Get the best flavor for your smoked meats with one of these top-rated smokers

Grilling burgers and hot dogs can certainly make for a successful barbecue, but if you want to take things up a notch, you can’t top the delicious flavor of smoked meats. 

Smoking meats like brisket, ribs and pork shoulder requires a smoker that can maintain the lower temperature needed for the cooking process. With a combination of smoky, sweet and spicy notes from the wood, a pellet smoker typically offers the best flavor you can get for foods at your barbecue or picnic. 

If you’re in the market for a pellet smoker for your outdoor parties this summer, check out some of the best models you can find for any budget. 

What is a pellet smoker?

A pellet smoker, also known as a pellet grill, is an outdoor grill that uses food-grade wood pieces pressed into pellets for fuel. Its design borrows elements from gas grills, charcoal grills and convection ovens, so you can usually smoke, grill, bake, roast and braise on a pellet smoker. 

To create heat, the smoker has a pellet hopper that you fill with wood pellets. Gravity helps the pellets move through an auger until they reach the burn pot. Here, the pellets are heated, and a system of fans distributes the heat and smoke throughout the grill. That gives the food a rich, smoky flavor that can’t be matched. Because smoking uses low temperatures and longer cooking times, you also wind up with wonderfully tender, juicy meat. 

Pellet smoker features

Stainless steel construction

For a pellet smoker to last many years, you want a model with stainless steel construction that resists rust and allows for easy cleaning. Smokers made of 304 stainless steel are the highest quality, but those with 430 stainless steel are more affordable and still offer good durability.

Large capacity hopper

A smoker’s pellet hopper should be large enough to hold all the pellets you’ll need for a single smoking session. Opt for a grill that has a hopper that can hold at least 18 pounds of pellets. This way, you won’t have to refill it too often. 

Temperature range

The wider a pellet smoker’s temperature range is, the more versatile it is. Smoking requires lower temperatures, so a grill with a temperature range of 180 to 450 degrees usually works well. If you also want to grill on your smoker, look for a model that can reach at least 500 degrees. 

Temperature controller

All Pellet smokers have controls that allow you to achieve the desired temperature, but some offer greater control than others. 

Those with a three-position controller only let you choose from low, medium and high settings, while a smoker with a multi-position controller enables you to select temperatures in 10-degree intervals. You’ll get the most control from a smoker with a proportional-integrative-derivative controller, which lets you maintain a temperature within one or two degrees of your setting. Pellet smokers with a PID controller are more expensive, though. 

Best pellet smokers

Under $500

Pitboss Wood Pellet Grill 440 Series

Pitboss Wood Pellet Grill 440 Series

Featuring heavy-duty steel construction, this pellet smoker is durable enough for years of smoking. It provides 465 square inches of cooking area, making it ideal for families. It also has two large wheels that make it easy to move and includes a bottom shelf for storage.

Sold by Amazon

Z Grills Wood Pellet 8-in-1 BBQ Smoker

Z Grills Wood Pellet 8-in-1 BBQ Smoker

If you’re looking for a versatile grill, this pellet smoker can cook low and slow or hot and fast, depending on your needs. It offers precise digital temperature controls and automatically adds pellets as needed to maintain the temperature. It’s easy to clean, too.

Sold by Amazon

Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Electric Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Electric Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

This large-capacity smoker has 572 square inches of cooking area, which is big enough to fit five racks of ribs, four chickens or 24 burgers. It has a digital temperature controller that keeps the temperature within 15 degrees of the setting for precise temperature control. It comes with dual meat probes to monitor your food, too.

Sold by Amazon

Z Grills Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

Z Grills Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

With over 530 square feet of cooking area, this smoker provides enough room to cook for up to five people. It offers a temperature range of 180 to 450 degrees, which works for smoking and grilling. It also has powder-coated stainless steel construction, making it sturdy and durable.

Sold by Amazon

$500-$1000

Z Grills 48-inch BBQ Smoker Wood Pellet Grill

Z Grills 48-inch BBQ Smoker Wood Pellet Grill

This large smoker offers more than 750 square inches of cooking space, but it’s still compact enough to fit on most patios, decks or balconies. It has digital temperature controls and an auto-ignition feature to make starting and operating the smoker as easy as possible. It has a well-sized bottom cabinet for storage, too.

Sold by Wayfair

Traeger Pro 575 Wood Pellet Grill

Traeger Pro 575 Wood Pellet Grill

This midsize smoker offers between 450 and 750 square inches of cooking area. It has precise temperature controls that let you adjust the temperature in 10-degree increments. It’s also Wi-Fi-enabled, so you can adjust the temperature, set a timer and monitor your food from your phone or tablet.

Sold by Wayfair and Amazon

Cuisinart Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

Cuisinart Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

This versatile grill can smoke, barbecue, roast, bake, braise, sear and more. Its hopper has a 21-pound capacity, so you don’t have to refill often. The grill also has a temperature range of 180 to 500 degrees and automatically adds pellets to regulate the temperature.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Camp Chef SmokePro Slide Smoker

Camp Chef SmokePro Slide Smoker 

With PID temperature controls, this smoker offers highly precise temperature regulation for smoking and grilling. It has a customizable cooking area of over 800 square inches and a folding front shelf for prep work. It also has a temperature range of 160 to 500 degrees, letting you make various recipes.

Sold by Amazon

Z Grills 2022 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

Z Grills 2022 Upgrade Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

Offering a one-button startup, this pellet smoker is one of the easiest to use. It allows you to control the temperature in 10-degree increments for precise control. The 700 square inches of cooking space is large enough for families and groups, too.

Sold by Amazon

Traeger Grills Pro Series 780 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Traeger Grills Pro Series 780 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

With a max temperature of 500 degrees, this smoker is ideal for all your smoking and grilling needs. It has a porcelain grill grate that’s easy to clean and is Wi-Fi-enabled to let you control the grill from anywhere. It’s even Alexa-enabled, so you can use voice commands to adjust the grill.

Sold by Amazon

$1000+

Traeger Grills Ironwood 650 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Traeger Grills Ironwood 650 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Thanks to a pellet sensor that monitors the pellet levels, you never have to worry about running out of wood in the middle of cooking again with this smoker. It has double side-wall insulation to help maintain a consistent temperature and improve performance in cold weather. It’s Wi-Fi- and Alexa-enabled, too.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Camp Chef 36-inch Wi-Fi Woodwind Pellet Grill & Smoker

Camp Chef 36-inch Wi-Fi Woodwind Pellet Grill & Smoker

With a Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled PID controller, this smoker automatically maintains its cooking temperatures for perfect results every time. It has a temperature range of 160 to 500 degrees and 10 smoke control settings to get the flavor just right. The stainless steel firebox also offers excellent durability.

Sold by Amazon

Weber SmokeFire EX4 Wood Fired Pellet Grill

Weber SmokeFire EX4 Wood Fired Pellet Grill

This pellet smoker has an extra-large capacity hopper perfect for all-day smoking. It offers an easy-to-read LCD that allows for precise temperature control and can reach a max temperature of 600 degrees. It’s Wi-Fi-connected, too, so you can get alerts with grilling assistance on your phone.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

 

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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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