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Article updated on June 15, 2024 at 6:00 AM PDT

Best Pellet Grill of 2024

Smoking, grilling, searing -- these pellet grills can do it all.

Our Experts

Written by 
Chris Wedel
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
Chris Wedel Home Tech Editor
Chris Wedel is a fan of all things tech and gadgets. Living in rural Kansas with his wife and two young boys makes finding ways to stay online tricky — not to mention making my homestead smarter. However, by utilizing his years of experience in the tech and mobile communications industries, success is assured. When not conquering the outdoors and testing new gadgets, Chris enjoys cruising a gravel road in his UTV with some good tunes, camping, and hanging out with his family.
Expertise Smart home devices, outdoors gadgets, smartphones, wearables, kid's tech, and some dabbling in 3D printing Credentials
  • Covered the mobile and smart home tech space for the past five years for multiple large publications.
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Our Picks

$1,800 at Amazon
Traeger Grills Ironwood XL lid open sitting on a concrete patio.
Best overall pellet grill
Traeger Ironwood XL
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$1,600 at Amazon
A Recteq Flagship XL 1400 pellet grill and smoker sitting outside on a concrete patio.
Best large pellet grill
Recteq Flagship XL 1400
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$900 at Amazon
Brisk It Origin 580 on a concrete patio
Best mid-range pellet grill
Brisk It Origin 580
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$629 at Z Grills
z-grills-pellet-grill
Best budget pellet grill
Z Grills 700D4E
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Pellet grills have become one of the most popular and best ways to enjoy deliciously smoked foods. This primarily comes down to the ease of use and built-in features that make using one of these cookers accessible to even the most novice outdoor chef. These contraptions merge the smokey goodness you get from cooking over a campfire or charcoal with the automatic ease of gas.

The rise in popularity has meant that there are loads of choices on store shelves and that can make choosing a grill model that's right for you tricky. Not to worry, we've spent hours testing out the best pellet grills on the market to take the stress out of finding just the right grill for your needs.

We've cooked multiple rounds of burgers, chicken, pork chops, brisket, pork butt and ribs. I've settled on my favorite picks. So if you've been mulling over a pellet grill from Traeger, Recteq, Z Grills or others, you've come to the right place. This list is updated periodically. (You can also check out our tips for becoming a grilling expert and the best grilling tools and gadgets you can buy this season.)

$1,800 at Amazon

Best overall pellet grill

Traeger Ironwood XL

Traeger wood-fired pellet grills are the brand that really kicked off the pellet grill trend, and with good reason. Whether searing at high heat or smoking low and slow, the company knows its stuff. The Traeger Ironwood XL is a beast of a cooker. While providing delicious smoke for tasty foods, it exerts tight control over its cooking temperature. Although in testing with a temperature data logger using four probes, the temperature range across the cooking area ranged from 10 to 20, different from the set time.

The Ironwood XL has a large downdraft exhaust on the back of the lid that runs almost the entire length. This and the excellent seal around the lid help to create an even smoke across the cooking grates. When opened, the lid offers a helpful light to see what's going on for those late-night cooks. The pellet hopper also has a light and monitors pellet levels that the grill burns through relatively slowly.

The Traeger Ironwood XL's 924 square inches of cooking space handled everything from center-cut pork loin chops to a full brisket wonderfully. The grill is Traeger WiFIRE enabled, so when connected to the app, you can adjust temps, monitor the included cooking probes and see pellet levels.

From using the dial to adjust grill temps to the easy-to-use and responsive touchscreen, the Ironwood XL is a fantastic all-around pellet grill. If you don't need the large cooking area of the XL, there is a smaller version, the Traeger Ironwood, with 616 square inches of cooking area.

$1,600 at Amazon

Best large pellet grill

Recteq Flagship XL 1400

While Recteq may not have the same level of recognition as Traeger, the brand is primo among BBQ and smoker aficionados. From the unboxing to the building of this grill, it was clear the brand takes great pride in its build quality. All of the metal is heavy-duty and sized to perfection; even the iconic bullhorn lid handles are hefty. I do wish there was a seal around the lid to help hold in more of the smoke until it reaches the smokestack and better maintain temps.

On that front, there was a fair amount of variance from the four temp probes used on the data logger across the 1,437 square-inch surface. However, once the Flagship XL got to rolling smoke and cooking, it did a much better job of evening out. I attribute much of this to the heavy cast iron heat shield over the fire pot and the large stainless steel smoke deflector.

