If you’re looking easy to use, quality cooker to use during tailgating parties, then a pellet grill is the right choice for you.
In this guide, we’ll review the best pellet grills under $500. Also, we’ll review the pros and cons of each model so you’ll have a clear perspective of how they work. Without further adieu, let’s start the review!
Top pellet grills under 500 dollars of 2020 reviews
- Fan forced convection cooking
- The automated electric feed system
- Large Grilling Area
- Digital temperature control
- Advanced wood fire technology
- Material: stainless steel
First on our list is the Z Grills ZPG-7002ENC. This grill has a cooking area of 19.5in x 26 in. It has a second cooking area with a removable rack that’s 7.5 x 26 inches. This is enough surface area for you and your family to have a barbeque party over the weekend. Read more about Z-Grills here.
You don’t have to use blowers or fans to stabilize the griller’s heat. The griller has an adjustable temperature regulator that ranges from 180ºF-450ºF. It has an internal sensor that helps with controlling the heat inside the griller.
Additionally, it has an electronic feed system that monitors the entry of wood pellets with a limit of 20 lbs as needed. This grilling system ensures quality and less supervision of the grilled meat. This helps maximize the bonding between your family and friends.
Beginners will have no problems getting used to this griller. You won’t get confused with the installation because it comes with instructions and a manual that help you throughout the setup. Also, the grill has fewer guidelines to operate. Simply grab your wood pellets, turn on the grill, and adjust the temperature levels.
If the wood is your primary concern, then don’t worry. Wood fuel is more efficient than charcoal in terms of safety and quality. Wood pellets have a tasty and enticing product instead of charcoal.
- Corrosion-resistant body
- Wood Fired
- Versatile Grilling
- No accessory grill on the shelf
- No ash cleaning
- Easy to clean out pellets
- Digital readout
- Warming rack and porcelain-coated grate
- 390-Inches² of cooking area
- Holds 11.5lbs of wood pellets without reloading
First off, the Smoke Hollow SH19260119 WG400B is known for its expansive cooking area. It’s approximately 390-Inches², giving you enough space to cook your favorite meats and vegetables at once. For large BBQ parties, you should give this pellet grill a look.
The Smoke Hollow SH19260119 lets the user cook for hours without needing to reload, The auger system regulates the wood pellet feed rate for consistent temperature control.
And we also like the grill’s build construction. It consists of porcelain covered grate and a warming rack. This helps with making your cooking process easier, as it allows for your food to be evenly heated throughout.
If you’re trying to be a master craftsman than the Smoke Hollow SH19260119 is a great tool to have in your backyard. It allows you to enjoy a variety of food such as poultry, beef, fish, ribs, and pork. Smoke Hollow has the tools needed to do outdoor cooking where you enjoy it most. Wherever you’re camping, tailgating, boating, or on picnics, you’ll have a useful tool to make your cooking efforts easier.
- Evenly distributes heat
- Good build construction
- No advanced features
- Versatile barbeque cooking
- Never use charcoal or gas again
- Weight 60 lbs
- Great for camping, tailgating, or at home
- Material: stainless steel
While other pellet grills weigh over 100 pounds, the Traeger TFB29LZA weighs in at about 60 lbs. The grills lightweight, and it’s 37 x 18 x 36-inch dimensions makes it easier for the user to store it and transfer it to another place.
Because it’s smaller, it does have a more limited grilling space. However, the 20 x 15-inch cooking surface gives you enough room to cook a bit of meat. This gives it enough space to be a medium-sized barbeque.
With its digital thermostat, this grill can help with gauging cooking temperatures. Thus, giving you control over your cooking situation at all times. But, we should note that the device is prone to temperature fluctuations, especially during cold weather.
Constructed out of heavy-duty steel, the Traeger TFB29LZA is designed to withstand both internal and external elements. This is not a grill that would be ruined by being left outside for a few days.
In terms of design quality and construction, the Traeger TFB29LZA is a solid grill. Not only is it durable and tough, but its portable as well. Once you realize that it has a large grilling gate, you won’t get much better considering its price point.
- Versatile Barbecue Cooking
- Never use charcoal or gas again
- Extremely portable design
- Temperature fluctuations
- Sits a bit low
- 450 square inch cooking area
- Weather-resistant grill cover
- 15-pound hopper capacity
- All-terrain wheels
- Grease bucket holder
With his pellet grill, you don’t have to think about flare-ups because the smoke will manage the fuel that it needs. Pop the pellets inside the device, and you’re good to go. If you use a low temperature, you can create more blue smoke while allowing your pellets to smolder.
