Z Grills is a relatively new name to the pellet grill game, but they’ve been manufacturing pellet grills for reputable companies like Traeger for years. They’ve since decided to launch their own brand and enter the fray.
The Z Grill L6002B is the middle child between the popular 700 series and the more compact 450 and 550 grills.
In this review, we’ll go through our experience cooking on the L6002B for the last few months to see how well this grill performs, and how it stacks up to the rest of the Z Grills range.
Z Grills sent me this grill for free in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Z Grill L6002B overview and first impressions
The Z Grill L6002B is a mid-price-point pellet grill aimed at the weekend BBQ warrior.
I expected it to perform as such, especially when I noticed the thin steel walls of the firebox. Based on previous experience with budget pellet grills I expected large temperature swings and low smoke flavor.
That’s not entirely untrue with the L6002B, but first let’s go through its specs:
|Cooking Area||573 sq. in.|
|Pellet Hopper Capacity||8 lbs.|
|Temp Range||180°F – 450°F|
|Shelves & Storage||Two side shelves, one front shelf|
|Price||Check latest price|
I was pleasantly surprised at how sturdy the grill felt being so thin-walled. It was light and easy for one person to move around.
Firing it up for the first time to cook, it came up to target temperature within 20 minutes.
Using a mix between hickory and cherry wood pellets, the initial output of smoke was steady and clean out of the smokestack, but after cooking low and slow for ribs and brisket, the smoke flavor falls off as you raise the temperature above 225°F and the flavor penetration was minimal.
The cooking area with warming rack was surprisingly large for such a compact grill, coming in at 573 square inches. I was able to cook a range of proteins at one time using the warming rack to keep foods from overcooking and drying out.
It’s easy to use, but the pellet consumption goes quickly. The compact hopper only holds 8lbs of pellets at once, so pay attention if you’re doing a longer cook as you’ll most likely need to refill.
What I like:
- Light and mobile – The Z Grill L6002B is very easy to move around. It is surprisingly light, which does account for heat loss, but rolls easily on standard plastic wheels.
- Low temperature variance – Let’s face it, pellet grills are notorious for temperature swings. The Z Grill does have temperature swings, but thanks to the PID controller they’re surprisingly minimal with how thin the steel walls are.
- Cooking area – The grill seems smaller than it is from the outside, but is deceivingly large. The cooking area can fit 24 burgers at once, or five racks of ribs.
What I don’t like:
- Rounded drip plate – The drip plate is rounded which makes it a pain to place a water pan onto without it teetering and spilling.
- Pellet Capacity – The hopper holds 8lbs. of pellets, which is fine for most grilling activities, but for low and slow cooking, you’ll need to refill.
This is more my personal preference, but I found the food I cooked had low smoke flavor compared to what I’m used to cooking on my Backwoods Chubby charcoal smoker.
No matter how you cut it, pellets just don’t give that deep, full smoke flavor that wood does. The food still turns out good, but the smoke flavor is very subtle.
I can definitely see this being a plus for some people who prefer a light smoke flavor.
Unboxing and setup
The Z Grill L6002B arrived in a thick corrugated cardboard box, but no pallet, so moving it around was a bit easier than other grill shipments.
It wasn’t too heavy to move by yourself, but two people definitely make the job easier.
The cardboard box was thicker than normal shipping cardboard, but the box was relatively small. It had me wondering how a full size grill would fit inside.
Opening it up answered my question. It was fit expertly into the box, maximizing space with very minimal styrofoam fillers inside.
The Z Grill packaging had me impressed as it fit together like a puzzle, almost reminding me of something you’d see opening up a new piece of tech.
Assembling the L6002B
My initial feeling of impressiveness quickly wore off though as I realized that I’m going to have to assemble all these separate pieces.
Assembly was a bear and took a little over two hours to fully complete. It wasn’t difficult per se but was more tedious than anything else. There were a ton of pieces and steps.
The visual instructions were good enough, but there could have been a few more written specifics on a few steps.
Setting up the Z Grill
When assembly was all said and done, setup was relatively simple.
Like any new grill, you’re first tasked with burning off the residual manufacturing debris.
Firing up the Z Grill for the first time is a three-step process of priming the pellet auger, getting the initial fire stoked, then letting it run at high temperature for the initial burn-off.
This is similar to other pellet grills and I found it to be a standard operating procedure with the Z Grill as well.
Cooking on the Z Grill L6002B
I cooked a range of foods, both low and slow and hot and fast, on the L6002B. Claiming 8-in-1 cooking capacity – as do most all pellet grills – I wanted to see how it performed based on its brand claims.
Sometimes I wonder how pellet grill manufacturers can legally claim they can grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, barbecue, char, or even sear. I’d like to see what they define smoke vs. barbecuing, or searing vs. charring.
That being said, the Z Grill L6002B has a tight temperature range claiming 180°F to 450°F. The marketing material on its Amazon listing states temperatures can get as high as 1000°F with the slide plate flame broiler open.
