The Z Grills 1000E is a spacious pellet grill offering three tiers of cooking space and a sizable hopper providing up to 20 hours of smoking time without having to refill.
We've been testing this grill out for the past month, in below freezing temperatures and snow, and are ready to share what we've found in this review.
If you're considering the addition of a pellet grill in your future and wonder if this one might be a right fit for you, then come on in! We'll tell you what we liked, what we thought could be improved, and who we think this grill would be perfect for.
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Z Grills 1000E Product Specifications
1060 sq. in.
L54" x W25" x H53"
(Box 1) 114lbs. (Box 2) 65lbs.
(Box 1) L32” x W21” x H25”
(Box 2) L29” x W22” x H9”
5400 Cubic inches
The Z Grills 1000E came in two boxes, and was delivered by Fedex or UPS, which is notable. Most of the major grill manufacturers can’t use standard delivery services because of the size of their boxes, meaning that freight and shipping on pallets is their only way to deliver. ZGrills gets around this by having the end user do more assembly, which saves them on shipping costs as they pack to fit limits set by the shipping companies.
The two boxes weighed 114lbs and 65lbs for a grand total of 179lbs. We were really impressed by the packaging as there was very little wasted space in the way things were packed. The larger box of the two housed the cooking chamber with the lid attached, and the inside was completely filled with parts to maximize space usage. The small box housed the cart and doors along with other parts to finish out the grill build. The boxes were wrapped in plastic straps, which we appreciated given the weight of the box, making sure things stayed inside as they are jostled around during transit.
We were able to put this grill together in just about an hour with two people involved in the build. There is a bit more assembly involved in the Z grills units compared to some of their competitors as they seem to focus on making their grills shippable via the major shipping carriers rather than using freight companies. That just means that there’s a bit more assembly required with things like attaching the pellet hopper and auger to the cooking chamber instead of it already being assembled.
Seasoning the Z Grills 1000E:
We followed the instructions and burned off the grill at 450° for 45 minutes. After we’d burned all of the manufacturing oils off, the grill was good to go for the 4 cooks we had planned for this review.
Smoking is where this unit really shines. It’s designed to be a smoker first, and we put that to the test with a whole chicken right out of the gate. We spatchcocked a whole chicken, rubbed it down with our sweet and spicy bbq rub and got the grill to smoke this chicken for about 2 hours. The chicken was juicy and had a great smokey flavor that the whole family enjoyed for dinner.
Next we decided to smoke a pot of white chicken chili. Sure, we could make this on the gas range, and leave the grill out of this recipe, but we love to add some smoke flavor to about any dish we can. We set the ZGrill to 275°, and left this pot of chili on for about an hour and a half to infuse it with wood-fired flavor.
Valentine’s Day we knew we wanted to surprise the kids with sticky buns that morning, so we threw some butter, brown sugar and chopped pecans in the bottom of our Le Creuset cast iron skillet and topped it with some store bought cinnamon rolls and buttermilk biscuits rolled in cinnamon sugar. We set the Z Grills 1000E to 350° and baked the sticky buns for about 30-40 minutes and they turned out amazing. The smoke flavor wasn’t so intense that it overwhelmed the dish, but there was a definite smokey flavor that even the kids really enjoyed with their surprise breakfast.
One more cook I’ll mention was that we smoked a rack of baby back ribs for dinner the other night, and they were competition-style perfect. Bite through without falling off the bone, and they were some of the best I’ve made, and I make a whole lot of ribs. There’s something to be said for the simplicity of the Z Grills unit and the “set it and forget it” nature of this grill that I really enjoy.
With a top temperature of 450° when the grill is set to high, this unit is more smoker than grill. Also, without the ability to place food directly over the firepot to sear, even setting the unit to 450° is still cooking your food with indirect heat rather than having direct access to fire. Can this unit be used to grill? Yes. Is it the same as grilling on a gas grill or a pellet grill with flame door access? No. But here’s the deal, you can grill on this unit, it’s just using an indirect heat source because of the grease tray that’s separating your food from the fire. Just know that when you’re considering this unit, it’s more smoker than grill and you’ll be fine.
Z Grills 1000E Storage:
The Z Grills 1000E comes with a cover included in the box, and we suggest you use it if you’re going to store the grill outside. We store the grill in the garage and just pull it out into the driveway when we’re planning to cook on it, so we haven’t really exposed this grill to the elements to see how it would hold up. We like that there’s stainless steel built throughout the construction, so we’re sure that those parts would stand up to the weather if it were kept outside.