With the Cuisinart CPG-4000, you can have peace of mind knowing that your food is cooked at the right temperature. The thermostat has an LED display that works by maintaining the heat itself. You can cook foods on fast, hot, low, or slow settings. It can add pellets to fire if it’s requested.
No longer do you have to pack everything together. This grill has a 450-inch cooking area, which gives you room to space out and not worry. It has enough internal cooking space in the main cooking chamber to hold a flat brisket, pork shoulders, and two chickens.
If you make careful use of the device’s warming rack, you could add in three racks of pork ribs. Having a full-sized turkey might be a bit too far, depending on the bird’s size.
The Cuisinart CPG-4000 has a sleek design that features 2 terrain wheels. This makes it easy to move it where you want, and it has a stable handle that allows you to carry it around and then store it once it’s not needed.
Whether you’re baking, grilling, smoking, or barbecuing, this grill does it all. You can even slow cook and bake foods such as pizza and cornbread. It’s a 6-and-1 grill and allows you and your family and friends to enjoy different meal options.
- Easy installation
- Electric ignition and easy display
- Cooks food evenly
- Low-quality door latch
Green Mountain Davy Crockett Features:
- 12V or 11V adapters
- 3 different power options
- Folded legs that double as handles
- Weighs 60 lbs
The Davy Crockett peaked lid that’s combined with a fan to provide superior convection (airflow) and has more space for food. This improves your cooking based on the law on not overcrowding your food.
The Green Mountain Davy Crockett has a 12″ x 18″, which is smaller than the largest stationary grill in the market and is large for a portable grill. This is enough room for a 10-12lb, a small turkey, or a few chickens.
If you plan on using the Davy Crockett grill as a portable grill, then its weight factors its ease of use. This grill weighs in at 60lbs, making it lighter than other pellet grills. You can fold the legs into handles, making it easier for carrying, and it can be placed on a flat surface, like a tailgate.
When you cook grease that is channeled to a bucket with its angled drip pan. The drip pan is located around the control box’s temperature sensor. This is a practical solution to eliminating buildup and the need to scrape and brush frequently.
The Davy Crockett Grill is constructed out of steel, with a 13 gauge lid and 14 gauge body, making it heavier and stronger than its competitors.
- Large grilling area
- Portable folded legs
- Temperature control
- The legs can tip unexpectedly
- Simple Temperature Select System
- Patented Ash Clean Out
- 2,100 Cubic Inches Grilling Volume
- Dual Meat Probes
- Automatic Auger
Let’s talk about the most obvious thing, its size. The Camp Chef Pursuit 20 has a lot of grilling real estate. Not only does it have a large grill surface, but it also includes a split second rack that increases the available grilling space.
When it comes to grilling, the Camp Chef Pursuit 20 does well. It provides a nice smoky flavor. Despite being portable and compact, it has enough room to smoke at least four racks of spare ribs. Make sure to rotate your racks from top to bottom in the smoking session to make sure they have the same level of smoke and heat exposure.
This effective heat area doesn’t encompass the grill gate. This isn’t a problem if you’re grilling a rack of steaks. If you want to grill patties during a family reunion, expect to be moving and flipping often.
Its lever slide grill technology allows users to grill with ease. It features an internal temperature of the meat. This spares you the heat loss without having to open up the chamber to monitor meat.
The Camp Chef Pursuit 20 cleanout system helps with cleanup. Still, you’ll need to blow it out with a compressor or need a shop vac. The grill gates have nonstick layers which helps you with washing and removing the ash from the grill when needed.
- Slide and grill technology
- LED thermometers for improved temperature monitoring
- Ash cleanout system
- Still a bit heavy
- Legs are unstable
- Versatile Barbecue Cooking
- 300 square inch grilling area
- Digital Elite controller
- Electronic Auto Start ignition
- Grilled to Perfection every time
Compact and well built, the Traeger Pellet Grills BBQ155 has about 300 square inches of cooking space. And its large enough to place a small turkey inside of it, so it has enough space for 6-8 people.
With its automatic electric start, foolproof digital controls, and a front-mounted thermometer, even a beginner can walk to the grill, play around with the controls, and start cooking.
We also like BBQ155 because of its carrying capacity. The hopper can hold up to 10 lbs of pellets, and it uses 2lbs an hour. So it can last for about 5 hours, which means you can set it going without having to worry about it one day later.