The highest my grill temp ever registered with the slide plate open and on the high setting was 442°F on a windless, 90°F day sitting in the sun.
The open plate only allows a sear area of about 6 inches in diameter. Enough for maybe two burgers or two filet mignons steaks.
The best feature for me was how little there was in temperature fluctuations compared to other pellet grills.
When set to 250°F, the temperature swings were minimal ranging plus or minus 15°F in either direction. With how thin the cooking area metal is, this was a big win.
The Z Grill L6002B is light and easy to wheel around, mostly due to how thin the sheet metal is. At first, I was put off by the thinness as I knew it was bad for heat retention, but when I started wheeling it around from my front porch to back patio, I realized this was a boon to the grill itself.
You only get two wheels, so you have to lift one end.
Advertised as “portable” on both the brand website and the Amazon listing, it’s much easier to wheel around than it is to toss in your car. You would need a midsize to large SUV to transport this grill comfortably.
Storage and prep
The L6002B boasts two side shelves for help with prep and placement. Large enough to hold pans of food and condiments, but not be obtrusive when storing or moving.
The left shelf doubles as the hopper lid, so keep that in mind if you need to refuel mid-cook.
The other side comes standard with three utensil hooks and – my favorite feature – the bottle opener. I don’t know why, but to me the bottle opener is both convenient and a subtle reminder that grilling and barbecuing are to be enjoyed: have yourself a drink.
Lastly, there’s a front storage shelf where you can place spices, oils and other mise en place items.
If you’re not prepared, clean-up can be a pain in the rear. The L6002B manual suggests covering the drip plate with heavy dirty aluminum foil for easy clean up.
This is a must if you don’t want to have to scrub the plate after every use.
At the same time, covering the plate with foil makes it that much more difficult if you want to switch from grilling to searing mode. You have to take the food off, take the grates off, remove the foil, then open the slide plate for searing. Not exactly conveinent.
The drip plate has a slight decline angle to direct drippings to a galvanized bucket for easy drainage and clean up. This too is easier to clean with a foil liner.
Testing the Z Grill L6002B
We put the L6002B through some standardized tests to see how well it performs in different areas.
Come up to temp and speed test
To ignite the Z Grill, you first put it in smoke mode then once the pellets are lit you can adjust to your desired temperature.
Setting the temperature to 225°F after the smoke setting took about twelve minutes to reach. This is not accounting for the time it takes for the pellets to light in the smoke setting. All in all, you’re looking at close to twenty minutes to get to 225°F from ignition.
The built-in temperature probe gives the digital readout on the grill itself, but I wanted to see the temperature variance across the grates when on different settings.
Using the ThermoPro TP01H Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer, I tested the following temperatures at the gate level.
For a pellet grill, I was impressed. Obviously, the heat is higher near the firebox than away from it, and the air-draw from the chimney vent has hot air moving faster thus lowering the grate temperature.
I was happy with the temperature performance at all these settings.
Pellet usage per hour
The Z Grill webpage states you can cook for 20 hours with 20lbs. of pellets. Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but the hopper only holds 8lbs. at a time.
I did notice the one-lb-per-hour cooking average does stay close to 1:1 when the hopper is full, giving you roughly 8 hours of cooking time with a full hopper.
That is, if all the pellets feed through. As the pellets empty into the firebox, some pellets get stuck and don’t feed to the auger. You have to manually push them down.
Also, the L6002B manual states to clean the ash out of the firebox every two to three cooks so pellets burn clean. During a brisket cook, the fire burnt out six hours in due to ash build up in the firebox.
This was after a separate cook on the high setting for one hour. I didn’t expect the firebox to fill with ash so quickly as it had only been the second cook since its last cleaning.
The appeal of a pellet grill is the set-it-forget-it mentality, and if I’m smoking a brisket for 12-14 hours, you’re going to have to refuel the hopper at least once and possibly clean out the firebox.
If you plan on doing lots of longer cooks I would recommend upgrading to a smoker with a larger hopper.
While taking the pieces out of the box, I noticed how thin the metal walls were. The webpage states full steel construction, so I expected thicker metal especially in the firebox. At first, it felt flimsy and I was skeptical.
As the grill came together though, my feelings changed. The final product was sturdy but light and movable. The external powder coating on steel made for an easy to clean, but resilient exterior.
The bronze lid added another element to build quality. This grill is well-made and should last you years with proper care.
Should you buy the Z Grill L6002B?
If you’re in the market for a pellet grill, the L6002B should be on your list.
It fairs a lot better in temperature consistency, and it plays larger than it looks. I’d consider the Z Grill L6002B an overachiever in the ranks of mid-price-point pellet grills.
For the casual cooker entertaining on a weekend and looking for a convenient grill alternative to LP, you’d be remiss if you didn’t consider this grill as one of your options.