The Battle of the Grills: Reviews of the Best Pellet Grills Under $500

Nothing tops a heavy-duty pellet grill for creating the smoky, deep flavor of a legitimate barbeque joint right in your own backyard, tailgating cluster, or campsite.

Fueled by flavor-enhancing wood pellets, pellet grills are amazing for creating your own signature flavor because of their versatile options for smoking, baking, or roasting different meats for hours while you passively watch the magic happen. 

The portability and robust cooking capacity of pellet grills make it possible to prepare favorites like hamburgers or smoked meats that are so perfectly tender and juicy that cutting into them with a knife feels like Christmas morning! 

Today we’ll be taking a look at the best pellet grills under $500. So keep reading!

The biggest advantage of a pellet grill and smoker is simply convenience! There’s no need to grow frustrated when trying to drum up the right amount of heat with these grills because they utilize a push-button auto-start ignition that really does the steering for you.

With most pellet grills, you’re at your ideal temp for cooking meats, vegetables, and more within 15 to 20 minutes. That means less time spent clapping your kitchen tongs in anticipation! 

Versatility is another big bonus with pellet grills. With this one grill, you can grill, roast, smoke, bake and so much more! There are even terrific recipes for cookies, bread, and baked goods that can be made with wood pellet grills quite easily once you’re a master at using this type of cooker.

Don’t forget that you can also buy specialty-flavored hardwood pellets ranging from spicy and woody to sweet and tangy to customize your flavor profile. 

Ultimately, a pellet grill offers a very consistent and stable cooking experience. These cookers are exceptional when it comes to maintaining steady temperatures throughout the cooking process.

They are ideal for slow cooking, fast cooking, and every option in the middle!

Next, see what’s under the hood of the pellet smoker you’ve been eyeing as we cover the cooking area, temperature range, cooking capacity, and more to find the best pellet grill under 500! 

The Best Pellet Grills Under $500 in 2022

Feast your eyes on 450 sq inches of cooking space that can deliver up to 20 hours of cooking time with 20 pounds of pellets.

Z GRILLS actually just upgraded the control board on this grill for 2020 to deliver a better auto-ignition feature that allows you to set cooking temps between 180 degrees Fahrenheit and 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

While not ultra-hot, that temp range works beautifully for grilling, smoking, baking, roasting, braising, and more.

This is also a rare portable grill with PID technology designed to hold the tightest temperature possible the whole way through. 

When you run your fingers over this grill, you’re feeling corrosion-resistant stainless steel. The design also features a real-time LED display for temps, digital auto-temp control, a foldable working shelf, and heavy-duty all-terrain wheels.

Overall, this is a lightweight and portable pellet grill that delivers consistent performance that allows the chef to go on autopilot. 

Pros:

  • PID technology.
  • Lightweight (84 pounds).
  • Decent hopper capacity (15 pounds).
  • New auto-ignition feature.

Cons:

  • Temperature max isn’t the highest by comparison.
  • Smallish cooking surface.

With a rack surface area covering 700 square inches, this Z GRILLS model can be considered the best pellet grill if you like to entertain!

This pellet grill also dazzles with eight functions in one to allow you to smoke, grill, bake, roast, sear, braise, and barbeque to your heart’s content with a one-push start. 

You have some features to look at here that will make your grilling experience breezy and neat. First, this grill is outfitted with a waste-oil collector that allows for a safe, easy, and splatter-free cleanup.

It also dazzles with electronic auto-start ignition alongside a digital control for temperature. This Z GRILLS model has also been updated for 2020 to feature locking caster wheels for easy movement. 

The list of new upgrades on this popular Z GRILLS model also includes a digital control board with an auto-ignition feature.

You can use the temperature control setting to place cooking temps from 180 degrees Fahrenheit to 450 degrees Fahrenheit to let this pellet grill and smoke do its thing to perfection.

The temperature control setting also ensures that your grill will maintain heat within 10 degrees of your selected temperature. 

Pros:

  • Large hopper capacity (20 pounds).
  • Lightweight (84 pounds).
  • Maintains a temp within 10 degrees of your setting.
  • Nice waste-oil collection.
  • Huge cooking surface.

Cons:

  • Design is a little bulky.
  • Max temperature is not impressive by comparison.

PIT BOSS delivers on 700 square feet of total cooking surface with a high-quality, attractive design featuring porcelain-coated cast-iron grids with this pellet grill smoker.

Marvel at a digital control burn system that gets from 170 Fahrenheit degrees up to an impressive 600 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If it’s the perfect hamburger you’re after, this wood pellet grill has you covered with its side-plate flame broiler feature.

This impressive pellet grill under 500 uses electric ignition and fan-forced air to really ramp up a clear-burning flame for rich convection heat that cleanly produces a pellet grill’s signature smoky flavor.

Overall, it’s a dream for doing everything from charbroiling a steak to perfection and smoking ribs to baking pizza and whipping up jerky. 

Pros:

  • Big hopper capacity (21 pounds).
  • High temperature max.

Cons:

  • On the heavier side (117 pounds).