BBQ155 is energy efficient. When it’s first firing up, it uses 300 watts within the first 4 minutes. After that, it’s 50 watts for the remaining time that it’s on. Which is less than a lightbulb!
Overall, even though its a cheap pellet smoker, BBQ155 has a lot of options that make it good for the home user. That’s why we believe its the best pellet grill under $500 out there.
- Digital controls for simple usage
- Electronic automatic start
- Automatic pellet feature.
- Slow to cook up meats
- Four coated chrome racks
- Meat probe thermometer
- Digital control panels on/off
- Pellet Hopper doors to help with pellet maintenance
- Removable crucible
Last on our list is the Masterbuilt MB20251719 MWS 330S. It comes with four coated chrome racks that can be used to cook different components at once. This gives you enough room to smoke 2 turkeys, 3 pork butts, 12 chickens, and 4 racks of ribs.
Also, it includes a clean pellet-burning system that adjusts the auger speed and cabin temperature, feeding the right amount of pellets to maintain the right temperature for slow-cooked tenderloin. With its digital control panel and preset cook cycles, you’ll have BBQ competition results from the comfort of your backyard.
Getting the right temperature is important when using a smoker. Fortunately, it has a meat probe thermometer to help gauge the temperature of your meats, making your food taste better as a result and cook properly.
Pellet maintenance is important for the longevity of your grill and the quality of your food. The MSW 330S has a pellet hopper door which allows you to collect your pellets and easy to clean. Thus, making this pellet grill a choice for people that want to have great smoked meals during a weekend barbeque.
- Pellet maintenance
- Accurate thermometer for better cooking
- Large cooking space
- Needs for advanced features
Still confused about what makes a good pellet grill?
Continue reading this buying guide!
Knowing your grill’s temperature range is important for the final result of your food. What you’ll need will depend on what cooking techniques you plan on using. High-end pellet grills can reach to 180°F – 425°F which is enough for smoking, grilling, baking, and roasting.
However, if you want to sear meat, you’ll want a grill that can reach 500°F – 550°F heating levels. A good thermometer is necessary. You’ll need an accurate and precise reading so you know that you’re cooking meat at the right temperature.
Cooking Size, Area, Portability
Pellet grills can range from portable grills for tailgating to large grills for commercial usage. If you’re someone that wants to take your pellet grill on the go, be it partying, camping or any event, you’ll want one with wheels and easy to lift. If you have a lot of tailgating parties or you cook often at home, then you’ll want a larger pellet grill. Decide your needs before buying a pellet grill to ensure you buy one that properly sized.
3 Position Controller
When it comes to cooking, consistency is the key if you want better results. For instance, if you’re cooking brisket, the cooking temperature needs to be around 250°F throughout its 12 hour cooking period.
The controller board is necessary for precision. The three types of position controllers are 3-position, non-PID one-touch, and PID multi-position. Check out the types of controllers and pick the one that works best for you.
Price is a major factor when searching for a pellet grill. Everyone wants affordable products, but buying a cheap, low-quality grill might mean that you’ll have to spend more money in the future. A high-quality grill at an affordable price because it’s more durable and used more often because you’re satisfied with your purchase.
Your pellet cooker’s hopper container stores pellets ready for the device’s auger to bring them to the firepot. Basically, the size of the hopper will determine how long the cooks will be. So, buying a grill with a smaller hopper size will be annoying because it will fail to go the distance while cooking.
Despite being more complicated than standard grilling equipment, pellet grills are easier to repair once you have the right parts. It doesn’t matter if you need to replace the fan or the auger; for most brands, you can find replacement parts easily. Here are the most common pellet grill smoker accessories that can be easily replaced.
- Wheels: Wheels are affordable and replaceable and are available in most shops. Usually, you’ll discover that the wheels are losing its quality once the grill sees heavy movement. We recommend that you don’t trail your grill around with your car if you don’t want to replace it frequently.
- Auger Motors: Your pellet smoker needs this to run properly. If you need to get them replaced, then you can buy them online or your local hardware store for $30-$40.
- Fan Motors: Fan and motors come pre-bundled if your grill isn’t working properly. You can easily replace these parts, and with the internet available, it won’t be difficult to find a video tutorial after buying one.
- PID controllers: PID controllers are replaceable, but you have to buy them separately. Sadly, there is no one size fit all PID controller for pellet grills.
