There are a lot of grills out there, so why go with a pellet grill, and what’s the difference between a Z Grills vs Pit Boss wood pellet grill? We put both to the test to see which one is best.
In this article we’ll do a head-to-head comparison of the features, benefits and performance specs that make each grill unique from each other.
In addition to our review, you can also check for more information on Amazon as well as read through user feedback from those who have owned either model.
We really liked both grills and think that they’re perfect choices depending on what you’re looking for, but we did have a winner in this face-off.
In order to get our official pick for best grill between the two, we’ll take a look at some of each grill’s unique features and benefits from design aspects all the way down to its performance specs.
From there, we’ll make our decision based on which one comes out on top! So let’s jump in the comparison between Z Grills vs Pit Boss. But first…
What is Z Grills?
Z Grills is an American-based manufacturer of grills, smokers and outdoor cooking products. While they got their start making pellet grills for consumers, they’ve expanded into the smoker market as well with their affordable SmokePro brand that’s dedicated to smoked meats.
The company started back in 2009 by Zane Jacovan , who was also the owner of the BBQ Guru website (a popular smoker review site). The site eventually acquired enough users and traffic where he decided to launch his own line of pellet grills.
His goal has always been to bridge the gap between traditional charcoal grilling and modern high-tech electronic equipment without sacrificing any flavor or ease of use. And through this founder’s dedication, Z Grills was born!
What is Pit Boss?
Pit Boss wood pellet grills are manufactured by JX Brands, LLC – an American family-owned company with over 30 years of experience in the grill industry.
They’ve come up with their own line of high quality pellet smoker grills after being dissatisfied with what was available on the market at the time.
This means that they have extensive knowledge about how smokers work and what it takes to make a premium product.
So what is the difference between Z Grills vs Pit Boss? At first glance, it may not look like there’s much differentiating these two grills from each other.
Both brands offer wood pellet grills with many great features such as digital control panels, auto-start ignition systems and even WiFi controlled meat probes.
But when you compare them side by side, here are some things that set them apart:
Z Grills vs Pit Boss Comparison
Design & Build Quality
Both Z Grills and Pit Boss wood pellet grills are made at the same factory in China (which is where most pellet smokers are manufactured).
So you can expect quality construction materials and results when it comes down to getting a sturdy product in your hands.
But there are a few key differences when it comes down to the design that we’ve noticed from our time using both these pellet grills.
Z Grills is made from all stainless steel, with plenty of heat resistant insulation across the entire smoker box and even on their lid for quick heating capabilities.
Although they maintain a similar design throughout both grills, they differ in location of control knobs with Z Grills having them on top while Pit Boss has them located at the front-bottom part of the grill’s body by their legs.
We love this feature because it makes it easier to quickly adjust a single knob if needed (especially when wearing gloves during cold weather), but also helps avoid accidentally bumping into the control screen when you’re cooking and your arms are loaded with food.
Pit Boss has a similar construction as Z Grills, but they’ve used different materials to lower their production costs.
We’re not knocking on them for it – we actually prefer the stainless steel over the powder-coated steel that Pit Boss uses in their bodies as well as their lid handles (the glossy finish makes them look cheap – plus these handles get really hot during operation).
The good thing about this is that both grills weigh roughly 45 lbs at full capacity , so moving them around won’t be an issue if needed. Especially since both grills have wheels installed. Even then, we’d still recommend using a cart or caddy if possible.
Taking a closer look at the construction materials, we also noticed that Z Grills has used a single piece of steel on their lid for durability – but it’s not insulated except for the outer layer.
Pit Boss, on the other hand has gone for a more traditional approach by using 2 layers of steel all around their body and lid, while one is insulated with some heat resistant material.
Overall build quality is pretty good between both grills since they’re both made in China (Z Grills’ design may be better though), but you get what you pay for.
The Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill goes for $50 cheaper than the Pit Boss model. While they’re both great deals, you can save yourself $50 if this is one of your deciding factors.
Number of Cooking Grates:
The Z grill offers 3 cooking grates as opposed to the 2 offered by the Pit Boss. More surface area means that you can fit more food on at once and an extended cooking session will be even more comfortable with less hassle of checking on and rotating food regularly.
Size and Weight:
Although it’s not a huge difference (an extra inch in width and 5 pounds), there’s enough to make a difference about Z Grills vs Pit Boss when you need to take it out or move it around regularly.
Both brands offer lightweight construction with easy portability for this very reason, but the Z Grills grill is a little more compact with its slightly smaller size.
The Z Grills is about 1-2 inches taller than the Pit Boss (49″ vs 43″) which shouldn’t be an issue unless you need to make some overhead cabinet clearance.
Another 3-4 inch difference can also be found in their stock leg height with the Z at 17″ and the Pit Boss coming in at 20″.
Although, both brands sell adjustable stainless steel legs that you should consider buying along with your grill if needed to help accommodate this difference.
Both have great digital controller panels with easy temperature controls and programming options, but the Z Grill has that extra touch with WiFi control of the grilling temperature through your phone’s app!
