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

Best Pellet Smoker Under 500

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, there’s always a downside. And, 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 behind a pellet grill, they do cost a bit more than a regular smoker.

Luckily, as the market for these awesome smokers grows, the competition has brought more players, more options and some lower prices to the market.

So, if you’re after the best pellet grill under 500, you’ll find them here. And, there’s plenty of good options that don’t mean compromising on quality, durability or performance.

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Best with WiFi

Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WiFi Pellet Grill

This top-rated and budget-friendly pellet smoker, the Davy Crockett Portable is hands down one great price for what’s really a surprisingly quality barbecue.

With stainless steel construction, a precise temperature controller, peaked lid to allow for taller cuts, and, WiFi connectivity for remote control, it’s one value packed option that comes in well under $500.

The compromise? It’s small. The Davy Crockett gives you 219 square inches of space making it one of the smallest pellet smokers out there. To give you a better idea of it’s size, it’ll hold 6 decent steaks, 2 smallish chickens, or 2 reasonable racks of ribs at a time.

If that is enough space for you though, it performs well. The temperature control is reliable enough even in cooler weather. And, because it maxes out at 550°F, a little higher than most, you can grill pretty well on it too.

Just keep in mind the Davy Crockett is a portable smoker. It’s not full height and the legs fold in to double as handles. It could be a bonus if you like to grill on the go. But, it’s actually pretty sturdy and could be set up on a table at home if the low height bothers you.

Oh, and it comes with 1 meat probe and a bonus waterproof cover included too. It’s seriously great value!

Specs for the Green Mountain Davy Crockett WiFi Pellet Grill

Barbecue material: Stainless steel

Grate material: Stainless steel

Cooking capacity: 219 sq in

Pellet hopper capacity: 9 lbs

Heat range: 150°F – 550°F

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Model: Davy Crockett

Assembled size (in): 31.75 (H) x 34 (W) x 23 (D)

Weight: 68 lbs

Warranty: 2 years

Pros of the Green Mountain Davy Crockett Portable Pellet Smoker:

  • One of the lowest priced pellet smokers on the market
  • Stainless steel construction including the grates gives durability and better protection from the weather
  • Wide temperature range lets you smoke, bake, roast and grill
  • WiFi connectivity lets you change the temperature from your smart phone
  • Reliable temperature regulation for consistently good results
  • Legs fold into handles for portability
  • Includes 1 meat probe
  • Comes with waterproof cover

Cons of the Green Mountain Davy Crockett Portable Pellet Smoker:

  • Smaller cooking capacity means it’s not suitable for cooking for large crowds
  • Smaller pellet hopper will only do about 9 hours of smoke time before you need to add more fuel

Best Traeger Under $500

Traeger Tailgater Pellet Grill and Smoker

For under $500 you’re not going to get a full-sized Traeger pellet smoker. But, you can get a smaller, lighter, portable model that still works well as a home grill. And, the Traeger Tailgater is it.

Compact, reliable and well-built, the Tailgater gives you a small, but reasonable, 300 square inches of cooking space set on easy to clean porcelain-coated grates. That’s enough to do about 12 burgers, 3 racks of ribs or 2 chickens. So, entertaining is doable, you’ll just have to think burgers, pork butt or a partial brisket and leave the ribs until it’s just the family.

The temperature is looked after by Traeger’s Arc Controller that lets you set the temp in 5 degree increments and effectively holds it there. It’s advertised as suitable for grilling. But, at a max temperature of 450 indirect heat, we feel it’s more like a hot oven and not ideal to use as a grill regularly.

Although it’s a bit bigger than the Davy Crockett, the Traeger Tailgater still isn’t huge or full height. But, the folding legs are reasonably sturdy and definitely make it useable as a cheap but reliable home smoker.

Specs for the Traeger Tailgater Pellet Smoker

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel

Grate material: Porcelain-coated steel

Cooking capacity: 300 sq in

Pellet hopper capacity: 8lbs

Heat range: 160°F – 450°F

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Model: TFB30KLF

Assembled size (in): 36(H) x 37(W) x 18(D)

Weight: 62lbs

Warranty: 3 years

Pros of the Traeger Tailgater Pellet Smoker:

  • Same quality you’d expect from industry-leader Traeger
  • Upgraded Arc Controller maintains the temperature well for reliable results
  • Suitable for smoking, baking and roasting
  • Includes 1 meat probe so you can see when your meat is cooked to perfection without opening the lid
  • Keep warm setting comes in handy if you’ve prepped dinner early
  • Portable folding legs let you take it on the go
  • Decent 3 year warranty

Cons of the Traeger Tailgater Pellet Smoker:

  • Limited cooking and pellet hopper capacity
  • Can grill but definitely is primarily a smoker
  • No WiFi for remote control

Best Smoke and Grill

Z Grills ZPG L6002E

Next up on our list of the best pellet smokers under $500 is the Z Grills ZPG 6002E. Now, this thing’s extra cool because it’s got a slide plate flame broiler so you can actually grill and sear over the open wood-fired flame.

Don’t expect it to be as good as grilling on a dedicated grill. But, it does perform better than some other pellet smokers that offer indirect high heat.

In terms of everything else, the Z Grills 6002E is the first and cheapest non-portable model on this list.

It offers a larger 573 square inches of cooking space on a regularly-sized smoker. It’s partially made from stainless steel for improved durability. And, the PID-style temperature controller gives tighter regulation for more consistent results.