Who knew just 219 square inches of grilling space could do so much? The petite size of the Davy Crockett grill makes it an ideal tailgating grill.

However, this pellet smoker grill more than makes up for its diminutive design with its larger-than-life features.

First, this is the rare grill under 500 that syncs up with your smartphone to let you control grill settings via Wi-Fi. 

This grill also features Sense-Mate technology that allows you to continuously monitor grill temps using a thermal sensor. This portable pellet grill also impresses with a temp range of 150 degrees Fahrenheit to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.

As of 2020, an enviable stainless hood comes standard on this model. 

Pros:

  • Very lightweight (57 pounds).
  • Syncs up with your smartphone.
  • Stainless-steel hood.

Cons:

  • Very low hopper capacity (9 pounds).

With just 184 square inches of cooking space, this wood pellet grill smoker takes the cake for being the most portable option among both Traeger pellet grills and the other best wood pellet models on our list.

Little touches like an arc-method digital control that allows you to set temps in five-degree increments and keep in warm mode ensure top-tier results regardless of where you’re cooking! 

 

A cast-iron griddle feature that puts that perfect final sear on a steak or fries up a breakfast of eggs and bacon to perfection makes this one of the best camping pellet stoves on the market.

With the ability to reach temperatures of up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, this grill makes it possible to prepare serious meals away from home. The design’s built-in meat probe makes it easy to keep an eye on internal temperature without lifting your lid. 

Pros:

  • Lightweight (700 pounds).
  • Built-in meat probe.
  • Good temperature control for incremental increases or “warming.”

Cons:

  • Low hopper capacity (8 pounds).
  • Max temp is not that impressive by comparison.

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill

With a rack cooking surface of 573 sq inches, this Camp Chef pellet grill dazzles with great performance that accommodates a large cooking capacity mixed with a roster of must-have features.

Chefs get assurance from an automatic auger that intuitively dispenses as needed. When prep is done, the auger simply shuts down.

This is a pellet grill that lets you “set and forget” while crafting restaurant-perfect meats. This grill will keep your pellets balanced to maintain a consistent temperature that falls within 20 degrees of the ideal temperature.

With help from temperature settings ranging from 160 degrees Fahrenheit to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, this grill offers a range. The grill’s electronic auto ignition and digital temperature chip designed to eliminate wild temperature swings take the pressure off the chef to micromanage the cooking process.

Some other highlights on this Camp Chef model include an ash collector that’s easy to clean, a grease-management system, and an internal temperature meat probe.

Pros:

  • Decent hopper capacity (18 pounds).
  • Electronic auto ignition and digital temperature chip allow you to take a hands-off approach to cooking.
  • Nice grease-management system.
  • Clean ash-collection system.

Cons:

  • Heavy for the capacity (140 pounds).
  • 20-degree temperature window isn’t the tightest available.

How Pellet Grills Work

A pellet grill’s design is sophisticated and precise because every inch of space integrated into the design serves a purpose! To use a pellet grill, the grill master pours wood pellets into a storage area within the grill called a hopper.

Next, those pellets are transferred to a burn pot by a built-in rotating device that’s called the auger. It is at this point where the pellets create that rich flame that will grill, roast, and sear your food to perfection. 

Meanwhile, the grill’s intake fans keep heat and smoking moving. The benefit here is that you can cook at lower temperatures for long periods to create very hot and tender meats.

The wide temperature range offered with pellet cooking allows for a wide array of options for grilling, smoking, and more! With pellet cooking, you’re getting one portable cooker that does the job of a grill, smoker, and oven.

What to Look for in an Inexpensive Pellet Grill

There’s definitely a lot of range when it comes to finding pellet grills that are optimized for different usage intentions. When focusing on the 500 range and under, you’ll find a surprising amount of high-capacity, feature-rich options.

Of course, lightweight, ultra-portable options are also abundant. Let’s break down the specific categories to check off as you shop.

Capacity

When determining capacity, focus on a pellet grill’s grilling surface. The high end of the range of the best pellet grills under 500 can bring you up to 700 square inches. The low end will bring you to below 300 square inches.

You’re also looking at hopper capacity when trying to get a clear picture of performance.

A bigger hopper capacity means longer cook times without the need to intervene by refilling your hopper. 

Portability

When shopping for the best pellet grills under 500 that are highly portable, a few features should stand out. Take a look at the overall weight of the grill to see how movable it is.

Besides, features like wheels or foldable legs can make or break the true portability level of a grill. 

You’ll also want to focus on grills that offer the most cooking area for the overall weight and surface area if portability is your goal. The same goes for sticking to grills that don’t come with tons of attachments that add weight and bulk.

Generally, you should be fine with a simple grill that only requires you to pack along with essentials like no-stick cooking spray and a meat thermometer.

Protection From the Elements

If you’re looking for your best bet for longevity, focus on grills with sturdy builds and finishes that are meant to stand up to the elements. For instance, a finish in corrosion-resistant stainless steel can be ideal for preserving a grill. 

If you’re going to invest in a pellet grill, it’s worth spending just a little bit extra to purchase a grill cover. Yes, pellet grills are meant to be used outside.