A simple LED screen that shows the cooking temperature of your grill. We would have liked to see a wifi functionality on this one too but it still does the job just fine without it! For a full list of features please visit their website.
The Pellet Boss offers something your typical pellet grill doesn’t which are built-in meat probes. These are perfect for monitoring meat temps without having to constantly check them yourself or even leaving your seat during long hours of cooking.
For those who are always busy attending to other tasks while waiting for their food to cook, these meat probes will be a nice addition. But since you can buy an external probe for Z Grills as well, this is a feature you can easily add later on if desired.
The Z grill may not be able to pack up and travel with you as easily as the Pit Boss since it’s slightly wider and heavier.
However, the lighter weight of Z Grills does make it a little easier to move around when necessary so it all comes down to what your needs are for portability.
In terms of durability, both brands offer durable steel construction that will hold up well over time. Keep in mind that with both brands, there have been some complaints from users regarding rust damage after repeated use or poor weather conditions.
We recommend taking a close look at these reports before deciding which one is right for you.
While both include a variety of grill tools and accessories to help you get started, the Z Grills offers an additional 3 year warranty as well as a handy carrying bag.
In addition, they also offer a couple other useful items such as a Z Grill cleaning brush and a Meat Tenderizer tool.
The Z Grills offers a 3 year warranty while the Pit Boss Pellet grill has a 1 year warranty. 1 year limited manufacturer’s Warranty covers all parts, including normal wear and tear, against defect in material or workmanship under NORMAL HOME USE conditions for the following: All Parts. This excludes electronic components.
2 Year Extended Warranty available for purchase with grill. You can either purchase one time during checkout or add it to your cart here.
With all other factors being equal, this is where things get really close! As mentioned above, there’s almost $500 between Z Grills vs Pit Boss so it comes down to what features you need to have, how much cooking space is enough, and if any of the extra upgrades are worth it. Both brands offer a 1 year warranty on all parts so there’s no chance on getting stuck with a lemon.
Performance & Cooking Area:
Cooking area is about the same (800+ sq. inches) with both grills, but one thing to note is that the Pit Boss pellet grill has an additional upper cooking rack for indirect heat cooking which can be nice if you’re looking to do something like smoking a turkey or larger cut of meat.
They also offer a “Smokey Mountain” model that includes three racks and over 1,100 sq. inches of total cooking space!
Stainless Steel Heat Plate/Distributor:
The Z Grills offers this feature for precise temperature control which helps you avoid flare-ups caused by grease dripping down on hot spots directly below the food so it’s not necessarily needed, but it is an affordable upgrade.
Both come with an easy to use auto-start ignition system that offers quick lighting without the need for lighter fluid .
Thermometer Probe Ports:
The Z Grills has 1 internal fan assisted probe port while the Pit Boss only offers 1 external meat temp probe port. This is an important feature if you plan to use multiple probes at once (such as one inside the grill and another hooked to your smoker).
With multiple ports, you can monitor different foods/temperatures all at once simply by rotating the dial on your digital controller.
Side Fire Box Compartment:
The Z Grills comes equipped with a side fire box compartment to hold wood pellets or other smoking materials which is nice if you like adding more flavoring to your food.
Heat Distribution :
The Pit Boss has been known to have better heat distribution than its competitor, but it can also depend on the quality of your stainless steel heat plates/distributor as well as the location you place yours since they do offer different sizes if needed.
Trim Kits, Wood Chip Boxes & Cabinet Paint Colors:
Both brands offer multiple color trim kits and wood chip boxes (wood pellet box) that allow you to customize the look and feel of your grill depending on what color or design suits your style.
There is an additional charge for custom paint job on some models which typically costs between $150-$200 depending on how elaborate you want it to be. If this matters a lot, check out the Z Grills website for more color options.
Z Grills’s most popular model?
We’d recommend the Z Grills 700 which comes with almost everything you could need (including auto-start ignition, stainless steel heat plates/distributor, and side fire box compartment) for about $100 less than its competitors premium model without any of these features.
This model also offers an additional cooking rack which is nice if you plan to cook larger cuts of meat like whole pork shoulders, briskets or turkeys.
You can also consider the Z Grills 1100 which is about $200 more than its popular 680 model but comes with a large window to monitor your food and LED lighting for night time cooking.
Otherwise, you’ll need to spend at least $300 more for a few extra features on the Pit Boss.
Pit Boss’s most popular model?
We’d recommend anything in their 700 series that comes with auto-start ignition and stainless steel heat plates/distributor for about $100 less than its competitors premium model without these features since this is typically going to be a standard feature on pellet grills in general.
You can also consider the Pit Boss 440 which comes with many of the same upgrades as our 700 pick but has slower cooking times due to its smaller size.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, check out their 340 series which offer slighly smaller dimensions and slightly cheaper price tags.
Otherwise, you’ll need to spend at least $300 more for a few extra features on the Z Grills.
