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Best Pellet Smoker for Grilling: These 6 Get HOT!!

BEST OVERALL

Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 24 with Sidekick
Camp Chef Woodwind Pro
4.5/5

BEST QUALITY

recteq Dual Fire 1200
Recteq DualFire
4.7/5

BEST KETTLE STYLE

recteq RT-B380 Bullseye
recteq Bullseye
4.4/5

BEST MID-RANGE

Pit Boss Navigator 850G
Pit Boss Navigator
4.3/5

BEST BUDGET

Z Grills Flame Elite L600D3E
Z Grills Flame Elite
4.4/5

BEST PORTABLE

Camp Chef Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill
Camp Chef Pursuit
4/5

Every single pellet smoker out there will say you can grill on it. And, you can. But, I’m guessing that from searching up the best pellet smoker for grilling, you understand that the indirect heat that most pellet grills offer just isn’t the same as ultra-high or open-flame grilling.

Yes, indirect heat works. But, it’s sort of like trying to grill a steak in a really hot oven. It’s really not ideal.

These days though, you don’t have to compromise. With some models offering ultra-high heat, and others giving you a way to cook directly over the hardwood pellet flame, there’s no need to buy two barbecues.

The pellet smokers reviewed below give you effortless, competition-quality smoking, plus what’s actually a great grilling experience. They’re the best of both worlds. And, there’s options to suit all budgets.

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Table of Contents

How We Selected the Best Pellet Smokers for Grilling

We do love a good pellet smoker. They’re such an easy way to make really great barbecue that, although we see the merit of using an offset smoker, you’ve got to appreciate that sometimes you just want good food done without the hassle.

In general, pellet smokers aren’t the best of the block for grilling on. But, that’s not always true. So, we set out to trial and compare a whole lot of pellet smokers that are designed to be dual purpose.

The pellet smokers we looked for had open flame technology, secondary propane burners, or much higher than normal temperature ranges to allow for better grilling.

After selecting a range of models at a range of different price points, we got our hands on them all and set about testing each and every one on the following factors in order to make a fair and true comparison.

It’s meant to grill better than your average pellet smoker so we tested it before recommending it.

However they recommended to grill on it, we tried it with a range of consistent cuts including steak, burger patties, and sausages to see how they really performed. We took notes on how good the grill marks were, how juicy the meat was overall, and how much woody flavor it imparted to help us judge one smoker versus the next.

We cooked to temperature using a meat thermometer to keep the targets consistent as well.

Yes, you want it to grill but, we’re assuming you also want your pellet smoker to do a good job at grilling too.

We cooked the same cuts of meat on all of these smokers (plus the one’s that didn’t make the cut), and followed the same technique for consistency.

To us, it doesn’t matter if it’s good at grilling and smoking, you also want your barbecue to last. We always look for quality components, or as good as you can get at a lower price point, parts that fit well together, and overall durability to make sure that your money is being well spent.

With automatic temperature control, you will want your pellet smoker to keep a steady enough temperature in order to get the results you’re after, and have no problems doing it consistently.

All of the smokers we tested were assessed for the accuracy of their heat settings using the MEATER thermometers which give an ambient temperature reading too. The graph of how the temperature tracked over time was used to assess how steady the heat was.

Burning Brisket Kid Grilling on portable barbecue

Please be aware that for the purpose of this review, the best pellet smokers for the money, we have not set a strict budget. Instead, we’ve given you a list of our top picks if you’re after value.

All of the smokers here sit in the mid to low price range in terms of pellet smokers. But, they’re not the cheapest models around. Check out our best pellet smokers under $500 review for strictly cheap but good options.

The Best Pellet Smokers for Grilling: Our Top Choices

There’s a lot of good pellet smokers out there but, these are our very favorites in terms of performance, quality, reliability, and value.

BEST GRILLING

Camp Chef Woodwind Pro with Sidekick

4.5/5

BBQ type: Pellet smoker

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Grilling: Direct heat

Capacity: 811 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 22 lbs

Heat range: 160°F – 500°F+

Dimensions: 44.5″ W x 55″ H x 26″ D

WiFi: Yes

Price guide: $$$

Model: PG24WWSBAU14

When it comes to a true all-in-one pellet grill and smoker combination, Camp Chef’s Woodwind range has to take the cake.

This pellet smoker gives you not just one dedicated way to grill, but two, in addition to it’s regular low and slow pellet-fired setting.

Slide open the simple lever to open up slits in the heat defletor so you can grill right over the pellet fire. Or, hook up a propane bottle to the side burner for a built-in gas solution.

