How Does Grilla Grills Fare in the Pellet Grill Jungle?

By Bob McCarthy

In a fairly short period of time, Grilla Grills has gone from a relative unknown to a rising brand in the pellet grill world. Although they've been in business for several years, it wasn't until they moved production overseas and switched to direct sales that they were able to lower their price to a more competitive range. Those moves, paired with some aggressive online marketing, have allowed Grilla Grills to establish a presence and raise their profile in a growing pellet grill market, making them an attractive alternative to the likes of Traeger and Green Mountain Grills. (Read 6 Tips for Choosing a Pellet Grill)

Grilla Grills offers two models: the original Grilla, which retails for $799, and the newer Silverbac, available for $699. Of the two, the Grilla is more unique to pellet grills. Featuring a vertical configuration, it offers a modest footprint and impressive mobility. However, much like a kamado, the compact design and circular shape limits cooking space. The main cooking grate is roughly 21.5” in diameter, providing about 363 square inches, with an upper cooking rack that extends the total cooking area to 488 square inches—fairly small compared to other pellet grills in that price range. That makes the more traditionally designed Sliverbac, with its larger size, lower price and traditional half-barrel design, the better overall value. It also makes for an easier comparison with other pellet grills in its class.

How Does the Silverbac Stack Up?

In terms of construction and temperature control, the Grilla Grills Siverbac falls in the same class as the Traeger Pro Series 22 or Green Mountain Daniel Boone, which are a similar size and price. Yet Grilla Grills makes the curious choice of comparing itself to the Rec Tec 680, a larger pellet grill (36” x 19” main grate) with a more advanced PID controller, two factors that contribute to it being more expensive. A fairer comparison would be the Louisiana Grills LG700, another similarly sized and priced grill. However, it's a comparison in which the Silverbac comes up short, because the LG700 boasts superior temperature control and capability.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Grilla Grills Siverbac

  • $699
  • Digital control panel that allows you to set temperature in 5-degree increments
  • Range: 180°F to 500°F
  • Meat probe allows you to monitor food temperatures without lifting lid
  • Steel construction with high-temperature powder coat
  • Durable stainless steel lid
  • Primary grate: 507 sq. in.
  • Upper Rack: 185 sq. in.
  • Total Cooking Area: 692 sq. in.
  • Stainless steel grill grates
  • Cart with dual-door storage cabinet.

Louisiana Grills LG700

  • $799
  • One-touch PID Controller gives you the ability to set temperatures in 5°F increments
  • Range: 180-600°F
  • Programmable Meat probe allows you to monitor food temperatures and program the grill to lower the heat when food is done cooking.
  • Adjustable Flame Broiler gives you ability to cook over an open flame for high-heat grilling and true searing.
  • Primary grate: 497 sq. in.
  • Upper rack: 210 sq in
  • Total cooking area: 707 square inches.
  • Steel construction with high-temperature powder coat
  • Cart with lower storage shelf

The are some notable differences, starting with the controller, perhaps the single most important part on a pellet girll. The LG700 features a PID controller that is more sophisticated than the Silverbac’s digital controller, offering tighter temperature control and a higher temperature range. It also has an integrated programmable meat probe, where the Sivlerbac’s meat probe is strictly for monitoring temperatures. A true do-everything cooker, the LG700 also has open-flame grilling capability, so you can actually switch between indirect smoking to searing a steak over the fire.

A Stainless Steel Lid Isn't a Stainless Steel Grill

Grilla Grills did well in including a stainless steel lid on the Silverbac. However, that by no means makes it a stainless steel grill that is rust-resistant, top-to-bottom, inside and out. If you want a true stainless steel pellet grill with PID temperature control, a programmable meat probe, and an open-flame grilling option, check out the FireCraft Pellet-Q450, which also retails for under $1,000.

