Best Pellet Grills of 2018 & Buying Guide
Pellet grills haven’t been around for long, but they’ve certainly made their mark on the grilling community. They make use of a cheap, renewable fuel source and they make meat that’s got a good enough flavor to keep people coming back for more.
Since pellet grills haven’t been around for too long, though, it can be difficult to find a reliable source for information and reviews for the best pellet grills. That’s what we’re here to help with, though. We’re going to look in depth at the best pellet grills you can buy today – but first, we’re going to let you know why pellet grills are a great option.
So, what’s a pellet grill?
A pellet grill is the brainchild of Traeger Heating, an Oregon-based company that specializes in grills and other devices that make use of heat. The goal was to find a solution that utilized the excess sawdust from the many mills that had sprung up in the area. First, they developed a heating solution that used sawdust to fire up a furnace and keep homes warm. Not long after that, the first pellet grill prototype was developed.
While a pellet grill is known as a grill, a lot of experienced grillers refer to them as smokers because of the way the heat indirectly cooks the food. Because of this, and contrary to what you’d’ expect from any device that uses the name grill, pellet grills aren’t the best option for cooking steaks.
However, if you’re a fan of smoked food – turkey, pork, beef, you name it – then pellet grills might be one of the best options available for you.Pellet grills make use of a unique fuel source, which for many people is one of the reasons they’re so appealing.
Pellet grills make use of a unique fuel source, which for many people is one of the reasons they’re so appealing.
How does a pellet grill work?
Pellet grills are fueled using, you guessed it – pellets. A pellet is about as long as a pencil and as thick as a couple of school erasers; when moistened they turn into sawdust which is how they relate to the original concept of the pellet grill which used sawdust from mills.
Pellets are appealing for a couple of reasons that separate them from alternative grilling fuel sources, like coal and charcoal, which are both used much more frequently than the pellet.
One might suspect that, since you’re using pellets that are essentially made from sawdust, that you’d have to deal with food that tastes extremely smoky.
Fortunately, this isn’t the case – in fact, some users of pellet grills report that their food is undercooked! This means you won’t have to worry about any toxicity from the smoke.
Why is pellet smoke unique to grilling?
The main reason that the pellet is considered a good fuel source for grillers is because of the fact that it combusts almost entirely, leaving basically no residue.
Pellets are also unique in the way that they combust because the hotter they get, the less smoke they release. This means that if you want to cook something quickly, you’re not going to over smoke your food.
This is great for people who want to bake food or do other culinary tasks that require you cook food at a high temperature – you can make things without having much more than a hint of smoky flavor.
This can actually be considered a detriment to some people who like their food heavily smoked. If you cook your food at a temperature lower than 250 degrees F, your pellets will produce an ample amount of smoke.
The smoke produced from pellets is light and mild, and this excellent factor makes it very difficult to over smoke your food.
However, this means that you also have to smoke for longer and at a higher intensity to reach the desired level of flavor.
Do pellet grills cook food the same way as a regular grill?
Despite what many advertisers say about their pellet grills, the units don’t cook food the exact same way that a traditional grill does.
Some would say that it’s wise to think of a pellet grill as something like a convection smoker – an excellent tool for providing indirect smoking for your food.
If you’re hoping to sear some steaks, you’re better off getting a different type of grill – a charcoal grill or a gas grill will better suit your needs.
This is because steaks require high, direct heat, which pellet grills can’t provide. It doesn’t matter how high you heat the air up to – you’re not going to be able to sear a steak without direct.
Many pellet grills come with an attachment or a replaceable device that allows you to sear your food. These still don’t provide a quality seat like a regular grill, but if you’re an occasional griller or aren’t too particular about your steaks being perfectly seared, then this won’t be a big issue. Otherwise, you might want to keep your steaks for a regular grill.
There are a few techniques that you can employ to make your pellet grill cook steaks in a similar manner to a regular grill.
How do pellet grills work?
Pretty much all pellet grills work the same way. They have a digital controller in the console that’s similar to what you’ll find in a regular oven.
You select the temperature you want, using a separate thermometer that displays the actual temperature to gauge how close your grill is to reaching temperature.
Some cheap pellet grills have timers that allow you to set the heat for a certain amount of time. Much like a conventional oven, this allows you to cook food for predetermined times. This also allows you to walk away from the grill without having to constantly check your food.
Pellet grills have a rod that’s situated at the bottom of the box that heats up in accordance to whatever temperature you plug in. There will be a mechanism that feeds pellets into the box with this rod, and as it heats up, the pellets will combust.
Atop this area will be a metal plate that spreads out. Heat disperses throughout this plate depending on the temperature you’re cooking at. This surface is what you’ll cook your food on, but since there’s so much smoke present in the unit, you’ll find your food getting smoked faster than it will get seared.
What are the best types of pellet grills?
There’s a lot of difference in the quality of pellet grills you can purchase. There are certain things present in nicer models that will cost you extra money.
These features, and more, are what you’ll have to decide on when purchasing your grill. Fortunately, we’ve outlined the best pellet grills that are on the market today.
Top 5 Best Pellet Grills Reviews
1. Green Mountain Pellet Grill Review
This grill`s pretty high up as far as grilling technology goes.
It has a timer, a thermometer that can be adjusted for easy temperature adjustments, and – believe it or not – has a wifi adapter so you can adjust your grill from afar. This also allows you to make sure your food’s cooking at the right temperature and doesn’t burn.
It’s big enough to hold a large turkey or a roast, so size is no worry.
2. Camp Chef Pellet Grill & Smoker Review
Though pellet grills can be considered smokers anyways, this grill boasts an individual smoking compartment. It also has LED temperature monitors. It comes with an ash removal system to make cleaning your grill much easier.
3. Louisiana Grill Country Smoker Review
This grill also boasts a separate smoking compartment. It’s a smaller grill but it also has the regular temperature and timing bells and whistles to ensure accurate cooking. This grill has a special plate – an Arched Flavour Guard – that’s better for catching grease and improving the cleanup.
4. REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill Review
REC TEC’s known for its Featuring Smart Grill Technology™. This grill Maintains precise temperature from 180ºF to 500ºF in 5º increments.
5. Memphis Elite Grill Review
This is another huge grill that’s very durable and built out of strong metal. It’s made of stainless steel so it’s easy to clean and it can hold quite a bit of food. This grill is extremely expensive – in the thousands of dollars – so it’s not for everyone’s budget.
There’s a lot of pellet grills out there, and a lot of people aren’t even aware that they exist, let alone which one they should choose.
Each pellet grill has a number of similar features and functions, but the individual features are what separate them from the others. Hopefully, we’ve been able to help you make the right decision.