The best wood pellet grill within this price range is Z Grills ZPG-450A. There is so much to like about this grill – it is well-built, offers a great grilling performance, is easy to use, and it has a good-sized cooking area and hopper capacity.
When I moved into my own place after college, I was on a pretty tight budget. To make sure that I got a great grill for a reasonable price, I reached out to one of my pitmaster friends. They helped me figure out which grills offered the most bang for my buck.
In this post, I will identify the best pellet grill under 500 as well as the closest contenders. I have also included a buyer’s guide for you!
Here are the top wood pellet grills that you can get for under $500:
One of the top reasons that this Z Grills grill is the best pellet grill has to do with how well you can grill with this machine. The first thing that I was impressed with was the temperature range. I used a third party thermometer to check the range and I found that it was on point for most of my cooks.
The minor grievance that I have with this wood pellet grill is that it is quite sensitive to the weather. So, on hot days you will find the temperature in the cooking chamber going up and on cold days it will struggle to get up to the necessary temps.
I would suggest this grill to someone who is just getting started with wood pellet grilling simply because it is so easy to use. From turning the grill on to choosing the temperature to even engaging the shutdown cycle, this grill is a piece of cake. There is almost no learning curve involved here.
If you have a mid-sized family or like to host the occasional cookout, then this model will have the pellet grill space that you need. I was able to fit 3 racks of spare ribs, 4 racks of baby back ribs, and a couple of chickens without any issue at all.
Of course, there is little use in having a good amount of cooking surface area if you don’t have a good sized [pellet hopper. Well, this grill really delivers in this case. With a 15lbs hopper, you can easily grill and smoke large cuts of meat for a long period of time without needing to restock the hopper.
I have to say that this is a quality pellet grill! Made from durable steel construction and a high temperature powder coating, this is the kind of grill that is going to last you for many years to come. In this sense, it is a really good investment.
The grilling area on this wood pellet grill is more than enough for a mid-sized family. You can easily cook several racks of ribs or chickens at the same time. An upper rack is a great place for grilling vegetables or other delicate foods that should be kept away from direct flame.
One of the things that makes this Pit Boss grill one of the best pellet grills under 500 is the smoky flavor. All of the food was gently infused with the flavor but not so much that it overpowered the natural flavor profile of the meat.
Now, with this temperature range, this works well as a wood pellet grill smoker too. If you want direct flame searing, then it is just a matter of sliding a plate over. Otherwise, turn the temperature down low for smoking.
There were only two minor issues that I discovered with this model.
The first is the size of the hopper. Now, if you are only grilling food, then the hopper capacity isn’t such a big issue. However, if you want to smoke larger cuts of meat, then you will need to refill the hopper at some point.
The other issue is that there is some temperature fluctuation. No, this is fairly common, even among the best pellet grills under 500. However, in this case, the fluctuation can go up by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, this is one of the most inexpensive pellet grills on this list.
I really like that for this price point, you get a few additional features. One of my favorite ones is the side shelf. It is great for storing food that is coming off the grill without needing to carry it to the table.
I also like the bottle opener – it is a fun feature.
There are a lot of good quality features with this pellet grill. This includes the heavy gauge stainless steel construction, the porcelain coated steel grill grates, and the general design of the pellet grill. This is definitely a model that is made to last.
Best for Temperature Control
This is arguably one of the most reliable pellet grills under 500. Now, most pellet grills do experience some temperature fluctuation, this is fairly normal. However, with this pellet grill, these fluctuations are minimal – just a few degrees here and there and the grill goes back to the desired temperature. This is great for anyone looking for precise temperature control.
The other thing that I like about this pellet grill is that due to the low minimum temperature, this works really well as a pellet smoker too. So, it is a very versatile grill too.
The large cooking area on this grill also makes it one of the biggest pellet grills on the list. So, if you have to cook for a crowd on a regular basis, then you will love how much space you have here. You should even be able to grill or smoke a pork butt with this grill without any issue at all!
What I like about this pellet grill is that the grilling area and the hopper capacity are balanced out. So, not only do you have a large cooking area but the size of the hopper means that you can easily add enough wood pellets to last a cook that is 12 or so hours long! This is what makes this one of the top pellet smokers on the list too.
I also like the fact that this pellet grill is equipped with two meat probes. This allows you to easily keep track of the internal temperature of your food as it cooks.
That being said, I am not a big fan of the display. The screen is too small, difficult to see in bright light, and it is located too low, making it difficult to read.
Best Tabletop Pellet Grill
If you want a pellet grill that you can set up virtually anywhere, then this is the top pellet grill under 500 for you to choose from. As it is a tabletop grill, it can be set on the ground, on a higher platform, or anywhere else that you would like to have a cookout.
Now, the only downside with this pellet grill is that it is quite heavy. Due to this, you are likely going to need some help carrying it around.
Now, as you can imagine with a tabletop pellet grill, there isn’t going to be too much cooking space. However, you can easily cook for one to two people at the same time.
Despite being a compact grill, though, the hopper on this pellet smoker and grill is quite impressive. This means that you don’t have to keep refilling the hopper even when cooking large quantities of food. This can be quite helpful when you are tailgating or grilling food in more remote areas.