However, they generally don’t fare all that well when left outside anywhere except for places with extremely mild climates. Simply pulling a grill into a garage, shed or covered area can significantly increase its lifespan. 

Heat Retention

Fortunately, it’s easy to find heat maximums and minimums from grill manufacturers when shopping for the best heavy-duty pellet grill. Ideally, you’ll want to focus on grills that can keep heat within a 10-degree window of your set heat for the best cooking results.

A smoker grill that offers this setting will help you to enjoy consistent, even cooking with predictable cooking times while being easy to use. Of course, a grill with a lid made of heavy-duty steel is the “secret weapon” for sealing in heat during the cooking process. 

Price

On the high end, you’ll find options for Trager pellet grills and other top-of-the-line brands with cooking capacities of 800 to 13,000 sq inches for well over $1,000.

However, finding a high-performing pellet grill for under 500 is more than doable if you’re looking for something in the range of 300 to 700 square inches. 

Unique Features

You can find a wood pellet grill with everything from Wi-Fi controls to an automated meat probe today for well under 500. Ultimately, cooking area and capacity will be what you’re focused on for making the best buying decision.

Features that increase portability or make it easier to monitor cooking progress can make it easier to close the deal.

For instance, an LED display that keeps you alerted of your cooking progress without the need to lift the lid on your grill can help you enjoy a more passive approach to a Saturday barbeque. 

Grills that allow you to control cooking settings by synching your grill with your smartphone also help to make the chef’s life easier. There’s no need to worry about features like a side shelf that offers some extra surface area for food prep because you can actually purchase this type of accessory on the side. 

Final Verdict on the Best Pellet Grill Under $500

What is there to say about buying an inexpensive pellet grill? Try to narrow your search down to at least the 5 best pellet grills under 500 before committing to a pellet smoker grill or pellet smoker.

As we’ve covered, the PIT BOSS 700FB takes the cake as the best pellet cooker out there under $500 because it offers the best price for such a large cooking space. 

However, it’s not the only game in town if you’re looking for something a little lighter to lug around. Any of the pellet grills reviewed above will give you a decent amount of working space with a good amount of capacity in their hoppers for well under that 500 sweet spot.

All of the grills on our shortlist ensure that something good is on its way once you set your timer!

FAQs

How to operate a pellet grill?

Grills from different brands can have different startup methods. However, the general cooking protocol with a pellet grill is to begin by loading up your pellets. You’ll then select your setting based on the food you’re preparing.

Next, wait for the smoke to appear to let you know that your pellets are heating properly. You should then notice convection action moving the flame within your grill to signify that it’s time to begin grilling! 

What can you cook on a pellet grill?

Generally, pellet grills are used for meats. Cuts like brisket, pork belly, racks of ribs, beef cheeks, and filets are popular among pellet fans.

Oysters, chicken, lamb, beef, and pork are really all on the table here. People also use pellet grills to make pizza, jerky, apple crisp, and more!

What is a PID controller for a pellet grill?

A PID (proportional, integral, derivative) controller is a high-tech feature that some brands of pellet grills include for creating highly precise temperature conditions.

Unlike standard controllers that time your grill’s fuel feed to its burn pot, PID controllers use-real time metrics to adjust and anticipate cooking conditions. The result is a more precise and optimal cooking temperature. 

Can you cook burgers on a pellet grill?

Yes, pellet grills can cook up phenomenal burgers offering wood-fired deliciousness! Typically, it takes under 30 minutes to cook a burger all the way through on a pellet grill.

Do pellet grills cause cancer?

While it’s true that some recent studies have drawn potential links between consuming smoked or grilled meats with cancer risks, pellet grills aren’t considered to be any more dangerous than other grilling methods available in the market.

Do make sure you’re cleaning your cooking area with a grill brush regularly to create an overall healthier grilling environment. 

Is Traeger better than Pit Boss?

Generally, Pit Boss beats Trager if you’re only looking at grilling space per dollar spent. However, you really have to do an apples-to-apples comparison based on features to see which brand offers what you want.

Is a pellet grill worth the money?

A pellet grill is a solid purchase if you’re looking for a portable option that really does recreate the flavors of a classic BBQ joint. Many people find this to be an economical, easy way to cook up batches of flavorful meat while tailgating or entertaining guests. 

What is the best pellet grill for the money?

Coming in at well under 500, the porcelain-coated PIT BOSS 700FB Pellet Grill with 700 square inches of cooking space is hard to top. That’s why it wins the spot for our top pick.

Pellet grills in the same class that offer just 500 square inches cost $100 to $150 more in most cases. This PIT BOSS model also wows by reaching temperatures of up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, it earns points for a pellet hopper capacity of 21 pounds that blows all of the Trager pellet grills and Green Mountain grills in the same 500 price category out of the water.

While this grill is bigger in terms of a square inch based on the cooking surface, it’s still very easy to move as a portable grill with help from sturdy wheels.

Z Hashan

Z Hashan

Hi, my name is Z Hashan, and I’m passionate about smoking the best BBQ. There’s nothing more satisfying than cooking a delicious piece of BBQ and seeing the joy on people’s faces while they have a bite of it.

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