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Best Pellet Grill Under 500? Here’s to Cheap AND Reliable

BEST OVERALL

Z Grills 450B Pioneer
Z Grills 450B
4.5/5

BEST BIG BRAND

Traeger Tailgater
Traeger Tailgater
4.4/5

BEST QUALITY

recteq RT-B380 Bullseye
recteq Bullseye
4.4/5

BEST BONUS

Z Grills Blind Box
Z Grills Blind Box
4.7/5

BEST LARGE

Pit Boss 71700FB
Pit Boss 700FB
4.3/5

BEST BUDGET STRETCH

Grilla Grills Chimp
Grilla Grills Chimp
4.6/5

Pellet smoking is definitely the bomb! Real wood-fired flavor, smoked to perfection in a set and forget barbecue that auto-regulates the temperature so all you’ve got to do is check when it’s done.

But, when it comes to pellet smokers, the thing that holds a lot of people back from taking the plunge is often the price.

Because there’s more technology inside a pellet grill, they do cost more than a regular charcoal smoker.

Luckily, as the popularity of pellet smokers grows, the competition has brought more players, more options, and some lower price tags to the market.

So, if you’re after the best pellet grill under 500, you’ll find them here.

There’s plenty of good options that don’t mean compromising on quality, durability or performance.

Note, the term pellet grill and pellet smoker are used interchangeably throughout this review and website.

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How We Tested the Best Pellet Smokers Under $500

Before we got stuck into the practical side of things, we scoured the market, putting together a selection of the top contenders to be included in this review.

We looked at the major brands, the cheaper ones, and even some pretty unheard of pellet grills to find the very best options for anyone on a budget.

Testing the Z Grills probe against the MEATER probe on the Z Grills Cruiser 200A

To make the cut for this review, each pellet grill was assessed on the following factors:

In the under $500 price range, the build quality isn’t going to be as good as more expensive pellet smokers. But, we looked at the materials that were used, and how well they’ve been put together to take the best that the budget-friendly market has to offer.

And, the final list we came up with was actually pretty decent in terms of quality…

To check that the thermometer of each grill was providing correct temperature readings, the MEATER Plus or MEATER Block thermometers were used as a reliable base to measure the ambient temperature at various points along the grill.

Any temperature discrepency was noted in the reviews below.

As well as reading accurately, it’s a whole heap easier to cook great food on a pellet grill if it keeps a steady temperature.

Again, the MEATER thermometers were used throughout testing. They automatically create a graph of the ambient temperature throughout the cook so that it’s easy to see if a stable temperature was achieved or not.

To make the cut as one of the best pellet grill under 500 options, each grill needs to cook great food.

For consistency, we test smoking performance by cooking the same cuts of meat with the same wood pellets, the same Hardcore Carnivore seasonings (our favorite), and the same technique of wrapping the meat with butchers paper mid-cook.

When it comes to high-heat cooking, all pellet grills were tested for how well they performed at their maximum heat with an indirect setup, i.e. the heat deflector in place.

If a direct flame option was available, we also tested that.

Under the $500 mark, you don’t have quite as many extras included in the price.

But, if there were features like meat probes, insulation, and a door to empty the pellets, these are noted under each recommended grill.

For this review, we have strictly stuck to the $500 NOT ON SALE limit except for one best budget stretch option.

Z Grills in particular are often on sale so you might be able to pick one up well below this price cap. Nevertheless, click the links below to check the latest prices.

Table of Contents

The Best Pellet Grill Under 500: Our Top Choices

Whether you want to keep it cheap or have no choice, the good news is, you’re still going to be making some great meat on any of these budget-friendly pellet smokers.

BEST OVERALL

Z Grills 450B

4.5/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Grilling: Indirect heat

Capacity: 459 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 15 lbs

Heat range: 160 – 450°F

Dimensions: 24″D x 43″W x 47″H

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: 450B

Warranty: 3 years

For an all-round great performing pellet smoker at a really great price, we love the Z Grills 450B.

This thing doesn’t have all the fancy features, there’s still no WiFi in the under $500 range, and it’s classified as a small pellet grill. But, what’s here is great value.