The Z Grills is about 1-2 inches taller than the Pit Boss (49″ vs 43″) which shouldn’t be an issue unless you need to make some overhead cabinet clearance. Another 3-4 inch difference can also be found in their stock leg height with the Z at 17″ and the Pit Boss coming in at 20″.
Although, both brands sell adjustable stainless steel legs that you should consider buying along with your grill if needed to help accommodate this difference.
Z Grills vs Pit Boss compare when it comes to smoking performance?
We’ve had both brands in our backyard and were able to test them side by side when it came time to cook up ribs, brisket, pork butt and chicken wings.
In terms of taste you can expect similar smoke flavor from each grill since they use the same wood pellets/chips for fuel. We also noticed that both grills produce very little ash so clean up was easy without much hassle.
Overall, the Z Grills is slightly easier to start with auto-start ignition but you’ll appreciate being able to control your Pit Boss with multiple meat probes.
Both brands offer more than enough offset space to cook multiple whole chickens or large cuts of meat. You can even purchase an extra grill section or side fire box compartment for your Pit Boss if you need the extra space to fit larger turkeys, pork shoulders or brisket.
Other things we noticed?
The Z Grills has a traditional wood chip box that allows you to fill them with regular sawdust while the Pit Boss uses pellets/chips specifically designed for use in their wood pellet grills.
We also prefer the Z Grills’s integrated lid thermometer over the Pit Boss’s manual on-board temperature gauge since it tends to be more accurate and convenient.
The digital readout on the Z Grills is very easy to see while the actual temperature probe has a tendency to get in the way of placing/removing large pieces of meat on the grill.
The Pit Boss seems a bit more sturdy and substantial but we’re unsure if this is due to design or simply because it weighs about 30 pounds more than its competitor.
Although, both grills have roughly the same dimensions so you can expect them to take up about the same amount of space in your backyard.
In terms of overall convenience – Which is best for BBQ?
We’d give a slight edge towards the Z Grills since they come with an electronic auto-start ignition system that makes it quick and easy to start cooking your food without lighting a traditional starter at all.
The Pit Boss requires you to manually light a propane torch which can be difficult in the wind and is much more inconvenient than simply clicking a button on your pellet grill’s control panel.
Pit Boss vs Z Grills Pellet Grills/Smokers Which one should I choose?
Both brands offer similar cooking areas, stainless steel heat plates/distributors, built-in digital readouts, wood chip boxes and have roughly the same dimensions.
You can expect them to take up about the same amount of space in your backyard but the Z Grills is slightly more compact at 48″x 28″ x 22″. The Pit Boss is just under 60″ wide by 30″ deep by 40 tall.
Other than that you really can’t go wrong with either grill since they are both made with similar high quality materials and should last for many years to come.
If you want a more convenient option you’ll probably want to go with the Z Gr 680 series for its automatic start ignition system.
If you’d rather control your grill’s temperature directly with a manual smoker thermometer the Pit Boss 440 series offers better value for money since it comes with 2 extra cooking probes.
For our part, we personally prefer using one pellet grill that can do it all and don’t mind having to manually manage the temperature of our barbecue pit.
The Z Grills takes care of 90% of what you’ll need in terms of grilling, smoking, baking & roasting while still giving you the option to set/control the temperature yourself if needed.
You won’t get professional style features like wood side fire box compartments on this model but considering one third of people only use their grill at low temperatures this is not an issue for probably 95% of people.
The Pit Boss grills are slightly more durable than Z Grills but has slower cooking times due to its larger size compared to their smaller 440 series models.
Either way you won’t be disappointed in your purchase since both brands offer amazing features considering their affordable price points.
While Pit Boss grills may offer slightly better construction and heat distribution, Z Grills 680 model with its auto-start ignition system and integrated lid thermometer makes it the best choice for most backyard chefs.
Both brands offer great value for your money. Most of our readers voted for the Z Grills 680 model with auto-ignition over the Pit Boss 440 series.
If you’re looking to save a few bucks and don’t mind using a propane starter, go with the Pit Boss 440 or 340 models.
Otherwise, check out Z Grills 680 model which comes equipped with an auto-start ignition system along with quick heat up times thanks to its stainless steel heat plates/distributor.
What’s next? Since both grills are similar in size, design and price we’d recommend that you take a look at our Z Grills vs Traeger Pellet Grill comparison if you wish to read about two other popular brands offering high quality pellet models under $500.
Although both brands offer a lot of great features, we feel that Z Grills is a more versatile option with its WiFi capabilities being more useful for those who don’t have time to constantly attend to their grills during long hours of cooking.
But if you’re looking for something with extra meat probes instead, then the wood pellet grill from Pit Boss is another good option to consider.
The cost of these grills are quite similar when comparing their features so the decision will ultimately come down to your specific needs in terms of portability, durability, performance and overall value for your money.
We hope this article has helped you decide which one is the best grill for you! If you have any questions or concerns about Z Grills vs Pit Boss then please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment with your thoughts below. Happy Grilling!