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
Quality Rating is 1 out of 5 Rating is 2 out of 5 Rating is 3 out of 5 Rating is 4 out of 5
Performance Rating is 2 out of 5 Rating is 3 out of 5 Rating is 3 out of 5 Rating is 4 out of 5
Features Rating is 1 out of 5 Rating is 3 out of 5 Rating is 3 out of 5 Rating is 4 out of 5
Price Rating is 1 out of 5 Rating is 2 out of 5 Rating is 2 out of 5 Rating is 4 out of 5

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.

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Premium Pellet Grills

Over the course of this exercise, we came across a handful of pellet smokers that didn’t quite fit into the classes we originally established. In our opinion, both the Traeger Timberline and Ironwood Series are the kings of mid-range pellet grills: not constructed entirely from high-quality stainless steel like Luxury models, but far superior to Practical pellet cookers in every way. They deserved a Premium class for themselves not because they have a bunch of features or fancy accessories — well, the all-new Traeger Timberline actually does have all those things — but simply because they’re rock-solid cookers from a highly trusted brand that won’t let you down.

  • Traeger Ironwood Pellet Grill with smoke all around it

    Traeger Ironwood Pellet Smokers

    The Ironwood line is solidly built from durable, aluminized steel — which is still a pretty high bar to clear in terms of quality — while the side shelves are made from stainless steel. What we love best, though, is the pill-shaped barrel that provides more vertical space in the cooking chamber. When paired with Traeger’s innovative downdraft exhaust system, this design allows smoke to circulate a full 360 degrees around your food and impart more flavors before exiting the grill. Throw in Wi-Fi connectivity and a companion smartphone app that keeps you updated, and you’ve got a pellet cooker that won’t let you down.

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  • Traeger Timberline XL Pellet Grill loaded with food and bbq accessories

    Traeger Timberline Pellet Smokers

    What if we told you there was an Ironwood pellet grill with more cooking space, an included front prep shelf, and a stainless steel interior? You’d be taking home a Traeger Timberline, that’s what! And that’s just the tip of the mountaintop: the all-new Traeger Timberline series pushes premium pellet grilling to yet another level with a truly unbeatable suite of features — ever heard of an induction cooktop on a grill? — and unrivaled consistency. In addition to being fully loaded and more precise than ever, the new Timberline pellet grill is the rare non-Luxury model that can be built into an outdoor kitchen island.

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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.

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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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