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In early 2022, Z-Grills generously sent me their new Wood Pellet Grill Smoker for a full review on Angry BBQ. This review comes from someone who knows a lot about cooking/grilling, but has never owned a pellet grill. I am excited to share about our experience and thoughts about the Z Grills 700D3, key details about the smoker, and the range of dishes that you can cook on this baby.
About Z Grills
Z Grills started as a manufacturer of pellet grills for other brands in the industry. They made their first appearance with their own branded grill in 2017 when they raised nearly a half of million dollars on a crowdfunding site. Since then, they have become a very popular pellet grill manufacturer for the US market.
They offer several wood pellet grills within different categories. Starting with the recently launched portable 200A Pellet Grill, you can enjoy meals wherever you’re planning on barbecuing.
The next grill category is the 450-500 series, with 450 square inches of cooking area. The 600-700 category is their mid-size grill series, and their largest grills are in the 1000 series. Within each category, there are plenty of color configurations and storage options.
Z Grills’ comparison tool lets you select up to 3 different models to compare the specs to choose the one that’s right for you.
I reviewed the 700D3 grill, which comes in the black color. They also offer Z Grills 700D4E, which has the same features but comes with a stainless steel lid. I personally love the all black design and appreciate the many options that ZGrills has thought about with their products.
How Z Grills Work
Z Grills work by burning wood pellets that create heat and smoke to cook and flavor your food. The pellets are stored in a hopper on the side of the grill. As a beginner to this type of fuel source, using the pellets was super easy. We loaded the pellets into the hopper and didn’t have to think about adding more during the cooking process.
A mechanical auger feeds the pellets into a firebox where a rod ignites them. As the pellets ignite, the intake fan brings in air, which disperses heat and smoke through the cooking chamber.
A temperature sensor works with the digital controls and effectively maintains the temperature. This unique design allows you to load the hopper, set the desired temperature, and walk away while it cooks.
Pellet grills specialize in maintaining a steady temperature over long hours. The grill sustains the set temperature and burns the pellets at a rate of about 0.5-2.5 lbs per hour, depending on the grill settings and weather conditions.
Are wood pellet grills environmentally friendly?
More and more consumers are looking for products that are environmentally friendly, which is why wood pellet grills are getting the spotlight. I dug into some of the research around pellet grills and how friendly they are to the environment.
Overall, it seems there are three major reasons that make these grills more environmentally friendly, including:
- Low energy use and consumption
- Controlled operating systems
- Cleaner energy source
This is where it’s important to choose wood pellets that are dry and of high-quality. Choose wood pellets that do not contain binders, filler wood, or other chemicals that result in inefficient combustion and more ash content.
Z Grills offers high-quality 100% natural hardwood pellets that help make their grill more environmentally friendly.
Z Grills 700D3 Wood Pellet Grill Overview And Specs
We received two boxes delivered to our house. The cooking chamber was already assembled and Z grills smartly used the space by packing it with other grill components and tools. Anytime a company tries to reduce packaging materials is a win in my book.
The owner’s manual and install instructions were easy-to-follow and the hardware and tools were packed separately so you could easily grab what you needed.
Z-Grill’s website says it takes about 30-60 minutes to assemble. I’ll be honest here – I left the assembly process for my husband and it took him just under an hour to get everything put together.
After assembling the grill, there are instructions in the manual to burn off all the manufacturing debris. This process takes less than an hour and the instructions are straightforward. This is a critical step before using the grill. There was a slight smell as the chemicals burned off, but it faded.
Let’s take a look at the full specs of the 700D3:
What We Like about the 700D3 Z Grill
- Clear Screen to read: I highly appreciate the easy-to-read screen, even in direct sunlight. There are 4 temperatures shown on the screen. On the top row, the first two numbers are associated with the probes. The upper right number is the desired temperature for this cook. Lastly, the actual temperature is shown in the middle of the screen. You’ll also notice in this photo that the actual temperature matched the desired temperature of 225 degrees.
- Easy to move the grill: Although this is not a small, lightweight grill, the four rotating casters make it easy to move the grill around. We assembled the grill in our garage and moved it around 2 corners of the house over gravel rocks and up a slight hill. One person could handle moving it and could wheel it out when you want to use it.
- Everything about the pellets: I liked how easy it was to load the pellets into the hopper. I also liked how it has a small door on the back of the hopper to empty out the hopper or to switch out pellets.
- Plenty of built-in storage: The enclosed cabinet is large enough to fit a large bag of pellets, grilling tools, and the cover.
- High-quality construction: This grill is an ideal mix of durability and affordability. The grill is made from high-quality stainless steel and the cooking chamber has a double-wall insulation. Both are helpful so you can grill in cold weather. We grilled outside when it was about 35 degrees outside.
- Easy and Accurate temperature control: PID technology is something I wasn’t familiar with prior to using this grill. We loved how it maintained a precise temperature throughout the entire time. The double-wall insulation and the PID controls help regulate the temperature. The temperature stays within about 10°F of your target temperature for consistent results every time you put food on the grill.
What Made Us Angry About the 700D3
- The grease bucket is a lightweight tin bucket. It’s not well secured and can fall off if it’s a windy day or it gets bumped.