The 8 pound hopper size is still a bit smaller than most more expensive pellet smokers. But, should give about 8 hours of unassisted cook time before you need to add more fuel.

Overall, the 6002E is a solid barbecue that performs well for a great price. Plus, there’s a 30 day money back guarantee when purchased through the Z Grills site giving you more reassurance in your choice.

Specs for the Z Grills 6002E Pellet Smoker

Barbecue material: Stainless steel and powder-coated steel

Grate material: Porcelain-coated steel

Cooking capacity:  573 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 8 lbs

Temperature Range: 180°F – 450°F or up to 750°F in flame broiler mode

WiFi: No

Fuel type: Electric / wood pellets

Model: ZPG-6002E

Dimensions: 47″ W x 49″ H x 21″ D

Weight: 73 lbs

Warranty: 3 years

Pros of the Z Grills ZPG-6002E Pellet Smoker:

  • Direct flame searing mode gets extra hot for effective grilling and searing
  • PID temperature controller keeps the heat within a tight range of your target
  • Stainless steel components increase durability
  • Bottom storage cabinet gives you some extra space to store utensils
  • Easy to clean with a grease management system
  • 30 day money back guarantee when bought through the Z Grills website

Cons of the Z Grills ZPG-6002E Pellet Smoker:

  • Direct flame mode does give better grilling and searing. But, isn’t 100% as good as using a dedicated grill
  • Smaller than normal hopper size will need to be refilled on longer smokes

Best All-Round

Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24

Coming in smack-bang on budget is one of the entry-level models from Camp Chef. And, just because it’s entry-level doesn’t mean it isn’t any good.

The SmokePro XT 24″ gives you a very respectable 570 square inches of cooking space, split over 2 racks in a sturdy powder-coated steel body. There’s a PID temperature controller that’ll keep the heat within 5 degrees of your target, give or take. And, it dials all the way up to 500°F making grilling possible.

But, if grilling is really important to you, you can actually get a Camp Chef sidekick or sear box for propane cooking. It attaches on one side and really does make this an all-in-one barbecue solution.

There’s two other major things we love about the Camp Chef. Firstly, there’s a separate dial that lets you set the smoke level between 1 and 10, independent of your target temperature. And second, the ash cleanout system makes it so easy to clean the firepot there’s really no excuse not to.

Basically, the SmokePro XT is a really solid all-rounder that, while not the fanciest on the market, does a great job of what it’s made to do, hands-off smoking.

Specs for the Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24

Barbecue material: Stainless steel and powder-coated steel

Grate material: Enamel-coated steel

Cooking capacity: 570 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 18 lbs

Heat Range: 160°F – 500°F

WiFi: No

Fuel type: Electric and wood pellet

Model: PG24XT

Assembled size (in): 22(D) x 25(W) x 40.5(H)

Weight: 133 lbs

Warranty: 3 years

Pros of the Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24:

  • Wide temperature range lets you smoke, bake, roast and grill
  • Compatible with Camp Chef’s sidekick or sear box for propane grilling and searing
  • PID temperature controller keeps temperature at +/-5°F of target
  • Separate heat and smoke settings give better control over flavor
  • Full sized pellet hopper lets you smoke unassisted for around 18 hours
  • Comes with 1 stainless steel meat probe so you can see exactly how the meat is going without opening the lid
  • Ash clean-out system makes cleaning the firepot an easy job

Cons of the Camp Chef SmokePro XT 24:

  • No door to empty out unused pellets

Best Stretch of the Budget

Grilla Grills Chimp

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

Well, the Grilla Grills Chimp is so close to being under $500 but gives you so much more for your money than any other smoker on this list. So, yes, you might not be able to stretch that budget. But, if you can save up for an extra week or two, check out how this baby delivers you amazing value…

The Chimp is Grilla Grills’ smaller, lighter, portable pellet smoker. It’s made with a mix of stainless steel and powder-coated steel. But, most importantly, the firepot and cooking grates are stainless, giving you durability where you need it most.

Forget PID vs traditional temperature controllers. The Grilla Grills Chimp gives you both. That means you can choose if you want really precise temperature control, or, the extra smokiness you naturally get from having slightly larger 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.

Using it at home, the Chimp is definitely sturdy enough. 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.

Overall, the Grilla Grills Chimp does a great job of balancing value and performance, rolling a really decent, if a little smaller, pellet smoker into an affordable package.

Specs for the Grilla Grills Chimp

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel with stainless steel lid

Grate material: Stainless steel

Cooking capacity: 460 sq in

Pellet hopper capacity: 15 lbs

Heat range: 180°F – 500°F

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Model: Chimp

Assembled size (in): 41(H) x 38(W) x 20(D)

Weight: 90 lbs

Warranty: 2 years

Pros of the Grilla Grills Chimp:

  • Stainless steel firepot and cooking grates give you durability while keeping the price affordable
  • Dual temperature controller lets you choose tight heat management or extra smokiness
  • Insulated cooking chamber offers better fuel efficiency with less heat loss
  • Blower fan circulates heat throughout the cooking chamber for an even cook
  • Includes 1 meat probe for hands-off monitoring of the meat doneness
  • Large enough cooking and hopper capacity to be used as a regular at-home smoker
  • Great snap-lock folding legs make packing it up to go actually easy
  • Safety shutdown feature

Cons of the Grilla Grills Chimp:

  • Max temp of 500°F is okay for grilling but isn’t great for high-heat searing