The PID 2.1 temperature controller holds the heat very steadily with a nice LCD screen and two meat probes included that plug in for all-in-one management.

Z Grills Pioneer 450B PID Controller

We consistently find that Z Grills smokers give some of the most even heat distribution of all the brands and this model is no exception. The smoke quality is great. There’s a pellet hopper window and an emptying door to easily see and change pellets whenever you feel like it. And, they even throw in a cover to keep your investment in tip top shape without having to spend a dime more.

While the quality of the steel used to build the 450B isn’t quite as good as a more expensive brands, it really is very okay quality-wise. We’ve got Z Grills smokers that are still going strong 6 years in. And, you get the same 3 year warranty you’d get from the Traeger as well.

To be perfectly frank, there’s nothing too interesting to note about the Z Grills 450B. In fact, it’s a pretty reasonably pellet smoker. But, there’s one important distinction, you can smoke and grill really great food on here without having to spend a tonne on unnecessary features. It’s the basics done very well.

Smoking ribs on the Z Grills 450B

Z Grills smokers are regularly on sale so check out if it’s discounted now. But, by going the Z, you’re buying yourself more real estate than most of the other options on this list, a trade-off we feel is well worth it.

Pros
Cons
BEST BIG BRAND

Traeger Tailgater

4.4/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Grilling: Indirect heat

Capacity: 300 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 8 lbs

Heat range: 160 – 500°F

Dimensions: 36″ H x 37″ W x 18″ D

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: TFB30KLF

Warranty: 3 years

If brand matters to you but you’re on a budget, you can still get a Traeger under $500.

This is the Traeger Tailgater. And, while it is a portable pellet grill, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t have this baby set up as a permanent backyard feature.

Offering a more compact but still reasonable 300 square inches of cooking space, you can cook about 12 burgers, 3 racks of ribs, or 2 chickens on here at any one time.

Grilling on the Traeger Tailgater

If you’re entertaining, you might need to think pork shoulders for pulling instead of multiple racks of ribs. But, you can feed quite a few from here and it’s more than enough for most individuals, couples, and even small families.

Powered by one of Traeger’s older Arc Controllers, expect bigger swings in temperature than you’d get on the newer PID models. But, you can set the temperature in 5°F increments, and the larger swings do produce more smoke which equals more flavor.

Across the grate we do notice temperature variances as well. The Tailgater is nowhere near as precise as even the other branded pellet smokers under $500 recommended here. But, for a top branded, reliable little grill that’s durable enough to last for years, the Tailgater is a good choice.

Pros
Cons
BEST QUALITY

recteq Bullseye

4.5/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Grilling: Direct heat

Capacity: 380 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 15 lbs

Heat range: 200 – 750°F

Dimensions:22.5″D x 40″W x 36″H

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: RT-B380

Warranty: 2 years

It looks nothing like your regular pellet smoker. But, the recteq Bullseye gives you some good bang for your buck.

A little larger than the Traeger Tailgater, the round grate gives you 380 square inches of cooking space in what looks like a kettle grill that’s actually powered by a decent 15 pound pellet hopper.

Smoke in here with the included temperature down low, or pump it up to riot mode for the flames to lick through the perforated heat deflector, giving you up to 749°F of heat.

It’s more than hot enough for really great searing. But, I will point out that above 500°F you can’t set a precise temperature. It simply runs the auger at 100% to produce the highest possible temperature that it can given the type of pellets and the current conditions. You will need to use a quality pellet that’s capable of hitting a higher temperature. Something oak based from one of these top brands works for us.

Grilling on the recteq Bullseye

Controlling the temperature is recteq’s PID-based system. The heat stays really steady. But, you can only set it in 25 degree increments so, while that’s fine for most people, you can’t hone it in if you’re particular about what temperature you think is best.

But, what we really appreciate about the Bullseye is that there’s so much stainless steel in this barbecue!

The cooking chamber, firepot, and grates are all stainless steel which is more durable and rust-resistant than any other barbecue material. This sort of quality is especially rare to see in the best pellet smokers under 500 price bracket.

