Holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics, loves traveling and learning new languages. Fluent in Spanish, is learning French and Czech at the moment. Enjoys exploring national cuisines every time he visits new countries.
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous online and offline grilling masterclasses runs his own BBQ accessories shop.
Last updated: July 06, 2021
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Are you fond of experimenting with outdoor cooking? Then you should definitely try your hand at pellet grills. These grills are meant to bring you the best elements of gas grills, charcoal smokers, and kitchen ovens in one package. You can both grill and bake using these grills, depending on your mood.
However, if you do not want to burn a hole in your pocket to satisfy your craving for a pellet grill, you can set your budget at 500 dollars. Finding the best pellet grill under $500 can be a challenging task, which is why we have compiled this article to help you out. The key is to find a pellet grill that strikes the perfect balance between quality, price and features. You should not be ready to make compromises because there are many excellent models in this price range.
We have reviewed the products in an unbiased manner so that you are happy with your purchase no matter which model you choose. We have taken important features such as build quality, cooking area, temperature range, hopper capacity, dimensions and weight of the smoker into consideration when reviewing the products. Our in-depth research took us a couple of weeks, but we did not want to leave any stone unturned. We have gone through the product specifications of each model and read countless customer reviews. You can navigate through this article easily. There is a table followed by the in-detail reviews of all the models. The article ends with a buying guide that hopefully will help you find the right grill for you.
If you are looking for a pellet grill that will check your boxes, then this is the one for you. This model comes with sturdy wheels which make it portable and easy to transport from one place to another. On the other hand, the locking lids keep it from rolling away so that you are not left flustered. The model also comes with foldable legs, and you can activate them by just pushing a button. You will be able to transform your 100-pound pellet grill into a compact item that can be fit alongside your camping stuff. This is also perfect if you have limited patio or porch space.
Do not be fooled by the portability of the model. You will still have access to plenty of cooking space. You can cook your favorite dishes across of 501 square inches. This will allow you to cook multiple meals at any temperature ranging from 160 to 500 degrees F. You will be able to remove the top rack if you want some extra room to store your large dishes.
The grill comes with dual meat probes and also a dual LED temperature readout so that you can monitor your food. It will display the temperature of your food and also of the grill so you can actively prevent overheating. You will also appreciate the slide and grill feature which can be used with just a lever. You can switch between indirect and direct heat in a matter of seconds. The ash cleanout feature will allow for quick disposal. All this makes the grill one of the best models on the market.
Why is it special?
Plenty of cooking area
Wide range of temperature available for cooking
Dual LED temperature monitor
Convenient slide and grill feature
Easy ash cleanout system
Foldable legs and locking lids
Top rack can be removed for extra room
What are the flaws?
Hopper capacity may not be sufficient for longer smoking sessions
If you want multiple cooking options so that your inner chef gets the chance to shine, you will not regret investing in this model. This is one of the best pellet grills out there, and customers love it. With this grill, you will be able to cook a variety of delicious dishes and impress everybody. You can also make big portions which will keep you from having to cook in batches. The versatility of this grill is top-notch, and anybody who tastes your dishes will remember it for a long time.
The USP of this grill is the massive grilling area of almost 700 square inches that will allow you to experiment as much as you want. The large hopper will be able to store 20 pounds of pellets at a time, which means that you can get up to 20 hours of continuous cooking without any breaks. Moreover, this grill provides you with eight flexible cooking options which only goes on to show why customers love this grill so much. You will be able to grill, char-grill, bake, braise, smoke, roast, sear, and barbeque your dishes at any temperature ranging between 180 and 475 degrees F.
The model comes with useful automated features such as auto-ignition. It also has a built-in sensor which allows you to control the temperature of the grill digitally. The real-time LED temperature readout is also a plus because you will be able to monitor the cooking process at all times. You will also find that the pellet feed control system reduces your work and saves you time. Made with quality stainless steel, the grill has caster wheels which make it portable.
If you want to get a bang for your buck, then you will love this versatile pellet grill that will provide you with countless cooking options to choose from. This versatile 6-in-1 grill has a vast temperature range of 180 °F to 475 °F, which will allow you to bake, smoke, braise, barbecue, grill or roast as you choose. You will be able to adjust the temperature depending on your requirements, and the two-tiered grate will provide you with plenty of cooking room.
This model comes with many storage options, which is great when you are cooking outdoors. There are shelves, both stationary and collapsible, where you can keep all your ingredients and utensils. The model comes with a thermostat which shows you the current temperature on an LED screen. You will be able to select a temperature, and the grill will activate it immediately. The heat will be consistent so that your food is evenly cooked. The 450 square inches of cooking space will let you cook food for your entire family at the same time. The hopper has a capacity of 15 pounds and will be able to fuel long cooking sessions without any hassle.
