We’ve already reviewed a handful of models from Z Grills like the new 700D4E and the L6002B, so we were excited to see how well the new 450B performs as it’s the most popular small pellet grill in the companies lineup.
In this Z Grills 450B review, I’ll go over my experience cooking on the 450B, what I like about it and what I think needs some work.
Z Grills sent me this grill for free in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Click to jump straight to each topic
Z Grills 450B overview & first impressions
The Z Grills 450B is priced slightly higher than its predecessor the 450A, but there are a number of upgrades that warrant the increase.
The 450B comes equipped with Z Grills new PID Controller, which helps maintain steady temperatures within 5°F of target.
The PID controller – which stands for proportional, integral, derivative – gets rid of those big temperature swings known to happen in some pellet grills, and gives you an even cooking temperature when it matters most: during low and slow cooking sessions.
A new pellet clean-out system makes easy work of emptying the hopper and switching pellets, and the larger temperature display is much easier to read than the 450A. A window in the hopper also lets you know when you’re getting low on fuel.
Though there’s no fancy wireless features like an App or wifi connectivity, the Z Grill 450B focuses on quality heat maintenance and efficiency.
Priced significantly lower than the Traeger Pro Series, the Z Grill 450B is an attractive option for those looking to enter the pellet grill market.
Let’s take a look at the full specs of the 450B:
|Cooking Area||459 sq in (331 main rack + 128 top racks)|
|Pellet Hopper Capacity||15 lbs.|
|Temp Range||180°F – 450°F|
|Shelves & Storage||One shelf on pellet hopper plus storage cabinet|
|Price||Check Latest Price|
What I like:
- Excellent Temperature Control – The PID controller gives the 450B excellent temperature stability. Like the 700D3, this grill stays within 5°F of its target. Where pellet grills are known to swing in bouts of 15°F – 25°F, the PID technology Z Grills has implemented reduces that dramatically.
- Small Footprint – The Z Grills 450B is a smaller grill, but still offers a decent cooking area. It’s much easier to store and takes up less patio and garage space than the 700 series. It’s not too heavy for one person to carefully load in and out of a truck or SUV for portability. Just be wary not to scratch the vehicle.
- Easy pellet hopper clean-out – The pellet hopper has a small door on the back that makes emptying the hopper and switching out pellets a breeze. Simply twist open the latch to release the pellets into a bucket. Much easier than the 450A model.
What I don’t like:
- Cumbersome construction – I thought that since the hopper came pre-attached to the body that this would be a relatively quick job, but I was wrong. The screw holes were in hard to reach areas that didn’t accommodate the included screwdriver, let alone any power drill. I had to use a stubby screwdriver to reach and tighten some of the screws in tight quarters.
- Only one shelf area – The hopper lid doubles as a shelf, but that’s the only place you have to set things down. You’re better served setting up a side table to lay everything out that you need.
The Z Grills 450B is priced on the budget side and with the recent enhancements like the PID controller represents decent value for money.
Unboxing and setup
The 450B came in one large box, partly preassembled. The hopper was already attached to the cooking chamber, which is usually not the case. With that portion out of the way, I figured putting the legs, handles and wheels on would be a cinch.
In actuality, it still took about an hour to assemble. The screw holes for the parts were in tight spots, and reaching the supplied screwdriver around some angles just wasn’t cutting it.
Assembly went much faster after I got a stubby screwdriver and could navigate the tight corners and make sure the screws were seated properly.
Once it was put together, it was easy to do the initial burn off and get the grill rolling.
Cooking on the 450B
I wanted to test out the varying temperature settings on the grill to see how well the grill performed. First and foremost, low and slow cooking is the popular appeal with pellet grills, so let’s see how well it did.
Easy to use
Starting the Z Grill and getting it up to target temperature couldn’t be easier. You just open the lid and turn the knob to smoke mode.
The internal auger feeds pellets from the hopper to the burn pot and the ignition rod starts the fire. After you start to see smoke, you can close the lid and set your temperature.
The LCD temperature display is big and easy to read even in direct sunlight.
The grill comes with two swivel casters and two set, hard plastic wheels. It’s light enough to move around with one hand, and the casters allow for ample navigation around tight spots.
Smoking on the 450B
When it comes to low and slow, Z Grills have it down with their new PID controllers.
The 450B is no exception to that. It does an exceptional job smoking meat over the long haul. The smoke flavor is not as heavily integrated into the meat as a traditional wood smoker, but you can always put an accessory like a smoker tube in the chamber if you prefer a heartier smoke flavor.
I benchmarked the smoking option with a dry rubbed rack of baby back pork ribs. It took about fifteen minutes to get up to 250°F and then I put the ribs on.
The 450B’s temperature control steadied the cooking chamber at 250°F until I opened the door to spritz the ribs every hour. It would then recalibrate back to 250°F within five minutes.
