A CR test engineer using equipment to determine the best pellet grills.
CR test technician Scott Collomb assesses some of the best pellet grills on the market.

Pellet grills promise to blend the flexibility of a charcoal grill and smoker with the convenience of a gas grill. Long employed by barbecue enthusiasts, pellet grills went mainstream this year—you might have seen them at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

These grills have a large metal bin, or “hopper,” to which you add pellets made from compressed sawdust of flavorful woods, like oak, hickory, and mesquite. An electronic igniter draws out these pellets and ignites them, creating heat and smoke, which imparts a distinct flavor to your food. An especially convenient feature: A thermostat allows you to adjust the heat to a precise temperature, something you can’t do with gas or charcoal grills.

But you pay a premium for such features. “The nature of pellet grills makes them more expensive than many comparably sized gas or charcoal models,” says Mark Allwood, CR’s market analyst for all grills.

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“The electronic ignitions, thermostats, and auger-fed hoppers all contribute to their relatively high starting prices,” he says. Prices for the pellet grills in our ratings range from $400 to $1,200, far more than the starting prices of most gas or charcoal grills. 

In CR’s tests of 12 pellet grills, we assess a number of features, the most important being a grill’s ability to maintain an even temperature. For that, our test engineers wire each model's grate with thermocouples to see how well it heats up and map how evenly the heat is distributed across the grill. The overall test results vary widely, and our tests show that a pricey pellet grill isn't always a better one.

Below are five of the best pellet grills from our tests. For more on pellet and other types of grills—gas, charcoal, portable, kamado—check our complete grill ratings. And see our grill buying guide to learn more about the features of and differences between these grills.

5 Best Pellet Grills From CR's Tests

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Evenness performance
Indirect cooking
Temperature range


Evenness performance
Indirect cooking
Temperature range
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