If you want a strong smoky flavor, you can set the temperature low to let the wood pellets shoulder. You will appreciate the built-in spigot that drains hot grease out and keeps food healthy. The portable design makes it easy to use this grill outdoors. It comes with sturdy wheels and a handle.
What do we love it for?
Spacious cooking area
Wide range of adjustable temperature
Flexible cooking options
Hopper's size is sufficient
Comes with wheels and handle to increase portability
What were we disappointed with?
Water pan is not very deep
Leaks heat, which could be a problem in terms of temperature consistency while smoking
One of the best pellet grills available on the market, this model is a godsend for anyone who wants to try outdoor cooking without any hustle. With this model, you will be able to change up and try out different cooking styles based on your mood. You will have the liberty to grill, roast, barbecue, and smoke like a professional with this model. You will feel like you are in control as you manage the USG350 wood pellet grill.
The modern design of the pellet grill is perfect for both beginners as well. The integrated technology will allow you to adjust the internal cooking temperature of the grill automatically. You will be able to set the desired temperature of your grill after taking into consideration the outdoor ambient temperature so that the food is cooked to absolute perfection. The grill is designed to adjust the fuel feed rate automatically so that you can have a steady temperature when you are grilling.
The pellet grill has a unique grease removal system which makes the cleanup process much easier. The integrated food temperature sensor in USSC wood pellet grills also help to make sure that food is not overcooked or undercooked. You will enjoy the 350 square inches of cooking area if you are fond of camping, and cookouts. The grilling temperature range between 180 °F to 500 °F and you can adjust it depending on whether you want to grill, smoke, braise, bake or barbeque.
What are our favorite features?
Easy to handle grease tray system
Versatile grilling temperatures
Has a digital thermostat with the feature of LED temperature readout
Comes with automatic ignition
Easy to clean stainless steel grill surface
Durable powder-coated finish
Side shelf comes with four tool hooks
Comes with rollerblade style wheels
What could be better?
Cooking space might not be sufficient for large groups
If saving money is your priority, then you can go for this budget-friendly pellet grill that will get the job done efficiently. Not only will you save quite a bit of money, but you will also get a cooking companion that will never let you down. This model happens to be one of the best portable pellet smokers on the market in spite of its price. It weighs just 68 pounds, which makes it portable in spite of its durable and sturdy steel construction.
The model comes with foldable legs which allow you to store the grill compactly when it is not in use. If you have limited space, then you will love this model because it is ideal for tight storage purposes. The legs also serve as handles when required to increase the mobility of the product. The only complaint was that it can be tricky to set them up. The grill comes with an AC adapter, a plug and two alligator clips.
What makes this pellet grill unique is its Wi-Fi connectivity feature along with its GMG server connection that allows for remote operation. All you need to do is download an app on your phone, and then you will be able to control the grill as you want. You can set the timer at a particular time and switch the temperature from a distance. The thermal sensor, Sense-Mate, helps to regulate the cooking temperature so that your food is cooked just perfectly. The model offers a wide temperature range of 150 to 550 degrees F, which means that you can experiment with different kinds of cooking. The 219 square inches of cooking area will definitely be sufficient.
The above-mentioned pellet grills will be excellent additions to your outdoor cooking arsenal. Now you have to narrow the choices to that one grill which is perfect for you. So, we have prepared a buying guide to help you out with that process.
What to expect from a pellet grill under $500?
If you are looking for a good pellet grill that will not cost you a lot of money, then you might have to make a few compromises. You will not get a grill with very high power and a very spacious cooking space below 500 dollars. Moreover, higher-end grills come with more technological features and tend to be more durable.
However, there are upsides to buying a pellet grill below 500 dollars which performs almost as well as higher-end models. The models we love will provide you with sufficient cooking space and are safe to use. They are also perfect for beginners.
Features to consider while choosing a pellet grill
If you want to make an excellent choice, you must take the following features into consideration when evaluating a pellet grill.
If you know that you will be cooking for a large group, there is no point in spending your money on a pellet grill with limited cooking space. Having a grill with ample cooking surface, like the Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E, will allow you to cook a large meal that will serve everyone at the same time. Moreover, you will also be able to cook multiple dishes at the same time, which will save you time and effort. However, if you think that you will only be using the grill for small cookouts and picnics, then you can settle for a model with less cooking area like the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett.
If you are someone who likes to experiment with food, you will find it quite restrictive to have a pellet grill with a low-temperature range. This is because different kinds of foods and meals will require different levels of heat to be cooked properly. Moreover, having a wide temperature range will also allow you to try out different cooking styles. You should check the temperature range of a model to make sure that it will go well with your intended type of cooking before you make a purchase.
Pellet grills which have a range of 180°F – 425°F will allow you to smoke, grill, bake and even roast food.
The size of the hopper is an important feature to consider because it will determine how long you will be able to cook at a stretch. The hopper is responsible for holding the hardwood pellets that contribute to your cooking. The hopper then automatically feeds the pellets into the furnace at a rate which matches the selected temperature and maintains it. Large capacity hoppers can accommodate many pellets as a result of which the pellet grill can remain fueled for an extended time even without refills.