What We Loved about the Z Grills 1000E
Stainless steel construction- While the entire grill isn’t made of stainless steel, it’s hard to find another grill in this price range that consists of this much stainless for the price. ZGrills has done a nice job putting stainless steel in the places where it matters, and I don’t worry about this grill as much as I do many of the cold rolled steel grills that we have sitting around when rain and snow is in the forecast.
Simplicity- The operation of this grill is simple. Fill it full of pellets, turn the dial to the temperature that you want, and it will hold that temp for as long as there are pellets to fuel the fire. There’s no gadgets or gizmos, features or frills on this unit, just exactly what you need when you want to fire up a smoker, set it to a temperature and walk away and let it do its job.
Side shelf/hopper lid- The pellet hopper lid is much larger than any others that we’ve seen in this price range, and it actually allows for cutting boards and trays to be placed on top when cooking. So many other pellet smokers have a tiny pellet hopper lid, and it’s difficult to use that top for anything other than holding a bottle of sauce. This hopper is a respectable shelf that we can use, and we really like that on this model.
Easy to clean- The 1000E is an easier-to-clean unit than most that we’ve tested. The grease pan is flat rather than curved like we see on some of the competition, which means that grease will drain off without pooling, making it easier to clean. There’s also a drawer on the back of the unit that can be pulled out to clean any extra pellet residue after a few cooks.
Temperature control- Instead of the standard 50-degree settings that are found on many pellet grills today, the Z Grills 1000E has options for cooking at 25-degree increments between 180° and 375°. We like the control that gives us, and appreciate that we can cook at our favorite temp for most things at 275°.
Storage cabinet- Most pellet smokers we see only have a bottom storage shelf and not an actual cabinet. This is a welcome addition to this unit in my opinion.
Opportunities for Improvement
Power button- The power button for the Z Grills 1000E is located just underneath the dial, which certainly makes it convenient. The challenge that it’s caused for us though is that twice now we’ve gone to turn the dial down after finishing a cook, and we’ve bumped the power button to toggle the grill completely off on accident, therefore not allowing the grill to go through the proper power-down sequence.
WIFI- The Z Grills 1000E does not have WIFI built-in, and depending on how you cook you might want the control and connectability to your phone that you can get from other manufacturers. I’m sure that Z Grills will be adding wireless capability in the near future, as most major grill manufacturers have made this move in 2020.
Cold weather cooking- If you’re cooking in cold weather, we recommend picking up the thermal blanket that Z Grills offers. The metal on the unit isn’t built to withstand temperatures below freezing and maintain consistent heat. We have found that in the 10-15 degree F temperatures that we’ve had this February that the grill is running 10-15 degrees below the set temperature for most cooks. The thermal blanket should cut down on wind gusts and help the grill maintain the set temperatures in such cold conditions.
Smoker gasket seal tape- The lid and other openings on this unit could benefit from adding some gasket seal tape to keep wind gusts out and the smoke in while you’re cooking. It should help the unit with any temperature swings caused by the weather and help dial it in for when you need temps to be rock solid.
So, overall what did we think of the Z Grills 1000E pellet smoker?
The 1000E is reminiscent of our Traeger Renegade model that we reviewed as our first pellet grill. That Traeger was the first pellet grill that we had ever used, and the controller on this Z Grills unit reminds me a lot of the Renegade. No WIFI, or bluetooth connectivity, and the grill just flat-out ran. This grill is a set it and forget it machine, and we haven’t had any error codes or mishaps in our time testing this unit. That being said, who is this grill a good fit for?
My opinion is that this grill is perfect for the first-time pellet-smoker. That person who wants to get into smoking, but doesn’t want to worry about managing logs on an offset or charcoal in a Smokey Mountain. It’s perfect for someone who’s getting into smoking as a hobby, and will give them the smokey goodness they desire with very little learning curve. The beginner smoker can have success right out of the gate with this unit, and all they have to do is make sure the hopper is full of pellets and their temperature is set for the meal they’re preparing.
The retail price of the Z Grills 1000E at the time of this publishing is $849 and there’s currently a sale running for $190 off. If you’d like to check out the current price, just click on the button below. If you make a purchase through one of our links, it won’t cost you any more, but we will earn a small commission from Z Grills that helps support our channel, which we greatly appreciate!