Z Grills have taken the pellet grill market by storm with their highly affordable smokers. These grills perform just as well as brands that cost twice as much.
I have been cooking on Z Grills pellet grills for three years and believe they are the best value on the market. I am proud to be an affiliate for Z Grills and enjoy promoting their grills.
This article gets updated every year as I gain more experience with this brand and their products.
This review will:
- Tell you what I love about these grills.
- Point out areas where they could use some improvement.
- Share the compiled results of over 2,000 real world customer reviews.
- Show you why the 1000 series grills are the ones you want to buy.
My Experience With Z Grills
The first pellet grill I ever cooked on was a Z Grills 7002B. I immediately got hooked on how simple the grill was to operate. Cooking on a pellet grill was easier than cooking on a gas grill and the food tasted a whole lot better.
I cooked on the 700 series for two years before upgrading to the Z Grills 1000 2E in 2020. The 1000 series grill has turned into my “Go To” grill and I love it.
We now keep my older 700 series grill at my friend’s workshop where it is used as a dedicated chicken wing cooker.
Things I Love About Z Grills
I am going to focus on the 1000 series grills for this section but will do a “Head to Head” of the 700 vs 1000 series later in the article.
There are four grills in the 1000 Series (D, E, 2B, 2E) that are identical in capacity and performance. The difference between these models are cosmetic styling preferences with the 1000E and 1000D having enclosed lower cabinets.
1000 Series Specifications
- Main Grate: 431 sq in
- Secondary Grate: 374 sq in
- Tertiary Grate: 255 sq in
- Hopper Capacity: 20 Pounds
- Controller: Standard Dial in Digital
- Temperature Range: 180-450F
- Warranty: Three Years
You can usually buy a 1000 Series grill for about $600.
The three main items that I like about my Z Grills are:
- Easy to Use
- Large Capacity
- Easy Cleanup
Z Grills Are Easy to Use
Let me walk you through what to expect when you use a Z Grill.
Starting the Grill
All of your operations are performed from a digital dial in control panel. To start the grill you perform the following three steps:
- Open the lid of the grill.
- Turn the control dial to “Smoke”.
- Turn the power button to “On”.
At this point an auger is feeding wood pellets from the hopper into a fire pot inside the grill. Inside the fire pot a “Hot Rod” igniter is heating up to temperatures hot enough to ignite the pellets.
As soon as you start to see and smell smoke coming from the grill then you can shut the lid and turn the control knob to the desired cooking temperature. This step takes a a little less than three minutes on my grill.
Setting a Cooking Temperature
On a Z Grill you can choose between the following temperature settings:
- Smoke (~170F)
- High (450F)
When you turn the control dial to your desired temperature it will take about 30 minutes to reach the target. I used a stop watch to time how long it took my grill to be ready to smoke some ribs at 225F.
- Time to First Smoke: 2 minutes, 40 seconds
- Time to 225F: 11 minutes, 25 seconds
- Maximum Over Shot Temperature: 246F
- Time to Stabilize at 225F: 25 minutes, 4 seconds
At low smoking temperatures the grill quickly reaches, and then over shoots, the target temperature and takes 10-15 minutes to cool down to the temperature you want.
Cooking on the Grill
Once the grill has reached the target temperature, place the meat in the smoker and start cooking!
While you are cooking it is important to keep the meat over the grease tray. The grease tray directs grease from the meat into a metal bucket on the outside of the grill. If the meat is located over the side of the grease tray then grease can collect in the body of the grill and a grease fire could result.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the temperature profile changes from right to left and top to bottom in this grill which is common in just about every type of grill or smoker. You will need to keep an eye on things and move foods around to insure even cooking.
The mapped out temperature profile for the 1000 Series is presented later in this article.
My cooks get split about evenly between Low and Slow and Hot and Fast. Using a Z Grills makes slow smoking beef back ribs easy.
These grills are also great for grilling up many pounds of chicken wings.
Turning the Grill Off
When you are ready to turn off the grill the correct shutdown sequence needs to be followed.
- Leave the Power button in the “On” position.
- Turn the dial to “Shut Down Cycle”.
- Wait ten minutes.
- Switch the Power button to the “Off” position.
When you turn the dial to “Shut Down Cycle” the grill powers off the auger so no more pellets are fed to the fire pot. The combustion air fan will continue to blow for ten minutes to make sure that any remaining pellets in the fire pot have plenty of time to burn down to ash.
The 1000 series cookers have a three tiered grate system that provides a ton of capacity.
The secondary grate level consists of two individual grates which turns out to be a surprisingly useful feature. I found that I can take one of the secondary grates out and am able to slide the remaining grate back and forth as needed for easier access to food on the primary grate.
Z Grills says that you can fit 11 racks of ribs on this grill but that must be using some pretty small baby backs that are set on their sides in some rib racks.
I like to cook those big, meaty baby back ribs from Costco that come in a three pack. Here is how I set this grill up when I am cooking three slabs of ribs. I am pretty sure that I could fit up to six racks of Costco ribs on this grill without using rib racks.