Grilling on the Camp Chef Woodwind with slide and grill

Both ways work really well. The gas is well, just like you’d expect on any gas grill. And, grilling directly over the pellet fire really does make that steak taste so much better. The grill marks are more pronounced and the higher heat seals the outside better for a juicer and faster cook. You do get a bit of that woody flavor too from cooking over a hardwood fire.

The temperature regulation is very even, when it’s cranked up to high heat as well. There’s WiFi for remote control. And, the Camp Chef Navigators are built with a decent amount of stainless steel components for better rust-resistance and durability too.

Camp Chef Woodwind Pro loaded up and smoking

But, what we really like about this barbecue overall as well is the separate smoke setting. Pellet smokers are known for their lighter smoke profile. But, you can customise this one, giving it anywhere from a 1 to a 10 depending on the flavor you’re after.

And, if you really like to tinker with the results, the Navigator’s also got the newly added smoke box.

Camp Chef Woodwind Pro Smoke Box

In it you can place wood chips, chunks, or even charcoal to really create a distinct profile. The main source of heat is still coming from the hardwood pellet fire. You’re just getting that secondary level of smoke. Or, you can turn the regular heat off and use the smoke box only to cold smoke too.

I mean, there’s a lot a lot that this smoker can do!

And, if all of that’s not enough, you’ve even got a choice of three different sizes to suit your needs and budget. All of them come with a full set of four meat probes that plug into the color screen controller.

It’s the all in one pellet grill solution that gives you options, options, and more options.

The price ain’t bad either!

Pros
Cons
BEST QUALITY

recteq DualFire

4.7/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Grilling: Direct heat

Capacity: 1,208 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 70 lbs

Heat range: 180 – 700°F

Dimensions: 67″W x 52″H

WiFi: Yes

Price guide: $$$$

Model: RT-1200

Warranty: 6 years

We’re not the biggest fans of the slide and grill design because the open flame space just isn’t that large. So, when it comes to the best pellet smoker for grilling, we love recteq’s DualFire because it’s properly set up for both low and slow and high heat.

With two separate cooking chambers, you’ve got a permanently set up 302 square inches of grilling space on the left with 936 square inches of smoking space to the right. And, both are powered by hardwood pellets so you don’t have multiple types of fuel to buy like you do with the Camp Chef above.

Using the recteq DualFire

Both side work well and we really don’t feel like we’re compromising on performance of either job at all on the DualFire. It really is a get rid of your grill replacement.

Set to maximum, you’ve got hardwood-fired flames licking through the grates in about 15 to 20 minutes of heating. And, the PID-controlled smoking side keeps an incredibly steady temperature throughout the cook.

Grilling on the recteq DualFire 1200

You can run both sides of the barbecue at the same time as well. I pretty much always grill up something quick for lunch while my dinner’s smoking. But, it’s also perfect for reverse searing because you can actually get the grill nice and hot at the same time as having the smoker set up low and slow. There’s no delay.

But, the DualFire’s also so impressive because of it’s great quality. Yes, it’s the most expensive option on this list. But, you’ve got a heap of stainless steel that’s gone into this, giving you better durability and rust-resistance to last in the long-run.

There’s a WiFi controller so you can monitor and change the temperature remotely. You do need to go outside to turn the either side on. But, once you’ve done that, you can monitor your cook with the four included meat probes.

The recteq DualFire really is the complete solution for anyone who wants to grill and smoke on hardwood pellets. It’s top quality and produces some mighty fine barbecue. It’s one of our favorites all-round.

Pros
Cons
BEST KETTLE STYLE

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

The recteq Bullseye looks like a simple kettle barbecue but it’s actually a pellet smoker with open flame grilling, and it’s really awesome too.

On it’s more compact design, you’ve got 380 square inches of cooking space. It’s not a lot but plenty if you’re cooking for up to three or four people and don’t want a huge lot of leftovers to stock the fridge as well. The pellet hopper’s also a reasonable 15 pounds but again, isn’t anything huge.

Grilling on the recteq Bullseye

But, I really like using the Bullseye. Smoking is simple and the food turns out really well.

The perforated heat deflector lets a good amount of smoke through, and the small space coupled with the precise PID temperature controller means the heat stays super steady throughout your cooks.

To grill and sear on here, the perforated heat deflector means you don’t have to slide anything open to get your open flame cooking. Instead, simply set the temperature to riot mode and wait while it preheats.

Like the recteq DualFire reviewed above, when you’re working at temperatures 500°F+, you can’t select an actual temperature. Instead, this smoker will run the auger at maximum so that the grill gets as hot as it can based on the type of hardwood pellets you’re burning, and the current environmental conditons.

