If you have been following along on my recent barbecue adventures then you already know that I am a massive fan of Z Grills pellet grills. If you haven’t been following along then I will post some links down below showing some of the more recent cooks I have done with my Z Grills.
I love my Z Grill cookers because they are reliable, turn out great barbecue and were super affordable. I am such a fan I actually have three different models. My current collection of Z Grills include the L 600E, 700 2B and 1000 2E. I am proud to be an affiliate for Z Grills so please know that there are affiliate links in this article.
One of the biggest problems people have when trying to buy a Z Grills is figuring out which one is right for them. Picking the right grill is complicated because Z grills currently has over 20 different models, many with extremely different features, and all of them have confusing model numbers!
If you want to know which Z Grill is the best then my answer is:
The Z Grills 1000 2B is the best Z Grill pellet grill. The 1000 series have the most cooking space of any model of Z grill and are the only models with the easy ash clean out system. The 1000 2B is the most affordable grill in the 1000 series which makes it my top pick.
The 1000 Series grills typically cost about $600. Here is the link to see if they are currently on sale.
A Closer Look at the Different Z Grills Models
I love the 1000 Series grills because they have the best ash cleanout system that I have seen on any pellet grill from any manufacturer. I love the ash cleanout system so much that it was one of the reasons I kept my 1000 2E and got rid of my “fancy, high end” Rec Tec 340. (Here is the link to my video comparison of Z Grills vs Rec Tec if you would like to see these grills side by side.)
That being said, different people value different things in a pellet grill. That’s okay…being different is what makes this fun!
I love the capacity and ash cleanout system on the 1000 Series. However, the 1000 Series grills do not have PID controllers, meat probes, pellet hopper dumps or flame broilers. Those other features are important to some people.
I really loved my 700 series grill. The only reason I upgraded to the 1000 Series was for the easy ash cleanout system. My 600 series grill works fine but is just a little smaller than I like. That being said the 400-600 Series grills are usually incredibly inexpensive and are a nice bargain if you only need to cook for 3-4 people.
What Features Are Most Important in a Pellet Grill?
There are several features that are different between these grills.
Let me give you my thoughts on the relative importance of each feature to help you figure out what you really want and need.
Some of these grills have a highly precise PID controller while other have the less precise standard controller. Both controllers are absolutely fine and I actually have a preference for the standard version.
PID controllers got a lot of attention when they first came out because they were light years better than the “Low, Medium, High” controllers on the original Traeger pellet grills. The original Traeger controls could only get you in the general ballpark of a temperature and had large fluctuations. With a PID you can set a temperature and expect your grill to hold that temperature within a +/- 5 degree range.
With the standard controllers on modern pellet grills you can expect a temperature swing of +/- 15 degrees.
I downside of a PID is that it causes the pellets to burn so clean and efficiently there is less smoke produced than you get with the standard controller. This is a tradeoff that comes with any brand of pellet grill. Do you want precision temperature control or more smoke flavor?
I want more smoke flavor so I prefer the standard controller.
One of the most important aspects of safely using any pellet grill is cleaning out the base of the grill on a regular basis. The bottom of the grill will accumulate both grease and sawdust that have the potential to ignite into one heck of a fireball if they get lit from a spark from the burn pot.
With just about every brand of pellet grill you have to use a Shop Vac to clean out the grill. I think it is a massive pain in the butt to haul the ShopVac across the house, take out the grates, etc and clean out the grill.
The 1000 Series have a wonderful tray that slides out from the base of the grill and makes cleaning out the grill EASY!
You will still need to take out the grate and grease shield every now and then and use a spoon to clean out the fire pot but that just takes a minute.
Some of these grills come with a set of meat probes that plug into the PID controller.
The meat probes are a nice addition but are not that important to me. The meat probes on these grills work fine but they are not WiFi enabled nor do they allow any sort programable control over the grill.
I already have a nice supply of stand alone digital meat probes that I use on a routine basis. I don’t need any more.
The importance of the pellet hopper capacity, which ranges between 8-24 pounds on these grills, is something I find myself flip-flopping about.
One one hand it is nice to have a large pellet hopper so you can smoke a full packet brisket or a couple of pork butts for 12 hours without ever having to fill the hopper. A large hopper also lets you fill it with an entire 20 pound bag of pellets and not have to worry about storing a partial bag of pellets in your garage.
On the other hand, people often get themselves into trouble when they attempt unattended overnight brisket cooks on their pellet grills.
Regardless of brand, it is not uncommon for the pellets to not feed evenly out of the hopper. If you don’t stir the pellets with your hand every few hours a channel can develop in the pellets and they will stop feeding into the auger.
The 600 series have the smallest hopper and it has never been an issue for me when I use mine. I was able to smoke a chuck roast on my 600 series for almost six hours and had plenty of pellets left.
It is nice to be able to completely dump the pellets out of the hopper.
The ability to dump the pellets is a handy feature if you want to change the type of wood for a different smoke profile.
It is a great feature if you need to dump the pellets to do a little maintenance like clearing an auger jam.
While I appreciate the utility of a pellet dump it isn’t something I get too excited about. About 90% of the time I am smoking with hickory so I rarely need to change the flavor profile. In addition, my Z Grills have been highly reliable and I have never needed to work on the auger.
When it comes to an enclosed cabinet I can take it or leave it.
Some folks really like having an enclosed cabinet because it gives them a handy place to store a bag of pellets. Some folks like the clean look of a cabinet.
I am pretty much neutral.
This is a simple but massively important feature for me!
I absolutely love having the extra work space afforded by a side table. As silly as this sounds I don’t think that I would ever buy another grill that didn’t have a side table.
If you are just cooking for a few folks then even the smallest of these grills will suit you just fine.
If you want a grill with a lot of space then you have to consider your cooking style.
The grills with the MOST cooking space are the 1000 series. However, most of the grilling space on the 100o Series comes from the secondary and tertiary cooking grate.
The grills with the largest cooking space on the primary grate are the 700 Series.
If you like using elevated grates then you will love the 1000 series. If you only like cooking on the primary grate then take a look at the 700 series.
The 600 Series have a Flame Broiler option that is okay.
It is nice to be able to grill some hot dogs, etc but the flame broiler on these grills, or any other pellet grill for that matter, will never be as functional as a little gas grill like the Weber Q.
Here is a link to my video review of the 600 series if you want to see the Flame Broiler in action.
These grills come in Black, Stainless and Bronze.
I thought I would like Stainless the best but my stainless Z Grill is shiny as heck and reflects a massive amount of light and glare. The lid gets really hot on summer days even when the grill is not running.
The Bronze grills look okay but, in my opinion, look too much like a Pit Boss grill.
I like the look of the Black grills the best.
Which is the Best?
The Z Grills 1000 2B is a black, large capacity grill with the easy ash cleanout system and a side table. This grill ticks off all of my important boxes and is the most affordable of the 1000 Series pellet grills. Here is the link to see how much it currently costs.