To go along with the large cooking area, the Recteq Flagship XL boasts a massive pellet hopper that easily fits 40 pounds of pellets. Across a marathon 24-hour cooking spree, I added about 15 pounds just to ease my mind while the brisket cooked overnight.

Recteq includes two meat probes with the Flagship XL, which, when plugged in, can be monitored through the Recteq app. From there, you can also adjust heat and browse through a large catalog of recipes for cooking on the grill.

$900 at Amazon

Best mid-range pellet grill

Brisk It Origin 580

Brisk It is a new brand in the pellet grill space, and its first foray into outdoor cooking is a pretty great one. The Brisk It Origin 580 offers 580 square inches of cooking area and a temperature range from 165 degrees to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The grill is well-built and produces good smoke from the pellets in the 22-pound hopper.

Like the Traeger Ironwood XL and Recteq Flagship XL, the Origin 580 did have some variances in temps across the cooking area. With that said, the Brisk It consistently produced tasty products. Whether it was the pork chops, beer can chicken, pork butt or brisket, all of the food turned out delicious.

While the Brisk It cooker offers many of the same useful features found in many other pellet grills, it does an excellent job of utilizing the app and intelligence it can provide. The Brisk It app is very easy to use and has an A.I. feature called Vera that can help you plan a meal by simply telling it what you have on hand and would like. It will assemble a recipe and send it to the grill for cooking.

$629 at Z Grills

Best budget pellet grill

Z Grills 700D4E

You don't have to spend an exorbitant amount of cash to net a quality pellet grill. A perfect example of this is the Z Grills 700D4E. Despite its relatively low price, this backyard cooker offers quite a bit.

The grill handled low and slow cooks well, staying within about 10 degrees of my target temperature (225 F) for hours on end. Pork ribs I cooked this way were tender and packed plenty of smoke flavor.

Chicken I roasted on the Z Grills 700D4E wasn't bad either. While its skin was nowhere near as crisp as I like, the meat was tasty and not overdone. With a maximum temperature of 450 degrees F though, searing burgers isn't this grill's strength. While these patties were juicy and cooked through, they had virtually no crust to speak of. 

Z Grills does bundle some nice extras with the grill. These include a pair heat-resistant gloves plus two meat temperature probes.

Other models we've tested

Traeger Timberline 850

A stalwart in the Traeger lineup thanks to its consistent cooking performance, efficient use of pellets, and excellent smoke, the Timberline 850 delivers time after time. The grill does a good job of maintaining an even temperature from low and slow to high-temp searing.

Weber SmokeFire EPX6 Stealth Edition (2022 model)

Trager also equipped it with Wi-Fi, so you can run any of the hundreds of recipes in Traeger's repository directly to your grill for easy cooking. It moves from the primetime list above because it is an older model that has been usurped by others in the Traeger lineup.

While the Weber SmokeFire EPX6 Stealth Edition (2022) has a large cooking area of 1,008 square inches, has a good temp range and generates plenty of delicious smoke, the cooker struggled to maintain the set temperature. During tests, the temperature would fluctuate between 15-20 degrees over the target time of 225 F. With careful monitoring, this can be accounted for, but it's worth noting.

With that said, the grill did a great job of cooking all of the meats wonderfully. Being able to roast a whole chicken in under an hour with great flavor and a crispy skin.

Cuisinart Woodcreek 4 in 1 Pellet Grill

This $497 Cuisinart model is even more affordable than the Z Grills 700D4E. It offers a sizable 862 square inches of cooking space too. Even so, it burned through its Cuisinart-branded pellets faster than other grills consumed their own fuel. The grill also couldn't manage to sear my test burgers either. 

Weber SmokeFire EX6 (2021 model)

The $1,299 second-gen SmokeFire EX6 from 2021 is a decent pellet grill option. However, I recommend the newer SmokeFire EX6 Stealth Edition model. Not only does the Stealth come with grill lighting, it also lacks the pellet flow issues I encountered on the EX6 from 2021.

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How we test pellet grills

Temperature data logger testing temp ranges across an empty grill.

While most modern pellet grills have digital temperature readouts and do a pretty good job at maintaining temps, that isn't always the case.

Chris Wedel/CNET

To determine the best pellet grill and figure out just how these products perform under a variety of cooking scenarios, we conduct three tests. Based on different meats, methods and heat settings, these tests show us how efficiently and evenly a grill does (or doesn't) cook.

Pellet grills ribs
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Pellet grills ribs

Smoking pork ribs low and slow is a perfect test for pellet grills.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Ribs

We wired each grill with a sensitive thermocouple thermometer at grate level. This sensor is also attached to a laptop running data logging software.