Nevertheless, the Bullseye delivers just that. Impeccible quality in an eye-catching design that smokes, bakes, roasts, grills, and sears like no other.

Pros
Cons
BEST BONUS

Z Grills Blind Box

4.7/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Grilling: Indirect heat

Capacity: Varies

Hopper capacity: Varies

Heat range: 160 – 450°F

Dimensions: Varies

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: Varies

Warranty: 3 years

Like a lucky dip?

One fun way of getting an even better pellet smoker than $500 can buy is with Z Grills mystery blind boxes.

For a set price, you get a random barbecue that’s selected from one of five Z Grill smokers. They’re all worth at least what you put in so it’s a no-brainer for anyone looking for a cheap yet decent pellet smoker. It’s also the only way you’re going to get a larger pellet smoker under the $500 mark.

We’ve used and reviewed a lot of Z Grills smokers and are always impressed with their value for money. These things are durable, easy to use, produce great smoke, and can cook some really great food.

If you like a bit of excitement in your life or are over the researching process, just grab a Z Grills blind box. You’re almost guaranteed a winner and there’s extra bonuses like gloves thrown in too.

Pros
Cons
BEST LARGE

Pit Boss 700FB

4.3/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Grilling: Direct heat

Capacity: 700 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 21 lbs

Heat range: 180 – 500°F+

Dimensions: 22.05″D x 24.8″W x 43.11″H

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: 71700FB

Warranty: 5 years

For anyone looking for a larger cooking capacity in the under $500 range, the Pit Boss 700FB gives you just that.

With a decently large cooking capacity of 700 square inches, powered by a 21 pound pellet hopper, you can cook a whole lot of food on this affordable smoker.

Smoking on the Pit Boss 700FB

Although Pit Boss advertise their bigger, hotter, heavier values, the 700FB is one of their lighter models. The body itself is still made from decently thick steel for durability, but the cart is where some of the cost is saved.

In our tests, the control panel on this smoker doesn’t hold a very steady temperature. If you’re the kind of person who likes precise, this isn’t the smoker for you. But, if you like a smokier flavor, the larger temperature variations give you that.

One great thing about this option though is the Flame Broiler Lever. Slide this and the pellet fire will lick through the heat deflector to the grates for extra high heat, open flame grilling and searing.

Grilling on the Pit Boss 700FB with Flame Broiler Lever

Overall, the Pit Boss 700FB is a very versatile pellet smoker that gives you more square inches per dollar spent.

Pros
Cons
BEST STRETCH

Grilla Grills Chimp

4.6/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Grilling: Indirect heat

Capacity: 460 sq in

Hopper capacity: 15 lbs

Heat range: 180 – 500°F

Dimensions: 41 H x 38 W x 20 D

WiFi: Yes

Price guide: $$

Model: Chimp

Warranty: 2 years

We get it, you’re looking for the best pellet grill under $500 so, why are we wasting space with one that’s more expensive than that?

The only reason we’re leaving the Grilla Grills Chimp here as the best stretch of your budget is that it’s a great grill that’s got WiFi.

So, for anyone wondering if you can get WiFi in a good pellet grill under $500, the answer’s no. But, this one’s the cheapest out there and, it rocks.

Yes, there’s WiFi connectivity so you can operate it from anywhere that’s got an internet connection. The app is one of our favorites in terms of layout. It’s really easy to use and hooks up directly with the single meat probe that comes with this smoker.

But, the wireless isn’t all that’s good about the Chimp.

If you’re not familiar with Grilla Grills, they’re similar to recteq in that these things are well built. There’s a whole heap of stainless steel inside of one these smokers for better durability and rust-resistance.

Forget PID vs traditional temperature controllers. The Chimp’s Alpha Connect controller gives you both. That means you can choose if you want really precise temperature control, or, the extra smokiness you naturally get from having bigger temperature fluctuations. Play around, see what works for you.

