New to the world of pellet grills? Odds are you’re not alone. Though Joe Traeger secured the first patent for pellet cookers back in 1986, they’ve really taken off in the past decade or so. With so many new brands, models, and innovations to sort through, we thought it best to break up our selection of pellet smokers into 4 clearly defined classifications: Luxury, Premium, Practical, and Entry-Level.

The quality, performance, and features of each grill play a huge role in where they fall within these categories, but there are also a few basic differences that help us set them apart. Top-end temperatures, for instance, are reflected in each classification (the higher the possible heat, the better the class). Intended use of the pellet cooker is another major factor — Luxury models can do just about anything, the middle classes are slightly less versatile, and Entry-Level models are designed for BBQ smoking only. Of course, we still place a high priority on quality of materials, namely the amount of stainless steel used in construction. It’s our hope that knowing these factors will greatly narrow down the search for your ideal pellet smoker.

Pellet Grill Class Comparisons

Class Entry-Level Practical Premium Luxury
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Luxury Pellet Grills

family enjoying a meal outside in front of a luxury pellet grill
  • Constructed entirely from high-quality stainless steel to last a lifetime
  • Available in both freestanding & built-in configurations to fit your outdoor needs
  • Provide a stunning aesthetic to match most outdoor kitchen appliances
  • Widest temperature range on the market, from 180°F to 700°F-plus
  • Can both slow-smoke and reach searing temperatures with ease
  • Actual temperatures almost never deviate from set temps, leading to reliable cooks


In the modern grill industry, construction doesn’t get any better than all high-quality stainless steel. That’s exactly what Luxury pellet smokers bring to the table, with most assembled from highly durable 304-grade stainless steel and others sporting 430- or 201-grade builds. This remarkable degree of longevity and craftsmanship is reflected in their top-of-the-line warranties, most notably Twin Eagles’ limited lifetime coverage and Memphis Grills’ 7-year offering. The Luxury class is also home to most built-in pellet grills, a configuration that allows you to position stunning elegance and wood-fired flavor as the centerpiece of your outdoor kitchen.


Sometimes looks aren’t all that deceiving. Luxury pellet cookers look like gas grills rather than traditional barrel smokers because they’re built to mimic the high heat of gas grilling. Thanks to variable-speed fans that replicate the airflow (“drafting”) of gas grills, brands like Memphis Grills boast machines that can reach 725°F. That being said, Luxury models are still perfectly capable of hitting low-and-slow smoking temps and maintaining them with double-walled or fiberglass insulation. It’s all overseen by sophisticated temperature controllers that make continuous, tiny adjustments to ensure your pellet cooker is performing up to its capabilities.


Most important among Luxury pellet smoker features are direct-flame accessories that make searing a breeze. Twin Eagles pellet grills simulate infrared heat with ceramic briquette flame tamer and charcoal tray inserts above the fire pot (not to mention their hidden rotisseries), while the Memphis Pro Series has a centrally located, perforated searing plate. While access to direct flame is great for searing, the PID-plus interfaces found on Luxury models aid in all cooking styles. These temperature controllers can connect to smart devices, keep temps within 5°F of your setting, and some even come with pre-programmed cook cycles for easy use.

Top Luxury Pellet Brands

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Premium Pellet Grills

  • Commercial-grade quality with incredible performance and innovative features.
  • All grills are either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled, and some are equipped with both.
  • Constructed from power coated steel or stainless steel.
  • Wide temperature ranges, allowing for low smoking or high searing temperatures.
  • Versatile cooking options including grilling, smoking, baking, roasting, and more.
  • Double-walled insulation keeps heat inside the grill where you need it most.


Grills in this class are constructed of stainless steel or powder coated steel. Traeger pellet grills feature a classic black powder coated steel exterior, while the remainder of Premium grills are made of stainless steel. Warranties offered range from 3–6 years, depending on the brand and, in some cases, the parts. Sunstone offers a limited lifetime warranty on the grill structure. Exterior materials of Premium pellet grills are high-quality 304 or 430 stainless steel or powdered coated steel as seen on all Traeger models. Inside these grills you’ll find ample space for cooking all your favorite cuts of meat on the porcelain coated or stainless steel cooking grates that will last for many barbecues to come.


Low smoking or high searing capabilities with available temperature ranges are a hallmark of Premium pellet grills. This range lets you grill, smoke, bake, roast, and more so you can get the most out of your pellet grill. The recteq brand has one of the highest temperature ranges in this class. The rounded barrel shape design on these models fits larger cuts of meat, giving you more versatility to cook whole chickens, pigs, and more.

All grills in this class come with easy grease management and ash clean-out systems, making cleanup a breeze.