The ribs were done to my liking at the six hour mark with a nice mahogany bark and just the right amount of smoky flavor.
The 450B’s smaller cooking chamber helps keep the heat at the desired temperature compared to larger smoke chambers. It gets back to target temp fast and efficiently without a high overshoot.
Grilling on the 450B
Grilling performed amicably, and I attribute this again to the compact cooking chamber. That’s not to say it is small, but it allows the heat to stay steady without too much turbulence and temperature fluctuation.
Grilling burgers at 450°F actually left some light grill marks that I don’t usually see with pellet smokers. The proximity of the firebox to the grates is closer in the 450B than larger models, and you can move food toward the edges for “indirect” heat if it starts to overcook.
Storage and prep areas
As mentioned above, there’s a lack of shelving and prep area. A folding table does wonders here as you only have the top of the hopper as a place to set your food and beers on. A second shelf would do wonders here.
The porcelain-coated cast iron grill grates are very easy to clean. You get a bottom grate and one top grate that wipe clean easily after a cook. If you have hard, stuck on food, you can turn the grill to high and get a wet rag to essentially deglaze the bits from the grates.
The 450B is made of thin-walled steel, but it’s sturdy and feels robust when fully constructed. It’s light enough to be portable and mobile enough to pull through the campsite.
The high-heat powder coating gives you added protection against weather and corrosion – though a cover is still recommended if leaving out in the weather.
Cleaning the Z Grills 450B
There are a lot of things that make cleaning the 450B a breeze.
First, Z Grills recommends adding a layer of aluminum foil over the top of the grease tray. This is far and away the most convenient thing to do to help with cleanup. After cooking, you just wrap up the foil and throw it away.
I would like to see a better method of grease management though. A drip pan that can hold water in the cooking chamber would be great. Let’s see it Z Grills!
Clean the grease bucket out with soap and water when necessary, or use a Z Grills foil bucket liners.
Remove the tray and baffle plate and use a shop vac to clean up all the pellet ash in the burn box. Be sure to do this every so often so your fire doesn’t get smothered and burn out due to ash build up.
Z Grills recommend removing any unused pellets after each cook as damp pellets can clog the auger mechanism.
This is much easier than previous models with the new pellet clean out feature. Just open the door on the back of the hopper and catch the pellets in a bucket.
Testing and benchmarks
Let’s look at a couple standard benchmarks to see how fast the grill gets to target temperature and how much variance you can expect.
Time taken to get to temp
Initial startup took the grill 12 minutes to get to 225°F per the PID controller.
While the grill recorded 225°F, the middle of the grill had already registered at 225°F. This may be because the firebox is closer to the middle of the chamber.
From startup it took about 22 minutes to get to the maximum temperature of 450°F. With the cooking chamber being more compact, I expected it to heat up quickly, and it did not disappoint.
Temperature variance and accuracy
To test temperature accuracy throughout the cooking chamber, I used the ThermoPro TP27 Long Range Wireless Meat Thermometer, and set two probes at the middle and right sides of the grill at grate level.
The Z Grills thermostat probe is hardwired to the controller on the far left of the cooking chamber.
This grill exceeded my expectations in terms of accuracy and temperature swing. The variance was negligible from each probe to the built-in thermostat.
The PID controller does what it says it will in keeping temperatures within a 5°F range. You have peace of mind with the Z Grills 450B temperature accuracy over the long haul.
Z Grills offers their own grilling accessories as well as branded cooking equipment and pellets. From grill mats to prep tools, they have your cooking needs covered with their branded product offerings.
The covers are highly recommended and almost a necessity if storing your grill outside. You’ll want to protect your investment from the elements so it will last you well past the 3-year warranty mark.
Z Grills also has their own proprietary pellets in a variety of hardwoods and blends. I did like the way these pellets combusted – very clean with little to no ash flying around in the cooking chamber. I’ve used pellets that were very ashy and would settle on the food as it cooked, and you don’t get that with Z Grills’ product.
Other grills to consider
As I mentioned, the pellet grill market is ripe with competitors and that’s good for the consumer.
The Z Grills 450B is a reliable and accurate smoker that takes the legwork out of fire management. The 8-in-1 claims are factually true, but I don’t get the highest heat I’d like for searing a steak. I’d say it’s a great smoker with grilling capabilities.
There’s no doubt that Z Grills offers some of the best bang for your buck in the pellet grill arena. There might not be wifi technology yet, but just implementing the PID technology adds so much value to their products.
You can be confident you are getting a quality, high-performing product at a great price point.
Z Grills is growing like crazy and their offerings get better with each model evolution. Buying directly from Z Grills’ official site will net you some added freebies like a cover and pellets. It’s a nice touch when you’re setting up a new grill and don’t have to run out for fuel or a cover.
Let us know your experience with Z Grills or pellet grills in general in the comments below, and thanks for reading.