Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill Review – Are they a Traeger Killer?

z-grills wood pellet grill review

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I can’t think of another grill brand that has appeared virtually out of nowhere and gained so much attention as fast as Z Grills.

Bursting on to the pellet grill scene back in 2017, Z Grills raised almost half a million dollars from 1407 backers on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.

People quickly realized that Z grills weren’t just a plucky newcomer. It turned out they had been quietly manufacturing more expensive grills for companies like Traeger before deciding to sell their own brand direct to the public.

The prospect of buying a Traeger quality grill at a severely reduced price has proved tempting for many, and Z Grills have quickly become one of the most popular pellet grills available.

We’ve put a range of the most popular Z Grill models to the test, and in this guide, we’ll share our experience cooking on these grills.

How Z Grills Work

If you are familiar with how pellet grills work, feel free to skip ahead.

The Z Grills design is very similar to brands like Pit Boss and Traeger. The grill works by burning wood pellets (Z grills sell their own brand but any brand of pellets will do) to create heat and smoke to flavor your food.

In our video review of the Z Grills 700E we show how this popular design works, and what we think of it after grilling and smoking on it.

Z Grills Review | 700E Wood Pellet Grill

The pellets are stored in a hopper located on the side of the grill. A mechanical auger feeds the pellets into a firebox where a rod ignites them.

A sensor keeps track of the temperature and works with the digital controls to maintain the temperature you set by controlling the flow of pellets and airflow.

This design allows you to load up your hopper, set the temperature and effectively ‘set it and forget it’.

While they are often called “pellet grills”, I really think of them as smokers or ovens since they specialize in maintaining steady temperatures over long hours.

Pellet Grills are great for people who don’t want the hassle or mess of cooking with charcoal but want more smoke flavor and convenience than gas or electric smokers can provide.

We have a more detailed guide which includes our favorite pellet grills for every budget here.

The Z Grills Lineup

Z Grills currently sell three different categories of grills in a few different configurations.

You have the “basic series” which includes the smaller 450, 550 and 600 grills.

The 450A which comes with (you guessed it) 450 square inches of cooking space.

In the middle is the 700 series which includes the highly popular 700E and the new and improved 700D4E. This size is the sweet spot for most people.

Rounding things out is the 1000 series where you find the largest grills like the 1000E. Within each series, you have plenty of choices with different color configurations and storage options.

If you need help choosing Z Grills has a handy comparison tool that lets you plug in up to 3 different models and compare the specs.

1. Our top pick – Z Grills 700D4E Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker

Read our full Z Grills 700D4E review.

Z Grills 700D4E Pellet Grill

An upgraded version of the extremely popular 700D, the 700D4E comes with a range of new features that make it one of the standouts in the Z Grills range. 

The main grill boasts 697 square inches of cooking space. This is split between the main rack (504) and the tops racks (193). The body of the 700D4E is made entirely of either rolled or stainless steel and comes fitted with double-wall insulation.

The study body and increased insulation make it far easier to maintain a steady consistent temperature, but it’s a bit of a shame there’s no gasket on the lid. The internal temperature is controller by a new PID temperature controller and adjusted from a larger, more readable LED screen. 

Additional features like a closed storage cabinet under the grill, a larger hopper, and easy pellet clean-out give the 700D4E a real boost over other models in its price range, such as the Traeger Pro 575.

What we liked

  • Great temperature control – The addition of the new PID controller, the thickness of the body, and the doubled walled insulation means the 700D4E rarely strays from its set temperature by more than 5°F.
  • Easy to move – The rolled steel body isn’t exactly light, but the addition of four chunky rotating casters makes it easy to move around, even on grass.
  • Easy pellet clean out – Unlike older models, this grill has a small door on the back which makes it far easier to clean out the hopper or change out the pellets you’re using. 

What we didn’t like

  • No WiFi – The only place in which the new 700D4E falls down is the lack of wireless features that can be found on grills with a similar price point.

The 700D4E is a nice upgrade over the original 700E without hurting you too much in the budget department. It might not have WiFi yet, but it more than makes up for it with its overall quality and excellent temperature control.

2. Z Grills Pioneer 450B

Read our full Z Grills 450B review.

z grills 450b review

If you don’t think you’ll take advantage of the size the 700D4E offers, the 450B is an excellent alternative to consider.

The 450B is an upgrade to its predecessor the 450A. You’ll pay a little more, but in return, you get a grill with a PID controller for improved temperature control and a better pellet clean-out system.

Like the larger model, the grilling area is split between the main grilling area and a warming rack.

The hopper capacity is slightly lower 15 pounds, and the cooking temperature is 160-450°F.

This grill competes in a pretty crowded field of small sized pellet grills like the Pit Boss Sportsman 500.

