This particular pellet grill was featured on our list of the best options, which inspired this more in-depth Pit Boss grill review that you’re about to read.
This is an excellent choice, and one of the top picks in this budget range. Basically, it’s a great starting point without having to make any sacrifices. Despite being a great place to start your smoking journey, it’s definitely not an entry-level unit in regards to quality or value.
We’re going to cover some of the basics of backyard pellet grilling and what makes this such an exciting category that’s been gaining a lot of attention lately, and then we’ll get right into this unit in particular. We’re going to look at the pros, some areas that could use improvement, and finally who this grill is best suited for.
- 700 sq. in. total cooking surface.
- Porcelain coated cast iron grids.
- Digitally controlled burn system.
- Fueled by 100% natural wood pellets.
Why is everybody pellet grilling?
Pellet grilling is becoming more and more popular each season because it’s a relatively affordable way to produce top-caliber smoked foods at your own home. Be sure to check out our pellet grill reviews in another article. It takes the traditional backyard smoker and builds on it, making it easier to use and more versatile.
Most of them work in a very similar way. There’s a hopper attached to either the side or the back of the grill which holds pellets, often between 10-40 pounds at once, and it feeds them into the flames as necessary to achieve your desired temperature. The temperatures often range from 170 degrees up to 500. This allows you to smoke your food very slowly, for a perfectly flavorful and tender result, or to get the cooking done more quickly similar to that of a BBQ, but once again, with the delicious flavor profile from the pellets.
It’s just a matter of picking a grill, buying some pellets, and finding a couple recipes to try out. You’ll fall in love once you taste it, you won’t believe you could make something so delicious at home. It’ll taste like you got it fresh from a smokehouse in Texas.
Pit Boss 71700FB Pellet Grill Review
Let’s start with the basics. This grill has 700 square inches of cooking surface available so it can hold plenty. There are bigger options out there, but they’re basically as big as a tank and kind of overkill unless you’re smoking some serious quantities of meat at a time.
The grids that you’ll be cooking on are made of cast iron so they’re heavy, solid, and can hold a consistent temperature. They’re also coated in porcelain to help stop anything from sticking.
You can use any brand of pellets in here, but we highly recommend finding some pellets that are 100% natural hardwood. You can get individual woods like apple, mesquite, hickory, and cherry. You can also get blends that contain various amounts of different hardwords. In any case, the type of wood that you’re burning is going to influence the taste that the smoke adds to your food, and this pellet grill will work with any quality pellets – not just the ones made and sold by Pit Boss.
This grill weighs just under 120 pounds, it’s sturdy and durable, and it’ll last you a very long time, especially if you’re taking good care of it.
Best Features of this Pit Boss Pellet Grill
There’s a lot to like here, even before you sink your teeth into the first bike of a perfectly roasted brisket that has been teasing you with its scent all day long.
It’s big enough to cook a feast for up to six people. There are bigger units out there, but for the size and price this one is a great choice unless you’re doing some seriously heavy-volume smoking.
Pit Boss has made a very versatile pellet grill here, and used high-gauge steel for an excellent build quality. Back to versatility. Whether you want to grill, smoke, roast, sear, braise, BBQ, bake, or char-grill, you can do it.
In traditional smokers, the idea of a perfectly seared steak might sound like a fantasy, but now it’s a reality. There’s a plate at the bottom that you can slide over, which exposes the flames to the grilling area, to get a great sear while still enjoying all of the advantages of a smoker. There’s a second rack that you can use as well.
Overall, it’s very well-reviewed and people just love it.
Tip: If you’re a whiskey drinker, some people have been known to smoke water, then to freeze it into ice cubes, which adds a new flavor profile rather than just watering down your drink once the ice melts. This might not be your cup of tea, per se, but it’s an interesting example of what’s possible with a unit like this.
Areas to improve
It’s hard to criticize a unit for things it wasn’t designed for. Some people love the size, others wish it was a bit larger, but frankly 700 square inches of cooking surface is a lot bigger than other grills in this price range, for the most part.
We’ve looked at grills with larger hopper capacities, but this one has been reported to hold anywhere from 10-20 pounds, depending on who you ask, but you should be able to fit a twenty pound bag in there. This isn’t really a major point of contention because it’s simple to add more pellets as needed, and you can have this thing smoking all day without having to add more.
To finish off this Pit Boss review…
To wrap things up, let’s go over who this unit is for, and who should look for something else.
- Are new to smoking,
- Want to start with a high-quality unit instead of something totally entry-level,
- Want a unit that’s well-made and will last you a long time,
- Don’t typically need to feed more than 6-8 people at a time…
Then Pit Boss grill is a really strong choice, to sum things up. If you have been smoking meats for years and are looking for a unit that lands at the very peak of the high-end for home use, you’ll want to look at one of the premium units we’ve reviewed, but frankly for the vast majority of people, this one right here will be an absolute treat and more than enough.