Cooking a pizza on the recteq Bullseye

I don’t mind the lack of control up at this point because when I want the grill hot, all I want is hot. But, just be aware that it’s the case so you’re not left disappointed when you can’t fine-tune that grilling temp.

The quality of the Bullseye is where this barbecue really shines. The whole cooking chamber plus firepot is made from stainless steel for better durability and rust-resistance. Unlike most recteq’s, the grates on the Bullseye are porcelain-coated steel though. Still, not bad quality. But, not the stainless you expect with recteq.

If stainless steel grates, or WiFi are must-have’s on your list, there’s also the premium Bullseye Deluxe model. It’s quite a bit more expensive than the straight Bullseye but gives you the wireless controller, upgraded grates, added front table, and an even hotter max temperature of up to 1000°F.

Pros
Cons
BEST MID-RANGE

Pit Boss Navigator

4.3/5

BBQ type: Pellet smoker

Material: Powder-coated steel

Grates: Porcelain-coated iron

Grilling: Direct heat

Capacity: 879 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 27 lbs

Heat range: 160°F – 500°F+

Dimensions: 58″ W x 47″ H x 37″ D

WiFi: Yes

Price guide: $$$

Model: PB850G

Warranty: 5 yrs

Next up we’ve got the Pit Boss Navigator. This open-flame grilling pellet smoker’s got a lot going for it in what’s a pretty decent value for money package.

First off, the construction is really good. Pit Boss’s slogan is bigger, hotter, heavier and we’ve really found that that rings true. Unlike the recteq’s, there’s no stainless steel components. But, the steel’s nice and thick, you’ve got quality porcelain-coated cast iron grates that really hold the heat, and it’s overall very well built. I’d expect to get many, many years of smoking and grilling on this one.

In terms of smoking, the temperature controller on this Navigator isn’t PID. The temperature does fluctuate considerably during your cook. We get swings of up to about 30°F during a low and slow.

If you want the temperature super steady, this isn’t the smoker for you. But, in our experience with this smoker, you can get good results on the Navigator. You don’t need the heat to be rock steady at all times. In fact, because the temperature fluctuates that much more, you actually get more smoke production than on a steadier PID model. Because of this, some people prefer them.

Pit-Boss-850G-Navigator-Review

When it comes to grilling, you’ve got Pit Boss’s Slide Plate Flame Broiler. This works like the rest of them do, you slide the lever and it opens up the heat deflector over the pellet fire so that the flames lick through and give that all-important higher heat.

Pit-Boss-Navigator-Drip-Tray-Grilling-Position

We enjoyed grilling on the Navigator and were able to get good grill marks and a bit of a smoky flavor. Like the other pellet smokers for grilling, just be aware that you don’t have the Navigator’s full cooking capacity available for open flame grilling. The firepot is pretty small and because of this, the grilling space is only a fraction of the grill’s smoking capacity.

Pit-Boss-Navigator-Open-Flame-Grilling

The updated model does have a WiFi controller for remote control too. But, as of the time of writing this, they’re still selling some of the old Navigator’s without WiFi so check the model details of the one you’re looking at before you hit the buy now button. And, if you don’t want WiFi, you should be able to pick the non-WiFi model up for that much less, saving you a decent amount of cash.

Our biggest complaint about the Pit Boss Navigator is that it doesn’t have a regular chimney-style smoke stack. Instead, you’ve got rear vents that theoretically are better set up for more even smoke distribution. But, we cook in the rain and wind a lot and found that we did get some water in despite the small cap. The wind whipping through also affected the temperature causing larger dips than when we used it in good weather conditions. I wouldn’t expect that to be an issue for everyone in every climate though.

Pit-Boss-Navigator-Vents

Size-wise, you’ve got the choice of three different models that all have quite large pellet hoppers. They all come with two meat probes that plug into the control panel for accurate internal meat temperature monitoring. The smaller sized Navigator also comes with the cover. And, because the largest Navigator doesn’t have WiFi at the moment, you can get a pretty large pellet grill for a great price.

Pros
Cons
BEST BUDGET

Z Grills Flame Elite 600D3E

4.4/5

BBQ type: Pellet

Material: Powder-coated

Grates: Porcelain-coated

Grilling: Direct heat

Capacity: 572 sq in

Hopper capacity: 8 lbs

Heat range: 160 – 450°F+

Dimensions: 46 L × 21 W × 49 H

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: 600D3E

Warranty: 3 years

Coming in at one red hot price is this neat little option from Z Grills, the Flame Elite 600D3E.