Pellet grills ribs 2
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Pellet grills ribs 2

Nicely smoked ribs should be juicy, tender, and deliciously smokey.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Next we ignite the grill and set the temperature to 225 degrees F and start recording. Then we remove the outer membrane on a rack of pork back ribs and season it with an all-purpose rub we use for ribs and chicken. Once the grill's thermometer reports that it has hit our desired temp, we place it on the grates for at least three hours with the lid closed the entire time.

Starting a beer can chicken cook on the Brisk It pellet grill.

Beer can chicken is a great way to add flavor and moisture to your chicken as it cooks over on your pellet grill.

Chris Wedel/CNET

Chicken

To test a midrange cook time at medium heat settings, we grill a whole chicken at 400 degrees F. Once we've trimmed and seasoned the bird, we insert one temperature probe into each chicken breast, for a total of two probes per chicken. To keep our results as fair as possible, all the chickens are as close as possible to 5.5 pounds.

To mix it up, we also tested out beer can chicken to give another way to gauge cooking the fowl. By standing the chicken upright while cooking, it presents another level of cooking precision for the grills as not all of the meat is relatively the same distance from the heat. Using the same methods to track temperatures throughout the cook, the chickens turned out juicy and delicious over the smokey 350 degree heat.

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Cooking burgers at high heat helps us see how a pellet grill sears meat.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Burgers

Burgers are our final test for our grill reviews. We measure out 5.3 ounces of 80/20 ground beef and press them into uniform patties. Those patties go into a grill basket and we insert a temperature probe into the center of each patty at a 45-degree angle.

With the grill preheated for 10 minutes at its highest temperature setting, the basket goes onto the grill. After six minutes of cooking, we flip the basket and monitor internal temperature. Once the last burger in the basket reaches 145 degrees F, the batch is finished. A good burger in this test is one that has both a nice outside char and a slightly pink center.

Burger testing points out any hot spots across the grill's cooking surface if one burger consistently reaches 145 F before the others in every round.

Pork chops

Nine pork chops cooked on pellet grills resting on a cutting sheet.

Buying a whole pork loin and cutting your own chops is a great way to not only save money but also get even pork chops for cooking.

Chris Wedel/CNET

For the chops, I bought a whole pork loin and cut approximately 1-inch thick chops from it. By doing this, not only is it more economical, but it also ensures that the chops are equal in thickness for a more even cook. After some seasoning, the center cut pork chops went onto the grills.

Temperatures were monitored throughout the cook over a 350-degree grill using the same methods as with the hamburgers. The chops cooked evenly and relatively quickly as there are no bones to contend with.

Boston pork butt

A pellet grill cooked Boston pork butt resting with a temp probe sticking out.

A Boston pork butt, pork shoulder, is a great piece of meat for pellet grills as it can take in plenty of smoke and provide delicious meat ready for pulling.

Chris Wedel/CNET

For a longer cook test, I used approximately six-pound Boston pork butts, pork shoulder, with a mixture of a sweet and savory dry rub with yellow and dijon mustard as binders. With the pellet grills set to 225 degrees F, each piece of meat got two meat probes to monitor temps.

After cooking to 165 degrees F internally, I wrapped the meat in butcher's paper and put it back into the grill until it reached 195 degrees F. Then, it was time to let the meat rest for an hour or so. Once that was done, I placed the meat into a tray and shredded it by pulling it apart, resulting in juicy, smokey, tender pork for sandwiches, mac and cheese, and so many other dishes.

Brisket

Sliced pellet grilled brisket sitting on a cutting board.

Beef brisket can be tricky to cook as it requires a long time at low temperatures to properly break down the fat and meat fibers.

Chris Wedel/CNET

The final test was an even longer cook with beef brisket over a 13-hour period. The meat got trimmed, a treatment of coarse kosher salt, yellow mustard, and a smokey beef rub, then three meat probes to keep track of the temps across the large piece of meat. With all of that done, the brisket was placed in the middle of the grill at 225 degrees.

After about six hours and an internal temp of 165 degrees, I wrapped the brisket in butcher paper and placed it back into the grill. Once it hit 195 degrees, I wrapped aluminum foil around it to help maintain moisture and finish the cook at 225 degrees.

The grills produced juicy meat with a beautiful smoke ring that sliced up nicely. Being able to keep even, consistent heat for something like brisket that requires a long time to cook is vital for properly breaking down the fat and protein fibers for delicious food.

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