  • Stable Temperature Control – The new PID controller gives the 450B keeps your temperature nice and stable. In our testing, the grill stayed within 5°F of the set temperature.
  • Small Footprint – You get a solid amount of cooking space in a smaller footprint, making this a good choice if you are limited on space outdoors.
  • Easy pellet hopper clean-out system – Emptying the hopper to remove unused pellets is a breeze. Simply twist open the latch to release the pellets into a bucket. Much easier than having to vacuum out unused pellets which is the only option on some grills.

What I don’t like:

  • Only one shelf area – Sure you can use the hopper lid as a shelf, but that’s the only place you have to set things down. Iike to have an additional side table or front table to set things down on while I’m cooking.

3. Z Grills 700E Pellet Grill

Read our full Z Grills 700E review.

Older and slightly cheaper than the 700D4E, the 700E has is still a decent grill, especially if you can get it on special.

The body of the grill is made from stainless steel, although it lacks the doubled-walled insulation of the 700D4E. While the lack of a lid gasket does mean the 700E leaks a lot of smoke during startup, it doesn’t seem to have any issue holding a steady temperature. 

You still get the same impressive 694 square inches of cooking area, closed cabinet storage, and chunky coaster wheels, but not the new PID controller or pellet cleaning hatch on the back.

The upper racks of the grill are configurable. You can have one, two, or none, giving you plenty of control of your cooking real estate. 

What we liked

  • Great price point – While it might be lacking the features of the 700D4E, there’s no denying that the 700E is a large, well-made, grill for a very competitive price.
  • Adaptable – The adjustable upper rack system gives you great control over how you set up the interior of your grill.

What we didn’t like

  • The screen – The 700E has a very small LED screen used to control the temperature that can be really hard to read in direct sunlight.

An excellent grill for the price, the 700E has a couple of design flaws, like the control screen, that was rectified on the 700D4E. For our money, we would spend a little extra and get the latest version though.

4. Z Grill L6002B Wood Pellet Grill

Read our full Z Grills L6002B review.

Z Grills L6002B Pellet Grill

Moving down to the basic series we have the L6002B.

Made of lightweight stainless steel, the L6002B is surprisingly sturdy despite its thin walls. The grill has 573 square inches, which is a lot for its compact design. 

The temperature range of the L6002B runs between 180°F – 450°F and, despite its lack of insulation, the PID controller keeps that temperature relatively stable. There’s plenty of storage space to had on the L6002B, with two side shelves and one front shelf.

The major downside to the L6002B is the small 8lb pellet hopper, which means you’re going to have to refill it a few times if you’re cooking something low and slow. 

What we liked

  • Mobile  – The lightweight stainless steel body and chunky plastic wheels make it easy to love the L6002B around.
  • The cooking surface – Despite its rather compact frame, the L6002B boasts an impressive 573 square inches of cooking space.
  • Good temperature control – Despite having a thinner body, the L6002B doesn’t suffer from any extreme temperature swings, mostly thanks to its PID controller. 

What we didn’t like

  • The hopper – Only have 8lbs of pellets in the hopper means you’ll need to be on hand with a few refills for longer cooks.

Lightweight and compact with a surprisingly large amount of cooking space, the L6002B maintains a consistent temperature despite its lack of insulation.

5. Z Grills ZPG-7002E Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker Review

Z Grills 7002E Pellet Grill

The 7002E is the base version of the most popular model, with a total cooking area of 700 square inches and a 20-pound hopper.

The cooking area is split with 504 sq in for the grilling area and a 190 square inch warming rack.

You also have the almost identical 700D and 700E models which include an upgraded cart with two doors for extra storage, and upgraded caster wheels.

The difference between these two models is a bit confusing, the main thing we could find is the 700E has a top temp of 475° while the 700D maxes out at 450°.

In terms of price, you’re looking at roughly half the cost of the Traeger for a similar set of features.

Everything ships in two carefully wrapped packages and assembly is fairly straight forward with detailed instructions provided.

You can choose a few different color configurations including silver, black, or silver, and black cover.

The materials are made of stainless steel

What we like:

  • Outstanding value for money – The combination of size, construction, updated digital control system free grill cover at this price point makes the Z grill the best value for money pellet grill on the market.
  • Easy to clean – The grease bucket collects drained grease, and if you wrap the pain it’s very easy to cleanout
  • 3-Year warranty – Matches the Traeger warranty. Pit Boss grills sold after 2018 have a longer 5-year warranty.

What we don’t like:

  • Struggles to get hot enough to sear – All pellet grills are marketed as “do everything” machines. The one area most struggle is searing. The Z Grill is no different with a max temp of around 450°F you are going to struggle sear.
  • Cleaning ash and unused pellets – Some greasy ash tends to build-up and there’s no easy way to remove unused pellets. It’s worth investing in a small shop vac so you don’t ruin your household vacuum cleaner.

