Z Grills is a brand that hasn’t been around that long. But, the user reviews for these things shine! Being a great mix of value for money, high-quality and easily turning out great results, the ZPG-700E is Z Grills most popular model.
So, is this smoker really worth the hype?
Before you buy one, check out our full Z Grills 700E review. Here, we cover everything from the specs to unboxing, how it really performs for both smoking and grilling and what our overall thoughts are after experiencing this bestselling barbecue.
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Just Looking for the Skinny on the 700E?
If you don’t want to read this whole review then, basically, the Z Grills 700E is an affordable, but basic, mid-sized pellet smoker. It performs well at low and slow temperatures with reliable temperature regulation and easy to use controls. It can also be used for grilling. But, keep in mind that it’s indirect high-heat and won’t work the same as a dedicated grill, and, it’ll chop through pellets quickly to do so.
In terms of build quality, the 700E is on the cheaper end, but, is very well done. They’ve saved on the expense by forgoing the extras like WiFi instead of sacrificing the quality of what is there.
With two meat probes and a waterproof cover included, it’s a great value for money package that’s backed by a decent warranty and the durability to outlast it.
Overview of the Z Grills 700E Pellet Smoker
The Z Grills 700E is an affordable, moderate capacity pellet smoker that boasts of it’s high-build quality, stainless steel components and an attractive warranty with a 30-day money back guarantee.
On it, you won’t find any fancy features like WiFi or insulation. Instead, Z Grills focus on doing the basics well to offer a good all-round smoker that does the job well and comes in at a much cheaper price than Traeger and many other competitors.
Features of the Z Grills 700E
- Powder-coated steel body
- Stainless steel lids
- 20 pound pellet hopper
- Moderate capacity will fit larger cuts of meat and cater for at-home entertaining
Ease of use:
- Wide temperature range lets you smoke, bake, roast, braise, bbq and grill
- Precise automatic temperature controller
- Easy to clean porcelain-coated cooking grates
- Two meat temperature probes
- Waterproof cover
What We Like About the Z-Grills 700E
- Great value for money – It may not be fancy, but, the 700E has everything you need for set and forget barbecue at a competitive price.
- Even temperature distribution – At smoking temperatures, we didn’t record any variance in temperature throughout the cooking chamber. This means you don’t need to worry about where you place meat and keeps the results consistent.
- Compact design – The split rack system gives you more capacity without taking up so much space in your backyard. The built-in cabinet is another bonus!
- Rubber meat probes – Sounds small but the meat probes have a rubber casing on them so you don’t need to get gloves to move the probes.
What We Don't Like About the Z-Grills 700E
- Drip tray doesn’t reach the edges – This leaves a decent gap for ash to blow up into the cooking chamber (make sure you’re using low ash, high-quality pellets). And, grease can drip down into the bottom of the cooking chamber if you’re sitting meat close to the edges.
- No front table – You can rest things on top of the pellet hopper, but, we really like having a front table to make transferring meat and wrapping easier.
- No WiFi – For us, it’s a nice to have, not an essential. But, it is missed a little as it’s quicker to check a phone app to see how the meat’s going.
Specs for the Z Grills 700E
Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel and stainless steel
Grate material: Porcelain-coated wire
Cooking capacity: 694 square inches
Pellet hopper capacity: 20 lbs
Temperature range: 180°F – 450°F
Fuel type: Wood pellets and electricity
Price guide: $$$
Dimensions: 48″ W x 52″ H x 22″ D
Weight: 144 lbs
Warranty: 3 years
Unboxing and Setting Up the 700E
The instructions were straight-forward and easy to understand. It came with everything you need to put it together including a screwdriver and gloves for handling the greasy parts.
It’d be 100% doable to put the 700E together yourself. But, it’s always easier to have a second set of hands when it comes to lifting the cooking chamber onto the cart and holding the hopper in place while you tighten the screws.
The hardest part was getting the auger out of the cooking chamber! That thing was well packed in there. But, overall, it was one of the most straightforward pellet smokers we’ve put together.
There was quite a bit of polystyrene residue inside the cooking chamber because everything was neatly packed in there. I also gave it a good shop-vac out throughout the assembly process just to make sure it was as clean as could be before the burn-in.