If you are planning to have long cooking sessions, then go for a model with a large hopper size.
The size of the pellet grill is an important factor to consider because it will determine where and for what purpose you will be able to use it for. It will also dictate the amount of food you can cook at a time and the space consumed. If you are looking for a pellet grill that is portable and can be easily carried from one place to another, then it is likely that you will prefer a model which has smaller dimensions like the USSC Grills Hooch USG350. This will make it easier for you to keep it in your car. On the other hand, you should go for a large pellet grill like the Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E and the Camp Chef Pursuit PPG20 if you host parties for big groups.
You should check out the weight of a grill pellet before you buy it because that will determine how portable the machine actually is. Some users really want their pellet grills to be portable so they can be taken to picnic spots or to different spots around the backyard. If the grill is too heavy, it will become a chore to move it every time. Having a heavy grill in your luggage might also be a dampener if you are going on a trip. You should ideally look for a lightweight pellet grill that will be easy to carry, or you should buy a model that comes with wheels and handles.
Wheels and handles
While we are on the subject of wheels and handles, we might as well stress on how important they are to the portability of a pellet grill. These small features add to the mobility of the products and can make a significant difference in their ease of usage. For example, you might find the 103-pound Cuisinart CPG-4000 too heavy to carry around manually. However, it comes with handles and caster wheels as a result of which you have improved grip, and you can roll the grill smoothly on the ground. Some grills also come with a lock so you can keep them intact when they are in storage.
Products with good warranty offers tend to have their company’s backing. It is almost like a symbol of the company’s belief in that particular product. Most portable pellet grills come with a warranty of one to three years. It varies on the basis of the brand and the model. Some companies have also devised specific money-back guarantee offers so that you can test a product out without making a long commitment. The Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E, for example, has a 30-day money-back guarantee and an additional warranty of three years.
Ease of use and maintenance
Models like the Green Mountain Grill Davy Crockett Pellet Grill come with Wi-Fi connectivity so you can use the machine remotely. Most outdoor pellet grills are made with sturdy stainless steel or powder-coated steel, so they withstand weather fluctuations. Modern pellet grills also come with temperature controls and sensors so you can cook your food to perfection at a consistent temperature. LED readouts help to convey notification alerts and give you digital feedback about the temperature of the food and the grill. The Ash cleanout system in Camp Chef Pursuit PPG20 is helpful for anyone who finds cleaning a hassle.
If you want to use your pellet grill frequently, you have to ensure that you clean out the ash pan regularly. You cannot start a new round of cooking with debris from the last session still inside the grill. You should clean out the ash pan after every session. Open the ash pan door and gently pull out the pan. Make sure that you close the door. Take the ash pan to your garbage bin and empty it out. You should also make sure that you clear any ash which fell down from the grate. Put the ash pan below the ash door and then use a rake to clean it properly.
You can use pellet grills to smoke dishes because you usually have a wide range of temperature at your disposal. You can adjust the temperature accordingly when you want to smoke your dishes. Pellet grills work even better than traditional smokers because they mostly use an automated fuel and air delivery system, which makes it easier for you to control the temperature of the grill. You will not have to monitor the grill constantly and fret over keeping the heat supply consistent. In fact, most modern pellet grills come with multiple cooking options so that you can experiment with your cooking.
Most pellet grills use up 1–3 pounds of pellets per hour. If a bag comes with 20 pellets, it follows that you will be able to use the grill for about 20 hours approximately. If you make your own wood pellets, it is likely that you always end up making them in excess. You should keep wood pellets in plastic bags or woven bags so that you can prevent them from coming into direct contact with air and moisture.
If the humidity of the environment in which you store the pellets is less than 10%, you can preserve the wood pellets for 6 months.
While there are many people who love the idea of their grilled food having a smoky flavor, there are some who do not want their food to taste smoky. If you are one of them, all you have to do is grill the food at a high temperature. You can keep the meat out till you reach a grilling temperature of above 350 degrees.
All our above recommendations have been vetted by us, and we stand by them. However, we do have certain favorites that we would like to share with you.
The Camp Chef Pursuit PPG20 ticks all our boxes of what an ideal pellet grill should be like. With a massive cooking area of 501 square inches and a temperature range of 160ºF to 500ºF, this grill will allow you to cook some incredible dishes. The slide and grill technology and the dual shelf convection cooking technique are added advantages.
The Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E provides a vast cooking area of 694 square inches and a temperature range of 180°F to 450°F. If you want to a party outdoors, then this is the pellet grill for you. With an advanced wood fire technology and an electronic auto-start ignition feature, this model is an absolute knockout.
For those on a budget, the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett is priced reasonably but comes with Wi-Fi enabled features and remote control. Moreover, it is portable and easy to manage.