or combine two or more of them when cooking a special recipe.
Advantages of using a Pellet Smoker
Disadvantages of using a Pellet Smoker
What to Consider when Picking a Pellet Smoker
When you are about to pick your next smoker, there are a few things which you should consider in order to make the best possible choice for your needs.
Price is always a deciding factor, especially when it comes to grill and smokers. They tend to cost a lot of money and you need to always review and see if it is worth the price.
Our instinct tells us to not spend a lot of money but if you pick a low-quality, very cheap smoker, you will end up spending more money in the future.
It is better to spend a little bit more now and pick a reliable and high-quality smoker which will last for years.
The controller is one of the most important pieces of a pellet smoker. It is the main unit which controls and regulates the temperature during the cooking. There are several types of controllers out there which by getting a bit of information about them, will help you better decide.
Temperature range is worth considering especially if you plan to do high-heat cooking. The best models can hit a range of 180 to 425°F, which is more than enough for almost any cooking method. If you need something more, there are models which can go up to 500-550°F range.
Construction and Durability
It is always recommended to check the material used for the construction. The main components of the unit (the fire pot, flame deflector, grates, drip pan) should be build using marine grade stainless steel so your smoker will last for years to come without any sign of rust.
If you like to go for a powder coated model, make sure it is from a reputable brand and it has a high-quality coating. Cheap powder coating is known to eventually fall off and develop rust.
Also, it is worth having in mind that models made of high-quality materials will offer you a better performance as they tend to retain heat better and burn the pellets more efficiently.
The hopper size is the amount of pellets you can put into the smoker. It is directly connected to the length of your cooking. So, a small hopper means that you cannot cook for a long time without refilling it.
As a reference, a 40-pound hopper is enough for around 40 hours of cooking time at medium smoking temperatures.
If you already have a small hopper, you can purchase an additional hopper extender which is compatible with your smoker.
Warranty & Support
You may want to pick a model which comes at least with 1-year of warranty. This way, you are safe to test and see if anything is wrong with the smoker.
Always make sure to read the warranty disclaimers, what they cover, how long it is and what you should do if anything breaks.
Also, one other thing worth knowing is to go for a popular or well-known brand. This way, you won’t have difficulties finding any part in case something breaks and the warranty doesn’t cover it.
As for support, large established companies usually have better support and customer service. They have direct chat, email or telephone support for any problem or question you may have. The only issue with these companies is that you may have to wait a little bit before getting an answer while on smaller companies, the people may contact you directly and offer a more reliable service.
On top of the basic features you should consider, there are also some other additional capabilities which you can take into consideration when picking a pellet smoker:
WiFi Capabilities - Manufacturers have started to implement WiFi capabilities to their smokers to make them compatible with your smartphone. Models which have WiFi capabilities will allow you to check and control the temperature of the smoker directly from your phone as long as you have an internet connection, without having to go to the grill. One of the first companies to be focused on WiFi Capability smokers is the Green Mountain Grills, which provide free apps for their smokers for ultimate convenience.
Food Probes - Some models have advanced systems which allow you to use meat probes to be connected directly with the smoker and read the internal meat temperature via the smoker’s LCD screen.
Grilling - At the beginning, pellet smokers were lacking the grilling capability. Some manufacturers have made it possible by either removing the diffuser plate or by having a dedicated grilling area within the smoker.
Additional Attachments - Some manufacturers produce additional attachments to add to your smoker. These add-ons will help you increase the smoker capabilities and offer you better cooking experience.
Tips on Using a Pellet Smoker
Thanks to most of the tasks being automated, the pellet smokers are very easy to use by everyone, especially when compared to wood or full charcoal smokers. On other traditional models, you have to take care of everything, which can be time-consuming and not very enjoyable.
Here it is a quick step-by-step and tips to have in mind when using a pellet smoker.
Always start by making sure you have filled the hopper enough - Almost all models have large hoppers, so it is always recommended to fill the hopper enough to last the entire cooking session or even more.
Turn the smoker on - Pellet smokers have electric ignition, so you can easily start it by pressing the button and waiting for the fire. You don’t need to put much effort into lighting it up, like on charcoal grill smokers.
Wait for the unit to warm up - It depends on what you are cooking but it is always recommended to wait for the unit to warm up to the desired temperature. It can take from 10-15 minutes, depending on the model, power and the required temperature.
Put the meat and wait for it to be cooked.
That’s it. Just a few simple steps and you are ready to go. The simplicity and versatility are two of the main reasons why pellet smokers are becoming so popular and outselling other models.