- Meat Probes: You’ll want to know the temperature of the meat you’re cooking. For pellet grills without meat probes, or if your current one is broken, then you can purchase these accessories to help you.
- Pellet Hopper: Some pellet grill smokers come with a hopper extender, which allows you to hold a larger amount of wood pellets. This is useful as it increases your slow cooking time without needing supervision.
- Chimney, Body Parts, Hinges: Loose body parts like chimneys, screws, and hinges for pellet smokers are widely available online. Whether it’s a broken axle or the casters of your wheels, you won’t find many issues with replacing it.
- Direct Grill Gates: These protect the grill from dust, moisture, and weather in general.
- Flat Top: Flat top griddles can increase the range of foods you can cook and provide a different cooking experience.
How to Find the Right Pellets For Your Grill
So far, we’ve covered some tips on how to find the best pellet grill under 500 dollars. Now we’re here to give you tips on how to find the right pellets to fuel your smoker.
Select Your Flavor
The reason why the flavor is the most important aspect because it will determine the color of the meat by improving its natural smokiness. For instance, pellets like pecan, apple, and alder work great for chicken, while hickory, mesquite, and oak work well with beef. If you’re grilling vegetables, you should go with apple, cherry, or maple, while seafood uses mesquite, alder, and oak.
Food Grade Pellets
Pellets come in different types. For instance, heating pellets are designed to fuel heaters, while the food pellets are good for smokers. We suggest that you buy food pellets because they don’t have chemicals or other harmful substances.
Pellets are divided into hardwood and softwood. Hardware pellets are best for smokers because they burn longer and slower. Plus, they maintain even temperature or give off realistic smoked flavor.
How to Use Pellet Grills Correctly
Here are some tips on how to utilize your pellet grill after buying it:
- Maintenance is crucial. You need to keep your grill clean as a buildup of ash and grease will negatively affect your food’s flavor in the long run. We suggest that you invest in a cover to protect the grill from outside elements and prolong its lifespan.
- Don’t open the lid while cooking. Doing so will compromise the flavor of your food and allow smoke to leak out.
- Safety first. Don’t expose your pellet grills to rain, check all of the components before using it, and don’t allow the cords to get wet.
- You will have to replace your grill’s components sometimes. Such as the gasket for instance.
- The pellets should be stored in a cool place that’s free from moisture. Make sure that they never become wet or damp, because that will render them useless.
Smoking vs. Barbeque vs. Grilling
It can be easy for beginners to confuse words like smoking, barbecuing, and grilling. However, once you become more experienced with grilling and smoking, you’ll notice the subtle differences between these cooking methods that determine your final product.
Pellet smokers can do all three of the cooking methods because they have a lid and a wide cooking space. Pellet grills have storage space for charcoal in case you need to use it for a barbecue or a charcoal grill. Alternatively, you can make it operate like a normal oven via the direct fire method.
However, pellet smokers work best when used for their original purpose. This involves using indirect heat to slow down the cooking of food and smoke it until it’s perfect within a prolonged time period.
Should I Upgrade My Current Grill?
For best results, we suggest you get a smoker that’s well-made and has a longer warranty. The key to keeping your grill for longer than five years is to maintain it properly. This means you should clean it thoroughly replace the components regularly, so it doesn’t wear out the full system.
Most of the issues with pellet grills can be traced back to a lack of proper maintenance. As a result, it leads to temperature inconsistency and congestion. However, if your grill is beyond repair, then you should ask the following questions before buying a new one:
Will Upgrading My Grill Fix My Problem?
Fixing your pellet smoker can be as simple as replacing a faulty part. Usually, you’ll spend $50 or less instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars for a new smoker. If issues still arise with the grill’s digital operations, then you should hire a professional to help you.
When Should I Look For a New Pellet Smoker?
The answer to this question will depend on the type of malfunction your grill is expecting. If the problem is fixable, then try repairing it before chucking out money and buying a new one. Sometimes, you can easily replace the digital control levels or changing the hopper to maintain the smoke levels fully.
To conclude, we believe that you can get a pellet grill at an affordable price. Although we did not include products from good companies like Pit Boss 700fb and Camp Chef Smokepro Dlx, If you want something that’s easy to use, try using the Camp Chef Pursuit 20. But, for those wanting something more advanced, try the Green Mountain Davy Crockett. Whatever model you choose, you’ll have a reliable pellet grill that will be the life of your next BBQ party.