By the way…these ribs came out pretty incredible. Great color, not quite fall apart tender and just enough smoke for some nice flavor but not so much as to be bitter.
I like being able to cook a bunch of ribs at once. We will eat a rack for dinner and then I will cut the other racks in half, vacuum seal and toss them in the freezer for easy rib dinners during the week.
Easy to Clean
If you have never owned a pellet grill before then easy cleaning might not seem like that big of a deal but it is a MAJOR factor.
There are many parts on every pellet grill that need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Some of these parts are visibly obvious and are things like the grease tray, grease bucket and cooking grates.
Equally important are the parts of the grill that you don’t see.
This is underneath the grease tray where you have to clean out left over ashes, sawdust and grease from the fire pot and lower grill body. It is essential to clean out the area below the grease tray to make sure the pellets have a clean place to burn and that grease does not accumulate and result in a massive grease fire.
For almost every brand of pellet grill in existence, the standard way to clean underneath the grease tray is to use a Shop Vac.
I HATE carrying my mid sized Shop Vac from my front garage to my back deck, using it to clean the grill and carrying it back to the garage again. Once the Shop Vac is in the garage I then have to take it apart and dump the ashes. This is a massive pain in the butt!
The Z Grills 1000 Series is different.
I can use a simple kitchen spoon to scoop the ashes out of the fire pot and then pull out the easy dump ash pan from the back of the grill.
I can dump the contents of the ash pan directly into a trash can or a five gallon bucket and never have to haul around my Shop Vac again.
Things I Would Change About Z Grills
I love my Z Grills, and think they are great value compared to Traeger, but there are a few things that I would like to see improved upon.
For starters, while I appreciate the fact that the grill comes with a cover, the cover is not high quality. My cover faded to grey within 6 months and is developing tears along the front. On the plus side, at least the faded color matches the duct tape I am using to hold the cover together.
Another nice feature that should be easy to implement is a dump feature on the pellet hopper. Sometimes you will want to empty the pellet hopper because you want to change wood flavors or maybe the pellets have gotten damp and have swollen into sawdust.
The only way to remove the pellets from the hopper on a Z Grills is to scoop them out by hand. A pellet dump mechanism would make these grills a little nicer.
It would also be nice if Z Grills came with at least one built in meat probe. I use a stand alone meat probe for monitoring the internal temperature of meats but there are a lot of grill manufacturers that have one built into the control panel.
The last improvement that I would suggest is some sort of latch that holds the grease bucket in place. The bucket loosely hangs on a hook and I have accidently knocked the grease bucket off my grill many times. It makes a mess that is extremely hard to clean.
That grease bucket is also one of the reasons that my dog hangs around the grill while I am cooking.
Temperature Profiles in a Z Grills Pellet Grill
I did a couple tests to map out the heat distribution patterns on this grill. The tl;dr version is that the distribution is fine but you need to cook on the grill to learn for yourself.
For the first test I set the grill to 225F and, after it stabilized, spent an hour recording the temperature off of the control panel and came up with this range of values:
- Lowest Temperature: 219F
- Average Temperature: 223F
- Maximum Temperature: 232F
The grill stayed impressively tight towards the target temperature. This test was done under ideal conditions (65F, light breeze) and would probably show different results under extreme cold or windy conditions.
Next, I used digital thermometers to measure the temperatures across the bottom and top cooking grates. The temperature varied by about 20 degrees from one side of the grate to the other. There was also a 10-20 degree difference between the bottom and top grate.
While the top grates got hotter than the bottom grates in this test it was with an empty smoker. I have found that when I load this guy the meat on the top grate cooks slower than the meat on the lower grate. The meat on the lower grate soaks up the heat before it can get to the top grate.
Next up was a high temperature “Biscuit Test”.
I set the grill to 350F and placed 16 Pillsbury instant biscuits across the grate. After 12 minutes I flipped the biscuits over to map out the temperature profile. You can see that the grill is hottest in the middle section which happens to be located directly over the fire pot.
At high temperatures the grill runs hotter on the left than the right which is the opposite of what was seen at low temperatures.
The last test I did was to set the control dial to “Max” which should correspond to a top temperature of 450F. Before I started the grill I added a set of anodized aluminum GrillGrate panels to the primary grate to take advantage of the additional infrared energy they would emit.
After 35 minutes the grill was roaring along and the control panel indicated a temperature of 454F. I lifted the lid and used an instant read IR thermometer and measured a temperature of 552F on the ridges of the GrillGrate Panels.
So yeah…you can get this grill really hot 🙂
The big take away from these experiments is that there are no crazy hot spots to worry about. After you get a few cooks underneath your belt you will figure out how the cooker responds to different temperatures and loads.
Differences Between the Z Grills 700 and 1000 Series
There are four grills in the 700 Series (D, E, 2B, 2E) that are identical in capacity and performance. The difference between these models are cosmetic styling preferences with the 700E and 700D having enclosed lower cabinets.