Once set up we followed the instructions for the initial burn-in.
The process was pretty straight forward and typical of any pellet smoker. But, it did take longer than the guide suggested to get up to the maximum temperature that’s required to burn off any residual oil and other products from production. The conditions were fine but a little windy, so, maybe that’s what affected the longer than advertised times. Just keep in mind that it might take longer than stated if you’re like us and in a hurry to get the ribs on.
Build Quality of the Z Grills 700E
After setting the 700E up and having a good look at each component, we were very impressed with the overall quality of the unit. For the price, in particular, it’s well-constructed, all the parts fit easily together and it was easy to get a good tight fit on all the components.
Compared to more expensive pellet smokers, the metal is a little thinner. And, without any insulation, the unit can’t be expected to hold heat in colder weather conditions as well as some. But, the 700E definitely has a solid feel and the whole unit looks like it’d be much more expensive than the price on the tag.
Note: The images below were taken after use! The unit did arrive in pristine condition.
Cooking on the ZPG-700E
To test the Z Grills 700E properly, we used the smoker for a few weeks before writing this review. We smoked a few racks of ribs, a whole brisket, a Boston butt, and, grilled some chicken and burger patties.
While the 700E is advertised as being suitable for grilling, most people considering this barbecue will be looking at it for it’s smoking abilities. So, this is where we focused our trial.
Operating the 700E
As you’d expect in this price bracket, the control panel on the 700E is basic but does the job. There’s an on/off switch, a temperature dial, actual temperature display and button to toggle through the meat probes.
To get the unit going, you simply plug it in, fill the hopper, turn the switch to on and move the dial to the smoke setting. Leaving the lid open, the auger starts feeding pellets into the firepot, they’ll start burning, and, once you see smoke coming out you can shut the lid, it’s ready to get going.
After that, turn the dial to the temperature you’d like. The settings jump in 25°F increments, using the lower heats for smoking and the higher heats for roasting and grilling.
It’s that simple. The built-in temperature probe will take the cooking chamber temperature and adjust the auger speed to feed the right amount of pellets into the firepot to stick pretty close to your target temperature at all times.
If you want, you can also run this smoker on it’s ‘smoke’ setting for the first hour or two. Doing this will throw out a heap more smoke for a stronger, woody flavor. For the purpose of this review, we stuck to the regular use of the grill and were still really pleased with the smokiness of the results we got.
Time to Reach Target Temperature
As you’d expect, the time it takes to reach your target temperature is going to depend on how hot you’re running it. But, to give you an idea of how long it’ll take, we measured it on each run.
To hit a low and slow smoking temperature of 225°F, it took our unit about 8 minutes from hitting the on switch to reach the target.
When aiming for the maximum temperature of 450°F, we were looking at 38 minutes from the get-go. It got up to 390°F pretty quickly and most of the time was spent creeping the last bit of the way.
Note: The first time we tried for maximum temperature, we couldn’t hit it and the grill maxed out at around 425°F. The weather was sunny, 80°F with a slight wind and we thought the wind might be to blame. But, after swapping our blended pellets out with a pure oak variety which usually burns nice and hot (Z Grills All-Natural American Oak Wood Pellets), we had no problem hitting the max of 450°F!! The weather conditions were really similar.
The Z Grills 700E comes with 2 meat probes included. To set them up, you pass the probe part through a rubber hole and plug them both directly into the control panel.
The panel only has one space to display temperature and defaults to the cooking chamber temp. So, you press the ‘food probe temp’ button to toggle through and see the internal temperature of each meat you’ve got cooking.
When compared to independent units, the meat probes read accurately.
Smoking is what the 700E was primarily designed to do. And, it’s where it’s performance shines.
As mentioned above, we’ve cooked a number of different cuts of meat on the 700E, using different setups, in a variety of weather conditions.
Regardless, we got great results from the very first use.
While there wasn’t quite as much bark formation as you’d get on a charcoal or wood-based offset smoker (as is normal on a pellet smoker), the meat was noticeably smoky, there was a good smoke ring, and, except for one time when we were distracted and overcooked the ribs (should have set an alarm!), the meat was really tender and moist. In fact, the pork ribs and pulled pork we did on the 700E are up there with the best we’ve cooked up in our backyard. We were that impressed!