Easy monitoring is common in this class. All grills have bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity, and some are even equipped with both that give you alerts when your food is ready. Speaking of convenience, the controllers on these grills let you set your temps with ease. Brands like Camp Chef and Traeger have apps available so you can monitor your cook from your smartphone. Sunstone’s digital controller and recteq’s analog controller also give you the ability to effortlessly keep an eye on your temperatures.

Hopper capacities hold up to 53 pounds—more than two whole bags of pellets—meaning you’ll have plenty of fuel for long, low-and-slow cooks. When you’re ready to change pellets however, the easy clean-out hoppers make it quick and effortless to empty.

Top Class Brands

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Practical Pellet Grills

man checking on food cooking on Camp Chef Pellet Grill
  • Includes a mix of stainless steel, aluminized steel, and painted or powder-coated steel
  • PID controllers allow for Wi-Fi control with companion smartphone apps
  • Capable of grilling, baking, and smoking so you have more cooking options
  • Decent temperature range of 200°F–600°F provides versatility
  • Temperatures generally remain within 15°F of the controller setting
  • Select models have designs that allow for grilling over direct flame


Materials in this classification range from mostly lower grades of steel (painted, aluminized, or powder-coated) to 304-grade stainless steel in certain components. For example, you can expect to find 304 stainless steel in the shelves and internal components of select Traeger models and the lids of Camp Chef Woodwind pellet smokers. Likewise, it’s fairly common to see Practical pellet grills with stainless steel cooking grates. These pellet cookers, which strongly resemble freestanding barrel smokers, also come with moderate warranties, such as 5 years of coverage for the Weber SmokeFire and Broil King Regal Series, and 3-year limited warranties for Camp Chef units.


While Practical pellet grills can’t quite reach intense searing temperatures of 700°F, some are still able to hit 600°F. This means they’re more than fit for grilling in addition to smoking and baking. Minor temperature swings are part of the experience no matter the cooking style, but usually no more than about 15°F off the set temperature on your PID controller. To keep things running smoothly, most Practical models have inclined, full-coverage heat baffles spanning the entire length of the barrel that direct excess grease drippings into an external container. This protects the fire pot, limits flare-ups, and promotes indirect heat for smoking.


Wi-Fi capability is the defining feature of the Practical classification. Weber, Traeger, Camp Chef, and other brands have companion smartphone apps that take advantage of Wi-Fi connectivity to keep you updated with alerts about your cook. But that’s not the only high-tech feature of Practical pellet cookers — most come with a digital PID controller, which continuously runs computer calculations that modify internal components to maintain stable temperatures. This class also includes important cooking features for versatility like Camp Chef’s Slide & Grill Technology for direct-flame access or the propane side burner attachment on the brand’s Woodwind models.

Top Practical Pellet Brands

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Entry-Level Pellet Grills

Grilling on the Victory Pellet Grill
  • Constructed from galvanized, painted, or porcelain- or powder-coated steel
  • Built for ideal smoking temperatures that rarely exceed 500°F
  • Designed, constructed, and optimized for low-and-slow smoking
  • Fewer available features means less cooking versatility and convenience
  • Generally have non-PID controllers with preset temperatures
  • Temperature and smoke production tend to cycle up and down on non-PIDs


Though some models may contain a component or heat baffle made of stainless steel, the Entry-Level class is filled with pellet grills mostly built from lower grades of steel. Whether they’re painted, coated, or galvanized, these materials will corrode faster than the stainless steel found in higher classes. Lower quality of construction naturally means shorter warranties, with some Entry-Level pellet smokers being covered for up to 3 years. Because these pellet cookers are made specifically for smoking, they closely resemble classic offset or vertical smokers in shape. This class also contains cabinet smokers and huge competition models, all designed for low-and-slow cooking.


With maximum temperatures of about 500°F, it’s important to remember that these pellet smokers are optimized for slow-smoking instead of versatile grilling. Most models manage cooks using non-PID controllers, which cycle through different rates of pellet feed and airflow to match your preset temperature. A notable exception is the Victory pellet grill and its PID controller, a high-tech device commonly found in higher classes that makes real-time adjustments to maintain much more consistent temperatures. Entry-Level pellet grills with old-school non-PIDs, on the other hand, can experience swings of about 30–40°F, resulting in an imprecise cook and varied smoke production.


It’s no surprise that most Entry-Level features are geared toward BBQ smoking. Full-coverage heat baffles, like those found in the Victory and Traeger Pro 34 pellet grills, spread flavorful smoke and indirect heat while guiding food drippings to an external grease pail. Additionally, the Victory and Traeger models come with dual meat-probe ports for tracking internal and ambient temperatures. Vertical pellet smokers in this class, meanwhile, usually have adjustable racks and built-in water pans. And while bottom and side shelves may be available only as accessories on some of these grills, the Victory pellet grill provides 3 shelves upfront for valuable prep and storage space.

Top Entry-Level Pellet Brands

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