700 Series Specifications
- Main Grate: 504 sq in
- Secondary Grate: 190 sq in
- Hopper Capacity: 20 Pounds
- Controller: Standard Dial in Digital
- Temperature Range: 180-450F
- Warranty: Three Years
You can usually buy a 700 Series grill for about $500.
Here are a couple of videos I made about my 700 Series grill.
Here is my video review of the ZPG 7002B after two years of use.
My only complaint about my 700 2B grill when I shot that video was that it didn’t get hot enough to seriously sear a steak.
After I got the ZPG 1000 2E I finally figured out the trick to get the grill as hot as I wanted. Here is my video showing how to do serious High Heat grilling on any Z Grills pellet grill.
700 Series vs 1000 Series
The 1000 Series is an upgrade over the 700 Series for three reasons.
- Larger Capacity
- More Shelving
- Easier to Clean
The combined cooking area of the 1000 grills is larger than the cooking area of the 700 grills. The 1000 series has more working surfaces with a really nice side table on the right of the grill and a foldable front shelf. I really enjoy the side table but rarely use the front shelf.
The upgrade that I LOVE on the 1000 series is the ash tray that slides out of the back of the grill. The 700 series grills do NOT have the easy slide ash tray and I still have to use a Shop Vac to clean out the ashes.
How big of a deal is this?
This is the reason that my 700 Series grill is sitting in my buddy’s workshop and my 1000 series grill is sitting on my deck.
Compilation of Real World Customer Reviews
I pulled all of the real world customer ratings for the 700 and 1000 series grills from Amazon and Home Depot and combined them into two data sets. For the 700 Series grills there were 2,099 ratings and for the 1000 Series there were 213 ratings (as of November 16, 2020).
I am attributing the lower number of reviews for the 1000 Series to the fact that they have not been out as long and I suspect the less expensive 700 Series is more popular.
Here is a look at the data for the 700 Series.
The 700 Series has 75% 5 Star and 15% 4 Star reviews for an overall customer satisfaction rating of 90%.
Here is a look at the customer ratings for the 1000 Series.
The 1000 Series has 78% 5 Star and 13% 4 Star reviews for an overall customer satisfaction rating of 91%.
The satisfaction ratings for the Z Grills is significantly higher than you find for other value priced competitors like the Pit Boss Austin XL and is slightly higher than you find with pellet grills that cost almost twice the money such as the Traeger Pro 575 and 780.
Should You Buy a Z Grills Pellet Grill?
I believe a Z Grills pellet grill would be a great purchase for most people. What you get with a Z Grills 700 or 1000 Series grill is an extremely affordable, full sized smoker. Z Grills have everything that you need to get started with pellet cooking and nothing that you don’t.
What is important to realize is that Z Grills are so affordable because they do not come with any of the bells and whistles that you get with other brands.
You do not get WiFi compatibility and the ability to control your grill from your phone. You do not get meat thermometers that plug into the control panel. You do not get a sliding heat shield for direct flame grilling.
If have the latest technology and gadgets is important to you then you will need to spend some more money and get something like a Rec Tec or a Traeger. If what you want is a great pellet grill that works then the Z Grill will suit you just fine.
Which Model to Choose?
If a Z Grills is starting to sound like a good idea then then next question is which model should you go with. After owning two different models and putting them through a lot of use I can say that if I was starting over and wanted to buy a new one then I would absolutely buy the ZPG 1000 2B.
I would buy the 1000 2B over the models with the enclosed lower cabinet because I have other places I store my gear and don’t need the space. You will save somewhere between $50-$70 bucks if you skip the cabinet.
I would buy the 1000 2B instead of my current 1000 2E because of the color. I got the 1000 2E because I wanted a shiny, stainless steel grill. It turns out that was not the best decision that I have made. My grill works perfect and I have zero complaints about performance. My problem with the stainless steel 1000 2E is how much it reflects sunlight.
The way I have my grill positioned on my deck it reflects giant rays of sunshine into our living room and it is almost blinding sometimes. The glare from the reflected sunlight also makes it hard for me to take pictures and shoot videos of the grill. Again, this is not a fault of the grill…I thought I wanted a shiny grill and it turns out that the black 1000 2B would have better suited my needs.
Some of the more popular questions about these grills are:
Where are Z Grills made?
Z Grills make their pellet grills in China.
While the manufacturing occurs in China the company does provide many jobs in the United States. These jobs result from its headquarters in Ontario, California, a call center in Salt Lake City, Utah and distribution warehouses in Indiana, California and Georgia.
Where are Z Grills sold?
Z Grills are sold almost exclusively online from the company website, Amazon or Home Depot. The one store where I have seen them physically for sale is an Albertson’s grocery store.
I suggest buying directly from the company website as Amazon does not have all of the different models in stock and Z Grills frequently runs some pretty incredible special offers from their website.
Are Z Grills WiFi?
Z Grills do not currently have any grills with WiFi capability.
The company is dedicated to providing high quality grills at the lowest possible cost. Adding an expensive feature such as WiFi and developing an associated app is not in line with what the company is trying to accomplish.