Holding a smaller but still reasonable capacity of 572 square inches (about 24 burgers or 4 whole chickens), the 600D3E has a precise PID temperature controller, and there’s a fire access door so you can bump the temperature up to 750°F with direct flame access for better grilling and searing.

Open flame grill technology on the Z Grills 600 Series Pellet Smokers

Like all of the other pellet smoker searing options, you’ve got a more limited space. But, you do get those flames licking through for legit seared steaks or quickly done sausages. It works really well. I would recommend taking the top grate out to make it easy to access that hotter bottom rack for grilling.

The metal’s a little thinner than you get on the Pit Boss Navigator. But, don’t be put off by the lower price! Z Grills is a top notch option (and, one of our favorites). The temperature distribution is remarkably even, you get a stainless steel lid, side shelf, and enclosed storage cabinet as well.

Z Grills also recently added an insulated lid which we’ve found really helps to boost the fuel efficiency, especially when you’re cranking it up to a higher heat for grilling.

To us, the only real negative about the 600D3E is that the pellet hopper’s a little smaller too. It holds 8 pound of pellets which will give you around about 8 hours of low and slow smoking time so you’ll need to refill for longer cooks.

There’s also no WiFi if that’s a deal-breaker for you. We really don’t mind because Z Grills are so consistent and reliable anyway.

Pros
Cons
BEST PORTABLE

Camp Chef Pursuit

4/5

BBQ type: Pellet smoker

Material: Stainless steel

Grates: Stainless steel

Grilling: Direct heat

Capacity: 501 sq inch

Hopper capacity: 10 lbs

Heat range: 160°F – 500°F+

Dimensions: 41(H) x 38(W) x 18.5(D)

WiFi: No

Price guide: $$

Model: Pursuit PPG20

Warranty: 3 yrs electrics

Last but not least, we’ve got a portable option that makes the cut as one of the best pellet smokers for grilling.

It’s the Camp Chef Pursuit Pellet Smoker. And, like the Woodwind’s reviewed above, the Pursuit has the same Slide and Grill Technology so when you’re ready to reverse sear, or, just want to fire up some burgers fast, you can slide the lever and get access to the extra heat of the direct, wood-fired flame in the firepot.

Grilling on the Camp Chef Pursuit with slide and grill

But, the Pursuit’s got a lot of other things going for it as well.

Firstly, it’s actually very sturdy for a portable smoker. The legs fold in with the push of a button, there’s levelers on the legs, and the lids lock, turning the whole grill into a rolling suitcase that’s actually easy to move.

The temperature’s reliably controlled by Camp Chef’s updated PID-based system which also lets you set the smoke level independently of the heat. And, there’s two meat probes included so you can monitor your meat’s progress directly on the control panel for perfect results every time.

As you’d expect on a portable model, the cooking space is reduced to 501 square inches. It’s still enough to do 4 racks of ribs at a time, 4 pork butts, or a brisket. But, the hopper’s also a smaller 10 pounds.

Camp Chef Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill In Use

From that you’ll get about 10 hours of smoke time before you need a refill. So, it’s still enough to do overnight cooks with a refill in the morning.

Even though the Pursuit’s a portable model, it’s definitely large enough and sturdy enough to use regularly at home as well. So, it’s also a good option for the budget-conscious buyer who’s still after a lot of features and great function.

Pros
Cons

FAQs About the Best Pellet Smoker for Grilling

Yes, provided that a pellet smoker gets to around 450°F or hotter, you can use it for grilling. But, if you’re going to be grilling all the time, some pellet smokers are better set up for it with sliding vents that give you access to the pellet fire, or a separate propane burner.

Check out the pellet smokers above as the best for grilling. These all go above and beyond just giving you high, indirect heat so that you can do steaks and reverse sear better than you can on ordinary pellet smokers.

All Traeger pellet smokers do get hot enough for grilling. But, just be aware that you’re grilling over high, indirect heat. There’s no open flame like you’d have on a gas or charcoal grill. It is doable though and you will get pretty reasonable results although smoking is what they really excel at.

If you’re regularly grilling on a pellet smoker, I’d go for one of the models reviewed above instead. They all give you access to the flames for higher heat and better results.

To grill on a pellet smoker you’ll crank the heat all the way up to it’s max, or at least 450°F. Then, you’ll place your meat on, close the lid again, and open it back up when it’s time to flip your meat.

It’s a bit like grilling inside a really hot oven. And, while you will get decent sear marks and a nice searing sound, go for a pellet smoker that gives you access to the pellet flames itself if you don’t want to compromise on grilling or smoking performance.

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 commited 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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