Other than those two points, the grill is great for smoking meat, temp control is easy and the grill construction is top-notch.

Confusingly these options are all listed on Amazon under the same listing so make sure you pick the cart option you want.

Get the latest price on the Z Grills website.

6. Z Grills 10002B2E Pellet Grill

Read our full Z Grills 10002B2E review.

Z Grills 10002B2E Review

The next step up from the 700 series, you have the 1000 series which are the largest grills from Z Grills.

Grill design is similar, although they do introduce a third rack and more height allows you to fit even more food.

Our likes and dislikes are similar to other models we have reviewed, although at this size only having two wheels becomes a bigger issue.

Z Grills Cruiser 200A Portable Pellet Grill

Read our full Cruiser 200A review.

Z Grills Portable 200A Review

The Cruiser is the first truly portable option from Z Grills. Shaped like a suitcase, you get a compact pellet grill designed for camping or tailgating.

With 202 square inches of cooking area, you won’t be feeding a crowd, but it’s large enough to fit a rack of ribs or a few burgers or hotdogs.

Where this grill really shines is portability. One person can easily handle it, and rather than a cart with collapsible legs you just place it down on a table.

Our tests showed good thermal efficiency with minimal temperature swings.

The 8lb hopper is small, but for this grill, it’s enough to power it for 10 hours of cook time.

We gave the Crusier the nod for the best truly portable option in our guide to the best portable pellet smokers.

Z Grills VS Traeger

People always want to know how a brand compares with Traeger, the original pellet grill brand.

This is especially true for Z Grills, since there’s a lot of evidence that they used to manufacture grills for Traeger.

So the question is, can you buy a Traeger replica for half the price?

The annoying answer, as usual, is it depends.

For this comparison, we’ll compare the Z Grills 700D4E with the Traeger Pro 575.

  • Price – At the time of writing, the Z Grill is significantly cheaper than the Traeger, and even includes a grill cover whereas the Traeger requires an additional purchase. You can check the latest price on the Z Grills here, and the Traeger Pro 575 here.
  • Design – Both grills share a similar design and are made with high gauge steel and both are powder coated. The 7002 is slightly less portable with only 2 wheels compared to 4 casters on the Texas Elite (you can get 4 wheels on the 700E and700D)
  • Grill & Hopper size – The Z Grills is just over 20% larger which makes it a better choice if you need to cook for larger groups. The slightly larger hopper size is probably a toss up because the larger size will require a little more pellets to heat.
  • Temperature probe – The Traeger comes with a single built-in meat probe compared to two on the Z Grills
  • WiFI – The Traeger includes “WIFIRE fully connected grill technology” which lets you start up, shut down, change temperature and monitor your food while it cooks from your smart device. The Z Grills doesn’t have any App or connectivity so you’ll need to use the control panel.

Traeger Pro 575 VS Z Grills 700D4E – Side by Side comparison

Traeger Pro 575Z Grills 700D4E
Dimensions 53x41x27 in 48×51x22
Cooking surface area (sq in)575 (425 + 150)697 (504 + 193)
Hopper capacity18 lb20 lb
Temperature range165 – 500°F180 – 455°F
Cover includedno ($59.99 optional add-on)yes
Warranty3 years3 years
Price Check latest priceCheck latest price

Traeger gets the edge when it comes to customer support. This isn’t surprising since they are a US-based company that has been around since the 1970s, although they aren’t without their issues as you’ll see if you browse their company social media pages.

If you want to find out more, we have a detailed Traeger Reviews post.

The bottom line

If you are happy with a large grill that doesn’t include some of the more modern features, the Z Grills 700D4E is better value than the Traeger Pro 575, especially if you are cooking for larger groups or lots of different cuts at once.

If you want more features like WiFi connectivity, built-in meat probes, and easier pellet removal you should consider the Traeger Pro.

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22 Comments

  1. Roger L. Parsons says:

    Does it come assebled? if not, how difficult is it to asseble?

  2. Robert McInnis says:

    As having just purchased one and “thought” l was buying a Traeger (long story) I would say it was simple to assemble, the quality seems to be there. I will know more in time as I use it. Mine came damaged as it seems it was dropped somewhere in shipment but received a pretty quick response from their customer support. My barrel and one grate was damaged and they did not have a problem replacing both. They said the cooking grate was in stock and will be sent right away but the barrel is out of stock but will be sent once stock is replenished. We’ll see! I had an option to receive a discount and repair myself but I bought a new grille and want it to look new. They were very understanding and sent an email to confirm the resolve. I will definitely post a review on Amazon as well as here once I receive the replacement parts.

