The Z Grills 700D4E is an upgraded model of the super popular 700D. It’s new for 2021 and I was eager to see what’s changed since we reviewed the original.
In this review, I’ll go over my experience cooking on the Z Grills 700D4E, what I like about it and what slightly missed the mark.
Z Grills sent me this grill for free in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Z Grills 700D4E overview & first impressions
Adding convenient features like easy pellet clean-out, PID temperature controller, and a larger, more readable temp screen fix many of the issues we had with the original grill.
There are still no fancy wireless features like an App and WiFi connectivity, the Z Grills 700D4E focuses on quality, heat maintenance and efficiency.
At the same price point as the Traeger Pro 575, the 700D4E gives you 122 more square inches of cooking space (697 sq in vs. 575 sq in) It also boasts a closed cabinet for storage underneath the main chamber as well as a larger hopper.
Let’s take a look at the full specs of the 700D4E:
|Cooking Area||697 sq in (504 main rack + 193 top racks)|
|Pellet Hopper Capacity||20 lbs.|
|Temp Range||180°F – 450°F|
|Shelves & Storage||One shelf on pellet hopper plus storage cabinet|
|Temp Probes||Two meat probes|
|Price||Check Latest Price|
The grill is made of rolled steel and stainless steel, and has double-wall insulation construction, which helps maintain a steady temperature no matter the ambient temperature. I did notice a small amount of smoke leaking out of the door during start up. I would expect this to happen because there’s no built in door gasket.
What I like:
- Excellent temperature control: This is by far the most steady pellet grill I’ve personally experienced. Pellet grills are known for large swings in temperature as they try to regulate your target temperature. The 700D4E barely swings in 5°F increments off the target mark. The double-wall insulation and the new PID controls can be thanked for that. It should be noted that this was a calm day with no wind.
- Easy mobility: The four rotating casters make this grill easy to move around even over grassy areas. This is convenient if you don’t want to keep it out in the elements year-round. You can just wheel it out of your shed or garage.
- 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 700E model.
What I don’t like:
- Need to be careful when closing the lid: The handle is a little awkward to grab when the lid is opened. You have to reach up and around the lip of the lid or risk burning yourself haphazardly on your wrist.
- 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 market has a good bit of healthy competition going on, but the 700D4E should be on your shortlist when considering grills at this price point.
Unboxing and setup
The grill was well packaged and arrived in two separate cardboard boxes. The cooking chamber came already constructed, and was packed with other grill components and tools.
The instructions were very easy to follow, and the hardware and tools were in their own convenient package so you don’t have to constantly hunt stuff down.
Setting the grill up took a little over an hour by myself. If you have a helping hand, it definitely makes putting the hopper on easier.
After fully constructing the grill, you have to burn off all the manufacturing debris like residual oil on the parts. This takes about 45 minutes in total and is pretty straightforward. Be sure to follow the instructions in the manual. You’ll initially smell the debris burning off, then notice the clean combustion and lack of chemical smell when it’s completely burnt off.
Cooking on the 700D4E
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 to 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 included temperature probes let you monitor the temperature of your food or various parts of the chamber. These work exceptionally well and take the guess work out of things.
The LCD temperature display is big and easy to read even in direct sunlight. You can switch to probe temp to keep an eye on those settings on the screen.
One of the best parts of this grill is the four swivel casters and bottom cart. It’s so easy to move around, even when hauling through grass.
How well does this girll perform as a smoker?
Smoking is where the 700D4E shines. Even though it boasts 8-in-1 cooking capabilities, I’d recommend you use this grill for smoking sessions.
I benchmarked the smoking option with two racks of baby back pork ribs. It took about ten minutes to get up to 250°F and then I put the ribs on.
I was pleasantly surprised the racks took on a deeper color than I expected. I used the Johnny Trigg method for these and they turned out very good.
The ribs were delicious and utilizing the Z Grill for smoking couldn’t have been easier. The smoke flavor was noticeably lower than when smoking with charcoal and wood, but some people prefer a subtler smoke flavor. I prefer a heavier smoke though.
The “smoke” setting on the grill will lower the temp and allow the pellets to smolder more, but be careful to watch the temperature in smoke mode as the flame is prone to burn out if the burn box has even a little bit of ash build up.
But can you grill on it?
Grilling on pellet grills almost always disappoints me, so I was trying to keep an open mind going into this one. Setting the temperature to 450°F, I threw on some burgers and crossed my fingers.
The burgers cooked fine enough, but there were no char or grill marks. They were reminiscent of frying pan or oven cooked burgers, but they did have that slight smoke taste, which was a nice layer of flavor.
That’s probably the best way to put it: The 700D4E – pellet grills in general – are very similar to ovens, but add a smoke flavor that ovens cannot.
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.
The porcelain-coated cast iron grill grates are very easy to clean, but like I said, they didn’t give great grill marks. That’s more due to the internal heat than the grates themselves though.
You get a bottom grate and one top grate. They are lighter in feel, and the top grate came with a bent corner with chipped coating. I was able to straighten it back out for the most part, but more of the coating chipped off.
This grill is in line with other pellet grills at this price point. Thin-walled steel and somewhat leaky fittings are to be expected.
The 700D4E does boast double-walled insulation which I found helped with heat retention and stability. This feels much more rugged than the 6002B (as well it should as it’s almost double the price).
Outside of the bent corner of the top grate, everything was in pristine condition. The lid is made out of stainless steel and the cooking chamber is cast iron. Everything felt pretty light, but it fit together well during installation.
Cleaning the Z Grill 700D4E
Z Grills recommend adding a layer of aluminum foil over the top of the grease tray.
This does work well to catch drippings and make clean-up a breeze as you can just toss out the foil and reapply more.
I would like to see a better method of grease draining in these pellet grills. A drip pan that can hold water to the cooking chamber would be great. Let’s see it Z Grills!
Clean the grease bucket out with soap and water when necessary.
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 keep this clean so your fire doesn’t burn out mid-cook.
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 of standard benchmarks to see how fast the grill comes to temp and how much temperature variance you can expect.
Time taken to get to temp
Initial startup took the grill 10 minutes to get to 225°F.
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 30 minutes to get to the maximum temperature of 450°F. That’s pretty darn good for a pellet grill. The grill hit 450°F as advertised relatively quickly
Temperature variance and accuracy
To test temperature accuracy throughout the cooking chamber, I set the two probes at the middle and right sides of the grill at grate level.
The Z Grill 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.
I attribute this to the double-walled construction adding extra insulation to the cooking chamber as well as the new PID temperature controller technology. The best temperature accuracy in any pellet grill I’ve tested.
It’s worth noting that this was a clear day at 65°F with little to no wind.
Z Grills offers their own grilling accessories as well as branded cooking equipment and pellets.
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 at $25 for 20 pounds. 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.
Other grills to consider
As I mentioned, the pellet grill market is ripe with competitors and that’s good for the consumer.
You can find competitors at the same price point as the 700D4E though. The CampChef Woodwind series is very comparable and has some perks such as wifi connectivity.
The Z Grill 700D4E is a straightforward, easy-to-use smoker without a lot of bells and whistles. It’s a great entry-level pellet grill and should be in consideration for those shopping around.
It has by far the most steady temperature in any budget pellet grill I’ve used.
The 8-in-1 claims are a little overblown, in my opinion, but it’s great as a smoker-type oven that bakes and grills. Just don’t expect a nice char or sear.
If you want an easy to use smoker then the Z Grills 700D4E is a great entry point into the world of pellet grills.
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.
Feel free to chime in below! Let us know your experience with Z Grills or pellet grills in general.