If you need to feed huge groups on a regular basis, or like to have a TON of leftovers, you might want to look at a larger unit as well, but this Pit Boss isn’t small by any means.
All in all, if it fits your budget, this is a great choice whether you’re new to smoking or you’re just looking for something new.
- Flame broiler for open flame searing.
- 820 sq. In cooking surface with porcelain coated, cast-iron main grid
- Dial-in temperature control with LED read out
- 180-500 Degree cooking temperature.
For those of you who don’t know, Pit Boss is the company behind the already famous Louisiana wood pellet smoker. They already have a good reputation for quality, and being a Canadian company, the quality is good as they come.
I gave the 71820FB a test a few weeks ago, cooking out twice and getting a good feel for how this grill copes with real world use.
The Pit Boss comes with 820 square inches of cooking space, that’s up there with most large grills. It also comes with a flame broiler for open flame searing of meat, plus a temperature control with LED readout.
One neat feature, is that the Pit Boss has a fan assisted convector, plus nice cast iron grates. The grates are all coated in porcelain enamel, which should resist heat easily.
So far, Pit Boss are most well-known for their wood pellet smokers; the 71820FB follows in this tradition with wood pellets being the fuel of choice.
Setting It Up
First thing you’ll notice when opening the Pit Boss packaging is the nice instruction guide and really to read diagram. There’s a bit of assembly required to get the Pit Boss up and running, namely the smoke box, legs, wheels and the bottom storage grill.
It’s not hard to bolt it all together, and all the fixtures and fittings are of a good quality. One thing that does slightly worry me, is that the enamel paint finish doesn’t seem all that great. Compared to a Dyno Glo, or Char Griller, it doesn’t seem quite so tactile.
On a happier note, the steel barrel and smokebox are manufactured from quite thick steel. That more than makes up for the dodgy paint job and hopefully points to good quality in other areas too.
The Pit Boss weighs in at 140 pounds, quite light for such a large grill and easily moved about. One thing that does impress, are the wheels and carry handles. They’ve been well engineer by Pit Boss, and do a good job of keeping the grill sturdy.
One of the great things about the Pit Boss, is that it has an electronic temperature control device and LED readout. The LED control runs from 180 degrees right up to 500; however, I couldn’t really push the grill to more than 350 degrees. To be honest, I don’t think many grill owners will need type of power anyway.
The grill has its own electronic ignition system, so all you really need to do is add the pellets and press a button.
The 71820FB, with its 820 square inches of cook space, is a nice place to cook. It has two racks, an upper one and a lower one. One thing I will say about the porcelain coated barrel, is that it’s a lot tougher than it looks! What originally looked a bit cheap on unpackaging the grill, turned out to be quite tough once in use.
To test the grill out, I decided to try it with ribs, sausages and burgers. Once the grill settles down, small items of meat cook easily and the wood pellets give the meat a Smokey flavour. I also tried a longer smoke with an 8-pound brisket. My own recipe is of the “low and slow” variety, something the Pit Boss does very well. I like to cook my brisket at 180 degrees, and the Pit Boss happily maintained the temperature for hours at a time.
Obviously, being a wood pellet grill, there’s a learning curve in getting the temperature just right; however, the Pit Boss and its electronic control make that curve far shallower. That’s not to say the Pit Boss is perfect, I measured a temperature fluctuation of about 10 – 15 degrees in use; however, it’s far easier to control than most!
The Pit Boss is quite a heavy beast at nearly 150 pounds, yet it does come with a good set of wheels and a solid carry handle on the other side. This allows you to roll the grill over most surfaces no matter how uneven.
You could, in theory remove the legs of the grill and just about get the unit in the back of a car; however, it’s not that practical so you’re best to look for another grill if you need true portability.
I was ready to lambast the Pit Boss after the first few minutes and looking at a rather cheap looking paint finish, my first impressions couldn’t have been more wrong!
After getting to grips with the grill, I discovered a well-engineered unit that boast some awesome features. The electronic control does a fine job of regulating temperature; and although it’s not perfect, it makes your life far easier when trying to get a consistent cook out.
I was also impressed with the strength and thickness of the steel used, and general build quality of the mechanisms and switches. I hated the paint at first, yet it’s quite strong in real life use, resisting bumps, scratches and heat pealing.
Cooking space is on a par with anything else within its price range, which at about $650 is quite high and anyone purchasing one will want something that can cater large groups.
As for negatives, the only two are the temperature fluctuations I saw, particularly when cooking my brisket. This could have been down to lack of experience with the grill, I know that the more I’d get to know the Pit Boss, the more I’d be able to get that temperature nailed down.
The other issue is/was the paint finish. It’s actually very strong in practice; however, you might not get that impression on first view!
Overall, I’m impressed with the Pit Boss 71820FB. Loved the build quality, liked the grill space and really enjoyed my time cooking on it. I’d be happy to put up with a little temperature fluctuation in return for the sheer quality of this grill!