- No Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity. The 700D3 falls short because of the lack of wireless features that other grills have integrated. For some, this may be a missed feature if you’re far from the grill. For those that need this feature, check out ZGrills new grill with WiFi connection. At this price point, we can understand why it does not come with WIFI connectivity.
- A lack of shelving and prep area: Considering the grill can hold 29 burgers, there isn’t a lot of prep area or shelving. The hopper lid serves as the only flat surface, which is about the size of a pan sheet.
How well did this grill perform as a smoker?
Smoking foods requires regular temperature control and low temperatures. This is why temperature regulation is a really important feature for a smoker.
When you’re smoking meat, the best temperature range tends to be between 200 and 220°F. Z Grills starts at 180°F so you can keep your meat in the ideal smoking temperature range.
Smoking is a long process of cooking tough meats to get a tender and flavorful dish. As a dietitian, I have to remind you of food safety and reaching certain temperatures is important. Most meats need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees and poultry to 165 degrees. Anything lower than these temperatures and you risk food-borne illnesses. That’s why it’s best to have accurate temperature readings during the smoking process.
The Z grills’ PID controller helps maintain a precise temperature of the smoker. And the temperature probe lets you check your food’s temperature on the large LCD control panel without lifting the lid. You’ve got two probes, so even if you’re cooking two different food items, you don’t have to lift the lid to check the temperature.
There are two reasons to keep the smoker’s temperature low during the cooking process: one is to give the smoke time to penetrate the meat, and the second is to tenderize and flavor your meat. The best meats tend to be tough cuts, so the slow cooking gives the natural connective fibers time to break down.
Another basic rule of smoking foods is to place the meat in a smoker so it’s surrounded by smoke. You want a steady, thick stream of smoke around the meat at all times to expose it long enough to enhance the meat’s flavor.
ZGrill’s large hopper capacity of 22 pounds makes this possible. A common question is how long do the pellets last? And the answer is not a clear equation because the duration depends on a number of factors, such as the cooking temperature (higher temperatures will burn through the pellets faster than lower temperatures), weather, types of pellets, and the specific smoker.
Typically, if your grilling temperature is set above 375°F, then typically grills burn about two pounds of pellets per hour. At low temperatures lower than 300°F , you’ll burn about half a pound per hour. With a 22 pound hopper, you can expect to have enough pellets to smoke just about anything without having to refill.
One of the biggest reasons you smoke food is to add flavor. Smoked flavor comes from the type of wood used to make the pellets. Smoker pellets come in an array of wood flavors, from cherry, hickory, to fruitwood, to sugar maple. Each variety has its own unique taste and can be paired with specific foods to highlight and complement the natural flavors.
You can also create more complex flavors by combining different woods, like ZGrills has done with their Competition Blend BBQ Grill Pellets.
I think a fun way to expand your flavors and technique is to use the grill’s small back door of the hopper and swap pellet flavors throughout the cooking process. Talk about finding your own unique flavor!
The Z Grills 700D3 is advertised as being good for grilling. However, the maximum temperature of 450°F is indirect heat so the results are going to be slightly different than a grill with open flame on a gas or charcoal grill.
The grill grates are porcelain-coated steel that have a non-stick quality, which means they don’t get much residue stuck to the surface and they are easy to clean. This grill is also rust-resistant, which helps it last longer even when stored outside.
It takes about 40 to 45 minutes for the grill to heat up to the highest temperature. Placing the food directly on the cooking grates results in a good sizzle and a bit of sear marks.
The lower rack measures about 504 square inches, which gives you enough space to grill five chickens and a full brisket at the same time. With the additional 193 square inches on the top rack, you can also smoke a rack of ribs or even try vegetables for a side dish.
I’m especially looking forward to when we can host a family event and use the smoker to cook up enough burger patties for all, since you can put 29 patties on the racks.
Warranty of the 700D3
ZGrills offers a generous 30-day return policy on their products. They also offer a warranty of three years for the 700D3 pellet smoker. Based on their online ratings, ZGrills prides themself in offering excellent customer service by addressing issues that may arise quickly. They also take customer feedback, as their next models often include features customers have requested.
Summary of the Pros of the 700D3 Pellet Smoker
- A PID controller enables precise temperature control and maintains a narrow range to avoid any fluctuations.
- Evenly distributing the heat across the grill grates helps ensure even cooking of the meat
- It is a premium-quality pellet smoker made of powder-coated steel that heats up quickly. It has a solid build that makes it strong and durable.
- The dual-wall insulation technology conserves heat so you can grill on even colder days.
- The two probes enable to you monitor the food’s temperature without losing any valuable heat by opening the lid.
- The waterproof cover fits snug and provides effective water resistance.
- A large pellet hopper holds 22 pounds.
- The entire grill and hopper are easy to clean.
The Z Grill 700D3 is an easy-to-use smoker for anyone. It was super simple to get started and I was impressed by the steady temperature throughout the entire cooking period, thanks to the PID temperature controller. With such good temperature control, you don’t have to worry about hot spots or rotating your meat to get consistent cooking.
The study material and waterproof cover keep your grill lasting over time. Plus, the hopper clean-out door makes it fast to empty and clean out any unused pellets.
As a beginning to smoking foods, I’d recommend this grill. The next thing I want to try smoking on the ZGrills 700D3 are ribs!