Layering meat on the upper rack worked well too.
Keep in mind, the clearance between the bottom and top racks is about 3.5 inches. So, while you can layer flatter cuts like a brisket, ribs, or chicken thighs, you do need to remove the top rack for taller cuts like whole chickens and possibly Boston butts.
We didn’t have high hopes for how the 700E would perform at grilling. After all, there’s no direct heat to nicely flame grill the food. And, it’s hard to get a barbecue that actually does everything.
But, we were pleasantly surprised at how the 700E performed.
On two different occasions, we grilled burger patties and chicken wings.
After taking about 40 minutes to heat the grill up, the meat definitely sizzles when you place it on the cooking grates. Put the lid down so you don’t lose all that valuable heat and it keeps sizzling away, cooking as quickly as you’d expect for the type of meat.
The results were surprisingly smoky for how long the meat was in there. There were even slight sear marks on some of the meat. Plus, it was still pretty juicy.
Definitely an overall success.
Using high heat on the 700E is, of course, going to use more fuel. And, with how long it takes to get up to temperature, we’d probably just fire up a charcoal grill to cook some patties. But, if catering to a crowd, the 700E has the capability to grill well and the capacity to handle quite a lot of food.
We also trialed the Z Grills Cast Iron BBQ Plate as well to see if it boosted the grilling experience.
It simply sits on the cooking grate and we let it heat up with the barbecue as well so it was ready to go at the same time.
Using a meat probe to check, we found that the thick cast iron retained the heat well, despite opening and closing the lid to add meat. But, because it’s so thick, we probably didn’t give it long enough to get up to temperature before cooking on it, and, we didn’t actually get quite as good of a sear mark as we did directly on the cooking grates.
Overall, the Cast Iron Plate is perfect for cooking fish, eggs or vegetables that just wouldn’t be possible on the cooking grates. We’ve also heard smoked pancakes on it are quite a hit, but, we haven’t gone there yet… we will!
Temperature Accuracy and Fluctuations
To test how accurate the temperature control is in the Z Grills 700E and check for hot spots, we set up 3 probes across the bottom grate on the left, middle and far right.
The hardwired probe that gives feedback to the temperature controller sits hard left in the cooking chamber.
Here’s what we found:
Z Grills Actual Reading
We were very impressed how even the temperature distribution was when cooking low and slow.
The higher discrepancy when cooking hot is to be expected. But, except for a slight drop around the middle of the grill, the 700E does a great job of actually reaching it’s target temperature and distributing the heat throughout.
It was a fine, moderately warm day, so, we didn’t have the weather working against us. But, do remember, we had to use pure oak pellets to reach the maximum temperature. Some types of wood might have trouble getting that hot.
Work Areas and Storage Space
One thing you don’t usually get in the price range of the Z Grills 700E is a storage cabinet. But, the 700E does have one. Not only does it make the whole barbecue more solid and sturdy, it’s handy to be able to leave the top grate, probes, utensils and whatever else you might like hidden away and tidy.
In terms of work space though, we find the 700E a bit lacking. Yes, you can sit your tongs or a tray on top of the pellet hopper. And, it’s definitely better than nothing. But, a separate front table would be handy for transferring meat.
Currently, there’s no extra add-on available for this. But, you can get a separate Stainless Steel Side Table if you wanted to sit it beside your unit and don’t have a built-in kitchen barbecue area. The Z Grills Stainless Steel Table is available in 2 sizes, gives you a heap of space, and, is strong and durable.
Cleaning the Z Grills 700E
Cleaning the Z Grills 700E is pretty straight forward. The porcelain-coated grates are fairly non-stick and do well being scraped back with a wooden paddle while they’re still warm.
As per Z Grills recommendation, we lined the grease tray with aluminum foil. It works well and only needs to be changed every 3 or 4 runs.
At the same time, it’s a good idea to remove the grease tray and baffle plate so you can clean the ash from the firepot and bottom of the cooking chamber. A shop vac makes the job easier. But, you could do it with a wet cloth, it’ll just take longer.
Here’s a video that walks you through the whole process:
Included Extras and Accessories
The Z Grills 700E comes with 2 meat probes that plug directly into the temperature controller, plus, a branded waterproof cover.