  • $999
  • One-touch PID Controller gives you the ability to set temperatures in 5°F increments.
  • Range: 180-500°F
  • Programmable Meat Probe allows you to monitor food temperatures on the LCD display and program the grill to lower the heat when food is finished.
  • Direct grilling option gives you the ability to cook over an open flame for high-heat grilling and true searing (requires optional Sear Station)
  • Primary grill grate of 24x19” for 450 square inches
  • Pellet Exchange allows you to quickly and easily empty pellets or change flavors on the fly.

More Smoke? The Myth of Temperature Control vs Flavor

One of the more interesting marketing approaches Grilla Grills takes is to suggest that a standard digital controller produces better flavor than a PID controller, a more advanced controller that's better at maintaining temperature. Since most of the premium pellet grills on the market use PID controllers, and because the above comparisons use pellet grills with PID controllers, it’d be wise to dig deeper into Grilla Grill’s claim, starting with a (very) dumbed-down explanation of the difference between digital controllers and PID controllers. (Read our Pellet Grill FAQ)

The majority of pellet grills use a standard digital controller. With a digital controller, once you set the cooking temperature the controller feeds a predetermined amount of pellets to the fire at predetermined intervals to automatically maintain the correct heat. Some digital controllers, like those on Traeger Grills, have knobs that can be set in 25°F increments. Other brands, like Grilla Grills, have one-touch buttons that can be set in 5°F increments. However, just because you can set the temperature in 5°F increments doesn't mean it maintains the temperature within 5°F. In fact, although the Traeger Pro Series can only be set in 25°F increments, it actually maintains +/-15°F. And Grilla Grills claims that both its models hold about +/-10°F, even though it can be set in 5°F.

The bigger issue with a standard digital controller is how it’s affected by the outside temperature, as well as variables like weather and food load. How much and how often pellets are fed to the fire is determined by an algorithm, which can be thought of as an if-then equation (i.e. if the temperature is set to 250°F then it must feed x amount of pellets to the fire y times per minute). That algorithm is calculated in ideal conditions—typically 75°F, no wind, no food in the grill. Thus, on a windy 50°F day, a fully loaded pellet grill with a standard digital controller will have even larger temperature swings.

A PID controller, on the other hand, uses a continuous feedback loop to constantly compare the set temperature to the grill temperature then make adjustments to the pellet feed as needed. This allows a PID controller to maintain its temperature within a few degrees, even on a blustery day in the dead of winter.

While Grilla Grills acknowledges that a PID controller holds its temp better, they suggest that the fluctuations that plague standard digital controllers MAY produce more smoke and better flavor:

“...a digital controller, one that allows a +/- 10°F temperature swing (as opposed to the +/- .5°F swing of the PID) may actually produce MORE good smoke because of more pellet smoldering in the temperature cycle. We believe that’s one reason why Grilla and Silverbac produce a smoke flavor equal to or superior than any PID grill on the market.”

Let’s dissect that claim. First, it’s probably no surprise, but Grilla Grills utilize the less-sophisticated standard digital controller (full disclosure: we prefer PID). Second, it’s true that pellet grills produce more smoke at lower temperatures, particularly when comparing larger temperature ranges, like 200°F and 300°F. Grilla Grills twists this fact to say that, since a digital controller has a larger temperature swing, and thus frequently drops to a lower temperature, it should produce more smoke and better flavor.

Is it possible that a controller that maintains +/-10°F produces more smoke than a controller that zeroes in on a set temperature? In theory, but how much more? Enough to taste? Unlikely, which is why Grilla Grills qualifies the statement with the word “may” and why they couch the claim by stating the flavor is “equal to or superior”. The truth: both types of controllers produce the same flavor. Because, honestly, if Grilla Grills is right then a Traeger Lil Tex Elite that maintains +/- 20°F is the better choice and a cheap $300 bargain pellet grill with 50°F temperature swings will produce unmatched smoke flavor.

You can't have it both ways. You can't claim that inferior temperature control produces better flavor as a way of promoting your grills without conceding that a far cheaper pellet grill with even worse temperature control produces even better flavor.