I was really impressed with how well this small pellet grill did! The grilling experience was truly amazing. For one thing, the pellet smoker and grill were easy to use and the high temperature made searing a breeze as well. To top things off, the taste and flavor of the food were amazing as well.
I like that despite the size, there are a few additional features with this grill. First off, you have a meat probe that allows you to keep track of the internal temperature of your food. There is also a warming function to keep the food at the perfect temperature, even if you cook it too early.
Looking for a pellet grill to take tailgating or on camping trips or other outdoor cooking excursions but prefer one that is closer to full size? If so, then this is the pellet grill for you! It can easily be folded and transported although you may need a little help with it.
I was quite surprised at how good the temperature control on this pellet grill was. While other pellet grills suffer from temperature swings, this isn’t the case with this make and model. Sure, there are minor fluctuations but these correct themselves pretty quickly.
The only real complaint that I have regarding this grill is that it does take some time to heat up. Due to this, you do need to get the grill started a bit earlier than usual to make sure that your cook stays on track.
This is an easy pellet grill to figure out. There are a minimal number of controls and they are very intuitive so even if you haven’t really used a pellet grill before, you will figure out how to work the Davy Crockett model in no time at all.
I like that for this price point that the grill comes with a few features. One of these is a meat probe to help you keep track of the rate at which your food is cooking. The other cool feature is that this grill is equipped with a Wi-Fi controller.
This means that you can manage the digital control board from several feet away, ensuring that you don’t have to sit by the grill for the whole cook.
Do you have a large family? Or, are you someone who loves to host cookouts on a regular basis and feed large crowds? In any case, if you want to grill or smoke a lot of food at once, then this is the grill for you! It has all the space that you need to make enormous batches of food at once.
I was pretty shocked to see the size and capacity of this pellet hopper. Considering that the cooking surface area is so big, it is nice to see that the grill is equipped with a hopper that will help you to keep grilling or smoking without needing to stop for refills in between. You can easily have a 12 hour grilling or smoking session at a stretch.
I have only used one other ASMOKE grill so I was pleasantly surprised to see what this grill could do. Thanks to the pellet feed systems on this grill, the grill lights up quickly and is able to maintain a higher temperature as well.
That being said, there is an issue with temperature control with this grill. Due to this, you do have to keep a close watch on the grilling process and the internal temp.
I really like the design of this grill. For one thing, there is a viewing window that allows you to keep an eye on your food without needing to lift the lid. This is a great option if you don’t have a wireless meat probe and want to keep a constant eye on the internal temp.
There is also a side table that allows you to store the food before or after it has been grilled for easy access.
Do you like using a charcoal grill but don’t enjoy the hassle that comes along with it? If so, this pellet grill is an excellent option for you. Despite functioning like a traditional pellet grill, this model has that open wood fired flame design to it. This can feel a bit more comfortable than traditional designs while still maintaining the efficiency associated with pellet grills.
As far as pellet grills go, this model has one of the highest temperatures. This makes it excellent for searing steaks and all other kinds of meat. It also means that you can grill food at a much faster rate.
At the same time, the grill can be set to a lower temperature to allow for low and slow cooking. The only issue is that the temperature control isn’t great and there can be some fluctuations.
This grill is one of the easiest pellet grills to use. All you have to do is to power it up, set your temperature, and you are good to go!
Here are some tips on how to choose from the best pellet grills:
At this price range, most of the pellet grills are at least $300 so they are far from cheap. Due to this, it is important to buy a pellet grill that is going to last you a while.
This is why it is always best to stick to a recognized brand – Traeger, Z Grills, Pit Boss, etc. These companies are known for their quality control and there is a higher likelihood of you getting a good grill.
I would also look for grills that are made from steel and stainless steel and look for a powder coating to make the finish last longer.
Getting the biggest grill or even the smallest grill possible isn’t always the right move. Instead, you need to consider a few factors.
To begin with, think about how much storage space you have in your home. Remember that it is important to either store your grill away from the elements. So, it is best if you have enough room in your home or garage for that.
The other thing to consider is how many people you typically need to cook for. Unless you have a large family or host a lot of cookouts, it is best to stick to a small or mid-sized grill.
It isn’t just enough to consider the hopper size or capacity. You also need to consider whether the hopper is enough for that cooking surface area.
See, unlike with a gas or charcoal grill, if you run out of wood pellets during a cook, you need to power down the machine and start from scratch. Not only is this annoying, but it can also force your cook to take longer too. Due to this, it is key to have a hopper that can hold wood pellets for any cook that you need.
The first thing that I do want to say is that there is going to be some fluctuation in temperature with even the best and most expensive pellet grills. It is simply how these grills work.
That being said, it is important that these fluctuations are minimal. This way, your cook will be more efficient.
The only downside is that the only way to know how accurate a grill is to read the reviews or to run your own tests after purchasing a particular model.
It is always a good idea to see if a particular grill has any extra features for you. For instance, this could be side tables, meat probes, Wi-Fi controllers, and more. Think of how you can make your cook easier and more efficient and keep an eye out for these features before your next purchase.
There is no denying that Z Grills ZPG-450A is the best pellet grill under 500. This is a well-built and durable grill that offers up an excellent grilling performance. It also has a good cooking surface area and hopper capacity. It is also easy to use.
Of course, it is important to check out all the pellet grills on this list. They each have their own unique features and you never know which one may appeal to you!