Z Grills 700E Wood Pellet & Smoker Review
I had heard about ZGrills and watched video reviews of their line of grills, so I contacted ZGrills myself and asked if I could review one of the grills. This is not a paid post - I've detailed both pros and cons. - -Jaden
Model: Z GRILLS 2019 Model ZPG-700E 8 in 1 BBQ Grill Auto Temperature Control
Price $559 (big sale going on right now on ZGrills Sales Center website) Cooking Area: 700 sq inches Hopper capacity: 20 pounds 8-in-1: Grill, smoke, bake, roast, sear, braise, barbeque, and char-grill Warranty: 3 year
I've been using a wood pellet grill for over 8 years before wood pellets became popular. I've owned a Memphis Wood Fired Grill (one of the most expensive brands at $5,500.00), a Member's Mark Hybrid Wood Pellet & Propane Grill (Sam's Club) that I bought earlier this year, and now a Z Grills 700E.
From the first moment I cooked on a wood pellet grill, I knew I would never go back to gas or charcoal. I even gave up my beloved Big Green Egg and gifted it to my brother, driving it cross country from Florida to Nevada.
Z Grills 700E Assembly
The Z Grills 700E arrived in multiple boxes, with all tools included.
The main body of the grill held the hopper inside for shipping. It was a bitch to get out! The hopper was wedge so tightly inside that it took us 20 minutes and lots of muscle to wrestle all the parts out.
Assembly did take a couple of hours. We assembled at night, so perhaps it would have gone faster with more light and less wine.
Assembly halfway done here:
I was concerned with this little thin cable that connects the thermostat to the hopper mechanism, but it is heat resistant and just tucks in the space between the hopper and the grill.
I wish that the grill assembled with more than just mostly screws. I would have liked more washers and nuts, just to secure better.
Cooking with the Z Grills 700E
First, fill the hopper with pellets. It holds 20 pounds of pellets. Perfect.
Lot's of space underneath. I use this for storing bags of wood pellets.
The controller is simple. All you need...nothing more, nothing less.
After assembly, we turned on the grill for an hour to pre-season. Don't skip this step or your food will smell/taste a little off at first. Especially if you have a piece of special Wagyu Tri-Tip.
Our first firing of the Z Grills 700E Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker was a great success. The grill heated up so quickly - even faster than my fancy Memphis Grill and much faster than the Member's Mark hybrid (which is a great all in one grill that does everything so-so, but nothing spectacular).
The grill produces crazy good smoke. Almost overwhelming at first when it gets going (close all your windows and doors for the first 10 minutes). The Z Grills 700E is incredibly efficient. The fire is intense (see photo above - even though you can't see the flames like in a traditional propane grill, the grill at max temperature produced good sear for a wood pellet grill.
Burger night was next. The grill produces a ton of smoke for the first few minutes while it heats up and gets to temperature. The smokiness maintains better than my other wood pellet grills...infusing even thin, quick-cooking burgers with amazing smoke flavor.
There are two cooking zones - the main grates and warming rack. Butter those buns and let the smoke do its magic!
Grill on a wood pellet grill is a little slower than propane - you'll have to be patient and adjust the timing of your cooking. But the longer the food is in the grill, the more delicious smoke flavor you'll get. As you can see, the grilling is more of an indirect heat. But, that doesn't mean the grill doesn't hot enough - it does - and it doesn't mean that I'm complaining - I'm not.
Burgers, steak, chicken thighs, vegetable kabobs, all grilled on the Z Grills 700E turned out to be some of our best we've ever cooked. As you can see from a couple photos above, you still get amazing grill marks, but maybe just not "blackened" crust that some love on steaks (me!)
Smoking with the Z Grills 700E
I'm smoking a supermarket pork butt for 6 hours. Last minute-ish dinner invite. Normally, I'd dry-brine overnight (blah blah....so many recipes from so many BBQ experts for pork butt!) But...simple, easy, no-fuss, fastest as possible is my motto in the kitchen (except when it comes to handmade Chinese dumplings).
Regular ol' pork butt on sale. All I did was wet the surface of the pork and smother it in supermarket dry rub spice blend and extra salt. The water helps the seasoning stick.
The Z Grills makes smoking very hands-off, since the temperature and wood pellets are controlled electronically. The only thing that you have to do is ensure there are enough wood pellets in the hopper. There's no sensor to tell you, "need more wood!"
I actually did run out of wood pellets, but caught it just in time. I had to uncover and steal pellets from my Member's Mark hybrid grill to finish the 6-hour smoke.
Just checkin' in on ya:
The ZGrills 700E held temperature nicely - sometimes it would swing +8F, but would quickly adjust itself. My guess is that it gets hotter as new wood pellets are trickled in. The swing would never last more than a few minutes.
Six hours later....gorgeous.
Beautiful bark, smoke ring. I wasn't able to get better photos (had super hungry guests!)
The next day, pulled pork sandwiches:
So, why was this the best-smoked pork butt that I've ever smoked? I'll compare it to all my other methods:
The Member's Mark hybrid grill does everything, but nothing spectacular. It works, it's a massive hunk of a machine, but the wood pellet grill portion takes forever to get to temperature. It gets hot, but never quite hot enough. It produces smoke, but never quite enough smoke. The Big Green Egg is legendary. But it's a pain in the ass. Not only do you have to babysit with charcoal and keep an eye on the temperature, but also soak wood chips and continually add more wood chips. I used to feel like a hovering mom, constantly checking the Egg. I'm not a hands-on hovering type of person (though my kids will tell you otherwise.)The fancy-pants Memphis Grill was an amazing machine. But it was HUGE. No family needs a grill that massive (unless you are the Brady Bunch and also host parties with 50 guests regularly). There was so much area to heat that the grill was inefficient. It took a lot of wood pellets to keep that baby going. It produced great smoke, but not like the ZGrills. The electric smoker that I have out back right now has been sitting unused. Poor thing. It's nice that I can turn it on, leave it on all day and night without worrying about live fire, but the soaked wood chips in a little box can never compare to the ZGrills quality of smoke. My brother (the same brother I gave my Big Green Egg to) was so impressed with the ZGrills that he offered to buy it off me. Nope. Fat chance. I offered to GIVE him the Members Mark grill or the electric smoker, but he had his eye on the ZGrill. I even told him he should swipe my ex-husband's Memphis Grill (yeah, the ex got the grill).
I was wrapping up writing my review but wanted to also show you smoked turkey that I made for Thanksgiving. When you smoke, deep fry or use the CharBroil Big Easy oil-less fryer for turkey, you're out of luck with having drippings for gravy.
I like spatchcocking the turkey so that it cooks faster, cooks more evenly, and I have the parts to make the gravy. The day before smoking this turkey, I injected with a simple brine solution. Then I rubbed with a no-salt rub. No more salt, since it was injected.
The neck and the back get simmered and made into a gravy.
I also added a little container I made with tin foil with water to keep the turkey moist. I didn't have to do this with the pork butt - the pork is so fatty that there's very little chance of drying out. And the thick bark is one of the best parts of smoked pork!
For poultry, I like to add a little pan of water.
Not as pretty as presenting a whole bird at the table, but WOW - super moist, smoky, rich savoriness.
Next time, instead of just a regular rub, I'll brush on a bit of molasses before smoking. Also periodically basting with butter will give me a shiny, glossy bird.
There are several different models. I tested the ZGrills 700E. You can find the entire line on ZGrills Sales Center website.