    1. Thanks Robert, that’s annoying, although not uncommon with shipping big heavy grills. Glad to hear customer support have been good so far. Would be great if you can share your thoughts here once you’ve used the grill a few times.

      Cheers.

  3. Where is it manufactured.

  4. I got two z grills both came damaged. They replaced both grills right away. But on one of them didnt come with temperature wire for it and already threw out old one. I called to get one coming its been 2 years and still have not seen it. Any way the one grill works excellent dont know on the other stil waiting on parts.

  5. Ron Patton says:

    Have had a z grill for a year still learning on it do you shut the tamper all the way when smoking and open it to sear

    1. I’m not sure I understand the question. With the Z Grills you just set the temp you want, so you would go around 225-250 for smoking and then max it out for grilling.

  6. Arrived today. Just 2 hours to assemble. 2 people. It took at least 20 minutes to unpack. Assembly was a breeze. Hope it performs as well as it went together.

  7. Thom Smith says:

    Great article guys. Good info to know as I will be purchasing a pellet grill at some point this season. You may want to check for some typos though. I am leaning towards the Traeger based on your comparison sheet. I think it would be awesome to sear at 5000 degrees. lol

    1. Scott Rogers says:

      You do mean 500° right I didn’t see anything about 5,000°. That would be awesome though

  8. John Litton says:

    For routine weekend grilling I would stick with gas or charcoal. I have yet to try smoking at low temp over many hours but I am sure it would be just fine for that. Even in low-wind and hot-day scenarios it struggles to retain the heat. At max temp of 450 it takes much longer to cook typical cuts of meat compared to gas/charcoal grills.

  9. Bought mine a month ago – every heat setting runs 100+ degrees too high. The “smoke setting”, which is supposedly ~160, runs at over 300. It runs way to hot so it doesn’t generate smoke, nor can you run a “low-slow” session. AND … customer service is not interested in assisting in any way. I would not buy again, nor will I recommend.

  10. Home Depot has them assembled if you spend over $200. I believe that’s what you need to spend. They are having a z grill shipped to store and assembled free.

  11. Mike Mueller says:

    Not impressed with my Zgrill or their customer service. I sent them a email about temperature settings being way out of whack with absolutely no response back. I set 180 and running two different grill probes they both run between 225-235 depending on the location of the grill. Should of spent the money like my friend and bought a Rectec

    1. I have had nothing but problems with mine. Three fires in the feed tube after shutting it down. Auger quit working and they sent me a replacement auger/hopper. Customer service was great. New one didn’t work at all. Temperature jumped up and down from 225 to 480 in seconds. Then it shuts off. Not happy at all and trying to get my money back. I would not recommend buying one.

  12. Ed Poorbaugh says:

    I wish I had purchased a different brand! The zgrill customer support totally sucks! The grill arrived and upon the initial break-in process, the control board went out and displayed error codes. I had to contact their customer service department 6 times. It’s a great (not) experience calling them, you get to leave a voicemail and then pray that someone will call you back! After following instructions to confirm which part was not working, I was told the replacement would be shipped and arrive by Wednesday.. it’s now Friday and no part. BTW, the customer service agent stated, “yea, the temperature probes get broken easily in shipping…” I’ve had the grill for three weeks and have not been able to use it. Not a fan of the grill or company. Wish I’d gone a different route! Z, last letter of the English Alphabet and the last company you should purchase a grill from.

  13. The heating is sporadic on it can’t maintain the right Heat

  14. Daniel Deal. says:

    Second cook on my new Z Grill. 1st was a standing Pork Rib Roast. Additionally, I placed 5 tin foil wrapped Baked Potatoes in with the roast. The roast and potatoes turned out perfect. The family loved it. I just finished smoking two slabs of fresh Alaska Salmon that my wife and I caught. Again, Baked Potatoes were included. As expected, the potatoes need to cook longer. I love this grill. The only thing I miss on my model is a timer to turn itself off. A cover was supposed to be included but was not. I’ll request it on their website.

  15. Ron Humphries says:

    They say they will sear meat. Yeah it will if you take off the grease tray remove the heat shield and put a cast iron pan on fire. If I wanted a steak cooked in a pan I would do it inside. They could have put a baffle in heat shield over the fire box and that would be a little better. Basically it doesn’t get hot enough to sear meat, like a steak. So I call it falsely advertised. Other wise it does butt and ribs great. This is all I have cooked so far. It would also be better if it had a access point to unload pellets

    1. Which model do you have Ron? I believe all the newer ones have an access door for unloading pellets so might have the previous generation. Agree with your point on steak, but you can say the same with Traeger and most other pellet grills that don’t have searing system built in.

      One option is to use some third party grillgrates and that can get you a little better results.

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