While the idea of a pellet grill might be new to many of you, surprisingly they have been around for quite a while. The Traeger brand was the first in the pellet stove industry to use their product to cook food over a wood pellet fire and due to their patent they were the only ones that could for quite a while. Once the patent ran out other pellet grill manufacturers starting popping up left and right. Today there are more pellet grill manufacturers out than ever before and the list is growing every day. Now let’s go over some of the basics first before we dive in to what is out there.
Pellet grills are pretty simple machines even though they are packed with years of testing and trial-by-error technology. The long story short of it is that these grills work off of a pellet-fed auger system. The food-grade wood pellets are the grill’s heat source (while also providing a delicious smoke flavor to your food) and are kept in a storage area (hopper) on the back, front, or side of the grill. When the auger that is located inside the hopper spins, pellets then cycle down the auger and drop inside the grill. Where the pellets end up inside the grill is called a fire pot. This fire pot has an ignitor inside of it (made usually of ceramic) which gets the pellet burning. After the pellets ignite the old pellets burn the new ones that fall into the fire pot via the rotating auger. Now here is where it gets pretty cool. Pellet grills have a control board located on the outside of the grill which are programmable and will tell the grill via an algorithm when to drop the pellets and for how long to control the temperature within just a few degrees of your set temperature. It’s just that simple!
Now like with anything else, you get what you pay for. Since the recent pellet grill booming more and more companies are coming out of the woodwork and trying their hand at making one of these amazing machines. I have cooked on pellet grills as low as $400,as high as $5,000, and everywhere in between. Now here are the ones that I think will catch your eye, and depending on your price range, the dollars in you wallet.
The Yoder YS640 – $1449
Now this thing is built like a tank. Yoder is well known for their traditional offset BBQ smokers but for the past few years they been making these high quality pellet grills out of Hutchinson, Kansas. Their price matches their weight but I will tell you with all honesty that you will not find a beefier, tougher pellet grill out there.
Memphis Pro – $3299
These grills have had a recent transformation from their previous design since Memphis has added their cloud-based control board to these bad boys. With an insulated lid and American made stainless steel construction these grills are sure to be the talk of the neighborhood at your next cookout.
Traeger Pro Series 22 – $799
The Traeger Pro series is a new and improved version of their famous flagship model, the Lil Tex Elite. With a new face lift and upgraded control board this is a great grill at a reasonable price. Unlike the others grills listed above these grill are made in China and the technology built into the control board is just a bit dated than other grills in the same price range. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great grill for a beginner or someone who doesn’t need to be dialed in within 5 degrees of their cooking temp the entire time they are cooking a pork butt.
Now this cooker is one of my personal favorites. With it being made in the US, being of stainless steel construction, and being under the $1k price point the Q450 is built to impress. This unit also comes with a food probe that can be programmed to drop the temperature of the cooker to a hold temp (180 degrees) once your desired temperature is reach.
Now you really can’t go wrong with any of the cookers I listed above. So go on and do some research on your own and let me know what you find! Also we welcome any questions you may have in the comments section or feel free to contact me via email directly.
Now get grilling!