We love a barbecue that comes with the cover! They can be quite an expensive add-on. But, every ‘cue should have some weather protection, even if it’s stored mostly undercover.
We’ve talked about how the included probes work – easily and excellently. But, how about the cover?
It fits nice and snuggly. Doesn’t have a cord to pull it tight at the bottom. But, the fit is so good that I don’t think there’s any chance the wind will blow it around or off. Even when stored 100% in the rain, it so far has keep all the water out successfully. Plus, it looks clean and crisp in the backyard.
Warranty and Money-Back Guarantee
The Z Grills 700E is covered by a 3 year warranty. Z Grills have a good reputation for customer service and seem to be pretty responsive to helping you sort out problems if there are any.
But, what’s really great about Z Grills is that if you buy one through their website, they have a 30-day money back guarantee. After using one, I don’t think a lot of people that would be using it. But, it gives you that confidence to hit buy, knowing that if it’s defective, you can get in touch with them and do something about it. Check the Z Grills website for up to date information of course.
While you don’t need anything extra, except for some pellets and a pair of tongs, to cook on the 700E, Z Grills do have a pretty good range of optional extras.
If you live somewhere cold and want to smoke in winter, the Thermal Blanket isn’t that expensive and is going to save you money on your fuel usage in the long-term by insulating and improving efficiency.
Pros of the Z Grills 700E Wood Pellet Smoker
- Accurate temperature control
- Easy to use
- Solid construction with stainless steel components for improved durability
- Capable of turning out great results for both smoking and grilling
- Comes with 2 rubber handled meat probes to check the internal meat temperature without opening the lid
- Also includes a waterproof cover to keep your barbecue protected
- Compact design offers a decent cooking capacity without a huge footprint
- Built-in storage cabinet
- Great value for money
- Good warranty
Cons of the Z Grills 700E Wood Pellet Smoker
- Drip plate doesn’t reach the edges so, ash can come up through and you can get grease dripping down past it if cooking near the edges
- No front table for convenient work space
- No WiFi means you need to go outside to check on temperatures – not necessarily a major for everyone
- Thinner metal than more expensive pellet smokers won’t retain heat as well in colder conditions. But, there is a thermal blanket available. Or, read our review of the 700E’s 2021 upgraded version, the 700D3
- No easy way to empty the pellet hopper. But, again, the upgraded version, the 700D3 does have this. Check out our review here.
Our Verdict on the Z Grills 700E Review
If you’re looking for a great performing, value for money smoker, the Z Grills 700E won’t disappoint.
Yes, it’s basic and doesn’t have the fancy features of some more expensive models. But, it’s solid, reliable, and, does it’s primary job of smoking, very well.
With a wide enough temperature range to offer versatility, and a control panel that’ll hold the heat steady itself, it’s easy to use and the results are consistent every single cook.
A winner for anyone looking for an affordable set and forget smoker that performs well, the 700E will surprise even the toughest of critics.
FAQs About the Z Grills 700E
Q. Does the Z Grills 700E have WiFi?
Q. Is there a hopper clean-out on the 700E?
No. To get unused pellets out of the 700E, you’ll need to scoop them and/or use a shop vac to suck them out. We’ve also stored pellets in the hopper for a couple of weeks between runs and they’ve been fine, even in rain with the waterproof cover on. The 2021 upgrade of the 700E, the 700D3 does have a pellet hopper clean-out.
Q. What’s the difference between the 700E and 700D?
Q. Can I grill on the Z Grills 700E?
At a maximum temperature of 450°F, you can grill on the Z Grills 700E. Keep in mind that it’s indirect heat so you won’t get the same results as you’d get on a regular gas or charcoal grill. But, it is doable and the results aren’t too bad.
Q. Where are Z Grills made?
Like most pellet smokers, Z Grills are manufactured in China. The company is based in the United States and they appear to have consistent quality control measures in place to ensure that every grill is build to standard.
Q. How does the 700E perform in cooler weather?
Q. Do I have to use Z Grills pellets in a Z Grills smoker?
No. Any Z Grills smoker can burn any quality cooking pellets. Check out our review to see what our favorite top-quality options are.