But, for the extra price, you also get in insulated cooking chamber from the grates down. It helps to keep the temperature steadier and minimize fuel usage. Plus, there’s a blower fan to circulate the heat so you can confidently use the whole 460 square inches spread over 2 racks.

Smoking on the Grilla Grills Chimp

Although the Chimp is marketed as a portable smoker, it’s definitely sturdy enough to use at home. But, on the go, the ‘snap lock’ legs are so much easier to fold away than just about any other portable smoker design if you do want to take it to a mates house, camping, or the beach.

Regardless of where you use it, the Chimp can turn out some excellent food. This thing does a great job of balancing value and performance, rolling a really decent, if a little smaller, pellet smoker into an affordable, WiFi-enabled package.

Pros
Cons

What to Look for When Buying a Pellet Grill Under $500

In trying to choose the best cheaper pellet smoker for your backyard, consider these things to find the one that’s best for you:

Without budget constraints, your average pellet smoker will give you about 700 square inches of cooking space.

In the under $500 range, you’re generally looking at a smaller cooking capacity. But, most are still suitable for individuals, couples, and small families.

Think about if you want to host barbecue parties, and if so, how many people you’ll need to be able to cook for on those occassions.

Even a smaller pellet grill can cook food for a lot of people by being careful about what cuts of meat you choose. Throwing pork shoulders for pulled pork, or a whole brisket on there are good ways to feed a lot of people on a smaller pellet grill.

Along with what’s generally a smaller cooking capacity, many of the more budget-friendly pellet grills will have a smaller hopper too.

One pound of pellets is usually going to give you about one hour of low and slow smoking time.

Think about how long you’re likely to want to cook for. You can always top up your hopper mid-cook. But, most of the smokers we recommend here do have large enough hoppers to smoke a whole brisket or similarly long cook without needing to add more fuel.

Grilling on most pellet smokers means bumping the temperature up to max and cooking on a really hot grate. The heat deflector shields the meat from the open flame. And, while you can still grill reasonably well like this, it’s not the same as cooking on a gas grill or over a fire as you might expect.

Some of the models we’ve recommended here also give you open flame grilling.

If grilling is the majority of what you want to do, or you’ll be doing it quite a bit, we do recommend going for a model that has open flame capabilities because they generally produce better grilling results.

Under $500, we were hard pressed to find any pellet grills with WiFi connectivity.

I mean, they’ve got to be able to save costs from somewhere and WiFi isn’t an essential function. You can cook great food without it and that’s more important than being able to keep your butt on the couch.

But, if WiFi is a must-have for you, check out the Grilla Grills Chimp. We’ve reviewed it here as our stretch of the budget option. It is over the $500 mark. But, it’s the best and next cheapest model that has WiFi.

Alternatively, you could buy yourself a wireless meat thermometer. This won’t let you change the barbecue’s temperature remotely. But, you can watch the internal and ambient temperature of your meat throughout your cook and be notified when it’s ready to cook.

Yes, you’re spending less money but you still want your grill to last, am I right?!?

Pellet smokers have a lot of electronic and mechanical parts. Look for one that’s got the best quality components as you can afford. There’s actually plenty of decent quality options listed in this review. They’ve also got reasonable warranties to boot.

FAQs About the Best Pellet Grill Under 500

For sure you can buy a good pellet grill without having to spend a lot. In the under $500 range, we’ve found 5 models that give you decent quality and enough features to cook really great food.

These ones shouldn’t give out after a year or two either. They’re solid options with reliable warranties to back them.

If you want something cheap and good, our go-to recommendation is Z Grills.

Z Grills smokers pack some serious value into their low prices. We’ve been using them for years, smoked an grilled some really great food one them, and seen them long outlive their warranty period without any issues.

Check out our comprehensive review of the full Z Grills range.

But, there’s more than just Z Grills that’s good under $500. In fact, we’ve found some of the big branded options you can still buy in this price range.

While there are cheap pellet grills out there with unreliable temperature controllers, there’s also models that can hold the heat within as little as 5°F of your target throughout your cook.

If you like a precise temperature environment, look for one with a PID-based system. We have recommended some in this review.

Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is committed to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.

About Burning Brisket

Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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